We’re unraveling the web of life
From aboard a commercial airline flight, Greenland’s shore looks peaceful during the peak of the summer icemelt season, but the Arctic is changing fast, and U.S. policy is in disarray.
Tasty chanterelles mushrooms sprout in an Austrian forest.
A lightning blast strikes the ground near Keystone Resort, in Colorado.
The Verdon River in southern France may start flooding later than water managers expect, which makes it tougher to know when to store and when to release water in reservoirs for flood control and hydropower.
Global warming and nitrogen are a bad combination and will result in serious algae problems in many waters.
Planting coral to rebuild Flroida’s coral reefs. Photo courtesy Stephanie Schopman.
The last few weeks included a productive stretch of writing some interesting climate change and environmental stories. My favorite was about reef restoration in Florida, where hundreds of scientists and volunteers are gardening corals and transplanting them back out into the ocean. Careful monitoring shows there’s good potential to rebuild some ecosystems, especially where it counts, like offshore Miami, which would benefit from intact reefs to help protect the coast from storm surges. You can read the story at Fusion’s Project Earth.
I also spent quite a bit of time listening to people like the U.S. Coast Guard commander, high-ranking naval officers and scientists speaking about environmental changes in the Arctic, and how well the the U.S. is prepared to respond to those changes in a story for Pacific Standard. In another story for the same publication, I wrote about how fungi, through their symbiosis with plants, play a much larger role in regulating the terrestrial part of the carbon cycle than was thought just a few decades ago.
There is also a clear climate change signal evident in the timing of river floods across Europe, with some regions seeing serious flooding come up to two weeks earlier. This has implications for how communities manage water, as I described in this piece for InsideClimate News. Besides the potential for damage to communities, changes in precipitation and flooding patterns also will affect the concentration of nutrient pollution like nitrogen, which leads to toxic algae blooms and ocean dead zones.
In the woods …
Gone to seed.
It’s mid-summer, so all the bugs and plant are engaged in their eternal dance of life, with flowers blooming and pollinators doing their thing, all setting the stage for the next act of the play. But as you may or may not know, global warming has thrown many of these cycles out synch. Some of the best long-term research on this topic comes from the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory in Crested Butte, where scientists have shown how the shifting seasons are affecting butterflies and hummingbirds.
And when it comes to climate change, nature is kind of the opposite of Las Vegas. What happens there doesn’t stay there. All of nature is interconnected, so you can be sure that impacts to one part of the ecosystem will ripple through all the other parts eventually. The cycle of blooming plants and pollinating insects is so critical that there is actually a potential threat to food systems for humans. That doesn’t mean that we might not be able to address some of those challenges with technology or other innovations, but that’s bound to be expensive. It’s probably best to try and maintain natural ecosystem functions as best as we can by limiting global warming. And even if we do that right away, we’re still going to see some long-term impacts based on the warming that’s already locked into the climate system.
Thundercloud approaching …
Serene autumn evening near Aggstein.
Tugboat in Linz.
The waterfront, Urfahr.
The Danube is one of the world’s great rivers, carrying much of the northern Alps snowmelt to the sea and weaving a thread of culture and history from southern Germany through Austria and the Balkans to the Black Sea. These pics show just a short slice of the stream, between Linz and Vienna, but you can find more travel pics in the Summit Voice archives, as well as landscape and nature prints for sale at our online gallery.
Austrian eyecandy …
Pano from Gomde.
Mountain lake, Upper Austria.
About a year ago we visited the Gomde Buddhist retreat in the foothills of the Austrian Alps, using it as a base camp for some daytrips to the surrounding countryside. But some of the best images from that week-long sojourn were taken right around the retreat, featuring sunsets with a soft, caressing sky and spectacular colors. In between hosting Buddhist readings and other events, Gomde is an oasis of calm from a world that seems to be increasingly spinning out of control, well worth a visit if you’re traveling through that area. Check out more Summit Voice photography in our archives, and visit our online gallery to purchase fine art nature and landscape prints.
Some wildflower love from Austria spanning the last couple of months, from first sprouts emerging through the remnant muck of winter, to forest orchids. Check out the Summit Voice photo archives for more wildflower shots from around the world, and visit our online gallery to purchase fine art nature and landscape prints.
Many wildflower species are under the gun from climate change, especially in the mountains, where they will be pushed out of their habitat. Other studies have documented how global warming will affect native plant diversity in California. The changes to plant communities will ripple through ecosystems, affecting insect and birds, as many studies have shown.
Tutti Frutti …
Cherry pie …
Here comes the sun!
Seems like just yesterday it was snowing, and now you can eat ripe cherries off the trees, pluck strawberries in the fields and enjoy summer flowers in the fields. This weekend we spent a little time in the wine and forest country north of Danube and here’s what we found. Check out more Summit Voice travel photography in the Sunday Set archive for more travel pics, or head over to our online gallery at FineArt America for a full selection of nature and landscape photography.
Fresh air …
Cornflowers scattered in a grain field in the Mühlviertel region of Upper Austria.
The verdant blush of spring in the orchard country of Lower Austria.
Wild mountain strawberries.
Linz, sprawled along the Danube, with the crest of the Alps just visible on the far horizon on the right.
Out of the city and into the countryside the past few days, enjoying windswept grain fields, swimming holes, wild berries and ripening fruit trees in mountain orchards. A few scenes from Upper and Lower Austria in this early summer set. Visit the Summit Voice Sunday Set archive for more travel pics, or head over to our online gallery at FineArt America for a full selection of nature and landscape photography.