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While warnings of melting glaciers, rising sea levels and other environmental changes are illustrative and important, ultimately, it's the ecological consequences that matter most. When faced with climate change, plant species often must "migrate" over multiple generations, as they can only survive, compete and reproduce within the range of climates to which they are evolutionarily and physiologically adapted. While Earth's plants and animals have evolved to migrate in response to seasonal environmental changes and to even larger transitions, such as the end of the last ice age, they often are not equipped to keep up with the rapidity of modern climate changes that are currently taking place.

Human activities, such as agriculture and urbanization, are increasingly destroying Earth's natural habitats, and frequently block plants and animals from successfully migrating. To study the sensitivity of Earth's ecological systems to climate change, the scientists used a computer model that predicts the type of plant community that is uniquely adapted to any climate on Earth. This model was used to simulate the future state of Earth's natural vegetation in harmony with climate projections from 10 different global climate simulations.

That scenario assumes greenhouse gas levels will double by and then level off. The U. Under the scenario, some regions become wetter because of enhanced evaporation, while others become drier due to changes in atmospheric circulation. In: Schulze P. C, editor. Engineering within ecological constraints. Washington: National Academy Press; Tilman D, Downing J. Biodiversity and stability in grasslands. Regime shifts, resilience, and biodiversity in ecosystem management. A, Folke C, Walker B. Catastrophic shifts in ecosystems.

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Global Climate and Ecosystem Change

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Mount Kilimanjaro: Ecosystems in global change -- ScienceDaily

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