Title: Impacts of climate change in European mountains — Alpine tundra habitat loss and treeline shifts under future global warming
Authors: BARREDO CANO JOSE IGNACIOMAURI ACHILLECAUDULLO GIOVANNI
Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union
Publication Year: 2020
JRC N°: JRC115186
ISBN: 978-92-76-10717-0 (online)
ISSN: 1831-9424 (online)
Other Identifiers: EUR 30084 EN
OP KJ-NA-30084-EN-N (online)
URI: https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC115186
DOI: 10.2760/653658
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: Despite the importance of high mountains, little is known concerning the potential impacts of climate change in high altitude ecosystems. Therefore, the aim of this study is to assess changes 1) in the spatial range of the alpine tundra domain (ATD), and 2) in elevational shifts of the treeline ecotone in Europe under scenarios of climate change. We used 11 regional climate model (RCM) simulations from EURO CORDEX [https://www.euro-cordex.net], disaggregated at the 1 km grid size, representing two RCP scenarios, i.e. RCP4.5 and RCP8.5, in three warming periods i.e. 1.5 °C, 2 °C and 3 °C and the 2050s (2036-2065). Findings of this study indicate a pronounced contraction of the ATD across regions, scenarios and periods. First, in the Alps, with a 1.5 °C warming it is projected that the ATD will lose an extent of around 31-36% with respect to the reference period (1981-2010). Comparable results were obtained using both scenarios, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5. In the 3 °C warming period the extent of the ATD in the Alps is projected to be only 19% of the present extent. Second, in the Scandes, a contraction of the ATD of around 50% in the 1.5 °C warming period is projected in both scenarios. Then, in the 3 °C warming period most of the ATD is projected to disappear, with only 8% of ATD projected to persist. Lastly, in the Pyrenees the projections are worse than in the Alps and Scandes. The contraction of ATD is already projected above 74% in the 1.5 °C warming period in both scenarios. Then, in the 2 °C warming period only a marginal 4% of ATD is projected to persist, and virtually disappears in the 3 °C warming.
JRC Directorate:Sustainable Resources

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