Plants in the Wild: Climate
Started by: Helen JohnstoneGo to latest contribution by ian mcdonald, 30 January 2014, 21:45. Go to bottom of this page.
I thought members might be interested on this article about the impact of climate change on alpines
Thanks Helen, a very good article, clearly writtten and without the vested interest or evangelical approach to climate change so common at the moment, i.e. proper science.
I agree, this is an excellent summary of the painstaking research by a number of groups which demonstrates clearly that the plants in the mountains, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, are responding to sustained climate warming. It also explains why there have so far been few indications of local extinction of high alpines as has been predicted by some (based mainly on computer modelling of likely responses) might be the case due to reduced availabilty of suitable habitat and pressure from less pernickety species moving up the mountains from below. If you are interested in the likely and actual response of alpines to climate change you should read this article; it will only take you 20 minutes and gives many leads in to more detailed research for those who seek it.
A wonderfully succinct and informative article. Most gardeners, I suppose, do not have such a long term and detailed scientific view of plant distributions and changes over time, and probably don't consider 'gardening' as including such knowledge. It would be an interesting article to have referred to in the Journal as well as on the website. An even longer term view of the way plants have developed and changed in landscapes over time is given in George Gibb's book 'Ghosts of Gondwana', which concentrates on the new Zealand flora and fauna but draws on the intriguing relationships and distribution of Southern Hemisphere plants and animals. It takes some concentration and a lot of background knowledge to follow many of his arguements, and much of it inevitably is conjecture, but informed by strong circumstantial evidence. The chapter on 'The Alpine Zone' is especially interesting. All this just emphasises how the AGS, SRGC, NARGS, CRGS and other alpine societies have a lot more relevance to understanding plants than might appear to people at first sight.
My own observations tell me that in one UK site the high alpines are becoming less frequent. In the 1980s the range of species were easily found on the "lower" ground whereas now they have to be searched for at higher altitudes. Perhaps it is a matter of seasonal change/cycle but the overall impression is one of species retreating to higher ground or being lost.