A comparative analysis of changes in the phasing of temperature and satellite-derived greenness at northern latitudes

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Geography and Geology


Plant growth at northern latitudes is highly responsive to the climatic changes that have occurred over recent decades. However, the sensitivity of the phasing of the seasonal cycle of terrestrial ecosystems to a changing environment remains less widely understood. We present an investigation and comparative study of large-scale changes in seasonal cycling of both land surface temperature and plant growth. Our results have shown trends indicating a marked increased towards overall plant productivity by similar to 3% from 1982 to 2005, reduced trends in seasonal variation at low-mid latitudes by similar to 2%, increased trends in seasonal variations at mid-high latitudes by similar to 7%, and an earlier phase in northern terrestrial ecosystems (similar to 1.1 days) in parallel with changes in the phasing of surface temperatures at northern latitudes over the 24 years in this study. These shifts in annual cycles of terrestrial vegetation appear to have a distinct geographical zonality and are dependent upon latitudinal changes in climatic variables. More conspicuous changes in overall vegetation productivity and the seasonal phase of ecosystems have been observed in Eurasia compared to North America, largely because of a more rapid rise in temperature. Our results state that changing climate boosts plant growth at northern latitudes, but also alters the phase and seasonal variations of the annual cycle of terrestrial ecosystems.

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