Print 48 comment(s) - last by Lerianis.. on Aug 13 at 5:58 PM

  (Source: The Northern Myth)
Though they do not have enough evidence to back it up

Two researchers have claimed that giant heat waves caused by global warming will kill off desert bird communities over the next one hundred years, and even believe that mass amounts of warming-related deaths have already begun to occur. 

Researchers Blair Wolf, an associate professor of biology at the University of New Mexico, and Andrew McKechnie, from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, have discovered that temperature increases as low as two degrees Fahrenheit can affect desert bird populations in a large way.

According to these researchers' findings, massive heat waves claim the lives of several desert bird populations because these birds release body heat by panting and evaporating water across the skin, and with increasing temperatures and not enough places for these birds to find shelter and water, large numbers are dying off due to heat stroke. 

Wolf and McKechnie found that water is scarce in deserts, obviously, and birds become inactive when temperatures rise. Since these heat waves cover large areas, the birds cannot just fly away to avoid the consequences either.

To better understand the future of these bird populations, Wolf and McKechnie have devised a

mathematical model based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's predictions that Earth's temperature will rise 3.5 to 6.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the next one hundred years. This model estimates survival rates (and supposedly future water costs for birds in this region, though no actual figures have been provided) for birds that will live during the 2080's during heat waves in comparison to those who live in the two hottest desert regions today: Birdsville, Australia and Yuma, Arizona. 

According to this model's results, small birds in the 2080's will show significantly less survival rates than larger birds due to their increased amount of water loss. As much as 30 to 40 percent of small desert bird populations could die off in this time period. Their research also shows that all birds under 100 grams will experience a decreased survival rate of 25 percent due to an increase in water loss. 

These researchers are blaming global warming for the increased temperatures that lead to heat waves, causing desert bird populations to perspire too much without enough water to rehydrate. Both Wolf and McKechnie say these increased temperatures will be overwhelming to birds, and have already claimed the lives of several desert bird populations in Western Australia and India. 

While their research has led them to these conclusions, Wolf and McKechnie admit that these results are not exactly 100 percent finished or accurate at this point. So far, their models only apply to birds that are already in hot, dry desert climates. 

"We don't have good research of these die-offs," said Wolf. "No researchers have actually been present during these incidents and no one has actually done the autopsies - so we don't even know the exact cause of death of these animals - whether it was dehydration or heat stroke.

"Our models allow for making somewhat educated guesses at this point, but real data on bird tolerances to heat and water stress are lacking."

Locals in Australia and India have reported these die-offs. Wolf and McKechnie are looking further into these dying populations to see exactly how many are being killed due to heat, and how this will affect other plant and animal species. 

"These incidents illustrate a need for more basic research on how animals function so that predictions can be made and measures can be taken to preserve our biodiversity," said Wolf. 

Wolf presented his abstract, "Climate change increases the likelihood of catastrophic avian mortality events during extreme heat waves and droughts" at the Global Change and Global Science: Comparative Physiology in a Changing World conference from August 4-7 in Colorado.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Seems Premature
By ltgrunt on 8/11/2010 9:49:17 AM , Rating: 1
This work really doesn't seem like it's ready for prime-time yet. Even the researchers admit that they haven't gotten around to doing much, well, research yet. A more fitting headline might have been "Researchers Announce Intent to Study Global Warming-related Bird Mortality Theory." Then again, an accurate and non-sensationalized headline isn't guaranteed to generate page views and advertising dollars, so I guess that's a lost cause.

And wow, people, the closed-minded absolutist denial of climate change is getting to be pretty staggering. Granted, there are still questions, but the hate, vitriol and the rabid distrust of scientists and the scientific method are getting out of hand. Just like the planet, I think you guys need to chill out a little.

RE: Seems Premature
By JediJeb on 8/11/2010 11:39:05 AM , Rating: 2
What is killing the AGW movement is people promoting AGW for the sake of promoting AGW. I read papers that discuss both sides of the issue and have yet to really find one that takes the facts, and presents them as raw unbiased research without adding in opinions that are not supported by the data the writer just presented. This is what is killing both sides of the debate, though I believe lately the pro AGW side has been putting out the more outlandish papers with this one as a prime example.

Real science takes facts and draws conclusions that are supported by them, these guys flat out admit that they made their conclusions before actually getting any facts at all. To write a paper that says " Birds die, we know it is Global Warming causing it but we have not yet determined what caused the birds to die" is the most unscientific paper I have ever heard of. You can't even call it a research paper because they admit they have not yet done any research! Might as well publish a paper on how the moon is purple and say that tomorrow you will actually look at the moon to verify it is purple. No real scientist has the answers before they do their research. You can either have a conclusion eg Birds Dying, then research the cause, or you can research a cause eg Global Warming, and come to the conclusion that is is causing birds to die, but you can't have your cause and conclusion decided before you do your research.

It is disgusting how real scientists are getting a bad name and pretty much thrown to the wayside because of characters like this. Legitimate research can't get funding now days, yet publicity stunts get more money than they know what to do with. We need a press that will force scientists to show their data and work to back up their conclusions or expose the charlatans for what they are. And that includes the peer reviewed scientific journals too, which are beginning to fall to the same level as most other press outlets these days.

RE: Seems Premature
By ltgrunt on 8/11/2010 1:18:38 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not seeing anything in this article to suggest that these researchers are specifically focusing on AGW climate change. It's widely understood at this point that climate change is happening; it's a real thing. The biggest point of contention is the cause, which is where the AGW vs. natural processes argument comes in. But this article doesn't really indicate that their research is going one way or the other on the causes, rather that they're just looking at the effects.

And while it could be argued that they're making their conclusions first, keep in mind that it's also part of the scientific method to make a hypothesis and then do your research and testing to support or falsify that hypothesis. They need to start their research with a bit more focus than something general like "what's happening with birds?" So they take the theory "global warming can cause bird die-offs" and they run with it to see what happens. They seem to be explicitly stating that they haven't finished (or started) research, to say nothing of testing.

RE: Seems Premature
By JediJeb on 8/11/2010 4:56:14 PM , Rating: 2
To better understand the future of these bird populations, Wolf and McKechnie have devised a mathematical model based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's predictions that Earth's temperature will rise 3.5 to 6.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the course of the next one hundred years

They are basing their model off of what is probably the most pro AGW work out there, so I assumed they are also thinking along the same lines with their work. Maybe I guessed wrong.

RE: Seems Premature
By espaghetti on 8/11/2010 3:36:37 PM , Rating: 2
I cannot deny that the climate changes.
There once were giant glaciers. Now they are gone.

What I and many others disagree with is anthropogenic global warming.

If humans can raise the temperature with C02 emissions, the only way to slow or stop it is to lower the earth's population or completely regulate their behavior.

Given how much people like to procreate, nothing can be done. Unless you enslave them.

"Vista runs on Atom ... It's just no one uses it". -- Intel CEO Paul Otellini

Latest Headlines

Most Popular ArticlesAre you ready for this ? HyperDrive Aircraft
September 24, 2016, 9:29 AM
Leaked – Samsung S8 is a Dream and a Dream 2
September 25, 2016, 8:00 AM
Yahoo Hacked - Change Your Passwords and Security Info ASAP!
September 23, 2016, 5:45 AM
A is for Apples
September 23, 2016, 5:32 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki