Warmer Earth, greener north - Climate 365 graphic

Vegetation growth at Earth’s northern latitudes increasingly resembles lusher latitudes to the south.

The trend toward a greener North is evident in this visualization – based on land surface and satellite data – that shows how plant growth changed across the 10 million square miles (26 million square kilometers) of northern vegetated lands during the past 30 years.

Of the North’s total vegetated land area, 34 to 41 percent showed increases in plant growth (green and blue), 3 to 5 percent showed decreases in plant growth (orange and red), and 51 to 62 percent showed no changes (yellow).

The changes are driven by enhanced warming and longer growing seasons in the North, which have led to large patches of vigorously productive vegetation that now span a third of the northern landscape, or more than 3.5 million square miles (9 million square kilometers). This landscape resembles what was found 250 to 430 miles (400 to 700 kilometers) to the south in 1982.

"It's like Winnipeg [in Canada] moving to Minneapolis-Saint Paul [in the US]," says Compton Tucker, scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

You can also find this graphic on NASA’s Climate 365 Tumblr page.


NASA Climate 365 project - a collaboration of the NASA Earth Science News Team, NASA Goddard and Jet Propulsion Laboratory communications teams, and NASA websites Earth Observatory and Global Climate Change. Visualization by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio.