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Visualized: the parts of the US where summer heat has risen the most

An onslaught of record-breaking heat across much of the US has provided yet another indicator of a longer-term issue – summers are progressively getting hotter for Americans in all corners of the country. Studies have found that summers are generally getting hotter, including much warmer night-times which reduces the amount of relief people get from the elevated temperatures. Heatwaves are getting fiercer and are moving more slowly as the planet warms, with heat now the largest weather-related cause of death in the US.

“We are now starting to have this complicated relationship with summer,” said Deepti Singh, a climate and extreme events expert at Washington State University. “The extreme events are happening more quickly than the rate of mean temperature warming, which is putting a strain on everything we depend upon as a society.

“If you talk to climate scientists, there’s certainly an anxiety as summer approaches. It can be distressing.”

[A] county-level map of summer temperature increases shows that the warming isn’t uniform, however, with large jumps in heat across much of the US west and in the north-eastern US.

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The Guardian
Yahoo! News

Grizzlies are returning to WA’s North Cascades. How will that work?

Among the jagged peaks of the North Cascades, lush alpine meadows rich with berries and wildflowers blanket valleys carved by glaciers, some threaded with trickling creeks. But these idyllic landscapes are missing one big thing that had helped sustain them over the millennia: grizzly bears.

That will soon change after federal officials decided last month to reintroduce grizzlies here, where there hasn’t been a confirmed sighting of the species in nearly three decades.

One study examining samples of spruce needles from trees growing up to 500 meters (1,640 feet) away from Alaska salmon streams found that about 17% of nitrogen 30 feet up in the air came from salmon and about 82% of it had passed through a grizzly bear.

If salmon can be recovered in significant numbers where bears live, they can be a critical link in moving ocean-derived nutrients into high elevation terrestrial environments, said Charles Robbins, a co-author on the studies and a professor and director of research at the Washington State University Bear Center. This would have an effect on all plants.

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Seattle Times
Star Telegram
The Columbian

Plankton Worlds

Ancient bacteria, single cells and long strands of strange little plants, plus minute single celled animals and weird fantastical animal larvae – these are the members of the Earth’s massive and hugely important planktonic ecosystems. Come with Nan Evans as she talks with Dr. Gretchen Rollwagen-Bollens about this strange world and its significance to global ecology and human well being. Consider eutrophication, the world’s biggest threat to water quality or cyanobacteria and one of the causes of toxic algal blooms such as the ones in our local Andeson Lake.

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Canada lynx historic range in U.S. likely wider than previously thought

A broader past could mean a brighter future for Canada lynx in the United States, according to recent research.

The study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, indicates that lynx might do well in the future in parts of Utah, central Idaho and the Yellowstone National Park region, even considering climate change and the lack of lynx in those areas now.

Using a model validated by historic records, researchers first found that in 1900, Canada lynx had more suitable habitat in the United States than the few northern corners of the country where they are found currently. The study showed the elusive big cat likely roamed over a larger area in the Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Great Lakes region and parts of New England.

“History matters even for wildlife,” said lead author Dan Thornton, a Washington State University wildlife ecologist. “As part of the criteria for species recovery, we have to understand their historic distribution. Otherwise, how can we help recover a species, if we don’t know what we’re recovering to?”

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Billings Gazette