1 Nature 2013 Vol: 502(7470):183-187. DOI: 10.1038/nature12540

The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability

Ecological and societal disruptions by modern climate change are critically determined by the time frame over which climates shift beyond historical analogues. Here we present a new index of the year when the projected mean climate of a given location moves to a state continuously outside the bounds of historical variability under alternative greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. Using 1860 to 2005 as the historical period, this index has a global mean of 2069 (±18 years s.d.) for near-surface air temperature under an emissions stabilization scenario and 2047 (±14 years s.d.) under a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario. Unprecedented climates will occur earliest in the tropics and among low-income countries, highlighting the vulnerability of global biodiversity and the limited governmental capacity to respond to the impacts of climate change. Our findings shed light on the urgency of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions if climates potentially harmful to biodiversity and society are to be prevented.

Mentions
Figures
Figure 1: Estimating the projected timing of climate departure from recent variability. a, Mean annual temperatures of an example grid cell (small square on map) exceed historical climate bounds (grey area) for three consecutive years starting in 2012 (blue arrow) and for 11 consecutive years after 2023 (green arrow); after 2036 (red arrow) all subsequent years remained outside the bounds (data from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Earth System Model 2G). b, c, Effect of using different historical reference periods (b) and different numbers of consecutive years exceeding historical bounds (c) on the projected timing of climate departure from recent variability for global multi-model averages under RCP85. d, Comparison of the projected timing of climate departure from recent variability under RCP85, using the ‘historical’ and the ‘historicalNat’ experiments as reference to set the bounds of historical climate variability. Figure 2: The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability. a, b, Projected year when annual (a) or monthly (b) air temperature means move to a state continuously outside annual or monthly historical bounds, respectively. c, Absolute change in mean annual air temperature. (Results in a–c are based on RCP85.) d, Cumulative frequency of 100-km grid cells according to the projected timing of climate departure from recent variability for air temperature under two emissions scenarios (vertical lines indicate the median year). e, Scatter plot relating the grid cells from the map of absolute change (c) to the same grid cells from the map of projected timing of climate departure (a). Figure 3: The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability in global biodiversity hotspots. These plots indicate the difference between the average year in which the climate exceeds bounds of historical variability for each hotspot and the estimated global averages. The analysis was run independently for each hotspot, using mean annual air temperature for terrestrial taxa (green bars) or sea surface temperature for marine taxa (blue bars). Plots are centred at the respective global mean year for atmospheric (green numbers) and marine (blue numbers) environments. Horizontal bars rank the hotspots chronologically according to the mean year of unprecedented climates under RCP85. Horizontal black lines indicate the standard deviation among cells in the hotspots. Figure 4: Biodiversity hotspots: exposure to climate departures, and economic capacity to respond. Each point in these plots represents one of the 13 taxonomic biodiversity hotspots considered. a, Comparison of the year at which the climate exceeds bounds of historical variability between hotspots and protected areas in those hotspots. The dotted line shows the 1:1 relationship. b, Comparison of the year at which the climate exceeds bounds of historical variability in hotspots against the average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per person for the countries encompassing the hotspots. The trend line for RCP45 is modelled with y = 0.001x + 2045.2 (r2 = 0.75, P < 0.05; n = 13 hotspots) and for RCP85 with y = 0.0007x + 2030.4 (r2 = 0.75, P < 0.05; n = 13 hotspots). Figure 5: Susceptibility of societies to climate departures, and economic capacity to respond. a, Plot of cumulative number of people against the years at which the climate of their current living areas will exceed historical climate bounds (dotted lines highlight the results for 2050). b, Relation between GDP per person and the average year of climate departure from recent variability. The trend line for RCP45 is modelled with y = 0.0005x + 2051.9 (r2 = 0.19, P < 0.05; n = 200 countries or territories) and for RCP85 with y = 0.0004x + 2034.5 (r2 = 0.25, P < 0.05; n = 200 countries or territories).
Altmetric
References
  1. Reilly, J.; Schimmelpfennig, D. Irreversibility, Uncertainty, and Learning: Portraits of Adaptation to Long-term Climate Change , (2000) .
    • . . . Therefore, climates without modern precedents could cause large and potentially serious impacts on ecological and social systems1, 2, 3, 4, 5 . . .
    • . . . Although most ecological and social systems have the ability to adapt to a changing climate, the magnitude of disruption in both ecosystems and societies will be strongly determined by the time frames in which the climate will reach unprecedented states1, 2 . . .
    • . . . The emergence of unprecedented climates could also induce responses in human societies1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, and the resulting adjustments could be considerable because according to RCP45 roughly 1 billion people (about 5 billion people under RCP85) currently live in areas where climate will exceed historical bounds of variability by 2050 (Fig. 5a) . . .
  2. Alley, R. B. Abrupt climate change Science 299, 2005-2010 (2003) .
    • . . . Therefore, climates without modern precedents could cause large and potentially serious impacts on ecological and social systems1, 2, 3, 4, 5 . . .
    • . . . The emergence of unprecedented climates could also induce responses in human societies1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19 . . .
  3. Williams, J. W.; Jackson, S. T. Novel climates, no-analog communities and ecological surprises Front. Ecol. Environ 5, 475-482 (2007) .
    • . . . Therefore, climates without modern precedents could cause large and potentially serious impacts on ecological and social systems1, 2, 3, 4, 5 . . .
    • . . . Shifts in species distributions and abundances can increase the risk of extinction12, alter community structure3 and disrupt ecological interactions and the functioning of ecosystems . . .
    • . . . Although the extent of these responses in the future has been a topic of debate45, 46, considerable changes in community structure3 and extinction10 have been shown to have coincided with the emergence of unprecedented climates in the past . . .
  4. Peterson, A. T.; Soberon, J.; Pearson, R. G.; Martinez-Meyer, E. Ecological Niches and Geographic Distributions , (2011) .
    • . . . Therefore, climates without modern precedents could cause large and potentially serious impacts on ecological and social systems1, 2, 3, 4, 5 . . .
    • . . . For instance, species whose persistence is shaped by the climate can respond by shifting their geographical ranges4, 5, 6, 7, remaining in place and adapting5, 8, or becoming extinct8, 9, 10, 11 . . .
  5. Doney, S. C. Climate change impacts on marine ecosystems Annu. Rev. Mar. Sci. 4, 11-37 (2012) .
    • . . . Therefore, climates without modern precedents could cause large and potentially serious impacts on ecological and social systems1, 2, 3, 4, 5 . . .
    • . . . For instance, species whose persistence is shaped by the climate can respond by shifting their geographical ranges4, 5, 6, 7, remaining in place and adapting5, 8, or becoming extinct8, 9, 10, 11 . . .
    • . . . However, small but fast changes in the climate could induce considerable biological responses in the tropics, because species there are probably adapted to narrow climate bounds5, 33, 34, 35 . . .
    • . . . Furthermore, empirical and theoretical studies in corals5, 36, 37, terrestrial ectotherms34 and plants and insects35 show that tropical species live in areas with climates near their physiological tolerances and are therefore vulnerable to relatively small climate changes. . . .
  6. Parmesan, C.; Yohe, G. A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems Nature 421, 37-42 (2003) .
    • . . . For instance, species whose persistence is shaped by the climate can respond by shifting their geographical ranges4, 5, 6, 7, remaining in place and adapting5, 8, or becoming extinct8, 9, 10, 11 . . .
  7. Chen, I.-C.; Hill, J. K.; Ohlemüller, R.; Roy, D. B.; Thomas, C. D. Rapid range shifts of species associated with high levels of climate warming Science 333, 1024-1026 (2011) .
