Warming to Create Previously Unknown Climates, Study Says

March 27, 2007

Global warming will redraw Earth's climate map by the end of the century, causing some of today's climates to disappear and creating other climates unlike anything known today, according to a new study.

Specifically, brand-new climates will appear in the tropical and subtropical regions, while some climates of the tropical mountains and the regions around the Poles will be entirely replaced by 2100.

For the new study, researchers used forecasts from the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to create a computer model that estimates how different parts of the world would be affected by warming.

The results appear in this week's issue of the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"So much of the novel and disappearing climates are occurring at the low latitudes [around the Equator]," said study co-author Steve Jackson of the University of Wyoming, Laramie. "None of us expected this."

That's because Jackson and colleagues thought the greatest shifts would happen at Earth's Poles, where the largest temperature changes are expected to occur.

Instead, small changes in temperature and humidity in other regions, particularly in the tropics, will have greater affects on those overall climates, the study shows.

The researchers also found that the predicted changes could trigger local extinctions, reshuffle current plant and animal communities, and make conservation efforts more difficult.

From Novel to Nonexistent

Jackson and colleagues' computer model shows that the overall climates of North America and Europe will shift, but will resemble climates we already know.

The Florida peninsula, however, will develop a never before seen climate that is much hotter and drier in the summer.

The Amazon Basin will also develop a new climate that will be hotter and wetter between June and August than it is now, the model predicts.

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