Category: Environment

Climate trackers say Jan. 2017 was the 2d-warmest on record

European Climate Change Service report highlights unusually warm Arctic

month_1_2017_plot_2_brandedWarmer than average temperatures prevailed around the globe in January 2017.

Staff Report

January 2017 will go down in the books as Earth’s second-warmest January on record, just 0.17 degrees cooler than last year, according to the monthly update from the European Climate Change Service. According to the bulletin, January was 0.55 degrees warmer than the 1981-2010 average, with hotspots especially across Southern Hemisphere continents, as well as the southeastern U.S.

In the Northern Hemisphere, Europe was about 1 degree Celsius cooler the 1981-2010 January average, similar to 2016. Other cooler-than-average areas included parts of the western USA and Canada, northern Greenland, North Africa, parts of Siberia, southern Africa, north-western Australia and much of the Antarctic plateau. Continue reading “Climate trackers say Jan. 2017 was the 2d-warmest on record”

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Study says road threat to carnivores is underestimated globally

Findings to help guide conservation strategies

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Many carnivore species around the world are threatened by road networks. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

The threat of roads to carnivore species around the world has been seriously underestimated, according to a new study that looked at the issue on a global scale.

After looking at 232 carnivore species around the world (out of a total of about. 270 existing species) and assessing how severely these are affected by roads cut through their habitat, the researchers concluded that some rare species are even at risk in areas with low road densities. The study, published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography, calculated natural mortality rates, reproduction and carnivore movement patterns, determining the maximum density of roads that a species can cope with. Continue reading “Study says road threat to carnivores is underestimated globally”

Coal ash pollution poisoning fish in North Carolina

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Toxic pollution from coal-fired power plants builds up in fresh water fish. @bberwyn photo.

Trump’s proposed Cuts to federal regulations likely to lead to more environmental woes

Staff Report

Coal ash waste is poisoning fish in North Carolina lakes, scientists said this week announcing findings from a new study supported in part by the EPA. The research by scientists from Duke University showed that potentially harmful levels of selenium are building up because of emissions from coal-fired power plants.

“Across the board, we’re seeing elevated selenium levels in fish from lakes affected by coal combustion residual effluents,” said Jessica Brandt, a doctoral student in environmental health at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, who led the study, published this month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. Continue reading “Coal ash pollution poisoning fish in North Carolina”

Coastal wetlands seen as key piece of global carbon cycle

Long-term carbon storage in soil crucial to climate mitigation

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Mangrove forests store huge amounts of carbon. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Coastal wetlands like mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and tidal marshes play a key role in the global carbon cycle, serving as effective long-term reservoirs for so-called blue carbon. Their role is so important they should be considered in global climate change mitigation strategies, according to a new study published last week n the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

According to the researchers, coastal wetland areas are easier for governments to manage compared with ecosystems in international waters, further adding to the strategic value of coastal wetlands in the fight against climate change. Continue reading “Coastal wetlands seen as key piece of global carbon cycle”

Sunday set: Mountain love

Go higher …


Time revisit a couple of favorite mountains scenes in the Summit Voice archives, and time to remember that global warming is going alter some mountain landscapes irrevocably, not it the far distant future, but within a few decades. For example, a new study shows how warming will alter basic soil chemistry by speeding up microbial activity and shifting the balance of key nutrients. This will displace some plants and probably eliminate others. And as much as we appreciate forested landscapes, climate change is driving the spread of tree-killing insects, as shown by the latest aerial survey of Colorado forests. Check out more environmental and nature photography from Summit Voice at our online gallery, or visit the Sunday Set archives.

Spruce beetles still on the march in Colorado

Global warming taking a toll on forests worldwide

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Aerial surveys help track the health of Colorado forests. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

Spruce beetles continued to expand in Colorado in 2016, at least in part due to global warming and drought, as well as the density of old-growth spruce forests.

In all, spruce beetles were active across 350,000 acres of higher-elevation stands of Engelmann spruce statewide, including about 136,000 acres of new activity, causing widespread tree mortality, according to the results of the latest aerial surveys conducted by the U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado State Forest Service. Since 1996, spruce beetle outbreaks have caused tree mortality on more than 1.7 million acres in Colorado. Continue reading “Spruce beetles still on the march in Colorado”

What’s driving the collapse of Antarctic ice shelves?

New CSU study eyes regional climate cycle as one factor

Disintegration of ice shelves in East Antarctica could result in a spiraling increase in sea levels. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.
Disintegration of ice shelves in East Antarctica has been linked with a regional climate pattern and could result in a spiraling increase in sea levels. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

This year’s rapid loss of sea ice around Antarctica may make the floating ice shelves along the coast of the continent even more vulnerable to collapse, and a  Hemisphere climate cycle known as the Southern Annular Mode is probably a factor in the equation.

Just during the past 50 years, more than 28,000 square kilometers of ice shelves have crumbled along the Antarctic Peninsula, and one of the last remaining large ice shelves looks set to shed another piece about as large as Delaware. A new study led by Colorado State University scientists offers some new information on climate processes in the region. Continue reading “What’s driving the collapse of Antarctic ice shelves?”