Catastrophic outlook for African savannahs due to rise in CO2 levels

savannah
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A ground-breaking research study looking at modern and ancient landscapes has discovered African plants could be facing mass extinction faster than once thought.

Scientists from the Lyell Centre, Heriot-Watt University, looked at chemical fossils, with special emphasis on plant vegetable oils preserved in ancient sediments.

The fossils revealed almost 8,000 sub-tropical African plant species from an estimated total of about 23,000 species could become extinct within the next few decades.

The worrying figure amounts to 33 per cent of Africa's contemporary plant diversity, affecting basic ecosystems worldwide.

Academics also claim, the magnitude of biodiversity loss projected for southeast Africa over the next 100 years will be more significant than anything seen in the last 15,000 years or more.

The trend was discovered after researchers looked into the widespread rapid decrease of (sub) tropical biodiversity, including during the most recent large-scale global warming event (deglaciation amid 10,000 to 18,000 years ago) that followed the Last Glacial Maximum.

They discovered the decline was due to rapidly rising atmospheric CO2 levels which affected the ability of plants with specialised traits, to complete with more cosmopolitan and faster growing plants like weedy grasses.

This is due to the rate at which dioxide increases and the fact that the specialised plants can't find habitats suitable for reproduction.

Dr. Clayton Magill explains: "We used chemical fossils derived from vegetable oils to track the source and movement of plant taxa across modern and ancient landscapes.

"These carry important environmental information within themselves as reflected through differences in their carbon composition at the atomic level. We found carbon compositional differences, in turn reflect the diversity of differing plant-type contributions into sediments.

"To break it down, this situation is much like sharing a kitchen with many roommates. With few exceptions, roommates all have unique dietary preferences and the diversity of these preferences correlates with the diversity of roommates.

"If we assume that different dietary preferences lead to carbon compositional differences in roommates' oils, then we can see that a larger range of compositional differences is indicative of increased diversity.

"Our study informs us of a possible catastrophic outlook for plants and diversity in this African region and the fact the magnitude of biodiversity loss will be especially pronounced for sub-tropical regions, such as savannahs."

Dr. Magill goes on to explain that this discovery may be a cause for concern, for , adding: "Plant is important to worldwide and the should be careful to look after eco-systems so there is no further decline.

"Our study is alarming due to the differentiation of key resources such as water, carbon and light among plants in hot, dry and heterogeneous environments.

"However, it's important to note that the imminent extinctions suggested through this work are independent of the sources of CO2."

This study was published via PLOS ONE.


Explore further

New research questions the rate of climate change

More information: Clayton R. Magill et al. Isotopic variance among plant lipid homologues correlates with biodiversity patterns of their source communities, PLOS ONE (2019). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0212211
Journal information: PLoS ONE

Citation: Catastrophic outlook for African savannahs due to rise in CO2 levels (2019, March 1) retrieved 22 May 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-03-catastrophic-outlook-african-savannahs-due.html
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Mar 01, 2019
Once the global temperature increases enough, water will evaporate at a far greater rate and the greenhouse effect from extra water in the atmosphere will make carbon look like noise in the graph in comparison. These Savannahs and most of Australia will be transformed into rain forests.

Mar 01, 2019
Insane, all plants need less water with increased CO2.

More complete BS from alarmists.

Mar 01, 2019
Never mind the obvious difficulty of accurately cataloguing thousands of plant species and measuring how much they proliferate or decline over time, especially thousands of years ago; the famous statistician's mantra "correlation is not causation" seems appropriate for their central finding.

Even if you could accurately assay all those plant species and were able to show a correlation to species decline between 17 kya and 10 kya, the fact that it corresponds to an increase of atmospheric CO2 from below 200 ppm to around 220 ppm (well below the modern, pre-industrial measure of 280 ppm) doesn't tell you anything about the cause of species decline. It's simply a correlation. It could be that whatever caused the CO2 increase also caused the species decline.

Extrapolating from that spurious conclusion and postulating that a future CO2 increase from the current 400 ppm to perhaps 550 ppm or higher demonstrates remarkably more confidence than the data suggests.

Mar 01, 2019
Having just experienced both the hottest and the driest summer on record where I live, and there is an observable trend of drier and warmer conditions, why would I believe global warming will turn deserts into rainforests? Even with average rise in atmospheric water content. Or, having read of a study that shows that increased CO2 is harmful to many savannah plants, I should just believe someone that claims raised CO2 is not harmful to savannah plants? The article above is worth paying attention to - the comments above are not.

