Schimel brown bag on "Climate Change and Global Biodiversity"

Start Date/Time: Monday, May 14, 2012, 12:00 PM
Ending Date/Time: Monday, May 14, 2012, 1:30 PM
Location: Wallace Hall 012

Bag lunch talk by David Schimel, Chief Science Officer, NEON, Inc.

As the world enters the Anthropocene, the planet's environment is changing rapidly, putting the carbon cycle and critical ecosystem services at risk. Understanding and forecasting how ecosystems and the carbon cycle will change over the coming decades requires understanding the sensitivity of species to environmental change. The extant distribution of species, functional groups and diversity contains valuable information about the performance of different species indifferent environments. However, with high rates of environmental change, information about environmental sensitivity inherent in ranges of many species will disappear, since that information exists only under quasi-equilibrium conditions. The information content of distributional data obtained now is greater than data obtained in the future. New remote sensing technologies are the only way of accelerating the collection of biodiversity data at scales suitable for modeling. New sensors can map chemical and structural traits of plant canopies, and by extension, functional properties controlling carbon uptake and decomposition. In addition to global initial conditions, satellite observations are likely the only feasible way of observing planetary-scale dynamics of biotic responses to a changing environment. However, novel modeling and data assimilation techniques are also required and move ecology towards the computation scale of physical climate science.