Thu February 3, 2011

Study: Wolverine in Peril from Climate Change

A newly published study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder shows that climate change could wipe out the wolverine in the western United States by the year 2050, unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced.

Wolverines depend on cold weather climates and they make their springtime dens in the snow. So with climate change already shortening winters, NCAR scientists looked at how the wolverine would fair under three different climate models from 2005 to 2100.


In the worst case scenario, where global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise unabated, the wolverine will almost certainly be in trouble, says the study's author Synta Peacock. But the animals have better chances if there is a significant reduction in emissions over the same period.

"So that's the good news, if we can really find a way to cut down on emissions and develop alternative energy sources in the next few decades, things may not look that bad at all, snow might look fairly close to present day levels," Peacock says.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service recently listed climate change as one of the greatest threats to the wolverine. The NCAR and National Science Foundation Study appeared last week in the journal, Environmental Research Letters.