Anthropogenic Climate Change Impact on Biodiversity

Jour Fixe talk by Sasha Kosanic on November 16, 2016

Sasha Kosanic, Associated Fellow of the Zukunftskolleg and affiliated with the Department of Biology, showed in her lecture on "Anthropogenic Climate Change Impact on Biodiversity"  differences  between natural and anthropogenic causes of climate change and the impact of recent climate change on biodiversity.

Changes in the climate system have been observed at the millennial and centennial scale and these historical changes have been attributed to natural drivers (e.g. solar irradiance, volcanism). However, recent climate change (i.e. 20th and 21st century) cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone. The main drivers of this climate change are increased levels of greenhouse gasses (GHGs, e.g. carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and sulphur dioxide (SO2)) input to the atmosphere during the industrial era (post-1850). Increased levels of GHGs are the result of human activities such as fossil fuel burning and land use change (primarily deforestation and changes in agricultural practices). Recent (post-1950s) climate change impacts on society and biodiversity have been recognised globally. However, these global impacts are not uniform at regional or local scales. Despite research progress on such large scales there are still gaps in the knowledge as to ‘what’ is happening at the local and regional scales. Therefore, Sasha Kosanic presented her study that analysed vegetation response to the climate variability at the local scale in West Cornwall (United Kingdom). Furthermore, she showed the importance of historical data sets for detection and attribution of climate change at such small scales.

Kosanic, A., Anderson, K., Frere, C. H., & Harrison, S. (2015). Regional vegetation change and implications for local conservation: An example from West Cornwall (United Kingdom). Global Ecology and Conservation, 4, 405-413. DOI: 10.1016/j.gecco.2015.08.006

Kosanic, A., Harrison, S., K. Anderson, K., &Kavcic, I. (2014). Present and historical climate variability in South West England. Climatic Change, 1-17.