Global warming threatens biodiversity

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  • #3376
    imported_Martin
    Participant

    Now, a thread on

    Threats to biodiversity from global warming

    In news today, an amphibian-killing disease evidently thrives with higher temperatures.

    Quote:
    A fungal disease that threatens to wipe out many amphibians is thriving because of climate change, a study suggests. Researchers studying amphibians at a national park in Spain show that rising temperatures are closely linked to outbreaks of the chytrid fungus. Chytrid fungus is a major contributor to the decline of amphibian populations around the world, threatening many species with extinction. …

    Warming link to amphibian disease A fungal disease that threatens to wipe out many amphibians is thriving because of climate change, a study suggests.

    #4362
    imported_Martin
    Participant

    Grim report just out from WWF; info on wwf site begins:

    Quote:
    A new report released today by WWF finds a clear and escalating pattern of climate change impacts on bird species around the world, suggesting a trend towards a major bird extinction from global warming.

    The report, Bird Species and Climate Change: The Global Status Report, reviews more than 200 scientific articles on birds in every continent to build up a global picture of climate change impacts.

    “Robust scientific evidence shows that climate change is now affecting birds’ behaviour,” said Dr Karl Mallon, Scientific Director at Climate Risk Pty. Ltd and one of the authors of the report. “We are seeing migratory birds failing to migrate, and climate change pushing increasing numbers of birds out of synchrony with key elements of their ecosystems.”

    Climate change has birds out on a limb
    (includes links to report and report summary)

    I learned of it thro Reuters report, headed “”
    Global warming could wipe out most birds: WWF

    Even back in the late 1980s, I thought there were signs that global warming was impacting bird migration on east coast of China (at and near Beidaihe); notably, some late autumn birds such as cranes were appearing later than had been noted in 1940s and earlier.
    Learned from Jesper Hornskov that changes there have continued; for instance, ice forming later as winter arrives, birds such as little egrets lingering.
    Chinese Bulbul – formerly unknown in that area – has spread there, and become a common breeding bird. Some residents apparently commoner, perhaps as result of milder winters.
    I figured that ne China maybe more prone to warming as it has rather little influence from ocean temperatures. Indeed, seems to be warming relatively fast; just found a report saying:

    Quote:
    China has been experiencing evident temperature rise in the past 50 years under global warming, with east and northeast China suffering the largest rise of 0.4 to 0.8 of a degree Celsius every ten years, said the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED).

    China’s temperature to raise 1.7 degrees Celsius by 2030

    Here in Hong Kong, a remarkably warm late autumn this year – I’m considering turning on air con just now. Surges of northerly airstreams, which help drive autumn migration, have been only feeble so far. (Perhaps not so surprising after we read of much Arctic ice melting. The masses of cold air that drive the airstreams not being chilled so much.)

    In Borneo in August, I was told of rainy season being late, but imminent; yet reports of ongoing fires show it has remained relatively dry. Yes, not unprecedented, but perhaps another worrisome sign of change. More fires, more habitats for resident birds and migrants from the north going up in smoke. (And the dry weather must make it tough for birds in the remaining forests; esp if normal behaviour might be to move, find places that may be better.)

    By contrast, another report just out telling of forest cover increasing in various places, inc China. But, this surely means plantations and secondary growth; and China reportedly sparing its own forests while involved in heavily logging others, from Siberia to PNG.

    Post edited by: Martin, at: 2006/11/14 06:02

    Post edited by: Martin, at: 2006/11/14 06:23

    #4363
    imported_Martin
    Participant
    Quote:
    By SETH BORENSTEIN AP SCIENCE WRITER WASHINGTON — Animal and plant species have begun dying off or changing sooner than predicted because of global warming, a review of hundreds of research studies contends. These fast-moving adaptations come as a surprise even to biologists and ecologists because they are occurring so rapidly. At least 70 species of frogs, mostly mountain-dwellers that had nowhere to go to escape the creeping heat, have gone extinct because of climate change, the analysis says. It also reports that between 100 and 200 other cold-dependent animal species, such as penguins and polar bears are in deep trouble. "We are finally seeing species going extinct," said University of Texas biologist Camille Parmesan, author of the study. "Now we’ve got the evidence. It’s here. It’s real. This is not just biologists’ intuition. It’s what’s happening." … Just five years ago biologists, though not complacent, figured the harmful biological effects of global warming were much farther down the road, said Douglas Futuyma, professor of ecology and evolution at the State University of New York in Stony Brook. "I feel as though we are staring crisis in the face," Futuyma said. "It’s not just down the road somewhere. It is just hurtling toward us. Anyone who is 10 years old right now is going to be facing a very different and frightening world by the time that they are 50 or 60."

