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    Researchers Find Explanation of World Vegetation Changes

    By Erin Cassidy, AccuWeather staff writer
    May 27, 2013, 7:34:42 AM EDT

    A team has developed a model to determine the influences of humans and climate on vegetation changes. Valerie Smock explains what has the greatest effect. The weather is very similar to the government in that rules are made and decisions can be swayed one way or the other. The climate governs the seasonal activity of vegetation and humankind influences it. An interdisciplinary team has now found a way to explain 90 percent of changes in vegetation around the world. Researchers have seen vegetation activity increase in the Northern Hemisphere, yet there was a decline in the Southern Hemisphere. The question that remained on all of the researchers' minds was why.

    "The majority of the changes – more than 30 percent overall – were caused by human activity," explains Rogier de Jong, a postdoctoral student at the University of Zurich's Remote Sensing Laboratories. “Vegetation activity primarily declined south of the Sahel region, such as in Tanzania, Zimbabwe and in the Congo.”

    Researchers said they assumed the cause was due to clear cutting, the transformation of rainforest into plantations or changes in agriculture in general. More than 30 percent of the changes were caused by human activity. Around 10 percent cannot be explained, but researchers believe it may be an effect from the interaction between humans and the climate.

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