Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Ellie Cohen, President and CEO, Point Blue Conservation Science

Archive: Nov 2012

  1. Conservation Science News November 30, 2012

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    Highlight of the Week – Ocean Acidification

    1-ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED

    2-CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

    3-POLICY

    4-RESOURCES and REFERENCES

    5- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

    6-OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

    7-IMAGES OF THE WEEK

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    Highlight of the Week-

    What’s eating the sea butterfly? CO2, study says

    Phys.org November 25, 2012

    Rising acidity is eating away the shells of tiny snails, known as “sea butterflies” that live in the seas around Antarctica, leaving them vulnerable to predators and disease, scientists said Sunday. The study presents rare evidence of living creatures suffering the results of ocean acidification caused by rising carbon dioxide levels from fossil fuel burning, the British Antarctic Survey said in a statement. “The finding supports predictions that the impact of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and food webs may be significant.” The tiny snail, named for two wing-like appendices, does not necessarily die as a result of losing its shell, but it becomes an easier target for fish and bird predators, as well as infection. This may have a follow-through effect on other parts of the food chain, of which they form a core element.

    The world’s oceans absorb more than a quarter of man-made carbon dioxide emissions, which lower the sea water pH. Since the beginning of the industrial era, our oceans have become 30 percent more acidic, reaching an acidity peak not seen in at least 55 million years, scientists say. Scientists discovered the effects of acidification on the sea butterflies from samples taken around the Scotia Sea region of the Southern Ocean in February 2008.

    Extensive dissolution of live pteropods in the Southern Ocean,
    Nature Geoscience
    (2012) doi:10.1038/ngeo1635

    Abstract: The carbonate chemistry of the surface ocean is rapidly changing with ocean acidification, a result of human activities. In the upper layers of the Southern Ocean, aragonite—a metastable form of calcium carbonate with rapid dissolution kinetics—may become undersaturated by 2050. Aragonite undersaturation is likely to affect aragonite-shelled organisms, which can dominate surface water communities in polar regions. Here we present analyses of specimens of the pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica that were extracted live from the Southern Ocean early in 2008. We sampled from the top 200 m of the water column, where aragonite saturation levels were around 1, as upwelled deep water is mixed with surface water containing anthropogenic CO2. Comparing the shell structure with samples from aragonite-supersaturated regions elsewhere under a scanning electron microscope, we found severe levels of shell dissolution in the undersaturated region alone. According to laboratory incubations of intact samples with a range of aragonite saturation levels, eight days of incubation in aragonite saturation levels of 0.94–1.12 produces equivalent levels of dissolution. As deep-water upwelling and CO2 absorption by surface waters is likely to increase as a result of human activities, we conclude that upper ocean regions where aragonite-shelled organisms are affected by dissolution are likely to expand.

     

    Washington state confronts ocean acidification

    View Photo Gallery —

    Ocean acidification threatens U.S. fisheries: Human-generated carbon emissions are making the ocean more acidic, which has become a cause for concern to the fishing industry and scientists

    By Juliet Eilperin, Tuesday, November 27, 1:34 PM Washington Post

    Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) ordered state agencies on Tuesday to take steps to address the ocean’s increasing acidity, making it the first state to adopt a policy to address what scientists describe as a growing environmental concern. Ocean acidification poses a threat to the state’s $270 million shellfish industry, as well as to critical habitat off its shores.
    The order signed by Gregoire, whose term will end in January, calls on the state to invest more money in scientific research, curb nutrient runoff from land and push for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions on a regional, national and global scale. It accepts the recommendations that a blue-ribbon panel issued Tuesday on how to assess and limit the effects of ocean acidification. The group was co-chaired by former Environmental Protection Agency administrator William D. Ruckelshaus and former Gregoire chief of staff Jay Manning. “Let’s get to work,” Gregoire told an audience at the Seattle Aquarium, adding that she would propose that the legislature reallocate $3.3 million in state funding to pay for research and other actions. “Let’s lead the world in addressing this global challenge.” Ocean acidification stems from the sea’s absorption of human-generated carbon emissions. The ocean absorbs 30 percent of the carbon dioxide put into the air through fossil fuel burning. This triggers a chemical reaction that produces hydrogen, thereby lowering the water’s pH. The ocean is becoming more acidic worldwide, but certain regions are affected more than others because local factors such as ocean currents or farm runoff can intensify the impact. Washington policymakers have focused on the problem for several years because increasingly corrosive waters off the state’s shores threaten oyster-farming operations. “Washington’s moving not by choice but out of necessity,” Manning said in an interview. “Ocean acidification came and found us.”… California has commissioned a panel on ocean acidification, and officials in states including Alaska, Maryland and Oregon are studying its impact. Scientists are just beginning to document how the change in the ocean’s pH — which is 0.1 lower, or 30 percent more acidic, than pre-industrial levels — is affecting marine organisms worldwide. On Sunday, American and British researchers published a study in the journal Nature Geoscience showing that the shells of snails essential to the marine food web are dissolving off Antarctica because of more corrosive seas….

     

     

     

     

    • ECOLOGY

     

     

    As part of NRCS’s Conservation Effects Assessment Program, this paper is a collaborative product of PRBO Conservation Science, Humboldt State University, and USGS.  PRBO’s primary role was in advising and collecting the avian data used in the analysis.  Furthermore, a subset of the data used came from PRBO’s collaborative Avian Monitoring on Private Lands project (a.k.a. AMPL).

    Diversity 2012, 4(4), 396-418; doi:10.3390/d4040396

    Climate, Management and Habitat Associations of Avian Fauna in Restored Wetlands of California’s Central Valley, USA

    Abstract: The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) is one of several programs implemented by the United States Department of Agriculture to facilitate natural resource management on private lands. Since the WRP’s inception approximately 29,000 ha in California’s Central Valley (CCV) have been restored. However until now, actual benefits of the program to wildlife have never been evaluated. Hydrology in the CCV has been heavily modified and WRP wetlands are managed primarily to support wintering waterfowl. We surveyed over 60 WRP easements in 2008 and 2009 to quantify avian use and categorized bird species into 11 foraging guilds. We detected over 200 bird species in 2008 and 119 species in 2009, which is similar to or higher than numbers observed on other managed sites in the same area. We found that actively managed WRP wetlands support more waterfowl than sites under low or intermediate management, which is consistent with intended goals. Despite reported water shortages, greater upland and un-restored acreage in the southern CCV, WRP wetlands support large numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds, particularly in the early fall months. This is probably due to the severe lack of alternative habitat such as wildlife friendly crops at appropriate stages of the migration cycle. Improved access to water resources for hydrological management would greatly enhance waterfowl use in the southern CCV.

     

    Does human transformation of land threaten future sustainability?
    (November 27, 2012)
    Social and physical scientists have long been concerned about the effects of humans on Earth’s surface — in part through deforestation, encroachment of urban areas onto traditionally agricultural lands, and erosion of soils — and the implications these changes have on Earth’s ability to provide for an ever-growing population. A new article presents examples of land transformation by humans and documents some of the effects of these changes.
    Researchers Roger Hooke of the University of Maine, USA, and José F. Martín-Duque and Javier Pedraza of Complutense University, Spain, examine factors such as available agricultural land area and discuss some of the implications of their findings in light of human population growth and its relationship to planetary resources. Overall, they find that just over 50% of Earth’s total land surface has been modified by human activity. Because many of these modifications also result in reduction of land available for agriculture — either by degradation of land quality by processes such as soil erosion, or by transforming agriculture lands to urban uses — Hooke and colleagues argue that these changes to our planet’s land surface also influence the ability of these same lands to sustain local, regional, and, ultimately, global population.
    Comparing projections of future changes in land-use with projections of population growth leads them to also suggest that human population may be entering, or already in, a state of “overshoot” — where the needs of the present population exceed the long-term carrying capacity of a region. Solutions may not be easy to arrive at, but would need to involve a combination of efforts aimed to reduce demand for resources, develop new technical solutions to resource limitations, and to reduce the rate of growth of population.… > full story

     

    Roger LeB et al. Land transformation by humans: A review. GSA Today, 2012 DOI: 10.1130/GSATG151A.1

     

     

    Human disturbances keep elk on high alert
    (November 28, 2012) — Researchers have discovered that elk are more frequently and more easily disturbed by human behavior such as ATV drivers than by their natural predators like bears and wolves. … > full story

     

     

    Researcher Tests Powerful New Tool to Advance Ecology, Conservation

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 28, 2012) — A new University of Florida study shows ecologists may have been missing crucial information from animal bones for more than 150 years.

    The study featured on the cover of the November issue of Ecology shows animal bone remains provide high-quality geographical data across an extensive time frame. The research may be used to identify regions of habitat for the conservation of threatened species. Charles Darwin first noted the importance of studying where animal bones lie on the landscape in 1860, but the topic has since become largely lost to scientists trying to protect and conserve native wildlife. By documenting accumulations of elk bones and antlers on the landscape of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, study author Joshua Miller identified areas critical for the species’ survival during spring and winter. “This is fundamental stuff, because for a long time the common knowledge was that bones only lasted a few years on the landscape,” said Miller, an assistant scientist at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus and Fenneman assistant research professor at the University of Cincinnati. “It turns out they last a lot longer and surveys of bones on landscapes offer a new tool for conservation and management — one that allows us to collect decades of biological data in a single field season.”

    Walking across Yellowstone Park, Miller documented elk skeletal remains and determined the bones record the same seasonal distributions as aerial surveys of living elk.

    Ecologists typically gather information for conservation by monitoring wild animals, a task requiring years of financial support and countless hours of observation by wildlife biologists. A long-term study in ecology consists of at least 10 to 20 years of census data. However, because some bones can survive on some landscapes for hundreds of years, they may include data from time periods beyond the reaches of a traditional ecological study, including historical insight often missing from scientists’ knowledge of ecosystems, Miller said….

     

     

    Ancient microbes found living beneath the icy surface of Antarctic lake
    (November 26, 2012) — A pioneering study reveals, for the first time, a viable community of bacteria that survives and ekes out a living in a dark, salty and subfreezing environment beneath nearly 20 meters of ice in one of Antarctica’s most isolated lakes. … > full story

     

    ‘Devil birds’ moving in at Lake Merced

    November 26, 2012

    A gang of cantankerous flying aliens known to some avian aficionados as “devil birds” have been spotted flitting around San Francisco’s Lake Merced acting like they belong.  The crow-sized creatures, which ornithologists know as great-tailed grackles, are native to Latin America and the southern United States, but the aggressive birds have recently been moving west, gobbling up the eggs of other birds and threatening to make a nuisance of themselves…

     

    Rescuing Ecosystems

    Today, approximately 70 percent of the world’s ecosystems have been altered to some degree, and the whole Earth may be approaching a tipping point toward an uncertain regime as a consequence of the accelerated global loss of biodiversity and ecosystem functionality. David Moreno-Mateos believes ecosystem restoration and creation is necessary, now more than ever before, to slow and, where possible, reverse that loss. But devising successful restoration strategies can be tricky.

     

     

     

    • CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

     

     

     

     

    Human-Caused Climate Change Signal Emerges from the Noise

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 29, 2012) — By comparing simulations from 20 different computer models to satellite observations, Lawrence Livermore climate scientists and colleagues from 16 other organizations have found that tropospheric and stratospheric temperature changes are clearly related to human activities…The new climate model simulations analyzed by the team will form the scientific backbone of the upcoming 5th assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is due out in 2014. In both satellite observations and the computer model simulations of historical climate change, the lower stratosphere cools markedly over the past 33 years. This cooling is primarily a response to the human-caused depletion of stratospheric ozone. The observations and model simulations also show a common pattern of large-scale warming of the lower troposphere, with largest warming over the Arctic, and muted warming (or even cooling) over Antarctica. Tropospheric warming is mainly driven by human-caused increases in well-mixed greenhouse gases. “It’s very unlikely that purely natural causes can explain these distinctive patterns of temperature change,” said Laboratory atmospheric scientist Benjamin Santer, who is lead author of the paper appearing in the Nov. 29 online edition of the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “No known mode of natural climate variability can cause sustained, global-scale warming of the troposphere and cooling of the lower stratosphere.”….

    Benjamin D. Santer, Jeffrey F. Painter, Carl A. Mears, Charles Doutriaux, Peter Caldwell, Julie M. Arblaster, Philip J. Cameron-Smith, Nathan P. Gillett, Peter J. Gleckler, John Lanzante, Judith Perlwitz, Susan Solomon, Peter A. Stott, Karl E. Taylor, Laurent Terray, Peter W. Thorne, Michael F. Wehner, Frank J. Wentz, Tom M. L. Wigley, Laura J. Wilcox, and Cheng-Zhi Zou. Identifying human influences on atmospheric temperature. PNAS, November 29, 2012 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1210514109

     

    Is Global Warming Happening Faster Than Expected? [Preview] subs required…

    Loss of ice, melting of permafrost and other climate effects are occurring at an alarming pace

    By John Carey Scientific American November 30, 2012

    Over the past decade scientists thought they had figured out how to protect humanity from the worst dangers of climate change. Keeping planetary warming below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) would, it was thought, avoid such perils as catastrophic sea-level rise and searing droughts. Staying below two degrees C would require limiting the level of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to 450 parts per million (ppm), up from today’s 395 ppm and the preindustrial era’s 280 ppm. Now it appears that the assessment was too optimistic. The latest data from across the globe show that the planet is changing faster than expected. More sea ice around the Arctic Ocean is disappearing than had been forecast. Regions of permafrost across Alaska and Siberia are spewing out more methane, the potent greenhouse gas, than models had predicted. Ice shelves in West Antarctica are breaking up more quickly than once thought possible, and the glaciers they held back on adjacent land are sliding faster into the sea. Extreme weather events, such as floods and the heat wave that gripped much of the U.S. in the summer of 2012 are on the rise, too. The conclusion? “As scientists, we cannot say that if we stay below two degrees of warming everything will be fine,” says Stefan Rahmstorf, a professor of physics of the oceans at the University of Potsdam in Germany.

     

     

    Study: Sea Levels Rising 60% Faster Than Projected, Planet Keeps Warming As Expected

    Posted: 28 Nov 2012 09:14 AM PST

    A new study, “Comparing climate projections to observations up to 2011,” confirms that climate change is happening as fast — and in some cases faster — than climate models had projected. The news release explains: The rate of sea-level rise in the past decades is greater than projected by the latest assessments of the IPCC, while global temperature increases in good agreement with its best estimates. This is shown by a study now published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and his colleagues compare climate projections to actual observations from 1990 up to 2011. That sea level is rising faster than expected could mean that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) sea-level rise projections for the future may be biased low as well, their results suggest. As Dr. Rahmstorf notes, “the new findings highlight that the IPCC is far from being alarmist and in fact in some cases rather underestimates possible risks.”

    The oceans are rising 60 per cent faster than the IPCC’s latest best estimates, according to the new research. The researchers compared those estimates to satellite data of observed sea-level rise. ” Satellites have a much better coverage of the globe than tide gauges and are able to measure much more accurately by using radar waves and their reflection from the sea surface,” explains Anny Cazenave from LEGOS. While the IPCC projected sea-level rise to be at a rate of 2 mm per year, satellite data recorded a rate of 3.2 mm per year…..As sea level rises, storm surges worsen, coastal populations are put at risk, and salt water infiltrates rich deltas. For more on likely future sea level rise, see “New Studies on Sea Level Rise Make Clear We Must Act Now” and “JPL bombshell: Polar ice sheet mass loss is speeding up, on pace for 1 foot sea level rise by 2050.”

    On the subject of global warming, the release explains: “Global temperature continues to rise at the rate that was projected in the last two IPCC Reports. This shows again that global warming has not slowed down or is lagging behind the projections,” Rahmstorf says. Five global land and ocean temperature series were averaged and compared to IPCC projections by the scientists from Potsdam, the Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales (LEGOS) in France and the US based Tempo Analytics. To allow for a more accurate comparison with projections, the scientists accounted for short-term temperature variations due to El Niño events, solar variability and volcanic eruptions. The results confirm that global warming, which was predicted by scientists in the 1960s and 1970s as a consequence of increasing greenhouse concentrations, continues unabated at a rate of 0.16 °C per decade and follows IPCC projections closely.

     

    Comparing climate projections to observations up to 2011

    OPEN ACCESS

    Stefan Rahmstorf1, Grant Foster2 and Anny Cazenave3

    Stefan Rahmstorf et al 2012 Environ. Res. Lett.
    7 044035 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/7/4/044035  Published 27 November 2012

    Abstract

    We analyse global temperature and sea-level data for the past few decades and compare them to projections published in the third and fourth assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The results show that global temperature continues to increase in good agreement with the best estimates of the IPCC, especially if we account for the effects of short-term variability due to the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, volcanic activity and solar variability. The rate of sea-level rise of the past few decades, on the other hand, is greater than projected by the IPCC models. This suggests that IPCC sea-level projections for the future may also be biased low.

    U.N. Agency Says 2012 Ranks Among Hottest Years

    By NICK CUMMING-BRUCE Published: November 28, 2012

    GENEVA — This year has ranked among the nine warmest since records began more than 160 years ago, continuing a trend for the planet that is increasing the dangers of extreme weather events, according to United Nations meteorologists. “It confirms the trend towards a warmer planet,” Michel Jarraud, head of the World Meteorological Organization at the United Nations, said in Geneva on Wednesday as he delivered a provisional assessment intended to inform policy makers and negotiators attending the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar. The final judgment on 2012 will come in March, but Mr. Jarraud said that meteorologists were not observing any major events that would greatly alter the preliminary findings. “Climate change is taking place before our eyes and will continue to do so as a result of concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which have risen constantly and again reached new records,” he added in a prepared statement. Among the most conspicuous evidence of climate change associated with global warming was the “alarming” rate at which Arctic ice had melted during the summer months, he said. The melting this year occurred at a much faster rate than in 2011 and outpaced the predictions of climate experts on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, he said.

