Ecosystems

Research shows driving factors behind changes between local and global carbon cycles
January 18, 2017 03:24 PM -

Pioneering new research has provided a fascinating new insight in the quest to determine whether temperature or water availability is the most influential factor in determining the success of global, land-based carbon sinks.

The research, carried out by an international team of climate scientists including Professors Pierre Friedlingstein and Stephen Sitch from the University of Exeter, has revealed new clues on how land carbon sinks are regulated on both local and global scales.

Changing atmospheric conditions may contribute to stronger ocean wave activity on the Antarctic Peninsula
January 18, 2017 09:15 AM - Colorado State University

Over the past few years, a large fracture has grown across a large floating ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula. The world is watching the ice shelf, now poised to break off an iceberg the size of Delaware into the ocean.

It’s not a new phenomenon; this “thumb” of Antarctica, which juts out into the stormy Southern Ocean, has lost more than 28,000 square kilometers of floating ice — almost as large as Massachusetts — over the past half-century. This has included the complete disintegration of four ice shelves, the floating extensions of glaciers.

Birds of a feather flock together to confuse potential predators
January 18, 2017 09:03 AM - University of Bristol

Scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Groningen, in The Netherlands, have created a computer game style experiment which sheds new light on the reasons why starlings flock in massive swirling groups over wintering grounds.

A mumeration can hold many thousands of starlings but the reasons why they put on these amazing displays are not well understood.

World's biggest tropical carbon sink found in Congo rainforest
January 16, 2017 02:04 PM - , Ecologist

A 145,000 sq km area of peatland swamp forest has been discovered in the Congo Basin, writes Tim Radford, and it holds a record 30 Gt of carbon, equivalent to 20 years of US fossil fuel emissions. Now the race is on to protect it from damaging development that would emit that carbon over coming decades.

Genome sequence of a polar alga explains adaptation to extreme climates
January 16, 2017 10:00 AM - University of East Anglia

An international team of researchers has identified the genetic mutations which allowed microalgae (phytoplankton) from the Southern Ocean to adapt to extreme and highly variable climates – a step towards understanding how polar organisms are impacted by climate change.

Scientists highlight the critical role of birds in forest regeneration
January 16, 2017 08:32 AM - Laura Briggs, The Ecologist, The Ecologist

The loss of birds could significantly impact efforts to combat deforestation, according to research from scientists looking at species across the Brazilian Amazon. 

'Shrew'-d advice: Study of Arctic shrews, parasites indicates how climate change may affect ecosystems and communities
January 12, 2017 04:43 PM - Kansas State University

MANHATTAN — The shrew and its parasites — even 40-year-old preserved ones — are the new indicators of environmental change, according to a Kansas State University researcher.

 

PRESSURE FROM GRAZERS HASTENS ECOSYSTEM COLLAPSE FROM DROUGHT
January 11, 2017 04:39 PM - Brian Reed Silliman via Duke University

Extreme droughts, intensified by a warming climate, are increasingly causing ecosystem collapse in many regions worldwide. But models used by scientists to predict the tipping points at which drought stress leads to ecosystem collapse have proven unreliable and too optimistic.

A new study by scientists at Duke University and Beijing Normal University may hold the answer why.   

The researchers found that these tipping points can happen much sooner than current models predict because of the added pressures placed on drought-weakened plants by grazing animals and fungal pathogens.

Changing climate changes soils
January 11, 2017 02:29 PM - American Society of Agronomy

The hottest months. The snowiest winters. Catastrophic floods and droughts.

Climate change impacts lives across the world in drastic and unpredictable ways. This unpredictability also extends to the more subtle – yet still important – effects of climate change.

For example, it is uncertain how climate change will affect soils and their ability to support productive farms or healthy natural ecosystems.

World's largest tropical peatland discovered in Congo swamps
January 11, 2017 01:51 PM - University of Leeds

Avast peatland in the Congo Basin has been mapped for the first time, revealing it to be the largest in the tropics.

The new study found that the Cuvette Centrale peatlands in the central Congo Basin, which were unknown to exist five years ago, cover 145,500 square kilometres – an area larger than England. They lock in 30 billion tonnes of carbon making the region one of the most carbon-rich ecosystems on Earth. 

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