I have answered this question more times than I can count since September. My colleagues, friends, and family members have been curious as to why someone who studies plants, can suddenly switch to studying fish for a semester.
Coral reefs often go unnoticed because they’re underwater; but even though we don’t regularly pay much attention to them, they’re an extremely important part of our everyday lives. Coral reefs have been estimated to provide support for over a quarter of all marine species and this extreme biodiversity makes them a frequent source of discovery for new medicines that can help fight cancer and other diseases. They also protect our coastlines from storm surges, and provide millions of individuals with a source food and income.
Our infrastructure is designed for the climate in which it was developed; engineering standards and logistical procedures are based on historical weather patterns, and as environmental conditions change, some of these systems may need to be re-configured.
Have you ever wondered how we know what coastal sea rise is going to look like at the end of the century? Climate change and sea level rise are strongly connected and pose a threat especially for coastal cities and ecosystems, for example, including in the Florida Keys. The inhabitants of Key West are losing ground quickly and remote sensing can help us visualize what the future holds as the seas rise. Urban planners, policymakers and homeowners can then use that information to make more informed decisions about how to respond and prepare for rising seas.
Wildlife habitats and wildlife migration are big issues when it comes to effects of climate change. While the planet continues to warm - 2014 was the warmest year on record according to NOAA – warm seasons become longer and cold seasons become shorter in many parts of the US. This allows some species to expand their geographic ranges while other species may experience unsuitable climatic conditions or have to cope with new predators and competitors for food.
Global temperature increases have been stalled since 2000. Meanwhile, the extreme summer droughts of 2011 and 2012 left many US farmers in ruins. Most climate models failed to project these phenomena correctly. US researchers now took a new attempt on finding a solution.
A chat about ice cores and oil business
A couple of evenings ago I had an interesting discussion with a friend of my roommate. Let’s call him Pete. Pete, the climate sceptic.
Pete and I had never met before, so we started with the usual introduction, and continued with the usual “Oh, where are you from?” after people notice my foreign accent. This is usually followed by “How did you end up in Oklahoma?” and that is sometimes preceded by “And what do you do here?” This time though, we didn’t make it to the How-I-got-here part.