Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Ellie Cohen, President and CEO, Point Blue Conservation Science

Author Archives: ecohen

  1. The Planet – Hottest October on Record

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    The Planet Just Had Its Hottest October On Record

    by Joe Romm Posted on November 14, 2014 at 9:22 am

    The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) reports that last month was the hottest October in more than 120 years of record-keeping — by far. This follows the hottest September, August, June, and March-May in JMA’s records! Projections by NOAA make clear 2014 is increasingly likely to be hottest year on record.

    And these records occurred despite the fact we’re still waiting for the start of El Niño. It is usually the combination of the underlying long-term warming trend and the regional El Niño warming pattern that leads to new global temperature records. The JMA is a World Meteorological Organization Regional Climate Center of excellence. NASA reported Friday very similar observations. In the NASA dataset, last month was tied for hottest October on record with 2005….

  2. Warmest Oceans Ever Recorded

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    Warmest Oceans Ever Recorded

    Figure 1: a) NOAA Sea Surface Temperature anomaly (with respect to period 1854-2013) averaged over global oceans (red) and over North Pacific (0-60oN, 110oE-100oW) (cyan). September 2014 temperatures broke the record for both global and North Pacific Sea Surface Temperatures. b) Sea Surface Temperature anomaly of September 2014 from NOAA’s ERSST dataset. Credit: Axel Timmermann

    Nov. 14, 2014 —This summer has seen the highest global mean sea surface temperatures ever recorded since their systematic measuring started. Temperatures even exceed those of the record-breaking 1998 El Niño year,” says Axel Timmermann, climate scientist and professor, studying variability of the global climate system at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa. From 2000-2013 the global ocean surface temperature rise paused, in spite of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. This period, referred to as the Global Warming Hiatus, raised a lot of public and scientific interest. However, as of April 2014 ocean warming has picked up speed again, according to Timmermann’s analysis of ocean temperature datasets. “The 2014 global ocean warming is mostly due to the North Pacific, which has warmed far beyond any recorded value and has shifted hurricane tracks, weakened trade winds, and produced coral bleaching in the Hawaiian Islands,” explains Timmermann. He describes the events leading up to this upswing as follows: Sea-surface temperatures started to rise unusually quickly in the extratropical North Pacific already in January 2014. A few months later, in April and May, westerly winds pushed a huge amount of very warm water usually stored in the western Pacific along the equator to the eastern Pacific. This warm water has spread along the North American Pacific coast, releasing into the atmosphere enormous amounts of heat–heat that had been locked up in the Western tropical Pacific for nearly a decade. “Record-breaking greenhouse gas concentrations and anomalously weak North Pacific summer trade winds, which usually cool the ocean surface, have contributed further to the rise in sea surface temperatures. The warm temperatures now extend in a wide swath from just north of Papua New Guinea to the Gulf of Alaska,” says Timmermann. The current record-breaking temperatures indicate that the 14-year-long pause in ocean warming has come to an end.

  3. US – CHINA CLIMATE AGREEMENT

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    Why The U.S.-China CO2 Deal Is An Energy, Climate, And Political Gamechanger

    by Joe Romm Posted on November 12, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    CREDIT: Shutterstock

    The historic new U.S.-China climate deal changes the trajectory of global carbon pollution emissions, greatly boosting the chances for a global deal in Paris in 2015. The deal would keep, cumulatively, some 640 billion tons of CO2 emissions out of the air this century, according to brand new analysis by Climate Interactive and MIT, using their C-ROADS model.

    The U.S.-China deal is truly a gamechanger. In fact, you could make a strong case that prior to this deal, neither the U.S. or China were seriously in the game of trying to stave off climate catastrophe. Now both countries are.

    When you add the recent European Union (EU) pledge to cut total emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, we now have countries representing more than half of all global emissions making serious commitments — and that in turn puts pressure on every other country. If the developing countries were to all follow China’s lead, and the non-EU developed countries follow ours, a 2015 global deal would slash carbon pollution this century by a whopping 2500 billion tons of CO2 (see figure below).

    The Chinese commitment to more than double carbon-free electricity generation is also a gamechanger. It guarantees that the recent explosive growth — and amazing price drops — experienced by renewables like solar and wind will continue for decades to come. And that means the long-predicted ascendance of carbon-free energy has now begun in earnest.

    Finally, the political implications of this deal can’t be overstated. Conservatives have been attacking EPA climate standards as government over-reach that supposedly harms the U.S. economy, while assuring us over and over and over again that the world’s biggest polluter (China) won’t act. That attack has not merely been rendered impotent. Now efforts to stop EPA can clearly be seen for what they really are — an effort to kill any deal with China and stop the nations of the world from coming together to prevent catastrophic climate change.

    Thanks to this deal, any politician who says the U.S. can’t meet EPA carbon pollution standards is saying that the U.S. can’t deploy even a fraction of the carbon-free electricity the Chinese just told the entire world they are going to build in the next 15 years!

    Underscoring the bilateral deal’s importance, Chinese President Xi Jinping himself joined Obama in the U.S.-China Joint Announcement that “China intends to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030 and to make best efforts to peak early.” That by itself is a political game changer, which eviscerates the right-wing mantra of delay: “China will never act and so nothing we do matters.”

    No doubt you’re shocked, shocked to learn the leader of the Senate do-nothing caucus, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has already said he is “particularly distressed” by this deal because it supposedly “requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years.” Not!

    In fact, Melanie Hart, the Director for China Policy at the Center for American Progress, explains, “The pattern of major energy price reforms already underway in China demonstrates they are already doing the hard work needed to make this [peak] happen.” The Chinese have already started to work toward a CO2 peak, which is no surprise since this deal will require them to take massive action — hence, their other game-changing commitment to “increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20% by 2030.”

    This energy pledge alone “will require China to deploy an additional 800-1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar, and other zero emission generation capacity by 2030 — more than all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today and close to total current electricity generation capacity in the United States.”

    This pledge is a statement to the world by China that renewables are ready to ramp up sharply! By itself, this pledge ensures that the ascendance of carbon-free energy over fossil fuels is irreversible. No wonder the pro-pollution crowd is “particularly distressed”!

    Adding to their distress, Obama announced “a new target to cut net greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.” That roughly doubles the rate of decline Obama has committed the country to with his previous target of a 17 percent cut by 2020.

    CREDIT: White House

    This is a challenging target under existing law and doubly so given the anti-science makeup of the incoming Congress. It sets up the next Congressional session and the 2016 Presidential election as an epic battle between the forces who want to avert climate catastrophe and those who want to keep the fossil fuel Ponzi scheme going an extra decade or two — even if it means ruining a livable climate for our children and grandchildren and for centuries to come!

    Ironically, in post-election analysis on Fox News last week, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer said of the President:

    “I think the one item he could negotiate, and I’m serious about this, climate change. That’s the one where if we and China could agree it would make a difference…. If he gets an agreement with China, which he won’t, but that’s the one area it would be historic.”

    It’s worth noting that the U.S. commitment is for a cut in greenhouse gas emissions, which includes CO2 and methane. That means it is even more crucial than ever we correctly account for methane leaks, so that we are actually meeting this new target and not just replacing easy-to-measure CO2 emissions from coal with hard-to-measure methane emissions from natural gas production. Also, since Russian gas is leakier than ours, China should pledge to help Russia sharply reduce their leaks.

    Bottom Line: The U.S.-China deal greatly increases the chance of a global agreement in Paris next December that shifts the world close to an emissions path that can stabilize CO2 levels and keep total warming as close to 2°C (3.6°F) as possible. It ensures that carbon-free energy will be the dominant new energy source in the coming decades. Climate activists certainly share in this achievement, but will need continued vigilance. The anti-science forces in this country have already lined up against it, and the road to actual stabilization at non-dangerous CO2 levels is a very long one.

     

    A Major Breakthrough on Climate Change

    By THE EDITORIAL BOARD NY TIMES NOV. 12, 2014

    President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China on Wednesday at a joint news conference. Credit Feng Li/Getty Images

    November 12, 2014

     

    The deal jointly announced in Beijing by President Obama and China’s president, Xi Jinping, to limit greenhouse gases well beyond their earlier pledges is both a major diplomatic breakthrough and — assuming both sides can carry out their promises — an enormously positive step in the uncertain battle against climate change. The announcement provided the high point of a surprisingly productive trip that also resulted in steps to cut tariffs on information technology products, extend visas and strengthen military contacts to build trust and avoid confrontations in the South China Sea. But the two countries have major differences, including over cybersecurity and human rights.

     

    The climate accord represents a startling turnaround after years of futile efforts to cooperate in a meaningful way on global warming. It sends two critically important messages, one to the world and the other to the United States Congress. China and the United States together account for about 45 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Their new commitments are thus almost certain to energize other countries to set more ambitious targets of their own before negotiators meet to frame a new global agreement at the climate summit meeting in Paris in December 2015.

     

    In the United States, the agreement cuts the ground from under people like Mitch McConnell, the next Senate majority leader, and others who have long argued that there is no point in taking aggressive steps against greenhouse gases as long as major developing countries refused to do likewise. This argument effectively undermined Senate support for ratification of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The climate deniers in Congress will find other reasons to oppose a strong climate strategy, and are doing so even now. But the “China” argument has effectively disappeared.

     

    The most striking aspect of China’s commitment is its agreement to a hard cap on emissions. It pledged for the first time to have its emissions “peak” by 2030 and sooner if possible.
    Until now, China has spoken only about reducing carbon “intensity,” which really meant allowing emissions to rise but at a slower rate. In the race to head off the unacceptable consequences of climate change, the name of the game is to stop emissions from rising at some point and then bend the curve downward. China has now committed itself to that path.

     

    China has also set itself the daunting but not unobtainable goal of increasing the share of non-fossil fuel energy to one-fifth of the country’s energy mix in the next 15 years. This, too, is no small deal. By one estimate, this would mean adding 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero-emission power generating capacity, roughly equivalent to China’s current coal-fired capacity.

     

    The task Mr. Obama has set for the United States is also formidable, especially given the political obstacles. At the Copenhagen climate summit meeting in 2009, Mr. Obama pledged to reduce emissions in the United States by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. America is thought to be more than halfway there now, in part because of greatly increased automobile efficiency, the switch to natural gas and the closing down of some old coal-fired power plants and a prolonged recession.

     

    He now pledges an ambitious 26 percent cut below 2005 levels by 2025. This will mean, at an absolute minimum, following through on his proposals to limits emissions from new and existing coal-fired power plants — proposals that have already generated significant pushback. And it almost certainly will require cuts in emissions other than carbon dioxide, including methane leaks from the production and transmission of natural gas, as well as continued investment in alternative, non-fossil fuels. And as much of this as possible should be accomplished or set in motion before Mr. Obama leaves office.

     

    For Mr. Obama, the meetings were a demonstration that the new Asia-focused policy he announced in three years ago can yield real substance. For Mr. Xi, they were a chance to show leadership and calm tensions with neighboring countries that have been alarmed by his aggressive, even dangerous regional policies. The United States and China remain serious competitors on many fronts, pushing rival free trade pacts and jousting for regional influence. But the leaders have shown that productive cooperation is possible; their task now is to keep it going.


     

  4. Conservation Science News November 14, 2014

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    Focus of the Week - US- CHINA Climate Agreement

    1-ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED

    2-CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS with special DROUGHT section

    3- ADAPTATION and HOPE

    4- POLICY

    5- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

    6-
    RESOURCES and REFERENCES

    7-OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST 

    8-IMAGES OF THE WEEK

    ——————————–

    NOTE: Please pass on my weekly news update that has been prepared for
    Point Blue Conservation Science
    staff.  You can find these weekly compilations posted on line
    by clicking here.  For more information please see www.pointblue.org.


    The items contained in this update were drawn from www.dailyclimate.org, www.sciencedaily.com, SER The Society for Ecological Restorationhttp://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.slate.com, www.sfgate.com, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, CA BLM NewsBytes and other sources as indicated.  This is a compilation of information available on-line, not verified and not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  
    You can sign up for this news compilation by signing up for the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative Newsletter or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium listserve to receive this. You can also email me directly at Ellie Cohen, ecohen at pointblue.org with questions or suggestions. 

    Founded as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Point Blue’s 140 scientists advance nature-based solutions to climate change, habitat loss and other environmental threats to benefit wildlife and people, through bird and ecosystem science, partnerships and outreach.  We work collaboratively to guide and inspire positive conservation outcomes today — for a healthy, blue planet teeming with life in the future.  Read more about our 5-year strategic approach here.

     

     

    Focus of the Week- US- CHINA Climate Agreement

     


     

    Why The U.S.-China CO2 Deal Is An Energy, Climate, And Political Gamechanger

    by Joe Romm Posted on November 12, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    CREDIT: Shutterstock

    The historic new U.S.-China climate deal changes the trajectory of global carbon pollution emissions, greatly boosting the chances for a global deal in Paris in 2015. The deal would keep, cumulatively, some 640 billion tons of CO2 emissions out of the air this century, according to brand new analysis by Climate Interactive and MIT, using their C-ROADS model.

    The U.S.-China deal is truly a gamechanger. In fact, you could make a strong case that prior to this deal, neither the U.S. or China were seriously in the game of trying to stave off climate catastrophe. Now both countries are.

    When you add the recent European Union (EU) pledge to cut total emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, we now have countries representing more than half of all global emissions making serious commitments — and that in turn puts pressure on every other country. If the developing countries were to all follow China’s lead, and the non-EU developed countries follow ours, a 2015 global deal would slash carbon pollution this century by a whopping 2500 billion tons of CO2 (see figure below).

    The Chinese commitment to more than double carbon-free electricity generation is also a gamechanger. It guarantees that the recent explosive growth — and amazing price drops — experienced by renewables like solar and wind will continue for decades to come. And that means the long-predicted ascendance of carbon-free energy has now begun in earnest.

    Finally, the political implications of this deal can’t be overstated. Conservatives have been attacking EPA climate standards as government over-reach that supposedly harms the U.S. economy, while assuring us over and over and over again that the world’s biggest polluter (China) won’t act. That attack has not merely been rendered impotent. Now efforts to stop EPA can clearly be seen for what they really are — an effort to kill any deal with China and stop the nations of the world from coming together to prevent catastrophic climate change.

    Thanks to this deal, any politician who says the U.S. can’t meet EPA carbon pollution standards is saying that the U.S. can’t deploy even a fraction of the carbon-free electricity the Chinese just told the entire world they are going to build in the next 15 years!

    Underscoring the bilateral deal’s importance, Chinese President Xi Jinping himself joined Obama in the U.S.-China Joint Announcement that “China intends to achieve the peaking of CO2 emissions around 2030 and to make best efforts to peak early.” That by itself is a political game changer, which eviscerates the right-wing mantra of delay: “China will never act and so nothing we do matters.”

    No doubt you’re shocked, shocked to learn the leader of the Senate do-nothing caucus, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), has already said he is “particularly distressed” by this deal because it supposedly “requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years.” Not!

    In fact, Melanie Hart, the Director for China Policy at the Center for American Progress, explains, “The pattern of major energy price reforms already underway in China demonstrates they are already doing the hard work needed to make this [peak] happen.” The Chinese have already started to work toward a CO2 peak, which is no surprise since this deal will require them to take massive action — hence, their other game-changing commitment to “increase the share of non-fossil fuels in primary energy consumption to around 20% by 2030.”

    This energy pledge alone “will require China to deploy an additional 800-1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar, and other zero emission generation capacity by 2030 — more than all the coal-fired power plants that exist in China today and close to total current electricity generation capacity in the United States.”

    This pledge is a statement to the world by China that renewables are ready to ramp up sharply! By itself, this pledge ensures that the ascendance of carbon-free energy over fossil fuels is irreversible. No wonder the pro-pollution crowd is “particularly distressed”!

    Adding to their distress, Obama announced “a new target to cut net greenhouse gas emissions 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.” That roughly doubles the rate of decline Obama has committed the country to with his previous target of a 17 percent cut by 2020.

    CREDIT: White House

    This is a challenging target under existing law and doubly so given the anti-science makeup of the incoming Congress. It sets up the next Congressional session and the 2016 Presidential election as an epic battle between the forces who want to avert climate catastrophe and those who want to keep the fossil fuel Ponzi scheme going an extra decade or two — even if it means ruining a livable climate for our children and grandchildren and for centuries to come!

    Ironically, in post-election analysis on Fox News last week, conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer said of the President:

    “I think the one item he could negotiate, and I’m serious about this, climate change. That’s the one where if we and China could agree it would make a difference…. If he gets an agreement with China, which he won’t, but that’s the one area it would be historic.”

    It’s worth noting that the U.S. commitment is for a cut in greenhouse gas emissions, which includes CO2 and methane. That means it is even more crucial than ever we correctly account for methane leaks, so that we are actually meeting this new target and not just replacing easy-to-measure CO2 emissions from coal with hard-to-measure methane emissions from natural gas production. Also, since Russian gas is leakier than ours, China should pledge to help Russia sharply reduce their leaks.

    Bottom Line: The U.S.-China deal greatly increases the chance of a global agreement in Paris next December that shifts the world close to an emissions path that can stabilize CO2 levels and keep total warming as close to 2°C (3.6°F) as possible. It ensures that carbon-free energy will be the dominant new energy source in the coming decades. Climate activists certainly share in this achievement, but will need continued vigilance. The anti-science forces in this country have already lined up against it, and the road to actual stabilization at non-dangerous CO2 levels is a very long one.

     

    A Major Breakthrough on Climate Change

    By THE EDITORIAL BOARD NY TIMES NOV. 12, 2014

    President Obama and President Xi Jinping of China on Wednesday at a joint news conference. Credit Feng Li/Getty Images

    November 12, 2014

     

    The deal jointly announced in Beijing by President Obama and China’s president, Xi Jinping, to limit greenhouse gases well beyond their earlier pledges is both a major diplomatic breakthrough and — assuming both sides can carry out their promises — an enormously positive step in the uncertain battle against climate change. The announcement provided the high point of a surprisingly productive trip that also resulted in steps to cut tariffs on information technology products, extend visas and strengthen military contacts to build trust and avoid confrontations in the South China Sea. But the two countries have major differences, including over cybersecurity and human rights.

     

    The climate accord represents a startling turnaround after years of futile efforts to cooperate in a meaningful way on global warming. It sends two critically important messages, one to the world and the other to the United States Congress. China and the United States together account for about 45 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Their new commitments are thus almost certain to energize other countries to set more ambitious targets of their own before negotiators meet to frame a new global agreement at the climate summit meeting in Paris in December 2015.

     

    In the United States, the agreement cuts the ground from under people like Mitch McConnell, the next Senate majority leader, and others who have long argued that there is no point in taking aggressive steps against greenhouse gases as long as major developing countries refused to do likewise. This argument effectively undermined Senate support for ratification of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The climate deniers in Congress will find other reasons to oppose a strong climate strategy, and are doing so even now. But the “China” argument has effectively disappeared.

     

    The most striking aspect of China’s commitment is its agreement to a hard cap on emissions. It pledged for the first time to have its emissions “peak” by 2030 and sooner if possible.
    Until now, China has spoken only about reducing carbon “intensity,” which really meant allowing emissions to rise but at a slower rate. In the race to head off the unacceptable consequences of climate change, the name of the game is to stop emissions from rising at some point and then bend the curve downward. China has now committed itself to that path.

     

    China has also set itself the daunting but not unobtainable goal of increasing the share of non-fossil fuel energy to one-fifth of the country’s energy mix in the next 15 years. This, too, is no small deal. By one estimate, this would mean adding 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of nuclear, wind, solar and other zero-emission power generating capacity, roughly equivalent to China’s current coal-fired capacity.

     

    The task Mr. Obama has set for the United States is also formidable, especially given the political obstacles. At the Copenhagen climate summit meeting in 2009, Mr. Obama pledged to reduce emissions in the United States by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. America is thought to be more than halfway there now, in part because of greatly increased automobile efficiency, the switch to natural gas and the closing down of some old coal-fired power plants and a prolonged recession.

     

    He now pledges an ambitious 26 percent cut below 2005 levels by 2025. This will mean, at an absolute minimum, following through on his proposals to limits emissions from new and existing coal-fired power plants — proposals that have already generated significant pushback. And it almost certainly will require cuts in emissions other than carbon dioxide, including methane leaks from the production and transmission of natural gas, as well as continued investment in alternative, non-fossil fuels. And as much of this as possible should be accomplished or set in motion before Mr. Obama leaves office.

     

    For Mr. Obama, the meetings were a demonstration that the new Asia-focused policy he announced in three years ago can yield real substance. For Mr. Xi, they were a chance to show leadership and calm tensions with neighboring countries that have been alarmed by his aggressive, even dangerous regional policies. The United States and China remain serious competitors on many fronts, pushing rival free trade pacts and jousting for regional influence. But the leaders have shown that productive cooperation is possible; their task now is to keep it going.

     

     

    SEE MORE ON THIS in the POLICY SECTION and IMAGES OF THE WEEK below—

     

     

     

    Combatting illegal fishing in offshore marine reserves

    Posted: 13 Nov 2014 08:03 AM PST

    Conservation scientists say there needs to be a new approach to protecting offshore marine reserves. They have found a way to predict illegal fishing activities to help authorities better protect marine reserves.

     

    A sea change for marine conservation

    Posted: 10 Nov 2014 08:07 AM PST

    Harnessing ‘people power’ to manage fisheries in the developing world has significantly benefited local communities and coral reefs, according to new research.

     

    Wildfires that could impact human communities in eastern colorado rockies most likely to start on private lands, experts say

    Posted: 10 Nov 2014 08:01 AM PST

    Scientists find that on the front range of the Colorado Rockies the highest fire risk factors are from privately owned lands and threaten other privately held land and property.

     

    ‘Big data’ takes root in world of plant research

    Posted: 10 Nov 2014 05:37 AM PST

    Botanists have compiled and shared 48 years’ worth of global plant data to help answer some of the most pressing environmental and evolutionary questions facing modern society. People invested in living plant collections in botanic gardens through the centuries to bring economic, medicinal and agricultural advantages of plants to people all over the world. The botanists’ database is moving this gift into the digital age of ‘Big Data’…

     

    A Surprising Appetite for Dead Jellyfish

    NOV. 10, 2014 NY Times

    In an ocean popularity contest, jellyfish would rank near the bottom. They sting. Their increasing population blooms clog power plant intakes, kill farmed salmon and frighten swimmers. Experts warn of the jellification of the oceans. True, jellyfish are biological marvels and efficient swimmers, and some achieve a kind of immortality. But they are by definition gelatinous — you might even say gooey — and scientists have spotted them blanketing the ocean floor after die-offs, suggesting that even for indiscriminating scavengers, jellies are not the carrion of choice.

    However, the first experimental test involving a dead-jellyfish buffet tells a completely different story. Work done in Norway by Andrew Sweetman of the International Research Institute of Stavanger and his colleagues suggests that the impression left by previous ocean-floor observations may be the exception, not the rule.

    They sank platforms loaded with jellyfish and other platforms loaded with mackerel more than 4,000 feet deep in the Sognefjord, Norway’s largest fjord. And what they found was that the seafloor cleanup crew — hagfish, crabs and other creatures — gobbled up the jellyfish just as fast as the mackerel, within a few hours.

    The result was so surprising, Dr. Sweetman said, that the first time the researchers pulled up a bare platform after 18 hours at the bottom of the fjord, “we thought the jellyfish just washed off on the way down…

     


    How Better Glass Can Save Hundreds of Millions of Birds a Year

    We can prevent birds from flying into windows with current technologies—experts say we just need the will.

    Jane J. Lee National Geographic Published November 13, 2014

    …. In fact, as many as 600 million birds die in window collisions in the U.S. and Canada every year, scientists estimate. We may hear only the occasional thump as a sparrow or robin crashes into our home or office window, but they add up. These collisions kill more birds than oil spills or pesticides do, says Daniel Klem Jr., an ornithologist at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The spring and fall migration periods are particularly deadly, with large flocks of birds navigating cities and suburbs that are littered with windows…..But now solutions are starting to pop up on the market, including new kinds of glass with patterns that birds can see and avoid. (And no, those hawk decals don’t work.)….If the glass industry can come out with products that satisfy researchers as to their bird-friendliness—as well as consumers looking to preserve their views—then these fledgling efforts have a real chance of saving millions of birds a year. (See “New Report Highlights Dire Situation of Many U.S. Birds.”)

    A growing awareness of the threats to bird populations has prompted new laws and voluntary guidelines in cities from Toronto to San Francisco. Along with “green” building programs, these new rules are spurring demand for bird-friendly glass among architects, glass manufacturers, and their clients. And that’s highlighting the need for more research into why birds fly into windows and how people can prevent those collisions….Sheppard hopes to alleviate the guesswork by using her tunnel to come up with a standard test that companies can use to determine a window’s bird-friendliness. Meanwhile, laws and guidelines for bird-safe features in new building construction or major renovations are popping up in cities and states across North America. Minnesota, Cook County (which includes Chicago), San Francisco and Oakland in California, and Toronto in Canada all have laws on the books, and Oregon is considering one. Congressman Mike Quigley (D-IL) has introduced legislation that would direct the General Services Administration to incorporate bird-friendly materials and features into federal government buildings. It hasn’t passed, but the congressman is hopeful now that the midterm elections are over. “I think we have the knowledge to produce windows that will work,” says Klem. “We just haven’t been able to commit to it.”

     

     

    These stubborn birds could cost San Francisco $33M

    By Claudia Cowan November 11, 2014 | 10:04am

    The old span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (right), which is scheduled to be demolished, is home to double-breasted cormorants that refuse to leave their nests. Photo: UPI

    Officials have tried decoys and special nests, but the double-breasted cormorants refuse to leave the old Bay Bridge.Photo: AP

    Now that a crucial section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge has been replaced by a new $6.4 billion span, nobody needs it anymore — nobody except about 800 birds that call the decrepit, 78-year-old segment home. The double-crested cormorants — protected, though not endangered — have nested along the bridge for decades, and have so far shown no interest in relocating to the shiny new section that replaced the eastern section of the famed bridge. Officials have tried pricey decoys, bird recordings and even specially made nests installed underneath the new span to lure them roughly 100 feet next door. The effort to demolish the old section, damaged 25 years ago in the massive Loma Prieta earthquake, is being held up by the birds’ unwillingness to move, and critics, who say the delays could cost taxpayers $33 million, are crying fowl….

