A

40 m

Ecotopes with

I I Temperature profiles of | | ridges

I I Temperature profiles of

■ Temperature profiles of I I depressions southern exposures

K 1

63 152

Eod-cold

5 5

:::

77 141

Mod-cold

8 2

Mid slope

block field

160

Mod-cold 28

67 159

Mod-cold 16

77 8

141 Mod-cold 2

77 8

141 Mod-cold 2

76 C

Mid slope

76 0

Upper slope

76 0

Upper slope

76 C

Mid slope

Mid slope block field

Upper slope

Mid slope

Anticlinal depression

20 m

Figure 13.18 (Plate 11) Spatial differentiation of temperature dynamics in the middle-alpine belt (Loffler 2002a). A schematic profile along a characteristic relief gradient is illustrated by thermoisopleth diagrams. Legend is given in Figure 13.19 and Table 13.3

512565

1455

Intensity and dynamics of ecological processes

BA = Biotic Activity • CI = Chilling Injuries • DS = Drought Stress ET = Evapotranspiration • FD = Frost Damage • FH = Frost Heaving FP = Frost Penetration • FS = Frost Shattering • PS = Photosynthesis SC = Formation of Snow Cover • SM = Snow Melt • WM = Water Mobility R = Precipitaion falls as Rain • S = Precipitation falls as Snow -= Usually no Precipitation

Figure 13.19 (Plate 12) Legend for landscape ecological maps and profiles in Figure 13.17 and Figure 13.18. The figure shows a complex scheme, systematically scaling temperatures according to their landscape ecological influence on ecosystem functioning. The three air, surface, and soil thermoisopleth diagrams show daily and annual changes of seven different ranges of temperatures with similar ecological values for a particular site. Those temperature ranges subdividing the outer circle into seven circular segments are grouped according to data from the literature, own investigations and theoretical considerations on 13 landscape ecological process attributes. Processes like photosynthesis, evapotranspiration, drought stress, and so on are in turn scaled on the individual axes within the small rose diagrams according to their ecological influence under those temperature conditions (from the inside to the outside: no, little, moderate, high and extreme influence). For example, temperatures under -13°C are defined as no photosynthesis is done by any species, evapotranspiration is extremely reduced, processes like drought stress, snow melt, water mobility, and so on, are absent, but there is the danger of severe frost damage to plants, frost weathering of minerals and bedrock, frost penetration is extreme, frost heaving takes place and there is usually no precipitation under those conditions. As shown by the example of the thermoisopleth triple (lower alpine ridge site), those conditions are only found within the air temperature in + 15-cm height during the whole daytime in December and January and during the nights in November and February. The scheme for the classification of temperature dynamics is given in Table 13.2. (Loffler & Wundram 2001). Reproduced by permission of Dr Christof Ellger

Table 13.3 Classification of temperature dynamics (Loffler & Wundram 2001). The table shows a hierarchical classification of air, surface, and soil temperatures according to 8 different attributes: (1) duration of daily means >10°C (minimum temperature for tree growth) and (2) >5°C (minimum temperature for grass growth), (3) duration of frost (in 5 dominant classes), (4) annual temperature amplitude (in 9 dominant classes) and duration of daily maxima (5) >25°, (6) >13°, (7) < — 1° and (8) < —13°C (in 9 dominant classes)

Temperature type code Duration of daily means Duration Annual [in months] of frost amplitude

Duration of daily maximum [in months]

Table 13.3 Classification of temperature dynamics (Loffler & Wundram 2001). The table shows a hierarchical classification of air, surface, and soil temperatures according to 8 different attributes: (1) duration of daily means >10°C (minimum temperature for tree growth) and (2) >5°C (minimum temperature for grass growth), (3) duration of frost (in 5 dominant classes), (4) annual temperature amplitude (in 9 dominant classes) and duration of daily maxima (5) >25°, (6) >13°, (7) < — 1° and (8) < —13°C (in 9 dominant classes)

Temperature type code Duration of daily means Duration Annual [in months] of frost amplitude

Duration of daily maximum [in months]

