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Global warming: Need more proof?

Happy spring!

Daffaodils are blooming earlier, forcing flower festival organizers to move up the dates of their events.

Flower festival dates moved up by nearly a month since the late 1960s

Staff Report

FRISCO — A popular flower festival in the UK is now being help 26 days earlier than when it started back in 1946 because the daffodils are blooming earlier than ever, thanks to global warming.

Coventry University Professor Tim Sparks, an environmental science expert, focused on the changes made to the timing of the popular Thriplow Daffodil Weekend in Cambridgeshire since it started in 1969. The early flowering phenomenon is caused by the UK’s increasingly mild springs, specifically a mean rise in March and April temperatures of 1.8 degrees Celsius since 1969, according to his study, soon to be published  in the journal Climate Research. Continue reading

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How does global warming affects bird migration?

Perched.

Broad-tailed hummingbirds may have a hard time finding food during the short breeding season as temperatures in the Colorado Rocky Mountains continue to warm steadily. bberwyn photo.

Earlier nesting and breeding observed in some species

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Some birds are nesting and hatching earlier because of steadily increasing global temperatures, and that may be driving earlier migration in some species according to scientists with the University of East Anglia.

Changes in migration timing has already been linked with a biological disconnect between some species and their primary food sources, for example hummingbirds that fly to the southern Rocky Mountains, as well as purple martins that fly from South America to eastern North America. Both species arrival is increasingly out of synch with key food sources.

“We have known that birds are migrating earlier and earlier each year … particularly those that migrate over shorter distances,” said Lead researcher Dr. Jenny Gill from UEA’s school of Biological Sciences. “But the reason why has puzzled bird experts for years. It’s a particularly important question because the species which are not migrating earlier are declining in numbers.” Continue reading

Climate change raises big questions for agriculture

Apples ripen on a tree in Austria, which just experienced one of its warmest summers on record. bberwyn photo.

Apples ripen on a tree in Austria, which just experienced one of its warmest summers on record. bberwyn photo.

Research aims to understand how plants will respond to warming temperatures

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — As global warming throws the timing of plants and animals out of kilter, scientists are struggling to understand how that may affect critical human activities like agriculture.

As climate change brings warmer-than-usual winters to the U.S., plants may be more vulnerable to imprecise timing, and the tools traditionally used by farmers and horticulturists to predict seasons may be inadequate.

“How do we do a better job of seeing the climate the way the plants see it?” said James Clark, the Blomquist Professor of environment and biology at Duke University. With colleagues from the Marine Biological Lab at Woods Hole and the University of Georgia, Clark is working on building a statistical model of how trees make this decision. Continue reading

Global warming ‘closes cafeteria’ for migrating caribou

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Caribour browsing in Alaska. Photo courtesy USGS.

Melting sea ice leads to trophic mismatch

By Summit Voice

FRISCOAs scientists amass more long-term observational data on global warming impacts in the Arctic, it’s becoming increasingly clear that melting sea ice will affect nearby land areas. In one of the most recent studies, Penn State researchers concluded that melting sea ice may be related to fewer caribou calf births and higher calf mortality in Greenland.

As the sea ice melts, warmer air temperatures in the surrounding area are causing plants to start growing earlier. But because caribou aren’t breeding any earlier, the calving season is out of synch with food availability, according to Eric Post, a Penn State University professor of biology, and Jeffrey Kerby, a Penn State graduate student. Continue reading

Researchers use records kept by Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold to track global warming impacts

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Wildflowers are blooming much earlier than just a few decades ago due to global warming. Bob Berwyn photo.

Some wildflowers blooming weeks earlier than just a few decades ago

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Henry David Thoreau and Aldo Leopold would probably appreciate that their meticulous observations of nature are helping today’s scientists unravel some of the mysteries of global warming.

The two naturalists kept detailed phenological records, noting when certain flowers bloomed in the spring, and today’s researchers now now that some native plants in the eastern United States are flowering as much as a month earlier in response to a warming climate.

“These historical records provide a snapshot in time and a baseline of sorts against which we can compare more recent records from the period in which climate change has accelerated,” explains Stan Temple, a co-author of the study and an emeritus UW-Madison professor of wildlife ecology. Temple is also a senior fellow at the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo, Wis., a stone’s throw from the iconic shack where Leopold made many of his observations. Continue reading

Global warming: Hummingbird migration falling out of synch with wildflower blossoms in the southern Rocky Mountains

A broad-tailed hummingbird feeds on larkspur. PHOTO COURTESY David Inouye.

The birds might disappear from parts of their range within a few decades

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Broad-tail hummingbirds that migrate to the Colorado high country in the spring may soon find that their arrival is out of synch with key nectar-providing plants they need to sustain themselves during breeding.

Graceful glacier lilies, for example, are one of the first flowers to bloom when the snow melts, but meticulous research at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory near Crested Butte shows they are blooming 17 days earlier than in the 1970s.

The hummingbirds are also migrating a bit earlier, but perhaps not soon enough — by the time they arrive, many of the nectar-laden plants have withered away. Biologists calculate that, if current trends continue, in two decades the hummingbirds will miss the first flowers entirely. Continue reading

Global warming: Plants respond faster than expected

If wild berries aren’t available when needed, bears look for food elswhere, including around human neighborhoods.

Global study shows that plants are developing earlier in the spring in response to warmer temps

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Many plants appear to be responding to global warming faster than anticipated by climate models, as trees leaf out and flower bloom on average about five to six days earlier for each degree (Celsius) of warming.

The observed response, based on results from 50 plant studies on four continents, is much greater than the changes induced under laboratory conditions. Changes in the timing of when plants develop has implications for entire ecoystems. There is already some evidence that the availability of food sources is out of synch with animals that depend on them.

“This suggests that predicted ecosystem changes — including continuing advances in the start of spring across much of the globe — may be far greater than current estimates based on data from experiments,” said Elizabeth Wolkovich, an ecologist at the University of British Columbia who led an interdisciplinary team of scientists that conducted the study while she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego. Continue reading

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