Out of balance: how climate change is altering ocean food webs

Climate change has a number of impacts on the ocean. Did you know that the ocean absorbs at least one quarter of the carbon dioxide that is released into the atmosphere? As the ocean absorbs carbon, the chemistry of the water itself is changed in a process known as ocean acidification. Ocean acidification can make it harder for organisms with shells to grow and thrive, but can benefit photosynthetic algae that need carbon dioxide to grow. Climate change is also warming the oceans, which impacts the metabolism of all organisms. A recent study from Southern Australia reported that ocean acidification boosted algae, herbivores, and fish predators in a trophic food chain, but when ocean warming was introduced, these impacts were reversed. This research highlights how the complex stressors of climate change may result in food webs that are out of balance.

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Summer and fall heat may delay the timing of autumn foliage

We’re entering the most beautiful time of year—autumn—when temperate and boreal forests change from vibrant green to dozens of hues of yellow, orange, and red. Have you ever wondered what affects the timing of autumn leaf change? A recent study suggests that warmer than average summer and fall temperatures may delay the timing of leaf change in European beech trees, and while temperature may be the driving factor, how temperature differences may interact with other conditions (like drought) in the future is still unclear.

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