Kolbert published Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change in 2005, in which she followed scientists and residents of high latitudes to report a local and global climate portrait. This time, she’s using the same journalistic savvy to investigate our effects on biodiversity. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘Climate Change’
The end of August through mid-September is the time in the Adirondacks when the urge to be independent becomes strong enough in fox pups to cause them to vacate their parents’ territory and seek out a place they can claim as their own. As the near adult-size animal travels for many dozens, to a hundred miles or more searching for a suitable setting without a current resident, it may occasionally be glimpsed, especially around dusk and dawn, walking across a road, meandering through a backyard, trotting along the edge of a field or quietly weaving its way into a brushy thicket.
The red fox is traditionally associated with northern regions, and it is the fox most commonly seen within the Blue Line over the last two centuries. However, the geographic range of the gray fox has been steadily expanding into higher latitudes during the course of the past several decades and is now just as likely to be seen as the red fox in many locations in the Park, especially in lowland valleys where the climate is less severe. » Continue Reading.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit today against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to protect Bicknell’s thrush as an endangered species.
The thrush breeds only high in the mountains of the Northeast and eastern Canada, including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York; scientists have predicted that 98 percent or more of the songbird’s U.S. habitat could be lost due to climate change. The Center petitioned for protection for the imperiled songbird in 2010, but the agency has failed to make a final decision on the petition. » Continue Reading.
This month the Center for Biological Diversity notified the US Fish & Wildlife Service of its intent to sue for protection for the Bicknell’s thrush (Catharus bicknelli) under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Bicknell’s thrush uses the high elevation forests of the northeast as its breeding habitat.
I had a chance to talk with Mollie Matteson, long-time environmental advocate in the West and Vermont, about her work for Center for Biological Diversity on the future of the Bicknell’s thrush and the Endangered Species Act.
Bauer: What is the current state of Bicknell’s thrush in the northeast US? » Continue Reading.
With a late spring snowfall, at least by the standards of the past few years, and with the nation focused on the showdown over President Obama’s looming decision on whether to greenlight the Keystone XL pipeline, this seems like a good time for a climate change update.
For starters here’s a cool graphic that shows the amount of carbon dioxide that has been released into the atmosphere to date, shows annual releases, and amounts that could be released that are currently stored in existing fossil fuel reserves. » Continue Reading.
A few years ago, a Planning Board Member in Clifton Park, Saratoga County posed a question I have never heard asked by anyone at the Adirondack Park Agency : how much carbon dioxide will be released by this subdivision, and what can we do about it?
As it turns out, the carbon dioxide released due to simply clearing forest land for subdivisions is eye-popping, and we know that the Adirondack Park Private Land use and Development Plan law gives the APA a lot of leverage in regulating subdivision design, lot layout and forest clearing – if they choose to use it.
» Continue Reading.
A few weeks ago, in a piece about old-time weather forecaster Billy Spinner, I mentioned insects on our sidewalk near Christmastime, which is certainly out of the ordinary in my life’s experience. In another piece in December, I mentioned the value of keeping a journal. The two subjects came together recently when I was pondering how the winters of my youth seem so different from those we are experiencing today. Of course, we can’t trust our memories, which again demonstrates the value of a journal.
Now don’t get all excited thinking that I’m trying to prove climate change or global warming. I do know that through my teen years (mainly the 1960s), little time was spent wondering if we would have a white Christmas each year. It was basically a given. » Continue Reading.
Several weeks ago, it was reported in the Almanack that the Adirondacks might be a potential location for mountain lion reintroduction. Over the past few decades, various types of wildlife have been restored to their former numbers in the Park, and over the past several centuries, many non-native species of flora and fauna have become established, either accidentally or on purpose in our environment.
During this present century, there will undoubtedly be a massive influx of life forms occurring throughout the region in response to the changing climate. While the mountain lion elicits much interest and emotion, its return would not have the same ecological impact as the formation of scattered patches of red oaks, white oaks, basswood, shagbark hickory, sweet birch and other trees that typify woodlands to our south.
» Continue Reading.
Climate change; global warming; superstorms; extended droughts; the hottest year ever; December tornadoes; on and on it goes. Changes are happening everywhere. Even here at home this year, worms and bugs on our sidewalk in mid-December! There have been so many devastating storms and floods and fires. We do benefit from modern forecasters using the most advanced technology to predict the weather, helping us to avoid any big surprises, or to at least prepare.
The same was true of weathermen seventy-five years ago: they did their best to predict what the weather would bring―days, weeks, and even months in advance. But they weren’t alone in doing so. Competing against them were country prognosticators who sometimes did better than the latest technology. » Continue Reading.
