Study: Climate Change Gets Greener Arctic

Researchers at the Goddard Space Flight Center have found that the Arctic summer is becoming

warmer, and the climate of the northern landscapes of the Earthchange. Using NASA satellite imagery to track global tundra ecosystems for decades, researchers have found that the region has become greener and warmer air and soil temperatures are driving plant growth.

Research published this week inin the journal Nature Communications, is the first to measure land cover changes spanning the entire arctic tundra, from Alaska and Canada to Siberia. For vegetation analysis, satellite data from Landsat, a joint project of NASA and the United States Geological Survey (USGS), were used. By "greening," researchers mean plants that grow more vigorously, become denser, or cover a larger area.

“The Arctic tundra is one of the coldestbiomes on Earth, but it heats up faster than others. The greening we see in the Arctic is actually only one of the consequences of global climate change - it is a bioscale response to rising air temperatures. "

Logan Berner, ecologist and global change specialist at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff

When tundra vegetation changes, itaffects not only the wildlife that depends on certain plants, but also the people living in the region. Plants will absorb more carbon from the atmosphere, but higher temperatures will cause the permafrost to thaw, thereby releasing greenhouse gases. The research is part of NASA's Arctic Boreal Experiment (ABoVE), which aims to better understand how ecosystems are responding to warming.

Scientists used Landsat data andadditional calculations to estimate the peak level of greenery per year for each of the 50,000 randomly selected areas of the tundra. Between 1985 and 2016 about 38% of parcels across Alaska, Canada and western Eurasia are greener. This figure in the next 15 years may grow by half.

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