canary in the coal mine – gray wolves


Gray wolves could emerge as a “canary in the coal mine” of global warming by suggesting how climate change will affect species around the world, researchers say.

“We’re not so much looking at wolves as a predator but as an indicator,” says environmental scientist Christopher Wilmers of the University of California-Berkeley. Shorter winters without wolves mean about 66% fewer elk deaths every April, which threatens starvation for scavengers.

With wolves preying on elk, however, the drop in carrion is only about 11%, a much less dire situation.

“Because gray wolves are so intensively studied, they may give us very good data on the effects of climate change,” says ecologist Mike Phillips, executive director of the Turner Endangered Species Fund in Bozeman, Mont. “More specialized species, such as snowshoe hares, could show such effects even sooner,” he says, “but they receive less study.”

USA Today, 30 May 2005

canary in the coalmine – an octopus in the garage!

Octopus in the parking garage is climate change’s canary in the coal mine.

Photos of an octopus splayed out in a flooded Miami Beach parking garage have been floating around the internet all week, prompting some skeptics to call “bogus” on both the discovery of the eight-legged creature out of its element and the force blamed for its appearance — climate change.

Both appear to be all too real. University of Miami associate biology professor Kathleen Sullivan Sealey examined the photos and identified the octopus as likely one of two species common in South Florida waters.

And she said Miami Beach residents ought to get used to seeing strange new creatures making sporadic appearances as rising sea levels push ocean waters deeper and more frequently onto land, along with some of the creatures that live in them.

Miami Herald, 18 Nov 2016

thanks to David Mulberry

Canary in the coal mine – Mount Wheeler

As the climate changes, disappearing snow and ice on Wheeler Peak — Nevada’s second-highest mountain — raise concerns about the future of water in the state, for which the glacier plays an integral role.

Climate change is expected to hit alpine ecosystems like Mount Wheeler’s hardest, said Steven Mietz, superintendent of Great Basin National Park.

“The region could be a baseline for measuring how nature reacts to global warming. The glacier is a canary in a coal mine,” he said.
Las Vegas Sun, 25 Nov 2015

thanks to John Blethen

Canary in the coal mine – Florida Keys

“We are feeling some of the most severe impacts of climate change first, and we have no escape route,” says Alison Higgins, President of Florida Keys Green Living and Energy Education and staff of The Nature Conservancy, thinking about the limitations to adaptation in the Keys.

“We’re the canary in the coal mine for climate change impacts in the U.S…We want to be seen as an example of why it’s important for other local governments to work hard on [climate] mitigation [to reduce carbon emissions.] Because that’s going to help us, and themselves.”
ICLEI USA

Canary in the coal mine – shrimp

Shrimp like canaries in coal mine, indicating health of stocks, water temperature. Peter Koeller, a Canadian fisheries scientist, said the findings shed light on the complex mating habits of the Pandalus borealis, the shrimp species that makes up one of the world’s largest fisheries and sustains an industry worth $500 million a year in the North Atlantic.

“Shrimp are very sensitive to changes in environmental conditions, be they global warming-driven or otherwise,” Koeller said from the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Dartmouth, N.S., about the research to be published Friday in the journal Science.
Canadian Press, 8 May 2009

Canary in the coal mine – Maldives

Maldives May Be Canary In The Coal Mine. Alas, the high point in this entire nation of 1,200 islands is only 8 feet above sea level. So people here worry that eventually the entire nation may have to move, making the Maldives perhaps the first country in the world to be destroyed by global warming. (Tuvalu and Kiribati, both small Pacific island nations, are other contenders for the title of the first modern nation to be drowned).
Sun Sentinel, 13 Jan 2006

Canary in the coal mine – estuaries

When it comes to climate change impacts, estuaries are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine. These unique habitats, which are also home to 22 of the world’s 32 largest cities and are essential hubs for global commerce, face not just the threat posed by rising sea levels, but also a complex nexus of increasing storm risks, droughts, water and air pollution and marine dead zones.
Greenbiz, 7 Jul 2014

Canary in the coal mine – walrus

Huge Walrus Haul-Out Signals Latest ‘Canary in the Coalmine’ for Climate Change in the Arctic.

Margaret Williams, managing director of the World Wildlife Fund’s Arctic program told the Associated Press, “The walruses are telling us what the polar bears have told us and what many indigenous people have told us in the high Arctic, and that is that the Arctic environment is changing extremely rapidly and it is time for the rest of the world to take notice and also to take action to address the root causes of climate change.”
The Scuttlefish, 3 Oct 2014

Canary in the coal mine – oysters

A company near San Diego raises oysters. Last year, Dennis Peterson says they could only get a quarter of the young oysters, or seed, they need from hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest. Dennis Peterson worries about what that means for his oysters.

“When it comes to climate change,” he says, “the oyster in the ocean is like a canary in a coal mine.”
CBS News, 27 Sep 2013