Climate Change ☀️
The Mouse That Survived a Volcanic Apocalypse
For centuries, Mount Pinatubo, a quiet volcano on Luzon, the most populous island in the Philippines, was an ecological Arcadia, a viridian mountain home to an abundance of fauna. One such critter was Apomys sacobianus, the Pinatubo volcano mouse, which spent its days hunting for earthworms and other foods.

Apomys Sacobianus
On June 15, 1991, the apocalypse befell paradise. Molten rock exploded from the volcano, smothering most of its flanks in superheated, thundering avalanches of toxic gas and debris that instantly exterminated all life in its wake. Almost 1,000 feet was shorn off its summit, leaving behind a 1.5-mile hole and obliterating the surrounding forest.

Ecologists suspected that the Pinatubo volcano mouse, thought to be found up there and nowhere else, went the way of the dodo. But to everyone’s surprise, wildlife surveys revealed that this rodent didn’t just survive the eruption, but it also thrived. As reported in the Philippine Journal of Science last month, it became the most abundant mammal atop the mountain.

Investigating how this mouse made its comeback will help ecologists understand how other mammals may respond when devastation — anthropogenic or natural — greets them,
said Eric Rickart, the curator of vertebrates at the Natural History Museum of Utah and co-author of the new study.

This mouse’s dramatic saga also reinforces an unassailable ecological edict: You should never underestimate rodents, said Christine Wilkinson, a doctoral student researching conservation biology and human-wildlife conflict at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved with the study.

“Anyone who’s seen a New York City rat knows that’s the case,” she said.

Whether or not you think Apomys sacobianus is cute may depend on your predilection for rodents. “It’s a large mouse. Some people would call it a small rat,” Dr. Rickart said. “It’s really a very beautiful little animal.”

... After acute environmental destruction, invading rats from lower elevations should have conquered the mountain, with native species pushed to the side. “That’s just not what we’re seeing in the Philippines,” said Lawrence Heaney, curator of mammals at the Field Museum.

The homegrown mammals had refused to cede much ground to any opportunistic pests, instead continuing to rule their volcanic roost. They are thought to have held on in small patches of surviving woodland, eventually repopulating the mountain’s slopes.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/04/science/volcano-mice-pinatubo.html

In the Oceans, the Volume Is Rising as Never Before
A new review of the scientific literature confirms that anthropogenic noise is becoming unbearable for undersea life.

Although clown fish are conceived on coral reefs, they spend the first part of their lives as larvae drifting in the open ocean. The fish are not yet orange, striped or even capable of swimming. They are still plankton, a term that comes from the Greek word for “wanderer,” and wander they do, drifting at the mercy of the currents in an oceanic rumspringa.

Red Sea Clown Fish
When the baby clown fish grow big enough to swim against the tide, they high-tail it home. The fish can’t see the reef, but they can hear its snapping, grunting, gurgling, popping and croaking. These noises make up the soundscape of a healthy reef, and larval fish rely on these soundscapes to find their way back to the reefs, where they will spend the rest of their lives — that is, if they can hear them.

But humans — and their ships, seismic surveys, air guns, pile drivers, dynamite fishing, drilling platforms, speedboats and even surfing — have made the ocean an unbearably noisy place for marine life, according to a sweeping review of the prevalence and intensity of the impacts of anthropogenic ocean noise published on Thursday in the journal Science. The paper, a collaboration among 25 authors from across the globe and various fields of marine acoustics, is the largest synthesis of evidence on the effects of oceanic noise pollution.

... In the ocean, visual cues disappear after tens of yards, and chemical cues dissipate after hundreds of yards. But sound can travel thousands of miles and link animals across oceanic basins and in darkness, Dr. Duarte said. As a result, many marine species are impeccably adapted to detect and communicate with sound. Dolphins call one another by unique names. Toadfish hum. Bearded seals trill. Whales sing.

... Marine life can adapt to noise pollution by swimming, crawling or oozing away from it, which means some animals are more successful than others. Whales can learn to skirt busy shipping lanes and fish can dodge the thrum of an approaching fishing vessel, but benthic creatures like slow-moving sea cucumbers have little recourse.

... Even temporary sounds can cause chronic hearing damage in the sea creatures unlucky enough to be caught in the acoustic wake. Both fish and marine mammals have hair cells, sensory receptors for hearing. Fish can regrow these cells, but marine mammals probably cannot.


Luckily, unlike greenhouse gases or chemicals, sound is a relatively controllable pollutant. “Noise is about the easiest problem to solve in the ocean,” Dr. Simpson said. “We know exactly what causes noise, we know where it is, and we know how to stop it.”

Many solutions to anthropogenic noise pollution already exist, and are even quite simple. “Slow down, move the shipping lane, avoid sensitive areas, change propellers,” Dr. Simpson said. Many ships rely on propellers that cause a great deal of cavitation: Tiny bubbles form around the propeller blade and produce a horrible screeching noise. But quieter designs exist, or are in the works.

“Propeller design is a very fast-moving technological space,” Dr. Simpson said. Other innovations include bubble curtains, which can wrap around a pile driver and insulate the sound.

The researchers also flagged deep-sea mining as an emergent industry that could become a major source of underwater noise, and suggested that new technologies could be designed to minimize sound before commercial mining starts.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/04/science/ocean-marine-noise-pollution.html

Climate change, periodic modification of Earth’s climate brought about as a result of changes in the atmosphere as well as interactions between the atmosphere and various other geologic, chemical, biological, and geographic factors within the Earth system.

Source: Climate change - Evidence for climate change | Britannica
Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.

Source: Climate Change | United Nations