Greener

The Earth is getting significantly greener because there’s more carbon dioxide in the air.

From a quarter to half of Earth’s vegetated lands has shown significant greening over the last 35 years largely due to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The greening represents an increase in leaves on plants and trees equivalent in area to two times the continental United States.

Of course, we can’t have a parade without someone wanting to rain on it:

While rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the air can be beneficial for plants, it is also the chief culprit of climate change.

This greening was probably not accounted for in the GCMs (Global Circulation Models, i.e., climate models). At least, I’ve never seen mention of this in model descriptions. While these models include feedback mechanisms that magnify* the effects of more CO2 in the atmosphere, greening mitigates the effect by fixing atmospheric carbon in biomass. Patrick Moore has been saying this for ages. Maybe people will listen now that the evidence is overwhelming. This effect can go some way in explaining why the GCMs have systematically over-predicted the rise in temperature. Doomsday averted again!


*If the effect of added CO2 were not enhanced by a positive feedback effect, much less warming would be predicted. The principal greenhouse gas has always been water vapor. Warmer temperatures put more water into the air, thereby magnifying the effect of added CO2 – allegedly. The flies in the ointment are that more water also makes more clouds and more CO2 makes more plants.

5+
avataravataravataravataravatar

Author: drlorentz

photon whisperer & quantum mechanic

30 thoughts on “Greener”

  1. 10 Cents:
    “But I can’t breathe CO2 so rising levels will kill us all. It’s science. CO2 is a poison.”

    Even better: “People exhale CO2, hence part of the problem. So are birds. So are whales. So are polar bears. Oops.”

    2+
    avataravatar
  2. drlorentz:

    10 Cents:
    “But I can’t breathe CO2 so rising levels will kill us all. It’s science. CO2 is a poison.”

    Even better: “People exhale CO2, hence part of the problem. So are birds. So are whales. So are polar bears. Oops.”

    So you are saying, “Save the planet, don’t exhale. If we eliminate all the manmade CO2 we could cut greenhouse gases. Environmentalists can go first.”

    6+
    avataravataravataravataravatar
  3. If an environmentalist wants to reduce his carbon footprint, just suggest he “assume room temperature”.  Result?  One fewer environmentalist wacko in the world.

    1+
    avatar
  4. How is it that they say that the planet is greener because there is more CO?  I think that, rather, they should say that there is more CO2 because the planet is greener, and that the planet is greener because it is warmer.

    It seems to me they have cause and effect reversed.

    1+
    avatar
  5. MJBubba:
    How is it that they say that the planet is greener because there is more CO?  I think that, rather, they should say that there is more CO2 because the planet is greener, and that the planet is greener because it is warmer.

    It seems to me they have cause and effect reversed.

    Plants change CO2 to oxygen. The more plants the less CO2 and more oxygen.

    1+
    avatar
  6. 10 Cents:

    MJBubba:
    How is it that they say that the planet is greener because there is more CO?  I think that, rather, they should say that there is more CO2 because the planet is greener, and that the planet is greener because it is warmer.

    It seems to me they have cause and effect reversed.

    Plants change CO2 to oxygen. The more plants the less CO2 and more oxygen.

    Yes, but doesn’t more plants result in more animals?   Isn’t that directly related to all that laughable coverage of bovine emissions?

    And, in part, isn’t there more green when viewed from satellites because humans have expanded irrigated areas?

    We are not talking about an effect with a single cause.

    0

  7. MJBubba:

    10 Cents:

    MJBubba:
    How is it that they say that the planet is greener because there is more CO?  I think that, rather, they should say that there is more CO2 because the planet is greener, and that the planet is greener because it is warmer.

    It seems to me they have cause and effect reversed.

    Plants change CO2 to oxygen. The more plants the less CO2 and more oxygen.

    Yes, but doesn’t more plants result in more animals?   Isn’t that directly related to all that laughable coverage of bovine emissions?

    And, in part, isn’t there more green when viewed from satellites because humans have expanded irrigated areas?

    We are not talking about an effect with a single cause.

    I had three drinks with dinner, so bear with me.

    Is this sarcasm? It’s sarcasm, right?

    3+
    avataravataravatar
  8. drlorentz:

    10 Cents:

    drlorentz:

    Terry Mott:
    Is this sarcasm? It’s sarcasm, right?

    Let’s hope so.

    Why? You never want me to have any fun. 🙂

    You’ve used up your fun quota for September. It’s going to be a dreary couple of weeks.

    I’ll just rewrite the rules and blame you for not remembering it correctly. “It’s great to be king!”

