According to new research, the Alps’ “extremely huge” effects of climate change can now be seen from space.
The Alpine area is experiencing the “especially strong” effects of climate change, as per Swiss researchers. As a result, the snow-covered mountainous region is turning greener, similar to the Arctic.
The Alps is turning greener as glaciers melt
Using satellite data, researchers from the Universities of Lausanne and Basel demonstrated that approximately 80% of the mountains popular for ski vacations now have more vegetation just above the tree line. The amount of snow is also dwindling, though so far only significantly.
According to the researchers, the region’s receding glaciers are now seen as a sign of climate change. However, even though the reduced snow cover can now be seen from orbit, it is hardly the most significant alteration.
The Swiss experts used high-resolution spatial information from 1984 through 2021 to evaluate the changes in snow cover and regional vegetation in collaboration with counterparts in Netherlands and Finland. Over that period, the region’s vegetation growth above the tree line rose by more than 77 percent. According to the experts, the process, which they refer to as “greening,” is already frequent in the Arctic.
Professor Sabine Rumpf of the University of Basel and the lead author said that the scale of change in the Alps has been massive.
The local plant population is shifting due to climate change.
The team claims that the Alps have become greener since plants, which are also growing bigger and thicker in general, are colonizing new grounds. Previous research has mostly concentrated on how climate change has altered local species of plants and the area’s biodiversity. Nobody had before conducted a thorough study on the Alps’ shifting vegetation productivity, though.
According to a recent study that was published in the Science journal, changes in rainfall patterns and increasing temperatures are mostly to blame for the growth of plants in the highlands.
Rumpf claims that although Alpine plants are suited to hard environments, they are not extremely competitive. As a result, according to researchers, these specialist species have lost their edge as the conditions change, and other species are supplanting them.