It matters where you eat: seabird foraging strategies alter their responses to climate change

Climate warming in the Arctic is happening faster than other regions of the globe and leading to earlier springs. The timing of spring is important for ecosystems because it often signals the arrival of food resources and favorable weather. In Arctic seabirds, springs arrival often begins the start of breeding season. A recent study looked at how the timing of spring has changed in the Arctic and what impact this may be having on Arctic seabirds based on where birds forage for food. The results suggest that birds that feed in the upper layers of the ocean have been strongly impacted by climate change and have significantly advanced their breeding.

Read more

A lifetime of noise: what are the costs?

The visible cringe. The reflex to cover your ears. A constant piercing noise can be a horrific experience for a person. Research has shown that noise pollution can negatively impact the health of humans, animals and possibly entire ecosystems. What are the consequences of a lifetime surrounded by noise? Two scientists aim to characterize the costs of chronic noise pollution on the survival, growth and reproductive success of animals over their entire lifetime.

Read more

What is scarier than zombies, ghosts, and witches? A modern mass extinction

When I was a little kid, the things that scared me were a little silly – the slime monster from Ghostwriter, caterpillars, or a sinkhole developing underneath my bed that would swallow me while I slept. While I’ve gotten over these mostly ridiculous fears, being an adult doesn’t mean I am now fearless. Instead, the things that I consider “scary” have shifted. Now, the things that scare me are all too real – things like climate change and mass extinction.

Read more

A Three-Thousand-Year Glimpse into Climate and Human-Influenced Animal Extinction in China

How long of a time period needs to be studied before conclusions about human activity, population, and rising temperatures’ effect on animal extinction can be drawn? A recent paper focusing on three thousand years of historical animal population data shows that these things have led to significantly lower number of animals throughout recorded history – and the trend is still continuing.

Read more

Crowdsourcing Sharks: a citizen science success story

Conserving the environment and its organisms works most effectively when managers and scientists have a lot of environmental information. However, some of the world’s most vulnerable animals, like the sand tiger shark, are also the most secretive. Luckily for these scary looking predators, amateur scientists can be an agent of change.

Read more

Climate Change and Inequality: The Missing Link.

In the most recent IPCC report, scientists have concluded that global warming is likely to reach 1.5o C between 2030 and 2052, if it continues to increase at the current rate. To curb this warming, and the host of environmental plagues with it, we must completely halt our carbon emissions by 2050. That’s 30 years. But who is actually on the front-lines of climate change? And why do some people draw parallels between climate change and inequality? Is the key to all of this solving both at the same time?

Read more

Spring flowers are arriving earlier

In recent decades, trees and plants have begun to flower earlier in the spring. Many studies have shown that this advancement in timing is due to climate change, particularly increases in air temperature. However, these studies have generally been conducted in small areas. A recent study conducted across Europe reports that the timing of spring flowering and other events in 16 tree species has been advancing. More importantly, the timing of flowering trees in warmer and cooler regions of Europe is becoming more similar, which has wide spread ecological consequences.

Read more

Global monitoring shows regulated atmospheric pollutants are not decreasing

PFAS and VMS are man-made chemicals that have been used for decades in products that we all use on a daily basis, including personal care products, cookware, and food packing. However, there is growing evidence that these chemicals, which are widespread throughout the globe, can have negative impacts on living organisms and human health. A recent study compared concentrations of these chemicals in the atmosphere at sites across the world from 2009 to 2015. Their findings suggest that there has been a significant increase in PFAS in the atmosphere over this time period, while certain types of VMS chemicals also increased. Future monitoring efforts across the globe are necessary to determine the changes in these chemicals in the air we breathe.

Read more

Trees, Tempests, and Time: What trees can tell us about weather in the past

For storms along the Gulf Coast, first-person recordings are only reliable for the past 150 years. But knowing more about when storms happened in the past helps us understand how the climate is changing and how to reduce storm risks for coastal communities. To do that, we have to use even more unusual records: tree rings.

Read more