Global warming: Goodbye to sea scallops?

A northward shift of the Gulf Stream could warm waters off the New England coast significantly, according to a new NOAA study. Graphic courtesy NASA.

Rapidly warming ocean temperatures off the New England coast are affecting many marine species. Graphic courtesy NASA.

New vulnerability assessment to help guide fisheries management

Staff Report

Rapidly warming ocean temperatures off the coast of the Northeastern U.S. are likely to have a big impact on nearly all fish and other marine life in the region. Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration carefully surveyed 82 species in a recent study, trying to identify which are the most vulnerable to global warming.

“Our method identifies specific attributes that influence marine fish and invertebrate resilience to the effects of a warming ocean and characterizes risks posed to individual species,” said Jon Hare, a fisheries oceanographer at NOAA Fisheries’ Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) and lead author of the study. “This work will help us better account for the effects of warming waters on our fishery species in stock assessments and when developing fishery management measures.” Continue reading

Study warns that some misguided climate change adaptation efforts could do more harm than good

Sea level is rising, and will continue to rise for centuries even if we cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Sea level is rising, and will continue to rise for centuries even if greenhouse gas emissions are stopped immediately, and low-lying areas like the Mississippi Delta are already feeling the effects. @bberwyn photo.

‘Functioning and intact forests, grasslands, wetlands and coral reefs represent our greatest protection against floods and storms’

Staff Report

Climate change adaptation is more than a slogan in many parts of the world, as communities work to protect themselves from the impacts of a warming world.

But a new study says planners must carefully think through their responses — some changes could leave people worse off in the future, according to scientists with CSIRO, the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Queensland.

Their findings, published in Nature Climate Change, discusses how certain adaptation strategies may have a negative impact on nature which in turn will impact people in the long-term. Many climate adaptation strategies such as sea wall construction and new agricultural practices do more harm than good, the researchers concluded. Continue reading

Canada’s coastal First Nations fisheries could take hit from global warming


Not smiling …

Modeling projects huge economic losses in fisheries

Staff Report

A fine-grained look at climate change impacts in Canada suggests that coastal First Nations people might be hit especially hard, with fisheries catch potentially declining by 50 percent in the next few decades. That represents losses between $6.7 and $12 million annually by 2050.

According to the study conducted by former University of British Columbia grad student Lauren Weatherdon, the projected changes threaten the food and economic security of indigenous communities along coastal British Columbia, Canada. Continue reading

Climate: Antarctic icebergs seen as key carbon sinks

Southern Ocean sequesters up to 10 percent of global carbon


Giant Southern Ocean icebergs are key links in the carbon cycle, according to a new study. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

A new study by the University of Sheffield’s Department of Geography helps confirm the importance of giant Antarctic icebergs as key pieces in the global carbon cycle. The findings were published this week in Nature Geoscience.

The trails of fresh water from the melting slabs of ice contain iron and other nutrients, supporting unexpectedly high levels of phytoplankton growth, the study found.That biological activity, known as carbon sequestration, contributes to the long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide, helping to slow global warming. In all, icebergs may responsible for storing up to 20 percent of carbon in the Southern Ocean, the researchers concluded. Continue reading

2015 in review – environment


A NASA satellite shows oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill spreading across the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Oil spill impacts

Looking back over some of the top environmental stories published in Summit Voice, it’s interesting to see some of the long-running threads, including continued news about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. A half decade after BP failed drilling operation spewed millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, scientists continue to track the impacts, including massive amounts of oil buried deep in sea-bottom sediments, as described in this Jan. 2015 story.

Monarchs bounce back

For some good news in January, an annual monarch butterfly survey showed a slight recovery in population numbers, up to 56.5 million from the previous year’s low of 34 million. But that was still more than  80 percent below the 20-year average and down 95 percent from numbers tallied in the mid-1990s. Near-perfect conditions during breeding season helped bolster the numbers in 2015. Read more here.



Monarch butterflies are struggling, but population surveys in 2015 suggested that, with some help, the species can recover. @bberwyn photo.

Continue reading

World acts on global warming



‘Acknowledging that climate change is a common concern of humankind …’

Staff Report

Every generation has a moment when its tested, and ours came last week in Paris, when we took the chance to come together as a planet, showing that we can the universal will to address the threat of climate change. No treaty is perfect, and there will be plenty of debate in the months and years ahead about the final COP 21 agreement.

But the history books ultimately will record that humankind managed for a few days to set aside squabbles and political differences to find common ground on one of the most important challenges of our time. It’s a sign that there is hope for all of us after all. Perhaps, the mutual trust and engagement that emerged during the final negotiating sessions can be applied in some of the other political, social and environmental issues. The agreement of the text is simple and elegant, and for all the interpretations that are already floating around out there, it’s worth reading it for your self:

Scientists track unexpected oceanic plankton surge

Scientists working in the Gulf of Mexico are tracking BP's spilled oil as it works its way up the food web, from bacteria to plankton. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

Will plankton rule in a globally warming world? Photo via NOAA.

‘Something strange is happening here, and it’s happening much more quickly than we thought it should …’

Staff Report

Atmospheric carbon dioxide ending up in the world’s oceans may be fueling a population explosion of microscopic marine algae in the North Atlantic, scientists said in a new study that shows how greenhouse gases can drive dramatic ecosystem changes. Continue reading


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