Climate Change

NC State University
NC State

It's been a big year for NC State - and it's only February.

Western Carolina University

Scientist Robert Young says that even the most conservative estimates show rising sea levels have a strong effect on the beaches of North Carolina. 

Justin Catanoso

Melting ice caps at the poles are not the only concern when thinking about global warming. Increasingly, scientists are realizing that the impact of rising temperatures on tropical forests is just as dramatic.

On a rain forest mountain top where I had just seen woolly monkeys swinging through the trees, I asked Wake Forest biologist Miles Silman if we were simply putting too much greenhouse gas in the air to slow or halt the inevitable march of climate change.

The Neuse River bike and pedestrian trail in Raleigh, forest, trees.
City of Raleigh

Researchers at Duke University have found evidence that climate change is shortening the life cycles of trees in the U.S.

Research in tropical areas like Peru has suggested that trees are migrating to cooler areas by producing offspring in higher elevations or latitudes, but the latest study says most plants in the U.S. might not be able to move quickly enough to keep up with rising temperatures. 

A seal pup on thin ice.
International Fund for Animal Welfare

A new study from Duke has found that as sea ice cover declines off the coast of eastern Canada, harp seal pups are suffering from a higher rate of strandings than their parents. It’s the first study of seal stranding rates that takes into account genetics, as well as environmental and demographic factors like age and gender.  Duke research scientist David Johnston says that genetic fitness does not affect the rate of stranding.

Air Force airmen lay sandbags to protect against a flooding disaster in MO in 2011.
Dept. of Defense

Current and former members of the military want to talk about how climate change could be threatening national security. 

A public meeting in Fayetteville tonight will include discussions about evidence linking climate change to a rising risk of stronger natural disasters.  Spring Lake mayor Chris Rey is one of the speakers at the meeting and a former Army captain.  He says storms that cause widespread damage divert military resources, leaving the impacted areas more vulnerable.

Leaves on trees in a forest.
Laura Candler

A new study from researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has revealed exactly how trees play a role in smog production. The question has been a source of scientific uncertainty for years, and the findings are a milestone in air pollution research, with potentially significant implications for public health.

Climate change often sparks concerns over rising sea levels and melting ice caps. But its impact on agriculture could be just as devastating. A new report from the US Department of Agriculture highlights the potential problems and how farmers will have to adapt.


Nov 15, 2012

shrinking polar ice caps, rising temperatures, vanishing forests, acidic oceans and superstorms. Welcome to the new planet earth. A renowned environmental writer came up with this new spelling of Earth - Eaarth - because the planet we live on no longer resembles the planet we used to live on. The new planet has a new name.

UNC Working to Save Native Species in Galapagos

Jul 25, 2012
The UNC Center for Galapagos Studies

The Galapagos is a chain of 13 large islands about six hundred miles from the coast of Ecuador. It was there, in 1835, that the British scientist Charles Darwin began thinking about how animals change over time. Since then, scientists have called the Galapagos a living laboratory,  a place to study evolution and natural selection. Now, with 180,000 tourists visiting each year, experts say the living lab is in danger, and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill scientists are stepping up to help.

Who Owns the Arctic?

Mar 27, 2012

The question of who owns the Arctic is under consideration at a conference hosted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this week. The issue of Arctic sovereignty has arisen largely in response to climate change.

It's the first day of Spring but it may feel like winter never really settled in. State Climatologist Ryan Boyles says it was the 8th-warmest winter on record in North Carolina and the 6th-driest. He says that's had some up-sides.

Ryan Boyles: Recreation has been much higher this year; people have been able to really get out and enjoy the outdoors this past winter because we've had such mild temperatures. Snow removal costs have been very small this past winter, especially compared to the previous two winters. But there are some negative impacts as well.

There's more evidence that climate change is altering bird migration patterns. A new study from UNC-Chapel Hill finds some species along the east coast are migrating three-to-six days earlier than they were just ten years ago. Allen Hurlbert is an assistant professor of biology at UNC. He says birds face problems if they get the timing wrong.

The US Department of Agriculture says winters aren't as cold as they used to be in North Carolina. It has released its first new map of planting zones in more than 20 years. Tony Avent is the owner of Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh. He was a technical advisor on the map. He says its detailed, interactive features surpass anything previously available.

Stewart Cook/International Fund for Animal Welfare

Warmer temperatures in the North Atlantic over the last several decades have resulted in significantly higher mortality rates of baby harp seals. A new study out of Duke looked at satellite data of ice conditions in the Gulf of St Lawrence, a major breeding region and compared them to yearly reports of dead seal pups that washed up on shore. Lead researcher David Johnston is a scientist at the Duke University Marine Lab:

David Johnston:  These animals have evolved to take advantage of the advan tages of ephemeral surfaces like ice.

A new study out of Duke University finds global warming is forcing tropical birds in Peru to migrate to higher elevations. But it also finds they're migrating at a slower rate than the world is warming.

A new study from Duke University points to tough times ahead for some tree species. Researchers examined data on climate change and the effect rising temperatures are having on tree populations in the eastern U.S. James Clark is a professor of biology and statistics at Duke. He says models that predicted trees would move with the climate were wrong.

A Durham-based environmental group warns utility companies are trying to add nuclear capacity without significantly reducing their use of coal power. A report from NC WARN focuses on what they call the "Southeast Five." That includes both Duke Energy and Progress Energy. Jim Warren is executive director of NC WARN.

Ari Friedlaender with Humpback whale in Wilhelmina Bay, Antarctica
Alison Stimpert, University of Hawaii

  Duke scientists are finding record numbers of humpback whales feeding on krill on the Western Antarctic Peninsula. A new report shows scientists observed more than 300 whales in a bay in May 2009. Scientists say a sheet of ice should have prevented whales from feeding on krill by that time of year. But Duke’s Ari Friedlaender says climate change is shortening the winter season and ice is forming slowly. So the krill are exposed for feeding.

Durham Sustainability Manager Tobin Freid
Tobin Freid

North Carolina has topped many lists in the past few years.  It's one of the fastest growing states and ranks high for its business climate.  But in energy efficiency, NC is wading somewhere in the middle of the pack nationwide.