'Destructive beetle altered climate of Canada by one degree'



London: A beetle species - the size of a grain of rice - has increased the summer temperatures in Canada's British Columbia by one degree Celsius after wiping out huge forest area, researchers claim.

Scientists said by reducing the amount of water pumped into the air by vegetation, the beetle has had as big an impact on local climate as forest fires.

The increase in temperature has resulted from the Sun's energy heating up the ground surface instead of being used up evaporating water, the 'Daily Mail' reported.

Researchers said the change in surface energy balance could alter cloud formation and rainfall.

Infestation by the beetle, over the past decade, has affected almost 20 per cent of the whole of provincial British Columbia, a region of some 271,949 square kilometers of pine forest.

Studying satellite data, scientists made the link between the beetle attacks and climate change.

They found that throughout the affected forest, the beetle had reduced summer evapo-transpiration, the movement of water from the ground to the atmosphere by plants, by 19 percent.

"Land cover change in the case of insect infestation is less well ordered than in other types of disturbance, because both the scale of the impacted areas and the level of mortality within affected areas are variable," said Dr Holly Maness, from the University of California at Berkeley, US.

"Future work is needed to understand the circumstances under which patchy and variable forest mortality drive significant secondary changes in regional climate," said Maness.

The study was published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

PTI