Feeds

Climate models need revising: Droughts, heat waves not such a big deal

'Not something we expected', say US gov boffins

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

So, the world's climate is changing - that's one thing most scientists are indeed agreed on. But what does that actually mean for the future? Could hotter summer temperatures kill off growing plants, leading to runaway atmospheric carbon increases and turning the Earth into a lifeless baking hell?

Not so much, according to US government boffins who have been looking into the matter.

The rolling majesty of the Kansas prairies. Credit: NSF Konza Prairie LTER Site

Not bovvered

"Everyone seemed to think that August heat waves and drought would have major effects on grass productivity, but we couldn't find any," says Prof Joseph Craine of Kansas State uni, describing research on prairie grasslands carried out at the US National Science Foundation's Konza Prairie Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site - one of a network of US government monitoring stations used to assess climate effects.

According to new research published by Craine and his colleagues, both droughts and heat waves generally have much less effect on the mighty grasslands of America than previously thought. Heat waves in particular need to happen during a specific two-week period to have any real consequences for grass growth in a given year.

"Heat waves mattering only during late July was not something we expected," says Craine.

According to a National Science Foundation statement:

The researchers found that droughts reduced grass growth most in early June, while heat waves reduced grass growth only during late July.

Neither drought nor heat waves in August or September seemed to have an effect on grass growth.

These results are significant as until now projections of the possible effects of predicted climate change have assumed that droughts and heat waves would always have an effect on ecosystems - and that in turn would lead on to carbon level changes leading to more temperature rises and so on. These assumptions may now have to be revisited.

"If these patterns are general across ecosystems," the scientists write in their paper, recently published in hefty journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, "predictions of ecosystem response to climate change will have to account not only for the magnitude of climate variability but also for its timing." ®

The Power of One Infographic

More from The Register

next story
World Solar Challenge contender claims new speed record
One charge sees Sunswift travel 500kms at over 100 km/h
SMELL YOU LATER, LOSERS – Dumbo tells rats, dogs... humans
Junk in the trunk? That's what people have
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Jurassic squawk: Dinos were Earth's early FEATHERED friends
Boffins research: Ancient dinos may all have had 'potential' fluff
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.