NPR logo Climate Roundup: Glaciers, Fungus, Cows And James Hansen

Climate Roundup: Glaciers, Fungus, Cows And James Hansen

National Park Service photo shows Iceberg Lake at Glacier National Park. AP Photo/National Park Service hide caption

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AP Photo/National Park Service

National Park Service photo shows Iceberg Lake at Glacier National Park.

AP Photo/National Park Service

There are several global-warming related stories to pass along.

A researcher warns all that all remaining glaciers in Glacier National Park in Montana may be gone by the end of the decade due to global warming.

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Glacier National Park has lost two more of its namesake moving icefields to climate change, which is shrinking the rivers of ice until they grind to a halt, a government researcher said Wednesday.

Warmer temperatures have reduced the number of named glaciers in the northwestern Montana park to 25, said Dan Fagre said, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. He warned many of the rest of the glaciers may be gone by the end of the decade.

"It's continual," Fagre said. "When we're measuring glacier margins, by the time we go home the glacier is already smaller than what we've measured."

The meltoff shows the climate is changing, but does not show exactly what is causing temperatures to go up, Fagre said.

Global warming is also being blamed for the spread of a fungus that stunts Douglas fir trees.

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - Global warming appears to be helping the spread of a fungus that stunts the growth of Douglas fir trees in coastal forests - a development bound to hurt the timber industry.

New research from Oregon State University finds that Swiss needle cast is affecting not just young plantations of Douglas fir, but older trees that grow naturally.

Plant pathologist Jeffrey Stone says this adds to a growing volume of research showing the disease is getting worse as winters get warmer, springs come earlier and summers get wetter in coastal forests.

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Meanwhile, a new study suggests grazing cows aren't responsible for releasing emissions of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide, a problem for which they have been blamed in the past. Nitrous oxide is more popularly known as laughing gas.

OSLO, April 7 (Reuters) - Grazing by cows or sheep can cut emissions of nitrous oxide — a powerful greenhouse gas — in grasslands from China to the United States, according to a study that overturns past belief that farm animals stoke releases.

Adding to understanding of links between agriculture and global warming, the report in Thursday's edition of the journal Nature said livestock can help to limit microbes in the soil that generate the gas, also known as laughing gas.

"It's been generally assumed that if you increase livestock numbers you get a rise in emissions of nitrous oxide. This is not the case," said Klaus Butterbach-Bahl of the Karlsruhe
Institute of Technology in Germany who was among the authors.

This supposed connection between the release of nitrous oxide into the atmosphere and grazing ruminants was news to me. I thought the only link between cows and greenhouse gases was the methane cows release as a by product of digestion.

Lastly, American climate scientist James Hansen received a $100,000 Sophie environmental prize. Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, complained that his work and views on global warming were censored by Bush Administration officials.

The Sophie Prize website has the following:

The Sophie Prize 2010 is awarded to American climate scientist Dr. James E. Hansen. Hansen has played a key role for the development of our understanding of human-induced climate change. His clear message has met resistance, and he experienced censorship of his scientifically based statements during the Bush-administration.

Dr. Hansen is an outstanding scientist with numerous scientific articles published in high-ranking journals. His conscience, and later his role as a "concerned grandfather", has committed him to combine his research with political activism based on personal conviction. He receives the award for his clear communication of the threat posed by climate change and for his genuine commitment to future generations.