Climate change gets clocked : Nature News & Comment

http://www.nature.com/news/climate-change-gets-clocked-1.13922

Within 35 years, global average temperatures will be hotter than historical extremes.

09 October 2013

Tropical coral reefs will be among the first ecosystems to shift to a climate hotter than any conditions of the past 150 years.

Keoki Stender/marinelifephotography.com

The Indonesian city of Manokwari is poised to become an unwitting icon for climate change. In about 2020, the coastal location will become one of the first places in recent history to adopt an entirely new climate — one in which its coldest years will be consistently hotter than any of the past 150 years.

That is one finding of a study published today in Nature1, which attempts to create a region-specific index of climate change. Researchers sought to identify the point at which temperature oscillations in each area will exceed the bounds of historical variability. Such ‘climate departures’ are predicted to start in the tropics and then spread to higher latitudes. If carbon dioxide emissions continue unabated, Earth’s mean climate could depart from historical averages in 2047.

“Very soon, extreme events will become the norm,” says lead author Camilo Mora, an environmental researcher at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Because temperatures in the tropics vary little between seasons, even a slight increase in the average temperature could lead to unprecedented conditions — with negative consequences for ecosystems that are home to much of the world’s biodiversity. Many tropical nations also have limited economic capacity to adapt or otherwise respond to such threats.

“The rules of the climate game — those governing everything from species interactions to frequency of large storm events — are changing,” says Jack Williams, a palaeoclimatologist at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, who was not involved in the study.

…(read more).

Global Climate Change http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre130
Environmental Justice http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre145
Environment Ethics http://courses.dce.harvard.edu/~envre120

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