Environmental News

Image Credit: Jordan Platt, Unsplash CC30

National Park Closings Gave Wildlife Room to Roam. Rangers Advise Caution amid Reopenings.

Parks may be seeing an influx of campers and visitors this summer. On April 22, president trump called for a reopening of parks and the overall public. However states themselves are determining when it is safe to reopen national parks. With many events cancelled there may be a surge in the number of induvial looking to parks for entertainment. If there are too many campers it could cause problems to the damage plants in the area. The noise may also impact the surrounding wildlife. Typically, the noise pushes wildlife out but with the recent absence of people in the parks wildlife has moved back into those areas. So now with the influx of people, they will be forced to move back out. It could also provide a traffic hazard for the animals.

 

Image credit: Peter Basset, naturepl CC30

Climate change is causing Antarctica’s snow to turn green, study says

There is a green “snow” that is taking over parts of Antarctica, and researchers believe that we can attribute it to climate change. This green “snow” is actually microscopic algae that has always existed in Antarctica, but in lower volumes. The algae normally only occur in “warmer” coastal areas of the continent, but warming temperatures are creating a more suitable habitat for the algae to spread. The algae thrive in the presence of water so as temperatures increase and Antarctic snow melts, there is more water available. The growing of this algae could have a few different effects on the Antarctic ecosystem. It could have a positive effect since algae can take in large amounts of carbon from the atmosphere via photosynthesis. Negatively, the green algae can absorb more heat from the sun and cause further melting. Scientists are not sure what to expect.

Image Credit: Lucien Wanda, Pexels CC30

Scientists Find Highest Ever Level of Microplastics on Seafloor

Recently the highest levels of microplastics on the ocean floor have been recorded at 1.9 million pieces in one square meter. This is attributed to the plastic waste that ends up in the water. The article states that over 10 million tons of plastic waste ends up in the ocean. Efforts such as swapping out plastic for reusable metal straws contributed to less than 1% of the plastic in the oceans. Plastic waste ends up getting pushed by deep sea currents helping move the microplastics to “microplastic hotspots” along the ocean floor. These microplastics are mainly made from fibers from clothing and fabrics. These microplastics directly impact the marine life in those areas.

 

(Image from OneNote licensed under Creative Commons)

The Eerie Neon Glow Coming From Bleached Coral Could Actually Be Good News

Ocean heat waves cause coral bleaching events every year. During a bleaching event, stressed out corals eject the photosynthetic algae that reside in their tissue leaving only their white limestone skeletons behind. In certain conditions, scientists have noticed what they call “colorful bleaching” where the corals turn fluorescent colors instead of white. New research is now showing us why this may be. According to researchers, when corals lose their algae there is an excess of light that bounces back and forth inside of the coral tissue. These increased light levels then produce colorful pigments to protect themselves from light damage. Corals are also very sensitive to nutrient changes in the water, so fluorescence can indicate a change in the surrounding nutrient balance. The research has shown that corals that are colorfully bleached are more likely to recover than those that are not. Also, if the change in color is a result of imbalanced nutrients than fluorescence can help pinpoint the area for scientists to explore.

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