Observed Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity

There is strong scientific evidence that climate change is already impacting plant and animal populations, and model projections indicate that the current trends are likely to continue over the coming century. In this module, students will review the observed effects of climate change on biodiversity, explore the communication and interpretation of climate change science, and learn about Earth’s climate system, including how the atmospheric chemical composition is changing, impacts of climate change that have already been observed, and projections of possible future scenarios.

See also:
Introduction to Climate Change
Ocean Acidification: Building a Skeleton in A Changing Ocean
The Global Carbon Cycle: The Chemistry of Climate Change

Theme: Understanding Biodiversity

Language: English

Region: Global

Keywords: climate change, modeling, planning, anthropocene, communication

Components: 6

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Synthesis: Observed Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity

Author: R.G. Pearson

   

There is strong scientific evidence that climate change is already impacting plant and animal populations, and model projections indicate that the current trends are likely to continue over the coming century. This synthesis reviews the observed effects of climate change on biodiversity, drawing on key finding from the primary scientific literature. Case studies covering a broad taxonomic and geographical range have been selected to provide examples of recent studies on these impacts including poleward and upslope shifts in distribution, changes in disease risk, phonological responses, coral bleaching, and community-level impacts.


explore

Recommended Resource: The Ecology of Climate Change

Source: AMNH Science Bulletins, July 2010

The vast boreal forest just south of the Arctic Circle is a key region for studying climate change--both impacts of it and contributions to it. Trees and permafrost are vast reservoirs of carbon. Watch ecologists conduct experiments in Alaska's forest that aim to unravel the complex feedbacks among plants, permafrost, and climate so scientists can better predict the future of our warming planet.


practice

Exercise: Observed Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity

5 files

Author: K.M. Hanson, R.G. Pearson

   

In this exercise, students explore the communication and interpretation of climate change science
by participating in interviews as one of two defined roles: climate scientist or journalist. In these roles,
students will analyze and interpret scientific findings published in the primary scientific literature, and
will then practice communicating science in written and oral forms.


teach

Presentation: Climate Change Impacts on Biodiversity

Author: R.G. Pearson, N. Gazit

Part 1 of this presentation explores Earth’s climate system: Earth’s energy balance, glacial and solar
cycles, natural variability buy papers (e.g., Niño and Southern Oscillation), and how volcanoes may
effect climate. Part 2 delves into anthropogenic climate change: how the atmospheric chemical
composition is changing, impacts of climate change that have already been observed, and projections of
possible future scenarios.

Teaching Notes: Observed Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity

Author: R.G. Pearson, N. Gazit

Solutions: Observed Impacts of Climate Change on Biodiversity

Author: K.M. Hanson, R.G. Pearson


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