Global Warming Creates Crabgrass Menace

This UC Irvine study with heat lamps on grass plots seems to be almost at a science fair level. Here’s the relevant quotes from the abstract and conclusion:

Our results suggest that an increase in temperature caused by climate change as well as the urban heat island effect may result in increases in N2O emissions from fertilized urban lawns. In addition, warming may exacerbate weed invasions, which may require more intensive management…

The increases in N2O fluxes with warming suggest that soil N2O fluxes could serve as a positive feedback to global warming in turfgrass.

In high school I cut lawns to make money during the summer, and as any lawnboy can tell you, crabgrass is far more hardy than fescue in the heat. We’d spend all summer keeping the crabgrass and other weeds at bay. So this is hardly news. What is news to me is that taxpayer funds would be wasted on such things. With “tipping points”, sea ice loss, ocean conveyor shutdowns, and a whole host of bigger things we’ve been told to worry about, I’m really surprised that anybody is wasting time worrying about our lawn quality in the apocalyptic future that has been portrayed by some. On the plus side, at least they recognize UHI, which I’m sure will upset Peterson and Parker, who tell us it doesn’t exist. – Anthony


From the Orange County Register:

Our lawns could go to the weeds as the planet warms

July 14th, 2008, 3:00 am ·Gary Robbins, Orange County Register

crabgrass-copy.jpgUC Irvine researchers who simulated global warming at the campus arboretum say they’ve made an unexpected discovery: The additional heat caused crabgrass to flourish.

The finding came when plant ecologist Diane Pataki and graduate student Neeta Bijoor heated portions of a research lawn with infrared lamps. Other portions of the lawn weren’t heated during the study, which focused on greenhouse gas emissions.

“There were significantly more crabgrass weeds in the high temperature plots,” says Pataki. “Some of the weeds, including crabgrass, are better adapted for higher temperatures than fescue, the most common lawn grass, because they use a different type of photosynthesis.

“Our results suggest that these weeds may become more of a problem as the temperature gets warmer.”

The study, to be published in the journal Global Change Biology, says the “warming may exacerbate weed invasions, which may require more intensive management (e.g. herbicide application) to manage species composition.”

bijoor2008preprint1.pdf Click file at left to read the Pataka study.

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37 thoughts on “Global Warming Creates Crabgrass Menace

  1. Crabgrass is just a toddler in a playpen compared to reed canary grass and quackgrass. These two grasses can wrap up a common garden variety tiller and burn the engine up in minutes. You can pull crabgrass up and that’s the end of it. Pull the other two up and you’ve just created two plants where only one existed (they have runners underground which you can chop up into pieces and each little piece will grow a new plant).

  2. “So this is hardly news. What is news to me is that taxpayer funds would be wasted on such things.”

    One hardly knows what to say. That is news to you? Can that be news to anyone?

    Think of it this way. These people probably lack the academic credentials to study sea ice and ocean conveyor shutdowns. But money must be spent. They do what they can.

    In truth agriculture, and the world, must know what to expect and how to deal with climate changes. This particular revelation about crabgrass might not seem like much. Yet it must be. We must understand the big picture.

  3. Our results suggest that an increase in temperature caused by climate change as well as the urban heat island effect may result in increases in N2O emissions from fertilized urban lawns…

    On the plus side, at least they recognize UHI, which I’m sure will upset Peterson and Parker, who tell us it doesn’t exist. – Anthony

    my thoughs exactly, Interestingly they don’t say what they think has the greater effect…

  4. I can’t remember where I read this. Nor, do I have any idea how to recall it; but some researchers working on crop yields/cultivation techniqes, seeds, etc. were amazed to find that the growing season, and, thus, the optimum cultivation technique, was “different” within 15 miles of Lincoln, Nebraska than it was just a few miles out.

    IIRC, the growing season was about 3 weeks longer. UHI is much stronger, I think, than even we realize.

  5. Using IR heat lamps does more than warm the lawn. Does the IR wavelength favor crabgrass over whatever else they tried to grow? Borderline junk science to me. And, since the real temperature seems to be getting colder, does it mean less crabgrass? For the first time in 20 years, I didn’t need to clobber weeds or dandelions in my tiny yard. This study may not be totally useless. Finally a benefit of global cooling.

  6. Want to get rid of crab grass the get St Augustine. To tough to kill and will wrestle out any other grass. Dies in the winter though, but comes back strong in the spring.

  7. I’m pleased by thses results. More crabgass in my pastures means more grass for my cattle to graze. It is a shame that another green house gas is produced but my cows produce more meat per acre than buffalo ever did . So is it safe to assume Al would like my cows more because they are more efficient?

  8. LOL,

    Crabgrass is still just as easy to kill with Herbicide.

    If people would stop overwatering and fertilizing the grass.Crabgrass will not do as well.At least that is the rule for bluegrass and fescue in the northern part of the country.

  9. Pam,

    I lived in the Northwest till I discovered I wasn’t a rainy day person. Blackberry vines were my bane. Even more stubborn than me.

