More than half of common plant species and a third of animals could see a serious decline in their habitat range.
A new study published in Nature Climate Change suggests that if nothing is done to curb climate change, the impact on animal and plant life could be catastrophic.
The study, which comprises of researchers from the U.K., Columbia and Australia, examined the impact of climate change (specifically rising temperature) on nearly 50, 000 different species.
The team carried out climate modeling and examined three main factors: climate sensitivity, ocean mixing and climate-carbon feedback that amplifies the temperature. By mapping the areas that would remain suitable for species habitation scientists were able to determine that there would be a great habitat loss unless mitigating factors emerge.
According to the report, global warming will destroy over half the habitat of plant life and a third of the habitat of animal life, a transition that may occur as a tipping point or over long periods. Temperatures are predicted to rise seven degrees Fahrenheit by 2100 due to global warming, according the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The rise in temperature is largely due to burning fossil fuels, which retain heat and warm the atmosphere. Over the past century, global temperatures have risen about 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit, according data presented by the National Academy of Sciences. If this temperature rise happens at the rate predicated, large range contractions can be expected among common and widespread species.
The changes predicted by the model would likely lead to the extinction of some 34 percent of animal species and 57 percent of plant species, say scientists. The reason for the massive decline, according to the report, is largely due to the rapid change in temperature, which many species will struggle to adapt to over the course of just a few years.
“Our research predicts that climate change will greatly reduce the diversity of even very common species found in most parts of the world. This loss of global-scale biodiversity would significantly impoverish the biosphere and the ecosystem services it provides,” says Rachel Warren, of the University of East Anglia and a lead author of the study.
The team notes that the rapid change would have major ramifications for humans.
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