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WIREs Clim Change
Impact Factor: 4.571

Climate projections for ecologists

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Climate projections are essential for studying ecological responses to climate change, and their use is now common in ecology. However, the lack of integration between ecology and climate science has restricted understanding of the available climate data and their appropriate use. We provide an overview of climate model outputs and issues that need to be considered when applying projections of future climate in ecological studies. We outline the strengths and weaknesses of available climate projections, the uncertainty associated with future projections at different spatial and temporal scales, the differences between available downscaling methods (dynamical, statistical downscaling, and simple scaling of global circulation model output), and the implications these have for ecological models. We describe some of the changes in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), including the new representative concentration pathways. We highlight some of the challenges in using model projections in ecological studies and suggest how to effectively address them. WIREs Clim Change 2014, 5:621–637. doi: 10.1002/wcc.291

Historical and projected total anthropogenic radiative forcing (W/m2) for Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) and Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) (relative to preindustrial (∼1765) between 1950 and 2100). IS92a refers to a Second Assessment Report (SAR) scenario. From Chapter 1, Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2013.
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Assessing Impacts of Climate Change > Scenario Development and Application
Climate, Ecology, and Conservation > Modeling Species and Community Interactions
Climate Models and Modeling > Knowledge Generation with Models

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