    By September, the level of Arctic ice was the lowest since satellite records began and had shrunk by nearly half — an area nearly the size of India — below the average minimum level in the 20 years before 2000, the organization reported. The ice will reform in the winter but will be thinner than before and more vulnerable to further melting, Mr. Jarraud warned. “The trend is not only continuing but accelerating,” he said. “The more it melts, the faster it will melt.” The ice melt will contribute to rising sea levels that are already 20 centimeters, or nearly 8 inches, higher than a century ago, Mr. Jarraud said, posing added risks in the event of extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy would have had less impact on New York if it had occurred 100 years ago when sea levels were lower, he said. After a chilly start to 2012, average temperatures from January to October were 0.45 degrees Celsius, or 0.81 degrees Fahrenheit, above the average from 1961 to 1990, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s findings. A rise of only one degree Celsius was sufficient to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, Mr. Jarraud said.

    Polar Ice Sheets Shrinking Worldwide, Study Confirms

    National Geographic November 29, 2012

    The polar ice sheets are indeed shrinking—and fast, according to a comprehensive new study on climate change. And the effects, according to an international team, are equally clear—sea levels are rising faster than predicted, which could bring about disastrous effects for people and wildlife. Rising seas would increase the risk of catastrophic flooding like that caused by Hurricane Sandy last month in New York and New Jersey. Environmental damage may include widespread erosion, contamination of aquifers and crops, and harm to marine life. And in the long term, rising seas may force hundreds of millions of people who live along the coast to abandon their homes. By reconciling nearly two decades of often conflicting satellite data into one format—in other words, comparing apples to apples—the new study, published in the journal Science, made a more confident estimate of what’s called ice sheet mass balance…..

     

    Nineteen Atlantic tropical storms 3 consecutive years: a very rare event

    By Dr. Jeff Masters Published: 4:13 PM GMT on November 28, 2012

    The 2012 Atlantic hurricane season closes this Friday with another top-five tally for named storms–nineteen. This is the third consecutive year with nineteen named storms in the Atlantic, which is a remarkable level of activity for a three-year period. The closest comparable three-year period of activity occurred during 2003 – 2004 – 2005, when each season had fifteen-plus named storms. Since 1851, only two seasons–2005 (28 named storms) and 1933 (20 named storms)–have been busier than 2010, 2011, and 2012…..However, there are no previous occurrences of three consecutive years with at least twelve long-lived tropical storms, so 2010, 2011, and 2012 still represent an unprecedented level of tropical storm activity in the historical record, and we would expect such an event to occur randomly about once every 157 years. That’s a pretty rare event, and it is possible that climate change, combined with the fact we are in an active hurricane period that began in 1995, contributed to this rare event.

    ‘Exceptional’ Drought Conditions Expand In The U.S., Likely Persisting Through February

    By Stephen Lacey on Nov 30, 2012 at 10:16 am

    The stubborn U.S. drought that hit the Southeast and Midwest hard this summer isn’t letting up. According to the latest drought monitor, conditions have worsened slightly across the country, with “exceptional drought” conditions expanding from 38 percent of the lower-48 states to 42 percent. Those conditions could last into February.

     

     

    A tranquil and record-warm Thanksgiving for much of the U.S.

    By Dr. Jeff Masters

    Published: 5:35 PM GMT on November 23, 2012

    Celebrations of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States in 2012 were aided by some of the most tranquil travel weather ever seen on what is America’s busiest travel week. Unusually warm and precipitation-free conditions prevailed over almost the entire nation on Wednesday and Thursday, with many locations in the Midwest reporting their warmest Thanksgiving Day on record. At least three cities set records for their warmest temperature ever recorded so late in the year: Valentine, Nebraska (76° on Wednesday); Rochester, Minnesota (70° on Wednesday); and Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (65° on Thursday.) While the quiet weather was a boon for travelers, the lack of rain in the Midwest allowed the nation’s worst drought since 1954 to expand; the U.S. Drought Monitor reported that the area of the contiguous U.S. covered by moderate or greater drought expanded by 1% to 60% this week. This reversed a seven-week trend of slowly decreasing drought that began on September 25 and extended until November 13, when the area covered by drought declined from 65% to 59%. The latest ten-day forecasts from the GFS and ECMWF models show much below average chances of precipitation across more 90% of the U.S., including the drought regions. These dry conditions will allow the drought to expand over the next two weeks, and potentially cover 65% of the contiguous U.S. again by mid-December. The next chance for significant rains in excess of one inch in the Midwest will not occur until December 2, at the earliest. The lack of rain will potentially cause serious trouble for barge traffic on the Mississippi River by December 10, when the river may fall below the level of -5 feet at St. Louis needed to allow barges to not scrape bottom.


     

     

    Pine beetles contributing to climate change: study

    Vancouver Sun  - ‎November 26, 2012‎

    Newly published research suggests mountain pine beetles have become so widespread that they’re not just benefiting from global warming, they’re starting to contribute to it. The mountain pine beetle infestation, which has spread over about 20 per cent of the total area of British Columbia, is now contributing to climate change, on study suggests.
    Newly published research suggests mountain pine beetles have become so widespread that they’re not just benefiting from global warming, they’re starting to contribute to it.
    “The effects of climate change cascade,” said Holly Maness, whose paper was published Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience. “Previous studies have shown that climate change allowed the beetle to flourish. But our work shows that beetle infestations in turn feed back into climate.” Scientists have concluded the gradually warming climate has allowed the tree-killing beetle to spread into forests it used to be frozen out of. The report quotes figures suggesting that over the last decade, the bugs have spread over about 20 per cent of the total area of British Columbia, making it one of the largest ecological disturbances ever recorded. The B.C. government has spent $884 million since 2001 attempting to manage the beetle attack and mitigate the economic impact on logging and resource-reliant communities. Maness, an earth scientist working at the University of Toronto, decided to study how turning about 170,000 square kilometres of green forest into grey, leafless stands of dead trees would affect the regional climate. Using temperature data from satellites, she and her team concluded that beetle-ravaged forests were, on average, one degree warmer during the summer than healthy forests.
    The reason? Tree sweat, or rather, the lack thereof. “Trees sweat to help cool themselves in the same way that humans do,” said Maness….

     

     

    How climate change could affect entire forest ecosystems
    (November 28, 2012) — The fog comes in, and a drop of water forms on a pine needle, rolls down the needle, and falls to the forest floor. The process is repeated over and over, on each pine needle of every tree in a forest of Bishop pines on Santa Cruz Island, off the coast of Santa Barbara. That fog drip helps the entire forest ecosystem stay alive. Thousands of years ago, in cooler and wetter times, Bishop pine trees are thought to have proliferated along the West Coast of the U.S. and Mexico. Now, stratus clouds — the low-altitude clouds known locally as “June gloom” — help keep the trees growing on Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island, and on one island off Baja California. Other than these locations, Bishop pine trees grow only farther north in California where it is cooler and wetter. Mariah S. Carbone, first author of a new paper, titled “Cloud Shading and Fog Drip Influence the Metabolism of a Coastal Pine Ecosystem,” and her co-authors, studied the influence of clouds on the largest Bishop pine forest of Santa Cruz Island. Carbone is a postdoctoral fellow with UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). Their study was published in the journal Global Change Biology. “When people think about climate change, they’re often thinking about temperature and precipitation,” said Carbone. “When you think about precipitation, it’s rain and snow, depending on where you are. What this study showed is that you can have really important water inputs coming from clouds that influence the carbon cycle.”… The finding that summer fog strongly impacts carbon cycling highlights the need for improved understanding of whether we should expect coastal summer cloud behavior to change in a warmer world,” said second author A. Park Williams, a former graduate student in UCSB’s Geography Department, now at Los Alamos National Laboratory. “A change in summer fogginess could produce temperature, moisture, and carbon feedbacks in coastal ecosystems that easily swamp out the effects expected from increased greenhouse gases alone,” said Williams.> full story

     

    Mariah S. Carbone, A. Park Williams, Anthony R. Ambrose, Claudia M. Boot, Eliza S. Bradley, Todd E. Dawson, Sean M. Schaeffer, Joshua P. Schimel, Christopher J. Still. Cloud shading and fog drip influence the metabolism of a coastal pine ecosystem. Global Change Biology, 2012; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12054

     

    Increasing drought stress challenges vulnerable hydraulic system of plants, professor finds
    (November 27, 2012) — The hydraulic system of trees is so finely-tuned that predicted increases in drought due to climate change may lead to catastrophic failure in many species. A recent paper finds that those systems in plants around the globe are operating at the top of their safety threshold, making forest ecosystems vulnerable to increasing environmental stress. … > full story

     

     

    Fish Ear Bones Point to Climate Impacts

    CSIRO AUSTRALIA Nov 28 2012

    Scientists believe that fish ear bones and their distinctive growth rings can offer clues to the likely impacts of climate change in aquatic environments.

    The earbones, or ‘otoliths’, help fish detect movement and orient themselves in the water. Otoliths set down annual growth rings that can be measured and counted to estimate the age and growth rates of fish. “Otoliths can form the basis of new techniques for modelling fish growth, productivity and distribution in future environments,” said Dr John Morrongiello of CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans Flagship, lead author of a paper published online in Nature Climate Change yesterday. “They are widely used to support fishery stock assessments, and are beginning to be used to measure and predict ecological responses to ocean warming and climate change. “Millions of otoliths are archived in research laboratories and museums worldwide, and many fish species live for decades and some, such as orange roughy, live for up to 150 years. “Their otoliths record variations in growth rates that reflect environmental conditions. Longer-lived fish and older samples take us back as far as the 1800s.”

    ….. “We will use otoliths to investigate the environmental drivers of fish growth for many species around Australia,” Dr Morrongiello said.”This will allow us to generate a continental-scale evaluation of climate change impacts on Australia’s fishes and help to guide the conservation and management of our aquatic environments into the future.” Dr Thresher said there had already been extensive use of hard part archives from corals to reflect on climate variability, such as El Niño events, and to reconstruct environmental histories. “Any change identified in growth and age maturity, especially of commercially-important species, clearly has implications for forecasting future stock states and the sustainable management of fisheries,” Dr Thresher said. “A better ability to predict such change will greatly enhance our ability to forecast, manage and adapt to the impacts of climate change in marine and freshwater systems.”….

     

    Aquatic biochronologies and climate change

    John R. Morrongiello, Ronald E. Thresher & David C. Smith Nature Climate Change 2, 849–857 (2012) doi:10.1038/nclimate1616 Published online: 27 November 2012

    Historical evidence provides essential context for models predicting the biological impacts of climate change. Such long-term data sets are relatively common for terrestrial taxa and environments, but sparse for aquatic systems. Aquatic biochronologies — generated from information recorded in the hard parts of fish, molluscs and corals that are archived in their millions worldwide — can provide valuable long-term ecological insights into marine and freshwater environments. These resources are, however, at present under-utilized in the measurement and prediction of ecological responses to climate change, despite their potential to provide unprecedented levels of spatial and temporal detail in aquatic environments.

     

    Ecosystem carbon storage: Squeezing the Arctic carbon balloon
    pp841 - 842

    Evan S. Kane doi:10.1038/nclimate1764 NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE
    The advancement of trees into Arctic tundra can increase total aboveground carbon storage. A study now shows, however, that greater plant growth also enhances belowground decomposition, resulting in a net loss of carbon from the ecosystem…..

     

     

    Embracing data ‘noise’ brings Greenland’s complex ice melt into focus
    (November 27, 2012) — Researchers have developed an enhanced approach to capturing changes on the Earth’s surface via satellite could provide a more accurate account of how geographic areas are changing as a result of natural and human factors. In a first application, the technique revealed sharper-than-ever details about Greenland’s massive ice sheet, including that the rate at which it is melting might be accelerating more slowly than predicted. … > full story


    Alaska’s Iconic Columbia Glacier Expected to Stop Retreating in 2020

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 2012) — The wild and dramatic cascade of ice into the ocean from Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, an iconic glacier featured in the documentary “Chasing Ice” and one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world, will cease around 2020, according to a study by the University of Colorado Boulder A computer model predicts the retreat of the Columbia Glacier will stop when the glacier reaches a new stable position — roughly 15 miles upstream from the stable position it occupied prior to the 1980s…” The imminent finish of the retreat, or recession of the front of the glacier, has surprised scientists and highlights the difficulties of trying to estimate future rates of sea level rise, Colgan said. “Many people are comfortable thinking of the glacier contribution to sea level rise as this nice predictable curve into the future, where every year there is a little more sea level rise, and we can model it out for 100 or 200 years,” Colgan said. The team’s findings demonstrate otherwise, however. A single glacier’s contribution to sea level rise can “turn on” and “turn off” quite rapidly, over a couple of years, with the precise timing of the life cycle being difficult to forecast, he said. Presently, the majority of sea level rise comes from the global population of glaciers. Many of these glaciers are just starting to retreat, and some will soon cease to retreat. “The variable nature and speed of the life cycle among glaciers highlights difficulties in trying to accurately predict the amount of sea level rise that will occur in the decades to come,” Colgan said.

    ….The batch of outputs that most accurately reproduced the well-documented history of retreat was run into the future to predict the changes the Columbia Glacier will most likely experience until the year 2100. The researchers found that around 2020 the terminus of the glacier will retreat into water that is sufficiently shallow to provide a stable position through 2100 by slowing the rate of iceberg production. The speediness of the glacier’s retreat is due to the unique nature of tidewater glaciers, Colgan said. When warming temperatures melt the surface of a land glacier, the land glacier only loses its mass by run-off. But in tidewater glaciers, the changes in ice thickness resulting from surface melt can create striking changes in ice flow, triggering an additional dynamic process for retreat….. Colgan next plans to attempt to use similar models to predict when the Greenland glaciers — currently the major contributors to sea level rise — will “turn off” and complete their retreats. The future for the Columbia Glacier, however, looks bleak. “I think the hope was that once we saw climate change happening, we could act to prevent some irreversible consequences,” Colgan said, “but now we are only about eight years out from this retreat finishing — it is really sad. There is virtually no chance of the Columbia Glacier recovering its pre-retreat dimensions on human time-scales.”….

     

    Thawing of Permafrost Expected to Cause Significant Additional Global Warming, Not Yet Accounted for in Climate Predictions

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 27, 2012) — Permafrost covering almost a quarter of the northern hemisphere contains 1,700 gigatonnes of carbon, twice that currently in the atmosphere, and could significantly amplify global warming should thawing accelerate as expected, according to a new report
    released November 27 by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). Warming permafrost can also radically change ecosystems and cause costly infrastructural damage due to increasingly unstable ground, the report says. Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost seeks to highlight the potential hazards of carbon dioxide and methane emissions from warming permafrost, which have not thus far been included in climate-prediction modelling. The science on the potential impacts of warming permafrost has only begun to enter the mainstream in the last few years, and as a truly “emerging issue” could not have been included in climate change modelling to date.

    …. “Permafrost is one of the keys to the planet’s future because it contains large stores of frozen organic matter that, if thawed and released into the atmosphere, would amplify current global warming and propel us to a warmer world,” said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “Its potential impact on the climate, ecosystems and infrastructure has been neglected for too long,” he added. “This report seeks to communicate to climate-treaty negotiators, policy makers and the general public the implications of continuing to ignore the challenges of warming permafrost.”….

    Most of the current permafrost formed during or since the last ice age and extends to depths of more than 700 meters in parts of northern Siberia and Canada. Permafrost consists of an active layer of up to two metres in thickness, which thaws each summer and refreezes each winter, and the permanently frozen soil beneath. Should the active layer increase in thickness due to warming, huge quantities of organic matter stored in the frozen soil would begin to thaw and decay, releasing large amounts of CO₂ and methane into the atmosphere. Once this process begins, it will operate in a feedback loop known as the permafrost carbon feedback, which has the effect of increasing surface temperatures and thus accelerating the further warming of permafrost — a process that would be irreversible on human timescales…..

    Recommendations

    The report issues the following specific policy recommendations to address the potential economic, social and environmental impacts of permafrost degradation in a warming climate:

    • Commission a Special Report on Permafrost Emissions: The IPCC may consider preparing a special assessment report on how carbon dioxide and methane emissions from warming permafrost would influence global climate to support climate change policy discussions and treaty negotiations.
    • Create National Permafrost Monitoring Networks: To adequately monitor permafrost, individual countries may consider taking over operation of monitoring sites within their borders, increasing funding, standardizing the measurements and expanding coverage. This applies particularly to countries with the most permafrost: Russia, Canada, China and the United States. The International Permafrost Association should continue to coordinate development and the national networks should remain part of the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost.
    • Plan for Adaptation: Nations with substantial permafrost, such as those mentioned above, may consider evaluating the potential risks, damage and costs of permafrost degradation to critical infrastructure. Most nations currently do not have such plans, which will help policy makers, national planners and scientists quantify costs and risks associated with permafrost degradation.

    UNEP report: http://www.unep.org/pdf/permafrost.pdf

     

     

    How Diversity Helps Microbial Communities Respond to Change

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 26, 2012) — Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have received a five-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study how complex microbial systems use their genetic diversity to respond to human-induced change. The work is important because these microbial communities play critical roles in the environment, breaking down pollutants, recycling nutrients — and serving as major sources of nitrogen and carbon.