    Study: Warming speeds species die off There’s a page of info on the Univ of Texas website, and link to pdf file of the report: Global Warming Increases Species Extinctions Worldwide, University of Texas at Austin Researcher Finds

    #4364
    imported_Martin
    Participant
    Quote:
    By Kim Chipman

    Dec. 27 (Bloomberg) — Global warming is causing sea ice to melt, putting polar bears at risk and prompting the Bush administration to propose listing the cold-weather mammal as a threatened species, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said.

    The loss of ice is forcing the animals inland and away from their hunting grounds. In Canada’s Western Hudson Bay, the polar bear population has declined 22 percent since 1987 and U.S. officials said they worry that similar declines may occur in Alaska.

    “There is concern their habitat may literally be melting,” Kempthorne said on a conference call with reporters.

    Polar Bears May Be Listed as Threatened by U.S. (Update1)

    #4365
    imported_Martin
    Participant
    Quote:
    RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil: Global warming could spell the end of the world’s largest remaining tropical rain forest, transforming the Amazon into a grassy savanna before end of the century, researchers said Friday.

    Jose Antonio Marengo, a meteorologist with Brazil’s National Space Research Institute, said that global warming, if left unchecked, will reduce rainfall and raise temperatures substantially in the ecologically rich region.

    “We are working with two scenarios: a worst case and a second, more optimistic one,” he said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.

    “The worst case scenario sees temperatures rise by 5 to 8 degrees (Celsius) until 2100, while rainfall will decrease between 15 and 20 percent. This setting will transform the Amazon rain forest into a savanna-like landscape,” Marengo said.

    Global warming could transform Amazon into savanna in 100 years, Brazil researchers say

    #4366
    imported_Martin
    Participant

    Article in Independent newspaper cites some of odd changes in wildlife as temperatures rise. This a day after I saw a near full-summer plumage Great Crested Grebe at Scarborough, North Yorkshire – till now, had seen some hundreds or thousands of these, and all those from autumn to early spring in the very different winter plumage. Also at Scarborough, a dearth of wintering sea ducks when I walked stretch of coast where I’d formerly see tens or even hundreds of them. Been here – holiday at home town – over a week now, and not even seen frost yet. Follows warmest year on record for the UK. so, from Independent:

    Quote:
    The CJ Wild Bird Foods company near Shrewsbury has announced that the demand for its products has all but disappeared, because the mild winter had maintained an alternative supply of berries for finches, tits and other species. Some species, such as the dunlin and purple sandpiper, are disappearing from Britain as they can find enough warmth in Scandinavia. … More evidence of the consequences of failure arrived yesterday from conservation groups who reported that climate change was causing the deaths of hundreds of baby hedgehogs, born out of season. Confused by the milder autumn months, the creatures are continuing to breed rather than hibernate. … An indication of the effects of climate change on fish has also arrived this week, from a team of German scientists who warned that rising sea temperatures were killing off the eelpout. The fish, which lives in the North and Baltic seas, has been hit by warmer summers, which have increased its need for oxygen at the same time as the water’s oxygen levels have dropped. The researchers’ studies of the fish’s biology showed the first thing to suffer as temperatures rise beyond 17°C was its oxygen supply. …

    ‘Irreversible’ global warming claims its first victims of the New Year – last point interesting to me, as I was recently at global warming workshop at HK Univ; aquatic life expert Prof David Dudgeon gave talk, suggesting fish [at higher altitudes, cooler places] could have problems breathing as warmer water contains less oxygen. An article on Scientific American site has more info on the fish: Fish Fin?: How Climate Change Is Hurting Cold Water Fish A bottom-loving fish in the North Sea shows how climate change can directly impact aquatic species–and presage their local doom

    Post edited by: Martin, at: 2007/01/07 18:48

    #4367
    imported_Martin
    Participant
    Quote:
    The Great Barrier Reef will become “functionally extinct” within decades at the current rate of global warming, while wilder weather is set to affect property values and drive up insurance bills in many Australian coastal communities.

    The Age has obtained a draft of the climate impacts report ahead of its release later this year. It includes a chapter on Australia, which warns that coral bleaching in the Barrier Reef is likely to become an annual occurrence by as early as 2030 due to warmer, more acidic seas.

    It takes at least a decade for coral to start recovering from severe bleaching. But that may not happen, with average temperatures now expected to increase by about 3 degrees this century, raising the risk that areas of coral will die outright.

    Reef ‘facing extinction’

    #4368
    imported_Martin
    Participant

    from the Independent:

    Quote:
    Global warming is a “weapon of mass destruction”, one of Britain and the world’s top climatologists said yesterday.

