An international team of climate scientists has analyzed the variations in size of dwarf tundra plants of the New and Old World for the last 30 years and found: flora tundra "grows" in height, and its species composition is strongly increased, which indicates a significant warming of the Arctic summer because of climate change.
Group of environmentalists led by Sarah Elmendorf (Sarah Elmendorf) from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (Canada) said that their discovery emphasizes the need for the global monitoring of how the processes of climate change affect the condition of the tundra and other vulnerable species ecosystems. Researchers published their findings in a paper in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Elmendorf and her colleagues, including the Russian environmentalist Vladimir Onipchenko from the Moscow State University. MV University, analyzed data collected by 46 research stations in the polar regions of Alaska, the Great Canadian Archipelago, Iceland, Greenland, Svalbard and the northern coast of the Scandinavian peninsula from 1980 to 2010.
The work climate scientists consider data only from the observation posts where flora studies were conducted at least twice during this period. Article writers interested in the species composition of plant life, and some of its properties — for example, the average plant height, leaf area, the ratio of "green" and empty plots of tundra. Having studied the structure of ecosystems, the scientists compared their changes with fluctuations in summer temperatures.
It was found that the overall increase summer temperatures by 0.72 degrees Celsius caused massive restructuring in tundra ecosystems. First, the average growth of dwarf shrubs, perennial grasses and other types of flowering plants increased substantially. Significantly increased incidence of certain types of shrubs, especially high and low plants. On the other hand, the prevalence of evergreen bushes and shrubs (dwarf shrub) slightly decreased.
Scientists emphasize that these "reforms" are a further restructuring of the tundra: overgrowth of shrubs leads to faster melting of snow, and the reduction of its albedo — reflectivity. This makes life easier for many others of Arctic Flora — lichens and low-growing herbs, growing under the roots of shrubs.
In addition, similar changes have also been reported in other species of vegetation — reeds and non-cereal grasses and podkustarnikov. However, the change in their position in the ecosystem of the tundra was not directly linked to climate change — a transformation took place in areas with poteplevshim tundra in the summer, and where average temperatures are stable and even declined.
Believe Elmendorf and her colleagues further global monitoring the state of the tundra will help to identify factors influencing its transformation and is not associated with changes in climate.