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10 vivid maps that show Earth in a new light

By: Bryan Nelson on Dec. 5, 2014, 8:45 a.m.
Net primary productivity

Photo: NASA

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Net primary productivity

This endlessly fascinating map shows net primary productivity, which is the measure of the difference between how much carbon dioxide plants take in and how much they release. Because it measures change in terrestrial biological productivity, it is probably the single most fundamental measure of "global change" of practical interest to humankind. Basically, this measure keeps track of the habitability of Earth. 

This map shows the net primary productivity in the month of July 2014. Of particular note here is the vast importance of the Northern Hemisphere's ring of boreal forest, or taiga, to this carbon cycle.