THE ANCIENT GREEKS were the first to identify a relationship between climate and plants. Following this insight, other naturalists recognized that fossilized plants revealed the climate in prehistory. Plants colonized the land 410 million years ago, shaping the climate as they spread throughout the globe. By absorbing carbon dioxide, plants have the potential to cool the climate. By releasing water vapor into the atmosphere, plants have the potential to warm the climate by trapping heat, or to cool the climate by forming clouds. Rooted to the ground, plants must either adapt to the climate or die. Sudden climate changes threaten some species with extinction, whereas hardier species survive. From equator to pole, climate determines what plants grow at given latitudes.

History of the Relationship between Climate ...

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