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Penquins, Biospheres and the CO2 Budget - Environment News 27thJune-3rdJuly 2016

A lot has been happening in the last week in environmental news - heres our weekly roundup!

Confused Species

It was found this week that phenological relationships attributed to UK wildlife species have altered due to climate change. Phenological relationships are how particular species respond to certain environmental stimuli, such as seasonality, level of rainfall or air temperature, which determine a species' emergence and/or migration.

Flickr / gailhampshireThe paper published in the Nature journal discovered that the rising of temperatures and lack of rainfall in the UK between 1960 and 2012 has caused the climatic sensitivity of many species to shift, resulting in the early emergence of most of the country's organisms including plants, amphibians and herbivorous insects. Given current climate change projections for 2050 the paper predicts that primary consumers, particularly insects and crustaceans, are to be the most affected as their perception of seasonality will have the greatest shift. These changes to the primary consumers would therefore have an exponential effect, ultimately forcing subsequent predators to adapt and compensate resulting in "widespread phenological desynchronization".

However dark this may seem there is a silver lining; now that we can adequately predict these changes they can be implemented into conservation management through what is dubbed a 'safe operating space'. This means we can facilitate for these potential changes to our native species ensuring their future.

A step in the right direction post-Brexit

Flickr / Hans SplinterAs we've all seen and heard the Brexit decision has only left us with unfathomable uncertainty, however following a government announcement to implement The Fifth Carbon Budget things are looking up for environmentalism.

The budget was designed to cut Carbon emissions by 57% below the 1990 levels by 2032 and accounts for the development of policies, ensuring the reduction of Carbon intensity in both the UK power sector and international trade, set to take international shipping emissions into consideration. Emissions from industry, buildings, transport, agriculture and waste are also recognised.

Once enacted the budget will become law under the Climate Change Act.

This is very good news indeed, however we as a species have a tendency to embellish sometimes, for example at the 2002 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) the main target was to completely halt biodiversity loss by 2010...

So to ensure the success of this budget the government will have to adapt and create more environmental policies to meet the demand of the budget. This could prove to be a very exciting time for conservation legislation, so watch this space!  

Amazon are Making a Conservation Move

Flickr / Peter Alfred HessThe company Amazon have begun constructing three giant biospheres outside their Seattle headquarters. Not only will they be visually striking upon completion, they are also set to become a functioning conservation project, as the domes will house in excess of 300 endangered plant species. This is an ingenious way of protecting plant species as their oftentimes highly demanding conditions can be controlled and sustained, reminiscent of Cornwall's Eden Project. This is also an innovative strategy of introducing more greenspace to a heavily urbanised area as these domes could theoretically be built anywhere to get people in touch with nature.

Adelie Penguins under Threat

A paper published by Scientific Reports has revealed new insight into the projected impact of climate change on Adelie Penguins. Using satellite derived projections and climate model projections it is predicted that the rise in temperature could result in a population decline at 30% of colonies by 2060, and 60% of colonies by 2099.

Flickr / Liam QuinnAlthough previously recorded rising temperatures have seemed to benefit Adelie populations in Antarctica, by revealing more coastal nesting sites, it appears the rise has exceeded its suitability and will continue to do so. The most affected area by warming is the West Antarctic Peninsula, home to the most colonies currently in decline. This excessive warming has jeopardised these dry terrestrial nesting sites, exposing eggs and chicks to fatal meltwater and rainfall. The warming has also affected food abundance, with Antarctic Silverfish decline coinciding with rising temperatures. Although even further warming may reveal more viable nesting sites by glacial degradation this will ultimately shrink their range to the south of the continent.

However these are projections as of yet so there is still hope!

If you're interested in the conservation of penquins check out our project in Peru

By Thomas Phillips - Online Journalism Intern

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