Arctic animals are migrating earlier in the year due to climate change

Arctic animals are migrating earlier in the year due to climate change

SOURCE: New Scientist DATE: November 5, 2020 SNIP: Animals in the Arctic, including reindeer and golden eagles, are migrating earlier due to climate change, say researchers who have gathered a huge amount of data to study the behaviour of 86 Arctic species over the past three decades. “We have the ability to monitor animal movements on a very large scale,” says Eliezer Gurarie at the University of Maryland. “It seems that animals are unknowingly responding and adapting to climatic changes, and have been doing for years.” Gurarie and his team used GPS tags and satellites to track the spring migration of more than 900 female reindeer over the past 15 years. They discovered that the females are migrating to give birth approximately a day earlier year on year, probably as a result of warming temperatures. Earlier birthing times can be risky in northern parts of the Arctic, says team member Gil Bohrer at Ohio State University. “There are higher chances of these offspring encountering strong freak storms,” he says. If they do, many will inevitably die because they cannot handle extreme conditions that can see up to half a metre of snow. Reindeer are already in decline, says Gurarie, and climate change is worsening the situation. This poses a threat to people living in the region who rely on them for fur and meat. Similarly, golden eagles – which usually nest in the Arctic tundra – have been starting their spring migration half a day earlier each year over the past 25 years. “The day-to-day variation of climate change is very small,” says Bohrer. “To understand how animals respond...
Arctic Sea Ice Reaches a Low, Just Missing Record

Arctic Sea Ice Reaches a Low, Just Missing Record

SOURCE: New York Times DATE: September 21, 2020 SNIP: A “crazy year” in the Arctic has resulted in the second-lowest extent of sea ice in the region, scientists said Monday. Researchers with the National Snow and Ice Data Center said the minimum was most likely reached on Sept. 15, with 1.44 million square miles of ocean covered in ice. Since satellite measurements of sea ice began four decades ago, only 2012 has had a lower minimum, when 1.32 million square miles were measured. The 2020 minimum was nearly a million square miles less than the average annual minimum between 1981 and 2010. This year also continues an alarming streak: The 14 lowest ice years have occurred in the past 14 years. Many scientists expect that the Arctic could be devoid of ice in summers well before midcentury. “It’s been a crazy year up north, with sea ice at a near-record low, 100-degree heat waves in Siberia, and massive forest fires,” Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, said in a statement. “We are headed towards a seasonally ice-free Arctic Ocean, and this year is another nail in the coffin.” Sea ice has been shrinking by more than 13 percent per decade, relative to the 1981-2010 average, as global warming affects the Arctic more than any other part of the world. The region is warming more than twice as fast as any other. Sea ice loss plays a role in this rapid warming. Ice reflects most of the sunlight that strikes it. But when it melts, more ocean is exposed. The ocean surface is darker and...
Think 2020’s natural disasters are wild? Experts expect a lot worse in future

Think 2020’s natural disasters are wild? Experts expect a lot worse in future

SOURCE: KTLA DATE: September 9, 2020 SNIP: A record amount of California is burning, spurred by a nearly 20-year mega-drought. To the north, parts of Oregon that don’t usually catch fire are in flames. Meanwhile, the Atlantic’s 16th and 17th named tropical storms are swirling, a record number for this time of year. Powerful Typhoon Haishen lashed Japan and the Korean Peninsula this week. Last month it hit 130 degrees in Death Valley, the hottest Earth has been in nearly a century. Phoenix keeps setting triple-digit heat records, while Colorado went through a weather whiplash of 90-degree heat to snow this week. Siberia, famous for its icy climate, hit 100 degrees earlier this year, accompanied by wildfires. Before that Australia and the Amazon were in flames. Amid all that, Iowa’s derecho — bizarre straight-line winds that got as powerful as a major hurricane, causing billions of dollars in damages — barely went noticed. Freak natural disasters — most with what scientists say likely have a climate change connection — seem to be everywhere in the crazy year 2020. But experts say we’ll probably look back and say those were the good old days, when disasters weren’t so wild. “It’s going to get A LOT worse,” Georgia Tech climate scientist Kim Cobb said Wednesday. “I say that with emphasis because it does challenge the imagination. And that’s the scary thing to know as a climate scientist in 2020.” Colorado University environmental sciences chief Waleed Abdalati, NASA’s former chief scientist, said the trajectory of worsening disasters and climate change from the burning of coal, oil and gas is clear, and basic...
“Worst case” CO2 emissions scenario is best match for assessing climate risk, impact by 2050

“Worst case” CO2 emissions scenario is best match for assessing climate risk, impact by 2050

SOURCE: Woods Hole Research Center DATE: August 3, 2020 SNIP: The RCP 8.5 CO2 emissions pathway, long considered a “worst case scenario” by the international science community, is the most appropriate for conducting assessments of climate change impacts by 2050, according to a new article published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The work was authored by Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) Risk Program Director Dr. Christopher Schwalm, Dr. Spencer Glendon, a Senior Fellow at WHRC and founder of Probable Futures, and by WHRC President Dr. Philip Duffy. Long dismissed as alarmist or misleading, the paper argues that is actually the closest approximation of both historical emissions and anticipated outcomes of current global climate policies, tracking within 1% of actual emissions. “Not only are the emissions consistent with RCP 8.5 in close agreement with historical total cumulative CO2 emissions (within 1%), but RCP8.5 is also the best match out to mid-century under current and stated policies with still highly plausible levels of CO2 emissions in 2100,” the authors wrote. The article also notes that RCP 8.5 would not be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that “we note that the usefulness of RCP 8.5 is not changed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Assuming pandemic restrictions remain in place until the end of 2020 would entail a reduction in emissions of -4.7 Gt CO2. This represents less than 1% of total cumulative CO2 emissions since 2005 for all RCPs and observations.” “Given the agreement of 2005-2020 historical and RCP8.5 total CO2 emissions and the congruence between current policies and RCP8.5 emission levels to mid-century,...
Latest climate study predicts disaster for oceans, coastlines and life as we know it

Latest climate study predicts disaster for oceans, coastlines and life as we know it

SOURCE: MSN and AGU DATE: July 25, 2020 SNIP: A disturbing new climate change study predicts global temperature increases of up to 8 degrees Fahrenheit as atmospheric carbon concentrations double: [I]t now appears extremely unlikely that the climate sensitivity could be low enough to avoid substantial climate change (well in excess of 2°C warming) under a high‐emissions future scenario. We remain unable to rule out that the sensitivity could be above 4.5°C per doubling of carbon dioxide levels, although this is not likely. Humanity, it’s clear, is close to missing the chance to avoid the worst ravages of fossil fuel pollution. That level of warming would spell disaster for our oceans and coastal communities. Coral reefs would die; marine biodiversity would plummet. Flooding and extreme storms would pummel coastal residents. And ocean acidification and hypoxia would change the basic building blocks of marine life in dangerous, unpredictable ways. This study is just the latest alarm going off to demand climate action now. We can’t wait any longer to stop drilling and mining for fossil fuels in our public lands and waters. Such public-lands extraction causes about a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. The new four-year study, published in the journal Review of Geophysics by an international team of 25 top experts, indicates average global temperatures are now very likely to increase 4.1 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s at the high end of the range consistently predicted by major climate studies going back to 1979. The study indicates a 95 percent certainty that a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations – which we’re on target to hit in the...