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Both palaeogeographical reconstructions and general circulation models indicate that global warming is especially strongly manifested in high latitudes. Under a 2°C increase in mean global temperature, almost the entire modern tundra zone would become potentially suitable for tree growth. Nevertheless, palaeobotanic data cannot be applied directly to estimating vegetation response to the global warming expected in the 21st century, as they characterize a quasi-equilibrium state of ecosystems, which takes several centuries to be achieved. Low migration rates of trees, damage caused by fires and insects, processes of soil drying or paludification, and influence of herbivorous animals and human activities may slow down considerably forest spread in tundra. Climate warming will probably cause a decline in the populations of Arctic species and expansion of ranges of some southern animal species into the Arctic.

About the Authors

Terry Callaghan

Sheffield Centre for Arctic Ecology, Univ. Sheffield, UK; Abisko Research Station, Sweden

Andrei Velichko

Russian Federation
Institute of Geography RAS, Moscow

Olga Borisova

Russian Federation
Institute of Geography RAS, Moscow


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