Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Tag Archive: warming

  1. TNC distributing $6m for climate-smart land trust efforts in West

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    Conservation group maps land protection strategy in West

    BOISE, Idaho (AP) — …The Nature Conservancy (TNC) says it has $6 million from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation that it’s now distributing among land trusts that must come up with five times the amount in matching funds for approved easements or acquisition… “We’re protecting lands in the three states that are identified as being resilient,” said Ken Popper, senior conservation planner with The Nature Conservancy. “In the short term, we’re looking at wildlife movements and in the long term movements of habitats….”

    …the information is the result of dozens of data sets that include soil maps, vegetation maps, species distribution, moisture, elevation and the locations of roads, powerlines, cities and towns. He said the maps, available to the public, took four years to create at a cost of $350,000. The idea behind the project is for local land trusts to use the information to identify private lands that could be strongholds for species threatened by climate change. “Those refugia areas will allow plants and animals to adapt to climate change as it occurs,” Popper said….

    TNC maps and data available here

  2. Warming could slow upslope migration of trees

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    Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 15 Dec 2016 see full article here

    Scientists expect trees will advance upslope as global temperatures increase, shifting the tree line—the mountain zone where trees become smaller and eventually stop growing—to higher elevations. Subalpine forests will follow their climate up the mountain, in other words. But new research suggests this may not hold true for two subalpine tree species of western North America….

    …Counter to expectations, they found that warming reduced seedling survival for both species at all three elevations during the first year of life. The scientists expected survival rates to dip at the lower elevation site, where temperatures rose above the trees’ normal climate, but not higher up, where warming was expected to help seedlings. They attribute this lower survival rate to drier conditions caused by warming, which negatively affected seedling survival….

    “Overall, our findings indicate that seedlings are highly vulnerable to climate variation, which should be taken into account as we predict what will happen to subalpine forests in a warming climate,” says Kueppers.

    Jeff Mitton et al. Warming and provenance limit tree recruitment across and beyond the elevation range of subalpine forest. Global Change Biology, December 2016 DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13561

  3. Climate change already causing widespread local extinction in plant and animal species

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    December 8, 2016 PLOS – and summary from ScienceDaily

    Extinctions related to climate change have already happened in hundreds of plant and animal species around the world. New research, publishing on December 8th in the open-access journal PLOS Biology, shows that local extinctions have already occurred in 47% of the 976 plant and animal species studied.

    Climate change is predicted to threaten many species with extinction, but determining how species will respond in the future is difficult. Dozens of studies have already demonstrated that species are shifting their geographic ranges over time as the climate warms, towards cooler habitats at higher elevations and latitudes. The new study, by Professor John J. Wiens from the University of Arizona, used these range-shift studies to show that local extinctions have already happened in the warmest parts of the ranges of more than 450 plant and animal species. This result is particularly striking because global warming has increased mean temperatures by less than 1 degree Celsius so far.

    These extinctions will almost certainly become much more widespread over time, because temperatures are predicted to increase by an additional 1 to 5 degrees in the next several decades. These local extinctions could also extend to species that humans depend on for food and resources….

    John J. Wiens. Climate-Related Local Extinctions Are Already Widespread among Plant and Animal Species. PLOS Biology, 2016; 14 (12): e2001104 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2001104

  4. We did it again! November is hottest on record

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    Joe Romm, PhD ClimateProgress  December 6 2016  see full article here

    Last month was easily the hottest November on record globally, according to satellite data sets.

    …In fact, satellite data, ground-based weather stations, sea-based buoys, and even weather balloons all reveal a steady long-term warming trend. These satellites have documented a steady warming of the troposphere (the lower atmosphere). It always bears repeating that the satellites indirectly measure the temperature where we don’t live (the troposphere), so the data need a whole bunch of (easily screwed up) adjustments before it is useful to anyone. If you want a direct measure of the temperature at the surface where we actually live and grow food, you need NASA’s land and ocean temperature index (LOTI) from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS):

    NASA’s land and ocean temperature index (LOTI). Via GISS director Gavin Schmidt.

    So, no matter how we look at it, we are warming rapidly. And carbon pollution is the primary cause. In fact, as I’ve written, the best estimate by climate scientists is that humans are responsible for all of the warming we have suffered since 1950…

    Despite this, the denier-led House Science Committee tweeted out an erroneous Breitbart story last week about some satellites showing cooling. The story was quickly debunked by actual scientists here and everywhere.

  5. A warm climate is more sensitive to changes in carbon dioxide– global temps will rise 5.9°C (~10.5°F) by 2100 with BAU

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    A warm climate is more sensitive to changes in carbon dioxide

    Posted: 10 Nov 2016 12:33 PM PST

    It is well-established in the scientific community that increases in atmospheric CO2 levels result in global warming, but the magnitude of the effect may vary depending on average global temperature. A new study, published this week in Science Advances …concludes that warm climates are more sensitive to changes in CO2 levels than cold climates….

    Our results imply that Earth’s sensitivity to variations in atmospheric CO2 increases as the climate warms,” explained Friedrich. “Currently, our planet is in a warm phase — an interglacial period — and the associated increased climate sensitivity needs to be taken into account for future projections of warming induced by human activities.”

    Using these estimates based on Earth’s paleoclimate sensitivity, the authors computed the warming over the next 85 years that could result from a human-induced, business-as-usual greenhouse gas emission scenario. The researchers project that by the year 2100, global temperatures will rise 5.9°C (~10.5°F) above pre-industrial values. This magnitude of warming overlaps with the upper range of estimates presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)….

    The results of the study demonstrate that unabated human-induced greenhouse gas emissions are likely to push Earth’s climate out of the envelope of temperature conditions that have prevailed for the last 784,000 years. “The only way out is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible,” concluded Friedrich.

    Friedrich et al, Nonlinear climate sensitivity and its implications for future greenhouse warming. Science Advances  09 Nov 2016:Vol. 2, no. 11, e1501923 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501923

    http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/2/11/e1501923

  6. Climate urgency: we’ve locked in up to 3 C global warming unless we reduce emissions and sequester carbon

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    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2016/aug/15/climate-urgency-weve-locked-in-more-global-warming-than-people-realize

    Posted on 15 August 2016 by dana1981 skepticalscience.com

    While most people accept the reality of human-caused global warming, we tend not to view it as an urgent issue or high priority. That lack of immediate concern may in part stem from a lack of understanding that today’s pollution will heat the planet for centuries to come, as explained in this Denial101x lecture.

    So far humans have caused about 1°C warming of global surface temperatures, but if we were to freeze the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide at today’s levels, the planet would continue warming. Over the coming decades, we’d see about another 0.5°C warming, largely due to what’s called the “thermal inertia” of the oceans (think of the long amount of time it takes to boil a kettle of water). The Earth’s surface would keep warming about another 1.5°C over the ensuing centuries as ice continued to melt, decreasing the planet’s reflectivity.

    To put this in context, the international community agreed in last year’s Paris climate accords that we should limit climate change risks by keeping global warming below 2°C, and preferably closer to 1.5°C. Yet from the carbon pollution we’ve already put into the atmosphere, we’re committed to 1.5–3°C warming over the coming decades and centuries, and we continue to pump out over 30 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year.

    The importance of reaching zero or negative emissions

    We can solve this problem if, rather than holding the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide steady, it falls over time. As discussed in the above video, Earth naturally absorbs more carbon than it releases, so if we reduce human emissions to zero, the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide will slowly decline. Humans can also help the process by finding ways to pull carbon out of the atmosphere and sequester it.

    Scientists are researching various technologies to accomplish this, but we’ve already put over 500 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Pulling a significant amount of that carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it safely will be a tremendous challenge, and we won’t be able to reduce the amount in the atmosphere until we first get our emissions close to zero.

    There are an infinite number of potential carbon emissions pathways, but the 2014 IPCC report considered four possible paths that they called RCPs. In one of these (called RCP 2.6 or RCP3-PD), we take immediate, aggressive, global action to cut carbon pollution, atmospheric carbon dioxide levels peak at 443 ppm in 2050, and by 2100 they’ve fallen back down to today’s level of 400 ppm. In two others (RCPs 4.5 and 6.0) we act more slowly, and atmospheric levels don’t peak until the year 2150, then they remain steady, and in the last (RCP8.5) carbon dioxide levels keep rising until 2250.

    As the figure below shows [see here], in the first scenario, global warming peaks at 2°C and then temperatures start to fall toward the 1.5°C level, meeting our Paris climate targets. In the other scenarios, temperatures keep rising centuries into the future.

    This is the critical decade

    We don’t know what technologies will be available in the future, but we do know that the more carbon pollution we pump into the atmosphere today, the longer it will take and more difficult it will be to reach zero emissions and stabilize the climate. We’ll also have to pull that much more carbon out of the atmosphere.

    It’s possible that as in three of the IPCC scenarios, we’ll never get all the way down to zero or negative carbon emissions, in which case today’s pollution will keep heating the planet for centuries to come. Today’s carbon pollution will leave a legacy of climate change consequences that future generations may struggle with for the next thousand years.

    Five years ago, the Australian government established a Climate Commission, which published a report discussing why we’re in the midst of the ‘critical decade’ on climate change:

    Click here to read the rest