Mar 01, 2019
The article above is worth paying attention to - the comments above are not.


No one believes your political BS.


Mar 01, 2019
I don't think I understand the argument for biodiversity as it is presented here.

Why is it important to maintain a catalogue of species that can only survive under very specific conditions? Isn't the point of biodiversity to maintain a number of species to keep a chance that at least some can adapt to environmental change? If so, when the environment does change, those species that are worth preserving will adapt and those that aren't, won't.

It comes down to the question of, why is it important to preserve a species that is already prone to extinction whether by man or by nature, in the next hundred or million years? Why stop evolution there?

Mar 01, 2019
No one believes your political BS
Ahhh - Old-code now speaks for everyone in the world. Good to know. I think all science is worth paying attention to - and maybe this study is right, and maybe wrong. Time will tell. The best people to evaluate an issue like biodiversity - are surely the biologists - as opposed to the old-C-coders.

Mar 02, 2019
Re Ekka:

If you are casting yourself as gardener then the burden is upon you to show that the plants and animals you will globally exterminate will produce a generally beneficial result based on some metric that is agreed to by all parties.

Do you have such a metric? Do you have the ability to calculate the impact of species extinction on the biosphere? Do you have a way of modeling the extinction of a specific plant or animal has on it's surrounding biosphere?

Get back to us when you have such things.

Mar 02, 2019
It is getting hotter and hotter every year. Savannahs are grasslands where there is not enuf water for trees. There is a central belt of hot deserts all around the world just north of the equator. Temperatures in those areas can get to 140 deg F. or more during the day with no shade and almost no rain at all. A few years ago, Iran in a few places got to 170 deg F. Survivors had air conditioning that was failing near day's end. Such is th future that Trump is trying to get to come........soooner. MOre room for his golf courses for 1/100%percenters new royaltee in big tower hotels for da rieekin rich.

Mar 02, 2019
In every era where temps and CO2 have been higher, life has been more diversified and more plentiful. If global warming wasn't a huge plot by disgruntled world-government socialists, then the entire north which is now virtually unlivable would become livable. Hundreds of millions of acres.

Mar 02, 2019
Once the global temperature increases enough, water will evaporate at a far greater rate and the greenhouse effect from extra water in the atmosphere will make carbon look like noise in the graph in comparison. These Savannahs and most of Australia will be transformed into rain forests.

Ummm... where do you get the rain from?

It'd be a neat thing to make a salt lake here and there in the middle of deserts and other arid areas. Wind power could be used to pump water from the ocean inland. Birds will love that.

Mar 02, 2019
Having just experienced both the hottest and the driest summer on record where I live, and there is an observable trend of drier and warmer conditions, why would I believe global warming will turn deserts into rainforests? Even with average rise in atmospheric water content.

It all depends on the local conditions, not the global average. Some forecasts say that global warming will turn Eastern Europe into semidesert and Central-East Africa (around Ethiopia) into a wetter climate than it is today. It would be nice if effects compensated in different regions like that, but then it may not be so. And the forecasts may not be very good on scales of decades.

Mar 02, 2019
Ahhh - Old-code now speaks for everyone in the world.


You don't even believe this BS.

Mar 02, 2019
Get back to us when you have such things.


Isn't that a double standard?

If you're going to make an argument out of ignorance, apply it equally to both sides of the question: you don't know which species will be useful, neutral, or harmful for whatever global good you're trying to achieve, so you're equally unjustified in your attempts to conserve or exterminate them. You simply cannot evaluate the case, and arguing for conservation and trying to keep everything the same "just in case" is not reasonable.

Mar 02, 2019
If you're going to make an argument out of ignorance, apply it equally to both sides of the question:
@V4 did. You just failed to notice it. The value of biodiversity isn't whether a species is "useful" or not. Particularly to humans. And not all of a species' "use" has to do with whether it provides food or other primary resources; the genetic resources we are squandering may well turn out to be more important in the long run. Exterminating species is barely justifiable in the case of vermin like mosquitos or bubonic plague; doing it inadvertently to harmless ones is the height of stupidity, given what we now know about genetics.

Mar 02, 2019
For the record, I'm OK with exterminating parasites; but get samples first. We'll likely need their genetic diversity later.

Big data was meant for genetics and astrophysics. We'll find more uses later but those are the big ones for now.

Mar 02, 2019
@Eikka
"Isn't the point of biodiversity to "...

No, it isn't.
I think you know what you've written is wrong; It seems like an attempt to influence.

Remember everybody: biodiversity is what happens when life exploits (by slow, steady genetic evolution) every niche in a given stable environment.

