A dramatic greening of the Arctic over the past 30 years

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:30 PM GMT on March 18, 2013

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A remarkable transformation in the vegetation of the Arctic has occurred over the past 30 years, according to a study of satellite data published on March 10, 2013, in Nature Climate Change. The authors found that Arctic vegetation growth and temperatures in 2011 resembled what occurred 250 - 430 miles farther to the south back in 1982. That's the approximate distance in latitude between San Francisco and San Diego, or Washington D.C. and Atlanta. More greening occurred in Eurasia than North America, and the Arctic's new greenness is visible on the ground as an increasing abundance of tall shrubs and trees. Large patches of vigorously productive vegetation now span a third of the northern landscape, an area about equal to the contiguous United States. "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 co-author Dr. Ranga Myneni of Boston University's Department of Earth and Environment, in a NASA press release. "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 changes in the Arctic's vegetation are being driven by human-caused global warming, which is occurring in the Arctic at more than double the rate of the rest of the planet. This so-called "Arctic amplification" is due, in part, to the increased melting of ice and snow near the pole. When ice and snow melt, they uncover darker surfaces underneath, which absorb more sunlight and increase Arctic temperatures in a vicious cycle which melts even more ice and snow. Using 17 climate models, the researchers predicted that a continuation of warming in the Arctic in coming decades could lead to over a 1300 mile latitudinal shift in Arctic vegetation zones by the year 2100, compared to the period 1951 - 1980. That's a distance greater than the north-south extent of the contiguous United States. However, more frequent forest fires, increased pest outbreaks, and summertime droughts due to a warming climate might slow down Arctic plant growth.


Figure 1. Of the 10 million square miles (26 million square kilometers) of northern vegetated lands, 34 to 41 percent showed increases in plant growth (green and blue), 3 to 5 percent showed decreases in plant growth (orange and red), and 51 to 62 percent showed no changes (yellow) over the past 30 years. Satellite data in this visualization are from AVHRR and MODIS. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio.


Figure 2. Trees take hold as permafrost thaws near the Altai Mountains in Russia. Credit: Terry Callaghan, EU-Interact/Sergey Kirpotin, Tomsk State University.

Commentary
One often hears complaints that global warming may be greatly overestimated, due to many temperature sensors being located in increasingly urbanized areas where local "urban heat island" effects are not being properly considered. If this were true (and it isn't), then we would not expect to see "nature's thermometers"--plants and animals--change their behavior and ranges much. But plants and animals are responding in major ways to the warming climate, and the greening of the Arctic is merely one more example of "nature's thermometers" telling us that the planet is warming significantly. Some other examples:

Fall is falling back: During 1982 to 1999, the end of the growing season was delayed by 4.3 days in the Northern Hemisphere. During 2000 to 2008, the end of the growing season was further delayed by an additional 2.3 days. In the U.S., fall now occurs ten days later than it did 30 years ago.

Spring is springing forward: Spring events, like bird and butterfly migrations, flower blooming times, and frog mating, have been advancing by about three days per decade over the past 30 years.

Animals are changing migration patterns: New species have colonized previously ‘cool’ regions, including sea anemones in Monterey Bay, and lichens and butterflies in Europe. Over the past 50 years, maximum range shifts vary from 200 km (butterflies) to 1,000 km (marine copepods).

Related blog post: New USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map for gardeners shows a warming climate

Dr. Myneni's petition to protect Earth from climate change
Professor Myneni of Boston University's Department of Earth & Environment, co-author of the greening Arctic study, has developed a simple one-sentence petition that he hopes one billion people will sign by Earth Day, 2014:

Dear Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon,

We, the People of the Earth, request You to act judiciously and expeditiously to protect the Earth from anthropogenic climate change.

Respectfully,
People of the Earth


The petition, which I have signed, is at: https://yourclimatechange.org/, and was recently featured by Discovery News.

Jeff Masters

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Hey stormz...where did you find the roopville,ga pic?
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
The storm near Sparta, GA really looks like it could get tornado warned soon.



i still think they are too out of the best area.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
The storm near Sparta, GA really looks like it could get tornado warned soon.

It is getting ate by the line now, still rotating.
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From a traffic cam near Macon.
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WOW

Roopville hail and fog
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The storm near Sparta, GA really looks like it could get tornado warned soon.
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I love this good rain!!:)
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334. beell
Possibly becoming outflow-dominant from NE of Macon to Columbus?
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If they have eyes on the meso cyclone, maybe they don't need a warning. Can only speculate.
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any snow for wash?


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does anyone have a radar of the jackson ms storm?
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Quoting Ameister12:
Macon better watch out! These storms are capable of producing winds of over 80mph!

There is some rotation near the Macon area along with the destructive winds.

Quoting Doppler22:

Not tornado warned? hmmmm

Not extremely favorable for that storm to begin with. Rotation isn't that strong.
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SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
GAC053-197-190015-
/O.NEW.KFFC.SV.W.0063.130318T2325Z-130319T0015Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PEACHTREE CITY GA
725 PM EDT MON MAR 18 2013

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN PEACHTREE CITY HAS ISSUED A

* SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING FOR...
EASTERN CHATTAHOOCHEE COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL GEORGIA
MARION COUNTY IN WEST CENTRAL GEORGIA

* UNTIL 815 PM EDT

* AT 720 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING QUARTER SIZED HAIL...AND
DAMAGING WINDS UP TO 60 MPH. THIS STORM WAS LOCATED 26 MILES WEST
OF BUENA VISTA...MOVING EAST AT 40 MPH.

