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Climate Change»Climate Zones Being Forced To The Poles

»Wednesday, May 6,2009

As much as 40% of the Earth's climate zones, will be hotter than anything that exists at present by 2100, if environmental development doesn't get on target.


The changes - which will have a devastating affect on biodiversity hotspots such as the Amazonian and Indonesian rainforests - will wipe out numerous species that are unable to move to stay within their preferred

climate range. These species will either have to evolve rapidly or die out.

Whilst we ourselves have come a long way because of our adaptability, 1 million species are expected to be wiped out by 2050, even when compared to moderate global warming estimates.

"There is a real problem for conservation biologists," said the lead author, John Williams, at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. "How do you conserve the biological diversity of these entire systems if the physical

environment is changing and potentially disappearing?"

At current speeds, climate zones and species are moving an average of 6km a year towards the poles but this can only contiue until there is no more space to migrate.

"That's one of the things that really surprised us," said Professor Williams. "The tropics have very little variability from year to year in temperature, they are a very stable climatic zone. So species that live in those

climates expect a limited degree of variability."

"One of the things that comes from our paper is that because the species that live in the tropics are adapted or have evolved for a reduced range of variability, it may be that a two to three degree temperature change

in the tropics may be more significant than say a five to eight degree change in high latitudes," he added.

"Up to now, much of the focus of the impact of global warming has been on polar regions because this is where the climate is changing fastest. At the other end of the scale are climatic regions that will be lost from the

planet altogether. "

The earth has many unique and carefully balance climates, such as rainforests, mountain regions, and migratory routes that rely on season land bridges.

One thing that is certain is that we have reached the point of no return for many species.

species can migrate fast enough to follow it as it shifts. One study published in 2004 predicted that 15% to 37% of species could be driven extinct between now and 2050 assuming moderate climate warming. Globally,

this would mean the loss of more than 1 million species.





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