The Climate Change Blues

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It's already started

Via Eurekalert, and from the “Department of Population Color Doppler Shift”, comes this story of the bluing. Next comes the violet. After that, well, I don’t even want to talk about it…

 

Published in the Journal of Animal Ecology

Climate change is making our environment ‘bluer’

The “colour” of our environment is becoming “bluer”, a change that could have important implications for animals’ risk of becoming extinct, ecologists have found. In a major study involving thousands of data points and published this week in the British Ecological Society’s Journal of Animal Ecology, researchers examined how quickly or slowly animal populations and their environment change over time, something ecologists describe using “spectral colour”.

Ecologists have investigated the link between fluctuations in the environment and those of animal populations for the past 30 years. They describe fluctuations as a colour spectrum, where red signifies an environment or population that fluctuates more slowly over time (such as ocean temperature) and blue signifies more rapid fluctuations (such as changes in air temperature).

Existing models and theories suggest that the spectral colour of the environment should affect the spectral colour of animal populations. Now for the first time ecologists have assembled field data to confirm the theory.

Bernardo Garcia-Carreras and Dr Daniel Reuman of Imperial College London examined three large sets of data. They used the Global Population Dynamics Database, from which they extracted data on changes in population for 147 species of bird, mammal, insect, fish and crustacean over the past 30 years, and two sets of temperature data from the Climatic Research Unit and the Global Historical Climatology Network. The latter includes data collected from weather stations worldwide throughout the twentieth century.

The study not only confirmed that the colour of changes in the environment map onto the colour of changes in animal populations, but found that our environment is becoming “bluer”, in other words fluctuating more rapidly over time.

According to Dr Reuman: “We showed using field data for the first time that the colour of changes in the environment maps onto the colour of changes in populations: redder environments mean redder populations, and bluer environments mean bluer populations. We also found that the colour of the environment is changing – becoming bluer – apparently due to climate change.”

“The colour change refers to the change in ‘spectral colour’ but this does not mean that red means warmer temperatures. Spectral colour tells us how quickly or slowly temperature is oscillating over time. If the oscillations are comparatively slow, then we say that temperature has a ‘red’ spectrum, and if the changes are quick, then temperature is said to be ‘blue’. When we talk of temperature becoming ‘bluer’, we mean the oscillations in temperature are becoming faster over time,” explains Garcia-Carreras.

The results are important because previous studies show that the spectral colour of a population affects its extinction risk. Some simple models tell us that bluer populations – those that fluctuate more rapidly over time – are at less risk of extinction. This is because adverse conditions are more likely to be followed by better conditions when the environment is fluctuating more rapidly.

According to Dr Reuman: “Since it was previously known that the colour of changes in populations is related to extinction risk of the populations, our results show a way that climate change should impact the extinction risk of populations by affecting the colour of populations.”

While the study seems to provide some good news for species facing extinction, the researchers warn that this is offset by other pressures. “This apparent good news is tempered by the fact that habitat loss, overexploitation and other factors are likely more important drivers of extinction risk than the colour of temperature fluctuations,” Dr Reuman says.

###

Bernardo Garcia-Carreras and Daniel C. Reuman (2011), ‘An empirical link between the spectral colour of climate and the spectral colour of field populations in the context of climate change‘, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2656.2011.01833.x, is published in Journal of Animal Ecology on 6 April 2011.

Summary

1. The spectral colour of population dynamics and its causes have attracted much interest. The spectral colour of a time series can be determined from its power spectrum, which shows what proportion of the total variance in the time series occurs at each frequency. A time series with a red spectrum (a negative spectral exponent) is dominated by low-frequency oscillations, and a time series with a blue spectrum (a positive spectral exponent) is dominated by high-frequency oscillations.

2. Both climate variables and population time series are characterised by red spectra, suggesting that a population’s environment might be partly responsible for its spectral colour. Laboratory experiments and models have been used to investigate this potential link. However, no study using field data has directly tested whether populations in redder environments are redder.

3. This study uses the Global Population Dynamics Database together with climate data to test for this effect. We found that the spectral exponent of mean summer temperatures correlates positively and significantly with population spectral exponent.

4. We also found that over the last century, temperature climate variables on most continents have become bluer.

5. Although population time series are not long or abundant enough to judge directly whether their spectral colours are changing, our two results taken together suggest that population spectral colour may be affected by the changing spectral colour of climate variables. Population spectral colour has been linked to extinction; we discuss the potential implications of our results for extinction probability.

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Are you sure it was the 6th of April? I would have though the 1st far more appropriate!

Ziiex Zeburz

Research funded by the BBC,
they got hundreds of millions to spend, and 25,000 salaried employees to spend it!

