Changing conditions for plants in mountain chains

Will a changed climate and increased air pollution threaten the sensitive ecosystems of mountain chains? Are there also other threats, such as a greater risk of fires? These questions will be addressed by researchers in a project coordinated by SMHI.

Biodiversity involves variation between and within species, and within habitats on Earth. Mankind both threatens biodiversity and provides the conditions it needs to keep thriving. A loss of biodiversity is a major problem.

Lapporten mountain area, Sweden
How does biodiversity change in the mountains as the climate changes and air pollution in the region is expected to increase? This question will be addressed by researchers in a new project coordinated by SMHI.

The Scandinavia mountain chain is home to a unique nutrient-poor ecosystem. At the same time, the Arctic is one of the areas on Earth that is affected the most by global warming. Researchers are therefore interested in investigating how the biodiversity of the mountain chain may change in future.

“As the climate changes and the Arctic ice shrinks, this makes new shipping lanes possible,” explains Camilla Andersson, the associate processor and research leader at SHMI who will be carrying out research within the field during the coming years. “As a result, we will see more air pollution in environments where this is less common today, and there will also be nutrient precipitation in barren locations. How will this affect plant life in the mountains?”

The impact of climate and air pollutants

Researchers will use highly detailed calculations to investigate how the climate and the impact of air pollutants are changing, together with the possible consequences in terms of biodiversity. They will be studying changes in the Scandinavian mountain chain, the Guadarrama Mountains in Spain and the Pyrenees between Spain and France.

The project will provide new knowledge about the processes that affect ecosystems. This knowledge can then be used in planning and climate adaptation work in mountain regions.