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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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
chances for a tornado (hail and strong winds) at night...not the best way to end the day in Texas...
their time is about 11:40 PM


The cell on the Williamson/Bell County line appears to be on a trajectory pointed straight at me!
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Quoting greycells:
I'm just wondering if the very fact that Arctic greening is rapidly occurring suggests that over at least millennial time scales this is a regular or relatively frequent occurrence. Newly establishing species would be well adapted to rapid and opportunistic colonisation, and perhaps it should be born in mind that recently thawed Arctic soils, are generally hostile to new plant growth - especially perennial species that include trees. Thus only species that are well adapted to these conditions can rapidly colonize the newly exposed ground. Given the short growing season, a more or less progressive reduction in permafrost over 40 or 50 years can reasonably be seen as indicative of 'newly exposed ground'.


welcome to the blog greycells!
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
chances for a tornado (hail and strong winds) at night...not the best way to end the day in Texas...
their time is about 11:40 PM

Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting originalLT:
Hi Max, yeah, the first day of Spring, but it sure won't feel like it for at least 10 days or so.


hey there...good to see ya.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
I'm just wondering if the very fact that Arctic greening is rapidly occurring suggests that over at least millennial time scales this is a regular or relatively frequent occurrence. Newly establishing species would be well adapted to rapid and opportunistic colonisation, and perhaps it should be born in mind that recently thawed Arctic soils, are generally hostile to new plant growth - especially perennial species that include trees. Thus only species that are well adapted to these conditions can rapidly colonize the newly exposed ground. Given the short growing season, a more or less progressive reduction in permafrost over 40 or 50 years can reasonably be seen as indicative of 'newly exposed ground'.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hi Max, yeah, the first day of Spring, but it sure won't feel like it for at least 10 days or so.
Member Since: January 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 7500
885. wxmod
Quoting WxGeekVA:
wxmod, can you comment on this picture I found? Seems like blatant contrails and modification to me! :)



According to the CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY,"Aviation is a big part of the global warming challenge. If aviation were a country, it would be the 7th largest emitter in the world. Without limits, aviation emissions are projected to almost double by 2030."
Your photo is not about weather modification, but it is about people frivolously wasting the planet's finite resources. Pretty stupid if you ask me.
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:
last hours of winter...finaly over today

FIRST DAY OF ASTRONOMICAL SPRING


Fixed it for ya. ;)
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Quoting WxGeekVA:
wxmod, can you comment on this picture I found? Seems like blatant contrails and modification to me! :)



I know it wouldn't be victor airways/jet routes/VORs. THAT'S FOR SURE. Haha...
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last hours of winter...finally over today

FIRST DAY OF SPRING...if it applies to anyone, then not otherwise
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting bappit:
Has TWC named the apocalypse?


that would be the A name for next season winter storm names...lol
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Has TWC named the apocalypse?
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Quoting weatherrx2012:


Yeah, it is rather annoying. The world will end when it is God's time, so I wish they would just drop it.


they have been doing some non-weather stuff lately.. making them as headings.

I agree, no one knows when the time comes.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


correct...same here.

some random stuff that is.


Yeah, it is rather annoying. The world will end when it is God's time, so I wish they would just drop it.
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Quoting weatherrx2012:
I know this is a little off topic, but is anyone else sick of seeing Weather.com's "Is the End Near" slide, every time you eneter the site? I know I am!


correct...same here.

some random stuff that is.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
I know this is a little off topic, but is anyone else sick of seeing Weather.com's "Is the End Near" slide, every time you eneter the site? I know I am!
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wxmod, can you comment on this picture I found? Seems like blatant contrails and modification to me! :)

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Quoting EricSFL:


Go visit the Outer Banks or something new. When you're older you are going to wish to be bored because of all the responsibilities you will have.


Yes, that's true... I wish I were 15 again. High school was a "playground" compared to how things are now for me...
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:


I thought that was still Katrina roaming around
Wrong K-storm... that's really Karen on her 267th tour of the global tropics... since the last time through the ATL... ;o)
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I'm more anxious for this hurricane season than normal because I know more than what I did last year, but the time is passing by slower than normal and making my life more boring than normal, making me more anxious than normal for the hurricane season.


Go visit the Outer Banks or something new. When you're older you are going to wish to be bored because of all the responsibilities you will have.
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I'm more anxious for this hurricane season than normal because I know more than what I did last year, but the time is passing by slower than normal and making my life more boring than normal, making me more anxious than normal for the hurricane season.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31884
870. Skyepony (Mod)
Tim
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Beneficial rain is likely tomorrow in Central Florida. Numerous showers and thunderstorms and maybe a few stronger cells will develop in response to an approaching shortwave now over Texas.

Lack of deep tropical moisture will prevent torrential rains but stronger cells and longer periods of rain will allow heavier rains in those locations that receive them.
Member Since: August 21, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 7393
Quoting PedleyCA:
Past My Bedtime - Sleep Well - Stay Safe - Stay Warm - Play Nice


Good night...

