Navigation Links
Scientists seek new emphases in Arctic climate change research
Date:9/10/2009

FAIRBANKS, Alaska Much of circumpolar Arctic research focuses on the physical, direct changes resulting from climate warming such as sea ice retreat and temperature increases. "What's understudied is the living component of the Arctic and that includes humans," said Syndonia "Donie" Bret-Harte, associate professor of biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and co-author of a paper to be published September 11, 2009 in the journal Science.

The paper reviews current knowledge on the ecological consequences of climate change on the circumpolar Arctic and issues a call for action in several areas of global climate change research.

"Humans live in the Arctic with plants and animals and we care about the ecosystem services such as filtering water, fiber and food production and cultural values that the Arctic provides" said Bret-Harte, who specializes in Arctic plant ecology in Alaska.

The global average surface temperature has increased by 0.72 F (0.4 C) over the past 150 years and the average Arctic temperature is expected to increase by 6 C. "That's a mind bogglingly large change to contemplate and keep in mind that no one lives at the average temperature," Bret-Harte said.

The international team of scientists who collaborated on this paper reviewed dozens of research documents on the effects of circumpolar Arctic warming. They note that numerous direct effects including lengthening of growing season following a rapid spring melt, earlier plant flowering and appearance of insects following a warmer spring, deaths of newborn seal pups following melting of their under-snow birthing chambers have other, often more subtle, indirect effects on plants, animals and humans that warrants increased attention.

Understanding how changes in plant and animal populations affect each other and how they affect the physical or nonliving components of the Arctic is critical to understanding how climate warming will change the Arctic.

One effect studied intensively at the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology Toolik Field Station on Alaska's North Slope is shrub expansion on the tundra.

"Shrubs are increasing on the tundra as the climate warms and more shrubs will lead to more warming in the spring," said Bret-Harte. Snow reflects most incoming radiation, which is simply light that can transfer heat. Shrubs that stick out of the snow in spring absorb radiation and give off heat. In this positive feedback cycle, the heating of the air immediately above the snow warms the snow, causing it to melt sooner. Warmer soils lead to increased nutrient availability, which contributes to greater shrub growth, which then contributes to still more warming.

Another effect studied intensively in Alaska occurs under the snow.

"We need to better understand how winter comes and goes and how that drives shifts in plant-animal interactions," said Jeff Welker, professor of biology at the University of Alaska Anchorage. When it didn't snow at Toolik Field Station until Thanksgiving a few years ago the soil got cold and stayed cold. So cold that microbes in the soil were barely active. The spring green-up was slow in coming and likely affected caribou forage, says Welker.

In 2008, the snow started falling in September and never quit. The warmer winter soils with their active microbes were insulated from the cold and were able to provide nutrients to plants that stimulated growth.

The authors call for immediate attention to the conservation of Arctic ecosystems; understanding the ecology of Arctic winters; understanding extreme events such as wildfires and extended droughts; and the need for more baseline studies to improve predictions.

"This paper identifies gaps in our knowledge, what we need to be doing and where the public needs to spend its money," said Welker.


'/>"/>

Contact: Marie Gilbert
megilbert@alaska.edu
907-474-7412
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Superscanner helps scientists see into the unknown
2. Scientists use microRNAs to track evolutionary history for first time
3. Michigan Tech scientists identify genes linked to Lou Gehrigs disease
4. Scientists discover new genetic variation that contributes to diabetes
5. Einstein scientists move closer to a safer anthrax vaccine
6. Scientists begin to untangle root cause of Alzheimers disease
7. NOAA scientists map fish habitat and movements at Grays Reef Marine Sanctuary
8. Scientists study possible responses to climate emergencies
9. Finding the ZIP-code for gene therapy: Scientists imitate viruses to deliver therapeutic genes
10. Caltech neuroscientists find brain region responsible for our sense of personal space
11. ORNL scientists hone technique to safeguard water supplies
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/15/2016)... , March 15, 2016 ... report published by Transparency Market Research "Digital Door Lock Systems ... Forecast 2015 - 2023," the global digital door lock systems ... Mn in 2014 and is forecast to grow at a ... of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the world ...
(Date:3/14/2016)... NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), a company ... of a new series of commercials on Time Warner Cable ... .  The commercials will air on Bloomberg TV, Fox Business ... show. --> NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" or the "Company"), ... the airing of a new series of commercials on Time ...
(Date:3/11/2016)... http://www.apimages.com ) - --> http://www.apimages.com ) - ... Images ( http://www.apimages.com ) - Germany . ... new refugee identity cards. DERMALOG will be unveiling this device, and ... Hanover next week.   --> Germany ... the new refugee identity cards. DERMALOG will be unveiling this device, ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/2/2016)... CA (PRWEB) , ... May 02, 2016 , ... StarNet ... solutions today announced the addition of three Secure Remote Desktop modules to its flagship ... remote desktops from Linux and Unix servers to the user’s PC over encrypted SSH. ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ALBANY, New York , April 29, 2016 ... market report published by Transparency Market Research "Separation ... Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2015 ... market was valued at US$ 10,665.5 Mn in ... CAGR of 6.8% from 2015 to 2023 to ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... The report "Cryocooler Market by ... (Technical Support, Product Repairs & Refurbishment, Preventive Maintenance, and ... 2022", published by MarketsandMarkets, the global market is expected ... a CAGR of 7.29% between 2016 and 2022. ... Figures spread through 159 Pages and in-depth TOC on ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... ... April 28, 2016 , ... Morris Midwest ... house for regional manufacturers at its Maple Grove, Minnesota technical center, May 11-12. ... Chiron and Trumpf. Almost 20 leading suppliers of tooling, accessories, software and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: