The very same carbon emissions responsible for harmful changes to climate are also fertilizing plant growth

Carbon emissions, yes, those same ones responsible for harmful effects and changes on climate – are also making the world a greener place. Which, in return is somewhat moderating global warming, as it has a cooling effect – only just not enough.

Satellite data and models show that global warming could be 25% higher were it not for the carbon trapping and cooling effect of a greening Earth during the past 40 years. And nothing has encouraged the greening of the earth more than higher temperatures due to climate changes.

These interesting facts come out of a brand new scientific study made by several international scientists from e.g. the Sino-French Institute for Earth System Science in the College of Urban and Environmental Sciences at Peking University, PRC, from the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research at the Fram Centre in Tromsø, Norway and from NASA’s Ames Research Center, USA.

The study, titled: “Characteristics, drivers and feedbacks of global greening” is based on a review of over 250 published articles and new results from multiple satellites, model studies and field observations to detail the geography, causes and consequences of global greening.

The study reports that continued climate-altering carbon emissions and intensive land use have inadvertently greened half of the Earth’s vegetated lands. Green leaves convert sunlight to sugars, thus providing food, fiber and fuel, while replacing carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air with water. The removal of heat-trapping CO2 and wetting of air cools the Earth’s surface.

The greening is marked globally, even a remote high Arctic place like Svalbard, for example, has seen a 30% increase in greenness concurrent with about 4 degrees increase in mean summer temperature between 1986 and 2015.

Read more about results from this new report here in JONAA, Journal of the North Atlantic & Arctic.

Photograph: JONAA©Agust Runarsson

Illustration ©Nature Reviews Earth & Environment