Last updated October 10, 2018

Human-induced greening of the northern extratropical land surface

  • 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