    • . . . For instance, species whose persistence is shaped by the climate can respond by shifting their geographical ranges4, 5, 6, 7, remaining in place and adapting5, 8, or becoming extinct8, 9, 10, 11 . . .
  8. Parmesan, C. Ecological and evolutionary responses to recent climate change Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 37, 637-669 (2006) .
    • . . . For instance, species whose persistence is shaped by the climate can respond by shifting their geographical ranges4, 5, 6, 7, remaining in place and adapting5, 8, or becoming extinct8, 9, 10, 11 . . .
  9. Thomas, C. D.; Franco, A. M. A.; Hill, J. K. Range retractions and extinction in the face of climate warming Trends Ecol. Evol. 21, 415-416 (2006) .
    • . . . For instance, species whose persistence is shaped by the climate can respond by shifting their geographical ranges4, 5, 6, 7, remaining in place and adapting5, 8, or becoming extinct8, 9, 10, 11 . . .
  10. Crowley, T. J.; North, G. R. Abrupt climate change and extinction events in Earth history Science 240, 996-1002 (1988) .
    • . . . For instance, species whose persistence is shaped by the climate can respond by shifting their geographical ranges4, 5, 6, 7, remaining in place and adapting5, 8, or becoming extinct8, 9, 10, 11 . . .
    • . . . Although the extent of these responses in the future has been a topic of debate45, 46, considerable changes in community structure3 and extinction10 have been shown to have coincided with the emergence of unprecedented climates in the past . . .
  11. Mora, C.; Zapata, F. A.; K. Rohde The Balance of Nature and Human Impact , 239-257 (2013) .
    • . . . For instance, species whose persistence is shaped by the climate can respond by shifting their geographical ranges4, 5, 6, 7, remaining in place and adapting5, 8, or becoming extinct8, 9, 10, 11 . . .
  12. Berg, M. P. Adapt or disperse: understanding species persistence in a changing world Glob. Change Biol. 16, 587-598 (2010) .
    • . . . Shifts in species distributions and abundances can increase the risk of extinction12, alter community structure3 and disrupt ecological interactions and the functioning of ecosystems . . .
  13. Lobell, D. B.; Gourdji, S. M. The influence of climate change on global crop productivity Plant Physiol. 160, 1686-1697 (2012) .
    • . . . Changing climates could also affect the following: human welfare, through changes in the supply of food13 and water14, 15; human health16, through wider spread of infectious vector-borne diseases17, 18, through heat stress19 and through mental illness20; the economy, through changes in goods and services21, 22; and national security as a result of population shifts, heightened competition for natural resources, violent conflict and geopolitical instability23 . . .
    • . . . The emergence of unprecedented climates could also induce responses in human societies1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, and the resulting adjustments could be considerable because according to RCP45 roughly 1 billion people (about 5 billion people under RCP85) currently live in areas where climate will exceed historical bounds of variability by 2050 (Fig. 5a) . . .
  14. Zhang, X.; Cai, X. Climate change impacts on global agricultural water deficit Geophys. Res. Lett. 40, 1111-1117 (2013) .
    • . . . Changing climates could also affect the following: human welfare, through changes in the supply of food13 and water14, 15; human health16, through wider spread of infectious vector-borne diseases17, 18, through heat stress19 and through mental illness20; the economy, through changes in goods and services21, 22; and national security as a result of population shifts, heightened competition for natural resources, violent conflict and geopolitical instability23 . . .
    • . . . The emergence of unprecedented climates could also induce responses in human societies1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, and the resulting adjustments could be considerable because according to RCP45 roughly 1 billion people (about 5 billion people under RCP85) currently live in areas where climate will exceed historical bounds of variability by 2050 (Fig. 5a) . . .
