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Arctic regions getting greener due to climate change: NASA (analysed from The Huffington Post, relevant for Prelims, GS III, Topic: Environment, Climate Change, Global Warming)

Due to changing climate, Arctic regions of North America are getting greener, with almost a third of the land cover looking more like landscapes found in warmer ecosystems, according to a new NASA study done by Landsat satellite.

About Landsat satellite:

Landsat is a programme that provides the longest continuous space-based record of Earth’s land vegetation in existence.

With 87,000 images taken from Landsat satellites, converted into data that reflects the amount of healthy vegetation on the ground, the researchers found that western Alaska, Quebec and other regions became greener between 1984 and 2012.

The new Landsat study further supports previous work that has shown changing vegetation in Arctic and boreal North America.

Reason for green growth:

Temperatures are warming faster in the Arctic than elsewhere, which has led to longer seasons for plants to grow in and changes to the soils.

Consequences of green growth:

  1. Scientists have observed grassy tundras changing to shrublands, and shrubs growing bigger and denser. 
  2. These changes could have impacts on regional water, energy and carbon cycles.
  3. Overall, the scientists found that 29.4% of the region greened up, especially in shrublands and sparsely vegetated areas, while 2.9% showed vegetation decline.
     


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