Report offers mixed climate change outlook for pikas

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A Quandary Peak pika enjoys sunny weather. @bberwyn photo.

Some populations likely to blink out because of global warming

Staff Report

Climate change may push pikas out of some western national parks, but they are expected to survive in others, where global warming won’t hit quite so hard, scientists said in a new report.

The tiny mammals are common residents of the alpine zone in the West, but warmer and drier conditions will shrink their habitat in some regions in the coming decades. The study concluded that warmer temperatures in Rocky Mountain National Park will cause habitat suitability and connectivity to decline, making that population “highly vulnerable to extirpation.” 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

Will the U.S. Supreme Court block the Clean Power Plan?

Fossil fuel dinosaurs make last-ditch effort to keep polluting the nation’s air with dangerous greenhouse gases

Mercury from the Craig Station power plant in northwest Colorado pollutes lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Mercury from the Craig Station power plant in northwest Colorado pollutes lakes in Rocky Mountain National Park.

By Bob Berwyn

Texas, West Virginia, Colorado and 26 other states are going to the U.S. Supreme Court with a last-ditch effort to slow the Obama administration’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.

The states want the court to block implementation of the EPA Clean Power Plan, which they describe as “the most far reaching and burdensome rule EPA has ever forced onto the States.”

Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit rejected the same request, leading to the appeal to the Supreme Court. The states say the plan will require a massive shift away from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy, and claim the changes will cost jobs and money. Continue reading

CO2 could take huge toll on ocean fish by mid-century

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Can the world’s oceans survive the global warming era?

Not much time left to cut greenhouse gas pollution

Staff Report

Building levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and oceans could have a widespread and devastating effect on many fish by 2050, Australian researchers warned in a new study.

“Our results were staggering and have massive implications for global fisheries and marine ecosystems across the planet,” said Dr. Ben McNeil, a researcher at the University of New South Wales Climate Change Research Centre. “High concentrations of carbon dioxide cause fish to become intoxicated … a phenomenon known as hypercapnia. Essentially, the fish become lost at sea. The carbon dioxide affects their brains and they lose their sense of direction and ability to find their way home. They don’t even know where their predators are,” McNeil said. Continue reading

Study says there’s little chance recent record global temps are due to natural variability

‘Natural climate variations just can’t explain the observed recent global heat records, but man-made global warming can …’

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Record-warm global temperatures are not due to natural variability.

Staff Report

It’s no accident that 13 out of the 15 warmest years on record have all occurred during the current century, according to climate researchers, who said there’s an “extreme likelihood” that the recent spate of warmth is caused by human-made climate change. Continue reading

Greenland meltdown threatens key Atlantic Ocean current

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Sea ice swirls around Greenland in this NASA Earth Observatory photo.

‘If human activities are starting to impact this system, it is a worrying sign that the scale of human impacts on the climate system may be reaching a critical point’

Staff Report

Cold, fresh water from the Greenland Ice Sheet may disrupt a key ocean current in the North Atlantic, scientists said after updating estimates of the freshwater flux based on new satellite data. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, warns that the changes could have as-yet uncertain implications for the global climate.

At issue is the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which transports a large amount of heat into the North Atlantic where it is given up to the atmosphere and helps regulate the climate in Europe and North America. Continue reading

Snowshoe hares face climate change challenge

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Can snowshoe hares survive global warming? Photo courtesy Kim Fenske.

‘That mismatch does indeed kill’

Staff Report

For millennia, snowshoe hares have camouflaged themselves from predators by blending in with their surroundings, turning pure white in the winter to blend in with the snow, then brown in the summer.

But climate change is shifting the timing of the snow season, and the hares may not be able to adapt in time, according to a North Carolina State University study published in the journal Ecology Letters.

Based on field research with radio-collared snowshoe hares in Montana, mismatched snowshoe hares suffer a 7 percent drop in their weekly survival rate when snow comes late or leaves early and white hares stand out to predators like “light bulbs” against their snowless backgrounds. Continue reading

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