Seals Are Helping Scientists Map the Future of Antarctic Krill
To find out, researchers tracked the movements of krill-eating crabeater seals in the western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) to build a model of the future distribution of krill, an important food source for Antarctic animals like penguins and whales. The results, published in Nature Climate Change Monday, showed that krill populations would shrink, shift offshore from northern coastal waters and move towards the south of the WAP, with major implications for the animals that feed on them.
"It will be challenging for a lot of species," first author Luis Huckstadt of the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) at UC Santa Cruz said in a university press release. "Things are changing so fast in Antarctica, the changes we're seeing in our model might be coming sooner than we expected."
Researchers are tracking crabeater seals to build a habitat model that projects how climate change is impacting the… https://t.co/XfWGeVHa9q— UC Santa Cruz Science (@UC Santa Cruz Science)1588003202.0
The reason the change in krill location is such a big deal is that it will force animals to travel further from shore for food.
"The shift in krill habitat away from coastal waters in the north has big implications for species like penguins and fur seals, which can't make long foraging trips because they have to come back to land to feed their offspring," Huckstadt said.
In addition, the decline in krill near the northern coast is projected to occur mostly during summer, when animals like humpback and minke whales migrate south in search of food. The southern shift of the krill could force them to travel even further in pursuit.
The researchers were able to use crabeater seal movements to make these predictions because the seals feed "almost exclusively" on krill, the study explained. They also travel near the surface of the water and only dive when they locate krill, which means by tagging the seals it is easy to get a picture of where krill are located, according to the press release. Using data from tracked seals, the researchers were able to build a model of krill distribution in the WAP and then see what happened to the model under changing conditions driven by the climate crisis. The scientists used data from 42 tracked seals collected in 2001, 2002 and 2007, Earther reported.
It is unclear how the predicted changes would impact crabeater seals themselves. The seals live in Antarctica year-round and don't live in colonies, so it is easier for them to travel further for prey, the press release said. There is also a chance they may find new food sources, according to Earther, but scientists don't know if they could do so fast enough.
The WAP is rapidly changing. In February, it recorded Antarctica's highest ever temperature. Its sea ice is shrinking and multiple ice shelves have collapsed, Earther pointed out.
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A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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