Past and future global transformation of terrestrial ecosystems under climate change

Connor Nolan, Jonathan Overpeck, Judy R M Allen, Patricia M Anderson, Julio L Betancourt, Heather A Binney, Simon Brewer, Mark B Bush, Brian M Chase, Rachid Cheddadi, Simon Haberle, Janelle Stevenson, Claudio Latorre, R Marchant, P I Moreno, Bette L. Otto-Bliesner, Stephen T. Jackson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Impacts of global climate change on terrestrial ecosystems are imperfectly constrained by ecosystem models and direct observations. Pervasive ecosystem transformations occurred in response to warming and associated climatic changes during the last glacial-to-interglacial transition, which was comparable in magnitude to warming projected for the next century under high-emission scenarios. We reviewed 594 published paleoecological records to examine compositional and structural changes in terrestrial vegetation since the last glacial period and to project the magnitudes of ecosystem transformations under alternative future emission scenarios. Our results indicate that terrestrial ecosystems are highly sensitive to temperature change and suggest that, without major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, terrestrial ecosystems worldwide are at risk of major transformation, with accompanying disruption of ecosystem services and impacts on biodiversity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)920-923pp
    JournalScience
    Volume361
    Issue number6405
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

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