Leeds Ecosystem, Atmosphere & Forest (LEAF) Centre

Plants and Water

Forests and other vegetation affect the transfer of moisture to the atmosphere through the process of evapotranspiration. During evapotranspiration, the Sun’s energy is used to transfer water from the leaves of plants into the atmosphere. This occurs through a combination of physical evaporation from soil and vegetation, and biological transpiration from vegetation.

Scientists from the School of Earth and Environment showed that parcels of air that have passed over forests contain more water than those that have not. The link between forests and moisture in the air suggests that continued deforestation could lead to a reduction in rainfall downwind, with big impacts on ecosystems, agriculture and hydropower.

Check out the video below, made by the Royal Meteorological Society and based on the work of LEAF scientists: