The impacts of climate change on ecosystems and biosphere

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1 The impacts of climate change on ecosystems and biosphere Roberta Bottarin Institute for Alpine Environment, EURAC research, Bozen/Bolzano (I) Alpine Spring Festival, March 2013

2 of the earth s population is dependent on water from mountains of the earth s area is covered by mountains Water reservoirs

3 200 billion m 3 / year km 2 21% of Europe s surface Source: CCM River and Catchment Database JRC/LMU European Commission JRC)

4 The Alps 10,000 km of water courses 7,300,000 km (Strahler 1 7, source: CCM River and Catchment Database JRC/LMU European Commission JRC)

5 Temperature trends ( ) R. Bottarin 1.5 T ( ) [ C] Global Alpes

6 Future scenarios: temperature increase ( ) Spring Summer Autumn Winter C Source: CLM climate scenarios

7 Distribution of pluviometers within the Alpine area

8 Future scenarios: changes in precipitaion [%] Spring ST: +2.7 Summer ST: Autumn ST: -5.6 Winter ST: >150% Data source: CLM climate scenarios Adaption: Project Klimawandel Südtirol, EURAC

9 Snow Cover Duration R. Bottarin 2002/ / / / / / /2004 Elaboration: Institute of Remote Sensing, EURAC

10 Future scenarios: reduction in snow cover duration (days) Rise of snowline ca. 150m per 1 C Reduction in snow volume in the Alps assuming +4 C: -90% m -50% m -35% m (Beniston, 2003) days Source: CLM climate scenarios

11 Retreat of glaciers Source: EEA 2009

12 Retreat of glaciers: Tschierva Glacier (Engadine, Switzerland) 2050? +3 C? 2000 Photo: Max Maisch University of Zurich, Switzerland

13 Rock glaciers/permafrost Active rock glacier in Muragl valley Christine Rothenbühler, Academia Engiadina V. Mair, rock glacier in the upper Rosim valley, Martell valley

14 Future Scenarios: changing discharges ( ) Spring Summer Autumn Winter >150% Source: CLM climate scenarios

15 Discharge: the example of the river Rhône 400 Average monthly discharge [m 3 /s] J F M A M J J A S O N D Source: Beniston, 2010

16 Elaborating a regional downscaling climate model R. Bottarin Photo: G. Niedrist, EURAC

17 Natural variations and antropogenic activities Changing abiotic parameters Mountains: early warning ecoregions Effects on ecosystems

18 Understanding of the impacts of climate variability and change requires information at multiple levels.

19

20 Climate connections

21 Food Webs

22 Consideration of mountain-specific issues

23 Some fields of research R. Bottarin S P A C E World Europe Alps Region Plot Monitoring activities Ecosystem research Sustainability management strategies Methods Field experiments Topics Biodiversity Ecosystem services Global change Biogeochemical cycles GIS Statistics Modelling Remote Sensing Indicators History Present T I M E Future

24 Effects on aquatic ecosystems terrestrial ecosystems landscapes society

25 Effects on aquatic ecosystems

26 Water quality 10,000 km of water courses Less than 10% can be defined as natural Pollution Irrigation Straightening Habitat fragmentation Artificial snow production Interruption of continuum Hydro peaking and thermal peaking

27 Catchment analysis Water course Catchment Buffer zones/riparian areas

28 The Adige River

29 79% of the Alpine water courses are directly or indirectly influenced by hydroelectic power generation.

30 River continuum

31 m 3 /s January February March April May June July August September October November December R. Bottarin Discharge monitoring 2010_Q media mese 2011_Q media mese

32 Biological analysis in headwaters R. Bottarin e.g.: Macrobenthos: Multi Habitat Sampling

33 Trichoptera

34 Density of interstitial meiofauna R. Bottarin St.1 St mean taxa densities april may june july august october 2011 mean taxa densities april may june july august october 2011 St.4 mean taxa densities april may june july august october mean taxa densities april may june july august october

35 Shift in thermal optima

36 High alpine glacial lakes

37 Effects on aquatic ecosystems Changing chemico-physical concentrations of lakes Volume of lakes, new habitats Water quality Changing discharge trends Interruption of river continuum (hydro-power, irrigation, dams) Upstream-downstream relations Biodiversity: Changes in flora and fauna Extinction of endemic species/migrations Lotic habitats: catchment analysis, influence of snowmelt Life cycles, biological interactions

38 Effects on terrestrial ecosystems

39 Fire is a vital and natural part of the functioning of numerous forest ecosystems. One of the natural forces that have influenced plant communities over time and as a natural process. But: changes and an increase in fire-dynamic can change the biomass stocks alter the hydrological cycle have an impact on plant and animal species' functioning smoke can significantly reduce photosynthetic activity

40 Measuring soil moisture, composition, water content R. Bottarin High 45 % 5% Low e.g. Matsch Valley, South Tyrol: Soil water content July 2009, Klimawandel, EURAC

41 Transplantation experiments R. Bottarin Source: G. Niedrist, EURAC

42 Effects on terrestrial ecosystems Forest fires Biodiversity and biomass: Changes in flora and fauna (treeline) Extinction of endemic species/migrations Life cycles (snow-cover/vegetation period) Biological interactions

43 Effects on landscapes

44 Rhône Glacier

45 Tschierva glacier, SwissAlps 1880

46 Creation of new landscapes

47 Habitat fragmentation/changing conditions

48 Measuring landscape value and change R. Bottarin Source: Uta Schirpke, EURAC

49 Effects on landscapes Creation of new environments Fragmentation Loss of habitats

50 Effects on society

51 Drinking water supply

52 Agriculture R. Bottarin 1. Precipitation Summer Extreme dry periods (duration, frequency) 2. Soil moisture regional Snow reduced discharge water reserve 3. evaporation Species-specific Higher temperature

53 Agriculture R. Bottarin Changes in temperature and rainfall can compromise agricultural production in many regions.

54 Energy R. Bottarin Renewable resource Interruption of river continuum Reduction of discharge/changing of natural variations

55 Recreative Value R. Bottarin Tourism key economic factor Need of infrastructure

56 Artificial snow R. Bottarin Increased technical equipments Higher abstractions and retention of water

57 Natural hazards

58 Natural hazards

59 Natural hazards

60 A changing climate affects human health R. Bottarin Air Quality Clean water Sufficient food Control of infectious diseases Availability of shelter malnutrition, diarrhea, respiratory diseases, waterborne and insect-transmitted diseases.

61 Air pollution R. Bottarin A warmer and more variable climate leads to higher levels of some air pollutants

62 The rates and ranges of transmission of infectious diseases through unclean water and contaminated food increases.

63 Effects on society Water supply Agriculture/crop production/biomass Energy Tourism Natural hazards Health

64 Concluding observations Changes of the abiotic environment: steeper increase of temperature, increase of precipitations and exstreme events Reductions of water reserve in glacier and permafrost Reduction of snow cover duration Increase of dry area Higher evaporation and evapotranspiration Direct and indirect effects on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems Management strategies are necessary New challenges for water management

65 to reflect 700 l 1 kg paper l 1 kg bread l one newspaper l 1 kg sugar l 1 kg meat l a car

66 Thank you for your attention

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