The Arctic climate is changing at an unprecedented rate. What consequences this may have on the Arctic marine ecosystem depends to a large degree on how its species will respond both directly to elevated temperatures and more indirectly through ecological interactions. But despite an alarming recent warming of the Arctic with accompanying sea ice loss, reports evaluating ecological impacts of climate change in the Arctic remain sparse. Here, based upon a large-scale field study, we present basic new knowledge regarding the life history traits for one of the most important species in the entire Arctic, the polar cod (Boreogadus saida). Furthermore, by comparing regions of contrasting climatic influence (domains), we present evidence as to how its growth and reproductive success is impaired in the warmer of the two domains. As the future Arctic is predicted to resemble today's Atlantic domains, we forecast changes in growth and life history characteristics of polar cod that will lead to alteration of its role as an Arctic keystone species. This will in turn affect community dynamics and energy transfer in the entire Arctic food chain.
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High-altitude treelines are temperature-limited vegetation boundaries, but little quantitative evidence exists about the impact of climate change on treelines in untouched areas of Russia. Here, we estimated how forest-tundra ecotones have changed during the last century along the Ural mountains. In the South, North, Sub-Polar, and Polar Urals, we compared 450 historical and recent photographs and determined the ages of 11,100 trees along 16 altitudinal gradients. In these four regions, boundaries of open and closed forests (crown covers above 20% and 40%) expanded upwards by 4 to 8 m in altitude per decade. Results strongly suggest that snow was an important driver for these forest advances: (i) Winter precipitation has increased substantially throughout the Urals (~7 mm decade(-1) ), which corresponds to almost a doubling in the Polar Urals, while summer temperatures have only changed slightly (~0.05°C decade(-1) ). (ii) There was a positive correlation between canopy cover, snow height and soil temperatures, suggesting that an increasing canopy cover promotes snow accumulation and, hence, a more favorable microclimate. (iii) Tree age analysis showed that forest expansion mainly began around the year 1900 on concave wind-sheltered slopes with thick snow covers, while it started in the 1950s and 1970s on slopes with shallower snow covers. (iv) During the 20th century, dominant growth forms of trees have changed from multistemmed trees, resulting from harsh winter conditions, to single-stemmed trees. While 87%, 31%, and 93% of stems appearing before 1950 were from multistemmed trees in the South, North and Polar Urals, more than 95% of the younger trees had a single stem. Currently, there is a high density of seedlings and saplings in the forest-tundra ecotone, indicating that forest expansion is ongoing and that alpine tundra vegetation will disappear from most mountains of the South and North Urals where treeline is already close to the highest peaks.
Climate change presents a complex set of challenges for natural resource managers across North America. Despite recognition that climate change poses serious threats to species, ecosystems, and human communities, implementation of adaptation measures is not yet happening on a broad scale. Among different regions, a range of climate change trajectories, varying political contexts, and diverse social and ecological systems generate a myriad of factors that can affect progress on climate change adaptation implementation. In order to understand the general versus site-specific nature of barriers and opportunities influencing implementation, we surveyed and interviewed practitioners, decision-makers, and scientists involved in natural resource management in four different North American regions, northern Ontario (Canada), the Adirondack State Park (US), Arctic Alaska (US), and the Transboundary Rocky Mountains (US and Canada). Common barriers among regions related to a lack of political support and financial resources, as well as challenges related to translating complex and interacting effects of climate change into management actions. Opportunities shared among regions related to collaboration, funding, and the presence of strong leadership. These commonalities indicate the importance of cross-site learning about ways to leverage opportunities and address adaptation barriers; however, regional variations also suggest that adaptation efforts will need to be tailored to fit specific ecological, political, social and economic contexts. Comparative findings on the similarities and differences in barriers and opportunities, as well as rankings of barriers and opportunities by region, offers important contextual insights into how to further refine efforts to advance adaptation actions in those regions.
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Terrestrial Ecology Section, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Universitetsparken 15, DK -2100 Copenhagen E, Denmark; Center for Permafrost (CENPERM), Department of Geoscience and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Øster Voldgade 10, DK -1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark.
Emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs) from terrestrial ecosystems are important for the atmospheric chemistry and the formation of secondary organic aerosols, and may therefore influence the climate. Global warming is predicted to change patterns in precipitation and plant species compositions, especially in arctic regions where the temperature increase will be most pronounced. These changes are potentially highly important for the BVOC emissions but studies investigating the effects are lacking. The aim of this study was to investigate the quality and quantity of BVOC emissions from a high arctic soil moisture gradient extending from dry tundra to a wet fen. Ecosystem BVOC emissions were sampled five times in the July-August period using a push-pull enclosure technique, and BVOCs trapped in absorbent cartridges were analyzed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Plant species compositions were estimated using the point intercept method. In order to take into account important underlying ecosystem processes, gross ecosystem production, ecosystem respiration and net ecosystem production were measured in connection with chamber-based BVOC measurements. Highest emissions of BVOCs were found from vegetation communities dominated by Salix arctica and Cassiope tetragona, which had emission profiles dominated by isoprene and monoterpenes, respectively. These results show that emissions of BVOCs are highly dependent on the plant cover supported by the varying soil moisture, suggesting that high arctic BVOC emissions may affect the climate differently if soil water content and plant cover change.
