Improving Blue and Green Infrastructure to Counteract Increasing Urban Temperatures

by Deniz Korman

Urban areas experience higher temperatures compared to rural areas, and it is likely that this will lead to health risks within urban communities due extreme heat in the future. However, we have the power to minimize this effect by improving the infrastructures of our cities. An effective way to lower urban temperatures is increasing vegetation and water surfaces, which also provides the added benefit of increasing urban biodiversity, and improving air quality. While this known to be a valid strategy, the magnitude of the climate impact that such an improvement will have when applied on a city scale is unknown. Žuvela-Aloise et al. (2016) have modeled the potential of improving green and blue infrastructure within Vienna, and identified the ways in which changes should be applied in order to counteract urban warming as effectively as possible.

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The Relationship of Childhood Gastrointestinal Illness, Untreated Groundwater, and Climate Change Precipitation

by Jasmine Kaur

The control of municipal surface water, groundwater, and private wells in the United States varies from place to place. In general, these regulations are minimal and do not mandate federal monitoring of water quality. This has led to reports of 4.3–16.4 million annual cases of gastrointestinal illnesses (GI) caused by pathogens found in public drinking water systems. Amongst the reasons for GI pathogens transported to the drinking water is increased run off from the increased precipitation association with climate change. Continue reading

Schneider and Louisville’s Green Initiative

by Vikramaditya Jhunjhunwala

In the spring of 2011, the mayor of Louisville created a commission dedicated to planting more trees. This commission was to be co-chaired by none other than Katy Schneider, former deputy mayor of Louisville and advocate of environmental issues. Madeline Ostrander (2016) outlines Schneider’s efforts in creating a healthier environment for her city, and reminds the people of urban America of the environmental dangers their concrete worlds face in the absence of greenery.

Ostrander recounts that Schneider’s journey began in early 2012 when Schneider approached Brian Stone, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, to find out the extent of temperature changes in Louisville. Stone proceeded to reveal that Louisville’s temperature had increased by about 1.7 degrees every decade since 1960. Stone also noticed that urban areas were heating more than rural areas. He discovered that this situation was primarily caused by what meteorologists call the urban heat-island effect whereby dark and paved surfaces absorb solar radiation consequently causing the air temperature to rise. Continue reading

How Sedimentation, Nutrient Enrichment, and Overfishing Impact a Coral Reef Ecosystem Immediately Following a Disturbance

by Natalie Ireland

Coral reefs are regularly disturbed by natural phenomena such as bleaching, storms, and outbreaks of predators, such as the corallivorous sea star Ancanthaster planci. Corrallivores are animals that eat coral polyps. Coral reef ecosystems are resilient, and are often able to recover from large-scale disturbances quickly. However, anthropogenic stressors such as overfishing, nutrient enrichment, and sedimentation can prevent coral reefs from recovering. Nutrient enrichment, caused by terrestrial runoff, creates the perfect environment for benthic algae to grow on disturbed and broken coral reefs. Overfishing, working in tandem with nutrient enrichment, causes an overgrowth of algae if there are not enough fish to graze it, and the successive degradation of the reef. Sedimentation is also another side effect of terrestrial runoff. Sedimentation buries corals, which blocks light from reaching them and potentially stops coral recovery. However, sedimentation, when not paired with any other stressor, can also stop the growth of algae by burying surfaces for algae to grow on. Gil et. al. (2016) set out to test the interactive effects that overfishing, sedimentation, and nutrient enrichment have on coral reefs in French Polynesia. They hypothesized that these anthropogenic disturbances, when working interactively, will negatively impact corals, while promoting algal cover. Continue reading

Tourist Behavior Affected by Climate Change

by Bryn Edwards

A study from the 2017 Journal of Sustainable Tourism proposed a psychological explanation for tourist behavior, in particular the effect climate change has on vacation locations. This is a promising development in terms of changing future behavior to further minimize damage that tourism has on native environments and ecosystems. Tourist behavior associated with travel to threatened locations can be attributed to reactance theory, which tells us that people inherently put worth on their freedom, and do not want that freedom taken away. Threatened destinations are alluring because people are more motivated to visit a place if they will not have such freedom in the future. Continue reading

Is Climate Change Burning Up the Fashion Retailing Industry?

by Joshua Dorman

The impacts of climate change are well and truly numerous, even wreaking adverse effects upon an industry that has outlasted everything from drastic shifts in consumer tastes to epic financial downturns: fashion. Dr. Steven J. Hausman, a data scientist and president of Hausman Technology Presentations, recently observed that the climate of 2016—the hottest year on record according to NASA—has had a “direct effect on fashion and apparel retailing.” And indeed it has, with the effects of the phenomenon being felt by the likes of fashion giants Levi Strauss & Co., VF Corp., L’Oreal, and many others.

One particularly salient ramification of climate change on the fashion industry is that shifts in weather patterns have begun to affect consumer browsing patterns. Owners of boutique fashion houses have started noticing that when temperatures reach between ninety and one hundred degrees Fahrenheit, people tend to remain cooped-up inside their air-conditioned homes. The result: a severe decrease in browsing time and, in response, plummeting sales revenue. Continue reading

Arctic Climate Change’s Effect on Caribou Migration

by Kelsey D’Ewart

The freezing and thawing patterns in the Arctic have been increasingly affected as a result of global temperatures increasing, resulting in earlier later freezing and earlier thawing. This is forcing phenology changes in many Arctic species. Particularly, there has been a change in migration patterns in many species due to the lack of frozen bodies of water. This can lead to longer, more strenuous, and more dangerous migrations that can result in higher mortality rates. Leblond et al. (2016) tracked the ice thawing and freezing times for bodies of water in the migration path of caribou Rangifer tarandus Northern Quebec from 2007−2014, allowing them to determine if the change in ice melt was affecting the caribou’s phenology. Their hypothesis was that the caribou would travel extra distance in order to avoid swimming or water that was not completely frozen. They assessed four different parts of the migration: previous data for freezing trends, the caribou’s response to the change in freezing trends, fine-scale caribou behavior and phenology, and possible future movement using climate change projections. Continue reading