Biologists mark huge step in fight against amphibian-killing fungus


Boreal toads in Colorado, and other amphibians around the world, may benefit from the results of a new treatment that can eliminate a deadly fungus.

New treatment could help protect vulnerable species

Staff Report

Scientists in the UK and Spain say they’ve developed a way to tackle the amphibian-killing chytrid fungus in a way that could help protect wild populations of amphibians.

Their research is a major breakthrough in the battle against the deadly disease, which has affected over 700 amphibian species worldwide; driving population declines, extirpations and species extinctions across five continents. Continue reading

Study: Doubling of CO2 may warm Earth by 3 degrees Celsius


New data shows climate may be more sensitive to CO2 than previously thought.

New chemical analysis sends climate warming signal

Staff Report

A study of ancient carbonate crystals in Colorado suggests that the Earth’s climate is more sensitive to changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide than believed.

Based on the chemical analysis of rocks from the Green River formation, scientists think that a doubling of CO2 from pre-industrial times could raise the global temperature by a whopping 3 degrees Celsius. Continue reading

Nevada fossil records offer global warming clues

Bones of a juvenile mammoth spilling out of the ground in Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (TUSK). USGS scientists are currently investigating geologic deposits exposed throughout TUSK to determine how the springs and marshes that attracted the animals responded to climate change in the past.

Bones of a juvenile mammoth spilling out of the ground in Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (TUSK). USGS scientists are currently investigating geologic deposits exposed throughout TUSK to determine how the springs and marshes that attracted the animals responded to climate change in the past. Photo courtesy Eric Scott/USGS.

Abrupt climate change ripples through desert ecosystems

Staff Report

Freshwater springs outside Las Vegas offer some clues about how global warming will affect desert ecosystems, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

New research shows the seeps and springs expanded and contracted dramatically in response to past episodes of abrupt climate change, even disappearing altogether for centuries at a time when conditions became too warm.

“This is a story of water,” said Springer. “Water was plentiful in the desert at times in the past, but when climate warmed, springs and wetlands dried up, and the plants and animals living in the harsh desert environment were out of luck,” said USGS scientist Kathleen Springer. Continue reading

Are Greenland glaciers on the verge of crumbling?


Some of Greenland’s biggest glaciers may be on the verge of crumbling into the sea, according to new satellite data. @bberwyn photo.

Study tracks rapid retreat of major ice streams

Staff Report

Scientists may not have to wait too much longer to observe firsthand the effects of global warming on Greenland’s ice sheets. One of the largest glaciers in Greenland entered “a phase of accelerated retreat in 2012,” and may be near a climate tipping point, according to new research published in the current issue of Science.

After studying the Zachariae Isstrom, scientists with the University of California, Irvine, said it’s starting to break up.

“North Greenland glaciers are changing rapidly,” said Jeremie Mouginot, an assistant researcher with UCI’s department of earth system science. “The shape and dynamics of Zachariae Isstrom have changed dramatically over the last few years. The glacier is now breaking up and calving high volumes of icebergs into the ocean, which will result in rising sea levels for decades to come.” 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

Bat-killing fungus has spread across 26 states


A bat displays signs of the deadly white-nose syndrome. Photo via USFWS.

Nebraska officials confirm presence of white-nose syndrome

Staff Report

Bat-killing white-nose syndrome has been confirmed in Nebraska, which means the deadly fungus has now spread to 26 states and five Canadian provinces, wiping out populations of hibernating bats along the way.

“While the presence of the fungus is disappointing, it is not surprising,” said Mike Fritz, a zoologist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. “With the fungus being present in states around us and the migratory nature of bats, it was probably only a matter of time before it was documented in Nebraska.” 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


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