A study done by university and NASA scientists using historical data about the upper Northern Hemisphere shows that there are now areas of vegetation that resemble those that would have been observed about 700 kilometers south in 1982. The segment of Earth studied exists above 45 degrees north latitude and contains approximately 26 million square kilometers of vegetated land. NASA researcher Compton Tucker compares the greening effect to “Winnipeg…moving to Minneapolis-Saint Paul in only 30 years.”
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What’s the Big Idea?
It’s pretty simple, according to climate scientist Ranga Myneni: “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.” Although those of us living up North may appreciate further evidence of shorter winters, these findings are bad news. The explosion of plant life over the last three decades is the result of an amplified greenhouse effect, and as northern lands continue to thaw out, significant amounts of greenhouse gases will be released into the atmosphere, increasing warming even further and upping the risk of drought and forest fires.