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Volume 18: January 2015
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Last 15 Postings

Real-World Lizards Are Evolving Right Before Our Very Eyes (30 January 2015)
Transformative processes occur much faster than has long been thought possible. This new work continues exploration of "the ongoing relevance of evolutionary biology to contemporary environmental issues," such as from potential global warming. Nature likely has the ability to successfully deal with whatever challenges are thrust upon it...

Growth Response to Temperature (Forests) -- Summary (29 January 2015)
If air temperatures once again begin to rise after their ascendency hiatus of the past eighteen years, what will be the consequences for Earth's trees. Will they be forced to shift their current ranges? Will the warming be too fast and furious for some of them to do so? And will many of them therefore face extinction? Numerous studies that have broached these questions provide some encouraging answers...

Plant Growth Database (29 January 2015)
Our latest result of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature is for Soybean (Ayub et al., 2014)...

The Past and Future of Tornado Occurrences in the United States (28 January 2015)
Climate model simulations suggest that the frequency of environments supportive of tornadoes will increase in a warming climate, but observations suggest otherwise...

Helping Feed the Future World: Earthworms in CO2-Enriched Air (28 January 2015)
A recently-completed meta-analysis of the pertinent scientific literature reveals that the presence of earthworms can significantly enhance crop yields, especially in low-pH "acidified" soils...

The World's Longest Ecosystem CO2 Enrichment Study (27 January 2015)
Back in 1985, a Chesapeake Bay (USA) wetland - sustaining both pure and mixed stands of the C4 grass Spartina patens and the C3 sedge Scirpus olneyi - was selected for an open-top chamber study of the effects of full-day (24-hour) atmospheric CO2 enrichment to 340 ppm above the then-ambient concentration of the same value. And now, in a paper published 28 years later in Global Change Biology, the director of the project summarizes some of the important findings of this unique and unparalleled undertaking. So what has been learned from this longest of all such studies?...

Tropical Ectotherms Avoid Extinction in a Warming Environment (27 January 2015)
Tropical ectotherms "are thought to be especially vulnerable to climate change because they are adapted to relatively stable temperature regimes, such that even small increases in environmental temperature may lead to large decreases in physiological performance." However, the results of this study show this assumed vulnerability to be just that -- assumed!...

Plant Species Shifting Downslope in Response to Climate Warming (26 January 2015)
In the introduction to their report on climate warming effects on Earth's terrestrial plants, the authors of this study write that "in general, documented and projected distribution shifts are toward the poles or higher elevations." But they say that "focusing solely on upward shifts (toward poles and higher elevations) at the distribution limit misses the fact that many species distributions are either not shifting or are shifting downward." Data they acquired throughout western North America help to explain why this enigmatic phenomenon occurs more often than one might expect...

The Evolution of Human Health Responses to Extreme Heat Events (26 January 2015)
A new study analyzes the phenomenon as it applies to Australia, finding that "both deaths and death rates (per unit of population) fluctuate widely but show an overall decrease with time." This is especially true among the eldery, they report, who are supposed to be the most vunerable to extreme heat...

Dengue Virus Infection of Humans Living in a Warmer World (26 January 2015)
New findings "challenge the prevailing view that a future, warmer climate will lead to larger mosquito populations and a definite increase in dengue transmission" for Cairns, Queensland, which has historically experienced the most dengue virus transmission in all of Australia...

Southern Edge of U.S. Sugar Maple Trees Unmoved by Warming (22 January 2015)
Rising temperature and declining precipitation has had no negative impact on sugar maple populations in recent decades, despite model projections to the contrary. Rather, the observed response has been positive, and largely so, as evidenced by increased sugar maple density, dominance and range expansion. To most rational people, these observations represent benefits. To climate alarmists, they are problematic - observational thorns dismissed in favor of apocalyptic projections - to which they will never acknowledge or admit...

Plant Growth Database (22 January 2015)
Our latest result of plant growth responses to atmospheric CO2 enrichment obtained from experiments described in the peer-reviewed scientific literature is for Soybean (Bunce, 2014)...

The Future of Sugarcane Production in Southern Brazil (21 January 2015)
According to the results of this study, even with a projected huge future impact of climate change on the water balance across Brazil, the potential and actual yields of sugarcane "may increase substantially as a function of the combination of higher air temperatures, higher CO2 concentration and also better management practices in the future scenarios." By 2090, for example they find that "even with a higher water deficit" the sugarcane yield may increase between 50-80%...

Grass Surviving Drought with a Little Help from Its Fungal Friend (21 January 2015)
In doing so, it is also enabled to greatly expand its range of habitability. Without a proper understanding and incorporation of important biotic interactions, projections of species range reductions, such as those anticipated to occur by the IPCC as a result of future climate change, should be reassessed...

Modeling Cloud Processes and Their Effects on Earth's Climate (20 January 2015)
Properly modeling cloud processes is an important aspect of ongoing efforts to predict the future course of Earth's climate. However, several biases and deficiencies remain in the new-and-improved versions of the Community Atmosphere Models that must be addressed before a realistic representation of future climate can be obtained...

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