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1/07/2007

Global Climate Change poses Nature and Wildlife Concerns

Climate Change Observations

January, 2007
CANADA - The balmy weather has tricked many members of the wildlife community into altering their usual migration schedules, sleeping habits and feeding and breeding patterns. Wildlife biologists, ornithologists and zoologists working in the Montreal area are concerned the survival of some of these animals could be threatened in coming months. Some animal anarchy reported in the area includes: Canada geese, which usually migrate south, are staying put. Raccoons and skunks are forgoing their short but important hibernation period and burning up stored fat that they will need in the event of a deep freeze. Eastern grey squirrels, Montreal's most common variety, are feeding instead of nesting - and getting fatter. At the same time, the fox squirrel, a bigger, reddish-brown animal with a more southerly range, has been moving into this region. Opossums, marsupials usually associated with the U.S. South, are invading southern Quebec. "There's a pile of stuff going on." Turkey vultures, a bald-headed species usually seen farther south, are now thriving in Quebec. Two nights ago, they had to euthanize a great blue heron at a shelter. The grown adult male couldn't stand because its toes had been frostbitten. The heron usually migrates to sunnier climes for winter. "It's called an ecological trap" - warm weather that causes birds to stay and perish. There have been many alarming reports about the effects of global warming, like polar bears falling through melting ice. But wildlife experts say there are also more subtle, less dramatic changes afoot much closer to home.
U.S. - Warm weather jolts Northeasterners during an already UNUSUAL winter - The balmy winter has sap running, the buds on the trees are sprouting, and dogs are shedding their winter coats. The National Weather Service reported RECORD or near-record TEMPERATURES across the region Saturday after a long warm spell. Albany International Airport hit 71 degrees. In New Jersey, ALL-TIME RECORDS set in 1950 were broken in Newark, Trenton and Atlantic City.

NEW YORK -USA- Around the region, flora and fauna both exotic and native have begin to stir a wee bit on the early side, fooled by warmer temperatures into believing that spring is here. Daffodils are in full bloom at Islip Town Hall. Park rangers are bracing for a bumper crop of ticks at the Fire Island National Seashore. And at Brookhaven National Laboratory, biologists saw eastern tiger salamander eggs the first week in December - the EARLIEST YET RECORDED. The white-tailed bucks are dropping their antlers a full two to three weeks earlier than normal. Many of the black ducks and other waterfowl that migrate south to Long Island for the winter are no-shows. There are reported sightings of insects flying around the park - in January, no less.

TENNESSEE -USA- A warm December has flowers popping up and some trees starting to bloom. The average December temperature at Nashville International Airport was 46.4 degrees — about 6 degrees warmer than normal. The end of the month was even warmer. Between Dec. 10 and Christmas Day, the temperature was 13 degrees warmer than normal. The Dec. 17 high of 72 degrees was a RECORD for that date in Nashville, the warmest Dec. 17 since the weather service started recording temperatures here 130 years ago. Much of the Midwest and the East Coast are going through a remarkably warm winter, with temperatures running 10 and 20 degrees higher than normal in many places. Cherry and apricot trees are leafless but already flowering, blooming about six weeks ahead of schedule. "It's a freak of nature." It's also a cause of concern, because a cold snap could damage those buds.
BRITAIN - Newborn lambs, flowering rhododendrons, and rare peacock butterflies are all putting in an unseasonal appearance on the British landscape. Mild temperatures have nullified the usual effects of the winter months. Rhododendrons and snowdrops are blooming in Plymouth, where temperatures are an above-average 2.6C (36.7F). It has been ’an UNUSUAL year’. "We have had the WARMEST EXTENDED SUMMER ON RECORD, with May and September temperatures the HIGHEST EVER. The bigger issue is that things get out of synchronicity. There’s a synchronism in the way that nature works.” "The temperature for December is running at around three degrees above the long term average which is an awful lot.”

AUSTRALIA - Extreme weather continues to buffet Australia in 2007 with drought forcing the lowering of suburban water pressures in Queensland and long established patterns giving way to climate chaos. In southeast Queensland the unrelenting drought will force 80 suburbs in Brisbane to have their water pressure cut by July under a controversial council plan to save water. The Brisbane City Council has warned residents on hillsides, in apartment buildings and in renovated homes with additional plumbing they may not have enough pressure to turn on taps under the latest bid to conserve water. Suburbs throughout Brisbane's north, bayside areas and western and eastern pockets will follow by mid-winter. Meanwhile there was more confirmation that talking of weather following patterns might be thing of the past with the news that a famously hot town set a new mark for its coldest year. As the rest of Australia sweltered through its 11th-warmest year on record, maximum temperatures in the northwest West Australian town of Marble Bar came in almost 3C below average last year. In its world-beating heatwave from October 31, 1923, to April 7, 1924, the maximum temperature never dropped below 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8C) That RECORD still stands. But last year, Marble Bar recorded an average maximum of 32.5C, well below its long-term annual norm of 35.3C. Clouds, rain and cyclones in Marble Bar's hottest months had kept a lid on temperatures.
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