Climate Change

formerly “Climate Science” this has been updated in recognition of the fact that ALL of our articles, events, etc. involve climate sciience.  ”Climate change” is intended to suggest changing elements of the climate: e.g., shifts in global oceanic and atmospheric circulation and ensuing changes to temperature, precipitation, groundwater levels, saltwater intrusion.

CO2 and Plant Productivity: A mostly single-edged sword

A new metric called “suitable plant growing days” helps address an argument often made by climate skeptics: since carbon dioxide promotes plant growth – especially at middle and high latitudes – anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions will increase agricultural yields and carbon sequestration across the world’s forests.  The relationship is not so simple, however. Other factors influenced by climate change (e.g., temperature, water availability, solar radiation) strongly affect plant growth and survival as well. The interactions between…

Climate Change as Culprit in Bumblebee Decline

The alarming rate of decline of bumblebees—key pollinators of crops and wildflowers across the world and an essential part of a healthy environment— has been at the forefront of scientific news for the past several years. To date, most of the bee die-off has been attributed to changes in agricultural practices and the use of bee-killing pesticides such as neonicotinoids. Recent study, however, adds another dimension to the decline of bumblebees. Kerr et al. (2015) used over 100 years of observations across European…

Need for Air Conditioning May Contribute to Climate Change

As climate change continues and temperatures rise, people around the world will have to adapt to new climate realities. Globally, household incomes are expected to continue rising over the coming decades, so as average temperatures increase most people will likely respond by increasing their use of air conditioning, thus potentially increasing electricity consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

A recent study of income growth, increasing…

Ocean Acidification and Marine Extinction Rates

A major effect of climate change is acidification of the world’s oceans. As carbon dioxide is pumped into the atmosphere by the burning of fossil fuels, some of it is absorbed by the oceans and forms carbonic acid. This process slowly lowers the oceanic pH, threatening hard-bodied marine life forms like corals and bivalves which need higher pH water to help form their hard shells. Though we know that the oceans are becoming more acidic, it can be difficult to predict how marine life will respond and how quickly certain species will…

Good News for once: Global Biomass Gains

Changes in vegetation biomass can significantly alter the Earth’s carbon budget and are thus an important factor in regulating the consequences of anthropogenic climate change.  Global estimates of above ground vegetation biomass, however, have been few in number.  Recent advances in remote sensing—such as data from satellite passive microwave observations—now make it it possible to derive detailed estimates of biomass across the entire globe. Liu et al. (2015) utilized this latest technology to estimate global above ground…

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…

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