Ecosystems

Pacific sea level predicts global temperature changes
August 18, 2016 05:14 PM - University of Arizona via EurekAlert!

The amount of sea level rise in the Pacific Ocean can be used to estimate future global surface temperatures, according to a new report led by University of Arizona geoscientists.

Based on the Pacific Ocean's sea level in 2015, the team estimates by the end of 2016 the world's average surface temperature will increase up to 0.5 F (0.28 C) more than in 2014.

In 2015 alone, the average global surface temperature increased by 0.32 F (0.18 C).

Climate Change Is Altering Our National Parks Forever
August 18, 2016 03:23 PM - Julie M. Rodriguez, Care2

If you’ve ever taken a camping trip, hiked up a forested mountain trail or simply gone bird watching in an American national park, I have bad news: climate change is increasingly putting our nation’s wilderness in danger. And with July 2016 officially declared the hottest month on the planet since recordkeeping began, matters are only poised to get worse.

Rising global temperatures and changing weather patterns are already having wide-reaching effects on these wild places. Nowhere is this more apparent than in areas that used to be thick with ice and snow.

Blue Cut Fire in California spreads quickly
August 18, 2016 01:43 PM - NASA/GODDARD Space Flight Center via EurekAlert!

The Blue Cut Fire, just outside of Los Angeles, is a quickly growing fire that is currently an imminent threat to public safety, rail traffic and structures in the Cajon Pass, Lytle Creek, Wrightwood, Oak Hills, and surrounding areas. An estimated 34,500 homes and 82,640 people are being affected by the evacuation warnings that have been issued. 

Urbanization affects diets of butterflies
August 18, 2016 11:34 AM - National University of Singapore via EurekAlert!

A study led by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) revealed that most tropical butterflies feed on a variety of flower types, but those that are 'picky' about their flower diets tend to prefer native plants and are more dependent on forests. These 'picky' butterflies also have wings that are more conspicuous and shorter proboscis. The reduction in native plants due to urbanisation affects the diet of such butterflies, and researchers suggest that intervention may be needed to manage their preferred flower resources.

NASA Graphic Shows Severity of Rainstorm That Caused Louisiana Flooding
August 17, 2016 03:34 PM - Yale Environment 360

A new graphic created by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency illustrates the severity of a recent rainstorm that caused widespread flooding in Louisiana this week, killing 11 people and forcing tens of thousands of residents from their homes. 

Flowering meadows benefit humankind
August 17, 2016 03:16 PM - Technical University of Munich (TUM) via EurekAlert!

The more it swarms, crawls and flies the better it is for humans. This is the finding of a study published in "Nature". More than 60 researchers from a number of universities were involved, including the Technical University of Munich, the Institute of Plant Sciences at the University of Bern and the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre in Frankfurt. A diverse ecosystem populated by many species from all levels of the food chain provides higher levels of ecosystem services, the team reports. Even rather unpopular insects and invisible soil-dwelling organisms are important in maintaining a wide range of ecosystem services. The results underline the necessity of maintaining species-rich ecosystems for the good of humanity.

Sea ice strongly linked to climate change in past 90,000 years
August 17, 2016 03:03 PM - Center for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Climate and Environment via ScienceDaily

"The Arctic sea ice responded very rapidly to past climate changes. During the coldest periods of the past 90,000 years the sea ice edge spread relatively quickly to the Greenland-Scotland Ridge, and probably far into the Atlantic Ocean." says first author Ulrike Hoff, a researcher at Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE).

Sea ice amplifies the climate changes that are occurring at any given time. Its growth and melting has profound effects on climate, the marine environment and ocean circulation.

"The Arctic sea ice responded very rapidly to past climate changes. During the coldest periods of the past 90,000 years the sea ice edge spread relatively quickly to the Greenland-Scotland Ridge, and probably far into the Atlantic Ocean." says first author Ulrike Hoff, a researcher at Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE).

Slower snowmelt affects downstream water availability in western mountains
August 17, 2016 09:32 AM - UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, RENO via EurekAlert!

Western communities are facing effects of a warming climate with slower and earlier snowmelt reducing streamflows and possibly the amount of water reaching reservoirs used for drinking water and agriculture, according to a study published in July.

"As the climate warms, there is actually a slower snowmelt - both in timing and rates, which makes for a less efficient streamflow," Adrian Harpold, ecohydrologist at the University of Nevada, Reno said. Harpold, who initiated the study two years ago at the University of Colorado Boulder, is a co-author of the paper published in AGU publications Geophysical Research Letters.

Overfishing on Coral Reefs Reduces Nutrients Healthy Ecosystems Need
August 16, 2016 03:16 PM - Center for Biological Diversity

Overfishing of large and top predatory fishes on Caribbean coral reefs substantially reduces the amount of nutrients stored and recycled within the ecosystem by fishes, new interdisciplinary research published today in Nature Communications concludes.

The study, by scientists at the University of Washington, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Smithsonian Institution and North Carolina State University, suggests that while avoiding local extinction of fish species is a conservation priority, management actions that preserve large fish groups such as sharks, groupers, snappers and jacks are needed to maintain an adequate flow of nutrients within ecosystems.

Mapping the health threat of wildfires under climate change in US West
August 16, 2016 03:08 PM - Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies via ScienceDaily

A surge in major wildfire events in the U.S. West as a consequence of climate change will expose tens of millions of Americans to high levels of air pollution in the coming decades, according to a new Yale-led study conducted with collaborators from Harvard.

The researchers estimated air pollution from past and projected future wildfires in 561 western counties, and found that by mid-century more than 82 million people will experience "smoke waves," or consecutive days with high air pollution related to fires.

The regions likely to receive the highest exposure to wildfire smoke in the future include northern California, western Oregon, and the Great Plains.

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