vegetation sensitivity index RGB composite

Short Bytes: To identify the biggest climate change risks, researchers have created a vegetation sensitivity index map that shows the most vulnerable places on Earth. Using different data obtained from satellites, this map depicts the places that need more attention.

Climate change is one of the biggest threats faced by the planet Earth. However, this is isn’t a uniform process that could be measured easily over a period of time for a particular area. Different kinds of ecosystem meet different problems and they should be addressed on an individual level.

To reveal the most vulnerable parts of Earth, the researchers have prepared a map using a new system to analyze the satellite data. Published in Nature, this map depicts a vegetation sensitivity index (VSI) which is basically the plant cover on the ground per year, created using satellite-based moderate-resolution imaging spectroradiometer.

vegetation sensitivity index RGB composite

VSI is a new way to predict the future fluctuations in vital indicators like temperature, cloud cover, and moisture. This helps us to study the water availability changes, rainfall predictions, weather changes etc. The same could be seen in the map below where three climate variables contribute to the vegetation sensitivity index.

Here, the areas with dominant barren land and permanent ice are shown grey. On the other hand, the contribution of climate change variables is shown in the following color scheme: Temperature – Red, Water availability – Blue, Cloudiness – Greenvegetation sensitivity index RGB composite

In Nature, the researchers explain further:

We find ecologically sensitive regions with amplified responses to climate variability in the Arctic tundra, parts of the boreal forest belt, the tropical rainforest, alpine regions worldwide, steppe and prairie regions of central Asia and North and South America, the Caatinga deciduous forest in eastern South America, and eastern areas of Australia.

It should be noted that these aren’t the areas that are on the verge of destruction. The researchers have called them as the areas with “lower resilience and with a high chance of crossing the threshold.”

For more, you can read this publication in Nature.

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