The Beacon

Hot Topics: Shrinking Species

Can climate change cause animals to shrink in body size over time? Ecologists say yes, but that it is not likely to occur for years to come. Ecologists have long understood that animals living in warmer climates are generally smaller than those inhabiting colder climates. Since smaller animals have more surface area relative to the volume of their bodies, they can radiate heat more efficiently than larger animals so they can cope better in warm climates.


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Hot Topics: the Arctic 'Island'

Due to global warming fueling an Arctic meltdown, the Northwest and Northeast Passages may possibly be concurrently free of ice for the first time in about 125,000 years. Scientists at the University of Bremen pieced together NASA satellite image maps of the sea ice, which revealed a startling image of a possible Arctic "island".

A circumnavigable Arctic would allow commercial ships to shorten trip times by navigating through the Arctic. However, increased ship traffic in the Arctic would lead to more precarious conditions for Arctic ecosystems and wildlife. Allowing large shipping vessels, and prospectors seeking oil and gas, easier access to once hard to reach areas would increase the potential for oil spills, ship strikes with marine life, and increased pollution from ships, including black carbon, a potent Arctic warmer.

For more on climate change see http://oceana.org/climate.


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New Estimates on Rising Seas

As global warming is rapidly melting glaciers and causing sea water to thermally expand, scientists are working hard to make realistic predictions on the extent of sea level rise that could occur by the end of the 21st century.

In a 2007 report, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), predicted a rise of 0.6-2 ft by 2100 and now researchers are estimating an even greater increase. A new report published in Science provides a new estimate of sea level rise: As much as 2.6-6.6 ft (0.8-2 m) by 2100, based on the rate of possible future glacier melt.


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Monica's Hot Topics: Outlook Bleak

dire outlook forecast by dr. jeremy jackson

Owing to the combined effects of climate change, overfishing and pollution, the future of marine ecosystems may appear bleak if these destructive forces continue unchecked. In a new paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Jeremy Jackson analyzes the threats to marine ecosystems and categorizes them according to their overall environmental impacts.


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Monica's Hot Topics: North Sea Nellies

north sea nelly, hot in here, heat threshold, climate change, oceana

As a result of climate change, some North Sea fish may be echoing the line of the rapper Nelly circa 2002: "It's Gettin' Hot in Here..."

The fish are being pushed to the limits of their heat tolerance as temperatures continue to rise. Coastal sea surface temperatures in the North Sea have risen by 0.2-0.6 degrees Celsius per decade and on the sea floor by 1.6 degrees Celsius over the past 30 years.

These increasing temperatures are causing approximately two-thirds of the North Sea’s fish to shift in depth and latitude (rather than take their clothes off). On average, a deepening of approximately 3.6 m per decade (some individual species have shifted by as much as 10 m) has been observed in North Sea bottom-dwelling fish along with latitudinal range expansions.


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