shrinking bumblebees!

Global warming and evolution are reshaping the bodies of some American bumblebees, a new study finds.

The tongues of two Rocky Mountains species of bumblebees are about one-quarter shorter than they were 40 years ago, evolving that way because climate change altered the buffet of wildflowers they normally feed from, according to a study published Thursday in the journal Science.

While biologists have tracked how global warming has altered the developmental, migration, timing and other behavior in plants and animals, what makes this study unusual is the physical changes in the bees, said study co-author Candace Galen at the University of Missouri.

“It speaks to the magnitude of the change of the climate that it’s affecting the evolution of the organisms,” Galen said. “It’s a beautiful demonstration of adaptive evolution.”

Heat Is Online – The Associated Press, 24 Sep 2015

jellyfish on the move!

A blood-orange blob the size of a small refrigerator emerged from the dark waters, its venomous tentacles trapped in a fishing net.

Within minutes, hundreds more were being hauled up, a pulsating mass crowding out the catch of mackerel and sea bass.

The fishermen leaned into the nets, grunting and grumbling as they tossed the translucent jellyfish back into the bay, giants weighing up to 200 kilograms (450 pounds), marine invaders that are putting the men’s livelihoods at risk.

The venom of the Nomura, the world’s largest jellyfish, a creature up to 2 meters (6 feet) in diameter, can ruin a whole day’s catch by tainting or killing fish stung when ensnared with them in the maze of nets here in northwest Japan’s Wakasa Bay.

Scientists believe climate change — the warming of oceans — has allowed some of the almost 2,000 jellyfish species to expand their ranges, appear earlier in the year and increase overall numbers, much as warming has helped ticks, bark beetles and other pests to spread to new latitudes.

These increases in jellyfish should be a warning sign that our oceans are stressed and unhealthy, said Lucas Brotz, a University of British Columbia researcher.

Heat Is Online – The Associated Press, 16 Nov 2009

bearded lady lizard

Bearded dragon sex switched by heat. Similarly, the sex Australian central bearded dragons can be “switched” by heat.

A team of researchers led by Alex Quinn at Canberra University in Australia recently incubated eggs at relatively high temperatures – between 34°C and 37°C and found that the majority of embryos that had ZZ sex chromosomes (genetically male), went on to hatch as females.

The team is worried that the lizards may not be able to adapt fast enough to warming temperatures, leading to males being wiped-out altogether.

New Scientist, 31 Aug 2007

whales off course

Birds, whales and other migratory creatures are suffering from global warming that puts them in the wrong place at the wrong time, a U.N. official told 166-nation climate talks on Monday.

A warmer climate disrupts the biological clocks of migratory species including bats, dolphins, antelopes or turtles, said Lahcen el Kabiri, deputy head of the U.N.’s Bonn-based Convention on Migratory Species.

They are the most visible warning signs — indicators signalling the dramatic changes to our ecosystems caused in part by climate change, he told delegates on the opening day of a May 7-18 U.N. meeting searching for new ways to offset warming.

Climate change affects all migratory species, El Kabiri, a Moroccan, told Reuters. He said that whales were sometimes in the wrong place to feed on fish and plankton which were thriving closer to the poles because of warmer oceans.

Heat Is Online – originally Reuters, 8 May 2007

insects threatened!

Many tropical insects face extinction by the end of this century unless they adapt to the rising global temperatures predicted, US scientists have said.

Researchers led by the University of Washington said insects in the tropics were much more sensitive to temperature changes than those elsewhere.

In contrast, higher latitudes could experience an insect population boom. The scientists said changes in insect numbers could have secondary effects on plant pollination and food supplies.

In the tropics, many species appear to be living at or near their thermal optimum, a temperature that lets them thrive, said Joshua Tewksbury of the University of Washington.

But once temperature gets above the thermal optimum, fitness levels most likely decline quickly and there may not be much they can do about it, he added.

Heat Is Online, – originally BBC News, 6 May 2008

penguins pining away

Penguins and post-El Niño stress disorder. It seems that Galápagos penguin may suffer from post-El Niño stress disorder.

After the strong El Niño events of 1982?83 and 1997?98 populations declined by more than 60%, according to F. Hernán Vargas of the University of Oxford and colleagues.

They also looked at what this means for the future of the species and found a 30% chance it will disappear entirely within 100 years, if El Niño events keep happening with the same frequency.

If, however, the frequency increases, as predicted by some climatologists, the risk becomes greater. A doubling of the strong events leads to an 80% of extinction within 100 years.

