Los efectos geoecológicos del cambio global en el Pirineo Central españoluna revisión a distintas escalas espaciales y temporales

  1. García-Ruiz, José M. 1
  2. López-Moreno, Juan I. 1
  3. Lasanta, Teodoro 1
  4. Vicente-Serrano, Sergio M. 1
  5. González-Sampériz, Penélope 1
  6. Valero-Garcés, Blas L. 1
  7. Sanjuán, Yasmina 1
  8. Beguería, Santiago 2
  9. Nadal-Romero, Estela 3
  10. Lana-Renault, Noemí 4
  11. Gómez-Villar, Amelia 5
  1. 1 Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología, CSIC
  2. 2 Estación Experimental de Aula Dei, CSIC
  3. 3 Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics. Earth Surface Science Research Group, University of Amsterdam
  4. 4 Área de Geografía Física, Departamento de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, Universidad de La Rioja
  5. 5 Departamento de Geografía y Geología, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de León

ISSN: 0373-2568

Year of publication: 2015

Issue: 170

Pages: 50-93

Type: Article

DOI: 10.3989/PIRINEOS.2015.170005 DIALNET GOOGLE SCHOLAR lock_openOpen access editor

More publications in: Pirineos


We review the effects of climate variability and land use / land cover changes in the Central Spanish Pyrenees at different spatial and temporal scales. Paleoclimatic studies based upon multi-proxy analyses of lacustrine, glacial and speleothematic deposits, among others, have demonstrated the occurrence of intense climatic fluctuations not only during the Late Upper Pleistocene associated to deglaciation, but also during the Holocene, affecting plant cover distribution, runoff generation, flood frequency, and the spatial organization of human activities, particularly during the 8.2 event, the Bronze Age, the Medieval Climatic Anomaly and the Little Ice Age. The study of the impact of human activity on landscape dynamics during the last 150 years has revealed dramatic changes in plant cover structure and distribution, in both the montane and the sub-alpine belts and, consequently, changes in runoff generation, soil erosion intensity, and sediment sources, whatever the spatial scale used. In general, the maximum human pressure on the territory was reached during the middle of the 19th century, with the cultivation of most of the south-facing slopes up to approximately 1650 m a.s.l., and the frequent use of fire to control shrub colonization, resulting in intense soil erosion and degradation processes, as well as the development of braided rivers with a high torrentiality. Farmland abandonment since the beginning of the 20th century (and, particularly, since the 1960s) and the declining livestock pressure have favoured plant recolonization, with the expansion of shrubs and forests in the old cultivated and grazing areas, the human-induced reforestation of large hillslopes, and the treeline upward in the subalpine belt, in this latter case with the contribution of climate warming. The most outstanding consequences of such an evolution have been: (i) the sustained decline of discharge in the Pyrenean rivers since the 1970s because of increasing actual evapotranspiration; (ii) the spatial shrinkage of sediment source areas; (iii) the increasing uncoupled geomorphic dynamics between hillslopes and channels; (iv) the decreasing importance of snow accumulation and snowmelt processes in the fluvial regime of the Pyrenean rivers, with earlier onset of the high spring discharges; (v) the changes in reservoir hydrological dynamics and the need for new management policies; and (vi) the increasing scouring processes that affect most of the Pyrenean rivers. The studies carried out on Global Change and its consequences in the Central Pyrenees confirm the extreme complexity of interactions occurring in the natural systems, and the quick response of plant cover, runoff generation and soil erosion as a consequence of climatic and land use changes.

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