According to a new analysis vegetation around the world is on the move, and climate change is the culprit. The study of global vegetation shifts was led by a University of California, Berkeley, ecologist in collaboration with researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.
Credit: Map by Patrick Gonzalez et al
Researchers present evidence that 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 and 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.
Approximately one billion people now live in areas that are highly to very highly vulnerable to future vegetation shifts,” said the study’s lead author Patrick Gonzalez, a visiting scholar at the Center for Forestry at UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources. “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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Thumbnail Credit: Tomas Rotger