Audubon Magazine Fall 2019

Audubon is the official magazine of the National Audubon Society. Get Audubon Magazine digital magazine subscription today for news coverage of the natural world. We help our readers appreciate, understand, and protect the environment with a particular focus on birds, other wildlife and their habitats

United States
National Audubon Society
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4 Numéros

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1 min

In July, the hottest month ever recorded globally, a severe heat wave hit Europe, sending countless Germans to seek relief at the beach (right), shutting down nuclear reactors in France, and melting ice sheets in Greenland at historic rates. We have warmed the planet by about 1 degree Celsius in the industrial era, and we’re already seeing dangerous consequences for birds and people. “Climate change isn’t this distant thing that’s going to happen to your great-grandchildren,” says NOAA climate scientist Stephanie Herring. “It’s happening today, to you.” It’s now hard, she says, to point to a heat event that scientists conclude wasn’t exacerbated by climate change. France and the Netherlands, for example, topped 105 degrees Fahrenheit during the July scorcher—temperatures made 100 times more likely by long-term warming trends. That followed oppressive…

1 min

When Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, nearly 3,000 people died and many survivors (below) lost their homes and jobs. The storm turned California-based climate scientist José Javier Hernández Ayala’s in-laws into temporary climate refugees; he housed them for three months. Maria’s rains surpassed not only those from the hurricanes he experienced growing up on the island, but also the precipitation unleashed by any of the 128 other hurricanes recorded there since 1956, Hernández Ayala reported this year. After considering El Niño and other factors, he calculated that long-term warming made Maria’s rainfall totals nearly five times more likely in Puerto Rico. The Atlantic Ocean is hotter than it’s ever been in the past century. That additional heat can fuel stronger tropical cyclones that linger longer or dump more water, says hurricane researcher…

1 min

Sea-level rise is a slow-motion disaster that creeps up with the high tide, flooding streets and sewers and overtopping beaches and avian habitat. Sensitive coastal-nesting birds, like the rapidly declining Saltmarsh Sparrow (below) and the Eastern Black Rail, are struggling to survive on the East and Gulf coasts. And it no longer takes a major storm, or even, at times, any rain at all, to overwhelm urban infrastructure installed decades ago. Sometimes a breezy day or a full moon will do it, says NOAA oceanographer William Sweet. In the hard-hit Chesapeake Bay region, towns that experienced only one to three days of high-tide floods in 2000 are now being inundated two to three times as often. After a historic number of tidal floods in 2018, NOAA predicted a chronically waterlogged future…

1 min

Central Americans who leave their homes for an uncertain future are often fleeing desperate poverty and violence. Yet migrants and asylum seekers from the region, such as those arriving in southern Mexico last year (right), have also suffered years of drought, and crop losses and growing food insecurity may further spur them to make the dangerous trek. These nations don’t have the historic data needed to analyze climate change’s role in recent droughts, says Edwin Castellanos, a climate scientist at Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. But his surveys of Guatemala’s farmers confirm that once-reliable daily rains in May and June, just after planting, are a thing of the past. “The models are predicting that we are going to get less rain, little by little,” he says. “What the models were predicting…

3 min
this is what solutions look like

When we were putting the finishing touches on this issue, Hurricane Dorian slammed into the Bahamas as a deadly category 5 storm—one of the strongest and longest-lasting hurricanes on record in the Atlantic. It then raked the U.S. shoreline from Florida to North Carolina, sending coastal populations scrambling to prepare for yet another devastating storm. Five years ago, when Audubon published its first report on birds and climate change, scientists might have observed that Dorian—which moved slowly, gathering strength from warm sea and air temperatures—is precisely the kind of extreme-weather event one would expect to see more frequently with climate change. Now, thanks to a rapidly advancing area of research called attribution science, they can calculate the extent to which climate change contributes to such an event. This is the science…

6 min
birds are telling us it’s time to take action on climate

Five years ago, we published our first report on how North America’s birds would do during the climate crisis (spoiler: nearly half of them will not do well at all). Since then, an onslaught of severe-weather events, years of record heat, and daily flooding from sea-level rise have reinforced our findings and convinced a majority of Americans that it’s time to take action. Research by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication shows that more than 60 percent of Americans say the federal government should do more to address the problem. At this point, denying the need to act on climate change is a suicide wish for the planet, for people, and for birds. Late last year, a prominent senator wrote: “The climate is changing and we, collectively, have a responsibility to…