CDF Convenes the first International Workshop on the impact of climate change on Galapagos | April 22nd, 2009

CDF Convenes the first International Workshop on the impact of climate change on Galapagos.  The weeklong workshop, which brings together climatologists, population biologists, oceanographers, park managers and governmental officials, is hosted by the CDF, Conservation International, and the World Wildlife Fund.
Over the coming week, experts from all over the world will discuss possible scenarios for climate change, impacts on species and ecosystems in Galapagos climate modeling techniques, and techniques for adapting to or mitigating change. In the face of this threat, CDF has laid out three primary objectives for the workshop. ┬áThe first task will be to summarize what is already known about how climate change will affect ecosystems and key species of the archipelago. The second goal will be to discuss measures to adapt to climate change, including additional layers of protection for species of particular concern. Finally, researchers will identify what gaps remain in our understanding of the problem, and design new projects to address them. The workshop is part of a ramp-up to the CDF’s flagship Galapagos Climate Change Initiative, which will incorporate scientific investigation, community outreach work and advice to management authorities to predict the range of possible impacts of climate change on the Galapagos and stabilize populations of native species and their ecosystems. The project will incorporate climate change considerations into conservation management and provide decision makers with access to relevant analytical data. This will facilitate more informed strategic planning for the conservation and development of Galapagos.

The unique mix of species in Galapagos is intrinsically linked to the local climate and the unusual confluence of ocean currents that drive it. Under many scenarios for climate change, these currents would be altered, disrupting both terrestrial and marine habitats in a number of ways. Such disruptions of current systems could inhibit the upwelling patterns that bring nutrient-rich deep water to the surface and fuel coastal ecosystems. There is also evidence of the extreme high and low temperatures caused by the twin El Nino/La Nina phenomena becoming more intense, and of the oscillation between them becoming more rapid. These trends have likely already contributed to the extinctions of several species, and are pushing many others to the extremes of their tolerable conditions. Combined with pressure from human activities, climate change has the potential to severely impact ecosystem function and the natural recuperation of living systems.