Over the past year we’ve reported about the continuing changes taking place in our planets climate. A very US-centric view will point to a number of shifts in various patterns that have caused alarm. A new report released yesterday by the US Climate Change Science Program has shown that these changes are affecting the US with such speed and frequency, that they are unable to keep up.
The US Climate Change Science Program is a US governmental body set up to coordinate, not surprisingly, climate change research. The program has subsequently brought together 38 scientists from government, academia and conservation groups, and has spent the past 2 years reviewing available data in an attempt to pinpoint the effects of climate change on the US.
Their conclusion is that the US is not adequately prepared to measure the changes as they are occurring, and subsequently land managers are having a harder time mounting a reasonable and effective response.
“The fact is, we’re seeing lots of effects and impacts right now. These effects appear to be happening faster than expected, and the magnitude is bigger than expected. That’s a surprise,” says Anthony Janetos, an ecologist who directs the Joint Global Change Research Institute in College Park, Maryland, and one of the lead authors on the report.
Much has been made over the past six to twelve months about the early arrival of the spring growing season, timing of bird migrations, and the warmer conditions resulting in many plants and animals moving northward. In addition, with climate change altering precipitation patterns, much of the eastern US has become wetter, while the west has had the opposite effect.
According to Janetos, the main problem is that scientists gather ecological information from left right and center. For example, data on forest growth, weather patterns, and changing land use all come from different sources. This makes it increasingly difficult for biologists and land managers to identify the most critical of problems, and whether any of their efforts towards change are even working.
According to Janetos, “we need [integrated ecological monitoring systems] as soon as possible.”