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Drought drives decade-long decline in plant growth
Date:8/20/2010

d the positive influence of a longer growing season, driving down global plant productivity between 2000 and 2009. The team published its findings Thursday in Science.

"This is a pretty serious warning that warmer temperatures are not going to endlessly improve plant growth," Running said.

Zhao and Running's analysis showed that since 2000, high-latitude Northern Hemisphere ecosystems have continued to benefit from warmer temperatures and a longer growing season. But that effect was offset by warming-associated drought that limited growth in the Southern Hemisphere, resulting in a net global loss of land productivity.

"This past decade's net decline in terrestrial productivity illustrates that a complex interplay between temperature, rainfall, cloudiness, and carbon dioxide, probably in combination with other factors such as nutrients and land management, will determine future patterns and trends in productivity," said Diane Wickland, program manager of the Terrestrial Ecology research program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Researchers want to continue monitoring these trends in the future because plant productivity is linked to shifting levels of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and stresses on plant growth that could challenge food production.

"Even if the declining trend of the past decade does not continue, managing forests and crop lands for multiple benefits to include food production, biofuel harvest, and carbon storage may become exceedingly challenging in light of the possible impacts of such decadal-scale changes," Wickland said.


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Contact: Steve Cole
stephen.e.cole@nasa.gov
202-358-0918
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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