Elaine Wittry

Plant Peril: How Climate Change has Doomed an Ecosystem

Alpine and subalpine ecosystems occur on the high slopes of mountains.

Although conditions can be tough in these high elevations, a wide variety of plants thrive here.


Lots of these plants are adapted to the cold climate by growing close to the ground to increase conductive heating.

As climate change occurs, these ecosystems are getting warmer.

Glacial snowmelt has rapidly sped up in past decades, resulting in drier, warmer conditions for alpine plants.

These conditions make it more difficult for native plants to survive in their home ecosystem.

Since these plants are found so high on mountains, there is nowhere else for them to move to when temperatures rise.

Additionally, the warming climate allows for lower-elevation plants to move into alpine habitat, where they compete with the native flora.

Alpine and subalpine plants are in trouble. How much time do they have left?

"Climate change is a terrible problem, and it absolutely needs to be solved. It deserves to be a huge priority."

Bill Gates

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