Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study employs backyard scientists to document global warming impact

02.01.2003


The flora and fauna are sending signals about the impact of global warming – a message that is being heard in backyards around the world.



A study in the Jan. 2 edition of the British science journal Nature synthesized data from 143 scientific papers to examine whether a signal, or "fingerprint," of climate change can be found in how animals and plants have reacted to increasing temperatures.

Among their findings: In the temperate zone, the researchers estimate that, for species that have shown a change in timing, spring events are shifting about five days earlier every ten years.


One team member, fisheries and wildlife postdoctoral researcher Kimberly Hall at Michigan State University, helped wrangle data that comes not only from scientific outposts, but from the backyard recordings and personal journals of people across the world. The impact of global warming often appears as an early arrival of spring and is seen at bird feeders, heard in the earlier croaking of frogs and sniffed in the first waft of lilacs.

"Local weather is extremely variable from year to year, and animals and plants respond to many other factors besides temperature," Hall said. "To be able to detect impacts of climate warming, we have to have data sets that cover long periods, so trends can emerge from all of the noise."

The challenge: The average lifespan of a research grant is about three years. Few researchers focused on climate change 10 or 20 years ago, so many of the most convincing papers documenting long-term responses of wild plants and animals come from nonprofessional observers that were recording data as a hobby.

"The studies we reviewed often obtained data from persistent individuals, people who were curious about the wildlife around them and wrote down what they saw," she said. "Often the analyses that you can do with these types of data are pretty crude, but when they are combined with information from many other locations around the world, they paint a very telling picture."

Hall worked with Terry Root and Stephen Schneider at Stanford University, as well as Jeff Price at the American Bird Conservancy, Cynthia Rosenzweig with NASA and Alan Pounds in Costa Rica. Her job included searching literature from around the globe to find research papers to include in the study.

The project began as an effort to compile information for a recent international study, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Assessment report. The group reviewed more than 2,000 papers, then focused on a small subset that met the criteria for this additional study.

"The papers using individual’s observations were inspiring," Hall said. "They show how much can be gained from being a patient observer, and that great data sets are probably all around us, hidden in desk drawers and just waiting for someone to look at them through the lens of climate change."

The regular recordings of the ecologically curious, when joined with data from researchers around the world and analyzed, show that animals of all kinds, as well as plants, appear to be shifting behaviors, seasonal timing and locations in response to a 0.6°C increase in the average global temperature in the last 100 years.

The most dramatic impacts, the study notes, are seen in the higher latitudes, which have warmed more than the lower latitudes in the past half-century.

"The majority of these changes bear the fingerprint of one factor – increasing temperature," Hall said. "When you put all these observations, all these notes from individuals, together, they suggest a strong unified signal of climate change from across the globe."

Hall said the study’s significance lies in its foreboding. Global warming is projected to increase dramatically in coming years. While spring arriving early seems in itself innocuous, Hall said no one knows right now how these changes will affect the complex orchestration of the environment.

"If temperatures are changing and wildlife are reacting to it, but other resources, such as food supplies, or the types of habitats that are protected, are not changing at the same rate, it could be trouble for many species," Hall said.

Kimberly Hall | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.msu.edu/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>