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Extensive research survey confirms life on Earth now being affected by global warming

A comprehensive summary has revealed, for the first time, the dramatic extent of disruptions now being experienced by Earth's species as a result of global warming. The extensive report compiles the results of over 100 research studies on the effects that recent climate changes have had on animals and plants throughout the world.

An international team of researchers--including Eric Post, assistant professor of biology at Penn State, and others at institutions in Australia, France, Germany, Texas, and the United Kingdom--published the study in the 28 March 2002 edition of the journal Nature.

"We tried to provide the biggest possible picture of what is now happening to the world's species," Post says. "I believe this is the first attempt to integrate the responses of such a large number of species and so many levels of responses to climate changes around the globe."

Post says the researchers were somewhat surprised, as the results of the study unfolded before their eyes, to see the extent of the evidence for the impact of Earth's changing climate on species worldwide. "That anyone can question whether living things are being affected by climate change now seems incredibly dubious itself," he says.

The local-to-global focus of the study ranges from how climate changes are affecting individual animals and plants, such as in the timing of migration, breeding, or plant flowering; to local populations of the same species; to communities of species and their interactions within a single habitat; to major redistributions of assemblages of species within entire ecosystems.

"All the major biomes on Earth have been affected by a temperature increase of just a little more than half a degree Celsius--most of which has occurred during the last two decades," says Post, who describes this increase as comparable to the warming that occurs from about 8:00 to 9:30 on a typical spring morning. "That such a small change has had such an
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Contact: Barbara K. Kennedy
science@psu.edu
814-863-4682
Penn State
16-Apr-2002


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