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 Emissions from road construction could be halved using today’s technology
18.05.2020 | Schwedischer Forschungsrat - The Swedish Research Council

nachricht When every particle counts: IOW develops comprehensive guidelines for microplastic extraction from environmental samples
11.05.2020 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

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: Biotechnology: Triggered by light, a novel way to switch on an enzyme

In living cells, enzymes drive biochemical metabolic processes enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very ability which allows them to be used as catalysts in biotechnology, for example to create chemical products such as pharmaceutics. Researchers now identified an enzyme that, when illuminated with blue light, becomes catalytically active and initiates a reaction that was previously unknown in enzymatics. The study was published in "Nature Communications".

Enzymes: they are the central drivers for biochemical metabolic processes in every living cell, enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very...

Im Focus: New double-contrast technique picks up small tumors on MRI

Early detection of tumors is extremely important in treating cancer. A new technique developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from normal tissue. The work is published May 25 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from...

Im Focus: I-call - When microimplants communicate with each other / Innovation driver digitization - "Smart Health“

Microelectronics as a key technology enables numerous innovations in the field of intelligent medical technology. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT coordinates the BMBF cooperative project "I-call" realizing the first electronic system for ultrasound-based, safe and interference-resistant data transmission between implants in the human body.

When microelectronic systems are used for medical applications, they have to meet high requirements in terms of biocompatibility, reliability, energy...

Im Focus: When predictions of theoretical chemists become reality

Thomas Heine, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at TU Dresden, together with his team, first predicted a topological 2D polymer in 2019. Only one year later, an international team led by Italian researchers was able to synthesize these materials and experimentally prove their topological properties. For the renowned journal Nature Materials, this was the occasion to invite Thomas Heine to a News and Views article, which was published this week. Under the title "Making 2D Topological Polymers a reality" Prof. Heine describes how his theory became a reality.

Ultrathin materials are extremely interesting as building blocks for next generation nano electronic devices, as it is much easier to make circuits and other...

Im Focus: Rolling into the deep

Scientists took a leukocyte as the blueprint and developed a microrobot that has the size, shape and moving capabilities of a white blood cell. Simulating a blood vessel in a laboratory setting, they succeeded in magnetically navigating the ball-shaped microroller through this dynamic and dense environment. The drug-delivery vehicle withstood the simulated blood flow, pushing the developments in targeted drug delivery a step further: inside the body, there is no better access route to all tissues and organs than the circulatory system. A robot that could actually travel through this finely woven web would revolutionize the minimally-invasive treatment of illnesses.

A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) in Stuttgart invented a tiny microrobot that resembles a white blood cell...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Black nitrogen: Bayreuth researchers discover new high-pressure material and solve a puzzle of the periodic table

29.05.2020 | Materials Sciences

Argonne researchers create active material out of microscopic spinning particles

29.05.2020 | Materials Sciences

Smart windows that self-illuminate on rainy days

29.05.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>