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Space technology investigates large-scale changes to Africa’s climate

ScienceDaily (March 5, 2015)

Space technology investigates large-scale changes to Africa’s climate

ScienceDaily (March 5, 2015)

The study, which investigated the rainfall and greenness of plants in African regions using satellite mapping technology, suggests that areas such as the Congo, Nigeria and Madagascar now receive far less rainfall than they did a decade ago, while other locations such as the Sahel zone have become far greener through increased rainfall.

This figure shows a trend in vegetation greenness over 10 years. Green = greener conditions, red = less green conditions.

The findings highlight areas where climatic changes are the likely cause of greener or browner vegetation. More rain can lead to a ’greening up’ of large regions, as was the case in the West African Sahel zone. If rains become scarcer, in dry areas the plants cannot ’green up’ as much. This effect is large enough to be observed from satellite.

The new concept developed by the research team interprets satellite observations of rainfall and vegetation greenness at the same time. If the plants lost some of their greenness over time, then the researchers checked for climatic changes, meaning reduced rainfall. If reduced rains coincide with browner plants, the chances are that the climatic change causes the changes in the plants.

If there was more rain and the plants greened up over the ten years of data, the researchers think that there was a positive impact of climatic change on the plants. However, in areas where the weather got wetter but plants were browning, non-climatic factors are likely behind the change. Such factors can be human land use change, agricultural expansion, overgrazing or ecological disturbances.

Story Source University of Leicester

Pour en savoir plus (ScienceDaily)

Page publiée le 25 décembre 2015