Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Archive: Nov 2016

  1. With climate change, some montane birds in NH moving downslope not upslope

    Leave a Comment

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161128152722.htm

    Posted: 28 Nov 2016 12:27 PM PST  Science Daily

    Wildlife ecologists who study the effects of climate change assume, with support from several studies, that warming temperatures caused by climate change are forcing animals to move either northward or upslope on mountainsides to stay within their natural climate conditions. But a new study of lowland and higher-mountain bird species now shows an unexpected… inconsistency in such shifts

    …82 percent, or nine of the 11 high elevation [bird] species [White Mountains, NH] analyzed showed evidence of shifting downslope, while 10 of 16 or 63 percent of lowland species showed evidence of shifting upslope….

    William V. DeLuca, David I. King. Montane birds shift downslope despite recent warming in the northern Appalachian Mountains. Journal of Ornithology, 2016; DOI: 10.1007/s10336-016-1414-7

  2. Outcomes of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in -COP 22

    Leave a Comment

    22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 22)
    November 7-18, 2016

    Download the summary (PDF)

    Despite looming uncertainties following the election of Donald Trump as the new U.S. president, governments meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, pushed forward with the freshly-minted Paris Agreement on climate change, setting 2018 as their deadline for completing the nuts-and-bolts decisions needed to fully implement the agreement….

    …In a high-level Marrakech Action Proclamation, parties collectively declared that the “extraordinary momentum on climate change worldwide…is irreversible.” Similar messages were sounded continuously throughout the conference by businesses, cities, states and NGOs, and by heads of state and ministers from Africa, China, Europe, Latin America and elsewhere, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

    The Marrakech meeting was the 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), known as COP 22. It also served as the first meeting of the governing body of the Paris Agreement, known by the acronym CMA. In the long evolutionary arc of the U.N. climate effort, Marrakech was an important transitional moment, pivoting from the years of negotiation that produced the Paris Agreement to a new phase focused on implementation….

    For rest of article: http://www.c2es.org/international/negotiations/cop22-marrakech/summary?utm_source=Center+for+Climate+and+Energy+Solutions+newsletter+list&utm_campaign=d8fb45b474-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2016_11_29&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_36e5120ca4-d8fb45b474-294793574

  3. Losses of soil carbon under global warming might equal US emissions

    Leave a Comment
    • Global warming projected to add soil carbon emissions equivalent to adding another US-sized country
    • For one degree of warming, study projects twice as much soil carbon to be released as emitted annually by human activites

    November 30, 2016  Phys.org http://phys.org/news/2016-11-losses-soil-carbon-global-equal.html#jCp

    A new Yale-led study in the journal Nature finds that warming will drive the loss of at least 55 trillion kilograms of carbon from the soil by mid-century, or about 17% more than the projected emissions due to human-related activities during that period. That would be roughly the equivalent of adding to the planet another industrialized country the size of the United States.

    Critically, the researchers found that carbon losses will be greatest in the world’s colder places, at high latitudes, locations that had largely been missing from previous research. In those regions, massive stocks of carbon have built up over thousands of years and slow microbial activity has kept them relatively secure.

    Most of the previous research had been conducted in the world’s temperate regions, where there were smaller carbon stocks….

    …The study predicts that for one degree of warming, about 30 petagrams of soil carbon will be released into the atmosphere, or about twice as much as is emitted annually due to human-related activities …This is particularly concerning, Crowther said, because previous climate studies predicted that the planet is likely to warm by 2 degrees Celsius by mid-century….

    …The study considered only soil carbon losses in response to warming. There are several other biological processes—such as accelerated plant growth as a result of dioxide increases—that could dampen or enhance the effect of this feedback. Understanding these interacting processes at a global scale is critical to understanding , the researchers said. “Getting a handle on these kinds of feedbacks is essential if we’re going to make meaningful projections about future climate conditions…

    T. W. Crowther et al, Quantifying global soil carbon losses in response to warming, Nature (2016). DOI: 10.1038/nature20150

  4. New ‘Global Weirding’ Series Informs, Entertains with scientist Katharine Hayho

    Leave a Comment

    Yale Climate Connections November 2016 see full article here

    Scientist Katharine Hayhoe answers burning questions about global warming, and explains why everyone – yes, everyone – can care about the issue.

    Here’s one insidious myth about climate change: the idea that to care about the issue, one must be a green, granola-eating, Birkenstock-wearing liberal.

    Global Weirding graphic

    In an entertaining new Web series called “Global Weirding,” Katharine Hayhoe swiftly debunks that myth – by describing herself. Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist at Texas Tech University, says, “I do like the color green. And I’ve been known to eat granola. But I don’t own any Birkenstocks, and I’m not a Democrat … nor a Republican.”….

  5. A Wrenching Choice for Alaska Towns in the Path of Climate Change

    Leave a Comment

    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/29/science/alaska-global-warming.html

    By Erika Goode November 29, 2016 NY Times

    SHAKTOOLIK, Alaska — In the dream, a storm came and Betsy Bekoalok watched the river rise on one side of the village and the ocean on the other, the water swallowing up the brightly colored houses, the fishing boats and the four-wheelers, the school and the clinic.

    She dived into the floodwaters, frantically searching for her son. Bodies drifted past her in the half-darkness. When she finally found the boy, he, too, was lifeless. “I picked him up and brought him back from the ocean’s bottom,” Ms. Bekoalok remembered.

    The Inupiat people who for centuries have hunted and fished on Alaska’s western coast believe that some dreams are portents of things to come. But here in Shaktoolik, one need not be a prophet to predict flooding, especially during the fall storms. Laid out on a narrow spit of sand between the Tagoomenik River and the Bering Sea, the village of 250 or so people is facing an imminent threat from increased flooding and erosion, signs of a changing climate.

