Landscaped areas will continue to grow in number, with new research showing that the land around us is becoming more carbon-dense as the world warms.
The findings are based on the National Science Foundation’s “Landscaping Index,” which tracks land use changes worldwide.
According to the index, the land area around the world has grown by about 10 percent per decade, which is a significant jump compared to previous years.
And as the Earth warms, there are more species to protect, including more plants.
“Landscape species that thrive on nutrient-rich soils are expected to increase in the face of climate change,” said Michael Hulsey, the study’s lead author and a professor of geosciences at Penn State.
“That is especially true for species that are native to areas of high soil fertility, such as plants, animals and fungi.”
The researchers used satellite imagery to determine the extent of land cover changes and found that the world’s land surface has been shifting northward at a rate of about 5 centimeters per decade since 1980.
That is a rate faster than the global average of about 1 cent per decade.
It’s also a faster rate than other parts of the planet, which have experienced similar land surface changes over the past century.
“We think we are seeing a new landmass,” Hulley said.
“A large area of new grasslands and forests is emerging as we move towards a future of less soil.”
Hulshaw’s research is published in the journal Science Advances.