* OTHER LOCATIONS IN THE WARNING INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO
CHRISTOPHER...MANTA...ZELLOBEE...MARION ESTATES...OAKLAND...
BRANTLEY...FIVE POINTS...DRANEVILLE...TAZEWELL AND DOYLE.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

IF YOU SEE WIND DAMAGE...HAIL OR FLOODING...WAIT UNTIL THE STORM HAS
PASSED...AND THEN CALL THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TOLL FREE AT 1 8
6 6 7 6 3 4 4 6 6. YOU CAN ALSO TWEET YOUR REPORT USING HASHTAG GAWX.

A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 1000 PM EDT MONDAY EVENING
FOR NORTHERN GEORGIA.

&&

LAT...LON 3220 8460 3223 8463 3224 8474 3251 8472
3248 8441 3245 8441 3243 8439 3230 8439
3230 8441 3223 8441 3223 8443 3216 8443
TIME...MOT...LOC 2325Z 280DEG 33KT 3245 8488
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14234
Quoting Skyepony:


That isn't tornado warned?

Nice to see the radar recovered.

No, there are no active tornado warnings at the moment
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Macon better watch out! These storms are capable of producing winds of over 80mph!
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326. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Doppler22:

Not tornado warned? hmmmm


That isn't tornado warned?

Nice to see the radar recovered.
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Quoting Skyepony:

Not tornado warned? hmmmm
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323. Skyepony (Mod)
Hope radar comes back next turn. Horrible time for that to go out.
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Squall line is capable of hurricane fore wind gusts.

* AT 715 PM EDT...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A
LINE OF SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING QUARTER SIZED
HAIL...AND DEVASTATING WINDS APPROACHING OR EXCEEDING 80 MPH.
THESE STORMS WERE LOCATED ALONG A LINE EXTENDING FROM 25 MILES
NORTHWEST OF MILLEDGEVILLE TO 8 MILES NORTHWEST OF GRAY TO 21 MILES
NORTHWEST OF BYRON...MOVING EAST AT 50 MPH.
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321. Skyepony (Mod)
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air is stable under that storm way out east, may impede any tornado
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">
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I saw 75mph wind gusts and nickel sized hail...torrential rain.
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Quoting Ameister12:
Good evening, everybody! Praying everybody in and around the Concord and Gay, GA area is alright.

A very nasty storm is moving near Eatonton. Their probably getting pounded by some large hail.
Yeah, they had a 4.00-3.50 inch hail core drop right over them.
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Odd stationary system in GoM. For cold front animation, see my blog.
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Good evening, everybody! Praying everybody in and around the Concord and Gay, GA area is alright.

A very nasty storm is moving near Eatonton. They're probably getting pounded by large hail.
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">
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This beast north of Milledgeville will be tornado warned soon. check it out.

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Quoting hydrus:
This is interesting.

East Coast is gonna get a big storm this time next week. Just got that feeling. Heavy snow DC to Boston. Euro is taking it out to sea right but I don't buy that, I think the 18z GFS has the right idea.
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Quoting Doppler22:

Anything from your brother in Concord? The tornadic part of the storm left his area


Yeah, they are good now..the hail tore his nerves up though..LOL
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14234
Quoting Doppler22:

Anything from your brother in Concord? The tornadic part of the storm left his area
Not him but the news is reporting "intense damage" around the Gay, Concord area.
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This is interesting.
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active day to say the least..200 storm reports

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14234
Quoting ncstorm:


I saw that on Frank Strait page..I hate it for a human being to have been out in that weather without shelter..

Anything from your brother in Concord? The tornadic part of the storm left his area
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Frank Strait Fan Club
I left out the #hail threat, earlier, of the windshield-busting sort with the line of storms all the way from MS to GA, will move into SC.
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14234
Quoting Chucktown:


Storms will be on a significant weakening trend as they cross the Savannah River, especially after sunset. There may be a Severe Thunderstorm Watch extended east, but not expecting anything tornadic across the midlands or Lowcountry of South Carolina.


I wouldnt put out the all clear before it even happens yet..takes people off their guard..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14234
Concord storm seems to have been swallowed up by everything around it, may not have a tornado with it anymore, I'm now more focused on the storm out in front of the rest.
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This cell has the potential to produce a long lasting tornado. The Concord storm was killed by the line but this storm still has an hour before the line caches it.
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Keep the posts coming. Holy Moly!
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
wow!!



I saw that on Frank Strait page..I hate it for a human being to have been out in that weather without shelter..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14234
I have to leave...
:(

darn school!, yes under the snow!
:( ::::::::
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Storm ahead of the line is producing massive hail (probably baseball or higher). Also a potential tornado producer.

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This could be the next tornado producer, but it isn't tornado warned yet nor is there strong rotation.


There was a tornado reported near Concord.
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Post 263
LOL? Why LOL?
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wow!!

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Real nasty looking cell producing huge hail with rotation (though not tornado warned) just out in front of the tornado warned storms.
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Quoting ncstorm:
Frank Strait Fan Club
Main #tornado concern will be in GA and SC Lowcountry. #scwx #gawx


Storms will be on a significant weakening trend as they cross the Savannah River, especially after sunset. There may be a Severe Thunderstorm Watch extended east, but not expecting anything tornadic across the midlands or Lowcountry of South Carolina.
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:

Lol, this is a serious situation and I hate to make jokes about it but this is pretty funny:



yes the treat, i mean, the threat continues...lol

indeed, serious life threatening situation
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Quoting SPLbeater:
Gotta laugh when the Storm Prediction Center mis-spells THREAT and makes it TREAT.

Lol, this is a serious situation and I hate to make jokes about it but this is pretty funny:

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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


the tornado could be heading straight his way...
I hoe he is very aware of this situation...and taking shelter


I told him..they are taking shelter..waiting it out..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 14234

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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