The northern high latitudes are an area of particular importance to global climate change. As a system dependent on freezing conditions, the top of the planet contains vast amounts of carbon in biomass, soils, and permafrost that have the potential to interact with the atmosphere through the biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and cryosphere. If released en masse, this carbon would greatly exacerbate the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Over the past 2 years, a growing body of research has provided evidence of substantial but idiosyncratic environmental changes, with some surprising aspects, across the region. This article reviews some recent findings and presents a new analysis of northern vegetation photosynthetic and productivity trends tracked from Earthobserving satellites.