Saturday, May 5, 2012

More grasslands, less tundra in Alaska's future

Yereth Rosen in Reuters: Long-term climate shifts will mean the spread of prairie-like grasslands and the displacement of much of the tundra habitat in Alaska and neighboring parts of Canada, according to a report released this week by the University of Alaska.

The report predicts climate shifts through the end of the century in Alaska and Canada's Yukon and Northwestern Territories.

The two-year Alaska, Yukon and Northwestern Territories Climate-Biome Shift Projects, conducted by the university in collaboration with government agencies and nonprofit groups from the United States and Canada, maps out expected changes for the 18 identified sub-climates in the study area, ranging from sparsely vegetated northern Arctic tundra to rainforest and grasslands.

Some changes are expected to be drastic, the report said. While climates have evolved in the past, the predicted transformations will be "a lot more rapid than historical changes in climate," said Nancy Fresco, a University of Alaska Fairbanks research professor and project manager for the Alaska and Canadian studies....

A road dip caused by melting tundra near Barrow, Alaska. Shot by Dr. John Cloud of NOAA

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