FIU biology professor Steve Oberbauer spends about three months of the year in the Alaskan tundra, the Costa Rican rainforest and the Florida Everglades, researching climate change and focusing on plant response to the stresses of these different areas. In addition to graduate students, he also has been able to take undergraduates with him to Alaska, through a research experiences for undergrads program, using funds from the grants he has received from the National Science Foundation.
His research seeks to understand how changes in the timing of events affect ecosystem responses to climate change and how the response of vegetation in turn affects climate change. His findings make it clear that climate change in one area of the world will impact another and humans are behind the changes. “The physics are too overwhelming. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was about 280 parts per million before the industrial revolution. Now it’s about 390. It’s a very large increase in a short time. Man has to have an effect. To think otherwise, that’s basically hiding your head in the sand” Oberbauer said.
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