Animals are responding to climate change more rapidly, relocating to higher elevations at a rate of two to three times more quickly than previously measured, researchers from the University of York claim in a new study.
In the study, which appears in the latest issue of the journal Science, project leader and professor of conservation biology Chris Thomas and colleagues looked at data from the responses of more than 2,000 plants and animals.
Thomas and his team discovered that species moved to cooler, higher altitudes at a rate of 36 feet (12.2 meters) per decade, and to higher latitudes at 10.5 miles (17.6 kilometers) per decade. That rate, according to Elizabeth Weise of USA Today, is “two or three times faster than when it was last measured, in 2003.”
“These changes are equivalent to animals and plants shifting away from the Equator at around 20 cm per hour, for every hour of the day, for every day of the year,” Thomas said in a statement on Thursday. “This has been going on for the last 40 years and is set to continue for at least the rest of this century.”