Authors: Claussen, M., S. Bathiany, V. Brovkin, and T. Kleinen
Chapter 2: Principles of Science and Systems
Video Clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KD_bmYk45c
Content of the Article: http://www.mpimet.mpg.de/nc/en/communication/news/single-news/article/plant-diversity-may-affect-climate-vegetation-interaction.html
What Was The Article About?
The vegetation and climate of an ecosystem correlates with one another; terrestrial biosphere and climate affect each other because in the same way that plants need sunlight and rain (which they get from the atmosphere), the atmosphere needs the vegetation to change heat fluxes between the soil and atmosphere. There have been studies on the idea that plant diversity affects the ''dynamics'' of climate-vegetation interaction, concluding that plant types are sensitive to changes in precipitation and abrupt changes in vegetation may occur if only the plants are prevalent. As a result, the relationship between climate and vegetation may experience instability if for example, a more drought-resistant and resilient plant (regarding minor changes in precipitation) are the only types of plants in an ecosystem. As a result, biome types would be affected/changed i.e. the Sahara is believed to have been greener several thousand years ago and must have ‘’expanded to its present size’’ after the vegetation-climate system was disturbed. If plants were removed or introduced in a tropical area, the land would incline towards a drier climate.
The problem in the article is plant diversity in some biomes because some plants are sensitive to abrupt changes in precipitation which leads to an unstable vegetation-climate system. The player is nature itself because it controls the type of plants in a biome (and animals help spread plant diversity through their eating and digesting seeds) and can either gradually turn into a drier or wetter climate (as the years pass) or can abruptly change climate (therefore changing the types of plants). The plants and climate are affected because the climate determines which plants live in the area and vice versa (''terrestrial biosphere and climate affect each other). This can be perceived in both a negative and positive way: a negative way at first until the plants or climate gets accustomed to one another, leading to a positive effect. The solutions to this problem are nonexistent, unless the climate or vegetation in an area are being determined through human interaction (humans are cutting down vegetation or our burning of fossil fuels is affecting climate), in which the solution would be to stop interfering with nature (and for humans to try not to place a natural, common plant species from one biome into a different biome or remove any plant from its original biome). The way I feel toward the article is that of awe because it demonstrated how nature is powerful and is in control-NOT human beings. The article relates to AP Environmental Science because in chapter 2, open systems and how the inputs from their surroundings and outputs affect one another were discussed, which relates back to the climate-vegetation relationship between one another. The article helped cover the concept of an open system introduced in chapter 2 through a more specific example (read What Was The Article About?) and helped explain how forests respond to global warming as discussed in chapter 2's case study. I learned that if humans do not disturb the environment, the natural system will take care of itself and all life forms and how an open system works in the real world.