Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

More shrubbery in a warming world

Date:
December 12, 2011
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
Scientists have used satellite data to confirm that more than 20 years of warming temperatures in northern Quebec, Canada, have resulted in an increase in the amount and extent of shrubs and grasses.

Comparison of area in Northern Quebec showing increased vegetation between 1986 and 2004. In this false-color Landsat image, more red color indicates more vegetation.
Credit: Jeff Masek

Scientists have used satellite data from NASA-built Landsat missions to confirm that more than 20 years of warming temperatures in northern Quebec, Canada, have resulted in an increase in the amount and extent of shrubs and grasses.

"For the first time, we've been able to map this change in detail, and it's because of the spatial resolution and length-of-record that you can get with Landsat," says Jeff Masek, the program's project scientist. He's based at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Masek and his co-authors will present their study at the American Geophysical Meeting in San Francisco on Dec. 9.

The study, focusing on Quebec, is one of the first to present a detailed view of how warmer temperatures are influencing plant distribution and density in northern areas of North America.

"Unlike the decline of sea ice, which is a dramatic effect that we're seeing as a result of global warming, the changes in vegetation have been subtle," Masek says.

Computer models predict the northward expansion of vegetation due to warmer temperatures. "They predict a dramatic change over the next 100 years, and people have been wondering why we weren't seeing these changes already, Masek says.

The difference between the computer predictions and real-life vegetation may have to do with all the other factors that come into play with plants, like the availability of water and sunlight; the type of terrain; competition from other plants for soil, resources and space; and plant predators like caribou.

"The warm temperatures are only part of the equation," says Doug Morton, the Principal Investigator of the study and a researcher at NASA Goddard.

Scientists track vegetation with satellites by measuring the 'greenness' of a study area. Morton says previous studies used yearly compilations, making it difficult to determine if the increase in 'greenness' was due to expansion of vegetation cover or if what scientists were seeing was instead just the effect of a longer growing season.

For this study, the scientists focused only on 'greenness' measurements during the peak summer growing seasons from 1986 to 2010.

By using Landsat's higher, 30-meter (~98 foot) resolution and viewing the same area at the same time for 23 years, Masek and his colleagues were able to track the areas as they continued to show more 'greenness' over the years. "It makes sense," Masek says. "This is how shrub encroaching occurs. They increase in size, they increase in density, and then they move northward."

In contrast to the expansion of shrubs, the scientists found little evidence for 'greenness' trends in forested areas, suggesting that forest response to recent warming may be occurring more slowly. Masek adds that it shows how getting the big picture of warming's effect on forests will rely on continued observations from new U.S. missions that extend and enhance these data records.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "More shrubbery in a warming world." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111208152021.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2011, December 12). More shrubbery in a warming world. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111208152021.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "More shrubbery in a warming world." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111208152021.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

Observation Boat to Protect Cetaceans During Ship Transfer

AFP (July 22, 2014) As part of the 14-ship convoy that will accompany the Costa Concordia from the port of Giglio to the port of Genoa, there will be a boat carrying experts to look out for dolphins and whales from crossing the path of the Concordia. Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts

AP (July 21, 2014) New Orleans is the first U.S. city to participate in a large-scale recycling effort for cigarette butts. The city is rolling out dozens of containers for smokers to use when they discard their butts. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

Shark Sightings a Big Catch for Cape Tourism

AP (July 21, 2014) A rise in shark sightings along the shores of Chatham, Massachusetts is driving a surge of eager vacationers to the beach town looking to catch a glimpse of a great white. (July 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

Spectacular Lightning Storm Hits London

AFP (July 19, 2014) A spectaCular lightning storm struck the UK overnight Friday. Images of lightning strikes over the Shard and Tower Bridge in central London. Duration: 00:23 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins