Climate change could lead to dramatic decline in narwhals

May 6, 2020 by  
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Climate change is affecting everybody, even narwhals. These mysterious “unicorns of the sea” may decline by 25% by the end of this century, according to a new study . Narwhals are a type of Arctic-dwelling whale found only in the cold waters of Greenland, Canada, Norway and Russia. Their population currently numbers about 200,000. In winter, most narwhals spend up to 5 months beneath the sea ice. They are recognizable by a single long, spiral tusk, which is actually an enlarged tooth. Related: Arctic shipping routes could threaten “unicorns of the sea” Researchers from Denmark, Canada, Norway, Germany and the U.K. studied tissue samples from 121 narwhals, mostly collected between 1982 and 2012. Some were killed by Inuit hunters in Greenland and Canada. Other samples came from archaeological remains from digs in Russia and northern Europe. Researchers were even able to collect tiny samples from a throne chair featuring narwhal tusks in Denmark. “They had special access to be able to drill little tiny bits of tusk from that throne,” said Steven Ferguson, an Arctic marine mammal research scientist with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and one of the study’s authors. These samples helped them learn more about narwhal DNA. Through a combination of DNA information and habitat modeling, the researchers investigated the impact of previous climate shifts on narwhal distribution and estimated what the future might hold for these creatures. Scientists confirmed that the world has three narwhal populations. Most live in two different groups off Canada’s northeastern coasts. The third population of about 10,000 lives off Greenland’s east coast, extending as far as Russia. The researchers were surprised to find that narwhals show the lowest genetic diversity in any marine mammal studied. They weren’t sure why this is. As sea ice melts because of global warming , the narwhals’ habitats will shrink, and the animals will probably move northward. But as they are crowded into a smaller habitat, they’ll become more vulnerable to human encroachment, competition for food, new diseases and orca predation. Unlike other polar mammals, narwhals are only found in very limited locales. “They really seem to have this Atlantic Ocean habitat,” Ferguson said. “So there’s an open question as to what might happen as we continue to lose sea ice.” + Royal Society Publishing Via Forbes and The Narwhal

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Climate change could lead to dramatic decline in narwhals

Earth911’s Five Things Today: Greenland’s Glacial Lakes, Floating Solar, and Salty Seas

December 4, 2019 by  
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Every day brings new climate information and news about scientific … The post Earth911’s Five Things Today: Greenland’s Glacial Lakes, Floating Solar, and Salty Seas appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911’s Five Things Today: Greenland’s Glacial Lakes, Floating Solar, and Salty Seas

How to see these six fascinating animals in the wild while aiding in their conservation

