Ecosystems and Climate Change

Until recently the prevailing paradigm in much of ecological research was one of organisms, communities and ecosystems in ‘balance’ with their environment (“the balance of nature”). There is now, however, general recognition that anthropogenic alterations of the Earth system, and especially of atmospheric composition and the character of the land surface, have led to changes in global and regional climatic conditions, and will continue to do so at least throughout the present century. This recognition has stimulated new awareness of the need to understand how the ecosystems respond to, or interact with, changes in the climate system, as well as a wider awareness of the ‘Ecosystems’ response to variability in climate at all time scales.

The need for understanding of the interactions between the Ecosystems and the climate is rendered more urgent by global commitments to conserve biodiversity and to limit climatic change to levels that will not cause damage. There are many identifiable hazards and risks associated with the interactions between ecological systems and the changing climate: such as the provision of freshwater (including from the snow and glacier masses), microbial diversity and their governed elemental cycles, clean and breathable air, forest resources, quality and quantity of food, and human well being. Furthermore, whilst the developed world is responsible for much of the problem, the developing world and indigenous people worldwide are expected to suffer more severe impacts. The developing world often lacks the resilience resources to address the consequences of climatic change.

The ECOSYSTEMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE Group, however, offers new potential to explore more explicitly the risks and hazards arising from the interactions between ecological systems and the changing climate. It also offers opportunities to combine relevant strengths in the various fields of natural sciences to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on the ecosystems.

Focus Areas

  • Climate change and hydrological modeling;
  • GIS and remote sensing;
  • Biodiversity exploration and conservation;
  • Sustainable plant resource utilization;
  • Microbial ecology;
  • Biogeochemical cycling