Are your choices really climate friendly?

Emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere are driving global climate change and increasing the occurrence of extreme weather events. Technological advances are not enough to reach the needed reduction in emissions to mitigate impacts of climate change. Households have to pull their weight by altering consumption patterns. Perhaps you already do – by choosing not to own a car and taking public transportation or walking. But have you thought about how you (re)-spend the money you saved by this choice? And how it affects the bottom line of green-house gases emissions.

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Turning the Sahara Green: Some Unintended Consequences of Wind and Solar Farms

A few days ago, the IPCC released a special report announcing that we only have about twelve years before we cross the 1.5-degree warming threshold that many countries are trying to avoid.  We need to reduce our carbon emissions more urgently than ever, and some scientists have risen to this challenge with proposals so ambitious that they almost sound like science fiction.  One proposal is to cover much of the Sahara Desert with wind turbines and solar panels. A move this big could have many unintended consequences for the climate, but fortunately, a new study by Li Yan et al. suggests that enormous wind and solar farms could actually have positive impacts for those living around the Sahara.

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Winter coat color determines species survival in a changing climate

We’ve all seen pictures of a bright white arctic fox or snowshoe hare in a snowy landscape. But did you know, these same animals actually have brown coats during the summer? The ability of animals to change their seasonal coat color enables them to camouflage themselves against the landscape year round. A decrease in the duration of winter snow cover is one of the most widespread signals of climate change. Without snow, bright white arctic foxes and snowshoe hares will be obvious to predators and have decreased survival. A recent study reports that populations that have a mix of individuals with either brown or white winter coats may be better able to adapt and persist during this age of climate change.

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Following a Coastal Geologic Hazards course in Rhode Island

Coastal communities are impacted by hazards such as hurricanes, tsunamis, and beach erosion. Geologists reconstruct past events to understand future events. Follow along as a University of Rhode Island geology class explores coastal geologic hazards.

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Summer and fall heat may delay the timing of autumn foliage

We’re entering the most beautiful time of year—autumn—when temperate and boreal forests change from vibrant green to dozens of hues of yellow, orange, and red. Have you ever wondered what affects the timing of autumn leaf change? A recent study suggests that warmer than average summer and fall temperatures may delay the timing of leaf change in European beech trees, and while temperature may be the driving factor, how temperature differences may interact with other conditions (like drought) in the future is still unclear.

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Left on REDD: International conservation policies fail to respond to local context

What happens when a groundbreaking international conservation program causes national inequity? As one participant states,
“we all have a common interest in keeping trees. The question is how? And for that we need to recognize the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples.”

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Where will the tall trees grow?

What will the landscape look like when the world is four degrees warmer? Seven degrees warmer? Will you see the same trees and shrubs? Will the same birds visit your bird feeder? If you live in a forest now, will you then live in a desert? The implications have wide consequences not least for the production of food and the provision of water for your future self.

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Dropping the base: Could climate change make rivers and lakes more acidic?

We can thank the Clean Air Act for doing a lot to improve our environment, including helping to make rivers and lakes less acidic. But in some places, climate change has the potential to reverse some of that progress. In this study, scientists set out to investigate a potentially hidden impact of climate change: making rivers and streams more acidic.

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