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.

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Which Wetland? National Dataset Helps Reduce Flood Risk

Flooding is an expensive and dangerous problem across the globe. Freshwater wetlands can help reduce flood risk and damage. During large storm events, wetlands hold extra water allowing it more time to flow downstream or into the soil. In order to help communities understand where to spend their time and resources to utilize these important landscape features, researchers created a national dataset that identifies the wetlands that would be best for mitigating flood risk.

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Improvements in Water Quality Offset Climate Debt in UK Rivers

By analyzing over 20,000 samples of aquatic macroinvertebrates, researchers were able to show that shifts in macroinvertebrate communities corresponded to improvements in water quality from 1991 to 2011. The improvements in water quality have created a “credit” that could have offset the climate debt created by rising temperatures. Local improvements can potentially offset global climate impacts, but for how long can this trend continue?

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We’re all in this together: Climate-forest connections mean local tree deaths have widespread impacts

We know that forests can have a big local impact, but can they also have an impact on the climate on the other side of the continent? With climate change becoming a growing threat to our forests, a team of scientists looks to investigate what cross-continental connections exist between our forests and what they could mean for our future climate.

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Scaling up: How forest hydraulic diversity may throw off global climate models

Have you ever wondered how scientists model climate? Climate models are broad scale mathematical representations of atmospheric, oceanic, and land surface processes. Organisms, specifically plants, play an important role in how water, carbon dioxide, and solar energy is used and transformed. In fact, land plants are responsible for taking out an estimated 450 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere per year much of which is quickly returned to the atmosphere through respiration and decay. That number gives you an idea of just how important it is to understand plant physiology in order to be able to predict future atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and thus future climate. A recent article in Nature explores how misrepresenting tree water use strategies may throw off climate models.

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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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Conserve the Lobster

Caught between a rock and a hard place. The American lobster has become the largest fishery in the United States. American lobster populations are increasing in the Gulf of Maine. However, pressures of climate change and harvest have virtually eliminated the fishery from Southern New England. Work done by Le Bris et al uncover the differences between the two locations and determine that active conservation efforts in the Gulf of Maine have permitted the crustacean to remain even with increased water temperatures and fishing.

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Started from the Bottom: Predicting Risk of Toxin Formation in Wetland Mud

They say that you only live once, but for wild rice plants in the Great Lakes Region, whether or not they live depends on what tiny microbes living deep within the mud are doing. Although small, these microbes can poison the rice plants and have some big impacts, especially for everyone that depends on the food these plants provide.

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