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Antarctica
We have all heard that the sea level is rising, but many feel that this change is insignificant, almost negligible. Indeed, this change has so far been happening very slowly – since 1900, the sea has risen only about 8 inches (20.3 cm) in total. However, more than a third of that increase has occurred in the past 25 years. So why is that happening and what can we expect in the years to come? Antarctica’s ice is disappearing at alarming rates Recent study done by the IMBIE (Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise) team, an international collaboration of polar scientists, has shown that Antarctica is quickly becoming one of the largest contributors to sea level rise. In 2012, it was estimated that Antarctic ice melt was causing global sea levels to rise by 0.2mm a year – however, this number has increased to 0.6mm per year. This threefold increase is very significant, considering that it only happened within 5 years’ time. In order to understand why the ice is melting so much faster, the scientists had to study the changes in all 3 areas of Antarctica’s ice sheet: the Antarctic peninsula, West Antarctica and East Antarctica. It appears that West Antarctica has lost the highest volume of ice, thus being the region to contribute most to the sea level change. The reason why West Antarctica is most susceptible to melting is because it is largely made up of glaciers that are located below sea level. Traditionally, when thinking of ice melting, we usually imagine it melting from above as it gets heated from the air, sunlight and infrared energy from the atmosphere. However, recent studies have shown that most of the melting occurs from below – and it is causing more melting. The devastating melting cycle When glaciers melt, they release fresh water into the ocean, making the surface around them less salty and therefore less dense. This slows down or in some cases even prevents natural mixing of the ocean. During winter, the cooler water from the surface cannot mix with warmer water below, allowing the latter to retain its heat and melt the glaciers from below. More fresh water gets released and this cycle repeats itself again, each time accelerating the rates at which the glaciers melt. Currently, ice shelves hold the Antarctic ice sheet in place. The trapped warm waters flowing underneath the shelves can break them down into smaller pieces, making them unable to support the ice sheet. Melting of the ice sheet would lead to catastrophic consequences – West Antarctic part ice sheet alone would raise the sea levels by more than 3 meters (9,8 feet). While West Antarctic is currently the biggest concern, it seems like East Antarctic is also being affected by this devastating cycle. Some of its largest glaciers are starting to show signs of melting and they have the potential of raising sea levels by 4,8 meters (16 feet). This problem is still in its early stages, but it obviously causes a lot of concerns about the future. NASA to launch an ice-monitoring satellite Many islands and coastal areas have already been affected by the sea level rise and accurate predictions could help minimize the negative impacts. In order to help scientists make these predictions, NASA is launching ICESat-2 – a new satellite that will measure the changing heights of Earth’s polar ice using 6 lasers. These lasers will send 10’000 pulses per second, allowing for the measurements to be taken with incredible precision. The ICESat-2 is scheduled to launch on 15 th  of September and the mission has been slated for 3 years, but it can be extended. All of the researchers agree on one thing – sea level is rising at accelerated rate and it is likely directly linked to global warming. There is nothing we can do to reverse the sea level rise, but we can slow down climate change before it is too late. Have you experienced the effects of sea level rise? Share your opinion with us in the comments! https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/climate/general
We have all heard that the sea level is rising, but many feel that this change is insignificant, almost negligible. Indeed, this change has so far been happening very slowly – since 1900, the sea has risen only about 8 inches (20.3 cm) in total. However, more than a third of that increase has occurred in the past 25 years. So why is that happening and what can we expect in the years to come? Antarctica’s ice is disappearing at alarming rates Recent study done by the IMBIE (Ice Sheet Mass Balance Inter-comparison Exercise) team, an international collaboration of polar scientists, has shown that Antarctica is quickly becoming one of the largest contributors to sea level rise. In 2012, it was estimated that Antarctic ice melt was causing global sea levels to rise by 0.2mm a year – however, this number has increased to 0.6mm per year. This threefold increase is very significant, considering that it only happened within 5 years’ time. In order to understand why the ice is melting so much faster, the scientists had to study the changes in all 3 areas of Antarctica’s ice sheet: the Antarctic peninsula, West Antarctica and East Antarctica. It appears that West Antarctica has lost the highest volume of ice, thus being the region to contribute most to the sea level change. The reason why West Antarctica is most susceptible to melting is because it is largely made up of glaciers that are located below sea level. Traditionally, when thinking of ice melting, we usually imagine it melting from above as it gets heated from the air, sunlight and infrared energy from the atmosphere. However, recent studies have shown that most of the melting occurs from below – and it is causing more melting. The devastating melting cycle When glaciers melt, they release fresh water into the ocean, making the surface around them less salty and therefore less dense. This slows down or in some cases even prevents natural mixing of the ocean. During winter, the cooler water from the surface cannot mix with warmer water below, allowing the latter to retain its heat and melt the glaciers from below. More fresh water gets released and this cycle repeats itself again, each time accelerating the rates at which the glaciers