Climate: Study links deadly 2010-2011 Australia floods with long-term ocean warming


A NASA Earth Observatory satellite image shows swollen rivers in northwestern Australia during record-setting floods in 2010-2011. Visit this NASA page for more info.

‘Take action to forestall global warming …’

Staff Report

Deadly floods that swept across Australia in 2010 and 2011 were at least partly fueled by long-term warming in the Indian and Pacific oceans, according to a new study that highlights some of threats posed by human-caused climate change.

The research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, shows that ocean warming can have profound effects on atmospheric circulation, delivering huge amounts of moisture to land areas under certain conditions. Continue reading

NOAA reports record global warmth for October 2015



Sea ice extent below average at both poles; northern hemisphere snow cover well above average

Staff Report

For the sixth month in a row, the global average temperature broke all historical records in October, soaring to 1.76 degrees Fahrenheit above the monthly average.

According the monthly climate report from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, it was by far the warmest October on record, breaking the record set just last year by 0.36 degrees Fahrenheit. It was also the largest the monthly departure from average from any month on record.

Both land- and sea-surface temperatures set records during the month, a sure sign that El Niño is fueling the spike in global temps and all but ensuring that this year will go down in the books as the warmest on record. Continue reading

Twitter chat to explore global warming wildlife impacts

Colorado moose

A moose cow and calves grazing near Berthoud Pass, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Biologists take to social media for a Q&A

Staff Report

All over the world, global warming is affecting different types of animals, as well as entire ecosystems.

Scientists don’t yet understand exactly what will happen to all plants and animals, but after decades of warming temperatures, they have a pretty good idea of how some species will be affected.

Moose, for example, appear to be moving northward in response to warming temperatures as they seek to avoid infestations of bothersome and disease-carrying ticks. And salmon, which need cold and clear water, have also been affected by parasites in the Yukon River. Continue reading

Climate: Study tracks loss of biodiversity near melting Antarctic glaciers


How will global warming affect marine ecosystems around the Antarctic Peninsula? @bberwyn photo.

Increasing sediment load affects bottom-dwelling sea creatures

Staff Report

A series of research dives around the Antarctic Peninsula suggest that melting glaciers are diminishing the region’s biodiversity. Scientists think the main cause may be increased levels of sediment in the water.

Over the past five decades, temperatures have risen nearly five times as rapidly on the western Antarctic Peninsula than the global average. Yet the impacts of the resulting retreat of glaciers on bottom-dwelling organisms remain unclear. Continue reading

Study IDs Gulf Coast ecosystems at risk

Sea turtles as most vulnerable species

Gulf Coast sunset.

Rising sea level and warming ocean temps are putting Gulf Coast ecosystems at risk, according to a new study. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Sea turtles breeding along the Gulf Coast are among the species deemed most vulnerable to climate change and rising sea level, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded in a new vulnerability assessment that looked at four Gulf ecosystems and 11 species dependent on them.

The ecosystems are mangrove, oyster reef, tidal emergent marsh and barrier islands. The species are roseate spoonbill, blue crab, clapper rail, mottled duck, spotted seatrout, eastern oyster, American oystercatcher, red drum, black skimmer, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle and Wilson’s plover.

Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is thought to be the most vulnerable species across the Gulf Coast. The report identified the main threat as loss of nesting habitat to sea level rise, erosion, and urbanization. Continue reading

Tundra wildfires can trigger widespread permafrost melt

Big fires can shift tundra ecology


Tundra wildfires reinforce a climate feedback loop by melting permafrost.

Staff Report

Wildfires in the Arctic tundra may trigger a classic climate feedback loop by melting large areas of permafrost. according to U.S. Geological Survey scientists who took a close at a 2007 blaze on Alaska’s North Slope.

The findings, published in the journal Scientific Reports, shows that permafrost thaw was detecting in about a third of the fire’s footprint, compared to less than 1 percent in undisturbed areas.

“Once you burn off that protective layer, what we observed is the effect isn’t immediate but takes a few years to really get going,” said Chris Arp, a study co-author and assistant professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Water and Environmental Research Center. Continue reading

Study: Sharks feeding ability impaired by ocean acidification


Some sharks may lose their edge as the world’s oceans become more acidic in the next few decades. Photo courtesy Paula Whitfield, NOAA.

‘In warmer water, sharks are hungrier but with increased CO2 they won’t be able to find their food’

Staff Report

The effects of ocean acidification on shellfish are already well understood. There’s little doubt shell-forming species like oysters will face big challenges as the water chemistry changes. In some cases, more acidic water will simply corrode there shells.

But a new study found that some top ocean predators will also be affected. Ocean acidification will impair the ability of some sharks to hunt and find food, according to researchers at the University of Adelaide (Australia). Continue reading


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