Climate Model Comparisons

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Science  13 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6078, pp. 133
DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6078.133-c

Predicting the effects of climate change on the future distributions of species is an inherently uncertain exercise. There are uncertainties in climate models themselves and also in the models of species' response to climate change. To address this problem, Cheaib et al. compared the predictions of eight different species' response models for five dominant tree species in the flora of France, representative of the range of forest communities from Mediterranean in the south to more temperate in the north. For the two evergreen species considered, there was generally good agreement between models. Holm oak, the dominant Mediterranean species, substantially increases its range under all model scenarios; the range of Scots pine, a species of cooler and mountainous regions, was predicted to contract under most models. However, models agreed relatively poorly in their predictions of range shifts of three temperate broad-leaved deciduous species. A principal source of uncertainty is the current limits to understanding the effects of increasing CO2 concentrations on the physiology of these species. Such comparisons not only help foresters and conservation managers judge the probability of success (or otherwise) of management alternatives, but also help to focus future research on the areas of greatest uncertainty

Ecol. Lett. 15, 10.1111/j.1461-0248.2012.01764.x (2012).

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