Warming in the Arctic in recent years has caused the area to get greener, says new research.
The results show that most plants in the Arctic have grown taller, and the proportion of bare ground has decreased. Above all, there has been an increase in evergreen shrubs.
“We’ve managed to link the vegetation changes observed at the different sites to the degree of local warming,” says researcher and biologist Robert Bjork from the University of Gothenburg, the journals Nature Climate Change and Ecology Letters report.
Comparisons show that the prevalence of vascular species, such as shrubs and plants, is increasing as temperatures rise. The degree of change depends on climate zone, soil moisture and the presence of permafrost, according to a Gothenburg statement.
Researchers working on the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) have been gathering data for almost 30 years. By analysing changes in vegetation in 158 plant communities at 46 locations across the Arctic between 1980 and 2010, they have been able to identify a number of general trends.
“We’ve managed to show that the vegetation changes in our fixed plots are a result of local warming at numerous sites across the world’s tundra,” Robert Bjork says.