Climate change: New polar bear prognosis not good, as feds prepare to publish recovery plan

‘Addressing sea ice loss will require global policy solutions …’

polar bear map

An updated USGS study shows how global warming will affect polar bears.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Loss of Arctic sea ice caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases remains as the primary threat to polar bears, U.S. Geological Survey researchers said after updating their research models.

Even if greenhouse gas emissions drastically reduced, sea ice will continue to shrink for decades, leading to a significant loss of polar bear habitat in many parts of the Arctic. The Canadian Archipelago is a notable exception. That region may serve as a climate refuge for the bears and other ice-dependent species, the federal scientists said. Continue reading

Climate: Ocean acidification threatens Alaska’s burgeoning shellfish hatchery industry

Costly seawater treatment may be needed by 2040

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Shellfish are particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Ocean water around parts of Alaska is acidifying so fast that shellfish hatcheries may soon have to use costly treatment systems to continue commercial operations.

“Our research shows there could be significant effects from ocean acidification on Alaska’s emerging shellfish hatchery industry in a matter of two and half decades,” said Jeremy Mathis, Ph.D., an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and a co-author of the study, published this week in PLOS ONE.

“We need to continue to partner with industry and other stakeholders to make sure we’re providing the environmental intelligence needed by industry to answer key questions and make decisions to meet these challenges,” Mathis said. Continue reading

Climate: Widespread heatwaves setting all-time temperature records across the northern hemisphere

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Above average temperatures are expected to persist across the Far West for the next three months.

Global warming is here …

Staff Report

FRISCO — With El Niño still strengthening in the Pacific Ocean, many parts of the northern hemisphere are breaking all-time heat record this week, including England, where tennis players in the early Wimbledon rounds have to contend with the hottest temperatures ever recorded in the UK.

The ongoing heatwaves parts of Asia, North America and Europe may be a clear sign that 2015 will, as expected, end up as the hottest year on record for the globe, and a sign of trouble ahead, as deadly heatwaves are expected to increase and put millions of people at risk, with the threat growing every year, according to a recent climate study. Continue reading

Climate: Conservation group tries new path to limiting CO2 emissions

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Increasingly corrosive ocean waters pose a serious threat to shell-building species and other marine life.

‘Future generations will look back and wonder why we didn’t do everything we could to save the world’s oceans …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Citing the growing threat to the world’s oceans, environmental advocates want the federal government to regulate carbon dioxide under the Toxic Substances Control Act.

The regulations have been used to limit emissions of other harmful chemicals, including chlorofluorocarbons, PCBs and asbestos.

“Time’s running out to avoid a mass extinction of wildlife in our oceans,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “It may not look like a toxic chemical, but when there’s too much CO2 in the ocean, it turns seawater corrosive and dissolves the protective shells that marine animals need to survive,” Sakashita said. Continue reading

Disease-carrying mosquitoes spreading quickly in our warming world

Caption: Known as a vector for the West Nile virus, this Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito has landed on a human finger. Eliminating puddles and small containers of water can greatly reduce this mosquito's population. Credit: CDC/Jim Gathany

Global warming is helping disease-carrying mosquitoes spread rapidly to new territories.
Credit: CDC/Jim Gathany

New maps can guide prevention efforts

Staff Report

FRISCO — Warmer global temperatures are enabling the spread of disease-carrying mosquitoes, putting millions of people at risk, Oxford University researchers say.

The scientists recently created the first global distribution maps of two species of dengue and chikungunya-carrying mosquitoes, showing a rapid expansion in parts of the US, Southern Europe and China during the past 10-15 years. Continue reading

Melting Arctic sea ice could ‘cool’ Europe

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Ocean circulation in the North Atlantic is already changing as a result of global warming.

Study tracks links between melting ice cap, Atlantic Ocean currents

Staff Report

FRISCO — The retreat of sea ice caused by global warming could lead to colder weather for parts of northwestern Europe, Canadian researchers said after studying changing ocean dynamics in the North Atlantic.

The new research reinforces previous findings that the shrinking Arctic ice cap is likely to change the delicate balance between the cold and dense water pouring out of the Arctic and the warm waters of the subtropical Atlantic, according to professor G.W.K. Moore, of the University of Toronto Mississauga. Continue reading

Is global warming driving seabirds from their Gulf of California nesting grounds?

"Elegant Tern Bolsa Chica" by Regular Daddy - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

“Elegant Tern Bolsa Chica” by Regular Daddy. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Study tracks shift in nesting grounds as oceans warm

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientist think climate change may be a key reason that thousands of seabirds are leaving their nesting grounds on an island in the Gulf of California and moving north.

In a new study, researchers from the University of California at Riverside looked at Isla Rasa, where more than 95 percent of the world’s population of elegant terns and Heerman’s gulls have traditionally nested.

In the past 20 years, the seabirds have abandoned the island and moved to other nesting grounds in Southern California including the San Diego Saltworks, Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, and Los Angeles Harbor. Continue reading

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