  15. Taylor, R. G. Ground water and climate change Nature Clim. Change 3, 322-329 (2013) .
    • . . . Changing climates could also affect the following: human welfare, through changes in the supply of food13 and water14, 15; human health16, through wider spread of infectious vector-borne diseases17, 18, through heat stress19 and through mental illness20; the economy, through changes in goods and services21, 22; and national security as a result of population shifts, heightened competition for natural resources, violent conflict and geopolitical instability23 . . .
    • . . . The emergence of unprecedented climates could also induce responses in human societies1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, and the resulting adjustments could be considerable because according to RCP45 roughly 1 billion people (about 5 billion people under RCP85) currently live in areas where climate will exceed historical bounds of variability by 2050 (Fig. 5a) . . .
  16. Patz, J. A.; Olson, S. H. Climate change and health: global to local influences on disease risk Ann. Trop. Med. Parasitol. 100, 535-549 (2006) .
    • . . . Changing climates could also affect the following: human welfare, through changes in the supply of food13 and water14, 15; human health16, through wider spread of infectious vector-borne diseases17, 18, through heat stress19 and through mental illness20; the economy, through changes in goods and services21, 22; and national security as a result of population shifts, heightened competition for natural resources, violent conflict and geopolitical instability23 . . .
    • . . . The emergence of unprecedented climates could also induce responses in human societies1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, and the resulting adjustments could be considerable because according to RCP45 roughly 1 billion people (about 5 billion people under RCP85) currently live in areas where climate will exceed historical bounds of variability by 2050 (Fig. 5a) . . .
  17. Epstein, P. R. Climate change and infectious disease: stormy weather ahead? Epidemiology 13, 373-375 (2002) .
    • . . . Changing climates could also affect the following: human welfare, through changes in the supply of food13 and water14, 15; human health16, through wider spread of infectious vector-borne diseases17, 18, through heat stress19 and through mental illness20; the economy, through changes in goods and services21, 22; and national security as a result of population shifts, heightened competition for natural resources, violent conflict and geopolitical instability23 . . .
  18. Khasnis, A. A.; Nettleman, M. D. Global warming and infectious disease Arch. Med. Res. 36, 689-696 (2005) .
    • . . . Changing climates could also affect the following: human welfare, through changes in the supply of food13 and water14, 15; human health16, through wider spread of infectious vector-borne diseases17, 18, through heat stress19 and through mental illness20; the economy, through changes in goods and services21, 22; and national security as a result of population shifts, heightened competition for natural resources, violent conflict and geopolitical instability23 . . .
  19. Sherwood, S. C.; Huber, M. An adaptability limit to climate change due to heat stress Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 107, 9552-9555 (2010) .
    • . . . Changing climates could also affect the following: human welfare, through changes in the supply of food13 and water14, 15; human health16, through wider spread of infectious vector-borne diseases17, 18, through heat stress19 and through mental illness20; the economy, through changes in goods and services21, 22; and national security as a result of population shifts, heightened competition for natural resources, violent conflict and geopolitical instability23 . . .
    • . . . The emergence of unprecedented climates could also induce responses in human societies1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, and the resulting adjustments could be considerable because according to RCP45 roughly 1 billion people (about 5 billion people under RCP85) currently live in areas where climate will exceed historical bounds of variability by 2050 (Fig. 5a) . . .
  20. Berry, H.; Bowen, K.; Kjellstrom, T. Climate change and mental health: a causal pathways framework Int. J. Public Health 55, 123-132 (2010) .
    • . . . Changing climates could also affect the following: human welfare, through changes in the supply of food13 and water14, 15; human health16, through wider spread of infectious vector-borne diseases17, 18, through heat stress19 and through mental illness20; the economy, through changes in goods and services21, 22; and national security as a result of population shifts, heightened competition for natural resources, violent conflict and geopolitical instability23 . . .
    • . . . The emergence of unprecedented climates could also induce responses in human societies1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, and the resulting adjustments could be considerable because according to RCP45 roughly 1 billion people (about 5 billion people under RCP85) currently live in areas where climate will exceed historical bounds of variability by 2050 (Fig. 5a) . . .
