In just 25 years, climate change may decrease and dry 60-80% of Western Hemisphere cloud forests, a study published today said. If greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase as they were, 90% of Western Hemisphere cloud forests will be affected as early as 2060. The current cloudy and muddy environment of many varied alpine ecosystems above these equatorial cloud forests, known as páramo, disappears.
Cloud forests are foggy forests found high on the tropical mountains. Often cloud-maimed, many resemble fairy forests, with twisted, stunned old trees covered with moss and ferns. But their importance is real. Their trees, as well as the plants and lichens that live on them, meet water vapor that can provide 75% of the stream's water in dry places. And they are among the most biodiversity ecosystems on Earth. Thousands of unique species developed where fog and fog created an incredibly smaller dwelling isolated on the mountains.
The effects are close. In Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, warming will reduce the cloudy immersion in 100% of cloud forests. Monarch butterflies spend their winters, millions of dollars, in cloudy forests in Central Mexico and in the forests below them, where they depend on clouds to stabilize temperatures. In the Caribbean, the US national forest El Yunque endangers the endangered Elfin Woods Wurver, found only in the mountains of Puerto Rico. It is named after the mysterious "elfin" cloud forests of the mountain peaks. In Central America, tourists from around the world visit the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in Costa Rica. While walking paths there, they can feel the power of commercial winds, forcing wet air mountains and hearing the eternal songs of Nightingale Thrushes. All of these cloud forests will be affected by less or narrower clouds that are formed at higher altitudes and from drier conditions.
This study is the first to quantify these potential changes across continents. To do this, scientists from US Forest Service laboratories in Puerto Rico and Fort Collins, Colorado and Colorado State University developed a new approach. They mapped and projected how climate change will affect the characteristic that cloud forest species are uniquely adapted to: cloudy immersion. The team mapped the current cloud forest areas across the Western hemisphere with data on the climate and the size of the mountains and observations from dozens of environmental studies, including historical ones, dating from 50 to 60 years. They then projected the extensive cloud noise and relative humidity, a proxy for frequency and cloud density, scenarios for future greenhouse gas emissions and the corresponding climatic conditions.
Prior to this survey, surveys from several locations suggested that cloudy submersion would increase in some cloud forests, but would drop in others. A cloudy submersion may increase, as air humidity will increase over the warming of the oceans, which means the damaging clouds formed at lower altitudes and bloated forests. Submerged submersion can be reduced, since rising temperatures over the earth could force the air to travel further along the mountains before cooling enough to form clouds, which will reduce the cloudy forest surface and cloudiness. The fate of the rest of the clouds was unknown. Global climate modeling is too rough for the target effects of cloud forests. This new study showed that cloudy immersion will increase by only 1% of all cloud forests in the Western Hemisphere, only in several regions of South America. Reduction in cloudy submersion will dominate.
Materials provided by USDA Forest Service / South Research Station. Note: The content can be edited for style and length.