You’ve probably encountered a diagram that shows slopes of a mountain and its vegetation depending on the altitude at some point. Well, that is Humboldt’s Tableau Physique, and scientists claim that it needs to be updated.
Plant Ranges on Mountains Have Shifted
The German explorer, Alexander von Humboldt, had created the Tableau Physique 212 years ago, and scientists still use it to this day. However, some of them utilize it to prove how plant ranges have changed, which is solid proof of the negatives of climate change.
Although, many scientists have pointed out mistakes on this map. For example, some plants found on the highest-altitudes of a particular volcano were found on a different mountain as well. Additionally, researchers have found out that Alexander continually revisited and updated this diagram, but these revisions were not so well known. This leaves modern researches without a lot of correct data, researchers reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Humboldt was a geologist, geographer, and a cartographer who produced 23 volumes of knowledge he gathered as he was traveling the Americas between 1799 and 1804. In 1807, he published Tableau Physique, and it marked a revolutionary visualization. He combined data from two Ecuadorian volcanoes: Chimborazo and Cotopaxi.
Pierre Moret, a geographical historian from Moret of Toulouse University in France, conducted some research on Tableau Physique. He and his team determined that the data about high-altitude plants from Chimborazo actually belonged to a different volcano — Mount Antisana. This means that Humboldt’s discoveries on Chimborazo might not be all that correct. Moreover, this alters the research from 2015, which proved that the vegetation on Chimborazo had moved 500m up in the last 200 years.
Moret claims that we need to be cautious when it comes to historical data, especially when we’re speaking of something so big and influential as Tableau Physique.