  21. Díaz, S.; Fargione, J.; Chapin, F. S.; Tilman, D. Biodiversity loss threatens human well-being PLoS Biol. 4, e277 (2006) .
    • . . . Changing climates could also affect the following: human welfare, through changes in the supply of food13 and water14, 15; human health16, through wider spread of infectious vector-borne diseases17, 18, through heat stress19 and through mental illness20; the economy, through changes in goods and services21, 22; and national security as a result of population shifts, heightened competition for natural resources, violent conflict and geopolitical instability23 . . .
    • . . . The emergence of unprecedented climates could also induce responses in human societies1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, and the resulting adjustments could be considerable because according to RCP45 roughly 1 billion people (about 5 billion people under RCP85) currently live in areas where climate will exceed historical bounds of variability by 2050 (Fig. 5a) . . .
  22. Tol, R. S. Estimates of the damage costs of climate change. Part 1. Benchmark estimates Environ. Resour. Econ. 21, 47-73 (2002) .
    • . . . Changing climates could also affect the following: human welfare, through changes in the supply of food13 and water14, 15; human health16, through wider spread of infectious vector-borne diseases17, 18, through heat stress19 and through mental illness20; the economy, through changes in goods and services21, 22; and national security as a result of population shifts, heightened competition for natural resources, violent conflict and geopolitical instability23 . . .
    • . . . The emergence of unprecedented climates could also induce responses in human societies1, 2, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, 22, and the resulting adjustments could be considerable because according to RCP45 roughly 1 billion people (about 5 billion people under RCP85) currently live in areas where climate will exceed historical bounds of variability by 2050 (Fig. 5a) . . .
  23. Kloor, K. The war against warming Nature Rep. Clim. Change 3, 145-146 (2009) .
    • . . . Changing climates could also affect the following: human welfare, through changes in the supply of food13 and water14, 15; human health16, through wider spread of infectious vector-borne diseases17, 18, through heat stress19 and through mental illness20; the economy, through changes in goods and services21, 22; and national security as a result of population shifts, heightened competition for natural resources, violent conflict and geopolitical instability23 . . .
  24. Williams, J. W.; Jackson, S. T.; Kutzbach, J. E. Projected distributions of novel and disappearing climates by 2100 AD Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 104, 5738-5742 (2007) .
    • . . . Although several studies have documented the areas on Earth where unprecedented climates are likely to occur in response to ongoing greenhouse gas emissions24, 25, our understanding of climate change still lacks a precise indication of the time at which the climate of a given location will shift wholly outside the range of historical precedents. . . .
  25. Solomon, S. , (2007) .
    • . . . Although several studies have documented the areas on Earth where unprecedented climates are likely to occur in response to ongoing greenhouse gas emissions24, 25, our understanding of climate change still lacks a precise indication of the time at which the climate of a given location will shift wholly outside the range of historical precedents. . . .
    • . . . Absolute changes in the climate are often the means of detecting or assessing climate change and are expected to be considerably larger at higher latitudes (Fig. 2c; see also ref. 25) . . .
    • . . . Measures of absolute changes in the climate have also dominated the dialogue on climate change (for example, avoiding 2 °C warming is a broadly recognized goal among scientists, policy makers and the public, because such change is forecast to generate deleterious consequences for society and the environment25, 32) . . .
  26. Taylor, K. E.; Stouffer, R. J.; Meehl, G. A. An overview of CMIP5 and the experiment design Bull. Am. Meteorol. Soc. 93, 485-498 (2012) .
    • . . . This experiment included observed changes in atmospheric composition (reflecting both anthropogenic and natural sources) and was designed to model the climate’s recent past and allow the validation of model outputs against available climate observations26 . . .
    • . . . To address the third concern we compared our results from the historical experiment with those obtained from an additional CMIP5 experiment, ‘historicalNat’, which simulated the same time span as the historical experiment but with only natural forcing (for example volcanoes and solar variability), while excluding anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions26 . . .