    Rapid changes in climate don’t slow some lizards
    (November 26, 2012) — One tropical lizard’s tolerance to cold is stiffer than scientists had suspected. A new study shows that the Puerto Rican lizard Anolis cristatellus has adapted to the cooler winters of Miami. The results also suggest that this lizard may be able to tolerate temperature variations caused by climate change. … > full story

     

    Damaging Katrina-level storm surges are twice as likely in warm years

    By Dr. Jeff Masters Published: 5:22 PM GMT on November 26, 2012

    Perhaps the most stunning images in the wake of Hurricane Sandy were the sight of the roller coaster from the Casino Pier in Seaside Heights, New Jersey lying in the Atlantic Ocean. The images reminded us that hurricane storm surges are capable of causing tremendous destruction along the coast, and one of the main concerns on how global warming might affect hurricanes is the potential for stronger hurricanes to create larger storm surges. We expect that global warming should make the strongest hurricanes stronger, since hurricanes are heat engines that take heat energy out of the ocean and converts it to wind energy. These stronger winds will be capable of piling up higher storm surges. However, it is controversial whether or not we have observed an increase in the strongest hurricanes, since hurricane winds are hard to observe. Our long-term hurricane data base is generally too low in quality and covers too short a period of time to make very good estimates of how climate change may be affecting hurricane winds. However, a new 2012 paper, “Homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923″ by Grinsted et al., looked at storm surge data from six tide gauges along the U.S. coast from Texas to New Jersey, and concluded that the number of moderately large hurricane and tropical storm surge events has increased since 1923. Moderately large storm surge events are on pace to nearly double by the year 2100, compared to 20th century levels. Moreover, 1-in-9 year to 1-in-30 year Katrina-level storm surge events are twice as likely to occur in warm years compared to cool years, and thus global warming may be able to dramatically increase the frequency of highly damaging extreme storm surge events. Since sea level is steadily rising due to global warming, these future storm surges will also be riding in on top of an elevated ocean surface, and will thus be able to do even greater damage than in the past. Expect to see many more shocking storm surge damage photos in the coming decades, unless we wise up, retreat from areas highly vulnerable to storm surge, and invest in increased shoreline protection measures….. Take home message: studies showing no increase in normalized damage from storms have high uncertainty, and it is possible that higher economic damages due to stronger hurricanes are indeed occurring.
    References
    –Grinsted, A., J. C. Moore, and S. Jevrejeva, 2012, “A homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923,”PNAS 2012, doi:10.1073/pnas.1209542109
    –Pielke et al., 2008, “Normalized Hurricane Damage in the United States: 1900–2005″, Natural Hazards Review, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp. 29-42.
    Links– In this remarkable home video, 15-year-old Christofer Sochacki captures the evening high tide on the day Superstorm Sandy struck Union Beach, New Jersey. The later part of the video shows how high waves on top of a 8-foot storm surge can lead to a punishing assault on beach-front structures.

     

     

    5 Charts About Climate Change That Should Have You Very, Very Worried

    By Christopher Mims and Stephanie Gruner Buckley Nov 24 2012, 10:11 AM ET
    126 the Atlantic

    Two new reports highlight the alarming consequences of staying our current course.

    Two major organizations released climate change reports this month warning of doom and gloom if we stick to our current course and fail to take more aggressive measures. A World Bank report imagines a world 4 degrees warmer, the temperature predicted by century’s end barring changes, and says it aims to shock people into action by sharing devastating scenarios of flood, famine, drought and cyclones. Meanwhile, a report from the US National Research Council, commissioned by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other intelligence agencies, says the consequences of climate change–rising sea levels, severe flooding, droughts, fires, and insect infestations–pose threats greater than those from terrorism ranging from massive food shortages to a rise in armed conflicts. Here are some of the more alarming graphic images from the reports:

    1. Most of Greenland’s top ice layer melted in four days During a week in the summer of 2012, Greenland’s ice cap went from melting on its periphery to melting over its entire surface (World Bank)These shots published in the World Bank report show an unusually large ice melt over a four-day period, when an estimated 97% of Greenland’s surface ice sheet had thawed by the middle of July 2012. Normally, ice sheets melt around the outer margins first where elevation is lower and allow for warmer temperatures. The event is uncommon, though not unprecedented. A similar event happened in 1889, and before that, several centuries earlier. There are indications, however, that the greatest amount of melting during the past 225 years has occurred in the last decade.

    2. America just had its worst drought in over 50 years

    Serious drought conditions across the US (World Bank/National Drought Mitigation Center)

    This past summer, the US experienced its worst drought in more than a half a century–severely reducing farm yields, livestock production, and raising food prices globally. The World Bank shared this snapshot of drought conditions covering some 63% of the contiguous US on Aug. 28, 2012. Serious droughts have hit the US in the 1950s and the 1930s, with some areas experiencing worse drought than during the dust bowl. (The reason we’re not experiencing Dust Bowl II is thanks to better soil management practices.) Studies suggest we should expect severe and widespread droughts over the next few decades, if not longer, thanks to global warming.

    3. Coral reefs are doomed

    Outlook for coral reefs is bleak (World Bank / Hare et al./Rogelj et al./Schaeffer et al.)

    Coral reefs, which protect against coastal flooding, storm surges, wave damage, and also provide homes for lots of fish, are doomed on our current course, says the World Bank. Coral reefs are dissolving because of ocean acidification–the more CO2 in the atmosphere, the more gets dissolved in the oceans. The illustration shows the impact on coral reefs at various CO2 levels. Coral reefs may stop growing as CO2 concentration levels approach 450 ppm, which is expected over the coming decades. By the time the concentration reaches around 550 ppm in the 2060s, coral reefs will start to dissolve.

    4. Wildfires are multiplying

    This map published in the National Research Council report shows how rising temperatures and increased evaporation will cause widespread fires in the western US. Fire damage in the northern Rocky Mountain forests, marked by region B, is expected to more than double annually for each 1.8 degree Fahrenheit increase in average global temperatures. With the same temperature increase, fire damage in the Colorado Rockies (region J) is expected to be more than seven times what it was in the second half of the 20th century.

    5. Civil wars on the rise

    Armed conflicts spiked in 2011 (Themnér and Wallensteen by Sage Publications/National Academy of Sciences)

    In 2011, the world witnessed a spike in the number of active conflicts, rising to 37 from 31 in 2010. It was the largest increase between any two years since 1990–though still below the peak of 53 active conflicts in the early post-Cold War years. The growth was primarily driven by an increase in conflicts in Africa, and also to events tied to the Arab Spring. There’s conflicting evidence about whether climate change causes increasing violence, though one study found that between the years 1000 and 1900, low temperatures in Europe coincided with an elevated risk of interstate war. Over the long term, the theory is that climate-related problems such as water shortages will lead not to wars across borders, but rather to violent conflicts within states….

     

    AP: Drought Worsens For More Than Half Of Country — But Only Because It Didn’t Rain!

    Posted: 23 Nov 2012 08:02 AM PST

    “The worst U.S. drought in decades has deepened again,” reports the AP. “Scientists struggled for an explanation other than a simple lack of rain.”


    Over half of the continguous U.S. has been in a drought since summer. The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report showed a rise in the extent and increases in the severity of drought: The report showed that 60.1 percent of the lower 48 states were in some form of drought as of Tuesday, up from 58.8 percent the previous week. The amount of land in extreme or exceptional drought — the two worst classifications — increased from 18.3 percent to 19.04 percent. The AP has a bizarre form of balance in the story, I guess so those suffering in the drought won’t feel as bad: A federal meteorologist cautioned that Wednesday’s numbers shouldn’t be alarming, saying that while drought usually subsides heading into winter, the Drought Monitor report merely reflects a week without rain in a large chunk of the country. Seriously! I feel so much less alarmed knowing that the drought worsened only because we had “a week without rain in a large chunk of the country.” “The places that are getting precipitation, like the Pacific Northwest, are not in drought, while areas that need the rainfall to end the drought aren’t getting it,” added Richard Heim, a meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. “I would expect the drought area to expand again” by next week since little rain is forecast in the Midwest in coming days. How reassuring!

     

     

     

    Mount Shasta: Is U.S. Snowstorm Record in Jeopardy?

    Nick Wiltgen Published: Nov 30, 2012, 9:08 AM EST weather.com

    USGS/Lyn Topinka A 1984 file photo of Mount Shasta in northern California.

    If anyone lived on the summit of California’s Mount Shasta, they’d need a mighty big shovel to dig out of the snowstorm that will bury the mountain in astronomical amounts of snow through the weekend — amounts that could flirt with world records. The Thursday morning National Weather Service summit forecast for Shasta predicted an incredible 33 to 39 inches of snow — just for Thursday alone.

    (By comparison, Atlanta, Ga., has reported 38.9 inches of snow since March 1, 1989 — a period of over 23 years.)

    But it gets crazier. Add in another 37 to 43 inches of snow Thursday night, and additional amounts ranging from  21 to 35 inches every 12 hours through Saturday night, plus a light dusting of 11 to 17 inches on Sunday… …and you get a storm total of 176 inches.  On the low end.

    Add up the high end of the numbers and you get a forecast maximum of 218 inches of snow in four days!

    How would that kind of four-day snow total stack up?  Consider these major all-time snowfall records that would be broken with a 200-inch snowfall:

    According to Weather Underground, the world record for a single snowstorm is 189 inches in six days — guess where? Mount Shasta Ski Bowl in February 1959…..

     

     

     

     

    • POLICY

     

     

    ‘We Have To Face The Fact That The Deniers Are Wrong,’ Says Sen. Whitehouse In Climate Hearing

    By Stephen Lacey on Nov 30, 2012 at 8:12 am

    At a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing featuring sometimes tearful reports from lawmakers representing East Coast states, some panel Democrats suggested putting customary congressional collegiality on the back burner to push more forcefully for mitigating climate change. [Politico]

    “There is a new normal of new extremes and we have to be prepared for it,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said. “And the reason we have this new normal of new extremes is because global climate change is happening and is real. And we’ve tolerated the deniers for far too long in this body.”

    Whitehouse criticized “a rear-guard action in this building led by polluters” against taking action on climate change.

    “But we have to face the fact that the deniers are wrong. They are just plain dead wrong,” he said. “And we have to deal with that, and I think some of the courtesies that we have given to one another collegially really have to yield to the fact that some of the things that are being said in the Senate, and occasionally regrettably in this committee chamber, are just plain wrong.”


    2012 UN Climate Talks In Doha, Qatar Face Multiple Challenges

    AP  |  By KARL RITTER Posted: 11/25/2012 10:51 am EST Updated: 11/25/2012 12:06 pm EST

    DOHA, Qatar (AP) — As nearly 200 countries meet in oil-and-gas-rich Qatar for annual talks starting Monday on slowing global warming, one of the main challenges will be raising climate aid for poor countries at a time when budgets are strained by financial turmoil. Rich countries have delivered nearly $30 billion in grants and loans promised in 2009, but those commitments expire this year. And a Green Climate Fund designed to channel up to $100 billion annually to poor countries has yet to begin operating.Borrowing a buzzword from the U.S. budget debate, Tim Gore of the British charity Oxfam said developing countries, including island nations for whom rising sea levels pose a threat to their existence, stand before a “climate fiscal cliff.”

     

     

    Climate talks buffeted by the force of Superstorm Sandy

    Carol J. Williams LA TIMES November 28, 2012, 4:00 a.m.

    More than 17,000 people have converged on the Qatari capital for the latest U.N. climate talks, but the most influential presence may be Sandy.

    The superstorm that ravaged the U.S. Northeast a month ago seared into the American consciousness an apocalyptic vision of what climate change could look like. On the heels of devastating wildfires, droughts and floods this year, Sandy’s destructive power snapped Americans to the reality that rising temperatures are a risk to their own well-being, not just a concern for distant lowlands.

    Sandy’s fresh reminder of the potential consequences of global warming has been a dominant theme in the first days of the two-week meeting in  Doha of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, delegates report.  Still, politicians and environmentalists at the gathering, which began Monday, maintain low expectations for the massive confab to spur swift or dramatic action to combat rising global temperatures. They predict that, at  best, the unwieldy forum drawing together 195 countries and nongovernmental parties will bring agreement to formalize plans to negotiate new climate objectives that follow the aims of the 15-year-old Kyoto Protocol, ostensibly to be achieved by 2020. The next pact doesn’t need to be completed until 2015, so the international body is operating without the pressure of a looming deadline, participants said. The U.S. chief delegate, State Department deputy climate envoy Jonathan Pershing, said Washington has acted “with enormous urgency and singular purpose” and is halfway to meeting its goal of a 17% reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by the end of this decade. The United States has invested deeply in renewable energy, reduced coal emissions and doubled automotive fuel efficiency standards, he said, while reiterating that the U.S. climate agenda would be set and monitored nationally, not by an international forum…..

     

     

    Post-Sandy, Dems push for climate change action Lucy Madison / CBS News/ November 29, 2012, 3:25 PM

    In the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, lawmakers from the hardest-hit states continue picking up the pieces of widespread damage left in the wake of the storm, facing billions of dollars worth of infrastructural damage, dozens of civilian casualties, and lingering outages that left millions of Americans without power for days or even weeks. Even as they look to make immediate repairs, however, a number of Democrats are also pushing for reforms that will prevent similar future catastrophes — and are using the moment to renew calls for serious action on climate change.

    During a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing today on Sandy and its impacts, a handful of Democrats from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and elsewhere, stressed the need to make strong investments into rebuilding states’ infrastructure in a way that would withstand future storms. At the same time, they argued, climate change must be included in those efforts — or Sandy-type storms will only increase in their frequency.

     

     

     

    Opinion:

    Reality Trumps Magical Thinking Time to Act on Climate Change

    Michael Northrop Program Director, Rockefeller Brothers Fund November 18, 2012

    The election was a win for a fact-based approach to reality, and a loss for the magical approach some candidates and their handlers displayed. No, Mr. Akin, women do not have a magical ability to suppress a rapist’s sperm. No, Mr. Rove, Fox News did not miscall the Ohio vote. And no, climate deniers, climate change is real, happening now, and we’ve got to address it, or we are going to have even bigger Superstorm Sandys raining down on us. President Obama, who was helped by Mayor Bloomberg’s endorsement for his more realistic approach to climate change, has signaled that he too thinks it’s time to accept the facts and get moving. Recent polls show nearly three quarters of Americans agree with the President that it is time to act on climate change. So what can the President do? Some suggestions:

    • Speak out about the urgency of climate change. ….Research at Yale University by Tony Leiserowitz indicates that if the President does speak out forcefully, many Americans will respond affirmatively to the call for action, and they will be more willing to demand action by their elected leaders……
    • Continue exercising executive authority to lower emissions and to build clean energy markets…..
    • Recognize there is no single silver bullet solution; success will come from hundreds of policies and actions by every level of government and the private sector. In other words, adopt a silver buckshot approach.
    • Prioritize actions that reduce emissions and contribute to the creation of the low carbon economy of the future. There is no greater economic opportunity for the U.S. One analysis from the international bank, HSBC, suggests that the low carbon economy today is already worth $500 billion a year, and that it will easily be worth more than $2 trillion a year by 2020….
    • … the President should convene a bipartisan national climate action planning council composed of sitting and former governors, mayors, CEOs and civic leaders to explore and then support economically advantageous approaches to climate action…..
    • The President must also lead a national conversation about preparing for the inevitable impacts of climate change. This will connect the dots in the heads of Americans….
    • ….the President must add a senior advisor in the White House to convene, facilitate, and support this national effort. A coordinated, multi-agency approach like the one President Obama demanded his government take in response to Hurricane Sandy will also help.
    • The President should also be honest with Americans about coal. Besides being the biggest contributor to climate change, it is an outdated, unhealthy, and unnecessary energy source. Its economic benefits to the country today are actually modest and shrinking. There are almost as many people employed by the solar industry today in the U.S. as in the coal sector, and while coal use declined by 40 percent in recent years, the solar industry is growing 13 percent a year in the U.S…. There is not such a thing as clean coal anyway…

    In a bit of good news, it turns out that the somewhat haphazard approach that the U.S. has mustered to date to lower greenhouse gas emissions is having an impact. A study released Thursday by the Center for Climate Strategies says projected U.S. emissions are currently significantly below expectations from a decade ago. The slowdown in the economy is one important reason, but several other contributing factors have made a difference.

    • First, hundreds of successful, locally-driven efforts to shut coal fired power plants have helped shave the share of carbon-intensive coal fired electricity in the U.S. from 50 percent to about 30 percent.
    • Second, the vehicle efficiency standards this administration and the auto companies agreed to in 2010 will lead to a sizeable carbon emissions reduction.
    • Third, the hundreds of actions already taken by cities, states, and companies over the past decade to become more energy efficient have also contributed to national emissions reductions.

    All of these actions are leading to energy savings, new investment, and economic productivity. This hopeful news is an indicator that we can continue to layer in new and deeper actions across the economy and continue to drive a rapid downward trend in emissions with a positive economic result. To get to the even deeper reductions in climate change causing emissions that atmospheric scientists say are required, there will no doubt be substantial public investment required as well, but as Cass Sunstein wrote in the New York Times a week ago, the cost benefit of avoiding additional $50 billion disasters in New York or $150 billion dollar ravages in New Orleans should easily encourage us to move forward boldly. As we do so, the next economy–the clean energy economy–will be so enormous, we will all wonder how we allowed magical thinkers in the climate denier community to keep us from moving forward more quickly.

     

    Hurricane Sandy: New Jersey Rebuilding Ahead Of Thoughtful Decisions?

    AP  |  By GEOFF MULVIHILL Posted: 11/25/2012 10:38 am EST Updated: 11/25/2012 1:25 pm EST

    Some advocates fear that rebuilding efforts could take shape on New Jersey’s storm-devastated shore before thoughtful decisions can be made about just how the area should be rebuilt.

