Climate Change and Its Impacts on Ecosystems: ESS Insights

climate change

Climate Change and Its Impacts on Ecosystems: ESS Insights

Climate change ultimately drives terrestrial biodiversity loss and affects ecosystem carbon storage both directly and indirectly via land use change, i.e. climate change-driven cropland expansion. Future cropland expansion is likely to have negative impacts on biodiversity and carbon storage in many biodiversity hotspots, including Mexico, Amazonia and the Congo Basin.

Climate change can also impact the benefits and services that natural ecosystems provide to society. Although not all effects are negative, even positive changes may require costly societal adjustments. For instance, the impacts of changes in primary production on the aquatic food web will influence the maintenance of sustainable fisheries. The combination of higher nutrients and rising temperatures increases the severity of harmful algal blooms.

Furthermore, as climate change alters the ability of ecosystems to provide jobs, recreational opportunities, and restorative experiences, communities will experience declines in mental and physical health. The adaptive capacity of human communities to deal with changes in ecosystem services will partly determine the magnitude of impacts on well-being. Natural resource managers need proactive, flexible adaptation strategies that consider historical and future data to minimize long-term regional impacts, but use of such strategies is still inconsistent across the country.

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