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 ConnecticutWXGuy:


I thought that was still Katrina roaming around
no doubt

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Quoting weatherh98:


no wait

jose


I thought that was still Katrina roaming around
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Do you want to Play a Game?
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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.


War Games !!
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Quoting trHUrrIXC5MMX:


Nadine....lol


no wait

jose
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Quoting MAweatherboy1:
You can still make out the remnants of Tim on satellite... he's a happy little swirl :)



Nadine....lol
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
NORAD/USNORTHCOM Alternative Command Center prior to the Cheyenne Mountain Realignment.
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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 MAweatherboy1:
You can still make out the remnants of Tim on satellite... he's a happy little swirl :)



naked swirllllll
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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.
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Quoting Skyepony:

Hadn't had a chance to look til now..rocket successful.
Sweet..Another thingy for the goys at NORAD to track..:)
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Quoting 1900hurricane:
Here's something cool. A large plume of bats just left the Austin area, as shown by radar. Unfortunately for them, they appear to he headed straight for a thunderstorm!



You can spot the big colony at Bracken cave outside San Antonio on radar too, when they come out in the evening.
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829. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting hydrus:
Dorked...damn thats funny..not the failed rocket of course.

Hadn't had a chance to look til now..rocket successful.
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Hi everyone.

What is the source of tonight's / tomorrow's high rain probabilities for central and south Florida? I do not see anything imminent on satellite. Thanks.
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You can still make out the remnants of Tim on satellite... he's a happy little swirl :)

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8035
Quoting ncstorm:
enough rain? through 360 hours


0_0 just a little bit
Member Since: February 13, 2012 Posts: 11 Comments: 3860
Quoting hydrus:
I wonder if the bats sonar will alert them to the impending storm..tune in to the same bat station and channel..


Left turn Clyde....
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Quoting 1900hurricane:
Here's something cool. A large plume of bats just left the Austin area, as shown by radar. Unfortunately for them, they appear to he headed straight for a thunderstorm!

I wonder if the bats sonar will alert them to the impending storm..tune in to the same bat station and channel..
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Here's something cool. A large plume of bats just left the Austin area, as shown by radar. Unfortunately for them, they appear to he headed straight for a thunderstorm!

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Quoting PedleyCA:


Guilty as Charged.....


Ok - I do need to leave ...

my last nit! ;)

We are not part of the US which makes us not part of CONUS.

We are Link

- take care and take care of this wonderful blog.

- but bring your passport!
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821. VR46L
Quoting ncstorm:
enough rain? through 360 hours



If that pans out , there would be a bit of a dent in the drought map ... prob explains the rapid thaw at the end of the Snow Map run !
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6997
enough rain? through 360 hours

Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16223
819. VR46L
Quoting PedleyCA:


LOL!!

Agreed


Anyway looks like the GFS want a rapid thaw at the end of the 18z SNow Depth 18z


Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6997
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817. VR46L
Quoting PedleyCA:


Guilty as Charged.....


Ah you will only get me back sometime .....Truce?
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6997
Quoting Neapolitan:
Nothing fancy; just plain old bog-standard Excel with its intrinsic chart function.
Ah, I see. Thanks for letting me know, good to know what Excel is capable of
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Quoting VR46L:


And who started the nitpicking? :P


Guilty as Charged.....
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Nasty snow squall headed for the hudson valley of NY.
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Evening everyone. Another cool day here with some rain as the front approaches Nassau. Each time a front has approached this month, it's gotten muggier and muggier, so that one simultaneously feels the need for a jacket and finds oneself sweating after having it on for five minutes.... skin schizophrenia...
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812. VR46L
Quoting PedleyCA:


That would be considered Florida and as such would be CONUS. It got out of hand and we went really South and ended up with Wellington, New Zealand as the farthest South U.S. Property (Embassy) Nitpickers aren't we.....


