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Showing posts from September, 2020

Someday, even wet forests could burn due to climate change

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PHYS ORG A wet "sclerophyll" mixed forest. Might even it be vulnerable in a warming world?  Photo by Hagasfagas. Millions of years ago, fire swept across the planet, fuelled by an oxygen-rich atmosphere in which even wet forests burned, according to new research by CU Boulder scientists. Story here.

Unprecedented mass loss expected for the Greenland Ice Sheet

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Nature (With some minor editing by PinP.) The edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet.  Credit: Jason Briner Mass loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet is predicted to be higher in this century than any time in the past 12,000 years. The simulations, published in Nature, are based on high-carbon-emission scenarios and consider the southwestern region of Greenland. The findings add to a body of evidence that suggests that reducing carbon emissions is needed to decrease the contribution of the Greenland Ice Sheet to sea-level rise. As the Arctic warms, the Greenland Ice Sheet has been losing mass and contributing to sea-level rise. That loss rate has increased dramatically since the 1990s. But are those rates and ones projected for the future unexpected? Or, are they just related to "natural variability?" To answer that question, Jason Briner and colleagues produced high-resolution simulations based on geological observations covering southwestern Greenland for the past 12,000 years that

Massacre on Cyprus. Researchers call for a crack down on poachers who lure millions of birds to their deaths on the Mediterranean island with recordings of their own songs.

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 By Larry Powell The Sardinian warbler  (Curruca melanocephala) , common to the Mediterranean region. Photo by Andreas Trepte.   Billions of birds like the  Sardinian warbler (above) and the  Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)  have been migrating through the region for a long time. And, each year for many years, poachers on Cyprus have been trapping and killing them illegally. The slaughter is now said to have reached "industrial levels." Conservationists found 155 different bird species in trappers' nets in 2018. These included 82 listed as "conservation priority species;" Among them, the Cyprus warbler, a protected species which is a "short-distance" migrator but breeds only on the island. A study just published by The Royal Society   takes aim at the devious methods the poachers use. They lure their unsuspecting prey to their deaths by playing recordings of the birds' own songs.  But it has not been widely known just how well that practise works - u

‘Apocalyptic’ fires are ravaging the world’s largest tropical wetland

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 Nature Brazilian Pantanal wildfire - "burn scar" by Coordenação-Geral de Observação da Terra/INPE Infernos in South America’s Pantanal region have burnt twice the area of California’s fires this year. Researchers fear the rare ecosystem will never recover. Story here.

Marine heatwaves are human-made

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ScienceDaily A PinP photo. Heatwaves in the world's oceans have become over 20 times more frequent due to human influence. This is what researchers are now able to demonstrate. Marine heatwaves destroy ecosystems and damage fisheries. Story here.

Do Forests Grow Better With Our Help or Without?

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YaleEnvironment360 Riding Mtn. National Park, Manitoba, Canada. A PinP photo. Nations around the world are pledging to plant billions of trees to grow new forests. But a new study shows that the potential for natural forest regrowth to absorb carbon from the atmosphere and fight climate change is far greater than has previously been estimated. Story here.

Neonicotinoids: The New DDT?

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RELATED: New studies show farm chemicals are affecting more than bees. Bird populations are declining, too . 

Could a million freshwater turtles help clean up some of Australia's polluted rivers? A team of scientists believes, they could!

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by Larry Powell The freshwater turtle, Emydura macquarii. Credit: Claudia Santori. For well over a century,  invasive freshwater fish from Europe - carp (originally from China) - have been released, either deliberately or accidentally from fish farms, into Australian waterways. The fish, now widely regarded as pests, are thriving.  Their habitat includes rivers flowing through the Murray-Darling Basin of New South Wales. Those vast waterways support, through irrigation and other means, about 40% of agricultural production for the entire country - not to mention vital aquatic eco-systems and drinking water for about three million people.  Baby Emydura macquarii. Credit: Tom Burd. By contrast, the clock is ticking for Australia's native freshwater turtles. The new study says the most common species has declined by up to 91 percent in the past 40 years. It blames urbanization, which damages their habitat and makes the turtles more vulnerable to mass die-offs from disease. The

Kiss the Ground (Official Movie Trailer 2020)

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The Arctic is burning like never before — and that’s bad news for climate change

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Nature Wildfire smoke at the Arctic Circle.  MIKOFOX ⌘ 2020 Vision Fires are releasing record levels of carbon dioxide, partly because they are burning ancient peatlands that have been a carbon sink. Story here. RELATED: New research finds - global heating is melting vast northern fields of permafrost so fast that - within decades - they'll likely stop cooling the planet as they have for millennia - and start doing just the opposite.