     

     

    CA BLM WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK

     

    Can you guess the weight of the bullfrog?
    a) 22g
    b) 50g
    c) 67g
    d) 30g
    e) 1lb


    ——> See answer at end.

     

     

     

     

     

    The Planet Just Had Its Hottest October On Record

    by Joe Romm Posted on November 14, 2014 at 9:22 am

    The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) reports that last month was the hottest October in more than 120 years of record-keeping — by far. This follows the hottest September, August, June, and March-May in JMA’s records! Projections by NOAA make clear 2014 is increasingly likely to be hottest year on record.

    And these records occurred despite the fact we’re still waiting for the start of El Niño. It is usually the combination of the underlying long-term warming trend and the regional El Niño warming pattern that leads to new global temperature records. The JMA is a World Meteorological Organization Regional Climate Center of excellence. NASA reported Friday very similar observations. In the NASA dataset, last month was tied for hottest October on record with 2005….

     

    Warmest Oceans Ever Recorded

    Figure 1: a) NOAA Sea Surface Temperature anomaly (with respect to period 1854-2013) averaged over global oceans (red) and over North Pacific (0-60oN, 110oE-100oW) (cyan). September 2014 temperatures broke the record for both global and North Pacific Sea Surface Temperatures. b) Sea Surface Temperature anomaly of September 2014 from NOAA’s ERSST dataset. Credit: Axel Timmermann

    Nov. 14, 2014 —This summer has seen the highest global mean sea surface temperatures ever recorded since their systematic measuring started. Temperatures even exceed those of the record-breaking 1998 El Niño year,” says Axel Timmermann, climate scientist and professor, studying variability of the global climate system at the International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa. From 2000-2013 the global ocean surface temperature rise paused, in spite of increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. This period, referred to as the Global Warming Hiatus, raised a lot of public and scientific interest. However, as of April 2014 ocean warming has picked up speed again, according to Timmermann’s analysis of ocean temperature datasets. “The 2014 global ocean warming is mostly due to the North Pacific, which has warmed far beyond any recorded value and has shifted hurricane tracks, weakened trade winds, and produced coral bleaching in the Hawaiian Islands,” explains Timmermann. He describes the events leading up to this upswing as follows: Sea-surface temperatures started to rise unusually quickly in the extratropical North Pacific already in January 2014. A few months later, in April and May, westerly winds pushed a huge amount of very warm water usually stored in the western Pacific along the equator to the eastern Pacific. This warm water has spread along the North American Pacific coast, releasing into the atmosphere enormous amounts of heat–heat that had been locked up in the Western tropical Pacific for nearly a decade. “Record-breaking greenhouse gas concentrations and anomalously weak North Pacific summer trade winds, which usually cool the ocean surface, have contributed further to the rise in sea surface temperatures. The warm temperatures now extend in a wide swath from just north of Papua New Guinea to the Gulf of Alaska,” says Timmermann. The current record-breaking temperatures indicate that the 14-year-long pause in ocean warming has come to an end.

     

     

     

    Today’s climate models predict a 50 percent increase in lightning strikes across the United States during this century as a result of warming temperatures associated with climate change. Credit: © Sondem / Fotolia

    Lightning expected to increase by 50 percent with global warming

    November 13, 2014 University of California – Berkeley

    Atmospheric scientists looked at predictions of precipitation and cloud buoyancy in 11 different climate models and concluded that their combined effect will generate 50 percent more electrical discharges to the ground by the end of the century because of global warming. The main cause is water vapor, which fuels explosive deep convection in the atmosphere. The more convection, the greater the charge separation and the more cloud-to-ground strikes….

     

    D. M. Romps, J. T. Seeley, D. Vollaro, J. Molinari. Projected increase in lightning strikes in the United States due to global warming. Science, 2014; 346 (6211): 851 DOI: 10.1126/science.1259100

     

     

    NOAA: October was fourth warmest on record for the contiguous U.S.

    Western and most of Northeastern U.S. were much warmer than average; Drought persisted in the West, while parts Midwest were much wetter than normal October 13, 2014

    The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. last month was 57.1°F, 3.0°F above the 20th century average, making it the fourth-warmest October on record. The October precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 2.33 inches, or 0.17 inch above average, ranking near the middle of the 120-year period of record. This monthly summary from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business, academia and the public to support informed decision-making……For additional analysis of regional temperature and precipitation patterns, as well as extreme events, please see the full report

    Alaska shows no signs of rising Arctic methane, NASA study shows

    Posted: 13 Nov 2014 10:48 AM PST

    Despite large temperature increases in Alaska in recent decades, a new analysis of NASA airborne data finds that methane is not being released from Alaskan soils into the atmosphere at unusually high rates, as recent modeling and experimental studies have suggested. The new result shows that the changes in this part of the Arctic have not yet had enough impact to affect the global methane budget.


    New study shows warm waters are melting Antarctica from below

    Posted on 13 November 2014 by John Abraham skepticalscience.com

    Just this week, a new study has appeared which describes a clever method for measuring the flows of ocean currents and their impacts on ice shelves. This study has identified a major mechanism for melting ice in the Southern Hemisphere. The paper, co-authored by Andrew Thompson, Karen Heywood, and colleagues is very novel. The scientists used sea gliders to identify water flows that bring warm waters to the base of ice shelves in Antarctica. As I’ve written before, ocean currents are complex; you cannot neglect their impact on the Earth’s climate. In some parts of the ocean, dense waters near the surface fall to the ocean floor and spread across the globe. In other regions, waters from the deep rise to the surface. Similarly, waters move horizontally and carry their heat with them. In some cases the surface waters and the mid-depth waters flow in different directions. But regardless of the direction of flow, these waters carry energy with them. This process, often called “advection,” results in a major redistribution of heat across the globe. Sometimes, warm waters flow into cold regions, transferring heat, and melting ice. It is this phenomenon that was at the center of the current….

     

    Underwater ‘storms’ may hold key to melting Antarctic ice

    LA TIMES November 12, 2014

    Scientists using robotic ocean gliders to wander frigid Antarctic waters say they may have discovered a mechanism behind the melting of polar ice shelves – miniature submarine “storms” that are lobbing packets of warmer water toward the continent…..

     

     

    OPINION:

    Wobbling on Climate Change

    By PIERS J. SELLERS NY TIMES OPINION NOV. 11, 2014

    Piers J. Sellers is the acting director of earth science at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

    GREENBELT, Md. — I’M a climate scientist and a former astronaut. Not surprisingly, I have a deep respect for well-tested theories and facts. In the climate debate, these things have a way of getting blurred in political discussions. In September, John P. Holdren, the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, was testifying to a Congressional committee about climate change. Representative Steve Stockman, a Republican from Texas, recounted a visit he had made to NASA, where he asked what had ended the ice age:

    “And the lead scientist at NASA said this — he said that what ended the ice age was global wobbling. That’s what I was told. This is a lead scientist down in Maryland; you’re welcome to go down there and ask him the same thing. “So, and my second question, which I thought it was an intuitive question that should be followed up — is the wobbling of the earth included in any of your modelings? And the answer was no… “How can you take an element which you give the credit for the collapse of global freezing and into global warming but leave it out of your models?”

    That “lead scientist at NASA” was me. In July, Mr. Stockman spent a couple of hours at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center listening to presentations about earth science and climate change. The subject of ice ages came up. Mr. Stockman asked, “How can your models predict the climate when no one can tell me what causes the ice ages?” I responded that, actually, the science community understood very well what takes the earth into and out of ice ages. A Serbian mathematician, Milutin Milankovitch, worked out the theory during the early years of the 20th century. He calculated by hand that variations in the earth’s tilt and the shape of its orbit around the sun start and end ice ages. I said that you could think of ice ages as resulting from wobbles in the earth’s tilt and orbit. The time scales involved are on the order of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years. I explained that this science has been well tested against the fossil record and is broadly accepted. I added that we don’t normally include these factors in 100-year climate projections because the effects are too tiny to be important on such a short time-scale.

    And that, I thought, was that.

    So I was bit surprised to read the exchange between Dr. Holdren and Representative Stockman, which suggested that at best we couldn’t explain the science and at worst we scientists are clueless about ice ages. We aren’t. Nor are we clueless about what is happening to the climate, thanks in part to a small fleet of satellites that fly above our heads, measuring the pulse of the earth. Without them we would have no useful weather forecasts beyond a couple of days.

    These satellite data are fed into computer models that use the laws of motion — Sir Isaac Newton’s theories — to figure out where the world’s air currents will flow, where clouds will form and rain will fall. And — voilà — you can plan your weekend, an airline can plan a flight and a city can prepare for a hurricane. Satellites also keep track of other important variables: polar ice, sea level rise, changes in vegetation, ocean currents, sea surface temperature and ocean salinity (that’s right — you can accurately measure salinity from space), cloudiness and so on. These data are crucial for assessing and understanding changes in the earth system and determining whether they are natural or connected to human activities. They are also used to challenge and correct climate models, which are mostly based on the same theories used in weather forecast models. This whole system of observation, theory and prediction is tested daily in forecast models and almost continuously in climate models. So, if you have no faith in the predictive capability of climate models, you should also discard your faith in weather forecasts and any other predictions based on Newtonian mechanics.

    The earth has warmed nearly 0.8 degrees Celsius over the last century and we are confident that the biggest factor in this increase is the release of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning. It is almost certain that we will see a rise of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) before 2100, and a three-degree rise (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher is a possibility. The impacts over such a short period would be huge. The longer we put off corrective action, the more disruptive the outcome is likely to be. It is my pleasure and duty as a scientist and civil servant to discuss the challenge of climate change with elected officials. My colleagues and I do our best to transmit what we know and what we think is likely to happen. The facts and accepted theories are fundamental to understanding climate change, and they are too important to get wrong or trivialize. Some difficult decisions lie ahead for us humans. We should debate our options armed with the best information and ideas that science can provide.

     

     


    Polar Bears Among 31 New Species Issued Protection Status By UN Conservation Body

    by Joaquim Moreira Salles Posted on November 10, 2014 Updated: November 10, 2014

    Over 100 countries agreed to extend protection to a record 31 species at the UN Convention on Migratory Species held in Quito, Ecuador last week….

     

     

    Coastal dead zones will be exacerbated by global warming.

    Larger ‘dead zones,’ oxygen-depleted water, likely because of climate change

    November 10, 2014 Washington Post

    Three years ago, the Chesapeake Bay was hit by an unusually large “dead zone,” a stretch of oxygen-depleted water that killed fish from the Baltimore Harbor to the mid-channel of the Potomac River and beyond, about a third of the bay. Another giant dead zone returned last summer, smaller than the first but big enough to rank as the estuary’s eighth largest since state natural resources officials in Virginia and Maryland started recording them in the 1990s. In a future of climate change, those behemoths might not seem so unusual, according to a new report by the Smithsonian. As the global temperatures warm, they will create conditions such as rain, wind and sea-level rise that will cause dead zones throughout the world to intensify and grow, the report says. Ninety-four percent of places where dead zones have been recorded are areas where average temperatures are expected to rise by about 4 degrees Fahrenheit by the turn of the century. In addition to the Chesapeake Bay region, that includes the Black and Baltic seas and the Gulf of Mexico, where a dead zone equal to the size of Connecticut took shape in August…Gedan was a co-author of the study with Andrew H. Altieri of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. They found that the number of dead zone events have doubled each decade since the 1950s and that humans have likely contributed to their growth in intensity and size. “We just don’t know how much of this doubling is due to climate change or nutrient runoff,” Gedan said. More studies with more “sophisticated modeling” are needed to determine that, she said. Dead zones are summer plagues that happen when waters warm. As the water temperatures increase, three key events pave the way for a catastrophe that kills any fish, crab, oyster and shrimp that relies on oxygen….

     

    A common murre snacks on an anchovy on SE Farallon Island.Credit: Bryan Black / Univ. of Texas, Austin

    Climate variability has an opposing impact on marine life and tree growth

    Posted: 10 Nov 2014 05:34 AM PST

    The same climatic drivers that enhance upwelling of nutrient-rich ocean waters and support of marine productivity can result in lower precipitation on land and slower tree-growth. Tree-ring chronologies helped to explain how upwelling was happening during the past 600 years. This was outlined in a recent study published in Science by an international team of scientists including David Frank of the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL and the University of Bern’s Oeschger Center. The new study, led by Bryan Black at The University of Texas at Austin’s Marine Science Institute which has appeared in the September 19th issue of the journal Science, links short-term reductions in growth and reproduction of marine animals off the California coast to increasing variability in the strength of coastal upwelling currents. The upwelling of cold, deep, nutrient-rich waters towards the sunlit ocean surface is a key process in the oceans that fuels phytoplankton blooms that ultimately support fish, seabirds, and marine mammals….

    B. A. Black et al. Six centuries of variability and extremes in a coupled marine-terrestrial ecosystem. Science, 2014; 345 (6203): 1498 DOI: 10.1126/science.1253209

     

     

    Ocean acidification affects climate-relevant functions at the sea-surface microlayer

    Posted: 11 Nov 2014 07:52 AM PST    

    Ocean acidification might alter climate-relevant functions of the oceans’ uppermost layer, according to a study by a group of marine scientists. Researchers observed a close coupling between biological processes in the seawater and the chemistry of the sea surface microlayer… “Experiments have shown how ocean acidification, a change in the ocean chemistry due to the uptake of man-made carbon dioxide, influences the growth and efficiency of marine bacteria as well as the sinking of carbon-rich particles,” Dr. Luisa Galgani resumes. “We know that organic material and microorganisms accumulating in the sea-surface microlayer are similar to those found in the water column below. So we expected that ocean acidification-driven changes in ocean biogeochemistry in the water column can also be reflected in the microlayer. It is important to understand changes in this microenvironment, because it might have consequences for air-sea interactions that are relevant for our climate.”

     

    Groundwater warming up in sync

    Posted: 11 Nov 2014 08:17 AM PST

    Global warming stops at nothing — not even the groundwater, as a new study reveals: the groundwater’s temperature profiles echo those of the atmosphere, albeit damped and delayed…. Based on the readings, the researchers were able to demonstrate that the groundwater is not just warming up; the warming stages observed in the atmosphere are also echoed. “Global warming is reflected directly in the groundwater, albeit damped and with a certain time lag,” says Bayer, summarising the main results that the project has yielded. The researchers published their study in the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences. The data also reveals that the groundwater close to the surface down to a depth of around sixty metres has warmed up statistically significantly in the course of global warming over the last forty years. This water heating follows the warming pattern of the local and regional climate, which in turn mirrors that of global warming.

    The groundwater reveals how the atmosphere has made several temperature leaps at irregular intervals. These “regime shifts” can also be observed in the global climate, as the researchers write in their study. Bayer was surprised at how quickly the groundwater responded to climate change….

    Heat exchange with the subsoil

    The earth’s atmosphere has warmed up by an average of 0.13 degrees Celsius per decade in the last fifty years. And this warming doesn’t stop at the subsoil, either, as other climate scientists have demonstrated in the last two decades with drillings all over the world. However, the researchers only tended to consider soils that did not contain any water or where there were no groundwater flows. While the fact that the groundwater has not escaped climate change was revealed by researchers from Eawag and ETH Zurich in a study published three years ago, it only concerned “artificial” groundwater. In order to enhance it, river water is trickled off in certain areas. The temperature profile of the groundwater generated as a result thus matches that of the river water.

    The new study, however, examines groundwater that has barely been influenced by humans. According to Bayer, it is plausible that the natural groundwater flow is also warming up in the course of climate change. “The difference in temperature between the atmosphere and the subsoil balances out naturally.” The energy transfer takes place via thermal conduction and the groundwater flow, much like a heat exchanger, which enables the heat transported to spread in the subsoil and level out.

    Consequences difficult to gauge

    The consequences of these findings, however, are difficult to gauge. The warmer temperatures might influence subterranean ecosystems on the one hand and groundwater-dependent biospheres on the other, which include cold areas in flowing waters where the groundwater discharges. For cryophilic organisms such as certain fish, groundwater warming could have negative consequences. Higher groundwater temperatures also influence the water’s chemical composition, especially the chemical equilibria of nitrate or carbonate. After all, chemical reactions usually take place more quickly at higher temperatures. Bacterial activity might also increase at rising water temperatures. If the groundwater becomes warmer, undesirable bacteria such as gastro-intestinal disease pathogens might multiply more effectively. However, the scientists can also imagine positive effects. “The groundwater’s excess heat could be used geothermally for instance,” adds Kathrin Menberg, the first author of the study.

     

     

     

    DROUGHT:

     

     


    http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA

     

     

    i Rancher Dan Macon says he has had little choice but to experiment and take a few chances with an “off-farm” with the local University of California, Davis extension office.

    With Drought The New Normal, Calif. Farmers Find They Have To Change

    by Kirk Siegler November 14, 2014 NPR

    Ask Northern California sheep rancher Dan Macon what this drought is doing to his pocketbook and he’ll break it down for you real quick. “It’s like if you woke up one morning and lost 40 percent of the equity in your house,” he says. “Our primary investment in our ranch is in these sheep and we just sold 40 percent of our stock.” Macon had to sell off almost half his herd at an auction for cheap. There wasn’t enough feed to go around. This has also forced him to take an off-farm job — a first since he started ranching in the Sierra Nevada foothills near Auburn, Calif., two decades ago. “So in addition to taking care of the sheep, I [also] work 30 to 40 hours a week,” Macon says.

    Three years of severe drought in California is making a lot of farmers and ranchers like Macon make some tough choices, and in some cases rethink everything about their business. If the conditions persist – and many forecasters predict they will – this could have far-reaching impacts on our food system. By some estimates, California produces more than half of all the fresh food we eat in the U.S. Yet producers in California are finding some opportunity in these tough times.

    Rancher Dan Macon, for instance, says he has had little choice but to experiment and take a few chances. That “off-farm” job he took is with the local University of California, Davis extension office, where he learned about new varieties of experimental rye and wheat grasses that he’s decided to try and seed his pastures with. “This is part of our drought strategy to find some grass species that we can introduce that’ll do better in drier conditions,” Macon says.

    Bleating sheep clamber around the pickup that is parked on a baked-brown pasture. The sheep don’t know it, but they’re also helping trample thousands of the experimental seeds into the soil. The hope is that if the big storms don’t hit this region for a fourth straight winter, maybe these new grasses will help this pasture hold through another hot, dry summer.

    Another strategy, says Macon, is to make better use of technology from right here at his pickup.
    “I’ve got things on my cellphone that allow me to monitor our forage use and to map the areas that we’re grazing that I didn’t have five years ago,” Macon says. “That all adds to our capability to manage through the dry period.”
    How to manage in a future with less and less water is something you’re starting to hear a lot from ranchers and farmers across California. This is an industry that has long been criticized for being reluctant to change. Agriculture still uses 80 percent of all the water in California.

    But talk to long-time farmers like Kirk Schmidt, who’s also an attorney and former Farm Bureau president in Santa Cruz County, and it’s clear there’s more to the story than that.

    “Agriculture is an industry and industrial research is always led by the demand of the industry,” he says. “There was no need for research in water conservation because there was no demand by the farmers.” But with droughts becoming the new normal, Schmidt says farmers have to change. Traditionally, research focused on maximizing yields and profits regardless of water. Now it’s starting to move the other way: How do you squeeze more out of less water yet still turn a profit?….

    After extensive negotiations, Kitayama and other farmers banded together with the local water agency to build a new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant. It used to be that all the wastewater from cities and towns here was treated and drained into the ocean. But at the plant it’s now intercepted, treated, but pumped back to the local farm fields. Kitayama says farmers were skeptical at first, but they came around. He says they had no other choice. “Unless we solve this together with fairly expensive projects we’re going to get left out on our own,” he says.

    This fall, with California in the grips of one of its worst droughts on record, the state finally took notice. The water agency and farmers here celebrated a sizable new grant coming from a state drought relief bill that will help expand the plant and ground water monitoring. Local leaders gathered outside the plant, which sits just a couple miles from the coast, to celebrate. In a year where barely three inches of rain fell on Watsonville, they said a little creativity had brought some opportunity in these tough times.

     

     

     

    Craft beer flows in the Lagunitas tap room. The company is at its “maximum growth threshold here in California because of water,” said Leon Sharyon, the craft brewer’s chief financial officer. (Abel Uribe / Chicago Tribune)

    State craft brewers fear drought could alter business, and the beer

    By Brianna Sacks LA Times November 12 2014

    The California drought has pushed brewers of all sizes to conserve When Lagunitas Brewing Co. fills its beer bottles, Northern California’s Russian River provides the main ingredient.

    Lagunitas has become one of the fastest-growing stars of California’s booming craft beer scene. But the Russian River is shrinking after three years of punishing drought. “We are at the maximum growth threshold here in California because of water,” said Leon Sharyon, chief financial officer for Lagunitas, which uses nearly 2 million gallons of river water a year at its Petaluma brewery. Breweries run through an average of four to seven gallons of water to end up with one gallon of beer.
    With California in the midst of a water crisis, breweries are scrambling
    . California is home to more than 400 craft brewers — the most in the country. They sold $4.7 billion worth of beer in 2012, about 17% of the state’s total beer sales, according to the most recent statistics from the California Craft Brewers Assn.

    Small brewers worry that they could have trouble meeting thriving demand with limited water. Prices could go up, they warn, if they have to spend for conservation measures or scrounge up new supplies.

    “If this drought continues for two, three more years, that could greatly impact the production and growth of our breweries,” said Tom McCormick, the association’s executive director. Lagunitas, for instance, just opened a major brewhouse in Chicago, where Lake Michigan stands ready to supply its water needs. The company is shifting some production there, Sharyon said, adding: “Our next plant will probably be out of state and next to a stable water supply.”….

     


    Lester Snow is the answer man on the water bond

    @pattmlatimes LA Times November 12, 2014

    Lester Snow heads the private California Water Foundation. (Ashley Jennings)

    California overwhelmingly voted for a water bond. What happens now?

    Californians, you just voted yourselves a $7-billion-plus water bond measure. What happens now? Lester Snow can draw you the map of water needs and detail the money being spent. He’s navigated state waters for years in a multitude of jobs, among them head of the state’s Department of Water Resources and other agencies. He’s spent more time on water than Duke Kahanamoku. Today he heads the private California Water Foundation, which supported the bond measure that California now has to spend wisely.

    Is the bond measure a major step or an incremental one?

    It’s funny to say it, but it’s both. Passing the bond is so significant, and for every bond dollar, you may get three or four other dollars invested. [But] I also refer to it as a down payment on what needs to be done in California. It gets us started, but it would be a mistake for anyone to think that now that we’ve passed this bond, our worries are gone. It would be a mistake for anyone to think that now that we’ve passed [the water] bond, our worries are gone. – Lester Snow

    Some bond projects may not be realized for 10 or 20 years.

    Sometimes for the water to manifest from investments takes a while. We have a water system that hundreds of billions have been invested in over the years, and we have been slow to reinvest in it. With the $7.5 billion, we’re jump-starting some of that. We see how shortages can affect the economy and people’s lifestyles, so we not only need this bond but to steadily reinvest in the system. [With] the drought, there’s been threatened litigation over transferring a few thousand acre-feet here or there. In the meantime, we discharge 1.5 million acre-feet of wastewater into the ocean instead of reclaiming it. There’s money in the bond to reclaim more and more of that water. As the mayor of L.A. has pointed out, there’s more room for conservation, and it takes money. By and large, water is cheaper than most people’s cable or cellphone bills. We like it when it’s not expensive, but when it’s not there, it causes many problems….

    Is there a real correspondence between what the bond money will do and what California water profoundly needs? With thousands of water agencies, our problems are as much about structure as supply.

    That’s fragmentation. In the L.A. basin there’s 88 cities but 400 water providers. [The] bond provides incentives for regional strategies to break down some of those barriers, but it’s not the end-all and be-all. The governor earlier this year laid out a water action plan, which pointed out that there is no silver bullet. It can be characterized as an all-of-the-above approach with more attention to diversification of our supplies and our system. With previous [water] bonds, Proposition 84 and 50, the only way you could get grant money is if you coordinated with your neighbors, instead of everybody doing their own little things with their own little jurisdictions. That started breaking down some barriers. This bond will provide additional funds for continued cooperation and collaboration.

    The bond includes $2.7 billion for ground storage, but it doesn’t specify dams or underground storage, which is a ferocious source of partisan battles in Sacramento.

    It’s likely it will be both. The bond lays out that the funds will go for public benefits associated with storage and assigns the California Water Commission to develop rules and guidelines for storage projects. There’s already some surface storage projects that have been under consideration for a long time: the Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley; there’s been talk about raising Lake Shasta; a proposal for an expanded reservoir on the upper San Joaquin River. I think you’ll see others coming forward with smaller projects to capture floodwater and recharge it into groundwater basins. I’m confident that while there may be some conflict, this is going to provide California with additional storage throughout the state….

    California was the only Western state with no plan for managing groundwater. As of September there is statewide regulation of groundwater.

    It was the tragedy of the commons, a race to the bottom. You as an individual could invest in this sophisticated storage system and your neighbor could pump out all the water you stored. Now there’ll be a structure to keep track of who’s pumping, how much, who’s putting water in, and therefore [the state will] be able to better manage and incentivize groundwater recharge projects. Where there’s a groundwater basin, [the plan] requires a groundwater agency to be set up and to develop a sustainable groundwater plan. [The agency has] the authority to require data to be submitted and to charge fees and allocate pumping if that’s necessary. A failure on the part of the local entity can result in the state [water] board coming in….

