The vulnerability of northern European vegetation to ozone damage in a changing climate

The report describes an assessment of the potential vulnerability of far northern European vegetation to ozone damage in a changing climate. Scientists from Sweden, Norway and Finland have joined in and the assessments rely on the experience and expertise of the authors. We could not find evidence that expected changes in ozone concentrations and climate would make the northern arctic, alpine and subalpine vegetation substantially more vulnerable to ozone than other types of European vegetation.

Summary

The potential vulnerability of vegetation at northern latitudes to ozone damage was assessed based on current knowledge with regard to air ozone concentrations and leaf ozone uptake as well as to plant traits affecting ozone tolerance. The focus was on the northern European arctic, alpine and northern boreal vegetation zones, with a special focus on high-altitude vegetation. In particular, we analysed if there are increasing risks for ozone impacts on northern vegetation due to high spring ozone concentrations in relation to climate change induced shifts such as e.g. an earlier start of the growing season.

The current state of knowledge implies that ecosystems in the far north are not more susceptible to ozone than vegetation in other parts of Europe. Hence, we cannot advocate for a stronger reduction of ozone precursors emissions based exclusively on the ozone sensitivity of vegetation in the far north. Thus, policies designed to reduce emissions of ozone precursors to protect vegetation in other parts of Europe as well as in the entire northern hemisphere are likely to suffice to protect vegetation in northern Fennoscandia.

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Last updated: 2021-06-18

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

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