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Title: Human-induced greening of the northern extratropical land surface

Significant land greening in the northern extratropical latitudes (NEL) has been documented from satellite observations during the past three decades. This enhanced vegetation growth has broad implications for surface energy, water and carbon budgets, and ecosystem services across multiple scales. Discernible human impacts on the Earth’s climate system have been revealed by using statistical frameworks of detection–attribution. These impacts, however, were not previously identified on the NEL greening signal, owing to the lack of long-term observational records, possible bias of satellite data, different algorithms used to calculate vegetation greenness, and the lack of suitable simulations from coupled Earth system models (ESMs). Here we have overcome these challenges to attribute recent changes in NEL vegetation activity. We have used two 30-year-long remote-sensing-based leaf area index (LAI) data sets, simulations from 19 coupled ESMs with interactive vegetation, and a formal detection and attribution algorithm. Our findings reveal that the observed greening record is consistent with an assumption of anthropogenic forcings, where greenhouse gases play a dominant role, but is not consistent with simulations that include only natural forcings and internal climate variability. These results provide the first clear evidence of a discernible human fingerprint on physiological vegetation changes other than phenology andmore » range shifts.« less
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  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Environmental Sciences Division and Climate Change Science Inst.
  2. Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Toulouse (France). Meteorology-Atmosphere Study Group
  3. Univ. of Texas, Austin, TX (United States). Jackson School of Geosciences
  4. Lab. of Climate and Environmental Sciences (LSCE), Gif sur Yvette (France)
  5. Boston Univ., MA (United States). Dept. of Earth and Environment
  6. Peking Univ., Beijing (China). Sino-French Inst. for Earth System Science, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences
  7. Beijing Normal Univ. (China). College of Global Change and Earth System Science
  8. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States). Dept. of Industrial and Systems Engineering
  9. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Computer Science and Mathematics Division and Climate Change Science Inst.
  10. State Key Lab of Numerical Modeling for Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysical Fluid Dynamics, Beijing (China). Inst. of Atmospheric Physics; Tsinghua Univ., Beijing (China). Center for Earth System Science
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC05-00OR22725; 641816; 2014CB441302; 610028
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Climate Change
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 6; Journal Issue: 10; Journal ID: ISSN 1758-678X
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23); National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA); National Basic Research Program of China
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1429189