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article imageNASA predicts massive ecological change in Canada

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By Lynn Curwin     Jan 12, 2012 in Environment
A NASA study predicts that parts of Canada are among the areas that will experience massive ecological changes by the year 2100.
It is predicted that global climate change will result in almost 40 per cent of land-based ecosystems making changes from one ecological community type - such as forest, grasslands or tundra - toward another.
Researchers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology investigated how plant life is likely to react to the rising levels of greenhouse gases during the next three centuries.
Changes would result in humans and animals adapting and relocating, and some species of wildlife would not survive.
Much of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba would be affected.
"Ecologically sensitive "hotspots" - areas projected to undergo the greatest degree of species turnover - that were identified by the study include regions in the Himalayas and the Tibetan Plateau, eastern equatorial Africa, Madagascar, the Mediterranean region, southern South America, and North America's Great Lakes and Great Plains areas," stated a NASA press release. "The largest areas of ecological sensitivity and biome changes predicted for this century are, not surprisingly, found in areas with the most dramatic climate change: in the Northern Hemisphere high latitudes, particularly along the northern and southern boundaries of boreal forests."
Areas of Canada, where grasslands meet boreal regions, are expected to experience some of the most dramatic effects.
"By about 2100, the climate change projections that we have today would suggest that there would be pressure on that grassland so prevalent in [the Canadian Prairies] to move further northward — and at the expense of the forest moving further northward as well," NASA climate scientist Duane Walliser, of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, told the CBC.
A Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative (Parc) report stated that drier weather would be expected in Saskatchewan because of changes to the climate.
"Increasing growing season aridity is the single most important ecosystem impact and also represents a major biodiversity management challenge. Changes in climate will alter environmental conditions to the benefit of some species, and detriment of others, often with economic consequences. As vegetation
and animals shift in response to changing climate, tourism and recreation activities and agricultural, forestry and urban pest management practices will have to adjust."
This report also stated that the boreal forest is expected to be significantly affected.
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