Vegetation Greening: A Snapshot from the Andean Tropics:
How is Ecuador’s tropical vegetation reacting to changes in climate across time and space?
Between the 1980s and early 2000’s vegetation in the tropics greened up, meaning an increase in productivity. However, it is unclear how this pattern varies in the tropical Andes, where contrasting vegetation types exist.
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Climate change is causing increased productivity in some parts of the tropics, evidenced by a phenomenon called "greening." However, the Andean region of the South American tropics remains poorly understood in this regard. This module explains how satellite images can be used to analyze vegetation greening and, using Ecuador as an example, shows how vegetation in the tropical Andes is changing in response to changes in climate.
In the study, we found that between 1982 and 2010, Amazonian Ecuador experienced greening during periods of low rainfall. The eastern and more mountainous parts of the Ecuadorian Andes had a similar pattern, but to a lesser extent. Coastal Ecuador, on other hand, experienced greening during periods of high rainfall. The western and low elevation parts of the Andes had a similar trend to that of the coast, but to a lesser extent.
This research highlights the importance of sub-regional studies for understanding tropical vegetation greening and its underlying causes. This module uses captioned videos to present information and includes a Q&A section and an interactive activity.