Latest Research on Climate Change : Mar 2022

Are we adapting to climate change?

Human systems will have to adapt to climate change. Understanding of the magnitude of the adaptation challenge at a global scale, however, is incomplete, constrained by a limited understanding of if and how adaptation is taking place. Here we develop and apply a methodology to track and characterize adaptation action; we apply these methods to the peer-reviewed, English-language literature. Our results challenge a number of common assumptions about adaptation while supporting others: (1) Considerable research on adaptation has been conducted yet the majority of studies report on vulnerability assessments and natural systems (or intentions to act), not adaptation actions. (2) Climate change is rarely the sole or primary motivator for adaptation action. (3) Extreme events are important adaptation stimuli across regions. (4) Proactive adaptation is the most commonly reported adaptive response, particularly in developed nations. (5) Adaptation action is more frequently reported in developed nations, with middle income countries underrepresented and low-income regions dominated by reports from a small number of countries. (6) There is limited reporting on adaptations being developed to take advantage of climate change or focusing on women, elderly, or children.[1]


Climate, climate change and range boundaries

Aim A major issue in ecology, biogeography, conservation biology and invasion biology is the extent to which climate, and hence climate change, contributes to the positions of species’ range boundaries. Thirty years of rapid climate warming provides an excellent opportunity to test the hypothesis that climate acts as a major constraint on range boundaries, treating anthropogenic climate change as a large-scale experiment.

Location UK and global data, and literature.

Methods This article analyses the frequencies with which species have responded to climate change by shifting their range boundaries. It does not consider abundance or other changes.

Results For the majority of species, boundaries shifted in a direction that is concordant with being a response to climate change; 84% of all species have expanded in a polewards direction as the climate has warmed (for the best data available), which represents an excess of 68% of species after taking account of the fact that some species may shift in this direction for non-climatic reasons. Other data sets also show an excess of animal range boundaries expanding in the expected direction. Main conclusions Climate is likely to contribute to the majority of terrestrial and freshwater range boundaries. This generalization excludes species that are endemic to specific islands, lakes, rivers and geological outcrops, although these local endemics are not immune from the effects of climate change. The observed shifts associated with recent climate change are likely to have been brought about through both direct and indirect (changes to species’ interactions) effects of climate; indirect effects are discussed in relation to laboratory experiments and invasive species. Recent observations of range boundary shifts are consistent with the hypothesis that climate contributes to, but is not the sole determinant of, the position of the range boundaries of the majority of terrestrial animal species.[2]


Transport and climate change: a review

Transport accounts for 26% of global CO2 emissions and is one of the few industrial sectors where emissions are still growing. Car use, road freight and aviation are the principal contributors to greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector and this review focuses on approaches to reduce emissions from these three problem areas. An assessment of new technologies including alternative transport fuels to break the dependence on petroleum is presented, although it appears that technological innovation is unlikely to be the sole answer to the climate change problem. To achieve a stabilisation of greenhouse gas emissions from transport, behavioural change brought about by policy will also be required. Pressure is growing on policy makers to tackle the issue of climate change with a view to providing sustainable transport. Although, there is a tendency to focus on long-term technological solutions, short-term behavioural change is crucial if the benefits of new technology are to be fully realised.[3]


Climate Change and Society

Contemporary societies are faced by a new spectre haunting the ‘globe’ — the changing of the world’s climate. This was not believed possible by scientists until fairly recently although the theoretical idea of a ‘greenhouse effect’ has been well established for a century or so.[4]


Snowmaking and Climate Change

Winter tourism is highly sensitive to climate change. The sufficiently studied altitudinally dependent line of natural snow reliability is losing its relevance for skilift operators in Austria, where 59% of the ski area is covered by artificial snowmaking. But the diffusion of snowmaking facilities cannot be monocausally linked to climate change, as trends in tourism, prestige, and competitive advantage are important factors. Despite the fact that snowmaking is limited by climatological factors, skilift operators trust in technical improvements and believe the future will not be as menacing as assumed by recent climate change impact studies. The aim of the present study is to define reasons for the diffusion of snowmaking systems and to determine whether snowmaking can be a viable adaptation strategy despite ongoing warming, using a simple degree-day model. Results obtained with this method of assessing technical snow reliability show that current snowmaking intensity will not be sufficient to guarantee the desired 100-day season at elevations below 1500–1600 m. Snowmaking will still be possible climatically even at lower elevations, but the required intensification of capacity will lead to significantly higher operation costs.[5]


Reference

[1] Berrang-Ford, L., Ford, J.D. and Paterson, J., 2011. Are we adapting to climate change?. Global environmental change, 21(1), pp.25-33.

[2] Thomas, C.D., 2010. Climate, climate change and range boundaries. Diversity and Distributions, 16(3), pp.488-495.

[3] Chapman, L., 2007. Transport and climate change: a review. Journal of transport geography, 15(5), pp.354-367.

[4] Urry, J., 2015. Climate change and society. In Why the social sciences matter (pp. 45-59). Palgrave Macmillan, London.

[5] Steiger, R. and Mayer, M., 2008. Snowmaking and climate change. Mountain research and development, 28(3), pp.292-298.

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