Climate change ripples through life on Earth

Study: climate change already dramatically disrupting all elements of nature
Global changes in temperature due to human-induced climate change have already impacted every aspect of life on Earth including Arctic species like this bearded seal. Credit: KIT M. KOVACS - CHRISTIAN LYDERSEN NPI

Climate change is affecting most life on Earth, despite an average global temperature increase of just 1C, say leading international scientists in a study published today in Science.

The scientific team, including researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (Coral CoE), The University of Queensland and the Queensland Museum in Australia, identified key ecological processes necessary to support healthy terrestrial, marine and freshwater ecosystems. The study found that 82% of these processes, affecting genes to entire ecosystems, have been impacted by global warming.

The effects of these changes extend beyond natural ecosystems and increasingly impact the health and wellbeing of human societies.

"Temperature extremes are causing evolutionary adaption in many species, changing them genetically and physically," says Professor John Pandolfi of the Coral CoE and University of Queensland. "These responses include changes in tolerances to high temperatures, shifts in sex-ratios, reduced body size and migration of species."

"In marine systems, physiological responses to both climate warming and changing ocean conditions are widespread," he adds.

"People depend on healthy ecosystems for a range of goods and services, including food and clean water. Understanding the extent to which ecosystems have been impacted allows us to plan and adapt to rapid change."

"Some people didn't expect this level of change for decades," says senior author Associate Professor James Watson, from the University of Queensland. "The impacts of climate change are being felt everywhere, with no ecosystem on Earth being spared. It is no longer sensible to consider climate change as a concern only for the future."

"Emissions targets must be actively achieved and time is running out for a synchronised global response to climate change that safeguards biodiversity and ecosystem services," he adds.

"The study shows that genes, organisms, populations, species and processes are being impacted across all of Earth's major ," says Dr Tom Bridge from the Coral CoE and Queensland Museum.

"These multi-level biological impacts of will affect humans. Increasing disease outbreaks, inconsistent crop yields and reduced fisheries productivity all threaten our food security."

These biological impacts, together with the renewed challenges to meet global emissions targets, highlighted by the recent UNEP Emissions Gap Report, show just how much work needs to be done to safeguard biodiversity in an era of ," adds Prof Pandolfi.

Explore further

Climate impacts on marine biodiversity

More information: The broad footprint of climate change from genes to biomes to people, Science, … 1126/science.aaf7671
Journal information: Science

Citation: Climate change ripples through life on Earth (2016, November 10) retrieved 23 April 2019 from
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

Nov 10, 2016
Computer models that failed to predict the presidential election outcome correctly predict that computer models are failing to predict the climate outcomes correctly.

Nov 11, 2016
Note the source of this study. These institutions are major players of the "Mighty Wurlitzer," the propaganda machine, of anthropogenic warming.

"Global average temperature" .... is a unicorn. It is impossible to accurately determine. Let alone determine to a precision of 1C. It's absurd on the face of it. Like all claims of certainty in science.
(Certainty in science went out the window in 1905, folks.)

Oh, and "82%" of life processes are supposedly affected by this putative increase ---- not "about 80%," that would admit to imprecision. Surprised these august scientists didn't give us something seemingly more accurate still, like, say, 82.336%.

Point being, when someone offers you a "global average temperature" with a straight face, grab your wallet and run like hell.

Nov 11, 2016
The Pathological Lies of the AGW Cult and their Pathological "science".

Nov 11, 2016
When I stepped outside in my pajamas I found it was 20C colder and there was 82% shrinkage.

Nov 11, 2016
What is it with folk who assume we are all as dishonest as they are? Do they really think all the world's best scientists are in some immense cabal to fool the uneducated goobers?


We do not need education, it is too late for that.

Nov 11, 2016
It looks as if we are doomed to extinction, and it is our fault for letting a group of uneducated and fearful and emotionally-vulnerable goobers to be influenced by professional hucksters and crooks.

Look at the quality of the responses of antigore for example. Real class. Really intelligent.

We have lost to the ignorant, the haters, in this White Trash Tantrum of an election.

Nov 11, 2016
Computer models that failed to predict the presidential election outcome correctly predict that computer models are failing to predict the climate outcomes correctly.

How fucking stupid can you people get? It's like you shitheads are having some sort of contest.

Nov 11, 2016
What is it with folk who assume we are all as dishonest as they are?
Well george kamburoff comes here and lies every day. He lies about his MS, his stolen valor, his EV and PV which he totally made up, his education and experience, the few dozen jobs he lost, his being an engineer, and so much more.

George does these things because he is a psychopath, and it is the nature of psychopaths to lie even when telling the truth would be better for them.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more