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Scientists Assess Impact of Climate Change on Local Ecosystems

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More and more people are becoming aware of the global impact of climate change. But scant few are aware of the local effects of climate change on the ecosystems in their own backyards. A group of scientists studying the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire detailed the complicated nature of climate change on local ecosystems in the December issue of BioScience.

Scientists at the Hubbard Brook Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) center have noted that using data streams for ecological research is the only way to accurately determine the effects of climate change on a local scale. The scientists do note that understanding climate change is difficult due to its complexity.

Climate change involves and affects vegetation, hydrologic flowpaths, soil patterns, human impact, plant and animal populations, ecosystem behavior during seasons, and a host of other variables.

Determining the effects of climate change, the scientists posit, is beyond simply studying and analyzing temperature and precipitation data; it requires a much more comprehensive and holistic approach.

50 year long-term studies must be conducted to understand climate change and forest ecosystem relationships, and this long-term evaluation must account for the magnitude of complex variables involved. Peter Groffman, one of the lead authors of the journal article, says these detailed studies must be incorporated into wider climate change approaches that include modeling, long-term monitoring at multiple scales, and conducting more far-reaching scientific experiments.

These, argue the scientists, will give us a true understanding the effects of climate change on local ecosystems and will therefore help us determine the appropriate tools to correct the course.

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