And who started the nitpicking? :P
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6997
Quoting PedleyCA:


That would be considered Florida and as such would be CONUS. It got out of hand and we went really South and ended up with Wellington, New Zealand as the farthest South U.S. Property (Embassy) Nitpickers aren't we.....


agreed!! off to other adventures.
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Quoting GeoffreyWPB:
http://www.wptv.com/dpp/news/statue-of-liberty-to -reopen-by-independence-day


Just saw that on the News. Was 1st I heard of that damage.
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Quoting docrod:


I've been residents of both Oahu (Aiea) and Florida Keys (KCB) - since Key West is technically an island (never mind US1) - is Key West officially part of CONUS?

Never been to Antarctica or Spain. ;>)


That would be considered Florida and as such would be CONUS. It got out of hand and we went really South and ended up with Wellington, New Zealand as the farthest South U.S. Property (Embassy) Nitpickers aren't we.....
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Statue of Liberty to reopen by Independence Day
Member Since: September 10, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 11539
Quoting TomTaylor:

Matlab can do some nice things. If you can convince them, you might could get a student license for $99 or so. Then there is R which is free. Just what I'm aware of.
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Quoting PedleyCA:


Depending on where the Embassy was located inside the country. It turned out to be Canberra, Australia unless we have one in Antarctica.....lol Chile and Argentina are North of that.


I've been residents of both Oahu (Aiea) and Florida Keys (KCB) - since Key West is technically an island (never mind US1) - is Key West officially part of CONUS?

Never been to Antarctica or Spain. ;>)
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Quoting TomTaylor:
Hey Jim, I was wonderin, is there a website or a program you use to make those charts and graphs?

I really like your graphs but unfortunately they don't look like something I could create in Microsoft Word lol
Nothing fancy; just plain old bog-standard Excel with its intrinsic chart function.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13799
803. beell
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802. beell
About 40mi SW of Atlanta, GA

Meriwether and Pike County Tornado
Rating: EF-2
Max wind speed: 120 mph
Path length: 13.35 miles
Path width: 300 yards
Injuries: 0
Deaths: 0
Start time: 6:10 PM
End time: 6:30 PM
Begin point: 33.143743N/-84.676504W
End point: 33.089763N/-84.454884W
NWS Peachtree City, GA 03/18 Severe Weather
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801. N3EG
Quoting MrMixon:


:)

No, I don't expect a reply. I just can't help myself...

It's like pressing a shiny red button that is clearly not connected to anything... yeah, it's an impotent gesture, but still... Shiny! Red!



Darn! Now I have a fingerprint on my screen.
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Quoting RitaEvac:


Experts know things like this can work...the problem is companies and people can't get rich off of it since it's free energy out of thin air. No profits, means not in mans interest.


That's exactly what happened to Nikola Tesla.
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Quoting Neapolitan:
Well, of course the North Pole is still iced over; it's the time of the annual maximum. Now, if you want to see the real story of what's going on up north, look at these two graphs (I just drew them up, so haven't posted them to my climate graphs site yet).

ice

ice
Hey Jim, I was wonderin, is there a website or a program you use to make those charts and graphs?

I really like your graphs but unfortunately they don't look like something I could create in Microsoft Word lol
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I want this year round, It is 71.1°F now, 46% humidity.
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797. VR46L
Quoting MrMixon:


The list of US embassies is quite long... aren't we a diplomatic bunch?


(and yes, it looks like Wellington, NZ is on the list)


I thought there was, as they have an embassy in my country which is way more politically insignificant
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6997
Quoting MrMixon:


The list of US embassies is quite long... aren't we a diplomatic bunch?


(and yes, it looks like Wellington, NZ is on the list)


That would be the one. By a bunch more than the others. Good find.
About 6 Degrees father South that Canberra
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Quoting VR46L:


Do you not have an embassy in Wellington ?


The list of US embassies is quite long... aren't we a diplomatic bunch?


(and yes, it looks like Wellington, NZ is on the list)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
794. VR46L
Quoting PedleyCA:


Depending on where the Embassy was located inside the country. It turned out to be Canberra, Australia unless we have one in Antarctica.....lol Chile and Argentina are North of that.


