Posts Tagged ‘Climate Change’

Thursday, January 21, 2016

El Niño May Offer Surprises For Backyard Bird Count

unnamedWith Niño having warmed Pacific waters to temperatures matching the highest ever recorded, participants in the 2016 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) may be in for a few surprises.

The 19th annual Bird Count is taking place worldwide February 12 through 15. Information gathered and reported online at birdcount.org will help scientists track changes in bird distribution, some of which may be traced to El Niño storms and the unusual weather patterns the Adirondacks have been seeing lately.

“The most recent big El Niño took place during the winter of 1997-98,” according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program which collects worldwide bird counts year-round and also provides the backbone for the GBBC. “The GBBC was launched in February 1998 and was pretty small at first. This will be the first time we’ll have tens of thousands of people doing the count during a whopper El Niño.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

This Weird Winter And Adirondack Wildlife

Deer Yarding Area“Make me one with everything.” If you had to guess, you’d probably say that was a diner order, or a supplication to the Divine. This winter, I think someone whispered that line in Mother Nature’s ear, because even though it is not yet half over, she has already made us a winter with everything. It’s as if she glanced at her weather playlist and hit the buttons for unseasonable warmth, extreme cold, high winds, rain, sleet, ice, and snow, and then selected the “shuffle” function and walked away.

After each meteorological mood swing I have heard people comment how confused the weather makes them. You plant daffodil bulbs on Christmas, shovel heavy snow the next week, then need crampons a few days later because it rained and then suddenly froze. If you think it’s hard for us humans who can retreat into our posh shelters, imagine how the animals feel. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

How A Warm Winter Impacts Local Wildlife

20160104_tdpt_decDuring a mild winter in our northern forests, there are those of us who cheer our lower heating bills and those who scan the forecast, hoping for cold and snow. In a classic El Niño year like this one, when we often get unseasonably mild weather well into February, there are winners and losers in the natural world, too.

El Niño refers to a natural warming of Pacific waters. This phenomenon occurs every three to seven years, when prevailing trade winds, which drive the direction and force of ocean currents, slow down. As a result, cold water from the depths doesn’t get mixed with surface water, the ocean’s surface temperature rises, and global weather patterns can be altered. This year’s strong El Niño is being complemented by a low pressure system in the far north – called the Arctic oscillation – that’s keeping polar air trapped around the North Pole. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Recalling The Warm Winter Of 1932

“Is our climate changing? This is a question heard often these days. Some are inclined to believe it is, but others are inclined to believe it is just one of those unusual open winters. The weather has been so mild that pussy willows are showing buds, woodchucks are out, and caterpillars were found crawling on the ground.” Those aren’t my words. They’re from the Norwood News, January 20, 1932.

While reading about years past, it struck me how this mild winter parallels those of 1932 and 1933. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Slime Mold: Aliens in the Landscape

Slime MOldImagine if you ventured out on a rainy afternoon and found a bright yellow slime-blob slithering across your perennial gardens, one that had not been there the previous day.

Let’s say this amoeba-like thing was growing larger by the minute as it dissolved and consumed organic matter it encountered on its way through your yard. You might look around for Steve McQueen and the rest of the cast of the 1958 classic horror film “The Blob,” right? Just before you called 911. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Climate: Our Important Adirondack Carbon Bank

IMG_3904Our small solar photovoltaic system has, over its seven years of use, prevented about 12 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.  The 25 acres of northern hardwood forest in our fee ownership however, has stored over 87 tons of CO2 over the same seven years.

In Paris this week, with the stakes for our planet so very high, I would like to see as much media focus on offsetting and storing carbon emissions through forest preservation and stewardship as we see about reducing fossil fuel emissions. In fact, Paris talks are moving on while great swaths of tropical forests continue to go up in smoke to be converted to small farms and large palm plantations for the palm oil humans greedily consume. These nations are only ravaging in the same way we in the United States have already greedily ravaged our original rainwood forests in the northwest, hardwood swamps in the south, and midwestern and eastern pine and spruce forests. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Don Mellor On Climate Change And Ice Climbing

Dan-Plumley-ice-climbing2I have been asked whether the freeze-thaw cycles ushered in by climate change will improve conditions for ice climbing. The theory is that meltwater from a thaw will refreeze, rejuvenating ice routes that had been poked full of holes by axes.