Ecology: Conservation and food system changes needed to bolster biodiversity

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Trees, shrubs and debris are burned on the Canadian prairies to make  way for more cropland. A  PinP  photo. Nature Declines in terrestrial biodiversity from habitat conversion could be reversed by adopting a combination of bold conservation methods and increases in the sustainability of the food system, a modelling study published in Nature suggests. Human pressures, such as the destruction of natural habitats to make way for agriculture and forestry, are causing rapid declines in biodiversity, and placing at risk the ecosystem services upon which we depend. Ambitious targets for biodiversity have been proposed, but it is unclear how these targets can be achieved whilst retaining the ability to feed a growing population. Using land-use and biodiversity models, David Leclère and colleagues show how this is possible.  Conservationists need to increase the amount of actively managed land, restore degraded land and adopt generalized landscape-level conservation plann

"Live fast. Die young!" Fast-growing trees could store less carbon

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Nature Communications Faster growth leads to a shorter lifespan in trees, according to a paper published in Nature Communications. The findings could have implications for predictions of how much carbon forests can store under climate change. A black spruce (Picea mariana) forest. Photo credit -  Western Arctic National Parklands A relationship between faster tree growth rates and shorter tree lifespan has been shown in some trees, particularly in cold-adapted conifers, but whether this applies across species and climates has been disputed. Such a trade-off would be at odds with the use of tree growth rates as a proxy for carbon storage, and cast doubt on Earth system model predictions of global forest carbon storage. Roel Brienen and colleagues analysed a large dataset of tree-ring data representing 110 tree species across all continents except Africa and Antarctica. They report that faster growth is linked to reduced tree lifespan both across and within tree species, an

Arctic ocean moorings shed light on winter sea ice loss

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Science Daily A table iceberg in the Norwegian Arctic. Such icebergs are rare as they calve from shelf ice, which is also rare. They're normally a typical form of iceberg in the Antarctic. This one is about 12m high and about half the size of a soccer field. Photo by Andreas Weith. The eastern Arctic Ocean's winter ice grew less than half as much as normal during the past decade, due to the growing influence of heat from the ocean's interior, researchers have found. Story here.

Meet the Canadian farmers fighting climate change

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The Narwhal Conservation and agriculture have often been at odds. But as Ottawa develops the first federal carbon offset standard, farming techniques that reduce greenhouse gas emissions are having a moment.  Story here. RELATED: Here's another farmer who fits the category described, above. Zack Koscielny is a fifth generation farmer located near Strathclair, Manitoba implementing regenerative agriculture practices on his farm. He has a degree in Agroecology and is a graduate of the Soil Health Academy.

Animal behaviour: Leading the young: older male elephants prove they are "up to the tusk!"

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Journal: Scientific Reports Male elephants socialising along the Boteti River. Credit: Connie Allen. Older male elephants may have important roles to play as experienced leaders to younger males when navigating unknown or risky environments, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.  In long-lived species, such as elephants and whales, older individuals often respond more appropriately to complex, changing environments, which may benefit younger group members. However, research in this area has tended to focus on females. Connie Allen and colleagues investigated grouping behaviour and patterns of leadership in 1,264 male African savannah elephants travelling on elephant pathways to and from the Boteti River in the Makgadikgadi Pans National Park (MPNP), Botswana.  Male African elephants congregate along hotspots of social activity on the Boteti River. Credit: Connie Allen. The authors found that lone elephants accounted for 20.8% (263 elephants) of sightings

Mining for renewable energy could worsen threats to biodiversity

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Nature Communications A University of Queensland photo. Threats to biodiversity could increase in the future as more mines target materials used for renewable energy production, suggests a study in Nature Communications. Renewable energy production is necessary to mitigate climate change. However, only 17% of current global energy consumption is achieved through renewable energies. Generating the required technologies and infrastructure will lead to an increase in the production of many metals, which may create potential threats for biodiversity. Laura Sonter and colleagues mapped mining areas globally and assessed their coincidence with biodiversity conservation sites. The authors found that mining potentially influences approximately 50 million km2 of the Earth’s land surface with 82% of mining areas targeting materials used in renewable energy production. When looking at the spatial overlap between mining areas and conservation sites, they found that 8% of mining areas c