It’s simple physics. In a cold environment, small objects lose heat at a faster rate than large objects. This is why most warm-blooded animals that reside in a northern climate tend to be large in size. Yet, for every rule, there is always an exception and when considering birds, the golden-crowned kinglet is a perplexing anomaly.
The golden-crowned kinglet is the smallest perching bird to inhabit the Adirondacks, as this delicate, olive colored creature is not much larger than a hummingbird, (which is classified in a group that is related to the swifts rather than the perching birds.) However, unlike our other small birds, like the warblers, vireos and wrens, the kinglet often remains in the Adirondacks throughout the dead of winter, traveling in small, loosely knit flocks in dense evergreen forests.
» Continue Reading.
Before winter sets in, all reptiles and amphibians must retreat to a location that provides shelter against the temperatures that would be lethal to their cold-blooded system. While some find refuge underground, others rely on the protection afforded by water and seek out a place on the bottom of an aquatic setting in which ice is unlikely to develop, even during periods of intense cold.
All turtles that live in the Adirondacks belong to this second group, including the wood turtle, a seldom encountered species that exists in limited numbers in scattered locations, especially in the eastern half of the Park.
» Continue Reading.
In the northern hardwood forest, climate change is expected to reduce the viability of the maple syrup industry, encourage the spread of wildlife diseases and invasive species, and impact timber resources and the winter sports economy.
Accurately gauging the pace of change in the Adirondacks has been challenging, owing to the relative dearth of long-term local data. Now, a new study published by 21 scientists that reviews 50 years of data from Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in the White Mountains of New Hampshire concludes that our current models of climate change don’t account well for surprising real world changes taking place in local forests.
» Continue Reading.
The Lake Champlain Basin Program, created by the Lake Champlain Special Designation Act of 1990 to coordinate the implementation of the Lake Champlain management plan, has released its 2012 Lake Champlain “State of the Lake Report”. The report, which is issued every 3-4 years, concludes that the water should be treated before drinking or bathing, most of the lake is safe to swim in most of the time, and some fish may be eaten, if “consumed responsibly” according to fish consumption health advisories.
Phosphorus levels and the potential threat of toxic algae blooms remain elevated. Mercury and PCB contamination in fish is declining, but new chemical threats are on the rise. Invasive species remain a serious problem, especially to game fish and native mussels, but biodiversity projects such as fish ladders, and wetland and riparian habitat restoration or enhancement has made progress in protecting sensitive ecosystems in some areas. » Continue Reading.
What follows is a guest essay by Kirsten L. Goranowski, a 2012 graduate of Paul Smith’s College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies. This is part of our series of essays by young people from Paul Smith’s College.
It was a rainy wait for the Face Lift chairlift at the base of Whiteface Mountain on March 9th. I overheard a woman complain to her husband about the unpleasant weather. There was mention of an alternative plan for the day. I myself contemplated an alternative, yet I had bought a season pass and still had to get my money’s worth. Winter of 2010-2011 was the first time I picked up the sport of snowboarding, and I’m now questioning whether any of it was a worthwhile investment. » Continue Reading.
Do you have questions about the connection between last year’s flooding and global climate change? Are you skeptical about the causes of climate change? Are you looking for options to cut your energy bills and reduce your dependence on fossil fuels?
An upcoming Community Climate Forum is expected to address all of these issues, and more. The forum, sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Adirondack Program and the Adirondack Green Circle, is scheduled for April 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Pendragon Theater in Saranac Lake. » Continue Reading.
Although there has been some considerable snow in the High Peaks this week, and rain, sleet, and snow across the North-Central and Northern Adirondacks, the fire danger remains elevated. Continued abnormally dry conditions and drier weather this weekend could raise the fire danger from MODERATE to HIGH. More than 20 wildfires have been reported so far this year in the Adirondack region, including 17 in DEC Region 5, which have burned nearly 60 acres.
» Continue Reading.
When bird watchers joined this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), they recorded the most unusual winter for birds in the count’s 15-year history. With 17.4 million bird observations on 104,000 checklists, this was the most detailed four-day snapshot ever recorded for birdlife in the U.S. and Canada. Participants reported 623 species, during February 17–20, including an influx of Snowy Owls from the arctic, early-migrating Sandhill Cranes, and Belted Kingfishers in northern areas that might normally be frozen over.
“The maps on the GBBC website this year are absolutely stunning,” said John Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Every bird species has a captivating story to tell, and we’re certainly seeing many of them in larger numbers farther north than usual, no doubt because of this winter’s record-breaking mild conditions.” » Continue Reading.
