Climate change effect: ‘Snow-white' Alps turning green, says study after analysing satellite data

Edited By: Gandharv Walia
Paris Updated: Jun 03, 2022, 11:22 AM(IST)

‘Snow-white' Alps turning green, says study (representative image). Photograph:( Twitter )

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The loss of less than 10% snow cover above treeline is significant, the scientists said. Mountain areas seem to be heating up around twice as fast as the average globally. More plants at high altitudes may threaten Alpine plants as they are adapted to harsh conditions but are not competitive

Alps are the new victim of climate change. The snow-white mountains seem to be turning green, media reports said citing a study. The change is visible from space. Now, green plants can be seen in the mountain range. The research, which has been published in ‘Science’, used satellite data to come up with the findings. Since 1984, the vegetated areas above the treeline seems to have increased by 77% in the Alps, the study said. The rise in the plant biomass is described by the researchers as an “absolutely massive” change.  

The growing season is prolonging due to rising temperatures and increased rainfall. It is helping plants in colonising new areas and becoming taller. “The scale of the change has turned out to be absolutely massive in the Alps,” said Prof Sabine Rumpf from the University of Basel. He is also the lead author of the research.  

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The loss of less than 10% snow cover above treeline is significant, the scientists said. Mountain areas seem to be heating up around twice as fast as the average globally. More plants at high altitudes may threaten Alpine plants as they are adapted to harsh conditions but are not competitive, as per Rumpf. “The unique biodiversity of the Alps is therefore under considerable pressure,” said Rumpf.  

“Previous analyses of satellite data hadn’t identified any such trend. This may be because the resolution of the satellite images was insufficient or because the periods considered were too short,” said Prof Antoine Guisan of the University of Lausanne.  

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Rumpf said, “Greener mountains reflect less sunlight and therefore lead to further warming – and, in turn, to further shrinkage of reflective snow cover.” The warming will also cause the thawing of permafrost and eventually lead to more rockfalls, landslides and mudflows.   

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(With inputs from agencies)

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