    1+
    avatar
  9. Here is a picture taken from the summit of the Chasseral, the mountain behind the village where I live.  You’re looking at the Plateau de Diesse, with my home village of Lignières in the foregound.  Behind, you’re looking over the Swiss plateau in the three-lakes region with the Alps in the distance.  The black and white photo is from a postcard dating from around 1940, while the colour photo is one I took in 2007.  (I didn’t get the viewpoint and perspective absolutely identical; so sue me.)

    Suisse: 1940 vs. 2007

    What is striking is the extent of reforestation in the 67 years separating these photos.  Not only have existing forests grown, entirely new forested areas have appeared all over the countryside.  This is, of course, not attributable to CO₂ partial pressure in the atmosphere, but to changing patterns of land use over time.  As agriculture has become more productive, marginal land is allowed to revert to forest.  But the trees act to sequester carbon and when burned to fuel the community heating plant, provide energy with no net CO₂ emission.

    Photos from the Lignières Then and Now photo essay.

    5+
    avataravataravataravataravatar
  10. No sarcasm:

    Europe and North America have more trees now than they did 70 years ago.   Marginal lands that had been in production during the Great Depression have been allowed to return to forest in a gradual process that continues today.   Even with much less land in agricultural production, agriculture produces much more food than ever before.

    This does not counterbalance the problem of tropical deforestation.

    And the Sahara Desert continues to grow, as it has for thousands of years, due to overgrazing around the margins.

    3+
    avataravataravatar
  11. MJBubba:
    No sarcasm:

    Europe and North America have more trees now than they did 70 years ago.   Marginal lands that had been in production during the Great Depression have been allowed to return to forest in a gradual process that continues today.   Even with much less land in agricultural production, agriculture produces much more food than ever before.

    This does not counterbalance the problem of tropical deforestation.

    And the Sahara Desert continues to grow, as it has for thousands of years, due to overgrazing around the margins.

    From the article in the OP.

    However, carbon dioxide fertilization isn’t the only cause of increased plant growth—nitrogen, land cover change and climate change by way of global temperature, precipitation and sunlight changes all contribute to the greening effect. To determine the extent of carbon dioxide’s contribution, researchers ran the data for carbon dioxide and each of the other variables in isolation through several computer models that mimic the plant growth observed in the satellite data.

    Results showed that carbon dioxide fertilization explains 70 percent of the greening effect, said co-author Ranga Myneni, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Boston University. “The second most important driver is nitrogen, at 9 percent. So we see what an outsized role CO2plays in this process.”

    Also

    From a quarter to half of Earth’s vegetated lands has shown significant greening over the last 35 years largely due to rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change on April 25.

    1+
    avatar
  12. MJBubba:
    No sarcasm:

    Europe and North America have more trees now than they did 70 years ago.   Marginal lands that had been in production during the Great Depression have been allowed to return to forest in a gradual process that continues today.   Even with much less land in agricultural production, agriculture produces much more food than ever before.

    This does not counterbalance the problem of tropical deforestation. [emphasis added]

    And the Sahara Desert continues to grow, as it has for thousands of years, due to overgrazing around the margins.

    You understand that the bolded statement is in direct contradiction to the linked article, right? Hence the inference of sarcasm.

    In point of fact, there is no net tropical deforestation, as the map copied into the OP demonstrates. All those green areas on the map represent increases in vegetation. Note that tropical areas are well represented.

    0

  13. I find the global map at the beginning of this thread to be VERY deceptive.

    At first glance one would think that green is the result of vegetation. NOT.

    It is a map showing the statistical development in greening. Or if there is more vegetation that there was previously or less. As said in the link; ” The greening represents an increase in leaves on plants and trees equivalent in area to two times the continental United States.

    What does that exactly mean? ” … equivalent in area to two times the continental United States.”

    Look closer, the area of the south western US is on the negative end of the scale, (distorted intentionally by the position of the US on that map),  much of western Australia, the same many parts of South America also on the negative. Tell me how the northern most regions of Alaska and Russia are so dark a green, trees? no, lichen and grasses, maybe but the dark green makes it look like a great pine forest evolved in the past 30 years.

    Bottom line, the colors chosen for the map or illustration are deceptive in one’s eye.

    They favor the article.

    0

  14. Gerry D:
    I find the global map at the beginning of this thread to be VERY deceptive. At first glance one would think that green is the result of vegetation. NOT.

    The legend of the figure stated exactly what the false-color map depicts. Not to belabor the point, the colors represent the percentage change in leaf area. NASA is a scientific organization reporting on a scientific paper. False color images are commonly used in science. The false colors in this case represent numbers, not the color of the Earth. The colors range from red to blue. The greatest increases are represented by blue, not green. It’s evident that the colors are false even on cursory inspection since the Sahara Desert and the Arabian Peninsula are white. The figure might be confusing if

    1. a person is not familiar with exposition of scientific data and
    2. that person does not read the legend in the figure.

