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Understanding climate change is hard. These robotic mussels are doing the heavy lifting.
Summer is officially over. Gone are the days of sun, swimming, and neighborhood clambakes.
But even as the weekly forecast takes on a chill, global water and air temperatures continue to rise. And mussels, which settle in intertidal beds for life and can’t move to cooler spots, are facing temperatures close to their lethal limit in some parts of the world.
To figure out what that limit is, Brian Helmuth is chasing what researchers call refugia: geographic areas less susceptible to climate change, where stationary animals have a higher chance of survival.
“If we have a big heat wave that bakes everything off the shore, there may be animals that survive in some of these refugia,” said Helmuth, a Northeastern professor of marine and environmental sciences. Survivors can then repopulate surrounding areas.