    The federal government brought thousands of tons of stone, sand and riprap to repair an inlet that the storm ripped open, reconnecting the bay and ocean in a narrow section of barrier island in Mantoloking. The state is repairing Route 35 where it was washed away by that breach and two others nearby. Also, state action has also made it easier to rebuild damaged infrastructure such as roads and water pipes. Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, objects to the state’s decision to allow permanent roads, water pipes and other infrastructure to be built to replace ruined ones. He said it makes sense to allow temporary facilities. “But it shouldn’t be permanent. Now, we’re giving a blanket waiver,” he said. “That’s just throwing money out to sea.”

    The state is trying to facilitate necessary repairs, not make hasty long-term development decisions — though that could be a consequence, said Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. “If someone were to build one or two things that were a little more permanent, we’re going to live with that,” he said.

    With rising sea levels and more frequent major storms, it’s time to consider whether to rebuild in especially vulnerable areas and to look at further strengthening building codes for places that are rebuilt, scientists and environmentalists say. Similar debates have taken place after major storms on the Gulf Coast, Florida and elsewhere. And they’re going on now on New York’s Long Island….

     

     

     

    British MP On Climate Committee Advising On Coal Power For $300 An Hour

    Posted: 28 Nov 2012 08:33 AM PST by Graham Readfearn, via DeSmogBlog

    A British MP revealed to be holding $400,000 worth of share options in an oil firm while sitting on an influential parliamentary climate change committee is also being paid $300 an hour to advise an Indian company building a coal fired power station, DeSmogBlog has discovered. Veteran Conservative MP Peter Lilley has billed the New Delhi-based Ferro Alloys Corporation Limited (FACOR) for at least 220 hours of consultancy advice and is still working for the group. It emerged in The Guardian last week that self-described “global lukewarmist” Mr Lilley, a director with Tethys Petroleum, was also holding $400,000 worth of share options in the company which is drilling for oil and gas in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. As The Guardian reported, Mr Lilley is also paid by Tethys to attend meetings and provide advice and has received about £47,000 (US$75,000) in the past year…..

     

     

    How A Cornucopia of Prosperity Can Flow From Carbon Tax

    By Climate Guest Blogger on Nov 26, 2012 at 1:15 pm
    by Craig A. Severance, via Energy Economy Online

    Right now the climate and energy community is stuck. There is a growing consensus, including among conservatives, that it is finally time for a carbon tax. Yet, no politician — especially President Obama — seems ready to advance the proposal. The previous proposal to do something about climate — cap&trade — failed to gain wildly popular public enthusiasm (and we need this level of support). While economists thought cap&trade was the best way to address the carbon pollution that is causing extreme climate disruption, it wasn’t seen as “giving back” enough to the public….

     

     

    Board of Supervisors to Consider Forming Sonoma Clean Power – Dec 4 www.climateprotection.org

    This Tuesday, December 4th at 10:30, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and the Board of the Sonoma County Water Agency will consider forming a joint powers authority to be the new legal entity, Sonoma Clean Power. As envisioned, Sonoma Clean Power will be a local program that buys and generates cleaner, locally-produced electricity at competitive rates. Sonoma Clean Power will offer businesses and residents a choice. Local production of renewable energy will boost the local economy as well as render our energy system more secure. Please join us to show community support for this smart step in the right direction.

     

    Point of Order Derails Sportsmen’s Bill
    Nov. 26, 2012 – 7:10 p.m.

    Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) threatened to bring a budget point of order against the Sportsmen’s Act Thursday, unless amendments are made to the bill. Sessions said because the bill raises revenue to pay for itself, it’s a violation of the Budget Control Act, which set spending levels for the government. “Generally I am supportive of the package. I think it has some good qualities to it … but there’s a small problem that needs to be fixed,” Sessions said on the Senate floor Thursday morning. “The majority has brought forward a bill that violates the Budget Control Act.” The Sportsmen’s Act, introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), would increase access to federal land for hunters and fishermen while also supporting conservation through a package that combines nearly 20 bipartisan measures….

     

    San Jose to permit airport bird shooting

    San Jose Mercury News  - ‎November 25, 2012

    SAN JOSE — The holidays are hard on birds, at least those with plump, tasty bodies. Butbird-kind can be hard on us too, and not just in Hitchcock films.

     

     

    Op-Ed LA TIMES

    California confronts a sea change

    The state isn’t waiting to plan for rising sea levels. In Superstorm Sandy’s wake, other states should look west for inspiration on how to prepare.

    By David Helvarg November 27, 2012

    Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey don’t need to wait on gridlocked Washington to confront future risks from climate-change intensified storms. They can instead look at how California is already moving forward on common-sense adaptations, and do it themselves. With 3.5 million Californians living within three feet of sea level, and the best available science projecting a 3- to 5-foot rise in sea level for the state by 2100, doing nothing would be irresponsible. In Northern California, rising sea levels are projected to affect more than a quarter of a million people and threaten more than $60 billion in infrastructure in the San Francisco Bay/Delta region, putting power stations, water-treatment plants, roads, buildings and the San Francisco and Oakland airports (both built on filled wetlands) at risk. In Southern California, scientists point to the loss of 3,000 beachfront homes to major El Niño winter storms in the 1980s as suggestive of what climate change has in store. In fact, for the next few decades it will be extreme storms, with their accompanying waves and king tides, not sea-level rise per se that will have the most impact in the state, according to U.S. Geological Survey testimony last year to the California Ocean Protection Council, the state’s umbrella agency for coordinating its response to rising seas.

    For starters, California is ahead of most states in its attempts to address the problem at its source by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Over half of U.S. venture capital investment in clean technology is now taking place in California, and energy conservation and efficiency programs already in place have helped keep the state’s per capita energy consumption steady over 30 years (in the rest of the nation, it has increased 40%). But climate change is happening, so adaptation, as well as prevention, is going to be essential. A number of local and state efforts are underway. This year, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the state’s original coastal protection group, amended its long-standing San Francisco Bay Plan to make sure projected sea-level rise is taken into account by any new project, such as a planned $1.5-billion development on Treasure Island in the middle of the bay. After repeated flooding from winter storms in 2009-10 shut down the Great Highway along the city’s share of the Pacific coast, the Army Corps of Engineers proposed pumping dredged sand onto the beach to shore it up and a city think tank suggested “planned retreat” — shrinking and rerouting the highway at a cost of $343 million — as the best long-term solution. While the options are reviewed, city workers continue armoring the southbound lanes with boulders. Down the peninsula, on the bay side, a major wetlands restoration project now underway is expected to reduce the impact of sea-level rise and flooding on small, low-income towns such as Alviso as well as on low-lying, high-dollar-value corporate campuses, such as those of Yahoo in Sunnyvale and Google in Mountain View.

    In Newport Beach in Southern California, city planners are looking into raising sea walls in waterfront neighborhoods like Balboa Island that are prone to flooding. They may also begin requiring that foundations on new beach properties be raised several feet, a modest start but a start nonetheless. Governments in San Diego, Ventura and Humboldt counties are also embarking on multi-stakeholder efforts to adjust their zoning and permit systems to account for storm tides and sea-level rise. The city of Ventura has completed the first phase of a managed retreat at Surfer’s Point, removing a sea-damaged parking lot and moving a bike trail 65 feet inland. About half the towns along California’s coast have begun developing climate adaptation policies.”It’s not uncertainty about the science keeping them from acting,” says Amber Mace, former California Ocean Protection Council executive director. “It’s lack of funding, lack of staff and a lack of support from outside.”

    Part of the council’s job is to provide coastal communities with high-resolution seafloor maps and updated intertidal and shoreline maps that are basic to sea-rise and storm-surge planning. The council also provides links to scientists who are working to downscale the projections of climate impacts from the 200-mile grids used by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change so that they can be applied to zoning, beachfront management and other land-use decisions. The council, with strong backing from Gov. Jerry Brown and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger before him, has worked to persuade other agencies to incorporate sea-level rise and other climate change projections into their work. For example, the California Coastal Commission is expected to require all waterfront communities to include extreme flooding and sea-level-rise planning in their local coastal plans. The state is also considering withholding some funds from communities until they have a comprehensive climate-change adaptation policy in place.

    The state Water Resources Control Board is another state agency that is responding to expected flooding due to more extreme weather patterns. It has established tougher standards for storm water runoff, which again will force coastal communities to plan for climate change impacts. It’s worth remembering that after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, California set new standards for fire and building safety, many of which eventually became national standards. Now the state is poised to do the same with its planning for climate change. Certainly if there’s any place on the globe where there’s been the convergence of scientific knowledge and inquiry, entrepreneurial spirit and a public willingness to lead the world in new directions, it’s in California. But the common-sense lessons being learned here about coastal adaptation need to be applied from sea to shining sea.

    David Helvarg is executive director of the Blue Frontier Campaign. His next book, “The Golden Shore — California’s Love Affair with the Sea,” will be published in February.

     

     

    4-GW Tata Mundra Coal Plant Is A Test Of The World Bank’s Stated Commitment To Address Climate

    Posted: 28 Nov 2012 06:06 AM PST Nicole Ghio, via the Sierra Club

    When Dr. Jim Yong Kim took over as President of the World Bank, there was hope amongst health advocates and environmentalists that, given his background, the Bank would reevaluate its support for deadly fossil fuel projects. Dr. Kim’s assertion that a new World Bank report on global warming should “shock us into action” is a step in the right direction.

    Now, however, he has an opportunity to back this rhetoric with concrete action as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) reviews the social and environmental impacts of its $450 million loan for the enormous four-gigawatt Tata Mundra coal plant in Gujarat, India. In response to extensive work by local communities and civil society groups to document and expose the impacts of Tata Mundra (PDF), the IFC’s independent Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) has formally opened an investigation. Last week the CAO released the Terms of Reference for the review which will cover the devastating health, livelihood and environmental impacts of this mammoth coal plant.  This review is an important step towards rectifying the impact the project has had on the 10,000 local villagers who rely on the land and water the plant is destroying. Dust and ash from the project is contaminating fish and salt flats, while livestock that used to roam freely can no longer access the commons for grazing. And both villagers and animals are forced to breathe air and drink water contaminated by toxic pollution. All of these are impacts from just Tata Mundra. The sad reality is cumulative impacts are much larger, as it is sited right next to the even bigger 4,620 MW Adani coal plant….

     

     

     

     

    • RESOURCES and REFERENCES

     

     

    WEBINARS:

     

    Incorporating Ecosystem Services into Assessments of Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation
    December 4, 10 am PDT/ 1 pm EDT

    The Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) ToolsNetwork<http://www.ebmtools.org/> is pleased to announce that it will host a presentation on Incorporating Ecosystem Services into Assessments of Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation by Suzanne Langridge of The Natural Capital Project.  This presentation will be held on Tuesday,Dec 4. A description of the webinar and information on registering are below. [http://www1.gotomeeting.com/g2w/images/503695537/64177094262759965/embed.jpg]
    Webinar participants can use their computer speakers/microphone OR a telephone conference call for audio for the demonstration.  The webinar will be enabled an hour prior to the start of the webinar to allow users to test their systems.  For those who cannot make the presentation, a recording of this presentation will be made available on the EBM Tools Network website at
    www.ebmtools.org/tools_training/presentations.html<http://www.ebmtools.org/tools_training/presentations.html a few days after the presentation.If you have any other questions about the demonstration, please contact sarah_carr@natureserve.org<mailto:sarah_carr@natureserve.org>.  To sign up for announcements of future EBM tool presentations or demonstrations, sign up for EBM Tools Network updates at www.ebmtools.org/contact.html<http://www.ebmtools.org/contact.html>.

     

     

    Assessing climate change impacts on water resources.
    Fri Nov 30 10 AM MST and MON DEC 17 1 PM MST

    This pilot effort includes both an online module for self-paced training, and a set of subsequent residence courses building on the online training and respectively focus on assessing impacts on surface water hydrology and crop irrigation requirements. This pilot training program has been developed by the Climate Change and Water Working Group agencies (Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Geological Survey) in cooperation with the The COMET Program (part of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research), the NOAA-RISA Western Water Assessment, and the Water Utilities Climate Alliance.  In order to establish expectations for pilot focus groups participating in the residence courses and to provide program information and context for other interested parties, two identical 45-minute introductory webinars will be offered at: 1) 10:00 AM MST on Friday, 30 November, and 2) 1:00 PM MST on Monday, 17 December. —-Introductory webinar 1 at 10:00 AM MST, 30 November 2012. GoToWebinar link: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/114444192   Conference phone line: 877-467-6106 Conference line passcode: 596 6855# —-Introductory webinar 2 at 1:00 PM MST, 17 December 2012. GoToWebinar link:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/417576272 Conference phone line: 877-467-6106 Conference line passcode: 596 6855#

    Feel free to let us know if you have any questions. Thank you. Levi Brekke, Reclamation
    (LBrekke@usbr.gov) 303.445.2494 Matt Kelsch, UCAR’s COMET Program (kelsch@comet.ucar.edu) 303.497.8309
    Chuck Hennig, Reclamation (CHennig@usbr.gov) 303.445.2134

     

    ***Call for Presentation Proposals for the National Adaptation Forum (Deadline: November 30, 2012)
    The National Adaptation Forum will convene practitioners and innovators who are actively engaged or interested in climate change adaptation on April 2-4, 2013, in Denver, Colorado. Each day of the conference will focus on a different step in the adaptation process. Participants are invited to submit a proposal for a symposium, an oral or a poster presentation, or lead a training event or working group. Conference organizers are particularly interested in proposals that address multiple sectors and present innovative ways to advance climate change adaptation. The deadline to submit proposals is November 30, 2012. For more information about submitting a proposal, visit the call for presentations page.

    ***Call for Proposals for ICLEI’s Annual Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation – Resilient Cities 2013 (Deadline: November 30, 2012)
    The organizers of ICLEI’s Annual Global Forum, “Resilient Cities 2013,” are looking for contributions for the conference, which will be held May 31-June 2, 2013 in Bonn, Germany. Contributions may include ideas for presentations, panels, workshop sessions, poster sessions, and co-events. “Resilience 2013″ will offer sessions and events on a wide variety of topics such as urban risk, resilient urban logistics, financing the resilient city, urban agriculture and smart infrastructure. For more information, visit the Resilient Cities website.

    ***13th National Conference on Science, Policy, and the Environment: Disasters and Environment – Science, Preparedness, and Resilience (Washington, DC, January 15, 2013)
    Resilience and sustainability are key considerations in the planning for disasters. This national conference, sponsored by the National Council for Science and the Environment, will explore issues including transportation, land use, infrastructure, energy and water supply, waste management, local commerce, job creation, poverty alleviation, and emergency preparedness. A symposium during the conference will highlight EPA’s unique role in the disaster area, and will focus in part on several EPA research projects aimed at strengthening community resilience. For more information on the conference, visit the conference home page.

     

     

    Let Dave Roberts explain it [climate change] to your Uncle Charlie
    by digby
    It’s a stale trope that these family holiday gatherings are fraught with political arguments. But .. they often are. We may choose to live in our tribal encalves most of the time but for an awful lot of us, the family that hatched us isn’t all of the same tribe. Anyway, for the climate change argument, get out your nifty IPAD and show this to Uncle Charlie:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=pznsPkJy2x8

     

     

    **SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATOR for the MURIE SCIENCE AND LEARNING CENTER in Denali National Park. The Murie Science and Learning Center provides a stimulating and nurturing environment that is dedicated to introducing visitors to this fascinating and unique ecosystem. Alaska Geographic is currently seeking experienced educators for a summer of learning, exploration, and sharing. The primary responsibility of instructional staff will be the delivery of science-based programs ranging from one hour to multi-day field courses for all ages. Additional Responsibilities: Work as a guide on multi-day field seminars in the Park. Topics for 2013 include: The World of Wolves, Archaeology Citizen Science, Wildflowers, Glaciology, Storytelling. Host the evening speaker series. Develop and deliver short programs to the public. Assist in the development of program content and hands-on activities. Assist with maintenance of program equipment and field camp. Help with various program and facility projects. Benefits: Pay rate dependent upon experience, starting at $140 per day. Work with a dynamic staff dedicated to science and education. Gain leadership experience in a remote field setting. Learn from and work with researchers in Denali. Flexibility in your schedule, allowing for occasional long weekends. Live, work, learn, and play in a spectacular wilderness setting! Qualifications: Enthusiasm for teaching and life-long learning opportunities. Excellent communication and group management skills along with a team-oriented attitude. Naturalist or Science/Environmental Education experience with youth and adult populations. Minimum of Wilderness First Aid and CPR certifications. Knowledge of wildlife research and natural history of the Sub-Arctic. The season begins May 6 and ends early September. To learn more about the programs and operations, go to www.murieslc.org and www.alaskageographic.org. To Apply Email a letter of interest, a resume, and contact information for three references to employment@murieslc.org. The application deadline is January 11,

     

    **EDUCATION INTERNSHIPS for the MURIE SCIENCE & LEARNING CENTER located in Denali National Park for the 2013 Summer Season. Interns are involved in administrative duties, front desk operations, and program logistics for multi-day seminars. As the summer progresses, opportunities for guiding multi-day seminars and presenting educational program may arise. The educational program opportunities include science-based presentations and activities in the MSLC building. On multi-day seminars, interns may serve as ‘guide staff’ and play a lead role in group management, driving, safety, leave-no-trace practices, field camp management, cooking, and logistics. Other summer projects may include development of science information for the public, management of field camp food inventory, vehicle cleaning, maintaining communication devices used in the field, hosting evening lecture/workshops, program/prop development, and field camp maintenance. Interns work with a mentor, have monthly performance reviews, and have opportunities to learn and experience other aspects of Denali National Park & Preserve based on interest. Work a 14-18 week summer season (between early May and early September) with a 40-hours per week schedule. Housing is provided. Internship includes a travel stipend, room and board, and a weekly stipend. To learn more about our programs and operations, go to www.alaskageographic.org and www.murieslc.org. Qualifications: Ability to deal with logistical challenges and to multi-task; Camping and guiding experience; Wilderness First Aid (or higher) and CPR certifications; Excellent communication and group management skills; Being responsive to visitor questions and needs; Public speaking experience; Experience teaching adult and/or kid populations; Naturalist/Environmental Education experience; Knowledge of wildlife research and the natural history of the Sub-Arctic; Computer skills; To Apply Email a letter of interest, a resume, and contact information for three references to employment@murieslc.org The application deadline is January 11. Applicants wishing to be considered for both positions, Science Educator (see under “Positions Available) and Education Intern may specify this in one letter of interest. There is no need to send two application packets. Applications will only be accepted after this date if all the positions have not been filled

     

     

     

     

     

    • RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

     

     

    Milestone along the way to CO2-free power plants
    (November 27, 2012) — An innovative method inexpensively and energetically efficiently reduces power-plant carbon dioxide emissions by more than 90 percent. The initial system for utilization on an existing power plant is currently in the planning stage. … > full story

     

    Ground Source Heat Pumps: Good Enough For Queen Elizabeth So Why Not For The Northeast?

