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US agencies Nasa and Noaa say last month was 0.9C hotter than the 20th century average and the hottest June since records began in 1880
As the string of record-breaking global temperatures continues unabated, June 2016 marks the 14th consecutive month of record-breaking heat.
According to two US agencies – Nasa and Noaa – June 2016 was 0.9C hotter than the average for the 20th century, and the hottest June in the record which goes back to 1880. It broke the previous record, set in 2015, by 0.02C.Continue reading...
With the coal boom on the wane, mining companies want to escape the cost of rehabilitating their sites. But even if governments effectively restrain them, many of the huge voids in the landscape will never be filled in
Australia is teetering on the edge of a massive hole – one left by huge mines that may soon close. As they do, the country is playing a desperate game of catch-up to make sure the mining companies pay for the cleanup. But a legacy of limited environmental requirements means that even if that succeeds, the end of the coal boom will leave Australia pockmarked with unfilled holes.
This game has been highlighted in recent years by a trend of major miners unloading projects to industry minnows amid a coal slump. As they do so, taxpayers risk being lumped with cleanup costs in the wake of their collapse.Continue reading...
Next month, the cruise ship Crystal Serenity will embark on a controversial voyage, becoming the first cruise liner ever to sail Canada’s Northwest Passage – a formerly icebound route that only became navigable in 2007. It’s a dramatic symbol of the change that is currently taking place in the Arctic, which is warming more rapidly than anywhere else on Earth.
This warming is already affecting polar bears, greening the tundra, and physically shrinking red knots. Now, in a new study, we show that it could contract the breeding habitat of millions of migratory birds that travel to the High Arctic.
Countries worldwide could see declines in the numbers of migratory birds reaching their shores, and the Canadian and Russian Arctic islands may be the last refuges these species have.
We studied migratory shorebirds, superstars of global migration that cover tens of thousands of kilometres a year, and sometimes travel more than 10,000km in a single flight. These amazing birds breed in the Arctic and then fly south, stopping at known refuelling points en route to their non-breeding grounds, some of them in the Southern Hemisphere. Protecting these ultra-mobile species that cross international borders is a particularly difficult conservation challenge.
Shorebirds are embattled by habitat loss and hunting along their migratory routes. Nowhere is this more apparent than the route used by species that migrate to Australia: the East Asian/Australasian Flyway. Most species that travel between Australia and the Arctic stop off at mudflats in the Yellow Sea off China. But coastal habitat there is being rapidly destroyed and population numbers are already crashing. The question is, how will climate change amplify the stress that these populations, and shorebirds globally, are already experiencing?
Researchers have investigated the possible effects of sea-level rise on shorebirds (answer: not ideal, because most species rely on coastal habitats) and how changing seasons could affect migratory timing (how do birds time their migration if snowmelt in the Arctic occurs earlier and earlier?).
But what about species distributions? To answer this question, we worked out the range of climatic conditions currently tolerated by 24 shorebird species that breed in the High Arctic tundra, and then used climate models to see whether these conditions are likely to still exist in 2070.
Our overall expectation was obvious: as the climate warms up, species globally are starting to track cooler climates towards the poles. But the issue for Arctic species is that they are already at the top of the world, with nowhere left to go. This means their habitat must necessarily contract, instead of shifting poleward.
This is exactly what our models predicted: climatically suitable conditions for breeding could shrink by more than half for 80% of species by 2070, and five species – Pacific golden plover, stilt sandpiper, curlew sandpiper, white-rumped sandpiper, and red phalarope – may have essentially no suitable conditions left at all.
In a double whammy for Australian shorebirds already struggling with Yellow Sea habitat loss, our results predict that their breeding regions in western Alaska and eastern Siberia are going to be hit the hardest by climate change too, with little or no habitat left for many species.
This is not the first time scientists have warned about the impacts of climate change on species diversity. Such warnings are often seen as vague premonitions of distant future threat, yet this year saw the first climate change-driven extinction of a species; suddenly it’s starting to feel very real.
