Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Melting glaciers reveal future alpine world

14.12.2011
In a hundred years trees may be growing where there are now glaciers. The warm climate of the last few years has caused dramatic melting of glaciers in the Swedish mountains.

Remains of trees that have been hidden for thousands of years have been uncovered. They indicate that 13,000 years ago there were trees where there are now glaciers. The climate may have been as much as 3.5 degrees warmer than now. In other words, this can happen again, according to Lisa Öberg, a doctoral candidate at Mid Sweden University in a new study.


Caption: Subfossil of birch, 9,060 years old, shows how high the treeline has been in the Swedish mountains. Photo: Leif Kullman

In her study Lisa Öberg shows that soon after the inland ice receded, about 13,100 years ago, pines colonized high altitudes in the mountains. A few thousand years later there was a massive invasion of both pines and birches at levels up to 600 m higher than today’s treeline. Subsequently the treeline for both pine and birch was gradually lowered as a result of ever-lower temperatures, until the climate made it impossible for trees to grow and glaciers began to form, about 4,400 years ago.

“We used to think that the glaciers were remnants of the latest ice age. The fact that trees grew there so recently shows that the glaciers are no older than 4,400 years,” says Lisa Öberg.

Lisa Öberg’s study is based on finds of tree remains from Helags-Sylarna, Tärna, and Abisko. The age of the tree remains shows that the climate warming of the last century is unique in a perspective of several thousands of years. If any melting corresponding to what is happening today had taken place previously, the wood would probably have been degraded.

“The knowledge we gain by exploiting this unique opportunity is important for our understanding of how alpine plant growth may be impacted by the future climate,” says Lisa Öberg.

The fact that nearly 10,000 years ago birches grew 600 m above today’s treeline in a climate that was some 3.5 degrees warmer than today shows that trees ought to be able to grow at the same level again, if the temperature rises a few more degrees.

“By studying where the treeline ran in the past, we can see what it can be like in the future if it continues to get warmer,” says Lisa Öberg.

Article “Recent Glacier Recession – a New Source of Postglacial Treeline and Climate History in the Swedish Scandes” by Lisa Öberg & Leif Kullman

Questions can be posed to:
Lisa Öberg, fil.lic./doctoral candidate, mobile: +46 (0)76-8230068

Helena Lindh | idw
Further information:
http://www.landscapeonline.de/

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht NASA analyzes Tropical Cyclone Cristina's water vapor concentration
09.07.2020 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht In the Arctic, spring snowmelt triggers fresh CO2 production
06.07.2020 | San Diego State University

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The spin state story: Observation of the quantum spin liquid state in novel material

New insight into the spin behavior in an exotic state of matter puts us closer to next-generation spintronic devices

Aside from the deep understanding of the natural world that quantum physics theory offers, scientists worldwide are working tirelessly to bring forth a...

Im Focus: Excitation of robust materials

Kiel physics team observed extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class

In physics, they are currently the subject of intensive research; in electronics, they could enable completely new functions. So-called topological materials...

Im Focus: Electrons in the fast lane

Solar cells based on perovskite compounds could soon make electricity generation from sunlight even more efficient and cheaper. The laboratory efficiency of these perovskite solar cells already exceeds that of the well-known silicon solar cells. An international team led by Stefan Weber from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz has found microscopic structures in perovskite crystals that can guide the charge transport in the solar cell. Clever alignment of these "electron highways" could make perovskite solar cells even more powerful.

Solar cells convert sunlight into electricity. During this process, the electrons of the material inside the cell absorb the energy of the light....

Im Focus: The lightest electromagnetic shielding material in the world

Empa researchers have succeeded in applying aerogels to microelectronics: Aerogels based on cellulose nanofibers can effectively shield electromagnetic radiation over a wide frequency range – and they are unrivalled in terms of weight.

Electric motors and electronic devices generate electromagnetic fields that sometimes have to be shielded in order not to affect neighboring electronic...

Im Focus: Gentle wall contact – the right scenario for a fusion power plant

Quasi-continuous power exhaust developed as a wall-friendly method on ASDEX Upgrade

A promising operating mode for the plasma of a future power plant has been developed at the ASDEX Upgrade fusion device at Max Planck Institute for Plasma...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Contact Tracing Apps against COVID-19: German National Academy Leopoldina hosts international virtual panel discussion

07.07.2020 | Event News

International conference QuApps shows status quo of quantum technology

02.07.2020 | Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

X-ray scattering shines light on protein folding

10.07.2020 | Life Sciences

Looking at linkers helps to join the dots

10.07.2020 | Materials Sciences

Surprisingly many peculiar long introns found in brain genes

10.07.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>