It's none of my business as to why you do but I'll suffer if I go to sleep at 8:15 PM your time...my sleep time is after midnight...

sleep warm
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Past My Bedtime - Sleep Well - Stay Safe - Stay Warm - Play Nice
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To overbreed & then blather on (for a living no less) about human-caused global warming... WOW
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we have a nissan dealership here were every car was damaged by hail (20 dents of more)

17 have smashed windshield...

some parking lots have damage as well...

at least 500,000 of damage.

you can get a discount of $100 per dent since it's cheaper for them than paying the deductible to repari them.
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Preliminary... to make some changes later as more info becomes available...

Next storm for the Plains/Tennessee Valley


click image for larger size.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
yesterdays tornado in meriwether and pike county near concord and ga GA was a 13.3mile ef-2 tornado.
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862. wxmod
"Currently, 80% of China's imported energy passes through the Strait of Malacca – a crowded, heavily pirated waterway that squeezes past Singapore. Yet over the past few years, melting Arctic ice, a casualty of climate change, has turned the frigid north into a viable shipping route. The newly navigable northern sea route above Russia would cut the distance between Shanghai and northern Europe by 4,000 miles, saving medium-sized bulk carriers about two weeks and £260,000 on each journey. Three years ago, no ships made the voyage. Last year, there were 46."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/18/china -arctic-mineral-investment
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Alabama Power ‏@alabamapower 25m
9:30pm Update: We have additional crews joining the restoration effort on Wednesday. 52,400 customers remain:
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Quoting Levi32:


We all know what they're really hiding in there. The Earth stargate.


COG

Continuity of Government.

In the event that the civilian government is ever wiped out, there is a contingency shadow government in place to try to maintain some form of decency.

This is not a conspiracy theory. It's the truth from the Cold War era.

You need enough government, enough computers, enough people, and enough bombs to organize a nuclear counter-strike to take out the enemy, even if they strike first in a sneak attack. If we go down, they go down too, even if it's too late to matter.
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Quoting goosegirl1:


Pedley's quote is from War Games.


"Shall we play" is from War Games.
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Quoting hurricane23:


Isnt that were superman gets chewed up by those machines?


That was Superman 3.

The "Good" Superman killed his alter-ego by grinding him up in a car grinder, which was in a junk yard, I think.

However, we refer to this as "Plot Induced Stupidity," since Superman's alter-ego should be able to survive a car grinder easily based on other feats. Some people claim the scene never happened; that it was all in Clark's mind.

Later in the movie, Superman fights the computer under ground, but there was no grinding.
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Quoting RTSplayer:


I thought it was, "Shall we play".

"We're going to play a game," is the line from Saw.


Pedley's quote is from War Games.
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Quoting lostinohio:
Silvercreek Georgia,Yesterday
https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc6/20885 7_148505155316117_326289302_n.jpg



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Quoting Levi32:


We all know what they're really hiding in there. The Earth stargate.
They obviously want to keep whatever it is safe from spies and large bombs.
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Quoting PedleyCA:
Do you want to Play a Game?


I thought it was, "Shall we play".

"We're going to play a game," is the line from Saw.
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Quoting lostinohio:
Silvercreek Georgia,Yesterday
https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc6/20885 7_148505155316117_326289302_n.jpg


Nice.....
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Silvercreek Georgia,Yesterday
https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc6/20885 7_148505155316117_326289302_n.jpg
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Quoting hydrus:
The 25-ton North blast door in the Cheyenne Mountain nuclear bunker is the main entrance to another blast door (background) beyond which the side tunnel branches into access tunnels to the main chambers.


We all know what they're really hiding in there. The Earth stargate.
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Quoting hydrus:
Not sure, but I want that door so my wolfhounds cant rip it apart...Wolfhounds obliterate doors...


Lol..It was one of his first movies in the 80s i believe.
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Quoting allancalderini:
No doubt about it.when would it make landfall in Australia is my question.


what is making landfall...lol

" JOSE IS MAKING LANDFALL!!!!" PREPARE!!.... sure...lol
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
You can still make out the remnants of Tim on satellite... he's a happy little swirl :)

No doubt about it.when would it make landfall in Australia is my question.
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Quoting hurricane23:


Isnt that were superman gets chewed up by those machines?
Not sure, but I want that door so my wolfhounds cant rip it apart...Wolfhounds obliterate doors...
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Quoting hydrus:
The 25-ton North blast door in the Cheyenne Mountain nuclear bunker is the main entrance to another blast door (background) beyond which the side tunnel branches into access tunnels to the main chambers.


Isnt that were superman gets chewed up by those machines?
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Quoting greycells:
I'm just wondering if the very fact that Arctic greening is rapidly occurring, suggests that over at least millennial time scales this is a regular or relatively frequent occurrence. Newly establishing species would be well adapted to rapid and opportunistic colonisation, and perhaps it should be born in mind that recently thawed Arctic soils, are generally hostile to new plant growth - especially perennial species that include trees. Thus only species that are well adapted to these conditions can rapidly colonize the newly exposed ground. Given the short growing season, a more or less progressive reduction in permafrost over 40 or 50 years can reasonably be seen as indicative of 'newly exposed ground'.


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Quoting weatherh98:


this is a movie right? trying to recall my memory on this.... for "Money" and if you do well he governent intercedes or something


See #838
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major lake effect...nearly 2' from this

Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting PedleyCA:
Do you want to Play a Game?


this is a movie right? trying to recall my memory on this.... for "Money" and if you do well he governent intercedes or something
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Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:


I thought that was still Katrina roaming around
no doubt

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About

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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