Surface

Soil

>10°C

>5°C

[in months]

[K]

>25°C

>13°C

<-1°C

< —13°C

Extreme-cold

Ex-cold

Never

<3

>6

>45

Never

<1

>6

<1

Persistent cold

Per-cold

Never

<3

>6

<40

Never

<1

>6

Never

Moderate-cold

Mod-cold

Never

<3

<6

<40

Never

>1

<6

Never

Extreme-cool (eutherm)

Ex-cool-eu

>1

>3

<6

>45

<1

<3

<6

<1

Extreme-cool

Ex-cool

>1

>3

<6

>45

Never

<3

<6

<1

Moderate-cool

Mod-cool

>1

>3

Never

<40

Never

<3

<3

Never

Eutherm-cool

Eu-cool

>1

>3

<6

>40

<1

>3

<6

Never

Persistent-cold

Per-cold

Never

<3

>6

<30

Never

<1

>6

Never

Moderate-cold

Mod-cold

Never

<3

<6

<30

Never

<1

<6

Never

Extreme-cool

Ex-cool

>1

>3

<6

>40

<1

<3

<6

Never

Extreme-cool (moderate)

Ex-cool-mod

>1

>3

<6

>30

Never

<3

>3

Never

Extreme-cool (eutherm)

Ex-cool-eu

>1

>3

Never

>45

>1

>3

Never

Never

Moderate-cool

Mod-cool

>1

>3

<1

>25

Never

>1

Never

Never

Extreme-cold

Ex-cold

Never

<3

>6

>20

Never

Never

>6

Never

Persistent cold

Per-cold

Never

<1

>6

<20

Never

Never

>6

Never

Moderate-cold

Mod-cold

Never

<3

<6

<20

Never

Never

>3

Never

Extreme-cool

Ex-cool

>1

>3

<6

>30

Never

<1

<6

Never

Moderate-cool

Mod-cool

Never

>3

Never

<15

Never

Never

Never

Never

Moderate-cool (extreme)

Mod-cool-ex

Never

>3

<3

<20

Never

never

>1

Soil occur over short periods in ridge and upper slope positions as well as in exposed depressions. The seasonal variation of surface temperature dynamics is similar to that of the air, but is buffered according to isolating effects of vegetation, as well as to soil moisture and snow cover conditions. Annual variations of the soil temperatures are still slightly pronounced in well drained and less snowy ecotopes as well as wind-exposed plain depressions. Wet and snowy ecotopes show no change of the soil temperature. Finally, Figure 13.17 and 13.18 in combination with the legends in Figure 13.19 and Table 13.2 synthesise fine-scaled spatial attributes and high-resolution temporal features on different vertical layers, resulting in a complex and highly integrating abstraction of the reality in high mountain landscapes.

13.7 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS

As demonstrated, fine-scale differences of ecological conditions have to be explained through complex attributes that result from hydrologic dynamics, in particular, the formation, thickness, duration and melting of the snow cover (see also Kohler et al. 1994).

Figure 13.20 synthesises the results from an ecological point of view and stresses the importance of the snow cover in the Norwegian high mountain ecosystems. The specific constellation of lee-side snow accumulation on the southern exposed slopes is important. Thus, the differences between northern and southern exposures are not as extreme as in other high mountain regions. Water stagnation results from snow melting; but wet conditions are restricted to depressions, where water surplus is detected throughout the summer. The ecosystems show high soil moisture content; this affects periglacial processes such as solifluction and cryoturbation. According to snow cover thickness, frost occurred in the ground more or less intensively at the ridge and upper slope positions. Snow cover protects the ground from frost.

