Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2007, Vol. 17 ›› Issue (1): 3-19.doi: 10.1007/s11442-007-0003-3

• Climate and Environmental Change •     Next Articles

The influence of micro-climate, snow cover, and soil moisture on ecosystem functioning in high mountains

J?rg L?FFLER   

  1. Department of Geography, University of Bonn, Meckenheimer Allee 166, 53115 Bonn, Germany
  • Received:2006-04-23 Revised:2006-10-07 Online:2007-03-25 Published:2007-03-25


The dynamics of water and energy fluxes in the high mountains of central Norway was studied along micro-spatial topographic gradients in different altitudes and regions of the Scandes. Landscape ecological processes like snow accumulation during winter, snow melting, evaporation, percolation, soil moisture variability and temperature variations were quantified. Combining spatio-temporal data on physical environment functioning and vegeta-tion patterns resulted in a process-oriented characterisation of high mountain ecosystems. Extensive data from long-term measurements were synthesised illustrating the influence of micro-climate, snow cover, and soil moisture on high mountain ecosystem functioning. The results reveal that the micro-climatic impact on the vegetation is predominantly determined by snow cover overlaying soil moisture gradients. Water only becomes superior where near-surface water saturation and flooding occur. A lack of soil moisture availability was not found during any time of the year even under driest site conditions. Contrasting literature, the Norwegian mountain vegetation was found to be interpreted by environmental variable con-stellations excluding drought stress.

Key words: Landscape ecology, mountain research, climatic change response, Norway