Surface albedo of alpine lichen heaths and shrub vegetation

Aartsma P., Asplund J., Odland A., Reinhardt S. & Renssen H.
Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research
52(1): 312–322
Lichen heaths are declining in abundance while shrubs are increasing their range in alpine and arctic areas due to climate change. This can have a large impact on the surface albedo of these areas. The aim of this article is to quantify the difference in albedo between lichen heaths and shrub-dominated vegetation and the variability within lichen heaths. Several environmental conditions that can influence the albedo measurements are considered. We measured the albedo of twenty lichen- and shrub-dominated plots on an alpine mountain area in southern Norway in the summer of 2018 with two radiometers using a paired plot design. With this design, we ensured similar weather conditions, aspects, and zenith angles between the paired lichen- and shrub-dominated plots. In addition, we collected patches of Cladonia stellaris and Flavocetraria nivalis to measure their albedo. The average difference in albedo between the lichen- and shrub-dominated plots is 0.124. The albedo of the lichen-dominated plots varies between 0.227 and 0.284, and that of the shrub-dominated plots varies between 0.115 and 0.148. This variation in albedo is explained by differences in aspect and vegetation composition. Further studies should focus on the consequences of this decrease in albedo for the microclimate in alpine and arctic areas. Keywords: Lichen, shrub, Betula nana , albedo, alpine tundra.
Thursday, 09 July 2020 10:31