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The Earth's Vegetation Stopped Expanding 20 Years Ago

Until the late 1990s, the amount of vegetation worldwide was increasing. But then it stopped, and a new study links this troubling trend to climate change.
August 27, 2019, 9am PDT | Camille Fink
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"The world is gradually becoming less green, scientists have found. Plant growth is declining all over the planet, and new research links the phenomenon to decreasing moisture in the air—a consequence of climate change," writes Chelsea Harvey.

recent article in the journal Science Advance says that vegetation levels started decreasing over the last 20 years. "Since then, more than half of the world’s vegetated landscapes have been experiencing a 'browning' trend, or decrease in plant growth, according to the authors," notes Harvey.

The cause is a decrease in air moisture, which climate models show will continue as global warming continues, says Harvey. "Many researchers have suggested that climate change, on the whole, is likely to be a net negative for much of the world’s vegetation, including agricultural crops. The new study would seem to suggest that those consequences are already in motion."

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Published on Thursday, August 15, 2019 in Scientific American
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