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The 2018 Sackler Forum: Climate Change and Ecosystems

Since 2008, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler USA-UK Scientific Forums have brought together scientific leaders from the United Kingdom and United States to discuss topics of worldwide scientific concern.

The 2018 Sackler Forum, entitled Climate Change and Ecosystems, took place on the 8-9 November at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC.

Climate change is increasingly threatening the viability and resilience of natural ecosystems and human societies. While there is a growing understanding of the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, much less is known about how ecosystems can best be managed to enhance their resilience to climate change, and how ecosystem management can be a strategy for more general adaptation to change. 

Ecosystem management and restoration has the potential to contribute nature-based solutions to both the causes and consequences of climate change. However, the effectiveness, scalability and magnitude of different strategies need to be explored and evaluated.

A summary of the meeting has been produced, which highlights the latest science, future research, and policy priorities.

A theme issue of Philosophical Transactions B titled ‘Climate change and ecosystems: threats, opportunities and solutions’ has also been published as an output to the Forum. This is a collection of the novel science that was presented and discussed.

A video recording of the event is available on the National Academy of Sciences' website.

Frontiers of research

The 2018 Sackler Forum examined the latest science on how climate change can affect terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems, often in interaction with other factors. In particular, it addressed current research frontiers such as the effects of change in climate variability and extremes; interactions among multiple stressors; thresholds and the potential for abrupt change; and multi-trophic interactions. 

The forum also considered opportunities to assist and manage ecosystems to enhance both their resilience and societal resilience to climate change. The meeting explored the science and policy dimensions to this challenge, drawing on examples across a range of terrestrial, aquatic and marine ecosystems. 

The forum was organised by a committee of distinguished researchers in the field, composed of:

The Forum brought together US and UK scientists in the fields of climate change, ecosystem ecology, land use and biodiversity. The aims of the Forum were to: 

  • Build new opportunities for international collaboration 
  • Highlight and discuss the latest research findings related to both the impact of climate change on ecosystems and how ecosystems may offer solutions for climate adaptation and mitigation
  • Identify research gaps and future research priorities relating to climate change and ecosystems 
  • Discuss how research in this field may provide solutions to international policy challenges
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