  27. Vuuren, D. P. The representative concentration pathways: an overview Clim. Change 109, 5-31 (2011) .
    • . . . These pathways or scenarios represent contrasting mitigation efforts between a concerted rapid CO2 mitigation and a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario (CO2 concentrations could increase to 538 and 936 p.p.m. by 2100, according to RCP45 and RCP85, respectively27, 28) . . .
  28. Meinshausen, M. The RCP greenhouse gas concentrations and their extensions from 1765 to 2300 Clim. Change 109, 213-241 (2011) .
    • . . . These pathways or scenarios represent contrasting mitigation efforts between a concerted rapid CO2 mitigation and a ‘business-as-usual’ scenario (CO2 concentrations could increase to 538 and 936 p.p.m. by 2100, according to RCP45 and RCP85, respectively27, 28) . . .
  29. van Vliet, J.; den Elzen, M. G.; van Vuuren, D. P. Meeting radiative forcing targets under delayed participation Energy Econ. 31, S152-S162 (2009) .
    • . . . A more aggressive mitigation scenario (RCP 2.6) was not analysed, because it was not consistently used among models, and the implicit mitigation effort is considered currently unfeasible29. . . .
  30. Raven, J. A. , (2005) .
    • . . . This result, which is consistent with recent studies30, is explained by the fact that ocean pH has a narrow range of historical variability and that a considerable fraction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions has been absorbed by the ocean30, 31. . . .
  31. Zeebe, R. E.; Zachos, J. C.; Caldeira, K.; Tyrrell, T. Carbon emissions and acidification Science 321, 51-52 (2008) .
    • . . . This result, which is consistent with recent studies30, is explained by the fact that ocean pH has a narrow range of historical variability and that a considerable fraction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions has been absorbed by the ocean30, 31. . . .
  32. Rockstrom, J. A safe operating space for humanity Nature 461, 472-475 (2009) .
    • . . . Measures of absolute changes in the climate have also dominated the dialogue on climate change (for example, avoiding 2 °C warming is a broadly recognized goal among scientists, policy makers and the public, because such change is forecast to generate deleterious consequences for society and the environment25, 32) . . .
  33. Gaston, K. J. Global patterns in biodiversity Nature 405, 220-227 (2000) .
    • . . . However, small but fast changes in the climate could induce considerable biological responses in the tropics, because species there are probably adapted to narrow climate bounds5, 33, 34, 35 . . .
    • . . . This is a prime explanation for the decline in the range sizes of species towards lower latitudes (Rapoport’s rule): having narrower tolerances, tropical species are largely restricted to the tropics; in comparison, the broader physiological tolerances of temperate species allow them to survive across a broader latitudinal span33 . . .
    • . . . The earliest emergence of unprecedented climates in the tropics and the limited tolerance of tropical species to climate change are troublesome results, because most of the world’s biodiversity is concentrated in the tropics (Extended Data Fig. 5; see also ref. 33) . . .
    • . . . Biodiversity hotspots were defined as the top 10% most species-rich areas on Earth where a given taxon is found (sensu ref. 33); their spatial distributions are outlined in Extended Data Fig. 5 . . .
  34. Deutsch, C. A. Impacts of climate warming on terrestrial ectotherms across latitude Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105, 6668-6672 (2008) .
    • . . . However, small but fast changes in the climate could induce considerable biological responses in the tropics, because species there are probably adapted to narrow climate bounds5, 33, 34, 35 . . .
    • . . . Furthermore, empirical and theoretical studies in corals5, 36, 37, terrestrial ectotherms34 and plants and insects35 show that tropical species live in areas with climates near their physiological tolerances and are therefore vulnerable to relatively small climate changes. . . .
  35. Colwell, R. K.; Brehm, G.; Cardelús, C. L.; Gilman, A. C.; Longino, J. T. Global warming, elevational range shifts, and lowland biotic attrition in the wet tropics Science 322, 258-261 (2008) .
