China and India Lead the Way in Greening

Earth Observatory James Alexander Michie

Data from NASA satellites have revealed that the world today is literally a greener place than twenty years ago. In this way, a counterintuitive source for much of this foliage has been revealed.

Now, it is important to mention that a new study shows that China and India, which are the most populated countries in the world, are leading the increase in greening the earth. It should be noted that the effect comes mainly from the ambitious programs of tree planting in China and intensive agriculture in both countries.

It is necessary to bring up the fact that China’s great contribution to the global trend of greening comes largely from its programs to conserve and expand forests. Likewise, these programs were developed in an effort to reduce the effects of soil erosion, air pollution, and climate change.

Likewise, another 32 percent of the ecological change in China, and 82 percent in India, comes from the intensive cultivation of food crops. Being that the land surface used to cultivate in China and India has not changed much since the early 2000s.

Nations that lead the greening

It is important to clarify that both China and India have greatly increased their total annual area of green leaves and their food production to feed their large populations. Agricultural greening was achieved through multiple cultivation practices, so one field was replanted to produce another crop several times a year. The production of grains, vegetables, fruits and more has increased between 35 and 40 percent since 2000

On the other hand, Ranga Myneni, from Boston University and his colleagues, detected for the first time the phenomenon of greening in the satellite data of the mid-1990s, but they did not know if human activity was the main cause. Then they set out to track the total amount of land area covered by vegetation and how it changed over time.

In this way, the research team discovered that the global area of green leaves has increased by 5 percent since the early 2000s. In this way, it is considered an area equivalent to all the rainforests of the Amazon. At least 25 percent of that profit came in China. In general, a third of the Earth’s vegetated lands are turning green, while 5 percent is becoming browner. The study was published on February 11, 2019, in the journal Nature Sustainability.

This being so, this study was possible thanks to a two-decade data record of the Moderate Resolution Image Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. One advantage of MODIS is the intensive coverage they provide in space and time: the sensors have captured up to four shots of almost every place on Earth, every day, for the past 20 years.

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Source: NASA Earth Observatory

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