Species Extinction and Extreme Weather Predicted in New Climate Change Studies

Saturday, May 02, 2015
(photo: Northern Illinois University)

Climate change forecasts call for large numbers of species dying off and more episodes of extreme weather, according to two new scientific studies.


A study published in Science warns that rising global temperatures could kill off one out of every six plant and animal species worldwide.


The study, by Dr. Mark Urban of the University of Connecticut, examined data from 131 scientific studies on climate-change extinction. He determined that if earth’s temperatures increase 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 5.2% of species could become extinct. But if the temperature increase is 7.7 degrees, the loss of species could jump to 16%.


“Many species will be able to shift their ranges and keep up with climate change whereas others will not either because their habitat has disappeared or because they can’t reach their habitat anymore,” said Urban, who concluded the risk of species becoming extinct would be greatest in South America, Australia and New Zealand.


In addition to the loss of plants and animals, the earth could witness far greater instances of extreme weather in the coming years, according to a study in Nature Climate Change.


Erich Fischer and Reto Knutti of Swiss university ETH Zurich found 18% of moderate precipitation extremes and 75% of moderate heat extremes were more likely caused by global warming.


Further, they warned that a temperature increase of five degrees Fahrenheit could produce a 62-fold increase in heat extremes.


“We find that what used to be a one-in-1,000-days event or a one-in-three-years event becomes, for instance, a four-in-three-year or five-in-three-year event,” Fischer said, according to The Washington Post.


The authors point out that extreme events are not necessarily caused by climate change, but they are made more likely to occur because of it.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Climate Change Risk to ‘One in Six Species’ (by Helen Briggs, BBC News)

Study Finds Global Warming as Threat to 1 in 6 Species (by Carl Zimmer, New York Times)

Study: Global Warming Has Dramatically Upped the Odds of Extreme Heat Events (by Chris Mooney, Washington Post)

New Study Links Weather Extremes to Global Warming (by Justin Gillis, New York Times)

Accelerating Extinction Risk from Climate Change (Mark C. Urban, Science)

Anthropogenic Contribution to Global Occurrence of Heavy Precipitation and High-Temperature Extremes (by E.M. Fischer and R. Knutti, Nature Climate Change)

50,000 Plant and Animal Species Threatened by Loss of Their Natural Habitats from Climate Change (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)

 Rising Global Temperatures from Climate Change Linked to Increase in Violence (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

 1,700 U.S. Cities Could Be Partially Underwater by 2100 Due to Climate Change (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


professor 9 years ago
It should be called "extreme weather" instead of climate change or global warming. Because it's bad news.
mememine69 9 years ago
The only thing certain is unstoppable "denial" and the last 34 YEARS of climate action failure proves it. The debate is over; *Occupywallstreet now does not even mention CO2 in its list of demands because of the bank-funded and corporate run carbon trading stock markets ruled by trust worthy politicians. Deniers Rule!
Brian Stump 9 years ago
Wow. How many species will evolve? :)

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