I’m Michael Dietze, ecologist researching how to make near-term nature forecasts similar to weather forecasts. Ask me anything about how short-term environment forecasts will help us understand, manage ＆ conserve ecosystems.
Thank you everyone for writing in – it has been a great discussion! Unfortunately, I am not able to respond to every question, but I will plan to revisit the conversation later on and answer more of your questions! In the meantime, for more information about ecological forecasting and conservation, please follow me on Twitter at @mcdietze, and check out my lab’s website https://people.bu.edu/dietze/ and the Ecological Forecasting Initiative https://ecoforecast.org/
I am Michael Dietze, Professor at Boston University and leader of the Ecological Forecasting Laboratory, dedicated to better understanding and predicting our environment.
Current research in ecological forecasting is focused on long-term projections. It aims to answer questions that play out over decades to centuries – for example how species may be impacted by climate change, or whether forests will continue to take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. I argue that focusing on near-term forecasts over spans of days, seasons and years will help us better understand, manage and conserve ecosystems. For example, just as we can look and see if it will rain next weekend, what if we could foresee extreme weather events, or exactly when the foliage will start to bloom in the fall, or if next year will be better or worse for ticks? This approach will help us measure if our predictions about the environment and climate are right – instead of projecting results that we will not be able to see during our lifetime. Ask me anything about:
What ecology is and why it matters
Why developing near-term environmental forecasts would be a win-win for both science and society/individuals
How making a nature forecast just like how we forecast the weather will improve public health (i.e. through better forecasts of infectious disease outbreaks and better planning in anticipation of famine, wildfire and other natural disasters)
How ecological forecasts will improve decision-making in agriculture, forestry, fisheries and other industries
How short-term environmental forecasts can help private landowners, local governments and state and federal agencies better manage and conserve our land, water and coastlines
How short-term forecasting can help us better understand how humans are impacting the environment and climate change
Why we aren’t already doing this type of forecasting
Why the time for ecologists to start forecasting is now – and how it can be done
How data science and technology can help this process
How you can get involved in ecology
How you can help the environment
PROOF PICTURE: https://twitter.com/mcdietze/status/1443604264354525195