From melting Arctic ice to dying coral reefs to rising sea levels, there was no shortage of grim environmental news in 2016. But the news wasn’t all bad. There were several bright spots for the environment last year as well.
A rapidly-growing crack in the fourth-largest ice shelf in Antarctica has scientists watching for it to break off entirely. By early February, the crack in the Larsen C ice shelf was more than 100 miles long and some parts of it were 2 miles wide. In the two-month period between December and February, the crack grew by 17 miles, a pace of about five football fields a day.
America’s National Parks are special places of incomparable beauty and fascination. When the National Park Service was first created 100 years ago, it was instructed to leave these places “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” We now live in a time when the changing climate is altering many aspects of the landscape including in many national parks. The parks are protected, but they are changing.
Santa Claus may have to change out of that heavy red suit this Christmas. The North Pole, site of his fabled workshop, is seeing historically high temperatures this year. In fact, it is 36 degrees Fahrenheit higher than it has been in past decades. This is a staggering number.
Coastal floodplains across the southeastern and mid-Atlantic regions of the United States are at the leading edge of climate change’s effect on what were largely freshwater ecosystems. Because of the low elevation and flat or gently sloping characteristics of coastal forests in these areas, they are among the most vulnerable globally to saltwater intrusion.
Most recent news about coral reefs around the world has been bad news. There has been unprecedented coral bleaching in places like Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The effects of climate change – including warming temperatures and rising seas – as well as the recent El Niño event have led to damaged reefs across the globe.