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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Climate disruption will cause accelerating ecosystem destruction

A new study from the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) ominously finds that as the planet warms, Earth’s climate zones – such as the equatorial monsoonal zone, the polar tundra zone, and cold arid desert zone – not only keep shifting, but they will shift at an accelerating pace. 

Pace of shifts in climate regions increases with global temperature, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, finds that for an initial two degrees Celsius of warming, about 5 percent of Earth’s land area shifts to a new climate zone.  But the pace of change quickens for the next two degrees of warming - an additional, staggerring 10 percent of the land area shifts to a new climate zone. 

The paper says that certain regions, such as northern middle and high latitudes, will undergo more changes than other regions like the tropics. The coldest climate zones of the planet are decreasing; dry regions are increasing; and a large fraction of land area is changing from cool summers to hot summers. 

The effect of these shifts will be that the species inhabiting each zone will have little time to adapt to climatic change, leading to massive ecosystem upheaval.  The results echo another recent study that finds that half of all plants and a third of all animal species are at risk of dramatic declines due to climate disruption.

The world is on track for 6 degrees Celsius – 11 degrees  Fahrenheit – of warming by 2100. The impacts - in the lifetimes of our grandchildren - will simply be unimaginable. Will we allow it to happen?

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