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Past and future global transformation of terrestrial ecosystems under climate change

Nolan, Connor; Overpeck, Jonathan T.; Allen, Judy R.M.; Anderson, Patricia M.; Betancourt, Julio L.; Binney, Heather A.; Brewer, Simon; Bush, Mark B.; Chase, Brian M.; Cheddadi, Rachid; Djamali, Morteza; Dodson, John; Edwards, Mary E.; Gosling, William D.; Haberle, Simon; Hotchkiss, Sara C.; Huntley, Brian; Ivory, Sarah J.; Kershaw, A. Peter; Kim, Soo-Hyun; Latorre, Claudio; Leydet, Michelle; Lézine, Anne-Marie; Liu, Kam-Biu; Liu, Yao; Lozhkin, A.V.; McGlone, Matt S.; Marchant, Robert A.; Momohara, Arata; Moreno, Patricio I.; Müller, Stefanie; Otto-Bliesner, Bette L.; Shen, Caiming; Stevenson, Janelle; Takahara, Hikaru; Tarasov, Pavel E.; Tipton, John; Vincens, Annie; Weng, Chengyu; Xu, Qinghai; Zheng, Zhuo; Jackson, Stephen T.

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Connor Nolan

Jonathan T. Overpeck

Judy R.M. Allen

Patricia M. Anderson

Julio L. Betancourt

Heather A. Binney

Simon Brewer

Mark B. Bush

Brian M. Chase

Rachid Cheddadi

Morteza Djamali

John Dodson

Mary E. Edwards

William D. Gosling

Simon Haberle

Sara C. Hotchkiss

Brian Huntley

Sarah J. Ivory

A. Peter Kershaw

Soo-Hyun Kim

Claudio Latorre

Michelle Leydet

Anne-Marie Lézine

Kam-Biu Liu

Yao Liu

A.V. Lozhkin

Matt S. McGlone

Robert A. Marchant

Arata Momohara

Patricio I. Moreno

Stefanie Müller

Bette L. Otto-Bliesner

Caiming Shen

Janelle Stevenson

Hikaru Takahara

Pavel E. Tarasov

John Tipton

Annie Vincens

Chengyu Weng

Qinghai Xu

Zhuo Zheng

Stephen T. Jackson


Impacts of global climate change on terrestrial ecosystems are imperfectly constrained by ecosystem models and direct observations. Pervasive ecosystem transformations occurred in response to warming and associated climatic changes during the last glacial-to-interglacial transition, which was comparable in magnitude to warming projected for the next century under high-emission scenarios. We reviewed 594 published paleoecological records to examine compositional and structural changes in terrestrial vegetation since the last glacial period and to project the magnitudes of ecosystem transformations under alternative future emission scenarios. Our results indicate that terrestrial ecosystems are highly sensitive to temperature change and suggest that, without major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, terrestrial ecosystems worldwide are at risk of major transformation, with accompanying disruption of ecosystem services and impacts on biodiversity.


Nolan, C., Overpeck, J. T., Allen, J. R., Anderson, P. M., Betancourt, J. L., Binney, H. A., …Jackson, S. T. (2018). Past and future global transformation of terrestrial ecosystems under climate change. Science, 361(6405), 920-923.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 30, 2018
Online Publication Date Aug 31, 2018
Publication Date Aug 31, 2018
Deposit Date Oct 1, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 2, 2018
Journal Science
Print ISSN 0036-8075
Electronic ISSN 1095-9203
Publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 361
Issue 6405
Pages 920-923


Accepted Journal Article (1.9 Mb)

Copyright Statement
This is the author’s version of the work. It is posted here by permission of the AAAS for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Science on 31 Aug 2018, Vol. 361, Issue 6405, pp. 920-923, DOI: 10.1126/science.aan5360.

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