    Gerry D:
    What does that exactly mean? ” … equivalent in area to two times the continental United States.”

    It means that the area (square meters) of the leaves on plants and trees has increased by an amount equal to double the area of the continental US. Since the area of the contiguous US is about 8 million square kilometers, the total area of leaves has increased by about 16 million square kilometers throughout the Earth, according to these researchers.

    Gerry D:
    Look closer, the area of the south western US is on the negative end of the scale, (distorted intentionally by the position of the US on that map)

    This is mind-reading. Any flat map distorts certain parts of globe. The inference that this distortion is intentional in the service of deception is not a fact in evidence, merely a prejudice.

    Gerry D:
    …much of western Australia, the same many parts of South America also on the negative. Tell me how the northern most regions of Alaska and Russia are so dark a green, trees? no, lichen and grasses, maybe but the dark green makes it look like a great pine forest evolved in the past 30 years.

    Since the caption specifically says “leaf area”, your hypothesis that those regions show increases because of lichen appears unlikely. Certain regions may display large percentage increases (bearing in mind what the map’s legend says) because they began from a smaller base than other regions that already have large leaf area concentrations.

    I appreciate that popular expositions of scientific papers often oversimplify the results. If you have further questions, the original paper was published in Nature. The authors explain that they are using leaf area as their metric, which is precisely what the figure’s legend says. Quoting the abstract,

    We show a persistent and widespread increase of growing season integrated LAI (greening) over 25% to 50% of the global vegetated area, whereas less than 4% of the globe shows decreasing LAI (browning).

    The figure reproduced by NASA accurately represents the fact that much of the Earth experienced an increase in leaf area, while a very small region (<4%) experienced a decrease. The cursory impression from the figure that the Earth is getting greener is consonant with the quantitative data reported in the paper. Even a casual reader who failed to notice the map’s legend would be left with a reasonably accurate impression of the paper’s result. In that sense, NASA did a good job of representing the paper’s result for a spectrum of audience sophistication.

    In short, the charge that the figure is deceptive is without factual basis. The Earth is getting greener and the principal reason is the increase in atmospheric CO2.

    3+
    avataravataravatar
  15. I think we all know that Hillary in the 2016 campaign produced half of the worldwide CO2 level for that year. I did read some place that Bill and Hillary after leaving the White House produced a lot of green.

    0

  16. drlorentz:

    Since the caption specifically says “leaf area”, your hypothesis that those regions show increases because of lichen appears unlikely. Certain regions may display large percentage increases (bearing in mind what the map’s legend says) because they began from a smaller base than other regions that already have large leaf area concentrations.

    The ice-free arctic regions of Alaska, Canada, and Russia consist of two biomes: taiga and tundra.  Taiga consists of dense forests and occurs mostly between 50° and 70° N, although distribution varies with altitude and local conditions.  In taiga regions, leaf growth occurs as in any other forest.  North of 70° is predominately tundra, which is characterised by permafrost (permanently frozen soil below a certain depth).  Permafrost cannot support trees, so vegetation consists of plants which can survive in the short growing season when the soil near the surface is thawed.

    Tundra plants are varied, and include grasses, small shrubs, moss, lichens, and wildflowers.  Of these, only lichen ( a symbiosis of fungus and algae) can be said not to have leaves.  Here are some plants growing at 80° N in Franz Josef Land which I photographed in July, 2008.

    Wildflowers: Franz Josef Land (80° N)

    Wildflowers: Franz Josef Land (80° N)

    Wildflowers: Franz Josef Land (80° N)

    As noted, the false colour map shows change in leaf area, and these (tiny) plants could easily double their leaf area by growing larger and/or colonising adjacent areas without turning the Arctic into a lush green meadow.

    Here, for what it’s worth, is a natural colour cloudless rendering of the Earth with vegetation and snow and ice cover on land representative of mid-July, from Earth and Moon Viewer.

    Earth, natural colour. mid-July

    The Arctic Ocean is shown without ice because sea ice (which is highly variable) is not shown.

    3+
    avataravataravatar
  17. John Walker:

    Here, for what it’s worth, is a natural colour cloudless rendering of the Earth with vegetation and snow and ice cover on land representative of mid-July, from Earth and Moon Viewer.

    Earth, natural colour. mid-July

    The Arctic Ocean is shown without ice because sea ice (which is highly variable) is not shown.

    I like how this map shows just how much more vegetation there is in the eastern half of the US versus the west. It’s also much drier and there are fewer natural aerosols, both of which contribute to greater visibility range in the West. It’s not uncommon for me to see Mt. San Antonio from home, a distance of about 50 miles. The more distant (70 mi) Hines Peak is also visible on occasion. I’ve never experienced such ranges back East.