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Climate Tools Seek to Bend Nature’s Path

    By HENRY FOUNTAIN NY TIMES NOV. 9, 2014

    UTRECHT, the Netherlands — The solution to global warming, Olaf Schuiling says, lies beneath our feet. For Dr. Schuiling, a retired geochemist, climate salvation would come in the form of olivine, a green-tinted mineral found in abundance around the world. When exposed to the elements, it slowly takes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Olivine has been doing this naturally for billions of years, but Dr. Schuiling wants to speed up the process by spreading it on fields and beaches and using it for dikes, pathways, even sandboxes. Sprinkle enough of the crushed rock around, he says, and it will eventually remove enough CO2 to slow the rise in global temperatures. “Let the earth help us to save the earth,” said Dr. Schuiling, who has been pursuing the idea single-mindedly for several decades and at 82 is still writing papers on the subject from his cluttered office at the University of Utrecht.

    Once considered the stuff of wild-eyed fantasies, such ideas for countering climate change — known as geoengineering solutions, because they intentionally manipulate nature — are now being discussed seriously by scientists. The National Academy of Sciences is expected to issue a report on geoengineering later this year. That does not mean that such measures, which are considered controversial across the political spectrum, are likely to be adopted anytime soon. But the effects of climate change may become so severe that geoengineering solutions could attract even more serious consideration. Some scientists say significant research should begin now. Dr. Schuiling’s idea is one of several intended to reduce levels of CO2, the main greenhouse gas, so the atmosphere will trap less heat. Other approaches, potentially faster and more doable but riskier, would create the equivalent of a sunshade around the planet by scattering reflective droplets in the stratosphere or spraying seawater to create more clouds over the oceans. Less sunlight reaching the earth’s surface would mean less heat to be trapped, resulting in a quick lowering of temperatures. No one can say for sure whether geoengineering of any kind would work….

     


    Chemists Develop Porous Molecules That Bind Greenhouse Gases


    Nov. 13, 2014 — Chemistry researchers have developed a molecule that assembles spontaneously into a lightweight structure with microscopic pores capable of binding large quantities of several potent greenhouse … full story

     

     

     

     

     

     

    U.S. President Barack Obama smiles while he speaks during a joint press conference with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2014. CREDIT: AP Photo/Andy Wong

    ‘A Glimmer Of Hope’: How Scientists Are Reacting To Obama’s Climate Deal With China

    by Emily Atkin Posted on November 12, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    It didn’t take long after the U.S. and China announced a historic agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions on Wednesday for the reactions to start pouring in. Democrats and climate hawks praised the deal as an important step forward in the battle against sea level rise, habitat degradation, and extreme weather. Republican leaders deemed it an economic disaster, a continuation of the so-called “war on coal.” Policymakers aside, however, it is also important to note the reactions of the people who actually measure climate change and predict how it will impact humans in the future. What do they think about the deal? Is it enough to make a real difference in the fight against catastrophic global warming? We now have a good faith effort on the part of the planet’s two leading carbon emitters to work together … For the climate scientists ThinkProgress asked on Wednesday, the answer was a resounding yes, with a side of caution. Scientists confirmed that the announcement, which has China agreeing to cap its emissions by 2030 and the U.S. committing to a 26 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2025, represented a huge first step toward building the kind of political cooperation needed to effectively combat a global problem. “My take is that this is an historic agreement for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that we now have a good faith effort on the part of the planet’s two leading carbon emitters to work together to lower planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions,” said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University….

    ….Scientists widely think solving the problem means preventing global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. To do that, scientists say we’ll need even more international cooperation, and a big push to deploy cleaner technologies, more energy efficiency, and a strategy to adapt to climate change that does occur.
    Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, hopes people don’t lose track of that while celebrating the deal. “The agreement with China is a good first step. But we hope it is but a first step because it is not enough to prevent significant climate change,” he said. Trenberth noted that while the U.S.-China deal looks at prevention of climate change, it does not look at ways to adapt to it. That’s important, he said, because our ability to adapt to the effects of climate change — dried out crops, increased flooding, risk of disease spread, to name a few — decreases as the planet gets hotter. And the planet is still getting hotter. The agreement with China is a good first step … [but] it is not enough to prevent significant climate change. “Since the current strategy allows considerable climate change to occur, a second part needs to be how we will cope with the changes that will certainly occur,” he said. “The absence of such planning means we live with the consequences, which can be severe and uneven, and often fall on the heads of many innocent peoples such as small island states inundated with high sea levels.”

    ….The lack of adaptation planning is not the only hole scientists and policy experts noted in the U.S.-China deal. For example, Higgins noted that China’s part in the agreement says it will peak its emissions by 2030, but there seems to be no limit on what that peak is going to look like. Without a limit, China could emit exorbitant amount of carbon by 2030 that would be hard to reverse.”Because China has yet to hit its peak, there is a potential incentive to deliberately emit more to make the peak higher,” Higgins said. “How do both countries deal with that?”…

     

    The U.S. and China just shook up global climate talks with major pollution pledges.

    November 11, 2014 National Journal

    The U.S. and China announced new carbon-emissions targets Tuesday following talks between President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, steps the White House called part of an effort to “achieve the deep decarbonization of the global economy over time.” China, where emissions are surging, offered a first-time pledge to achieve a peak in its carbon emissions by 2030, although the White House expressed hope that China could reach the target more quickly. The U.S. pledged to cut its greenhouse-gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, building on the years-old White House commitment of a 17 percent cut by 2020.
    The pledges, which follow months of talks between the two countries, come amid delicate United Nations-hosted talks aimed at finalizing a new global climate-change accord in Paris late next year.
    The unveiling of the U.S. pledge while Obama is in China is something of a surprise, because nations are not formally scheduled to offer post-2020 emissions targets to the U.N. talks until the first quarter of next year….

     


    Experts Parse U.S., China Commitments To Flight Climate Change


    by Anthony Kuhn NPR November 14, 2014

     

    Climate Pact by U.S. and China Relies on Policies Now Largely in Place

    By HENRY FOUNTAIN and JOHN SCHWARTZ NY Times November 11, 2014

    For all the pronouncements about the United States and China reaching a historic climate pact, the agreement they announced Wednesday does not signal a seismic shift in policies by either nation, experts said. The United States and China should both be able to meet the stated goals by aggressively pursuing policies that are largely in place, these analysts said. For the United States, those include the Obama administration’s proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants, which would go into effect in 2017. Experts said that in practice it should be possible to wring more emissions cuts from that and other climate-related measures without adding to costs. “We think that the tools are there to meet this target,” said David Doniger, director of the climate program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
    Politics, of course, may get in the way — Republicans in Congress vowed to fight the power plant proposal even before it was introduced in June, and some, including Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who is set to become the majority leader next year, have already sharply criticized the China pact. Policy analysts said a changing energy mix for China, including a buildup of renewable energy sources and nuclear power, had been in the works for some time. “What China is pledging to do here is not a lot different from what China’s policies are on a track to deliver,” said David G. Victor, who studies climate policy at the University of California at San Diego. Wang Yi, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, said experts in China had reached a consensus that the 2030 date was achievable for its targets, and that 2025 would be a more ambitious goal. The agreement, announced during President Obama‘s visit with President Xi Jinping in Beijing, calls for the United States to reduce carbon emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2025. That represents a significant acceleration in the rate of reduction from the president’s earlier pledge to cut emissions 17 percent by 2020….

     

    China’s Climate Change Plan Raises Questions

    New York Times 

    November 12, 2014 

           

    Foreign scientists and policy makers are also trying to judge whether Mr. Xi’s 2030 pledge represents a genuine campaign by the Chinese government to fight climate change, or just a business-as-usual date when emissions would probably have leveled off …

     

    Secret talks and a personal letter: How US-China climate deal was done

    November 13, 2014 The Guardian UK

    The climate deal announced on Wednesday between the world’s two biggest carbon polluters was struck after a personal letter from Barack Obama, and nine months of intensive diplomacy. But American and Chinese officials had been in search of an agreement – through official meetings and back-channel negotiations – since the days when George Bush was president. The plan unveiled in Beijing by Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, commits the two countries to ambitious cuts to greenhouse gas emissions after 2020, and could spur other big polluters to similar efforts.

    After years of mistrust, the deal began to coalesce last spring after Obama sent a personal letter to Xi suggesting the two countries start to move in tandem to cut carbon pollution, the White House said. The immediate inspiration for the letter arose from a visit to Beijing by John Kerry, the US secretary of state.
    Kerry, who had a strong environmental record when he was a senator, raised climate change to a top priority after taking over at State. He floated the idea of setting joint targets in his meetings with Chinese officials, a senior administration official said…..

     

     

    Election’s biggest loser: Action on climate change

    San Francisco Chronicle Editorial

    Updated 12:27 pm, Saturday, November 8, 2014

    The battle to control climate change is shifting, and definitely for the worse. A U.N. report — yes, yet another one documenting the human-caused damage to the planet — was followed by a resounding win by Republicans, who are in no mood to take action. Within days last week, the nation and the rest of the world got a harsh look at the problem in both scientific and political terms. But barring a Beltway miracle, nothing will change in this country’s fitful efforts to clean up emissions blamed for melting ice caps, rising seas and extreme weather… California, ever the exception, has a role to play. When Congress balked at a cap-and-trade system, California set one up. It calls for buying and selling pollution credits in a way that rewards industries using clean technology. Also the state is pushing toward a goal of wider use of renewable energy in power systems and vehicle sales. All of these programs must be preserved and made successful, both for this state’s sake and as a national example. But Sacramento lawmaking won’t be enough, not while other states avoid the topic and Washington backpedals. The global stakes can’t be dodged either. The U.N. report leads up to more international parleys, one in Lima, Peru, next month and a final meeting in Paris next year, designed to bring all countries into alignment. The rich-and-poor divide, trade rivalries and cost concerns have sidetracked prior efforts, making the next one just as difficult. This country is both the top emitter of greenhouse gases and the major innovator in capping such emissions. Consider a telling statistic from the World Resources Institute: The U.S. has cut emissions from 19 percent of the world’s total to 14 percent over the past 24 years. That’s a record to communicate and build on. But it won’t happen without acknowledging the problem and taking steps to solve it. Congress can’t hide from the facts.

    House approves Keystone XL pipeline, Senate up next

    USA TODAY

     - ‎ November 14, 2014‎

           

    WASHINGTON – Republicans in the U.S. House approved legislation, 252-161, for the ninth time to authorize construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline in a legislative push renewed by two lawmakers locked in a Louisiana Senate runoff next .

     

    Republicans Vow to Fight E.P.A. and Approve Keystone Pipeline

    By CORAL DAVENPORT November 10, 2014 NYTIMES

    Republicans say they will use their new powers to undermine regulations aimed at curbing carbon pollution and now have greater leverage in pushing President Obama to approve the pipeline.

     

    Meet the Republican’s Top Guy on the Environment, James Inhofe

    By JULIET LAPIDOS NY Times November 12, 2014

    The Senator once called the E.P.A. a “Gestapo bureaucracy.” ….

     

     

    A solar car challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The Fact That Climate Change Lost Big in This Election Could Be a Huge Win

    By Eric Holthaus November 7, 2014 slate.com

    There’s been a lot of anxiety in climate change circles after Tuesday’s election ushered in a Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate. The Wednesday morning headlines were dire, including this one from Vox: “The biggest loser in this election is the climate.” On its face, I agree. The chances of bold climate action within the next two years took a big hit Tuesday. Coupled with the latest scientific consensus that we’re quickly reaching the end of our carbon budget, the world can’t afford another delay. As my colleague Phil Plait said on Election Day, Tuesday’s vote “quite literally affects the future of humanity.” But this election cycle, campaigners concerned with the future of the planet also won a subtle but extremely important victory: Climate change is something people are finally talking about.

    According to exit poll data, global warming is now the most polarizing issue to Republicans—beating even Obama’s signature health care laws. But at least it’s an issue. This is in sharp contrast to 2012, when the two presidential candidates barely mentioned the issue at all. Even if the 2014 election wasn’t primarily about climate, it was one of the social issues that resonated most strongly with voters.

    Besides simply talking about the issue, there were tangible victories as well. The ongoing, successful carbon-trading platform in the Northeast is set to add Pennsylvania as a member. A climate-focused super PAC survived its initial election cycle with an encouraging win-loss record. A western North Dakota tribal election winner promised to crack down on America’s biggest oil boom. Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, though he didn’t strongly influence election results, now has the infrastructure in place to battle in 2016. Andrew Freedman at Mashable has a useful breakdown of a few others.

    “Our issues have been an important part of this election, and while they may not have been the largest part, polling clearly shows they weren’t the liabilities our opponents hoped they’d be,” Sierra Club political director Melissa Williams told Politico. “That is momentum to build on and a clear signal to candidates in elections to come.”

    If anything, 2014 was another sign of the gradual shift toward broader Republican support for action on climate change.

    Yes, the new Senate majority leader will be Mitch “I’m not a scientist” McConnell. And sure, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will be led by Oklahoma’s James Inhofe, the man who called human-caused global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” cited the Bible to defend his position, and led a witch hunt designed to manufacture public distrust of leading scientists.

    But in this election cycle, there are fresh signs the Republican Party is beginning to rethink its position on climate. A recent poll of self-identified Republicans found that only one-third of respondents agreed with the Republican Party position on climate change. There’s also been a noticeable backlash against politicians feigning ignorance by touting their lack of formal scientific training. In 2016, it’s now less likely that a presidential candidate can get away with flat-out denial that climate change exists and is largely caused by human activity. As the evangelical Christian climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe points out, it’s not difficult to see how action on climate change could become a core conservative issue.

    In the meantime, Obama’s team of climate negotiators has spent years ensuring the next international climate agreement, unlike the failed Kyoto Protocol, won’t require Senate approval.

    As long as fossil fuel money influences elections, coal- and oil-state senators like McConnell and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski will vote to continue with the status quo. But that too could quickly change. The cost of solar power continues to plummet, and in just one or two election cycles, it will outcompete coal in price. We may soon see red-state senators changing their tune.

     

     

    Texas Oil Regulator Says It Will Not Honor Town’s Vote To Ban Fracking

    by Emily Atkin Posted on November 10, 2014 Updated: November 10, 2014

    Texas Railroad Commission Chairwoman Christi Craddick said she would continue giving permits to oil and gas companies seeking to frack in Denton….

     


    Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan has holes, groups say

    File Photo — The Associated Press Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel announces the preliminary version of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) near the Palm Springs windmills Sept. 23.

    By Jim Steinberg, The Sun Posted: 11/09/14, 5:47 PM PST

    ONTARIO >> Environmental groups and residents are finding what they call discrepancies, omissions and reasons for concern in the 8,000-page Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan. During public hearings here last week and across a seven-county area since Oct. 20, residents have been expressing concerns with what has been called a historic cooperative planning effort between state and federal agencies focused on where renewable energy plants should go and where they should not go on 22.5 million acres of federal and non-federal California desert land. The plan was unveiled Sept. 23 when Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell visited a wind farm near Palm Springs to celebrate this conservation milestone and to underscore the importance of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan. That plan called for a doubling-down of production of clean energy on public lands while protecting their natural resources. The public comment period officially closes Jan. 9, although last week Jim Kenna, the federal Bureau of Land Management’s California director, all but confirmed in an interviewthat an extension period would be granted, likely this week, due to widespread demand.

    Kenna said that the DRECP shows the boundaries for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s proposed Mojave Trails National Monument and the Sand to Snow National Monument. Last week at the Whitewater Preserve, Feinstein, D-Calif., said she would introduce legislation to create those monuments, located primarily in the San Bernardino County section of the Mojave Desert, during the first day of the new Congress next year.

    —Officials have announced an additional public meeting for the draft Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan will be held Nov. 19 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Joshua Tree Community Center, 6171 Sunburst St., Joshua Tree.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    China’s Gigantic New Commitment To Renewable Energy, Explained

    by Kiley Kroh Posted on November 12, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Windmills operate at the Da Bancheng Wind Farm, about 40 km (25 miles) south of Urumqi city, in Xinjiang, China. CREDIT: AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel

    Late Tuesday night, the U.S. and China announced an historic agreement to combat climate change, a major step forward from the world’s two largest greenhouse gas emitters. Not only does the agreement hold the two nations to taking additional steps to bring down the carbon emissions that drive climate change, but China just pledged to deploy a tremendous amount of clean energy.

    The non-fossil target may be the most important part of the package,” said Melanie Hart, Director of China Policy at the Center for American Progress. “Renewable and nuclear energy accounted for 9.8 percent of China’s energy mix in 2013. They have just promised to double that percentage by 2030. That target will light a fire under China’s already-aggressive renewable deployments and put even stronger limits on coal and other fossil fuels.”

     

    China’s Three Gorges to diversify as big dam projects dry up
    November 14, 2014 Reuters

    China Three Gorges Corp, the country’s biggest hydropower developer, plans to diversify into wind, solar and other new energy forms, with the market for giant new dams already in decline, a senior company official said. …

     

     

    New ‘Solar Cloth’ Allows Solar Cells To Be Stretched Across Parking Lots, Stadiums

    by Katie Valentine Posted on November 14, 2014 Updated: November 14, 2014

    The cloth is flexible and weighs far less than traditional solar panels, making it ideal for roofs that can’t hold much weight….

     

    More research confirming large methane leakage from shale boom

    By gws & November 12, 2014 skepticalscience.com

    More research published in 2014 is consistent with the previous notion that the shale boom in the US has been, and likely still is, causing much larger fugitive methane (and higher hydrocarbon) emissions than claimed by the industry. In a recent publication in Earth’s Future, a new journal published by the American Geophysical Union (AGU) dedicated to “global change and sustainability”, a German-US team of researchers showed increasing atmospheric methane abundances over two rapidly developing shale areas, the Bakken and Eagle Ford shales in North Dakota and south Texas, respectively. Their methane emissions estimate is based on the difference in atmospheric methane in these areas between the years prior said rapid development, 2006-2008, and during it, 2009-2011…..

     

    Could recycled plastic become a new global energy source? Moinuddin Sarker has been negotiating with local sanitation companies to buy their plastic waste and plans to use it to produce 20 million to 30 million barrels of fuel a year, enough to heat all Connecticut households in the winter months. Al Jazeera America

     

     

     
     

     

     

     

    WEBINARS:

     

    Webinar: Avian Translocations – Impacts for Behavioral Culture and Population Genetics
    November 18, 2014 11:00 – 12:00 PM PST

    Speaker Mark Hauber, City University of New York will discuss translocations of small or threatened populations to larger or safer localities. 


    Description: Translocations of small or threatened populations to larger or safer localities are the bread and butter of conservation efforts in many regions of the world, especially in insular nations. Translocations are often highly successful, establishing independent, distant, and protected populations to improve the prospects of species longevity. But translocations also carry potential costs, which may or may not supersede these benefits, especially when there is both connectivity and asymmetry between the source and the destination sites and populations. Here I review both the behavioral (song culture and species recognition) and the genetic (theoretical modelling based) evidence for the potential impact of translocation efforts in several contexts inspired by my own work in New Zealand.
    Click here for more information.

     

     

    Ecosystem Vulnerability Assessment – Patterns of Climate Change Vulnerability in the Southwest
     November 18, 2014 1:00 PM PST
    Speaker Jack Triepke, US Forest Service, will discuss an ecosystem-based climate change vulnerability assessment of adequate spatial and thematic detail to support local decisions.
    The assessment methods resulted in an all-lands vulnerability dataset for upland ecosystems of Arizona and New Mexico, based on the anticipated effects of climate change in the late 21st century. Individual plant communities were analyzed and scored according to the degree of departure from their present-day climate preferences.  Click here to register. 

     

     
     

    Making Decisions in Complex Landscapes: Headwater Stream Management Across Multiple Agencies Using Structured Decision Making November 19, 3:30-4:30 PM (EST) –

    There is growing evidence that headwater stream ecosystems are vulnerable to changing climate and land use, but their conservation is challenged by the need to address the threats at a landscape scale, often through coordination with multiple management agencies and landowners. Identifying obstacles to and opportunities for shared decision making among resource agencies and managers may lead to improvements in the selection of optimal management strategies for landscape-scale resources. This project provides an example of cooperative landscape decision making to address the conservation of headwater stream ecosystems in the face of climate change using case studies from two watersheds in the northeastern United States.
    Register

     
     

    Correlation and Climate Sensitivity of Human Health and Environmental Indicators in the Salish Sea – Swinomish Indian Tribal Community November 20, 1:00-2:00 PM (EST) –

    This webinar will discuss a project that focused on the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, whose traditional territories are particularly vulnerable to threats like sea-level rise and increased storms. These sensitivities of species and habitats to climate were cross-walked with recently developed Coast Salish community health indicators (e.g., ceremonial use, knowledge exchange, and physiological well-being). The goal of this project was to demonstrate how Indigenous Knowledge can be used in conjunction with established landscape-level conservation indicators (e.g., shellfish and water- uality) and employed to identify resource management priorities. Results will show assessments of these indicators and priorities of the Swinomish Tribe and Tsleil-Waututh Nation compared to and integrated with climate forecasts. This presentation will provide a template for how other tribal communities can use these methods to assist with climate change adaptation.
    Register

     

     

    CONFERENCES:

     

    Mono Lake at 20: Past, Present, and Future
    Monday 17 Nov 2014 830a-530p
    Byron Sher Auditorium, State Water Resources Control Board, Sacramento

    On the 20th anniversary of the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) landmark Decision 1631 to protect Mono Lake and its tributary creeks, this symposium brings together panelists from multiple perspectives to distill lessons learned from twenty years of concerted effort to implement the Mono Lake decisions, similar efforts elsewhere, and the context of institutional, fiscal, and biophysical realities.  Speakers include leaders in the field of California water, including jurists and key players in the Mono Lake decision.  The symposium includes a tribute to Professor Joe Sax and his work on the public trust.

     
     

    Visualizing and Analyzing Environmental Data with R
    November 18-19, 2014 Sacramento, CA

    This course is designed for participants who wish to gain beginning to intermediate skills in using R for manipulating, visualizing and analyzing their environmental data.
    It is applicable to anyone that conducts environmental monitoring or uses environmental data for research, management, or policy-making and is recommended for anyone needing to become proficient with R basics. Read More

     

    Measuring Up: How to Track and Evaluate Local Sustainability Projects – EPA Webinar
    Tuesday, November 18, 2014
    11-1:30 PST 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm EST

    Register for this webinar

    Measuring, evaluating, and reporting on progress is an important part of local sustainability projects and programs. Tracking and analyzing results can help local entities assess program performance and success, identify specific areas for improvement or expansion, and make informed decisions about future actions. Public reporting can help generate interest in a project, promote accountability, demonstrate success, and attract political and financial support. You’ll learn about two new federal resources to help you measure, track, and report progress, based directly on the experiences of local governments across the country, and hear from one case study taking place in northwest Washington working to evaluate economic impacts of the program:

    • Emma Zinsmeister, EPA Local Climate and Energy Program:  Learn about a new methodology outlining the key steps for developing, tracking, analyzing, and reporting on performance indicators for climate and clean energy programs.
    • Ted Cochin, EPA Office of Sustainable Communities:  This presentation will focus on the Sustainable Community Indicator Catalog, providing information on specific indicators that local entities can use to measure progress toward their sustainability objectives.
    • Alex Ramel, Energy and Policy Director, Sustainable Connections:  Learn about an on-the-ground effort to measure and evaluate the economic impacts of a community energy efficiency program implemented in Bellingham and other areas of northwest Washington.

     

    The Tenth Berkeley River Restoration Symposium
    Saturday 6 Dec 2014 9a-3p

    Wurster Hall Auditorium (Room 112), UC Berkeley

    This year’s symposium begins with a keynote talk, ‘Two decades of river restoration in the Central Valley: from the Bay-Delta Accord to the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan‘ by John Cain, American Rivers, followed by presentations of post-doctoral and graduate student research on topics including subsurface flow in gravel bars, restoration of Sierran meadows, concrete channels of the SF Bay region, post-project appraisals of restoration projects on Sausal and Peralta Creeks and the Lake Merritt channel, effects of WPA-era riprap on fish habitat in Redwood Ck in Muir Woods, and channel self-recovery in the Upper Truckee River. 

    The symposium is free and open to the public, but please register online at the URL below so that there will be a program, coffee and light lunch reserved for you. 

     

     

     

    Managing Drought Monday, January 12, 2015 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Sheraton Grand Sacramento

    Public Policy Institute of California

    California’s historic drought is revealing strengths and weaknesses in how we manage our precious water resources. At this half-day event—coinciding with the beginning of a new legislative session—participants will examine Australia’s millennium drought, consider climate change and future droughts in California, look back at lessons from 2014, and look forward to policy priorities for 2015.  This event is made possible with funding from the California Water Foundation, an initiative of the Resources Legacy Fund.

    Please register by January 6, 2015.  There is no charge to attend, but space is limited. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. This event will also be webcast live.

     

     

    CA Rangeland Conservation Coalition 10th Annual Summit - Collaborative Conservation for Rangelands

        
    February 3, 2015 Sacramento, CA         
    A group of speakers will share their experiences, successes and challenges of collaborative conservation initiatives across the US. Although different in their geographic scope, goals and composition, these partnerships have been able to restore trust and work together to achieve their common goals for the land and for the ranching community. Click here for more information. 

     

     

     

     


    Bringing Science and Managers Together:
    California Landscape Conservation Workshop
    Save the Date!: March 3-4, 2014 UC Davis Conference Center

    The CA LCC is excited to announce the first annual California Landscape Conservation Workshop! This
    workshop will bring scientists and managers together to share climate-smart conservation results and lessons learned across the California landscape. Activities will engage participants in building collaborative partnerships for resilient California landscapes.Stay tuned for an upcoming call for sessions and more information.

