Desertification Threatens Mediterranean Forests


Heidelberg Earth scientists study natural climate fluctuations of the past 500,000 years –

With a view towards predicting the consequences of human-made climate change for Mediterranean ecosystems, Earth scientists from Heidelberg University have studied natural climate and vegetation fluctuations of the past 500,000 years. Their primary focus was the effects of these fluctuations on the forests in the Mediterranean region. To this end, researchers led by Dr. Andreas Koutsodendris analyzed fossil pollen preserved in a sediment core from Greece. Their investigations suggest that in long-standing drought conditions—as the latest climate models predict—desertification of the forests in the Mediterranean region is likely in the near future.

Mediterranean forests are not only hotspots of biodiversity, but they also provide critical ecosystem services. They protect against soil erosion, regulate the regional climate, and hydrological conditions, and supply food and timber. “Because they are exceptionally sensitive to climate change, concern for their survival…

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