New Scientist, 31 Aug 2007

walking the walk

Di Tod, 54, a clarinettist from Melbourne’s Burwood, is smarthly dressed and made up.

She also has soil under her nails, a hint of the 14 months she’s put into her 0.1 hectare permaculture garden which extends from the front of the house to the back “I’ve worked thousands of hours,” says Tod. “I’ll work from early morning until dark. I have literally planted by the moon.”

Tod says anxiety about climate chane and energy depletion prompted the dramatic life change. She recounts how three years ago she persuaded her reluctant family – her trumpeter husband, Bill Evans, 46, and their daughters, Molly, 18, and Emily, 16 – to move from their “pretty period home” in middle class Canterbury to a humble brick veneer house in Burwood.

The plan was to use money from the sale to finance a small farm, which would make them as self sufficient as possible.

“I’m your boring Mrs Eastern Suburbs sort of person – unless you talk to my kids who say, ‘Be normal Mum. Don’t be weird, don’t be a hippie!'” says Tod. “It wasn’t until I stumbled across websites about the impending collapse of global oil supplies that my fear ratcheted up a few notches. It felt like Armageddon. I just wanted to protect my family.”

The Sun Herald (Sydney) 29 Jul 2007 – screen copy held by this website

runaway warming process

Many scientists concede that without drastic emissions reductions by 2020, we are on the path toward a 4C rise as early as mid-century, with catastrophic consequences, including the loss of the world’s coral reefs; the disappearance of major mountain glaciers; the total loss of the Arctic summer sea-ice, most of the Greenland ice-sheet and the break-up of West Antarctica; acidification and overheating of the oceans; the collapse of the Amazon rainforest; and the loss of Arctic permafrost; to name just a few.

Each of these ecosystem collapses could trigger an out-of-control runaway warming process. Worse, scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley now project that we are actually on course to reach global temperatures of up to 8C within 90 years.

CounterCurrents.org, 23 Sep 2010

see also – just plain scary

Greenland polar bears feel the heat!

Polar bear penis bones are shrinking in Eastern Greenland, according to Christian Sonne of the University of Aarhus in Denmark and colleagues.

They found that polar bears living in the Eastern Greenland are somewhat less well endowed than their cousins in Svalbard and the Canadian Arctic.

They say this could be due to the high prevalence of pollutants such as PCBs and DDT in Eastern Greenland – pollutants which records show are less prevalent in Svalbard and the Canadian Arctic.

In 2004, Steven Fergusson of the University of Manitoba in Canada showed that carnivores living in snowy environments, close to the poles, tend to have longer penis bones to help them be more competitive.

So Sonne’s group concludes that human pollution, combined with the difficulty of finding food in warming climates, may spell disaster for Eastern Greenland polar bears.

New Scientist, 31 Aug 2007

clouds on the horizon

A NASA study in December 2008 found that warming [of more than a degree and a half Fahrenheit] was enough to trigger a 45 percent increase in thunder-clouds that can rise five miles above the sea, generating ‘super-cells’ with torrents of rain and hail.

In fact, total global rainfall is now increasing 1.5 percent a decade. Larger storms over land now create more lightning; every degree Celsius brings about 6 percent more lightning, according to the climate scientist Amanda Staudt.

In just one day in June 2008, lightning sparked 1,700 different fires across California, burning a million acres and setting a new state record. These blazes burned on the new earth, not the old one.

Countercurrents.org, 23 Apr 2010

poles adrift

Earth’s poles are drifting and climate change is to blame, claim scientists.

The planet’s rotation has always wobbled slightly, and over time this movement has caused the North Pole to shift very slightly over time.

But researchers now believe global warming could be drastically increasing this shift.

Lead researcher Jianli Chen said that ‘ice melting and sea level change can explain 90 per cent of the shift’ and that ‘the driving force for the sudden change is climate change.’

Chen presented the findings at the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Daily Mail, 17 Dec 2013

a dog’s life

Pets are normally sheltered from the harsh realities of wild living.

But across Europe, increasing temperatures will expose pets to new infectious diseases spread by ticks, fleas and mosquitoes, according to new research.

In a separate paper, Claudio Genchi of the University of Milan, Italy, has found that dogs in central Europe will increasingly become vulnerable to the roundworm dirofilaria, spread by mosquitoes, as summer temperatures climb high enough for the parasite to incubate in its fly host.

Susan Shaw and colleagues at the University of Bristol, UK, have also found a significant reservoir of canine leishmaniosis in dogs living in the southern UK.

If climate change allows sandflies to spread into the country, there is a real danger the disease could spread, they warn.

New Scientist, 8 Apr 2009