Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Global warming’s impact on US plants, animals determined from review of dozens of studies

09.11.2004


Global warming has forced U.S. plants and animals to change their behavior in recent decades in ways that can be harmful, according to a new report prepared for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The Pew Center review of more than 40 studies is co-authored by Camille Parmesan, integrative biologist at The University of Texas at Austin, and Hector Galbraith of Galbraith Environmental Services, who is affiliated with the University of Colorado at Boulder. Their analyses revealed that more than half the studies provided strong evidence of a direct link between global warming and changes in the behavior of species in the continental United States and Alaska.

"Other recent syntheses of biological impacts, including my own, have focused on very large datasets across the globe," said Parmesan. "The conclusion from those studies is that global climate change has affected about half of all wild species. That’s important, but what people really want to know is what’s happening in their backyard. This is the first study to focus on U.S. datasets. The message from the report is that human-driven climate change has affected species all across the U.S., from new tropical species arriving in Florida to changes in the basic functioning of ecosystems in Alaska."



Parmesan’s similar findings involving an even larger statistical review of global warming’s impact on plants and animals around the world appeared in a January 2003 issue of Nature.

The Pew report, "Observed Impacts of Global Climate Change in the U.S.," involved studies of diverse plants and animals that lasted from 20 to more than 100 years. The report revealed that some plants are flowering earlier in the spring than ever before and some birds breeding earlier. In addition, species from Edith’s checkerspot butterflies to the red fox have been gradually moving northward or to higher elevations, where more tolerable climate conditions now exist. Some of these species are also disappearing from southern, or lower elevation, portions of their ranges.

These shifts sometimes have had no overall negative impact. But in other cases, they have made survival tougher as the large-scale movements bring new species into contact with each other, often resulting in direct competition, such as appears to be occurring as the competitively superior red fox pushes the arctic fox farther towards the sea. But more subtle changes are also likely to result from species relocating themselves, such as changes in food quality or in availability of breeding sites.

Similar concerns exist for the Earth’s waters. For example, 60 years of study have revealed that warmer-water species of fishes and intertidal species, such as starfish and sea anemone, now dominate waters near Monterey, Calif., that once were known for colder-water counterparts.

Scientists generally agree that global warming over the past century has increased average temperatures worldwide by 1 degree Fahrenheit. Although this average applies across the lower 48 states, some parts of Alaska have experienced increases of up to 7 degrees Fahrenheit. The larger the change is, the fewer species are expected to be able to biologically adjust to the new conditions.

"With warming for the next century projected to be two to 10 times greater than the last, we’re heading toward a fundamental and potentially irreversible disruption of the U.S. landscape and wildlife," said Eileen Claussen, president of the non-profit Pew Center on Global Climate Change in Arlington, Va.

A 2001 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change involving Parmesan concluded that human use of fossil fuels was primarily responsible for the average hike in temperatures over the past 50 years. Gases released from spent fuel are known to enter the Earth’s atmosphere, trapping extra sunlight there similar to the way a greenhouse works. Studies since then have gone further, and also attribute a considerable chunk of recent climate change across the United States to human-released greenhouse gases.

The new report highlights actions that could be taken to reduce global warming’s impact, such as providing more nature preserves that have flexible boundaries, and reducing habitat destruction and other stressors on the natural world.

Implementing a very small carbon tax to promote reduced fossil fuel use also was recently recommended in an Oct. 15 Science article by Gary Yohe, the economist at Wesleyan University in Connecticut who co-authored the 2003 Nature paper with Parmesan.

"Scientists with diverse expertise are spending an enormous amount of energy providing sound information about global warming," Parmesan said. "Without a concerted effort to minimize its impact, it’s clear that species in our own backyards will become increasingly vulnerable to the effects of rising global temperatures."

Barbra Rodriguez | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utexas.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

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: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>