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Birds : Warming Could Benefit Some Species Last Updated on 2010-12-19 00:00:00 Birds, particularly those that fly, have a high metabolic rate that heightens their sensitivity to their immediate surroundings. As such, they have long served as bellwethers of environmental change. For example, canaries were brought into coal mines in the United Kingdom as recently as 1986 to monitor carbon monoxide and methane because the birds gave clear indications of distress — they stopped singing and fell off their perches — if these noxious gases began to accumulate. Seasonal temperature variations influence the proportion of short- and long-distance migratory species in European bird communities. [1] Bird species that migrate only short distances must endure winter and its meager resources, whereas long-distance migratory birds escape to warmer climes. Both short and long-distance migrants benefit from the expanded resources that result from warm and early... More »
Wine Grapes: Vulnerable to High Temperatures Last Updated on 2010-11-08 00:00:00 As temperatures rise in response to increasing greenhouse gas emissions, effects of climate change on the agriculture industry will become more pronounced. The largest impact will fall on plant species that are especially sensitive to changing weather patterns, such as the wine grape (Vitis vinifera). High temperatures during fruit ripening adversely affect wine quality and thus its market value. For example, premium Petit Verdot wine grapes from the Napa Valley of California fetch an average of $5.95 per kg, whereas mixed red wine grapes from only 150 km away in the hotter San Joaquin Valley garner only an average of $0.24 per kg. [1] As a consequence of global warming, locations suitable for growing premium wine grapes will shift to higher latitudes and from inland to coastal areas. According to the forecasts of two climate models (the United States Department of Energy’s... More »