Climate change is the defining challenge of our generation, and it can be difficult to conceive of any part of society or nature that will not in some way be affected by it. At the same time, the attribution of environmental change to climate forcing can be challenging, given the multitude faces of climate change, and ways that ecosystems can respond to it. Drawing examples from the field of limnology, I present cases where the attribution of climate change as a driver of significant environmental changes is not necessarily obvious. I also present instances where non-climate drivers have been responsible for environmental changes that could easily be mistaken for the effects of climate change. In the latter case, the misattribution of direct anthropogenic drivers to climate change can result in missed opportunities for both ecosystem managers and even climate mitigation efforts.
About the Speaker
Dr. Soren Brothers is the Allan and Helaine Shiff Curator of Climate Change at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). He is also an Assistant Professor at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto. Soren’s research examines the effects of climate change on lakes, and how changes in aquatic systems can influence their greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere. More broadly, he is interested in understanding how feedback loops and the transdisciplinary study of lakes can help us better understand and predict global tipping points that may accelerate anthropogenic climate change. Born in Mississauga and raised in Toronto, Soren has worked on lakes in a diverse array of environments around the world, including the Nunavut tundra, Quebec’s boreal forests, and the Great Lakes. He is leading a Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network initiative to improve understanding of the widespread greenhouse gas impacts of desiccation. He is also passionate about science communication and community outreach. Before beginning at the ROM in 2021 he was an Assistant Professor of Limnology at Utah State University, and a CREATE program manager and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Guelph, focusing on multiple stressors and cumulative effects in the Great Lakes.