The Wild Center will host climate experts and authors of a recent New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) report on the State’s adaptation recommendations regarding “Responding to Climate Change in New York State” or “ClimAID” on Thursday, March 29, 2012.
Scientists will highlight pertinent findings of the ClimAID report and then Adirondack region scientists and members of the Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan (ADKCAP) network will discuss local efforts to prepare for and slow the changing climate.
The event coincides with the Association of Science and Technology Center’s (ASTC) participation in the international “Planet under Pressure” conference in London, where The Wild Center’s Executive Director, Stephanie Ratcliffe, a member of the ASTC board, will join the ClimAID event by Skype or phone to share the international perspective. The event will be streamed live on the Internet and light refreshments will be provided by The Wild Center.
NYSERDA’s new ClimAID report on responding to climate change in New York State says we’re likely to see more intense rainstorms that could flood roads and wastewater treatment plants, cause power outages, and disrupt telecommunications, inflicting the kinds of severe damage that Irene did last year. Repairs could be costly. So could business interruptions.
Protecting key features of the environment that contribute to flood control can help build resilience to future floods.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
You can learn more about how climate change may affect our region at The Wild Center’s March 29 ClimAID presentation on Thursday, March 29, 2012 from 10:00 am to noon and other upcoming ADKCAP/NYSERDA ClimAID discussions.
The ClimAID presentation will be held in the Flammer Theater, The Wild Center, 45 Museum Drive, in Tupper Lake.
The presentation will be streamed live here.
The winter of 2011-2012 was the fourth warmest of the past 117 winters in the contiguous United States according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. The seasonal average temperature (December, January and February) was 36.8 degrees, almost four degrees above the 20th century average.
That probably doesn’t surprise Dr. Ed Landing, New York State paleontologist and curator of paleontology at the New York State Museum. His new research however, suggests that high sea levels leading to “global hyperwarming” will be a more important factor than carbon dioxide levels in future climate change. Landing has recently published his findings in Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology.
Since the middle 1800s scientists have considered high carbon dioxide levels to be a greenhouse gas and a driver of higher global temperatures. However, Landing’s study of the rock succession in New York state shows that periodic extreme temperatures, with oceans reaching 100 F, occurred within “greenhouse” intervals. He terms these “global hyperwarming” times, and shows that they correspond to intervals of very high sea-levels.
As sea levels rise, Landing’s research suggests that with the predicted melting of polar ice caps, the continents will reflect less sun light back to space and less reflective shallow seas will store heat and warm as they overlap the land. Warming seas will rapidly work to increase global temperatures and heat the world ocean. This leads to a feedback that further expands ocean volume, with heating, and further accelerates both global warming and sea-level rise. In the course of this feedback, marine water circulation and oxygenation fall due in part to the fact that hot waters hold less oxygen.
Landing first recognized the imprint of “global hyperwarming” in 520 to 440 million-year-old, shallow to deep-water rocks in eastern New York and from other information received on localities worldwide. This time interval shows nine intervals of extreme sea-levels that covered much of North America and other ancient continents. In all cases, strong sea-level rises, which sometimes drove marine shorelines into the upper Midwest, are accompanied by the spread of hot, low oxygen marine water largely devoid of animal life down into the deep sea and across the continents.
Landing’s study may help predict the future. A 300-foot sea-level rise, which would result from melting the Greenland and Antarctica ice caps, is as great as the ancient sea-level rises documented by Landing and other scientists 520 to 460 million years ago. This sea-level rise would also lead to a warming and expansion of the ocean waters resulting in a rise of shorelines to 500 feet above present, basically covering the non-mountainous U.S. to northern Wisconsin. Even worse, in the case of New York, the Earth’s rotation would force a rise of the west Atlantic to 650 feet above present sea levels.
The full article on Landing’s research is online. While working at the State Museum since 1981, Landing has authored six books, 13 New York State Museum bulletins, 200 articles and field trip guides and has received more than a dozen competitive grants. In 2009 he was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS).
The mild temperatures and limited snowfall that the Adirondacks have experienced this winter season have failed to establish the usual snowpack that blankets the region by this time of year. While a substantial covering of snow provides numerous recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, it also serves as an essential fresh water reserve to supply the many brooks, streams and rivers across the Park with water when spring arrives during March and April.
With the first few thaws of late winter and early spring, much of the water produced from melting snow flows over the surface of the still frozen ground. This water quickly moves down hillsides and creates small, seasonal water courses on the forest floor. As these tiny tributaries merge and empty into larger, more permanent streams, the level of the water increases, along with the strength of the current. » Continue Reading.