Plant-Powered Climate Cooling

Plant-Powered Climate Cooling

Revisiting the Biotic Pump Theory

A Scientific Exploration in Climate Change Mitigation

Climate change understanding and mitigation is an evolving field marked by the continual reassessment of existing theories and the exploration of new ones. A prime example is the resurgence of the Biotic Pump Theory, first introduced by Anastasia Makarieva and Victor Gorshkov. Recent advances and experimental validations by researchers like Peter Bunyard have brought this theory back into the spotlight, offering fresh perspectives on its potential role in climate change mitigation.

Origin of the Biotic Pump Theory

Anastasia Makarieva, during her atmospheric physics PhD studies at St. Petersburg University, collaborated with physicist Victor Gorshkov to develop the Biotic Pump Theory. This theory posits a critical role for forests, especially rainforests, in driving atmospheric dynamics. It describes how forests facilitate the movement of humid air from oceans to continents through the process of evapotranspiration and subsequent condensation. This condensation creates a pressure drop, effectively 'sucking in' moisture-laden winds from the ocean and promoting rainfall in inland areas.

Peter Bunyard's Experimental Reinforcement

Peter Bunyard's work has been instrumental in providing empirical support for the Biotic Pump Theory. His experiments demonstrate a stronger link between water vapor condensation and airflow than previously acknowledged, suggesting a significant kinetic energy contribution from condensation in atmospheric circulation. This finding aligns with the theory’s premise that forests have the ability to modulate atmospheric pressure and humidity, thus influencing weather patterns and precipitation distribution.

"We humans inherited a global climate fit for agriculture and civilizations because life and especially the forests made it so. By our razing of forests and generalized ecosystem destruction we have cut the ground from under our feet, so to speak, and we are now facing the consequences of global warming and climate chaos." - Peter Bunyard

Image Source: Bunyard, 2024

Critical Role of Forests in Earth's Climate Regulation

The research into the Biotic Pump Theory and related studies, like "Restoring the earth’s damaged temperature regulation is the fastest way out of the climate crisis. Cooling the planet with plants" offers several key insights into how plants, particularly forests, can help in cooling the planet:

  1. Enhanced Evapotranspiration: Forests, with a focus on tropical rainforests, are key in evapotranspiration. This process, involving the transfer of water from the land to the atmosphere through evaporation and plant transpiration, uses solar energy to convert water into vapor, carrying heat away from the Earth’s surface and contributing to cooling.

  2. Atmospheric Dynamics Regulation: The Biotic Pump Theory underlines the importance of forests in maintaining climatic patterns. Forests aid in forming low-pressure areas through transpiration and condensation, drawing moist ocean air inland. This cycle is crucial for cloud formation, precipitation, and sustaining regional climates.

  3. Carbon Sequestration: As major carbon sinks, forests play a crucial role in absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide during photosynthesis, reducing greenhouse gas concentrations and mitigating global warming, thus aiding in planetary cooling.

  4. Local and Global Climate Influence: Forest ecosystems have a significant impact on local and global climates through their role in evapotranspiration, cloud formation, and precipitation. They help stabilize temperatures, moderate extreme weather, and maintain the hydrological cycle.

  5. Prevention of Runaway Climate Change: The research suggests that the absence of forest ecosystems' stabilizing effects could lead to drastic climatic shifts, including widespread desertification or severe weather anomalies. Therefore, forest conservation and restoration are critical in preventing such extreme changes.

This research emphasizes the indispensable role of forests in maintaining a stable and cooler global climate, highlighting the need for forest conservation and restoration as key strategies in climate change mitigation.

Applying Practical Strategies for Climate Mitigation: A Focus on Ecosystem Restoration

Rob de Laet, an European Climate Pact Ambassador in the Netherlands and advocate for sustainable environmental practices, plays a pivotal role in pushing forward the practical application of forest-centric strategies in combating climate change. His vision encompasses the restoration and preservation of ecosystems, particularly forests, to leverage their natural ability to regulate the Earth's climate. De Laet proposes integrating these natural processes into broader climate action plans, emphasizing sustainable agriculture and reforestation as key elements. His approach seeks to merge scientific insights, like those from the Biotic Pump Theory and related research, into actionable policies and initiatives. By doing so, de Laet aims to harness the inherent capabilities of forests not only in carbon sequestration but also in maintaining climatic and atmospheric stability, thus contributing to a holistic solution for climate change mitigation. His focus on sustainable practices underscores the importance of forests in regulating the Earth’s climate, resonating with the biotic pump's mechanism of using forest-driven atmospheric changes for climate mitigation.

"If we transition degraded land or open field monoculture land to forest or agroforestry in the tropics, the additional evapotranspiration will close the Earth Energy Imbalance and stop the planet from heating up further, giving us time to complete the energy transition" - Rob de Laet

Image: Created by Dall-E 3

Scientific Implications and Challenges

The re-emergence of the Biotic Pump Theory bolstered by empirical evidence, invites a reevaluation of forests' role in climate regulation. It suggests a holistic approach to climate change mitigation, where preserving and restoring forest ecosystems forms a cornerstone strategy. However, translating this theory into practical climate action involves overcoming several scientific and logistical challenges, including integrating it into existing climate models and global policy frameworks.

Image: Rob de Laet in conversation with Poulomi Chakravarty


The Biotic Pump Theoryor the Biotic Pump phenomenon, revitalized through new scientific research, provides a compelling narrative about forests' role in modulating global weather and climate systems. It highlights the need for an integrated climate change mitigation strategy that includes forest conservation as a critical component. This renewed scientific perspective has the potential to significantly influence global climate policies and strategies, marking an important advancement in our understanding and response to the global climate crisis.


  1. Makarieva, A. M., & Gorshkov, V. G. (2007). Biotic pump of atmospheric moisture as driver of the hydrological cycle on land. Hydrology and earth system sciences, 11(2), 1013-1033.

  2. Makarieva, A. M., & Gorshkov, V. G. (2010). The biotic pump: Condensation, atmospheric dynamics and climate. International Journal of Water, 5(4), 365-385.

  3. Chakravarty, P., & Kumar, M. (2019). Floral species in pollution remediation and augmentation of micrometeorological conditions and microclimate: An integrated approach. In Phytomanagement of polluted sites (pp. 203-219). Elsevier.

  4. Lo, A. (2023) Biotic Pump : Anastasia Makarieva interview, Biotic Pump : Anastasia Makarieva interview - by Alpha Lo. Available at: (Accessed: 01 April 2024).

  5. Bunyard, P. (2015) The Biotic Pump we ignore at our peril, Resurgence. Available at: l (Accessed: 01 April 2024).

  6. Bunyard PP, Collin E, de Laet R, et al. (2024). Restoring the earth’s damaged temperature regulation is the fastest way out of the climate crisis. Cooling the planet with plants. Int J Biosen Bioelectron. 9(1):7‒15. DOI: 10.15406/ijbsbe.2024.09.00237

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