Mountains are more strongly affected by climate change than other regions. Global warming could be a major cause of biodiversity change on mountain tops. A general rearrangement of the Alpine flora could result from an elevational shift in species ranges.
Phenology, the science of recurrent seasonal events, can help us understand the influence of global warming on changes in plants of the Alpine region. We evaluated the influence of altitude on plant phenology for 1971–2000. Our attention is focused on flowering of widely distributed plants in Europe, including some important allergenic species. We calculate the dependence of phenological mean dates on altitude for different phenophases (BF -beginning of flowering, FFO - first flower opens, FF - full flowering) using linear regression. Results show a statistically significant linear dependence of mean dates on altitude. In contrast, phenological trends and temperature trends show a less strong, often non-significant, dependence on altitude.
Current climate change research has set its focus on carbon dioxide (CO2) as one of the most important greenhouse gases. The global distribution and the observation of long term variation are of special interest. Further research is required for processes on local and regional scales, due to the large complexity of high spatiotemporal variability of source and sink strengths and atmospheric mixing. In this context, a differentiation between anthropogenic and biogenic sources also in regard to a large scale carbon balance is an important step. Latest developments in measurement techniques enable continuous monitoring of stable carbon isotopes and allow to draw conclusions on sources and source areas utilizing isotopic ratios (e.g. δ13CO2).
The linkage of the δ13CO2 isotopic ratio with the additional set of continuously monitored atmospheric trace gases (e.g. NMHCs) and aerosols provides a good database for multivariate receptor modeling and other statistical methods to perform an apportionment of anthropogenic and biogenic sources as well as the determination of the origin and age of air masses.
Changes in the permafrost area are not only an indicator for changes in the climate, but they are also crucial for the stability of rocks and dangers of rock fall. The permafrost found in the slopes behind Schneefernerhaus may be affected by a warming climate.
The Chair of Landslide Research and a group from the Institute for Astronomical and Physical Geodesy at the Technical University Munich is monitoring the permafrost in the summit area and in the tunnel behind Schneefernerhaus.
Allergy problems are expected to increase with progressing climate change. In the project at the UFS, the effect of high mountain climate on allergic reactions is investigated.
The effect the high mountain climate has on selected patients and volunteer subjects is examined with regard to targeted parameters of the allergic reactivity as well as phenotypical characteristics of atopic diseases under standardized conditions. These studies include in vivo and in vitro parameters. Here, examinations in particular with regard to skin function and skin condition in view of atopic eczema as well as allergic respiratory diseases are conducted.