I am wondering what could/would happen if plants absorbed respectively 50%, 75%, and 90% of sunlight during the process of photosynthesis.

That's all,

Thank you in advance.

  • $\begingroup$ you have asked several broad poorly defined questions in the same day I suggest you review the guide to asking questions. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 31, 2020 at 0:48

1 Answer 1


Assuming you're talking about incident light and the impact of the absorption on the world and ecosystem, probably not much. There are only 3 things light can do when it reaches the plant, absorb, reflect, or refract. Considering a small percentage of solar radiation that enters the atmosphere actually reaches the plant, the jump from 35% to 50% absorption isn't large on an individual scale, you're only losing a minor percentage of reflected energy overall.

It will depend a little on other dynamics of the ecosystem. Assuming the plant is USING the extra energy for photosynthesis, it would grow faster (with access to enough CO2) and output more oxygen. On a large scale, it would mean less reflected light and a slightly cooler climate.

Because balance is critical to any ecosystem, I would think that any plant which inherently absorbs more sunlight would grow proportionately smaller leaves, offsetting the effect on both climate and biosphere.

In reality, plants that absorb more efficiently have broader, thinner leaves and more chlorophyll, but these are also typically shade plants with less exposure to direct sunlight.

In a world where plants absorb more energy, they might be hyperoxygenated, making them much more flammable, but this gets into detail that's highly dependent on hundreds of other factors that would change depending on environmental choices - is it Earth but the plants have undergone a wild mutation? Is it an alien planet?

Does that help?

  • $\begingroup$ Yes it does! Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – Traveler
    Aug 30, 2020 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ And if the plants can actually absorb and use that much energy, they might become a viable fuel source. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Aug 30, 2020 at 22:44

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