Cape Verdean Loggerhead Turtles More Climate Change Resilient than Expected

by Wendy Noreña

Following growing concerns about the potential effects of climate change, scientists have begun to study declining levels of biodiversity in the natural world. Of especially large concern are cheloniid reptiles, or turtles, which are ectothermic organisms that rely heavily on atmospheric temperatures and regular seasons to regulate internal temperatures, metabolic rates, and, for turtles, male-to-female sex ratios during egg incubation. Marine turtles are of particular interest to conservation work as there are only seven species, there already exists a large amount of research about them, and, most importantly, they are even more susceptible to climate change than other turtle species because of their beach-dependent nesting habits. Though much has been done to form quantitative analyses of marine turtles’ current state in the face of recent climate fluctuations, Perez et. al. seek to create a qualitative ranking system with which to gauge the resilience, or potential to withstand environmental change, of a reptile now and in the future. Continue reading

Reef State and Resilience in a Climatically Changing Environment

by Kimberly Coombs

Climate change has been impacting coral reefs all over the world, and many models have been created to predict how coral reefs are going to respond to global climate change, in particular, global warming. It has been reported that the effects of greenhouse gas emissions have reduced coral reefs resilience, causing them to be more susceptible to stressors in their environment. As a result, coral reef state, the percent of coral cover, has begun to be greatly lessened, with a noticeable shift from coral dominated environments to macroalgae environments. Continue reading

Potential Coral Reef Structure Changes from Climate Change

by Kimberly Coombs

Coral reefs vary in structural architecture, meaning that the structure can be very complex or relatively simple. The more structurally complex a coral reef is, the more species diversity may be supported. The reef building corals that create the complex coral reef structures need to have a sustainable carbonate budget in order to continue the processes of accretion and erosion to build the coral reefs. These corals have been experiencing reductions in their carbonate budget; as a result, they have declined around the world. Continue reading

Climate Change Effects on Tropical Forests Constrained by CO2 Variability

by Makari Krause

With climate change proceeding full-bore, questions are continuously raised about how the carbon cycle will react and whether climate change will be a negative or positive feedback loop. As atmospheric CO­2 concentrations increase, most scientists agree that the rate of photosynthesis will increase leading to an increase in stored carbon. This same increase in atmospheric CO­2, however, will increase soil respiration, releasing additional CO­2 into the atmosphere. The balance between these two effects is crucial in determining what the net effect of increasing atmospheric CO­2 will be on the carbon cycle. Cox et al. (2013) use a number of different models to identify a linear relationship between the sensitivity of tropical land carbon storage to warming and the sensitivity of the annual growth rate of atmospheric CO­2 to tropical temperature anomalies. The study focuses on land between latitudes 30˚ north and 30˚ south; their established linear relationship estimates that in this area warming will release 53±17 gigatonnes of carbon per Kelvin. While this sounds like a staggering amount, it is much lower than current estimates and suggests that tropical forests will not experience as much warming-induced dieback as was previously thought. Continue reading