What do climate models predict about tree and bird ranges?
Climate is the general character of the weather that exists over a particular region of the earth for a long period of time. Unlike the weather, which represents hour-to-hour and day-to-day changes in the atmosphere, climate is the average of all weather changes over a region for many years.
The most frequently reported climate change possibilities are based on General Circulation Models (GCMs) that combine atmosphere as well as ocean characteristics: these include GFDL (NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory), HadCM3 (the Hadley Center in the United Kingdom), and PCM (the National Center for Atmospheric Research’s Parallel Climate Model). From these models, it is possible to calculate the impact of the global climate change on Earth conditions.
Impacts are reported as “scenarios,” which are not predictions, but plausible representations of the potential future. Scenarios may be used to identify possible effects of climate change and to evaluate responses to those effects. By analyzing many scenarios, scientists may be able to determine the direction and relative size of change.
• “High”: worst case, with accelerated greenhouse gas emissions and feedback that enhances warming
• “Low”: might occur if all nations began immediately to take steps to lower emission rates
• “Business as usual”: presumes continuation of present trends
All the models currently in use predict a regional Great Lakes climate that is warmer and drier than today’s.
This presentation is based on “Trees on the Move, Activity A,” a lesson in Ohio Sea Grant’s Great Lakes Climate Change Curriculum. Reading through it might help in adapting this presentation for your needs.