Climate Change Shifts Bird Migration—One Generation at a Time
Biologists unravel how warming weather causes some birds to migrate earlier.
In the last few decades birders and biologists alike have noticed that spring migration is changing. Species are arriving on their breeding grounds earlier each year. It’s clear there’s a link between climate change and shifting travel dates, but a new study reveals that individual black-tailed godwits are very consistent in their migratory timing, challenging assumptions about how warmer weather shifts behavior.
These leggy, reddish shorebirds winter in Spain and Portugal. They return to their Icelandic breeding grounds each spring, between mid-May and mid-April, often nesting a month after arrival. A team of biologists who closely track their movements have noted that the birds arrive two weeks earlier today than they did twenty years ago.
To figure out why, they first tackled the long-held assumption that balmier weather might trigger individual birds to take flight sooner each season. Poring over 14 years of records for 54 individual godwits, they discovered something curious: Each bird returned year after year on roughly the same day.
Protesters disagree with a 63 per cent cut in subsidies to coal mining companies, major contributors to the Spanish energy market. Unions say the plan threatens 30,000 jobs and could destroy their livelihoods.
Miners, who were hiking from the north of the country for the past two weeks, have been joined by tens of thousands of Spaniards also protesting against Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s tax hike.”
MIRRORS, MIRRORS An aerial view of the Torresol Energy Gemasolar thermosolar plant in Fuentes de Andalucia near Seville, southern Spain. Rings of reflective panels focus sunlight on the central tower, which uses the energy generated to power steam turbines, creating electricity. (Photo: AFP-Getty via the Telegraph)
To get citizens out of their cars and onto a newly-opened public trolley system, the city of Murcia, Spain recently embarked on a rather radical campaign: it offered people lifetime trolley passes in exchange for permanently…
Africa is so HUGE. Click for large map. Countries that fit: China, United States, India, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Eastern Europe, Switzerland, Belgium, Netherlands, UK, Japan. Like illiteracy, I guess I suffer from immappancy. Also, I forget that China and the US are about the same geographic size!
LAST month Kai Krause, a computer-graphics guru, caused a stir with a map entitled "The True Size of Africa", which showed the outlines of other countries crammed into the outline of the African continent. His aim was to make “a small contribution in the fight against rampant Immappancy”—in particular, the fact that most people do not realise how much the ubiquitous Mercator projection distorts the relative sizes of countries.
A sphere cannot be represented on a flat plane without distortion, which means all map projections distort in one way or another. Some projections show areas accurately but distort distances or scales, for example; others preserve the shapes of countries but misrepresent their areas. You can read all the gory details on Wikipedia.
CDC Climat helps governments, utilities, and businesses reduce their CO2 emissions. They’ve been around since 2004, and have been at the forefront of the EU’s carbon trading scheme.
Now they’re entering the realm of adaptation. Quick primer, then I’ll get back to CDC. Recall that there are two responses to climate change:
Al Gorian carbon emissions reduction (eg fiddle with energy, buy a Prius, cap carbon, solar panels, etc.)
Adapt to impacts. If there’s drought, find water. More rain? Build bigger storm water pipes. Sea level rise and beach erosion? Build a sea wall, move some homes. Nothing to do with carbon, just infrastructure, planning, and engineering.
The difference is that Al Gorians try to “save the world” and stop climate from changing. Adaptatrons accept reality, and adjust to it. They’re very different schools of thought, and there’s little overlap. One is preventative, the other plays clean up.
The CDC Climat group are made up of Al Gorians carbon eaters. For years they’ve believed that carbon reduction was the only answer to climate change. They trade carbon in pretty much the same way as bankers trade shares of stock. Now they’re thinking about adaptation (probably as a source of revenue, but I can’t cover that here). Briefly, this is how climate adaptation policy is formed:
Run computer models for various weather scenarios. This helps discover where future problems will occur. It helps locate heat waves, drought, storms, sea level rise, wildfires, etc.
Assess vulnerabilities. Once you know where droughts and sea levels will rise, document vulnerabilities. Which town is susceptible to sea level rise? Which farms will experience drought? Etc.
Evaluate existing policies and start to source funding. This is tricky. Decision makers have to figure out which policies conflict with vulnerabilities. For example, if there is expected sea level rise, it may not be a good idea to re-develop board walks, or build new homes on the coasts.
Reduce vulnerabilities by changing policies. This making adjustments to policies in order to reduce problems like those found above.
Implement policy changes via legislation and regulation changes.
Wash, rinse, repeat. Decision makers need monitor their work and tweak along the way. This is tough due to the political cycle and immediate needs of shifting economies.
With that in mind, the CDC Climat group evaluated 5 country’s climate adaptation plans, Germany, Spain, France, Netherlands, and UK. The study is short and easy to read. Take a look, here. Strongly recommend you read it if you’re into anything climate or enviro policy oriented.
So, for example, the Netherlands, which is below sea level, is expecting even higher seas and more floods. They’re spending billions building new levees and pump systems to control water and protect cities and habitat. The UK government is providing individual financial assistance to home and land owners who are vulnerable to impacts, such as flooding. And in Germany, they’re reevaluating flood insurance subsidies and premiums.