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Nice Autumn Weekend... Strong Cold Front Midweek... Mars Mission... "Earth Gauge": Household Energy Use, Climate Change

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Updated: 11/08/2013 10:39 pm

A nice autumn weekend with chilly early morning temps. but nice by the afternoon. Temps. will top out near 70 Sat. & in the mid 70s Sunday....cooler at the beaches both days though onshore flow will gradually decrease.

Mild seasonal temps. will continue through Veterans Day & Tue. before a strong cold front rolls across the First Coast Tue. night ushering in the chilliest air of the season so far by Wed./Thu. There will likely be some snow in the higher elevations of Northern Ga. & the Carolina's.

Next launch to MARS, MAVEN, will take off on the 18th, to study atmosphere of Mars - click ** here **.

Four billion years ago Mars may have looked a lot like Earth with blue skies and balmy temperatures. It likely had an atmosphere as thick as the Earth’s that not only may have sustained flowing water, but possibly even supported life. So what stripped away Mars' atmosphere leaving behind a cold, red desert? NASA is launching the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution or MAVEN mission on Nov. 18th to investigate this ancient mystery.

Earth Gauge: Household Energy Use

Households in the South Atlantic region – Delaware, DC, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia – spent an average of just over 2000 dollars on energy in 2009. But what do we use that energy for? Not surprisingly, some of our energy consumption is tied to local weather conditions: 29 percent goes towards space heating and 13 percent goes towards air conditioning. The rest is used to power appliances, electronics and lighting (41 percent), and to heat water (17 percent).

Tip: This fall and winter, save energy at home – and save a few dollars – with these tips:

Let the light in. Allow sunlight to heat your home naturally by opening curtains and blinds on south and west facing windows during the day. Close window coverings at night to keep heat inside.

·         Adjust the temp. Turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees while you are sleeping or away from home can save up to 10 percent per year on energy costs. Invest in a programmable thermostat to make it easy.

·         Use hot water wisely. Set the temperature on your water heater to 120 degrees, which is hot enough for most uses. Fix leaks and invest in low-flow faucets and shower heads to use hot water efficiently.

·         Power down. Save up to $100 per year by plugging electronic devices into a power strip and turning it off when not in use.

·         Lighten up. Replace traditional light bulbs with energy-saving light bulbs.

(Sources: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Residential Energy Consumption Survey. State Fact Sheets and 2009 RECS Survey Data; U.S. Department of Energy, “Fall and Winter Energy-Saving Tips,” and “Tips: Water Heating,”)

Climate Fact: How does climate change impact migration and hibernation? 

Different climatic seasons are experienced throughout the year because the amount of sunlight changes as the Earth revolves around the Sun. Animals and plants have adapted their life cycles (birth, growth, reproduction, etc.) to the seasons and resource availability. Some animals have developed behaviors to cope with winter conditions, conserve energy and deal with food scarcity by migrating to a warmer climate or hibernating. Both migration and hibernation are sensitive to weather and climate, and climate change poses a challenge to migratory and hibernating species. 

  • Climate change can alter the length of climatic seasons, which affects resource availability (food, shelter, etc.) and the amount of time animals have to prepare for subsequent seasons and life stages.
  • Climate change can alter the cues used by species to regulate their behavior. For example, yellow-bellied marmots rely on air temperature as a cue to come out from hibernation. With warming temperatures, they are emerging earlier than usual.
  • Climate change can disrupt the timing and synchrony between animal behaviors or life cycles and resource availability. For example, warmer sea temperatures affect the life cycle of small animals and plants that live in the ocean and are eaten by fish. This creates a mismatch between Atlantic cod migration and food availability. Food scarcity when cod arrive at specific spawning sites has lowered the number of cod reaching adulthood.
  • Climate change can affect the distribution of species due to warming temperatures. Analyses performed by the National Audubon Society have shown that over the last four decades, 58 percent of birds have shifted their distribution northward into higher latitudes. 

Migration usually occurs between breeding and non-breeding areas, utilizing a network of habitats to travel back and forth. Migrating species need to prepare to cross ecological barriers such as deserts, mountains and oceans, which requires high amounts of quality food in a short period of time. If they are not able to prepare, they may arrive in poor physical condition, affecting their survival and ability to reproduce. Climate change is changing weather factors such as temperature and precipitation, and increasing the frequency of some extreme weather events. This increases the risk for migratory species that depend on food availability and suitable habitats in multiple locations. Hibernating species are being affected by warming temperatures to the extent that some species are spending less time hibernating by delaying the onset of hibernation or emerging earlier; being abnormally active can force them to use stored energy before they can replace it. In other cases, species such as the Columbian ground squirrel delayed emergence from hibernation due to late spring snow falls, reducing the time they have to prepare for the next winter.

(Source: Inouye, D.W., B. Barr, K.B. Armitage, and B.D. Inouye. 2000. Climate Change is Affecting Altitudinal Migrants and Hibernating Species. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science 97(4):1630-1633. and Robinson, R.A, H.Q.P. Crick, J.A. Learmonth, I.M.D. Maclean, C.D. Thomas, F. Bairlein, M.C. Forchhammer, C.M. Francis, J.A. Gill, B.J. Godley, J. Harwood, G.C. Hays, B. Huntley, A.M. Hutson, G.J. Pierce, M.M. Rehfisch, D.W. Sims, M.B. Santos, T.H. Sparks, D.A. Stroud, M.E. Visser. 2009. Travelling Through a Warming World: Climate Change and Migratory Species. Endang Species Res 7:87-99. and Frank, C.L. 2011. The Relationship between Climate Warming and Hibernation in Mammals. Temperature Adaptation in a Changing Climate: Nature at Risk. eds K.B. Storey and K.K. Tanino and National Park Service. Denning and Hibernation Behavior. Accessed Online 31 October 2013. and National Audubon Society. 2009. Birds and Climate Change: Ecological Disruption in Motion. Accessed online 31 October 2013 and Science Daily. Hibernation Altered by Climate Change Takes a Toll on Rocky Mountain Animal Species. Accessed online 1 November 2013.)

Climate in the News: “Warm Winters Let Trees Sleep Longer”— Science Daily,  October 30, 2013 Research has brought a new correlation to light: The colder the winter, the earlier native plants begin to grow again.

Have a great & safe weekend!

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