Substantial investment in climate change research has led to dire predictions of the impacts and risks to biodiversity. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fourth assessment report(1) cites 28,586 studies demonstrating significant biological changes in terrestrial systems(2). Already high extinction rates, driven primarily by habitat loss, are predicted to increase under climate change(3-6). Yet there is little specific advice or precedent in the literature to guide climate adaptation investment for conserving biodiversity within realistic economic constraints(7).
Here we present a systematic ecological and economic analysis of a climate adaptation problem in one of the world's most species-rich and threatened ecosystems: the South African fynbos. We discover a counterintuitive optimal investment strategy that switches twice between options as the available adaptation budget increases. We demonstrate that optimal investment is nonlinearly dependent on available resources, making the choice of how much to invest as important as determining where to invest and what actions to take.
Our study emphasizes the importance of a sound analytical framework for prioritizing adaptation investments(4). Integrating ecological predictions in an economic decision framework will help support complex choices between adaptation options under severe uncertainty. Our prioritization method can be applied at any scale to minimize species loss and to evaluate the robustness of decisions to uncertainty about key assumptions.
This review focuses on biotic responses during intervals of time in the fossil record when the magnitude and rate of climate change exceeded or were comparable with those predicted to occur in the next century (Solomon et al. 2007). These include biotic responses during: (a) the Paleo-Eocene Thermal Maximum and early Eocene Climatic Optimum, (b) the mid-Pliocene warm interval, (c) the Eemian, and (d) the most recent glacial-interglacial transition into the Holocene.
We argue that although the mechanisms responsible for these past changes in climate were different (i.e., natural processes rather than anthropogenic), the rate and magnitude of climate change were often similar to those predicted for the next century and therefore highly relevant to understanding future biotic responses. In all intervals we examine the fossil evidence for the three most commonly predicted future biotic scenarios, namely, extirpation, migration (in the form of a permanent range shift), or adaptation. Focusing predominantly on the terrestrial plant fossil record, we find little evidence for extirpation during warmer intervals; rather, range shifts, community turnover, adaptation, and sometimes an increase in diversity are observed.
There is increasing concern worldwide about the ineffectiveness of current drought management practices that are largely based on crisis management. These practices are reactive and, therefore, only treat the symptoms (impacts) of drought rather than the underlying causes for the vulnerabilities associated with impacts. Through the adoption of national drought policies that are focused on risk reduction and complemented by drought mitigation or preparedness plans at various levels of government, the coping capacity of nations to manage droughts can be improved.
The time for adopting an approach that emphasizes drought risk reduction is now, given the spiraling impacts of droughts in an ever-increasing number of sectors and the current and projected trends for the increased frequency, severity and duration of drought events in association with a changing climate. This paper discusses the underlying concepts of drought, the principles and objectives of national drought policies and a drought planning process that has been effective in the preparation of drought mitigation plans.
Ecophysiological models are widely used to forecast potential impacts of climate change on future agricultural productivity and to examine options for adaptation by local stakeholders and policy makers. However, protocols followed in such assessments vary to such an extent that they constrain cross-study syntheses and increase the potential for bias in projected impacts. We reviewed 221 peer-reviewed papers that used crop simulation models to examine diverse aspects of how climate change might affect agricultural systems. Six subject areas were examined: target crops and regions; the crop model(s) used and their characteristics; sources and application of data on [CO2] and climate; impact parameters evaluated; assessment of variability or risk; and adaptation strategies. Wheat, maize, soybean and rice were considered in approximately 170 papers. The USA (55 papers) and Europe (64 papers) were the dominant regions studied.
The most frequent approach used to simulate response to CO2 involved adjusting daily radiation use efficiency (RUE) and transpiration, precluding consideration of the interacting effects of CO2, stomatal conductance and canopy temperature, which are expected to exacerbate effects of global warming. The assumed baseline [CO2] typically corresponded to conditions 10-30 years earlier than the date the paper was accepted, exaggerating the relative impacts of increased [CO2]. Due in part to the diverse scenarios for increases in greenhouse gas emissions, assumed future [CO2] also varied greatly, further complicating comparisons among studies. Papers considering adaptation predominantly examined changes in planting dates and cultivars; only 20 papers tested different tillage practices or crop rotations.
Risk was quantified in over half the papers, mainly in relation to variability in yield or effects of water deficits, but the limited consideration of other factors affecting risk beside climate change per se suggests that impacts of climate change were overestimated relative to background variability. A coordinated crop, climate and soil data resource would allow researchers to focus on underlying science. More extensive model intercomparison, facilitated by modular software, should strengthen the biological realism of predictions and clarify the limits of our ability to forecast agricultural impacts of climate change on crop production and associated food security as well as to evaluate potential for adaptation.
This review describes environmental factors that influence severity of crop disease epidemics, especially in the UK and north-west Europe, in order to assess the effects of climate change on crop growth and yield and severity of disease epidemics. While work on some diseases, such as phoma stem canker of oilseed rape and fusarium ear blight of wheat, that combine crop growth, disease development and climate change models is described in detail, Climate-change projections and predictions of the resulting biotic responses to them are complex to predict and detailed models linking climate, crop growth and disease development are not available for many crop-pathogen systems.
