05 February 2010

Managing ecosystems in a changing climate

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Global warming may impair the ability of ecosystems to perform vital services—such as providing food, clean water and carbon sequestration—says the nation's largest organization of ecological scientists

In a statement released today, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) outlines strategies that focus on restoring and maintaining natural ecosystem functions to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Ecologists outline necessary actions for mitigating and adapting to a changing climate

"Decision-makers cannot overlook the critical services ecosystems provide," says ESA President Mary Power. "If we are going to reduce the possibility of irreversible damage to the environment under climate change, we need to take swift but measured action to protect and manage our ecosystems."

Critically evaluate management-intensive strategies. Management strategies that seek to increase carbon sequestration above natural levels should undergo thorough life-cycle analysis and evaluation prior to implementation. For example, increasing carbon uptake on agricultural lands—one approach to enhancing the sequestration potential of ecosystems—typically requires more fertilizer than standard processes; the tradeoff, therefore, is higher emissions and pollution associated with fertilizer production.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global temperatures could rise 1-6 degrees C by the end of the 21st Century.

"The sooner such strategies are deployed, the more effective they will be in mitigating the extent of change and helping us to adapt to inevitable changes." ESA says in its statement.

(Eureka Alert)

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