A NASA-Department of Energy jointly funded study concludes the Earth has been greening over the past 20 years. As climate changed, plants found it easier to grow.
Global change in NPP
Between 1982 and 1999, the climate became warmer, wetter, and sunnier in many parts of the world. These changes increased the overall productivity of land plants by 6 percent. This map shows productivity increases during the time period in green, while decreases are shown in brown. Productivity, which is the net uptake of carbon, increased the most in tropical regions, where climate change resulted in fewer clouds and more sunlight.
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory
Percent change in annual global Net Primary Production (NPP) change from 1982-1999. Purple represents the highest increase (2%) in NPP per year. Areas of blue and red represent decreasing annual NPP. Credit: University of Montana
The globally comprehensive, multi-discipline study appears in this weeks Science magazine. The article states climate changes have provided extra doses of water, heat and sunlight in areas where one or more of those ingredients may have been lacking. Plants flourished in places where climatic conditions previously limited growth.
"Our study proposes climatic changes as the leading cause for the increases in plant growth over the last two decades, with lesser contribution from carbon dioxide fertilization and forest re-growth," said Ramakrishna Nemani, the studys lead author from the University of Montana, Missoula, Mont.
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