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Researchers publish climate sensitivity map

Researchers say their map will become more accurate and dynamic as they grow their data set over time.
By Brooks Hays   |   Feb. 18, 2016 at 1:40 PM

BERGEN, Norway, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- What places in the world are most sensitive to climate variability? A new map published in the journal Nature offers answers.

Researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway have developed a metric to measure the climatic sensitivity of various ecosystems. The Vegetation Sensitivity Index, or VSI, quantifies how much an ecosystem will be affected by warming temperatures and climate variability, such as an especially hot October or extra frigid March.

"First of all, the method identifies which climate related variables such as temperature, water availability, and cloudiness are important for controlling productivity in a given location," researcher Alistair Seddon, a Bergen biologist, said in a press release.

"Then we compare the variability in ecosystem productivity, which we also obtain from satellite data, against the variability in the important climate variables."

Seddon says their analysis has located regions of heightened sensitivity all across the planet -- including Arctic tundra, boreal forest, tropical rainforest, alpine forest, steppe, prairie and more.

Researchers say their map will become more accurate and dynamic as they grow their data set with newer, more detailed satellite observations.

"We will be able to recalculate our metric over longer time periods to investigate how and if ecosystem sensitivity to climate variability is changing over time," said Seddon.

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