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Unprecedented climate change to southern hemisphere

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  • npat1@juno.com
    Century may bring unprecedented climate change to southern hemisphere February 6, 2004 Research shows potential warming unmatched over past 48,000 years The
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6, 2004
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      Century may bring unprecedented climate change to southern hemisphere
      February 6, 2004

      Research shows potential warming unmatched over past 48,000 years

      The new century may bring hundreds or even thousands of plant and animal
      extinctions to the Andes Mountains of Peru according to new research by
      Florida Institute of Technology Paleo-Ecologist Mark Bush. Bush's
      findings, chronicled in the Feb. 6 issue of the prestigious journal
      Science, result from the study of the first continuous record of Andean
      climate change during the past 48,000 years. The Andes region of Peru is
      one of the most biologically diverse areas on the planet.

      In the article, Bush and fellow researchers Miles Silman of Wake Forest
      University and Florida Tech graduate student Dunia Urrego, discovered a
      possible reason for this remarkable biodiversity by comparing North and
      South American warming over many millennia.

      At the end of the ice age, North America and the northern hemisphere in
      general, experience an abrupt warming of 5 degrees Celsius over two
      centuries. Bush expected to find the same results in South America. What
      he found instead was a much more gradual warming, 5 degrees over several
      millennia.

      This discovery may explain why there was less extinction in the Andes
      coming out of the last ice age, as well as why the area may be
      particularly susceptible to global warming.

      "According to the International Panel on Climate Change, we can expect a
      minimum of one to two degrees Celsius increase in temperature in the
      Andes by the end of this century," Bush said. "Our record shows that
      climate change of this kind has never happened in the past 48,000 years.
      It is not a natural phenomenon."

      Bush predicts that species that can migrate readily, such as birds and
      butterflies, may be the least affected, whereas species that are less
      mobile will be vulnerable to extinction. Playing into the equation will
      be the continuing presence of man. Farmers will be able to extend their
      agricultural activities further upslope into what is now cloud forest.
      The result will be an increasingly fragmented landscape that presents
      barriers to the dispersal of wildlife, trapping them in increasingly
      inhospitable climatic conditions.

      Florida Institute of Technology


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