Warming World Altering Thousands of Natural Systems
Analysis shows effects of climate
almost 30,000 biological and physical phenomena.
EMMA MARRIS / Nature 14may2008
A comprehensive analysis of trends in tens of thousands of biological and physical systems has provided more evidence to bolster the near-universal view that man-made climate change is altering the behaviour of plants, animals, rivers and more.
The study, by an international research team featuring many members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is a statistical analysis of observations of natural systems over time. The data, which stretch back to 1970, capture the behaviour of 829 physical phenomena, such as the timing of river runoff, and around 28,800 biological species.
Researchers led by Cynthia Rosenzweig of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York created a map of the planet with a colour-coded grid showing how much different regions have warmed or cooled between 1970 and 2004.
They then placed each of the thousands of datasets on the map and determined whether they were “consistent with warming” or “not consistent with warming”. Trees, for example, might flower earlier in regions where the climate has warmed significantly.
In around 90% of cases where an overall trend was observed, it was consistent with the predicted effects of climate warming, the researchers report in this week's Nature 1.
“Human-caused climate change is having a broad range of impacts on physical and biological systems, not only at a global scale, but at a continental scale,” says Cynthia Rosenzweig.
The bulk of the observations come from Europe, from a single meta-analysis of a collaborative database of observations of annual natural events2. Several hundred more came from studies elsewhere in the world, although Africa, Australia and Latin America are relatively poorly represented.
Rosenzweig's team does not claim, therefore, to have shown that human-caused global warming is causing changes to these southern continents on an individual basis.
Among the warming-linked changes seen in the study are the timing of plant flowering, bird nesting, ice melting, salmon migration and pollen release; declines in populations of polar bears, krill and penguins; and increased growth of Siberian pines and cool-water ocean plankton.
"This paper outlines an extremely robust case for linking a range of observed physical and biological changes to human-induced climate change, specifically warming," says Roger Jones of the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research. "Unfortunately, the coverage of such data is not global and many regions of the world, including Australia, are not very well covered. Many of the regions that lack coverage are also thought to be highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change."
Cagan Sekercioglu of Stanford University in California studies bird ranges and, among other things, their response to climate change. He is convinced that climate change is affecting many natural systems, and is disappointed that many regions still lack adequate data.
“In Africa there are 14 studies altogether, including the Middle East,” he says. “The big oil-producing countries like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela don't have any studies, and it is kind of embarrassing that my own country, Turkey, has no studies.”
Sekercioglu is impressed by the scope of the study, but says that there was already a wealth of evidence that climate change is affecting the world. “We shouldn't even need to publish such papers at this point,” he says. “This paper is an argument that climate change is causing the observed changes. This should be a given. Thirty years later we are still trying to convince people of this.”
Rosenzweig sees those 30 years differently. It was about 30 years ago that the Goddard Institute for Space Studies began work on climate-change models. “Less than 30 years after the fist model was developed, we are working on the second global treaty [the successor to the Kyoto Treaty, which will expire in 2012]. I think that the global-warming issue is the [biggest] challenge facing our planet, but at the same time it is leading us to sustainability because of the rapidly growing action. It is finally shaking us up and getting us to realize what is going on with the planet."
Rosenzweig, C. et al. Nature 453, 353-357 (2008). (Below)
Menzel, A. et al. Glob. Change Biol. 12, 1969-1976 (2006). (Below)
Nature 453, 353-357 (15 May 2008) | doi:10.1038/nature06937; Received 28 January 2008; Accepted 19 March 2008
Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change
Cynthia Rosenzweig1, David Karoly2, Marta Vicarelli1, Peter Neofotis1, Qigang Wu3, Gino Casassa4, Annette Menzel5, Terry L. Root6, Nicole Estrella5, Bernard Seguin7, Piotr Tryjanowski8, Chunzhen Liu9, Samuel Rawlins10 & Anton Imeson11
1 NASA/Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia Center for Climate Systems Research, 2800 Broadway, New York, New York 10025, USA
2 School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia
3 School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, 100 East Boyd Street, Norman, Oklahoma 73019, USA
4 Centro de Estudios Científicos, Avenida Arturo Prat 514, Casilla 1469, Valdivia, Chile
5 Center of Life and Food Sciences Weihenstephan, Technical University of Munich, Am Hochanger 13, 85 354 Freising, Germany
6 Stanford University, Center for Environmental Science and Policy, Stanford, California 94305, USA
7 INRA Unité Agroclim, Site Agroparc, domaine Saint-Paul, F-84914 Avignon Cedex 9, France
8 Department of Behavioural Ecology, Institute of Environmental Biology, Adam Mickiewicz University, Umultowska 89, PL-61–614 Poznan, Poland
9 China Water Information Center, Lane 2 Baiguang Road, Beijing 100761, China
10 Caribbean Epidemiology Center, 16–18 Jamaica Boulevard, Federation ParkPO Box 164, Port of Spain, Trinadad and Tobago
11 3D-Environmental Change, Curtiuslaan 14, 1851 AM, Heiloo, Netherlands
Correspondence to: Cynthia Rosenzweig1 Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to C.R. (Email: email@example.com).
