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Bangkok, Doha – Countdown on for this year’s UN climate talks

Gannets breeding on Helgoland

 

What are these gannets doing on the ice blog? Well, it seems they migrated to Germany because of climate change. Read below to understand the connection. (No wisdom without pain…)

Did you know there has just been another round of UN climate talks in Bangkok? I don’t blame you if you didn’t. It’s hard to keep track of the “talks between the talks…” It’s also hard to keep up interest and optimism and not give way to resignation, given the disastrous melting of the Arctic ice and all the other clearly visible impacts of climate change.

Date

September 5, 2012 | 3:02 pm

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Polar bears evolved earlier than previously thought

Polar bear genome shows they evolved much earlier than previously thought. Picture by Alan Wilson, www.naturepicturesonline.com

A team of scientists led by researchers from the German Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) has found out that polar bears evolved as early as some 600,000 years ago. The study, published in the current issue of the journal “Science”, ( Nuclear Genomic Sequences Reveal that Polar Bears Are an Old and Distinct Bear Lineage, Hailer, F. et.al) says the white giants are thus five times older than previously realised.

Why do we need to know this apart from pure scientific curiosity?  Because knowing when polar bears evolved as a genetically distinct species, different from brown bears, could help us understand what is going to happen to the polar bears if the planet keeps heating up. You can read more about how the scientists came to their conclusions and what implications they could have here.

 

Date

April 23, 2012 | 1:19 pm

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Penguin census from space

Emperor penguins stand out against the ice - even seen from space!

Emperor penguins stand out against the ice - even seen from space! Picture by Paul Ponganis, NSF

Scientists are using satellite mapping technology to count penguins in Antarctica. The latest results have shown that there are actually twice as many emperor penguins there as previously thought. Isn’t it nice when you hear some good news for a change?

The information provides a more accurate basis for researchers to monitor how environmental change is affecting the penguins.  Satellite photography is proving to be a great way of keeping track of the penguins because their black and white feathers stand out against the snow, so the colonies are clearly visible on satellite imagery.

Date

April 16, 2012 | 9:58 am

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Of birds and bears in a changing Arctic climate

Frozen Waves, Chukchi Sea, Barrow, Alaska

Chukchi Sea, Barrow, Alaska

Living conditions have changed considerably over the last few decades for sea birds who live or breed in the Arctic region.

Ornithologist George Divoky has found that his monitoring of black guillemots on the Arctic Cooper Island off the coast of Barrow, Alaska over the last four decades has turned into observation of the rapidly changing climate in the high north.

Date

February 21, 2012 | 12:19 pm

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“Beyond penguins and polar bears”

Beyond penguins and polar bears is a website you have to look at for the pictures alone – as well as understandable information on polar issues.
It’s actually an educational website for teachers. I found out about it because it has just won a science prize for online education SPORE
The idea is to use the appeal of penguins and polar bears to get kids interested in science. But there ‘s a lot of background on there for us adults as well.

Date

February 22, 2011 | 9:32 am

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