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Some Recent Benefits of Climate Change Over the Tibetan Plateau

Paper Reviewed
Shen, W., Zou, C., Liu, D., Ouyang, Y., Zhang, H., Yang, C., Bai, S. and Lin, N. 2015. Climate-forced ecological changes over the Tibetan Plateau. Cold Regions Science and Technology 114: 27-35.

Shen et al. (2015) introduce their work by noting that "effects of global warming on ecosystems have attracted lots of attention." But they go on to say that "ecological responses to climate change have been hardly documented in alpine regions," which significant shortcoming led them to remedy that lack of attention themselves. This they did by studying "climate-warming-induced ecological changes on the Tibetan Plateau (TP) over the past 50 years on the basis of a large amount of in situ field observations and remote sensing data," which endeavor led them to discover the following facts.

First of all, the eight Chinese researchers found that a climate warming of up to 0.41°C per decade greatly improved heat conditions on the TP, which exhibited a 46,000-hectare increase in farmland over the past 30 years, with the largest growth rate of 19% occurring above an altitude of 4000 meters. They further report that lake and river areas exhibited increasing trends, whereas swamp lands declined in area over the past 35 years. In addition, they indicate that the recent warming had "a positive influence on vegetation," including agriculture production, and that it "decreased freeze-thaw erosion on the TP" because of a "reduced annual range of temperature."

In light of these several demonstrable facts, Shen et al. conclude with the thought that "understanding the ecological effects of climate change on the TP is of great significance to improve environmental management and promote sustainable development." And so far, the changes on the TP look pretty good.

Posted 14 August 2015