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 Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

nachricht How to detect water contamination in situ?
22.09.2016 | Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU)

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: New welding process joins dissimilar sheets better

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of light metals.
Scientists at the University of Stuttgart have now developed two new process variants that will considerably expand the areas of application for friction stir welding.
Technologie-Lizenz-Büro (TLB) GmbH supports the University of Stuttgart in patenting and marketing its innovations.

Friction stir welding is a still-young and thus often unfamiliar pressure welding process for joining flat components and semi-finished components made of...

Im Focus: First quantum photonic circuit with electrically driven light source

Optical quantum computers can revolutionize computer technology. A team of researchers led by scientists from Münster University and KIT now succeeded in putting a quantum optical experimental set-up onto a chip. In doing so, they have met one of the requirements for making it possible to use photonic circuits for optical quantum computers.

Optical quantum computers are what people are pinning their hopes on for tomorrow’s computer technology – whether for tap-proof data encryption, ultrafast...

Im Focus: OLED microdisplays in data glasses for improved human-machine interaction

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP has been developing various applications for OLED microdisplays based on organic semiconductors. By integrating the capabilities of an image sensor directly into the microdisplay, eye movements can be recorded by the smart glasses and utilized for guidance and control functions, as one example. The new design will be debuted at Augmented World Expo Europe (AWE) in Berlin at Booth B25, October 18th – 19th.

“Augmented-reality” and “wearables” have become terms we encounter almost daily. Both can make daily life a little simpler and provide valuable assistance for...

Im Focus: Artificial Intelligence Helps in the Discovery of New Materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists from the University of Basel in Switzerland have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials. They report on their findings in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

Elpasolite is a glassy, transparent, shiny and soft mineral with a cubic crystal structure. First discovered in El Paso County (Colorado, USA), it can also be...

Im Focus: Complex hardmetal tools out of the 3D printer

For the first time, Fraunhofer IKTS shows additively manufactured hardmetal tools at WorldPM 2016 in Hamburg. Mechanical, chemical as well as a high heat resistance and extreme hardness are required from tools that are used in mechanical and automotive engineering or in plastics and building materials industry. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS in Dresden managed the production of complex hardmetal tools via 3D printing in a quality that are in no way inferior to conventionally produced high-performance tools.

Fraunhofer IKTS counts decades of proven expertise in the development of hardmetals. To date, reliable cutting, drilling, pressing and stamping tools made of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

HLF: From an experiment to an establishment

29.09.2016 | Event News

European Health Forum Gastein 2016 kicks off today

28.09.2016 | Event News

Laser use for neurosurgery and biofabrication - LaserForum 2016 focuses on medical technology

27.09.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Multiferroic Materials from Building Blocks

29.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

Silicon Fluorescent Material Developed Enabling Observations under a Bright “Biological Optical Window”

29.09.2016 | Materials Sciences

X-shape Bio-inspired Structures

29.09.2016 | Interdisciplinary Research

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>