First, the Republican disclaimer “I’m not a scientist, but …”

Look at the Catskills: shorter, warmer winter means shorter ice season. No question. Yet freeze-thaw does produce ice, as long as the bedrock is cold. Note that a viciously cold night here in autumn does very little. Yet that same night in March makes for some good new routes, like those Ian Osteyee fast-freeze routes at Poke-O. The drips hits cold rock and freezes, same as in the formation of black ice on roads. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, December 5, 2015

Acid Rain Reductions Should Inform Climate Change Strategy

acid rainAs nations engage in the Paris climate summit, we can take comfort in the fact that we have learned how to vanquish acid rain over the past 30 years and we can apply the same methods to curb global warming.

There was much to celebrate in New York when the International Acid Rain Conference: Acid Rain 2015 was held at the Riverside Convention Center in Rochester in late October. The pollutants that cause acid rain have been curbed sharply.

The amount of sulfur-based air pollution falling on New York State has been reduced by a whopping 92 percent since 1985. That was the year when New York enacted the nation’s first law to control acid rain.  Nitrogen oxides have decreased by more than 70 percent over those same 30 years. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Will Adirondack Trout Survive A Warming Climate?

Scientist Spencer Bruce, right, collects brook trout for his statewide genetic study. Photo by Mike Lynch.Sitting beside a small stream in the southwestern Adirondacks, Spencer Bruce clipped a tiny brook-trout fin and placed it in a small container. The fin is one of more than a thousand he has collected in recent years from waters in New York State for a genetic study.

Studying the genetic makeup of fish may provide clues to how resilient a population is to climate change and other environmental problems. In the Adirondack Park, several cold-water species of fish are thought to be at risk from climate change. Besides brook trout, they include lake trout and round whitefish. Other aquatic species, including amphibians and loons, also could be at risk. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Secret To Bird Migration: It Takes Guts

TOS_HummerAs an avid birdwatcher for more than 30 years, I’ve long been familiar with the big picture of songbird migration. Tiny blackpoll warblers, for instance, fly 1,500 miles from southern New England to the Caribbean in a single two- or three-day flight across open water with nowhere to land if they get tired.

The even tinier ruby-throated hummingbirds cross the Gulf of Mexico in a similar way. But until recently I haven’t spent much time wondering how these little birds do it. Don’t their flight muscles get tired? How do they replenish their energy reserves in the air? » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

New Study: Adirondack Sugar Maples In Decline

Colorful autumn foliage

The iconic sugar maple, one of the most economically and ecologically important trees in the eastern United States and Canada, shows signs of being in decline, according to research results published today (Oct. 21, 2015) in the journal Ecosphere.

Scientists at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) analyzed growth rings from hundreds of trees in the Adirondacks and found a decline in the growth rate began for a majority of sugar maple trees after 1970. The reasons for the decline are unclear. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Climate Change Threatens Adirondack Boreal Species

Tabor-moose-600x438On a warm day in June, state wildlife biologist Ben Tabor knelt in a dark forest in the northern Adirondacks, peering through his binoculars at a dark shape a few hundred feet away that he suspected was a moose with a GPS collar. After a few minutes, he moved forward for a closer look. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Model Culvert Being Installed In Wilmington

Ausable River Culvert ReplacementA new kind of culvert is being installed on an Ausable River tributary in Wilmington. The project is part of a initiative led by the Ausable River Association (AsRA) and the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (the Conservancy) to improve stream connectivity, fish habitat, and community flood resilience in the Ausable watershed by replacing road-stream crossings with designs engineered to allow for natural stream pattern and flow. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Survey Finds Birds Are Moving Uphill On Whiteface Mountain

American Robin by Wikimedia user MdfA survey of birds on Whiteface Mountain has found that many species have moved uphill in the past forty years, possibly in response to climate change.

New York State Museum curator Jeremy Kirchman and Alison Van Keuren, a volunteer, conducted bird surveys on the 4,867-foot peak in 2013 and 2014. Their work replicated surveys by two University at Albany biologists, K.P. Able and B.R. Noon, in 1973 and 1974. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 17, 2015

EPA’s Greenhouse Plan Protects Park, Sets Global Pace

1024px-Gavin_PlantOn August 3rd the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it had set tough new standards for controlling greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fuel power plants.

This final Clean Power Plan would reduce carbon emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.  That is a nine-percent deeper cut than EPA’s preliminary plan, announced last year. » Continue Reading.


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