     

     

     

    2015 California Climate & Agriculture Summit  March 24 and 25, 2015
    UC Davis Conference CenterCall for Workshop and Poster Presentations   

     

    INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE  Abstract submission deadline is 1 November 2014 

    COME TO OUR HISTORIC SUMMIT 25-27 MARCH 2015

    ABSTRACT SUBMISSION (through November 1, 2014) and REGISTRATION (through January 25, 2015) NOW OPEN for Science for Parks, Parks for Science: The Next Century - A 2.5-day Summit at U.C. Berkeley March 25-27, 2015 convening natural and social scientists, managers and practitioners — 100 years after historic meetings at U.C. Berkeley helped launch the National Park Service — to rededicate a second century of science and stewardship for national parks.  This summit will feature visionary plenary lectures, strategic panel discussions on current controversies, and technical sessions of contributed paper and posters.   Keynote Speaker: E. O. Wilson.  Distinguished Plenary Speakers and Panelists include David Ackerly, Jill Baron, Steven Beissinger, Joel Berger, Edward Bernbaum, Ruth DeFries, Thomas Dietz, Josh Donlan, Holly Doremus, Ernesto Enkerlin, John Francis, David Graber, Denis Galvin, Jane Lubchenco, Gary Machlis, George Miller, Hugh Possingham, Jedediah Purdy, Nina Roberts, Mark Schwartz, Daniel Simberloff, Monica Turner, & Jennifer Wolch.

     


    National Adaptation Forum– Call for Proposals
    May 12 – 14, 2015 in St. Louis, MO

    The National Adaptation Forum is a biennial gathering of the adaptation community to foster information exchange, innovation, and mutual support for a better tomorrow. The Forum will take place from May 12 – 14, 2015 in St. Louis, MO. 
    Proposals are being accepted for Symposia, Training Sessions, Working Groups, Poster Presentations, and a Tools Cafe. 

    Click here for more information.

                                                                                                                  
     

    Ninth International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE) World Congress meeting, July 9th 2015

    Coming to Portland, Oregon July 5-10, 2015! The symposium, which is held every four years, brings scientists and practitioners from around the globe together to discuss and share landscape ecology work and information. The theme of the 2015 meeting is Crossing Scales, Crossing Borders: Global Approaches to Complex Challenges.

     

     

     

    JOBS  (apologies for any duplication; thanks for passing along)

     

    • The Coastal Adaptation Program Leader (CAPL) will be responsible for executing the strategy and achieving the outcomes of Point Blue’s Protecting Our Shorelines Initiative (described below). As such, the CAPL will help natural resource managers and policy makers (including local elected officials) advance their adaptation efforts in the face of accelerating climate change, ocean acidification, increased storm frequency and intensity, habitat loss, and other stressors, leveraging Point Blue’s extensive scientific resources to enhance and protect coastal wildlife, ecosystems, and human communities. The CAPL will also develop science-based policy and natural resource management recommendations.

    • RWI ACEP Partner Biologist/Range Ecologist—POINT BLUE Rangeland Watershed Initiative (RWI) Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) Partner Biologist/Range Ecologist; McArthur, CA Local Partnership Office.  The ACEP Partner Biologist/Range Ecologist serves as a wildlife biologist/range ecologist on the Rangeland Watershed Initiative staff and provides technical assistance to NRCS Wetland Reserve Easement Implementation Team in Northern California.  The Biologist/Ecologist is responsible for planning and applying conservation measures in all types of situations with emphasis on wildlife biology, grazing management and habitat restoration, especially for wetland wildlife species.  The applicant is also responsible for carrying out NRCS environmental planning and evaluation for conservation easement programs in the area of assignment.

       

    • Chief Development Officer
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    Climate Central- Director, Software Engineer- Sea Level and Climate Impacts

    • The Director will advance the program’s strategic direction and engineer its growth while reporting to the Vice President for Sea Level and Climate Impacts. The Director will take leadership roles in managing serial communications initiatives; expansion of our government and NGO stakeholder program; development of an earned revenue stream; and taking the program onto the global stage through international work. We are looking for candidates with significant leadership, management, business/organizational development and strategic communications experience, plus some background or affinity for science.
    • We are also looking for an energetic, multi-talented Software Engineer fluent in Python and C++ who can also tackle a wide array of other technologies to provide support in back-end big data scientific computing and front-end online user interface development. The developer’s main role will be to support the sea level rise program by maintaining, improving and expanding the Surging Seas web tools and analysis system for the U.S. and then globally.

     

     

     

    ​Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program​ NOAA

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program recognizes outstanding scholarship and encourages independent graduate level research—particularly by female and minority students—in NOAA mission-related sciences of oceanography, marine biology and maritime archaeology, including all science, engineering and resource management of ocean and coastal areas.  Scholarship selections are based on academic excellence, letters of recommendations, research and career goals, as well as​
    financial need. Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarships may provide (​subject to appropriations)​
    yearly support of up to $42,000 per student (a 12-month stipend of $30,000 in addition to an education allowance of up to $12,000), and up to $10,000 of support for a 4-6 week program collaboration at a NOAA facility. Masters students may be supported for up to two years, and doctoral students for up to four years. Depending on funding, approximately three to four scholarships are awarded each year.​ Completed applications must be received by Grants.gov by December 10, 2014
    at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time
    For more information about the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program and to download a copy of this Federal Funding Opportunity, visit http://fosterscholars.noaa.gov

     

     

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    UCSF develops site to make sense out of sugar science

    SFGate‎ – November 10, 2014

    UCSF on Monday unveiled a repository of sugar science, designed …

     

     

    Can “Interstellar” help teach science to the public?

    By Dov Greenbaum on November 7, 2014 SF Chronicle

    Christopher Nolan has been somewhat secretive about his science fiction blockbuster “Interstellar,” released Friday. One detail that has managed to leak (this is not a spoiler) was the time, effort and actual scientific discovery associated with a central plot construct in the film, a giant black hole. Using calculations provided by theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, the final crunching of the data revealed a rendering that not only supposedly accurately represents how a black hole would appear in space, but also provides a scientific breakthrough regarding the characteristics of the black hole’s accretion disc.

    ….Some might argue that filmmakers have no moral duty to promote accurate science in film — after all, it’s just fiction, and we should expect the movie-going public to be able to discern between entertainment and education. I would tend to agree, but with studies indicating that the general public continues to receive much of their information regarding science and technology from the popular media, something needs to be done. Perhaps, in some instances where science and technology have central roles, the movie might provide a disclaimer for their audience. Just like the American Humane Association awards filmmakers with their “No animals were harmed” credit, perhaps one or more sciences societies could provide a similarly worded disclaimer: “The science presented herein does not accurately represent the views and opinions of the general scientific community.” Or, as Brett Ryan Bonowicz begins his recent film, “The Perfect 46:” “This film is scientifically authentic. It is only one step ahead of present reality.”

     

     

     

     


     



     


    Right wing freaks out over China-U.S. climate change deal

    By David Horsey November 13, 2014

    • Republicans’ knee-jerk reaction against carbon emissions curbs only protects oil and coal interests
    • China needs to curb emissions to avoid political unrest in smog-choked cities

    About five seconds after the announcement came from Beijing that the United States and China had reached an unexpected and ambitious climate change agreement, Republicans in Washington declared it the worst deal since the Trojans accepted a big wooden horse from the Greeks.  Climate scientists had a different reaction. If China and the U.S. actually reach the goals to which they are committing, and if other nations follow their lead, climate experts are saying the world will have made a huge leap toward averting the worst effects of rising global temperatures. You would think everyone would be cheering, but the boos and catcalls from the right have just begun….

     

     

     


     


     

     


     

     


     


     

     

    CA BLM WILDLIFE TRIVIA ANSWER and Related Information

     

    Can you guess the weight of the bullfrog?

     
     

     
     

    ANSWER: (e.) The bullfrog is the largest native frog in north america
    weighing up to 1 pound and measuring up to 8 inches in length.


    SOURCE: American Bullfrog(National Aquarium Website) http://bit.ly/1EuIDc2

     

    ————

    Ellie Cohen, President and CEO

    Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO)

    3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 11, Petaluma, CA 94954

    707-781-2555 x318

     

    www.pointblue.org  | Follow Point Blue on Facebook!

     

    Point Blue—Conservation science for a healthy planet.

     

  5. New research predicts California droughts will worsen

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    New research predicts California droughts will worsen

    By Matt Weiser mweiser@sacbee.com 10/31/2014 8:26 PM 11/02/2014 11:22 PM

    Weeds and dirt were still seen under a chairlift in January 2013 at Donner Ski Ranch.Randy Pench/rpench@sacbee.com

    Future droughts in California are likely to bite deeper and last longer than the one now gripping the state, according to new research into the potential effects of climate change. Scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the U.S. Geological Survey used computer climate modeling tools to estimate the effects of warmer temperatures in future decades. In particular, they studied the effect on California’s mountain snowpack, the largest source of fresh water in the state, which refills thousands of water-storage reservoirs each spring via snowmelt. The results show that by 2050, the median snowpack present on April 1 each year could be one-third smaller than the historical median, and by 2100 it could be two-thirds smaller. Such a dramatic loss of snowmelt would produce less runoff to refill reservoirs each summer, potentially making droughts an ever-present condition. The research also shows that by 2100, there is only a 10 percent chance that California mountains will see a snowpack equal to the median that accumulates today. The research was conducted by some of California’s leading climate researchers, and has not yet been published or peer reviewed. It was presented Thursday at the Bay-Delta Science Conference in Sacramento.The water contained in the snowpack is declining pretty steadily through the 21st century,” said Dan Cayan, director of the California Climate Change Center at Scripps in San Diego and the study’s lead author. “According to the models, we’re already detecting these changes in snowpack.” California water management officials are bracing for these potential changes. On Thursday, the state Department of Water Resources released a revised California Water Plan, a comprehensive strategy to protect the state from water shortages and floods that looks out to 2050. A major focus involves managing the effects of climate change. “Unless we take strong action, we won’t have the existing water be reliable for the future,” said John Laird, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, which oversees DWR. “Over time, conservation as a way of life in California is something that simply has to be done.” State officials released the plan just days before California voters weigh in on Proposition 1, a $7.5billion water bond pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown. If passed, the measure would authorize bonds for a range of water projects, including dams, groundwater replenishment, water recycling, flood protection and habitat restoration. DWR’s water plan lays out 350 strategies aimed at boosting water supplies and improving conservation. Key among them is better connecting existing water systems. For instance, the plan calls for reconnecting rivers with their historic floodplains so that, when floods occur, the water can be held on the land to recharge groundwater wells. In many cases, this would mean breaching levees. It also could mean difficult changes in land use, said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “For many decades, one of the challenges we’ve had is that agencies that carry out responsibility for water management are not necessarily connected to the local agencies that are responsible for land use,” Cowin said. “That needs to change.” Cayan’s research into climate change would seem to support this direction… DWR’s Cowin said a broader rethinking of California water systems is needed to account for climate change as well as population growth. The state’s population, at 38million, already exceeds all other Western states combined. By 2050, it is projected to increase 30percent, to about 50million people.

    Serving all those people in a warmer future would mean changing the rulebook at every reservoir, along with increasing water supplies through conservation, wastewater recycling, groundwater storage and other measures.

    All this will cost money. The California Water Plan estimates the state needs to invest $200billion over the next decade simply to maintain current levels of service, and another $500billion in future decades to make improvements. Those numbers include all levels of government spending, from local water districts to the federal government. “That sends a pretty clear signal that water is going to cost more for Californians in the future,” Cowin said. “I think that’s a reality we’ll all have to get used to.”

  6. IPCC: Irreversible Impacts of Climate Change Inaction

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    World’s Scientists Warn: We Have ‘High Confidence’ In The ‘Irreversible Impacts’ Of Climate Inaction

    by Joe Romm Posted on November 2, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Humanity’s choice (via IPCC): Aggressive climate action ASAP (left figure) minimizes future warming and costs a mere 0.06% of annual growth. Continued inaction (right figure) results in catastrophic and irreversible levels of warming, 9°F over much of U.S. and world.

    The world’s top scientists and governments have issued their bluntest plea yet to the world: Slash carbon pollution now (at a very low cost) or risk “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.” Scientists have “high confidence” these devastating impacts occur “even with adaptation” — if we keep doing little or nothing. On Sunday, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the “synthesis” report of their fifth full scientific climate assessment since 1990. More than 100 governments have signed off line by line on this review of more than 30,000 studies on climate science, impacts, and solutions. Like every recent IPCC report, it is cautious to a fault — as you would expect from “its consensus structure, which tends to produce a lowest common denominator on which a large number of scientists can agree,” as one climatologist explained to the New York Times. And that “lowest common denominator” is brought to an even blander and lower level in the summary reports since they need to end up with language that satisfies every member government. The authors clearly understand this is the last time they have a serious shot at influencing the world’s major governments while we still have a plausible chance of stabilizing at non-catastrophic levels. IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said this report will “provide the roadmap by which policymakers will hopefully find their way to a global agreement to finally reverse course on climate change.” That global agreement is supposed to be achieved over the next year and finalized at the December 2015 international climate talks in Paris. And yet, as conservative as the process is, this final synthesis is still incredibly alarming — while at the same time it is terrifically hopeful.

    How hopeful? The world’s top scientists and governments make clear for the umpteenth time that the cost of action is relatively trivial: “Mitigation scenarios that are likely to limit warming to below 2°C” entail “an annualized reduction of consumption growth by 0.04 to 0.14 (median: 0.06) percentage points over the century relative to annualized consumption growth in the baseline that is between 1.6 percent and 3 percent per year (high confidence).”
    Translation: The cost of even the most aggressive action — the kind needed to stave off irreversible disaster — is so low that it would not noticeably change the growth curve of the world economy this century. With high confidence, we would be reducing annual consumption growth from, say, 2.4 percent per year down to “only” a growth level of 2.34 percent per year.

    How bad can it get if we won’t devote that tiny fraction of the world’s wealth to action? The IPCC already explained that in the science report from last fall (see “Alarming IPCC Prognosis: 9°F Warming For U.S., Faster Sea Rise, More Extreme Weather, Permafrost Collapse”). And they expanded on that in the impacts report (see “Climate Panel Warns World Faces ‘Breakdown Of Food Systems’ And More Violent Conflict”). The synthesis report ties it all together: “In most scenarios without additional mitigation efforts … warming is more likely than not to exceed 4°C [7°F] above pre-industrial levels by 2100. The risks associated with temperatures at or above 4°C include substantial species extinction, global and regional food insecurity, consequential constraints on common human activities, and limited potential for adaptation in some cases (high confidence).”

    Translation: There is high confidence that if we keep doing little or nothing [the RCP8.5 case], we will create a post-apocalyptic “hunger games” world beyond adaptation.

    Ever cautious, the IPCC euphemistically writes of “consequential constraints on common human activities.” Elsewhere they explain that “by 2100 for RCP8.5, the combination of high temperature and humidity in some areas for parts of the year is expected to compromise common human activities, including growing food and working outdoors (high confidence).” Translation: We are at risk of making large parts of the planet’s currently arable and populated land virtually uninhabitable for much of the year — and irreversibly so for hundreds of years.

    Indeed, the report makes clear that future generations can’t plausibly undo whatever we are too greedy and shortsighted to prevent through immediate action. And as bad as the impacts described in this report are, things will be even worse after 2100 in every case but the one where we aggressively act ASAP to stabilize at 2°C total warming. And remember, this is a super-cautious, consensus-based, “lowest common denominator” report. The Washington Post has an excellent piece on the inherently conservative nature of these reports and why they “often underestimate the severity of global warming.” So things are probably going to be much, much worse for our children and grandchildren and future generations if we fail to act. Do we really want to find out just how much worse things could be?

     

     

     

    The world’s climate change watchdog may be underestimating global warming

    By Chris Mooney October 30 Washington Postg

    The Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctic. Recent research suggests that part of the huge West Antarctic ice sheet is starting a slow collapse in an unstoppable way. Alarmed scientists say that means even more sea level rise than they figured. (AP Photo/NASA)

    On Nov. 2, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will release its “Synthesis Report,” the final stage in a yearlong document dump that, collectively, presents the current expert consensus about climate change and its consequences. This synthesis report (which has already been leaked and reported on — like it always is) pulls together the conclusions of three prior reports of the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report, and will “provide the roadmap by which policymakers will hopefully find their way to a global agreement to finally reverse course on climate change,” according to the IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri. There’s just one problem. According to a number of scientific critics, the scientific consensus represented by the IPCC is a very conservative consensus. IPCC’s reports, they say, often underestimate the severity of global warming, in a way that may actually confuse policymakers (or worse). The IPCC, one scientific group charged last year, has a tendency to “err on the side of least drama.” And now, in a new study just out in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, another group of researchers echoes that point. In scientific parlance, they charge that the IPCC is focused on avoiding what are called “type 1″ errors — claiming something is happening when it really is not (a “false positive”) — rather than on avoiding “type 2″ errors — not claiming something is happening when it really is (a “false negative”). The consequence is that we do not always hear directly from the IPCC about how bad things could be.”Our motivation was really experiencing the IPCC process, and seeing the various ways in which the process, and sort of this seeking consensus, can lead to downplaying the full ranges of future scenarios,” comments Bill Anderegg, a Princeton researcher and lead author of the new paper. Anderegg contributed his expertise on ecosystems and climate change in North America in Working Group II of the latest IPCC report. To show why these researchers think the IPCC is conservative — and emphatically not alarmist — you need only consider what the leaked Synthesis Report (which, of course, is still subject to revision) says about the subject of sea level rise. Next to rising temperatures, rising seas are perhaps the most obvious outcome of global warming (because hot air melts ice and expands ocean water). They are also one of the most severe — and an incredibly big deal if you live in Florida, or North Carolina, or Bangladesh, or the Maldives, or anywhere else with a beach or coast. Knowing just how much sea level could rise, and how fast, is thus vital to help cities and countries plan for how to adapt to a changing world.

    By the year 2100, the leaked draft report claims, sea level rise “will likely be in the ranges of 0.26 to 0.55 m for RCP2.6 and of 0.45 to 0.82 m for RCP8.5 (medium confidence),” which is quite similar to what earlier documents from this round of the IPCC’s work have said. To translate: For two different scenarios for future greenhouse gas emissions — one a low end scenario, one a high end one — there is a 66 percent probability that sea level rise will fall into these two corresponding ranges. And the high end of the range, in the high end emissions scenario, is .82 meters of sea level rise, or 2.69 feet. Alas, it turns out that these numbers are misleading in several ways – and may very well be too low. First, .82 meters is not actually the amount of sea level rise that is expected at the year 2100. If you sift carefully enough through the IPCC’s various reports, you will learn that it is rather the mean increase expected between the years 2081-2100, or during the last two decades of this century, when compared with the mean sea level between 1986 and 2005. The actual high end number for 2100 is .98 meters, or 3.22 feet – an amount that “would threaten the survival of coastal cities and entire island nations,” writes climate expert Stefan Rahmstorf of Potsdam University.

    But it gets more complicated still — that’s not really the high end number either! Note above that IPCC only gives the range for sea level rise that it considers “likely.” What that means, according to Princeton’s Anderegg, is that “these ranges are only the middle 2/3 of the probability distribution.” In other words, he says, “there is a 17 percent chance it could be lower than that, and a 17 percent chance it could be higher than that.” You’d have to be pretty attuned to figure that out, though. And just when you think you’re finally figuring out how bad sea level rise could be by 2100, yet another problem pops up. There are many ways of determining an acceptable range for expected sea level rise, and the IPCC relies on one of them — so-called “process-based models,” which draw on physical equations that govern our understanding of the thermal expansion of the ocean, the melting of ice sheets, and other related factors. But that’s not the only way of estimating future sea level rise….

    …There’s yet another problem with the IPCC process — it only considers scientific papers that were published before a particular cutoff date, which in this case, was March 15, 2013. But in May 2014, long after that cutoff date, a blockbuster study came out suggesting that global warming has already irrevocably destabilized the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which contains some 10 feet worth of sea level rise. That is not to say that all of that ice will fall into the ocean immediately and raise sea level, but rather to say that its disintegration, over time, is inevitable. How fast will it happen?
    That’s the big unknown — but obviously, it is unwise to underestimate an ice sheet, when the consequences around the world would be so devastating. The lead author of that research, the University of California-Irvine’s Eric Rignot, stressed in an interview that there is no scientific consensus yet about the validity of his alarming results. But adds that in his own opinion, the IPCC’s estimate for sea level rise is “very conservative.” “We’ve been looking at these glaciers for 20 years, and what I see is defying all these models,” adds Rignot….

     

    So in summary, by 2100, sea level rise could be plenty worse than the IPCC suggests — and realizing this might lead policymakers around the world to view global warming very differently. So then why are its scientific assessments like this? There are surely many reasons, but the authors of the new Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society paper suggest one of them is how much the IPCC has been blasted — especially over past errors, such as an incorrect prediction that the Himalayan glaciers would vanish by 2035. Because of such flubs, the IPCC has been repeatedly attacked by outside critics — one of whose favorite epithets is calling the panel “alarmist.” Ironically, perhaps precisely because of all that criticism, it isn’t.

  7. Reversing Course on Beavers: Benefits

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    Reversing Course on Beavers

    By JIM ROBBINS NY Times OCT. 27, 2014

    In Washington State, beavers are being trapped and relocated to the headwaters of the Yakima River. Credit Manuel Valdes/Associated Press

    BUTTE, Mont. — Once routinely trapped and shot as varmints, their dams obliterated by dynamite and bulldozers, beavers are getting new respect these days. Across the West, they are being welcomed into the landscape as a defense against the withering effects of a warmer and drier climate. Beaver dams, it turns out, have beneficial effects that can’t easily be replicated in other ways. They raise the water table alongside a stream, aiding the growth of trees and plants that stabilize the banks and prevent erosion. They improve fish and wildlife habitat and promote new, rich soil.

    And perhaps most important in the West, beaver dams do what all dams do: hold back water that would otherwise drain away. “People realize that if we don’t have a way to store water that’s not so expensive, we’re going to be up a creek, a dry creek,” said Jeff Burrell, a scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society in Bozeman, Mont. “We’ve lost a lot with beavers not on the landscape.” For thousands of years, beavers, which numbered in the tens of millions in North America, were an integral part of the hydrological system. “The valleys were filled with dams, as many as one every hundred yards,” Mr. Burrell said. “They were pretty much continuous wetlands.” Beavers are in high demand across the driest parts of the United States for their innate abilities to keep water from draining away. But the population plummeted, largely because of fur trapping, and by 1930 there were no more than 100,000 beavers, almost entirely in Canada. Lately the numbers have rebounded to an estimated six million. Now, even as hydroelectric and reservoir dams are coming under fire for their wholesale changes to the natural environment, an appreciation for the benefits of beaver dams — even artificial ones — is on the rise.

    Experts have long known of the potential for beaver dams to restore damaged landscapes, but in recent years the demand has grown so rapidly that government agencies are sponsoring a series of West Coast workshops and publishing a manual on how to attract beavers. “We can spend a lot of money doing this work, or we can use beavers for almost nothing,” Mr. Burrell said. Beavers are ecosystem engineers. As a family moves into new territory, the rodents drop a large tree across a stream to begin a new dam, which creates a pond for their lodge. They cover it with sticks, mud and stones, usually working at night. As the water level rises behind the dam, it submerges the entrance to their lodge and protects the beavers from predators. This pooling of water leads to a cascade of ecological changes. The pond nourishes young willows, aspens and other trees — prime beaver food — and provides a haven for fish that like slow-flowing water. The growth of grass and shrubs alongside the pond improves habitat for songbirds, deer and elk. Moreover, because dams raise underground water levels, they increase water supplies and substantially lower the cost of pumping groundwater for farming. And they help protect fish imperiled by rising water temperatures in rivers. The deep pools formed by beaver dams, with cooler water at the bottom, are “outstanding rearing habitat for juvenile coho salmon,” said Michael M. Pollock, a fish biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle, who has studied the ecological effects of beaver dams for 20 years.

    Restoration is not usually as simple as bringing beavers in; if left unchecked, they can do serious damage. Here in Butte, for example, beavers constantly dammed a creek where it ran through a culvert under a pedestrian walkway, flooding nearby homes and a park. Enter the “beaver deceiver.” Beavers have evolved to respond to the sound of running water by trying to stop it, because their survival depends on a full pond. (A Yellowstone National Park biologist reported that when he briefly kept a beaver in his basement with plans to reintroduce it to a local stream, it kept frantically clawing at its cage to reach the sound of a flushing toilet.) So local officials installed the deceiver, a large wooden frame covered with stout metal mesh that blocks beavers’ access to the culvert but allows water to keep flowing. Even if they try to dam up the box, the water will still flow, and eventually they give up and move on. Meanwhile, big, prized cottonwoods and other trees are being wrapped in wire or covered with paint that contains sand to prevent beavers from gnawing them. In some other places, humans are building beaver dams minus the beavers. On Norwegian Creek, a tiny thread of a stream that flows through the rolling grassy hills on a cattle ranch near Harrison, Mont., volunteers came together recently to build a series of small structures from willow branches to slow the flow of water that had been eroding the banks to a depth of 10 feet or more. In just a year the stream bed has risen three feet, Mr. Burrell said, and in a couple more years it could be entirely restored at virtually no cost. New dams, even natural ones, can have unintended consequences. Julian D. Olden, an ecologist at the University of Washington, has studied new beaver ponds in Arizona and found that they were perfect for invasive fish such as carp, catfish and bass to displace native species. “There’s a lot of unknowns before we can say what the return of beavers means for these arid ecosystems,” he said. “The assumption is it’s going to be good in all situations,” he added. “But the jury is still out, and it’s going to take a couple of decades.”


     

  8. Learning to Coexist with Fire: Changing Wildfire Paradigm from Fighting to Coexistence

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    The lightning-sparked Castle Rock Fire burned nearly 50,000 acres in 2007 in the Sawtooth National Forest and adjacent state and private lands surrounding Ketchum, Idaho, in the Smoky Mountains region of the Rocky Mountain range. Credit: Kari Geer, courtesy of the National Interagency Fire Center

    Coexist or perish, new wildfire analysis says: Changing wildfire paradigm from fighting to coexistence

    November 5, 2014 University of California – Berkeley

    An international team of fire experts have concluded that it is time to stop fighting fires and instead develop strategies to live with fire. In many areas, fire management is difficult or impossible, and interferes with fire’s key role in the ecosystem. Instead, we should develop zoning & building codes and evacuation protocols to allow people to live with fire, just as we now live with earthquake and tornado hazards.

