Photo: A map showing the different pathways wildlife could use to migrate northward or higher in elevation as the climate warms. Credit: The Nature Conservancy
The natural world is under siege by climate change. Rising temperatures are pushing plants and animals outside their current range. To keep pace with climate change, species will need a path to follow northward or up in elevation, minimally interrupted by human development.
This map shows that path (well, paths actually) in the most beautiful way possible.
It uses the dreamy Earth wind map for inspiration. But rather than using temperature, wind and sea level pressure data, Dan Majka, a web developer at The Nature Conservancy, used data from two studies to show all the feasible paths that mammals, birds and amphibians can use to find their way to a more suitable climate as their habitat becomes too hot.
RELATED: Giant Goldfish Make Long Migrations in Aussie Rivers
The map doesn't show specific species (you're not going to be able to find the grizzly bear path, for example), but rather shows the general patterns scientists expect animals to follow as the world warms.
The visualization is stunning, but also hopeful. It shows that despite the challenges of climate change and increased urbanization, there are still pathways for the natural world to deal with those threats.
Zoomed out, it's clear that the Appalachians are a crucial funnel for climate-induced migration. They're smack dab in one of the most developed parts of the country and represent some of the last wild land in the eastern United States.
"Much of the land outside of the mountain range is developed or in agriculture," Brad McRae, an ecologist with the Nature Conservancy, said. "So as species ranges shift north, the Appalachians are providing some of the least-developed routes for movement. They also provide some climate relief due to their high elevation."
WATCH VIDEO: Why Winter Doesnt Disprove Global Warming