Scientists have found how global warming is shifting forest boundaries by the example of the impact of climate transformation on the forests of the Altai Mountains. A study by an international group of climatologists from Russia, the USA, Britain and Italy is published in the journal Scientific Reports.
Researchers have chosen to study the forests of Gorny Altai since climatic changes are primarily reflected in the Arctic and mountain ecosystems.
Another factor was that observations in this area have been conducted since 1957 – scientists have already collected enough data to be able to analyze them. In particular, the computer model of the impact of climate change on forests includes dendrochronological and meteorological data, as well as satellite and aerial images.
Modeling showed that in the second half of the 20th century, the rate of displacement of the forest border relative to sea level increased significantly. If at the beginning of the XX century the border of the forest was at an altitude of 2.15 thousand meters above sea level, then over the next 52 years, the trees moved up to about 2.2 thousand meters and continued to grow at this height.
In the period from 1994 to 2002, some trees reached even higher elevations – about 2.3 thousand meters above sea level.
Serious climatic changes can lead to faster shifting of trees and increase the speed of their movement 100-1000 times relative to the natural rate of migration.
Terry Callaghan, lead author of the study