WASHINGTON: India and China are pursuing global green efforts, which are completely unlike global perception, a recent NASA study said Monday observing that the world is greener than it was 20 years ago.
The NASA study based on data received and analyzed from its satellite said India and China are greener on land.
"China and India account for one third of the greener, but contain only 9 percent of the earth's land covered with vegetation," says Boston University's lead author Chi Chen.
"It is a surprising finding given the general notion of land degradation in populated countries from over exploitation," he said.
The study, published on February 11 in the journal Nature Sustainability, said that recent satellite data (2000-2017) reveal a green pattern that is strikingly prominent in China and India and overlaps with crops worldwide.
China alone accounts for 25 percent of the global net growth in the leaf area with only 6.6 percent of the global weighted area.
Green in China is from forests (42 per cent) and crops (32 per cent), but in India it is mainly from grassland (82 per cent) With minor contributions from the forests (4.4 per cent), says the NASA study.
China is developing ambitious programs to preserve and expand forests to reduce soil degradation, air pollution and climate change.
Food production in China and India has increased by over 35 per cent. Since 2000, mainly due to an increase in harvested area through several crops accompanied by fertilizer use and surface and / or groundwater abstraction.
"When the Earth's greener was first observed, we thought it was due to a warmer, wetter climate and fertilization from the extra-carbon in the atmosphere," said Rama Nemani, researcher at NASA's Ames Research Center and a co-author of the study.
This study was made possible thanks to a two-decade long data entry from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instruments on NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites.
"Now with MODIS data, we see that people are also contributing," she said.
Noting that when people recognize that there is a problem, they tend to fix it, Nemani said in the 1970s and the 80s in India and China, the situation of vegetation loss was not good.
"In the 1990s, people understood it, and today it has improved. People are incredibly resilient. That's what we see in the satellite data," she said.
According to the paper, how the green trend can change in the future depends on many factors.
For example, increased food production in India is easier with groundwater flushing.
If the groundwater is exhausted, this trend may change, it said.
The researchers also pointed out that the benefits of greenery around the world do not necessarily outweigh the loss of natural vegetation in tropical areas such as Brazil and Indonesia.
There are implications for sustainability and biodiversity in these ecosystems beyond the country's simple greenness, the study said.