The team, led by Richard Pearson, a research scientist at the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, conducted a series of model simulations based on data from the Circumpolar Arctic Vegetation Map (2003).
The models predict that in the coming decades, the rate with which vegetation will grow, is about to increase drastically, resulting in around 50% increase in wooded areas coverage.
The impact of such change will influence the global ecosystem. Plant species will be redistributed to areas, where climate conditions were not suitable before.
The team, which consists of scientists from the Museum, AT&T Labs-Research, Woods Hole Research Center, Colgate University, Cornell University, and the University of York, developed statistical models that are robust and provide scenarios for prediction of Arctic biodiversity.
Pearson adds that change in temperatures will not affect only the redistribution of vegetation in the Arctic region. It is likely that this will influence the migration of birds, since these rely on polar vegetation habitats for nesting.
The study also shows the likely consequences of such ‘greening.’ The authors indicate that the so-called albedo effect, or the reflectivity of the Earth surface, will have the strongest influence in the Arctic region, causing higher absorption of sun radiation by the land.
The co-author Scott Goetz, of the Woods Hole Research Center, states that if vegetation cover of the Arctic becomes denser, it is likely that global warming will be accelerated.