melt. Currently, ice shelves hold the Antarctic ice sheet in place. The trapped warm waters flowing underneath the shelves can break them down into smaller pieces, making them unable to support the ice sheet. Melting of the ice sheet would lead to catastrophic consequences – West Antarctic part ice sheet alone would raise the sea levels by more than 3 meters (9,8 feet). While West Antarctic is currently the biggest concern, it seems like East Antarctic is also being affected by this devastating cycle. Some of its largest glaciers are starting to show signs of melting and they have the potential of raising sea levels by 4,8 meters (16 feet). This problem is still in its early stages, but it obviously causes a lot of concerns about the future. NASA to launch an ice-monitoring satellite Many islands and coastal areas have already been affected by the sea level rise and accurate predictions could help minimize the negative impacts. In order to help scientists make these predictions, NASA is launching ICESat-2 – a new satellite that will measure the changing heights of Earth’s polar ice using 6 lasers. These lasers will send 10’000 pulses per second, allowing for the measurements to be taken with incredible precision. The ICESat-2 is scheduled to launch on 15 th  of September and the mission has been slated for 3 years, but it can be extended. All of the researchers agree on one thing – sea level is rising at accelerated rate and it is likely directly linked to global warming. There is nothing we can do to reverse the sea level rise, but we can slow down climate change before it is too late. Have you experienced the effects of sea level rise? Share your opinion with us in the comments! https://www.whatsorb.com/solution/climate/general
Antarctica
Antarctica's ice is rapidly melting, sea levels are rising and we should all be concerned
Climate change it
Jupiter and Venus have been influencing the climate on earth for at least 215 million years About a century ago, mathematician Milutin Milanković wrote about astronomical processes that cause cyclical climate changes. Now evidence has been found that Jupiter and Venus have been influencing our climate since the early dinosaur era, write American geologists in the journal PNAS. Jupiter and Venus are more than bright lights in the night sky, their effect on the orbit of the earth has been responsible for climate change on our planet for at least 215 million years. Venus Almost a century ago, the Serbian mathematician Milutin Milanković predicted long, rhythmic changes in the climate caused by fluctuations in the movement of the earth around the sun. Now a team of American geologists has found 215 million years of evidence for one of those climate cycles. This can help us better understand the history of the earth and that of the solar system. The cycle in question is caused by the gravitational force of the great gas giant Jupiter and our neighboring planet Venus on the earth. They make sure that the orbit in which the earth revolves around the sun is sometimes more outrageous than usual. On a human scale, we notice almost nothing of that change - one cycle from most elliptical to most round and back takes 405,000 years - but this is very interesting for geologists and astrophysicists. Jupiter Rocket science Although we have known the cycle for a long time, it was not yet certain that he was always so stable. The mathematical model of this cycle - based on movements of the celestial bodies - is, according to astrophysicists, reliable until 'only' 50 million years ago. "We basically use the same math’s as those with which we send space probes to Mars, and okay, that works," says researcher Paul Olsen of Columbia University in New York. But moving these movements back millions of years and connecting climate change there is something we have not yet fully figured out. The retrieval of such a cycle in old rock layers can help to pull apart the tangle of astronomical movements. A fresh core contains red-colored sediments deposited more than 200 million years ago. The final evidence came from drill cores: pieces of stone that were taken up from the ground with hollow tubes. Those stones came from more than 450 meters underground in the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona and out of rocks that had previously been mined in New York and New Jersey. In those last nuclei the cycle was already visible, but it could not yet be proven that they actually lasted 405,000 years. The Arizona cores provide that evidence, because layers of volcanic ash between the deposits contain radioactive isotopes. Because those isotopes decay in a very predictable way, you can calculate how old the layers are. These ages allowed the researchers to extrapolate to the other centers, with which they could prove that they really had found a cycle of 405,000 years. Dinosaurs Artist’s depiction of Savannasaurus elliottorum based on fossil remains Image by Travis Tischler / © Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History The cycle now found has two brothers caused by changes in the orientation of the earth's axis. Those last two cycles, which last 'only' twenty and forty thousand years, are less stable and often more difficult to distinguish. 'The beauty of the 405,000-year cycle is that it is separate from the rest', says researcher Dennis Kent. "He does not change. The other cycles move over these. " The Milankovitch cycles are a sort of yardstick for geologists for time: a worldwide system of alternations that always take about the same length of time. Regular changes in climate can be found in sedimentary deposits in various places. This allows you to link something that happened a long time ago to another event that took place somewhere else at the same time. For example, the discovery of this cycle can help us better understand the rise of the dinosaurs - more than two hundred million years ago, the researchers write. With the help of the cycle, you can place the evolution of these powerful beasts and the changes that took place in their environment very precisely in the right time and compare them all over the world. Emmeke Bos, Earth & Climate, Astronomy Emmeke Bos studies earth science at VU University Amsterdam and is an intern at New Scientist.
