* Mountain forests are migrating upslope as predicted, except faster.
The rapid upward movement of [hardwood forests] indicates little inertia to climatically induced range shifts in montane forests; the upslope shift may have been accelerated by high turnover in canopy trees that provided opportunities for ingrowth of lower elevation species. Our results indicate that high-elevation forests may be jeopardized by climate change sooner than anticipated.
* Invasive species are throwing a party in a warmer Yellowstone.
[W]hile walking across the Lamar last fall, Robert L. Crabtree, chief scientist with the Yellowstone Ecological Research Center in Bozeman, Mont., pointed out a cascade of ecological changes under way. The number of grizzly bears and gophers in the valley has increased, Dr. Crabtree said, an increase supported by the spread of an invasive plant from the Mediterranean that a warming climate benefits.
“It’s the early stages of a new ecosystem,” he said, “one that hasn’t been seen here before.”
The plant, Canada thistle, provides food for grizzlies in more than one way but may also be squeezing out native plants that cannot compete.
* “The thickest, oldest and toughest sea ice around the North Pole is melting, a bad sign for the future of the Arctic ice cap, NASA satellite data showed on Tuesday.”
* Under the north Pacific, a continent-wide of deep water has not breathed air since it sank in the cold, salty zone between Greenland and Canada. This water, part of a global conveyor system called thermohaline circulation, migrates across the sea floor south along the length of the Atlantic, then around Antarctica and north again under the Pacific until it finally rises and breathes again south and west of Alaska. The journey takes 1,000 years, and everywhere small animals in the cold black water thrive on the organic snow that filters down from the sunlit layers above. In the pitch dark everything respires, nothing photosynthesizes, so that by journey’s end deep conveyor water has become nutrient-rich but almost totally anoxic. Thus when offshore winds pull Pacific deep water towards the surface off the coast of Washington and Oregon, small plants in the oxygen-rich surface layers grow like mad but nearly everything in the middle depths will suffocate and die. This is not a warming phenomenon per se; basic thermodynamics predicts that warmer surface water should prevent deep water from mixing with the surface rather than encourage it. In fact, that is also happening right now. Climate warming is thus causing two kinds of ocean dead zones – in the open ocean where fertile deep water has a harder time reaching the surface, and along certain coasts where changing wind circulation, while having the opposite effect, is equally deadly.
But hey, I hear that Al Gore is a big fat jerk. So it evens out.