Essential Pittsburgh
4:49 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Chronicling Climate Change, The Allegheny Front Begins A Year Long Series

Credit Credit Mary Birdsong / Presque Isle Audubon

Next week, the Allegheny Front radio program on 90.5 WESA begins Climate Chronicles, a year-long series about the impacts of climate change on our region.

Senior Reporter Julie Grant starts the series with a look at the biggest movement of snowy owls in 50 years, and what it might say about climate change.

She said she started looking at the big white birds, popularized by a character in Harry Potter called Hedwig, because of some unusual sightings.

“They’re appearing everywhere,” she said. “From Newfoundland all the way down to Minnesota, through Pennsylvania, lots in Boston. And even all the way down in the island of Bermuda. As an environmental show we just wanted to look into what was happening.”

Grant spoke with scientists who said the main food source for snowy owls is a rodent called a lemming, which may be finding less snow cover with the melting of arctic ice.

There are conflicting views on whether it all connects to climate change or if the population boom is part of a natural cycle.

The rest of the Climate Chronicles series explores localized symptoms of climate change, including insect and plant impacts that we’re likely to see in the coming months and years.