Snow is the most decisive ecological factor for the occurrence and distribution of arctic-alpine vegetation (Figure 13.13, Figure 13.14, and Figure 13.21). The conservative aspects of snow cover can be summed up as follows: snow prevents plant exposure to low temperature extremes, winter desiccation, ice blast and solar radiation (potentially dangerous to dormant tissue) during the cold seasons. Its adverse effects are less clear: shortening of the length of the growing season is

Evapotranspiration

Lee exposure Windward exposure

Lee exposure Windward exposure

Snow accumulation Insolation

Solifluction and cryoturbation

Moist

Intensity of frost penetration

Wind direction with Highest wind speed

Soil moisture of unfrozen ground

Figure 13.20 Scheme of ecological determinants in high mountain catchments. Hydrologic dynamics resulting from different seasons: winter situation from January to May, early summer situation in the middle of May, summer period from the middle of June until the end of September, autumn snow accumulation from October to December (after: Billings 1973, Kohler et al. 1994, Loffler 2003). Reproduced by permission of Dr Andreas Dittmann

Figure 13.20 Scheme of ecological determinants in high mountain catchments. Hydrologic dynamics resulting from different seasons: winter situation from January to May, early summer situation in the middle of May, summer period from the middle of June until the end of September, autumn snow accumulation from October to December (after: Billings 1973, Kohler et al. 1994, Loffler 2003). Reproduced by permission of Dr Andreas Dittmann the only obvious limitation. Others, like effects on plant respiration by elevated soil temperatures in winter, effects on microbial activity, nutrient cycling, melt water seepage and water logging, ground ice formation and possible anoxia in and above the soil, mechanical pressure and shearing effects on slopes, mechanical breaking of the vegetations structure, snow mould, and other pathogen effects or below snow rodent activity, plus effects on soils during freeze-thaw cycles are more difficult to evaluate (Korner 1999).

As a whole, snow-ecosystem studies show that feedbacks between snow, vegetation and climate are complex and occur at multiple scales (Jones et al. 2001). The results of this study show that the distribution of vegetation is influenced by thermal summer and winter conditions along gradients such as altitude, snow cover thickness and duration of snow cover. Figure 13.21 sums up the principles in climatic and hydrologic determination of the vegetation. During winter, extreme cold and harsh conditions occur and ecosystem functioning is primarily determined by snow cover thickness and duration of snow cover. Snow cover also determines surface and soil temperatures. Survival of plants is determined by snow during periods with low temperatures. Vegetation distribution mainly follows a pattern of spatial snow distribution. Important exceptions are given by chionophobous vegetation surviving cold winters for the sake of a longer vegetation period. On the contrary, chionophilous vegetation is more frequently found at higher altitudes where the snow cover is thicker, the vegetation period is shorter and the summers are cooler. These results are corroborated with results from

Cool summers

Warm summers

Thin Snow cover Thick

Wet Very wet Extremely wet^

Soil moisture gradient

Figure 13.21 Scheme of snow cover and soil moisture influences on vegetation in the altitudinal belts (based upon F^gri 1972, modified and supplemented; Loffler 2003). Survival of plants is determined by snow during periods of lowest temperatures; vegetation distribution follows a gradient along spatial snow pack distribution. Optimal conditions are seldom found in the mountains. The most important distinction is that of chionophobes surviving cold winters for the sake of a longer vegetation period. On the contrary, chionophiles are more frequently found with altitude, where the snow cover is thicker, the vegetation period shorter and the summers cooler. Moisture gradients are contrasting: dry conditions do not occur in the mountains at any time, but near-surface wet conditions are most decisive determining species turnover and distinct vegetation changes. Wet conditions are considered to be optimal for vegetation most frequently found in low-alpine areas. With increasing moisture, chionophiles in the middle-alpine belt is also influenced superiorly, but chionophobes are not affected. Under extremely wet conditions, hygrophilous determination might occur at the exposed sites. Reproduced by permission of Dr Andreas Dittmann the literature (Vestergren 1902, Gjsrevoll 1956, Dahl 1956, Billings & Bliss 1959, Holtmeier & Broll 1992, Korner 1999, Jones etal. 2001) although quantitative functional data are rare. Results on moisture gradients contrast with the literature (Billings 1973, May 1976, Molenaar 1987, Isard & Belding 1989) since dry conditions do not occur in the investigated mountains at any time of the year. Near-surface wet conditions are most decisive in determining species turnover. With increasing moisture, chionophilous vegetation shows a distinct plant species turnover, while chionophobous vegetation remains unaffected. Under extremely wet conditions, hygrophilous might also occur at exposed sites (Loffler 2003). On the one hand, the alpine altitudinal gradient is characterised by a clear change in the vegetation according to the distribution of snow in the low- and middle-alpine belt as well as the absence of mire species with increasing altitude (Fsgri 1972, Dahl 1986, Fremstad 1997). On the other hand, ridge and upper slope vegetation is similar at both altitudes according to a narrow range of environmental conditions. These contradictions are strengthened by two overall determinants: (i) temperature gradients responsible for altitudinal changes in snow bed species composition (Loffler 2002a) and (ii) similarities in ecological conditions at exposed sites and secondary effects of moisture gradients on low-alpine vegetation in depressions (Loffler 2005).

