Climate Change Cachets

Pollinators are under threat from climate change.

A report on The Conversation website says this is because their pollination activity is connected to smell.

Climate change is altering the scent of plants, and thus the capacity of bees to recognize them and orient themselves.

A bee remembers a fragrance and associate it with the resources provided by a given plant. It is even capable of distinguishing between the scents of plants that produce high- or low-sugar nectar, and flowers that do not contain any nectar.

Floral scent consists of hundreds of small molecules emitted by the plant. However, when a plant is stressed – because of a lack of water or because it has been attacked by herbivores – it responds by emitting defensive compounds that alter its scent.

The article says climate change, which in many regions increases the risk of drought and rising temperatures, causes stress in plants, affecting their floral scent.


Institute of Water Security and Science director Jason Hubbart of West Virginia University says there is at least one silver lining from the changing climate – the growing season is getting longer.

“Our future climates in West Virginia are likely to be more conducive to agricultural production,” he says. “We should plan for that now.””

His research finds that between 1900 and 2016 maximum temperatures in West Virginia trended downward, average minimum temperatures ascended and annual precipitation increased. Specifically, precipitation increased about an inch each of the last few decades.

The winter season has shrunk by as much as 20 days and the growing season has increased by about 13 days.

Yield for hay and corn, which have historically been bread-and-butter resources for the state, have increased, yet 23% slower than the national average; however, other crops, including winter wheat and soybeans, have increased yields 15% faster than the national average.

“It’s time to rethink farming in West Virginia,” Hubbart says.


Current and future climate change will affect the nature of intense precipitation events – defined as the highest 10% events in daily precipitation distributions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says this will further challenge the management of agricultural production systems.

Scientists at the USDA Southern Plains Climate Hub and ARS Grazinglands Research Laboratory (GRL) in El Reno, OK., have reviewed categorizations of intense precipitation events in the scientific literature and found three well-reported categories for intense events – heavy, very heavy and extreme events. All precipitation events in these categories, the study found, have been increasing since the early 1900s by 0.9% to 30%, at both regional and national levels.

Using a weather generator model and a baseline observed precipitation record from central Oklahoma; the team showed that future occurrences of the most extreme precipitation events could increase by up to 40%.

The researchers say analyses of intense precipitation occurrences and changes are most useful at local and regional scales, where they can be used to examine impacts on key agricultural production variables such soil erosion, runoff, sediment transport, soil available water, and plant productivity.

The next step at GRL is to incorporate these agricultural variables in various incremental scenarios of future intense precipitation events, The scientists understanding these linkages will be essential for making informed and proactive decisions that minimize production risk.


The U.S. government is rolling back rules on methane, a significant contributor to climate change

The Trump administration says federal government overstepped its authority when it set limits on what scientists say is a significant contributor to climate change.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the changes to the national standards for the oil and natural gas industry would save the oil and natural gas industry $17 million to $19 million a year, for a total of $97 million to $123 million from 2019 through 2025.

The primary proposal also would rescind emissions limits for methane, from the production and processing segments of the industry.


Yale University’s Yale Climate Connections reports climate change has already ratcheted environmental health threats up a notch. Disease-carrying bugs have expanded their range, hotter heat waves last longer, and storms have gotten more extreme.

“Climate change is impacting our communities, in our backyards, right now,” it quotes Amir Sapkota, a professor at the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health, as saying.

More than 70 major U.S. medical groups released a call to action in June 2019 declaring climate change a true public health emergency.

Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin, says it’s important people recognize  climate change is about health.

“There are so many pathways through which climate impacts our health,” he says.

These include heat, air pollution, extreme weather, vector-borne diseases, and access to safe water and food.


The University of Cambridge suggests virtually all countries – rich or poor, hot or cold – will suffer economically by 2100 if the current trajectory of carbon emissions is maintained.

Research published by the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that, on average, richer, colder countries would lose as much income to climate change as poorer, hotter nations.

Under a business as usual emissions scenario, average global temperatures are projected to rise more than 4° C (7 F°) by the end of the century. This would cause the U.S. to lose 10.5% of its GDP by 2100, the researchers say.

Canada, which some claim will benefit economically from temperature increase, would lose over 13% of its income by 2100.

The research finds that 7% of global GDP is likely to vanish by the end of the century unless action is taken. Japan, India and New Zealand lose 10%. Switzerland’s economy will be 12% smaller. Russia will lose 9% and the UK 4%.


Brigham Young University researchers find a way to reverse falling crop yields caused by increasingly salty farmlands.

They used bacteria found in the roots of salt-tolerant plants to inoculate alfalfa plants against overly salty soil.

“We take the roots of these salt-tolerant plants (called halophytes), grind them up and grow the bacteria in a petri dish in the lab,” says Brent Nielsen, professor of microbiology and molecular biology. “Doing this, we isolated over 40 different bacteria isolates, some of which can tolerate ocean-level salt content.”

The team applied the bacteria isolates to alfalfa seeds and tested the alfalfa’s ability to grow in high-saline conditions. They saw significant growth of the alfalfa both in their lab and in greenhouse experiments.

The research team has started lab and greenhouse experiments on rice, green beans and lettuce. The next step is field trials on the inoculated crops.


A 100-year flood is supposed to be just that – a flood that occurs once every 100 years, or a flood that has a 1% chance of happening every year.

But Princeton researchers predict coastal flooding for every county on the U.S. the Eastern and Gulf Coasts and find 100-year floods could become annual occurrences in New England; and happen every one-to-30 years along the southeast Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico shorelines.

“The historical 100-year floods may change to one-year floods in northern coastal towns in the U.S.,” said Ning Lin, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Princeton.

Researchers combined storm surge, sea level rise, and the predicted increased occurrence and strength in tropical storms and hurricanes to create a map of flood hazard possibilities.

Coastlines at northern latitudes, such as those in New England, will face higher flood levels primarily because of sea level rise. Those in more southern latitudes, especially along the Gulf of Mexico, will face both sea level rise and increasing storms into the late 21st century.

Alan Harman