From Tim Ballisty:
High resolution image [January 7] from NASA's MODIS satellite shows unusually large ice extent in the Delaware Bay, Sandy Hook Bay, and Chesapeake Bay. If you look really hard, you can see ice flowing out of individual bays near Atlantic City. Amazing imagery @nynjpaweather
From Urban Coast Institute:
NASA satellite images show the extent of ice in the Raritan and Sandy Hook bays last week (bottom) vs. before the cold spell
A view of Sandy Hook Bay from Mt. Mitchill in Atlantic Highlands, NJ
By Joe Reynolds
New York Harbor Nature
No surprise, after two weeks of below freezing temperatures, much of Lower New York Bay has frozen over. An ice field of up to 15 inches thick formed from Highlands/Atlantic Highlands to the tip of the Sandy Hook peninsula and extending to Staten Island. It is the most extensive ice sheet along the southern shore of New York Harbor in many years.
But with warmer weather predicted this week, much of the ice will slowly melt away.
Yet, things could always be worse. The archives of The New York Times tell us that on February 14, 1901, there was an ice blockade in New York Harbor that put a temporary halt to shipping. The estuary was so ice clogged from shore to shore that "great ocean steamships, ferryboats, and the strongest as well as the weakest tugs, ocean-going tows, barges and floats" could not move. Winds were also wicked. A 66 mile an hour wind gust was recored at 4:00pm.
Low Temperature Recorded Around Sandy Hook Bay, NJ on Sunday, January 7, 2018
By Joe Reynolds
NY Harbor Nature Blog
The cold snap around New York Harbor continues, at least for one more day. Many people woke up to bone-chilling temperatures in the low single digits or below zero.
According to US National Weather Service in Upton, NY, record low temperatures were set at several locations around the New York metropolitan region:
Kennedy Airport, NY: 4 degrees F, which breaks the previous record of 6 set in 2014.
Islip Airport, NY: 2 degrees F, which breaks the previous record of 6 set in 1968.
Bridgeport, CT: -1 degrees F, which breaks the previous record of 7 set in 1988.
This is on top of record low temperatures set at the start of the New Year:
STATION: NEW RECORD/OLD RECORD (YEAR OF OLD RECORD):
LGA: 8/11 (1963)
JFK: 7/9 (1968)
EWR: 6/11 (1997)
BDR: 2/5 (1963)
ISP: 6/8 (1968)
Ice on the move out of the Shrewsbury River and into Sandy Hook Bay, NJ
It was the second-ever coldest ball drop on New Year’s Eve in Times Square. The temperature was only 10° F. The only New Year’s Eve colder on record in Times Square came in 1907, when it was just 1°.
Below freezing temperatures began on Tuesday, December 26, 2017 when the recorded high in Central Park was 28 degrees F. Since then, temperatures have not been above freezing, and some days the temperature struggled to get above 20 degrees F. Wind chill values often came with with warnings of possible frostbite and hypothermia for people and pets going outdoors.
But it looks like the bottom has finally been reached. The forecast going forward next week was far more encouraging. Monday is expected to be the first day with above freezing temperatures in 2018. Later in the week, temperatures are expected to climb into the 40s — a relatively balmy feeling for sure after nearly two weeks of arctic weather.
It looks like the Farmer's Almanac called this winter season correctly, at least so far!
BY Joe Reynolds
NY Harbor Nature Blog
What kind of year will 2018 be? Well if the first winter storm of the year is any indication, it will be a weather bomb.
The first blizzard of North America whacked the entire East Coast of the United States, including New York Harbor, with snow, ice, high winds, extreme cold, and tidal flood conditions.
On Thursday, January 4, a storm began early in the morning around New York Harbor with snow. But this was no ordinary snowstorm. This would turn out to be an historic event: a nor’easter that intensified and rivaled the strength of a hurricane due to bombogenesis.
Bombogenesis sounds like a childish word until you know what is means. According to Live Science, it’s a “meteorology term that refers to a storm (generally a non-tropical one) that intensifies very rapidly. Bomb cyclones tend to happen more in the winter months and can carry hurricane-force winds and cause coastal flooding and heavy snow.”
NOAA states that bombogenesis “occurs when a midlatitude or 60° latitude cyclone rapidly intensifies, dropping at least 24 millibars over 24 hours. A millibar measures atmospheric pressure. This can happen when a cold air mass collides with a warm air mass, such as air over warm ocean waters. The formation of this rapidly strengthening weather system is a process called bombogenesis, which creates what is known as a bomb cyclone.” The closer you are to the center of the storm, the stronger the winds. In this case the center of the storm had hurricane force winds over 75 mph.
The storm originated on January 3 as an area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico and first struck the Florida Panhandle. It dumped a half-foot of snow and ice in places that rarely receive wintry precipitation, even in the winter, such as Florida and Georgia. Along the coast of Massachusetts, the powerful winds brought coastal flooding that reached historic levels in some communities with icy water overflowing piers and stranding people and damaging cars.
According to CBS News, “Summit conditions at Mount Washington were so brutally cold Saturday morning the temperature tied for the second coldest on Earth, according to Mount Washington Observatory. The temperature hit minus 36 degrees Fahrenheit -- with a wind chill of minus 90 degrees (minus 68 degrees Celsius), according to the educational and research institution in New Hampshire.”
For New York Harbor, it was located along the outer edges of the storm. Yet, it was still banged around hard with 8 to 15 inches of snow in New York City and its suburbs, high wind gusts up to 50 mph and blowing snow through the night, followed by extreme cold temperatures into the weekend with readings in the teens and single digits. With the wind chill, it felt like minus 20 degrees on Friday night.
Close to 10" of snow was deposited around Sandy Hook Bay, NJ from the January 4, 2018 storm.
Below are some snow totals in inches around New York Harbor:
Sheepshead Bay 12.0 700 PM
Central Park 9.8 700 PM
Howard Beach 13.2 630 PM
Jackson Heights 12.0 716 PM
Whitestone 10.7 600 PM
NYC/JFK Airport 8.0 700 PM
NYC/LaGuardia Airpor 7.4 700 PM
Great Kills 10.8 651 PM
Newark Airport 8.4 700 PM
According to the meteorologists at the Weather Channel, the first winter storm of 2018 “was one of the most intense western Atlantic winter storms in decades, clobbering the East Coast with blizzard conditions and major coastal flooding after bringing one of the heavier snow and ice events to parts of the Southeast.”
Could this winter storm have been caused by climate change? As the world continues to warm there is no doubt that this warming triggers many changes to the Earth’s climate and to “typical” weather conditions, including the jet stream, which normally acts to keep cold air around the pole. A recent article in the New York Times tells us that some scientists are studying the connection between climate change and cold spells, which occur when cold Arctic air dips south, and that they may be related.
Certainly, changes in the weather and climate events, such as intense winter storms, are the primary way that most people experience climate change. We better get used to it, extreme weather events seem to be the new normal.
By Joe Reynolds
New York Harbor Nature Blog
Here we are again! While it seems like winter arrived weeks ago with bouts of snow and cold earlier in December, this was probably just Old Man Winter getting primed. The official first day of winter for the 2017-2018 season arrives today, Thursday, December 21 at 11:28am. EST.
The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year and the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. During winter, temperatures are likely to get colder as cold air builds up over the Arctic region due to the low intensity of sunlight.
This is because the tilt of the Earth’s rotational axis in the Northern Hemisphere is 23.5 degrees away from the sun, providing the Northern Hemisphere with the least daylight of the year and the opportunity for December, January and February to be cold winter months up north until the Sun climbs higher in the sky.
Although quite a few people around New York Harbor think the seasons are caused by how close the Earth is to the Sun: summer the Earth is closer to the sun and winter the Earth is farther from the sun. This just isn’t true.
It's all about Earth's tilt! As Earth travels through its yearlong path around the sun, it does so on a slight slant of about 23.5 degrees either toward or away from the Sun during different times of year. The solstice marks the beginning of the winter. At Winter Solstice, the Northern Hemisphere is titled the farthest away from the Sun and we experience winter. Around the Summer Solstice, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun and we get more of the Sun's direct rays and enjoy warmer temperatures.
The seasons, of course, are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere where they are now experiencing summer. The Southern Hemisphere is titled towards the Sun this time of year. Hence the reason why it is summer now in Australia.
In ancient times, the Winter Solstice was an important time for early civilizations, as it marked the changing of the seasons and a new year. Today, however, many people in Western-based cultures refer to this holiday as "Christmas” and have largely forgotten its unique physical roots.
Welcome to Winter! New York Harbor had its first significant snowfall of the 2017-2018 winter season, twelve days before the official start of the winter season.
Most places around the harbor received between 3 to 6 inches of snow. New York City's Central Park and LaGuardia Airport both picked up 4.6 inches of snow, marking the first measurable snow for the season.
The snow started on Saturday morning and ended before midnight. It was a heavy wet snow that fell across New York Harbor from a coastal storm that stretched all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to Maine and the Canadian Maritimes.
Snow is no stranger to the month of December to both New York and New Jersey. Generally, snowfall becomes a factor with an average snowfall around New York Harbor of about five inches.
But it’s not only snow. Nights are at the longest this month and the duration of daylight is at its shortest. Cloudiness is also at its peak in December. Thank goodness for holiday lights to provide some cheer for an otherwise dark December.
Snowfall total in inches around Sandy Hook Bay in New Jersey
BABY OYSTERS ARE FINALLY GROWING IN RARITAN BAY
December 2, 2017
By John Burton
The Two River Times
N.W.S. EARLE — It may be a little early for handing out cigars, but the New York/New Jersey Baykeeper is happy that oysters appear to have taken to the Raritan Bay.
Scientists working with the environmental organization’s oyster restoration program last week discovered the natural growth of baby oysters on the group’s manmade reefs in the local waterways, Baykeeper announced.
“It’s really exciting. We should be celebrating,” said Meredith Comi, restoration program director for Baykeeper.
Biologically known as spat, the baby oysters were found for the first time at the manmade oyster restoration reef the organization established at the shipping pier at Naval Weapons Station Earle’s Leonardo location, an approximately 2.9-mile-long structure jutting into the Raritan Bay.
New York City Has Genetically Distinct ‘Uptown’ and ‘Downtown’ Rats
A graduate student sequenced rats all over Manhattan, and discovered how the city affects their genetic diversity.
New York City is a place where rats climb out of toilets, bite babies in their cribs, crawl on sleeping commuters, take over a Taco Bell restaurant, and drag an entire slice of pizza down the subway stairs. So as Matthew Combs puts it, “Rats in New York, where is there a better place to study them?”
Combs is a graduate student at Fordham University and, like many young people, he came to New York to follow his dreams. His dreams just happened to be studying urban rats. For the past two years, Combs and his colleagues have been trapping and sequencing the DNA of brown rats in Manhattan, producing the most comprehensive genetic portrait yet of the city’s most dominant rodent population.
As a whole, Manhattan’s rats are genetically most similar to those from Western Europe, especially Great Britain and France. They most likely came on ships in the mid-18th century, when New York was still a British colony. Combs was surprised to find Manhattan’s rats so homogenous in origin. New York has been the center of so much trade and immigration, yet the descendants of these Western European rats have held on.
Coywolf — Coyote-Wolf Hybrid — Spotted Roaming In Rockland County
December 4, 2017 at 5:47 pm
CBS New York
CONGERS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There was a warning Monday night about an unusually large animal roaming through Rockland County.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, it is a hybrid of two dangerous creatures – and it’s called a coywolf.
The animal is an eerie sight through the fog at the Georgetown Manor condos on Route 303 in Congers – part coyote and part wolf.
“It looks larger than your average coyote,” said Nyack resident Sean McCormack. “Very scary, yeah, very scary’”
McCormack, who works as a plumber, took cellphone video of what is believed to be the same animal last week on North Midland Avenue in Upper Nyack, where h said it crouched down and may have been hunting a woman taking her trash cans out to the street.
Rapid Evolution Saved This Fish From Pollution, Study Says
By JOANNA KLEIN DEC. 9, 2016
The New York Times
The State of New Jersey says you can’t eat the fish or shellfish from the Lower Passaic River and Newark Bay. That’s because they’re living in the Diamond Alkali Superfund Site, where toxic leftovers from the manufacture of chemicals like DDT and the infamous Agent Orange oozed into surrounding waterways to be taken up by the animals that inhabited them. It’s an evolutionary miracle some of these animals are even alive. No, seriously. A fish that adapted to survive in this water shows evolution at its finest, according to a study published Thursday in Science.
The Atlantic killifish is a slippery sliver of silver about the size of a fat finger and as common as the minnow. Starting in the late 1990s, researchers became aware that the fish was tolerant of the toxic waters at the Lower Passaic Superfund site and at least three other highly polluted areas along the Atlantic coastline. The new study found that over just a few decades, distinct populations of killifish independently developed similar genetic adaptations that make life possible in the most unlikely environments. The findings show that evolution doesn’t have to start in one place to be repeated.
“It’s these shared changes as well as the unique pattern of changes in these different populations that provide us with a really useful field example of how animals can respond to rapidly changing and extreme environments,” said Diane Nacci, a biologist at the Environmental Protection Agency who worked on the study.
Lobster found with Pepsi logo 'tattoo' fuels fears over ocean litter
The ‘tattooed’ lobster was found off New Brunswick, Canada.
By Ashifa Kassam in Toronto
Wednesday 29 November 2017 16.20 EST
Concerns over debris littering the world’s oceans are back in the spotlight after a Canadian fishing crew found a lobster with the blue and red Pepsi logo imprinted on its claw.
Trapped in the waters off Grand Manan, New Brunswick, the lobster had been loaded on to a crate to have its claws banded when Karissa Lindstrand came across it.
Lindstrand, who drinks as many as 12 cans of Pepsi a day, quickly spotted the resemblance.
“I was like: ‘Oh, that’s a Pepsi can,’” she said. On closer look, it seemed more like a tattoo on the claw. “It looked like it was a print put right on the lobster claw.”
Neither she or any of the crew had seen anything like it. More than a week after the find, debate has swirled over how it might have come to be: some believe the lobster might have grown around a can that ended up at the bottom of the ocean. Others speculate that part of a Pepsi box somehow become stuck on the lobster.
On Thursday afternoon, November 30, 2017, the U.S. Geological Survey reported that a 4.4 magnitude earthquake struck Delaware and was felt as far north as Saugerties, New York. The quake's epicenter was near Dover, Delaware, on the shores of Delaware Bay, but residents in New York City, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Connecticut reported feeling the quake.
A Snowy Owl spotted by the author of this blog in 2013 on a beach around
New York Harbor.
Will New York Harbor once again be visited by many Snow Owls, as it did four years ago in 2013. In a typical winter, at best one or two Snowy Owls visit beaches or coastal parks near and around New York Harbor, but in 2013 the region had dozens of sightings. They were part of the largest Snowy Owl irruption in the U.S. since the 1920s. Will it happen again this year?
Snowy Owls, which typically breed in the Arctic regions of Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia and Russia, have been spotted in abundance in New York and New Jersey in recent months. Basically young Snowy Owls fly down here when their population is high, but food supplies are low. So far, the birds seem to be moving around a lot rather than staying in one place.
If you see a Snowy Owl, please view these magnificent large birds from a respectable distance. Leave the weary owls alone to rest and hunt. Owls do not tolerate noise or people getting too close. They need quiet and plenty of room to feel safe. People should not view Snowy Owls too long, or pursue or chase the owls for closer looks or photos with cell phones or point-and-shoot cameras that require pictures in close proximity to the subject. Please respect wildlife, give them distance.
Hold Onto Your Bins: Another Blizzard of Snowy Owls Could Be Coming
Will this winter bring an irruption of the Arctic raptors to the continental U.S.?
A few clues from up north have Project SNOWstorm predicting yes.
By Leslie Nemo
November 17, 2017
Four years ago, thousands of Snowy Owls stormed the northern United States, taking up posts in surroundings drastically different from the flat Arctic tundra over which they typically preside. Some whiled away the hours peering at dog walkers from suburban fences; one learned to hunt around a Minnesota brewery with mouse problems. In a typical winter, around 10 Snowies visit Pennsylvania, but in 2013 the state was graced by 400. They were part of the largest Snowy Owl irruption, or influx of a species into a place they don’t usually live, the U.S. has seen since the 1920s.
If you missed it, you might be in luck. Project SNOWstorm, a volunteer-fueled Snowy Owl-tracking organization founded after that irruption, predicts another wave of Arctic raptors will hit North America this winter, according to their most recent blog post.
Scott Weidensaul, one of the directors of Project SNOWstorm, says the clues point to a big irruption, but the group also fully admits there's no way to definitively know how big it could be or if it will even happen at all. “There’s a little bit of voodoo and black magic in all of this,” Weidensaul says. Though Snowy Owl migration patterns are mostly mysterious, there have been some tell-tale signs that the birds are on their way.
A young ring-billed gull with a Northern Lined Seahorse in its bill
Written By Joe Reynolds
New York Harbor Nature Blog
Thanksgiving is a time to be with family and cherished friends, to eat great food and treasure all the things you should be thankful for. But sometimes it’s not always easy to come up with things to be thankful for in any given year? May I offer a suggestion?
Be thankful you’re not food for a hungry gull. The other day while walking along an Atlantic Ocean beach in New Jersey I spotted a juvenile Ring-billed gull trying to eat a Northern lined seahorse. Trust me, it wasn’t pretty.
Seahorses are considered bony fishes. They have bodies protected by strong external plates, which are arranged into a series of "rings." These rings help to protect the outer body of the fish. Unfortunately these plates did not work to protect this poor little seahorse.
The bony plates functioned only to cause frustration for the gull. The hungry bird wanted to eat quickly. So it started thrashing the lifeless seahorse back and forth on rocks. Finally the gull was able to soften or tenderize the external plates and get to the meat of the fish. A quick meal no doubt.
Low tides reveal enduring cedar stumps, reflecting Meadowlands' ecological past
James M. O'Neill,
Staff Writer, @JamesMONeill1
Published 8:00 a.m. ET Oct. 13, 2017
Atlantic white cedar trees were once ubiquitous in the Meadowlands, but were largely wiped out by the 1920s.
Twice each day, at low tide, the New Jersey Meadowlands pulls back its watery veil to reveal the dark, twisted remnants of its ecological past.
Someone scanning the barren, soggy mudflats when the tide is out can see the low stumps and fallen trunks of Atlantic white cedar trees, which once covered as much as a third of the Meadowlands.
Because cedar wood is so durable, those stumps have lasted, despite being covered with water for decades. They dot the mudflats today, in bizarre and elegant shapes, natural sculptures jutting out of the marshland.
Not a single marine mammal has gone extinct in U.S. waters since the Marine Mammal Protection Act was enacted 45 years ago.
This bedrock conservation bill has helped us protect whales, dolphins, seals, and manatees against dangerous industrial activities, including offshore oil and gas operations. But all this could quickly change if Congress votes to gut this critical Act.
Speak out today to protect the remarkable mammals that call the sea their home.
Thanks for urging your representative to oppose bills gutting the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, Amended 1994. The U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) protects all marine mammals, including cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises), pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), sirenians (manatees and dugongs), sea otters, and polar bears within the waters of the United States.
Bald eagle makes a rare visit to this N.J. city (PHOTOS)
Updated Nov 11; Posted Nov 11
By Ron Zeitlinger
The Jersey Journal
A couple weeks ago it was a barge. This week it's a bird.
Bayonne received another unexpected and rare visit Friday afternoon -- by a bald eagle who spent some time downtown. The eagle landed in a crosswalk at Ninth Street and Avenue A and then took a little tour of the area.
"I was shocked to see the eagle land in the street the way it did," said David La Pelusa, who snapped the photos in the gallery above. "Cars were whizzing by -- I was one of them -- and the eagle didn't even flinch.
"It looked like it was hurt. It was limping around as it walked around the intersection. I've never seen an eagle outside of a zoo. It was by far the most impressive sight I've seen in Bayonne."
Written By Joe Reynolds
New York Harbor Nature Blog
Since October small flocks of Atlantic brant (Branta bernicla hrota) have been flying in one by one. Flocks of fifty birds or less have just kept coming into New York Harbor and surrounding estuarine areas to stay throughout the winter. An abundant population of brant into the hundreds or even thousands now calls New York Harbor home for the winter.
A majority of brant will over-winter along the coast of New Jersey and the southern shore of Long Island including within New York Harbor. Lesser numbers of brant will winter north to Massachusetts and south to Chesapeake Bay and North Carolina.
With large numbers of brant starting to settle in, the arrival of winter is not far behind. Like the first sight of a White-throated sparrow near your bird feeder, the arrival of brant to New York Harbor is a sure sign that there is a change in the season taking place.
Brant arrive to New York Harbor to spend the winter in a warmer place from where their breeding sites are located. Brant nest in wet areas along the high Arctic coastline around the Foxe Basin in the eastern Arctic, including on Southampton (along the Bell Peninsula and around East Bay), western Baffin (Cape Dominion), Prince Charles, and North Spicer Islands. Every fall, the brant arrive to New York Harbor to escape thick ice up north, which covers over their aquatic food.
The Bayshore Regional Watershed Council, NY-NJ Baykeeper, Monmouth County Clean Communities and The AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassadors Program are seeking volunteers to help clean up Riverside Gardens Park located along Matawan Creek in the Cliffwood Beach area of Aberdeen Township, NJ this Sunday morning, November 19 starting at 10:00am.
The area is unfortunately one of the dirtiest areas in the Bayshore region and needs your help to clean it up for all species to enjoy!
The creek is home to a diversity of fish, crabs, and birds including Ospreys or fish hawks. The creek is also known for the infamous 1916 shark attack, the inspiration for the book and movie JAWS.
Please help us clean up an often overlooked site of New Jersey's rich ecology and history.
A lot of people would be surprised to see so much trash near a beautiful waterway.
WHEN: Sunday, November 19, 2017
TIME: 10:00AM TO 12:00PM
MEETING LOCATION: Along Riverdale Drive in the Cliffwood Beach section of Aberdeen Township, near Highway 35.
Physical Address: Near 350 Riverdale Drive, Aberdeen Township, NJ 07735
On-street parking only
No Registration Needed. Everyone is welcome!Join your neighbors, enjoy the outdoors, get some exercise, meet friendly people, and do something good for the environment. A clean and healthy environment is critical to the overall health of people that live there.
Students or scouts who participate in the cleanup will earn community service hours.
Garbage bags will be provided. Attendees should wear long pants and closed-toe shoes. Waders or high boots are best. Please bring gloves.
Event will take place weather permitting. Heavy rain, snow or strong winds will cancel.
The Bayshore belongs to everyone!
Be part of the solution to creek pollution!
Whale sightings are plentiful during peak season off Jersey Shore
Updated 12:29 AM; Posted 12:06 AM
By Jeff Goldman
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
There were plenty of whale watching opportunities off the Jersey Shore on a chilly fall weekend.
Passengers aboard the Cape May Whale Watcher were treated to the sight of four humpback whales Sunday while photographer Bill McKim also documented a whale swimming off Belmar.
That might sound like a lot, but it was an average weekend, according to Capt. Jeff Stewart of the Cape May Whale Watcher.
Whales can be seen between March and December, according to Stewart, who noted that on some weekends he'll see as many as 10-15 of the mammals in the water.
This past weekend was probably the peak of whale watching season in New Jersey.
Higher air pollution in cities tied to higher mortality
From: American Public Health Association (APHA)
Published November 6, 2017 11:14 AM
Contact: Megan Lowry
Atlanta, Nov. 6, 2017 – New research presented today at APHA’s 2017 Annual Meeting and Expo examined the burden of air pollution and its association with mortality in Chinese cities. The study by researchers at Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health showed a significant correlation between higher air quality index concentrations and higher mortality rates. The study is the first to provide strong evidence of the burden of air pollution in major Chinese cities, as well as the impacts of air quality and climate change on urban population mortality.
Study authors examined daily air quality data from more than 100 cities in China between 2012 and 2015 and compared the data with mortality numbers available from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Air quality was measured with the air quality index, a pollution yardstick that includes ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide. A higher air quality index value indicates a greater amount of pollution.
When researchers compared higher air quality index valued cities with mortality rates, they found that the two measures were significantly correlated. They also confirmed that cities with lower air quality index values had lower mortality rates. This correlation remained significant after researchers adjusted for covariates. Significantly, more than 5 percent of the variation in all-cause mortality could be explained by the difference in air quality index across China.
“Our research shows that air pollution is not just significantly linked to health problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and asthma, but also to a significantly higher rate of death,” said Longjian Liu, MD, PhD, MSc, who presented the study and serves as a visiting associate professor at Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health and associate professor at Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health. “People living in cities across the globe need to know how air pollution can harm them long term. They are the ones who will pay the price of poor air quality if action isn’t taken to clean up their air.”
6 November 2017 – The United Nations Climate Conference opened on Monday in Bonn, Germany, with the aim of a greater ambition for climate action, as the world body’s weather agency issued a stark warning that 2017 is set to be among the three hottest years on record.
The Bonn Conference of the State Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNTCC), informally known as COP 23 and which runs until 17 November, is chaired by Fiji, an island State particularly affected by the impacts of our warming climate.
“The need for urgency is obvious. Our world is in distress from the extreme weather events caused by climate change – destructive hurricanes, fires, floods, droughts, melting ice, and changes to agriculture that threaten our food security”, said COP 23 President and Prime Minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama, at the opening of the conference.
