A new article in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment reviews the threats that climate change poses to ecosystem services and human well-being in the United States.
Ecosystem services are the processes, materials, and commodities delivered by intact ecosystems that have value to human beings. These include crop pollination by native insects, flood protection on undeveloped floodplains, and recreation opportunities in natural areas.
Climate change is projected to hamper the availability of these services. For instance, increasingly stormy weather and rising sea levels may threaten losses to coastal property that exceed the value of development; increased drought will impact the supply and quality of drinking water sources; and lower snowfall will shorten ski seasons and decrease tourism revenues in mountain states.
SCU researcher Peter Kareiva, who is also chief scientist of The Nature Conservancy, contributed to the review, as did Virginia Matzek, assistant professor of Environmental Studies and Sciences at the university.
The article is part of a special issue of the journal reviewing the impacts of climate change in the U.S., which grew out of the U.S. National Climate Assessment, a periodic effort by the federal government to study climate change and inform appropriate government responses. All of the articles in the special issue can be accessed here: http://www.esajournals.org/toc/fron/11/9
Bolivar Peninsula in Texas after 2008 Hurricane Ike, Credit: NOAA National Hurricane Center, Storm Surge Unit