Decades of research on terrestrial and marine ecosystems and their biodiversity have improved our understanding of their importance for society and their links to climate. Ecosystems provide food, fuel, and freshwater. They regulate climate through the global carbon cycle and the hydrologic cycle. They buffer against storms, erosion, and extreme events and provide cultural, nonmaterial benefits such as space for recreation, education, and spiritual practices. Ecosystems are thus essential components of Earth's life support system, and understanding the impacts of climate change on ecosystems is a critical part of the research enterprise.
11 For additional discussion and references, see Chapter 9 in Part II of the report.
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