Gravity's Rainbow

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This is what climate change looks like

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Scientists are masters of understatement:

Findings of relatively slow tree migration rates in response to historical changes in climate (potentially < 100 m per year) are unfortunate in light of model predictions of how fast tree species will need to migrate to track current climates under climate change scenarios.*

Dead Conifers on West Mesa after Cedar Fire (May, 2004)                          Photo by Heather Karnes-Schmalbach

Dead Conifers on West Mesa after Cedar Fire (May, 2004) Photo by Heather Karnes-Schmalbach

Dead trees in Thornham, Norfolk

Dead trees in Thornham, Norfolk

Aerial view of the once lush forests of the  Kenai Peninsula, Alaska.

Aerial view of the once lush forests of the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska.

Dead trees show the beetles' paths through an otherwise healthy forest. (USDA Forestry Service)

Dead trees show the beetles' paths through an otherwise healthy forest. (USDA Forestry Service)

Peter Essick/Getty Images

Peter Essick/Getty Images

Dead ponderosa

Dead ponderosa

*Aitken, S N, S Yeaman, J A Holliday, T Wang, and S Curtis-McLane. “Adaptation, Migration or Extirpation: Climate Change Outcomes for Tree Populations.” Evolutionary Applications 1, no. 1 (2008): doi:10.1111/j.1752-4571.2007.00013.x.

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5 Comments

  1. It was a nice planet while it lasted.

  2. Uh, what?

    I don’t have the ability to access the paper, but you probably do. That can’t be right, but I’d be interested in reading it.

    • Knorr’s article isn’t nonsense, but that SD article isn’t very good. The biggest thing to point out is that Knorr isn’t talking about carbon dioxide levels, he’s talking about the airborne fraction of carbon dioxide – the ratio between the rate of rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and the rate of emissions.

      Knorr doesn’t dispute that carbon dioxide levels are rising because of people. He’s trying to figure out what fraction we emit ends up in the atmosphere and if that’s changing. This is a really important question because if it is changing, it means we’ve probably saturated (or come close to saturating) the oceans & land and that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere will increase much faster as oceans & land stop taking in as much carbon dioxide as they do now.

      The difference between Knorr’s conclusions and others who’ve tried to answer this question is that Knorr thinks that the fraction isn’t changing – yet. However, like all of the other models looking at this same thing, he does get a positive result – it just isn’t statistically significant.

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