An increased risk of forest fires, droughts and flooding is predicted for the next 200 years, as temperatures rise due to global warming, climate scientists said yesterday.
Experts from the University of Bristol said that despite the commitment already put into global warming, even if mankind stopped emitting green-house gases now, the Eurasia, eastern China, Canada, Central America and Amazonia are at risk of forest loss while the far north, Amazonia and many semi-arid regions will become more susceptible to wildfires.
Less freshwater availability and with it more intense droughts, are likely to occur in West Africa, Central America, southern Europe and the eastern US.
The researchers also found that if the temperature increase is more than three degrees centigrade, land carbon sinks could release their stored carbon, starting a positive feedback loop that would increase atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Marko Scholze, lead author of the paper published in PNAS (Biological Sciences/Environmental Sciences) said: "Most importantly we show the steeply increasing risks, and increasingly large areas affected, associated with higher warming levels."
The team from QUEST (Quantifying and Understanding the Earth System, a project funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and based at Bristol University) with a colleague from the University of Southampton, quantified the risks of climate-induced changes in key ecosystem processes, using novel methods.
They gathered results from more than 50 climate model simulations to calculate these risks and then grouped the results according to varying amounts of global warming: less than 2C, 2-3C and more than 3C.