Global Warming

How Much CO2 Can the Amazon Absorb?

Atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide would be much higher today if not for the world’s forests, which generally act as “carbon sinks,” absorbing and storing large amounts of carbon dioxide emissions which have been rising steadily since the start of the industrial revolution.  A persistent question for climate change scientists is how much carbon dioxide can forests absorb? A recent analysis of the dynamics of the Amazon ecosystem, one of the largest forests in the world, suggests that we may be approaching the limit of how much…

Communicating Climate Change Health Impacts

There is overwhelming agreement from the scientific community regarding causes and impacts of climate change, while large segments of the US public still regard climate change as affecting the next generation and of low priority. Climate messaging that has focused on future increases in temperature and impacts such as rising sea levels could be aided by inclusion of direct health impacts and learn from targeted public health campaign strategies. Effectively communicating the health impacts of climate change and health…

Sensitivity-based Modeling to Better Estimate Future Extinction

The effects of climate change on biodiversity can be quantified by assessing vulnerability of species to changing climatic conditions. Such assessments usually include three elements: assessment of sensitivity, adaptive capacity, and potential exposure of individual species to climate change (Jarzyna et al. 2013, Foden et al. 2013). While sensitivity and adaptive capacity are generally determined by traits intrinsic to the species—physiological tolerance, behavioral traits, genetic diversity, dispersal abilities, or high reproductive rates—exposure is governed by the degree of climate change…

Vector Potential and Climate Change: Perspectives From the Pitcher-plant Mosquito. William Bradshaw

William Bradshaw presents a synopsis of his primary research which is on Wyeomyia smithy, a small mosquito that develops only within the water-filled leaves of the purple pitcher plant. As described on his website: “The fact that this mosquito is capable of blood-feeding makes it tractable for studies of the molecular genetics and evolution of the blood-feeding phenotype and for investigating the shifting patterns of vector/host interactions in the face of rapid climate change.

Land-based Strategies to Reduce Future Heat Island-related Mortality

Urban centers have been warming at double the global rate the last half-century. High daily temperatures are associated with increased mortality. Sustained increases in temperatures projected under most climate models represent a significant public health problem that may increase weather-related mortality in the United States. In a first of its kind study, Stone et al., (2014) modeled how local climate action plans that integrate land-based mitigation strategies through albedo and vegetation enhancement can mitigate future increases in heat-related mortality…

"Dead Zones" in Marine Systems. Another Climate Change Threat?

Coastal areas are some of the most productive and valuable ecosystems on the planet, providing people with large amounts of food and performing other critical services like water filtration, nutrient cycling, and wave buffering. Unfortunately, one of the most alarming signs of compromised coastal health, “dead zones,” have been exponentially increasing in number, size, and severity since the mid-20th century. Dead zones are areas that have become oxygen depleted and can no longer support many kinds of marine life…

Future Cold Air Out-Breaks. Less Frequent in a Warmer World?

During winter and spring 2014, waves of unusually cold temperatures hit northeastern regions of North America, noticeably effecting the US economy and hampering growth in the first quarter of 2014 (see CNS news link on a statement by Fed. Chairman Janet Yellen on this topic). A number of research studies proposed mechanisms by which changes in the jet stream strength and location attributed to polar amplification would enhance temperature variability at the surface (Liu et al., 2012; Francis and Vavrus, 2012). Polar amplification…

Predicting the Cascading Effects of Climate Change on Ecosystems: "Staggeringly Complex"

Predicting the effects of climate change on the structure and function of ecosystems is difficult because most ecosystems are staggeringly complex, with many directly and indirectly interacting animal and plant species. A recent study by Christenson and colleagues attempts to track the effects of climate change through a forest ecosystem in the northeastern US to understand how one climatic alteration might affect the plant community through multiple pathways…

Rising Mean Temperature vs. Changing Temperature Extremes: What’s at risk?

The average temperature of the planet is rising but increases in the frequency and severity of high and low temperature extremes are also expected. Most climate change research focuses on the possible effects of average rise in temperature, but in some cases changes in temperature extremes may be more important. A new study led by Yale professor David Vasseur explores the dynamics of temperature…

Climate Change Impacts on Coral Reefs Felt in Surrounding Ecosystems

Studies have shown that variation in species responses to changing climate will result in disruption of biotic interactions such as predation, parasitism, competition, and mutualism, ultimately leading to changes in community composition and ecosystem functioning (e.g., Both et al. 2009). Just as different species are linked by a network of interactions, ecosystems are connected by…

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