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Ecological sensitivity: a biospheric view of climate change

Bergengren, Jon C. and Waliser, Duane E. and Yung, Yuk L. (2011) Ecological sensitivity: a biospheric view of climate change. Climatic Change, 107 (3-4). pp. 433-457. ISSN 0165-0009. http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20140822-084458207

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Abstract

Climate change is often characterized in terms of climate sensitivity, the globally averaged temperature rise associated with a doubling of the atmospheric CO2 (equivalent) concentration. In this study, we develop and apply two new ecological sensitivity metrics, analogs of climate sensitivity, to investigate the potential degree of plant community changes over the next three centuries. We use ten climate simulations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report, with climate sensitivities from 2–4°C. The concept of climate sensitivity depends upon the continuous nature of the temperature field across the Earth’s surface. For this research, the bridge between climate change and biospheric change predictions is provided by the Equilibrium Vegetation Ecology model (EVE), which simulates a continuous description of the Earth’s terrestrial plant communities as a function of climate. The ecosensitivity metrics applied to the results of EVE simulations at the end of the twenty-first century result in 49% of the Earth’s land surface area undergoing plant community changes and 37% of the world’s terrestrial ecosystems undergoing biome-scale changes. EVE is an equilibrium model, and, although rates of ecological change are not addressed, the resultant ecological sensitivity projections provide an estimate of the degree of species turnover that must occur for ecosystems to be in equilibrium with local climates. Regardless of equilibrium timescales, the new metrics highlight the Earth’s degree of ecological sensitivity while identifying ecological “hotspots” in the terrestrial biosphere’s response to projected climate changes over the next three centuries.


Item Type:Article
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10584-011-0065-1DOIArticle
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-011-0065-1PublisherArticle
Additional Information:© The Author(s) 2011. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited. Received: 29 January 2009; Accepted: 2 July 2010; Published online: 22 July 2011. The research described in this paper was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech, under a contract with NASA.
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Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20140822-084458207
Persistent URL:http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20140822-084458207
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:48793
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:22 Aug 2014 19:42
Last Modified:23 Aug 2014 04:51

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