Early spring for the Arctic

June 20, 2007

The big caveat: “An earlier spring does not mean an earlier autumn and this could also affect ecosystems in ways that are difficult to predict.”
clipped from environment.newscientist.com

Spring in the Arctic now arrives about two weeks earlier than a decade ago because the snow is melting earlier, say researchers.

Toke Hye at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and colleagues observed the dates of a range of phenomena that signal the arrival of spring, including plant flowering and when insects, butterflies, mites and spiders emerged from hibernation.

“In the short term this is probably mainly good news, since the growing season is extending and the organisms now have more time to complete their reproductive cycle,” Hye told New Scientist.

But he adds that the long-term outlook may not be so positive: global warming is expected to push species that normally live further south up into the Arctic. “Competition from these species is likely to push the high-arctic species towards the north with the risk of extinctions,” he says.

They found that on average, these signs of spring were happening 14.5 days earlier in 2005 than in 1996.
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