Stability and Functions of Mountain Soils
Convener: C. Alewell 
Oral Programme
 / Fri, 24 Apr, 13:30–15:00  / Room 22
Poster Programme
 / Attendance Fri, 24 Apr, 10:30–12:00  / Poster Area BG

The extreme topography, climate and remoteness of mountain ecosystems are the origin of high biodiversity and productivity but cause high instability, fragility and sensitivity of the ecosystems. One inherent parameter of ecological stability is the status of soils in the ecosystems. Changes in land-use and climate are currently affecting mountain soils thereby changing biogeochemical cycles, slope stability, water budgets (drinking water reservoirs as well as flood prevention), vegetation productivity, ecosystem biodiversity and nutrient production. In the near future, the changes in soil functions might be dramatically affected by global climate change. Mean winter temperature in the alpine region is expected to increase at least by 3-5°C until 2100. This increase would be equivalent to temperatures at a lower altitude of about 600-1000 m and could thus result in a shorter time of snow cover of approximately 70-120 days. The latter would most likely result in significant changes in the biogeochemistry of soils and increase in soil erosion because of strong leaching effects with no or sparse vegetation cover in late fall and early spring. The session addresses the direct and indirect impact of changes in climate and land-use on the functioning, the degradation, and the stability of soils.