As scientists everywhere are trying to understand the impact that global warming has over our planet, a group of researchers from the University of Bergen may have figured out a way to map out all the different variations that occur throughout the globe. Their new study measures Earth’s sensitivity to climate change.
By pulling data off satellites, a few biologists have come up with a measuring technique in order to observe the ecosystem’s sensitivity to climate change. Through this method, they are able to see which areas are most likely to be affected by climate variations around the world.
Their approach has been to identify the key climate factors that influence vegetation productivity over the course of a month and try to determine which regions are more responsive to climate change.
Some of the key variables that they’ve analyzed are temperature, cloudiness and water availability.
According to Alistair Seddon, researcher at the University of Bergen, they discovered that certain areas were more ecologically sensitive than others, such as the Arctic tundra, the tropical rainforest, alpine regions, forests in South America, eastern parts of Australia and certain areas from the boreal forest belt.
He further mentions that over the last 14 years these areas have shown great sensitivity to climate variability, with amplified responses over time.
The researchers have developed a metric called the Vegetation Sensitivity Index, which presents in a quantifiable manner the impact of climate change and how fragile certain ecosystems are to temporary anomalies, such as a warmer month of June, a colder December or a cloudier September.
In order to complete their research, the team gathered satellite data spanning more than a decade, from 2000 to 2013. They were then able to compare the most important climate variables against changes in ecosystem productivity that they’ve found around the world.
This gives researchers an understanding on how vegetation changes over time and what are the driving factors behind it. In time, they will be able to add more data to the metric system and compare it against the information that they currently have.
As the effects of climate variations continue to extend, this research could represent a very important resource for governments everywhere, who are trying to develop an accurate and effective response method to the ecological changes that they are facing.
Image Source: Yale