Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Tag Archive: global warming

  1. Oceans warming 13% faster than thought, warming doubled in last 2 decades

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    New study improves estimates of the rate of ocean warming – a critical component of climate change

    • rate of CO2 into atmosphere 40% higher since 1980
    • ocean is warming about 13% faster than we previously thought.
    • ocean warming has accelerated– from 1992 its is almost 2x warming rate from 1960.
    • it is only since about 1990 that the warming has penetrated to depths below about 700 meters.

    New research has convincingly quantified how much the Earth has warmed over the past 56 years. Human activities utilize fossil fuels for many beneficial purposes but have an undesirable side effect of adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at ever-increasing rates. That increase – of over 40%, with most since 1980 – traps heat in the Earth’s system, warming the entire planet….

    …Since about 2005 a new type of sensing device has been deployed (the Argo float system). These floats (approximately 3500 in total at any time) are spread out across oceans where they autonomously rise and fall in the ocean waters, collecting temperature data to depths of 2000 meters.  When they rise to the ocean surface, they send their data wirelessly to satellites for later analysis. Hence we can now map the ocean heat content quite well…

    …a paper just published today in Science Advances uses a new strategy to improve upon our understanding of ocean heating to estimate the total global warming from 1960 to 2015….shows we are warming about 13% faster than we previously thought. Not only that but the warming has accelerated. The warming rate from 1992 is almost twice as great as the warming rate from 1960. Moreover, it is only since about 1990 that the warming has penetrated to depths below about 700 meters….

  2. Climate-Smart Land Trusts: Accelerating Nature-Based Solutions to Secure our Future

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    The California Council of Land Trusts hosted the 2017 California Land Conservation Conference from March 7-9, 2017 at UC Davis.

    Ellie Cohen, Point Blue President and CEO was a keynote speaker.  A pdf of Ellie’s presentation can be found here: Accelerating Nature-Based Solutions- Climate-Smart Land Trusts CCLT Keynote March 7 2017

    You can see a pdf of the full program here.

  3. Grasslands may be more sensitive to rising temperatures than precipitation

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    March 8, 2017 0 Comments Fangzhou Liu  Managing Editor of News  Stanford University full article here

    A team of Stanford and Columbia University researchers have found that U.S. grasslands may be more sensitive to atmospheric dryness than rainfall; their study suggests that scientists may have to look more to rising temperatures than precipitation in predicting plants’ response to global warming. Published on March 6 in Nature Geoscience, the researchers’ study examined 33 years of satellite data to understand grassland productivity in dry conditions. The timescale and quantity of data the team examined allows the study to inform predictive models of how environments will respond to droughts — which are likely to become more prevalent with rising temperatures around the globe.  …”U.S. grasslands are way more sensitive to vapor pressure deficit (VPD), which is important. Because VPD is so tightly linked to temperature, we can predict that it’s going to keep going up in the future.”…

    Sensitivity of grassland productivity to aridity controlled by stomatal and xylem regulation

    1. Konings, A. P. Williams & P. Gentine Nature Geoscience (2017) doi:10.1038/ngeo2903

    …We conclude that increases in vapour pressure deficit rather than changes in precipitation—both of which are expected impacts of climate change—will be a dominant influence on future grassland productivity.

  4. Massive permafrost thaw documented in Canada, portends huge carbon release

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    Study shows 52,000 square miles in rapid decline, with sediment and carbon threatening the surrounding environment and potentially accelerating global warming.

    Huge slabs of Arctic permafrost in northwest Canada are slumping and disintegrating, sending large amounts of carbon-rich mud and silt into streams and rivers. A new study that analyzed nearly a half-million square miles in northwest Canada found that this permafrost decay is affecting 52,000 square miles of that vast stretch of earth—an expanse the size of Alabama.

    According to researchers with the Northwest Territories Geological Survey, the permafrost collapse is intensifying and causing landslides into rivers and lakes that can choke off life downstream, all the way to where the rivers discharge into the Arctic Ocean.

