To assess the variation in distribution, extent, and NPP of global natural vegetation in response to climate change in the period 1911–2000 and to provide a feasible method for climate change research in regions where historical data is difficult to obtain. In this research, variations in spatiotemporal distributions of global potential natural vegetation (PNV) from 1911 to 2000 were analyzed with the comprehensive sequential classification system (CSCS) and net primary production (NPP) of different ecosystems was evaluated with the synthetic model to determine the effect of climate change on the terrestrial ecosystems. The results showed that consistently rising global temperature and altered precipitation patterns had exerted strong influence on spatiotemporal distribution and productivities of terrestrial ecosystems, especially in the mid/high latitudes. Ecosystems in temperate zones expanded and desert area decreased as a consequence of climate variations. The vegetation that decreased the most was cold desert (18.79%), while the maximum increase (10.31%) was recorded in savanna. Additionally, the area of tundra and alpine steppe reduced significantly (5.43%) and were forced northward due to significant ascending temperature in the northern hemisphere. The global terrestrial ecosystems productivities increased by 2.09%, most of which was attributed to savanna (6.04%), tropical forest (0.99%), and temperate forest (5.49%). Most NPP losses were found in cold desert (27.33%). NPP increases displayed a latitudinal distribution. The NPP of tropical zones amounted to more than a half of total NPP, with an estimated increase of 1.32%. The increase in northern temperate zone was the second highest with 3.55%. Global NPP showed a significant positive correlation with mean annual precipitation in comparison with mean annual temperature and biological temperature. In general, effects of climate change on terrestrial ecosystems were deep and profound in 1911–2000, especially in the latter half of the period.