    By Climate Guest Blogger on Nov 25, 2012 at 11:26 am

    by Ryan Matley, via Rocky Mountain Institute

    George W. Bush, the Queen of England, Sir Elton John, and Sir Richard Branson probably don’t have much in common, but they all have installed ground source heat pumps. And it’s not just a technology for the rich and famous. Habitat for Humanity installed heat pumps in its Oklahoma City development, Hope Crossing, because the low operating costs would help future residents save on their utility bills.

     

    Kerosene lamps identified as big source of black carbon
    (November 28, 2012) — Kerosene lamps, the primary source of light for more than a billion people in developing nations, churns out black carbon at levels previously overlooked in greenhouse gas estimates, according to a new study. The new findings result in a twenty-fold increase to previous estimates of black carbon emissions from kerosene-fueled lighting. The good news is that affordable, cleaner alternatives exist. … > full story

     

     

    Electricity from the marshes
    (November 23, 2012) — An unexpected source of new, clean energy has been found: the Plant-Microbial Fuel Cell that can generate electricity from the natural interaction between living plant roots and soil bacteria. The technique already works on a small scale and will soon be applied in larger marshland areas throughout the world. … > full story

     

     

    Conservative Groups Team Up To Fight Renewable Energy: ‘We’re Going To See A Knock-Out, Drag-Out Fight’

    By Stephen Lacey on Nov 26, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Six months after rolling out a disastrous billboard campaign that linked people who care about global warming to the Unabomber, the Heartland Institute is looking for another project to boost its profile.

    And what better way for the organization to mend its tarnished image than to go after a policy that Americans overwhelmingly support? The Heartland Institute, known for its campaigns to cast doubt about the science of climate change, is now teaming up with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to craft laws repealing state-level renewable energy targets. ALEC is best known as a “stealth business lobbyist” that helps corporate interests write and pass legislation friendly to their interests. This spring, the organization came under fire for its role in pushing Stand-Your-Ground laws that opponents blamed for the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin. Both the Heartland Institute and ALEC lost major funders throughout the spring as a result of the separate controversies.

    The campaign to dismantle these types of laws isn’t new. Last summer, Bloomberg News
    reported on tax documents showing that Koch Industries, Exxon Mobil and other energy companies paid membership fees to ALEC in order to help write legislation repealing carbon pollution reduction programs in states around country….

     

     

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST


    Deep Green 100% Renewable Energy

     

     

    - Marin County California

    Deep Green is our heavy-duty, super-green, 100% renewable energy product. Yahoo, Marin! Deep Green renewable energy is purchased entirely from non-polluting, renewable resources. It’s Green-e Energy certified so you know that Deep Green contains only new renewable resources that are independently verified. If you have a commercial building, choosing Deep Green can help you get LEED certified!  In 2011, Deep Green power was sourced from wind (29%) and solar (31%) power. In 2012, wind resources from the Western U.S. will be used to supply Deep Green power. We update our Power Content Label periodically to reflect the most current locations of our renewable energy generators. The big difference is in the power you have to create change. Voluntarily signing up for Deep Green is one of the most important actions any of us in Marin can take to curb global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by adding more renewable energy to the grid and shifting away from global reliance on fossil fuels. Deep Green customers also support projects that reinvest in a healthier environment and a clean tech future. The additional cost of Deep Green 100% renewable energy is just a penny more per kilowatt-hour more than our Light Green rates. All Marin Clean Energy customers, whether they choose Light Green or Deep Green, are subject to our standard rates and PG&E charges.For the average Marin residential electric customer, the additional cost for Deep Green is just $5.40 per month. To participate in our Deep Green program simply complete an online request here, or call 1 (888) 632-3674. Make sure and have your PG&E bill handy so that you can provide us with all of the necessary information.

     

     

    Rising Seas, Vanishing Coastlines

    By BENJAMIN STRAUSS and ROBERT KOPP NY TIMES Published: November 24, 2012

    THE oceans have risen and fallen throughout Earth’s history, following the planet’s natural temperature cycles. Twenty thousand years ago, what is now New York City was at the edge of a giant ice sheet, and the sea was roughly 400 feet lower. But as the last ice age thawed, the sea rose to where it is today. Now we are in a new warming phase, and the oceans are rising again after thousands of years of stability. As scientists who study sea level change and storm surge, we fear that Hurricane Sandy gave only a modest preview of the dangers to come, as we continue to power our global economy by burning fuels that pollute the air with heat-trapping gases. This past summer, a disconcerting new scientific study by the climate scientist Michiel Schaeffer and colleagues — published in the journal Nature Climate Change — suggested that no matter how quickly we cut this pollution, we are unlikely to keep the seas from climbing less than five feet. ….There are two basic ways to protect ourselves from sea level rise: reduce it by cutting pollution, or prepare for it by defense and retreat. To do the job, we must do both. We have lost our chance for complete prevention; and preparation alone, without slowing emissions, would — sooner or later — turn our coastal cities into so many Atlantises.

    ….Multimedia

    What Could Disappear

     

     

    Video: Keeping It Cool NY Times November 23, 2012

    Inside air conditioners are gases that allow the machine to cool the air, but also deplete the ozone layer and contribute to global warming.

     

    Using biomarkers from prehistoric human feces to track settlement and agriculture
    (November 26, 2012) — Geoscientists have used a biomarker from human feces in a new way to establish the first human presence, the arrival of grazing animals and human population dynamics in a landscape. … > full story

     

    BOOK REVIEW: Barbara Kingsolver weaves climate change into new novel …

    Heritage Newspapers  - ‎November 245, 2012‎

    Climate change is no article of faith in Barbara Kingsolver’s latest work of fiction, “Flight Behavior.” She employs hard science, using it in ways both understandable and personal.

     

     

    Climate change threatens French truffle: scientists

    AFP  - ‎November 27, 2012‎

    PARIS – Scientists said on Tuesday they had proof that climate change was hitting the Perigord black truffle, a delight of gourmets around the world.

     

    Cutting real Christmas trees less environmentally harmful than using an artificial one for six years, biologists say
    (November 27, 2012) — Given recent extreme weather events – the summer’s brutal heat and subsequent drought, followed by Superstorm Sandy’s disastrous path – newly green-conscious consumers may be wondering how to lessen their carbon footprint this holiday season. Plant biologists says that buying a real Christmas tree may not solve the world’s climate ills, but it is environmentally better than getting an artificial one. … > full story

     

     

     

    • IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

     


    Via The New Yorker (and www.climateprogress.org)

     

     


     


     

     


     


     


  2. Conservation Science News November 23, 2012

    Leave a Comment

    Highlight of the Week

    1-ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED

    2-CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

    3-POLICY

    4-RESOURCES and REFERENCES

    5- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

    6-OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

    7-IMAGES OF THE WEEK

    ——————————–

    Highlight of the Week-

     

     

    Shocking World Bank Climate Report: ‘A 4°C [7°F] World Can, And Must, Be Avoided’ To Avert ‘Devastating’ Impacts

    Posted: 19 Nov 2012 09:30 AM PST

    And So The Bank Must Stop Funding All New Fossil Fuel Plants

    Another day, another staid international organization reviews the latest climate science and rings the loudest possible alarm. The World Bank’s sobering new report, “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided,” warns that “we’re on track for a 4°C warmer world marked by extreme heat-waves, declining global food stocks, loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, and life-threatening sea level rise.” Bank President Jim Yong Kim sums up the report with this blunt headline in the UK Guardian: “The latest predictions on climate change should shock us into action– A world four degrees warmer could be too hot to handle, but the exciting prospect of low-carbon living could stop it happening….”

    This report should end the delusion that humanity can risk the preferred strategy of either the deniers (inaction) — or the hand-waving centrists (more research and development). The findings of this report match those of PricewaterhouseCoopers, which found, limiting warming to even 7°F requires “nearly quadrupling the current rate of decarbonisation.”
    That means the only rational clean-tech strategy for a non-suicidal species is “Deploy, Deploy, Deploy, R&D, Deploy, Deploy, Deploy [yes, not in that order].

     


    Drained Wetlands Give Off Same Amount of Greenhouse Gases as Industry

     

     


    November 23, 2012 — Drained wetlands in Sweden account for the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as Swedish industry. This is shown by a summary of research from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. .. Forests and agricultural fields on drained previous wetlands make up between five and ten percent of Sweden’s surface area. When these wetlands are drained, they become a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. “We note that drained wetlands which have been forested or used for agricultural purposes are a significant potential source of greenhouse gases of a magnitude that is at least comparable with the industrial sector’s greenhouse gas emissions in Sweden.” Emissions from these drained wetlands can be reduced, but that involves rewetting the land — resulting in a negative impact on forestry production. According to the researchers, compromises may be necessary. “As long as wetlands remain wet, only methane is given off,” says Åsa Kasimir Klemedtsson from the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Gothenburg. “However, for more than a hundred years land has been drained for agriculture and forestry, producing large quantities both carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.”….full story

     

    Survey/flooding map of NY City—NY Times – floodwaters exceeded 17 feet in some places


     


     

     

    • ECOLOGY

     

    PRBO OBSERVER- Climate Smart Conservation:
    Observer 170 Climate-Smart Conservation
    (Fall): During a time of intensifying change, especially climate change, PRBO focuses our rigorous science and powerful conservation partnerships toward ensuring healthy ecosystems into the future.

     


    Tough turkeys run amok in Marin

     

     


    November 22, 2012 Marin IJ – Once on the brink of extinction, wild turkeys — tougher, leaner and smarter than the birds mass-produced for Thanksgiving Day platters — are 

     

    How does groundwater pumping affect streamflow?
    (November 16, 2012) — Groundwater provides drinking water for millions of Americans and is the primary source of water to irrigate cropland in many of the nations most productive agricultural settings. Although the benefits of groundwater development are many, groundwater pumping can reduce the flow of water in connected streams and rivers. … > full story

    Scientists pioneer method to predict environmental collapse
    (November 19, 2012) — Scientists are pioneering a technique to predict when an ecosystem is likely to collapse, which may also have potential for foretelling crises in agriculture, fisheries or even social systems. The researchers have applied a mathematical model to a real world situation, the environmental collapse of a lake in China, to help prove a theory which suggests an ecosystem ‘flickers,’ or fluctuates dramatically between healthy and unhealthy states, shortly before its eventual collapse. … > full story

     

    Bias in ecology and climate studies? How leaves shrink as they dry out is often overlooked
    (November 20, 2012) — The simple observation that leaves shrink when they dry out has far-reaching consequences for scientists studying how ecosystems work, a graduate student has discovered. Enlisting a team of 40 middle school students, he set out to study a phenomenon that has been largely overlooked by the scientific community but is likely to bias ecology and climate studies. … > full story

    UK bird population down by 44m since 1966, report finds

    BBC News ‎- November 19, 2012

    The UK bird population has declined by 44 million since 1966, according to a report by conservation groups. The study is the first of its kind to give an overall view of how birds in the UK have fared over the decades. It found that while certain species had increased in number, populations of some common birds had diminished dramatically. The report, “State of the UK’s Birds 2012” (8MB download), was compiled from volunteers’ observations of birds since the 1960s. According to the report, carried out by experts from organisations such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the British Trust for Ornithology, there are an estimated 166 million birds nesting in the UK compared with 210 million in 1966. House sparrows were found to be among the worst hit, with numbers down by 20 million compared with the 1960s. Since 2000 a modest increase has been reported in sparrow numbers, but causes of the overall decline of the bird population remain unclear…. The State of the UK’s Birds 2012 report is produced by a coalition of the RSPB, British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), and the WWT, and the UK Government’s statutory nature conservation agencies.

     

    Birds studied to understand trade-offs between reproduction, immunity

    Phys.Org  - November 20, 2012‎

    Stewart is studying these small, migratory birds to better understand the trade-offs they make between reproduction and immunity.

     

     

    Birds Descended from Gliding Dinosaurs

    Discovery News November 21, 2012

    Evidence is mounting that modern birds descended from gliding, feathered non-avian dinosaurs. Two dinosaurs could be candidates for the bottom of the bird family tree, and each helps to reveal how feathers first evolved. “The oldest known feathered

     

    Group tries to save old-growth redwoods

    P Fimrite SF Chronicle November 18, 2012

    The hikers paused amid the cool dampness of the ancient forest to get a better look at a truly remarkable specimen of redwood jutting out of a lush hillside across Peters Creek in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The huge sequoia looked to be at least as large as the Patriarch Tree, a 285-foot giant a short walk away in Portola Redwoods State Park, but none of the walkers could accurately gauge the height of the tree, obscured as it was by the thick canopy. “That’s a big one,” said Larry Holmes, admiring the tree’s tremendous girth, unusual light-brownish color and the enormous striations in the bark creasing upward along the trunk. The stroll through this 145-acre forest in a canyon south of the San Mateo County town of La Honda was a walk back in time – to a place dominated by 1,000- and 2,000-year-old redwoods – but it is the future of the colossal trees that Holmes is concerned about. Preserving redwoods The 72-year-old Holmes, whose family has for 38 years owned what experts say is the third-largest old-growth redwood grove in the Santa Cruz Mountains, agreed this month to sell it to the San Francisco conservation group Save the Redwoods League. If the $8 million deal goes through, it would forever protect the land and establish a conservation easement on 214 acres of forest at nearby Boulder Creek. In all, 359 acres of some of the last remaining old-growth redwoods along the Peninsula would be preserved.

    “The residual amount of old growth in California is 5 percent or less of what it once was, so these trees are precious,” Holmes said. “We’ve always felt they should be part of the pak…

     

    New species literally spend decades on the shelf
    (November 19, 2012) — Many of the world’s most unfamiliar species are just sitting around on museum shelves collecting dust. That’s according to a new report showing that it takes more than 20 years on average before a species, newly collected, will be described. … > full story

     

    Eating right key to survival of whales and dolphins
    (November 21, 2012) — In the marine world, high-energy prey make for high-energy predators. And to survive, such marine predators need to sustain the right kind of high-energy diet. Not just any prey will do, suggests a new study. … > full story

     

    Emperor penguins budget time for short rests on ice during chick-rearing season
    (November 21, 2012) — For the first time, researchers tracking the behavior of emperor penguins near the sea have identified the importance of sea ice for the penguins’ feeding habits. The research describes emperor penguin foraging behavior through the birds’ chick-rearing season. … > full story

    New evidence on dinosaurs’ role in evolution of bird flight
    (November 21, 2012) — A new study looking at the structure of feathers in bird-like dinosaurs has shed light on one of nature’s most remarkable inventions — how flight might have evolved. … > full story

     


    Fragile Western Isles Ecosystem Under Threat: Misconceived Sea Defense Measures Will Destroy Machair, Says Expert

     

     


    November 20, 2012 — The traditional crofting way of life is under threat in Scotland’s Western Isles because of a fundamental misunderstanding of how Atlantic wave action affects their coastlines, a academic has … > full story

     

    Mosquitos fail at flight in heavy fog, though heavy rain doesn’t faze them
    (November 19, 2012) — Mosquitos have the remarkable ability to fly in clear skies as well as in rain, shrugging off impacts from raindrops more than 50 times their body mass. But just like modern aircraft, mosquitos also are grounded when the fog thickens. … > full story

    We’re in this together: A pathbreaking investigation into the evolution of cooperative behavior
    (November 19, 2012) — The origins of cooperative behavior are not altruism, but mutual interest, according to a new study. … > full story

     

    New model reveals how huddling penguins share heat fairly
    (November 17, 2012) — Penguins that face the bitter cold and icy winds of Antarctica often huddle together in large groups for warmth during storms. Mathematicians have created a model that shows how the penguins share heat fairly in the huddle. … > full story

     

    Urban noise makes flycatchers change length of their songs
    (November 20, 2012) — Do birds change their tune in response to urban noise? It depends on the bird species, according to new research. Their work shows that while some birds do adapt their songs in noisy conditions by means of frequency changes, others like the vermilion flycatchers adapt their song by means of changes in song lengths. … > full story

     

    High tech bird count: Radar used to track raptors

    AP-Bruce Smith- November 18, 2012– Officials at the Center for Birds of Prey say it’s thought to one of the only places where modified marine radar is being used to help count raptors. A small, rotating radar dish linked to a computer was set up this year in a field adjoining the… more »

     

     

    Water wars- NATURE

    Environmental protections must not wait until a population is about to disappear.

    21 November 2012

    Where there are serious threats to the environment, governments should not postpone cost-effective preventative measures because the scientific evidence is inconclusive. So says the precautionary principle, an idea enshrined in several international treaties, including the declaration signed in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Many scientists think that this principle should have long ago triggered action to curb the damage to aquatic wildlife caused by the synthetic hormone ethynyl oestradiol (EE2), an ingredient of birth-control pills that passes through wastewater treatment plants and into streams and lakes (see page 503). In 2004, for example, the UK Environment Agency declared that the hormone feminizes male fish and is likely to damage entire fish populations. It later concluded that this damage is unacceptable in the long term…..

     

    New strain of bird virus sweeps across Britain
    (November 21, 2012) — Scientists report on the impact avian pox is having on great tit populations. … > full story

    Bornean Elephant: Genomics helps with conservation
    (November 21, 2012) — Studying the genetic variability of endangered species is becoming increasingly necessary for species conservation and monitoring. But, endangered species are difficult to observe and sample, and typically harbour very limited genetic diversity. Until now, the process of finding genetic markers was time consuming and quite expensive. Scientists have now contributed to change the odds when looking for diversity. Taking advantage of cutting edge DNA sequencing methodology they were able to identify the genetic markers for the Bornean elephant, an endangered species, using blood from very few animals. … > full story

    Rare ocelot sighting in Huachuca Mountains

    November 20, 2012 (AP) — State wildlife officials say recent photographs taken by a hunter of an ocelot appear to show the endangered cat is the same one spotted in the Huachuca Mountains last year. The Arizona Game and Fish Department says the latest… more »

     

    Wildlife Patterns Changing in California

    Tom Stienstra SF Chronicle November 17, 2012

     

     

     

    • CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

     

    Indirect effects of climate change could alter landscapes
    (November 16, 2012) — Studies of a northern hardwood forest in New England point to unexpected ecological trends resulting from documented changes in the climate over 50 years. Some of the changes now taking place can be expected to alter the composition of the forest and the wildlife present. The observations may have implications for other northern forests and suggest directions for future research and monitoring. Much biological research on climate change focuses on the impacts of warming and changes in precipitation over wide areas. Researchers are now increasingly recognizing that at the local scale they must understand the effects of climate change through the intertwined patterns of soils, vegetation, and water flowpaths — not forgetting the uses humans have made of the landscape. In the December issue of BioScience researchers describe how aboveground and belowground responses to springtime warming are becoming separated in time in a forest in New England. This and other indirect effects of climate change could alter the dominant trees and other plants in the region as well as the wildlife present, with likely consequences for local industry and tourism. … > full story

     

    What goes down must come back up: Effects of 2010-11 La Niña on global sea level
    (November 19, 2012) — In 2010-11, global sea level fell nearly a quarter inch. But, when it comes to long-term sea level, what comes down must eventually come back up. For most of the past two decades, the NASA and European Topex/Poseidon, Jason-1 and Jason-2 satellites have tracked the gradual rise of the world’s ocean in response to global warming. In August 2011, scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and the University of Colorado in Boulder reported that global sea level rise had hit a speed bump. The researchers found that between early 2010 and summer 2011, global sea level fell sharply, by about a quarter of an inch, or half a centimeter. Using data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) spacecraft, they showed that the drop was caused by the very strong La Niña that began in late 2010. This periodic Pacific Ocean climate phenomenon changed rainfall patterns all over our planet, moving huge amounts of Earth’s water from the ocean to the continents, primarily to Australia, northern South America and Southeast Asia.

    Now, a new paper published recently in the journal Geophysical Research Letters documents the effects of the 2010-11 La Niña on global sea level and updates the measurements. The result: as predicted, by mid-2012, global mean sea level had not only recovered from the more than 0.2 inches (5 millimeters) it dropped in 2010-11, but had resumed its long-term mean annual rise of 0.13 inches (3.2 millimeters) per year. … > full story

     

    Conserving biodiversity and sustaining livelihoods are essential components for achieving climate change mitigation goals in long run
    (November 15, 2012)
    The world’s rapidly dwindling forests should be valued as more than just “carbon warehouse
    s” to mitigate climate change, according to a new report released November 17 from the International Union of Forest Research Organizations(IUFRO), the world’s largest network of forest scientists. In fact, biodiversity is found to be a critical determinant of a forest’s ability to absorb greenhouse gases. The assessment also stresses that accounting for those who live in or near forests when implementing REDD+ increases the likelihood of achieving carbon and biodiversity goals.
    The report is the most comprehensive scientific analysis to date of the relationship between biodiversity, forest management and climate change mitigation in the framework of the United Nations-backed initiative REDD+ (reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and enhancing forest carbon stocks in developing countries). It examines the social implications of forest and land management interventions envisaged under REDD+, emphasizing the need for an integrated landscape management approach and the fine-tuning of local strategies that involve all people who have a stake in forests.full story

     


    Climate Change: Believing and Seeing Implies Adapting

     

     


    November 22, 2012 — To communicate climate change and adaptation to stakeholders such as European forest owners is a challenge. A capacity to adapt to climate change has, until now, mainly been understood as how trees and forest ecosystems can adapt to climate change and which socio-economic factors determine the implementation of adaptive measures. … The new study lead by Kristina Blennow from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), shows, for the first time, the importance of two personal factors; when forest owners believe in and see the effects of climate change, they are more likely to have taken adaptive measures. These two personal factors almost completely explain and predict forest owners’ adaptation to climate change… Fifty percent of the forest area in Europe is privately owned. Hence, the results of the study show that the personal climate change belief and perception of those who make decisions for adaptation at the local level strongly influences the adaptive capacity of a substantial proportion of the European forest sector. The findings of the team of researchers have implications for effective climate change policy communication. They indicate that gathering and disseminating evidence of climate change and its effects could be an efficient strategy to increase people’s perceptions of having experienced climate change and hence to consider the need to take adaptive measures…..> full story

    Kristina Blennow, Johannes Persson, Margarida Tomé, Marc Hanewinkel. Climate Change: Believing and Seeing Implies Adapting. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (11): e50182 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050182

    Lower satellite-gravimetry estimates of Antarctic sea-level contribution 
    Matt A. King, Rory J. Bingham, Phil Moore, Pippa L. Whitehouse, Michael J. Bentley et al. NATURE November 22, 2012
    A new model of glacial isostatic adjustment used in conjunction with GRACE satellite data suggests that ice loss from Antarctica is contributing 0.19 millimetres per year to global mean sea level, which is substantially less than previous GRACE-based estimates. … We resolve 26 independent drainage basins and find that Antarctic mass loss, and its acceleration, is concentrated in basins along the Amundsen Sea coast. Outside this region, we find that West Antarctica is nearly in balance and that East Antarctica is gaining substantial mass.

     

     

    US drought worsens after weeks of improvement – SFGate ST. LOUIS (AP) November 23, 2012— The worst U.S. drought in decades has deepened again after more than a month of encouraging reports of slowly improving conditions, a drought-tracking consortium said Wednesday, as scientists struggled for an explanation other than a simple lack of rain. While more than half of the continental U.S. has been in a drought since summer, rain storms had appeared to be easing the situation week by week since late September. But that promising run ended with Wednesday’s weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report, which showed increases in the portion of the country in drought and the severity of it. The report showed that 60.1 percent of the lower 48 states were in some form of drought as of Tuesday, up from 58.8 percent the previous week. The amount of land in extreme or exceptional drought — the two worst classifications — increased from 18.3 percent to 19.04 percent…

     

     

    Climate Change Is Already Worsening Droughts In Many Ways: Nature Gets It Wrong–And Right

    Trenberth slams new Nature article on drought: “The conclusions of the paper are likely wrong.”

    By Joe Romm on Nov 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    A flawed new article in Nature has a title that sums up its controversial conclusion, “Little change in global drought over the past 60 years.” I generally judge an article at odds with the broad literature in two ways. How well does it cite and respond to the literature? What do the other leading experts in the field say? This new article comes up short in both areas. Kevin Trenberth, former head of the climate analysis section of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, has sent me a strong critique which is printed below. NCAR’s Aiguo Dai also sent me a critique.

    The new article simply ignores or dismisses a considerable amount of the drought literature and focuses instead on one narrow metric of soil moisture. But as I wrote last year in a Comment that reviewed much of the recent literature for Nature, “The Next Dust Bowl” (subs. req’d, full text here), climate change worsens droughts in three synergistic ways: A basic prediction of climate science is that many parts of the world will experience longer and deeper droughts, thanks to the synergistic effects of drying, warming and the melting of snow and ice.

    Precipitation patterns are expected to shift, expanding the dry subtropics. What precipitation there is will probably come in extreme deluges, resulting in runoff rather than drought alleviation. Warming causes greater evaporation and, once the ground is dry, the Sun’s energy goes into baking the soil, leading to a further increase in air temp- erature. That is why, for instance, so many temperature records were set for the United States in the 1930s Dust Bowl; and why, in 2011, drought-stricken Texas saw the hottest summer ever recorded for a US state. Finally, many regions are expected to see earlier snowmelt, so less water will be stored on mountain tops for the summer dry season. Added to natural climatic variation, such as the El Niño–La Niña cycle, these factors will intensify seasonal or decade-long droughts. Although the models don’t all agree on the specifics, the overall drying trends are clear.

    There is simply little doubt that many dry areas have gotten drier and/or warmed up and/or seen earlier snowmelt. I think it bizarre to claim that there is little change in global drought over the past 60 years when there are so many studies and analyses to the contrary directly linking severe droughts to climate change:

    The World Bank’s must-read new report, “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided,” gets this right: “One affected region is the Mediterranean, which experienced 10 of the 12 driest winters since 1902 in just the last 20 years (Hoerling et al. 2012). Anthropogenic greenhouse gas and aerosol forcing are key causal factors with respect to the downward winter precipitation trend in the Mediterranean (Hoerling et al. 2012)…. East Africa has experienced a trend towards increased drought frequencies since the 1970s, linked to warmer sea surface temperatures in the Indian-Pacific warm pool (Funk 2012), which are at least partly attributable to greenhouse gas forcing (Gleckler et al. 2012). Furthermore, a preliminary study of the Texas drought event in 2011 concluded that the event was roughly 20 times more likely now than in the 1960s (Rupp, Mote, Massey, Rye, and Allen 2012).”

    You won’t find any of those studies referenced in the new Nature article. You can find Funk 2012 and Rupp et al 2012 in the The Bulletin of the  American Meteorological Society Special Issue, “Explaining Extreme Events of 2011 from a Climate Perspective.”

    I find it is especially surprising that Nature would publish this piece when three months ago its sister publication, Nature Climate Change, published a piece by Dai, “Increasing drought under global warming in observations and model” that is utterly at odds with it. There is simply no way both of these papers can be true — and yet the new Nature piece never discusses the Nature Climate Change piece. Dai’s paper notes: “Historical records of precipitation, streamflow and drought indices all show increased aridity since 1950 over many land areas….I conclude that the observed global aridity changes up to 2010 are consistent with model predictions, which suggest severe and widespread droughts in the next 30– 90 years over many land areas resulting from either decreased precipitation and/ or increased evaporation.” The new Nature paper dismisses previous work by Dai, unjustifiably according to Dai and Trenberth, but in any case, Dai’s Nature Climate Change goes much further in reconciling models with observations. Nature shouldn’t have published this new paper without a serious effort first to reconcile these two papers……

     

    Climate change evident across Europe, says report

    By Mark Kinver Environment reporter, BBC News 21 November 2012

    The effects of climate change are already evident in Europe and the situation is set to get worse, the European Environment Agency has warned. = In a report, the agency says the past decade in Europe has been the warmest on record. It adds that the cost of damage caused by extreme weather events is rising, and the continent is set to become more vulnerable in the future. The findings have been published ahead of next week’s UN climate conference. They join a UN Environment Programme report also released on Wednesday showing dangerous growth in the “emissions gap” – the difference between current carbon emission levels and those needed to avert climate change. “Every indicator we have in terms of giving us an early warning of climate change and increasing vulnerability is giving us a very strong signal,” observed EEA executive director Jacqueline McGlade. “It is across the board, it is not just global temperatures,” she told BBC News. “It is in human health aspects, in forests, sea levels, agriculture, biodiversity – the signals are coming in from right across the environment.” The report – Climate Change, Impacts and Vulnerabilities in Europe 2012 – involving more than 50 authors from a range of organisations, listed a number of “key messages”….On Monday, the World Bank published a report that warned that the world was “on track to a 4C [increase by the end of the century] marked by extreme heatwaves and life-threatening sea-level rise”. It added that the world’s poorest regions would be hardest hit by the warming, which was “likely to undermine efforts and goals”. “A 4C warmer world can, and must be, avoided – we need to hold warming below 2C,” said World Bank group president Jim Yong Kim. “Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today.”…

     


    Warming to Shift Heavy Rainfall Patterns in the UK

     

     


    November 20, 2012 — It appears that it’s not just us Brits who are fascinated with the UK weather. A group of researchers from Germany has taken to investigating the potential changes in extreme rainfall patterns … > full story

     

    UN climate report shows gap between talk and action growing as emissions rise

    Published November 21, 2012 Associated Press
    STOCKHOLM –  A U.N. report on rising greenhouse gas emissions reminded world governments Wednesday that their efforts to fight climate change are far from enough to meet their stated goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit).

    The report by the U.N. Environment Program, released just days ahead of a major climate conference, said the concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is up about 20 percent since 2000. Scientists say those emissions are contributing to climate change and that failure to contain them could have dangerous consequences, including rising sea levels inundating coastal cities, dramatic shifts in rainfall disrupting agriculture and drinking water, the spread of diseases and the extinction of species. Emissions levels, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, need to come down by 14 percent by 2020 for the world to reach a pathway that could keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, compared with pre-industrial levels, UNEP said. That’s the stated goal of U.N. climate negotiations, which resume next week in Doha, Qatar. But it won’t happen if countries don’t come ahead with more ambitious plans to cut emissions than what’s currently on the table. The U.N. agency said if no swift action is taken, emissions are likely to hit 58 gigatons in 2020 — 14 gigatons too much to have a chance of limiting warming to 2 degrees. The projected gap is now bigger than it was last year and in 2010….

     

    Clocks are ticking and climate is changing: Increasing plant productivity in a changing climate
    (November 16, 2012) — Scientists are looking to cellular biological clocks as a target for genetic modification for increasing plant productivity. … > full story

    Himalayan glaciers will shrink by almost 10 percent, even if temperatures hold steady
    (November 16, 2012) — If Bhutan’s climate did not warm, glaciers in the monsoonal Himalayas would still shrink by almost 10 percent within the next few decades. What’s more, the amount of melt water coming off these glaciers could drop by 30 percent. … > full story

     


    Melting sea ice. (Credit: © Patrick Poendl / Fotolia)

    Ocean currents play a role in predicting extent of Arctic sea ice
    (November 21, 2012) — Researchers have developed a new method to accurately simulate the seasonal extent of Arctic sea ice and the ocean circulation beneath. … Each winter, wide swaths of the Arctic Ocean freeze to form sheets of sea ice that spread over millions of square miles. This ice acts as a massive sun visor for Earth, reflecting solar radiation and shielding the planet from excessive warming. The Arctic ice cover reaches its peak each year in mid-March, before shrinking with warmer spring temperatures. But over the last three decades, this winter ice cap has shrunk: Its annual maximum reached record lows, according to satellite observations, in 2007 and again in 2011.

    Understanding the processes that drive sea-ice formation and advancement can help scientists predict the future extent of Arctic ice coverage — an essential factor in detecting climate fluctuations and change. But existing models vary in their predictions for how sea ice will evolve.

    Now researchers at MIT have developed a new method for optimally combining models and observations to accurately simulate the seasonal extent of Arctic sea ice and the ocean circulation beneath. The team applied its synthesis method to produce a simulation of the Labrador Sea, off the southern coast of Greenland, that matched actual satellite and ship-based observations in the area. Through their model, the researchers identified an interaction between sea ice and ocean currents that is important for determining what’s called “sea ice extent” — where, in winter, winds and ocean currents push newly formed ice into warmer waters, growing the ice sheet. Furthermore, springtime ice melt may form a “bath” of fresh seawater more conducive for ice to survive the following winter….”Until a few years ago, people thought we might have a seasonal ice-free Arctic by 2050,” Heimbach says. “But recent observations of sustained ice loss make scientists wonder whether this ice-free Arctic might occur much sooner than any models predict … and people want to understand what physical processes are implicated in sea-ice growth and decline.” In a novel approach, they developed a method known in computational science and engineering as “optimal state and parameter estimation” to plug in a variety of observations to improve the simulations….Martin Losch, a research scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany, says the feedback mechanism identified by the MIT group is important for predicting sea-ice extent on a regional scale. “The dynamics of climate are complicated and nonlinear, and are due to many different feedback processes,” says Losch, who was not involved with the research. “Identifying these feedbacks and their impact on the system is at the heart of climate research.”

    full story

     


    Plant ecology: Forests on the brink

     

     

    Bettina M. J. Engelbrecht

    Nature (2012) doi:10.1038/nature11756 Published online 21 November 2012 (subs only)

    An analysis of the physiological vulnerability of different trees to drought shows that forests around the globe are at equally high risk of succumbing to increases in drought conditions.

     

    Sandy uprooted trees by the thousands in NY, NJ

    JIM FITZGERALD, Associated Press Associated Press November 17, 2012

    NEW YORK (AP) — They fell by the thousands, like soldiers in some vast battle of giants, dropping to the earth in submission to a greater force. The winds of Superstorm Sandy took out more trees in the neighborhoods, parks and forests of New York and New Jersey than any previous storm on record, experts say. Nearly 10,000 were lost in New York City alone, and “thousands upon thousands” went down on Long Island, a state parks spokesman said. New Jersey utilities reported more than 113,000 destroyed or damaged trees. “These are perfectly healthy trees, some more than 120 years old, that have survived hurricanes, ice storms, nor’easters, anything Mother Nature could throw their way,” said Todd Forrest, a vice president at the New York Botanical Garden. “Sandy was just too much.”

