Ecosystems

Corals Survived Caribbean Climate Change
November 18, 2016 08:46 AM - Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Half of all coral species in the Caribbean went extinct between 1 and 2 million years ago, probably due to drastic environmental changes. Which ones survived? Scientists working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) think one group of survivors, corals in the genus Orbicella, will continue to adapt to future climate changes because of their high genetic diversity.

“Having a lot of genetic variants is like buying a lot of lottery tickets,” said Carlos Prada, lead author of the study and Earl S. Tupper Post-doctoral Fellow at STRI. “We discovered that even small numbers of individuals in three different species of the reef-building coral genus Orbicella have quite a bit of genetic variation, and therefore, are likely to adapt to big changes in their environment.”

Canadian and European boreal forests differ but neither is immune to climate change, says U of T researcher
November 16, 2016 09:09 AM - University of Toronto

Rudy Boonstra has been doing field research in Canada’s north for more than 40 years.

Working mostly out of the Arctic Institute’s Kluane Lake Research Station in Yukon, the U of T Scarborough biology professor has become intimately familiar with Canada’s vast and unique boreal forest ecosystem.

But it was during a trip to Finland in the mid-1990s to help a colleague with field research that he began to think long and hard about why the boreal forest there differed so dramatically from its Canadian cousin. This difference was crystallized by follow-up trips to Norway.

2016 Temperatures Measure 1.2 Degrees C Above Pre-Industrial Levels
November 14, 2016 01:44 PM - Yale Environment 360

This year is on track to become the hottest year on record, with global temperatures measuring 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 F) above pre-industrial levels, according to the World Meteorological Organization(WMO). 

Study reveals 82% of the core ecological processes that underpin ecosystems and provide services to people are now affected by climate change
November 14, 2016 10:20 AM -

Most studies of global climate change attempt to predict what might happen to the Earth as temperatures rise in future.  A new study representing an international collaboration by ecologists and conservation biologists shows that global changes in climate have already impacted every aspect of life on Earth, from genes to entire ecosystems. It was published in the prestigious journal Science on November 10, 2016. 

The research team, led by the University of Florida and with participation from the University of Hong Kong, showed that of a total of 94 ecological processes evaluated globally, 82% of them showed evidence of impact from climate change.  Land, freshwater and marine ecosystems and species have all been all affected, and consequential impacts on people could range from increased pests and disease outbreaks, to unpredictable changes in fisheries and decreasing agriculture yields. 

Experts call on international climate change panel to better reflect ocean variability in their projections
November 14, 2016 09:48 AM - University of Bristol

A commentary on what should be included in the next IPCC special interdisciplinary report on oceans and the cryosphere has been released today in Nature by Daniela Schmidt, Professor of Palaeobiology from the University of Bristol and Philip Boyd, a professor of marine biogeochemistry from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania.

The IPCC is an international body which was set up in 1988 to assess the science related to climate change.

Currently on its sixth assessment cycle, the goal of the IPCC is to inform policymakers of the science on climate change, the impacts, future risks and potential options for adaption and mitigation.

The latest IPCC report had for the first time chapters dedicated to the Oceans. This year, the IPCC are going one step further with a special interdisciplinary report on the ocean and the cryosphere which will be published in 2019.

Just 1 Degree C of Warming Has Altered Nearly Every Aspect of Life on Earth
November 11, 2016 03:19 PM -

Climate change has already impacted nearly every aspect of life on earth, according to a new study in the journal Science. Warming global temperatures have altered everything from entire ecosystems down to the individual genes of species. 

Thawing ice makes the Alps grow
November 11, 2016 09:22 AM - GFZ GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam, Helmholtz Centre

The Alps are steadily “growing” by about one to two millimeters per year. Likewise, the formerly glaciated subcontinents of North America and Scandinavia are also undergoing constant upward movement. This is due to the fact that at the end of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) about 18,000 years ago the glaciers melted and with this the former heavy pressure on the Earth’s surface diminished. The ice reacted rapidly to climate change at that time whereas the Earth’s crust is still responding today to this relatively sudden melting of ice. 

Climate, human influence conspired in Lake Urmia's decline
November 10, 2016 10:01 AM - International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

The dramatic decline of Iran’s Lake Urmia—once the second-largest hypersaline lake in the world—has both direct human and climatic causes, according to a new study published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.   The study was the first to compare the relative impact of climate and water management on the water flowing into the lake.

A Major Ocean Current is Widening as Climate Warms
November 10, 2016 09:37 AM - University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

A new study by University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science researchers found that the Indian Ocean’s Agulhas Current is getting wider rather than strengthening. The findings, which have important implications for global climate change, suggest that intensifying winds in the region may be increasing the turbulence of the current, rather than increasing its flow rate.

Rising CO2 Threatens Coral And People Who Use Reefs
November 9, 2016 04:26 PM - Erin Mckenzie via Duke University

As atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels rise, very few coral reef ecosystems will be spared the impacts of ocean acidification or sea surface temperature rise, according to a new analysis. The damage will cause the most immediate and serious threats where human dependence on reefs is highest.

A new analysis in the journal Plos One, led by Duke University and the Université de Bretagne Occidentale, suggests that by 2050, Western Mexico, Micronesia, Indonesia, parts of Australia and Southeast Asia will bear the brunt of rising temperatures. Reef damage will result in lost fish habitats and shoreline protection, jeopardizing the lives and economic prosperity of people who depend on reefs for tourism and food.

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