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Climate warming by ca. 0.8°C between the late-19th and late-20th century, although with some fluctuations, has forced multispecies elevational tree-limit advance by >100 m for the principal tree species in the Swedish part of the Scandinavian mountain range. Predominantly, these processes imply growth in height of old established individuals and less frequently upslope migration of new individuals. After a slight retardation during some cooler decades after 1940, a new active phase of tree-limit advance has occurred with a series of exceptionally mild winters and some warm summers during the 1990s. The magnitude of total 20th century tree-limit rise varies with topoclimate and is mainly confined to wind-sheltered and snow-rich segments of the landscape. Thickening of birch tree stands in the “advance belt” has profoundly altered the general character of the subalpine/low alpine landscape and provides a positive feedback loop for further progressive change and resilience to short-term cooling episodes. All upslope tree-limit shifts and associated landscape transformations during the 20th century have occurred without appreciable time lags, which constitutes knowledge fundamental to the generation of realistic models concerning vegetation responses to potential future warming. The new and elevated pine tree-limit may be the highest during the past 4000 14C years. Thus, it is tentatively inferred that the 20th century climate is unusually warm in a late-Holocene perspective.
In this paper, we present the methodology and some results from the application of an integrating conceptual framework, MIRABEL, to analyze the consequences of environmental change for biodiversity. For 28 European countries, MIRABEL tabulates changes in the status of threatened habitats predicted to result from 10 environmental pressures. Regional variations in the severity of the pressures and impacts are taken into account by compiling separate impact tables for each of 13 Ecological Regions. Results suggest that agricultural intensification is one of the main threats, however, differences recorded by MIRABEL in the intensity of the pressures, their rate of change and their past and expected impacts on biodiversity in the various Ecological Regions is telling evidence of Europe's biogeographical variety, and of the need to take this into consideration when assessing environmental change.
The Saldanha-Langebaan coastal zone forms an integral part of the South African coastal resource base. As elsewhere in the world, an acute need exists to balance development and economic growth and conservation in the coastal zone as an exploitable resource frontier area. Vegetated buffers and greenways are conservation concepts that have been used with great success in such conservation efforts. They are applied in the study area through the use of a Geographic Information System (GIS) as spatial decision-support system to legitimize the demarcation of a vegetated buffer zone. The method of multi-criteria evaluation, as applied here, incorporates public decision-making in constructing an objective model for buffer zone demarcation. Representatives from interested and affected parties participated in model construction and calibration, resulting in the spatial delimitation of a multi-functional vegetated buffer. It conforms to a range of functional criteria and can serve as an environmental element in coastal conservation planning frameworks.
Copper production in Falun, central Sweden, has emitted sulfur dioxide (SO2) and metals to the air during at least 1000 years. Emissions peaked in the 17th century when Falun produced 2/3 of the world's copper supply. This area offers unique opportunities to study long-term effects of acid deposition and metal pollution, including recovery following the three centuries of decreasing SO2 and metal deposition. Here we present a 1000-yr perspective on local emissions of SO2, estimated air concentrations and dry deposition of SO2, as well as results on acidification and metal pollution of soils and lakes. Despite a long period when deposition of SO2 exceeded the critical load, soil acidification is limited to the most heavily polluted area 12 km NW and SE from the mine. According to diatom analyses of lake sediments, only 8 of 14 lakes have become acidified (0.4–0.8 pH units). None of these lakes show recovery from acidification, probably due to large amounts of sulfate still accumulated in the soils and changes in land use.
Through a case study on lead pollution in the former Soviet Union, the linkage of policy, environmental science, and environmental management is explored, and compared with the US experience. Soviet bans on leaded gasoline and lead-based paint appear to have been effective. Regional governments, in cooperation with the petroleum industry, are taking the initiative in phasing out leaded gasoline, to some extent in defiance of federal policy. Problems with management of lead-acid batteries have been worsened by the collapse of the political system. Lack of reliable environmental data impedes reliable environmental assessment. The types of environmental measurements reflect an emphasis on multipollutant environmental contamination, rather than on human exposure to single pollutants.
Solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR, 280–400 nm) is known to cause a number of detrimental effects in aquatic organisms. The area of Patagonia, which is sometimes under the influence of the Antarctic ozone “hole”, occasionally receives enhanced levels of ultraviolet B radiation (UV-B, 280–315 nm). Great efforts have been put into creating a database for UVR climatology by installing a variety of instruments in several localities in the region. However, no comparable effort has been made to determine the impact of normal and enhanced levels of solar UVR upon organisms. Most of the photobiological research in aquatic systems of Patagonia has focused on determining the effects of solar UVR in phytoplankton photosynthesis, DNA damage, and mortality, fecundity and repair mechanisms in zooplanktonic species. Some work has also been done with fish larvae and interactions between species at low trophic levels of the aquatic food web. The results of these studies indicate that in order to assess the overall impact of UVR in a certain waterbody, it is also necessary to consider other variables, such as changes in cloudiness, ozone concentrations, differential sensitivity of organisms, and depth of the upper mixed layer/epilimnion. All factors that can preclude or benefit the acclimation of species to solar radiation.