Act now before entire species are lost to global warming, say scientists

GR:  The top two threats to species are habitat loss due to human farming and construction and the spread of invasive plants and animals. We have expected climate to catch up, and here is clear evidence that this is so. What can we do? Simple, stop destroying habitat, ignoring invasive species, and burning coal, oil, and gas. Simple to say, that is, but probably impossible to do.

“The impact of climate change on threatened and endangered wildlife has been dramatically underreported, with scientists calling on policymakers to act urgently to slow its effects before entire species are lost for good.

“New analysis has found that nearly half (47%) of the mammals and nearly a quarter (24.4%) of the birds on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species are negatively impacted by climate change – a total of about 700 species. Previous assessments had said only 7% of listed mammals and 4% of birds were impacted.

“Many experts have got these climate assessments wrong – in some cases, massively so,” said Dr James Watson of the University of Queensland, who co-authored the paper with scientists in the UK, Italy and the US.

“Published in the Nature Climate Change journal, the analysis of 130 studies reported between 1990 and 2015 painted a grim picture of the impact of the changing climate on birds and mammals already under threat.” –Elle Hunt (More:  Act now before entire species are lost to global warming, say scientists | Environment | The Guardian.)

Yearly Coral Bleaching Will Not End

GR:  Again, let me say: climate change is happening now, and it will get worse.

“Despite La Nina, Ocean surfaces have not cooled enough to end the worst global coral bleaching event on record. What this means is that many reefs, including the Great Barrier Reef, are again under a rising risk of bleaching and mortality for the coming months. This is unheard of. Never before has a mass coral bleaching event lasted for so long or extended through the period of natural variability related ocean surface cooling called La Nina. Perhaps more ominously, the global coral bleaching and die off that began in 2014 may now be a practically permanent ocean feature of the presently destabilized world climate system.

“Cool La Nina is Over. According to NOAA, the periodic cooling of ocean surfaces in the Pacific called La Nina is now over. And since La Nina brings with it a variable related low point of broader Earth surface temperatures, after a few months lag, we can expect the globe to start to warm up again.

The above map shows sea surface temperature anomalies in the Pacific Ocean on February 9 of 2017. Presently SSTs over the entire Pacific range from about -1.5 C below average to +5 C above average. And as you can see, the Ocean is considerably warmer than normal, despite La Nina. Over the next 1-2 years, this is likely the coolest the Pacific will get. In just one decade’s time, under human-forced warming, it will take a very strong La Nina and a strongly negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation to produce similar sea surface temperatures. Image source: Earth Nullschool.

“Problem is, the Earth is still ridiculously warm, despite La Nina. Temperatures, driven inexorably higher by fossil fuel burning, have probably bottomed out at about 1 degrees Celsius hotter than 1880s averages during December, January and February of 2016-2017.

“What this means is that the likely range for annual global temperatures over the next 5 years will be about 1 to 1.3 C above 1880s averages. These readings are so high (the warmest in 115,000 years) and have risen so much, in such a geologically short span of time, that many of the world’s more sensitive species are now being pushed out of their habitats and are undergoing considerable heat-related mortality events.

According to NOAA:

Multiple coral reef regions are already experiencing Alert Level 1 bleaching stress (associated with significant coral bleaching). Alert Level 2 bleaching stress (associated with widespread coral bleaching and significant mortality) is expected in the Northern Cook Islands, Southern Cook Islands, the Samoas, Wallis & Futuna, Northern Tonga, Southern Tonga, the Society Archipelago, and the Austral Islands in the next 1-4 weeks. Alert Level 1 bleaching conditions are also expected in the Tuamotu Archipelago in the next 1-4 weeks and in Tuvalu in the next 5-8 weeks.

–Robertscribbler (More: The Permanent Global Coral Bleaching Event | robertscribbler.)

Study says road threat to carnivores is underestimated globally

GR: Roads are an element of widespread human construction that destroys habitat and causes wildlife decline. As reported here, roads have other serious ecosystem impacts. They cause selective deaths of the regulators of food chains, the top carnivores.

While the Iberian lynx is IUCN-classified as “endangered”, other species threatened by roads are not. For example, two species in Japan: According to the projection, the Japanese badger (Meles anakuma) and the Japanese marten (Martes melampus) will have died out in nine and 17 years, respectively, because of the threat from roads.

“The threat of roads to carnivore species around the world has been seriously underestimated, according to a new study that looked at the issue on a global scale.

“After looking at 232 carnivore species around the world (out of a total of about. 270 existing species) and assessing how severely these are affected by roads cut through their habitat, the researchers concluded that some rare species are even at risk in areas with low road densities. The study, published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography, calculated natural mortality rates, reproduction and carnivore movement patterns, determining the maximum density of roads that a species can cope with.

“The study also tried to pinpoint the minimum area of unbroken habitat that a species needs to maintain an enduring healthy population. Finally, they compared these numbers with road network data.

“Among the 5 percent of carnivores (17 species) that are most affected by roads, nine are currently categorized as species of “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which means that they are regarded as not endangered.

“Our results show the necessity of updating the protection status of these species, whose threat from roads has previously been underestimated,” said Henrique Pereira, with the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research, the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and the Portugal Infrastructures Biodiversity Chair/Research Center in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources (CIBIO-InBIO). –Summit County Citizens Voice (More:  Study says road threat to carnivores is underestimated globally – Summit County Citizens Voice.)