Scientists look into Earth's 'deep time' to predict future effects of climate change

Aug 02, 2013
Time spiral: looking back through time to understand future climate change. Credit: NASA

Climate change alters the way in which species interact with one another—a reality that applies not just to today or to the future, but also to the past, according to a paper published by a team of researchers in this week's issue of the journal Science.

"We found that, at all time scales, climate change can alter biotic interactions in very complex ways," said paleoecologist Jessica Blois of the University of California, Merced, the paper's lead author.

"If we don't incorporate this information when we're anticipating future changes, we're missing a big piece of the puzzle."

Blois asked for input from researchers who study "deep time," or the very distant past, as well as those who study the present, to help make predictions about what the future holds for life on Earth as .

Co-authors of the paper are Phoebe Zarnetske of Yale University, Matthew Fitzpatrick of the University of Maryland, and Seth Finnegan of the University of California, Berkeley.

"Climate change and other human influences are altering Earth's living systems in big ways, such as changes in and the spread of ," said Alan Tessier, program director in the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Division of Environmental Biology, which co-funded the research with NSF's Division of Earth Sciences.

"This paper highlights the value of using information about past episodes of rapid change from Earth's history to help predict future changes to our planet's ecosystems."

Scientists are conducting research on organisms from large to small, here a selection of fungi. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Scientists are seeing responses in many species, Blois said, including plants that have never been found in certain climates—such as palms in Sweden—and animals like moving to higher elevations as their habitats grow too warm.

"The worry is that the rate of current and future climate change is more than species can handle," Blois said.

The researchers are studying how may change between predators and prey, and between plants and pollinators, and how to translate data from the past and present into future models.

"One of the most compelling current questions science can ask is how ecosystems will respond to climate change," said Lisa Boush, program director in NSF's Division of Earth Sciences.

"These researchers address this using the fossil record and its rich history," said Boush. "They show that climate change has altered biological interactions in the past, driving extinction, evolution and the distribution of species.

"Their study allows us to better understand how modern-day climate change might influence the future of biological systems and the rate at which that change will occur."

While more research is needed, Blois said, changes can be observed today as well as in the past, although it's harder to gather information from incomplete fossil records.

Looking back, there were big changes at the end of major periods, such as the end of the last Ice Age when large herbivores went extinct.

Without those mega-eaters to keep certain plants at bay, new communities of flora developed, most of which in turn are now gone.

"People used to think climate was the major driver of all these changes," Blois said, "but it's not just climate. It's also extinction of the megafauna, changes in the frequency of natural fires, and expansion of human populations. They're all linked."

People are comfortable with the way things have been, said Blois. "We've known where to plant crops, for example, and where to find water."

Now we need to know how to respond, she said, to changes that are already happening—and to those coming in the near future.

Explore further: 2014 Arctic sea ice minimum sixth lowest on record (Update)

More information: "Climate Change and the Past, Present, and Future of Biotic Interactions," by J.L. Blois et al. Science, 2013.

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User comments : 18

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anti-geoengineering
1.3 / 5 (16) Aug 02, 2013
A great cycle of time that will not be stopped.
NikFromNYC
1.2 / 5 (17) Aug 02, 2013
"Scientists are conducting research on organisms from large to small, here a selection of fungi."

Big Bong theory!

http://kennyschar...mage=780

NikFromNYC
1.8 / 5 (19) Aug 02, 2013
"Scientists are seeing responses in many species, Blois said, including plants that have never been found in certain climates—such as palms in Sweden—and animals like pikas moving to higher elevations as their habitats grow too warm."

Sweden has one of the very oldest continuous running real thermometer records of all time, back to 1722:

http://berkeleyea...s/159346

Does this boringly flat chart suggest that palm trees are suddenly growing in Sweden?

VendicarE
3.1 / 5 (9) Aug 03, 2013
"Sweden has one of the very oldest continuous running real thermometer records of all time, back to 1722:" - NikkieTard

A record that shows a warming of about .7'C over it's history.

Poor NikkieTard. Even his own reference fails to agree with his assertion.

One wonders why he even provided it. Brain Damage?

http://berkeleyea...-Raw.pdf
megmaltese
1.4 / 5 (10) Aug 03, 2013
Here a selection of fungi.

Picture is unrelated lol.
megmaltese
1.7 / 5 (12) Aug 03, 2013
"Sweden has one of the very oldest continuous running real thermometer records of all time, back to 1722:" - NikkieTard

A record that shows a warming of about .7'C over it's history.

Poor NikkieTard. Even his own reference fails to agree with his assertion.

One wonders why he even provided it. Brain Damage?

http://berkeleyea...-Raw.pdf


Some people can just grab datas A, B and C, over A to Z.
They read A to Z but they can only correlate some of the notions.
Their brain simply can't elaborate more than so much.
You don't tease less lucky people, do you?
NikFromNYC
1.9 / 5 (17) Aug 03, 2013
"A record that shows a warming of about .7'C over its history.


...which equates to a mere 0.24 °C warming per century, so consistently as to not only defy the recent 40% boost in CO₂ but boring enough to falsify the massive water vapor feedback computer models that form the central supporting backbone of climate alarm.

If this chart formed a statistically significant hockey stick like the "palm trees in Sweden" headlines suggest must exist, there would be no massive online skeptical movement that recently converted 100% of political policy support for artificial energy rationing and chopped it down to a mere 50%.

The straw man that confuses uneducated environmental activists is that skeptics are looking for and failing to find trend *changes* in solid data that correlate with CO₂, not claiming that there has been no warming trend.
NikFromNYC
1.9 / 5 (17) Aug 03, 2013
Real thermometer records extend back to the 1600s but climatologists are so afraid of their boring lack of contemporary CO₂ signal that Hockey Stick team member Grant Foster even turned one into its own hockey stick by the simple act of lying with statistics, as I debunked in a single glance here:

http://s13.postim...mage.jpg]http://s13.postim...mage.jpg[/url]

That old thermometer record has lots of boring friends, namely the vast majority of other long running records:

http://s13.postim...mage.jpg]http://s13.postim...mage.jpg[/url]

In 2010, Central England suffered the coldest spring in 130 years, pulling the plot back below the natural trend line.
NikFromNYC
1.8 / 5 (15) Aug 03, 2013
megmaltese
1.3 / 5 (13) Aug 03, 2013
Do you know that the Sun was off his cycle in the last 20 years?
It practically went clean of sun spots on its last 11 years cycle. Now they are coming back.
This means the Sun was COLDER THAN USUAL in this last decade. And not by a degree or two.
The "fun" stuff has yet to come.
NikFromNYC
2 / 5 (16) Aug 03, 2013
Do you know that the Sun was off his cycle in the last 20 years?


In 2006, NASA predicted a massive new sun cycle:

http://science.na..._med.gif

What happened instead was the most profound lull in activity since The Little Ice Age:

http://www.swpc.n...spot.gif

That's the world we now live in.
NikFromNYC
2.1 / 5 (17) Aug 03, 2013
The Little Ice Age sun cycle lull can be seen here:

http://solarscien...arly.jpg

Since about 10X as many people die in freezes than in heat waves, arrogantly ignoring the possibility of another cooling cycle in policy debates has severe moral implications, especially as making "electricity prices necessarily skyrocket" or " to figure out a way to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe" as Obama and his energy secretary have promoted.
Neinsense99
2.1 / 5 (11) Aug 04, 2013
Do you know that the Sun was off his cycle in the last 20 years?
It practically went clean of sun spots on its last 11 years cycle. Now they are coming back.
This means the Sun was COLDER THAN USUAL in this last decade. And not by a degree or two.
The "fun" stuff has yet to come.

I was unaware that the sun had it's gender officially confirmed, or that it is a person as indicated by the use of the word 'his'. Not that it matters, so long as it doesn't get eaten by the dragon again. ;)
Gmr
2.7 / 5 (7) Aug 04, 2013
I want that NASA credited graphic as a wall poster, though. It's hilariously out of date with its depictions of dinosaurs - the classic tail-dragging giant reptiles - but at least the icthyosaur has close to the right shape...
VendicarE
2.6 / 5 (7) Aug 04, 2013
NikkieTards first graphic

http://solarscien...arly.jpg

Doesn't correspond to his second graphic...

http://www.swpc.n...spot.gif

The second shows sunspot numbers reaching a local maximum of 125.while his first shows that they don't rise over 20.

Why is it that NikkieTard is always caught misrepresenting the facts?

Here is a plot of sunspot number that is significantly more recent.

http://sidc.oma.b...SSN1.png
runrig
3.8 / 5 (4) Aug 04, 2013

Since about 10X as many people die in freezes than in heat waves, arrogantly ignoring the possibility of another cooling cycle in policy debates has severe moral implications


That includes famine/starvation as a secondary effect of heat/drought does it Nik?
runrig
3.8 / 5 (4) Aug 04, 2013
In 2010, Central England suffered the coldest spring in 130 years, pulling the plot back below the natural trend line.


Actually, very from it Nik:

It ranked 232 out of 355 with an ave temp of 8.53C

http://www.metoff...sort.txt
Shelgeyr
1.3 / 5 (13) Aug 07, 2013
Scientists look into Earth's 'deep time' to predict future effects of climate change

...and then, reliably, get it all wrong.

We talk about the "cycle" of history, but reality is complex and iterative. Sadly, models that are complex and iterative can be relied upon to give incorrect answers when compared to the reality they try to predict.