    Many fire scientists have tried to get Smokey the Bear to hang up his “prevention” motto in favor of tools like thinning and prescribed burns, which can manage the severity of wildfires while allowing them to play their natural role in certain ecosystems. But a new international research review led by the University of California, Berkeley, says the debate over fuel-reduction techniques is only a small part of a much larger fire problem that will make society increasingly vulnerable to catastrophic losses unless it changes its fundamental approach from fighting fire to coexisting with fire as a natural process.

    The paper, “Learning to Coexist with Wildfire,” to be published in the Nov. 6 issue of the journal Nature, examines research findings from three continents and from both the natural and social sciences. The authors conclude that government-sponsored firefighting and land-use policies actually encourage development on inherently hazardous landscapes, amplifying human losses over time. “We don’t try to ‘fight’ earthquakes — we anticipate them in the way we plan communities, build buildings and prepare for emergencies. We don’t think that way about fire, but our review indicates that we should,” said lead author Max Moritz, Cooperative Extension specialist in fire at UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources. “Human losses will only be mitigated when land-use planning takes fire hazards into account in the same manner as other natural hazards, like floods, hurricanes and earthquakes.” The analysis looked at different kinds of natural fires, what drives them in various ecosystems, the ways public response to fire can differ, and the critical interface zones between built communities and natural landscapes. The authors found infinite variations on how these factors can come together. “It quickly became clear that generic one-size-fits-all solutions to wildfire problems do not exist,” Moritz said. “Fuel reduction may be a useful strategy for specific places, like California’s dry conifer forests, but when we zoomed out and looked at fire-prone regions throughout the Western United States, Australia and the Mediterranean Basin, we realized that over vast parts of the world, a much more nuanced strategy of planning for coexistence with fire is needed.

    Planning for co-existence

    If humans choose to live in fire-prone regions, fire must be managed on par with other naturally occurring hazards, the authors argue, and research must seek to understand what factors and outcomes we can and cannot affect.

    One common tool is applicable to the vast array of ecological and social science interactions at the critical wildfire/urban interface: more effective land-use planning, along with the regulations that guide it.

    The authors recommend prioritizing location-specific approaches to improve development and safety in fire-prone areas, including:

    • Adopting new land-use regulations and zoning guidelines that restrict development in the most fire-prone areas;
    • Updating building codes, such as requiring fire-resistant construction to match local hazard levels and encouraging retrofits to existing ignition-prone homes;
    • Implementing locally appropriate vegetation management strategies around structures and neighborhoods;
    • Evaluating evacuation planning and warning systems, including understanding situations in which mandatory evacuations are or are not effective;
    • Developing household and community plans for how to survive stay-and-defend situations; and
    • Developing better maps of fire hazards, ecosystem services and climate change effects to assess trade-offs between development and hazard…..

    The authors underscore that wildfires are a natural part of many ecosystems and can have a positive long-term influence on the landscape, despite people labeling them as “disasters.” They can stimulate vegetation regeneration, promote a diversity of vegetation types, provide habitat for many species and sustain other ecosystem services, such as nutrient cycling.

    Around the world, the numbers, sizes, and intensities of fires vary greatly. In some ecosystems, big, severe wildfires are natural events and more climate-driven — by drought or high winds — so fuel reduction is not a very effective tool in these locations. By contrast, many ecosystems that would naturally experience frequent lower-severity fires may respond to vegetation management aimed at both reducing fire hazard to humans and restoring crucial ecosystem processes. But, the authors agree, where fuel reduction is an appropriate goal, it would ideally be achieved by letting wildfires do their job.

    A changing climate will complicate management strategies. “How should future fire patterns compare to this historical variability? That’s the big question,” Moritz said. Describing wildfire as “one of the most basic and ongoing natural processes on Earth,” the authors call for a paradigm shift in the way society interacts with it, changing to an approach that achieves long-term, sustainable coexistence that benefits the planet’s ecosystems on the landscape scale, while minimizing catastrophic losses on the human scale. “A different view of wildfire is urgently needed,” said Moritz. “We must accept wildfire as a crucial and inevitable natural process on many landscapes. There is no alternative. The path we are on will lead to a deepening of our fire-related problems worldwide, which will only become worse as the climate changes.”

     

    Max A. Moritz, Enric Batllori, Ross A. Bradstock, A. Malcolm Gill, John Handmer, Paul F. Hessburg, Justin Leonard, Sarah McCaffrey, Dennis C. Odion, Tania Schoennagel, Alexandra D. Syphard. Learning to coexist with wildfire. Nature, 2014; 515 (7525): 58 DOI: 10.1038/nature13946

  9. Warm Ocean Temperatures and Unusual Species off CA Coast

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    Unusual and Warm Ocean Conditions, Species off CA Coast

     

    Anomalies in the California Current

    November 6, 2014 Meredith Elliott

    Point Blue Conservation Science, California Current Group

     

    Point Blue’s
    California Current Group has been discussing some anomalies we’ve noticed this year – from water temperature to higher trophic levels – and I thought I would share some of these with you all:

             CTD (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth profiler) data from our ACCESS cruises [founded with NOAA'S Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries in 2004] show the average temperature in the upper 50m of the water column has been warmer – take a look at Sept 2014 (a good 2°C warmer than the next warmest cruise!).

    Note: ACCESS focuses on the oceanic habitats in Federal and State waters of northern and central California, encompassing NOAA National Marine Sanctuary waters (Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay) and the potential National Marine Sanctuary expansion area south of Point Arena….Download a 1-page description of our project.

     
     


     

     
     

          
     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • Our CTD data have also shown strong stratification in Sept 2014. While this is not unusual for the fall, the numbers indicate stronger stratification than what we’ve seen in other fall [ACCESS] cruises.

               Mean Farallon sea surface temperature for July and August were each the second highest ever recorded (in 45 years) for those months [collected at the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge in partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service].

               We do not have the ACCESS zooplankton results from this year, but anecdotal evidence suggest very low numbers of adult krill.

               Tropical/subtropical heteropods were discovered in a zooplankton sample from Sept 2014: http://bodegahead.blogspot.com/2014/09/say-hello-to-atlanta.html

               Brandt’s cormorant diet work isn’t complete for 2014, but so far, Farallon Brandt’s cormorants ate nothing but rockfish. Vandenberg Brandt’s cormorants appear to have a variety of species in their diet (flatfish, rockfish, surfperch, anchovy, etc.),
      but this is just what I’ve been noticing glancing at the otolith slides in the lab.

               Two oarfish (Regalecus glesne) were found in a rhinoceros auklet diet collection in July – first time ever observed! Oarfish are supposed to occur as far north as Santa Monica Bay.

               As sea surface temperatures climbed near the Farallones in July, krill and juvenile rockfish disappeared from seabird diet, fledging success plummeted for auklets with many chicks dying in the late season, and Cassin’s auklets abandoned all of their second brood attempts.

               While Vandenberg seabirds had a relatively normal year, the pelagic cormorants had their highest nest failure on record.

               Blue-footed boobies showed up on the Farallones in August – also a first!

    El Niño is on its way….or maybe it’s already here…? Just wanted to share some unusual ocean results!

     
     

    Thanks,

     
     

    Meredith Elliott, MSc, Senior Scientist / ACCESS Program Coordinator

    Point Blue Conservation Science

    For more information, see here
    or contact Meredith at melliott@pointblue.org

     

     

    POINT BLUE and partners in the NEWS:

     


    Unusual warm ocean conditions off California, West Coast bringing odd species


    Paul Rogers 11/02/2014 03:59:45 PM PST

    Striated Sea Butterfly (Hyalocylis striata): This species of pteropod has a delicate cone-shaped shell and its foot is modified into two wings that it flaps to swim through the water like a butterfly. This is typically a tropical/subtropical species known from Baja California, Mexico. The specimens collected in September and October 2014 may be the first definite records from California. The individual shown was collected on October 21, approximately 1 km offshore from Bodega Marine Laboratory. The shell of this sea butterfly was less than 1 millimeter long. Photo by Eric Sanford/UC Davis

    Hawaiian ono swimming off the California coast? Giant sunfish in Alaska? A sea turtle usually at home off the Galapagos Islands floating near San Francisco? Rare changes in wind patterns this fall have caused the Pacific Ocean off California and the West Coast to warm to historic levels, drawing in a bizarre menagerie of warm-water species. The mysterious phenomena are surprising fishermen and giving marine biologists an aquatic Christmas in November. Temperatures off the California coast are currently 5 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than historic averages for this time of year — among the warmest autumn conditions of any time in the past 30 years. “It’s not bathtub temperature,” said Nate Mantua, a research scientist with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Santa Cruz, “but it is swimmable on a sunny day.” In mid-October, it was 65 degrees off the Farallon Islands and in Monterey Bay, and 69 degrees off Point Conception near Santa Barbara. In most years, water temperatures in those areas would be in the high 50s or low 60s. The last time the ocean off California was this warm was in 1983 and 1997, both strong El Niño years that brought drenching winter rains to the West Coast. But El Niño isn’t driving this year’s warm-water spike, which began in mid-July, experts say. Nor is climate change. What’s happening is winds that normally blow from the north, trapping warm water closer to the equator, have slackened since the summer. That’s allowed the warm water to move north.

    In most years, the winds also help push ocean surface waters, churning up cold water from down below. That process, called upwelling, isn’t happening as much this year. “If the wind doesn’t blow, there’s no cooling of the water,” Mantua said. “It’s like the refrigerator fails. The local water warms up from the sun, and is not cooling off.” Mantua said researchers don’t know why the winds slacked off — or when they will start again. “It’s a mystery,” he said. All year, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been forecasting an El Niño, conditions in which warm ocean water at the equator near South America can affect the weather in dramatic ways. But now the water is only slightly warmer than normal at the equator, leading scientists to declare a mild El Niño is on the way. And although strong El Niños often have brought wet winters to California, mild ones have just as often resulted in moderate or dry winters. For people who study the ocean, this fall has been a wonderland. “It’s fascinating,” said Eric Sanford, a marine biology professor at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory in Bodega Bay. “To see so many southern species in a single year is really a rare event.” Sanford, colleague Jackie Sones and other researchers at the Bodega lab, along with scientists at Point Blue Conservation Science, a nonprofit group in Petaluma, have documented more than 100 common dolphins off the Farallon Islands in the past two months. They’re normally seen hundreds of miles away, off Southern California. The scientists have scooped up a tiny species of ocean snail called the tropical sea butterfly, normally found far to the south. They have documented a Guadalupe fur seal, normally found off Baja California in Mexico; blue buoy barnacles and purple-striped jellyfish, which usually drift off Southern California; and a Guadalupe murrelet, a tiny seabird that frequents Mexico. In September, a fisherman off San Francisco caught an endangered green sea turtle, an extremely rare find for Northern California, since the species usually lives off Mexico and the Galapagos Islands. He returned it to the sea unharmed. Similar tales are turning up in Southern California, where fishermen and scientists have found Hawaiian ono, along with tripletail, a fish species commonly found between Costa Rica and Peru, and other warm-water species. In August and September there were even sightings of skipjack tuna and giant sunfish, or mola mola, off Alaska. “They are following the water temperature,” said H.J. Walker, a senior museum scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. “Fish come up against a cold-water barrier normally and turn around. But now they aren’t encountering that, so they are swimming farther north.” Over the past week, the water temperature at the Scripps pier in La Jolla was 71 degrees. The historic average back to 1916 for late October is 65 degrees. In many parts of California, the commercial salmon catch was down, and squid were caught as far north as Eureka, which is unusual. “Our guys in Santa Barbara are saying there’s almost nothing down there. Just a lot of warm, clear water, a little bit of salmon and not much else,” said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Federation of Fishermen’s Associations in San Francisco. The ocean changes also have affected birds. As ocean upwelling stalled in the summer, less krill and other food rose from the depths. As a result, several species of birds, including common murres, had high rates of egg failure on the Farallon Islands, 27 miles west of San Francisco. “The krill that is usually present disappeared, and the fish that some of these birds rely on disappeared,” said Jaime Jahncke, California Current Group director of Point Blue in Petaluma. “Up until July we had an abundance of whales around the Farallons, mostly humpback whales, and some blue whales. And when we went back in September, there was no krill and the whales were nearly absent.”
    More common local species are expected to return when waters cool, as they did after the 1983 and 1997 warmings. “It is an oddball year. But I’m not surprised,” said Joe Welsh, associate curator of collecting for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “These things come and go. There’s a lot to learn out there.”


     

  10. Conservation Science News November 7, 2014

    Leave a Comment

     

    Focus of the Week – Unusual Warm Ocean Conditions and Species off CA Coast

    1-ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED

    2-CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS with special DROUGHT section

    3- ADAPTATION and HOPE

    4- POLICY

    5- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

    6-
    RESOURCES and REFERENCES

    7-OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST 

    8-IMAGES OF THE WEEK

    ——————————–

    NOTE: Please pass on my weekly news update that has been prepared for
    Point Blue Conservation Science
    staff.  You can find these weekly compilations posted on line
    by clicking here.  For more information please see www.pointblue.org.


    The items contained in this update were drawn from www.dailyclimate.org, www.sciencedaily.com, SER The Society for Ecological Restorationhttp://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.slate.com, www.sfgate.com, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, CA BLM NewsBytes and other sources as indicated.  This is a compilation of information available on-line, not verified and not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  
    You can sign up for this news compilation by signing up for the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative Newsletter or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium listserve to receive this. You can also email me directly at Ellie Cohen, ecohen at pointblue.org with questions or suggestions. 

    Founded as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Point Blue’s 140 scientists advance nature-based solutions to climate change, habitat loss and other environmental threats to benefit wildlife and people, through bird and ecosystem science, partnerships and outreach.  We work collaboratively to guide and inspire positive conservation outcomes today — for a healthy, blue planet teeming with life in the future.  Read more about our 5-year strategic approach here.

     

     

    Focus of the Week- Unusual and Warm Ocean Conditions, Species off CA Coast

     

    Anomalies in the California Current

    November 6, 2014 Meredith Elliott

    Point Blue Conservation Science, California Current Group

     

    Point Blue’s
    California Current Group has been discussing some anomalies we’ve noticed this year – from water temperature to higher trophic levels – and I thought I would share some of these with you all:

             CTD (Conductivity-Temperature-Depth profiler) data from our ACCESS cruises [founded with NOAA'S Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries in 2004] show the average temperature in the upper 50m of the water column has been warmer – take a look at Sept 2014 (a good 2°C warmer than the next warmest cruise!).

    Note: ACCESS focuses on the oceanic habitats in Federal and State waters of northern and central California, encompassing NOAA National Marine Sanctuary waters (Cordell Bank, Gulf of the Farallones and Monterey Bay) and the potential National Marine Sanctuary expansion area south of Point Arena….Download a 1-page description of our project.

     
     


     

     
     

          
     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     


     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • Our CTD data have also shown strong stratification in Sept 2014. While this is not unusual for the fall, the numbers indicate stronger stratification than what we’ve seen in other fall [ACCESS] cruises.

               Mean Farallon sea surface temperature for July and August were each the second highest ever recorded (in 45 years) for those months [collected at the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge in partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service].

               We do not have the ACCESS zooplankton results from this year, but anecdotal evidence suggest very low numbers of adult krill.

               Tropical/subtropical heteropods were discovered in a zooplankton sample from Sept 2014: http://bodegahead.blogspot.com/2014/09/say-hello-to-atlanta.html

               Brandt’s cormorant diet work isn’t complete for 2014, but so far, Farallon Brandt’s cormorants ate nothing but rockfish. Vandenberg Brandt’s cormorants appear to have a variety of species in their diet (flatfish, rockfish, surfperch, anchovy, etc.),
      but this is just what I’ve been noticing glancing at the otolith slides in the lab.

               Two oarfish (Regalecus glesne) were found in a rhinoceros auklet diet collection in July – first time ever observed! Oarfish are supposed to occur as far north as Santa Monica Bay.

               As sea surface temperatures climbed near the Farallones in July, krill and juvenile rockfish disappeared from seabird diet, fledging success plummeted for auklets with many chicks dying in the late season, and Cassin’s auklets abandoned all of their second brood attempts.

               While Vandenberg seabirds had a relatively normal year, the pelagic cormorants had their highest nest failure on record.

               Blue-footed boobies showed up on the Farallones in August – also a first!

    El Niño is on its way….or maybe it’s already here…? Just wanted to share some unusual ocean results!

     
     

    Thanks,

     
     

    Meredith Elliott, MSc, Senior Scientist / ACCESS Program Coordinator

    Point Blue Conservation Science

    For more information, see here
    or contact Meredith at melliott@pointblue.org

     

     

    POINT BLUE and partners in the NEWS:

     


    Unusual warm ocean conditions off California, West Coast bringing odd species


    Paul Rogers 11/02/2014 03:59:45 PM PST

    Striated Sea Butterfly (Hyalocylis striata): This species of pteropod has a delicate cone-shaped shell and its foot is modified into two wings that it flaps to swim through the water like a butterfly. This is typically a tropical/subtropical species known from Baja California, Mexico. The specimens collected in September and October 2014 may be the first definite records from California. The individual shown was collected on October 21, approximately 1 km offshore from Bodega Marine Laboratory. The shell of this sea butterfly was less than 1 millimeter long. Photo by Eric Sanford/UC Davis

    Hawaiian ono swimming off the California coast? Giant sunfish in Alaska? A sea turtle usually at home off the Galapagos Islands floating near San Francisco? Rare changes in wind patterns this fall have caused the Pacific Ocean off California and the West Coast to warm to historic levels, drawing in a bizarre menagerie of warm-water species. The mysterious phenomena are surprising fishermen and giving marine biologists an aquatic Christmas in November. Temperatures off the California coast are currently 5 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than historic averages for this time of year — among the warmest autumn conditions of any time in the past 30 years. “It’s not bathtub temperature,” said Nate Mantua, a research scientist with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Santa Cruz, “but it is swimmable on a sunny day.” In mid-October, it was 65 degrees off the Farallon Islands and in Monterey Bay, and 69 degrees off Point Conception near Santa Barbara. In most years, water temperatures in those areas would be in the high 50s or low 60s. The last time the ocean off California was this warm was in 1983 and 1997, both strong El Niño years that brought drenching winter rains to the West Coast. But El Niño isn’t driving this year’s warm-water spike, which began in mid-July, experts say. Nor is climate change. What’s happening is winds that normally blow from the north, trapping warm water closer to the equator, have slackened since the summer. That’s allowed the warm water to move north.

    In most years, the winds also help push ocean surface waters, churning up cold water from down below. That process, called upwelling, isn’t happening as much this year. “If the wind doesn’t blow, there’s no cooling of the water,” Mantua said. “It’s like the refrigerator fails. The local water warms up from the sun, and is not cooling off.” Mantua said researchers don’t know why the winds slacked off — or when they will start again. “It’s a mystery,” he said. All year, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been forecasting an El Niño, conditions in which warm ocean water at the equator near South America can affect the weather in dramatic ways. But now the water is only slightly warmer than normal at the equator, leading scientists to declare a mild El Niño is on the way. And although strong El Niños often have brought wet winters to California, mild ones have just as often resulted in moderate or dry winters. For people who study the ocean, this fall has been a wonderland. “It’s fascinating,” said Eric Sanford, a marine biology professor at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory in Bodega Bay. “To see so many southern species in a single year is really a rare event.” Sanford, colleague Jackie Sones and other researchers at the Bodega lab, along with scientists at Point Blue Conservation Science, a nonprofit group in Petaluma, have documented more than 100 common dolphins off the Farallon Islands in the past two months. They’re normally seen hundreds of miles away, off Southern California. The scientists have scooped up a tiny species of ocean snail called the tropical sea butterfly, normally found far to the south. They have documented a Guadalupe fur seal, normally found off Baja California in Mexico; blue buoy barnacles and purple-striped jellyfish, which usually drift off Southern California; and a Guadalupe murrelet, a tiny seabird that frequents Mexico. In September, a fisherman off San Francisco caught an endangered green sea turtle, an extremely rare find for Northern California, since the species usually lives off Mexico and the Galapagos Islands. He returned it to the sea unharmed. Similar tales are turning up in Southern California, where fishermen and scientists have found Hawaiian ono, along with tripletail, a fish species commonly found between Costa Rica and Peru, and other warm-water species. In August and September there were even sightings of skipjack tuna and giant sunfish, or mola mola, off Alaska. “They are following the water temperature,” said H.J. Walker, a senior museum scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. “Fish come up against a cold-water barrier normally and turn around. But now they aren’t encountering that, so they are swimming farther north.” Over the past week, the water temperature at the Scripps pier in La Jolla was 71 degrees. The historic average back to 1916 for late October is 65 degrees. In many parts of California, the commercial salmon catch was down, and squid were caught as far north as Eureka, which is unusual. “Our guys in Santa Barbara are saying there’s almost nothing down there. Just a lot of warm, clear water, a little bit of salmon and not much else,” said Zeke Grader, executive director of the Pacific Federation of Fishermen’s Associations in San Francisco. The ocean changes also have affected birds. As ocean upwelling stalled in the summer, less krill and other food rose from the depths. As a result, several species of birds, including common murres, had high rates of egg failure on the Farallon Islands, 27 miles west of San Francisco. “The krill that is usually present disappeared, and the fish that some of these birds rely on disappeared,” said Jaime Jahncke, California Current Group director of Point Blue in Petaluma. “Up until July we had an abundance of whales around the Farallons, mostly humpback whales, and some blue whales. And when we went back in September, there was no krill and the whales were nearly absent.”
    More common local species are expected to return when waters cool, as they did after the 1983 and 1997 warmings. “It is an oddball year. But I’m not surprised,” said Joe Welsh, associate curator of collecting for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “These things come and go. There’s a lot to learn out there.”

     

     

     

     

     

    The lightning-sparked Castle Rock Fire burned nearly 50,000 acres in 2007 in the Sawtooth National Forest and adjacent state and private lands surrounding Ketchum, Idaho, in the Smoky Mountains region of the Rocky Mountain range. Credit: Kari Geer, courtesy of the National Interagency Fire Center

    Coexist or perish, new wildfire analysis says: Changing wildfire paradigm from fighting to coexistence

    November 5, 2014 University of California – Berkeley

    An international team of fire experts have concluded that it is time to stop fighting fires and instead develop strategies to live with fire. In many areas, fire management is difficult or impossible, and interferes with fire’s key role in the ecosystem. Instead, we should develop zoning & building codes and evacuation protocols to allow people to live with fire, just as we now live with earthquake and tornado hazards.

    Many fire scientists have tried to get Smokey the Bear to hang up his “prevention” motto in favor of tools like thinning and prescribed burns, which can manage the severity of wildfires while allowing them to play their natural role in certain ecosystems. But a new international research review led by the University of California, Berkeley, says the debate over fuel-reduction techniques is only a small part of a much larger fire problem that will make society increasingly vulnerable to catastrophic losses unless it changes its fundamental approach from fighting fire to coexisting with fire as a natural process.

    The paper, “Learning to Coexist with Wildfire,” to be published in the Nov. 6 issue of the journal Nature, examines research findings from three continents and from both the natural and social sciences. The authors conclude that government-sponsored firefighting and land-use policies actually encourage development on inherently hazardous landscapes, amplifying human losses over time. “We don’t try to ‘fight’ earthquakes — we anticipate them in the way we plan communities, build buildings and prepare for emergencies. We don’t think that way about fire, but our review indicates that we should,” said lead author Max Moritz, Cooperative Extension specialist in fire at UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources. “Human losses will only be mitigated when land-use planning takes fire hazards into account in the same manner as other natural hazards, like floods, hurricanes and earthquakes.” The analysis looked at different kinds of natural fires, what drives them in various ecosystems, the ways public response to fire can differ, and the critical interface zones between built communities and natural landscapes. The authors found infinite variations on how these factors can come together. “It quickly became clear that generic one-size-fits-all solutions to wildfire problems do not exist,” Moritz said. “Fuel reduction may be a useful strategy for specific places, like California’s dry conifer forests, but when we zoomed out and looked at fire-prone regions throughout the Western United States, Australia and the Mediterranean Basin, we realized that over vast parts of the world, a much more nuanced strategy of planning for coexistence with fire is needed.

    Planning for co-existence

    If humans choose to live in fire-prone regions, fire must be managed on par with other naturally occurring hazards, the authors argue, and research must seek to understand what factors and outcomes we can and cannot affect.

    One common tool is applicable to the vast array of ecological and social science interactions at the critical wildfire/urban interface: more effective land-use planning, along with the regulations that guide it.

    The authors recommend prioritizing location-specific approaches to improve development and safety in fire-prone areas, including:

    • Adopting new land-use regulations and zoning guidelines that restrict development in the most fire-prone areas;
    • Updating building codes, such as requiring fire-resistant construction to match local hazard levels and encouraging retrofits to existing ignition-prone homes;
    • Implementing locally appropriate vegetation management strategies around structures and neighborhoods;
    • Evaluating evacuation planning and warning systems, including understanding situations in which mandatory evacuations are or are not effective;
    • Developing household and community plans for how to survive stay-and-defend situations; and
    • Developing better maps of fire hazards, ecosystem services and climate change effects to assess trade-offs between development and hazard…..

    The authors underscore that wildfires are a natural part of many ecosystems and can have a positive long-term influence on the landscape, despite people labeling them as “disasters.” They can stimulate vegetation regeneration, promote a diversity of vegetation types, provide habitat for many species and sustain other ecosystem services, such as nutrient cycling.

    Around the world, the numbers, sizes, and intensities of fires vary greatly. In some ecosystems, big, severe wildfires are natural events and more climate-driven — by drought or high winds — so fuel reduction is not a very effective tool in these locations. By contrast, many ecosystems that would naturally experience frequent lower-severity fires may respond to vegetation management aimed at both reducing fire hazard to humans and restoring crucial ecosystem processes. But, the authors agree, where fuel reduction is an appropriate goal, it would ideally be achieved by letting wildfires do their job.

    A changing climate will complicate management strategies. “How should future fire patterns compare to this historical variability? That’s the big question,” Moritz said. Describing wildfire as “one of the most basic and ongoing natural processes on Earth,” the authors call for a paradigm shift in the way society interacts with it, changing to an approach that achieves long-term, sustainable coexistence that benefits the planet’s ecosystems on the landscape scale, while minimizing catastrophic losses on the human scale. “A different view of wildfire is urgently needed,” said Moritz. “We must accept wildfire as a crucial and inevitable natural process on many landscapes. There is no alternative. The path we are on will lead to a deepening of our fire-related problems worldwide, which will only become worse as the climate changes.”

     

    Max A. Moritz, Enric Batllori, Ross A. Bradstock, A. Malcolm Gill, John Handmer, Paul F. Hessburg, Justin Leonard, Sarah McCaffrey, Dennis C. Odion, Tania Schoennagel, Alexandra D. Syphard. Learning to coexist with wildfire. Nature, 2014; 515 (7525): 58 DOI: 10.1038/nature13946

     

     

    This image shows Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda. A fundamental step-change involving an increase in funding and political commitment is urgently needed to ensure that protected areas deliver their full conservation, social and economic potential, according to an article published today in Nature by experts from Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Queensland, and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA).

    Credit: Julie Larsen Maher, copyright WCS

    A fraction of the global military spending could save the planet’s biodiversity, say experts: Only one in four protected areas is well managed

    Posted: 05 Nov 2014 12:45 PM PST

    A fundamental step-change involving an increase in funding and political commitment is urgently needed to ensure that protected areas deliver their full conservation, social and economic potential, according to an article published today in Nature by experts from Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Queensland, and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA).…. According to the authors, allocating US$45 — $76 billion to protected areas annually — just 2.5% of the global annual military expenditure — could help adequately manage those areas, ensuring their potential contribution to the well-being of the planet is fully met. Many threatened species, such as the Asian elephant, the tiger, and all rhinoceros species, as well as numerous plants, reptiles and amphibians, survive thanks to protected areas. Well-managed marine protected areas contain more than five times the total large fish biomass and 14 times the shark biomass compared with fished areas. “Protected areas offer us solutions to some of today’s most pressing challenges” says Dr James Watson of the Wildlife Conservation Society and The University of Queensland and lead author of the study. “But by continuing with ‘business as usual’, we are setting them up for failure. A step-change in the way we value, fund, govern and manage those areas is neither impossible nor unrealistic and would only represent a fraction of what the world spends annually on defense.”

    According to the latest data, protected areas cover around 15% of land and 3% of oceans. Experts warn, however, that despite the significant increase in their coverage over the past century, this is still short of the global 2020 targets to protect at least 17% of land and 10% of oceans. Many ecosystems remain poorly conserved because protected areas do not always encompass the most important areas for biodiversity.

    In addition, the vast majority of existing protected areas that are well placed do not have sufficient resources to be effective, with some studies finding as few as one quarter of them are being effectively managed. Growing threats from climate change and the escalating poaching crisis place additional pressures on protected areas globally…”Some of the most iconic protected areas, such as Ecuador’s Galapagos National Park, are undergoing significant degradation, partly due to an inability to manage them effectively,” says Professor Marc Hockings of The University of Queensland,co-author of the study and member of the IUCN WCPA. “But governments cannot be solely responsible for ensuring that protected areas fulfill their potential. We need to find new, innovative ways to fund and manage them, actively involving government, business and community groups.”

    The paper also highlights an alarming increase in governments — in both developing and developed countries — backtracking on their commitments through funding cuts and changes in policy. A recent global analysis has documented 543 instances where protected areas saw their status downgraded or removed altogether….Protected areas conserve biodiversity and sustain a large proportion of the world’s poorest people by providing them with food, water, shelter and medicine. They play a key part in climate change mitigation and adaptation and bolster national economies through tourism revenues….

    James E. M. Watson, Nigel Dudley, Daniel B. Segan, Marc Hockings. The performance and potential of protected areas. Nature, 2014; 515 (7525): 67 DOI: 10.1038/nature13947

     

    How to Mend the Conservation Divide

    By EMMA MARRIS and GREG APLET OCT. 31, 2014 NYTimes Opinion

    A SCHISM has recently divided those who love nature. “New conservationists” have been shaking up the field, proposing new approaches that break old taboos — moving species to new ranges in advance of climate change, intervening in designated wilderness areas, using nonnative species as functional stand-ins for those that have become extinct, and embracing novel ecosystems that spring up in humanized landscapes. Some “old conservationists” have reacted angrily to this, preferring to keep the focus on protecting wilderness and performing classical restoration that keeps ecosystems as they were hundreds of years ago. Editorials, essays and books have been lobbed back and forth, feathers have been ruffled and conservation groups and government officials have felt pressure from both sides. The truth is, despite the disagreements, both groups love nature and want to protect it. These seemingly competing alternatives are really complementary parts of the smartest strategy: We should try everything….

     

    Conservation used to seem pretty straightforward: set aside tracts of nature and they will take care of themselves. It is not so simple anymore. Nature left unmanaged is changing in surprising ways because of the great and accelerating human influences of what is being called the Anthropocene — the new epoch of climate change, species movements and global-scale land-use change. Today, keeping nature functioning the way it did before the Industrial Revolution requires increasingly hard and expensive work. At Yellowstone National Park, for example, nonnative trout are fished out of lakes; nonnative plants are ripped up; bison are culled to preset numbers. In California, salmon fry are trucked down to the ocean when drought dries up streams. In Maryland and Virginia, baby oysters are raised in hatcheries, then released into the Chesapeake Bay. At the same time, we have begun tinkering with nature to help it cope. In North Carolina, blight-resistant genes from Asian trees are bred into American chestnuts so that the mighty trees, devastated by human-introduced disease, might again dot Eastern forests. In the Indian Ocean, tortoises from the Seychelles are introduced to other islands to play the role of extinct tortoises there, eating fruit and dispersing seeds. In Canada, foresters replant harvested areas with seedlings from areas farther south or lower in altitude, betting that they will better survive a warmer climate. In other cases, what seemed obviously helpful has turned out to hurt. A gallfly introduced to control spotted knapweed in the West ended up nourishing deer mice, which flourished and began gorging themselves on the seeds of the native plants the knapweed was threatening. In California, restoration projects to pull out nonnative spartina grass on beaches were called into question when the endangered clapper rail was found to nest there. Controlling nature can be risky. So what should we do? Should we continue to invest in keeping ecosystems in historical configurations? Should we attempt to engineer landscapes to be resilient to tomorrow’s conditions? Or should we just let nature adapt on its own? We should do all three. In the face of great uncertainty, the sensible thing to do is hedge our bets and allocate large swaths of landscape to all three approaches: restoration, innovation and hands-off observation….

     

    A staggering 400 million birds have vanished from Europe since 1980

    By Chris Mooney November 3 2014 Washington Post

    A starling, one of the common European bird species found to be in decline in a new study. Credit: Tomas Belka, birdphoto.eu

    In a disturbing new study with overtones of Rachel Carson’s famous environmental book Silent Spring, a group of scientists from the U.K. and the Czech Republic report a stunning decline in the number of Europe’s birds since 1980. The birds vanishing are actually members of the most common species — including sparrows, starlings, and skylarks. The researchers calculate that there are now 421 million fewer birds across 25 European countries than there were at the start of the 1980s — a change the study attributes to human-caused environmental degradation.

    The scale of decline, in the words of the study just out in the journal Ecology Letters, is ”alarming.” The research finds that out of the 144 most common species, there were about 2.06 billion birds in Europe in 1980, and just 1.64 billion in 2009 (the last year considered in the study). Thus, the loss of 421 million represents more than a 20 percent decrease.

    “90 percent of that decline can be attributed to the 36 most common species,” says lead study author Richard Inger, from the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute. According to Inger, the top five species experiencing stark declines are the house sparrow, the common starling, the Eurasian skylark, the willow warbler, and the Eurasian tree sparrow.

    The research builds on thousands of bird surveys that have been carried out by volunteers going back to 1980. Surprisingly, the research finds that many rarer or endangered species (including marsh harriers and white storks) are actually increasing in number, perhaps in part because these birds have been successfully protected by conservation measures. But the loss of common birds, it emphasizes, can have dramatic consequences, since by their very numbers, they have crucial roles to play in ecosystems, such as controlling the volume of pest species…..

     

     

    Startling decline in European birds: Majority of losses from most common species

    November 2, 2014 University of Exeter ScienceDaily

    Bird populations across Europe have experienced sharp declines over the past 30 years, with the majority of losses from the most common species, according to a new study. However numbers of some less common birds have risen….Conservation efforts tend to be focused on rarer species but the research suggests that conservationists should also address issues affecting common birds, for example those traditionally associated with farmland. The decline in bird populations can be linked to modern farming methods, deterioration of the quality of the environment and habitat fragmentation, although the relative importance of these pressures remains unclear. The study brought together data on 144 species of European bird from many thousands of individual surveys in 25 different countries, highlighting the value of the different national monitoring schemes increasingly working together. The researchers suggest that greater conservation funding and effort should be directed to wider scale environmental improvement programmes. These could include urban green space projects, and effective agri-environment schemes, which, informed by lessons learned from past schemes, should aim to deliver real outcomes for declining bird species whether they are rare or common.

     

    Richard Inger, Richard Gregory, James P. Duffy, Iain Stott, Petr Voříšek, Kevin J. Gaston. Common European birds are declining rapidly while less abundant species’ numbers are rising. Ecology Letters, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/ele.12387

     

    Research partnership key to biodiversity conservation

    Posted: 03 Nov 2014 07:23 AM PST

    A new policy paper led by University of York scientists, in partnership with Proforest, aims to increase awareness among researchers of the High Conservation Value (HCV) approach to safeguarding ecosystems and species.The HCV approach is widely used in sustainable land management schemes to identify important ecosystems and species to conserve, but is little known in academia and the scientific evidence base is lacking. The policy paper encourages new research into the effectiveness of the HCV process and greater knowledge exchange between scientists, HCV users and policy makers, to reduce biodiversity losses from tropical landscapes. The paper is published in the journal Conservation Letters. In tropical regions, agricultural expansion of crops, such as oil palm, and unsustainable logging are causing widespread habitat and biodiversity loss. A number of certification schemes have been developed in an attempt to halt these biodiversity losses, and promote more sustainable farming such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)and forestry such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) practices. Certification schemes, such as the RSPO and FSC, often rely on the HCV approach to identify and maintain important environmental and social values in forestry management areas or oil palm plantations. These values — HCVs — include populations of threatened plants and animals, unique habitats, and areas used by traditional communities for subsistence activities such as fishing. Companies seeking certification through schemes such as the FSC or RSPO must identify and maintain any HCVs within their management units. The paper outlines the widespread use of the HCV approach in sustainable agricultural and forestry systems, and its potential role in protecting the unique biodiversity of tropical countries while highlighting the small scale of scientific research into its effectiveness. The paper calls for new research, and collaboration between scientists and the policy makers and companies using the HCV approach, to ensure that tropical biodiversity is protected….Co-author Professor Jane Hill, who was one of Mike Senior’s PhD supervisors, says: “Loss of tropical biodiversity is a huge global challenge and stopping it requires collaboration between scientists, policy makers and companies. Too often, organisations doing on-the-ground conservation struggle to keep up to date with the latest conservation research and evidence, and scientists are frequently unaware of the practical challenges facing real-world conservation.”…

     

    Michael J. M. Senior, Ellen Brown, Paulina Villalpando, Jane K. Hill. Increasing the scientific evidence-base in the ‘High Conservation Value’ (HCV) approach for biodiversity conservation in managed tropical landscapes. Conservation Letters, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/conl.12148

     

    Scientists replicate the tide with two buckets, aquarium tubing, and a pump

    Posted: 01 Nov 2014 02:33 PM PDT

    A design for a new, inexpensive tidal simulation unit enables researchers to investigate tidal marsh plant growth in a controlled setting. The unit costs less than US$27 to build, takes up less than two square feet of space, and does not require external plumbing; the protocol is now available. The system could be an important tool for researchers working to preserve and restore environmentally important wetlands.

     

     

    Wrangling data flood to manage health of streams

    November 3, 2014 Michigan State University

    Today’s natural resource manager tending to the health of a stream in Louisiana needs to look upstream. Way upstream — like Montana. Scientists have invented a way to more easily manage the extensive nature of streams…”Before, we needed a week to do an analysis on one parameter of land use in stream catchments,” Tsang said. “Now, we can run 24 parameters for every one of the 2.6 million streams in five hours.” The algorithm script, included in the paper, can tackle entire countries, but also works with any database to characterize landscape factors in smaller areas. It just needs the regions in question to have its streams broken down into small “discrete” units assigned a unique identifier and an identifier that shows its upstream connectors.

     

    Yin-Phan Tsang, Daniel Wieferich, Kuolin Fung, Dana M Infante, Arthur R Cooper. An approach for aggregating upstream catchment information to support research and management of fluvial systems across large landscapes. SpringerPlus, 2014; 3 (1): 589 DOI: 10.1186/2193-1801-3-589

     

     

    Reversing Course on Beavers

    By JIM ROBBINS NY Times OCT. 27, 2014

    In Washington State, beavers are being trapped and relocated to the headwaters of the Yakima River. Credit Manuel Valdes/Associated Press

    BUTTE, Mont. — Once routinely trapped and shot as varmints, their dams obliterated by dynamite and bulldozers, beavers are getting new respect these days. Across the West, they are being welcomed into the landscape as a defense against the withering effects of a warmer and drier climate. Beaver dams, it turns out, have beneficial effects that can’t easily be replicated in other ways. They raise the water table alongside a stream, aiding the growth of trees and plants that stabilize the banks and prevent erosion. They improve fish and wildlife habitat and promote new, rich soil.

    And perhaps most important in the West, beaver dams do what all dams do: hold back water that would otherwise drain away. “People realize that if we don’t have a way to store water that’s not so expensive, we’re going to be up a creek, a dry creek,” said Jeff Burrell, a scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society in Bozeman, Mont. “We’ve lost a lot with beavers not on the landscape.” For thousands of years, beavers, which numbered in the tens of millions in North America, were an integral part of the hydrological system. “The valleys were filled with dams, as many as one every hundred yards,” Mr. Burrell said. “They were pretty much continuous wetlands.” Beavers are in high demand across the driest parts of the United States for their innate abilities to keep water from draining away. But the population plummeted, largely because of fur trapping, and by 1930 there were no more than 100,000 beavers, almost entirely in Canada. Lately the numbers have rebounded to an estimated six million. Now, even as hydroelectric and reservoir dams are coming under fire for their wholesale changes to the natural environment, an appreciation for the benefits of beaver dams — even artificial ones — is on the rise.

    Experts have long known of the potential for beaver dams to restore damaged landscapes, but in recent years the demand has grown so rapidly that government agencies are sponsoring a series of West Coast workshops and publishing a manual on how to attract beavers. “We can spend a lot of money doing this work, or we can use beavers for almost nothing,” Mr. Burrell said. Beavers are ecosystem engineers. As a family moves into new territory, the rodents drop a large tree across a stream to begin a new dam, which creates a pond for their lodge. They cover it with sticks, mud and stones, usually working at night. As the water level rises behind the dam, it submerges the entrance to their lodge and protects the beavers from predators. This pooling of water leads to a cascade of ecological changes. The pond nourishes young willows, aspens and other trees — prime beaver food — and provides a haven for fish that like slow-flowing water. The growth of grass and shrubs alongside the pond improves habitat for songbirds, deer and elk. Moreover, because dams raise underground water levels, they increase water supplies and substantially lower the cost of pumping groundwater for farming. And they help protect fish imperiled by rising water temperatures in rivers. The deep pools formed by beaver dams, with cooler water at the bottom, are “outstanding rearing habitat for juvenile coho salmon,” said Michael M. Pollock, a fish biologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle, who has studied the ecological effects of beaver dams for 20 years.

    Restoration is not usually as simple as bringing beavers in; if left unchecked, they can do serious damage. Here in Butte, for example, beavers constantly dammed a creek where it ran through a culvert under a pedestrian walkway, flooding nearby homes and a park. Enter the “beaver deceiver.” Beavers have evolved to respond to the sound of running water by trying to stop it, because their survival depends on a full pond. (A Yellowstone National Park biologist reported that when he briefly kept a beaver in his basement with plans to reintroduce it to a local stream, it kept frantically clawing at its cage to reach the sound of a flushing toilet.) So local officials installed the deceiver, a large wooden frame covered with stout metal mesh that blocks beavers’ access to the culvert but allows water to keep flowing. Even if they try to dam up the box, the water will still flow, and eventually they give up and move on. Meanwhile, big, prized cottonwoods and other trees are being wrapped in wire or covered with paint that contains sand to prevent beavers from gnawing them. In some other places, humans are building beaver dams minus the beavers. On Norwegian Creek, a tiny thread of a stream that flows through the rolling grassy hills on a cattle ranch near Harrison, Mont., volunteers came together recently to build a series of small structures from willow branches to slow the flow of water that had been eroding the banks to a depth of 10 feet or more. In just a year the stream bed has risen three feet, Mr. Burrell said, and in a couple more years it could be entirely restored at virtually no cost. New dams, even natural ones, can have unintended consequences. Julian D. Olden, an ecologist at the University of Washington, has studied new beaver ponds in Arizona and found that they were perfect for invasive fish such as carp, catfish and bass to displace native species. “There’s a lot of unknowns before we can say what the return of beavers means for these arid ecosystems,” he said. “The assumption is it’s going to be good in all situations,” he added. “But the jury is still out, and it’s going to take a couple of decades.”

     

    Egg shape ‘helped birds survive’ asteroid impact

    By Melissa Hogenboom Science reporter, BBC News 5 November 2014 Last updated at 04:59 ET

    Fossil records of theropod eggs allowed scientists to analyse their geometric properties

    The shape of birds’ eggs could have helped them survive the mass extinction event that killed off the dinosaurs, new research proposes. A team analysed the geometric properties of eggs from 250 million years ago (Mesozoic Era) to today. Before the extinction event about 65 million years ago, eggshells had notable differences to the lineage that survived. It is these survivors that all modern day birds descend from. But the authors note that egg shape is but a “small piece of the puzzle” of the evolutionary conundrum of why one lineage of birds made it through the mass extinction event, whereas others did not. Their findings are published in the Royal Society journal Open Science. The analysis found that Mesozoic eggs were elongated and significantly more symmetrical than all other bird eggs. Mesozoic bird eggshells were also more porous than expected for their size. Lead author of the work, Dr Charles Deeming from Lincoln University in the UK, found that fossil remains of eggs from 65 million years ago onwards were indistinguishable from modern bird eggs. The Mesozoic eggs, however, differed significantly. ….

     

    Mussels on California Coast contaminated with giardia transmitted from land-based sources

    Posted: 01 Nov 2014 02:32 PM PDT

    The pathogen Giardia duodenalis is present in mussels from freshwater run-off sites and from areas where California Sea Lions lounge along the coast of California, according to a team of researchers. One of the G. duodenalis strains found is known to infect humans; the two others occur mostly in dogs and other canids. ‘Thus, the detection of these assemblages implies a potential public health risk if consuming fecally contaminated water or uncooked shellfish,’ says a coauthor.

     

    Hermit thrush or humans: Who sets the tone?

    Posted: 04 Nov 2014 08:15 AM PST

    The songs of the hermit thrush, a common North American songbird, follow principles found in much human music — namely the harmonic series. Researchers are the first to demonstrate note selection from the harmonic series in a non-human animal using rigorous analytical methods.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    World’s Scientists Warn: We Have ‘High Confidence’ In The ‘Irreversible Impacts’ Of Climate Inaction

    by Joe Romm Posted on November 2, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Humanity’s choice (via IPCC): Aggressive climate action ASAP (left figure) minimizes future warming and costs a mere 0.06% of annual growth. Continued inaction (right figure) results in catastrophic and irreversible levels of warming, 9°F over much of U.S. and world.

    The world’s top scientists and governments have issued their bluntest plea yet to the world: Slash carbon pollution now (at a very low cost) or risk “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.” Scientists have “high confidence” these devastating impacts occur “even with adaptation” — if we keep doing little or nothing. On Sunday, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the “synthesis” report of their fifth full scientific climate assessment since 1990. More than 100 governments have signed off line by line on this review of more than 30,000 studies on climate science, impacts, and solutions. Like every recent IPCC report, it is cautious to a fault — as you would expect from “its consensus structure, which tends to produce a lowest common denominator on which a large number of scientists can agree,” as one climatologist explained to the New York Times. And that “lowest common denominator” is brought to an even blander and lower level in the summary reports since they need to end up with language that satisfies every member government. The authors clearly understand this is the last time they have a serious shot at influencing the world’s major governments while we still have a plausible chance of stabilizing at non-catastrophic levels. IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said this report will “provide the roadmap by which policymakers will hopefully find their way to a global agreement to finally reverse course on climate change.” That global agreement is supposed to be achieved over the next year and finalized at the December 2015 international climate talks in Paris. And yet, as conservative as the process is, this final synthesis is still incredibly alarming — while at the same time it is terrifically hopeful.

    How hopeful? The world’s top scientists and governments make clear for the umpteenth time that the cost of action is relatively trivial: “Mitigation scenarios that are likely to limit warming to below 2°C” entail “an annualized reduction of consumption growth by 0.04 to 0.14 (median: 0.06) percentage points over the century relative to annualized consumption growth in the baseline that is between 1.6 percent and 3 percent per year (high confidence).”
    Translation: The cost of even the most aggressive action — the kind needed to stave off irreversible disaster — is so low that it would not noticeably change the growth curve of the world economy this century. With high confidence, we would be reducing annual consumption growth from, say, 2.4 percent per year down to “only” a growth level of 2.34 percent per year.

    How bad can it get if we won’t devote that tiny fraction of the world’s wealth to action? The IPCC already explained that in the science report from last fall (see “Alarming IPCC Prognosis: 9°F Warming For U.S., Faster Sea Rise, More Extreme Weather, Permafrost Collapse”). And they expanded on that in the impacts report (see “Climate Panel Warns World Faces ‘Breakdown Of Food Systems’ And More Violent Conflict”). The synthesis report ties it all together: “In most scenarios without additional mitigation efforts … warming is more likely than not to exceed 4°C [7°F] above pre-industrial levels by 2100. The risks associated with temperatures at or above 4°C include substantial species extinction, global and regional food insecurity, consequential constraints on common human activities, and limited potential for adaptation in some cases (high confidence).”

    Translation: There is high confidence that if we keep doing little or nothing [the RCP8.5 case], we will create a post-apocalyptic “hunger games” world beyond adaptation.

    Ever cautious, the IPCC euphemistically writes of “consequential constraints on common human activities.” Elsewhere they explain that “by 2100 for RCP8.5, the combination of high temperature and humidity in some areas for parts of the year is expected to compromise common human activities, including growing food and working outdoors (high confidence).” Translation: We are at risk of making large parts of the planet’s currently arable and populated land virtually uninhabitable for much of the year — and irreversibly so for hundreds of years.

    Indeed, the report makes clear that future generations can’t plausibly undo whatever we are too greedy and shortsighted to prevent through immediate action. And as bad as the impacts described in this report are, things will be even worse after 2100 in every case but the one where we aggressively act ASAP to stabilize at 2°C total warming. And remember, this is a super-cautious, consensus-based, “lowest common denominator” report. The Washington Post has an excellent piece on the inherently conservative nature of these reports and why they “often underestimate the severity of global warming.” So things are probably going to be much, much worse for our children and grandchildren and future generations if we fail to act. Do we really want to find out just how much worse things could be?

     

     

     

    The world’s climate change watchdog may be underestimating global warming

    By Chris Mooney October 30 Washington Postg

    The Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctic. Recent research suggests that part of the huge West Antarctic ice sheet is starting a slow collapse in an unstoppable way. Alarmed scientists say that means even more sea level rise than they figured. (AP Photo/NASA)

    On Nov. 2, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will release its “Synthesis Report,” the final stage in a yearlong document dump that, collectively, presents the current expert consensus about climate change and its consequences. This synthesis report (which has already been leaked and reported on — like it always is) pulls together the conclusions of three prior reports of the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report, and will “provide the roadmap by which policymakers will hopefully find their way to a global agreement to finally reverse course on climate change,” according to the IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri. There’s just one problem. According to a number of scientific critics, the scientific consensus represented by the IPCC is a very conservative consensus. IPCC’s reports, they say, often underestimate the severity of global warming, in a way that may actually confuse policymakers (or worse). The IPCC, one scientific group charged last year, has a tendency to “err on the side of least drama.” And now, in a new study just out in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, another group of researchers echoes that point. In scientific parlance, they charge that the IPCC is focused on avoiding what are called “type 1″ errors — claiming something is happening when it really is not (a “false positive”) — rather than on avoiding “type 2″ errors — not claiming something is happening when it really is (a “false negative”). The consequence is that we do not always hear directly from the IPCC about how bad things could be.”Our motivation was really experiencing the IPCC process, and seeing the various ways in which the process, and sort of this seeking consensus, can lead to downplaying the full ranges of future scenarios,” comments Bill Anderegg, a Princeton researcher and lead author of the new paper. Anderegg contributed his expertise on ecosystems and climate change in North America in Working Group II of the latest IPCC report. To show why these researchers think the IPCC is conservative — and emphatically not alarmist — you need only consider what the leaked Synthesis Report (which, of course, is still subject to revision) says about the subject of sea level rise. Next to rising temperatures, rising seas are perhaps the most obvious outcome of global warming (because hot air melts ice and expands ocean water). They are also one of the most severe — and an incredibly big deal if you live in Florida, or North Carolina, or Bangladesh, or the Maldives, or anywhere else with a beach or coast. Knowing just how much sea level could rise, and how fast, is thus vital to help cities and countries plan for how to adapt to a changing world.

