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Title: Projecting biological impacts from climate change like a climate scientist

Our ability to project changes to the climate via anthropogenic forcing has steadily increased over the last five decades. Yet, biologists still lack accurate projections about climate change impacts. Despite recent advances, biologists still often rely on correlative approaches to make projections, ignore important mechanisms, develop models with limited coordination, and lack much of the data to inform projections and test them. In contrast, atmospheric scientists have incorporated mechanistic data, established a global network of weather stations, and apply multi‐model inference by comparing divergent model projections. I address the following questions: How have the two fields developed through time? To what degree does biological projection differ from climate projection? What is needed to make similar progress in biological projection? Although the challenges in biodiversity projections are great, I highlight how biology can make substantial progress in the coming years. Most obstacles are surmountable and relate to history, lag times, scientific culture, international organization, and finances. Just as climate change projections have improved, biological modeling can improve in accuracy by incorporating mechanistic understanding, employing multi‐model ensemble approaches, coordinating efforts worldwide, and validating projections against records from a well‐designed network of biotic stations. Now that climate scientists can make better projections of climate change, biologists need to project and prevent its impacts on biodiversity.

This article is categorized under:

Climate, Ecology, and Conservation > Modeling Species and Community Interactions

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
WIREs Climate Change
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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