Global Warming predictions on plants off by a factor of 8 – what else is wrong?

Scientific models are failing to accurately predict the impact of global warming on plants, says a new report.

Researchers found in long-term studies that some are flowering up to eight times faster than models anticipate.

The authors say that poor study design and a lack of investment in experiments partly account for the difference.

They suggest that spring flowering and leafing will continue to advance at the rate of 5 to 6 days per year for every degree celsius of warming.

The results were published in the journal Nature.

For more than 20 years, scientists have been carrying out experiments to mimic the impacts of rising temperatures on the first leafing and flowering of plant species around the world.

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The bottom line is that the impacts might be bigger than we have believed until now”

This RutishauserOeschager centre for Climate Change Research

Researchers had assumed that plants would respond in essentially the same way to experimental warming with lamps and open top chambers as they would to changes in temperatures in the real world.

Very little has been done to test the assumption until this study lead by Dr Elizabeth Wolkovich, who is now at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

With her colleagues she studied the timing of the flowering and leafing of plants in observational studies and warming experiments spanning four continents and 1,634 plant species.

According to Dr Wolkovich, the results were a surprise.

“What we found is that the experiments don’t line up with the long term data, and in fact they greatly underestimate how much plants change their leafing and flowering with warming,” she said.

“So for models based on experimental data, then we would expect that plants are leafing four times faster and flowering eight times faster in the long term historical record than what we’re using in some of the models.”

 

more at the original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17924653

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