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Monday, July 21, 2014

10 Important Places Threatened By Global Warming


Global Warming is the earth’s average surface temperature due to the effect of the greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. The debate on global warming seems to be forever forecast in an either/ or mould of argument; in a way what seems to be largely forgotten is that time is on a relentless march and sooner/ rather than later the world as we know it might have changed irreparably.


The ten most important places that are threatened by the ravages of global warming are listed below:



1. Antarctica
The top most part of the world has near zero human settlement; Antarctica however is home of hundreds of animal species. Increased carbon emission has resulted in incidences of glacial melt and the implication of this is that the water levels in oceans is rising at a pace unknown in human history this spells disaster for many human settlements;


2. Mount Kilimanjaro
Standing at slightly shy of some 6,000m ,Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest mountain, bears the hallmarks on the damage wrought by global warming. It is estimated that the glacial peaks of the mountain have been steadily melting and this is on account of increased temperatures owing to global warming;

3. London
London is one of the financial centers of the world but her existence is threatened by the monster that is global warming. Experts anticipate that unless drastic measures are taken, the city of London could be submerged in the next century- this is owing to the rise in sea levels owing to glacial melt in the poles;

4. Napa valley
Fine wine could be a distant memory if global warming has its way. The reason for this is that the wine fields of Napa, California as well as Bordeaux in France might become deserts —yes deserts-owing to a rise in global temperatures. It is estimated that an increase in global temperature owing to increased carbon emission will basically result in conditions that are unconducive to cultivate wine. This spells disaster for entire economies;

5. Amazon forest
The Amazon is referred to as the lung of the world on account of distorted climatic patterns owing to increased carbon emissions, the earth is about to be disposed of a major organ(sic). Change in weather patterns among other things alters the growing cycle of plant life and this is where the Amazon takes a fall;

6. Venice
This world heritage site, a city build upon a river could also be gone within the century; the city of love is under siege from the rise in ocean levels thanks to the rapid melting of polar caps in Antarctica;

7. Australia's Great Barrier Reef
Australia’s great Barrier Reef regarded to be as the world's largest marine system this is a reef that extends some 1,429 miles and that is in danger of being wiped out in under fifty years —coral cover alone has been reduced by 50% in the last century;

8. Himalayas
Himalayas regarded to be as the tallest mountain ranges, the over 46,000 glaciers that make these ranges are shrinking owing to increased carbon emission;

9. Virunga National Park
This is a National Park in the Congo that covers over two million acres and includes savannas, swamps and ice fields. It too is under threat and the world is staring at population collapses of millions of species were this to occur;



10. Swiss Alps
Home to over 120 million visitors annually, the Alps would be part of history sooner rather than later. Concerted conservation measures have seen the slide into oblivion stopped somewhat.

What is certain is that the world is staring at a disaster. It behooves every global citizen to find a way of reducing their carbon footprint —ponder over your role(s) as a global citizen.


Author bio :
Ruby Andrew 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Precipitation, not warming temperatures, may be key in bird adaptation to climate change

Date:
July 16, 2014
Source:
Oregon State University
Summary:
A new model analyzing how birds in western North America will respond to climate change suggests that for most species, regional warming is not as likely to influence population trends as will precipitation changes. "In general, our study suggests that if climate change results in winters with less precipitation, we likely will see a spring drying effect," one researcher said. "This means that populations of drought-tolerant species will expand and birds that rely heavily on moisture should decline."

Rufous hummingbird.
Credit: Image courtesy of Oregon State University


A new model analyzing how birds in western North America will respond to climate change suggests that for most species, regional warming is not as likely to influence population trends as will precipitation changes.

Several past studies have found that temperature increases can push some animal species -- including birds -- into higher latitudes or higher elevations. Few studies, however, have tackled the role that changes in precipitation may cause, according to Matthew Betts, an Oregon State University ecologist and a principal investigator on the study.

"When we think of climate change, we automatically think warmer temperatures," said Betts, an associate professor in Oregon State's College of Forestry. "But our analysis found that for many species, it is precipitation that most affects the long-term survival of many bird species.

"It makes sense when you think about it," Betts added. "Changes in precipitation can affect plant growth, soil moisture, water storage and insect abundance and distributions."

Results of the study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation with support from the U.S. Geological Survey and others, are being published in the journal Global Change Biology.

The researchers examined long-term data on bird distributions and abundance covering five states in the western United States, and in the Canadian province of British Columbia, testing statistical models to predict temporal changes in population of 132 bird species over a 32-year period. They analyzed the impacts of temperature and precipitation on bird distributions at the beginning of the study period (the 1970s) and then tested how well the predictions performed against actual population trends over the ensuing 30 years.

The scientists keyed in on several variables, including possible changes during the wettest month in each region, the breeding season of different species, and the driest month by area. Their model found that models including precipitation were most successful at predicting bird population trends.

"For some species, the model can predict about 80 percent of variation," Betts said, "and for some species, it's just a flip of the coin. But the strongest message is that precipitation is an important factor and we should pay more attention to the implications of this moving forward."

The study incorporated a lot of complex variables into the model, including micro-climatic changes that are present in mountainous environments. The research area encompassed California to northern British Columbia and the mountain systems drive much of the changes in both temperature and precipitation.

The researchers chose December precipitation as one variable and found it to be influential in affecting bird populations.

"Someone might ask why December, since half of the bird species usually present in the Pacific Northwest, for instance, might not even be here since they're migratory," Betts noted. "But much of the critical precipitation is snow that falls in the winter and has a carryover effect for months later -- and the runoff is what affects stream flows, plant growth and insect abundance well down the road."

The rufous hummingbird is one species that appeared affected by changes in December precipitation, the researchers say. The species is declining across western North America at a rate of about 3 percent a year, and the model suggest it is linked to an overall drying trend in the Northwest. The evening grosbeak is similarly affected the authors say.

On the other hand, the California towhee shows a negative association with December precipitation, appears to be drought-tolerant -- and its populations remain stable.

"We cannot say for certain that a change in December precipitation caused declines in evening grosbeaks or rufous hummingbirds," said Javier Gutiérrez Illán, a former postdoctoral researcher at Oregon State and lead author on the study. "Our model shows, however, a strong association between the birds' decline and precipitation changes and the fact that this variable pointed to actual past changes in populations gives it validity."

"The study shows that models can predict the direction and magnitude of population changes," he added. "This is of fundamental importance considering predictions were successful even in new locations."

The next phase of the research is to use the model to determine if there are patterns in the sorts of species affected -- for instance, birds that are migratory or non-migratory, or short- or long-lived. They also hope to test additional variables, including land use changes, wildfire impacts, competition between species and other factors.

"In general, our study suggests that if climate change results in winters with less precipitation, we likely will see a spring drying effect," Betts said. "This means that populations of drought-tolerant species will expand and birds that rely heavily on moisture should decline."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Oregon State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:
Javier Gutiérrez Illán, Chris D. Thomas, Julia A. Jones, Weng-Keen Wong, Susan M. Shirley, Matthew G. Betts. Precipitation and winter temperature predict long-term range-scale abundance changes in Western North American birds. Global Change Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12642\
Source: Science Daily