|Climate and climate impacts
Finnmark covers middle boreal to southern arctic bioclimatic zones (Moen 1999). There are steep climatic gradients from west to east and from inland to coast. Eastern coast near and inland areas have a cold winters and little precipitation. The coldest areas have scattered permafrost in mires (palsas) in the low land and more continuous permafrost above 400 meter above sea level. Western coastal areas have relatively mild winters and much precipitation.
The geographic difference in climate is crucial for most the issues studied within the Ecosystem Finnmark framework. It is fundamental for reindeer husbandry , and underlies the seasonal migration pattern of semi-domestic reindeer between coastal summer pastures and inland winter pastures. Geographic climate gradients impacts on spatial population dynamics patterns of other key herbivores such as small rodents and birch forest moths . In fact the steep climate gradients in Finnmark offer a very good situation to study the effect of climate on ecosystem processes.
Our studies of climate and climate change impacts in Ecosystem Finnmark focuses in particular on the effect of winter climate on reindeer herds (Tveraa et al. 2007) and small rodent population dynamics (Ims and Fuglei 2005) for which the extent of snow and ice on the ground is influential. Our newest studies on changes in the population outbreak patterns in birch forest moths (Hagen et al. 2007, Jepsen et al. in press) indicate that earlier springs might be decisive.
Winter on Varanger peninsula