Combined speeds of climate and land-use change of the conterminous US until 2050
Most quantitative global-change assessments of rates of change have focused on future climate alone, without considering other factors. Conversely, most future land-use scenarios do not consider climate change and emphasize total habitat losses rather than rates of change. As the distributions of species and diversity are affected by multiple environmental factors, multivariate approaches to assess the rates of climate or land-use change are needed. Using a new joint measure of exposure to climate and land-use changes that combines elements of velocity-based and analogue-based methods, here we measure the combined speeds of climate and land-use change for the conterminous US based on multiple land-use and climate scenarios.
We develop a new approach to measure multivariate estimates of climate and land-use change that builds on recently developed measures of climate velocity, and apply it to assess the combined speeds of climate and land use for the conterminous US from 2001 to 2051. The combined speeds of climate and land-use change are highest in a broad north-to-south swath in the central US and in parts of the intermountain west. Climate speeds are roughly an order of magnitude higher than land-use speeds in most regions, but land-use speed is particularly high in the Appalachians and north-central forests. Joint speeds are low across much of the intermountain west. Our results highlight areas expected to be most vulnerable to changes in biodiversity and ecosystem function due to the individual or combined effects of climate and land-use change. The integration of climate and land-use scenarios suggests different conservation prioritization strategies from climate velocities and species alone.