Finally, some good news for environmentalists and green activists. NASA has observed that
foliage around the planet has increased and leading this increase are the two most
populated countries China and India.
This pleasant change has come around due to high level of agriculture and tree planting
programs followed by both countries. While the greening-phenomenon, as it is called, was first detected by Ranga Myneni of Boston University and colleagues, in the mid-1990s.
They weren’t sure if human activity was contributing to it majorly. But a 20-year long data record from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, provided the information needed to affirm this fact.
The MODIS is a NASA instrument that orbits the earth on two satellites. The information
provided by the MODIS is very accurate as it comes from high-resolution data. This helps the researchers check the details of Earth’s vegetation, as low as the level of 500 meters.
There has been an observed increase in the leaf area on plants and trees.
This increase was equivalent to the area covered by the entire Amazon rainforest. As compared to early 2000s, there are more than two million square miles of extra green leaf area per year now.
Rama Nemani, a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, in
California’s Silicon Valley, and a co-author of this research, said that “This long-term
data lets us dig deeper.
When the greening of the Earth was first observed, we thought it was due to a warmer, wetter climate and fertilization from the added carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, leading to more leaf growth in northern forests, for instance.
Now, with the MODIS data that lets us understand the phenomenon at really small scales, we see that humans are also contributing.”