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Warming-Induced Vegetative Change in the Swedish Scandes
Kullman, L. 2010. A richer, greener and smaller alpine world: Review and projection of warming-induced plant cover change in the Swedish Scandes. Ambio 39: 159-169.

A favorite mantra of NASA's chief climate alarmist (James Hansen) is that life in earth's alpine regions is in danger of being "pushed off the planet" as the earth warms, since it has "no place else to go." Real-world data, however, suggest something quite different.

What was done
In response to flippant contentions such as that expressed by Hansen -- which was actually made in testimony he presented to the Select Committee of Energy Independence and Global Warming of the United States House of Representatives -- Kullman presents what he calls "an integrative review of results from long-term monitoring of subalpine/alpine vegetation in the [mountainous] Swedish Scandes," from which he derives "tentative projections of landscape transformations in a potentially warmer future," which are based on "actual observations and paleoecological data (Kullman and Kjallgren, 2006; Kullman 2006)."

What was learned
First of all, the professor of physical geography at Sweden's Umea University indicates that post-Little Ice Age warming has, at long last, broken the back of "a multi-millennial trend of plant cover retrogression" and "floristic and faunal impoverishment, all imposed by progressive and deterministic neoglacial climate cooling," reporting that the "upper range margin rise of trees and low-altitude (boreal) plant species, expansion of alpine grasslands and dwarf-shrub heaths are the modal biotic adjustments during the past few decades, after a century of substantial climate warming." Currently, therefore, the situation is one where "alpine plant life is proliferating, biodiversity is on the rise and the mountain world appears more productive and inviting than ever." And he makes it very clear that "in contrast to model predictions, no single alpine plant species has become extinct, neither in Scandinavia nor in any other part of the world in response to climate warming over the past century," citing, in addition to his own studies, the work of Pauli et al. (2001, 2007), Theurillat and Guisan (2001), and Birks (2008).

What it means
As for the future, Kullman -- who has spent much of his professional life studying the subject out in the field among the mountains themselves -- opines that "continued modest warming over the present century will likely be beneficial to alpine biodiversity, geological stability, resilience, sustainable reindeer husbandry and aesthetic landscape qualities," which outlook is a far, far cry from the "pushed off the planet" scenario of NASA's James Hansen, who derives his perspective from highly-discredited climate envelope models of plant redistributions in response to the future climate changes he obtains from mathematical models run on computers at his place of work in New York City.

Who you gonna trust?

Birks, H.H. 2008. The late-quaternary history of arctic and alpine plants. Plant Ecology and Diversity 1: 135-146.

Kullman, L. 2006. Transformation of alpine and subalpine vegetation in a potentially warmer future, the Anthropocene era. Tentative projections based on long-term observations and paleovegetation records. Current Trends in Ecology 1: 1-16.

Kullman, L. and Kjallgren, L. 2006. Holocene tree-line evolution in the Swedish Scandes: Recent tree-line rise and climate change in a long-term perspective. Boreas 35: 159-168.

Pauli, H., Gottfried, M. and Grabherr, G. 2001. High summits of the Alps in a changing climate. In: Walther, G.-R., Burga, C.A. and Edwards, P.J., Eds. Fingerprints of Climate Change. Kluwer, New York, New York, USA., p. 139-149.

Pauli, H., Gottfried, M., Reiter, K., Klettner, C. and Grabherr, G. 2007. Signals of range expansions and contractions of vascular plants in the high Alps: Observations (1994-2004) at the GLORIA master site Schrankogel, Tyrol, Austria. Global Change Biology 13: 147-156.

Theurillat, J.-P. and Guisan, A. 2001. Potential impacts of climate change on vegetation in the European Alps: A review. Climatic Change 50: 77-109.

Reviewed 9 March 2011