Increasing impacts of climate change upon ecosystems with increasing global mean temperature rise

Rachel Warren, Jeff Price, Andreas Fischlin, Santiago de la Nava Santos, Guy Midgley

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In a meta-analysis we integrate peer-reviewed studies that provide quantified estimates of future projected ecosystem changes related to quantified projected local or global climate changes. In an advance on previous analyses, we reference all studies to a common pre-industrial base-line for temperature, employing up-scaling techniques where necessary, detailing how impacts have been projected on every continent, in the oceans, and for the globe, for a wide range of ecosystem types and taxa. Dramatic and substantive projected increases of climate change impacts upon ecosystems are revealed with increasing annual global mean temperature rise above the pre-industrial mean (?Tg). Substantial negative impacts are commonly projected as ?Tg reaches and exceeds 2°C, especially in biodiversity hotspots. Compliance with the ultimate objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Article 2) requires that greenhouse gas concentrations be stabilized within a time frame "sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change". Unless ?Tg is constrained to below 2°C at most, results here imply that it will be difficult to achieve compliance. This underscores the need to limit greenhouse gas emissions by accelerating mitigation efforts and by protecting existing ecosystems from greenhouse-gas producing land use change processes such as deforestation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-177
Number of pages37
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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