Significant changes in physical and biological systems are occurring on all continents and in most oceans, with a concentration of available data in Europe and North America. Most of these changes are in the direction expected with warming temperature. Here we show that these changes in natural systems since at least 1970 are occurring in regions of observed temperature increases, and that these temperature increases at continental scales cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone. Given the conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely to be due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, and furthermore that it is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent except Antarctica, we conclude that anthropogenic climate change is having a significant impact on physical and biological systems globally and in some continents.
Global Change Biology, Volume 12 Issue 10 Page 1969-1976, October 2006
To cite this article: ANNETTE MENZEL, TIM H. SPARKS, NICOLE ESTRELLA, ELISABETH KOCH, ANTO AASA, REIN AHAS, KERSTIN ALM-KÜBLER, PETER BISSOLLI, OL'GA BRASLAVSKÁ, AGRITA BRIEDE, FRANK M. CHMIELEWSKI, ZALIKA CREPINSEK, YANNICK CURNEL, ÅSLÖG DAHL, CLAUDIO DEFILA, ALISON DONNELLY, YOLANDA FILELLA, KATARZYNA JATCZAK, FINN MÅGE, ANTONIO MESTRE, ØYVIND NORDLI, JOSEP PEÑUELAS, PENTTI PIRINEN, VIERA REMIŠOVÁ, HELFRIED SCHEIFINGER, MARTIN STRIZ, ANDREJA SUSNIK, ARNOLD J. H. VAN VLIET, FRANS-EMIL WIELGOLASKI, SUSANNE ZACH, ANA ZUST (2006) European phenological response to climate change matches the warming pattern
Global Change Biology 12 (10) , 1969–1976 doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2006.01193.x
European phenological response to climate change matches the warming pattern
ANNETTE MENZEL**Department of Ecology, Technical University Munich, 85350 Freising, Germany, , TIM H. SPARKS††NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Monks Wood, Cambridgeshire PE28 2LS, UK, , NICOLE ESTRELLA**Department of Ecology, Technical University Munich, 85350 Freising, Germany, , ELISABETH KOCH‡‡Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, 1190 Vienna, Austria, , ANTO AASA§§University of Tartu, 51014 Tartu, Estonia, , REIN AHAS§§University of Tartu, 51014 Tartu, Estonia, , KERSTIN ALM-KÜBLER¶¶Swedish Museum of Natural History, 10405 Stockholm, Sweden, , PETER BISSOLLIGerman Meteorological Service, 63067 Offenbach, Germany, , OL'GA BRASLAVSKÁ****Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute, 83315 Bratislava 37, Slovak Republic, , AGRITA BRIEDE††††Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of Latvia, Riga LV-1586, Latvia, , FRANK M. CHMIELEWSKI‡‡‡‡Faculty of Agriculture and Horticulture, Humboldt-University, Berlin, 14195 Berlin, Germany, , ZALIKA CREPINSEK§§§§Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia, , YANNICK CURNEL¶¶¶¶Centre Wallon de Recherches Agronomiques, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium, , ÅSLÖG DAHLBotaniska Analysgruppen i Göteborg, 40530 Göteborg, Sweden, , CLAUDIO DEFILA******MeteoSwiss, 8044 Zürich, Switzerland, , ALISON DONNELLY††††††Department of Botany, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland, , YOLANDA FILELLA‡‡‡‡‡‡Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications CEAB-CSIC, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Catalonia, Spain, , KATARZYNA JATCZAK§§§§§§Institute of Meteorology and Water Management, 01-673 Warszawa, Poland, , FINN MÅGE¶¶¶¶¶¶Norwegian University of Life Sciences, 1432 Ås, Norway, , ANTONIO MESTREInstituto Nacional de Meteorología, 28040 Madrid, Spain, , ØYVIND NORDLI********The Norwegian Meteorological Institute, 0313 Oslo, Norway, , JOSEP PEÑUELAS‡‡‡‡‡‡Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications CEAB-CSIC, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Catalonia, Spain, , PENTTI PIRINEN††††††††Finnish Meteorological Institute, 00101 Helsinki, Finland, , VIERA REMIŠOVÁ****Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute, 83315 Bratislava 37, Slovak Republic, , HELFRIED SCHEIFINGER‡‡Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, 1190 Vienna, Austria, , MARTIN STRIZ‡‡‡‡‡‡‡‡Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, Ostrava 70800, Czech Republic, , ANDREJA SUSNIK§§§§§§§§Environmental