    By the year 2100, the leaked draft report claims, sea level rise “will likely be in the ranges of 0.26 to 0.55 m for RCP2.6 and of 0.45 to 0.82 m for RCP8.5 (medium confidence),” which is quite similar to what earlier documents from this round of the IPCC’s work have said. To translate: For two different scenarios for future greenhouse gas emissions — one a low end scenario, one a high end one — there is a 66 percent probability that sea level rise will fall into these two corresponding ranges. And the high end of the range, in the high end emissions scenario, is .82 meters of sea level rise, or 2.69 feet. Alas, it turns out that these numbers are misleading in several ways – and may very well be too low. First, .82 meters is not actually the amount of sea level rise that is expected at the year 2100. If you sift carefully enough through the IPCC’s various reports, you will learn that it is rather the mean increase expected between the years 2081-2100, or during the last two decades of this century, when compared with the mean sea level between 1986 and 2005. The actual high end number for 2100 is .98 meters, or 3.22 feet – an amount that “would threaten the survival of coastal cities and entire island nations,” writes climate expert Stefan Rahmstorf of Potsdam University.

    But it gets more complicated still — that’s not really the high end number either! Note above that IPCC only gives the range for sea level rise that it considers “likely.” What that means, according to Princeton’s Anderegg, is that “these ranges are only the middle 2/3 of the probability distribution.” In other words, he says, “there is a 17 percent chance it could be lower than that, and a 17 percent chance it could be higher than that.” You’d have to be pretty attuned to figure that out, though. And just when you think you’re finally figuring out how bad sea level rise could be by 2100, yet another problem pops up. There are many ways of determining an acceptable range for expected sea level rise, and the IPCC relies on one of them — so-called “process-based models,” which draw on physical equations that govern our understanding of the thermal expansion of the ocean, the melting of ice sheets, and other related factors. But that’s not the only way of estimating future sea level rise….

    …There’s yet another problem with the IPCC process — it only considers scientific papers that were published before a particular cutoff date, which in this case, was March 15, 2013. But in May 2014, long after that cutoff date, a blockbuster study came out suggesting that global warming has already irrevocably destabilized the massive West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which contains some 10 feet worth of sea level rise. That is not to say that all of that ice will fall into the ocean immediately and raise sea level, but rather to say that its disintegration, over time, is inevitable. How fast will it happen?
    That’s the big unknown — but obviously, it is unwise to underestimate an ice sheet, when the consequences around the world would be so devastating. The lead author of that research, the University of California-Irvine’s Eric Rignot, stressed in an interview that there is no scientific consensus yet about the validity of his alarming results. But adds that in his own opinion, the IPCC’s estimate for sea level rise is “very conservative.” “We’ve been looking at these glaciers for 20 years, and what I see is defying all these models,” adds Rignot….

     

    So in summary, by 2100, sea level rise could be plenty worse than the IPCC suggests — and realizing this might lead policymakers around the world to view global warming very differently. So then why are its scientific assessments like this? There are surely many reasons, but the authors of the new Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society paper suggest one of them is how much the IPCC has been blasted — especially over past errors, such as an incorrect prediction that the Himalayan glaciers would vanish by 2035. Because of such flubs, the IPCC has been repeatedly attacked by outside critics — one of whose favorite epithets is calling the panel “alarmist.” Ironically, perhaps precisely because of all that criticism, it isn’t.

     

    Arctic warming: Scientists identify new driver

    Posted: 03 Nov 2014 01:19 PM PST

    A mechanism that could turn out to be a big contributor to warming in the Arctic region and melting sea ice has been identified by scientists. They found that open oceans are much less efficient than sea ice when it comes to emitting in the far-infrared region of the spectrum, a previously unknown phenomenon that is likely contributing to the warming of the polar climate...

     


    Who Will Come to Your Bird Feeder in 2075?


    Nov. 6, 2014 — The distribution of birds in the United States today will probably look very different in 60 years as a result of climate, land use and land cover. A new U.S. Geological Survey study predicts where 50 bird species will breed, feed and live in the conterminous U.S. by 2075. While some types of birds, like the Baird’s sparrow, will likely lose a significant amount of their current U.S. range, other ranges could nearly double. Human activity will drive many of these shifts. The study was published today in the journal PLOS ONE. “Habitat loss is a strong predictor of bird extinction at local and regional scales,” said Terry Sohl, a USGS scientist and the author of the report. “Shifts in species’ ranges over the next several decades will be more dramatic for some bird species than others.”… full story

     

    Terry L. Sohl. The Relative Impacts of Climate and Land-Use Change on Conterminous United States Bird Species from 2001 to 2075. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (11): e112251 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112251

     

     

    An oil refinery releases steam, soot, carbon dioxide and dozens of other substances. Researchers say regulators should worry most about CO2. Credit: Dana via flickr

    The Worst Climate Pollution Is Carbon Dioxide

    CO2 outranks soot, methane and even hydrofluorocarbons in terms of long-term global warming

    November 4, 2014 |By Gayathri Vaidyanathan and ClimateWire

    Soot from car exhaust and cookstoves, sulfates from coal-fired power plants, methane leaked during oil and gas production, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) from air conditioning are all greenhouse gases that trap heat within the Earth’s atmosphere for a short while before decaying into less virulent chemicals. Cutting emissions of such “short-lived climate pollutants,” or SLCPs, will not have much impact on long-term climate change, finds a new study published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences. The study reaffirms strongly that, as far as climate change goes, the gas that truly matters is carbon dioxide. Unlike its shorter-lived cousins, CO2 sticks around in the atmosphere for decades to centuries, wreaking climate havoc. “It has become very clear that if you want to stabilize warming at any level, you have to start talking about phasing out CO2,” said Joeri Rogelj, a research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis and lead author of the study. “Reducing other climate pollution can help in different ways and for different things, but in climate stabilization terms, it’s noise on the fact that you have to phase out CO2.”…

     

     

    Analyzing heat waves: Extreme heat waves may become the norm

    Posted: 05 Nov 2014 07:12 AM PST

    Scientists have developed a new index to measure the magnitude of heat waves. According to the index projections, under the worst climate scenario of temperature rise nearing 4.8pC, extreme heat waves will become the norm by the end of the century.

     

    There’s A 99 Percent Chance 2014 Will Be The Hottest Year California Has Ever Seen

    by Jeff Spross Posted on November 6, 2014

    With 2014 almost concluded, the chances are now overwhelming that it will beat out 1934 as the hottest year ever recorded in the state….

     

     

     

    DROUGHT:


     

     

    Hopes for El Niño evaporating; would have brought a wet winter

    By Kurtis Alexander Updated 3:27 pm, Thursday, November 6, 2014

    Federal forecasters on Thursday scaled back the likelihood of an El Niño developing this winter, dampening hopes of a wet winter washing away the California drought. Pacific Ocean waters have failed to warm to the levels that scientists projected earlier this year, when the federal Climate Prediction Center issued an El Niño watch and said the weather pattern was likely to evolve by now — or sometime around the end of the year. The odds of an El Niño forming this winter are now pegged at 58 percent, according to the Climate Prediction Center, down from 80 percent in the spring. An El Niño, marked by warming surface waters in the Pacific tropics, is a key signal for forecasters trying to figure out what will happen during the winter months. When the pattern develops, it influences worldwide weather.

     

    New research predicts California droughts will worsen

    By Matt Weiser mweiser@sacbee.com 10/31/2014 8:26 PM 11/02/2014 11:22 PM

    Weeds and dirt were still seen under a chairlift in January 2013 at Donner Ski Ranch.Randy Pench/rpench@sacbee.com

    Future droughts in California are likely to bite deeper and last longer than the one now gripping the state, according to new research into the potential effects of climate change. Scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the U.S. Geological Survey used computer climate modeling tools to estimate the effects of warmer temperatures in future decades. In particular, they studied the effect on California’s mountain snowpack, the largest source of fresh water in the state, which refills thousands of water-storage reservoirs each spring via snowmelt. The results show that by 2050, the median snowpack present on April 1 each year could be one-third smaller than the historical median, and by 2100 it could be two-thirds smaller. Such a dramatic loss of snowmelt would produce less runoff to refill reservoirs each summer, potentially making droughts an ever-present condition. The research also shows that by 2100, there is only a 10 percent chance that California mountains will see a snowpack equal to the median that accumulates today. The research was conducted by some of California’s leading climate researchers, and has not yet been published or peer reviewed. It was presented Thursday at the Bay-Delta Science Conference in Sacramento.The water contained in the snowpack is declining pretty steadily through the 21st century,” said Dan Cayan, director of the California Climate Change Center at Scripps in San Diego and the study’s lead author. “According to the models, we’re already detecting these changes in snowpack.” California water management officials are bracing for these potential changes. On Thursday, the state Department of Water Resources released a revised California Water Plan, a comprehensive strategy to protect the state from water shortages and floods that looks out to 2050. A major focus involves managing the effects of climate change. “Unless we take strong action, we won’t have the existing water be reliable for the future,” said John Laird, secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, which oversees DWR. “Over time, conservation as a way of life in California is something that simply has to be done.” State officials released the plan just days before California voters weigh in on Proposition 1, a $7.5billion water bond pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown. If passed, the measure would authorize bonds for a range of water projects, including dams, groundwater replenishment, water recycling, flood protection and habitat restoration. DWR’s water plan lays out 350 strategies aimed at boosting water supplies and improving conservation. Key among them is better connecting existing water systems. For instance, the plan calls for reconnecting rivers with their historic floodplains so that, when floods occur, the water can be held on the land to recharge groundwater wells. In many cases, this would mean breaching levees. It also could mean difficult changes in land use, said DWR Director Mark Cowin. “For many decades, one of the challenges we’ve had is that agencies that carry out responsibility for water management are not necessarily connected to the local agencies that are responsible for land use,” Cowin said. “That needs to change.” Cayan’s research into climate change would seem to support this direction… DWR’s Cowin said a broader rethinking of California water systems is needed to account for climate change as well as population growth. The state’s population, at 38million, already exceeds all other Western states combined. By 2050, it is projected to increase 30percent, to about 50million people.

    Serving all those people in a warmer future would mean changing the rulebook at every reservoir, along with increasing water supplies through conservation, wastewater recycling, groundwater storage and other measures.

    All this will cost money. The California Water Plan estimates the state needs to invest $200billion over the next decade simply to maintain current levels of service, and another $500billion in future decades to make improvements. Those numbers include all levels of government spending, from local water districts to the federal government. “That sends a pretty clear signal that water is going to cost more for Californians in the future,” Cowin said. “I think that’s a reality we’ll all have to get used to.”

     

     

    NASA’s Grace satellites measured the depletion of groundwater in northwestern India between 2002 and 2008. Image: NASA

    Global groundwater crisis may get worse as the world warms

    Andrew Freeman Mashable Oct 30 2014

    From India to Texas, people are rapidly depleting their valuable stores of groundwater — leading to the possibility that aquifers may be emptied within decades, a NASA researcher has warned.

    In a commentary published Wednesday in the journal Nature Climate Change, Jay Famiglietti, who has helped lead the use of a NASA satellite system to detect groundwater changes around the world, warned of dramatic consequences to come if changes are not made to the way that societies manage water supplies. Currently, Famiglietti told Mashable, management of global groundwater stores is inadequate to nonexistent, as governments focus on regulating surface water supplies while tapping underground aquifers as much as they want to. “Our overuse of groundwater puts our overall water security at far greater risk than we thought,” Famiglietti says. Unlike surface water, which is replenished through precipitation, groundwater can take centuries to recharge. Yet humans are depleting groundwater at rates that far exceed the pace at which this water can be replenished. Think of it this way: groundwater is analogous to a pension, a long-term investment that takes many years to pay off. If you withdraw more than you put in, you’ll go bankrupt in the long run. Dams and reservoirs, meanwhile, are more like a checking account. “Groundwater is being pumped at far greater rates than it can be naturally replenished, so that many of the largest aquifers on most continents are being mined, their precious contents never to be returned,” Famiglietti, a researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, wrote. Famiglietti has used NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite system, which is capable of detecting the most subtle changes in Earth’s gravitational field to spot land elevation changes, and thus water depletion, to publish a number of studies on groundwater in recent years. During the summer, for example, he contributed to a study that revealed that water users throughout the Colorado River Basin are tapping into groundwater supplies to make up for the lack of adequate supplies of surface water. The study found that more than 75% of the water loss in the Colorado River Basin since 2004 came from groundwater.

    GRACE showed that between December 2004 and November 2013, the Colorado River basin lost nearly 53 million acre feet of freshwater, which is double the total volume of the country’s largest reservoir — Lake Mead in Arizona. More than three-quarters of the total — about 41 million acre feet — was from groundwater. Other GRACE data has shown that the Sacramento River and San Joaqin River basins have lost a total of 4 trillion gallons of groundwater per year, which has caused the land surface to sink.

    Groundwater, Famiglietti told Mashable, accounts for more than half of the irrigation water used to grow the world’s food. Aquifers of particular concern to Famiglietti include the North China Plain, Australia’s Canning Basin, the Northwest Sahara Aquifer System, the High Plains and Central aquifers in the U.S., and aquifers between northwestern India and the Middle East. “Because the gap between supply and demand is routinely bridged with non-renewable groundwater, even more so during drought, groundwater supplies in some major aquifers “will be depleted in a matter of decades,” Famiglietti wrote. Famiglietti says that groundwater depletion in northwest India is at the top of his list of concerns, in part because of the population growth. Water shortages could lead to political instability As climate change redistributes water around the planet, with wet areas getting potentially wetter and dry areas drier, it could further stress water supplies, Famiglietti said. This could lead to conflicts, particularly in countries that lack resiliency to such shocks. A key factor in groundwater depletion is that water laws do not do much to manage aquifers. In California, the ongoing drought has forced state leaders to pass a bill meant to track groundwater supplies and encourage their sustainable use — but not before the state has actually sunk in elevation, because so much groundwater has been used for agriculture. The consequences of poorly managing groundwater supplies in the coming decades could be extremely disruptive, in the form of declining agricultural production, reductions in energy generation and the possibility of huge spikes in food prices. “The handwriting is on the wall for all the bad things that can result from that,” he said.

     

    Water plan calls for conservation measures on farms

    Tim Hearden Capital Press Published: October 31, 2014 2:05PM SACRAMENTO — Adding more storage ponds, using deficit irrigation and boosting incentives for on-farm conservation are just a few of the many ideas California officials propose in an updated water plan unveiled Oct. 30.

    The state Department of Water Resources makes about 350 suggestions for improving urban and rural water-use efficiency in the latest version of the California Water Plan, which has guided water policy since 1957 and is updated periodically. The updated plan includes more than 50 recommendations for agriculture, such as further equipping crop advisors to help growers evaluate their irrigation systems and simplifying the forms with which water districts must report deliveries under a conservation law passed in 2009.
    The plan also calls for reassuring landowners “that efforts to conserve water do not alter water rights” and addressing concerns that participation in voluntary habitat-restoration programs might increase their vulnerability to Endangered Species Act restrictions. “These documents take a long view,” state Natural Resources Secretary John Laird told reporters in a conference call. “They take a view out to 2050, and they reinforce the five-year plan released by the governor earlier this year.” Prepared over the last five years with the help of federal agencies and those in affected communities and industries, the plan is separate from Gov. Jerry Brown’s 10-point Water Action Plan unveiled in January, which outlines more immediate measures to be taken amid California’s historic drought…..

     

    Climate change and paleoclimatology: Putting California’s drought in a long-term perspective

    by Maven November 3 2014

    The University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR) has developed a series of webinars titled Insights: Water and Drought which feature timely, relevant expertise on water and drought from experts around the University of California system.   In this webinar, Professor Lynn Ingram, a professor of Earth and Planetary Science at UC Berkeley, discusses the climate history of droughts and floods in California, with a focus on the state’s history of droughts. Professor Ingram’s research looks at climate variation over long time scales in comparison to the modern period, the frequency and severity of past droughts and floods and how they impacted past human societies, and how will future warming impact water resources….. read more to see highlights of webinar.

     

    First rainfall sets some records but recovery from drought is far off

    By Shelby Grad LA Times Nov 1 2014

    The first rainstorm of the just-started season provided some much needed moisture to California, though some areas got more than others. And it was not enough to make much of a dent in the drought. Northern and Central California got the most rain, with Monterey setting a new record for Oct. 31 with 1.35 inches, according to the National Weather Service. In the San Francisco Bay Area more areas recorded well below an inch of rain….

     

    Pot Farmers Steal Water Amid Epic Drought

    By Elyce Kirchner, Julie Putnam and Jeremy Carroll

    Friday, Nov 7, 2014 • Updated at 5:43 AM PST NBC Bay Area

    The water that flows through California’s public lands and state parks is the life blood of the forests’ ecosystems. But in the midst of a water shortage, the Investigative Unit has found some criminals are disrupting nature’s course and stealing massive amounts of water meant for public lands. The Investigative Unit spoke with a rancher who noticed the water levels in his lake drop a dramatic six feet in just three weeks. “It was just so odd,” he told the Investigative Unit. The rancher soon discovered hundreds of feet of piping siphoning his water to a marijuana grow site illegally setup in a nearby state park. He asked for his identity to be concealed to protect his safety….

     

     

    China’s parched plains ending run of record corn harvests

    November 7, 2014 Bloomberg News

    The record surge in Chinese corn output is over, and Dong Yushan doesn’t have to look much farther than his dusty fields in Henan province to see why. A lack of rain from May to August turned into the worst drought the 67-year-old farmer ever saw.

    Brazil’s biggest city desperate for water in drought

    November 7, 2014 Associated Press

    It’s been nearly a month since Diomar Pereira has had running water at his home in Itu, a commuter city outside Sao Paulo that is at the epicenter of the worst drought to hit southeastern Brazil in more than eight decades….

    Enough water in the future? Swiss research identifies solutions to potential user conflicts

    Posted: 05 Nov 2014 05:44 AM PST

    The Swiss water economy is not optimally prepared to cope with the forthcoming changes in terms of climate and society. Nevertheless, new research concludes that Switzerland will have enough water if regional collaboration is expanded, if sustainable solutions to water conflicts are found and if water protection efforts are continued.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    How To Engage And Win The Conversation About Climate And Energy

    by Joe Romm Posted on November 6, 2014

    Breakthrough Strategies & Solutions has updated their excellent messaging guide on climate and clean energy, “Climate Solutions for a Stronger America.” Here’s why you need to read it….

     

     

    Minn. communities look for ways to adapt to climate change

    Environment
    Elizabeth Dunbar · St. Paul, Minn. · Nov 5, 2014

    Listen Story audio 4min 17sec

    In an effort to cope with heavier rains and warmer temperatures that climate change brings, some communities are beginning to grapple with ways to help people adapt to the inevitable, even as they work to cut greenhouse gas emissions. That means creating more spaces for stormwater to flow to ease flooding, and mapping sites where people can cool off during heat waves. Earlier this week, a panel of scientists studying climate change for the United Nations laid out a monumental task for humanity: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the end of this century. But they also said we’ve already put enough carbon in the atmosphere to cause significant change, so we have to learn ways to deal with it. “It took a long time for enough people to understand that there really was an issue,” said Faye Sleeper, interim director of the Water Resources Center at the University of Minnesota… Climate adaptation work is already under way on a small scale in Minnesota as a response to here-and-now problems like changes in rainfall. Some cities and transportation planners have begun using new precipitation data to make sure roads and stormwater systems can handle heavier rains. Some forest managers are experimenting with different tree species expected to be more resilient to the changing climate. Farmers have long been finding ways to be more resilient to year-to-year weather changes. But now that the climate trends are clearer, some are advocating changes in what we grow. Diversifying the agricultural landscape is one of the best ways to make it more resilient to climate change, said Nick Jordan, a U of M researcher who studies the ecology of agriculture. He says the trick is to find crops that could both benefit the soil and farmers’ pocketbooks. …

     

     

    Voters In 19 States Just Committed More Than $13 Billion For Conservation

    by Claire Moser – Guest Contributor Posted on November 6, 2014

    Several key ballot initiatives will designate billions of dollars to protect more parks, open spaces, and waterways in states across the country….

     

     

     

     

     

    GOP Election Rout Delivers Blow to U.S. Leadership Role on Climate Change

    Deck in Congress is stacked in favor of fossil fuels, throwing Obama’s climate agenda in doubt during his lame-duck years.

    By John H. Cushman Jr., InsideClimate News

    Additional reporting for this story was done by ICN reporters Katherine Bagley, Elizabeth Douglass, David Hasemyer and Zahra Hirji. Graphic by Paul Horn.

    The role of the United States in confronting the global climate crisis has been cast into serious doubt after an election that stacked the deck in Congress in favor of fossil fuel industries. Republicans seized firm control, and added several new senators who deny that climate change is a problem.
    A solid majority of voters who spoke to exit pollsters said they regarded climate change as a significant matter, but most were on the Democratic side. By a huge margin, Republican voters said the opposite.
    And in state after hotly contested state, they elected their own to the Senate. In that chamber, the ascendant Republican leadership, from Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell on down, are opposed to President Obama’s climate policies—starting with the EPA’s clampdown on carbon emissions from coal plants, and extending to his hopes that the U.S. will join Europe in leading the rest of the world to a new climate treaty. In an election that hinged on broad opposition to Obama and left him to limp through his two lame-duck years, environmentalists did win a few battles—even as they lost the war. The League of Conservation Voters, which along with other environmental campaigners spent heavily on the contest, noted that it had unseated several members of its “dirty dozen” target list. In Nebraska, a bastion of opposition to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, the project’s best friend in Congress, Rep. Lee Terry, was defeated. Half of the local anti-fracking measures on the ballots of towns and counties in California, Ohio and Texas passed….

     

     

    SENATE:

    Republican wave unlikely to wash away Obama’s major rules

    Nick Juliano, E&E reporter Greenwire: Wednesday, November 5, 2014

    Despite their impressive gains last night, Republicans do not appear to have flipped enough seats to undo most of President Obama’s environment and climate change agenda. The united GOP Congress should be able to send him legislation that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline and to achieve narrower limits on the most controversial impending rules. Republicans picked up at least seven seats in yesterday’s elections, with additional gains possible in Alaska and next month’s runoff in Louisiana as well as a possible recount in the unexpectedly close Virginia race……Republicans and industry supporters are confident a bill approving the pipeline will quickly reach the president’s desk next year (see related story). Using those tallies as a base line, Republicans don’t appear to have flipped enough seats to end a filibuster — even if they eventually win Alaska and Louisiana and if a recount reverses Sen. Mark Warner’s victory in Virginia. In the new Senate, Republicans likely have between 55 and 59 votes to block action on climate change based on seats that flipped this year. (Click here for a chart that breaks down the seven amendment votes and how they could flip in the new Senate.) ….

    Water rule, ozone standard

    Another regulation expected to be a top Republican target is EPA’s rule delineating what qualifies as a “water of the United States” subject to federal regulation. Environmentalists say the rule is needed for upstream tributaries and wetlands that would otherwise lack federal protection, but conservatives have attacked it as a costly expansion of government power.

    Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) offered an amendment to block it on last year’s water infrastructure bill but came up eight votes short of overcoming a filibuster. Five Democrats who opposed the amendments lost their seats or retired and are being replaced by Republicans; a Warner loss would flip another vote. And Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) was not present for the vote, adding another likely supporter. But that would still leave the effort stuck at 59 votes in favor. One top GOP target that has not previously been subject to a Senate vote is EPA’s forthcoming rule expected to tighten the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone, which has been in the works for years. Most Republicans signed a letter to then-EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in 2011 expressing concerns with the rule. Landrieu, who faces a runoff next month, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) also signed the letter. Jeff Holmstead of Bracewell & Giuliani, a former EPA air chief, noted Congress may be able to block or delay the ozone rule because it is not a “legacy issue for the White House,” unlike the climate change rules. Indeed, Obama reportedly blocked EPA from tightening the standard in September 2011, suggesting he may be willing to work with Congress, where Democrats from states with heavy manufacturing or oil and gas extraction could be willing partners. “Given the fact this issue is not a presidential priority I think it’s possible we could see some legislative action, perhaps a rider,” he said. “That is not going to fundamentally change the Clean Air Act, but there are ways this standard could be delayed or softened.”

     

    Mitch McConnell Says His Top Priority Is To ‘Get The EPA Reined In’

    by Ari Phillips Posted on November 7, 2014

    McConnell has told his donors that he will work hard to thwart the Obama agenda, including pushing coal, moving forward with the Keystone XL pipeline, and stopping the EPA from doing anything to confront climate change….

     

    Science in a Republican Senate: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    By Joshua A. Krisch | November 4, 2014 Scientific American The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

    The Republican Party is widely predicted to win control of the Senate as a result of today’s midterm elections. In broadstrokes, that outcome portends a green light for the Keystone XL Pipeline, a blow to the Affordable Care Act and a push for corporate tax reform. But what would a GOP-controlled Senate mean for scientists and their research? When it comes to science (and, more importantly, funding) individual senators are perhaps less important than the committees that they run. There are 20 committees in the U.S. Senate, with responsibilities ranging from homeland security to urban development. The chairperson of each committee, appointed by the majority party, holds inordinate sway over how his or her committee votes. If Republicans take control of the Senate, we can expect a major shakeup within the ranks of these powerful committees. But, despite the conventional wisdom, conservatives aren’t always bad for science. Here are three of the senate committees that hold the most sway over science and scientific research—and what might happen to them if Republicans win the day.

    • The Good: Appropriations

      The Senate Appropriations Committee is arguably the most powerful committee. Virtually all Senate-approved funding for science must pass through Appropriations—think cash for the Food and Drug Administration, the National Science Foundation and NASA. It would be disastrous for scientific research and development if someone hostile to science were to gain control of Appropriations. Fortunately, that’s unlikely. The current chairwoman of Appropriations is Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat who has consistently opposed NASA budget cuts and recently promised that she will fight for NASA receive at least as much money in 2015 as the organization did in 2014. If Republicans win the Senate, it is likely that Thad Cochran would return to his prior post (2005-2007) as chairman of Appropriations. Cochran, too, supports increased funding for NASA, and back in 2013 he was one of the few Republicans who voted in favor of protecting ocean, coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems. In the past, he has voted for telecommunications deregulation and even advocated for an extra $18 billion toward waterway infrastructure.

      The Science-Friendly Vote: Toss up. Both Mikulski and Cochran seem pretty science-friendly.

