Some of the most ethereal, unique ecosystems in the world are enshrouded in clouds. The fate of Earth’s cloud forests, and the specialized species they harbor, is a concern facing climate scientists and conservationists around the world.
The big picture: Tropical montane cloud forests and páramo, which are alpine ecosystems that occur above the tropical cloud forests between about 11 degrees north and 9 degrees south latitude, are losing the mist that defines them as the planet’s climate changes largely due to human emissions of greenhouse gases. Another factor is land use change, with deforestation also posing a threat.
The backdrop: Previous studies have shown that there is a risk that cloud forests will see less frequent cloud immersion, thereby depriving moisture-adapted vertebrate and vegetation species of a vital water source.
Where and how significantly cloud immersion frequency and intensity will change has been unknown.
Details: In a comprehensive new study published in PLOS One, scientists found that cloud forests and páramo are likely to see marked contraction and drying during the next several decades.
The fog and mist that enshrouds these ecosystems forms in part from orographic lift: As warm, moist air ascends up mountain slopes, it cools and condenses to form clouds and