Ecological and Environmental Change Research Group


No‐analogue climates and ecological responses in the past and future

Photo of12 of the people atending the NoAClim start-up meeting
Will Roberts, Mathias Trachsel, John Birks, Heikki Seppä, Anne Bjune, Camille Li, Richard Telford, Alistair Seddon, Marc Macias-Fauria, Thomas Giesecke, Jack Williams, Cathy Jenks
Arild Breistøl

Main content

NoAClim is designed to test the scenario of novel, no-analogue climates and ecosystems in Norden and to bridge the gap between climate and biodiversity research. Norden supports over 3000 native flowering plants and a wide range of ecosystems, some unique to Norden. Ecosystems, like climates, are not static entities. They vary in space and time and palaeoecological studies demonstrate major changes in their distribution, composition, and extent over time, primarily in response to Holocene climate changes at millennial or centennial scales and, in the late Holocene, to changes in land-use, human impact, and soil. Few major terrestrial ecosystems have existed for more than the past 11,000 years, and most are considerably younger, some developing only within the last few centuries. Future ecosystems are inevitably uncertain and historically contingent but the richness of palaeoecological biotic responses seen in the Holocene suggests that many future outcomes are possible.

A key question for future management, and hence adaptation strategies, is what will happen to Norden’s ecosystems in response to climate change. What will happen to Norden’s large in situ forests under climate change? Will tree species be lost due to an inability to cope with or adapt to a particular climate? Which ecosystems will decrease or increase? Which will become less or more diverse? Which regions might lose or gain forest cover? In planning for future conservation and management of these economically valuable and scientifically important biodiversity resources, such questions are critical and obvious. NoAClim will attempt to address these questions, using six key sources of information.

  • models capable of providing estimates of past, present, and future climate at relevant spatial and temporal scales for Norden
  • estimates of how analogous past and future climates are to modern climate
  • palaeoecological data to provide information on past composition and abundance of Norden’s ecosystems and estimates on how analogous past fossil assemblages are to modern assemblages
  • statistical estimates of key niche metrics of major pollen taxa today and at different times in the Holocene to test the uniformitarian assumption that ecological responses have not changed over time and to obtain robust estimates of the realised niches today and under different climates, some of which may have no modern climate analogues
  • predictions, using these niche metrics and future climate forecasts, of the future distributions and abundances of taxa and major ecosystems in Norden
  • predictions, other independent scientific information, and expert knowledge for robust scenario-planning for Norden’s major ecosystems in the future to provide an informed basis for management and adaptation strategies.

NoAClim Team

  • John Birks, PI, University of Bergen
  • Paul Valdes, University of Bristol
  • Will Roberts, University of Bristol
  • Jack Williams, University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Camille Li, University of Bergen
  • Bjørg Reisebrobakken, Uni Climate (Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research), Bergen
  • Anne Bjune, Uni Climate, Bergen
  • Richard Telford, University of Bergen
  • Alistair Seddon, University of Bergen
  • Mathias Trachsel, University of Bergen
  • Heikki Seppä, University of Helsinki
  • Thomas Geisecke, University of Göttingen
  • Kathy Willis, Universities of Oxford and Bergen
  • Marc Macias Fauria, University of Oxford
  • Joe Chipperfield, University of Bergen
  • Arild Breistøl, University of Bergen
  • Cathy Jenks, University of Bergen

Start-up Meeting

23-25 October 2013, Bergen

A pdf of John's presentation introducing the project can be found on the right.