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Published:March 11th, 2013 11:41 EST

NASA says Amplified Greenhouse Effect Shifting Northern Growing Seasons

By John Pustelnik

A NASA-funded study has shown that northern vegetation growth is getting increasingly similar to warmer southern vegetation growth because of global warming.

The study was based on information gathered from a 30-year span of records from land surface and satellite data sets. The results of the study were published on March 10th in the journal Nature Climate Change.


The vegetation growth that is normally associated with southern latitudes is now being found four to six degrees higher in latitude compared to 1982.

Land in the north that is vegetated showed a 34 to 41 percent increase in path growth.

51 to 62 percent of the land showed no change.

3 to 5 percent showed a decrease in plant growth.

However, warmer temperatures alone do not guarantee more plant growth. Sunlight and the availability of water for plants also plays a role. For example, the boreal zone had more plant growth from 1982 to 1992 than it did from 1992 to 2011.

"Higher northern latitudes are getting warmer, Arctic sea ice and the duration of snow cover are diminishing, the growing season is getting longer and plants are growing more," said Ranga Myneni, professor at Boston University`s Department of Earth and Environment. "In the north`s Arctic and boreal areas, the characteristics of the seasons are changing, leading to great disruptions for plants and related ecosystems."

"The greenhouse effect could be further amplified in the future as soils in the north thaw, releasing potentially significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane," said Myneni.

The team behind the study has predicted that compared to 1951 to 1980, by the end of this century, temperatures found in Arctic and boreal zones will resemble temperatures normally found in regions 20-degrees in latitude further south.

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