Arctic warming can influence tundra ecosystem function with consequences for climate feedbacks, wildlife and human communities. Yet ecological change across the Arctic tundra biome remains poorly quantified due to field measurement limitations and reliance on coarse-resolution satellite data. Here, we assess decadal changes in Arctic tundra greenness using time series from the 30 m resolution Landsat satellites. From 1985 to 2016 tundra greenness increased (greening) at ~37.3% of sampling sites and decreased (browning) at ~4.7% of sampling sites. Greening occurred most often at warm sampling sites with increased summer air temperature, soil temperature, and soil moisture, while browning occurred most often at cold sampling sites that cooled and dried. Tundra greenness was positively correlated with graminoid, shrub, and ecosystem productivity measured at field sites. Our results support the hypothesis that summer warming stimulated plant productivity across much, but not all, of the Arctic tundra biome during recent decades.
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- Nature Communications
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- National Science Foundation
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