In summary, the new outcomes of this study are as follows.

- Soil moisture gradients do not primarily determine the distribution of alpine vegetation.

- Snow cover is important but does not explain differences in low- and middle-alpine conditions.

- Similar snow conditions correspond to different vegetation along an altitudinal range.

- Near-surface temperature conditions have secondary effects on plant species distribution.

13.8 RESEARCH PERSPECTIVES

As has been shown, altitudinal and continental-oceanic changes in high mountain ecosystem dynamics can be explained by means of hydrologic and climatologic coupling. The delineation of spatial units, the quantification of ecological processes and the registration of their temporal dynamics is based on a complex methodological concept, integrating extensive measurements and mapping routines with highest resolution. In high mountain catchments, fine-scale differences of topography determine the landscape functioning above all other structural factors. The fundamental problem of landscape ecological approaches in the chorological dimension has been the lack of process-oriented methods (Haase 1979, Leser 1997). Thus, concepts had to be developed to extrapolate local measurements from the high mountain catchments into a larger area. Current regionalisation approaches from central Europe that focus on meso-scale water matter fluxes between different ecosystems could serve as a basis for this step (Duttmann 1999, Steinhardt & Volk 2002). Moreover, Reynolds & Tenhunen (1996) ask for landscape ecological studies that integrate processes within the water and solid matter balance. In the frame of this project in high mountain landscapes, techniques are developed to facilitate measurements under extreme conditions with a spatio-temporal resolution high enough for ecosystem modelling. Functional data are generally required for high mountains to explain the current systems and scenarios for future changes in alpine environments (Gottfried etal. 1999).

In general, perspectives in ecosystem analysis rely on quantification of biogeochemical cycles and energy fluxes in catchments and the regionalisation of results into larger areas (Withers & Meentemeyer 1999). As an overall objective for the future, regionalisation will be extended to the macro scale. To continue high mountain research in central Norway, functional regionalisation of ecological process systems is aspired, using a fine-scale spatial resolution from remote-sensing data and a high temporal resolution for landscape ecological models. The development of those models will have to be based on intensive field measurements using automatic equipment for high temporal resolution wherever possible.

Since the methodological concept is strictly based on theoretical constructions of different spatial units, the existence of such ecotopes, ecochores and ecoregions will have to be proved. This will be done along gradients with spatial differentiation according to lateral process directions. Indicators are available in the abiotic cycle of water fluxes and correlated solid matter dynamics. Moreover, the biotic compartment promises interesting hints on the existence of spatial landscape units. From the level of mobile organisms, vectors along temperature gradients might be expected (Loffler etal.2001).As snow has proved to be an integrating hydrologic factor, further investigations will be concentrated on fluxes of water and associated materials. First and foremost, within-snow hydrology will be examined by tracer experiments to detect water fluxes during the melting period. Many further research questions for alpine ecosystems remain, some of which have been summarized by Bowman & Seastedt (2001).

13.9 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The authors thank their companions, collaborators and colleagues for data processing and essential discussions: Anders Lundberg (University of Bergen, Norway), Oliver-D. Finch, Roland Pape, and Dirk Wundram (University of Oldenburg); all other members of the team and ''generations'' of students for field assistance; and extend warmest gratitude to Carmen de Jong (University of Bonn) for editing their ''Germlish''.

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PART IV: COUPLING METEOROLOGY AND HYDROLOGY

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