Monday, March 16, 2009

Global warming, hurricanes alter birdwatching season

Beaumont Enterprise (Texas): Like the canary to the coal miner, the purple finch might be a warning sign of climate changes to come in Southeast Texas. Once a common winter sight, spotting a purple finch now is a rarity, according to John Whittle with the Golden Triangle Audubon Society. Whittle said in the 25 years he has lived in Southeast Texas, he has noticed considerable migratory shifts amongst bird species.

Throughout the years, the purple finch followed their preferred climate north and birds from other areas, like the white-winged dove and the brightly colored yellow warbler, started making regular appearances here, he said. Other birds that usually stay further south in Texas - like great kiskadees and kingfishers - are now making the upper Gulf Coast their home because of temperature changes.

…The Audubon Society, comprised of birdwatchers and bird enthusiasts, is currently reviewing data collected in the 40 winters from 1966 to 2005, averaging bird sighting fluctuations due to temperature and other conditions in order to track pattern variations. Preliminary reports blame climate changes - most likely caused by global warming - as the reason for the shift. Whittle said because birds travel great distances each year, it's easy for them to evolve with changing habitats - making birds great indicators for long-term weather trends to come.

...Three hurricanes in four years have re-shaped the Southeast Texas landscape, with heavy winds and raging storm surge. The alteration has not gone unnoticed by birds.

September 2008's Hurricane Ike left little food for birds at nearby marshes - stripping almost 1,200 acres of refuge vegetation and replacing it with storm surge, according to Patrick Walther, wildlife biologist at the Anahuac and McFaddin National Wildlife refuges. "It's just like someone ripping all the sod out of your yard." Walther said. "Now, it's just open water."…

A purple finch shot by Matthew Hunt, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License

1 comment:

Tarun Kumar said...

Combating climate change may not be a question of who will carry the burden but could instead be a rush for the benefits, according to new economic modeling presented at “Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges & Decisions” hosted by the University of Copenhagen.

Contrary to current cost models for lowering greenhouse gases emissions and fighting climate change, a group of researchers from the University of Cambridge conclude that even very stringent reductions of can create a macroeconomic benefit, if governments go about it the right way.

“Where many current calculations get it wrong is in the assumption that more stringent measures will necessarily raise the overall cost, especially when there is substantial unemployment and underuse of capacity as there is today”, explains Terry Barker, Director of Cambridge Centre for Climate Change Mitigation Research (4CMR), Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge and a member of the Scientific Steering Committee of the Congress.