Images Show Grasslands May See Some Positive Effects From Climate Change

By on March 3, 2016

Kendall Grassland in southeastern Arizona. (Credit: R.L. Scott / USDA-ARS)

Using data from grassland images taken every day over areas of North America, scientists have created a model that shows how grassland growth patterns will shift as the climate changes. The modeling results for the near future contain some rare good news, according to a release from the National Science Foundation.

Although grasslands are going to experience more droughts and higher summer temperatures, they will also experience an earlier growing season and warmer winter temperatures, which might make them even more productive than they are currently, results suggest.

To create a model of hydrology and vegetation in North America, researchers utilized information from the PhenoCam Network, an internet-connected system of 250 cameras that capture images of local North American vegetation every 30 minutes. The cameras used were distributed over 14 sites that reflect a variety of climates.

A metric of “greenness” was used to estimate vegetation activity. The data-gathering regions were divided into thousands of 10-square-kilometer blocks, which permitted observations of how different climate change response patterns emerged in different areas.

Top image: Kendall Grassland in southeastern Arizona. (Credit: R.L. Scott / USDA-ARS)

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