Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Arctic getting greener

Date:
June 11, 2012
Source:
University of Gothenburg
Summary:
Recent years' warming in the Arctic has caused local changes in vegetation, reveals new research.

“We’ve managed to show that the vegetation changes in our fixed plots are a result of local warming at numerous sites across the world’s tundra,” Robert Björk says.
Credit: Ulf Molau och Robert G. Björk

Recent years' warming in the Arctic has caused local changes in vegetation, reveals new research by biologists from the University of Gothenburg and elsewhere published in the journals Nature Climate Change and Ecology Letters. The results show that most plants in the Arctic have grown taller, and the proportion of bare ground has decreased. Above all, there has been an increase in evergreen shrubs.

Related Articles


"We've managed to link the vegetation changes observed at the different sites to the degree of local warming," explains researcher and biologist Robert Björk from the University of Gothenburg.

Shrubs and plants more widespread

Comparisons show that the prevalence of vascular species, such as shrubs and plants, is increasing as temperatures rise. The degree of change depends on climate zone, soil moisture and the presence of permafrost. Researchers working on the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) have been gathering data for almost 30 years.

By analysing changes in vegetation in 158 plant communities at 46 locations across the Arctic between 1980 and 2010, they have been able to identify a number of general trends.

"We've managed to show that the vegetation changes in our fixed plots are a result of local warming at numerous sites across the world's tundra," Robert Björk says.

Summer temperatures and soil moisture implicated

ITEX was started up in the USA in 1990 when agreement was reached on a joint manual with standardised protocols which have since been used throughout the Arctic.

"The response of different plant groups to rising temperatures often varied with summer ambient temperature, soil moisture content and experimental duration, with shrubs expanding with warming only where the ambient temperature was already high, and grasses expanding mostly in the coldest areas studied," explains Ulf Molau, professor of plant ecology at the University of Gothenburg and for many years a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Major changes

The results indicate strong regional variation in the response of tundra vegetation to rising temperatures.

"This means that particularly sensitive regions following the combined effects of long-term warming in the Arctic may see much greater changes than we have observed to date," Ulf Molau says.

This is a timely insight now that Sweden, as chair of the Arctic Council in 2011-13, has prime responsibility for producing the Arctic Resilience Report. Experience from ITEX will also be used in the next IPCC assessment report in 2014.


Story Source:

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


Journal References:

  1. Sarah C. Elmendorf, Gregory H. R. Henry, Robert D. Hollister, Robert G. Björk, Noémie Boulanger-Lapointe, Elisabeth J. Cooper, Johannes H. C. Cornelissen, Thomas A. Day, Ellen Dorrepaal, Tatiana G. Elumeeva, Mike Gill, William A. Gould, John Harte, David S. Hik, Annika Hofgaard, David R. Johnson, Jill F. Johnstone, Ingibjörg Svala Jónsdóttir, Janet C. Jorgenson, Kari Klanderud, Julia A. Klein, Saewan Koh, Gaku Kudo, Mark Lara, Esther Lévesque, Borgthor Magnússon, Jeremy L. May, Joel A. Mercado-Dı´az, Anders Michelsen, Ulf Molau, Isla H. Myers-Smith, Steven F. Oberbauer, Vladimir G. Onipchenko, Christian Rixen, Niels Martin Schmidt, Gaius R. Shaver, Marko J. Spasojevic, Þóra Ellen Þórhallsdóttir, Anne Tolvanen, Tiffany Troxler, Craig E. Tweedie, Sandra Villareal, Carl-Henrik Wahren, Xanthe Walker, Patrick J. Webber, Jeffrey M. Welker, Sonja Wipf. Plot-scale evidence of tundra vegetation change and links to recent summer warming. Nature Climate Change, 2012; 2 (6): 453 DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1465
  2. Sarah C. Elmendorf, Gregory H. R. Henry, Robert D. Hollister, Robert G. Björk, Anne D. Bjorkman, Terry V. Callaghan, Laura Siegwart Collier, Elisabeth J. Cooper, Johannes H. C. Cornelissen, Thomas A. Day, Anna Maria Fosaa, William A. Gould, Járngerður Grétarsdóttir, John Harte, Luise Hermanutz, David S. Hik, Annika Hofgaard, Frith Jarrad, Ingibjörg Svala Jónsdóttir, Frida Keuper, Kari Klanderud, Julia A. Klein, Saewan Koh, Gaku Kudo, Simone I. Lang, Val Loewen, Jeremy L. May, Joel Mercado, Anders Michelsen, Ulf Molau, Isla H. Myers-Smith, Steven F. Oberbauer, Sara Pieper, Eric Post, Christian Rixen, Clare H. Robinson, Niels Martin Schmidt, Gaius R. Shaver, Anna Stenström, Anne Tolvanen, Ørjan Totland, Tiffany Troxler, Carl-Henrik Wahren, Patrick J. Webber, Jeffery M. Welker, Philip A. Wookey. Global assessment of experimental climate warming on tundra vegetation: heterogeneity over space and time. Ecology Letters, 2012; 15 (2): 164 DOI: 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2011.01716.x

Cite This Page:

University of Gothenburg. "Arctic getting greener." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120611122544.htm>.
University of Gothenburg. (2012, June 11). Arctic getting greener. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120611122544.htm
University of Gothenburg. "Arctic getting greener." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120611122544.htm (accessed December 19, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, December 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) — Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, thanks in part to something called feedback. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
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:

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