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Institute for Problems in Mechanical Engineering
of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Institute for Problems in Mechanical Engineering of the Russian Academy of Sciences

IPMash RAS scientists have created a model predicting changes in the biosphere

The scientists of the Institute for Problems in Mechanical Engineering of the Russian Academy of Sciences together with colleagues from LETI, the St. Petersburg State Electrotechnical University, from the Novgorod Center for Innovation and Industry Development and from the Northumbria University (UK) have built a model that allows predicting the development of biomes based on climate data changes.

The results of the study were published in Applied Mathematical Modeling.

Climate change on Earth can cause global changes. Moreover, these changes can affect not only the climate system of the planet itself, but also the ecosystem and the biosphere as a whole. This relationship is mutual, that is, the biosphere can also influence the climate.
This connection can be illustrated by the fact that 2 billion years ago there was no oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere, and it consisted mainly of carbon and methane.
However, climatic changes during cryogeny (720-635 million years ago) led to an increase in oxygen content. The resulting precipitation in the ocean rich in chemical elements such as phosphorus, along with a high content of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, caused an explosive growth of populations of cyanobacteria that produce oxygen. This led to a relatively rapid process of replacing methane with oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere.
In turn, the high concentration of oxygen allowed the development of multicellular forms.
As a result, the climate has changed radically, and as a consequence, the composition of the atmosphere and the biosphere have changed.
The link between climate and the biosphere still exists today.
For many bacteria, oxygen is a poison. They were forced to hide in swamps, ponds, etc. Due to climatic warming, swamps in Siberia are less susceptible to freezing, that leads to a rapid increase in the populations of bacteria living there. These bacteria release methane into the atmosphere and the atmosphere warms up more. This process can lead to global warming and even the complete extinction of all life on the planet.
“Thanks to mathematical calculations and understanding of some relationships, we have created a model that predicts the stability of certain biomes (individual geographical regions with a specific climate, vegetation and wildlife). The model is proposed for plant biomes (tundra, forest, steppe, etc.). Our equations describe the change in the boundary of the biome in response to changes in temperature and precipitations.
According to paleontological data, we can trace how the process of biome change took place, as well as the relationship of this process with the climate in the past (about 30 million years ago). And by adjusting the parameters in a certain way, we can predict the future”, Sergey Vakulenko, a leading researcher at the Laboratory of Mathematical Simulation of Wave Processes, IPMash RAS, commented.

According to him, the model was tested on the example of a broad-leaved forest biome. The data for the simulation were obtained by Matthew Pound and his colleagues from the University of Northumbria. The model is suitable for describing changes in the biosphere and climate in the past and for predicting the future changes.

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