    Similar large-scale landscape changes are evident across the Arctic including in Alaska, Siberia and Scandinavia, the researchers wrote in a paper published in the journal Geology in early February. The study didn’t address the issue of greenhouse gas releases from thawing permafrost. But its findings could help quantify the immense global scale of the thawing, which will contribute to more accurate estimates of carbon emissions….

    …At lower latitudes, permafrost is the glue that holds the world’s highest mountains together by keeping rocks and soil frozen in place. Scientists are documenting how those bonds are dissolving, said Stefan Reisenhofer, a climate scientist with the Austrian Bureau of Meteorology and Geodynamics. “We’ve seen a significant reduction in the number of ice days (those with 24 hours of sub-freezing temperatures), especially in the summer months,” said Reisenhofer….

  5. Long-term eelgrass loss due to joint effects of shade, heat

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    Analysis puts resulting economic losses at $1-2 billion in Chesapeake Bay alone

    February 14 2017  Science Daily see full article here

    A new study links a long-term decline in Chesapeake Bay’s eelgrass beds to both deteriorating water quality and rising summertime temperatures. It also shows that loss of the habitat and other benefits that eelgrass provides comes at a staggering ecological and economic cost…….”Declining water clarity has gradually reduced eelgrass cover during the past two decades, primarily in deeper beds where lack of light already limits growth. In shallow beds, it’s more that heat waves are stressing the plants, leading to the sharp drops we’ve seen in recent summers.”

    “Not only have we lost a huge ecological resource, there have been real economic and recreational consequences….Blue crab fisheries, for example, have probably lost a year or more of catch based on the amount of eelgrass we’ve already lost. For silver perch, it’s 10-20 years. In all, we estimate the potential economic cost to citizens at $1-2 billion.”…

    …mean summertime water temperature in the lower Chesapeake Bay has already increased by more than 2 degrees Fahrenheit since 1984 — from 76.8° to 79.5°F — and that the frequency of extreme warm spells with water temperatures exceeding 82° has doubled in the last decade….As global warming continues to raise the area’s water temperatures — a conservative estimate is a further 3.5° F increase by 2040 — the team predicts a further 38% decline in eelgrass cover. And if water clarity follows its current downward trajectory during the next 30 years, eelgrass would decline an additional 84%. When both declining clarity and warming are considered, say the researchers, the predicted increases in temperature and turbidity would result in a loss of 95% of Bay eelgrass — a near total eradication

    …”Our analysis suggests that eelgrass could still persist in the face of moderate increases in temperature, if the water remains clear enough” adds Lefcheck. “But that will only happen if managers adopt an integrated perspective, and continue with their efforts to curb inputs into the Bay.

    Jonathan S. Lefcheck, David J. Wilcox, Rebecca R. Murphy, Scott R. Marion, Robert J. Orth. Multiple stressors threaten the imperiled coastal foundation species eelgrass (Zostera marina) in Chesapeake Bay, USA. Global Change Biology, 2017; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13623

  6. Global warming hiatus disproved — again

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    Posted: 04 Jan 2017 11:35 AM PST see full article here

    A controversial paper published two years ago that concluded there was no detectable slowdown in ocean warming over the previous 15 years — widely known as the “global warming hiatus” — has now been confirmed using independent data in research led by researchers from …Berkeley…

    Scientists calculated average ocean temperatures from 1999 to 2015, separately using ocean buoys and satellite data, and confirmed the uninterrupted warming trend reported by NOAA in 2015, based on that organization’s recalibration of sea surface temperature recordings from ships and buoys. The new results show that there was no global warming hiatus between 1998 and 2012….

