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Canada's North Is Going Green Because Of Climate Change: NASA Study

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Climate change has caused almost a third of the land cover in Canada and Alaska to go green, according to a NASA study.

Using 87,000 satellite images, researchers found there was extensive greening, or vegetation growth, between 1984 and 2012 in the western Alaska tundra and along the north and northeastern coast of Canada.

In the April report, NASA researchers say the most intensive greening was observed in Quebec and Labrador.

It's an "unmistakable" trend, researchers wrote.

canada tundra
In this screengrab from a NASA video on the study, the greener regions represent the areas that have seen more intense greening over time. (Photo: NASA Goddard/YouTube)

The study also found that the warmer climate was affecting the Boreal regions in Canada and Alaska. In those areas, researchers found an opposite effect: browning.

Scott Goetz, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Centre in Massachusetts, told the National Post that "trees in the boreal system do not respond well to high temperatures,” which limits vegetation productivity.

The research supports previous studies on vegetation. But in using the images from Landsat satellites, researchers were able to get a much more localized view of the landscape.

'We can zoom in'

"The resolution with Landsat is drastically improved, it lets you look at the local effects of things like topography, such as in areas where you might have small woodlands or open areas," Jeffrey Masek, one of the researchers who worked on the study, told the agency.

More detailed data will help researchers zero in on greening patterns in these areas.

"One of the big questions is, ‘Will forest biomes migrate with warming climate?’ There hasn’t been much evidence of it to date,” Masek said. “But we can zoom in and see if it’s changing."

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