How will North American birds survive in the face of climate change? 
“When we think of climate change, we automatically think warmer temperatures,” says one Oregon State University scientist studying the issue. 
"But our analysis found that for many species, it is precipitation that most affects the long-term survival of many bird species."Photo: A female broad-tailed hummingbird visits larkspur flowers. Credit: David W. Inouye, University of Maryland

How will North American birds survive in the face of climate change?

“When we think of climate change, we automatically think warmer temperatures,” says one Oregon State University scientist studying the issue.

"But our analysis found that for many species, it is precipitation that most affects the long-term survival of many bird species."

Photo: A female broad-tailed hummingbird visits larkspur flowers. Credit: David W. Inouye, University of Maryland

Eddies Move Mountains (of Ocean Water)
Swirling ocean currents called mesoscale eddies — previously underestimated as influential global ocean circulation — can trap and transport as much water as other elements thought to drive ocean circulation, a new study reports. 
Transport is especially significant in subtropical regions where the background ocean flows are weak, they report. Since most climate models simulating global warming underestimate the transport of ocean materials by mesocale eddies, the researchers say, these models must function at higher resolutions to capture the effects they observed. 
read the paper at Science/AAAS 
Img: Three-dimensional structures of trapped fluid by mesoscale eddies/Zhang et al./Science

Eddies Move Mountains (of Ocean Water)

Swirling ocean currents called mesoscale eddies — previously underestimated as influential global ocean circulation — can trap and transport as much water as other elements thought to drive ocean circulation, a new study reports.

Transport is especially significant in subtropical regions where the background ocean flows are weak, they report. Since most climate models simulating global warming underestimate the transport of ocean materials by mesocale eddies, the researchers say, these models must function at higher resolutions to capture the effects they observed.

read the paper at Science/AAAS

Img: Three-dimensional structures of trapped fluid by mesoscale eddies/Zhang et al./Science

The Arctic shipping boom - a bonanza for invasive exotic species
by Natasha Geiling
As the Arctic warms and its ice melts, growing numbers freight ships are reaping big savings from the ‘Arctic short cut’. But this is creating a huge risk of invasive species spreading in ballast water and on hulls - disrupting both Arctic and temperate ecosystems.
… cargo isn’t the only thing that they’re (ships) transporting: some marine biologists worry that ships carting cargo through the Arctic’s newly opened waterways are introducing invasive species to the area - and bringing invasive species to some of America’s most important ports…
(read more: The Ecologist)
photo: Arctic Red king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus, is causing ecological havoc as it devours its way down Norway’s coast. It can reach a leg-span of 1.8m. Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 

The Arctic shipping boom - a bonanza for invasive exotic species

by Natasha Geiling

As the Arctic warms and its ice melts, growing numbers freight ships are reaping big savings from the ‘Arctic short cut’. But this is creating a huge risk of invasive species spreading in ballast water and on hulls - disrupting both Arctic and temperate ecosystems.

… cargo isn’t the only thing that they’re (ships) transporting: some marine biologists worry that ships carting cargo through the Arctic’s newly opened waterways are introducing invasive species to the area - and bringing invasive species to some of America’s most important ports…

(read more: The Ecologist)

photo: Arctic Red king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus, is causing ecological havoc as it devours its way down Norway’s coast. It can reach a leg-span of 1.8m. Photo: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 

A Rainbow in the Clouds
If you see a rainbow among the clouds low in the sky on a sunny summer day, it’s a natural phenomenon called a circumhorizon arc. It is seen nearly exclusively in summer, because it requires that the sun be very high, to create the right angle of light beams. 
It also requires thin, wispy cirrus clouds. Cirrus clouds are thin layers extremely high in the atmosphere and the water they contain is usually frozen. The ice crystals act like small prisms, fracturing the sunlight passing through them. If the clouds are across the sky you might see a full rainbow arc, but if there are only shreds of them here and there you’re more likely to just see a fragment of a rainbow. 
The sun can produce a number of types of cloud rainbows, but circumhorizon arc rainbows are always parallel to and often not too far above the horizon.
photo by Gavin Anderson, shared on Wikimedia Commons
(via: Peterson Field Guides)

A Rainbow in the Clouds

If you see a rainbow among the clouds low in the sky on a sunny summer day, it’s a natural phenomenon called a circumhorizon arc. It is seen nearly exclusively in summer, because it requires that the sun be very high, to create the right angle of light beams.

