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.

Read more

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.

Read more

When Fire and Water Collide: Looking to Lakes to Understand Fire’s Deep Past

As I woke up this morning, I learned that a wildfire raging in our local forest had grown to nearly 70,000 acres. A mixture of emotions subsequently flooded in, combining thoughts of concern with questions about how climate change is altering wildfire patterns. In order for scientists and land managers to better predict wildfire outbreaks and to understand the role that climate plays in their behavior, they must first examine the fire history of an area over a long period of time—longer than recorded history. Charcoal and pollen deposits in lake sediments may be able to provide answers to the mysteries of fire’s deep past. Read on to hear about this interesting approach and how one study of lake sediments mapped out 1.5 million years of fire history in China.

Read more

Moving into the Hyporheic Zone

Climate change is causing some alpine streams to change from always flowing to flowing only part of the time. This is a challenge that the bugs in those streams have not had to face, but the might have a way out: hunkering down in the hyporheic zone, a subsurface component of the stream. By waiting out drought in this new environment, the bugs might be able to come back and resume life as normal when conditions are more favorable.

Read more

Warming oceans may affect the reproductive success of many fish species

Up to 60 percent of all fish species may eventually be forced to find new mating areas due to traditional areas becoming too warm for them. By studying fish species from all over the world, experts released a new report suggesting that many fish have a low tolerance for heat during mating. Water temperature may have a larger than previously acknowledged effect on fish reproduction success. If global warming continues, fish populations may not be as strong or as plentiful as they once were unless they find new mating locations.

Read more

Right Place Wrong Time: Timing Mismatches Between Humans and Plants at Mount Rainier National Park

In a recent study using crowd-sourced data, Harvard researchers found that National Park visitors may increasingly visit the parks at the wrong time and the small window when most of the wildflowers bloom. At Mount Rainier National Park, early snowmelt means the plants flower before the majority of tourists visit the park. With climate change, these timing mismatches will become more common, however small changes to human behavior may put the flowers and and the humans that admire them back in sync.

Read more

Computer models suggest how COVID-19 may disrupt warming oceans

COVID-19 has disrupted much of life as we know it – and the environment is no different. While we may not know the full impact until many years later, scientists suspect that the sudden, drastic decrease in fossil fuel use, especially air travel, will appear as some disruption to our seemingly unstoppable climb in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. The primary way humans can slow global warming is to decrease our use of fossil fuels. What would such a world look like? Scientists hope to build models in order to learn and make better predictions from this unexpected experiment.

Read more

How Does Wildfire Smoke Impact Mortality in Washington State?

Wildfire smoke contains harmful compounds known to negatively impact human health. New research suggests wildfire smoke exposure could contribute to an increased number of deaths in Washington State, and raises interesting questions about public health as climate change threatens to increase the size, frequency, intensity, and duration of wildfires in the state.

Read more