Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Climate change is altering mountain vegetation at large scale

Date:
January 8, 2012
Source:
University of Vienna
Summary:
Climate change is having a more profound effect on alpine vegetation than at first anticipated, according to a new study. The first ever pan-European study of changing mountain vegetation has found that some alpine meadows could disappear within the next few decades.

All 32 authors involved in the study used the same sampling procedures enabling pan-continental comparisons to be made for the first time, here at the Austrian Hochschwab mountains.
Credit: Harald Pauli

Climate change is having a more profound effect on alpine vegetation than at first anticipated, according to a study carried out by an international group of researchers and published in Nature Climate Change. The first ever pan-European study of changing mountain vegetation has found that some alpine meadows could disappear within the next few decades.

Related Articles


Led by researchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of Vienna, biologists from 13 different countries in Europe analysed 867 vegetation samples from 60 different summits sited in all major European mountain systems, first in 2001 and then again just seven years later in 2008. They found strong indications that, at a continental scale, cold-loving plants traditionally found in alpine regions are being pushed out of many habitats by warm-loving plants.

"We expected to find a greater number of warm-loving plants at higher altitudes, but we did not expect to find such a significant change in such a short space of time," said Michael Gottfried from the Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments (GLORIA) programme which coordinated the study. "Many cold-loving species are literally running out of mountain. In some of the lower mountains in Europe, we could see alpine meadows disappearing and dwarf shrubs taking over within the next few decades," he warns.

The study, which is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in the world, confirmed that there is a direct link between growing summer temperature and the shift in alpine plant composition. "While regional studies have previously made this link, this is the first time it has been shown on a continental scale," said Gottfried. This phenomenon, which the GLORIA researchers have called thermophilization, has now been measured and quantified for the first time and is expressed by the researchers as a thermophilization indicator (D). All 32 of the study's authors used exactly the same sampling procedures and returned to the same sampling sites, thus enabling a pan-continental comparison to be made for the first time. "We hope that our thermophilization indicator could be used by other research groups around the world and enable a global comparison," said Harald Pauli, GLORIA's network coordinator.

The research also showed that the effect is independent of altitude (it is happening at the tree line as well as on high mountain peaks) and latitude (the effect is seen in northern countries such as Scotland as well as southern mountain ranges such those on Crete).

"Our work shows that climate change affects even the outer edges of the biosphere," said Georg Grabherr, chair of the GLORIA programme. "The thermophilisation of alpine life zones can never be controlled directly. Adaptation strategies are not an option and we must concentrate on mitigating climate change in order to preserve our biogenetic treasure."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Vienna. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Michael Gottfried, Harald Pauli, Andreas Futschik, Maia Akhalkatsi, Peter Barančok, José Luis Benito Alonso, Gheorghe Coldea, Jan Dick, Brigitta Erschbamer, Marı´a Rosa Fernández Calzado, George Kazakis, Ján Krajči, Per Larsson, Martin Mallaun, Ottar Michelsen, Dmitry Moiseev, Pavel Moiseev, Ulf Molau, Abderrahmane Merzouki, Laszlo Nagy, George Nakhutsrishvili, Bård Pedersen, Giovanni Pelino, Mihai Puscas, Graziano Rossi, Angela Stanisci, Jean-Paul Theurillat, Marcello Tomaselli, Luis Villar, Pascal Vittoz, Ioannis Vogiatzakis, Georg Grabherr. Continent-wide response of mountain vegetation to climate change. Nature Climate Change, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/NCLIMATE1329

Cite This Page:

University of Vienna. "Climate change is altering mountain vegetation at large scale." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120108143550.htm>.
University of Vienna. (2012, January 8). Climate change is altering mountain vegetation at large scale. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120108143550.htm
University of Vienna. "Climate change is altering mountain vegetation at large scale." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120108143550.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Antarctic Sea Ice Mystery Thickens... Literally

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — Antarctic sea ice isn't only expanding, it's thicker than previously thought, and scientists aren't sure exactly why. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

3D Map of Antarctic Sea Ice to Shed Light on Climate Change

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) — A multinational group of scientists have released the first ever detailed, high-resolution 3-D maps of Antarctic sea ice. Using an underwater robot equipped with sonar, the researchers mapped the underside of a massive area of sea ice to gauge the impact of climate change. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

More Coverage


European Mountain Vegetation Shows Effects of Warmer Climate

Jan. 8, 2012 — Researchers from 13 countries report clear and statistically significant evidence of a continent-wide warming effect on mountain plant communities in ... read more

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins