Colder cold snaps under climate change?

The downside of climate change could have a 
bigger-than-expected effect on nature

Wood frog embryos can suffer from exposure to cold, changing the biological nature of these amphibians for better or worse.

When it comes to global warming, it would appear the effect of cold temperature variability is being severely underestimated.

A team of researchers from Binghamton University, State University of New York, say public attention often focuses on the effect of rising average temperatures.

The researchers discovered that cold temperatures make amphibians more susceptible to road salt but less susceptible to parasites. These findings reveal the importance of considering cold-temperature variability, and not just warming temperatures, when evaluating the impacts of global climate disruption.

“There is a lot of misconception that global climate change only refers to an increase in warming temperatures,” Jessica Hua, assistant professor of biological sciences, said. “We feel that the research in this paper is important because it highlights that global climate change is more complex than just an increase in average temperature. In fact, global climate change is also predicted to increase the prevalence of extreme cold temperature events, as well as increase the amount of variation in temperature fluctuations.”

Due to the rising temperatures from climate change, organisms begin breeding earlier in the spring, which paradoxically leads to an increased risk that these organisms are exposed to heightened fluctuations in temperature during early development, including harmful cold temperature. It is important to note that while these cold temperatures may not always be deadly, they may alter the susceptibility of amphibians to other stressors, including contaminants and parasites.

About the author



Stories from our other publications