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Elevated CO2 Helps Reduce the Negative Impacts of Soil Salinity on Plant Growth
In managed agricultural ecosystems, the buildup of soil salinity from repeated irrigations can sometimes reduce crop yields.  Similarly, in natural ecosystems where exposure to brackish or salty water is commonplace, saline soils can induce growth stress in plants not normally adapted to coping with this problem.  How do rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations interact with soil salinity to affect plant growth?

Research indicates that elevated CO2 may alleviate some of the negative impacts of high soil salinity on plant growth.  As indicated in the review of Poorter and Perez-Soba (2001), there appear to be no changes in the effect of elevated CO2 on the growth responses of most plants over a wide range of soil salinities, in harmony with the earlier findings of Idso and Idso (1994).  Hence, plants should respond positively to future increases in the air's CO2 content, even in areas where mild to moderate stresses may be present due to high soil salinity levels.

References
Idso, K.E. and Idso, S.B.  1994.  Plant responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment in the face of environmental constraints: A review of the past 10 years' research.  Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 69: 153-203.

Poorter, H. and Perez-Soba, M.  2001.  The growth response of plants to elevated CO2 under non-optimal environmental conditions.  Oecologia 129: 1-20.

 



** For additional peer-reviewed scientific references and an in-depth discussion of the science supporting our position, please visit Climate Change Reconsidered: The Report of the Nongovernmental Planel on Climate Change (www.climatechangereconsidered.org), or CO2 Science (www.co2science.org).