Climate change

Articles in ‘Climate change’

Discovery of giant web-spinning spider in Africa

October 21st, 2009

With a leg span of 12 cm and a body of 4 cm, the newly discovered Nephila komaci is the biggest orb spider in the world. It spins webs of up to 1 metre in diameter. The species has pronounced sexual size dimorphism, with particularly tiny males. Female spiders are thought to be larger in order to produce more young. The small size of the males might help them avoid being eaten by the females before mating. The Nephilia komaci is restricted to parts of Africa and Madagascar.  BBC

Mass death of walruses

September 19th, 2009
Walruses por flickkerphotos.

As many as two hundred dead walruses have been spotted on the shore of Chukchi Sea on Alaska’s northwest coast. Wildlife researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey report the dead walruses appeared to be mostly new calves or yearlings. They may have been crushed in a panic stampede triggered by a polar bear or a helicopter. Large numbers of walruses are gathering on Alaska’s northwest coast, a sign their Arctic sea ice environment has been altered by climate change, the second time in three years that this has happened. They cannot swim indefinitely and until recently used sea ice as a platform for diving in the Bering and Chukchi seas for clams and other food on the ocean floor. Now, sea ice has receded far beyond the outer continental shelf, forcing walruses to choose between riding the ice over waters too deep to reach clams or onto shore. More here

Meanwhile, Sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean reached the third lowest level on record last year, according to the latest NASA statistics. Here

Photo by Thundafunda

Rising temperatures push polar bears closer to humans

September 17th, 2009 Polar bears are coming into increasingly conflict with humans as melting ice is pushing them to search for food on land. “Hungry bears don’t just lie down – they go looking for an alternate food source,” says zoologist Ian Stirling at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. “In many cases this brings them into human settlements and hunting camps.” The team found that the number of bears reported as attacking humans, homes and hunting camps in Churchill on the shores of Hudson more than tripled between 1970 and 2005, from 20 to 90 per year, despite a 20% fall in the bear’s population since 1980. The researchers note that shorter the sea ice season, the greater the reports of problem bear activity. New Scientist I’m sure this is true, but I wonder if humans are also occupying more and more territory and so increasing the amount of potential contact…

Severe drought hits Kenya

September 5th, 2009 Very worrying article by John Vidal in The Guardian on the effects of continued drought in Kenya and East Africa as a whole “Droughts have affected millions in a vast area stretching across Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Chad, and into Burkina Faso and Mali, and tens of thousands of nomadic herders have had to give up their animals…The great unspoken fear among scientists and governments is that the present cycle of droughts continues and worsens, making the land uninhabitable.” Read The drought caused by three consecutive failed rainy seasons is unsurprisingly seriously affecting Kenya’s wildlife. The Kenya Wildlife Service is having to feed hippos to keep them alive.”In Tsavo West national park hippos are dying in large numbers, and other species are being forced to change their diet.” Wildlife is also coming under increasing strain from livestock encroaching on protected land as in a despearte search for grass by herders for their animals. See Hippos Hurt By Kenyan Drought

The last glaciers of Tanzania

August 20th, 2009
The Southern Icefield on Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. Photo by armstrks (Creative Commons).
Furtwängler Glacier is a small remnant of an enormous icecap which once crowned the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. This icecap has retreated significantly over the past century and between 1912 and the 2000, 82 percent of the glacial ice on the mountain has disappeared.The demise of the Furtwängler Glacier, and the other remaining Kilimanjaro glaciers, may reduce tourism because the novelty of glacier ice in proximity to the equator is one of the attractions of the area. Even more immediate is the potential adverse impact on the availability of fresh water from springs and wells that are partially supplied by glacier melt. Wikipedia

Jellyfish get good press

August 1st, 2009 It’s a good time of year to publish a Jellyfish study.  From the Costa Brava to Cornwall to Hawaii to the Mexican Gulf, swimmers are anxiously scanning the water and looking for jellyfish alerts on the news.  Jellyfish are discomforting, not only for their stings, but because their growing numbers are a symbol of man’s catastrophic impact on the environment.  The rise in jellyfish populations is thought to be linked with overfishing, pollution and global warming, as higher water temperatures prolong their reproductive cycles.  So it’s refreshing for jellyfish to get some good press for a change.  A report published in Nature talks about their significant contribution to the stirring of the oceans, a crucial process that brings nutrients to the surface and oxygen to the depths. Ultimately these small-scale movements affect ocean currents and climate.

More wildfires for the US

July 29th, 2009

Scientists expect wildfires in the US to increase in number as global warming kicks in in the coming decades. And because smoke and other particles from fires adversely affect air quality, an increase in wildfires could have large impacts on human health. Eureka

Warmest seas on record for June

July 27th, 2009

According to NOA, the world’s ocean surface temperature was the hottest on record for June, breaking the previous reoord of 2005.  If the ocean surface temperature are combined with with land temperatures, June was the second warmest since global records began in 1880. Read the rest of this entry

American Pika in danger

July 23rd, 2009 The American Pika (Ochotona princeps), a small relative of the rabbit, may become seriusly endangered because of global warming as rising eliminate Pikas from their alpine habitat. The US government may decide to afford them endangered status. Eco Worldly A worrying number of populations of Pikas have already disappeared. They are now believed to be extinct in some areas of the Great Basin mountains of Nevada and Oregon, where more than a third of the American Pika population has been wiped out. A 2003 study showed that 9 out of 25 sampled populations of American Pika had disappeared, causing biologists to conclude that the species is reaching extinction. Because they live in Alpine mountain regions, they are very sensitive to high temperatures, and are considered to be one of the best early warning systems for detecting global warming in the western United States. Because their regular habitat’s temperature rises, the American Pikas move higher up the mountain. Pikas can die within an hour if the outside temperature reaches above 23°C (75°F). Wikipedia (

Global warming causing fish size to reduce

July 21st, 2009 Global warming is causing a reduction fish size to reduce massively. A study has found that fish have lost half their average body mass and smaller species are making up a larger proportion of European fish stocks.  “It’s huge,” said study author Martin Daufresne of the Cemagref Public Agricultural and Environmental Research Institute in Lyon, France. “Size is a fundamental characteristic that is linked to a number of biological functions, such as fecundity—the capacity to reproduce.” Grist No doubt overfishing is also an important factor…