Here we are, talking about climate change again. While a large part of our country still doesn’t believe in the realities scientists are trying to combat, that really doesn’t stop climate change from having its way with our planet. In this attempt to map out the most at risk areas, a Norwegian scientist used satellite data to create a climate change map that shows vulnerable regions.
Vegetation Sensitivity Index
Norwegian scientist Alistair Seddon from the University of Bergen looked at 14 years of satellite data collected by NASA, and along with four fellow researchers managed to identify the most ecologically sensitive areas around the world. This is quite an important achievement.
By analyzing the three most important climatic variables that usually affect vegetation productivity – cloud cover, air temperature, and water availability – and by looking at how they behaved from the year 2000 to 2013, the team created the Vegetation Sensitivity Index, or VSI. This serves as a map of the most at risk areas in the world.
The most interesting part about the map which shows vulnerable areas in red and safe areas in green is how it is completely and utterly objective. Since the data was collected from satellite footage, there was no room for interpretation, with the map showing us exactly how at risk the vegetation is in all areas around the globe.
Basically, some areas around the world have seen huge climate changes, but very little changes in their vegetation, while others have seen little in the way of climate change, but large scale vegetation changes. The map shows which areas are part of the latter category, and thus far more at risk.
More information required
Despite the extremely helpful data to be obtained thanks to the map, there are still limitations to what help it can provide. This is because the world’s ecosystems can’t really be fully accounted for with satellite footage, no matter how long the time of surveillance.
Biological factors, such as parasitic insects, and coral bleaching can’t really be accounted for using data from satellites. This means that no matter how accurate and useful the VSI map is, it can’t be used in all circumstances, as we have to also consider other, more complicated factors than just cloud cover, air temperature, and water availability.
Still, this is a very important, as it can offer valuable information about what areas are at the highest risk, as well as where the experts’ efforts should be directed first. So far, some of the more endangered areas are Australia, prairies in North America, and Amazonian rainforests.
Image source: Popular Science