40 % of forest, grassland and tundra undergo change
By 2100, climate change may modify nearly 40 percent of land-based plant ecological community type such as forest, grassland and tundra to another, according to Science Daily.
This prediction was obtained through computer modeling analysis on how the living plants would react to increasing levels of greenhouse gasses over the next 300 years by researchers from NASA’s Jet propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology. Study outcome has been carried in the latest journal Climate Change.
It appears that the research demonstrates many plant and animal species undergo increasing competition for survival and species turnover due to invasion by other species which will cause growing ecological change and stress in Earth’s biosphere.
At least 30 percent of plants on the ground of the land that is not covered by ice or desert will change and this change will require humans and animals to either adapt themselves to or migrate to other lands.
The climate change causes plant community shifts but also disrupts ecological balance between species of animals and plants interdependent. As a result, it often reduces biodiversity of plant and animal species and adversely affect on circulation of water, energy and carbon.
To study the sensitivity towards Earth’s ecological system to climate change, the scientists used a computer model that predicts the type of plant community that adapts to the certain climate.
They used this model to predict future state of Earth's natural vegetation based on 10 different global climate simulations from the fourth Assessment Report from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The calculation from IPCC assumes greenhouse gas level will be doubled by 2100 and stops rising, but the global temperature will increase 2 to 4 degrees Celcius. This change is similar to the sudden rising temperature that occurred following the last glacial period almost 20,000 years ago, except that now it is about 100 times faster than before.
Under the scenario, Earth’s biome shifts towards North and South Pole especially in higher elevations such as temperate grasslands and boreal forests.
Ecologically sensitive “hotspots” were identified as the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, eastern equatorial Africa, Madagascar, the Mediterranean region, southern South America, and North America's Great Lakes and Great Plains areas. These areas will most likely to suffer the greatest degree of species turnover.
The areas where will most likely undergo the biggest change due to high ecological sensitivity and biome, appear to be the Northern Hemisphere high latitudes, particularly along the northern and southern boundaries of boreal forests.
“The surprising degree of ecological sensitivity that Earth’s ecosystem demonstrates global imperative towards preserving biodiversity through stabilizing Earth’s climate is desperate” said researchers.