This extraordinary image from the International Space Station shows Ireland in the foreground, still in darkness with city lights easily visible; the shimmering glow of the aurora borealis, or northern lights, on the left-hand side of the curving horizon, and the brilliant glow of the oncoming sunrise refracting through the Earth's atmosphere. It's hard to believe, but true nonetheless, that such a thin layer of gases — only 100 miles or so thick, compared with the planet's 8,000-mile diameter — can trap enough heat to make life possible on a world that would otherwise be perpetually frozen. Thanks to human-generated greenhouse gases, that thin slice of atmosphere is trapping more heat than at any time in many tens of thousands of years.
A crocodile and turtle face off at the Cano Negro Wildlife Reserve in Costa Rica. Twenty-five percent of the country’s land been turned into protected reserves and parks to protect animals and habitats from deforestation. Costa Rica produces 95 percent of its energy needs from renewable energy sources and has made a pledge to become a carbon neutral country by 2021.
Credit: Jeffrey Arguedas/European Pressphoto Association
Venice has plenty to worry about in terms of climate change and sea level rise. On top of the usual list of flooding concerns many coastal locations share, Venice has to account for the fact that it's sinking and at a rate faster than researchers previously believed. According to Discovery News, the city, which is comprised of 117 islands, continues to sink at an average rate of 2mm per year and though this may seem trivial, combined with rising seas, it most certainly spells trouble for this city of canals.
Maple syrup may become a casualty of a changing climate by the end of the century, according to research by the USDA Forest Service. The sap flow from the maple trees, which is boiled down to make syrup, is governed by alternate freezing and thawing patterns in the late winter. The trees also depend on snow to prevent the roots from freezing. Also studies by the Forest Service show that climate change is likely to affect the suitable habitat for maples, thus reducing the amount of trees and syrup in the coming century.
Credit: flickr/Sterling College
The mild winter in the Northeast brought about an unusual visitor to New York City’s upper west side. A Rufous hummingbird was spotting hanging around the American Museum of Natural History in December. According to Joseph DiCostanzo, an ornithologist at the museum, since hummingbirds usually fly south by late October, early November, seeing them in December in the city is very odd. DiCostanzo also noted that with more mild winters, there has been more unseasonable animal sitings.
Credit: flickr/Ed Gaillard