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Is Austria a climate change hotspot?

Alpine country warming faster than global average

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A map showing the changing climate suitability  for different varieties of grapes suggests how the country’s climate is going to warm in coming decades.

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Austria’s glaciers are dwindling fast. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Austria is one of Europe’s climate change hotspots, scientists said last week as they released a comprehensive climate assessment showing that temperatures in the alpine country are climbing much faster than the global average.

“Already by now, Austria has warmed by 2 degrees Celsius in contrast to the rest of the world, with 0.85 degrees Celsius,” said project leader Nebojsa Nakicenovic, deputy director of the Vienna-based International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

Not surprisingly, the warming has also lead to a big jump in the average temperatures of Austria’s lakes and rivers, which since the 1980s, warmed by 1.5 degrees in summer and 0.7 degrees Celsius in winter, according to the assessment. Continue reading

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Global warming aids spread of invasive fish in Mediterranean Sea

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A juvenile rabbitfish, an invasive species blamed for wiping out huge areas of ocean habitat. Photo courtesy Zafer Kizilkaya.

Ocean ecosystems at risk from fish that kills algal forests

Staff Report

FRISCO — The spread of invasive tropical fish into previously temperate waters is also affecting the Mediterranean Sea, according to Australian scientist monitoring the spread of rabbitfish which have already devastated algal forests in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Global warming may help the fish spread into the entire Mediterranean Basin, researcher warned in a new paper published in the Journal of Ecology (Authors: Dr. Adriana Vergés, of the University of New South Wales, Australia, and Dr. Fiona Tomas of the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies in Spain). Continue reading

Climate: August global temp sets new record

2014 on track to be one of the warmest years ever

August 2014 global warming map

August 2014 was record warm.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Planet Earth was record warm in August 2014, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists said Thursday, explaining that warm oceans continue to drive temperatures around the world to the highest levels seen since observations started more than 100 years ago. Continue reading

Climate: Ocean acidification may be stunting coral growth

Mapping coral diseases is helping researchers determine the cause. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Coral growth is slowing dramatically along parts of the Great Barrier Reef. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Will the world’s coral reefs simply dissolve as oceans become more acidic?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists monitoring the Great Barrier Reef said they’ve tracked a “perilous” 40 percent slowdown in coral growth rates since the 1970s.

The trend may be linked with increasing ocean acidification, according to the new study led  by researchers with the Carnegie Institution for Science.

The researchers compared current measurements of the growth rate of a section of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef with similar measurements taken more than 30 years ago. Continue reading

Thanks for supporting independent journalism!

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Enjoying dinner and supporting independent journalism at the Sunshine Cafe in Dillon, Colorado.

I’ll be discussing global warming in the Rocky Mountains live on the KGNU program, “A Public Affair” Wednesday, Sept. 17 at 8:30 a.m. You can listen streaming on the web by going to www.kgnu.org and clicking on the “Tune In Online” button (left sidebar)

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Ever since I waded knee-deep into the mucky water of Cucumber Gulch 15 years ago to write about vanishing boreal toads, I had this crazy idea that good environmental journalism — and good journalism in general — should be a core community value. The feedback I got on countless stories about critters, forests, water, snow and ski areas — especially ski area expansions — over the years helped reinforce that feeling.

I’ve always known that Summit County readers are smart, engaged and interested in what happens in the world around them. That enthusiasm manifested last Friday evening at the Sunshine Cafe, where about 25 people enjoyed a fabulous menu, a slide show about the Climate Ranger environmental reporting project and a silent auction. The dinner was an incredibly generous gift from cafe owners Mike and Tenley Spry and their gracious and welcoming staff.

We brainstormed about local environment stories, and as always, water is always a key topic — not surprisingly, since a new state report released in August projects that global warming will cut river flows in our state in a big way by 2050, and the impacts by the end of the century could be overwhelming if greenhouse gas emissions continue apace.

We’ll devote some of the money raised at the dinner to writing a couple of in-depth local natural resource stories, and I look forward to hearing more from readers about what you’d like to see covered. With sustainable funding, I can deliver solid and truly newsworthy environmental stories from the local area, but I can’t do it without your support and I can’t do it for free — this is not a hobby.

Doing good journalism takes resources and time, and I’ve already invested more than 15 years in learning about public land and water policy, forest health, climate change, endangered species and other topics I write about.

You can be a grassroots supporter of independent journalism by making a contribution to Summit Voice:

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If you’d like to become a business supporter, have a look at the link sponsorship ads in the sidebar. I would love to work with you and feature you as an ongoing supporter of independent reporting. Please contact me at bberwyn@comcast.net.

If you would specifically like to support the Climate Ranger project, reporting on global warming in the Rocky Mountains, please visit our Beacon Reader page, where your contribution will also give you access to a wealth of diverse independent reporting from around the world.

 

Climate: More flooding, less snow in Vermont

August 2014 global temperatures were more than 1 degree Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. Map courtesy NASA.

August 2014 global temperatures were more than 1 degree Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. Map courtesy NASA.

Down-scaled climate modeling suggests sugar maples will probably persist for a while

Staff Report

FRISCO — New downscaled climate models for Vermont suggest that the state will probably be able to produce maple syrup in the coming decades, but the distribution of best habitat for sugar maples will shift, and average temperatures will increase by 5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050.

By late in the century, Vermont’s average temperature will increase by 8 degrees Fahrenheit, adding 43 days to the growing season — and 10 additional days with temps above 90 degrees in Burlington, while snowfall is likely decrease by 50 percent at six major ski resorts, according to a team of scientists who recently published states-specific projections in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology. Continue reading

Global warming driving invasive lionfish northward

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The lionfish are coming, for better or worse.

New study takes detailed look at changing ocean temperatures

Staff Report

FRISCO — Careful study of ocean temperatures shows how tropical fish are likely to expand northward along the Atlantic coast into the temperate ocean zone off the Carolinas. Invaders could include the poisonous lionfish, which is already causing problems on coral reefs in the Caribbean.

Researchers with NOAA and the University of North Carolina-Wilmington combined year-round bottom water temperature data with 2006-2010 fish community surveys in water depths from 15 to 150 feet off the coast of North Carolina. The study revealed that the fish community was primarily tropical in the deeper areas surveyed, from 122 to 150 feet, with a winter mean temperature of 21 degrees Celsius (69.8 degrees Fahrenheit).

Many of the native tropical fishes, usually abundant in shallow, somewhat cooler reefs, tended to remain in the deeper, warmer water, suggesting that temperature is a main factor in controlling their distribution. The findings were published in the September issue of Marine Ecology Progress Series. Continue reading

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