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Climate Change Having Dramatic Effect on Mountains

The ecology of mountains around the world is changing as summer plants bloom earlier and forests march up hill to newly temperate ground.
July 2, 2017, 5am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Mendenhall Glacier
Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska.
Joan Vadell

Scientists are unsure why mountains are getting hotter so much faster than lower lands, but they do have theories. "They suspect that the accelerated mountain warming is due to an effect documented in the Arctic—loss of albedo. The peaks are losing their shiny white blanket of snow and ice that reflects the sun's radiation back to space," Bob Berwyn writes in Pacific Standard.

The effects have been noted on mountains around the world. "Forests are moving uphill, glaciers are vanishing, and plants are blooming several weeks earlier than just 30 years ago," Berwyn reports. Changes to mountain eco-systems mean big changes in the water cycle, and "about half the world's population depends on mountains for drinking water supplies, irrigation, mining, hydropower, agriculture, and recreation—including many people who live far away from mountains." 

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Published on Monday, June 19, 2017 in Pacific Standard
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