Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji is getting greener. That’s no good news but a serious cause for concern.
Usually, an increase in green cover is a good sign but in case of Mt. Fuji trees creeping up the mountain means decline in its snow cap, a sure sign of climate change, say scientists.
According to a study conducted by scientists from Niigata University’s Sado Island Centre for Ecological Sustainability and the biology department at Shizuoka University, the tree line on Japan’s highest mountain has crept up in the past 40 years.
Scientists say the timberline advanced rapidly upwards, and the degree of vegetation cover above the timberline increased remarkably.
“According to our earlier findings, the timberline of Mt. Fuji moved upwards between 1978, when the research site was set up, and 1999. In the present study, we found that the timberline of Mt. Fuji continued to considerably advance upwards until by 2018,” say the scientists in their research article published in Plants journal.
The average temperature in the studied area on Mt. Fuji rose during the 40-year period by 2 degrees Celsius, which helped the vegetation grow.
“During the last 40 years, the average maximum temperature has continued to rise during the plant growth period on Mt. Fuji. Higher temperatures will extend the plant growth period and elevate photosynthetic rates. As the photosynthetic period lengthens and the photosynthetic rate increases, the annual growth rate may increase, and shoots may be formed that can better withstand the winter environment,” say the scientists.
Greening of Mt. Fuji is an additional challenge in Japan where climate change is likely to cause major damage. Rising sea level is a big concern in the country where a large number of people live below high-tide levels.
A 2017 study found that Japan could lose nearly all its beaches — leaving less than 10 meters in half its coastal zones — by 2065 due to rising sea level.
Rising temperatures, called global warming, melt polar ice caps which leads to a rise in global sea levels and flooding of coastal areas.