October 15, 2019 by  
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If you’re going to travel , travel responsibly. The best way to show animals that you love them is by respecting their habitats and aiding in the conservation of their species. Here’s how to ethically view six animals in their natural habitats in ways that benefit them rather than disturb them. Sharks on Viti Levu, Fiji There are hundreds of different species of sharks who call earth’s waters home, and a trip to Fiji will give you the chance to see at least eight of them in their natural habitat. Due to the misshapen view of sharks as dangerous creatures paired with many parts of the world’s affinity for shark fin as a delicacy has caused these misunderstood creatures to dwindle in population. The future of sharks is heavily reliant on the changing of that mindset and the conservation of the animals and their habitats. While the ethics of shark diving remains a personal choice for different travelers, those who choose to swim with sharks should ensure that it is done under the appropriate conditions and provide a benefit to sharks through conservation or habitat protection. Beqa Adventure Divers in Fiji uses the funds raised from their shark diving tours to fuel their conservation efforts, from working with the local government to create designated protected marine parks to multiple scientific research projects. The organization is sponsored by is sponsored by the Shark Foundation, the Save our Seas Foundation and PADI Project AWARE. Polar Bears in Svalbard, Norway  It’s no news to wildlife lovers that the world’s polar bear population has been among the worst affected by climate change. Natural Habitat Adventures with Lindblad Expeditions offers expedition ship tours of Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago located between the Barents and Greenland seas north of Norway and 600 miles from the North Pole. Onboard naturalists help spot polar bears in their natural habitat while giving expert insight about these majestic creatures in real time. A National Geographic-certified photography instructor accompanies guests to create timeless memories and the company’s fleet of kayaks and zodiac boats allow for closer, responsible examination of the bears. Natural Habitat Adventures was the first 100% carbon-neutral travel company in the world and a portion of their sales goes towards the World Wildlife Fund, one of the leading voices for polar bear conservation . Dolphins in Akaroa, New Zealand Black Cat Cruises in Akaroa, New Zealand is committed to the conservation of the country’s rare Hector Dolphins. Take a boat tour of the historic village of Akaroa just an hour and a half drive from Christchurch. The Akaroa Harbour is a marine mammal sanctuary , so the protection of these animals is paramount. The company donates a portion of all ticket sales to the research of the area’s dolphins, as well as educational programs. Additionally, Black Cat Cruises was the first boat tour company on earth to receive the Green Globe 21, an international program aimed at ensuring sound environmental practices. They are also the only cruise operator in the Akaroa area to obtain an Enviro-gold certification from the New Zealand tourism quality assurance organization, Qualmark. Humpback Whales on Maui, Hawaii The Pacific Whale Foundation offers whale watching eco-tours on the island of Maui, where Humpback Whales migrate each year from December to May to breed and give birth to their young. The channel that runs between the islands of Maui and Molokai offer some of the best whale watching in the state. The Pacific Whale Foundation , a non-profit organization founded in 1980, puts all profits towards their research, education and conservation programs. Additional funding is raised through donations and local fundraising activities as well. Penguins in Chubut, Patagonia While penguins aren’t exactly difficult to see (they are included in most zoos and aquariums around the United States), these flightless birds are actually quite mysterious in the wild. Scientists understand how they interact on land, but research on how penguins find their food in the depths of the ocean is much more sparse. The Earthwatch Institute offers penguin trailing tours where participants join scientists and conservationists at the nesting colonies in Argentina’s Golfo San Jorge. Tag penguins to track their nesting and feeding locations, as well as help choose a selection of 50 penguins to track with more advanced GPS devices and underwater cameras. Finding out where these animals frequent throughout the year helps scientists better understand which parts of the ocean need the most protection in order to keep penguin populations strong in Patagonia. Wolves at Yellowstone National Park, United States The wolf reintroduction efforts at Yellowstone National Park have influenced and inspired conservationists and scientists around the world. After the wolf population at the park had completely died off by 1926, efforts to reintroduce the animals back into Yellowstone territory in the mid 1990s were completely successful in restoring the balance in the ecosystem. Experts at the park suggest heading to the open valleys in the northeast corner of Yellowstone (specifically the Lamar Valley) to have the best chance of seeing wolves. The winter months offers the best possibilities since the snow helps provide an easy backdrop. Keeping the wolves at the park safe and healthy requires constant monitoring and research from the National Parks Service, and part of your entrance fee into the park goes towards those efforts. Images via joakant , NPS Climate Change Response , Gregory Smith , National Marine Sanctuaries, Celine Harrand , 12019 , Shutterstock

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How to see these six fascinating animals in the wild while aiding in their conservation

Old bus is converted into a mobile greenhouse to teach students about sustainable eating habits

