Drought! What is it good for? Native plants

Climate change predictions show that extreme events, including extreme droughts, will be more common in the future. From 2012-2015, California experienced the most extreme drought in over 1,200 years. Scientists from the University of California examined seeds in the soil and plants growing in grassland communities at the beginning of the drought and two years into the drought. They found that the seeds of native plants increased in the soil during the drought, while seeds of non-native grass species that generally dominate the landscape decreased significantly. Their findings suggest that brief, periodic droughts may benefit native plants that produce drought-resistant seeds.

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Salt marsh and mangroves are equally vulnerable to sea level rise

Mangroves have extended their range as a result of climate change and have established in areas that were previously salt marshes. Both mangrove stands and salt marshes act as buffers against coastal storms. Studies have suggested that mangroves and salt marshes have the ability to cope with global sea level rise by increasing local elevation through trapping soil and expanding their root structure. A recent study in the Mississippi River Delta reports that black mangroves and salt marsh plants have similar abilities to build sediment in coastal areas, but the rate of elevation increase is still lower than sea level rise. Therefore, both salt marsh and mangrove-dominated habitats of the Mississippi River Delta are at risk from sea level rise.

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Marine Snow & Muddy Megacoring on the Southern Ocean

Our polar oceans and diatoms, a kind of microalgae, in particular play a major role in regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide. Led by oceanographers Dr. Rebecca Robinson and Dr. Mark Brzezinski, our SNOWBIRDS Transect team has been studying how the influence of nitrogen and silicon on the productivity of diatoms is recorded in sediments.

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Mercury rising. How the climate is driving recent increases in the mercury levels of freshwater fishes

Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that is present in many fishes that we eat. Although environmental regulations have cut down on mercury emissions in developed nations, the level of mercury in many top predator fish including large mouth bass has been increasing in recent decades. A complex mix of many different factors including local weather conditions and global climate patterns affect the levels of mercury in fish.

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Ocean Acidification is in the Spotlight. How Can We Address Its Impacts?

The ocean has become 30% more acidic since the Industrial Revolution. This continuing change in ocean pH, or ocean acidification, will likely impact the economies of coastal communities. The science community must work together with industry, policymakers, other science disciplines, and coastal communities to find practical and applicable solutions to address the environmental impacts of ocean acidification. This integrated approach is known as transdisciplinary science and seeks to understand the interactions among ocean acidification, the ecosystem, and society.

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Thirsty trees are more susceptible to damaging beetle infestation

Summer, winter, and multi-year drought events initiate outbreaks of the damaging spruce beetle. Droughts suppress the ability of trees to produce chemicals to defend themselves against the fatal bugs.

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Cleaning up a sea of data

Oceanographers have been drilling sediment cores from the ocean for decades to understand past ocean conditions, but they have inconsistent archiving techniques. In other words, the data was a mess. A new database brings together more than 2,000 sediment cores from the North Pacific, which will help us better understand the ocean and climate over time.

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