Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Significant reduction in temperature and vegetation seasonality over northern latitudes

11.03.2013
Amplified greenhouse effect shaping North into South

An international team of authors from 17 institutions in seven countries, including the Woods Hole Research Center, published a study in the journal Nature Climate Change on the 10 March 2013 (10.1038/NCLIMATE1836: http://www.nature.com/nclimate).

The study shows that, as the cover of snow and ice in the northern latitudes has diminished in recent years, the temperature over the northern land mass has increased at different rates during the four seasons, causing a reduction in temperature and vegetation seasonality in this area. The temperature and vegetation at northern latitudes increasingly resemble those found several degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 30 years ago.

The NASA-funded study, based on newly improved ground and satellite data sets, examines critically the relationship between changes in temperature and vegetation productivity in northern latitudes. "The amplified warming in the circumpolar area roughly above the Canada-USA border is reducing temperature seasonality over time because the colder seasons are warming more rapidly than the summer," says Liang Xu, a Boston University doctoral student and lead co-author of the study. As a result of the enhanced warming over a longer ground-thaw season, the total amount of heat available for plant growth in these northern latitudes is increasing—creating large patches of vigorously productive vegetation totaling more than a third of the northern landscape—over 9 million km2, which is roughly about the area of the USA.

A key finding of this study is an accelerating greening rate in the Arctic and a decelerating rate in the boreal region, despite a nearly constant rate of temperature seasonality diminishment in these regions over the past 30 years. "Some areas of boreal forest will be negatively impacted by warming temperatures, from increased drought stress as well as insect and fire disturbance, but this work shows that in most high latitude regions we see increased productivity resulting from a reduced range of seasonal temperature variability," says co-author Scott Goetz, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center. Dr. Goetz's research focuses on ecosystem responses to environmental change, including monitoring and modeling the linkages and feedbacks between forests and climate, land use change and disturbance.

The authors measured seasonality changes using latitude as a yardstick. They first defined reference latitudinal profiles for the quantities being observed and then quantified changes in them over time as shifts along these profiles.

"Arctic plant growth during the early 1980s reference period equaled that of lands north of 64 degrees north. Today, just 30 years later, it equals that of lands above 57 degrees north—a reduction in vegetation seasonality of about seven degrees south in latitude," says co-author Prof. Terry Chapin, Professor Emeritus, University of Alaska, Fairbanks. The change equates to a distance of approximately 480 miles southward.

Based on analysis of 17 state-of-the-art climate model simulations, diminishment of temperature seasonality in these regions could be more than 20 degrees in latitude by the end of this century relative to the 1951-1980 reference period. These changes will affect local residents as change occurs in ecosystem services, such as in timber and traditional food production, as a result of warming temperatures. They will also impact the global community through changes in regulatory ecosystem services relating to emissions of greenhouse gases.

About the Woods Hole Research Center—WHRC is a private, non-profit research organization focusing on environmental sciences. Our scientists combine analysis of satellite images of the Earth with field studies to measure, model, and map changes in the world's ecosystems, from the thawing permafrost in the Arctic to the expanding agriculture regions of the tropics. We work locally and regionally, with in-depth expertise and collaborations in North and South America and Africa; and we also work globally, focusing on how humans are changing global cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and water. We merge natural science with economics to discover sustainable paths for human prosperity and stewardship of the Earth's natural resources.

Contact information for the authors:
Liang Xu: xuliang@bu.edu, Cell: +1-617-510-6583
Scott Goetz: sgoetz@whrc.org
Ian Vorster, Director of Communications at WHRC: ivorster@whrc.org
Experts to comment on this story:
Dr. Gavin Schmidt, gavin.a.schmidt@nasa.gov, Tel: 212 678 5627 Cell: 212 749 0006
Prof. Uma S. Bhatt, usbhatt@alaska.edu, +1-907-474-2662, +34-685-897-961
Prof. Ian Colin Prentice, Macquaire University, colin.prentice@mq.edu.au (Call UK Home Tel: +44-1392-851329)
Links:
http://cliveg.bu.edu/greeningearth/ssnltydim/ssnlty-dim.html
http://www.whrc.org

Ian Vorster | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.whrc.org

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past
28.04.2017 | National Science Foundation

nachricht Citizen science campaign to aid disaster response
28.04.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>