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Thawing planet bad for some species, good for others
Author: Steve Law, The Portland Tribune
Posted: April 6, 2012

Read the original story in the Portland Tribune here.

Recent thawing of frozen parts of the planet may spell bad news for polar bears and penguins, but will help other species, according to a new study led by Portland State University geologist Andrew Fountain.

The study, published in the April 6 issue of BioScience, focused on longterm impacts of global climate change, particularly the cryosphere – areas where the Earth’s surface is water in solid form for at least a month each year. The cryosphere has been shrinking in response to climate warming.

“With a shrinking cryosphere, populations of microbes, plants, and animals that depend on the snow and ice will decrease if they are unable to migrate,” Fountain says. “On the other hand, life that finds the cryosphere too hostile should expand.”

In shallower snow, white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, and caribou expend less energy and can more easily escape predators, he says. “One species’ loss can be another species’ gain.”