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 ProjectDetail

EMERGE - Retreating glaciers and EMERGing Ecosystems in the Southern Alps Project description Project description

Financing: Förderprogramm 2010 Herzog-Sellenberg- und Dr. Erich Ritter-Stiftung, Germany
Period: 2011-2013
Contact: Giacomo Bertoldi

 

Background

Climate change and global warming poses several questions about the future availability and quality of water resources and about the resulting impact on land ecosystems especially in the Alpine environment.

Through and interdisciplinary point of view we aim to reach an integrated comprehension of the dynamics of high mountain watershed ecosystems. This objective will be reached investigating the upper part (above 2,000 m a.s.l.) of a small Alpine valley (Matsch valley, South Tyrol, Italy).We want to derive comprehensive recommendations for stream water and land-use management in the Alpine high mountain environments taking into account all the possible hydrological, biological, and chemical aspects.

 

Methods

EMERGE will take into account the biotic and abiotic parameters of both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, aiming to analyze the expected ecosystem adaptation.Our interdisciplinary team will investigate water fluxes and stream sediment dynamics from the glacier mouth to the tree-limit altitude and will develop a model of these dynamics. A deep analysis of the chemical, limnological, and microbiological characteristics of stream water and of the riparian soil will be foreseen. Additionally, a study of the emerging vegetation types in the course of glacier retreat will be carried out, focusing on structure, biodiversity, and productivity as a basis for future land-use scenarios in those higher mountain altitudes.

Three 3 Ph.D. students, supervised by an interdisciplinary team, participate in a qualification program which aims at an holistic problem solution strategy. EURAC will be responsible of  WP1, “Analyzing the physical drivers of ecosystem changes: hydrology, geomorphology”, and will collaborate with WP2, “Microbial ecosystem quality and biodiversity of the deglaciated high-mountain area”.

 

Collaborators

  • Roberta Bottarin
  • Silvia Folegot
  • Michael Engel

 

Partners

Free University of Bozen-Bolzano (LUB), Italy - Lead partner

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