Effects of ozone depletion and increased ultraviolet-B radiation on northern vegetation

  • Lars Olof Björn
  • Terry V. Callaghan
  • Carola Gehrke
  • Dylan Gwynn-Jones
  • John A. Lee
  • Ulf Johanson
  • Mats Sonesson
  • Nicholas D. Buck


The stratospheric ozone layer has been depleted at high and mid-latitudes as a consequence of man's pollution of the atmosphere, and this results in increasing ultraviolet-B radiation at ground level. We investigate the effects of further radiation increases on plants and ecosystems by irradiating natural sub-Arctic and Arctic vegetation with artificial UV-B radiation in field experiments extending over several years. Our experimental sites are located at Abisko, in northern Sweden (68°N), and Adventdalen, on the island of Spitsbergen (78°N). Additional UV-B induced interspecific differences in plant response in terms of reduced (or, in one case, increased) growth, changed morphology and changed pigment content. In some cases effects seem to be accumulated from one year to another. Plant litter decomposition is retarded. We are also studying how UV-B enhancement may affect the interaction between species. In some experiments we combine UV-B enhancement with changes in other factors: carbon dioxide concentration, water availability, and temperature. In some cases the effect of radiation enhancement is modified, or even reversed, by such changes. Over a four year period we did not find any significant radiation induced change in species composition, but based on the effects on individual plant species, such changes can be expected to take place over a longer time.


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How to Cite
Björn, L. O., Callaghan, T. V., Gehrke, C., Gwynn-Jones, D., Lee, J. A., Johanson, U., Sonesson, M., & Buck, N. D. (1999). Effects of ozone depletion and increased ultraviolet-B radiation on northern vegetation. Polar Research, 18(2), 331-337. https://doi.org/10.3402/polar.v18i2.6592