Adapt, Move or Die: How Biodiversity Reacted to Past Climate Change

American Pika; Public Domain

A new paper reviews current knowledge on climate change and biodiversity. In the past, plants and animals reacted to environmental changes by adapting, migrating or going extinct. These findings point to radical changes in biodiversity due to climate change in the future. The paper is published in the scientific journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution by an international group of scientists led by the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen.

Nature is reacting to climate change. We see altered behaviour and movement among plants and animals; flowers change flowering period and owls get darker body colour, due to warmer winters. So, how does the future for biodiversity look like? Will plants and animals be able to adjust quickly enough to survive the changing temperatures, precipitation and seasons?

Aircraft contribute to climate change

EPA Determines that Aircraft Emissions Contribute to Climate Change Endangering Public Health and the Environment

(WASHINGTON) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today finalized a determination under the Clean Air Act that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from certain types of aircraft engines contribute to the pollution that causes climate change and endangers Americans’ health and the environment. The findings are for carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), all of which contribute to GHG pollution that represents the largest driver of human-caused climate change. These particular GHGs come primarily from engines used on large commercial jets.

DOI Lays Out Strategy to Address Impacts of Drought and Climate Change in California

doi logoSecretarial Order calls for actions by Interior and its bureaus to secure water supplies while providing environmental protection

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan 4, 2017) - U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today issued a Secretarial Order directing the Department of the Interior and its bureaus to take timely actions to help address the effects of drought and climate change on California’s water supply and imperiled wildlife.

“Long-term drought, fueled by climate change, has adversely affected the state’s water supplies, exacerbated effects of water operations on imperiled species, impacted water quality, and added to the stressors affecting the health of California’s unique ecosystems, particularly the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Bay-Delta),” the order states.

Linking Atmospheric Rivers to Wildfire Patterns in the Southwest

This winter, parts of drought-stricken California have been besieged by heavy flooding, mudslides, and feet of snow. The cause? A meteorological phenomenon known as an atmospheric river, which carries high concentrations of water vapor in narrow bands from the warm tropics up to western North America.
 
In the western U.S., atmospheric rivers are relatively common and are critical providers of winter rain and snow. However, they can also be a source of extreme flooding and costly damage to transportation networks, public utilities, and other infrastructure. While the economic and social impacts of strong atmospheric rivers are well understood, we know much less about how they can impact ecosystems.

Prehistoric Changes in Vegetation Help Predict Future of Earth's Ecosystems

A few of jagged mountains and Big Bend National Park; Credit: NPS

As the last ice age came to an end and the planet warmed, the Earth's vegetation changed dramatically, reports a University of Arizona-led international research team.

The current warming from climate change may drive an equally dramatic change in vegetation within the next 100 to 150 years unless greenhouse-gas emissions are reduced, the team wrote.

"We found that ecosystems all over the globe experienced big changes," said Connor Nolan, a doctoral candidate in the UA Department of Geosciences. "About 70 percent of those sites experienced large changes in the species that were there and what the vegetation looked like."

Supreme Court's Stay of EPA Carbon Rules Gives Time to Get the Climate Science Right

climate change - Science is never settledJACKSON, Wyo., Feb. 11, 2016 -- The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday to temporarily block implementation of the EPA's Clean Power Plan while lawsuits from 29 states and many power companies proceed. It also provides a chance to be sure the science behind this plan is correct.

"New data and understanding now show that the science underlying the global 'consensus' on climate change is flawed," says Dr. Peter Langdon Ward, a geophysicist who worked 27 years with the US Geological Survey. Ward spent the last ten years reexamining the many assumptions underlying greenhouse warming theory.

"Current climate models calculate energy incorrectly," Ward explains, "based on a fundamental misunderstanding in physics going back 150 years."

USDA Updates Department Policy for Climate Change Adaptation

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2015 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced additional steps it is taking to integrate climate change adaptation into USDA's programs and operations. These efforts will help ensure taxpayer resources are invested wisely and that USDA services and operations remain effective under current and future climate conditions.

The effects of climate change are complex and far-reaching and it is clear that potential changes could have important impacts on the ability of USDA to fulfill its core mission. Under the updated USDA Policy Statement on Climate Change Adaptation (Departmental Regulation 1070-001), USDA recognizes that climate stressors have consequences for food production, yields of staple crops, forests and grasslands, and these, in turn, affect the economic well-being of individuals.

USFS Releases Effects of Drought for Forests and Rangelands

usfs logoNew Resource to Aid Land Managers in Adapting to Climate Change

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2016 — The U.S. Forest Service today released a new report, Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis, that provides a national assessment of peer-reviewed scientific research on the impacts of drought on U.S. forests and rangelands. This report will help the Forest Service better manage forests and grasslands impacted by climate change.

"Our forests and rangelands are national treasures, and because they are threatened, we are threatened," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This report confirms what we are seeing, that every region of the country is impacted by the direct and indirect effects of drought conditions and volatile weather patterns. Sixty million Americans rely on drinking water that originates on our 193 million acres of national forest and grasslands. They support 200,000 jobs and contribute over $13 billion to local economies every year."

Wildfire risk in California no longer coupled to winter precipitation

Fire_SierraNationalForest_CA_USFS_1

Wet winters no longer predict possible relief from severe wildfires for California, according to a new study from an international team that includes a University of Arizona scientist.

From 1600 to 1903, the position of the North Pacific jet stream over California was linked to the amount of winter precipitation and the severity of the subsequent wildfire season, the team found. Wet winters brought by the jet stream were followed by low wildfire activity, and dry winters were generally followed by higher wildfire activity. After 1904, the connection between winter moisture brought by the jet stream from December through February and the severity of the wildfire season weakened. The weakened connection between precipitation and wildfires corresponds to the onset of a fire suppression policy on U.S. federal lands, the team reports in the March 4 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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