Monitoring of forest resources through national forest inventory programmes is carried out in many countries. The expected climate changes will affect trees and forests and might cause an expansion of trees into presently treeless areas, such as above the current alpine tree line. It is therefore a need to develop methods that enable the inclusion of also these areas into monitoring programmes. Airborne laser scanning (ALS) is an established tool in operational forest inventories, and could be a viable option for monitoring tasks. In the present study, we used multi-temporal ALS data with point density of 8-15 points per m2, together with field measurements from single trees in the forest-tundra ecotone along a 1500-km-long transect in Norway. The material comprised 262 small trees with an average height of 1.78 m. The field-measured height growth was derived from height measurements at two points in time. The elapsed time between the two measurements was 4 years. Regression models were then used to model the relationship between ALS-derived variables and tree heights as well as the height growth. Strong relationships between ALS-derived variables and tree heights were found, with R 2 values of 0.93 and 0.97 for the two points in time. The relationship between the ALS data and the field-derived height growth was weaker, with R 2 values of 0.36-0.42. A cross-validation gave corresponding results, with root mean square errors of 19 and 11% for the ALS height models and 60% for the model relating ALS data to single-tree height growth.
Cites: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 May 14;110(20):8117-22 PMID 23569221
In the age of climate change, the demand and lack of pure water challenges many communities. Substantial amount of effort is put in every year to manage and restore degraded lakes while the long-term effects of those efforts are only poorly known or monitored. Oxygenation, or aeration, is used extensively for the restoration of eutrophic lakes, although many studies question whether this process improves the status of the lakes in the long-term. The desired effect of oxygenation is based on paradigmatic theories that, in the light of recent literature, might not be adequate when long-term improvements are sought. This article canvasses expert views on the feasibility of the 'oxygen-phosphorus paradigm' as well as the future of the management and restoration of eutrophic lakes, based on an international, two-rounded, expert panel survey (Delphi study), employing 200 freshwater experts from 33 nationalities, contacted at three conferences on the topic. The conclusion is that the oxygen-phosphorus paradigm seems to be rather persistent. The experts considered oxygenation to be a valid short-term lake restoration method, but not without harmful side-effects. In addition, experts' low level of trust in the adequacy of the scientific knowledge on the effects of restorations and in the use of the scientific knowledge as a basis of choice of restoration methods, could be signs of a paradigm shift towards an outlook emphasizing more effective catchment management over short-term restorations. The expert panel also anticipated that reducing external nutrient loads from both point and diffuse sources will succeed in the future.
SYNOPSIS This report summarizes and discusses current knowledge on the impact that climate change can have on occupational safety and health (OSH), with a particular focus on the Americas. Worker safety and health issues are presented on topics related to specific stressors (e.g., temperature extremes), climate associated impacts (e.g., ice melt in the Arctic), and a health condition associated with climate change (chronic kidney disease of non-traditional etiology). The article discusses research needs, including hazards, surveillance, and risk assessment activities to better characterize and understand how OSH may be associated with climate change events. Also discussed are the actions that OSH professionals can take to ensure worker health and safety in the face of climate change.
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Wintertime convective mixing plays a pivotal role in the sub-polar North Atlantic spring phytoplankton blooms by favoring phytoplankton survival in the competition between light-dependent production and losses due to grazing and gravitational settling. We use satellite and ocean reanalyses to show that the area-averaged maximum winter mixed layer depth is positively correlated with April chlorophyll concentration in the northern Labrador Sea. A simple theoretical framework is developed to understand the relative roles of winter/spring convection and gravitational sedimentation in spring blooms in this region. Combining climate model simulations that project a weakening of wintertime Labrador Sea convection from Arctic sea ice melt with our framework suggests a potentially significant reduction in the initial fall phytoplankton population that survive the winter to seed the region's spring bloom by the end of the 21st century.
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Arctic and sub-arctic watersheds are undergoing significant changes due to recent climate warming and degrading permafrost, engendering enhanced monitoring of arctic rivers. Smaller catchments provide understanding of discharge, solute flux and groundwater recharge at the process level that contributes to an understanding of how larger arctic watersheds are responding to climate change. The North Klondike River, located in west central Yukon, is a sub-alpine permafrost catchment, which maintains an active hydrological monitoring station with a record of >40 years. In addition to being able to monitor intra-annual variability, this data set allows for more complex analysis of streamflow records. Streamflow data, geochemistry and stable isotope data for 2014 show a groundwater-dominated system, predominantly recharged during periods of snowmelt. Radiocarbon is shown to be a valuable tracer of soil zone recharge processes and carbon sources. Winter groundwater baseflow contributes 20 % of total annual discharge, and accounts for up to 50 % of total river discharge during the spring and summer months. Although total stream discharge remains unchanged, mean annual groundwater baseflow has increased over the 40-year monitoring period. Wavelet analysis reveals a catchment that responds to El Niño and longer solar cycles, as well as climatic shifts such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. Dedicated to Professor Peter Fritz on the occasion of his 80th birthday.