Human Consumption of Global Plant Production, 2005

  • Released Sunday, December 12, 2010

On Dec. 14, 2010 NASA Goddard researchers conducted a press briefing at the American Geophysical Union Fall 2010 meeting, entitled, "Satellite Supported Estimates of Human Rate of NPP carbon Use on Land: Challenges Ahead." In the first measurement of this trend, the research showed humans are using an increasing amount of Earth's annual production of photosynthetic land plants due to both increases in population and per capita consumption, and that amount of Net Primary Production (NPP) required rose from 20 to 25 percent from 1995 to 2005.

This visualization illustrates the relationship between human acquistition of net primary productivity (HANPP) and NPP itself, by presenting the ratio of HANPP to NPP. It is a carbon balance sheet showing the percent of terrestrial net primary production that is required to provide food, fiber, and wood-based fuels for the world's global population in 2005.

Measured in terms of carbon, regions where the populations are consuming more than is generated on the landscape show up as yellows and reds. The colors are presented on a logarithmic scale, meaning that the value of the data at each unit on the scale is ten times that of the previous unit; i.e. areas in red are 100 times (or greater) the value of areas in green. Therefore yellow, for example, with a value of HANPP/NPP = 10^0, or 1, represents regions were people require an amount of NPP that is 100 percent of the regional production, and red represents regions where people require more production than is locally available, up to 1000 percent and beyond. Values of less than 10 percent are not shown.

This map shows where populations are highly dependent upon a food and fiber distribution system and are arguably potentially vulnerable to climate change.


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Release date

This page was originally published on Sunday, December 12, 2010.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 1:53 PM EDT.


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