Jupiter and Venus have been influencing the climate on earth for at least 215 million years About a century ago, mathematician Milutin Milanković wrote about astronomical processes that cause cyclical climate changes. Now evidence has been found that Jupiter and Venus have been influencing our climate since the early dinosaur era, write American geologists in the journal PNAS. Jupiter and Venus are more than bright lights in the night sky, their effect on the orbit of the earth has been responsible for climate change on our planet for at least 215 million years. Venus Almost a century ago, the Serbian mathematician Milutin Milanković predicted long, rhythmic changes in the climate caused by fluctuations in the movement of the earth around the sun. Now a team of American geologists has found 215 million years of evidence for one of those climate cycles. This can help us better understand the history of the earth and that of the solar system. The cycle in question is caused by the gravitational force of the great gas giant Jupiter and our neighboring planet Venus on the earth. They make sure that the orbit in which the earth revolves around the sun is sometimes more outrageous than usual. On a human scale, we notice almost nothing of that change - one cycle from most elliptical to most round and back takes 405,000 years - but this is very interesting for geologists and astrophysicists. Jupiter Rocket science Although we have known the cycle for a long time, it was not yet certain that he was always so stable. The mathematical model of this cycle - based on movements of the celestial bodies - is, according to astrophysicists, reliable until 'only' 50 million years ago. "We basically use the same math’s as those with which we send space probes to Mars, and okay, that works," says researcher Paul Olsen of Columbia University in New York. But moving these movements back millions of years and connecting climate change there is something we have not yet fully figured out. The retrieval of such a cycle in old rock layers can help to pull apart the tangle of astronomical movements. A fresh core contains red-colored sediments deposited more than 200 million years ago. The final evidence came from drill cores: pieces of stone that were taken up from the ground with hollow tubes. Those stones came from more than 450 meters underground in the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona and out of rocks that had previously been mined in New York and New Jersey. In those last nuclei the cycle was already visible, but it could not yet be proven that they actually lasted 405,000 years. The Arizona cores provide that evidence, because layers of volcanic ash between the deposits contain radioactive isotopes. Because those isotopes decay in a very predictable way, you can calculate how old the layers are. These ages allowed the researchers to extrapolate to the other centers, with which they could prove that they really had found a cycle of 405,000 years. Dinosaurs Artist’s depiction of Savannasaurus elliottorum based on fossil remains Image by Travis Tischler / © Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum of Natural History The cycle now found has two brothers caused by changes in the orientation of the earth's axis. Those last two cycles, which last 'only' twenty and forty thousand years, are less stable and often more difficult to distinguish. 'The beauty of the 405,000-year cycle is that it is separate from the rest', says researcher Dennis Kent. "He does not change. The other cycles move over these. " The Milankovitch cycles are a sort of yardstick for geologists for time: a worldwide system of alternations that always take about the same length of time. Regular changes in climate can be found in sedimentary deposits in various places. This allows you to link something that happened a long time ago to another event that took place somewhere else at the same time. For example, the discovery of this cycle can help us better understand the rise of the dinosaurs - more than two hundred million years ago, the researchers write. With the help of the cycle, you can place the evolution of these powerful beasts and the changes that took place in their environment very precisely in the right time and compare them all over the world. Emmeke Bos, Earth & Climate, Astronomy Emmeke Bos studies earth science at VU University Amsterdam and is an intern at New Scientist.
