Climate Change, star topic in the 3rd Spanish Congress of Plant Conservation

Climate change became one of the main topics of the Spain's 3rd National Congress on Conservation Biology of Wild Plants, cellebrated by 25-27th september 2007 in Puerto de la Cruz (Tenerife, Canary Islands), thanks to the intervention of meteorologist Dr Silvia Alonso, who explained the foreseen effects of global warming and other climate effects up to 2100 in Canary Islands. The Western Canary islands, and particularly Tenerife, crowned by the volcano Teide (the highest altitude to Spain, 3.718 m.o.s.l.), are influenced by the effect of subtropical winds -Alisio wind-; as a result of that, a semi-permanent layer of clouds, usually placed between 1.000 and 2.000 m in altitude, separate two strong weather regimes -below and over the cloud sea-, which could be severely affected during the next decades. As Dr Alonso shown, the temperatures over the cloud layer level, calculated for the Izaña observatory, could raise up to 7-8ºC during the period 2000-2100, causing the extinction of most part of the current wild plant species -all of them practically endemic to the archipelago- in the supra and oromediterranean belts; below the cloud sea, the temperature increase only will reach 2-3ºC by the coast and 4-5ºC at medium altitudes, due to the modulated effect of the Atlantic sea. Canary Islands are the most important hotspot for wild flora in Europe, holding more than 500 endemic species -more than 70% of its floristic composition-. Under this critical scenario, the work of seedbanks must go on quickly, in order to pick up and store seeds as fast as possible!.

Dr Silvia Alonso, from the Spain's National Institute of Meteorology, during her presentation to the 3rd National Congress on Biology of Plant Conservation© E. Laguna

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