Earth is Becoming a Greener Greenhouse

Greening in the North: The following figure shows a view of the top of the world from the north pole, stretching southward to the 30 degree North latitude line (the circle). The coloring represents changes in vegetation lushness during the past 20 years. It ranges from a low increase in the heartiness of vegetation as denoted by the yellow color, to the highest increase in the lushness of plants as denoted by the purple color. Looking at the 40N line, which stretches from New York to Madrid to Beijing, plants have been growing more vigorously in Eurasia compared to North America. The pattern of high growth is especially noteworthy in boreal Eurasia, along a broad swath of land east of 25E and north of 50N. This region includes the grasslands and croplands of the south central Russian uplands and extends northeast through the unmanaged mixed and needle forests to the Bolshezemalskaya Tundra. East of the Urals, there is a contiguous region of high persistence over the west Siberian plain and the central Siberian plateau. East of lake Baikal, there is a band of pixels which displays high persistence between 50N-55N, that extends east to the Aldan plateau. These regions in Siberia and eastern Russia consist mostly of natural forests with arctic grasses and tundra to the north. Outside of this broad swath, large regions of densely vegetated areas in central Europe and Sweden also are notable. About 78% (9.8 million square km) of the vegetation in these regions between 40N-70N is unmanaged, and almost 58% (7.3 million square km) is forests and woodlands, an area equivalent to about 78% of the USA. In North America, changes in the densely vegetated temperate and boreal forest regions are fragmented and do not show a noteworthy pattern. The most notable increases in the heartiness of vegetation in North America are located mainly in the forests of the east and grasslands of the upper Midwest. In total, only about 30% of the vegetated areas between 40N-70N in North America show a high amount of greening, compared to more than 61% of the vegetated area in Eurasia.

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    Sep-04-2001
    rmyneni@bu.edu