Climate change information
It is steadily becoming more and more apparent that human activities are causing changes in Earth's climate ("global warming") and that these changes will pose a fundamental challenge to society during the next 100 or more years (e.g., the reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC, http://www.ipcc.ch/). Reflecting the increasing scientific consensus and public concern, global warming has become central on the political agenda internationally as well as in Denmark, as illustrated by the upcoming United Nations Climate Conference COP15 to be held in Denmark in the late 2009 (http://www.mst.dk).
What determines species diversity remains one of the most important scientific questions, and especially pressing due to the threat posed by global warming. It is likely that climate together with human land-use will be the most important drivers of biodiversity changes during the next century, and there is a real risk that global warming may cause massive species losses. Since the studies of Alexander von Humboldt 200 years ago it has been realized that climate is a major control of biodiversity and ecosystem structure. In recent years, it has become clear that many natural systems (e.g. population dynamics) are highly sensitive to climatic fluctuations and are already responding to the global warming that has occurred during the last 30-100 years. Nevertheless, the exact mechanisms by which climate drives biodiversity and the importance of current climate relative to prehistoric climate changes and other factors have remained controversial. These issues are clearly of fundamental importance for predicting and mitigating future climate change impacts on biodiversity.
Key risks associated with potential the 21st century include that large portions of the Earth will experience future climate states with no current analog and the dissapearance of som extant climates, especially because of a close correspondence between regions with disappearing climates and biodiversity hotspots. The development of quantitative predictive models of biodiversity's response to climate and other drivers is crucial for predicting future climate change impacts on biodiversity and pointing to potential mitigating policy options as well as contingent impacts on society, e.g. spread of infectious diseases.
Projects, links, papers
IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: http://www.ipcc.ch/
IPCC Technical Paper: Climate Change and Biodiversity: http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/biodiv/index.htm
ALARM - Assessing LArge scale Risks for biodiversity with tested Methods: http://www.alarmproject.net/alarm/
Page last modified: 07/05/2009