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Climate Change’s Impacts on Lake Poopó, Bolivia: Reduced Area and Biodiversity – July 1st, 2013

18.7S 67W

July 1st, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Image of the day, Lakes, Salt Flats VIIRSSuomi-NPP

Bolivia – June 28th, 2013

Visible high on the Bolivian altiplano are the green waters of Lake Poopó and the bright white surface of the Salar de Uyuni. Lake Poopó’s area has decreased by 50% in the last 25 years, with serious consequences for the populations of resident and migratory waterbirds.

The lake is located at approximately 3700 m above sea level, covering an approximate area of 967,000 ha, making it the second biggest lake in Bolivia, after Lake Titicaca (visible in the upper part of the full image), which is shared with Peru. However, in only 25 years its area has decreased by about 17,400 ha, representing almost 50% of its total area.

The decrease in the wetland’s area of open water has been attributed principally to climate change, which, in conjunction with current hydrological conditions (high rates of evaporation, low rainfall, and low flow rates of the rivers flowing into the lake), mean that water levels in the lake are not rising. This has had serious impacts on the biodiversity which depends on the wetland, given that the salinity has increased, thus decreasing survival rates of some species, with subsequent consequences in the local economy.

The change in size of the wetland has represented a considerable loss of available habitat for migratory bird species, for which the lake represents an important habitat, especially during the dry season (May to September), coinciding with the southern winter. However, drastic decreases in the populations of these species have been detected since 2007. Preliminary results suggest that the reason for this decline is the loss of available habitat as a result of the reduced area of Lake Poopó, and the accumulation of solid waste around the shores of the lake (click here for more information).

 

Tropical Storm Rumbia (06W) West of Manila, Philippines – June 30th, 2013

10.6N 124.8E

June 30th, 2013 Category: Image of the day, Tropical Storms MODISAqua

Tropical Storm Rumbia (06W) – June 29th, 2013

Enhanced image

Track of Tropical Storm Rumbia (06W) - June 29th, 2013 © Univ. of Wisconsin

Track of TC 06W

Tropical Storm Rumbia (06W), located approximately 64 nm westward of Manila, Philippines, has tracked west-northwestward at 15 knots over the past six hours. Maximum significant wave height is 6 feet.

Tropical Storm Rumbia (06W) Tracking West-northwestward – June 29th, 2013

9.7N 128.9E

June 29th, 2013 Category: Image of the day, Tropical Storms AVHRRMetOp

Tropical Storm Rumbia (06W) – June 29th, 2013

Enhanced image

Track of Tropical Storm Rumbia (06W) - June 29th, 2013 © Univ. of Wisconsin

Track of TC 06W

Tropical Storm Rumbia (06W), located approximately 301 nm east-southeastward of Manila, Philippines, has tracked west-northwestward at 11 knots over the past six hours. Maximum significant wave height is 10 feet.

Fire in Gila National Forest, New Mexico, USA – June 28th, 2013

33.6N 108.6W

June 28th, 2013 Category: Fires, Image of the day MODISTerra

USA – June 27th, 2013

Smoke from a large fire in the Gila National Forest, in New Mexico, west of the Rio Grande (running parallel to the right edge), can be seen fanning out over a great area as it blows westward. The Gila National Forest covers approximately 2,710,659 acres (1,100,000 ha) of public land. Terrain ranges from rugged mountains and deep canyons to semi-desert. Due to the extremely rugged terrain, the area is largely unspoiled.

Climate Change Fuelling Colorado Wildfires – June 27th, 2013

38.0N 108W

June 28th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Fires, Image of the day VIIRSSuomi-NPP

USA – June 26th, 2013

Smoke billows forth from wildfires blazing in the forests of the Rocky Mountains, in the state of Colorado, USA. These fires have already consumed 125 square miles and are zero percent contained.

What’s propelling these fires are dry conditions made worse by strong winds and an ongoing spruce-beetle infestation. The beetles tunnel under bark, laying eggs that will eventually kill trees. Scientists have reached a consensus that climate change is to blame:

North America is witnessing the largest pine-beetle epidemic in recorded history. From Canada’s Yukon Territory to New Mexico, pine trees by the hundreds of millions are succumbing to a fungus that the beetles carry. The pine needles of infected trees first turn a violent red, then they fall, and, finally, the dead tree topples over. Year by year, communities have watched a scourge advance across mountainsides and through neighborhoods, trees turning from green to red to gray. The beetles now attack 12 pine species, from the high-elevation whitebark pine to the lower-elevation ponderosa and piñon. The blight has devastated 3.3 million acres in Colorado alone since the 1990s.

Beetles kill, die off, and regenerate, all of which is part of a lodgepole pine forest’s natural life cycle. But human activity helped set the stage for the current epidemic. Decades of fire suppression have left the West with dense stands of vulnerable, elderly trees. Climate has also played a role. Frigid winters that usually kill the beetles have become, over the past 20 years, the exception rather than the rule. Earlier snowmelt and longer summers have altered the beetles’ range and life cycle; they now attack pines at higher altitudes and latitudes, and they reproduce twice a year instead of once. Earlier springs and a series of dry years have also weakened trees, turning them into ideal beetle food (click here for more information).

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