Posts Tagged 'global warming'

A Blue View: Climate Change and the Rise of Mega Storms

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

December 20: “Global Weirding”

Listen to John discuss how climate change has led to the rise of mega storms

Until recently, scientists and meteorologists have been hesitant to make a direct connection between climate change and rapidly changing weather patterns.

Coined “global weirding,” distinct trends and records for nearly every type of extreme weather are occurring: high temperatures get higher, rainfalls set new records, droughts get deeper, wildfires burn more acres. But with the increasing frequency of these events, and particularly with the devastation brought to the East Coast by Hurricane Sandy, climate change is becoming far less taboo in discussions about the causes of these mega storms.

“Global weirding” by the numbers …

  • Sea levels are expected to rise by as much as 3 feet by the year 2100.
  • The global population is expected to grow from 6.7 billion to 9.2 billion people between now and 2050, demand for renewable energy and clean water will continue to soar.
  • The average global temperature could rise between 2°F and 11°F by the end of the century.

Want to learn more about the basics of climate change? Check out this great video!

Thoughtful Thursdays: Climate Change is Killing our Coral Reefs

A Majority of Coral Reefs Will Be Damaged By 2030 Due to Rising Greenhouse Gases

The negative impacts of climate change have been widely reported. Temparatures continue to steadily rise, weather patterns are increasingly erratic and greenhouse gas emissions are causing alarming rates of CO2 to linger in our atmospheres. The ecosystem in the most immediate danger of total degradation from this changes is the ocean.

Orange mushroom and other various corals

Specifically, climate change impacts are wreaking havoc on our coral reef ecosystems. As temperatures rise, mass bleaching and infectious disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent and impossible to contain. The CO2 that lingers in the air above ground is also being absorbed into the ocean, altering the sea water chemistry in a process called ocean acidification.

“Think about putting your blue jeans in the laundry and putting in too much bleach. Well, they come out white. That’s what happens to these corals. All these beautiful colors of this coral that you’re looking at … now what you would see is a field of white,” said Brent Whitaker, National Aquarium Director of Biological Programs .

A vibrant sun polyp coral

The bleaching of coral reefs is usually brought on by unusually warm waters and stress. Shallow-water reefs, like those along our Atlantic coast and in the Caribbean, have been particularly harmed by prolonged periods of warmth – an estimated 16 percent of those reefs have been killed worldwide.

Queen Angel fish in our Atlantic Coral Reef exhibit

After closely montioring the effects these changes are having on ocean life, scientists have determined the rate at which the damage is happening. At least 70 percent of coral reefs are projected to suffer from degradation by 2030 without a dramatic change to carbon emissions, according to a Nature Climate Change study.

There is so much that we can do to protect our blue planet. To learn more about the National Aquarium’s efforts to preserve our coral reef ecosystems and how you can get involved, click here.

Jellies, jellies everywhere

If you have been to the beach or out on a boat recently you have probably encountered a jelly or two, perhaps even more. This is the time of year that jellies are most prevalent in the mid-atlantic region. So why do we see so many of them during the summer??

Jellies are found in most bodies of water, including the Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay, and even in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. In fact, some Aquarium employees saw a bunch of comb jellies in the harbor earlier this morning.  In this region, most jellies are seasonal. The greatest variety of jellies are found in the lower bay, in the coastal bays and, offshore in the Atlantic Ocean were salinities are higher. Some of the more common species include:jelly on beach small

  • Moon Jellies, (pictured to the right) found in the Lower Bay and Atlantic Ocean. In the summer months the remains of moon jellies can often be found washed up on the beaches, but they rarely sting people.
  • Atlantic Sea Nettles, found in the middle and lower bay and seen in late spring, summer and early fall and the most likely to sting you. They sting thousands of beach-goers each season!
  • Comb Jellies, found throughout the bay and ocean year-round but most commonly seen in the warmer months. Comb jellies do not have the ability to sting.
  • Lion’s Mane Jellies, found in the bay from late November through May, also known as the winter jelly and also deliver a powerful sting.

Continue reading ‘Jellies, jellies everywhere’

Baltimore without the orioles?

Baltimore orioles could go extinct in Maryland. Scientists have recorded a major shift in the ranges of many bird species that they attribute to global warming. Recent studies suggest that by the year 2100, there will no longer be oriole birds in Maryland.

Increases in temperature affect when and how birds perform certain behaviors. Many bird species use changes in weather as cues to migrate or nest; so as our region steadily gets warmer, birds begin to fly north or mate earlier in the year than they used to. Depending on the adaptability of the species, these behaviors may fall out of sync with the availability of food sources, which could lead to drastic population declines.

Global warming is also partly responsible for the rise in our sea level because of melting glaciers and polar ice caps. In the Chesapeake Bay area alone, the water level could rise 19 inches over the next 90 years, flooding small islands, threatening essential coastal habitat, and putting migratory waterfowl (like ducks) and shorebirds (like herons) at risk.

The good news is that there are things we can all do to slow down the effects of global warming and protect our natural resources. Visit aqua.org to learn how, or join us at the Aquarium on May 10, 2008 to help celebrate International Migratory Bird Day.

 


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