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Arctic Shrubs Dendrochronological Potential (ArcDendro)

Polar science is crucial for understanding global climate change and human impact on it. For the research, those remote areas like the Arctic give us a unique chance to study significant environmental changes, which are induced by global climate change and result on one hand in ice-sheet melting and on the other hand in conspicuous tundra expansion

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Project date

Starts
2010-08-01

Ends
2013-08-30

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Project Keywords

  • paleoclimate / paleoclimate reconstructions / vegetation reconstruction
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Fieldwork information

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Summary

Polar science is crucial for understanding global climate change and human impact on it. For the research, those remote areas like the Arctic give us a unique chance to study significant environmental changes, which are induced by global climate change and result on one hand in ice-sheet melting and on the other hand in conspicuous tundra expansion. ArcDendro will help to understand ongoing environmental changes in the High Arctic and based on dendrochronological and wood anatomical analyses of arctic shrubs (mainly Salix polaris and Dryas octopetala). The great part of environmental changes data can be obtained from the vegetation, using dendrochronological techniques. Tundra dwarf shrubs, comparable to trees, do produce a sequence of annual tree-rings, which can be widely used for environmental reconstructions, from climate to habitat conditions, and post-glacial processes activity. The general objective of the ArcDendro is the recognition of the dendrochronological potential (Dendro) of arctic shrubs (Arc) and its relevance for ongoing geo-sciences studies, such as: climate change (Dendroclimatology) and dating past and present geomorphic processes, such as debris flows, solifluction and other periglacial processes (Dendrogeomorphology).The main goal can not be achieved without knowing the growth response of particular shrub species, so the following goals are aimed for: (i) Development of arctic shrubs chronologies based on ring-width variations; (ii) Conducting detailed wood anatomical studies of arctic shrubs. Dendrochronology can be applied for all wooden plants, which are able to produce annual rings (Schweingruber 1996). Tundra and alpine shrubs are among those species, however their potential for dendroecological studies haven’t been explored enough yet. For dendroecological studies of arctic shrubs the island of Spitsbergen was chosen. For detailed studies the central part of the island was chosen Ebba Valley (Ebbadalen, Petuniabukta area, Dickson Land) (location: 78°43’N; 16°37’E). For further comparison studies two other sites (Longyearbyen area and in Ny-Ålesund) are planned. There is still more work needed to understand ongoing changes in the (sub-)polar regions, were most of the environmental changes are highly recorded. Post Little Ice Age climate warming has resulted both in common glaciers retreat, permafrost degradation but at the same time in a significant pioneer vegetation expansion, herein dwarf shrubs. Taking into account that the expansion of dwarf shrubs can be seen world-wide, it is highly important to recognize their chronology and apply it as a valuable proxy for many earth science studies. Therefore the application of the ArcDendro project might be important.

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