• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Emerging Science Note: Winds of Change

Air Date: Week of

Wandering Albatross. (NOAA Photo Library)

For many species around the world climate change has meant a turn for the worse. But for the wandering albatross it’s been a boon. Living on Earth’s Sophie Golden reports.


GELLERMAN: It's Living on Earth, I'm Bruce Gellerman. Just ahead, feasting on urban forests, but first, this Note on Emerging Science from Sophie Golden.


GOLDEN: For many species around the world climate change has meant a turn for the worse, but for the wandering albatross it’s been a boon, at least, for now.

Researchers have been studying the breeding habits of a colony of wandering albatross in the Crozet Islands for over 40 years. Now scientists at the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Germany are looking at the effects of climate change on the species.

The Crozet Islands are in one of windiest places in the Southern Ocean. And the changing climate has boosted the power of the westerly winds and shifted them south. And the albatross have followed. The stronger winds allow the birds to fly faster, covering ocean in less time. And shorter trips mean more time at home with the kids.

Both male and female albatross split time between foraging for food and nesting. Shorter shifts on the nest lead to fewer breeding failures, and an increase in population. And population is not the only thing that has increased. The average weight of both the male and female albatross has gone up by over two pounds in the last 20 years. Researchers believe this could be due to less time spent on the nest, or an evolutionary response to the windier conditions.

As quickly as the albatross can adapt, the winds can change, and they might bring new problems in the next gust. But for now the albatross can enjoy the benefits of a changing planet. That’s this week’s Note on Emerging Science, I’m Sophie Golden.




Article in Science Magazine


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth