Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Metro Boston's Flora And Fauna Reveal Global Warming's Effect

Date:
March 1, 2007
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
In a Lowell, Mass., cemetery on Memorial Day 1868, a photograph captured mourners in heavy winter clothing gathered under leafless trees near the graves of two brothers killed in the Civil War. At the same spot on Memorial Day 2005, cemetery visitors wore light spring clothes. The trees were in full flower. These photographs are a close-to-home reminder of the effects of global warming, said Boston University biology professor Richard Primack and BU graduate student Abraham Miller-Rushing.

In a Lowell, Mass., cemetery on Memorial Day 1868, a photograph captured mourners in heavy winter clothing gathered under leafless trees near the graves of two brothers killed in the Civil War.

At the same spot on Memorial Day 2005, cemetery visitors wore light spring clothes. The trees were in full flower.

These photographs are a close-to-home reminder of the effects of global warming, said Boston University biology professor Richard Primack and BU graduate student Abraham Miller-Rushing at a Feb. 21 Soap Box event, "Global Warming: Up Close and Local," at the MIT Museum.

Primack, an author of textbooks on conservation biology, said that in 1992, global warming received little more than a mention in his textbooks. It has since expanded into a whole section, and he became interested in how global warming is affecting species and how to detect the local signature of global warming.

Discussions on global warming mentioned the same studies over and over, and they were all in far-off places like Antarctica. "In Boston, we could do better," he said. Four years ago, with Miller-Rushing's help, he started gathering data from unlikely sources, such as the hobbyist who collected cemetery photos, on the timing of flowering plants, ribbeting frogs and migrating birds.

He found that all these things were happening earlier and earlier. Because of its heat-trapping buildings and parking lots, Boston and other urban areas warmed more than the rest of the country-2.5 degrees Celsius vs. 0.6 degrees elsewhere.

When co-dependent species become out of sync, it can cause species to decline and become extinct very rapidly. Birds who return after certain flowers have bloomed and insects have hatched could starve.

This science, the study of the timing of recurring natural phenomena, is called phenology. Primack and Miller-Rushing urged everyone attending the Soap Box to become amateur phenologists by recording the arrival of flowers, butterflies and dragonflies, and other seasonal events, and sending them to him. Many in the audience said they would be willing get involved.

The researchers have found data at the Arnold Arboretum, where plants have started flowering an average of eight days earlier over time; bird migration information recorded in Manomet, Mass.; a woman who kept precise outdoor records at her home for 50 years; naturalists' diaries and birdwatchers at Mt. Auburn Cemetery who seek to outdo each other by spotting the first wood thrush of the season. Even Thoreau's Concord, Mass., diaries with his painstaking observations of 600 species have been invaluable.

This information provides patterns that can help explain which species are most sensitive and which are least sensitive to climate change, so we can make predictions about the future, Primack said. "We'd like to create a map of how things are changing across New England.

"This is not about glaciers or extinct frogs in the mountaintops of Costa Rica," he said. "This is a way people can see for themselves that climate change is affecting the organisms living in our gardens and the birds visiting our bird feeders."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Metro Boston's Flora And Fauna Reveal Global Warming's Effect." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070227212032.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2007, March 1). Metro Boston's Flora And Fauna Reveal Global Warming's Effect. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070227212032.htm
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Metro Boston's Flora And Fauna Reveal Global Warming's Effect." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070227212032.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Suni, a rare northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died Friday. This, as many media have pointed out, leaves people fearing extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins