ERE
Energy, Resources and the Environment

Words on Wednesday: Do Himalayan treelines respond to recent climate change? An evaluation of sensitivity indicators

Words on Wednesday aims at promoting interesting/fun/exciting publications on topics related to Energy, Resources and the Environment. If you would like to be featured on WoW, please send us a link of the paper, or your own post, at ERE.Matters@gmail.com.

***

Schickhoff, U., Bobrowski, M., Böhner, J., Bürzle, B., Chaudhary, R. P., Gerlitz, L., Heyken, H., Lange, J., Müller, M., Scholten, T., Schwab, N., and Wedegärtner, R., 2015. Do Himalayan treelines respond to recent climate change? An evaluation of sensitivity indicators, Earth Syst. Dynam., 6, 245-265.

Abstract:

Climate warming is expected to induce treelines to advance to higher elevations. Empirical studies in diverse mountain ranges, however, give evidence of both advancing alpine treelines and rather insignificant responses. The inconsistency of findings suggests distinct differences in the sensitivity of global treelines to recent climate change. It is still unclear where Himalayan treeline ecotones are located along the response gradient from rapid dynamics to apparently complete inertia. This paper reviews the current state of knowledge regarding sensitivity and response of Himalayan treelines to climate warming, based on extensive field observations, published results in the widely scattered literature, and novel data from ongoing research of the present authors.

Anthropogenic treeline in Manang, Nepal, showing an abrupt transition to alpine grazing lands (Schickhoff, 24 September 2013).

Anthropogenic treeline in Manang, Nepal, showing an abrupt transition to alpine grazing lands (Schickhoff, 24 September 2013).

Several sensitivity indicators such as treeline type, treeline form, seed-based regeneration, and growth patterns are evaluated. Since most Himalayan treelines are anthropogenically depressed, observed advances are largely the result of land use change. Near-natural treelines are usually krummholz treelines, which are relatively unresponsive to climate change. Nevertheless, intense recruitment of treeline trees suggests a great potential for future treeline advance. Competitive abilities of seedlings within krummholz thickets and dwarf scrub heaths will be a major source of variation in treeline dynamics. Tree growth–climate relationships show mature treeline trees to be responsive to temperature change, in particular in winter and pre-monsoon seasons. High pre-monsoon temperature trends will most likely drive tree growth performance in the western and central Himalaya. Ecological niche modelling suggests that bioclimatic conditions for a range expansion of treeline trees will be created during coming decades.

Climatic treeline (3900–4000 m) on a north-facing slope in Rolwaling, Nepal (Schwab, 18 September 2014).

Climatic treeline (3900–4000 m) on a north-facing slope in Rolwaling, Nepal (Schwab, 18 September 2014).

Avatar
The main goal of the Energy, Resources and the Environment (ERE) Division is to be a leading forum on discussions regarding the provision of adequate and reliable supplies of affordable energy and other resources, in environmentally sustainable ways. As such, it has many links to the other EGU Divisions, such as Hydrology, Natural Hazards, and Tectonics and Structural Geology.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*