Of course, species have dealt with changes in climate before; the last major warming period in the Arctic occurred 6,000-8,000 years ago. But that warming was gradual and happened in different regions of the Arctic at different times. In contrast, the current wave of warming is much faster and is happening throughout the Arctic, leaving species little time to adapt and nowhere to go.
Arctic Canada and the islands off northern Russia are predicted by our models to fare better than many other regions. Encouragingly, there are many protected areas in most places around the Arctic, with the exception of a clear gap in the Canadian Arctic, where resource exploitation is a growing threat.
Continued efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions are crucial, and we must protect strategic locations to secure the future of Arctic biodiversity in a changing climate. With the right action hopefully we can see shorebirds continuing their incredible journeys for many years to come.
Hannah Wauchope receives funding from the Australian Research Council Linkage Project LP150101059 and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions..
Richard Fuller receives funding from the Australian Research Council Linkage Project LP150101059 and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions.
It looks like Andrea Leadsom is unconcerned that her children’s children may never see a butterfly unless they climb a mountain (Leadsom’s views make her surprise choice for new role, 15 July), which she sees as a sensible approach to environment planning. Could Patrick Barkham (Wet summer is last straw in disastrous year for butterflies, 15 July) perhaps persuade the family to take part in the big butterfly count?
• Perhaps I’m paranoiac, but I rather resented the implication that because I enjoy AE Housman, I must be a xenophobic Brexiteer (Housman Country: Into The Heart Of England by Peter Parker, reviewed by Blake Morrison, Review, 16 July). The bleakness below Housman’s sylvan surface has long been recognised and was concisely captured by Hugh Kingsmill’s parody of Housman’s verse which begins: “What still alive at twenty-two / A clean upstanding lad like you?”
St Helens, Merseyside
Duterte says Paris climate pact seeks to dictate to developing countries and limit economic growth, reports Climate Home
“You are trying to stifle us,” Duterte said on Monday in widely reported comments. “That’s stupid, I will not honour that. You signed … That was not my signature.”Continue reading...
The 66-mile route takes in Dover’s White Cliffs and Dungeness and is latest section of national coastal route to be completed
The first south-eastern stretch of a national trail that will eventually allow people to walk the whole way around England’s coastline has opened.
The 66-mile route, which starts in Camber in East Sussex and finishes in Ramsgate, Kent, is the latest section to become part of the England Coast Path. When completed in 2020, it will be one of the world’s longest coastal walking routes at 2,700 miles (4,345km).Continue reading...
Competitions to catch monster sharks have been held on the US Atlantic coast for decades, but now critics are stepping up their fight and calling for a ban
It’s 4am at the dock on Block Island, a teardrop-shaped New England vacation spot situated off Rhode Island, and tempers are fraying among fishermen competing in one of the region’s growing number of big money “monster” shark fishing tournaments.
At the previous night’s pre-competition gathering, one fisherman tore off his shirt and hurled it at the organizers, enraged at what he saw as an insufficient prize pot. Then, on the opening morning of a two-day contest to reel in the largest shark, anger flares from a very different source.Continue reading...
Often overlooked compared to cars and factories that are far bigger causes of smog, ship traffic has more than doubled off East Asia since 2005
A boom in shipping is aggravating air pollution in China and other nations in East Asia, causing thousands of deaths a year in a region with eight of the world’s 10 biggest container ports, scientists said on Monday.
Often overlooked compared to cars and factories that are far bigger causes of smog, ship traffic has more than doubled off East Asia since 2005 and some pollution from the fuel oil of ships wafts inland, they said.Continue reading...
From the mundane to the more serious, it’s in everyone’s interest to preserve the spirit of the overnight London-Suffolk bike ride
The Dunwich Dynamo is a roughly 120-mile bike ride to the Suffolk coast, on a date sometime near the fullest moon between the end of June and mid-July, setting off from Hackney’s London Fields park around 8pm and arriving at the beach sometime after dawn.
If the description seems a little hazy that’s because the ride is technically unorganised. There is no registration, no timer and no number to pin on to your cycle jersey.Continue reading...