     

    Storm surge barriers for Manhattan could worsen effects on nearby areas: Other options proposed
    (November 19, 2012) — The flooding in New York and New Jersey caused by Superstorm Sandy prompted calls from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other officials to consider building storm surge barriers to protect Lower Manhattan from future catastrophes. But, such a strategy could make things even worse for outlying areas that were hit hard by the hurricane, such as Staten Island, the New Jersey Shore and Long Island’s South Shore, a City College of New York landscape architecture professor warns. …

     

     

     

     

    • POLICY

     

    Obama’s Action On Climate Change Boils Down To Two Words

    Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian UK | Nov. 23, 2012, 10:19 AM | 514 | 3

    Barack Obama is being pressed for proof of his intent to act on climate change ahead of next week’s United Nations global warming summit in Doha.

    The proof might boil down to just two words: two degrees. An early statement at Doha that America remains committed to the global goal of limiting warming to 2C above pre-industrial levels would be a clear sign. Every statement from US diplomats at the Doha negotiations will be closely scrutinised for signs that Obama will indeed make climate change a priority of his second term – and that America remains committed to the global agreement diplomats have been seeking for 20 years. Campaigners say Obama’s re-election, superstorm Sandy and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s endorsement – predicated on climate change – put climate change back on the domestic agenda. Opinion polls suggest public concern in the US about climate change was rising even before Sandy. Campaigners argue Obama needs to engage on climate, if he wants to safeguard his legacy as president. “President Obama’s re-election provides him with an opportunity to seal his legacy as a truly transformative leader, but he needs to address climate change,” said Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute. “I think history will judge any president from now onwards not to have succeeded if he doesn’t really grapple with this issue seriously.”…

     

     

    Developing nations push rich on climate targets ahead of talks

    BEIJING | Wed Nov 21, 2012 5:55am GMT (Reuters) – Talks on a new climate change treaty in Qatar next week will not advance unless rich countries promise more ambitious cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, four major developing nations said. The four nations, Brazil, China, India and South Africa -known in climate talks as the BASIC bloc – released a joint ministerial statement late on Tuesday saying responsibility for the outcome of the latest round of U.N. climate talks in Doha lay in the hands of rich countries.

     

    World’s Largest Investors Call For Climate Change Action

    By David Fogarty SINGAPORE, Nov 20 (Reuters) – A coalition of the world’s largest investors called on governments on Tuesday to ramp up action on climate change and boost clean-energy investment or risk trillions of dollars in investments and disruption to economies.
    In an open letter, the alliance of institutional investors, responsible for managing $22.5 trillion in assets, said rapidly growing greenhouse gas emissions and more extreme weather were increasing investment risks globally.
    The group called for dialogue between investors and governments to overhaul climate and energy policies.

    The call comes less than a week before major U.N. climate talks in Doha, Qatar. Almost 200 nations will meet in Doha from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7 to try to extend the Kyoto Protocol, the existing plan for curbing greenhouse gas emissions by developed nations that runs to the end of 2012.On Sunday, the World Bank said current climate policies meant the world was heading for a warming of up to 4 degrees Celsius by 2100. That will trigger deadly heat waves and droughts, cut food stocks and drive up sea levels.
    “Current policies are insufficient to avert serious and dangerous impacts from climate change,” said the group of investors from the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia….

     

     

    Call to modernize antiquated climate negotiations
    (November 18, 2012) — The structure and processes of United Nations climate negotiations are “antiquated”, unfair and obstruct attempts to reach agreements, according to new research. … > full story

     

    China issues report addressing climate change

    2012-11-21 (Xinhua) BEIJING – China on Wednesday published a report detailing policies and efforts that have been made over the past year in facing up to the challenges of global climate change. The report, titled China’s Policies and Actions for Addressing Climate Change (2012), was released before the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held from Nov 26 to Dec 7 in Doha, Qatar. The report outlines actions taken by the Chinese government to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It also documents measures to promote the building of low-carbon communities and advance international negotiation and cooperation. During the 2006-2010 period, the aggregate energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) dropped 19.1 percent from that of 2005, which is equivalent to a reduction of 1.46 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. This means China has accomplished its energy conservation goals listed in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-2010), said the report. By 2015, the nation aims to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 16 percent, cut CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 17 percent, and raise the proportion of non-fossil fuels in the overall primary energy mix to 11.4 percent, said the report. In 2011, natural disasters caused by extreme weather and climate events affected 430 million people in the country and caused economic losses of 309.6 billion yuan ($49.6 billion). The upcoming Doha Climate Change Conference is of great significance for maintaining the basic legal framework of the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol, the report said.

     

    Nearly 200 Leading Global Companies And Investors Call For ‘Clear, Stable, Ambitous’ Carbon Price

    By Climate Guest Blogger on Nov 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm by Tom Wittig

    Even as the Obama Administration backs away from making climate change an immediate priority in its second term, the world’s leading companies — some of them fossil fuel companies — are calling for more action.

    Last week, Exxon reiterated its support for a carbon tax in order to “address rising emissions.” And this week, Royal Dutch Shell has come out in support of a global initiative to curb greenhouse gas emissions.  The oil giant cosigned a letter with Statoil and 100 other companies asking politicians worldwide to put a predictable price on carbon. The joint letter will be presented to Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner on Climate Change: A clear, stable, ambitious and cost-effective policy framework is essential to underpin the investment needed to deliver substantial greenhouse gas emissions reductions by mid-century. As business leaders, we believe that the certainty created by this policy framework and the investment it will unlock offers the prospect of increased business success and job creation in key sectors including energy, transport and the built environment.

    Released ahead of the UN climate talks in Doha, Qatar, the letter points out that “a convincing strategy to reduce emissions… continues to evade the global community,” but warns against considering carbon pricing a “silver bullet.” Instead, the companies advocate combining carbon pricing “with other locally appropriate policies.”….

     

    The Road To Climate Disaster Is Paved With Coal: 1,200 New Coal Plants Planned Around The World

    By Stephen Lacey on Nov 20, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Some weeks, a few news stories come together to illustrate just how dire the situation is for the world’s climate. This week is one of them. This morning, new data from the World Meteorological Organization showed that carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide levels hit record highs in 2011. As of last year, concentrations of CO2 — one of the most abundant heat-trapping gases — hit 390.9 parts per million. (350 ppm is what many scientists say is the upper limit on “safe” levels of CO2). According to WMO, we’ve seen a 30 percent increase in “radiative forcing” — i.e. the amount of heat trapped on earth — since 1990. These record levels of greenhouse gas emissions aren’t a huge surprise considering that other organizations have reported similar findings. The real news is what the world intends to do about it. And according to a new report on the global pipeline for coal-fired power plants — a technology that accounted for 45 percent of CO2 in 2011 — there’s not much hope for slowing the record pace of global warming pollution. According to a new analysis released today by the World Resources Institute, there are nearly 1,200 new coal plants planned for construction around the world. Most of those plants will be built in China and India, but there are dozens planned for America, Australia, Europe, and Russia……

     

    EarthTalk / Deforestation and global warming

    Published 2:49 p.m., Saturday, November 17, 2012

    Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that cutting and burning trees adds more global warming pollution to the atmosphere than all the cars and trucks in the world combined? — Mitchell Vale, Houston, Texas By most accounts, deforestation in tropical rainforests adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than the sum total of cars and trucks on the world’s roads. According to the World Carfree Network, cars and trucks account for about 14 percent of global carbon emissions, while most analysts attribute upwards of 15 percent to deforestation. The reason that logging is so bad for the climate is that when trees are felled they release the carbon they are storing into the atmosphere, where it mingles with greenhouse gases from other sources and contributes to global warming accordingly. The upshot is that we should be doing as much to prevent deforestation as we are to increase fuel efficiency and reduce automobile usage. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, a leading green group, 32 million acres of tropical rainforest were cut down each year between 2000 and 2009 — and the pace of deforestation is only increasing. “Unless we change the present system that rewards forest destruction, forest clearing will put another 200 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere in coming decades,” the EDF reported. “Any realistic plan to reduce global warming pollution sufficiently — and in time — to avoid dangerous consequences must rely in part on preserving tropical forests,” the EDF reported. But it’s hard to convince the poor residents of the Amazon basin and other tropical regions of the world to stop cutting down trees when the forests are still worth more dead than alive. “Conservation costs money, while profits from timber, charcoal, pasture and cropland drive people to cut down forests,” the EDF reported.

     

    Gore: Potential for Congress climate deal growing

    By Zack Colman – 11/21/12 01:14 PM ET thehill.com

    Former Vice President Al Gore says a window is opening to work on climate change legislation in Congress. “I’m not saying we’re right on the tipping point. I know better than that. But neither do I think it’s accurate to say that we’re stuck in neutral. I don’t think we are,” he said in an interview with Grist.

    He said former climate change deniers are shifting their opinions in response to extreme weather events.  And while Gore said “you wouldn’t wanna bet money” on getting a carbon tax passed, he noted the softening anti-climate rhetoric is positive. He said the mere fact conservatives raised the idea of a carbon tax — only to have some Republican leaders shoot it down — is a sign of progress. “I think there is a great deal of movement beneath the surface,” Gore said. But words are one thing — action is another. Gore said the Obama administration decision on the Keystone XL project is the first test to see whether the two match up. “I am strongly opposed to that tar-sands pipeline. I think it’s crazy. Again, you have the realpolitik/business logic, but I just think it is morally wrong for us to open a brand new source of even dirtier carbon-based energy when we are desperately trying to bend down the curves,” he said….

     

     

    US roads, airports unready for extreme weather

    JOAN LOWY, Associated Press Associated Press November 21, 2012

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s lifelines — its roads, airports, railways and transit systems — are getting hammered by extreme weather beyond what their builders imagined, leaving states and cities searching for ways to brace for more… Each time you replace a bridge, states have to be thinking about not just what kind of traffic demand there is, but how do I make sure this is a bridge that will withstand the future given the erratic weather patterns and climate change we’re seeing,” Hammond said. “It’s a new layer of analysis.” About half the states have taken some steps toward assessing their most critical vulnerabilities, experts said. But few have gone to the next step of making preparations. New York was an exception. Not only had transit officials made detailed assessments of the potential effects of climate change, but they’d started to put protections in place. Subway entrances and ventilation grates were raised in low-lying areas to reduce flooding, but that effort was overwhelmed by Sandy…..

     

    Jerry Brown: Act now on climate change

    David R. Baker San Francisco Chronicle November 16, 2012

    California Gov. Jerry Brown urged thousands of entrepreneurs attending a green-building convention in San Francisco on Friday to push for more national action on climate change. Brown’s appearance at the Greenbuild conference came two days after California began the country’s first large-scale cap-and-trade system to limit greenhouse gases. The system will put a price on carbon dioxide emissions – something the federal government has failed to do. “California can only go so far,” Brown told the conference’s closing session, attended by several thousand people at the Moscone Center. “We can be a little bit in front, but we can’t be too far. So it’s up to you to galvanize all the other states, and the United States, to get with it.”…..

    California’s first carbon-credit auction raises $290 million

    The allowances sell for a few cents above the minimum price of $10 for the right to emit a ton of greenhouse gases. Still, state officials call it a success.

    By Ricardo Lopez, Los Angeles Times November 20, 2012

    In California’s first auction of greenhouse gas pollution credits, companies paid just a few cents more than the minimum price per ton of carbon, generating almost $290 million from the sale held last week.

    The state Air Resources Board announced Monday that it sold all 23.1 million allowances available for 2013 at $10.09 each, generating $233.3 million. The minimum price was $10. Additionally, the state sold only 14% of almost 40 million credits available for 2015. That generated an additional $55.8 million.

    “The auction was a success and an important milestone for California as a leader in the global clean-tech market,” board Chairwoman Mary D. Nichols said in a statement. “By putting a price on carbon, we can break our unhealthy dependence on fossil fuels.” The price per credit came in lower than what analysts and traders had expected. Some had predicted the allowances would sell for $11 to $15 a ton of carbon…..

     

    Conservation group: Utah fish is endangered

    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) November 20 2012— The Center for Biological Diversity has filed a petition seeking to have a small fish in the Virgin River Basin listed as an endangered species by the federal government. The federal government, Utah and conservation… more »

     

    Hawks Locked Up As Galapagos Rats Poisoned

    Stephanie Pappas, LiveScience Senior Writer Date: 16 November 2012 Time: 03:00 PM ET

    Wildlife officials at Galapagos National Park have rounded up 30 hawks on Pinzón Island for safekeeping while the island is carpeted with poisonous bait pellets designed to eradicate invasive rats.

    The temporary captivity will keep the hawks from eating any poison-contaminated rodents during the eradication project, which began in the park in 2011. Black rats, Norway rats and house mice snuck onto the islands after hitching rides on pirate and whaling ships in the 1600 and 1700s. Since then, they’ve threatened the islands’ bird and reptile species by scavenging their eggs — a major problem given that many Galapagos species are found nowhere else in the world. The invasive rats have also edged out native rodent species, driving the endemic Galapagos rice rat (Aegialomys galapagoensis) to extinction on Santa Cruz Island. As of 2010, black rats roamed over 90 percent of Galapagos land area, spread among at least 35 islands and islets. [Photos: The Peskiest Alien Mammals] Starting in the early 1980s, scientists and wildlife officials have attempted to control the rats and have successfully eradicated them from some islets. Last year, officials successfully eradicated rats on Rabida Island and a number of smaller landmasses. In the latest phase of the project, wildlife officials are dropping about 40 tons of poisoned bait via helicopter onto Pinzón Island and Plaza Sur, a small islet. Neither island has human residents, but officials are taking steps to protect the native Galapagos hawk (Buteo galapagoensis), which hunts small rodents. The 30 Galapagos hawks that live on Pinzón Island were captured last week and will be kept in captivity for two months, by which time the poisons will no longer be a threat. A similar technique was used on Rabida Island and other areas last year. The Galapagos aren’t the only islands to have problems with rat invaders. One Aleutian island actually earned the named “Rat Island” after a Japanese ship ran aground in the 1700s and flooded the place with invasive rodents. In 2008, a similar rat-bait project eliminated rats on the island….


    As Coasts Rebuild and U.S. Pays, Repeatedly, the Critics Ask Why

    Jeff Haller for The New York Times Multiple storms have shifted the sands on Dauphin Island. More Photos »

    By JUSTIN GILLIS and FELICITY BARRINGER Published: November 18, 2012

    DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. — Even in the off season, the pastel beach houses lining a skinny strip of sand here are a testament to the good life. They are also a monument to the generosity of the federal government. The western end of this Gulf Coast island has proved to be one of the most hazardous places in the country for waterfront property. Since 1979, nearly a dozen hurricanes and large storms have rolled in and knocked down houses, chewed up sewers and water pipes and hurled sand onto the roads. Yet time and again, checks from Washington have allowed the town to put itself back together. Across the nation, tens of billions of tax dollars have been spent on subsidizing coastal reconstruction in the aftermath of storms, usually with little consideration of whether it actually makes sense to keep rebuilding in disaster-prone areas. If history is any guide, a large fraction of the federal money allotted to New York, New Jersey and other states recovering from Hurricane Sandy — an amount that could exceed $30 billion — will be used the same way. Tax money will go toward putting things back as they were, essentially duplicating the vulnerability that existed before the hurricane. “We’re Americans, damn it,” said Robert S. Young, a North Carolina geologist who has studied the way communities like Dauphin Island respond to storms. “Retreat is a dirty word.” This island community of roughly 1,300 year-round residents has become a symbol of that reflexive policy. Like many other beachfront towns, Dauphin Island has benefited from the Stafford Act, a federal law that taps the United States Treasury for 75 percent or more of the cost of fixing storm-damaged infrastructure, like roads and utilities. At least $80 million, adjusted for inflation, has gone into patching up this one island since 1979 — more than $60,000 for every permanent resident. That does not include payments of $72 million to homeowners from the highly subsidized federal flood insurance program. Lately, scientists, budget-conscious lawmakers and advocacy groups across the political spectrum have argued that these subsidies waste money, put lives at risk and make no sense in an era of changing climate and rising seas. Some of them contend that reconstruction money should be tightly coupled with requirements that coastal communities begin reducing their vulnerability in the short run and that towns along shorelines facing the largest risks make plans for withdrawal over the long term. “The best thing that could possibly come out of Sandy is if the political establishment was willing to say, ‘Let’s have a conversation about how we do this differently the next time,’ ” said Dr. Young, a coastal geologist who directs the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University. “We need to identify those areas — in advance — that it no longer makes sense to rebuild.” A coalition in Washington called SmarterSafer.org, made up of environmentalists, libertarians and budget watchdogs, contends that the subsidies have essentially become a destructive, unaffordable entitlement. “We simply can’t go on subsidizing enormous numbers of people to live in areas that are prone to huge natural disasters,” said Eli Lehrer, the president of the conservative R Street Institute, part of the coalition.

