Resilience and Arctic Climate Change

In a review of ecological change in the Arctic (Post et al. 325 (5946): 1355 — Science)  highlights areas for research in a changing Arctic.  These include:

Extreme events, tipping points, and resilience. Insect outbreaks, sudden and transient temperature changes, rapid retreat of sea- and lake ice, bouts of abnormally high precipitation or extended droughts, wildfires, the sudden release of water from melting glaciers, and slumping of permafrost are examples of stochastic events that may have disproportionately large effects on ecological dynamics. Such processes, and ecological responses to them, may be nonlinear and difficult to predict (59). We urge research aimed specifically at understanding the role of extreme events in ecological dynamics in the Arctic, in particular with regard to the build-up of tipping points in ecological systems. An important consideration for conservation and management in the Arctic, for example, is whether alteration of species composition of plant and animal communities due to climate change will lead to alternate ecosystem states or persistent instability (60) (Fig. 4B), or whether system states can rebound from abiotic perturbations due to species resilience.

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