The Role of the Hydrological Cycle in Mountain Ecosystems
IGBP/BAHC , ProClim- , AlpenForum Symposium
It is through the hydrological cycle that components which accumulate in the atmosphere over urban centers are transported over long distances and later deposited on remote mountain ecosystems. The naturally oligotrophic mountain ecosystems will thus experience changes which will only be noticed decades from today. The substances contained in the atmospheric water will chronically influence the metabolic and reproductive behavior of the terrestrial and the aquatic organisms and thus regulate the selection of the phenotypic diversity able to colonize mountain habitats and to adapt to the harsh living conditions of high altitude environments.
The alpine biosphere constitutes a thin layer between the atmosphere and the underlying lithosphere. Ecosystems within this layer are labile and sensitive toward climatic and anthropogenic alterations. In the course of the symposium we will summarize our knowledge about observed and predicted responses of the mountain biosphere toward qualitative and quantitative changes in the hydrological regime. We will identify gaps and formulate new research avenues.
The symposium shall serve to enhance our knowledge of (1) the dynamic interactions between atmospheric, hydrospheric and biospheric compartments in mountain environments, (2) possible reactions of the mountain biosphere and the pedosphere toward changes of the hydrological cycle and (3) the sensitivity of mountain ecosystems to climate changes.