News ID: 260481
Published: 0959 GMT October 20, 2019

Last year’s extreme snowfall wiped breeding of plants, animals in a region of Arctic

Last year’s extreme snowfall wiped breeding of plants, animals in a region of Arctic

Last year, just a handful of plants and animals in Zackenberg, Northeast Greenland were able to reproduce due to vast amounts of un-melted snow covering the ground well into summer, a study by Danish researchers found.

The Arctic is home to a diverse and specialized group of plants and animal that are highly adapted to life under the severe climatic conditions. But now the Arctic is changing, and the region is experiencing both long-term warming and retreating snow-cover. At the same time, the risk of extreme events is increasing, reported.

In 2018, extreme snowfall in Zackenberg meant that only a few plants and animals were able to reproduce due to late-melting snow. While poor reproduction has been observed in individual species before, such poor reproduction across all levels of the ecosystem has never been seen.

“One nonbreeding year is hardly that bad for high-arctic species. The worrying perspective is that 2018 may offer a peep into the future, where increased climatic variability may push the arctic species to — and potentially beyond — their limits,” said Niels Martin Schmidt, lead author of the study.

“Our study shows that climate change is more than ‘just’ warming, and that ecosystems may be hard hit by currently still rare but extreme events. What it also brings out is the unparalleled value of long-term observations of the Arctic. Only by keeping an eye on full arctic ecosystems can we understand the havoc brought by the changing climate.”






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