Eastern U.S. most vulnerable to future harmful algal blooms

New modeling shows where global warming will increase cyanobacteria

Blue-green algae that sometimes produce toxins thrive as global warming heats up lakes, ponds and reservoirs. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Scientists say it’s all but certain that global warming will increase potentially threatening outbreaks of freshwater algae that can produce toxins dangerous to people and animals.

A team lead by Tufts University researcher Steven C. Chapra has developed a modeling framework showing harmful algal blooms will increase the most in the northeastern region of the U.S. but that the biggest economic impact will be felt in the Southeast, where waters important for recreation will probably take a big hit.

The research, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, is part of larger, ongoing efforts among scientists to quantify and monetize the degree to which climate change will impact and damage various U.S. sectors. Continue reading “Eastern U.S. most vulnerable to future harmful algal blooms”

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Neonicotinoid pesticide stifles bumblebee egg-laying

Pollinators in peril

Can bumblebees survive the onslaught of pesticides? @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Exposure to systemic neonicotinoid pesticides causes queen bumblebees to lay 26 percent fewer eggs. That rate of decline could result in the extinction of some wild bumblebee populations, according to researchers at the University of Guelph.

Specifically, researcher Nigel Raine studied the impact of thiamoxin, one of the commonly used neonicotinoids, finding that exposure reduces the chances of a bumblebee queen starting a new colony by more than a quarter. Continue reading “Neonicotinoid pesticide stifles bumblebee egg-laying”

New GOP bill aims at forest protections

Measure would exempt huge logging projects from environmental review

GOP lawmakers are once again trying to undermine environmental laws that protect forests by passing bills that would exempt logging from reviews and judicial challenges. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Logging projects as large as 10,000 acres could be rushed to approval without environmental reviews under a new bill proposed by Sen. John Thune, (R-S.D.).

As introduced, the law would limit public comment and disclosure of the environmental impacts of large-scale logging projects. The measure is similar to a House bill  that also aims to significantly limit public input and scientific environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Continue reading “New GOP bill aims at forest protections”

We’re losing the global warming poker game

Greenhouse gases tilt odds toward record warmth

June 2017 was another near-record warm month around the globe.

Staff Report

It’s highly unlikely Earth would have seen a three-year run of record global temperatures without its blanket of human-caused greenhouse gases, scientists concluded in a new study that tried to pin down the relationship between record warmth and human-caused global warming.

Without the warming effect of carbon dioxide, methane and other heat-trapping pollutants, there’s only a 0.03 percent chance that there would be three consecutive years of record temperatures; when the warming effects of greenhouse gases are added into the equatio, the odds of three consecutive record-breaking years happening any time since 2000 rises to as high as 50 percent, according to the new study. Continue reading “We’re losing the global warming poker game”

Sunday set: Waldviertel

Bucolic …

Salzburg and Tirol may get all the glory for dramatic mountain scenery, singing nuns and happy cows, but the northeastern quadrant of Austria also has its charms. The Waldviertel is one of the most rural and agricultural sections of the country, with a pleasing patchwork of carefully tended fields and forests, not to mention ponds and lakes that have been managed for aquaculture for several hundred years. The images in this set were all taken around the town of Zwettl, the heart of the Waldviertel at the confluence of the Kamp and Zwettl rivers. Check out the last few Summit Voice photo essays in the archives and visit our online gallery for more nature and landscape photography.

Study documents shrinking Alaska snow season

Winter comes later, spring sooner along the North Slope of AK

A January 2011 image from the NASA Earth Observatory library shows Alaska completely covered with snow.

Staff Report

The snow season is getting shorter in one of the coldest parts of the U.S. On Alaska’s North Slope, snow is piling up later in the fall and melts earlier in the spring, climate change that is having consequences for communities and ecosystems. Continue reading “Study documents shrinking Alaska snow season”

Wildfires in western Canada on near-record pace

More than 1 million acres burned so far

On July 11, 2017, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image of wildfire smoke filling valleys in southern British Columbia. Actively burning areas, detected by MODIS’s thermal bands, are outlined in red. Hundreds of wildfires were burning in the province on that day, according to the British Columbia Wildfire Service.

Staff Report

Canada is on track for a near-record wildfire season this year. So far, there have been more than 500 fires just in British Columbia, burning across more than 1 million acres. Firefighting costs have already reached more than $172 million, and weeks of warm and dry weather will keep the fire danger high.

Most of the fires have been in three main areas, according to NASA, which has been tracking the burned areas via satellites. Most affected are the  Frasier Plateau  north of Vancouver, the Thomas Plateau, east of Whistler, and the region east of Kamloops. Continue reading “Wildfires in western Canada on near-record pace”