    • . . . However, small but fast changes in the climate could induce considerable biological responses in the tropics, because species there are probably adapted to narrow climate bounds5, 33, 34, 35 . . .
    • . . . Furthermore, empirical and theoretical studies in corals5, 36, 37, terrestrial ectotherms34 and plants and insects35 show that tropical species live in areas with climates near their physiological tolerances and are therefore vulnerable to relatively small climate changes. . . .
  36. Hoegh-Guldberg, O. Climate change, coral bleaching and the future of the world’s coral reefs Mar. Freshw. Res. 50, 839-866 (1999) .
    • . . . Furthermore, empirical and theoretical studies in corals5, 36, 37, terrestrial ectotherms34 and plants and insects35 show that tropical species live in areas with climates near their physiological tolerances and are therefore vulnerable to relatively small climate changes. . . .
  37. Baker, A. C.; Glynn, P. W.; Riegl, B. Climate change and coral reef bleaching: An ecological assessment of long-term impacts, recovery trends and future outlook Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci. 80, 435-471 (2008) .
    • . . . Furthermore, empirical and theoretical studies in corals5, 36, 37, terrestrial ectotherms34 and plants and insects35 show that tropical species live in areas with climates near their physiological tolerances and are therefore vulnerable to relatively small climate changes. . . .
    • . . . In addition, recent short-term extreme climatic events have been associated with die-offs in terrestrial47, 48, 49 and marine37 ecosystems, highlighting the potentially serious consequences of reaching historically unprecedented climates . . .
  38. Tittensor, D. P. Global patterns and predictors of marine biodiversity across taxa Nature 466, 1098-1101 (2010) .
    • . . . We found that, on average, the projected timing of climate departure in marine and terrestrial biodiversity hotspots (sensu ref. 38, the top 10% most species-rich areas on Earth where a given taxon is found) will occur one decade earlier than the global average under either emissions scenario (Fig. 3) . . .
  39. Chown, S. L.; Gaston, K. J.; Williams, P. H. Global patterns in species richness of pelagic seabirds: the Procellariiformes Ecography 21, 342-350 (1998) .
    • . . . With the exception of marine birds, whose hotspots are located at high latitudes (Extended Data Fig. 5d; see also ref. 39), unprecedented climates will occur at the latest by 2063 (RCP45) or 2042 (RCP85) in the hotspots of all other taxa considered (Fig. 3) . . .
  40. La Sorte, F. A.; Jetz, W. Tracking of climatic niche boundaries under recent climate change J. Anim. Ecol. 81, 914-925 (2012) .
    • . . . The biological responses expected from the rapid emergence of historically unprecedented climates are likely to be idiosyncratic40 and will depend on attributes such as species adaptive capacity, current genetic diversity, ability to migrate, current availability of habitats, disruption of ecological interactions, and ecological releases40, 41, 42, 43, 44 . . .
  41. Sorte, C. J. B. Predicting persistence in a changing climate: flow direction and limitations to redistribution Oikos 122, 161-170 (2013) .
    • . . . The biological responses expected from the rapid emergence of historically unprecedented climates are likely to be idiosyncratic40 and will depend on attributes such as species adaptive capacity, current genetic diversity, ability to migrate, current availability of habitats, disruption of ecological interactions, and ecological releases40, 41, 42, 43, 44 . . .
  42. Devictor, V. Differences in the climatic debts of birds and butterflies at a continental scale Nature Clim. Change 2, 121-124 (2012) .
    • . . . The biological responses expected from the rapid emergence of historically unprecedented climates are likely to be idiosyncratic40 and will depend on attributes such as species adaptive capacity, current genetic diversity, ability to migrate, current availability of habitats, disruption of ecological interactions, and ecological releases40, 41, 42, 43, 44 . . .
