The burning question: How do wildfires impact watersheds?

Wildfires can be devastating events, but the impacts can last long after the flames are gone. The major changes to the landscape can have serious implications for how water moves and, as a result, how much of that water we can use. In this study, scientists investigate what a fiery future under climate change could mean for watersheds.

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Uncool beans: The future of coffee under climate change

A lot of people would say that a hot cup of coffee is a morning necessity, but a hotter future under climate change could mean trouble is brewing. In this study, scientists examined how rising temperatures might impact the growth of one of the major types of coffee produced in the world.

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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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