Monday, March 20, 2006

Repeat After Me: Global Warming Is The Problem

The Washington Post runs yet another all-this-weird-weather article without using the crucial phrase "global warming". The closest they come is the graphic caption, "River Warming"; a quote from a scientist: "These changes are linked to warmer temperatures in late winter and early spring."; and the concluding sentence: "If the trend continues, say scientists, the wood lilies and ladies'-tresses may soon be gone in the warming winds." But they never come flat out and say, this is caused by global warming.

Say it after me: Everything in this article is caused by GLOBAL WARMING.

Global warming
Global warming
Global warming

WaPo: Early Spring Disturbing Life on Northern Rivers

"Northeastern rivers have 20 fewer days of ice cover each winter now than they did in 1936," said Hodgkins, who said the total now averages 92 days. "A lot of that decrease has occurred since the 1960s."


"Lack of ice on rivers severely affects fish, especially anadromous* fish like endangered Atlantic salmon," said Trial, a biologist at the Maine Atlantic Salmon Commission in Bangor. "Ice cover insulates rivers and streams, protecting young salmon from cold. Without that cover, the salmon are also more susceptible to predators." Bald eagles, for example, are able to snare their piscine prey only from open water.


The most difficult winter situation for salmon and other fish, biologists say, is on-again, off-again ice cover: rivers that freeze over one week and then are open the next.

"Fish expend critical energy responding to these unstable conditions," Trial said. Ice that doesn't stay frozen may also contribute to the deaths of aquatic animals such as northern leopard frogs, which overwinter far beneath a chilled-to-freezing blanket.

"The reduction in river ice between January and April has important ecological effects," Hodgkins said, "including more frequent formation of 'anchor ice.' " Anchor ice, a spongy, smothering type of ice, covers the bottom of a river instead of "floating" on top, but it can't form when the surface is already frozen, he said. "Anchor ice slows down or eliminates water flow near the riverbed, which leaves fish embryos starved for oxygen."

When river ice finally breaks up in spring, the process results in what's known as ice-jam flooding: water spilling over the banks behind piled-up ice. Ice-jam flooding, say Prowse and Culp, is the main way water levels are sustained in ponds and wetlands alongside rivers. Without this flooding, habitat for migrating waterfowl and aquatic mammals such as beavers and mink often disappears. If there is not enough ice during winter, wetlands can quickly become dry lands when spring arrives.

*Anadromous fishes are those that spend all or part of their adult life in salt water and return to freshwater streams and rivers to spawn.

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