Ecosystems & Species

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U.S. Proposes to Categorize Ringed and Bearded Seals as "Threatened"

The U.S. government proposed yesterday (3 Dec 2010) to list four subspecies of ringed seals and two populations of bearded seals -- all in the Arctic region -- as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.  The primary threats cited in the proposals are rapid warming of the Arctic combined with ocean acidification -- both driven by rising atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations.  "We hope that governments meeting for climate negotiations right now in Cancun are paying attention,” says Geoff York, WWF arctic species expert.

Citing Threat of Climate Change, U.S. Designates Nearly 187,000 Square Miles as "Critical Habitat" for Polar Bears

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today (24 November 2010) designated nearly 485,000 sq km (over 187,000 sq mi) as critical habitat for polar bears under the Endangered Species Act.  Noting that "the greatest threat to the polar bear is the melting of its sea ice habitat caused by human-induced climate change," Tom Strickland, Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, said that "we will continue to work toward comprehensive strategies for the long-term survival of this iconic species."

Another Extreme Drought Hits the Amazon and Raises Climate Change Concerns

The Amazon region is experiencing the third extreme drought in a dozen years -- and it may turn out to be the worst on record. The droughts coupled with recent research findings, suggest that rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases will rapidly increase the frequency and severity of droughts in the region. The implications for people,  biodiversity and climate are ominous.

Caribbean Coral Reefs, Climate Variability and Change, and Ocean Acidification: Online Resources

We provide a listing of select online resources related to the impacts of climate variability and change, and ocean acidification, on coral reefs in the wider Caribbean region.

Sea Surface Temperatures in Tropical North Atlantic Rise to Record Levels in 2010, With Impacts from the Amazon to Canada

Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Tropical North Atlantic are rising over the long term, driven in part by rising concentrations of greenhouse gases. High and in some areas record SSTs in the region throughout 2010 are largely responsible for one of the worst coral bleaching episodes on record in the Caribbean, are a principal contributor to one of the most active hurricane seasons on record, and are likely a key factor behind the second extreme drought in the Amazon in 5 years.

UN Report Calls for "Immediate Global Response" to Save Coral Reefs from Rising Carbon Emissions

"Coral reefs are facing unprecedented impacts due to climate change, through a combination of threats including damage from increasingly severe tropical cyclones, more frequent temperature-induced coral bleaching events and diminished structural integrity due to ocean acidification," says a new report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

Scientists Report that as Arctic Sea Ice Declines, Weather Impacts Spread into Northern Mid-Latitudes

In the annual "Arctic Report Card" issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today (21 October 2010), researchers report that the decline in Arctic Sea Ice appears to be favoring atmospheric conditions that paradoxically tend to bring colder weather to some areas well outside the Arctic.  The report links this emerging "Warm Arctic-Cold Continents" pattern to the cold air outbreaks and heavy snows experienced in parts of the U.S. and elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere in December 2009 and February 2010.

Videos: The Death of the Oceans?

In this new documentary broadcast by BBC Two as part of its Horizon series, Sir David Attenborough takes the audience around the world to meet scientists studying our impacts on the oceans, from climate change and ocean acidification to over-fishing.

Scientists Report One of the Worst Coral Bleaching Events on Record in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean

“It is certainly the worst coral die-off we have seen since 1998.  It may prove to be the worst such event known to science,” says Dr Andrew Baird of the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

Ocean Acidification Featured in New Video and Lesson Plan

Dr Heidi Cullen of Climate Central explains in this video featuring Otis Brown of Miami University that more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere is absorbed by the oceans.  That is making the oceans more acidic and less hospitablef or corals and many other important organisms.  A new lesson plan for Grades 5 through 8 explores the issue further.

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