View of the Swiss Alps from Pichorn to the summit called Plattenhorner (credit: Sabine Rumpf / SWNS)

The “absolutely large” effects of climate change on the Alps can be seen from space, new research reveals.

Swiss scientists say global warming has an “especially significant” impact on alpine regions, as mountains have turned green, as in the Arctic Circle.

Researchers from the University of Lausanne and Basel used satellite data to show that vegetation above the tree line grew on almost 80% of mountains known for ski holidays.

Scientists say the snow cover has also decreased, albeit slightly so far.

A group of researchers said melting glaciers have become a symbol of climate change in the Alps.

Currently, the reduction in snowfall is already visible from space, but this is not the biggest change.

The Swiss researchers worked with colleagues in Finland and the Netherlands to investigate changes in snow cover and vegetation using high-resolution satellite data from 1984 to 2021.

Plant biomass above the tree line grew in more than 77 percent of the observed area during the study period.

The researchers say this phenomenon, known as “greening,” is already well-documented in the Arctic Circle.

A lone adult polar bear (Ursus maritimus) walks along the water's edge at dawn, waiting for the water to freeze for the winter.

A lone adult polar bear walks along the water at sunrise in the Arctic while waiting for the water to freeze in the winter (Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Professor Sabina Rumpf from the University of Basel, lead author of this study, said:

“As the plants accumulate new areas and the vegetation is generally dense and tall, the Alps become greener.”

Previous studies have mainly focused on the impact of global warming on alpine biodiversity and changes in the distribution of plant species.

But until now, no one has done such a comprehensive analysis of changes in vegetation productivity in the Alps.

According to a new study published in a scientific journal, the increase in plant biomass is mainly due to changes in rainfall, which are due to increased temperatures during long-term vegetation.

Professor Lampf said: “Alpine plants are adapted to harsh conditions, but they are not very competitive.

As environmental conditions change, these special species lose their advantages and become more competitive.

Therefore, the unique biodiversity of the Alps is under considerable pressure.

Unlike plants, Professor Rumpf said the snow cover at the tree line has changed slightly since 1984.

Required Credits: Photoshop / REX / Shutterstock (605835h) Colonel Gullivey heading for France, French Alps, Grenoble and others

Colonel Garibier is looking at the Gournoble in the Alps. (Credit: Photosport/REX/Shutterstock)

For their analysis, the researchers excluded areas below 1,700 meters (5,600 feet), glaciers, and forests.

In other regions, snow cover was found to be significantly reduced in almost 10% of the region.

Antoine Gizan, co-author and professor at the University of Lausanne, said:

This may be due to insufficient resolution of satellite images or too short a study period.

Gregoire Marietos, also a professor at the University of Lausanne, said:

“This decline has already caused little snow in some areas.”

The researchers warned that as global warming continued, the Alps would increasingly turn from white to green, creating a vicious cycle.

Professor Rumpf said:

“Warming also leads to more constant melting and freezing of glaciers, which can lead to more landslides, rockfalls and mudslides.

He also mentioned the important role of the snow and ice of the Alps in the supply of drinking water and, more importantly, for recreation and tourism.