    With its proximity to the Arctic, Alaska is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the United States and the state is heading for the warmest year on record. The government has identified at least 31 Alaskan towns and cities at imminent risk of destruction, with Shaktoolik ranking among the top four. Some villages, climate change experts predict, will be uninhabitable by 2050, their residents joining a flow of climate refugees around the globe, in Bolivia, China, Niger and other countries.

    These endangered Alaskan communities face a choice. They could move to higher ground, a wrenching prospect that for a small village could cost as much as $200 million. Or they could stand their ground and hope to find money to fortify their buildings and shore up their coastline

  6. Cows Targeted in Global Warming Battle

    Leave a Comment

    http://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2016-11-29/california-targets-dairy-cows-to-combat-global-warming

    California is taking its fight against global warming to the farm

    By TERENCE CHEA, Associated Press  Nov 29 2016

    GALT, Calif. (AP) — California is taking its fight against global warming to the farm. The nation’s leading agricultural state is now targeting greenhouse gases produced by dairy cows and other livestock.

    Despite strong opposition from farmers, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation in September that for the first time regulates heat-trapping gases from livestock operations and landfills. Cattle and other farm animals are major sources of methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. Methane is released when they belch, pass gas and make manure.

    “If we can reduce emissions of methane, we can really help to slow global warming,” said Ryan McCarthy, a science advisor for the California Air Resources Board, which is drawing up rules to implement the new law.

    Livestock are responsible for 14.5 percent of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, with beef and dairy production accounting for the bulk of it, according to a 2013 United Nations report….

  7. Thinning, retreat of West Antarctic Glacier began in 1940s

    Leave a Comment

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161123140243.htm

    New research by an international team shows that the present thinning and retreat of Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica is part of a climatically forced trend that was triggered in the 1940s.

    …The team concluded the date at which the grounding line retreated from a prominent seafloor ridge was in 1945 at the latest. The team also found that final ungrounding of the ice shelf from the ridge occurred in 1970.

    Our results suggest that, even when climate forcing (such as El Niños, which create warmer water) weakened, ice-sheet retreat continued,” said James Smith of the British Antarctic Survey and lead author of an article appearing in the Nov. 23 issue of the journal, Nature.

    The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is one of the largest potential sources of water that will contribute to rising sea levels. Over the past 40 years, glaciers flowing into the Amundsen Sea sector of the ice sheet have thinned at an accelerating rate, and several numerical models suggest that unstable and irreversible retreat of the grounding line — which marks the boundary between grounded ice and floating ice shelf — is under way….

    ….The appearance of plutonium in the sediment marks the onset of above-ground testing of nuclear weapons in the 1950s, and indicates that ice-sheet retreat began before this time…..”Despite a return to pre-1940s climatic conditions in the ensuing decades, thinning and glacier retreat has not stopped and is unlikely to be reversible without a major change in marine or glaciological conditions,” Smith said. “A period of warming in the Antarctic shelf waters triggered a substantial change in the ice sheet, via the mechanism that we see today — that is, ocean-driven thinning and retreat of ice shelves leads to inland glacier acceleration and ice-sheet thinning.”

    J. A. Smith,  et al. Sub-ice-shelf sediments record history of twentieth-century retreat of Pine Island Glacier. Nature, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nature20136

  8. Eight things you should know about the Marrakech climate talks

    Leave a Comment

    http://www.nationalobserver.com/2016/11/23/analysis/eight-things-you-should-know-about-marrakech-climate-talks

  9. Climate affecting avian breeding, study shows

    Leave a Comment

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/11/161122131928.htm

    Milder winters have led to earlier growing seasons and noticeable effects on the breeding habits of some predatory birds….Results show that over the period of 1992-2015, the greenness on irrigated lands occurred earlier because of earlier planting of crops following relatively warm winters, but there has not been a change in green-up on non-irrigated lands. Kestrels seemed to “track” the changes in irrigated lands and were nesting 15 days earlier than they used to nest. Although this might not seem like much of a shift, the earliest nesting kestrels can now raise two broods per year instead of one….

    The study is one of the first concrete examples of an association between human adaptation to climate change and shifts in breeding cycles of wildlife. “Moving forward, we need to consider that animals will be affected by both climate change and our own adaptations to a warming planet,” McClure said….

    Shawn H. Smith, Karen Steenhof, Christopher J.W. McClure, Julie A. Heath. Earlier nesting by generalist predatory bird is associated with human responses to climate change. Journal of Animal Ecology, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12604

  10. Global Warming Alters Arctic Food Chain, Scientists Say, With Unforeseeable Result

    Leave a Comment

    The Arctic Ocean may seem remote and forbidding, but to birds, whales and other animals, it’s a top-notch dining destination. “It’s a great place to get food in the summertime, so animals are flying or swimming thousands of miles to get there,” said Kevin R. Arrigo, a biological oceanographer at Stanford University.

    But the menu is changing. Confirming earlier research, scientists reported Wednesday that global warming is altering the ecology of the Arctic Ocean on a huge scale. The annual production of algae, the base of the food web, increased an estimated 47 percent between 1997 and 2015, and the ocean is greening up much earlier each year.

    These changes are likely to have a profound impact for animals further up the food chain, such as birds, seals, polar bears and whales. But scientists still don’t know enough about the biology of the Arctic Ocean to predict what the ecosystem will look like in decades to come.

    While global warming has affected the whole planet in recent decades, nowhere has been hit harder than the Arctic. This month, temperatures in the high Arctic have been as much as 36 degrees above average, according to records kept by the Danish Meteorological Institute…