    Zeke Hausfather, Kevin Cowtan, David C. Clarke, Peter Jacobs, Mark Richardson, Robert Rohde. Assessing recent warming using instrumentally homogeneous sea surface temperature records. Science Advances, 2017; 3 (1): e1601207 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1601207

  7. Climate change has mixed effects on migratory geese

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    Posted: 05 Jan 2017 05:27 AM PST Science Daily see full article here

    Climate change improves the breeding chances of migratory geese in the Arctic — but puts mother geese at more risk of death, according to a new study.  Warmer conditions at breeding grounds in north-east Canada help light-bellied Brent geese produce more young… But in years when productivity is highest, the death rate among mothers also increases. The researchers believe this happens because mothers use extra energy laying eggs and face more risk from predators while sitting on their nests, which they make on the ground…..in warmer years mothers breed more successfully — so more of them remain sitting on nests or waiting on the ground until their offspring are ready to fly.

    Light-bellied Brent geese are shown. Credit: Kendrew Colhoun
    We tend to think of climate change as being all one way, but here we’ve got a population being affected in conflicting ways,” said Dr Ian Cleasby, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.”This population is sensitive to changes in adult survival, so the increased breeding may not be enough to offset the loss of more adult females….we have to understand how animal populations will respond to the changing climate if we want to make decisions about protecting biodiversity.“…

    Ian R. Cleasby, Thomas W. Bodey, Freydis Vigfusdottir, Jenni L. McDonald, Graham McElwaine, Kerry Mackie, Kendrew Colhoun, Stuart Bearhop. Climatic conditions produce contrasting influences on demographic traits in a long distance Arctic migrant. Journal of Animal Ecology, 2016; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.12623

  8. 2016 Warmest Year on Record

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    see full article here  ScienceDaily Posted: 04 Jan 2017 10:02 AM PST

    Globally, 2016 edged out 1998 by +0.02 C to become the warmest year in the 38-year satellite temperature record, according to scientists. Because the margin of error is about 0.10 C, this would technically be a statistical tie, with a higher probability that 2016 was warmer than 1998. The main difference was the extra warmth in the Northern Hemisphere in 2016 compared to 1998.

  9. Mountain glaciers are showing some of the strongest responses to climate change

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    December 12, 2016 University of Washington read full ScienceDaily article here

    Mountain glaciers have long been a favorite poster child of climate change…But the scientific basis for their retreat has been less clear…..Now, using statistical techniques to analyze 37 mountain glaciers around the world, a University of Washington study finds that for most of them the observed retreat is more than 99 percent likely due to climate change. In the climate report’s wording, it is “virtually certain” that the retreat of these mountain glaciers is due to climate change over the past century.

    Using statistical techniques to analyze 37 mountain glaciers around the world, a study finds that for most of them, observed retreat is more than 99 percent likely due to climate change.Credit: © Photosquirrel / Fotolia

    Because of their decades-long response times, we found that glaciers are actually among the purest signals of climate change,” said Gerard Roe, a UW professor of Earth and space sciences….Overall, the results show that changes in the 37 glaciers’ lengths are between two and 15 standard deviations away from their statistical means. That represents some of the highest signal-to-noise ratios yet documented in natural systems’ response to climate change.

    …These glaciers are stunningly far away from where they would have been in a preindustrial climate.”

    Gerard H. Roe, Marcia B. Baker & Florian Herla. Centennial glacier retreat as categorical evidence of regional climate change. Nature Geoscience, December 2016 DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2863

  10. American voters support action on climate change

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    George Mason University December 13 2016  Center for Climate Change Communication

    …our latest national survey, conducted shortly after the election, finds that, across party lines, 69% of registered voters say the U.S. should participate in the international agreement to limit global warming, compared to only 13% who say the U.S. should not.

    Likewise, 70% of registered voters support setting strict carbon dioxide emission limits on existing coal-fired power plants to reduce global warming and improve public health, even if the cost of electricity to consumers and companies increased – a core component of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Democrats (85%), Independents (62%) and Republicans (52%) all support setting strict limits on these emissions.

    Other key findings include:

    • As strategies, 78% of registered voters support taxing global warming pollution, regulating it, or using both approaches. Only 10% oppose these approaches…