Earth has done an ecological about-face: Global plant productivity that once flourished under warming temperatures and a lengthened growing season is now on the decline, struck by the stress of drought.
The study, by NASA-funded researchers Maosheng Zhao and Steven Running of the University of Montana, found that the past 10 years have seen a decline in global plant productivity of 1 percent. That is slight, but it is also in stark contrast to the six percent increase experienced over the course of two earlier decades, according to the study.
The take-away message:
“These results are extraordinarily significant because they show that the global net effect of climatic warming on the productivity of terrestrial vegetation need not be positive — as was documented for the 1980’s and 1990’s,” said Diane Wickland, of NASA Headquarters and manager of NASA’s Terrestrial Ecology research program.