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National Geographic's Strange Days on Planet Earth
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THE ONE DEGREE FACTOR
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The hardest part of creating any documentary series is selecting just what materials can and cannot be included. The number of phenomenal stories, researchers, groups and agencies doing amazing work far outweighs the amount of screen time available for coverage. Here's your chance to plunge into some of the research we weren't able to showcase in depth (or at all) as well as discover some of the major groups involved in this vital issue.

Movement of Species Due to Climate Change

As our climate rapidly shifts, so too do the behaviors and rhythms of animals and plants. Recent findings published in the journal Nature in 2003, show that, on average, species are moving poleward at a rate of 6.1 km (3.8 miles) per decade and that spring events are occurring on average 2.3 days earlier per decade. In 1995, the journal Science reported similar poleward movements occurring in California coastal ocean communities.

References
» Barry J., Baxter, C., Sagarin, R., Gilman, S. (1995). Climate-related, long-term faunal changes in a California rocky intertidal. Science, 267, 672-675.
 
» Parmesan, C. and Yohe, G. (2003). A globally coherent fingerprint of climate change impacts across natural systems. Nature, 421, 37-42.
 
» Root, T. L., Price, J. T., Hall, K. R., Schneider, S. H., Rosenzweig, C. and Pounds, J.A. (2003). Fingerprints of global warming on wild plants and animals. Nature, 421, 57-60. http://www.environmentalreview.org/vol10/Root%20Abstract.html Off-site Link
 

The Great Ocean Conveyor Belt and Impact on the Gulf Stream Due to Climate Change

Recently, the effect of global climate change on the Gulf Stream and the Great Ocean Conveyor Belt has been a hot topic of discussion and even made it to the silver screen in the somewhat fanciful Hollywood blockbuster disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow. Wallace Broecker, one of the world's leading interpreters of Earth's physical systems, has shown that these great currents are responsible for distributing planetary heat. A change in these currents can cause a rapid change in climate. In fact, such an event has happened many times in the past due to natural causes. If we continue adding greenhouse gases into the atmosphere at our present rate, Broecker cautions that for the first time in history a living species could serve as the major catalyst to another abrupt climate shift.

References
» Broecker, W. S. (1997b). Thermohaline circulation, the Achilles heel of our climate system: Will man-made CO2 upset the current balance? Science, 278,1582-1588.
 
» Broecker, W.S. (2003, June 6), Does the trigger for abrupt climate change reside in the ocean or in the atmosphere? Science, 300(5625), 1519-1522.
 
» Want to know if the events featured in blockbuster movie The Day After Tomorrow could really happen? Consult Worldwatch’s Climate Feature. Off-site Link
 

Acid Oceans in the Making

The oceans function as an enormous carbon sink – a great repository that absorbs or sequesters carbon for long periods of time. This can be a good thing however when carbon dioxide dissolves in seawater, it forms carbonic acid. When that occurs on a global scale, the oceans can shift into a more acidic state. In fact this is already what appears to be happening — the oceans average pH has fallen .1 units to 8.1. The consequences are frightening — changing ocean acidity harms the abilities of vital organisms like shellfish and coral to create calcium-carbonate shells, skeletons and reef systems like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. Some experts predict at the present acidification rate, a third of our coral reefs will dissolve before 2100.

References
» Caldeira, K. and Wickett, M.E. (2003), Anthropogenic carbon and ocean pH. Nature, 425, 365-368.
 
» Feely et al. (2004) Impact of Anthropogenic CO2 on the CaCO3 System in the Oceans, Science, 305, 362-366.
 
» Takahashi, T. (2004) Ocean Science: Enhanced: The Fate of Industrial Carbon Dioxide, Science, 305, 352-353.
 

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