Researchers caution that plant growth in the north may not stay on its current trajectory because an amplified greenhouse effect will increase the frequency of forest fires, droughts and pest infestations.
Reporting in the journal Nature Climate Change, an international team of researchers writes that the northern latitudes have experienced a significant reduction in temperature and vegetation seasonality. They contend that vegetation growth at Earth’s northern latitudes is starting to look a lot like the green latitudes to the south. The study’s findings are based on a 30-year record of land surface and satellite data sets.
The researchers looked at the relationship between changes in surface temperature and vegetation growth from 45 degrees north latitude to the Arctic Ocean. The study’s findings reveal that temperature and vegetation growth at northern latitudes now appear like those found 4 degrees to 6 degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 1982.
Lead co-author Liang Xu, a Boston University doctoral student, says that increased warming in the northern latitudes above the Canada-USA border is lowering temperature seasonality because the colder seasons are warming faster than the summer.