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Tag archives for El Niño

On Wildlife Conservation Day, Protect Climate Refuges to Help Corals

By Emily Darling

Protected areas are a hallmark strategy in marine conservation. Yet when they were first created, a growing lethal threat had not yet fully revealed itself. Warming, acidifying, and rising seas have devastated the world’s sensitive coral reefs, widely regarded as “ground zero” for climate change. El Niños and marine heat waves can bleach and destroy vast areas of healthy, biodiverse reefs even where they occur within “protected” parks. If the global impacts of climate change do not stop at park boundaries, what can scientists do? One strategy is to identify and protect climate refuges – habitats with more stable environments where species can survive warming temperatures.

Conservationists Playing with Fire

By Julie Kunen

For millennia, tropical civilizations cultivated their crops through a practice known as slash and burn agriculture. In this practice, vegetation is cut down and burned to clear land and improve the soil with the resulting organic matter and nutrients. Fire also kills or drives away pests and encourages the regeneration of grasses in natural pastures. When used over extensive areas in a cycle of planted and fallowed fields, the practice is sustainable. Today, many agricultural communities that lack access to machinery and chemical inputs depend upon fire for their livelihoods, using it to clear and maintain the fertility of agricultural lands and to delimit property boundaries. Yet, fire is also a great danger to humans and there are many risks associated with the use of fire as a land management tool.

Ross Island 2014: Journey’s End

Ken Sims’ expedition to Ross Island in Antarctica is wrapping up. Having narrowly obtained the samples he needed, Ken reflects on the dangers endured in this remote ice-desert for the sake of science and exploration.

The Sea Turtle and the Captain

Captain Robert Thomas was fishing for Chinook salmon in the San Francisco Bay. His charter sport fishing boat, the Salty Lady, was near Buoy 1, just outside of the Golden Gate Bridge when they accidentally foul-hooked an endangered Pacific green sea turtle. Thomas has been fishing these waters for decades and though he has seen…

Dead and Lost Boobies: Harbingers of a Growing El Niño?

Starving seabirds far from home may point to a brewing El Nino in the Pacific.

After Sandy: A winter without El Nino

El Niño patterns typically bring stormy weather to the southern U.S. and drought to places like Australia. But the National Weather Service has cancelled its El Niño watch. It just fizzled out, says Mark Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. This is unprecedented…

Climate Certainties, Climate Confusion: Kim Cobb at PopTech

Scholars need to do a better job of distinguishing between what’s known (that fossil fuel use warms the planet) and what we’re still learning (what that means in terms of droughts, monsoons, big storms, and other consequences), says climate scientist Kim Cobb. By Ford Cochran Georgia Tech geochemist and climate scientist Kim Cobb is one…