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Umeå University's Leap into Tropical Climate Research: A Beacon of Hope for Rainforests

The research project examines how trees are affected by changes in humidity. ImageAmy Grist

In a world grappling with the consequences of climate change, the biodiversity of rainforests stands on the brink. Professor Daniel Metcalfe, from Umeå University's Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, has been at the forefront of understanding these impacts. Just when dwindling funds threatened to halt his groundbreaking experiments, a generous SEK 14 million grant from Formas breathed new life into his mission.

Metcalfe's research focuses on the unique cloud forests in rainforest mountainous regions. These forests, teeming with thousands of species found nowhere else, are a testament to nature's adaptability and diversity. To predict the effects of climate change, Metcalfe devised an ingenious experiment: a massive curtain intercepts water particles from the region's characteristic low-lying clouds, rendering the forest behind it slightly drier. This modified forest is then compared to an untouched one nearby.

Initiated in 2013, this Peruvian project is set to expand, simulating various future scenarios across different cloud abundance levels. Beyond just research, Metcalfe envisions an interdisciplinary platform where scientists, local communities, and policymakers converge, sharing data and resources. Collaborations with local conservation agencies aim to identify and prioritize species most vulnerable to climate change.

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