    Sir John Houghton, former director-general of the Meteorological Office and chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, entered the debate over the seriousness of climate change after two meteorologists were reported as saying that “some scientists have been guilty of overplaying the available evidence”. He said he agreed with the Government’s chief scientist, Professor Sir David King, that it posed a greater threat than terrorism.

    Sir John says he agrees “we must not exaggerate the evidence, and if anything must underplay it”. But he adds the evidence of serious climate change is now “very substantial”.

    Sceptics charge that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change exaggerates the dangers. But Sir John, as one of the founders of the panel, says that it had “deliberately underestimated the problem”.

    Global warming is a ‘weapon of mass destruction’
    Climate experts hit back after being accused of overstating the problem

    – “weapon of mass destruction” analogy maybe a bit unfortunate after Iraq and the missing WMDs. But, warming a real problem.

    #4369
    imported_Martin
    Participant
    Quote:
    A warmer climate disrupts the biological clocks of migratory species including bats, dolphins, antelopes or turtles, said Lahcen el Kabiri, deputy head of the UN’s Bonn-based Convention on Migratory Species. "They are the most visible warning signs — indicators signalling the dramatic changes to our ecosystems caused in part by climate change," he told delegates on the opening day of a May 7-18 UN meeting searching for new ways to offset warming. Many creatures are mistiming their migrations, or failing to bother as changes between seasons become less clear. The shifts make them vulnerable to heatwaves, droughts or cold snaps. Among birds, for instance, cranes are starting to spend the winter in Germany rather than fly south to Spain or Portugal. "A harsh winter could decimate the population," he said. … "Climate change affects all migratory species," El Kabiri, a Moroccan, told Reuters. He said that whales were sometimes in the wrong place to feed on fish and plankton which were thriving closer to the poles because of warmer oceans.

    Migratory Birds, Whales Confused by Warming – UN

    #4370
    imported_Martin
    Participant
    Quote:
    From Science news (need subscription to view after a month):
    Something is harming the world’s coral reefs, and now researchers think they may have identified at least part of the problem: A devastating disease appears to attack the healthiest coral whenever sea temperatures rise. If that conclusion holds, it could force a rethinking of policies intended to protect the reefs.

    The team’s research is important because it applies an epidemiological approach to an infectious disease affecting the reef, says marine scientist Richard Aronson of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama. That method has produced the key finding: “Temperature-mediated disease outbreaks will preferentially affect denser, healthier coral populations,” he says. Consequently, mirroring efforts to establish Marine Protected Areas, which are intended to increase fish populations, might not be the best strategy for protecting coral, Aronson says, unless it is coupled with an attempt to mitigate the effects of climate change, because encouraging denser populations in warming seas could render them more vulnerable to diseases.

    Putting the Heat on Coral

    Post edited by: Martin, at: 2007/05/23 09:34

    #4371
    imported_Martin
    Participant
    Quote:
    Gland, Switzerland – Whales, dolphins and porpoises are facing increasing threats from climate change, according to a new report published by WWF and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) ahead of the 59th meeting of the International Whaling Commission. The report — Whales in hot water? — highlights the growing impacts of climate change on cetaceans. They range from changes in sea temperature and the freshening of the seawater because of melting ice and increased rainfalls, to sea level rise, loss of icy polar habitats and the decline of krill populations in key areas. Krill — a tiny shrimp-like animal that is dependent on sea ice — is the main source of food for many of the great whales. … “Whales, dolphins and porpoises have some capacity to adapt to their changing environment,” said Mark Simmonds, International Director of Science at WCDS, “but the climate is now changing at such a fast pace that it is unclear to what extent whales and dolphins will be able to adjust, and we believe many populations to be very vulnerable to predicted changes.” Climate change impacts are currently greatest in the Arctic and the Antarctic. According to the report, cetaceans that rely on polar, icy waters for their habitat and food resources, such as belugas, narwhals and bowhead whales, are likely to be dramatically affected by the reduction of sea ice cover.

    Disturbed, hungry and lost – climate change impacts on whales – you can download pdf file with the report here.

    #4372
    imported_Martin
    Participant
    Quote:
    Plants and animals in upper Greenland have adapted their lifecycles to the arrival of the Arctic spring several weeks earlier than a decade ago.

    In a study that underscored the impact of global warming on the northern polar region, researchers discovered that plant, insect and bird life native to the High Arctic had made dramatic seasonal cycle adjustments to the region’s earlier snowmelt in the space of just 10 years.

    In some cases, flowers are emerging from buds and chicks are hatching a full 30 days sooner than they did in the mid-1990s in response to sharply increased temperatures burning off the winter’s snow layer.

