Scientists have rung another warning bell about changes in the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic. Scientists are saying that the northern latitudes have experienced a significant reduction in temperature and vegetation growth is starting to look a lot like the green latitudes to the south.
A NASA-funded international study published in Nature Climate Change on Sunday, used a new 30-year satellite data set and temperature records to study the effect of temperature rise on vegetation in the Arctic and regions just below it. The researchers found a 10% increase in Arctic plant growth since the early 1980s while focusing on the area above the 50 degree latitude mark, right above Seattle, Washington. This increase was seen in more than one-third of the vegetated lands. During the same period, the mean temperature of land in the region, excluding ice sheets, rose by 1 to 2 degrees Celsius.
Analyzing the gathered data between 1982 and 2011, researchers are quite sure that the difference between winter and summer temperatures in this region has diminished over the past three decades. As a result, plants from 4 to 6 degrees of latitude south of where the researchers were looking were found in this area.
The findings were reported by an international team of 21 authors from seven countries, who used latitude as a yardstick to study seasonality changes. The study also found that temperature seasonality (the temperature difference between summer and winter season) was reducing in many Arctic regions because the colder seasons were warming more rapidly than the summers.
That means, the Arctic region is witnessing some of the most dramatic fall outs of climate change. Changes in vegetation and seasons may hit availability of food and alter the life pattern of many animals like the polar bear. These may also hit migratory birds.