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Why our blue planet is getting greener

Most people would be surprised to learn that the earth is now greener than the 1980s

This is the surprising finding revealed in a paper, “China and India lead in greening of the world through land-use management”, published in the February 2019 edition of Nature Sustainability by Chi Chen, graduate researcher, and Boston University professor Ranga Myneni. Their analysis of NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellite images 2000-2017, taken each day since the 1980s, reveals that leaf coverage has increased by 2.3 percent in each decade of surveillance.

This translates into an additional five and a half million more square kilometres of leaf coverage over two decades—a substantial increase in the earth’s natural carbon capture and storage system—largely provided by humans. In addition, they looked for changes in land-use patterns in plant-covered regions, particularly the depletion of the rainforest in favour of cattle ranching in Brazil, and the impact of anti-desertification efforts in Africa, as well as reforestation and intensified agriculture efforts in China, India and Jordan.

Their study, based on data from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), an advanced satellite imaging analysis technology, concludes that not all vegetation is equal when it comes to their ability to absorb carbon.

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