The vegetation in a high alpine site of the European Alps experienced changes in area between 1953 and 2003 as a result of climate change. Shrubs showed rapid expansion rates of 5.6% per decade at altitudes between 2400 m and 2500 m. Above 2500 m, vegetation coverage exhibited unexpected patterns of regression associated with increased precipitation and permafrost degradation. As these changes follow a sharp increase in both summer and annual temperatures after 1980, we suggest that vegetation of the alpine (2400-2800 m) and nival (above 2800 m) belts respond in a fast and flexible way, contradicting previous hypotheses that alpine and nival species appear to have a natural inertia and are able to tolerate an increase of 1-2 degrees C in mean air temperature.

Unexpected impacts of climate change on Alpine vegetation

CANNONE, NICOLETTA;GUGLIELMIN, MAURO
2007

Abstract

The vegetation in a high alpine site of the European Alps experienced changes in area between 1953 and 2003 as a result of climate change. Shrubs showed rapid expansion rates of 5.6% per decade at altitudes between 2400 m and 2500 m. Above 2500 m, vegetation coverage exhibited unexpected patterns of regression associated with increased precipitation and permafrost degradation. As these changes follow a sharp increase in both summer and annual temperatures after 1980, we suggest that vegetation of the alpine (2400-2800 m) and nival (above 2800 m) belts respond in a fast and flexible way, contradicting previous hypotheses that alpine and nival species appear to have a natural inertia and are able to tolerate an increase of 1-2 degrees C in mean air temperature.
EUROPEAN ALPS; NIVAL ECOTONE; PLANT LIFE; TEMPERATURE; PERMAFROST; PATTERNS; SERIES; LIMITS
Cannone, Nicoletta; Sgorbati, S; Guglielmin, Mauro
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11383/1674311
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