    Birds such as the Sanderling and the Ruddy Turnstone had moved their springtime rituals forward by an average of two weeks by 2005, compared to 1996.

    Global warming brings early spring to Arctic

    – adaptations clearly proving possible, but will also be losers here, with some species finding conditions no longer really suit them, inc as more southerly species spread north.

    #4373
    imported_Martin
    Participant
    Quote:
    he State of the UK’s Birds 2006 report shows that the wintering populations of some species are declining, principally, it is suggested, because of climate change.

    The report, which examines bird population trends, has also highlighted a doubling of the overall numbers of 39 species of waterfowl spending the winter in the UK in the last three decades.

    Every winter the UK receives over five million ducks, geese, swans and wading birds, from northern Europe, Greenland, Siberia and Arctic Canada. These birds are attracted to spend the winter in Britain and Ireland because of the relatively mild climate and ice-free conditions.

    According to the State of the UK’s Birds 2006, the populations of some species, notably wading birds including the black-tailed godwit and the avocet, have increased markedly since the late 1970s. This is largely as a result of conservation action.

    However, concerns are growing over the decline in the populations of other regular visitors, including the Greenland European populations of white-fronted geese, shelduck, mallard, pochard, ringed plover, dunlin and turnstone.
    Milder winters

    The precise reasons for the decline of each species vary, but a common theme appears to be climate change. As winters become milder both in the UK and elsewhere, it appears that some birds are not flying as far as the UK to find suitable conditions: this trend has been particularly noted in Northern Ireland with declines of pochard and Bewick’s swan.

    Similar changes perhaps underway here in east Asia, too: indeed, apparent climate change effects evident at Beidaihe, east China, even by late 1980s.
    Last winter, Dalmatian Pelicans didn’t make it south as far as Hong Kong, maybe as relatively warm.

    #4374
    imported_Martin
    Participant

    From long article in the Independent, showing grim things are happening up north:

    Quote:
    Polar bears – the very symbol of the Arctic’s looming environmental disaster – are crashing towards extinction as a result of global warming, the US government has found. The admission, the result of a massive investigation by the Bush administration, could force the President finally to take action against climate change. The development comes at the end of the most momentous week in the human history of the Arctic, which is warming faster than anywhere else in the world. Satellite observations have revealed that its ice has shrunk to much its lowest ever level, raising fears that it had reached a "tipping point" where it would melt irreversibly, disappearing altogether in summer in less than 25 years, with incalculable global consequences, And a separate Independent on Sunday investigation has found that polar bears are being shot in alarming numbers by rich trophy hunters … The speed of the melting has taken everyone by surprise; computer models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predict sea ice should not retreat so far until around 2050. Traditionally the ice reaches its annual minimum in the first week of September, so it should soon start increasing again for the winter. But another record low is expected for next summer. Dr Mark Serreze of the Snow and Ice Data Centre describes the ice as being in a "death spiral… If this is not at or near a tipping point right now, then I’d hate to see what that looks like." A couple of years ago he would not have expected the Arctic to lose all its ice until the end of the century; now he expects it by 2030. This is predicted to have massive global consequences, disrupting the monsoon and bringing prolonged drought to the American midwest, which helps to feed 100 nations.

    The appalling fate of the polar bear, symbol of the Arctic

    #4375
    imported_Martin
    Participant
    Quote:
    Thousands of walrus have appeared on Alaska’s northwest coast in what conservationists are calling a dramatic consequence of global warming melting the Arctic sea ice. Alaska’s walrus, especially breeding females, in summer and fall are usually found on the Arctic ice pack. But the lowest summer ice cap on record put sea ice far north of the outer continental shelf, the shallow, life-rich shelf of ocean bottom in the Bering and Chukchi seas. Walrus feed on clams, snails and other bottom dwellers. Given the choice between an ice platform over water beyond their 630-foot diving range or gathering spots on shore, thousands of walrus picked Alaska’s rocky beaches. "It looks to me like animals are shifting their distribution to find prey," said Tim Ragen, executive director of the federal Marine Mammal Commission. "The big question is whether they will be able to find sufficient prey in areas where they are looking." According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, September sea ice was 39 percent below the long-term average from 1979 to 2000. Sea ice cover is in a downward spiral and may have passed the point of no return, with a possible ice-free Arctic Ocean by summer 2030, senior scientist Mark Serreze said. Starting in July, several thousand walrus abandoned the ice pack for gathering spots known as haulouts between Barrow and Cape Lisburne, a remote, 300-mile stretch of Alaska coastline.

    Receding Ice Displaces Alaska Walrus

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