Navigation Links
Shrinking tundra, advancing forests: how the Arctic will look by century's end
Date:3/2/2011

Imagine the vast, empty tundra in Alaska and Canada giving way to trees, shrubs and plants typical of more southerly climates. Imagine similar changes in large parts of Eastern Europe, northern Asia and Scandinavia, as needle-leaf and broadleaf forests push northward into areas once unable to support them. Imagine part of Greenland's ice cover, once thought permanent, receding and leaving new tundra in its wake.

Those changes are part of a reorganization of Arctic climates anticipated to occur by the end of the 21st century, as projected by a team of University of Nebraska-Lincoln and South Korean climatologists.

In an article to be published in a forthcoming issue of the scientific journal Climate Dynamics, the research team analyzed 16 global climate models from 1950 to 2099 and combined it with more than 100 years of observational data to evaluate what climate change might mean to the Arctic's sensitive ecosystems by the dawn of the 22nd century.

The study is one of the first to apply a specific climate classification system to a comprehensive examination of climate changes throughout the Arctic by using both observations and a collection of projected future climate changes, said Song Feng, research assistant professor in UNL's School of Natural Resources and the study's lead author.

Based on the climate projections, the new study shows that the areas of the Arctic now dominated by polar and sub-polar climate types will decline and will be replaced by more temperate climates changes that could affect a quarter to nearly half of the Arctic, depending on future greenhouse gas emission scenarios, by the year 2099.

Changes to Arctic vegetation will naturally follow shifts in the region's climates: Tundra coverage would shrink by 33 to 44 percent by the end of the century, while temperate climate types that support coniferous forests and needle-leaf trees would push northward into the breach, the study shows.

"The expansion of forest may amplify global warming, because the newly forested areas can reduce the surface reflectivity, thereby further warming the Arctic," Feng said. "The shrinkage of tundra and expansion of forest may also impact the habitat for wildlife and local residents."

Also according to the study:

  • By the end of the century, the annual average surface temperature in Arctic regions is projected to increase by 5.6 to 9.5 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the greenhouse gas emission scenarios.

  • The warming, however, is not evenly distributed across the Arctic. The strongest warming in the winter (by 13 degrees Fahrenheit) will occur along the Arctic coast regions, with moderate warming (by 4 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit) along the North Atlantic rim.

  • The projected redistributions of climate types differ regionally; in northern Europe and Alaska, the warming may cause more rapid expansion of temperate climate types than in other places.

  • Tundra in Alaska and northern Canada would be reduced and replaced by boreal forests and shrubs by 2059. Within another 40 years, the tundra would be restricted to the northern coast and islands of the Arctic Ocean.

  • The melting of snow and ice in Greenland following the warming will reduce the permanent ice cover, giving its territory up to tundra.

"The response of vegetation usually lags changes in climate. The plants don't have legs, so it takes time for plant seed dispersal, germination and establishment of seedlings," Feng said. Still, the shrub density in tundra regions has seen a rapid increase on decadal and shorter time scales, while the boreal forest expansion has seen a much slower response on century time scales.

Also, increasing drought conditions may help offset any potential benefits of warmer temperatures and reduce the overall vegetation growth in the Arctic regions, Feng said.

Non-climate factors human activity, land use changes, permafrost thawing, pest outbreaks and wildfires, for example may also locally affect the response of vegetation to temperature warming in the Arctic.


'/>"/>

Contact: Song Feng
sfeng2@unl.edu
402-472-6660
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Jupiters shrinking red spot
2. Shrinking Bylot Island glaciers tell story of climate change
3. Trial of new treatment for advanced melanoma shows rapid shrinking of tumors
4. Indias shrinking animal ark needs more parks, corridors
5. Growing fuel and medicine: Advancing biofuels and plant-produced therapeutics
6. Argonne advancing DOE INCITE scientific research projects
7. UT faculty members win American Heart Association awards for advancing research
8. UTSA infectious disease researchers advancing vaccine against Valley fever
9. New study reveals unexpected relationship between climate warming and advancing treelines
10. Potential new Alzheimers drugs advancing in clinical trials
11. Arctic sea ice thinning at record rate
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/22/2016)...  The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics was ... as one of the fastest-growing trade shows during the Fastest ... in Las Vegas . ... in each of the following categories: net square feet of ... attendees. The 2015 ACMG Annual Meeting was ranked 23 out ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016   ... management and verification solutions, has partnered with ... software solutions for Visitor Management, Self-Service Kiosks ... provides products that add functional enhancements to ... provides corporations and venues with an automated ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... -- On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ... for the Biometric Exit Program. The Request for Information ... explains that CBP intends to add biometrics to confirm ... States , in order to deter visa overstays, ... Logo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160622/382209LOGO ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 On Wednesday, June 22, ... down 0.22%; the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.27% lower ... 2,085.45, down 0.17%. Stock-Callers.com has initiated coverage on the following ... Therapeutics (NASDAQ: NKTR ), Aralez Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ... BIND ). Learn more about these stocks by accessing ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 22, 2016  Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN ... QB3@953 life sciences incubator to accelerate the ... shared laboratory space at QB3@953 was created to help ... obstacle for many early stage organizations - access to ... sponsorship, Amgen launched two "Amgen Golden Ticket" awards, providing ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... 22, 2016  According to Kalorama Information, the ... (NGS) market include significant efforts in automation as ... accessible and affordable sequencers, say the healthcare market ... consumables including sample prep materials.  The healthcare market ... Preparation for Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) , highlights ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... ... June 21, 2016 , ... New light-based technologies that facilitate ... tissue — promise to enable both compact, wearable devices for point-of-care diagnostics as well ... the skin. , Recent work and visionary future directions are detailed in a new ...
Breaking Biology Technology: