Thursday, January 26, 2012

Global warming could be similar across ecosystems

The impact of global warming could be similar across ecosystems, regardless of local environmental conditions and species.

A team from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, which went to Iceland to study a set of geothermally-heated streams, came up with these findings.

The streams provided them with a unique environment to isolate the effects of temperature from other confounding variables found in nature, the journal Global Change Biology reports.

Explained Queen Mary's Daniel Perkins who led the study: "The streams in Iceland are all very similar, in terms of their physical and chemical environment, but maintain very different temperatures to each other all year round.

"This enabled us to explore how temperature, both past and present, affects the rate at which respiration responds to temperature in ecosystems," he said in a statement.

Perkins said when the team exposed the organisms found in streams to a range of temperatures, "the rate at which carbon was respired increased with temperature as expected, but surprisingly the rate of increase was consistent across streams".

"This result is important because it will help us build more accurate models to predict how rates of carbon dioxide emission from ecosystem will respond to the temperature increases forecast in the coming decades."

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