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NC State researchers explore future of climate change on ecosystems

Posted June 16, 2015

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— Scientists wonder how plants and animals will cope with gradually rising temperatures in the decades to come. An experiment in Orange County is giving researchers a glimpse into a warmer future.

According to Clint Penick, a postdoctoral researcher at North Carolina State University, small rises in global temperatures—about a degree Fahrenheit—over the past 50 years have already changed ecosystems around the world.

“Right now, most of what we know about climate change is based on theoretical models of what might happen,” Penick said. “What this experiment has done is to give us a window into the future of what a warmer world is going to look like.”

The initial goal was to study the effect on ants. Scientists found that the most common ant species in North Carolina forests—insects that help keep soil healthy—struggled as temperatures increased.

“If this species is gone, we're predicting pretty major shifts in the health of forests,” Penick said.

However, other species performed better when the temperature got warmer. Imbalances could mean a lot, which researchers plan on exploring in the next phase of the project.

The experiments officially ended last week, but researchers from around the world have been collecting samples, studying temperature's effects on everything from soil to plants.

“When the dynamics between different species start to break apart, that's when it affects our lives, and that's when we start to care about it,” NC State researcher Lauren Nichols said.

These experiments could provide new discoveries for years, adding more hard data to the discussion about climate change.

Duke University researchers are conducting a similar experiment, focusing on how climate change could affect tree growth.

19 Comments

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  • John Lobenstein Jul 18, 2015
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    It is already true that we have minimal, if any, real affect on the climate, Some people may feel hot under the collar but that is totally different from AGW or climate change.

  • Sam Nada Jun 18, 2015
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    "Is this supposed to be ironic? If so, well done. If not, my condolences.

    In response to a poster who linked NOAA data in Science magazine, you tell him to do "real research" and then provide a link to daily caller, a right wing site run by tucker Carlson? This has to be a joke."

    I think they are best understood as suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect. Unfortunately it's a "disease" that's infected virtually all the right-wing media, and a large portion of the voting population. Search for a cure in ongoing.

  • John Snow Jun 18, 2015
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    Is this supposed to be ironic? If so, well done. If not, my condolences.

    In response to a poster who linked NOAA data in Science magazine, you tell him to do "real research" and then provide a link to daily caller, a right wing site run by tucker Carlson? This has to be a joke.

  • Joseph Smith Jun 17, 2015
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    No it's not global warming it's climate change. ooops no now it's climate disruption. It's all just the latest way to fleece working people.

  • Sam Nada Jun 17, 2015
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    June 4, 2015 - Science publishes new NOAA analysis: Data show no recent slowdown in global warming

    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2015/noaa-analysis-journal-science-no-slowdown-in-global-warming-in-recent-years.html

    It's global warming, not US warming. Selectively choosing tidbits of information and presenting it as an implied refutation of the overall phenomena is either ignorance or deceit. It's long past time to have a grown up conversation, and abandon political games.

  • Roy Hinkley Jun 17, 2015
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    If you want to engage in polite discourse, then provide your source. Don't make others try and guess at what you were reading. We all have different levels of google-fu and we won't all come up with the same articles.

  • Alex Handlovits Jun 17, 2015
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    the NOAA report is for the US only, and the 10 year trend for one country doesn't represent the global trend, which other scientific literature will still show as increasing.

  • Chris Holder Jun 17, 2015
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    Which you seem (?) to have gotten from the trash site The Daily Caller (which quotes about 2 scientists total).

    In the meantime, the same NOAA data website they reference shows clear warming for the globe as a whole. And The Daily Caller is not a peer-reviewed scientific publication -- this is -- http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2015/06/05/science.aaa5632.abstract.

  • Joseph Smith Jun 17, 2015
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    Google is your friend. Try 'NASA NOAA 10 year cooling trend'. viola.

  • Roy Hinkley Jun 17, 2015
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    Can you provide a source for your claim please?

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