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Volume 10 Issue 1, January 2020

Change in bird migration timing

One of hundreds of nocturnal migrant species that will pass over North America, this Wilson's Warbler may travel upwards of 6,000 kilometres each season to reach its wintering or breeding grounds. Climate change affects the timing of bird migration, which can lead to mismatch with resource availability. Horton et al. show that migration shifted earlier in spring and autumn in the United States during the past 24 years; warmer seasons were predictive of earlier peak migration dates.

See Horton et al. and Diehl

Image: Kyle Horton, Colorado State University. Cover Design: Valentina Monaco.

Volume 10 Issue 1


  • Commitment to climate action is needed in the coming year to avoid further impacts such as the wildfires that have grabbed headlines in 2019.



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  • Though critical to many projected pathways to meet global climate targets, the challenges facing biomass energy with carbon capture and storage have yet to enter the forefront of public dialogue.

    • Christopher S. Galik
  • A failure to recognize the factors behind continued emissions growth could limit the world’s ability to shift to a pathway consistent with 1.5 °C or 2 °C of global warming. Continued support for low-carbon technologies needs to be combined with policies directed at phasing out the use of fossil fuels.

    • G. P. Peters
    • R. M. Andrew
    • A. Peregon
  • Many recently updated climate models show greater future warming than previously. Separate lines of evidence suggest that their warming rates may be unrealistically high, but the risk of such eventualities only emphasizes the need for rapid and deep reductions in emissions.

    • Piers M. Forster
    • Amanda C. Maycock
    • Christopher J. Smith
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Research Highlights

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News & Views

  • Extreme weather events may provide opportunities to raise public awareness about the effects of climate change. Research now shows that although single events have limited impact on discussion of climate change in affected communities, some communities may be more receptive, particularly if the event can be clearly attributed to climate change.

    • Elizabeth A. Albright
    News & Views
  • Effective decadal climate prediction is urgently needed, but achieving this is still very challenging. Now research suggests that greenhouse warming may compound these difficulties with less predictable global decadal climate variability.

    • Naiming Yuan
    • Zhenghui Lu
    News & Views
  • An anthropogenic fingerprint has been detected in long-term climate trends, but distinguishing human-induced change from natural variability in day-to-day weather remains a challenge. Research now finds that a human influence is discernible in global patterns of daily temperature and moisture.

    • Seung-Ki Min
    News & Views
  • Food security is uncertain under future climate change, but is there a threat of food system collapse? Now research assesses the probability of weather hazards occurring at the same time in the world’s major breadbaskets and reveals that the weather-related component of this risk could be increasing.

    • Zia Mehrabi
    News & Views
  • Climate change has led to changes in migration patterns for many bird species. A novel application of the US system of weather radars reveals for the first time that climate change advances the timing of bird migration comprehensively at continental scales.

    • Robert H. Diehl
    News & Views
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Review Articles

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  • The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), a natural climate cycle, alters global climate and influences ecosystems as it varies between positive and negative phases. PDO predictability is reduced under warming as intensified ocean stratification shortens its lifespan and curtails its amplitude.

    • Shujun Li
    • Lixin Wu
    • Xiaohui Ma
  • Detection and attribution typically aims to find long-term climate signals in internal, often short-term variability. Here, common methods are extended to high-frequency temperature and humidity data, detecting instantaneous, global-scale climate change since 1999 for any year and 2012 for any day.

    • Sebastian Sippel
    • Nicolai Meinshausen
    • Reto Knutti
  • It has been assumed that spatial patterns of warming are the same under transient and equilibrium scenarios. Analysis of a multi-model ensemble shows that this is not the case, with greater land warming for a transient state, increasing risks that need to be considered in adaptation planning.

    • Andrew D. King
    • Todd P. Lane
    • Josephine R. Brown
  • A large-scale meandering in the jet stream can cause simultaneous heat extremes in distant regions. When Rossby waves with wavenumbers 5 and 7 dominate circulation, there is an increased risk of heat extremes across major food-producing regions, raising the potential of multiple crop failures.

    • Kai Kornhuber
    • Dim Coumou
    • Radley M. Horton
  • The risk of concurrent climate extremes affecting breadbasket regions is increasing with climate change, with wheat, maize and soybean crops at risk of simultaneous failure. Correlation between the regions and climate extremes should be considered to ensure food security in the future.

    • Franziska Gaupp
    • Jim Hall
    • Simon Dadson
  • Climate change affects the timing of bird migration, which can lead to mismatch with resource availability. Migration occurred earlier in spring and autumn in the United States during the past 24 years; warming led to later arrival in the western Unites States and earlier arrival in the rest of the country.

    • Kyle G. Horton
    • Frank A. La Sorte
    • Andrew Farnsworth
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  • Hot weather can cause early childbirth, meaning shorter gestation. Daily US birth-rate data from 1969 to 1988 show that deliveries increased on hot days and that those births occurred up to two weeks early. Around 25,000 infants were born early each year, representing over 150,000 gestational days lost annually.

    • Alan Barreca
    • Jessamyn Schaller
  • GHG emissions in sub-Saharan African countries are comparatively low, but continued economic and population growth could transform the region into a major emitter. Here, it is shown that the transportation sector has driven emissions in the past few decades, but new coal investments are likely to be a major driver in the near future.

    • Jan Christoph Steckel
    • Jérôme Hilaire
    • Ottmar Edenhofer
  • Climate change and habitat loss threaten species survival in Madagascar. Ruffed lemurs, a representative species in the eastern rainforest, could lose 38–93% of their habitat from climate change and deforestation by 2070; protecting areas from deforestation is necessary to protect Malagasy biodiversity.

    • Toni Lyn Morelli
    • Adam B. Smith
    • Andrea L. Baden
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