Quantcast
EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Mount Rushmore National Memorial has been forced to close because of the Keystone Fire and 244 Fire. Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd / Getty Images

Three wildfires raging in South Dakota have shuttered Mount Rushmore and forced hundreds to flee their homes.

Read More Show Less
Madeleine_Steinbach / iStock / Getty Images

Krill oil has gained a lot of popularity recently as a superior alternative to fish oil. Basically, the claim goes, anything fish oil can do, krill oil does better. Read on to learn what makes krill oil supplements better than fish oil supplements, why you should consider these vitamin supplements, and which brands we recommend.

Read More Show Less
Renewable energy projects boomed in 2020, including solar, wind and hydropower. zhihao / Getty Images

By Kenny Stancil

Despite the difficulties associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, the world added a record amount of new renewable energy capacity in 2020, according to data released Monday by the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Read More Show Less
Trending
SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

Kids are the ones that will be inheriting the world from us. Getting them invested early in protecting the environment will ensure that their curiosity and interest will live on once they become adults.

Figuring out how to introduce the concept of renewable energy to kids can be tricky. The more significant challenge comes down to getting kids interested and excited versus putting them on the receiving end of another lecture.

It will take a bit of planning and creativity, but there are ways to get children interested in renewable energy even at a young age.

Read More Show Less
Homes and roads in Dallas, Texas covered in snow. The 2021 winter storm dropped temperatures as low as zero degrees. Isaac Murray / Moment / Getty Images

An independent market monitor says ERCOT, the Texas grid operator, left wholesale electricity prices at the legal maximum for two days longer than necessary, and overcharged power companies $16 billion in the process during the winter storm that caused massive grid and gas system failures and left more than 4 million Texans without electricity.

Read More Show Less
A woman cycles along a street during a sandstorm in Beijing, China, on March 15, 2021. Noel Celis / AFP / Getty Images

Beijing skies turned yellow Monday as air pollution reached hazardous levels after the worst sandstorm in a decade coincided with an industrial boom following last year's COVID lockdown.

Read More Show Less
Some conservatives are blaming wind turbines for Texas' power grid failure following a severe winter storm. Orjan F. Ellingvag / Corbis / Getty Images

While Texans suffer from freezing temperatures and extensive power outages, frozen wind turbines are being used as a ploy to spread skepticism on the reliability of renewable energy.

Read More Show Less
Trending
EON's biofuel power station in Lockerbie Scotland with timber supplies. Ashley Cooper / Construction Photography / Avalon / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

A group of more than 500 international scientists on Thursday urged world leaders to end policies that prop up the burning of trees for energy because it poses "a double climate problem" that threatens forests' biodiversity and efforts to stem the planet's ecological emergency.

Read More Show Less
Shelter-in-place orders in the San Francisco Bay area in March 2020 effectively simulated a future with fewer gas-powered cars. Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images

Many people expect the future of transportation to be electric, and that drivers will charge their cars with solar and wind power. Recently, scientists got a window into that future and saw what it could mean for the climate and people's health.

Read More Show Less
Trending
Pike Electric service trucks line up after a snow storm on February 16 in Fort Worth, Texas. Ron Jenkins /Getty Images

By John Rogers

The Polar Vortex hitting much of the US has wreaked havoc not just on roadways and airports, but also on our electricity systems, as plenty are experiencing first-hand right now. Households, institutions, and communities across the region — and friends and family members — have been hit by power outages, and all that comes with them.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Mark McCord

  • An academic paper suggests key tipping points can significantly reduce carbon emissions, which would help to slow global warming.
  • Government policies are making coal uneconomical.
  • Electric vehicle pricing structures have helped reduce the number of petrol and diesel cars on the world's roads.

There may be light at the end of the tunnel in the battle to reduce carbon emissions.

Read More Show Less
Cottongrass blows in the wind at the edge of Etivlik Lake, Alaska. Western Arctic National Parklands / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Tara Lohan

Warming temperatures on land and in the water are already forcing many species to seek out more hospitable environments. Atlantic mackerel are swimming farther north; mountain-dwelling pikas are moving upslope; some migratory birds are altering the timing of their flights.

Numerous studies have tracked these shifting ranges, looked at the importance of wildlife corridors to protect these migrations, and identified climate refugia where some species may find a safer climatic haven.

"There's a huge amount of scientific literature about where species will have to move as the climate warms," says U.C. Berkeley biogeographer Matthew Kling. "But there hasn't been much work in terms of actually thinking about how they're going to get there — at least not when it comes to wind-dispersed plants."

Kling and David Ackerly, professor and dean of the College of Natural Resources at U.C. Berkeley, have taken a stab at filling this knowledge gap. Their recent study, published in Nature Climate Change, looks at the vulnerability of wind-dispersed species to climate change.

It's an important field of research, because while a fish can more easily swim toward colder waters, a tree may find its wind-blown seeds landing in places and conditions where they're not adapted to grow.

