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Climate Change Linked to Major Vegetation Shifts Worldwide

Vegetation around the world is on the move, and climate change is the culprit. Over the past century, vegetation has been gradually moving toward the poles and up mountain slopes, where temperatures are cooler, as well as toward the equator, where rainfall is greater. Moreover, an estimated one-tenth to one-half of the land mass on Earth will be highly vulnerable to climate-related vegetation shifts by the end of this century, depending upon how effectively humans are able to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Long-term vegetation shifts in which climate, rather than impacts from local human activity such as deforestation, was the dominant influence. The most substantial biome shifts occurred where temperature or precipitation changed by one-half to two standard deviations from 20th century mean values. Globally, vegetation shifts are disrupting ecosystems, reducing habitat for endangered species, and altering the forests that supply water and other services to many people. Some shifts in vegetation could increase fuel for wildfires, for example, so prescribed burning may be necessary to reduce the risk of catastrophic fires. Ecosystems provide important services to people, so we must reduce the emissions that cause climate change, then adapt to major changes that might occur.

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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.