MangoChutney

Bernardo Garcia-Carreras and Dr Daniel Reuman of Imperial College London examined three large sets of data. They used the Global Population Dynamics Database, from which they extracted data on changes in population for 147 species of bird, mammal, insect, fish and crustacean over the past 30 years, and two sets of temperature data from the Climatic Research Unit and the Global Historical Climatology Network. The latter includes data collected from weather stations worldwide throughout the twentieth century.
Perhaps they shouldn’t have relied on data from CRU?
/Mango
I don’t deny climate change, I know climate changes

So, change is good, except when it’s bad?
Or, change is bad, except when it’s good?
This is too confusing!

DMC

Isn’t this saying that “climate change” -> “bluer spectra” -> “less extinction”?
Although the concept of correlating spectral exponents on such things as “global temperature” vs “animal populations” sounds like an awfully tangled idea.

Well, whoopee doo! “Habitat loss, overexploitation and other factors are likely more important drivers of extinction risk than the colour of temperature fluctuations!”
How dare the British Ecological Society imperil our grandchildren’s future by sponsoring a study that shows that rapid climate changes could be actually beneficial to biological diversity? And worse, how dare they compound that heresy by suggesting that there are other, really detrimental anthropogenic environmental changes that should concern us?
Mobilise the EU to cut their funding immediately!
(if necessary, /sarc off)

Warren

Your tax dollars at work

What a bunch of hooey these folks are shoveling. The Earth is blue: the “blue marble,” as seen from space. But to the eco contingent, that’s apparently a very bad thing; as we all know, the only good and holy color is Green.
Hooey! I just found a spot of green on my block of Parmesan cheese. But it was a sort of blue-green, so I guess it wasn’t all bad. I’ll have to model it to be sure.

Michael J

I’m not certain, but I think they may have just proved that Climate Change causes changes in climate. The mind boggles.

Tenuc

They clearly don’t understand that the rate of climate change and the rate of change in animal populations are ultimately driven by deterministic chaos.
If the did understand this point, they would realise that the observed correlation from this and previous studies has no validity and I suspect it will be found after a few years of time that the relationship is reversed.

Ed Zuiderwijk

Feng Shui anyone?

Baa Humbug

This reminds me very much of the reports the Ministry of Silly Walks used to release.
Maybe this mob finally caught up with Chuck Darwin, if the environment changes, species populations change, if it doesn’t, they don’t.
You know it makes sense.
p.s. I am perversely feeling sorry for our pommy cousins watching the billions upon billions of their hard earned being flushed down the dunny and there is nothing they can do about it. You lot need to take to the streets.

George Lawson

It amazes me that they can come to such specific conclusions by studying a period of only 30 years in the evolvement of animal species. What, in any case, does this costly research achieve for mankind other than an awful waste of money for some unsuspecting funding organisation.

I can see it now: The representatives of each species lining up two-by-two to “get their colours done” by an expert so that they can tell the rest of the species whether or not they are at risk. Or, maybe, they will do it online http://www.colourmebeautiful.co.uk/
I wonder if comedians are feeling threatened by this stuff yet? Are they are at risk as a species, or is this nonsense just a rich mother-load of material for their routines?

Ryan

OK, so we all understand that burning a forest down is a rather rapid change and bad news for the animals that live there, as they don’t have time to adapt to their new environment. And we all understood that simple idea, didn’t we?
I guess the ecologists are desperately trying to dress up their science in a manner which makes it much harder for the layman to understand so they can sound as clever as electronics engineers and nuclear physicists. So they have adopted some of the language of physics and re-deployed it to make their own field seem so much more abstract. They ain’t fooling nobody.

oldseadog

Did they study the Polar Bear numbers?
I think we should be told.

TimiBoy

Let me get this straight. People are starving, and others get paid to dream up this shite? We’ve lost the plot.
I nearly went for the spade when I was reading this lot. It’s my normal reaction when I see a steaming pile…
Tim

Rob R

I start to worry when an alarmist peer reviewed paper contains nothing much to worry about and when at the same time they admit it. Clearly the matter has not been researched with enough thoroughness or zeal. Please tell them to go back and start allover again. The very least they could have done was sound the alarm over something completely unrelated that the science has supposedly settled.

Alan the Brit

I wonder if their model was full of simulations & representations, making it all rather sophisticated? You all know what I mean! 🙂

Joe Lalonde

Anthony,
Was not Boston harbor’s waters brown after they dumped the tea?

Andy G

And This is Science..
Darn it, I shoulda done an Art degree instead !!!

