Global warming is already leading to changes that can be seen from space, reports Kyle Cavanaugh and colleagues in a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Mangrove forests have been expanding northward along the Atlantic coast of Florida for the last few decades. "The most intuitive explanation is not the explanation that actually explains this pattern," said senior co-author Jim Kellner, who teaches in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology and is part of Brown's Environmental Change Initiative. "The one people would most probably point to is an increase in mean temperature." Instead, subtle differences of just 1.4 fewer days a year below 25 degrees in Daytona Beach or 1.2 days a year in Titusville over the past three decades appear to explain as much as a doubling of mangrove habitat in those areas.
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (grant NNX11AO94G) and the National Science Foundation (grants 1065821 and 1065098) supported the research.