According to a sweeping analysis of physical and biological systems around the world, human activity has led to warming temperatures that have caused permanent changes to both plants and animals on a global scale. VOA's Jessica Berman reports.
In the most sweeping study of its kind assessing the impacts of global warming, an international team of researchers at ten institutions around the world analyzed the impacts on more than 29,000 biological and physical systems on several continents.
The researchers sifted through data from 1970, when lead researcher Cynthia Rosensweig of the US space agency NASA's Goddard Space Institute for Climate Studies says the first strong signal of climate change became apparent.
Among the changes the investigators noted were shrinkage of glaciers, warming of water bodies and melting of permafrost.
In the biological realm, researchers found that global warming has caused animals to move closer to high elevations, flowers to bloom earlier in the spring and fish in oceans, lakes and other bodies of water to shift from cold-adapted communities to ones adapted to warmer temperatures.
"We are seeing the effects of the warming that are very consistent across a wide range of different aspects of the world," said Cynthia Rosensweig. "It's like the way the world works. The way the world works is changing."
Overall, Rosensweig's group found that about ninety percent of the changes they observed were due directly to warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions emitted as a result of human activity.
The study found most of the impacts are being felt in North America, Europe and Asia. Rosensweig says the data on Africa, South America and Australia are sparse but there's growing evidence that environmental systems are being permanently changed on those continents as well.
The study on the human impact on global systems in published this week in the journal Nature.