Tag: tipping points

Ocean ecosystems unraveling from overfishing

‘Tipping points are real …’

Illegal fishing threatens the viability of legal fleets. Bob Berwyn photo.
Fishing boats pierside in Apalachicola, Florida. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Over-harvesting fish in the world’s oceans has already tipped some ecosystems over the brink, according to Florida State University researchers who led a major review of fisheries data showing the domino effect that ensues when too many fish are harvested from one habitat.

The loss of a major species from an ecosystem can have unintended consequences because of the connections between that species and others in the system. Moreover, these changes often occur rapidly and unexpectedly, and are difficult to reverse.

“You don’t realize how interdependent species are until it all unravels,” said Felicia Coleman, director of the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory and a co-author on the study. Continue reading “Ocean ecosystems unraveling from overfishing”


Early warning system needed for ‘abrupt’ climate change impacts

Researchers eye global warming thresholds


By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Climate researchers say more should be done to develop an early warning system for ecological tipping points that could be reached as the ocean, land and atmosphere gradually warm.

Some large and rapid changes could happen in a relatively short time as critical thresholds are breached, the scientists said in a new report from the National Research Council.

“Research has helped us begin to distinguish more imminent threats from those that are less likely to happen this century,” said James W.C. White, professor of geological sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and chair of the committee that wrote the report. “Evaluating climate changes and impacts in terms of their potential magnitude and the likelihood they will occur will help policymakers and communities make informed decisions about how to prepare for or adapt to them.” Continue reading “Early warning system needed for ‘abrupt’ climate change impacts”

CU study eyes water, climate and land-use tipping points

Reservoirs were left high and dry by this summer’s drought.

National Science Foundation funding enables detailed research on trans-basin water diversions

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — As some West Slope aquatic ecosystems teeter on the brink of collapse due to water diversions, a group of CU researchers will use a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to try and pinpoint tipping points, beyond which systems may be pushed into an unsustainable state.

The research will examine how changes in land use, forest management and climate may affect trans-basin water diversions in Colorado and other semi-arid regions in the western United States, finding thresholds that could compromise the sustainability of the policies and procedures that dictate the timing and quality of water diverted from Colorado’s West Slope to the Front Range.

The grant, part of the National Science Foundation-U.S. Department of Agriculture Water Sustainability Climate Program, was awarded to assistant professor Noah Molotch of the geography department, who singled out Summit County as one focus area for the study. Continue reading “CU study eyes water, climate and land-use tipping points”