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Global warming is helping trees grow in the Arctic

Published: Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Climate change is creating unexpected forests in the Arctic, according to recent studies.

While global warming has contributed to the loss of large swaths of boreal forest, it also appears to be producing new trees in the Polar Ural Mountains on the southern Yamal Peninsula in West Siberia, Russia.

This Arctic region has historically been home to a variety of low tundra shrubs, but over the past 50 years, they have grown into small trees, according to research published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change.

"The speed and magnitude of the observed change is far greater than we expected," said Bruce Forbes, a professor at the University of Lapland's Arctic Centre and a co-author of the study.

"Previously, people had thought that the tundra would be colonized by trees from the boreal forest to the south as the Arctic climate warms, a process that could potentially take centuries. But what we've found is that the shrubs that are already there are transforming into trees in just a few decades," said Oxford University professor Marc Macias-Fauria, the lead author of the study.

Researchers say this increase in aboveground biomass will have serious implications for Arctic tundra ecosystems (Andrew Revkin, New York Times,
June 3). -- LJ


Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net. 202-628-6500

 

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