What will happen to northern forests due to climate change?

Our taiga, the boreal northern forest, which stretches along the entire Arctic Ocean, is the largest untouched forest ecosystem on the planet. A huge number of wild animals, birds, fish and insects have found their homes here. Our boreal northern belt – regulates the climate above the mainland and beyond, protects the climate of the entire Earth. And it is the boreal belt of the Russian Taiga that stores a significant part of the planet’s terrestrial carbon.

Do you understand how important it is to protect the Russian Taiga? I will not be mistaken if I say that life on Earth depends on the Russian Taiga. And not only the life of biota, not only wildlife, but also humanity. Rivers that run across the Earth, where does the water come from? Why so many mighty water arteries? Above our heads are the same rivers, the volume of water is not inferior to the usual ground arteries. And these rivers, spilling onto the earth, nourish all ecosystems, nourish millennial biogeocenoses, supporting and creating life.

Air rivers are regulated by boreal forests, the ancient Russian Taiga, a biotic pump that draws moisture from the Arctic Ocean, from the Arctic zone, towards the continent. Ancient forests take care of all terrestrial ecosystems.

Such simple, even elementary things that the governments of the countries of the world do not see point-blank! Business wants money. Deforestation is an opportunity to “snatch” momentary profit. Business shares money with the government, and the government serves the interests of business in return. Everything is tied simply to making money, a vicious circle in which there is no place for caring for wildlife. There is no place even for thoughts about the importance of preserving biological systems! Only commercial interests are lobbied. And they come up with all kinds of excuses for why it is necessary to destroy the ancient forests.

Unfortunately, it is the northern boreal forest that today is greedily cut down by merchants. There, in the north, there are still masses of centuries-old valuable trees! Cedars, firs, dark coniferous giants. And there, in the north, there is no real control over logging due to the remoteness of the regions. That is why in September 2022 we are going to conduct an ecological expedition beyond the Arctic Circle, to the very source of the ancient northern taiga! We are going to fight for the forests that regulate the Earth’s climate.

Despite the mighty northern disposition of the Russian Taiga, it is very vulnerable. Even relatively moderate climate warming and associated changes in rainfall could have a critical impact on boreal forests.

Let me tell you about one important study by an ecologist at the University of Michigan, who made five years of observations of the northern taiga. U-M forest ecologist Peter Reich used infrared lamps and soil heating cables to study the predicted impacts of short-term climate change on thousands of seedlings of nine tree species that live in the forests of the far north. These trees form the main composition of boreal forests.

The study was conducted in the boreal forests of North America, the composition of the trees was mainly dark coniferous species, like we have in Russia, such as fir, spruce and pine. In harsh northern conditions, not many trees can grow, so almost all the giants here are ancient dark coniferous trees. In general, the boreal belt covers not only our Russian Taiga. Russia has the largest and most important majority of trees. But both in Canada and in Alaska, there is also a boreal belt, it is also in the countries of Scandinavia. In the north, boreal forests are closed by tundra, and in the south by temperate forests.

Peter Reich, an environmental researcher, did a great experiment. Young trees were heated around the clock, from the very beginning of spring until late autumn. Moreover, the heating took place as close as possible to climate change, that is, in the open air, without the use of greenhouses or cameras.

The ecologist used two levels of potential 21st-century climate warming: about 1.6 degrees Celsius and about 3.1 degrees above ambient temperature. In addition to warming up ahead of some rain fronts, movable tarpaulins were placed over half of the seedlings to simulate changes in rainfall due to climate change.

It turns out that the plants received less moisture and warmed up. The same thing that happens in the natural environment due to global climate change, which was caused by human activity.

Even a slight change in temperature (1.6 degrees) has caused serious problems for many species. Growth began to decline, the plants began to die rapidly. For stronger species, “depression” was observed, the branches were drooping and darkened. And due to the decrease in natural precipitation, the situation worsened even more: the vast majority of boreal tree species died rapidly.

“Our results pose challenges for the health and diversity of future regional forests,” says environmentalist Peter Reich. “Modern southern boreal forests could reach a tipping point with even modest climate warming, leading to major compositional change with potential adverse effects on the health and diversity of regional forests. These impacts could reduce the ability of our forests to produce wood, support other plant, microbial and animal species, mitigate flooding, and—perhaps most importantly—remove carbon from the air and trap it in wood and soil.”

This study fills many gaps in knowledge about how climate change is affecting northern boreal forests. This knowledge can help us in the fight for the Russian Taiga, as it is proof of the importance and necessity of the Federal Protection of Ancient Forests!

The temperatures that scientists used in the experiment are the indicators that await us in the near future. Accordingly, we can predict the consequences of climate change!

Remember and tell others: the boreal belt of the Russian Taiga forms the climate over the continent, protects all terrestrial ecosystems. Now there is a climate change due to anthropogenic impact, due to human intervention, due to the catastrophic deforestation of ancient forests. As a result, the boreal belt is not able to draw moisture into the interior of the continent, the work of the biotic pump is disrupted! And why did the northern forest draw in moisture? So he breathes! This is the breath of forest ecosystems, and the forest shares its breath with other ecosystems, including humans.

What will happen to you if you stop breathing? What will happen to you if you stop breathing altogether? In the first option, you will become disabled and will die slowly and painfully. In the second option – you will die quickly. So our Russian Taiga is now dying slowly! She is suffering. And when she dies completely, we will die with her, because we breathe only thanks to the boreal belt of the Russian Taiga.

© PAVEL PASHKOV

 

Translation of articles from Russian into English is carried out with the support of a google translator. All claims for errors should be sent to Google.

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Pavel Pashkov