Climate change, happening now

Good for the gander? As Alaska warms, a goose forgoes a 3,300-mile migration

The Daily Climate, October 30, 2014

The vast marshes on the southwestern tip of the Alaskan peninsula must look like a buffet to a seagrass-loving goose like the Pacific black brant.

Right now virtually the entire population  – about 160,000 birds – is gathered in the sheltered and remote wetlands within the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, feasting on the most extensive beds of eelgrass on Earth.

In the past, the Izembek was just a stopover in the brant’s autumn journey down North America’s western coastline. After a short stay to fatten up, the sated sea geese would lift off together and head south on a 3,300-mile, nonstop migration to Mexico’s Baja California.

But nature doesn’t follow that predictable course anymore. Read more.


Fishers with summer flounder

Photo by Robert and Pat Rogers/Flickr, Creative Commons.

Summer flounder stirs north-south climate change battle.

The Daily Climate, June 4, 2014

The summer flounder – one of the most sought-after catches on the U.S. East Coast – is stirring up a climate change battle as it glides through the sand and grasses at the bottom of a warming North Atlantic.

Also known as “fluke,” the flat, toothy fish is remarkable for its ability to change color to adapt to its surroundings, rendering it almost invisible to predators and prey.

Some scientists say in recent years the species has begun adapting in another way. As the Atlantic Ocean has warmed, they say, the fish have headed north. Read more.

Golf copes with a warmer, wetter climate.

The Daily Climate, August 18, 2014

GREAT FALLS, Va. – Tom Lipscomb knows the precise spot on the 18th hole that wilts under summer’s pressure.

It’s a plateau in the fairway scarcely visible from the clubhouse patio of the newly renovated River Bend Golf and Country Club, where members can sip cocktails as they watch golfers finish in an expanse of brilliant green. In the distance, beyond the cascading stream that trickles past wildflowers, beyond the stonework bridges, there’s a high flat stretch of land that collects all the heavy rain and oppressive sun that August offers in the suburbs just west of Washington, D.C…

“Water would build up, and the root system would boil like a pot of spinach,” he said. So River Bend turned down the heat, with the help of a new “super” turfgrass breed, drainage systems under the greens, and other technologies undreamed of when golfers first trod these links in 1961.

It’s no secret that weather can play havoc with a game of golf. But in recent years, many U.S. courses have been pummeled by extreme weather, as players could testify earlier this month at the PGA Championship in Louisville, Ky. Read more.

Icebergs calved from Columbia glacier, Alaska

Photo by NASA.

Alaska’s ‘ice-quake’ record could shake up climate science,” The Daily Climate, May 2, 2014

For years, analysts at the Alaska Earthquake Center, while tracking about 100 temblors a day in the most seismically active U.S. state, have dutifully filtered out some of the Earth-shaking events that trip the sensors.

The analysts would mark these distinctive readings with the letter, “G,” for “glacier.”

The readings, considered a curious by-product of the effort to track earthquakes, were from calving glaciers. Some registered as high as magnitude 3.

Now, Alaska’s state seismologist Mike West, the center’s director, argues that this data is a valuable record that could yield new understanding on climate change. In a presentation Thursday at the Seismology Society of America’s annual meeting in Anchorage, West showed that long-ignored data within the state’s earthquake records faithfully capture dynamic change occurring above ground: ice breaking off of glaciers and falling into water, the phenomenon known as calving. Read more.