NASA’s Climate Kids Website Blames Global Warming for Shrinking Sheep and Fat Marmots

By Penny Starr | October 18, 2012 | 4:34pm EDT

Lamb (Courtesy of EPA Website)

( – The National Aeronautic and Space Administration’s “Climate Kids” website claims that a warming planet is changing animals, in particular sheep and marmots.

“Climate Change Makes Sheep Shrink and Marmots Get Fat,” is the headline for a story about how “animals are changing in surprising ways as their environments have grown warmer over the past few years.”

The article sites the marmot, a species of ground squirrel that is found in Colorado. The article states that because spring has come one day earlier over the past three decades, the marmot has a month more to eat before hibernating.

“That gives the marmots one more month to eat and get fatter before going back into hibernation in the fall,” the article posted in 2010 states. “With more food stored in their bodies, more marmots are surviving the winters.

Marmot (Courtesy EPA website)

“Also, marmot babies are being born sooner in the spring,” the article states. “That means the babies have more time to fatten up too.

“So more of the babies are surviving their first winter,” the article states. “So not only are the marmots getting fatter, but there are lots more of them.”

The downside of more food and living longer, according to the article, is that global warming can cause drought that can “dry up the food before the marmots are ready to hibernate again.”

The Soay sheep that live on islands near Scotland are shrinking, according to the article, because as temperatures warm, smaller sheep are surviving. And these smaller sheep are then producing smaller offspring.

“Climate change may seem to be helping these animals,” the article states. “But this help probably will not last. As their environments continue to warm, the animals may find that drier conditions make food scare.”

This “Earth Now” portion of the website also features photographs of the animals that are “suffering the effects of climate change,” including the elephant, Mojave desert tortoise, the Tufted Puffin, bald eagle chicks, the tawny eagle and Galapagos penguin. The site does not explain how these animals are suffering.

The website says that Climate Kids is produced by the Earth Science Communications Team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology.

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