It also requires thin, wispy cirrus clouds. Cirrus clouds are thin layers extremely high in the atmosphere and the water they contain is usually frozen. The ice crystals act like small prisms, fracturing the sunlight passing through them. If the clouds are across the sky you might see a full rainbow arc, but if there are only shreds of them here and there you’re more likely to just see a fragment of a rainbow.

The sun can produce a number of types of cloud rainbows, but circumhorizon arc rainbows are always parallel to and often not too far above the horizon.

photo by Gavin Anderson, shared on Wikimedia Commons

(via: Peterson Field Guides)

Photographing Alaska’s stunning landscapes has been a passion of Bruce Molnia’s since the first time he visited the 49th state, as a Cornell University graduate student in the late 1960s. It was these photos – taken by everyone from John Muir in 1879 to later explorers like William Field and National Geographic’s Bradford Washburn – that Molnia would use when he was asked in 1999 by then-Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit to find “unequivocal, unambiguous” proof that climate change was real…

Global warming has become the biggest headache for atlas illustrators.

For instance, when the National Geographic Atlas of the World is published this coming September, its renderings of the ice that caps the Arctic will be starkly different from those in the last edition, published in 2010, reports National Geographic. That reflects a disquieting long-term trend of around 12 percent Arctic ice loss per decade since the late 1970s—a pace that’s picked up since 2007…

Atlantic Puffin  chicks (Fratercula arctica) at Maine Coastal Islands Refuge are having a rough go of it, as warming waters drive away hake and herring, their chief food sources. Larger fish that have moved in are too big for puffin chicks to eat. Some starve. 
Story in Slate: http://slate.me/1tCnQ0N 
Photo: Atlantic puffins, Maine Coastal Islands Refuge, USFWS

Atlantic Puffin chicks (Fratercula arctica) at Maine Coastal Islands Refuge are having a rough go of it, as warming waters drive away hake and herring, their chief food sources. Larger fish that have moved in are too big for puffin chicks to eat. Some starve.

Story in Slate: http://slate.me/1tCnQ0N

Photo: Atlantic puffins, Maine Coastal Islands Refuge, USFWS

Continental swallowtail breeding in UK for first time 
Conservationists say spectacular butterfly seen hatching along the south coast, and could establish permanent foothold
by Patrick Barkham   
Britain may have a spectacular new butterfly: dozens of continental swallowtails have been spotted along the south coast after being filmed emerging from pupae in gardens and allotments for the first time.
Unprecedented footage, which will be broadcast on Springwatch tonight, shows the first British generation of this charismatic, colourful butterfly hatching out in an ordinary garden after large caterpillars were spotted feeding in suburban Chichester, Eastbourne and Hastings last summer.
It raises hopes among butterfly lovers that the continental swallowtail will establish a permanent foothold in Britain, the first of potentially dozens of exciting new colonists created by climate change…
(read more: Guardian UK)
image: Matt Berry/Butterfly Conservation

Continental swallowtail breeding in UK for first time 

Conservationists say spectacular butterfly seen hatching along the south coast, and could establish permanent foothold

by Patrick Barkham   

Britain may have a spectacular new butterfly: dozens of continental swallowtails have been spotted along the south coast after being filmed emerging from pupae in gardens and allotments for the first time.

