The Birds

    Study finds climate change likely to expose species across globe to dangerous temperatures

    Inam Ansari
    May19/ 2023

    London: Climate change is expected to rapidly push species over tipping thresholds when their geographic ranges reach unanticipated temperatures, according to a new study led by a UCL researcher. The study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution forecasts when and where climate change will expose species throughout the world to potentially lethal temperatures. The researchers from UCL, the University of Cape Town, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Buffalo examined data from over 35,000 species of animals and seagrasses (including mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, corals, fish, cephalopods, and plankton) from every continent and ocean basin, as well as climate projections up to 2100. The researchers investigated when areas within each species' geographical range will cross a threshold of thermal exposure, defined as the first five consecutive years where temperatures consistently exceed the most extreme monthly temperature experienced by a species across its geographic range over recent history (1850-2014). Once the thermal exposure threshold is crossed, the animal is not necessarily going to die out, but there is no evidence that it is able to survive the higher temperatures - that is, the research projects that for many species there could be an abrupt loss of habitat due to future climate change. The researchers found a consistent trend that for many animals, the thermal exposure threshold will be crossed for much of their geographic range within the same decade. Lead author Dr Alex Pigot (UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, UCL Biosciences) said: "It is unlikely that climate change will gradually make environments more difficult for animals to survive in. Instead, for many animals, large swaths ...

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