    • The Bad: Commerce, Science and Transportation

      The Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is all about scientific legislation. This committee controls funding for green technology, aeronautical and space sciences, atmospheric and weather sciences and scientific research and development (there’s some overlap among committees). The current chairman of Commerce, Science and Transportation is Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat who thinks, according to his web site, that investing in science, technology is critical to our nation’s global leadership. Although Rockefeller did not seek reelection in 2014, his voting record has been decidedly pro-science.  He has taken major steps toward bringing federal research grants to underserved states, and he even voted in favor of providing Internet connections for public schools. It’s not a stretch to imagine a Democratic successor who operates along the same basic lines. Meanwhile, based on senate seniority, it is likely that the Republicans would appoint Ted Cruz as chairman of Commerce, Science and Transportation. Cruz is a climate skeptic who recently pushed for a reduction in NASA’s budget. It is also noteworthy that he was the public face of last year’s government shutdown, which did lasting damage to scientific research.

      The Science-Friendly Vote: Rockefeller over Cruz.

    • The Ugly: Environment and Public Works

      The Environment and Public Works Committee stands at the helm of climate change legislation and funds the Environmental Protection Agency. The current chairwoman, Barbara Boxer, famously pulled an all-nighter back in March to publicize the threat of climate change. Need we say more? If Republicans win the Senate, James Inhofe will likely take charge of Environment and Public Works. That would be disastrous for science. Inhofe is one of the loudest climate deniers in the senate, as evidenced by his book The Greatest Hoax: How The Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future and many other public and written statements. If Inhofe gains control of the Senate committee in charge of climate change legislation, that’s probably the end of climate change legislation (not that great strides have been made in the past seven years of Democratic dominance). And, global warming aside, it’s probably not a good idea to put someone who calls scientific consensus a “hoax” in charge of a Senate committee that holds the purse strings for scientific funding.

      The Science Friendly Vote: Boxer over Inhofe. Definitely.

     

    4 Ways the New Top Environment Senator Disagrees With Science

    TIME

     - ‎Nov 5, 2014‎

           

    In his 2012 book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future, the Oklahoma Republican argued that climate change science has been manufactured by liberals to scare the American public, push through anti-business …

     

     

    Shutterstock

    Meet the Senate’s New Climate Denial Caucus

    —By Tim McDonnell Mother Jones| Wed Nov. 5, 2014 2:43 PM EST

    Well, folks, it wasn’t such a great night on the climate action front. ….It probably won’t surprise you to learn that most of the Senate’s newly elected Republicans are big boosters of fossil fuels and don’t agree with the mainstream scientific consensus on global warming. Here’s an overview of their statements on climate change, ranging from a few who seem to at least partly accept to science to those who flat-out reject it….

     

    What We Can Learn From The Voting Totals Of Every Senator In The Next Congress

    by Ian Millhiser Posted on November 5, 2014 at 10:28 am Updated: November 5, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    The English language lacks superlatives strong enough to describe how bad last night was for Democrats. Republicans captured a majority in the Senate. They reelected several controversial governors. And they achieved their second “wave” election in just three election cycles. And yet, when the new, GOP-controlled Senate opens its first session next January, it will be strikingly unrepresentative of the voters who elected its members. A ThinkProgress review of the electoral results from 2010, 2012 and 2014 Senate races reveals that millions more Americans actually cast a vote for a Democratic Senate candidate than voted for a Republican candidate during the three election cycles that built the incoming Senate….

     

     

    Younger voters may make climate an issue in 2016
    Des Moines Register, Iowa

    The millions of dollars spent in Iowa and other states for candidates who support action on climate change had little effect on voters’ decisions Tuesday, experts say. The question is whether environmental activists can make it a pivotal issue in Iowa’s first-in-the-nation caucuses in 2016.

     

    Corps of Engineers releases Climate Change Adaptation, Strategic Sustainability plans

    October 31, 2014 By Dave Foster

    WASHINGTON (Oct. 31, 2014) — The United States Army Corps of Engineers today released its Climate Change Adaptation Plan and annual Strategic Sustainability Plan in response to Executive Orders 13514 and 13653. “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been factoring climate change and its impacts in to all its missions and operations for decades,” said Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army for civil works and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers senior sustainability officer. “The Corps of Engineers is working with the Obama Administration to identify and address the existing and future risks and vulnerabilities of climate change and ensure that communities and ecosystems are protected and flourish.” “We are making sustainability a part of all the decisions we make in designing, constructing, and managing water infrastructure,” she explained. “In the coming years we will reduce greenhouse gas emission, reduce non-tactical vehicle petroleum consumption, and increase renewable electricity consumption.”…

     

    Carmakers Fined $100 Million For Fudging Gas Emissions

    by Ari Phillips Posted on November 3, 2014

    On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department announced a major settlement involving automakers Hyundai and Kia over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act when reporting greenhouse gas emissions…..

     

     

    Dylan Petrohilos/ThinkProgress

    Why Oil And Gas Giants Are Trying To Buy Three Local Elections In California

    by Ari Phillips Posted on November 2, 2014 at 1:57 pm Updated: November 2, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Santa Barbara rose to prominence in the environmental movement after a massive 1969 offshore oil spill drew national attention to the issue and changed the industry forever. Since then, the city and broader region has been a leader in environmental awareness, even as it sits on massive fossil fuel deposits. With residents set to vote on an anti-fracking ballot measure Tuesday, the next evolution in that ongoing dynamic could be one of the biggest turning points yet. “It’s no surprise that international oil giants have funneled money into the anti-Measure P effort,” Lauren Hanson, vice president of the Goleta Water Board and long-time area resident, told ThinkProgress. Goleta is located immediately next to Santa Barbara. “That this is so important to them — to take over beautiful Santa Barbara County at virtually any cost — is a demonstration of cynical corporate overreaching at its worst.” They had better prepare for a long, long struggle here. Hanson said the real surprise has been that the onslaught of industry money hasn’t discouraged residents, and that even if the oil companies win this round “they had better prepare for a long, long struggle here.”

    California is famous for its ballot initiatives and if the lopsided governor’s race isn’t captivating potential voters this year, then down-ballot items should. On top of a major water initiative, Proposition 1, which would authorize a $7.12 billion bond for California’s water system, there are several local fracking measures that could have statewide and nationwide implications going forward. There are a record number of anti-fracking measures on ballots across the country this year, according to InsideClimate News. These include four Ohio towns, Denton, Texas, and Santa Barbara, San Benito Mendocino counties in California. And considering California was the third-highest crude oil producing state in 2013, interest in its anti-fracking initiatives extends far beyond state lines. For evidence of the stakes in California, look no further than the industry investment in fighting the measures. Major oil and gas companies such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Occidental Petroleum have pumped more than $7.5 million into the pro-oil coalition Californians for Energy Independence in an attempt to defeat the bans, according to the California Secretary of State’s campaign finance database.

    Most of this money went to Santa Barbara County, which has received over $5.7 million from the oil industry — more than is being spent on any congressional race in any district in California this year. Proponents of Measure P, as the Santa Barbara anti-fracking initiative is called, have raised just over $350,000. The rest of the Californians for Energy Independence cash has gone to oppose a similar ballot measure in San Benito County farther up the coast and inland. Measure P would prohibit “high intensity” oil and gas operations such as fracking, acid well stimulation treatments and cyclic steam injection. Currently, Santa Barbara County has around 1,167 active onshore wells, about a third of which use steam injection and very few, if any, of which use conventional fracking. Hanson said it’s important to note that the County has already established implementing ordinances for Measure P, to be ready if and when it passes, that offer a variety of exemptions for future drilling proposals. Therefore, this is not an outright ban on all future projects. “Measure P would make it much more difficult for high intensity petroleum operations to come into Santa Barbara County on the scale envisioned by industry players,” said Hanson. Earlier this year, a California bill that would have banned fracking while the state studied its risks was defeated in the state senate by the narrow margin of 18-16. The oil industry, including the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), spent heavily lobbying against the bill. Altogether the industry — including WSPA, Chevron, and BP — spent more than $56 million lobbying the California Legislature from 2009 through 2013.

    Water World Timothy Krantz, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Redlands, east of Los Angeles, said that communities would normally look to state or federal regulations for something like fracking that crosses political and geographical borders. Absent that leadership, local groups are attempting to exert some authority of their own as the larger debate over fracking regulations progresses, with statewide regulations probably more than a year away. ….

     

     

    Republicans, Meet Science

    By FRANK BRUNI NY Times Opinion November 5, 2014

    You two haven’t been so well acquainted. In the new, post-midterms Congress, is there hope for a more respectful relationship?

     

     

    Tom Steyer, greens have rough night at the polls

    By ANDREW RESTUCCIA | 11/5/14 12:32 AM EST Updated: 11/5/14 2:21 AM EST

    For Tom Steyer and other environmentalists, $85 million wasn’t enough to help Democrats keep the Senate blue or win more than a single governor’s mansion in Tuesday’s toughest races. The billionaire’s super PAC and other green groups saw the vast majority of their favored candidates in the battleground states go down to defeat, despite spending an unprecedented amount of money to help climate-friendly Democrats in the midterm elections….

    …”Our issues have been an important part of this election, and while they may not have been the largest part, polling clearly shows they weren’t the liabilities our opponents hoped they’d be,” Sierra Club political director Melissa Williams said. “That is momentum to build on and a clear signal to candidates in elections to come.” NextGen also fell short on the fundraising front. Steyer’s aides said in February that the billionaire hoped to spend $100 million or more on the midterms — half from his own fortune and half from outside donors. But while Steyer contributed at least $57.6 million of his own money to his super PAC, according to public filings, he was unable to match that sum with cash from other climate-minded donors. Steyer emerged as the nation’s top individual contributor for 2014, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, at least among donors whose giving is subject to public disclosure. While Democrats lost the Senate on Tuesday, NextGen, LCV, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups made the case that they had an impact on several races. In New Hampshire, the groups pummeled Republican Scott Brown over his stance on climate change and tied him to the oil industry. In Michigan, greens rallied around Peters, one of the few Democrats who consistently talked about climate change on the campaign trail. They released brutal ads tying Republican Terri Lynn Land to the Koch brothers and an unpopular pile of oil refinery byproduct in Detroit.

    The groups argued that they also made waves in states like Florida and Colorado, even though Democrats lost there.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Countries with poor marine safety records linked to oil spill vessels

    Posted: 03 Nov 2014 07:23 AM PST

    More than half of ships involved in the 100 largest oil spills of the past three decades were registered in states that consistently fail to comply with international safety and environmental standards, researchers have determined.

     

    Around 50,000 trucks drive along a freeway leaving the ports of L.A. and Long Beach every weekday.

    On L.A.’s New E-Highway, Trucks Will Hook Up For A Silent, Zero-Emission Drive

    Adele Peters November 5, 2014

    L.A.’s highway of the future could cut down on the city’s famous pollution. Every weekday, around 50,000 trucks drive back and forth along a freeway leaving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the two largest ports in the country. The diesel exhaust from those trucks is one of the reasons that the area also has the country’s worst air pollution. But that may change as the result of a new experiment, as one stretch of the freeway will be transformed into an electric road. Using the same type of overhead wires that power electric streetcars or some buses, the road will automatically charge passing trucks.

    “Essentially, it’s CO2 free,” says Matthias Schlelein, CFO for Siemens Mobility, the company that created the technology for the e-highway. “You get cleaner air, and you also have quieter traffic. Truck operators have lower energy costs.” When a truck pulls onto the electrified stretch of road, sensors on the roof will automatically detect the wires overhead and connect. If a driver wants to change lanes, the truck can quickly disconnect….

     

     

     

     

     
     

     

     

    ​Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program recognizes outstanding scholarship and encourages independent graduate level research—particularly by female and minority students—in NOAA mission-related sciences of oceanography, marine biology and maritime archaeology, including all science, engineering and resource management of ocean and coastal areas. Scholarship selections are based on academic excellence, letters of recommendations, research and career goals, as well as​
    financial need. Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarships may provide (​subject to appropriations)​
    yearly support of up to $42,000 per student (a 12-month stipend of $30,000 in addition to an education allowance of up to $12,000), and up to $10,000 of support for a 4-6 week program collaboration at a NOAA facility. Masters students may be supported for up to two years, and doctoral students for up to four years. Depending on funding, approximately three to four scholarships are awarded each year.​ Completed applications must be received by Grants.gov by December 10, 2014
    at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time
    For more information about the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program and to download a copy of this Federal Funding Opportunity, visit http://fosterscholars.noaa.gov

     

     

    WEBINAR:


    Ecosystem Vulnerability Assessment – Patterns of Climate Change Vulnerability in the Southwest
    November 18, 2014 1:00 PM PST
    Speaker Jack Triepke, US Forest Service, will discuss an ecosystem-based climate change vulnerability assessment of adequate spatial and thematic detail to support local decisions.
    The assessment methods resulted in an all-lands vulnerability dataset for upland ecosystems of Arizona and New Mexico, based on the anticipated effects of climate change in the late 21st century. Individual plant communities were analyzed and scored according to the degree of departure from their present-day climate preferences. Click here to register. 

     

     

    Transposing Extreme Rainfall to Assess Climate Vulnerability
    November 12, 3:30-4:30 PM (EST)

    Climate models predict significant increases in the magnitude and frequency of extreme rainfalls.  However, climate model projections of precipitation vary greatly across models.  For communities that have not experienced extreme storms in recent memory, useful information on their vulnerability to extreme rainfall can be obtained by hydrologic modeling based on high-resolution rainfall data from one or more extreme storms that have occurred elsewhere in the region. The presenters on this webinar have found that state and local decision makers are very receptive to using this approach to anticipate and adapt to impacts from extreme rainfall events. Register

     
     

    Making Decisions in Complex Landscapes: Headwater Stream Management Across Multiple Agencies Using Structured Decision Making November 19, 3:30-4:30 PM (EST) –

    There is growing evidence that headwater stream ecosystems are vulnerable to changing climate and land use, but their conservation is challenged by the need to address the threats at a landscape scale, often through coordination with multiple management agencies and landowners. Identifying obstacles to and opportunities for shared decision making among resource agencies and managers may lead to improvements in the selection of optimal management strategies for landscape-scale resources. This project provides an example of cooperative landscape decision making to address the conservation of headwater stream ecosystems in the face of climate change using case studies from two watersheds in the northeastern United States.
    Register

     
     

    Correlation and Climate Sensitivity of Human Health and Environmental Indicators in the Salish Sea – Swinomish Indian Tribal Community November 20, 1:00-2:00 PM (EST) –

    This webinar will discuss a project that focused on the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, whose traditional territories are particularly vulnerable to threats like sea-level rise and increased storms. These sensitivities of species and habitats to climate were cross-walked with recently developed Coast Salish community health indicators (e.g., ceremonial use, knowledge exchange, and physiological well-being). The goal of this project was to demonstrate how Indigenous Knowledge can be used in conjunction with established landscape-level conservation indicators (e.g., shellfish and water- uality) and employed to identify resource management priorities. Results will show assessments of these indicators and priorities of the Swinomish Tribe and Tsleil-Waututh Nation compared to and integrated with climate forecasts. This presentation will provide a template for how other tribal communities can use these methods to assist with climate change adaptation.
    Register

     

     

    CONFERENCES:

     

    Symposium: Breaking Through to Global Sustainability

    2:30 p.m. PT| November 11, 2014 Stanford University Cemex Auditorium Reserve seating

    Join the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and its colleagues in the water, conservation, sustainable development and public health fields for a 10th anniversary symposium: Breaking Through to Global Sustainability. Learn more about Woods’ work to advance breakthrough environmental solutions through interdisciplinary collaboration, technical innovation, cross-sector partnerships and leadership development. Panelists will commemorate Woods’ first Decade of Solutions with reflections on progress made and pathways forward to a sustainable future for people and planet.

     

    Visualizing and Analyzing Environmental Data with R
    November 18-19, 2014 Sacramento, CA

    This course is designed for participants who wish to gain beginning to intermediate skills in using R for manipulating, visualizing and analyzing their environmental data.
    It is applicable to anyone that conducts environmental monitoring or uses environmental data for research, management, or policy-making and is recommended for anyone needing to become proficient with R basics. Read More

     

    Measuring Up: How to Track and Evaluate Local Sustainability Projects – EPA Webinar
    Tuesday, November 18, 2014
    11-1:30 PST

    2:00 pm – 3:30 pm EST

    Register for this webinar

    Measuring, evaluating, and reporting on progress is an important part of local sustainability projects and programs. Tracking and analyzing results can help local entities assess program performance and success, identify specific areas for improvement or expansion, and make informed decisions about future actions. Public reporting can help generate interest in a project, promote accountability, demonstrate success, and attract political and financial support. You’ll learn about two new federal resources to help you measure, track, and report progress, based directly on the experiences of local governments across the country, and hear from one case study taking place in northwest Washington working to evaluate economic impacts of the program:

    • Emma Zinsmeister, EPA Local Climate and Energy Program:  Learn about a new methodology outlining the key steps for developing, tracking, analyzing, and reporting on performance indicators for climate and clean energy programs.
    • Ted Cochin, EPA Office of Sustainable Communities:  This presentation will focus on the Sustainable Community Indicator Catalog, providing information on specific indicators that local entities can use to measure progress toward their sustainability objectives.
    • Alex Ramel, Energy and Policy Director, Sustainable Connections:  Learn about an on-the-ground effort to measure and evaluate the economic impacts of a community energy efficiency program implemented in Bellingham and other areas of northwest Washington.

     

     

    Managing Drought
    Monday, January 12, 2015 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Sheraton Grand Sacramento

    Public Policy Institute of California

    California’s historic drought is revealing strengths and weaknesses in how we manage our precious water resources. At this half-day event—coinciding with the beginning of a new legislative session—participants will examine Australia’s millennium drought, consider climate change and future droughts in California, look back at lessons from 2014, and look forward to policy priorities for 2015. This event is made possible with funding from the California Water Foundation, an initiative of the Resources Legacy Fund.

    Please register by January 6, 2015. There is no charge to attend, but space is limited. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. This event will also be webcast live.

     

     

    2015 California Climate & Agriculture Summit  March 24 and 25, 2015
    UC Davis Conference CenterCall for Workshop and Poster Presentations   

     

    INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE  Abstract submission deadline is 1 November 2014 

    COME TO OUR HISTORIC SUMMIT 25-27 MARCH 2015

    ABSTRACT SUBMISSION (through November 1, 2014) and REGISTRATION (through January 25, 2015) NOW OPEN for Science for Parks, Parks for Science: The Next Century - A 2.5-day Summit at U.C. Berkeley March 25-27, 2015 convening natural and social scientists, managers and practitioners — 100 years after historic meetings at U.C. Berkeley helped launch the National Park Service — to rededicate a second century of science and stewardship for national parks.  This summit will feature visionary plenary lectures, strategic panel discussions on current controversies, and technical sessions of contributed paper and posters.   Keynote Speaker: E. O. Wilson.  Distinguished Plenary Speakers and Panelists include David Ackerly, Jill Baron, Steven Beissinger, Joel Berger, Edward Bernbaum, Ruth DeFries, Thomas Dietz, Josh Donlan, Holly Doremus, Ernesto Enkerlin, John Francis, David Graber, Denis Galvin, Jane Lubchenco, Gary Machlis, George Miller, Hugh Possingham, Jedediah Purdy, Nina Roberts, Mark Schwartz, Daniel Simberloff, Monica Turner, & Jennifer Wolch.

     


    National Adaptation Forum– Call for Proposals
    May 12 – 14, 2015 in St. Louis, MO

    The National Adaptation Forum is a biennial gathering of the adaptation community to foster information exchange, innovation, and mutual support for a better tomorrow. The Forum will take place from May 12 – 14, 2015 in St. Louis, MO. 
    Proposals are being accepted for Symposia, Training Sessions, Working Groups, Poster Presentations, and a Tools Cafe. 

    Click here for more information.

     

    Ninth International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE) World Congress meeting, July 9th 2015

    Coming to Portland, Oregon July 5-10, 2015! The symposium, which is held every four years, brings scientists and practitioners from around the globe together to discuss and share landscape ecology work and information. The theme of the 2015 meeting is Crossing Scales, Crossing Borders: Global Approaches to Complex Challenges.

     

     

     

    JOBS  (apologies for any duplication; thanks for passing along)

     

    • The Coastal Adaptation Program Leader (CAPL) will be responsible for executing the strategy and achieving the outcomes of Point Blue’s Protecting Our Shorelines Initiative (described below). As such, the CAPL will help natural resource managers and policy makers (including local elected officials) advance their adaptation efforts in the face of accelerating climate change, ocean acidification, increased storm frequency and intensity, habitat loss, and other stressors, leveraging Point Blue’s extensive scientific resources to enhance and protect coastal wildlife, ecosystems, and human communities. The CAPL will also develop science-based policy and natural resource management recommendations.

    • RWI ACEP Partner Biologist/Range Ecologist—POINT BLUE Rangeland Watershed Initiative (RWI) Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP) Partner Biologist/Range Ecologist; McArthur, CA Local Partnership Office.  The ACEP Partner Biologist/Range Ecologist serves as a wildlife biologist/range ecologist on the Rangeland Watershed Initiative staff and provides technical assistance to NRCS Wetland Reserve Easement Implementation Team in Northern California.  The Biologist/Ecologist is responsible for planning and applying conservation measures in all types of situations with emphasis on wildlife biology, grazing management and habitat restoration, especially for wetland wildlife species.  The applicant is also responsible for carrying out NRCS environmental planning and evaluation for conservation easement programs in the area of assignment.

       

    • Chief Development Officer
    • Informatics Engineer

     

     

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

     

    When Is It OK For Scientists To Become Political?

    October 16, 2014 1:32 AM ET Adam Frank

    Listen to the Story
    All Things Considered 3 min 8 sec

    It’s not everyday that a world famous climate scientist gets himself arrested in front of the White House. But that’s exactly what happened to James Hansen in 2011 as part of a protest against the Keystone Pipeline. In the 1980s it was Hansen’s highly respected work that helped people realize that the climate change we humans were driving was real — and really dangerous. For lots of folks, Hansen’s movement from climate scientist to climate activist made him a hero. But to others, particularly some scientists, Hansen’s role on the front lines of activism raised a profound and deeply troubling question.

    In an age where the intersection of science and politics makes daily headlines, when is it OK for scientists to become political? Researchers like Hansen are moved to action because their own studies reveal a threat — as Hansen’s does with climate change. In their eyes, civic duty demands they use their authority as scientists to advocate loudly for a resolution to that threat. Michael Mann, a climate scientist who was reluctantly pulled into a public role, likens this response to the “If You See Something Say Something” catchphrase of homeland security. As Mann wrote in The New York Times last year:

    “In my view, it is no longer acceptable for scientists to remain on the sidelines. I should know. I had no choice but to enter the fray. I was hounded by elected officials, threatened with violence and more — after a single study I co-wrote a decade and a half ago found that the Northern Hemisphere’s average warmth had no precedent in at least the past 1,000 years. Our “hockey stick” graph became a vivid centerpiece of the climate wars, and to this day, it continues to win me the enmity of those who have conflated a problem of science and society with partisan politics.”

    For Mann, the lessons of his own experience make it clear that scientists must speak out on the consequences of their own work, or watch that work be dismissed or distorted.

    “If scientists choose not to engage in the public debate, we leave a vacuum that will be filled by those whose agenda is one of short-term self-interest,” Mann wrote.

    For but other researchers, there is a distinction between communicating science’s understanding about the world and advocating for a particular response to it. The communication part is, without doubt, within the domain of scientists. But advocacy can take us into a very different and very difficult realm — the realm of policy, the realm of science and politics….

     

     

    Population boom, droughts contributed to collapse of ancient Assyrian Empire

    Posted: 05 Nov 2014 08:25 AM PST

    Researchers have drawn parallels between decline of Assyrian civilization and today’s situation in Syria and Iraq. There’s more to the decline of the once mighty ancient Assyrian Empire than just civil wars and political unrest. Archaeological, historical, and paleoclimatic evidence suggests that climatic factors and population growth might also have come into play.

     

     

    Breaking down BPA and similar pollutants with sunlight, nanoparticles and graphene

    Posted: 05 Nov 2014 07:13 AM PST

    Many pollutants with the potential to meddle with hormones — with bisphenol A, better known as BPA, as a prime example — are already common in the environment. In an effort to clean up these pollutants found in the soil and waterways, scientists are now reporting a novel way to break them down by recruiting help from nanoparticles and light.

     

    Vegan diet best for weight loss even with carbohydrate consumption, study finds

    Posted: 06 Nov 2014 07:17 AM PST

    People shed more weight on an entirely plant based diet, even if carbohydrates are also included, a study has concluded. Other benefits of eating a vegan diet include decreased levels of saturated and unsaturated fat, lower BMIs, and improved macro nutrients….Weight loss was not the only positive outcome for participants in the strictly vegan group. They also showed the greatest amount of decrease in their fat and saturated fat levels at the two and six month checks, had lower BMIs, and improved macro nutrients more than other diets. Eschewing all animal products appears to be key for these positive results. “I personally was surprised that the pesco-vegetarian group didn’t fare better with weight loss. In the end, their loss was no different than the semi-vegetarian or omnivorous groups,” McGrievy said.

     

    Mediterranean diets have lasting health benefits

    Posted: 06 Nov 2014 05:26 AM PST

    The health benefits of switching to a Mediterranean style diet and upping the amount of time spent exercising for a period of just eight weeks can still be seen a year after stopping the regime, a new study has shown.

     

     

     

     

     

    A cartoon by Kathy Zhang illustrates the asymmetrical nature of the fight over climate policy. Stasis is easy. Credit Kathy Zhang from: One Factor Blunting Impact of Green Spending on Election: Inertia By Andrew C. Revkin NY Times November 5, 2014 4:18 pm

     


     

     


     


     




    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/

     

     





     

     

     

    ————

    Ellie Cohen, President and CEO

    Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO)

    3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 11, Petaluma, CA 94954

    707-781-2555 x318

     

    www.pointblue.org  | Follow Point Blue on Facebook!

     

    Point Blue—Conservation science for a healthy planet.