“Our job as leaders is to respond to that suffering with all means available to us. [We] must not fail our people. That means using the next two weeks and the year ahead to do everything we can to make the Paris Agreement work and to advance ambition and support for climate action before 2020.”
Evolution of life in urban environments
Vol. 358, Issue 6363, eaam8327
The extent of urban areas is increasing around the world, and most humans now live in cities. Urbanization results in dramatic environmental change, including increased temperatures, more impervious surface cover, altered hydrology, and elevated pollution. Urban areas also host more non-native species and reduced abundance and diversity of many native species. These environmental changes brought by global urbanization are creating novel ecosystems with unknown consequences for the evolution of life. Here, we consider how early human settlements led to the evolution of human commensals, including some of the most notorious pests and disease vectors. We also comprehensively review how contemporary urbanization affects the evolution of species that coinhabit cities.
A recent surge of research shows that urbanization affects both nonadaptive and adaptive evolution. Some of the clearest results of urban evolution show that cities elevate the strength of random genetic drift (stochastic changes in allele frequencies) and restrict gene flow (the movement of alleles between populations due to dispersal and mating). Populations of native species in cities often represent either relicts that predate urbanization or populations that established after a city formed. Both scenarios frequently result in a loss of genetic diversity within populations and increased differentiation between populations. Fragmentation and urban infrastructure also create barriers to dispersal, and consequently, gene flow is often reduced among city populations, which further contributes to genetic differentiation between populations.
The influence of urbanization on mutation and adaptive evolution are less clear. A small number of studies suggest that industrial pollution can elevate mutation rates, but the pervasiveness of this effect is unknown. A better studied phenomenon are the effects of urbanization on evolution by natural selection. A growing number of studies show that plant and animal populations experience divergent selection between urban and nonurban environments. This divergent selection has led to adaptive evolution in life history, morphology, physiology, behavior, and reproductive traits. These adaptations typically evolve in response to pesticide use, pollution, local climate, or the physical structure of cities. Despite these important results, the genetic basis of adaptive evolution is known from only a few cases. Most studies also examine only a few populations in one city, and experimental validation is rare.
A Common Buckeye Butterfly. The eyespots may be used to scare away predators.
Written by Joe Reynolds
New York Harbor Nature Blog
Warmer than usual temperatures during the last half of October and early November brought out unexpected hues of color around New York Harbor. Hoards of butterflies have been fluttering along the edge of the estuary making their way to winter homes.
Unseasonably warm temperatures last weekend brought out large populations of Common Buckeye butterflies (Junonia coenia), cloudless sulphur butteflies (Phoebis sennae), and even a few hardy monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). All were enjoying the sweet nectar of many asters still in bloom along the edge of a relic maritime forest at Sandy Hook National Recreation Area in New Jersey, located at the mouth of New York Harbor.
While many people know that monarch butterflies migrate thousands of miles to the mountains of Central Mexico to overwinter, they are not the only butterflies to wander long distances. The Common buckeye butterfly cannot survive cold winters and freezing temperatures around New York harbor, so they migrate south each autumn. The buckeyes often fly south to overwinter in Gulf Coast states like Florida. The buckeyes prefer to migrate along the coast in open areas where the warmth of sun keeps their bodies heated, and important task for a cold-blooded or ectothermic animal, which means an animal’s body temperature is dependent on the outside environment for heat.
Come spring, adult buckeyes fly north to reproduce. The first brood travels in late spring and summer to colonize most of the United States and parts of southern Canada.
The cloudless sulphur is one of New York Harbor’s most common butterflies. It tends to be most seen during its fall southward migration along the coast. The butterfly tends to travel long distances along dunes and forest edges as it travels southward to states in southeastern United States.
Butterflies are on the move, but not for long. A strong cold front this weekend will likely squash most colorful butterfly activity around New York Harbor until next spring. Enjoy it while you can.
STOP THE WILLIAMS FRACKED GAS PIPELINE THROUGH NY HARBOR!
MY TOP 5 FAVORITE BOOKS ABOUT NY HARBOR
1. Field Guide to the Neighborhood Birds of New York City by Leslie Day
2.Heartbeats in the Muck by John Waldman
3. The Fisheries of Raritan Bay by Clyde L. MacKenzie Jr.
4. Waterfront: A Walk Around Manhattan by Phillip Lopate
5. The Bottom of the Harbor by Joseph Mitchell