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Remote Sens. 2014, 6(6), 5717-5731; doi:10.3390/rs6065717

Human Land-Use Practices Lead to Global Long-Term Increases in Photosynthetic Capacity

1,2,3,4,* , 5
1 Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA 2 Biodiversity and Climate Research Center, Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, Senckenberganlage 25, D-60325 Frankfurt, Germany 3 Department of Biological Sciences, Goethe University, Max-von-Laue-Straße 9, D-60438 Frankfurt, Germany 4 Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park, Front Royal, VA 22630, USA 5 Department of Ecological Modeling, Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research-UFZ, D-04318 Leipzig, Germany 6 Code 610.9, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA 7 Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20771, USA 8 National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), 1 Park Place, Suite 300, Annapolis, MD 21401, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 December 2013 / Revised: 4 May 2014 / Accepted: 13 May 2014 / Published: 18 June 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring Global Vegetation with AVHRR NDVI3g Data (1981-2011))
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Long-term trends in photosynthetic capacity measured with the satellite-derived Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) are usually associated with climate change. Human impacts on the global land surface are typically not accounted for. Here, we provide the first global analysis quantifying the effect of the earth’s human footprint on NDVI trends. Globally, more than 20% of the variability in NDVI trends was explained by anthropogenic factors such as land use, nitrogen fertilization, and irrigation. Intensely used land classes, such as villages, showed the greatest rates of increase in NDVI, more than twice than those of forests. These findings reveal that factors beyond climate influence global long-term trends in NDVI and suggest that global climate change models and analyses of primary productivity should incorporate land use effects.
Keywords: NDVI; land-use; anthropogenic biomes; anthromes; global change; GIMMS3g NDVI; land-use; anthropogenic biomes; anthromes; global change; GIMMS3g
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Mueller, T.; Dressler, G.; Tucker, C.J.; Pinzon, J.E.; Leimgruber, P.; Dubayah, R.O.; Hurtt, G.C.; Böhning-Gaese, K.; Fagan, W.F. Human Land-Use Practices Lead to Global Long-Term Increases in Photosynthetic Capacity. Remote Sens. 2014, 6, 5717-5731.

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