NASA Study Finds 'Radical Greening' on Earth

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April 29, 2016

Earth is a bit greener after a sustained period of excess carbon dioxide, according to a new study from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Between 1982 and 2009, areas that were formerly full of dirt or sand or ice now sport green foliage. NASA listed the area that has been subject to so-called “radical greening” as twice as large as the continental United States.

The higher amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere accelerated the rate of photosynthesis and, by extension, the rate of plant growth, NASA said, even in areas in which foliage had been sparse.

NASA scientists warned that such radical change in plant growth could affect the water cycle and could alter the overall climate system as well.

The astronomically high level of carbon dioxide, a level that NASA says is the highest in half a million years, has already led to profound changes in weather patterns, causing glaciers to melt and sea levels to rise. As well, botanical studies from years past have shown a correlation between sustained increases in carbon dioxide and a drop in plant fertilization.

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