Nature has published the first article to “formally link observed global changes in physical and biological systems to human-induced climate change, predominantly from increasing greenhouse gases.” See news story here and the article, “Attributing physical and biological impacts to anthropogenic climate change” (subs. req’d, abstract below).
NASA’s discussion of the piece here explains, “human-caused climate change has made an impact on a wide range of Earth’s natural systems, including permafrost thawing, plants blooming earlier across Europe, and lakes declining in productivity in Africa.” The image at right: “Impacts from warming are evident in satellite images showing that lakes in Siberia disappearing as the permafrost thaws and lake water drains deeper into the ground.” The lead author explained:
“This is the first study to link global temperature data sets, climate model results, and observed changes in a broad range of physical and biological systems to show the link between humans, climate, and impacts.”
… Observed impacts included changes to physical systems, such as glaciers shrinking, permafrost melting, and lakes and rivers warming. Biological systems also were impacted in a variety of ways, such as leaves unfolding and flowers blooming earlier in the spring, birds arriving earlier during migration periods, and plant and animal species moving toward Earth’s poles and higher in elevation. In aquatic environments such as oceans, lakes, and rivers, plankton and fish are shifting from cold-adapted to warm-adapted communities.
Significantly, the changes are driven by “temperature increases at continental scales [that] cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone.” The full abstract of the article is below:
Significant changes in physical and biological systems are occurring on all continents and in most oceans, with a concentration of available data in Europe and North America. Most of these changes are in the direction expected with warming temperature. Here we show that these changes in natural systems since at least 1970 are occurring in regions of observed temperature increases, and that these temperature increases at continental scales cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone. Given the conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely to be due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations, and furthermore that it is likely that there has been significant anthropogenic warming over the past 50 years averaged over each continent except Antarctica, we conclude that anthropogenic climate change is having a significant impact on physical and biological systems globally and in some continents.