Originally published on The Hill Talk
Research scientists have spent decades in an attempt to understand the complexities of climate change and its impact on diverse ecosystems. The most recent study has found that global warming now impacts not just seasonal variations, but natures’ very timing — an aspect crucial to the environment at its very core.
Scientists in a study at the National Academy of Sciences have observed the worsening problem of timing from a global standpoint. There are many examples to sustain this.
For instance, one of the most noticeable changes in the timing pattern has been found at at Washington state’s Lake Washington. For the first time in 25 years, plant plankton are blooming 34 days earlier than the zooplankton eat them, thus effecting the bottom-most level of the food chain.
The study’s lead author, Heather Kharouba, an ecologist at the University of Ottawa, was unable to find a statistically significant link between temperature and changes in how species sync together. However, Kharouba said her observations were “consistent with climate change.”
The study also reveals that these changes in timing are significantly greater than before the 1980s.
Indeed, the impact of global warming is being felt the world over, including in Australia. The world’s largest coral system off the Australian coast is under a similar threat. In 2016, the marine heatwave led to extreme bleaching of the corals and resultant die-offs within two years has taken-out half of the Great Barrier Reef.
“If we fail to curb climate change, and global temperatures rise far above 2 °C [since the start of the Industrial Revolution], we will lose the benefits [corals] provide to hundreds of millions of people,” said coral reef expert Terry Hughes, professor at Australia’s James Cook University.
There are also recent reports of the North Pole reeling under soaring temperatures. The Arctic Sea ice is reportedly at its lowest recorded levels since 2013, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).
According to NSIDC, “The decline of the Arctic sea ice cover has myriad effects, from changes in climate and weather patterns to impacts on the plants and animals dependent on the ice, and to the indigenous human communities that rely on them.”
[AP] [Time] [Washington Post] [NASA]