This review uses a novel approach of comparing pathogen biology according to ‘ecotype’ (a categorization based on aspects such as epidemic type, dissemination method and infection biology), guided by detailed disease progress models where available to identify potential future research priorities for disease control. Consequences of projected climate change was assessed for factors driving elements of disease cycles of fungal pathogens (nine important pathogens are assessed in detail), viruses, bacteria and phytoplasmas. Other diseases classified according to ‘ecotypes’ were reviewed and likely changes in their severity used to guide comparable diseases about which less information is available. Both direct and indirect effects of climate change are discussed, with an emphasis on examples from the UK, and considered in the context of other factors that influence diseases and particularly emergence of new diseases, such as changes to farm practices and introductions of exotic material and effects of other environment changes such as elevated CO2. Good crop disease control will contribute to climate change mitigation by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture while sustaining production. Strategies for adaptation to climate change are needed to maintain disease control and crop yields in north-west Europe.
To identify the world's severely drought-prone areas, given that the corresponding ground area for a 0.5-degree grid in different latitudes is different, we proposed a more precise spherical area-based statistical method. The corresponding ground area per 0.5-degree grid is obtained by integral calculation in latitude and longitude directions. The analysis of the drought based on the global Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index dataset from 1902 to 2008, where global, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, and major crop-planting regions from six continents are treated as statistical units.
The interannual variability characteristics of the severe drought area for each statistical unit are investigated. To study the spatial distribution characteristics of the global frequency of severe drought, the drought frequency was calculated based on drought events identified by continuous drought months on a grid level. Six major crops (wheat, maize, rice, soybean, barley, and sorghum) were chosen to study the impact of drought events on agriculture.
The results suggested that severe droughts in global, Northern Hemisphere, and Southern Hemisphere areas have indicated a downward trend since 1990, but an upward trend overall in all continents except Oceania. The identified drought-prone areas show a patchy distribution and frequently drought-prone areas (with 10-20% occurrence probability of drought) were distributed in regions surrounding chronically drought-prone areas (with more than 20% probability). Global chronically drought-prone areas have increased significantly, from 16.19% in 1902-1949 to 41.09% in 1950-2008. Chronically drought-prone areas of agriculture are located in the center of southern Europe, South America, and eastern Asia.
Based on worldwide scholars’ 3,004 papers published in 658 academic journals in the Web of Science database on the topic of climate change vulnerability from 1991 to 2012, this paper quantitatively analyzes the global scientific performance and hot research areas in this field by adopting bibliometric method. The results show that (1) the vulnerability researches on climate change have experienced a rapid growth since 2006, and the publications are widely distributed in a large number of source journals, while the top two productive institutions are the University of East Anglia and Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; (2) the cooperation at author level is on the rise, and there are closer relationships in institutional and national levels; (3) the most widely focused research topics in this field include health issues in the socioeconomic system, food security in the field of agricultural system and the issue of water resource management, etc.; (4) according to the papers from the top journals, we find that the research areas for climate change vulnerability in those publications are located in the ecological diversity, ecosystem service, water resource management and electric power supply, etc.
The potentially devastating impacts of climate change on biodiversity and food security, together with the growing world population, means taking action to conserve crop wild relative (CWR) diversity is no longer an option-it is an urgent priority. CWR are species closely related to crops, including their progenitors, which have potential to contribute traits for crop improvement. However, their utilisation is hampered by a lack of systematic conservation which in turn is due to a lack of clarity over their identity. We used gene pool and taxon group concepts to estimate CWR relatedness for 173 priority crops to create the Harlan and de Wet inventory of globally important CWR taxa.
Further taxa more remotely related to crops were added if they have historically been found to have useful traits for crop improvement. The inventory contains 1667 taxa, divided between 37 families, 108 genera, 1392 species and 299 sub-specific taxa. The region with the highest number of priority CWR is western Asia with 262 taxa, followed by China with 222 and southeastern Europe with 181. Within the primary gene pool, 242 taxa were found to be under-represented in ex situ collections and the countries identified as the highest priority for further germplasm collection are China, Mexico and Brazil. The inventory database is web-enabled (http://www.cwrdiversity.org/checklist/) and can be used to facilitate in situ and ex situ conservation planning at global, regional and national levels.
Global climate change is a change in the long-term weather patterns that characterize the regions of the world. Scientists state unequivocally that the earth is warming. Natural climate variability alone cannot explain this trend. Human activities, especially the burning of coal and oil, have warmed the earth by dramatically increasing the concentrations of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. The more of these gases humans put into the atmosphere, the more the earth will warm in the decades and centuries ahead. The impacts of warming can already be observed in many places, from rising sea levels to melting snow and ice to changing weather patterns.
Climate change is already affecting ecosystems, freshwater supplies, and human health. Although climate change cannot be avoided entirely, the most severe impacts of climate change can be avoided by substantially reducing the amount of heat-trapping gases released into the atmosphere. However, the time available for beginning serious action to avoid severe global consequences is growing short. This paper reviews assessing of such climate change impacts on various components of the ecosystem such as air, water, plants, animals and human beings, with special emphasis on economy.
The most daunting problem of global warming is also discussed. This paper, further reviews the mitigation measures, with a special focus on carbon sequestration and clean development mechanism (CDM). The importance of synergy between climate change mitigation and adaptation has been discussed. An overview of the relationship between economy and emissions, including Carbon Tax and Emission Trading and the policies are also presented.
To achieve food security for many in low-income and middle-income countries for whom this is already a challenge, especially with the additional complications of climate change, will require early investment to support smallholder farming systems and the associated food systems that supply poor consumers. We need both local and global policy-linked research to accelerate sharing of lessons on institutions, practices and technologies for adaptation and mitigation. This strategy paper briefly outlines how the Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centres (CGIAR) is working across research disciplines, organisational mandates, and spatial and temporal levels to assist immediate and longer-term policy actions.