Changing the environment under which all life started out surviving in is 'moving the goal posts'. It's not meant to adapt to that.

Regarding a.g.w. in general:
If you keep pooping in your own fish tank, eventually you have to change the water. (We have no ability to do so.)

Mar 02, 2019
Only gave you four stars. The environment is ever-changing; genetic diversity is the only way to deal with it. It's abrupt change that life can't adapt to quickly enough that is dangerous and causes mass extinctions. We probably don't want to have one of those and we're bringing it on by our own actions.

Mar 02, 2019
old code
You don't even believe this BS
You don't know what I believe or don't believe.

Thorium
If global warming wasn't a huge plot by disgruntled world-government socialists
Now there's a humdinger. Recently someone mentioned the FACT that Trump had accused the Chinese of making up global warming. A respondent chided the poster - saying that we need to understand when Trump is joking. But you guys really do believe in the grand conspiracy - don't you? The insanity of believing that there is a big machine somewhere - and evil government workers - turning a big dial - messing up the climate. For what reason?????? Mmmmmm - evil laugh.....

Mar 02, 2019
Deserts 'greening' from rising CO2
Increased levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) have helped boost green foliage across the world's arid regions over the past 30 years through a process called CO2 fertilisation, according to CSIRO research.
Australian National University (ANU), found that this CO2 fertilisation correlated with an 11 per cent increase in foliage cover from 1982-2010
https://www.csiro...sing-CO2

Study: Global plant growth surging alongside carbon dioxide
https://www.noaa....-dioxide

During the Jurassic Period CO2 was 3000ppm. How did that work out for plants?

Mar 02, 2019
@unreal, got a link and quote for your claim about Jurassic CO2?

Mar 02, 2019
You don't know what I believe or don't believe.


We know you're not stupid, you play a political game.

Mar 02, 2019
old code
We know you're not stupid, you play a political game
You are right - I am pretty smart. Graduated college Magna Cum Laude - which does not necessarily say much - but I think objectively I can say I am pretty smart - but certainly not MENSA level.
What political game do you think I play? I see a very broken society. Every day - we turn on the T.V.- and learn how many of our neighbors were shot and killed last night. We have crime, drugs, cigarettes guns, war, poverty - and of course environmental destruction/climate change. These are just examples of what I see as a profoundly broken society. think we could do it better - and want to be a part of talking with others - and exploring what that 'better' might look like - and how we might get there. So what political 'game' is it you accuse me of?

Mar 02, 2019
The game of insulting people that don't agree with flimsy evidence from alarmists trying to get rid of big oil and coal.

Hey no one wants pollution, but even if all green methods were implements, we'd still need 80% of our energy from coal, oil, & gas. And China and India are not going to stop spewing crap. So it's all a big political game.

Mar 02, 2019
The game of insulting people that don't agree with flimsy evidence from alarmists trying to get rid of big oil and coal
Well - firstly - the evidence to support the need for us to stop burning coal and oil is not flimsy. For example - https://www.scien...ry-year/
Secondly - I don't understand how you can term 'calling people names' - a political game. There is name calling goes on a lot - these topics are very emotional. The future of the human race is at stake. When Willie Ward tells lies - I call him a liar. I use the term 'denier' a lot - I think it fits.
It is so weird to me. You show a pattern - that seems common with deniers. You make a grandiose statement (that I play a 'political game') When quizzed about that accusation - it seems you really have nothing - just a lot of hot air.

Mar 02, 2019
even if all green methods were implements, we'd still need 80% of our energy from coal
That is just flat out made up. Yes - currently - 80% of the worlds energy comes from fossil fuels (not coal). But that balance is tipping. Germany is Europe's largest economy - and on track to get 50% of their electricity from renewables - by around 2030. A little at a time things are changing. Many see us at a tipping point - in terms of the transportation sector. Electric trucks are about to hit the roads - and we routinely read stories about significant developments in battery tech. Few if any are advocating the immediate shut down of fossil fuels. We are excited to see progress - and understand how much better the world will be - with the better technology. I currently am not involved in the politics of it at all. Plan to be one day. Your accusation of 'playing a political game' is just stupid.


Mar 02, 2019
Old C Code - the climate issue is about responsibility and accountability, not socialism or capitalism. Rejecting decades of top level expert advice is irresponsible. The fundamental understanding of our climate system has come from long running and previously bipartisan supported science - the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council and others. The depth of gullibility needed to turn aside from mainstream science on such a crucial issue is only exceeded by short-sighted greed.

