Friday, October 31, 2008
Tropical Rainforest And Mountain Species May Be Threatened By Global Warming
As Earth's climate has warmed in recent decades, the geographical ranges of well-studied bird, butterfly, and plant species in the US and Europe have moved northward, following the gradual northward shift of their familiar climates. Other studies have shown that species in the US and Europe have shifted to higher elevations, as temperature zones on mountains have moved upward.
In contrast, surprisingly little attention has been given to the effects of warming climate on tropical plants and animals. Colwell's article in Science magazine this week may change that.
The report points out that tropical climates have warmed too (more than 3/4 degrees Centigrade [1.4 degrees Fahrenheit] since 1975), and climate models predict an additional increase of more than 3 degrees Centigrade (nearly 6 degrees Fahrenheit) over the next century in the tropical forests of Central and South America. This much warming would shift temperature zones uphill about 600 m (nearly 2000 feet) in elevation above sea level. Tropical species, like those at higher latitudes, will likely be driven to higher elevations by these changes, following the climate zones they are suited for.
The painting is by Nancy Merkle