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Choosing A Climate

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The Yellow eyed leaf frog (Agalychnis annae) © Matthew O’Donnell

The earth’s climate is changing, however, the rate and direction of this change is different across much of the planet. Most regions are warming with global average surface temperature rising by 1 degree Celsius since the late 19th century. This seemingly small rise is driving dramatic shifts in our weather.

We can all see the effect of a warm hot summer, when our fruit and vegetable prices begin to rise. The lack of rainfall and extended heat waves this summer have negatively impacted the UK’s farmland, just watch the price of potatoes over the coming months! Although its not all bad news surely? We’re now producing more wine than ever, and exotic species of birds and butterflies are now beginning to call the UK home.

There will be many opportunists, who’s adaptability and mobility will allow them to take advantage of a world in flux, conquering new territories and  outcompeting native species to survive. There are lots of other species however, which have evolved and specialised to  fill very specific niches, which are vulnerable to climate change. In the Vivarium we house a number of amphibians who are increasingly finding themselves homeless due to climate change.

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Lemur leaf frog (Agalychnis lemur). One of many species of amphibians impacted by climate change. © Matthew O’Donnell

Some of our most well known inhabitants, such as the yellow eyed leaf frogs (Agalychnis annae) and Lemur leaf frog (Agalychnis lemur) are found in the highlands of Costa Rica, trapped by rising temperatures in the lowlands, too hot for them to handle, and inhospitable peaks above them. As the highlands begin to warm these sensitive frogs must find new areas to live. Unfortunately frogs can not take flight and depart for more suitable habitats, just like polar bears – climate changes most high profile victim, these animals are restricted to ever smaller patches of habitat, inching their way towards extinction.

As with most cases, climate change seems to be the final nail in the coffin, that if left unchecked could push many stressed ecosystems over the edge. Species that are already declining due to diseases such as the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), habitat destruction, pollution and pesticides do not have the space or resilience to escape or adapt to a changing climate.

All is not lost, we still have time to pull the brakes and halt this process before we loose so much. Findings from the the authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) #SR15, stress that we have 12 years to limit temperature rises to between 1.5-2°C. When for example a rise of just 2°C would cause the complete eradication of coral reefs, it is easy to see why the worlds top climate scientists are mobilising.

GreenGB

To learn more about how to get involved and help make a difference follow the hashtag #GreenGB and learn more about the work Manchester Museum is involved in at all levels in helping to tackle climate change.

If not for ourselves, we owe it to those who are not as fortunate as us, those people, plants and animals that will feel the brunt of the coming changes and not be able to choose their climate.

Climate change workshop summary                    CLIMATE-CHANGE-FACILITATORS-PACK

Learning with Lucy

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