For Friday, Dec. 17, 2021
1 – We’ll have to wait a little longer for Santa, but the Christmas Bird Count is already here.
The 122nd annual count, by the National Audubon Society, began this week (Dec. 14) and runs through Jan. 5.
Tens of thousands of volunteers are expected to participate across the Western Hemisphere, following COVID guidelines.
Organizers say information collected in the counts informs scientists about conservation actions required to protect birds and bird habitat.
Local counts this year are happening in Bay City, Midland, the Tittabawassee Valley and Huron County.
Individual counts take place in a 15-mile-wide circle and are led by a compiler responsible for organizing volunteers and submitting observations.
Within each circle, participants tally all birds seen or heard on a particular day.
Last year, the count included 2,459 circles worldwide, with close to 73,000 observers in the field. They tallied more than 44 million birds representing 2,355 different species.
Over the years, Audubon Christmas Bird Count data have been used in more than 300 peer-reviewed articles.
In 2019, the journal Science published a study using decades of count data to describe a steady decline of nearly 3 billion North American birds since 1970, primarily as a result of human activities.
2 – Among the Top Five research stories of the year is one on climate change coming to the deep waters of the Great Lakes.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, aka NOAA, notes that the Great Lakes make up the largest freshwater system in the world.
The lakes hold more than 80 percent of North America’s available surface freshwater. People also depend on the lakes for drinking water, recreation and industry.
A long-term study published in 2021 found that the deep waters of the lakes are warming, a discovery that could lead to major ecological change.
A now-former NOAA scientist from an agency research lab in Ann Arbor says 30 years of data confirms that winter is “vanishing” from the deep waters of Lake Michigan due to warming.
Scientists also have found that climate change has gradually delayed the onset of cooler autumn weather and that ice cover has been declining since 1973.
Scientists say high-frequency long-term monitoring is essential to keep an eye on the impacts of climate change.