2.4
Vegetation changes in the Fennoscandian tundra over 60 years
Did you know?
Plants can grow more, stay the same or grow less during climate changes.
Plant growth is affected by longer and warmer growing seasons over many years (see stories 3.2 and 3.5) but short extreme weather events can kill or damage vegetation.
Increasing temperatures thaw permafrost and can drown shrubs (see story 3.3).
Vegetation change is also affected by land use and herbivory (see stories 3.3, 3.5, 4.1, 5.6)
Some vegetation change is cyclical (See stories 5.1, 4.4).
Nature is incredibly resilient! For example after a forest fire (see resource hares and tortoise) and land abandonment (see story 5.6).

Get Active!
Growing Seasons Quiz
How much do you know about seasons?
In temperate latitudes, summer, autumn, winter and fall are the four seasons within a year that each last about three months but this changes around the world. For example, in the polar regions summer is short and winter is long. Climate change is having an impact on the whole world. The number of months in each season and weather is changing. We may have warmer winters and summers. This may not seem like a very big problem, but it may very well become one because rainfall might also change and the plants might not be adapted to the new weather conditions.
Answer the following questions about growing seasons:
What is the 'natural' growing season where you live?
The growing season is the part of the year during which rainfall and temperature allow plants to grow.
Why are different countries able to grow different types of food than where you live?
Some crops need high temperatures and high rainfall and are killed by frost (see an article ). However, some crops can benefit from frost (see an article)
What kind of food can you grow where it is cold (without a greenhouse)? What kind of food can you grow where it is hot? Are there places on Earth where you can't grow food?
Cold countries grow barley instead of maize. Hot countries grow a large variety of crops that grow quickly in high temperatures. Cold and hot deserts make it impossible to grow food.
How might this change over time?
Increasing temperatures reduce damage due to frost and extend the growing season.
What can we do to grow food in a climate that the plants are not adapted to?
We use greenhouses for natural heat and heated greenhouses for even more exotic crops such as growing bananas in Iceland. As natural conditions change we will grow crops that are currently grown in warmer countries. Be prepared to see new crops!
What happens if the seasons alter due to climate change?
If the seasons change due to a warming global climate, wildlife, humans and the environment will be greatly impacted. In a warmer winter, there is more risk of pests like mosquitoes, surviving causing the spring population numbers to be much higher than normal. In spring and summer, there can be many pollination issues as birds, insects and plants may develop out of synchrony so the plants are at the incorrect stage for the animals that depend on them. Animals take more time to adjust to changing climates and this could mean that animals miss out on food as they may arrive too late (See story 3.7). Also, summers will become hotter meaning that droughts, forest fires and heat waves will become more common. However, there is a way to stop the seasons changing so drastically. We can try to combat climate change by emitting less greenhouse gas emissions and protecting wildlife, ecosystems and nature.

If we need yet another incentive to be kinder to our planet, this one will work with many people – if we don't keep global warming below two degrees, we won't have chocolate! Cacao is harvested in hot and humid areas such as South America and West Africa and the plant is highly susceptible to the effects of climate change. Increasing temperatures and declining humidity cause soils and the plants to become dry. This will be a challenging environment for cacao to thrive in, which could cause the amount of chocolate we have access to now, to decline.
Challenge!
What can you grow in your back yard, windowsill or community garden? Try to grow and nurture a plant yourself.