Climate safe havens now most vulnerable to global warming: Australian study

This picture taken on Dec 13, 2019 shows the regrowing Weitbruch forest that is facing the challenges of global warming in Weitbruch, France.
This picture taken on Dec 13, 2019 shows the regrowing Weitbruch forest that is facing the challenges of global warming in Weitbruch, France.PHOTO: AFP

CANBERRA (XINHUA) - The most bio-diverse regions of Earth are now among the most vulnerable to global warming, an Australian study has found.

The study, published by the University of Adelaide on Tuesday (Feb 4), found that man-made climate change will erode mechanisms that have protected bio-diversity for millennia.

"Our results show that the magnitude and accelerated rate of future climate change will disproportionately affect plants and animals in tropical regions and biodiversity hotspots. Worryingly, these are regions on Earth with the highest concentrations of biodiversity," lead author Damien Fordham from the university's Environment Institute said in a media release.

Tropics have previously protected species during periods of global warming, acting as climate "safe havens" while polar environments have been hardest-hit.

"Disturbingly, our research shows that more than 75 per cent of the area of these climate safe havens will be lost in the near future due to 21st century warming," co-author Stuart Brown said.

"The future is most ominous for species in tropical oceans. Severe negative impacts on the richness of coral species and marine life they support are expected in regions such as the Indo-Pacific.

"This is likely to cause human hardship for communities that depend on these resources for food, employment and income."

Researchers found that even in areas that are projected to remain as climate safe havens temperatures will rise too quickly for new species to acclimatize.

Tropical rainforests cover less than 10 per cent of the Earth's land surface but support at least two thirds of bio-diversity.

An international study in 2018 warned that a biodiversity collapse in the tropics was "imminent."