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Warmer Arctic is weakening vegetation growth in North America

Warmer Arctic temperatures have triggered cooler winters and springs in North America, which has weakened vegetation growth and lowered carbon uptake capacity in its ecosystems, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed an index of sea surface temperatures from the Bering Sea and found that in years with higher-than-average Arctic temperatures, changes in atmospheric circulation affected climate throughout North America.

In years of intense cold and low precipitation, the team found that the unfavorable conditions adversely affected vegetation growth—including crop yields—which decreased carbon uptake capacity by about 14 percent, the study said.

“If current warming trends continue, it is feasible to conclude that the ecosystems in regions affected by the anomalous climate will suffer greater damages due to the cold and dry spells,” the authors saId.

Further research is needed to obtain a “general conclusion” on the matter, but the research “delivers important implications for climate adaptation,” the authors added.

The study was conducted by Jin-Soo Kim and Jong-Seong Kug at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), in collaboration with Su-Jong Jeong from South University of Science and Technology in China. It  is published in the journal  Nature Geoscience.

By: David Beasley, Staff Writer

Source: Pohang University of Science and Technology

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