Do you not have an embassy in Wellington ?
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6997


URGENT - IMMEDIATE BROADCAST REQUESTED
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH NUMBER 56
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
545 PM CDT TUE MAR 19 2013

THE NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER HAS ISSUED A
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH FOR PORTIONS OF

PARTS OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHEAST TEXAS

EFFECTIVE THIS TUESDAY AFTERNOON FROM 545 PM UNTIL MIDNIGHT CDT.

HAIL TO 2 INCHES IN DIAMETER...THUNDERSTORM WIND GUSTS TO 70
MPH...AND DANGEROUS LIGHTNING ARE POSSIBLE IN THESE AREAS.

THE SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH AREA IS APPROXIMATELY ALONG AND 55
STATUTE MILES NORTH AND SOUTH OF A LINE FROM 125 MILES WEST
NORTHWEST OF AUSTIN TEXAS TO 30 MILES SOUTH SOUTHEAST OF COLLEGE
STATION TEXAS. FOR A COMPLETE DEPICTION OF THE WATCH SEE THE
ASSOCIATED WATCH OUTLINE UPDATE (WOUS64 KWNS WOU6).

REMEMBER...A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE
FAVORABLE FOR SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH
AREA. PERSONS IN THESE AREAS SHOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR
THREATENING WEATHER CONDITIONS AND LISTEN FOR LATER STATEMENTS
AND POSSIBLE WARNINGS. SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS CAN AND OCCASIONALLY
DO PRODUCE TORNADOES.

DISCUSSION...THUNDERSTORM DEVELOPMENT IS UNDERWAY ACROSS CENTRAL TX
NEAR THE INTERSECTION OF A DIFFUSE TROUGH/DRYLINE AND WNW-ESE
ORIENTED SURFACE FRONT. THE AIR MASS S OF THE FRONT IS MODERATELY
UNSTABLE WITH BOUNDARY LAYER DEWPOINTS IN THE MID-UPPER 50S AND
TEMPERATURES IN THE LOW-MID 80S...WHICH IS DRIVING MLCAPE AROUND
1500 J/KG. MEANWHILE...WATER VAPOR IMAGERY SHOWS THE APPROACH OF A
MID-UPPER JET STREAK MOVING FROM NM INTO W CENTRAL TX...AND ASCENT
IN THE EXIT REGION OF THIS JET STREAK WILL OVERSPREAD CENTRAL TX
THIS EVENING. THUS...THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED TO INCREASE IN
COVERAGE/INTENSITY THIS EVENING...IN AN ENVIRONMENT WITH SUFFICIENT
DEEP-LAYER VERTICAL SHEAR FOR SUPERCELLS. LARGE HAIL WILL BE THE
PRIMARY SEVERE THREAT WITH THE INITIAL SUPERCELLS...AND THE RISK FOR
A FEW DAMAGING GUSTS WILL DEPEND MORE ON UPSCALE GROWTH INTO A
CLUSTER THROUGH STORM MERGERS.

AVIATION...A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL SURFACE AND ALOFT
TO 2 INCHES. EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE WIND GUSTS TO 60
KNOTS. A FEW CUMULONIMBI WITH MAXIMUM TOPS TO 500. MEAN STORM
MOTION VECTOR 30025.


...THOMPSON
Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8035
Quoting docrod:


Exactly. Unless you include US Embassy's in the southern Hemisphere. These are also supposed to be US "territory" as well and enjoy "local" postage and so forth.


Depending on where the Embassy was located inside the country. It turned out to be Canberra, Australia unless we have one in Antarctica.....lol Chile and Argentina are North of that.
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Quoting Neapolitan:
Some friendly advice: I think your words would carry more weight and credibility if you could please link to a science source instead of a heavy-duty denialist site, an idceological trove of illogical and scientifically-baseless blatherings such as, "Environmentalism will be worse for the poor than climate change" and "The evidence for anthropogenic climate change is neither as strong nor as demanding of action as is widely claimed."


You are never ever wrong, I'd bet your not married either!
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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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