Climate change it
Climate change it's even more complicated
climate change and pollution, the biggest cause for future water shortages.
UN report: "Almost half of the population can be affected by water scarcity by 2050" More than 5 billion people could be affected in 2050 by a shortage of water. That states a new report from the United Nations. Climate change, increased demand and polluted stock are, according to the report, the culprits. Drought in Cape Town. © AFP The study, which was presented at the World Water Forum in Brazil, also warns against conflicts if no concrete measures are taken. According to the UN, these must be more natural solutions, for example working with soil and trees instead of steel and concrete. "The world has focused too long on a man-made infrastructure to improve water management," said Gilbert Houngbo, the director of UN-Water in the foreword of the report. Un-Water Director, Gilbert Houngbo In 2050 the world population will have risen to between 9.4 and 10.2 billion people, of whom two third live in the city. According to the report, between 4.8 and 5.7 billion people will live in an area where water scarcity is at least one month per year. In addition, 1.6 billion people may be affected by a flood. Agricultural culture must be different The main causes of this increase are the rapidly growing demand for water, climate change and polluted water. For example, about 80 percent of industrial and municipal waste water is discharged without treatment. And the drought caused by climate change is already visible in cities such as Cape Town, where very strict restrictions on water use apply due to the water shortage. Source: Belga / own reporting / De Standaard The solution, according to the report, lies in a different agricultural culture. After all, it uses and pollutes the most water. According to the UN there is a need for a "conservative agricultural culture". This mainly means that rainwater is used instead of irrigation, and that crops are alternated in order to reduce the burden on the soil. Source: The Guardian. Cover phot: Hans van der Broek, Lien Guillot
UN report: "Almost half of the population can be affected by water scarcity by 2050" More than 5 billion people could be affected in 2050 by a shortage of water. That states a new report from the United Nations. Climate change, increased demand and polluted stock are, according to the report, the culprits. Drought in Cape Town. © AFP The study, which was presented at the World Water Forum in Brazil, also warns against conflicts if no concrete measures are taken. According to the UN, these must be more natural solutions, for example working with soil and trees instead of steel and concrete. "The world has focused too long on a man-made infrastructure to improve water management," said Gilbert Houngbo, the director of UN-Water in the foreword of the report. Un-Water Director, Gilbert Houngbo In 2050 the world population will have risen to between 9.4 and 10.2 billion people, of whom two third live in the city. According to the report, between 4.8 and 5.7 billion people will live in an area where water scarcity is at least one month per year. In addition, 1.6 billion people may be affected by a flood. Agricultural culture must be different The main causes of this increase are the rapidly growing demand for water, climate change and polluted water. For example, about 80 percent of industrial and municipal waste water is discharged without treatment. And the drought caused by climate change is already visible in cities such as Cape Town, where very strict restrictions on water use apply due to the water shortage. Source: Belga / own reporting / De Standaard The solution, according to the report, lies in a different agricultural culture. After all, it uses and pollutes the most water. According to the UN there is a need for a "conservative agricultural culture". This mainly means that rainwater is used instead of irrigation, and that crops are alternated in order to reduce the burden on the soil. Source: The Guardian. Cover phot: Hans van der Broek, Lien Guillot
climate change and pollution, the biggest cause for future water shortages.
climate change and pollution, the biggest cause for future water shortages.
