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Our Earth – Eco News Roundup: December 30, 2012

December 30, 2012

Our Earth

Our Earth – Eco News Roundup: December 30, 2012

The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.


Boreal bird species of conservation concern affected by climate change

A protected area network should ensure the maintenance of biodiversity, but climate is changing rapidly, thereby creating further demand for the protected area network to be efficient in preserving biota. Due to climate change species ranges are expected to move polewards, which poses challenges to the protected area network. Population changes of different bird species groups according to their habitat preferences in boreal protected areas in Finland were studied on the basis of large-scale bird censuses carried out in 1981 and in 2000. Mean temperatures rose clearly between the two time slices in Finland, for example, mean April-June temperature by 0.7 °C.

Climate Model Coverage: Far from Model Journalism

With a less-than-stellar end to the Qatar climate talks, and with all eyes on the US for more ambitious commitments ahead of the next round, it is more important than ever for the American public to be better educated on the dire implications of a rapidly warming world.

Geo-engineering against climate change

Numerous geo-engineering schemes have been suggested as possible ways to reduce levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and so reduce the risk of global warming and climate change. One such technology involves dispersing large quantities of iron salts in the oceans to fertilize otherwise barren parts of the sea and trigger the growth of algal blooms and other photosynthesizing marine life. Photosynthesis requires carbon dioxide as its feedstock and when the algae die they will sink to the bottom of the sea taking the locked in carbon with them. Unfortunately, present plans for seeding the oceans with iron fail to take into account several factors that could scupper those plans, according to Daniel Harrison of the University of Sydney Institute of Marine Science, NSW. Writing in the International Journal of Global Warming,

Pics, shoots and leaves: Ecologists turn digital cameras into climate change tools

As digital cameras become better and cheaper, ecologists are turning these ubiquitous consumer devices into scientific tools to study how forests are responding to climate change. And, they say, digital cameras could be a cost-effective way of visually monitoring the spread of tree diseases. The results — which come from 38,000 photographs — are presented at this week’s British Ecological Society’s Annual Meeting at the University of Birmingham. Because trees fix carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store carbon as biomass and soil organic matter, forests play a vital role in helping regulate climate change. Forests are also affected by climate change, with buds bursting sooner as spring arrives earlier, and ecologists need to understand how this process affects the amount of carbon trees can lock away from the atmosphere.

Smaller Colorado River projected for coming decades, study says

Some 40 million people depend on the Colorado River Basin for water but warmer weather from rising greenhouse gas levels and a growing population may signal water shortages ahead. In a new study in Nature Climate Change, climate modelers at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory predict a 10 percent drop in the Colorado River’s flow in the next few decades, enough to disrupt longtime water-sharing agreements between farms and cities across the American Southwest, from Denver to Los Angeles to Tucson, and through California’s Imperial Valley.


Ups and downs of biodiversity after mass extinction

The climate after the largest mass extinction so far 252 million years ago was cool, later very warm and then cool again. Thanks to the cooler temperatures, the diversity of marine fauna ballooned, as paleontologists from the University of Zurich have reconstructed. The warmer climate, coupled with a high CO2 level in the atmosphere, initially gave rise to new, short-lived species. In the longer term, however, this climate change had an adverse effect on biodiversity and caused species to become extinct.   Until now, it was always assumed that it took flora and fauna a long time to recover from the vast mass extinction at the end of the Permian geological period 252 million years ago. According to the scientific consensus, complex ecological communities only began to reappear in the Middle Triassic, so 247 million years ago.

New data challenge old views about evolution of early life

A research team led by biogeochemists at the University of California, Riverside has tested a popular hypothesis in paleo-ocean chemistry, and proved it false. The fossil record indicates that eukaryotes — single-celled and multicellular organisms with more complex cellular structures compared to prokaryotes, such as bacteria — show limited morphological and functional diversity before 800-600 million years ago. Many researchers attribute the delayed diversification and proliferation of eukaryotes, which culminated in the appearance of complex animals about 600 million years ago, to very low levels of the trace metal zinc in seawater.

Study shows rapid warming on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

In a discovery that raises further concerns about the future contribution of Antarctica to sea level rise, a new study finds that the western part of the ice sheet is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought.

Amazon deforestation brings loss of microbial communities

An international team of microbiologists led by Klaus Nüsslein of the University of Massachusetts Amherst has found that a troubling net loss in diversity among the microbial organisms responsible for a functioning ecosystem is accompanying deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.

 


Here are some other links you may find worthwhile:
Climate Change News Digest
Climate Progress from Center for American Progress
Rocky Mountain Institute “an independent, entrepreneurial nonprofit think-and-do tank™ that drives the efficient and restorative use of resources.”


At BPI Campus our Progressive Agenda is:
1. People matter more than profits.
2. The earth is our home, not our trash can.
3. We need good government for both #1 and #2.

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  • Jim W

    Climate Change is simple.