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Plastic: The big breakup

Co-authored by Erica Cirino My dog Foosa and I step onto the beach, and in the first few steps I find—as usual—something made of plastic. This beach is strewn with everything from fiberglass buoys to crumbling Styrofoam cups to poorly disposed “disposable” lighters to plastic bags (use once, throw away, except that “away” is here).…

Study: Half a Degree Matters

Last week more than 150 nations signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Now, the first comprehensive analysis of the impacts of that half centigrade difference…

Lake Suwa’s Shinto Legend and the Oldest Lake Ice Record on Earth: What It Tells Us About Climate Change and Variability

By Lisa Borre Shinto priests observing an ancient legend recorded ice freeze dates on Lake Suwa in Japan starting in the 15th Century. On the other side of the world, a local merchant began a tradition of recording ice thaw events on the Torne River in Finland in the 17th century. Both traditions continue to…

Creating an Artificial Ice Storm

Dr. Lindsey Rustad and her colleagues stood in the middle of a New Hampshire forest rimmed by the White Mountains. The sun had set hours ago, and they were staring up toward the sky, where ice-laden tree limbs creaked in the breeze. The weight of the ice bent the branches, and smaller trees completely hunched…

Gaining a better understanding of the seas through citizen science

Co-authored by Erica Cirino Twice a day, every day, Kera Mathes hops aboard a ship that sets off from Long Beach Harbor in California. As education specialist at the Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, she helps visitors aboard the ship identify the animals they see. Mathes also supervises the aquarium’s interns (college students and…

Wolf – Caribou Detente? Clues Hidden on Lake Superior Islands

Qalipu, it’s called by Canada’s Mi’kmaq people. To others, it’s the elusive gray ghost of the far northern forest. Most know it simply as caribou. Woodland caribou are medium-sized members of the deer family. In Canadian provinces such as Ontario, these shadows in the forest are listed as threatened – quickly vanishing. Non-migratory woodland caribou…

Nations to Sign Paris Climate Agreement Friday

Four months after it was finalized by delegates to the Paris Climate Change Conference, the Paris Agreement will be signed by more than 100 nations on Friday. While the agreement is facially insufficient to meet its overall emissions objectives, the signing of the Paris agreement nevertheless is significant. It brings into effect the approach and…

Weaving Science With Storytelling on the American Prairie Reserve

Standing in the lee of some hills as other more industrious crew members retrieve data from a wildlife trapping camera, I wonder if the coyotes are howling today for the pronghorn that ducked under the fence not a few miles back. This hole in my knowledge—why do coyotes howl and for whom?—tugs a little at my anxious heart.

Climate-Change-Related Precipitation Extremes Hard to Predict

Scientists have warned that severe drought and precipitation are among the risks of greenhouse-gas-induced climate change, but a study published in the journal Nature finds that extremely warm temperatures do not always translate into record wet and dry extremes. Highlighting the complexities in predicting the effects of planetary warming on precipitation, lead author Fredrik Ljungqvist…

Antarctic Ice-Sheet Collapse Could Trigger Rapid Sea-Level Rise

A study published in Nature finds that Antarctic ice-sheet collapse driven by greenhouse gas emissions could double the sea-level rise predicted for this century—from 3.2 feet according to a three-year-old United Nations estimate to upward of 6.5 feet by 2100. The research builds on the work of other recent studies pointing to an irreversible melting…

Saving Sharks with Satellites

In the past I have blogged about how the use of electronic tagging and tracking can support the conservation of marine animals. I have also addressed some misconceptions about shark tagging studies and discussed the value of such research for conservation. Building off these topics, I would like to share the results of two recently…

So you live near a coral reef: Why experts say that’s not good news for reef conservation

Co-authored by Erica Cirino My favorite beach on Long Island’s North Shore, where I live, is more than 700 miles away from the nearest coral reef (in Bermuda). This distance may be a good thing: Recent research suggests the further a coral reef is from human civilization, the better. (To get close from far away,…

Surf’s Up For Wildlife

New research published in the journal Ecology finds that a wide-variety of fish and wildlife are professional surfers. But don’t expect to see these animals in the next remake of Point Break, they don’t surf waves of water; they surf waves of food, and it may be their only way to make a good living.…

Record Low Arctic Sea Ice Extent Points to Irreversible Changes

Scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) said on Monday that Arctic sea ice cover of 5.607 million square miles on March 24 represented the lowest winter maximum since records began in 1979. That’s 5,000 square miles less than last year’s record low. Contributing to the ice extent loss were record high…

Best Job Ever: Conquering the World’s Largest Glaciers

“For me, it’s definitely worthwhile to live shorter, but intense,” says Vincent Colliard, a young explorer joining renowned polar explorer Børge Ousland in an endeavor to cross the world’s 20 largest glaciers. The ambitious 10-year journey is part of an effort to document climate change, an important mission for sure but one that regularly places the explorers in the path of danger.