Irrigation may hide global warming's impact in some areas

Turns out all the planet needs to stop from overheating is a little splash of water.

Only there’s not enough fresh water to spray, and burning through the energy needed to pump that water only heats things anyway.

Research suggests that irrigation acts as a crude air conditioner. It cools places like California’s Central Valley, the plains of Kansas and vast stretches of Asia. In fact, scientists say those chilling effects have masked climate change in those areas, buffering parts of the planet against warming temperatures.

“You look out 50 years from now, and consider all the factors that are contributing to warming, and the effect of irrigation becomes less and less important,” said David Lobell, a Stanford University climate scientist. “It just can’t keep up.”

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