World’s most vulnerable areas to climate change mapped | James Watson, Takuya Iwamura, Nathalie Butt | Sept, 16, 2013 | Science Daily

If human beings were long-sighted, we might move to regions with high intact vegetation and high relative climate stability.

The study appears in an online version of the journal Nature Climate Change. The authors include: Dr James Watson of the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Queensland; Dr Takuya Iwamura of Stanford University; and Nathalie Butt of the University of Queensland. [….]

A vulnerability map produced in the study examines the relationship of two metrics: how intact an ecosystem is, and how stable the ecosystem is going to be under predictions of future climate change. The analysis creates a rating system with four general categories for the world’s terrestrial regions, with management recommendations determined by the combination of factors.

Ecosystems with highly intact vegetation and high relative climate stability, for instance, are the best locations for future protected areas, as these have the best chance of retaining species. In contrast, ecosystems with low levels of vegetation and high relative climate stability could merit efforts at habitat restoration. Ecosystems with low levels of vegetation intactness and low climate stability would be most at risk and would require significant levels of investment to achieve conservation outcomes.

The new map, the authors say, identifies southern and southeastern Asia, western and central Europe, eastern South America, and southern Australia as some of the most vulnerable regions. The analysis differs from previous climate change exposure assessments based on only climate change exposure which shows the most vulnerable regions as central Africa, northern South America, and northern Australia.

From the original journal article,

Figure 2: The relationship between ecoregional climate stability and vegetation intactness

The best places to live are dark grey.  The worst are pale cream.

a,b, The relationship between ecoregional climate stability and mean ecoregional intactness (n = 803; a) and the global distribution of the relationship (b).

  • Ecoregions that have high relative climate stability and high vegetation intactness are depicted as dark grey.
  • Ecoregions that have relative high climate stability but low levels of vegetation intactness are depicted in dark orange.
  • Ecoregions that have low relative climate stability but high vegetation intactness are depicted in dark green.
  • Ecoregions that have both low relative climate stability and low levels of vegetation intactness are depicted in pale cream.

The intactness axis has been transformed to a normal distribution for presentation purposes by taking the square root values. The colours match the map in b and are a combination of the colours in Fig. 1a,b.

I live in central Canada, which is in dark green. I might be better off living on the west coast, in British Columbia, in dark grey.  Antarctica and central Greenland are the worst places to plan to move.

Reported as “World’s most vulnerable areas to climate change mapped” | James Watson, Takuya Iwamura, Nathalie Butt | Sept, 16, 2013 | Science Daily at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/09/130916131006.htm.

Original article as “Mapping vulnerability and conservation adaptation strategies under climate change” | James E. M. Watson, Takuya Iwamura & Nathalie Butt | Nature Climate Change (2013) doi:10.1038/nclimate2007