The GLORIA Program – Monitoring High Altitude Vegetation

Michael Gottfried alerted me to a very important climate monitoring program in which high altitude vegeation is monitored for its long term changes (such as movement of plant species up or down slope. This type of monitoring complements the phenology monitoring that has been discussed on Climate Science (see).

The program is called GLORIA for Global Observation Reesearch Initiative in Alpine Environments. The purpose of GLORIA

“is to establish and maintain a world-wide long-term observation network in alpine environments. Vegetation and temperature data collected at the GLORIA sites will be used for discerning trends in species diversity and temperature. The data will be used to assess and predict losses in biodiversity and other threats to these fragile alpine ecosystems which are under accelerating climate change pressures.”

Apparently this network was justified to funders by the narrow view that that climate change is accelertating from well-mixed greenhouse gases. Nonetheless, it will be an important source of climate information. As we showed in our paper

Stohlgren, T.J., T.N. Chase, R.A. Pielke, T.G.F. Kittel, and J. Baron, 1998: Evidence that local land use practices influence regional climate and vegetation patterns in adjacent natural areas. Global Change Biology, 4, 495-504,

higher altitude vegetation can change in response to a variety of climate forcings (as well as from invasive plants; see).

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