Ecological and Environmental Change Research Group

No-analogue climate

The NoAClim project not only aims to test the scenario of novel, no-analogue climates and ecosystems in Norden, but it also aims to bridge the gap between climate and biodiversity research.

John Birks

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Until I attended the project’s introductory presentation at its kick-off meeting, I would have thought that the aims contained more than the usual amount of project rhetoric. However, project leader John Birks’ succinct, informative introduction convinced me otherwise and has whetted my appetite for the results the next few years will bring.

NoAClim officially begins January 2014 and should have finished all work relating to the publication of results by December 2018. The work is broken down into a number of work packages involving a team of international paleoecologists and climate modellers.

To take the second objective mentioned above first, i.e. bridging the gap between related but distinct disciplines, NoAClim aims to address communication and collaboration between climate and biodiversity research.

Jargon and highly specialised publication venues can actually create distance between research directions and hinder potentially advantageous and enriching collaboration. As research questions become more complex, the need for an increased interdisciplinary approach  is increasingly being recognised as a critical factor for finding solutions. Researchers in NoAClim have taken the first important step of recognising the divergence between climate and biodiversity research. In this project, they now aim to begin to bridge the gap.

How can we deal with the potential climate changes of the future if there are no analogous climate scenarios to compare with from the past? How can one study an ecosystem no ecologist has even seen? If the future climate has no parallel in the past, what kind of ecological system will the surviving species be shuffled into?

The project aims to develop better climate models that will use pollen-stratigraphical data that quantifies past and present pollen-climate relationships, and which then may enable researchers to make future abundance and distribution estimates. In particular, they will consider how Norden’s ecosystems, especially the forests, will respond to climate change.

The goals are lofty, but the team is exceptional and has a venerable track record of experience and methodologies behind it. It will be exciting to follow this project over the years to come.