February 19, 2016

Mapping the world for climate sensitivity

A NEW METHOD FOR ECOSYSTEM SENSITIVITY: Global map of the Vegetation Sensitivity Index
(VSI), a new indicator of vegetation sensitivity to climate variability using satellite data. Red colour
shows higher ecosystem sensitivity, whereas green indicates lower ecosystem sensitivity. Grey areas
are barren land or ice covered. Inland water bodies are mapped in blue. Copyright: LEFT

(February 19, 2016)  By using information gathered by satellites, a group of biologists have developed a new method for measuring ecosystem sensitivity to climate variability.

By developing this method, the international team of researchers has been able to map which areas are most sensitive to climate variability across the world.

“Based on the satellite data gathered, we can identify areas that, over the past 14 years, have shown high sensitivity to climate variability,” says researcher Alistair Seddon at the Department of Biology at the University of Bergen (UiB).

Seddon is first author of the paper Sensitivity of global terrestrial ecosystems to climate variability, which has just been published in the journal Nature.

Globe-spanning results

The approach of the researchers has been to identify climate drivers of vegetation productivity on monthly timescales. The researchers have found climate sensitivity in ecosystems around the globe.

“We have found ecologically sensitive regions with amplified responses to climate variability in the Arctic tundra, parts of the boreal forest belt, the tropical rainforest, alpine regions worldwide, steppe and prairie regions of central Asia and North and South America, forests in South America, and eastern areas of Australia,” says Seddon.

journal reference >>