Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment
Research School for Socio-Economic and
Natural Sciences of the Environment

Arctic plants grow taller amid warming climate

While the Arctic region is usually thought of as a vast, desolate landscape of ice, it is in fact home to hundreds of species of low-lying shrubs, grasses and other plants that play a critical role in carbon cycling and energy balance.

Now, a team of experts led by the University of Edinburgh has discovered that the effects of climate change are behind an increase in plant height across the tundra over the past 30 years. As well as the Arctic’s native plants growing in stature, in the southern reaches of the Arctic taller species of plants are spreading across the tundra.

Vernal sweetgrass, which is common in lowland Europe, has now moved in to sites in Iceland and Sweden. Researchers at the University of Edinburgh and the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) in Frankfurt led the international team of 130 scientists in the project, funded by NERC. More than 60,000 data observations from hundreds of sites across the Arctic and alpine tundra were analysed to produce the findings, which were published in Nature.

Source: University of Edinburgh

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Monday 8 October 2018