Katherine

While the study seems to provide some good news for species facing extinction, the researchers warn that this is offset by other pressures. “This apparent good news is tempered by the fact that habitat loss, overexploitation and other factors are likely more important drivers of extinction risk than the colour of temperature fluctuations,” Dr Reuman says.
In other words, yes, we have this great study, but because it runs counter to CAGW, you can discount it. Don’t send money? 😀

Is it April 1st again?

imoira

Is this the same as reading auras?

son of mulder

And it induces chronic schitzophrenia in chameleons.

RalphieGM

I’ve noticed my Ferrari moves slower on hot days. Where do I get a grant application?

DMC

Anyone got a copy of the paper? I’d really love to see how they demonstrate a measurable and significant change in the spectral properties of *mean* summer temperatures that is not an artifact of averaging, changed measurement systems and so forth.

Tom in Florida

Yesterday a strong cold front passed through dropping temperatures about 20F in a few minutes. That made me blue (as in sad).

Shevva

So what kills blue or red?

izen

There is a quite malignant level of scorn and derision from posters for the science described here. Many posters seem to be keen to describe these findings of increased biological change as specious, irrelevent or biased apparently without feeling the need to justify or back-up these views.
Can anyone explain what they think is wrong with the science of this study rather than just labeling the scientists involved as ‘stupid’.

Lonnie E. Schubert

Are we sure this isn’t a belated April fool’s joke?

Peter Miller

I am puzzled by this.
Imperial College is the one university in Britain not tainted by ‘social engineering’ and is truly independent; so it can give the finger when told to implement trendy government whims, such as kowtowing to the cult of AGW.
This is clearly a ludicrous piece of research having no real merit.

Grienpies

As the Germans sing:
“heute blau und morgen blau und übermorgen wieder”
today blue and tomorrow blue and the day after tomorrow again. If a German gets “blau” (blue) he gets drunk….

Don K

This is some sort of test and we have all failed it?
================
Seriously, My best guess is that the authors of this paper are using “red” and “blue” in a way that has next to nothing to do with color. In their framework properties that change quickly and often apparently are red. Those that change more slowly are blue. Even allowing for that, I have some trouble figuring out what they are saying and I don’t think I care enough to work it out. About the best one can say for it is that perhaps it will make perfect sense to their target audience which is, I assume, other ecologists.

Ecologists have investigated the link between fluctuations in the environment and those of animal populations for the past 30 years. They describe fluctuations as a colour spectrum, where red signifies an environment or population that fluctuates more slowly over time (such as ocean temperature) and blue signifies more rapid fluctuations (such as changes in air temperature).

Oh. Not realcolor, but pseudocolor. I was thinking of blue tongues, blue LEDs, and bluebloods. Please don’t do this to me in the morning.

According to Dr Reuman: “We showed using field data for the first time that the colour of changes in the environment maps onto the colour of changes in populations: redder environments mean redder populations, and bluer environments mean bluer populations. We also found that the colour of the environment is changing – becoming bluer – apparently due to climate change.”

Is this climate change the fluctuation or climate change the warmer? Does Red mean Red? Does No mean No? (Except at Yale?) Please don’t do this to me in the morning.

“The colour change refers to the change in ‘spectral colour’ but this does not mean that red means warmer temperatures. Spectral colour tells us how quickly or slowly temperature is oscillating over time. If the oscillations are comparatively slow, then we say that temperature has a ‘red’ spectrum, and if the changes are quick, then temperature is said to be ‘blue’. When we talk of temperature becoming ‘bluer’, we mean the oscillations in temperature are becoming faster over time,” explains Garcia-Carreras.

Oh. Climate change means faster oscillations. Please don’t do this to me in the morning.

Summary
1. The spectral colour of population dynamics and its causes have attracted much interest. The spectral colour of a time series can be determined from its power spectrum, which shows what proportion of the total variance in the time series occurs at each frequency. A time series with a red spectrum (a negative spectral exponent) is dominated by low-frequency oscillations, and a time series with a blue spectrum (a positive spectral exponent) is dominated by high-frequency oscillations.

If the subject has attracted much interest, why is this the first I’ve heard on the subject? WUWT, you’re letting me down!
“a negative spectral exponent” is coupled with “low-frequency oscillations”? That’s just blown out my EE signal processing training. It was bad enough wrapping my head around representing sine waves as the sum of two exponentials, one with a positive imaginary exponent and one with a negative imaginary exponent. The only way this makes sense is to modulate some natural oscillation with some carrier frequency and treat the whole mess as an AM (amplitude modulation) or DSB (double sideband) signal.
My brain just exploded. Please don’t do this to me in the morning.