    This rather Bergamanesque picture I took on the trail back down from the summit of Mt. San Antonio illustrates just how dry and barren the West can be. We were above the tree line but it’s not much different below.

    1+
    avatar
  18. drlorentz:

    Gerry D:
    I find the global map at the beginning of this thread to be VERY deceptive. At first glance one would think that green is the result of vegetation. NOT.

    The legend of the figure stated exactly what the false-color map depicts. Not to belabor the point, the colors represent the percentage change in leaf area. NASA is a scientific organization reporting on a scientific paper. False color images are commonly used in science. The false colors in this case represent numbers, not the color of the Earth. The colors range from red to blue. The greatest increases are represented by blue, not green. It’s evident that the colors are false even on cursory inspection since the Sahara Desert and the Arabian Peninsula are white. The figure might be confusing if

    1. a person is not familiar with exposition of scientific data and
    2. that person does not read the legend in the figure.


    With all due respect Doc, not because of your title, but because you are a fellow “Ratburger”, I am familiar with the exposition of scientific data and I had read the legend.

    Gerry D:
    What does that exactly mean? ” … equivalent in area to two times the continental United States.”

    It means that the area (square meters) of the leaves on plants and trees has increased by an amount equal to double the area of the continental US. Since the area of the contiguous US is about 8 million square kilometers, the total area of leaves has increased by about 16 million square kilometers throughout the Earth, according to these researchers.

    Thank you for explaining that.

    Gerry D:
    Look closer, the area of the south western US is on the negative end of the scale, (distorted intentionally by the position of the US on that map)

    This is mind-reading. Any flat map distorts certain parts of globe. The inference that this distortion is intentional in the service of deception is not a fact in evidence, merely a prejudice.

    OK, well then they should have chosen a different type of global projection to more accurately display portions that are distorted. (IMHO) of they just didn’t see that the distortion hides some facts.

    Gerry D:
    …much of western Australia, the same many parts of South America also on the negative. Tell me how the northern most regions of Alaska and Russia are so dark a green, trees? no, lichen and grasses, maybe but the dark green makes it look like a great pine forest evolved in the past 30 years.

    Since the caption specifically says “leaf area”, your hypothesis that those regions show increases because of lichen appears unlikely. Certain regions may display large percentage increases (bearing in mind what the map’s legend says) because they began from a smaller base than other regions that already have large leaf area concentrations.

    I appreciate that popular expositions of scientific papers often oversimplify the results. If you have further questions, the original paper was published in Nature. The authors explain that they are using leaf area as their metric, which is precisely what the figure’s legend says. Quoting the abstract,

    We show a persistent and widespread increase of growing season integrated LAI (greening) over 25% to 50% of the global vegetated area, whereas less than 4% of the globe shows decreasing LAI (browning).

    The figure reproduced by NASA accurately represents the fact that much of the Earth experienced an increase in leaf area, while a very small region (<4%) experienced a decrease. The cursory impression from the figure that the Earth is getting greener is consonant with the quantitative data reported in the paper. Even a casual reader who failed to notice the map’s legend would be left with a reasonably accurate impression of the paper’s result. In that sense, NASA did a good job of representing the paper’s result for a spectrum of audience sophistication.

    In short, the charge that the figure is deceptive is without factual basis. The Earth is getting greener and the principal reason is the increase in atmospheric CO2.


    I agree somewhat that the earth is getting greener, possibly due to CO2, I am not happy with the way it was displayed. I do not blindly agree with something because a government agency, NASA, says so. Nor am I very happy with they way you answered my post. I have my opinion, I did not attempt to put anyone down for their opinion. I stated my opinion.

    One more question; did it make you feel good in putting me down with the way you answered my post? I hope so. I don’t like to put people down and make them feel miserable when they state an opinion. I would rather keep silent or try to explain something, but if it gave you joy, then great, I’ll be your fall guy so you can get some joy out of life.  

    10 Cents posted something today, I suggest you read it.

    If this answer gets me booted from Ratburger, so be it. But I have to state that I was offended by the way my post was responded to.

    0

  19. My want at Ratburger is that people express their opinions and respond with minimal redactions. There will be misunderstandings. I want a healthy back and forth. If you don’t like the way a person responds you will be allowed to respond back (within reason).

    I think it is hard to know the motivation of a person who writes the comment/post. One does not know the tone either. Sometimes it is very clear. 🙂 The main idea is to deal with the facts and not get into the weeds of motivations and attitudes. (Easier said than done.) At best these are guesses and they are often wrong.

    0

Leave a Reply