An interesting and thought-provoking commentary from Climate Central’s Michael Lemonick about the challenges of communicating uncertainty in science.
The Woods Hole scientific community is on fire this week, at least when it comes to op-eds in the Cape Cod Times. Here, Tom Stone of Woods Hole Research Center summarizes an interesting new analysis of peak oil economics.
Straight from the horse’s mouth. Marine mammal researcher Michael Moore of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution explains how dolphin strandings advance science, and why funding stranding response teams is important.
It appears this mild winter is playing tricks on more than the flowers in my front yard.
300 Million years is a really long time. And in all that time, scientists can’t find another example of ocean acidification to rival what’s happening today.
The science is clear: temperatures are increasing, weather is getting more erratic, and sea level is rising. The question is: what should we do about it? In the final installment of our Cape Change series, we take a look at Massachusetts’ officials’ attempts to find the right balance between stopping climate change and preparing for it … starting with some lessons from the natural world.
When it comes to climate change, plants and animals face a tough ultimatum: adapt or perish. Trevor Lloyd-Evans has spent the past forty years observing the wildlife – particularly birds – that surround his lab at the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences. He says it’s obvious the natural world is responding to rising temperatures.
“There really is a change,” says Lloyd-Evans. “There’s a noticeable, measurable change, which is amazing to me. I mean I learned that evolution worked extremely slowly, and it still does. But natural selection can work quite quickly. And we’re seeing recognizable changes just in three or four degrees. Which is an astonishing thing.”
As he walks through the woods on a chilly late December morning, Lloyd-Evans points out some of those changes – here a southern tupelo tree, there a pair of turkey vultures that he says would have been a rarity in mid-winter thirty or forty years ago.
The turkey vulture is one of nearly two hundred eastern bird species whose winter territories have shifted north in the past fifty years, in some cases by hundreds of miles. But Lloyd-Evans says that even more important than where birds spend the winter is where they are come early spring.
“So in the spring they are feeding on a very temperature sensitive prey,” he explains, “which would be insects that are hatching out in correlation with leaves that are coming out and coming out earlier and correlating with temperature.”
Birds who opt not to fly south for the winter are guaranteed to be here when the bugs emerge, but migrating birds need perfect timing to hit that all-important spring bloom. Lloyd-Evans says that birds who time their spring migrations based on temperature cues are arriving back in southern Massachusetts as much as nine days earlier than they did just forty years ago. But long-distance migrants who rely on internal clocks aren’t making the adjustment.
I’m not the only NPR reporter on the local climate change beat this week. This is the first of two stories about how the ocean acidification story is developing in Alaska. Very interesting.
Serious gee whiz stuff. I particularly enjoy it because my own research straddled molecular biology and environmental science, but it’s cool no matter who you are.
This essay by William Nordhaus, a Yale University economist, is making its way through my Twitter stream this morning with the intro “if you read one thing about climate change this week, it should be this.” I certainly hope you read more than one thing about climate change this week, but this is a great rebuttal to six major arguments often raised by skeptics.
This is the third story in our four-part series Cape Change: A Local Perspective on Global Warming.
The tiny village of Woods Hole is a mish-mash of million-dollar homes and renowned scientific institutions perched on the southern tip of Cape Cod. Much of the coast is clad in sea walls and jetties intended to hold the line against the forces of erosion. But they can’t stop the rising sea.
At a recent workshop hosted by Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Greg Berman of Woods Hole Sea Grant showed off a three-dimensional animation of what a popular restaurant perched atop one of those seawalls might look like under various sea level rise scenarios.
“So here we are at normal high tide,” he said, walking attendees through the animation. “You can bump it up to one foot of sea level rise. Three feet sea level rise. And then six feet of sea level rise.”
Sea level around Cape Cod has already risen one foot in the past century, and that rate is increasing as global temperatures rise and melting of the world’s major ice sheets accelerates. Three feet of additional rise by 2100 is now considered a moderate to conservative estimate, and six feet is within the realm of possibility. At that point, the restaurant in the animation would be flooded at high tide. Add storm surge from a major storm, and the computer-generated water levels rise to absurd heights half-way up the first-story windows – a prospect that elicited nervous laughter from workshop attendees.
“So really is it worse getting flooded to here,” asked Berman. “Is that going to matter too much more?”