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WIREs Clim Change
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Projecting biological impacts from climate change like a climate scientist

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Our ability to project changes to the climate via anthropogenic forcing has steadily increased over the last five decades. Yet, biologists still lack accurate projections about climate change impacts. Despite recent advances, biologists still often rely on correlative approaches to make projections, ignore important mechanisms, develop models with limited coordination, and lack much of the data to inform projections and test them. In contrast, atmospheric scientists have incorporated mechanistic data, established a global network of weather stations, and apply multi‐model inference by comparing divergent model projections. I address the following questions: How have the two fields developed through time? To what degree does biological projection differ from climate projection? What is needed to make similar progress in biological projection? Although the challenges in biodiversity projections are great, I highlight how biology can make substantial progress in the coming years. Most obstacles are surmountable and relate to history, lag times, scientific culture, international organization, and finances. Just as climate change projections have improved, biological modeling can improve in accuracy by incorporating mechanistic understanding, employing multi‐model ensemble approaches, coordinating efforts worldwide, and validating projections against records from a well‐designed network of biotic stations. Now that climate scientists can make better projections of climate change, biologists need to project and prevent its impacts on biodiversity. This article is categorized under: Climate, Ecology, and Conservation > Modeling Species and Community Interactions
Historical milestones in the development of climate science and climate change biology from 1880 to 2017. Background colors depict global temperature anomalies from the 1901 to 2000. Black lines link similar milestones across disciplines
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A conceptual model of scientific responses to an uncertain crisis derived from the histories of climate change science and biology. Fundamental science develops before recognition of threats. As threats become recognized, projection models are developed and improved, but gaps in knowledge, data, and models are noted and plans developed to address them. As observations begin to support projections, an event occurs which captures the attention of the media, public, and policymakers. An international science‐policy organization forms to coordinate global research and policy. The eventual goal is consensus building and adoption of international mitigation measures
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Cumulative studies projecting extinction risks from climate change and that include six biological mechanisms. Data from 131 multi‐species predictions (Urban, )
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Climate, Ecology, and Conservation > Modeling Species and Community Interactions

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