The effect of Climatechange in Europe
The decline of biodiversity in Belgium On March 24 it is Earth Hour again. Earth hour is the largest mobilization for the planet organized by the WWF! On this occasion, the public around the world is reminded of how precious our planet is and how crucial it is to protect it. The UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) has chosen to make Earth Hour the global event for mobilizing the general public around nature. The 11th edition of Earth Hour will highlight the vital role that nature and biodiversity play in our lives. Biodiversity and climate are interconnected. Climate change puts extra pressure on biodiversity. The deterioration of biodiversity exacerbates climate change. In a short series of three articles, we provide an overview of the impact of climate change on our Belgian nature. In this first article we talk about animal species in our own country. A second article next week is about our coast and the North Sea. And a third article the following week about our forests. The decline of biodiversity in Belgium In our country, 25 to 75% of the species run the risk of decreasing very sharply. There are many causes for this, such as the degradation of their habitats through fragmentation, development, pollution of the soil, water and air, etc. Climate change puts biodiversity under even greater pressure: the indigenous species have the choice between adapting or migrating and ... extinction. Meanwhile, new species appear that sometimes develop en masse and at the expense of the indigenous species. Since 2004, there has been e.g. an alarming deterioration of the Two-Spotted Ladybug. This is due to the introduction, in the 1990s, of the Asian ladybug as biological pesticide. This species mainly feeds on aphids but also attacks our native ladybirds and eats their offspring. Two-Spotted ladybug Changing interactions between species Due to the rise in temperature, certain spring phenomena are seen earlier, such as the budding of the flower buds (5 to 15 days earlier than 50 years ago), and certain autumn phenomena later, such as the discoloration of the leaves. These changes disrupt the interactions between the species. Photo: Jan Hofman Take, for example, the pied flycatcher. The arrival date of this migratory bird evolves more slowly than the period in which the main food for his young (the beech caterpillar) occurs. In the last 20 years, the flycatcher has returned to his overwintering areas in Africa earlier, but not nearly enough to benefit from the food peak. The result is that the population of Pied Flycatchers is starting to decline strongly in Belgium. Some species settle in our regions The scientists also see changes in the distribution areas due to the fact that many thermophilic (heat-loving) species move to the north. In recent decades, more and more species have appeared in Belgium that belong in warm temperate climates: southern dragonflies (such as the fire dragonfly), spiders (wasp spider, originating from the Mediterranean basin), birds (European bee-eater, a species from the south nowadays). also breeds in Belgium) and mosquitoes (which can transmit tropical diseases such as the West Nile virus), etc. Some harmful species benefit from the effects of climate change (spreading of ticks, processional caterpillars, etc.). Fire dragonfly In Wallonia, because of the succession of hot and dry summers, seven southern species of dragonflies have been observing more and more for several years. The same applies to other southern insect species such as grasshoppers, crickets, butterflies, etc. Spinning research in the Antwerp city center has shown that there are currently a number of species, such as the white-backed spider, which originally had a more southern spread. Everything indicates that they have gone down to Antwerp on their own, and survive there. In addition, species were found outdoors that normally only occur indoors in our home. All this, according to the arachnologists (spinning specialists), clearly indicates a gradual warming of the climate. " In the North Sea, more southern species such as the sardines and the anchovies capture a place because the temperature of the water has risen. ... .. And other species are leaving Certain indigenous species leave our regions, such as the cod, which migrates north in search of colder water. In many other species, the pace of climate change exceeds their migration capacity, especially when their movements are limited by the fragmented landscape or when the species can not find adapted habitats. Some bird species (such as redpolls) are in danger of disappearing from Flanders in the future, as a result of the increased temperature during the breeding season. The Brussels-Capital Region has conducted a study in the Zoniënwoud to evaluate the impact of climate changes on different forest species. This research has shown that the expected environmental conditions in the future will not be favorable for the growth of the beech trees. The famous "Beech Cathedral" is therefore in danger and may well disappear forever. The famous "Beech Cathedral" By: WWF. Cover photo: Pied flycatcher
