The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here:

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Anders Ahlström

Anders Ahlström

Senior lecturer

Anders Ahlström

Evidence for a weakening relationship between interannual temperature variability and northern vegetation activity.


  • Shilong Piao
  • Huijuan Nan
  • Chris Huntingford
  • Philippe Ciais
  • Pierre Friedlingstein
  • Stephen Sitch
  • Shushi Peng
  • Anders Ahlström
  • Josep G Canadell
  • Nan Cong
  • Sam Levis
  • Peter E Levy
  • Lingli Liu
  • Mark R Lomas
  • Jiafu Mao
  • Ranga B Myneni
  • Philippe Peylin
  • Ben Poulter
  • Xiaoying Shi
  • Guodong Yin
  • Nicolas Viovy
  • Tao Wang
  • Xuhui Wang
  • Soenke Zaehle
  • Ning Zeng
  • Zhenzhong Zeng
  • Anping Chen

Summary, in English

Satellite-derived Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), a proxy of vegetation productivity, is known to be correlated with temperature in northern ecosystems. This relationship, however, may change over time following alternations in other environmental factors. Here we show that above 30°N, the strength of the relationship between the interannual variability of growing season NDVI and temperature (partial correlation coefficient RNDVI-GT) declined substantially between 1982 and 2011. This decrease in RNDVI-GT is mainly observed in temperate and arctic ecosystems, and is also partly reproduced by process-based ecosystem model results. In the temperate ecosystem, the decrease in RNDVI-GT coincides with an increase in drought. In the arctic ecosystem, it may be related to a nonlinear response of photosynthesis to temperature, increase of hot extreme days and shrub expansion over grass-dominated tundra. Our results caution the use of results from interannual time scales to constrain the decadal response of plants to ongoing warming.


  • Dept of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
  • MERGE: ModElling the Regional and Global Earth system
  • BECC: Biodiversity and Ecosystem services in a Changing Climate

Publishing year





Nature Communications



Document type

Journal article


Nature Publishing Group


  • Physical Geography




  • ISSN: 2041-1723