When Geological Processes Collide– Exploring the Link Between Earthquakes and Glaciers

What happens when glaciers melt? Scientists have discussed numerous effects of deglaciation including sea level rise and loss of habitats but recently, geologists have been thinking about how glaciers interact with the crust of the earth. Researchers from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks found a link between melting glaciers and earthquakes in Southeast Alaska which adds new understanding about the indirect effects of climate change and the role of humans in natural disasters.

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Can the toughest animal survive climate change?

Global temperatures are increasing around the world due to climate change. While some animals can survive the harsh conditions, many will die off. Researchers have turned to the toughest animal alive, and it is not a lion, tiger, or bear as you might expect. Sometimes called a (water) bear, the toughest animal is microscopic and lives in the soil. Will they be able to take the heat?

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New Discovery of Microbes Gobbling Up Greenhouse Gases in Extreme Environments

A new group of microbes can eat up methane, a common component of greenhouse gas. Named for Dr. Thomas Brock, this new phylum sheds new light on the role microbes play in the global carbon cycle. This study demonstrates the astounding biodiversity of microbes in extreme environments and how tiny creatures shape our world.

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The churning seas are slowing down: The Atlantic Ocean circulation at its weakest in millennia

In the Atlantic Ocean there is a giant “river” that affects many aspects of life for us terrestrial dwellers, from the regional climates we enjoy to the sea level at our shore. This “river” is the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), one of the planet’s major ocean circulation systems. The ocean has been churning for millenia through this circulation system, but now there are signs of change.

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Increasing Temperatures and Decreasing Insect Populations

Without insects, we wouldn’t have all of the edible plants that we rely on as important parts of our diets and entire ecosystems would be in trouble. Despite their importance, insects face many threats, including climate change. Through a literature review, a group of scientists found that increasing temperatures due to climate change and the resulting ecosystem changes are a leading cause of insect population declines globally. Some species have disappeared completely. However, different species respond to climate change differently. Monitoring and understanding their responses can help us prevent their loss.

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Tackling Tradeoffs: Tree Functional Groups and Ecosystem Services in Tree Planting

Deciding which trees to replant in cities stressed by climate change and pests can be daunting, but considering the traits of trees and the “functional groups” they belong to can help. In Québec City, computer simulations showed that a “stratified” approach to replanting that aims to evenly represent species of different functional groups did not increase ecosystem services as much as a “conifer-focused” strategy, suggesting a tradeoff between representation of functional groups and ecosystem services provided. Even so, the stratified strategy increased ecosystem services more than “business as usual” and produced the canopy least vulnerable to pests and disease.

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Dead plants breathe new life into botanical research

I’ll never forget the first time that I stepped into a herbarium. Picture a room full of towering metal cabinets. Inside, there are thousands of pressed plants carefully glued onto special paper upon which thoughtfully recorded field notes describe the plant’s habitat, location, life stage, and more. At a moment’s notice I can still recall the unique smell of preserved plants, reminiscent of the comforting scent that lofts when ruffling the pages of an old book. In those days, as a budding botanist, I never questioned the immense value of these collections. Then, when I learned that one herbarium in seven has closed in the last twenty-five years (Deng 2015), I realized that we simply aren’t talking enough about all the unique ways that old plants can fuel modern science.

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Will climate change bring cultural change?

Sometimes science isn’t enough to protect a species. Sometimes, culture is necessary. People are likely to care most about protecting species they find culturally important. But are these culturally important species the most threatened due to climate change? A case study from Costa Rica offers some insights into this question.

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Blue Carbon and Green Kelp: Kelp forests could reduce carbon emissions

Blue carbon is the carbon that is stored within marine ecosystems. It is being used more frequently within global carbon budgets, which are calculated to help us reduce climate change. Historically, only tidal marshes, mangrove forests, and seagrass beds have been used in calculating stored carbon for carbon budgets. A team of researchers from Norway wanted to see if kelp forests could significantly contribute to carbon storage. They studied the kelp forests along Australia’s southern coast and found their storage potential to be similar to that of the other historically used ecosystems. Conserving and restoring kelp forests could therefore increase carbon storage and help reduce climate change.

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In otter news: Disappearing otters and climate change spell double trouble for reefs

As many people know, sea otters are great at being adorable. But do sea otters also play an important role in combating the impacts of climate change? In this study, scientists looked at how the loss of sea otters might be making reefs more susceptible to climate change.

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