Carbon storage and regional climate engineering in arid areas through irrigated plantations: Globally, there are up to 1 billion hectares of coastal deserts available for »greening«, and these areas are increasing in size due to a combination of desertification, climate change, and land use mismanagement. There is a great potential for utilizing these neglected landscapes for dryland reclamation and carbon sequestration, through implementation of plantation systems using highly water use-efficient shrubs like jojoba and jatropha.
Contemporary advances in irrigation, desalination, and bioenergy sciences mean that large-scale plantations are becoming more and more feasible. If plantations can be sustained over many years, plants like Jatropha curcas could accumulate and store up to 17-25 million tons of CO2 per year over an area of 10,000 km2, which is a substantial quantity, even approaching the emissions of small nation states.
Studies indicate that large water-use plantations can also increase local rainfall through a reduction in daytime atmospheric pressure over the plantation canopy, leading to convergence zones and increased cloud formation. This can offset a part of the irrigation inputs and increase the potential for this type of desert afforestation.