Giant Jim Morrison lizard and climate change
June 5th, 2013
04:39 AM ET

Giant Jim Morrison lizard and climate change

By Ben Brumfield, CNN

To get through the long, tedious hours sitting in the fossil archives at the University of California-Berkeley, Jason Head would listen to the hypnotic sounds of The Doors.

So when he happened upon one of the biggest lizards that ever walked on land, he found it fitting to name it after the band's frontman, Jim Morrison - the original Lizard King.

But that's not what makes this find interesting. It's what the existence of the "Bearded King Morrison" tells us about the effects of climate change that's intriguing.


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Filed under: Climate • Discoveries • Global Warming • News • On Earth • Science Seat
Global Warming is epic, long-term study says
A scientist looks at an ice core from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide coring site.
March 8th, 2013
05:29 AM ET

Global Warming is epic, long-term study says

Global warming has propelled Earth's climate from one of its coldest decades since the last ice age to one of its hottest - in just one century.

A heat spike like this has never happened before, at least not in the last 11,300 years, said climatologist Shaun Marcott, who worked on a new study on global temperatures going back that far.

Things are poised to get much worse.

Researchers: World's fish to get smaller as oceans warm
Bottom-dwelling fish such as cod could be affected most as oxygen levels decline in the oceans.
October 3rd, 2012
09:06 AM ET

Researchers: World's fish to get smaller as oceans warm

Be prepared for smaller fish.

That's the warning from researchers at the University of British Columbia, who say that we could see the maximum body weight of fish shrink by as much as 20% by the middle of the century, according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

They blame global warming, which is heating up the world's oceans. Warm water holds less oxygen than cold water.

“A warmer and less-oxygenated ocean, as predicted under climate change, would make it more difficult for bigger fish to get enough oxygen, which means they will stop growing sooner,” Daniel Pauly, lead investigator in the University of British Columbia's Sea Around Us Project and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

The researchers looked at more than 600 species of fish around the world and used computer modeling to determine how the lower availability of oxygen would affect them. More than 75% of the species are expected to see a loss in size.

The models showed the greatest decrease in average size would be in the Indian Ocean, 24%. The Atlantic could see fish sizes fall by 20% and the Pacific by 14%.

Across all oceans, tropical regions are expected to see a decrease in fish size of 20%, the report said.

Among individual species, the biggest reductions in size can be expected in the Pacific, the researchers reported.

Because oxygen levels decrease at depth in the oceans, the size decrease is expected to affect fish that live at lower depths more. Those include popular species for human consumption, including cod, haddock, whiting and halibut.

The researchers also said that populations of bigger species of fish could be expected to migrate toward the poles in search of colder waters with more oxygen.

When coupled with the effects of humans on the oceans, such as overfishing and pollution, the researchers said the world could see a reduction in its protein supply.

“We were surprised to see such a large decrease in fish size,” William Cheung, an assistant professor at the university and the study's lead author, said in a statement.

"The unexpectedly big effect that climate change could have on body size suggests that we may be missing a big piece of the puzzle of understanding climate change effects in the ocean,” Cheung said.

Study: Ocean changes expected to hurt shellfish

Scientists: To save reef, kill starfish

Why we should farm the ocean

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Filed under: Global Warming • News
Greenland ice melt could raise seas less than feared, study says
May 3rd, 2012
05:05 PM ET

Greenland ice melt could raise seas less than feared, study says

(CNN) - Greenland's glaciers are sliding into oceans at a faster pace than previously known, but they may contribute less to an expected rise in global sea level than feared, scientists reported Thursday.

From 2000 to 2010, researchers at the University of Washington and Ohio State University monitored the vast rivers of ice that course across the world's largest island. Their results, published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Science, found that glaciers in northwestern and southeastern Greenland flowing toward the Arctic and Atlantic oceans picked up speed by about 30%, on average.

"Glaciers are continuing to accelerate, which means they are continuing to put more ice into the ocean," said University of Washington at Seattle glaciologist Twila Moon, the paper's lead author. "And as soon as that ice hits the ocean, it's contributing to sea-level rise."

But Moon said her group's data suggests that contribution will be less than existing worst-case scenarios.

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Filed under: Global Warming • On Earth
Satellite documents thinning ice shelf
April 5th, 2012
05:46 PM ET

Satellite documents thinning ice shelf

A European satellite has observed a rapid retreat of one of Antarctica's ice shelves, which is half the size it was 10 years ago, the European Space Agency said Thursday.

The agency's Envisat satellite shows part of the Larsen Ice Shelf, which lies on a peninsula south of Chile, has decreased from 3,463 square kilometers (1,337 square miles) in March 2002 to 1,670 square kilometers (645 square miles) today, a change the European Space Agency blames on warmer temperatures.

"Ice shelves are sensitive to atmospheric warming and to changes in ocean currents and temperatures," Helmut Rott from the University of Innsbruck said in an statement from the space agency. "The northern Antarctic Peninsula has been subject to atmospheric warming of about 2.5 degrees Celsius (36.5 degrees Fahrenheit) over the last 50 years - a much stronger warming trend than on global average, causing retreat and disintegration of ice shelves."


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