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Posted Mon Jun 11 2012: from Anchorage Alaska Dispatch:
Arctic tundra transforming into forest much quicker than expected
Rising summer temperatures have triggered an arboreal facelift across a vast swath of Eurasian tundra, transforming patches of Arctic prairie into forest much faster than scientists ever thought possible. Instead of trees slowly invading from the south over the course of centuries, stands of existing dwarf willows and alders have responded to the changing climate on their own -- growing up and branching out into groves of small trees during mere decades, according to a new detailed analysis published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change... The speed and scale of the change reported in the latest study -- as much as 15 percent of the willow and alder in the area had bloomed into six-foot-high groves over 30 to 40 years -- suggests that Arctic warming has the potential to dramatically accelerate, while creating new woodsy ecosystems in the process. Since forested areas absorb more solar energy than grassy tundra, the spread of trees will also help jumpstart warming -- some climate models predict an extra two to four degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature rise, in turn, will promote even more forest growth.
[Read more stories about: anthropogenic change, arctic meltdown, climate impacts, feedback loop, faster than expected, global warming]
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