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New map identifies Earth regions most vulnerable to climate change

The map illustrates the global distribution of the climate stability/ecoregional intactness relationship. Regions with both high climate stability and vegetation intactness are dark grey; those with high climate stability but low levels of vegetation intactness are dark orange. Regions with low climate stability but high vegetation intactness are dark green, while those with both low climate stability and low levels of vegetation intactness are pale cream. Credit: WCS
The map illustrates the global distribution of the climate stability/ecoregional intactness relationship. Regions with both high climate stability and vegetation intactness are dark grey; those with high climate stability but low levels of vegetation intactness are dark orange. Regions with low climate stability but high vegetation intactness are dark green, while those with both low climate stability and low levels of vegetation intactness are pale cream. Credit: WCS

NEW YORK, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- U.S. and Australian scientists say they've created a map identifying the areas of the Earth most vulnerable and least vulnerable to climate change.

Scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Queensland and Stanford University created the map using data from the world's ecosystems and predictions of how climate change will impact them, a WCS release said Monday.

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The map identifies southern and southeastern Asia, western and central Europe, eastern South America, and southern Australia as some of the most vulnerable regions.

The vulnerability map will help governments and environmental agencies identify areas where to best invest conservation activities to protect ecosystems and the services they provide to wildlife and people alike, the researchers said.

"We need to realize that climate change is going to impact ecosystems both directly and indirectly in a variety of ways and we can't keep on assuming that all adaptation actions are suitable everywhere," James Watson, director of WCS' Climate Change Program, said. "The fact is there is only limited funds out there and we need to start to be clever in our investments in adaptation strategies around the world."

The study that resulted in the map has been published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

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