Parts of the Arctic will see an increase in green cover in the 50 years, according to a new study. Researchers say that rapid greening of the Arctic could accelerate global warming.

The changing vegetation pattern would affect global temperatures as well as birds and animals migrating to the Arctic.

"These impacts would extend far beyond the Arctic region. For example, some species of birds seasonally migrate from lower latitudes and rely on finding particular polar habitats, such as open space for ground-nesting," said Richard Pearson, research scientist at the American Museum of Natural History's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, and lead author of the study paper.

The study included researchers from AT&T Labs-Research, Woods Hole Research Center, Colgate University, Cornell University, University of York and the American Museum of Natural History. They looked at data about the extent of vegetation growth in the Arctic and developed models to predict the change in vegetation pattern over the next 50 years.

Researchers found that if vegetation grew at the current rate, then by 2050, there would be more plants growing in the Arctic. The tree line in Siberia would extend further into the Northern regions.

Also, if vegetation cover increased in the Arctic region, there would be a greater impact on the climate due to the albedo effect, researchers found. When the sun's rays hit snow and ice, they get reflected. However, when there is vegetation on the ground, the sun's rays get absorbed by plants and shrubs. This absorption of the sun's rays increases temperature on the ground, thereby increasing global warming.

"By incorporating observed relationships between plants and albedo, we show that vegetation distribution shifts will result in an overall positive feedback to climate that is likely to cause greater warming than has previously been predicted," said co-author Scott Goetz, of the Woods Hole Research Center.

The study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change.