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.

Related Articles


"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 October 30, 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 October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Mudslide in Sri Lanka Buries Houses

Deadly Mudslide in Sri Lanka Buries Houses

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) A mudslide triggered by monsoon rains buried scores of workers' houses at a tea plantation in central Sri Lanka on Wednesday, killing at least 10 people and leaving more than 250 missing, an official said. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Galapagos Tortoises Bounce Back, But Ecosystem Lags

Galapagos Tortoises Bounce Back, But Ecosystem Lags

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) The Galapagos tortoise has made a stupendous recovery from the brink of extinction to a population of more than 1,000. But it still faces threats. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saharan Solar Project to Power Europe

Saharan Solar Project to Power Europe

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 29, 2014) A solar energy project in the Tunisian Sahara aims to generate enough clean energy by 2018 to power two million European homes. Matt Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

Obama: The US Will Not 'run and Hide' From Ebola

AP (Oct. 29, 2014) Surrounded by health care workers in the White House East Room, President Barack Obama said the U.S. will likely see additional Ebola cases in the weeks ahead. But he said the nation can't seal itself off in the fight against the disease. (Oct. 29) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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