August 30, 2016 04:59 PM - University of California - Santa Barbara via EurekAlert!
In California's Sierra Nevada mountains, as more precipitation falls in the form of rain rather than snow, and the snowpack melts earlier in spring, it's important for water managers to know when and how much water will be available for urban and agricultural needs and for the environment in general.
While changing precipitation patterns can have a significant impact on stream flows in the Sierra Nevada mountains, a new study by UC Santa Barbara researchers indicates that shifts in vegetation type resulting from warming and other factors may have an equal or greater effect. Their findings appear in the journal PLOS One.
Obama Creates the World's Largest Marine Reserve
August 30, 2016 07:12 AM - Steve Williams, Care2
The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, first named a national monument by President George W. Bush in 2006, is a massively important marine nature reserve.
Designated a World Heritage site, the region surrounding the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands teems with more than 7,000 marine and land species — some of which are unique to the area, including endangered whales and sea turtles. As a result, the region has been deemed irreplaceable by scientists.
Storms in Mexico Kill Millions of Monarchs
August 29, 2016 07:06 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2
While international efforts are under way to help keep dwindling populations of monarch butterflies from disappearing, scientists are raising concerns about how severe weather and a loss of forest habitat at their wintering grounds in Mexico are affecting them.
Every year, monarchs embark on an epic multigenerational migration that takes them thousands of miles from Canada and the U.S. in search of sites in California and in Mexico. The fir trees in the southern regions offer the shelter and warmth they need to survive the winter.
Unfortunately, these vital forests in Mexico have been threatened by illegal logging, and now storms have destroyed hundreds of acres of habitat, while severe weather is believed to have killed an estimated 6.2 million of these iconic butterflies.
Europe's oldest known living inhabitant
August 19, 2016 01:46 PM - Stockholm University via EurekAlert!
A Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii) growing in the highlands of northern Greece has been dendrocronologically dated to be more than 1075 years old. This makes it currently the oldest known living tree in Europe. The millenium old pine was discovered by scientists from Stockholm University (Sweden), the University of Mainz (Germany) and the University of Arizona (USA).
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.
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.
Threat of wildfires expected to increase as global temperatures rise
August 12, 2016 04:01 PM - United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has warned that wildfires could become more frequent and more destructive as global temperatures rise and drought conditions plague many regions of the world.
“Last year was the hottest year on record and was above average for the number of reported major droughts and heatwaves. This year we are seeing a similar pattern with new temperature records being set on a monthly basis,” UNISDR chief Robert Glasser said yesterday in a news release issued by the Office.
Feds Say California's Endangered Channel Islands Foxes Are Recovered
August 11, 2016 03:48 PM - Center for Biological Diversity
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced the successful recovery of three out of four unique subspecies ofisland fox on San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands, removing them from the endangered species list. The agency also upgraded the protection status of the Santa Catalina Island fox — the fourth subspecies — from “endangered” to “threatened” to reflect its status improvement.
"Because they evolved separately on the islands for 16,000 years, these adorable little foxes are some of the only carnivores endemic to California,” said Jeff Miller with the Center. “They were on the brink of extinction just 12 years ago when they were protected under the Endangered Species Act. Now, thanks to successful reintroduction and recovery efforts, numbers of foxes are way up and threats have been reduced."
Galápagos faces first-ever bird extinction
August 10, 2016 02:34 PM - California Academy of Sciences via EurekAlert!
Scientists have discovered a new species of colorful songbird in the Galápagos Islands, with one catch: it's extinct. Researchers from the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco State University (SFSU), the University of New Mexico (UNM), and the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory (SFBBO) used molecular data from samples of museum specimens to determine that two subspecies of Vermilion Flycatchers, both found only in the Galápagos, should be elevated from subspecies to full species status. One of these newly recognized species--the characteristically smaller San Cristóbal Island Vermilion Flycatcher--hasn't been seen since 1987 and is considered to be the first modern extinction of a Galápagos bird species. The findings were published online earlier this May in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.