Global vegetation growth has stalled for the last 20 years and scientists may now know why
The latest results could have significant implications for our understanding of how the planet will adapt to climate change.
"Two years ago, we noticed global vegetation growth decreases starting from the late 1990s," Yuan said in a statement provided to
VPD is a critical factor when it comes to photosynthesis in plants—the process by which the organisms harness light to fuel themselves. According to the researchers, changes in VPD can have significant affects on ecosystems. For example, higher atmospheric VPD can negatively interfere with photosynthesis in plants, hindering growth and increasing the mortality rates of vegetation and forests.
For their study, the researchers found that atmospheric VPD had increased significantly around the world in the late 1990s over land covered in vegetation. This seemingly led to a reduction in vegetation, reversing the growth which the planet had experienced between the years 1982 and 1998.
"First, the rising temperature inland leads to increases in the saturation water vapor," Yuan said."Second, we found the actual water vapor decreases. These two adverse changes amplify the difference and make VPD increase. It is easy to understand the reason for increasing saturation water vapor pressure. However, the reason for decreased actual water vapor is unexpected and surprising. Finally, we found the reason for this in ocean evaporation.
"Increasing VPD negatively impacts plant growth. Decreased rates of vegetation growth will substantially reduce the ability of plants to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide," Yuan said."The CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will increase if other conditions do not change, which will result in a stronger greenhouse gas effect."Read more: Newsweek
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