Monday, 21 October, 2019

Study Finds Climate Change Is Not for the Birds

The sights and sounds of the common loon could disappear from the US scientists warn Nearly two-thirds of North American bird species under threat due to climate change: report
Patty Aguilar | 12 October, 2019, 20:04

Through 140 million observations, recorded by birder watchers and scientists, they determined where certain bird species lived.

But if the expected rise in temperatures of 3 degrees Celsius (37.4 F) by 2080 is slowed to 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 F), almost 40 per cent of those species would no longer be considered vulnerable, researchers said.

Using latest climate models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, they examined the habitats of 604 North American species.

Last month, a paper published in Science reported North America's bird population has experienced a loss of 2.9 billion breeding adults since 1970.

"Birds are an intimate part of the landscapes that define our state, from the Brown Pelicans along our coasts to the Yellow-billed Magpies of the Central Valley to the California Quail that serves as a symbol of California itself", said Sarah Rose, executive director of Audubon California. "The good news is that there are actions we can take today to mitigate the worst effects of a changing climate". "If the birds are being impacted this way, the humans are going to be impacted in the same way". "And so, we say at Audubon that the birds are telling us it's time to act".

Bateman was in second grade when she first heard the haunting call of the common loon on a lake in Wisconsin. "Those loons are what drive my work today and I can't imagine them leaving the USA entirely in summer but that's what we're facing if trends continue". Vulnerable species will also have to deal with sea level rise, Great Lakes level changes, urbanization, cropland expansion, drought, extreme spring heat, wildfires and heavy rain.

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Under the most extreme projections, California could face temperature increases of more than six degrees Fahrenheit in winter and up to almost 10 degrees Fahrenheit in summer. "Most birds will likely experience multiple, compounding threats - unless we curb emissions and prioritize conserving the areas, identified by the models, that will be critical to climate-threatened birds".

If steps aren't taken to reduce climate change, Yarnold warned, the reality could be worse than the model's predictions. "Now, what we need are more people committed to making sure those solutions are put into practice", said Renee Stone, vice president of climate for the National Audubon Society.

Some birds would be able to adapt by following their preferred habitat north as the continent warms. On an individual level, Bonner said people can help birds by growing as many native plants as possible and keeping cats indoors.

"The pattern is pretty clear, and it's been borne out in the last few decades by what we've already seen with a lot of these species", said Jeff Wells, an ornithologist who leads the organization's boreal conservation efforts.

For more information, check out Audubon's ZIP code-based tool, the Birds and Climate Visualizer, which helps users understand the impacts to birds where they live.

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