The decline of biodiversity in Belgium On March 24 it is Earth Hour again. Earth hour is the largest mobilization for the planet organized by the WWF! On this occasion, the public around the world is reminded of how precious our planet is and how crucial it is to protect it. The UN Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) has chosen to make Earth Hour the global event for mobilizing the general public around nature. The 11th edition of Earth Hour will highlight the vital role that nature and biodiversity play in our lives. Biodiversity and climate are interconnected. Climate change puts extra pressure on biodiversity. The deterioration of biodiversity exacerbates climate change. In a short series of three articles, we provide an overview of the impact of climate change on our Belgian nature. In this first article we talk about animal species in our own country. A second article next week is about our coast and the North Sea. And a third article the following week about our forests. The decline of biodiversity in Belgium In our country, 25 to 75% of the species run the risk of decreasing very sharply. There are many causes for this, such as the degradation of their habitats through fragmentation, development, pollution of the soil, water and air, etc. Climate change puts biodiversity under even greater pressure: the indigenous species have the choice between adapting or migrating and ... extinction. Meanwhile, new species appear that sometimes develop en masse and at the expense of the indigenous species. Since 2004, there has been e.g. an alarming deterioration of the Two-Spotted Ladybug. This is due to the introduction, in the 1990s, of the Asian ladybug as biological pesticide. This species mainly feeds on aphids but also attacks our native ladybirds and eats their offspring. Two-Spotted ladybug Changing interactions between species Due to the rise in temperature, certain spring phenomena are seen earlier, such as the budding of the flower buds (5 to 15 days earlier than 50 years ago), and certain autumn phenomena later, such as the discoloration of the leaves. These changes disrupt the interactions between the species. Photo: Jan Hofman Take, for example, the pied flycatcher. The arrival date of this migratory bird evolves more slowly than the period in which the main food for his young (the beech caterpillar) occurs. In the last 20 years, the flycatcher has returned to his overwintering areas in Africa earlier, but not nearly enough to benefit from the food peak. The result is that the population of Pied Flycatchers is starting to decline strongly in Belgium. Some species settle in our regions The scientists also see changes in the distribution areas due to the fact that many thermophilic (heat-loving) species move to the north. In recent decades, more and more species have appeared in Belgium that belong in warm temperate climates: southern dragonflies (such as the fire dragonfly), spiders (wasp spider, originating from the Mediterranean basin), birds (European bee-eater, a species from the south nowadays). also breeds in Belgium) and mosquitoes (which can transmit tropical diseases such as the West Nile virus), etc. Some harmful species benefit from the effects of climate change (spreading of ticks, processional caterpillars, etc.). Fire dragonfly In Wallonia, because of the succession of hot and dry summers, seven southern species of dragonflies have been observing more and more for several years. The same applies to other southern insect species such as grasshoppers, crickets, butterflies, etc. Spinning research in the Antwerp city center has shown that there are currently a number of species, such as the white-backed spider, which originally had a more southern spread. Everything indicates that they have gone down to Antwerp on their own, and survive there. In addition, species were found outdoors that normally only occur indoors in our home. All this, according to the arachnologists (spinning specialists), clearly indicates a gradual warming of the climate. " In the North Sea, more southern species such as the sardines and the anchovies capture a place because the temperature of the water has risen. ... .. And other species are leaving Certain indigenous species leave our regions, such as the cod, which migrates north in search of colder water. In many other species, the pace of climate change exceeds their migration capacity, especially when their movements are limited by the fragmented landscape or when the species can not find adapted habitats. Some bird species (such as redpolls) are in danger of disappearing from Flanders in the future, as a result of the increased temperature during the breeding season. The Brussels-Capital Region has conducted a study in the Zoniënwoud to evaluate the impact of climate changes on different forest species. This research has shown that the expected environmental conditions in the future will not be favorable for the growth of the beech trees. The famous "Beech Cathedral" is therefore in danger and may well disappear forever. The famous "Beech Cathedral" By: WWF. Cover photo: Pied flycatcher
The effect of Climatechange in Europe
The effect of Climatechange in Europe
Research suggests hares and jackrabbits hopping along in the Rocky Mountains demonstrate the "secret sauce" for how animals can adapt to a new climate. Scott Mills, lead author of a paper published Thursday in Science, says lessons from mixed populations of brown and white bunnies can be applied widely to help species adjust as the environment changes around them. Research suggests hares and jackrabbits hopping along in the Rocky Mountains demonstrate the "secret sauce" for how animals can adapt to a new climate. (Wikimedia commons). "We call it polymorphism, but I also call it the secret sauce for rapid evolution," said Mills, a biologist at the University of Montana. "The more variation that's available for natural selection to act on, the faster it can act." Mills and his colleagues were interested in examining the consequences of climate change using animals' coat colour. There are 21 species that change colour from winter to summer and Mills's paper looks at eight of them, including hares, jackrabbits, Arctic foxes and weasels. Species evolve to fit specific conditions. When those conditions change, there's a mismatch. If your coat is white when there's no snow to blend in with, that's a problem. "White hares on a brown background get killed," said Mills. "And the biggest signal of climate change is a reduction of number of days of snow on the ground." That reduction is happening faster than evolution. Different populations within the same species also evolve differently to fit local conditions. Some hares and jackrabbits, mostly in northern areas, turn white in winter; some stay brown all year. "Evolution will happen everywhere," said Mills. "Any time there's going to be mismatch in