Lesson Four - Climate Change
Lesson Four - Climate Change
Read the following information
Rainforests in the Wet Tropics bioregion were listed as a World Heritage Area in 1988 primarily because of their high biodiversity of species unique to the region. Although the area of rainforest within the region is small on a global scale (around 10,000 square kilometres), there are 68 species of rainforest vertebrates that are regionally endemic. On a regional scale, patterns of biodiversity have been largely shaped by geographic contractions in the rainforest area during the Pleistocene Ice Age, and subsequent expansion. The contraction of rainforests to cool, moist upland refugia probably imposed an extinction filter resulting in most of the remaining regionally- endemic species being cool-adapted upland species. These factors have predisposed the fauna to being particularly vulnerable to global climate change.
Climate change has already produced significant and measurable impacts on almost all ecosystems, taxa and ecological processes, including changes in species distributions, timing of biological behaviours, assemblage composition, ecological interactions and community dynamics. Globally, average temperatures have already risen approximately 0.6°C and are continuing to increase. It is accepted that over the remainder of this century Earth will experience an increase in average temperature of 1.4-5.8°C combined with large increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and significant changes in rainfall patterns. Although predictions about the effects on rainfall patterns are more uncertain, it is widely expected that rainfall variability and dry season severity will increase. That is, rainfall will be more variable from month to month with longer dry spells and possibly with increased frequency of disturbance events such as flooding rains and cyclones.
The significance of the impacts of anthropogenic climate change on biodiversity is recognised now throughout the world at regional, state, national and international levels. This project addresses recognised priorities for research, and the results of this research continue to have a huge influence on policies at all levels of management and government. Earthwatch teams will concentrate on intensive sampling over the altitudinal gradient in the two most important biodiversity hotspots for the region: the Central Wet Tropics, ranging from the coastal lowlands south of Cairns up to the Atherton Tablelands and on to the highest part of the region – the Bellenden Ker/Bartle Frere mountain ranges; and the Douglas shire, ranging from the Daintree lowlands to the tops of the Carbine Range.
The fauna of the Wet Tropics area is particularly vulnerable to global climate change for two reasons:
1) Biogeographic history has resulted in an endemic fauna that is adapted to a cool, wet and relatively aseasonal environment
2) Impacts of increasing temperatures should be most severe across altitudinal gradients and, in this region, the altitudinal gradient and associated complex topography dominate the region’s biogeography (Nix and Switzer 1991, Williams et al. 1996).
Write an add campaign, newspaper report or make a podcast outlining the threat climate change has on the Daintree.
Your project must involve the following information:
1. Scientific findings. This can be found on the teachlive website or from the information above.
2. What climate change is. Use your note from the start of the year
3. What can be done to stop the extinction of flora and fauna.
You can submit this with your assignment which is due on the 20th of April.
Well done team! Your good eggs!