Agency of the Republic of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia, , ARNOLD J. H. VAN VLIET¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶Wageningen University, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands, , FRANS-EMIL WIELGOLASKIUniversity of Oslo, 0316 Oslo, Norway, SUSANNE ZACH‡‡Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, 1190 Vienna, Austria, and ANA ZUST§§§§§§§§Environmental Agency of the Republic of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia, *Department of Ecology, Technical University Munich, 85350 Freising, Germany, †NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Monks Wood, Cambridgeshire PE28 2LS, UK, ‡Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, 1190 Vienna, Austria, §University of Tartu, 51014 Tartu, Estonia, ¶Swedish Museum of Natural History, 10405 Stockholm, Sweden, German Meteorological Service, 63067 Offenbach, Germany, **Slovak Hydrometeorological Institute, 83315 Bratislava 37, Slovak Republic, ††Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences, University of Latvia, Riga LV-1586, Latvia, ‡‡Faculty of Agriculture and Horticulture, Humboldt-University, Berlin, 14195 Berlin, Germany, §§Biotechnical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia, ¶¶Centre Wallon de Recherches Agronomiques, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium, Botaniska Analysgruppen i Göteborg, 40530 Göteborg, Sweden, ***MeteoSwiss, 8044 Zürich, Switzerland, †††Department of Botany, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland, ‡‡‡Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications CEAB-CSIC, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Catalonia, Spain, §§§Institute of Meteorology and Water Management, 01-673 Warszawa, Poland, ¶¶¶Norwegian University of Life Sciences, 1432 Ås, Norway, Instituto Nacional de Meteorología, 28040 Madrid, Spain, ****The Norwegian Meteorological Institute, 0313 Oslo, Norway, ††††Finnish Meteorological Institute, 00101 Helsinki, Finland, ‡‡‡‡Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, Ostrava 70800, Czech Republic, §§§§Environmental Agency of the Republic of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia, ¶¶¶¶Wageningen University, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands, University of Oslo, 0316 Oslo, Norway
Correspondence: Annette Menzel, tel. +49 8161 714743, fax +49 8161 714753, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Global climate change impacts can already be tracked in many physical and biological systems; in particular, terrestrial ecosystems provide a consistent picture of observed changes. One of the preferred indicators is phenology, the science of natural recurring events, as their recorded dates provide a high-temporal resolution of ongoing changes. Thus, numerous analyses have demonstrated an earlier onset of spring events for mid and higher latitudes and a lengthening of the growing season. However, published single-site or single-species studies are particularly open to suspicion of being biased towards predominantly reporting climate change-induced impacts. No comprehensive study or meta-analysis has so far examined the possible lack of evidence for changes or shifts at sites where no temperature change is observed. We used an enormous systematic phenological network data set of more than 125 000 observational series of 542 plant and 19 animal species in 21 European countries (1971–2000). Our results showed that 78% of all leafing, flowering and fruiting records advanced (30% significantly) and only 3% were significantly delayed, whereas the signal of leaf colouring/fall is ambiguous. We conclude that previously published results of phenological changes were not biased by reporting or publication predisposition: the average advance of spring/summer was 2.5 days decade-1 in Europe. Our analysis of 254 mean national time series undoubtedly demonstrates that species' phenology is responsive to temperature of the preceding months (mean advance of spring/summer by 2.5 days°C-1, delay of leaf colouring and fall by 1.0 day°C-1). The pattern of observed change in spring efficiently matches measured national warming across 19 European countries (correlation coefficient r=-0.69, P<0.001).