According to a NASA analysis of satellite data, the northern regions of the world are experiencing amplified greenhouse effects. Vegetation is quickly beginning to resemble that found in lusher southern areas just 30 years ago. Scientists at studied the average surface temperature as it relates to vegetation growth in areas at 45 degrees latitude and above.
“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,” said Boston University’s Ranga Myneni. Myeni is part of the university’s Department of Earth and Environment. “In the north’s Arctic and boreal areas, the characteristics of the seasons are changing, leading to great disruptions for plants and related ecosystems.”
Now many northern landscapes—particularly in Canada, Russia, and Alaska—resemble what was 250-430 miles to the south just 30 years ago. “It’s like Winnipeg, Manitoba, moving to Minneapolis-Saint Pail in only 30 years,” said Comptom Tucker of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., co-author of the study.
While it might not immediately sound so bad to have lusher land in the north, the long-term effects are worrisome to say the least. As ice melts, the dark ocean water and surfaces will absorb more warmth and solar energy rather than reflecting it. This will warm the air in turn, creating an amplified greenhouse effect. That will melt ice even faster, and in doing so may release even more carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere and exacerbating global warming.
Warmer northern temperatures may also bring other problems, such as more frequent forest fires, pest infestations and outbreaks, droughts, and more.