Global Warming is Forcing the Migration of Ecosystems
There are many amazing migrations that happen every year across the planet. The Arctic Tern holds the lead for longest regular migration, traveling 24,000 miles every year!
A new type of migration may soon be taking place and unfortunately for nature, it’s not one of choice but rather one that is being forced upon the environment. Entire land ecosystems will have to move an average of 420 meters (a quarter of a mile) every year to cooler areas in order to cope with Global Warming. Mountain regions will have it the easiest, since only a tiny change in altitude will provide them with cooler temperatures; but places like deserts, mangroves and wetlands aren’t so lucky. Those flat ecosystems will have to move the most in order for them and their inhabitants to survive; plus they will be hit the fastest and the hardest.
The paper, posted in the science journal Nature, uses figures based on the “A1B” scenario for CO2 emissions that are most likely to happen this century, as predicted by IPCC. If things follow suit: subtropical, tropical and temperate coniferous forests will face the slowest amount of impact from Climate Change. This also will include shrub lands and elevated grasslands. As for protected lands, such as nature reserves or parks, they will also be greatly affected by Climate Change in a negative way, since they are usually too small to handle such environmental shifts.
Species that may have more strength, stamina or willpower (of sorts) will have a better chance of survival, as they may be able to adapt to temperature changes or migrate elsewhere. Weaker species—those that may not be able to adapt or migrate quickly enough—could face extinction.
Chris Field, co-author of the paper and director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology said:
“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.”
Many wild places around the world are already severely threatened by Climate Change. Low-lying places, such as the Maldives, are already severely in danger of being completely submerged under water as temperatures and sea levels continue to rise. It may be too late to help some places, but we can still make a change to help others.
For the full report from Nature, click here. You may need to create an account or make a payment in order to view the letter in full.
By Heidi Marshall