Plant Movements in Response to Rapid Climate Change

Authored by: Richard T. Corlett

Routledge Handbook of Forest Ecology

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415735452
eBook ISBN: 9781315818290
Adobe ISBN: 9781317816447


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The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2013) makes grim reading. Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have increased from 278 ppm in 1750, before the industrial revolution, to 400 ppm in 2013: an increase of 43 percent. The other major greenhouse gases, CH4 and N2O, have risen by more than 150 percent and by 20 percent, respectively. Present-day concentrations of these greenhouse gases are higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years. As a consequence, Earth has been getting warmer: in most regions, 0.5–1.0oC warmer over the last hundred years. Although the rate of warming slowed in the first decade of the twenty-first century (Fyfe and Gillett, 2014), each of the past three decades has been warmer than the previous one and also warmer than all previous decades since records began. Earth has been warmer in the past, but in most regions the last 30 years seems to have been the warmest for at least 800 years and probably longer. Other climatic variables are also changing, but trends in rainfall are less clear and more varied.

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