Scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) have now identified the scale of danger for animals and plants in a worldwide analysis.
For that purpose, they developed a novel measure that for the first time systematically quantifies the impacts of changes in CO2 concentration in the air as well as in temperature and rainfall on terrestrial ecosystems. Computer simulations show that global warming could lead to an expansion of the Kazakh steppe but also lets forests grow in the presently treeless tundra.
If global mean temperature rises more than two to three degrees, the impacts in many regions can be drastically amplified.
“Until now, the impacts of climate change on the biosphere have not been quantified very well, certainly not on a global scale,” says Ursula Heyder, lead author of the study now published in the renowned scientific journal Environmental Research Letters. “We wanted to understand comprehensively which amount of warming puts which biotopes under pressure.” Therefore, the research team developed a biogeochemical measure that captures underlying processes in the material cycles. “If something changes here, it is very likely that the concerned ecosystems will change as a whole – down to the smallest bug,” says Heyder. “Because we cannot simulate this whole complexity with a computer, we calculate the risk for such changes considering the processes most relevant to ecosystems.”
The largest changes would probably affect those forests where the cooler climatic zones of the continental interiors of Asia and America transition into moderate latitudes. The study shows that here a larger number of cold-favoring plants could recede because of heat stress, more so than more warmth-tolerant species can take their place. The primeval forests at the Amazon, of significant importance for the world´s climate, are also affected due to possible shifts in their biogeochemical conditions, i.e. shifts in their water and carbon balance.
In cold natural habitats, nature already reacts to a warming of only two degrees – a magnitude already seen as an ambitious target in climate protection. For ecosystems in moderate latitudes, it makes a substantial difference whether temperatures rise by two degrees, three degrees or more: the risk of changes in the flora increase sharply. Up to now, the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions pledged by a number of states after the Climate Summit in Copenhague sums up to a global warming in excess of three degrees in global means and could hence cause severe environmental changes.
“Nature adapts to climate changes by shifts within the ecosystems,” emphasizes Wolfgang Lucht, co-author of the study and head of PIK´s research domain Climate Impacts and Vulnerabilities. These changes are simply changes, not necessarily good or bad. “But whereas humankind can try to adapt societies to climate change, for example by dyke construction or crop breeding, ecosystems cannot – their change is fundamental,” Lucht explains. “Some simply disappear and are replaced by others.” Some relocate to the North or South, impeded by the speed of change, with impacts that are difficult to foresee. “Ecosystems are a precious good,” says Lucht. “At stake is the natural heritage of humankind.”
The calculations were carried out for 58 different climate projections to study a broad range of possible future developments. This also allowed to differentiate regions with larger uncertainty of the conclusions from those where changes seem certain. All projections show, however, that the majority of Earth´s land surfaces may be affected by moderate or severe changes of environmental characteristics unless comprehensive climate protection succeeds.
Article: Ursula Heyder, Sibyll Schaphoff, Dieter Gerten and Wolfgang Lucht: Risk of severe climate change impact on the terrestrial biosphere; Environmental Research Letters, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/6/3/034036
Weblink to article: http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/6/3/034036
For further information please contact the PIK press office:Phone: +49 331 288 25 07
Fungicides as an underestimated hazard for freshwater organisms
17.09.2019 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
Study: We need more realistic experiments on the impact of climate change on ecosystems
16.09.2019 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Hamburg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) outstation in the city have developed a new method to watch biomolecules at work. This method dramatically simplifies starting enzymatic reactions by mixing a cocktail of small amounts of liquids with protein crystals. Determination of the protein structures at different times after mixing can be assembled into a time-lapse sequence that shows the molecular foundations of biology.
The functions of biomolecules are determined by their motions and structural changes. Yet it is a formidable challenge to understand these dynamic motions.
At the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting 2019 (ISAL) in Darmstadt from September 23 to 25, 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, will present OLED light strips of any length with additional functionalities for the first time at booth no. 37.
Almost everyone is familiar with light strips for interior design. LED strips are available by the metre in DIY stores around the corner and are just as often...
Later during this century, around 2060, a paradigm shift in global energy consumption is expected: we will spend more energy for cooling than for heating....
Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Potsdam (both in Germany) and the University of Toronto (Canada) have pieced together a detailed time-lapse movie revealing all the major steps during the catalytic cycle of an enzyme. Surprisingly, the communication between the protein units is accomplished via a water-network akin to a string telephone. This communication is aligned with a ‘breathing’ motion, that is the expansion and contraction of the protein.
This time-lapse sequence of structures reveals dynamic motions as a fundamental element in the molecular foundations of biology.
Two research teams have succeeded simultaneously in measuring the long-sought Thorium nuclear transition, which enables extremely precise nuclear clocks. TU Wien (Vienna) is part of both teams.
If you want to build the most accurate clock in the world, you need something that "ticks" very fast and extremely precise. In an atomic clock, electrons are...
10.09.2019 | Event News
04.09.2019 | Event News
29.08.2019 | Event News
18.09.2019 | Innovative Products
18.09.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
18.09.2019 | Materials Sciences