Is Climate Change to Blame for the Rise in Shark Attacks?

by Alex McKenna

After the release of Jaws in 1975, people started thinking twice before getting in the water. Decades later, they still remember the stories, newspaper articles, and photographs of swimmers collapsed on the shore, covered in shark bites. But do they have reason to be concerned? Recent trends in climate change suggest that they actually do. Over the past 30 years, the frequency of unprovoked shark attacks has drastically increased, with the majority of bites being recorded in Florida, South Africa, Australia, and the Bahamas. While researchers argue that there are many reasons behind this influx, Dr. Blake Chapman, professor at Bond University in Australia, points to climate change as one of the principle explanations. He believes that rising temperatures, heavy rains, and anomalous weather patterns, all results of climate change, fundamentally alter marine ecosystems and are ultimately to blame for the recent spike in shark attacks. Continue reading

Temperature Extremes Increasing in South Africa

by Tim Storer

Given the constantly fluctuating nature of weather both seasonally and annually, it is often difficult for scientists to show or describe long-term climate changes in a succinct manner. Even if one accepts the hypothesis that humans can have no major effects on global climate change, it is still useful to study climate patterns for predictive purposes. Certain studies have shown how various climate extremes such as rainfall and temperature are expected to increase in future decades, and others have shown overall warming of the planet. In South Africa, there have been strong trends showing heightened extremes of both the lowest and highest temperatures in all stations studied, though the degree of this amplification varied by location (Kruger and Sekele 2013). This has implications for both the wild ecosystems in South Africa and the human populations. Uncharacteristically high or low temperatures can easily catch humans (and other species) off guard, and it is useful to help predict and prepare for these conditions.

Kruger, A. C. and Sekele, S. S., 2013. Trends in extreme temperature indices in South Africa: 1962–2009. Int. J. Climatol. 33, 661–676. http://goo.gl/VFQ82G

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