New global forecasts of marine heatwaves foretell ecological and economic impacts

Climate, big agriculture slashing insect populations ‘by half’

A warming world and intensive agriculture are causing insect populations to plummet by nearly half compared to areas less affected by temperature rises and industrial farming, researchers said Wednesday.

The researchers measured both insect abundance and number of species in areas across the world and compared that to insects in more pristine habitats.

The double whammy of rising temperatures and shrinking, polluted habitats has also provoked a 29 precent drop in species JACK GUEZ AFP/File

The study published in Nature found that the double whammy of global warming and shrinking habitats has not just hit population numbers, but also provoked a 27 percent drop in the diversity of species. “The reductions are greatest in the tropics,” lead author Charlie Outhwaite, a macroecologist at University College London’s Centre for Biodiversity and Environmental Research, told AFP.

But less data from tropical regions, which are richest in biodiversity, means the global decline in insects is likely worse than the study’s headline figures suggest, she said. The calculations may also be too conservative because areas used to benchmark change — while the most pristine on the planet — have already been degraded to some extent by human activity…READ ON

New global forecasts of marine heatwaves foretell ecological and economic impacts

Researchers have developed global forecasts that can provide up to a year’s notice of marine heatwaves, sudden and pronounced increases in ocean temperatures that can dramatically affect ocean ecosystems.

“Understanding the ocean is the first step towards forecasting ecological changes and incorporating that foresight into decision-making.”

Elliott Hazen – research ecologist 

The forecasts described in the journal Nature could help fishing fleets, ocean managers, and coastal communities anticipate the effects of marine heatwaves. One such heatwave, known as “the Blob,” emerged about 2013 in the northeast Pacific Ocean and persisted through 2016. It led to shifting fish stocks, harmful algal blooms, entanglements of endangered humpback whales, and thousands of starving sea lion pups washing up on beaches.

“We have seen marine heatwaves cause sudden and pronounced changes in ocean ecosystems around the world, and forecasts can help us anticipate what may be coming,” said lead author Michael Jacox, a research scientist at NOAA Fisheries’ Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Monterey, California, and NOAA’s Physical Sciences Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado…READ ON

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