Jun 27, 2016

Human-induced greening of the northern extratropical land surface

Jiafu Mao, Aurélien Ribes, Binyan Yan, Xiaoying Shi, Peter E. Thornton, Roland Séférian, Philippe Ciais, Ranga B. Myneni, Hervé Douville, Shilong Piao, Zaichun Zhu, Robert E. Dickinson, Yongjiu Dai, Daniel M. Ricciuto, Mingzhou Jin et al
Nature Climate Change
  • States that significant land greening in the northern extratropical latitudes (NEL) has been documented through satellite observations during the past three decades
  • States that enhanced vegetation growth has broad implications for surface energy, water and carbon budgets, and ecosystem services across multiple scales
  • States that scientists have revealed discernible human impacts on the Earth’s climate system using statistical frameworks of detection–attribution
  • Attributes recent changes in NEL vegetation activity using two 30-year-long remote-sensing-based leaf area index (LAI) data sets, simulations from 19 coupled ESMs with interactive vegetation, and a formal detection and attribution algorithm
  • Findings reveal that the observed greening record is consistent with an assumption of anthropogenic forcings, where greenhouse gases play a dominant role, but is not consistent with simulations that include only natural forcings and internal climate variability
  • Results provide the first clear evidence of a discernible human fingerprint on physiological vegetation changes other than phenology and range shifts