By Virginia Capmourteres
This October, and after two years of the IPCC’s special report “Global Warming of 1.5 °C“, GIER has led an interdisciplinary webinar on the climate emergency and launched its first “Conversation Across the Disciplines“, featuring a discussion on glaciers and the climate emergency. Today, we share with you the most recent work of GIER Affiliates on the topic of climate change.
- From GIER Affiliate Allan Willms: Kypke, K. L., Langford, W. F., & Willms, A. R. (2020). Anthropocene climate bifurcation. Nonlinear Processes in Geophysics, 27(3), 391-409. The authors build an energy balance model for the future climate of the Earth and analyze whether rising greenhouse gas emissions can result in a mathematical bifurcation of the climate state. While the model predicts that a bifurcation resulting in a catastrophic climate change is possible, not all hope is lost: “appropriate reductions in carbon emissions may limit climate change to a more tolerable continuation of what is observed today“.
- From GIER Affiliate Scott Krayenhoff: Broadbent, A. M., Krayenhoff, E. S., & Georgescu, M. (2020). The motley drivers of heat and cold exposure in 21st century US cities. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(35), 21108-21117. This paper quantifies the potential changes in heat and cold exposure that the population of 47 US metropolitan regions might experience during the 21st century. The authors report that population heat exposure could increase by a factor of 12.7–29.5, whereas population cold exposure could rise by a factor of 1.3–2.2. These changes will likely be more significant in major US metropolitan regions (e.g. New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington DC).
- From GIER Affiliate Jana Levison: Persaud, E., Levison, J., MacRitchie, S., Berg, S. J., Erler, A. R., Parker, B., & Sudicky, E. (2020). Integrated modelling to assess climate change impacts on groundwater and surface water in the Great Lakes Basin using diverse climate forcing. Journal of Hydrology, 584, 124682. In this article, the authors assess potential watershed responses to climate change in southwestern Ontario, more specifically the Upper Parkhill watershed. Results show that predicted hydrological changes can be of different direction and magnitude, and hence responses should be interpreted probabilistically. Nonetheless, the authors observe a greater likelihood for a decrease in flow across all seasons.
- From GIER Affiliate Jana Levison: Saleem, S., Levison, J., Parker, B., Martin, R., & Persaud, E. (2020). Impacts of Climate Change and Different Crop Rotation Scenarios on Groundwater Nitrate Concentrations in a Sandy Aquifer. Sustainability, 12(3), 1153. In this paper, Saleem et al. assess the impacts of future climate and agricultural land use changes on groundwater nitrate concentrations in southern Ontario. While the authors predict less water availability under climate change scenarios, Best Management Practices (such as crop rotations) can produce significantly lower groundwater nitrate concentrations, therefore mitigating the impact of nutrients on groundwater quality under a changing climate.
- From GIER Affiliate Alex Smith: Dolson, S. J., McPhee, M., Viquez, C. F., Hallwachs, W., Janzen, D. H., & Smith, M. A. (2020). Spider diversity across an elevation gradient in Área de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG), Costa Rica. Biotropica. In this paper led by master’s student Sarah Dolson, the research team investigates how temperature and precipitation changes on an elevational gradient affect the diversity of litter-inhabiting spiders in Costa Rica. To their surprise, neither abundance nor richness of spiders were found to be correlated with elevation, temperature, or precipitation. However, they found that spiders in upper elevations were phylogenetically clustered, which led to a new, interesting hypothesis: harsh environmental conditions at higher elevations might have selected for a particular spider lineage.
- From GIER Affiliate Alex Smith: Warne, C. P., Hallwachs, W., Janzen, D. H., & Smith, M. A. (2020). Functional and genetic diversity changes through time in a cloud forest ant assemblage. Biotropica. In this paper, led by student Connor Warner, we learn about the changes that ant communities of Costa Rica have experienced over a decade (1998-2000 to 2008-2011). The authors found that the ant assemblage has become lighter in color over time and that species from lower elevation forests seem to have colonized higher elevations, replacing the species that inhabited the mountain tops. This effect will likely become more common with climate change, making high-elevation species vulnerable as they are displaced and have nowhere else to go.
Banner photo credit: Jason Leung on Unsplash.