Climate: Warming oceans may increase New England hurricane risk

Hurricanes and global warming

A NOAA satellite image of Hurricane Bob, which raked the New England coast in 1991.

Historic record shows series of intense storms during eras of warmer sea surface temps

Staff Report

FRISCO — Climate researchers say New England’s coastal communities may need to prepare for major hurricane strikes sooner rather than later as the Atlantic Ocean continues to warm.

“We may need to begin planning for a category 3 hurricane landfall every decade or so rather than every 100 or 200 years,” said Jeff Donnelly, a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, explaining that new research findings show that a string of giant storms pummeled the region during the first millennium, from the peak of the Roman Empire into the height of the Middle Ages. Continue reading

Environment: Northeast lakes rebound from acid rain

Air quality regs pay off, as New England lakes and streams bounce back from acid rain.

Air quality regs pay off, as New England lakes and streams bounce back from acid rain.

It’s simple: Cleaning the air improves water quality

Staff Report

FRISCO — Acid rain, once the scourge of freshwater ecosystems in the eastern U.S., is waning, and the health of New England lakes and streams is improving, scientists said this week after documenting declines in sulfate concentrations in snow and rain.

The data gathered by scientists working under the auspices of the NH Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of New Hampshire College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, show that sulfate concentration in rain and snow declined by more than 40 percent in the 2000s. Sulfate concentration in lakes declined at a greater rate from 2002 to 2010 than during the 1980s or 1990s. During the 2000s, nitrate concentration in rain and snow declined by more than 50 percent and nitrate concentration declined in lakes. Continue reading

Circle of life: Marauding deep-sea monkfish prey on shallow-diving dovekies when the timing is right

Shallow-diving dovekies are opportunistically eaten by deep-sea dwelling monkfish.

Shallow-diving dovekies are opportunistically eaten by deep-sea dwelling monkfish. Photo courtesy Chris Melrose, NEFSC/NOAA.

Research aims to learn more about bird-eating fish

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Everybody knows it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, but when cute little seabirds start showing up in the stomachs of bottom-dwelling, deep-sea fish, biologists get curious.

So when USGS biologist Matthew Perry heard that New England fishermen were finding tiny dovekies inside monkfish, he decided to investigate how this previously unknown link in the ocean foodchain works.

“I was studying long-tailed ducks and thought, to avoid being eaten, these birds fly 30 to 50 miles to Nantucket Sound each night and return to the ocean in the morning,” said Perry, a research wildlife biologist at the USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland. “People ask why don’t dovekies fly to Nantucket Sound at night like the long-tailed ducks to avoid goosefish?  My explanation is that dovekies have small wings and can’t make the routine flight.” Continue reading

Environment: Northern hardwood forests poised to take big hit from global warming

Groffman concludes,

Forest response to climate change based on complex set of factors

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Global warming plays out on a stage that’s much more complex than just a rising graph line in a climate model.

In the northern hardwood forests of New England, for example, the models don’t account for factors critical to understanding forest response, such as hydrology, soil conditions, and plant-animal interactions, according to Dr. Peter Groffman, a microbial ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Continue reading

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