  43. Zhu, K.; Woodall, C. W.; Clark, J. S. Failure to migrate: lack of tree range expansion in response to climate change Glob. Change Biol. 18, 1042-1052 (2012) .
    • . . . The biological responses expected from the rapid emergence of historically unprecedented climates are likely to be idiosyncratic40 and will depend on attributes such as species adaptive capacity, current genetic diversity, ability to migrate, current availability of habitats, disruption of ecological interactions, and ecological releases40, 41, 42, 43, 44 . . .
  44. Angert, A. L. Do species’ traits predict recent shifts at expanding range edges? Ecol. Lett. 14, 677-689 (2011) .
    • . . . The biological responses expected from the rapid emergence of historically unprecedented climates are likely to be idiosyncratic40 and will depend on attributes such as species adaptive capacity, current genetic diversity, ability to migrate, current availability of habitats, disruption of ecological interactions, and ecological releases40, 41, 42, 43, 44 . . .
  45. Baird, A.; Maynard, J. A. Coral adaptation in the face of climate change Science 320, 315-316 (2008) .
    • . . . Although the extent of these responses in the future has been a topic of debate45, 46, considerable changes in community structure3 and extinction10 have been shown to have coincided with the emergence of unprecedented climates in the past . . .
  46. Pandolfi, J. M.; Connolly, S. R.; Marshall, D. J.; Cohen, A. L. Projecting coral reef futures under global warming and ocean acidification Science 333, 418-422 (2011) .
    • . . . Although the extent of these responses in the future has been a topic of debate45, 46, considerable changes in community structure3 and extinction10 have been shown to have coincided with the emergence of unprecedented climates in the past . . .
  47. Allen, C. D. A global overview of drought and heat-induced tree mortality reveals emerging climate change risks for forests For. Ecol. Manage. 259, 660-684 (2010) .
    • . . . In addition, recent short-term extreme climatic events have been associated with die-offs in terrestrial47, 48, 49 and marine37 ecosystems, highlighting the potentially serious consequences of reaching historically unprecedented climates . . .
  48. Carey, C.; Alexander, M. A. Climate change and amphibian declines: is there a link? Divers. Distrib. 9, 111-121 (2003) .
    • . . . In addition, recent short-term extreme climatic events have been associated with die-offs in terrestrial47, 48, 49 and marine37 ecosystems, highlighting the potentially serious consequences of reaching historically unprecedented climates . . .
  49. McKechnie, A. E.; Wolf, B. O. Climate change increases the likelihood of catastrophic avian mortality events during extreme heat waves Biol. Lett. 6, 253-256 (2010) .
    • . . . In addition, recent short-term extreme climatic events have been associated with die-offs in terrestrial47, 48, 49 and marine37 ecosystems, highlighting the potentially serious consequences of reaching historically unprecedented climates . . .
  50. Mora, C.; Sale, P. Ongoing global biodiversity loss and the need to move beyond protected areas: a review of the technical and practical shortcomings of protected areas on land and sea Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 434, 251-266 (2011) .
    • . . . Unfortunately, key conservation strategies such as protected areas, which may ameliorate the extent of several anthropogenic stressors, are unlikely to provide refuge from the expected effects of climate change, because protected areas within biodiversity hotspots will experience unprecedented climates at the same time as non-protected hotspot areas (Fig. 4a; see also ref. 50) . . .
  51. Kier, G. A global assessment of endemism and species richness across island and mainland regions Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 106, 9322-9327 (2009) .
    • . . . For mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, marine fishes, cephalopods, corals, mangroves and seagrasses (a–h, j–m), we used expert-verified geographical ranges to map patterns of species richness by counting the number of species whose ranges overlapped with an equal-area grid with a resolution of 100 km. i, For terrestrial vascular plants we used the number of species in different regions (data from ref. 51) and calculated species richness as the highest number of species occurring in the regions intersecting each 100-km resolution grid cell . . .
Expand