The Greening of Asia
Ichii, K., Kondo, M., Okabe, Y., Ueyama, M., Kobayashi, H., Lee, S.-J., Saigusa, N., Zhu, Z. and Myneni, R.B. 2013. Recent changes in terrestrial gross primary productivity in Asia from 1982 to 2011. Remote Sensing 5: 6043-6062.
Ichii et al. begin their story by noting they assessed past changes in gross primary productivity (GPP) "using historical satellite observations based on the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) onboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite series and four terrestrial biosphere models to identify trends and driving mechanisms related to GPP and NDVI in Asia." Results of their analysis revealed (1) approximately 40% of the continent's non-ice-covered land mass experienced a significant increase in the NDVI over the last 30 years, (2) less than 5% of the studied regions exhibited decreasing vegetation trends, (3) "increases in the NDVI are dominant in the sub-continental regions of Siberia, East Asia, and India," (4) "simulations using the terrestrial biosphere models also showed significant increases in GPP, similar to the results for the NDVI, in boreal and temperate regions," (5) "a modeled sensitivity analysis showed that the increases in GPP are explained by increased temperature and precipitation in Siberia," and (6) "precipitation, solar radiation and CO2 fertilization are important factors in the tropical regions."
In considering all of the above, as the atmosphere's CO2 concentration continues to rise, Earth's terrestrial plants are photosynthesizing at ever greater rates while using water ever more efficiently, which phenomena are leading to a great Greening of the Earth that is literally transforming the planet - for the better - right before our eyes.