“Climate change” is a phrase that’s increasingly being used along with the phrase “global warming” because the concept of climate includes a lot more than just temperature. Climate is also measured according to other meteorological factors such as moisture and wind, as well as the way that life adapts to deal with these factors. Biologists talk about climates according to the plants and animals that live in a particular place as much as they talk about the underlying factors in the weather and terrain that make those life forms suited to the location.
So, among the data that scientists are using to measure climate change is information about the changing ranges of plants and animals. This week, yet more data of this sort has been made available, and it supports the hypothesis that significant changes in climate are taking place.
One article published in by the National Academy of Sciences reports that 48 out of 53 surveyed bird species in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in the Western United States have undergone marked shifts in range over the last century, indicating changes in the distribution of climatological conditions to which those birds are suited. The birds that did not undergo a shift in range were those with a generalist strategy for survival, better able than other species to adapt to change. The research was conducted in coordination with California Audubon.
Another new study, conducted by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, describes shifts of fish populations along the northeastern coast of the United States, away from ranges that have been typical since historical records began. The researchers conclude that these shifts have coincided with fundamental changes in marine ecosystems in the area.
Climate change is happening, and the animals have been adapting to it for some time now. Isn’t it time that human beings joined them?