Global warming damage greatest near equator

A team of scientists led by UW assistant biology professor Joshua Tewksbury released new information concerning global warming and the impact that may be experienced on a worldwide scale.

According to the study, the most apparent effects of global warming are currently being seen in the higher latitudes at arctic regions with increased levels of melting ice and softening tundras. But the most drastic effects are likely to appear in the rainforest regions at the equator.

Seasonal changes in the Arctic give it a yearlong temperature that ranges from below zero to the mid-70s. Temperature increases, expected to reach 6 degrees by 2100, have already affected blooming patterns of plants and migration of some animals. These changes reflect the organisms’ abilities to adapt to the temperature increase.

The scenario is different in the rainforests, where weather changes vary little from season to season. Because the temperature stays relatively stable year-round, a predicted 2- to 3-degree increase could dramatically alter rainforest life, where organisms do not have a high tolerance to temperature variation.

The consequence would be a high rate of extinction for organisms in the tropics that are unable to adapt.