The water is so hot in Alaska it’s killing large numbers of salmon

The water is so hot in Alaska it’s killing large numbers of salmon

SOURCE: CNN DATE: August 17, 2019 SNIP: Alaska has been in the throes of an unprecedented heat wave this summer, and the heat stress is killing salmon in large numbers. Scientists have observed die-offs of several varieties of Alaskan salmon, including sockeye, chum and pink salmon. Stephanie Quinn-Davidson, director of the Yukon Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, told CNN she took a group of scientists on an expedition along Alaska’s Koyokuk River at the end of July, after locals alerted her to salmon die-offs on the stream. She and the other scientists counted 850 dead unspawned salmon on that expedition, although they estimated the total was likely four to 10 times larger. They looked for signs of lesions, parasites and infections, but came up empty. Nearly all the salmon they found had “beautiful eggs still inside them,” she said. Because the die-off coincided with the heat wave, they concluded that heat stress was the cause of the mass deaths. Quinn-Davidson said she’d been working as a scientist for eight years and had “never heard of anything to this extent before.” “I’m not sure people expected how large a die-off we’d see on these rivers,” she said. The water temperatures have breaking records at the same time as the air temperatures, according to Sue Mauger, the science director for the Cook Inletkeeper. Scientists have been tracking stream temperatures around the Cook Inlet, located south of Anchorage, since 2002. They’ve never recorded a temperature above 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Until now. On July 7, a major salmon stream on the west side of the Cook Inlet registered 81.7 degrees. Mauger said she and her...
Increased frequency of and population exposure to extreme heat index days in the United States during the 21st century

Increased frequency of and population exposure to extreme heat index days in the United States during the 21st century

SOURCE: IOP Science and Think Progress DATE: July 16, 2019 SNIP: A peer-reviewed study published this week warns that if we don’t reverse emissions trends quickly and sharply, we will see a rise in unprecedented heat waves that will “break” the National Weather Service’s heat index scale. The researchers warn we will face extended scorchers more brutal than the United States has ever experienced before. In several decades, parts of Florida and Texas could experience a heat index for five or more months per year exceeding 100 degrees, “with most of these days even surpassing 105 degrees.” The administration’s own studies confirm this. Typical five-day heat waves in the U.S. will be 12 degrees warmer by mid-century alone, according to the U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA), which the White House itself reviewed and approved last November. From the report: By mid-21st century (2036–2065) under both emissions scenarios, the annual numbers of days with heat indices exceeding 37.8 °C (100 °F) and 40.6 °C (105 °F) are projected to double and triple, respectively, compared to a 1971–2000 baseline. In this timeframe, more than 25% of the US by area would experience no analog conditions an average of once or more annually and the mean duration of the longest extreme heat index event in an average year would be approximately double that of the historical baseline. By late century (2070–2099) with a high emissions scenario, there are four-fold and eight-fold increases from late 20th century conditions in the annual numbers of days with heat indices exceeding 37.8 °C and 40.6 °C, respectively; 63% of the country would experience no analog conditions...
Climate Change Is Having a Major Impact on Global Health

Climate Change Is Having a Major Impact on Global Health

SOURCE: Scientific American DATE: March 1, 2019 SNIP: Warming temperatures do not only threaten lives directly. They also cause billions of hours of lost labor, enhance conditions for the spread of infectious diseases and reduce crop yields, according to a recent report. The report, published last December in the Lancet, represents the latest findings of the Lancet Countdown—a coalition of international research organizations collaborating with the World Health Organization and the World Meteorological Organization. The group tracks the health impacts of—and government responses to—climate change. “It affects everyone around the world—every single person, every single population. No country is immune,” says Nick Watts, executive director of the Lancet Countdown and one of many co-authors of the report. “We’ve been seeing these impacts for some time now.” The report found that millions of people worldwide are vulnerable to heat-related disease and death and that populations in Europe and the eastern Mediterranean are especially susceptible—most likely because they have more elderly people living in urban areas. Adults older than 65 are particularly at risk, as are those with chronic illnesses such as heart disease or diabetes. Places where humans tend to live are exposed to an average temperature change that is more than twice the global average—0.8 versus 0.3 degree Celsius (graphic). There were 157 million more “heat wave exposure events” (one heat wave experienced by one person) in 2017 than in 2000. Compared with 1986 to 2005, each person was exposed to, on average, 1.4 more days of heat wave per year from 2000 to 2017. That may not seem like a lot, but as Watts notes, “someone who is...
Australia’s extreme heat is sign of things to come, scientists warn

Australia’s extreme heat is sign of things to come, scientists warn

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: February 1, 2019 SNIP: Australia sweltered through the hottest month in its history in January, spurring mass deaths of fish, fire warnings and concerns among climate scientists that extreme heat is hitting faster and harder than anticipated. For the first time since records began, the country’s mean temperature in January exceeded 30C (86F), according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), which said daily extremes – in some places just short of 50C – were unprecedented. “There’s been so many records it’s really hard to count,” said Andrew Watkins, a senior climatologist at BoM, after January registered Australia’s warmest month for mean, maximum and minimum temperatures. This followed the country’s warmest December on record, with heatwaves in every Australian state and territory. Climate change is the long-term driver. “The warming trend which has seen Australian temperatures increase by more than 1C in the last 100 years also contributed to the unusually warm conditions,” Watkins said. The bureau’s monthly report said the heatwaves were unprecedented in their scale and duration. The highest temperatures of the month were recorded in Augusta on the south-west coast, where thermometers registered 49.5C , but the most relentless heat was in Birdsville, Queensland, which endured 10 consecutive days above...
Queensland flying fox species decimated by record heatwave

Queensland flying fox species decimated by record heatwave

SOURCE: The Guardian DATE: November 29, 2018 SNIP: Thousands of threatened flying foxes have dropped dead due to heat stress brought on by extreme temperatures in far north Queensland this week. Conservationists and wildlife volunteers estimate more than 4,000 have perished this week during the record heatwave, which has seen temperatures in Cairns reach all-time highs of 42.6C. The species of flying fox affected is the spectacled flying fox, an endemic Queensland species found in north Queensland. It’s currently listed as vulnerable under national environment laws but conservationists have been pushing to have the species up-listed to endangered because of declines in the population. Volunteers found 3,000 dead bats and 54 live bats needing care at one site in Edmonton alone. “What’s scary about this one is the spectacled flying fox has been hit,” he said. “As far as we know, they’ve never suffered heat deaths before. This is an unprecedented and shocking heat-stress event, with climate change seeing threatened species never before affected dropping by the thousands and dependent pups left...