The impact of global warming has hit the Arctic the most with certain winter plants quickly emerging from their winter slumber. The melting ice cover is causing the spring to arrive sooner to some plant species and there are certain other species which are delaying their emergence in warm winters. This climate change is making the plants behave in an uncertain way.
There is a West Greenland field site near the Russel Glacier which has been carrying out observations on the arctic plants since 12 years. After 12 years of observations, they came up with certain conclusions regarding the impact of the climate change. The Russel Glacier is a dynamic front part of the ice sheet protruding from the huge inland ice sheet covering most of the island. Extensive and detailed observations were carried out each day between May to June on the signs of growth in plots planted with individual plant species. Researchers found out that due to the declining of the sea ice cover, a mixture of speed demons and slowpokes were created in the warming winters. A particular species called the sedge species springs 26 days earlier than it did a decade ago. This change in the timing of emergence is caused by the climatic change and is the greatest recorded so far.
According to Eric Post, a polar ecologist from the UC Davis, a period of 26 days is an entire growing season and this rate of advance is definitely an eye opener at the rate of change. Though arctic has a short growing period, other species have not shown any rush as compared to this sedge species. Dwarf birch species has shown a 5 days earlier growth but the gray willow species has not budged at all.
The Arctic landscape is changing quickly and such changes greatly impact the ecological structure of the region for years to come. In a few years, the Arctic won’t be recognizable to those who have been working there since decades. These changes are affecting the Caribou in the region too. Caribous come to the study site each year to feed on the nutritious plants and to provide for their newborns. But the early blooms of the plants have not kept up with the requirements of the caribous. Their internal clock does not comply with the early spring. The caribous are still calving at the same time when most of the food is available and hence fewer calves survive and fewer are born. More calves die early in years when spring plants out spaces their calving season. The consequences faced by the caribou due to these early springs could put them on the brink of collapse.
These are some of the harmful impacts of climate change. Apart from these, there are many more cons of this as well. Each one must contribute their bit to help save the environment.