Past and future global transformation of terrestrial ecosystems under climate change

Science
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Abstract

Impacts of global climate change on terrestrial ecosystems are imperfectly constrained by ecosystem models and direct observations. Pervasive ecosystem transformations occurred in response to warming and associated climatic changes during the last glacial-to-interglacial transition, which was comparable in magnitude to warming projected for the next century under high-emission scenarios. We reviewed 594 published paleoecological records to examine compositional and structural changes in terrestrial vegetation since the last glacial period and to project the magnitudes of ecosystem transformations under alternative future emission scenarios. Our results indicate that terrestrial ecosystems are highly sensitive to temperature change and suggest that, without major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, terrestrial ecosystems worldwide are at risk of major transformation, with accompanying disruption of ecosystem services and impacts on biodiversity.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Past and future global transformation of terrestrial ecosystems under climate change
Series title Science
DOI 10.1126/science.aan5360
Volume 361
Issue 6405
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher AAAS
Contributing office(s) Southwest Climate Science Center
Description 4 p.
First page 1
Last page 4