Unprecedented footage, which will be broadcast on Springwatch tonight, shows the first British generation of this charismatic, colourful butterfly hatching out in an ordinary garden after large caterpillars were spotted feeding in suburban Chichester, Eastbourne and Hastings last summer.

It raises hopes among butterfly lovers that the continental swallowtail will establish a permanent foothold in Britain, the first of potentially dozens of exciting new colonists created by climate change…

(read more: Guardian UK)

image: Matt Berry/Butterfly Conservation

Crater Lake National Park - OR, USA
Whitebark pines (Pinus albicaulis) grow on the rim of Crater Lake and atop the park’s tallest peaks. They are considered a “keystone” species. Many other species depend on them for food, shelter, and survival.
Unfortunately, half the park’s whitebark pines are currently dead or dying.
The tiny mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae), is responsible for much of the damage. Scientists think, however, that the real culprit may be climate change. Mountain pine beetles have thrived in the forests of western North America for millenia, but their intolerance of cold weather generally safeguarded high-elevation trees. Lower elevation trees, such as lodgepole pines and ponderosa pines, were the beetles’ main targets.

Recently, however, the beetles have turned their attention to whitebark pines. Our warming climate is helping these insects survive the winter at higher latitudes and elevations.

Whitebark pines (Pinus albicaulis) grow on the rim of Crater Lake and atop the park’s tallest peaks. They are considered a “keystone” species. Many other species depend on them for food, shelter, and survival.

Unfortunately, half the park’s whitebark pines are currently dead or dying.

The tiny mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae), is responsible for much of the damage. Scientists think, however, that the real culprit may be climate change. Mountain pine beetles have thrived in the forests of western North America for millenia, but their intolerance of cold weather generally safeguarded high-elevation trees. Lower elevation trees, such as lodgepole pines and ponderosa pines, were the beetles’ main targets.
Recently, however, the beetles have turned their attention to whitebark pines. Our warming climate is helping these insects survive the winter at higher latitudes and elevations.
The American pika (Ochotona princeps) is a small cousin to the rabbit. At Crater Lake, pikas are often seen harvesting wildflowers along the Garfield Peak Trail.
Rising temperatures are driving some pika populations to extinction. Pikas don’t tolerate warm weather. Their dense fur is not efficient at releasing heat. A few hours in the sun above 78ºF(26ºC) can be fatal. 
Many pika populations live high up on isolated peaks due to the lower temperatures at these locations. While other mammals might be able to migrate in response to climate change, most pikas cannot.  Climate change also may be shrinking the vegetation supply these mammals rely on for food.
At least three Oregon pika communities southeast of Crater Lake have vanished in recent decades.
Photo credit J. Murphy
(via: Crater Lake National Park - OR, USA)

The American pika (Ochotona princeps) is a small cousin to the rabbit. At Crater Lake, pikas are often seen harvesting wildflowers along the Garfield Peak Trail.

Rising temperatures are driving some pika populations to extinction. Pikas don’t tolerate warm weather. Their dense fur is not efficient at releasing heat. A few hours in the sun above 78ºF(26ºC) can be fatal.

Many pika populations live high up on isolated peaks due to the lower temperatures at these locations. While other mammals might be able to migrate in response to climate change, most pikas cannot.
Climate change also may be shrinking the vegetation supply these mammals rely on for food.

At least three Oregon pika communities southeast of Crater Lake have vanished in recent decades.

Photo credit J. Murphy

(via: Crater Lake National Park - OR, USA)

Utilities’ gloomy prophecies of exorbitant pollution clean-up costs are unfounded. Electric rates currently are lower than 2008—even with the new mercury emission standard.

On Monday, President Barack Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, plan to release a proposed rule to limit the carbon pollution of existing power plants. Power plants are responsible for one-third of all domestic climate pollution, and while there are reduction requirements for acid rain, smog, soot, mercury, and lead emissions, this will be the first-ever limit on power plants’ carbon pollution. This proposal is the centerpiece of the president’s Climate Action Plan