Nav: Home

Early melting of winter snowfall advances the Arctic springtime

April 24, 2019

The early arrival of spring in parts of the Arctic is driven by winter snow melting sooner than in previous decades and by rising temperatures, research suggests.

The findings, from a study of plants at coastal sites around the Arctic tundra, help scientists understand how the region is responding to a changing climate and how it may continue to adapt.

Researchers studied the timing of activity in seasonal vegetation, which acts as a barometer for the environment. Changes in the arrival of leaves and flowers - which cover much of the region - can reflect or influence shifts in the climate.

A team from the University of Edinburgh, and universities in Canada, the US, Denmark and Germany, gathered data on the greening and flowering of 14 plant species at four sites in Alaska, Canada and Greenland.

They sought to better understand which factors have the greatest influence on the timing of spring plants in the tundra - temperatures, snow melt or sea ice melt.

Variation in the timing of leaves and flowers appearing on plants between the sites was found to be linked to the timing of local snow melt and, to a lesser extent, temperatures.

Across the tundra, leaves and flowers were found to emerge as much as 20 days sooner compared with two decades ago. Within the same timeframe, spring temperatures warmed by 1 degree Celsius each decade on average, while loss of sea ice occurred around 20 days sooner across the different regions.

Overall snow melt, which advanced by about 10 days over two decades, had the greatest influence on the timing of spring.

The study, published in Global Change Biology, was funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council.

Dr Isla Myers-Smith, of the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences, who took part in the study, said: "In the extreme climate of the Arctic tundra, where summers are short, the melting of winter snows as well as warming temperatures are key drivers of the timing of spring. This will help us to understand how Arctic ecosystems are responding as the climate warms."
-end-


University of Edinburgh

Related Climate Articles:

Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.
How aerosols affect our climate
Greenhouse gases may get more attention, but aerosols -- from car exhaust to volcanic eruptions -- also have a major impact on the Earth's climate.
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
How trees could save the climate
Around 0.9 billion hectares of land worldwide would be suitable for reforestation, which could ultimately capture two thirds of human-made carbon emissions.
Climate undermined by lobbying
For all the evidence that the benefits of reducing greenhouse gases outweigh the costs of regulation, disturbingly few domestic climate change policies have been enacted around the world so far.
Climate education for kids increases climate concerns for parents
A new study from North Carolina State University finds that educating children about climate change increases their parents' concerns about climate change.
Inclusion of a crop model in a climate model to promote climate modeling
A new crop-climate model provides a good tool to investigate the relationship between crop development and climate change for global change studies.
Natural climate solutions are not enough
To stabilize the Earth's climate for people and ecosystems, it is imperative to ramp up natural climate solutions and, at the same time, accelerate mitigation efforts across the energy and industrial sectors, according to a new policy perspective published today in Science.
Predicting climate change
Thomas Crowther, ETH Zurich identifies long-disappeared forests available for restoration across the world.
More Climate News and Climate Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Uncharted
There's so much we've yet to explore–from outer space to the deep ocean to our own brains. This hour, Manoush goes on a journey through those uncharted places, led by TED Science Curator David Biello.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#555 Coronavirus
It's everywhere, and it felt disingenuous for us here at Science for the People to avoid it, so here is our episode on Coronavirus. It's ok to give this one a skip if this isn't what you want to listen to right now. Check out the links below for other great podcasts mentioned in the intro. Host Rachelle Saunders gets us up to date on what the Coronavirus is, how it spreads, and what we know and don't know with Dr Jason Kindrachuk, Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. And...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 1: Numbers
In a recent Radiolab group huddle, with coronavirus unraveling around us, the team found themselves grappling with all the numbers connected to COVID-19. Our new found 6 foot bubbles of personal space. Three percent mortality rate (or 1, or 2, or 4). 7,000 cases (now, much much more). So in the wake of that meeting, we reflect on the onslaught of numbers - what they reveal, and what they hide.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.