Study: Florida’s beach-hardening strategy threatens green sea turtle nesting areas

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A green sea turtle. Photo courtesy NOAA.

‘Smart’ adaptation plans needed to protect critical beach nesting habitat

Staff Report

FRISCO — Florida’s strategy of trying to “harden” beaches to prevent erosion poses a serious threat to sea turtles, university scientists said this week, outlining results of a study that tracked reproduction for 30 years.

Hardening beaches puts up barriers to wildlife and impacts sea turtles’ ability to nest,” the researchers said. Continue reading

Cameroon chimps face serious climate change threat

"Ngambe " is a chimpanzee rescued from illegal animal trafficking who now lives at the Limbe Wildlife Center in Cameroon. view more Credit: Paul Sesink Clee

“Ngambe ” is a chimpanzee rescued from illegal animal trafficking who now lives at the Limbe Wildlife Center in Cameroon. By Paul Sesink Clee.

Rare subspecies could lose nearly all its habitat by 2020

Staff Report

FRISCO — Some of the most endangered chimpanzees in the world could see most of their habitat disappear by 2020 because of global warming, scientists warned this week. Climate and habitat models show the drastic decline based on impacts to sensitive savanna-woodland habitat in central Cameroon. Continue reading

Climate: Melting glaciers adding dissolved carbon to world’s oceans

Scientists eye impacts to high-latitude marine ecosystems

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Melting glaciers, like the Dachstein in Austria, may be a big source of dissolved carbon with the potential to affect downstream ecosystems. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — As if rising sea levels aren’t enough to worry about, U.S. Geological Survey scientists say melting glaciers may also adding significant amounts of carbon to the oceans, where it’s readily available to microscopic organisms at the base of the food chain.

By 2050, that carbon could total as much as 17 million tons, equal to about half of the annual flux of dissolved organic carbon from the Amazon River, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Geoscience, cautioning that their calculations are subject to revision.

The study aimed to better understand the role glaciers play in the global carbon cycle, especially as climate warming continues to reduce glacier ice stores and release ice-locked organic carbon into downstream freshwater and marine ecosystems. Continue reading

Climate: Study says wheat yields to drop 6 percent for every degree of global warming

Wheat field in Upper Austria

A wheat field in Upper Austria ripens under a summer sun.

Global food production needs to grow 60 percent by 2050 to feed 9 billion people

Staff Report

FRISCO — Developing new strains of wheat may be the best way to maintain food security as global temperatures warm, because every 1 degree Celsius of warming will reduce wheat crops by 6 percent, according to a new study led by a University of Florida scientist.

Senthold Asseng, a UF professor of agricultural and biological engineering, used a computer model approach to reach the finding of temperature increases and wheat production. Continue reading

It’s official: 2014 was the warmest year on record

More heat ahead …

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Record warmth around the world in 2014.

Staff Report

FRISCO — 2014 ended up as the warmest year ever for planet Earth, but just by a whisker, edging out 2005 and 2010 by 0.07 degrees Fahrenheit. The new temperature record was driven by persistent warmth across the world’s oceans, which have been absorbing most of the heat trapped by greenhouse gas pollutants.

Heat absorbed in the oceans will fuel global warming for years to come, said Tom Karl, directory of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, which generates the monthly and annual climate reports for the U.S. and the world. With greenhouse gas emissions still rising, Karl said more record-warm years are ahead. Read the full report here. Continue reading

Climate: ‘It’s time to start getting angry’

Climate researchers call for action at Breck conference

By Adam Spencer

BRECKENRIDGE — For nearly 70 years, Americans breathed poisonous exhaust from leaded gasoline while a team of oil and auto industry-funded scientists maintained that millions of cars burning lead — a potent neurotoxin — was safe.  When federal regulators finally started to phase out leaded gasoline in the 1970s, levels of the toxin found in Americans’ blood plummeted by 77 percent.

“The use of leaded gasoline very much mirrors the fight over climate change,” said Dr. Jim White, director of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research and a geology and environmental science professor at the University of Colorado.

White argued, at the annual Glen Gerberg Weather and Climate Summit held in Breckenridge this week, that big oil’s arguments against the early warnings of lead’s health impacts (spills at the plants that produced the petroleum additive in the 1920s killed some workers and made others crazy) are very similar to the arguments used today to discredit human-caused climate change. Continue reading

Climate: Is sea level rise speeding up?

New study shows acceleration in past 20 years

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Coastal flooding along the Gulf Coast. bberwyn photo.

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Sea level is going up, up … up.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Estimating the pace of global sea level rise isn’t easy, but a team of Harvard researchers say their new study helps fill in some of the data gaps, showing that the acceleration in the rise global sea level from the 20th century to the last two decades has been significantly larger than scientists previously thought.

Part of the reason for that is because scientists may have been over-estimating sea level rise between 1900 and 1990, according to co-authors Carling Hay, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Eric Morrow, a recent PhD graduate of EPS. Continue reading

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