Industrial pollution threatens European porpoises


Porpoises trail a fishing boat in the Gulf of Mexico near Florida. @bberwyn photo.

‘Almost 20 percent of sexually mature females showed evidence of stillbirth, foetal death or recent abortion …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Even though PCBs were banned in the UK more than 30 years ago, researchers are still finding moderately “moderately high” levels of the toxic chemicals in the tissue of harbor porpoises.

The marine mammals around parts of the British Isles are struggling to successfully reproduce as a result of chemical pollutants found in European waters, according to new research led by the Zoological Society of London. Continue reading

UK scientists find big, fat global warming fingerprint


The chance of extreme heatwaves is increased dramatically by human-caused global warming.

Greenhouse gas buildup raises chances of record-breaking warmth

Staff Report

FRISCO — There’s little doubt that global warming will lead to, well, warmer weather in most places.

But scientists in the UK said they were surprised at how clearly they could see the fingerprint of greenhouse gas emissions in a recent study that projects a big increase in the likelihood of record-breaking warm years. Continue reading

Biodiversity: UK biologists consider lynx restoration

Colorado's lynx restoration program has yielded valuable research that may help scientists in other countries with similar efforts. Photo courtesy Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Colorado’s lynx restoration program has yielded valuable research that may help scientists in other countries with similar efforts. Photo courtesy Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Biologists eye predator restoration to try and rebalance ecosystems

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Biologists in the UK say they might be able to use some of the lynx science compiled in Colorado and other areas as they plan for a possible reintroduction of Eurasian lynx in Cairngorn National Park.

In a draft report focusing on ecosystem restoration, scientists identified lynx as one of the species that help restore ecological balance in a system that doesn’t have any predators. Without them, deer have been running rampant and degrading forested areas.

Lynx disappeared from the British Isles about 1,000 years ago, partially because most of their habitat was destroyed, but reforestation in the past few centuries means there are now areas where the wild cats could find breeding and foraging habitat. The wild cats have already been reintroduced in Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Slovakia and France. Continue reading

Where will 2012 end up in the annals of global warming?

UK temps a hair below average, Australia warmer than normal


For 2012 to-date, nearly the entire planet saw above average temperatures.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — While the U.S. is likely be report one of the warmest years ever recorded in 2012, not every country saw record-warmth this year.

The National Climatic Data Center will release the December 2012 and year-end temperature data this week, but several other countries have already released readings, including the UK, which saw a mean annual temperature 0.1 degrees Celsius below the 1981 to 2010 average.

Only 2 years (2010 and 2012) of the last 16 have had annual temperatures below the average. March was the 3rd warmest on record for the UK. The summer was a little warmer than 2011, but otherwise the coolest  since 1998, and it was the coolest autumn since 1993.

The UK Met Office described 2012 as a year of dramatic contrasts, warm and mild the first three months, followed by a shift to exceptionally wet weather from late spring through the summer. Continue reading

Global warming: More flooding likely in UK

A NASA satellite image shows a snow-covered UK in January 2010.

Modeling study suggests significant seasonal shifts in rainfall patterns

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Shifts in large-scale atmospheric circulation patterns driven by global warming could lead to an increased risk of damaging floods in parts of the UK, according to a modeling study by German researchers.

The research suggests a season shift in rainfall trends, with heavier precipitation in late autumn in the south-eastern regions of the country. In the the northwest, the heaviest rainfalls will be a little earlier — in November, rather than December.

These shifts will coincide with times of the year when river catchments in those regions are at their maximum water capacity, meaning there would be an increased risk of flooding. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Drought, landscape fragmentation pose greatest threats to UK butterfly population

Landscape-level conservation projects critical to giving species some resilience in the face of climate change

A UK study suggests that large areas of intact habitat is the best way to buffer butterfly populations from extreme weather impacts. Photo courtesy Friedrich Böhringer via Wikipedia and the Creative Commons.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The gradual rise in global temperatures may have long-term effects on biodiversity, but some species — including UK butterflies — may be more threatened by extreme weather events related to climate change. Events like drought could push some insects toward extinction.

“We have provided the first evidence that species responses to extreme events may be affected by the habitat structure in the wider countryside; for example in the total area and fragmentation of woodland patches,” said lead author Dr. Tom Oliver from the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

The UK has suffered from a number of severe droughts over the last few decades, including in 1976 and 1995. Under global warming, the frequency of such summer droughts is expected to increase. The intense summer drought in 1995 led to marked declines in insect species associated with cooler and wetter microclimates and scientists are interested in how to make species populations more resilient, so they can recover from extreme climate events. Continue reading

Travel: Saying goodbye to the Festival Fringe

Leaving Edinburgh on the East Coast train

Edinburgh's Waverley train station and Balmoral Hotel at dusk the day after the end of the Festival Fringe.

Story and photos by Garrett Palm

The UK’s East Coast train lives up to its name for most of the trip, with views of green fields ending in brown cliffs that drop into the sea. Across the channel, a glimpse of the continent.

A tattooed man with a shaved head sits across the aisle, sharing a table with a young couple wearing cashmere sweaters, his back against the window and his feet on the seat next to him. Three empty tall cans of Carlsberg Lager rattled in a Tesco bag beneath his seat as he opened the fourth with a frothy “chhck.” The conductor stares at a sheet of paper handed over in lieu of a ticket. After a second the man says, “I forgot my ID, they said this’ll do.” The conductor shrugs. “That’s fine.” He wasn’t worth the trouble. The posh couple sitting ignores him and shares a bag of crisps purchased from the lunch cart. Continue reading


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