[permaculture] Fwd: Permaculture TV - Velocity of climate change - ecosystems on run
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From: Nicholas Roberts <niccolo.roberts at gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 9:56 AM
Subject: Fwd: Permaculture TV - Velocity of climate change - ecosystems on
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Permaculture TV - Velocity of climate change - ecosystems on
Velocity of climate change - ecosystems on
Posted: 29 Dec 2009 12:11 PM PST
To keep up with global warming, the average ecosystem will need to shift its
physical boundaries about a quarter mile each year, says a new study led by
scientists at Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution.
For some habitats, especially in low-lying areas, climate belts are moving
even faster, putting many species at risk of being left behind, especially
where human development has blocked migration paths.
“Expressed as velocities, climate-change projections connect directly to
survival prospects for plants and animals. These are the conditions that
will set the stage, whether species move or cope in place,” says study
co-author Chris Field, professor of biology and of environmental Earth
The research team, which included researchers from Stanford, the Carnegie
Institution, the California Academy of Sciences, and the University of
California, Berkeley, combined data on current climate and temperature
gradients worldwide with climate model projections for the next century to
calculate the “temperature velocity” for different regions of the world.
This velocity is a measure of how fast temperature zones are moving across
the landscape, either to higher elevations or higher latitudes, as the
planet warms – and how fast plants and animals will need to migrate to keep
The researchers found that as a global average, the expected temperature
velocity for the 21st century is 0.42 kilometers (0.26 miles) per year. But
this figure varies widely according to topography and habitat.
In areas of high topographic relief, where species can find cooler
temperatures by climbing a nearby mountain, velocities are relatively low.
In flatter regions, such as deserts, grasslands, and coastal areas, species
will have to travel farther to stay in their comfort zone and velocities may
exceed a kilometer per year.
The velocity of climate change*
Scott R. Loarie1, Philip B. Duffy1,2, Healy Hamilton3, Gregory P. Asner1,
Christopher B. Field1 & David D. Ackerly4
Carnegie Institution for Science, Department of Global Ecology, Stanford,
California 94305, USA
Climate Central, Inc., Palo Alto, California 94301, USA
Center for Applied Biodiversity Informatics, California Academy of Sciences,
San Francisco, California 94118, USA
Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley,
California 94720, USA
Correspondence to: Scott R. Loarie1 Correspondence and requests for
materials should be addressed to S.R.L. (Email: loarie at stanford.edu).
The ranges of plants and animals are moving in response to recent changes in
climate1. As temperatures rise, ecosystems with ‘nowhere to go’, such as
mountains, are considered to be more threatened2, 3. However, species
survival may depend as much on keeping pace with moving climates as the
climate’s ultimate persistence4, 5. Here we present a new index of the
velocity of temperature change (km yr-1), derived from spatial gradients (°C
km-1) and multimodel ensemble forecasts of rates of temperature increase
(°C yr-1) in the twenty-first century. This index represents the
instantaneous local velocity along Earth’s surface needed to maintain
constant temperatures, and has a global mean of 0.42 km yr-1 (A1B emission
scenario). Owing to topographic effects, the velocity of temperature change
is lowest in mountainous biomes such as tropical and subtropical coniferous
forests (0.08 km yr-1), temperate coniferous forest, and montane grasslands.
Velocities are highest in flooded grasslands (1.26 km yr-1), mangroves and
deserts. High velocities suggest that the climates of only 8% of global
protected areas have residence times exceeding 100 years. Small protected
areas exacerbate the problem in Mediterranean-type and temperate coniferous
forest biomes. Large protected areas may mitigate the problem in desert
biomes. These results indicate management strategies for minimizing
biodiversity loss from climate change. Montane landscapes may effectively
shelter many species into the next century. Elsewhere, reduced emissions, a
much expanded network of protected areas6, or efforts to increase species
movement may be necessary7.
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