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A month of climate science on ‘PLOS Science Wednesday’

On August 19th PLOS welcomed PLOS Biology authors Camilo Mora and Iain Caldwell to discuss their recent PLOS Biology research article, Suitable Days for Plant Growth Disappear under Projected Climate Change: Potential Human and Biotic Vulnerability.

A self-introduction and welcome message from the authors:

Hi! We’re Dr. Camilo Mora and Dr. Iain Caldwell, here to talk about our paper in PLOS Biology that investigates how plant growth is impacted by climate change — AUA!

My name is Dr. Camilo Mora …

and I am an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii Manoa. My research focuses on understanding the feedback loops between people and biodiversity. My earlier career was on basic ecology, but then I realized that the effects of people on various species were massive and already evident. Quantifying such impacts and their feedbacks on people represent the main topic of my latest research.

And my name is Dr. Iain Caldwell

and I am a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. I am an ecologist with broad interests in how organisms can respond to changes in their environment, including the potential consequences of projected climate changes for such organisms.

Along with several colleagues from the University of Hawaii and the University of Montana, we recently published a study in PLOS Biology titled Suitable Days for Plant Growth Disappear under Projected Climate Change: Potential Human and Biotic Vulnerability.

In this paper, we explored the potential consequences of projected climate changes on future plant growth worldwide, and what that could mean for various ecosystems and the people that depend on those ecosystems.

Our findings indicate that, if climate change continues as it has in the past, there could be significant global declines in the number of suitable plant growing days by 2100; with the most drastic changes affecting people in the poorest countries of the world. There is hope though; as our results also indicate that if we can curb our global carbon emissions, these changes in plant-growing conditions should be far less severe.

We will be answering your questions on August 19 at 1pm ET. Ask Us Anything!

Notes to readers: If you would like to pose questions or comments to the authors for this AMA, it will be posted on Wednesday morning on the redditscience homepage by 10am EST. Registration is required only for posting questions/comments.

PLOS Science Wednesday and redditscience are published using a CCBY Creative Commons license. Reading (and re-posting) of all or part of anyPLOS Science Wednesday is available free to anyone for any purpose.

More on this PLOS Biology article:

As reported by Ria Misra on io9,

“Researchers at the University of Hawaii just published a study in PLOS Biology of what it will be like to farm in the climate of 2100 — and the news is not good: The number of total days when the earth’s environment capable of growing plants is likely to drop by a total of 10% across the board.

Fig 5. Human vulnerability to projected changes in suitable plant growing days.

The really alarming part of the study, though, is the map above — it shows how the change in growing days will fall in every country in the world.”

Full caption to fig. 5 above: Human vulnerability is quantified as the combined effect of dependency, exposure, and adaptability, which are displayed along a red-green-blue gradient (colors in the triangle correspond to colors in the map). Points in the triangle represent each of the 194 countries analyzed, with the positions of United States (U), China (C), and Brazil (B) indicated for reference. The map outline was obtained from the CIA World DataBank (S2 Table). Data are provided in S4 Data. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1002167.g005

Additional media coverage of this research article:

Read the PLOS Biology article.

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Last week’s (8/12) PLOS Science Wednesday featured…

Climatologist James Hansen, paleoecologist Paul Hearty (UNC ) and atmospheric scientist George Tselioudis of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

Read the completed Jim Hansen & Colleagues AMAhere.

Author’s AMA Introduction:“I’m Jim Hansen, a professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Today my colleagues and I make the case for urgent action to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which are on the verge of locking in highly undesirable consequences, leaving young people with a climate system out of humanity’s control.

Not long after my 1988 testimony to Congress, when I concluded that human-made climate change had begun, practically all nations agreed in a 1992 United Nations Framework Convention to reduce emissions so as to avoid dangerous human-made climate change. Yet little has been done to achieve that objective.

I am glad to have the opportunity today to discuss with researchers and general science readers here on redditscience an alarming situation — as the science reveals climate threats that are increasingly alarming, policymakers propose only ineffectual actions while allowing continued development of fossil fuels that will certainly cause disastrous consequences for today’s young people. Young people need to understand this situation and stand up for their rights.

To further a broad exchange of views on the implications of this research, my colleagues and I have published in a variety of Open Access journals, including, in PLOS ONE, Assessing Dangerous Climate Change: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature (2013), and most recently, Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms: Evidence from the Paleoclimate Data, Climate Modeling that 2 C Global Warming is Highly Dangerous, in Atmos. Chem. & Phys. Discussions (July, 2015).

One conclusion we share in the latter paper is that ice sheet models that guided IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) sea level projections and upcoming United Nations meetings in Paris are far too sluggish compared with the magnitude and speed of sea level changes in the paleoclimate record. An implication is that continued high emissions likely would result in multi-meter sea level rise this century and lock in continued ice sheet disintegration such that building cities or rebuilding cities on coast lines would become foolish.

The bottom line message we as scientists should deliver to the public and to policymakers is that we have a global crisis, an emergency that calls for global cooperation to reduce emissions as rapidly as practical. We conclude and reaffirm in our present paper that the crisis calls for an across-the-board rising carbon fee and international technical cooperation in carbon-free technologies. This urgent science must become part of a global conversation about our changing climate and what all citizens can do to make the world livable for future generations. I’ll be answering your questions from 1–2pm ET (Aug 12). Ask Me Anything!” — Jim Hansen.

ALSO recommended, a primer on the science behind Hansen et al’s latest paper written by ecologist Sasha Wright, reporting for PLOS Ecology from #ESA100: All Eyes on the Oceans, Jim Hansen and Sea Level Rise

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On the Aug 5th PLOS Science Wednesday AMA, Laura Jurgens discussed a mysterious mass die off of marine species on the NE Pacific coastline.

Read the complete transcript of Laura Jurgens AMAhere

My name is Laura Jurgens and I am a postdoctoral researcher at Temple University and Smithsonian Institution. My research focuses on how marine organisms, and the interacting communities they form, respond to extreme events and global change.

Together with a wonderful group of collaborators, I recently published a study titled “Patterns of Mass Mortality among Rocky Shore Invertebrates across 100 km of Northeastern Pacific Coastline” in PLOS One. In it, we describe an unusual event that killed nearly 100% of two species (a tiny sea star and a sea urchin) over a large region, following a harmful algal bloom or “red tide.”

Fig 3. Purple urchin burrows in bedrock, with and without occupants.

PLOS Science Wednesday is a weekly science communication series featuring live, direct chats with PLOS authors on redditscience (/r/science), the popular online gathering place for researchers, students and others interested in science which has over 8 million registered members. The series provides a forum for PLOS authors to communicate their work and interact directly with fellow researchers and the public. More on past and future PLOS Science Wednesday AMAs here.

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