Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ecologists outline necessary actions for mitigating and adapting to a changing climate

Date:
January 31, 2010
Source:
Ecological Society of America
Summary:
Global warming may impair the ability of ecosystems to perform vital services -- such as providing food, clean water and carbon sequestration -- says the nation's largest organization of ecological scientists. In a statement released Jan. 26, the Ecological Society of America outlines strategies that focus on restoring and maintaining natural ecosystem functions to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Global warming may impair the ability of ecosystems to perform vital services -- such as providing food, clean water and carbon sequestration -- says the nation's largest organization of ecological scientists. In a statement released Jan. 26, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) outlines strategies that focus on restoring and maintaining natural ecosystem functions to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Related Articles


"Decision-makers cannot overlook the critical services ecosystems provide," says ESA President Mary Power. "If we are going to reduce the possibility of irreversible damage to the environment under climate change, we need to take swift but measured action to protect and manage our ecosystems."

ESA recommends four approaches to limiting adverse effects of climate change through ecosystem management:

Prioritize low-alteration strategies. Many ecosystems sequester a sizable amount of carbon -- simply allowing them to function naturally can significantly help mitigation efforts. Deforestation, for example, has a two-fold impact: removing agents of carbon sequestration -- trees in this instance -- while simultaneously releasing stored carbon. Therefore, preserving forests is a straightforward way to both reduce and offset emissions.

Critically evaluate management-intensive strategies. Management strategies that seek to increase carbon sequestration above natural levels should undergo thorough life-cycle analysis and evaluation prior to implementation. For example, increasing carbon uptake on agricultural lands -- one approach to enhancing the sequestration potential of ecosystems -- typically requires more fertilizer than standard processes; the tradeoff, therefore, is higher emissions and pollution associated with fertilizer production.

Acknowledge the ecological implications of geoengineering. Understand the potential risks associated with engineering the environment, called geoengineering, and the unintended negative impacts that could emerge from long-term or widespread use. For example, injecting sulfur particles into the atmosphere to reflect solar rays would have a cooling effect but could also increase acid rain and destabilize weather patterns.

Address long-term risks. Assess the far-reaching consequences of ecosystem alterations. Monitor carbon stores sequestered under given management practices and develop or apply models to forecast ecosystem responses several decades into the future.

In addition to mitigating climate change, steps should be taken to prepare ecosystems to withstand climate change impacts. Human activity has impaired the natural resilience of many ecosystems. ESA outlines four adaptation strategies to safeguard ecosystem services in the face of climate change:

Take additional steps to protect water quality and quantity. Freshwater resources are at particular risk from the interaction of climate change and intensification of human use. Rising temperatures have already lowered river flows, warmed surface waters and dried out wetlands. Sustaining freshwater resources is critical to both environmental and public health.

Enable natural species migration across human dominated landscapes. Create and maintain wildlife corridors across jurisdictions and private lands to help species relocate and adapt as habitats shift with climate change. Steps should be taken to restore the ability of native species to migrate across landscapes severely fragmented by human land use.

Improve capacity to predict extreme events. Monitoring and modeling natural disturbance and recovery processes at regional scales will help state and federal agencies understand and respond to novel rates and intensities of environmental change.

Manage collaboratively at the ecosystem level. Many natural resources and services, such as fresh water, clean air and crop pollination, are not contained within jurisdictional boundaries; resource management should reflect this and operate at the ecosystem level.

"Even conservative warming projections show that natural systems will experience unprecedented stresses, including shifting habitats and ecological processes and more frequent and severe natural disturbances, such as fires, floods and droughts," ESA says in the statement. "These unavoidable changes will require management that addresses ecological thresholds, tipping points and other sources of uncertainty."

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global temperatures could rise 1-6 degrees C by the end of the 21st Century.

"The sooner such strategies are deployed, the more effective they will be in mitigating the extent of change and helping us to adapt to inevitable changes." ESA says in its statement.

The Ecological Society of America's statement is available at http://www.esa.org/pao/policyStatements/pdfDocuments/Ecosystem%20Management%20in%20a%20Changing%20Climate.pdf


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ecological Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ecological Society of America. "Ecologists outline necessary actions for mitigating and adapting to a changing climate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 January 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100126123213.htm>.
Ecological Society of America. (2010, January 31). Ecologists outline necessary actions for mitigating and adapting to a changing climate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100126123213.htm
Ecological Society of America. "Ecologists outline necessary actions for mitigating and adapting to a changing climate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100126123213.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

Raw: Lava Inches Closer to Highway

AP (Dec. 21, 2014) Officials have opened a new road on Hawaii's Big Island for drivers to take care of their daily needs if encroaching lava from Kilauea Volcano crosses a highway and cuts them off from the rest of the island. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scuba Diving Santa Off Florida Keys

Raw: Scuba Diving Santa Off Florida Keys

AP (Dec. 20, 2014) A scuba diving Santa Claus explored the waters of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Dive shop owner Spencer Slate makes the dive each year to help raise money for charity. (Dec. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

Obama: Better Ways to Create Jobs Than Keystone Pipeline

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) US President Barack Obama says that construction of the Keystone pipeline would have 'very little impact' on US gas prices and believes there are 'more direct ways' to create construction jobs. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins