Eureka Nature

For posting information about natural history events in and around Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

'Catastrophic' climate change looms for European birds

LONDON (AFP) - Global warming could be "catastrophic" for European birds by wrecking their habitat, British conservationists warned Tuesday.

Three-quarters of Europe's nesting birds are likely to see their ranges shrink by the end of the century, the Climatic Atlas of European Breeding Birds showed.

Rising temperatures could push their distribution an average of 550 kilometres (340 miles) northeastwards, the atlas said.

The atlas was drawn up by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) along with experts from Cambridge and Durham universities.

The average bird's distribution will shrink in size by a fifth and overlap the current range by only 40 percent if temperatures rise by just under three degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, the RSPB said.

"We must heed the wake-up call provided by this atlas and act immediately to curb climate change," said RSPB conservation chief Mark Avery.

"Anything above an average of two degrees Celsius (3.6 F) risks catastrophic impacts for wildlife."

"But some level of climate change is now inevitable and we must help wildlife become resilient to the worst impacts by increasing investment in creating larger areas for nature and making the countryside more wildlife-friendly to allow species to move to areas where the climate becomes more suitable," he added.

British species such as the Scottish crossbill, the Leach's petrel and the snow bunting could face extinction if suitable areas for them to live in are wiped out by warmer temperatures, according to the atlas.

Red and black throated divers, ptarmigans, redwings, greenshanks are set to see their distribution reduced to less than five percent of their current range.

And lapwings, curlews, red grouse, Arctic terns and common gulls might see their range reduced too.

However warmer temperatures in Britain might see birds such as the short-toed eagle, night heron, hoopoe and black kite move in.

"To enable these new colonists to gain a foothold we must prepare for their arrival by giving them the habitat they need and the freedom from persecution they deserve," said Avery.

Last year, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that the mean global atmospheric temperature had already risen by 0.8 C (1.44 F) since the start of the 20th century.

By 2100, temperatures could rise by another 2.4 C-4.0 C (4.3-7.8 F), compared to 1980-99 levels.

Powered by ScribeFire.