Tag Archives: Stefan Schouten

Arctic Forests: What the Svalbardian rocks tell us about past climate and future warming

tropicsvalbard

This was written by guest contributors Thomas Frank and Stan Schouten

Barren lies the tundra right outside the northernmost city in the world, Longyearbyen. As the winter approaches, strong winds and cold temperatures make this place truly hostile. The darkness of the winter months adds to that, allowing only very specialist forms of life to survive here high above the Arctic circle.

While the fauna has managed to sustain even large species such as the polar bear, the flora is limited to flat vegetation with hard leaves creeping on the cold ground. It is impossible for any bigger plants to survive in such a cold environment with only very short growth seasons. Indeed, it is very hard to imagine that this climatic setting could have been different in the past – and yet it´s true.