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