  10. ♫ Money…We need money…We need lots and lots of money… ♫

    Slap the label of climate change on any research proposal and voila, instant granting of funds for research. Why not save the money for real research and just pass a query to Scotts – http://www.scotts.com/ – that’s what those people do for a living; they have a vested interest in anticipating such effects so they can improve their products.

    I’ll trust a research scientist working for a private commercial firm over a university researcher; the first wants results, the second just wants grant money for more research.

  11. I agree with Bill McClure.

    My horses will graze on crabgrass although they prefer timothy and rye.

    Come to think of it, this may explain why methane has leveled off.

    What if horses (and cows/bison/sheep/goats/etc…) produce less methane when they graze on crabgrass? As a warming world produces more crabgrass, grazing animals produce less methane. The methane concentration levels off and eventually declines, causing global cooling. Crabgrass begins to lose ground in the pastures and methane rises again, warming the planet.

    I wonder if I can get gov’t funding to test my hypothesis?

  12. Well, it must be sodding tropical here in Ottawa, Canada. My backyard lawn is bnothing but weeds this year.

  13. Heat also causes an increase in jock itch and athlete’s foot fungus. Now that is a negative effect of heat many males could relate to. You know, the AGW alarmists should hold a contest for the most effective propaganda for persuading people that AGW is going to really be a b__ch.

  14. Aren’t all grases really just weeds anyway? Some are just more pretty than others. For me it’s Empire Zoysia. My front yard of this grass has only needed to be cut twice this summer. My back yard which is bahia grass needs cutting every 3 days.

  15. Half of our backyard lawn died last winter. Think it was the extremely cold and dry winter we had in Colorado Springs.

  16. Hey Poet

    My grandma traveled from Wallowa County once to visit me when I lived in the Willamette Valley. She was completely shocked to see me trying to wrestle blackberry vines to the ground to kill them. In Wallowa County, a berry is food. I got the lecture of my life about starving children in China.

    re: AGW causes Crabgrass to spread. I also heard it causes red tomatoes. I didn’t know tomatoes WERE red until I moved from the ranch to the valley.

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  18. Wait a minute I thought Global Warming was going to turn the planet into an instant desert? Now they are telling me it is going to make more plants grow? Can’t they make up their minds?

  19. Try to sell the Orange County Register a subscription to this news source. We recently pointed out OC had warmed due to the PDO, which just reversed to a cool phase. With cooler weather, shouldn’t OC file to have crabgrass be declared as being a threatened species?

  20. Crab grass sprouts when soil temperatures reach 55-60 degrees in the spring. So if it warms faster in the spring, crab grass sprouts early. This year in New York, May was chilly and the crab grass is non-existant. Nothing but lush fescue.

  21. How do heat lamps simulate global warming? Wouldn’t they simulate additional solar radiation instead?

    I thought we were instructed to ignore solar radiation as having any connection to global warming.

  22. Pingback: Global Warming Now Causes Crabgrass | Skeptics Global Warming

  23. The AGW alarmists are really grasping at straws now, in a desperate, last-ditch effort to alarm people, and to keep the AGW gravy train rolling along for at least a while longer while they milk every cent out of it they can.
    We don’t have lawn, just mowed green stuff, which only gets mowed about once a month in the summer, using a DR field and brush mower. We use no chemicals, nor do we water.
    Worrying about weeds in lawns is just further proof that AGWers are not actual environmentalists. The environmental movement has been hijacked.

  24. Save the Crabgrass!

    This UC Irvine study with heat lamps on grass plots seems to be almost at a science fair level.

    Sounds an awful lot like what they do to surface stations.

  25. These arguments are getting sillier and sillier.

    Think of an area 100 miles south of you where it is 2.0C warmer on average. Does grass grow there? Does crab grass take over normal grass at the equator? Obviously, there is no disaster there.

    There is city about 60 miles away from where I live and thanks to geography and typical weather patterns, this city is about 2.0C warmer than mine on average.

    When someone says global warming is such a problem, I always say “So what, we’ll end up with the climate of City X? Big deal.” They always get a confused look on their face for awhile and then eventually laugh, realizing grass still grows in City X and everything will probably be fine if we have the climate of City X.

  26. The really urgent question we need answered is :

    What’s the effect of global warming on Triffids?

    (One for the oldies there.)

  27. What’s the effect of global warming on Triffids?

    Global warming must be awful for Triffids, as I haven’t seen any around here for well over two decades.

  28. I have been reading this article with a smile on my face. I raise cattle and my pastures have various clovers, fescue, rye, bermuda johnsongrass and crabgrass so my cows have a choice and without a doubt they *love* crabgrass above all the rest!

    Let it come!

    Yours truly,
    William Langston

  29. I think Homer J got it right!
    “”It’s just got a bad name is all. Everyone would love it if it had a cute name like, Elf Grass.”

  30. Pingback: Crabgrass Haiku | The Blackboard

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