It has not been climate activists that oppose market based policies but supposedly 'free market capitalist' interests seeking enduring responsibility avoidance and absence of accountability for the unwanted consequences from dumping the single most abundant industrial waste product into the atmosphere. If the climate "movement" leans left it is because those on the right chose to reject the top level expert advice whilst those leaning left have not.

Mar 02, 2019
Ken F , your faith in rational science is admirable , it works when science doesn't intersect politics or economics but

from '89 ,

https://www.apnew...47880cd0

now its not so great.

Mar 02, 2019
Ken - your faith in rational science is admirable. I share your respect for science. snoosebaum does not share your respect for science - so in an attempt at denigrating hard sciences such as physics - snoosebaum posts about 30 year old articles - that talk about a UN director - who has degrees in political science and economics. It is typical distraction bullshit.

Mar 03, 2019
REALITY ON THE GROUND.

Anyone who still tries to politicise the issue should come to OZ now, after the many years trending confirmation of the climate science predictions of more frequent/extensive/destructive/unprecedented etc etc obvious AGW-exacerbated disasters 'back-to-bak' such that people/animals/infrastructure/societies/communities are finding it impossible to properly 'recover' before the next one hits. The costs in wildlife, livestock, livelihoods and lives is now too obvious for even the erstwhile AGW-denying farmers/horticulturists to ignore/deny anymore. That is why if anyone who comes to OZ trying to still deny/politicise the climate change problems and claiming 'it's all a fraud etc" while the disasters are happening now on the ground under our very noses, will probably be 'politely' asked to PAY for their losses or be strung up on the nearest gum tree. That's how dire the actual AGW-exacerbated reality is here, and around the globe in many countries/regions.

Mar 03, 2019
Yes - currently - 80% of the worlds energy comes from fossil fuels (not coal). But that balance is tipping.


How much electric farm equipment is used? How about near zero percent.

Mar 03, 2019
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Mar 03, 2019
old code
How much electric farm equipment is used? How about near zero percent
So the fact that farm equipment is not using electricity - is evidence that there is no transition going on in the electricity sector? And there is NEVER going to be electric tractors? Is that your attempt at a point? The same can be said for aviation, and trucking. So what? This energy transition is going to take a long time. There is work going on as we speak - to develop ways of replacing farm equipment, trucks and planes - with electric. I guess you have not been following the developments with numerous companies now producing electric trucks. https://cleantech...s=trucks
https://cleantech...s=planes
https://cleantech...tractors

I really don't get what point you are trying to make old code - other than to project your politicization of things on to others.

Mar 03, 2019
Did you all know ? Oz '' covers half the planet ,so when it gets hot ! there it means we are all roasting to death .

Mar 03, 2019
Funny thing is inspite of aussie land being so huge and hot! hawaii gets a foot of snow ,,

http://www.hawaii...uC5C_sLs

Mar 03, 2019
So pointing out that Australia is only a small part of the planet - and that we should not read anything conclusive into weather events of just one part of the world - is of course appropriate. In the very next post - snoose dose exactly that - only times 1000. If it is not appropriate to read anything conclusive to weather events in Australia - it is surely much less appropriate to then want to talk about a small set of islands - Hawaii. Of course we look at the climate trends.
http://berkeleyea...2017.png

Mar 03, 2019
@greenO
So pointing out that Australia is only a small part of the planet
that's because not only do they not know the difference between weather and climate, but they don't know what a global average is

you'll not break the delusional fanatics belief with facts, but you'll be able to convince the fence sitters with them

keep it up!

Mar 03, 2019
More crap from young unaccomplished stupid idiots. With GreenBrain telling us he's Magna CL, but not mensa? What a dumbazz.

Mar 03, 2019
Here old-code - let me put two sentences that you have taken the time to put on this one thread -
The game of insulting people that don't agree with flimsy evidence

More crap from young unaccomplished stupid idiots


So which is it deniers? Do you want a civil discussion about the issues - or is it just a childish slug fest?

It can be really depressing living in a world full of hate.

Mar 03, 2019
Tony Heller gains some ground

https://www.inves...HoAjjijw

Mar 03, 2019
Take more than humidity to wet the downunder place! Aussieland has something called MOUNTAINS on its eastern side...da Great Dividing Range and the "Australian Alps" Winds there go from east to west so all Aussie weather comes to Queensland and New South Wales FIRST. Going over those mountains it dries out before proceeding to the west dry as dust. Australia used to have a better climate, but that was before it came into its present position. Before it ''parked' there, it rotated. In past eons, those mountains were not so much in the way of its' needed rain.

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