From coast to summit - winter snow-cover
Corrie near Bridge of Orchy 1996 Corrie near Bridge of Orchy 2005
Many plants that grow in the higher mountains depend on having winter snow-cover for protection. Without the snow the plants freeze to death. This photograph was taken in 1995 and shows the lush ferns that grow rapidly in the summer. They have a short growing season and then die back down beneath a protective blanket that can last from October until May or June. Beneath the snow the temperature remains at zero degrees celsius.
In 2003 there was no snow on the ground from January onwards. With erratic weather patterns this can happen and it leaves the plants exposed to severe frosts. Many of the ferns were killed and the few that survived were weakened and only produce small, infertile fronds. With adequate snow protection the ferns might recover unless it happens again. Grass has grown more vigorously and shows how other species will grow if there is less snow.