wws

yeah izen, here’s what’s wrong – it’s a shameless manipulation of numbers which are then translated into pretty crayola colors so they look all warm and fuzzy while hiding what the so-called “scientists” are actually saying.
They are trying this slight of hand to hide the assumption that “Change” is Bad! Bad! Bad! But look at this claim seriously – they are claiming that any rapid change increases the chances of extinction.
Oh really? So if the environment gets much more friendly and all animal populations increase dramatically, they are all at an INCREASED danger of extinction???
that’s exactly what their “blue” model says, and that’s why they try so hard to hide it behind the crayola box. In their model, all “change” is Blue, including every instance where conditions are improving greatly. And there is ANOTHER dodge built into this – change to circumstances and populations happens constantly, and in bullet point #5 they themselves note that “population time series are not long or abundant enough to judge directly whether their spectral colours are changing” – in other words they have no idea whether what they are measuring is actually unusual or just the world at work as it always has been.
BUT – by setting up a model that claims that all “Change” is BAD, then *anything* that happens at all will look like it confirms their theories of DOOM! DOOM! DOOM! The only thing that will look “good” to them is absolute, static, inertia, which in a living dynamic system is a ridiculous goal. But of course, this is a game in which the point is to show DOOM! with no chances of anything ever getting better – except their chances of getting more grant money to play with magic markers, of course.
it’s an idiotic assumption, and an idiotic study, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Grant Hillemeyer

Well, now that is settled we can move on to less important things.

beng

That polar bear must’ve just eaten a grape-flavored freeze-pop.

old44

Are these people scientists or scientologists?

Mike Bromley

You’ve got to be kidding. Good thing it wasn’t Canadian Tax Dollars. This drivel gets published??? Perhaps they can determine the spectral characteristics of the disconnect some humans have with reality?
Just call me Yuri Sarcoff.

Douglas DC

Now the Red is Blue and the Warm,Cold and the Wet Dry.
I’m glad I don’t drink anymore….

John G

Color me befuddled, mildly amused and wondering if frequency is a bad word now.

Green Sand

One bright day in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight.
Back to back they faced each other,
drew their swords and shot each other.
A deaf policeman heard the noise
and ran to save the two dead boys.
If you don’t believe this lie is true,
ask the blind man, he saw it, too.

Steve Keohane

We have known the current TSI is low, but the UV output is higher. Therefore, I would expect the output spectrum to be shifted toward blue. 😉
Seriously, I get really tired of these species population studies based on models of conjecture. About 2000, they “re-introduced” lynx into western Colorado. I suppose they discovered the one that was looking into my living room through the glass patio door in 1995 died, and they needed more. I came across a reference somewhere in the past year about species population modeling coming from Arrhenius, of CO2 forcing fame.

oldseadog

Izen,
Not much wrong with the study, it’s just that they could have spent the money researching something important.
Like “Is the Greenhouse Gas theory any more than a theory?”
Or “Do CO2 increases in the atmosphere influence the climate in any meaningful way?”

Tenuc

izen says:
April 6, 2011 at 5:08 am
“…Can anyone explain what they think is wrong with the science of this study rather than just labeling the scientists involved as ‘stupid’…
If you take a more care in reading this thread you find several explanaitions of why this study is rubbish.
It has been well known for several decades that the rate of climate change and the rate of change in animal populations are ultimately driven by deterministic chaos.
This makes a nonsense of any correlation found in this paper as there are many other reasons why populations change. The whole paper is just a reductio ad absurdum as at the end of the paper they actually state this.

Warren in Minnesota

jsbrodhead says:
April 6, 2011 at 12:21 am
So, change is good, except when it’s bad?
Or, change is bad, except when it’s good?
This is too confusing!

Change is good, but dollars are better!
I heard this quote in the 1990s from one of the two Warner Bros., Yakko or Wakko, along with their sister, Dot. It kind of fits with AGW and research grants.

DesertYote

izen
April 6, 2011 at 5:08 am
It is unwise to argue with fools. There is so much wrong with this non-science, it is hard to find a place to begin. First, as someone who has actually researched population dynamics of fresh-water fishes and North American reptiles, I can say with confidence, with at least these two well understood groups, the data just does not exist to derive the results claimed. I doubt that this data exists for any other group, such as insects, either. Second the whole thing is embedded tightly in a ultra greeny world-view that presupposes all sorts of nonsense. The fact is that with a changing environment, specialist species tend to disappear. BUT, generalist species evolve and diversify. This is a GOOD thing, it is how evolution works. Third, 30 years? Give me a break, that is several orders of magnitude smaller then any significant time frame. I think 30,000 years wold be more like it.

k winterkorn

So we had all better get more green so that the environment can be more red than blue. Huh?
This is Sesame Street environmentalism.

I sure feel blue after reading this gibberish!