Global warming strikes once again as warmer sea temperatures speed up Arctic's 'nature clock'. Some plants in the low Arctic of Greenland have been found to emerge sooner than usual, while others are delaying their emergence as warmer winters cause spring to come sooner. These dramatic changes in the wildlife that are most especially pronounced over the Arctic are associated with significant loss of sea ice cover.
The unusually early arrival of plants can have negative effects on other species such as caribou, who come out looking for food at the same time each year. Instead of finding their usual plant food source, they eat the earlier emerging plants which are less nutritious. This results in fewer calves born and more calve deaths.
The recent study of global warming effects over the Arctic's wildlife was funded by U.S. National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration. It discovers that the timing of seasonal events in the Arctic, such as the first growth in spring, has been tampered with. The cyclic and seasonal biological events in both plants and animal are being altered as the 'natural clock' is running too fast, the Mail Online reports.
Researchers based at the University of California, Davis, studied plant emergence dates of certain species over a 12-year period. From early May to late June each year, researchers searched for the first signs of growth in plots of individual plant species. They found that declining Arctic sea ice cover leads to warming winters and earlier springs, The Davis Enterprise reports.
The alteration of 'nature's clock' by global warming has created a mixture of plants which bloom too early, too slowly, and those in between. The study finds that this season has the greatest changes in the timing of plant emergence on record. Scientists say that it's as if the Arctic wildlife has been severely reorganized.