Kling is careful to point out that the researchers weren't asking how climate change was going to change wind; other research suggests there likely won't be big shifts in global wind patterns.

Instead the study involved exploring those wind patterns — including direction, speed and variability — across the globe. The wind data was then integrated with data on climate variation to build models trying to predict vulnerability patterns showing where wind may either help or hinder biodiversity from responding to climate change.

One of the study's findings was that wind-dispersed or wind-pollinated trees in the tropics and on the windward sides of mountain ranges are more likely to be vulnerable, since the wind isn't likely to move those dispersers in the right direction for a climate-friendly environment.

The researchers also looked specifically at lodgepole pines, a species that's both wind-dispersed and wind-pollinated.

They found that populations of lodgepole pines that already grow along the warmer and drier edges of the species' current range could very well be under threat due to rising temperatures and related climate alterations.

"As temperature increases, we need to think about how the genes that are evolved to tolerate drought and heat are going to get to the portions of the species' range that are going to be getting drier and hotter," says Kling. "So that's what we were able to take a stab at predicting and estimating with these wind models — which populations are mostly likely to receive those beneficial genes in the future."

That's important, he says, because wind-dispersed species like pines, willows and poplars are often keystone species whole ecosystems depend upon — especially in temperate and boreal forests.

And there are even more plants that rely on pollen dispersal by wind.

"That's going to be important for moving genes from the warmer parts of a species' range to the cooler parts of the species' range," he says. "This is not just about species' ranges shifting, but also genetic changes within species."

Kling says this line of research is just beginning, and much more needs to be done to test these models in the field. But there could be important conservation-related benefits to that work.

"All these species and genes need to migrate long distances and we can be thinking more about habitat connectivity and the vulnerability of these systems," he says.

The more we learn, the more we may be able to do to help species adapt.

"The idea is that there will be some landscapes where the wind is likely to help these systems naturally adapt to climate change without much intervention, and other places where land managers might really need to intervene," he says. "That could involve using assisted migration or assisted gene flow to actually get in there, moving seeds or planting trees to help them keep up with rapid climate change."


Tara Lohan is deputy editor of The Revelator and has worked for more than a decade as a digital editor and environmental journalist focused on the intersections of energy, water and climate. Her work has been published by The Nation, American Prospect, High Country News, Grist, Pacific Standard and others. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis. http://twitter.com/TaraLohan

Reposted with permission from The Revelator.

EcoWatch is a community of experts publishing quality, science-based content on environmental issues, causes, and solutions for a healthier planet and life.
A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Mount Rushmore National Memorial has been forced to close because of the Keystone Fire and 244 Fire. Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd / Getty Images

Three wildfires raging in South Dakota have shuttered Mount Rushmore and forced hundreds to flee their homes.

Read More Show Less
Madeleine_Steinbach / iStock / Getty Images

Krill oil has gained a lot of popularity recently as a superior alternative to fish oil. Basically, the claim goes, anything fish oil can do, krill oil does better. Read on to learn what makes krill oil supplements better than fish oil supplements, why you should consider these vitamin supplements, and which brands we recommend.

Read More Show Less
Renewable energy projects boomed in 2020, including solar, wind and hydropower. zhihao / Getty Images

By Kenny Stancil

Despite the difficulties associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, the world added a record amount of new renewable energy capacity in 2020, according to data released Monday by the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Read More Show Less
Trending
SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

Kids are the ones that will be inheriting the world from us. Getting them invested early in protecting the environment will ensure that their curiosity and interest will live on once they become adults.

Figuring out how to introduce the concept of renewable energy to kids can be tricky. The more significant challenge comes down to getting kids interested and excited versus putting them on the receiving end of another lecture.

It will take a bit of planning and creativity, but there are ways to get children interested in renewable energy even at a young age.

Read More Show Less
Homes and roads in Dallas, Texas covered in snow. The 2021 winter storm dropped temperatures as low as zero degrees. Isaac Murray / Moment / Getty Images

An independent market monitor says ERCOT, the Texas grid operator, left wholesale electricity prices at the legal maximum for two days longer than necessary, and overcharged power companies $16 billion in the process during the winter storm that caused massive grid and gas system failures and left more than 4 million Texans without electricity.

Read More Show Less
A woman cycles along a street during a sandstorm in Beijing, China, on March 15, 2021. Noel Celis / AFP / Getty Images

Beijing skies turned yellow Monday as air pollution reached hazardous levels after the worst sandstorm in a decade coincided with an industrial boom following last year's COVID lockdown.

Read More Show Less
Some conservatives are blaming wind turbines for Texas' power grid failure following a severe winter storm. Orjan F. Ellingvag / Corbis / Getty Images

While Texans suffer from freezing temperatures and extensive power outages, frozen wind turbines are being used as a ploy to spread skepticism on the reliability of renewable energy.