Zackenberg in a Circumpolar Context

Mads C. Forchhammer, Torben R. Christensen, Birger U. Hansen, Mikkel P. Tamstorf, Niels M. Schmidt, Toke T. Høye, Jacob Nabe-Nielsen, Morten Rasch, Hans Meltofte, Bo Elberling, Eric Post

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

11 Scopus citations


Throughout the Northern Hemisphere, changes in local and regional climate conditions are coupled to the recurring and persistent large-scale patterns of pressure and circulation anomalies spanning vast geographical areas, the so-called teleconnection patterns. Indeed, the atmospheric fluctuations described by the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) are closely associated with the last four decades of inter-annual variability in local snow and ice conditions observed in the Arctic. Since the NAO has also been connected with changes in the global climate, the behaviour of species, communities and other ecosystem elements at Zackenberg in relation to the NAO enables us to view these in circumpolar and global contexts. Large-scale systems like the NAO constitute the link between the global change and local climate variability to which ecosystem components respond. Here, we place selected ecosystem elements from the monitoring programme Zackenberg Basic presented in previous chapters in a circumpolar context related to NAO-mediated climatic changes. We begin by linking the local variability in winter weather conditions at Zackenberg to fluctuations in the NAO. We then proceed by linking the observed intra- and inter-annual behaviour of selected ecosystem elements to changes in the NAO. The functional ecosystem characteristics in focus are landscape gas exchange dynamics phenological patterns at different trophic levels, consumer-resource dynamics and community stability. The influence of the NAO is presented and discussed in a broader perspective based on information obtained from other arctic localities. The relation between the NAO and the Zackenberg winter weather is non-linear, reflecting differential effects of the NAO as the index moves between high and low phases. The inverse hyperbolic relationship found between the NAO and the amount of winter snow was also evident as non-linear response in organisms and systems to inter-annual changes in the NAO. Responses investigated included growth and reproduction in plants and animals, population dynamics and synchrony, inter-trophic interactions and community stability together with system feedback dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHigh-Arctic Ecosystem Dynamics in a Changing Climate
EditorsHans Meltofte, Torben Christensen, Bo Elberling, Mads Forchhammerand Morten Rasch
Number of pages46
StatePublished - 2008

Publication series

NameAdvances in Ecological Research
ISSN (Print)0065-2504

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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