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Study Measures Impacts of Climate and Land Use Changes

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Aarhus University in Denmark understand for the first time the combined potential impacts of both climate and land-use change on plants, animals, and ecosystems throughout the United States.

As shared on Science Daily, a new study used the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 5th Assessment Report, coupled with socioeconomic parameters from the U.S. Natural Resources Inventory, to model the rate of change in both climate and land use. The study produced findings on how "climate change alters habitats for birds and bees and everything in between," as well as the implications these changes have for the way humans decide to use land.

The study found, for example, that "flat areas of the Midwest are more vulnerable to climate change than mountainous regions of the country. Conversely, areas in the northeastern U.S. may experience more intensive rates of land use. High demand for cropland in New England would lead to greater destruction of forest, while, in the upper Midwest, it would lead to slower growth of cities."

Relevant for the first 50 years of the 21st century, the study "provide[s] a basis for national, regional and local policy discussions about how to conserve biodiversity and ecosystems in a rapidly changing world. Combining climate and land-use change, the researchers say, may lead to different actions than consideration of either alone."

The work was supported by the Bryson Climate, People and Environment Program; the HISTFUNC project; the National Science Foundation; and NASA’s Land Cover and Land Use Change Program.

Full Story: No one-size-fits-all approach in a changing climate, changing land

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