October 15, 2019 by  
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Sometimes, a little hands-on education goes a very long way when it comes to instilling sustainable and healthy eating habits in children. Parents in New Jersey are rejoicing thanks to a refurbished bus that is on a mission to educate young students on a variety of food education issues, from better eating habits to urban gardening. Designed by Tessellate Studio , the Mobile Food Lab is a 300-square-foot bus that has been customized with a built-in greenhouse, classroom science lab and art exhibit space. Working in collaboration with Reed Foundation , Tessellate Studio designed the bus to offer customized space for sustainable food education for the New Jersey area. Inside the Mobile Food Lab, students will find a hydroponic garden that grows sustainable veggies, fruit and herbs as well as space to conduct food experiments. There’s even an art studio. Related: Toronto’s converted veggie bus brings produce to food desert areas To make space for the educational activities, which welcome up to 30 students at a time, the converted bus is divided into three zones. The central area is “the social zone,” which is comprised of skylights and 4,000 feet of rope that is hung from the ceiling to create a nest-like sanctuary. This space was designed to facilitate conversation and brainstorming. The next area is for cooking and consists of a lush, hydroponic garden. In this space, students can learn the ins and outs of urban gardening , while also using the adjacent food preparation area that includes a stove top, sink and cutting service. Moving farther along the bus, students will find a fun food science area. This space comes complete with digital microscopes, LCD monitor, test tubes of herbs and spices and a “taste” chart, with which students can learn the science of taste. At the end of the mobile lab, there is an arts area tucked into a small nook. This section was customized to store two foldable carts that can be wheeled off the bus to create additional space for arts and crafts activities. According to the studio, the bus was strategically designed to “help children develop a healthy connection to food by harnessing their innate curiosity through a multi-sensory experience of smell, sight, touch and taste. The MFL uses food as the medium to teach a curriculum of science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM).” Launched in September 2018, the Mobile Food Lab has set up its sustainable food education bus in a number of areas throughout New Jersey, including schools, parks and various public events. In fact, the project has been so successful since its inception that the lab has earned a runner-up award in the Social Impact category of the Core77 Design Awards . + Tessellate Studio + The Mobile Lab Via Core77 Images via Mobile Food Lab

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Old bus is converted into a mobile greenhouse to teach students about sustainable eating habits

The world is going sideways. What’s a sustainability professional to do?

August 27, 2019 by  
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The Amazon and the Arctic are burning, Greenland and Antarctica are melting, and longstanding concerns such as plastic waste, air pollution and water security that don’t seem to be getting better. How do you stay positive?

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The world is going sideways. What’s a sustainability professional to do?

Apparel industry fashions sustainability roles; insurers look to cut risk with new chiefs

August 27, 2019 by  
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From new ventures from sustainability stalwarts to tech executives in energy management, it’s an interesting time of the year for the sustainability field.

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Apparel industry fashions sustainability roles; insurers look to cut risk with new chiefs

What good are city clean-energy targets?

August 27, 2019 by  
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Cities from Atlanta to Los Angeles and beyond are seeing sweeping changes.

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What good are city clean-energy targets?

Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July

August 19, 2019 by  
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What melts faster than an ice cream cone on a sweltering summer day? Greenland’s ice sheet. In July, the world’s second biggest ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice and increased sea levels by about half a millimeter. On August 15 alone, Greenland’s ice sheet had a major meltdown, losing 11 billion tons of surface ice to the ocean, scientists reported. While it’s not unusual for Greenland’s ice sheet to melt during the summer, it usually starts at the end of May but began weeks earlier this year. Meteorologists reported that July has been one of the hottest months around the world ever recorded. For instance, global average temperatures for this July are in line with and possibly higher than July 2016, which holds the current record, according to preliminary data reported by the Copernicus Climate Change Programme . Related: Iceland will unveil monument for the first glacier lost to climate change According to Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist with Danish Meteorological Institute , Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July, enough to fill nearly 80 million Olympic swimming pools. Mottram told CNN the expected average of ice melt this time of year would be between 60 and 70 billion tons. What could it mean? All this wacky weather may ultimately result in one of Greenland’s biggest ice melts since 1950. With the melt season typically lasting to the end of August, Mottram said the ice sheet could see substantial melting; however, it might not be as much as in recent weeks. Melting ice isn’t the only issue facing the Arctic, as the area has also experienced wildfires , which scientists said could be because of high temperatures. Since June, Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service has observed more than 100 intense wildfires in the Arctic Circle. The recent wildfires and ice melt in the Arctic Circle could be strong indicators of more climate change -related issues ahead. Via CNN Image via NASA

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Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July

Greenland is melting four times faster than it was 15 years ago

January 24, 2019 by  
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A new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that Greenland is melting four times faster than it has in the past 15 years. Using data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), which were two satellites launched by Germany and NASA back in 2002, researchers discovered that between 2002 and 2016, Greenland lost 280 gigatons of ice every year, and that resulted in the addition of .03 inches of water annually to the world’s oceans. “We’re going to see faster and faster sea level rise for the foreseeable future,” study lead author and Ohio State University geodynamics professor Michael Bevis said in a press release . “Once you hit that tipping point, the only question is: How severe does it get?” Bevis explained that they knew there was a significant problem with the increasing rates of ice discharge from the large outlet glaciers. But what they didn’t expect was ice melt from Greenland’s southwest region. That area does not normally have breaking glaciers like the southeast and northwest, yet the southwest is where the most consistent ice loss happened between 2003 and 2012. Now, according to EcoWatch , researchers are recognizing that large amounts of ice mass are going to become a major contributor to the rise of sea levels over the next couple of decades. There was also a noticeable pause in melting back in 2013, at the same time that warm air was brought to Greenland by a reversal in North Atlantic Oscillation. Bevis said that is concerning, because in the past, the cycle of warm and cool temperatures didn’t have such a dramatic impact on the region. If the base-level temperature is so warm that the natural temperature cycles are accelerating the ice melting, then this could be a “tipping point.” However, the authors of another study from December 2018 cautioned using such language. They found that Greenland was melting at the fastest rate in more than three centuries, but that doesn’t mean we have passed “the point of no return,” according to the study authors. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute scientist Sarah B. Das said that there are still meaningful actions humans can take. If we limit greenhouse gas emissions, we can limit global warming . This will make a big difference in how quickly the ice melting in Greenland will affect the rise of sea levels. Via EcoWatch and OSU Image via Christine Zenino

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Greenland is melting four times faster than it was 15 years ago

This tiny home eschews minimalist design for vibrant colors and bold patterns

January 24, 2019 by  
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Most tiny homes tend to go for the standard “less is more” strategy when it comes to interior design. But one Texas designer, Galeana Younger from the Galeana Group , is breaking that mold with her stunning “maximalist” tiny home. Forgoing the typical neutral color palette, Younger decked out the 190-square-foot tiny home with a host of vibrant colors, funky patterns and plenty of personal touches that give the home a jubilant character. Recently, the designer told Lonny that she wanted the tiny home design to be full of fun. “I wanted to create an environment that would allow/encourage people to feel comfortable and happy but still slightly elevated and outside of themselves,” Younger said. “Like they were in a hip, urban locale that made them feel a little more chispa than usual.” Related: The off-grid Eucalyptus tiny home radiates cool, Californian vibes Accordingly, the bold interior design found throughout the home has quite a bit of “spark” from the moment you enter. The living space features a small wicker sofa covered with various pillows in an array of colors and textures. To the right, the bedroom is wallpapered in a lively black and white cactus print. Contrasting the busy pattern on the walls is the ceiling, which is painted a light ethereal blue. A triangle-patterned rug is on the floor, nicely connecting the black door and trim, which is found throughout the interior. Moving into the kitchen , the blast of fun, vibrant colors cannot be missed. The geometric backsplash is comprised of multiple hues and shades that add a sense of whimsy to the cooking area. Open shelving stores the home’s dishware along with decorative bottles in different shapes and colors. Further into the back of the space is the bathroom. Surprisingly spacious for a tiny home, this black and white motif still manages to be filled with personality. The shower stall was hand laid with the words, “Howdy, ya’ll.” Above the bathroom, a ladder leads to a compact sleeping loft . + The Galeana Group Via Curbed Photography by Mark Menjivar via The Galeana Group

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