camouflage, there's going to be natural selection. These are all animals that have lots of hungry predators. "The question is: where might you expect to see fastest evolutionary change?" Mills and his colleagues went looking for zones that had both colours -- winter white and winter brown. All eight species in the study had them. The research suggests the Canadian "polymorphic zone" for jackrabbits is along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in southern Alberta. For hares, it seems to be along British Columbia's coastal mountains. "In these areas, where they have winter brown and winter white together, they have both forms," Mills said. "As the snow decreases, we expect the selection will be fastest in these polymorphic zones. "They have that secret sauce for rapid evolution." Not only are the animals likely to evolve fastest in those areas to match the new climate reality, individuals are likely to spread into surrounding zones. That's a powerful argument for protecting those areas, said Mills. His paper concludes only a small fraction of them currently enjoy some form of legal protection. "If the target were conservation of this species, then we'd want to maintain polymorphic zones." Jackrabbits and hares are under little threat, but other species are, and Mills suggests that looking for areas that have the largest diversity within a threatened species could be a powerful new way to approach conservation in the face of climate change. "For any given species, are there certain traits that could be polymorphic and that would be especially sensitive areas that would benefit the species?" Mills said. "This one just happens to be a visually compelling trait, but the processes are similar. "My hope is that other people could come up with other traits for which there are these polymorphisms, this secret sauce, and that that might be something that could be incorporated into conservation planning." Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
Research suggests hares and jackrabbits hopping along in the Rocky Mountains demonstrate the "secret sauce" for how animals can adapt to a new climate. Scott Mills, lead author of a paper published Thursday in Science, says lessons from mixed populations of brown and white bunnies can be applied widely to help species adjust as the environment changes around them. Research suggests hares and jackrabbits hopping along in the Rocky Mountains demonstrate the "secret sauce" for how animals can adapt to a new climate. (Wikimedia commons). "We call it polymorphism, but I also call it the secret sauce for rapid evolution," said Mills, a biologist at the University of Montana. "The more variation that's available for natural selection to act on, the faster it can act." Mills and his colleagues were interested in examining the consequences of climate change using animals' coat colour. There are 21 species that change colour from winter to summer and Mills's paper looks at eight of them, including hares, jackrabbits, Arctic foxes and weasels. Species evolve to fit specific conditions. When those conditions change, there's a mismatch. If your coat is white when there's no snow to blend in with, that's a problem. "White hares on a brown background get killed," said Mills. "And the biggest signal of climate change is a reduction of number of days of snow on the ground." That reduction is happening faster than evolution. Different populations within the same species also evolve differently to fit local conditions. Some hares and jackrabbits, mostly in northern areas, turn white in winter; some stay brown all year. "Evolution will happen everywhere," said Mills. "Any time there's going to be mismatch in camouflage, there's going to be natural selection. These are all animals that have lots of hungry predators. "The question is: where might you expect to see fastest evolutionary change?" Mills and his colleagues went looking for zones that had both colours -- winter white and winter brown. All eight species in the study had them. The research suggests the Canadian "polymorphic zone" for jackrabbits is along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in southern Alberta. For hares, it seems to be along British Columbia's coastal mountains. "In these areas, where they have winter brown and winter white together, they have both forms," Mills said. "As the snow decreases, we expect the selection will be fastest in these polymorphic zones. "They have that secret sauce for rapid evolution." Not only are the animals likely to evolve fastest in those areas to match the new climate reality, individuals are likely to spread into surrounding zones. That's a powerful argument for protecting those areas, said Mills. His paper concludes only a small fraction of them currently enjoy some form of legal protection. "If the target were conservation of this species, then we'd want to maintain polymorphic zones." Jackrabbits and hares are under little threat, but other species are, and Mills suggests that looking for areas that have the largest diversity within a threatened species could be a powerful new way to approach conservation in the face of climate change. "For any given species, are there certain traits that could be polymorphic and that would be especially sensitive areas that would benefit the species?" Mills said. "This one just happens to be a visually compelling trait, but the processes are similar. "My hope is that other people could come up with other traits for which there are these polymorphisms, this secret sauce, and that that might be something that could be incorporated into conservation planning." Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
'Secret sauce' against climate change
Climate

Here you will find great information about projects that try to combat the rising temperatures, rising sea levels, droughts and their destructive effects on the flora and fauna around the world.

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Whatsorb

Whatsorb info

whatsorb whatsorb whatsorb whatsorb@example.com