Rising temperatures change plant species in Arctic tundra: study

Rising temperatures change plant species in Arctic tundra: study

GENEVA (Rahnuma) ; A new study has found that higher temperatures in the Arctic tundra are changing the type and size of plants growing in the region, which could potentially accelerate climate warming even further, according to a press release from University of Zurich on Saturday.

A team of researchers from University of Zurich and the WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF, having analyzed 30 years of data, showed that “climate warming” is having a clear effect on Arctic flora.

Having observed some 120 points in the Arctic Circle, as well as at high altitudes in the Alps where conditions are similar, they found that not only are traditional plant species there growing taller than 30 years ago, but that higher-growing species native to warmer regions have also spread to the tundra.

The researchers say that plant species from lower altitudes are spreading to higher altitudes due to climate warming, which they say has a direct link with climate change, as over the past three decades, temperatures in the regions have risen by around one degree Celsius in summer and 1.5 degrees Celsius in winter.

“The Arctic is warming up faster than almost anywhere else on earth,” the researchers say. As a result, they predict that the height of plant communities in the tundra could spurt again by an average of 20 to 60 percent by the end of the century.

Besides the warming, increased soil moisture due to sharp increases in precipitation, which tend to accompany rising temperatures, could also contribute to these changes in vegetation, according to the researchers.

The results of the study have been published in the scientific journal Nature.

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