     

    C.I.A. Closes Its Climate Change Office

    By JOHN M. BRODER November 20, 2012,

    The Central Intelligence Agency has disbanded its Center on Climate Change and National Security, a unit formed in 2009 to monitor the interplay between a warming planet and intelligence and security challenges…. The creation of the office drew fire at the time from some Republicans, who said it was an unnecessary expense and a distraction from the agency’s focus on terrorism and other more immediate threats. The agency did not say whether the closing was related to budget constraints or other political pressures. Todd Ebitz, a C.I.A. spokesman, said that the agency would continue to monitor the security and humanitarian challenges posed by climate change as part of its focus on economic security, but not in a stand-alone office…. Senator John Barrasso, Republican of Wyoming, has been the most vocal critic of the C.I.A.’s climate change work. He welcomed the closing of its office. “Closing the Climate Change Center at the C.I.A. was the right decision,” Mr. Barrasso said in a statement. “I offered an amendment on the Senate floor to eliminate the center because it was unnecessary, wasteful and totally out of place. It’s critically important for the C.I.A. to focus its resources on preventing terrorism and keeping Americans safe.”

     

    IU prof seeks US wildlife conservation network

    MARCELA CREPS, The Herald-Times Published 11:37 a.m., Saturday, November 17, 2012 BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — To take an overall approach to conservation, a group of researchers is advocating for a network for wildlife conservation to bring together governmental and private entities to work toward common goals. Indiana University professor Vicky Meretsky and the co-authors of a recently released article finished a program involving eight universities. Across the U.S., graduate students looked at state wildlife action plans that were completed in 2005. The students also interviewed wildlife managers and even reviewed press releases to see how the plans had progressed. “It was a good time to sort of look at what had been done on those plans,” Meretsky told The Herald-Times (http://bit.ly/T89Ix2 ).

    The students found that many states were expanding on what they were doing and increasing partnerships to help achieve their goals. By expanding their collaborations, state wildlife officials can garner access to new sources of funding and expertise. But not all states were as successful.
    “Overall, it was a pretty uneven story. Some states had embraced the opportunity. Some states found it a pain. Some states had capacity to respond readily and were able to do things like respond to funding opportunities,” Meretsky said…..

     

     

    Major land acquisition in Sierra announced

    (AP) November 18, 2012— About 3,000 acres of scenic backcountry in the Sierra Nevada north of Truckee will be permanently protected under a deal announced by two conservation groups. A fishing campground will remain in private hands for four years, then a… more »

     

    Air monitors needed at Chevron refinery

    Lois Kazakoff San Francisco Chronicle November 19, 2012

    An independently conducted study of the toxic contamination produced by the Aug. 6 Chevron refinery fire in detailed what the regional air board also should have known: the fire produced health-affecting toxic fallout. The Bay Area Air Quality… more »

     

    No More Magical Thinking

    by David Remnick November 19, 2012 The New Yorker

    ….. As President, however, he is faced with an infinitely larger challenge, one that went unmentioned in the debates but that poses a graver threat than any “fiscal cliff.” Ever since 1988, when NASA‘s James Hansen, a leading climate scientist, testified before the Senate, the public has been exposed to the issue of global warming. More recently, the consequences have come into painfully sharp focus. In 2010, the Pentagon declared, in its Quadrennial Defense Review, that changes in the global climate are increasing the frequency and the intensity of cyclones, droughts, floods, and other radical weather events, and that the effects may destabilize governments; spark mass migrations, famine, and pandemics; and prompt military conflict in particularly vulnerable areas of the world, including the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. The Pentagon, that bastion of woolly radicals, did what the many denialists in the House of Representatives refuse to do: accept the basic science.

    The economic impact of weather events that are almost certainly related to the warming of the earth—the European heat wave of 2003 (which left fifty thousand people dead), the Russian heat waves and forest fires of 2010, the droughts last year in Texas and Oklahoma, and the preëlection natural catastrophe known as Sandy—has been immense. The German insurer Munich Re estimates that the cost of weather-related calamities in North America over the past three decades amounts to thirty-four billion dollars a year. Governor Andrew Cuomo, of New York, has said that Sandy will cost his state alone thirty-three billion. Harder to measure is the human toll around the world—the lives and communities disrupted and destroyed.

    “If we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it,” Obama said, when he clinched the Democratic nomination in 2008, future generations will look back and say, “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.” Those generations assuredly will not. Although Obama, unlike his predecessor, recognized the dimensions of the problem, he never pursued measures remotely equal to it. To his credit, his Administration has directed ninety billion dollars to investments in clean energy, and has secured several billion for energy-conservation upgrades; he got Detroit to agree to better gas-mileage standards, and finally introduced CO2 emission standards for commercial trucks and buses. For the most part, though, the accumulating crisis of climate change has been treated as a third-tier issue.

    Last week, in his acceptance speech, Obama mentioned climate change once again. Which is good, but, at this late date, he gets no points for mentioning. The real test of his determination will be a willingness to step outside the day-to-day tumult of Washington politics and establish a sustained sense of urgency. There will always be real and consuming issues to draw his and the political class’s attention: a marital scandal at the C.I.A., a fiscal battle, an immigration bill, an international crisis. But, all the while, a greater menace grows ever more formidable.

    Inaction on climate change has an insidious ally: time. As the writer and activist Bill McKibben writes in The New York Review of Books, “Global warming happens just slowly enough that political systems have been able to ignore it. The distress signal is emitted at a frequency that scientists can hear quite clearly, but is seemingly just beyond the reach of most politicians.” When the financial system collapsed, the effects were swift and dramatic. People could debate how best to fix the problem, but they could not doubt that there was a problem and it had to be fixed. Yet, as Nicholas Stern, a former chief economist of the World Bank, who studied the costs of climate change for the British government, has observed, the risks are vastly greater than those posed by the collapse of the Western financial system.

    Meanwhile, the paltry attempts to reduce global warming are being overtaken elsewhere by the attempt to raise hundreds of millions of people out of abject poverty. Advances in living standards in China, India, and Africa will radically increase the demand for cars, televisions, air-conditioners, washing machines—in short, the demand for power and the burning of fossil fuels. There will be time to deal with climate change, politicians have persuaded themselves. But there will not be a better time. There will only be worse times.

    This election hinted at the defeat of a certain kind of magical thinking. It was a defeat for the idea that deficits can be reduced with across-the-board tax breaks. It was a defeat for Rovian analysts who defy statistics and infer from the “enthusiasm” of rallies that their man will win in a landslide. It was a defeat for the fantasy that the President was born in Kenya and has a secret socialist agenda.

    But Obama must now defeat an especially virulent form of magical thinking, entrenched on Capitol Hill and elsewhere: that a difficulty delayed is a difficulty allayed. Part of American exceptionalism is that, historically, this country has been the exceptional polluter and is therefore exceptionally responsible for leading the effort to heal the planet. It will be a colossal task, enlisting science, engineering, technology, regulation, legislation, and persuasion. We have seen the storms, the droughts, the costs, and the chaos; we know what lies in store if we fail to take action. The effort should begin with a sustained Presidential address to the country, perhaps from the Capitol, on Inauguration Day. It was there that John Kennedy initiated a race to the moon—meagre stakes compared with the health of the planet we inhabit. 

     

    Point Reyes oyster farm decision near

    Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle Updated 4:34 p.m., Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar toured a popular oyster farm at Point Reyes National Seashore on Wednesday that Park Service officials are trying to evict, saying he wanted a look at the operation before deciding whether it should stay. The visit comes amid a legal and philosophical slugfest over the fate of the shellfish operation on picturesque Drakes Bay.

    Salazar said he will make a decision next week on whether to extend Drakes Bay Oyster Co.‘s lease for 10 years, which would effectively prevent the National Park Service from turning the estuary into a marine wilderness. The option to extend the lease is on his desk largely because of Sen. Dianne Feinstein‘s criticism of what she and others have said was the Park Service’s unfair and, in some cases, dishonest attempts to kick the oyster farm out.

     

     

    • RESOURCES and REFERENCES

     

    WEBINAR Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012  1:30 PM to 3:00 PM EST   

    How Communities Can Become More Resilient to Extreme Weather and Climate Change Through Floodplain Regulations

    This webinar will feature a discussion of a model sea-level rise ordinance developed by the Georgetown Climate Center and insights from three experienced planners from Iowa, New Hampshire, and Mississippi.  Practitioners will share lessons learned and their experiences enhancing regulatory standards in floodplains in the wake of extreme weather events – lessons that may prove particularly valuable as the northeastern U.S. recovers from Superstorm Sandy.
    Add to Calendar
    Register Now!

    The nonpartisan Georgetown Climate Center seeks to advance effective climate and energy policies in the United States.  Recent work on sea-level rise has included the development of an adaptation toolkit and a model ordinance that implements adaptive measures and includes extensive policy analysis. Look for summary case studies on the Georgetown Climate Center website and in the Adaptation Clearinghouse following the webinar. 

     

    Santa Clara County: A Conservation Vision: Water, Wildlife, and Working Lands
    Date: 11/19/2012
    As you may know, the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority is in the process of developing a 30-year vision to guide our future land protection, stewardship, and recreation & education efforts. Please check out our project website at www.cvw3.org to share your ideas and learn more about A Conservation Vision: Water, Wildlife, and Working Lands! Help us spread the word by sharing the link to our project website with other folks who may be interested in participating in the project and shaping the conservation future of Santa Clara County.

     

    New Blog on Agriculture and Food Systems (source cattlenetwork.com)
    Farm Foundation hopes to broaden agriculture and food system conversations with a new blog titled “AgChallenge2050.” The blog provides a forum for agriculture and food system stakeholders to share their perspectives about food and agriculture issues. Contributors to AgChallenge2050 offer perspectives in four key areas of the Dialogue Project: farm and food policy; adaptability and resilience, the role of science and technology in agriculture, and human capital needs in agriculture and the food system. Farm Foundation intends for the site to provide an agenda-free space where people can engage in civil conversations about the food and agricultural systems.  To access the blog click here

     

     

    Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary: short video animation worth watching!

     

     

    JOBS:

     

    Migratory Bird Conservation Partnership Coordinator job description. Please encourage qualified applicants to apply at nature.org/careers

    The Partnership Coordinator supports the management and operations of the Migratory Bird Conservation Partnership, a collaboration of The Nature Conservancy, Audubon California and PRBO Conservation Science. The Coordinator will provide high-level partnership support requiring a wide range of skills, including the ability to manage projects independently, as well track the progress of projects being led by others. S/he will identify, develop and manage an internet-based file sharing system and develop a partnership calendar. With supervision, s/he will manage contractors and contracts. S/he will develop and edit a partnership newsletter and help develop marketing materials for external audiences, including website design and content. S/he will assist with fundraising by helping to write funding proposals and drafting reports to funders. S/he will support key partnership meetings by scheduling, helping to draft agendas, preparing staff for presentations, coordinating and synthesizing committee updates, and taking and distributing meeting notes. The Coordinator will coordinate an annual retreat for ~50 staff. S/he will have frequent interaction with staff from all three organizations, as well as external partners, donors and vendors. The Coordinator must have a positive attitude, patience, the ability to deal with and manage multiple personality types, through clear and frequent communications. It is essential that the

    Coordinator take the initiative to solve problems as they arise, seeking input and equitable solutions. The Partnership Coordinator should have a passion for conservation and be highly motivated. S/he will report to the Project Director for the Migratory Bird Initiative at The Nature Conservancy and will be based in Sacramento. This is an 18 month position with the possibility of renewal.

     

     

    Student Trainee- US Fish and Wildlife Service
    The Region 8 Division of Habitat Restoration (located in Auburn, CA) is recruiting for a student trainee.  The posting is currently open until Thursday November 15, but may be extended if necessary. Specific questions can be addressed to Carolyn Kolstad (Schoolyard Habitat Coordinator and Supervisor of this position) at carolyn_kolstad@fws.gov or 530-889-2308. For more information click here

    Executive Officer – Alameda County Resource Conservation District
    The Alameda County Resource Conservation District (ACRCD) has an
    opportunity for a highly motivated Executive Officer to manage the ACRCD, and partner with and support the agricultural and conservation community within Alameda County and the East Bay. The Executive Officer leads and manages the District team in the delivery of services as outlined by the Board of Directors and the District’s strategic plan. This highly collaborative position requires the ability to effectively communicate the District’s goals, activities, roles, and responsibilities to other agencies, organizations, and individuals. The ACRCD works in collaboration with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as the Conservation Partnership in Alameda County.  Deadline for applications is December 5. For more information click here.

     

     

    • RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

     

    Mixing processes could increase impact of biofuel spills on aquatic environments
    (November 16, 2012) — Ethanol, a component of biofuel made from plants such as corn, is blended with gas in many parts of the country, but has significantly different fluid properties than pure gasoline. A group of researchers wondered how ethanol-based fuels would spread in the event of a large aquatic spill. They found that ethanol-based liquids mix actively with water, very different from how pure gasoline interacts with water and potentially more dangerous to aquatic life. … > full story

     

    New energy technologies promise brighter future
    (
    November 19, 2012) — Creative new technologies could change our sources of energy, change our use of energy, and change our lives. … > full story

     

    Invisibility cloaking to shield floating objects from waves
    (November 19, 2012) — A new approach to invisibility cloaking may one day be used at sea to shield floating objects – such as oil rigs and ships – from rough waves. Unlike most other cloaking techniques that rely on transformation optics, this one is based on the influence of the ocean floor’s topography on the various “layers” of ocean water. At the American Physical Society’s (APS) Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD) meeting, being held November 18-20, 2012, in San Diego, Calif., Reza Alam, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, will describe how the variation of density in ocean water can be used to cloak floating objects against incident surface waves. … > full story

     

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    In a Flood-Troubled City, a Refreshing Argument About Climate Change

    By JIM DWYER NY TIMES Published: November 1, 2012

    Tucked into a few lines is a clue to long-forgotten chapters in the natural history of New York City. Looking out the window, Carraway describes the scene: “This is a valley of ashes — a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of men who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air.” The valley of ashes evoked by F. Scott Fitzgerald was, in history, the Corona Ash Dump, a receptacle for incinerated garbage; not long after the novel was published, Robert Moses, the shaper of 20th century New York, bought the dump, hauled off millions of tons of garbage, and staged the 1939 World’s Fair there. Today, it is Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, where the United States Open is played. But before it was anything shaped by humans, that ground was the kind of natural place that, this week showed, we urgently need: salt marsh, a living bumper that would protect the lands behind it by absorbing the force of surging tides.

    About 300,000 acres of tidal wetlands around New York City have been filled in by human development in the 19th and 20th centuries. All that remains are 15,500 acres, according to a 2009 report prepared by the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Those wetlands, on the margins of the islands and the coastline, act like sponges, slowing and baffling tidal forces. The 2009 report proposed restoring or creating 18,000 acres. Over time, these natural sponges were replaced — in New York and in many port cities — by hundreds of miles of sea walls, hardened edges. They allowed the land closest to the water to be developed, but the hard edges are in a losing war with rising sea levels and strong storms. This week, the ruins are everywhere: dozens killed, billions in property destroyed, transportation shut down, blackouts for millions.

    A professor at Queens College, Nicholas Coch, has described the unique vulnerability of the metropolitan area to hurricanes. Because New York and New Jersey form a kind of right angle, the counterclockwise forces of hurricanes are amplified. A Category 3 hurricane hitting New York would have the same power as a 4 or 5 farther south along the coast, Dr. Coch has warned. Water could reach 28 feet in Howard Beach and Jamaica, in Queens, he has said. The surge in this week’s storm was reported to have reached 17 feet. After Hurricane Katrina leveled much of New Orleans, many authorities spoke about the folly of building at or below sea level. “They talk about New Orleans, but the sad truth is that nearly all our infrastructure is below sea level,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said this week. Thinking out loud, he suggested the construction of huge sea gates. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Thursday he didn’t think they were realistic.
    That they disagreed, and did so in public, is one of the healthiest developments in civic life this year.

    The consensus of scientists globally is that climate change has taken place and has contributed to the rise of sea levels by close to a foot over the last century. Some forecasts suggest that in the years ahead, the increase will be more than 10 times greater. Yet climate change has been close to unmentionable during the presidential campaign. The agenda has been set by minority voices, some of them quietly financed by industries that might be threatened by measures to curb greenhouse gases. Somehow, by denying the existence of climate change, they managed to shut down debate over what to do about it. That is why a disagreement between the governor and the mayor about sea gates is so refreshing. The climate change issue led Mr. Bloomberg to endorse President Obama on Thursday. Wherever the debate goes nationally, New York will have to look hard at where and how it stands in the natural world. “We haven’t thought about redesigning for radically higher sea levels,” said Adrian Benepe, who recently left city government after three decades of service, most recently as commissioner of parks and recreation. Mr. Benepe, now an executive with the Trust for Public Land, said he had been intrigued by proposals included in “Rising Currents,” a 2010 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. “It may be that for the city to exist for the next century,” he said, “we’re going to have think in ways that we haven’t before.”


    Vetoing Business as Usual After the Storm

    By MICHAEL KIMMELMAN Published: November 19, 2012

     

    Patrick Ward/Corbis A flood barrier on the Thames, one of the ideas American experts are looking at in the wake of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy.


    Tineke Dijkstra/Hollandse Hoogte The Maeslant surge barrier between Rotterdam and the North Sea. Building similar projects to protect the New York region would test the limits of American democracy

    New York clearly ought to have taken certain steps a while back, no-brainers after the fact. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority ought to have installed floodgates and louvers at vulnerable subway entrances and vents. Consolidated Edison should have gotten its transformers, and Verizon its switching stations, out of harm’s way, and Congress should have ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to study the impact of giant barriers to block parts of the city from the sea. Scientists, architects, planners and others have, of course, been mulling over these issues for years. They’ve pressed for more parkland and bike lanes, green roofs and energy-efficient buildings, and warned about the need for backup generators, wetland edges along Lower Manhattan and barrier islands for the harbor to cushion the blow of rushing tides. Hurricane Sandy was a toll paid for procrastination. The good news? We don’t need to send a bunch of Nobel laureates into the desert now, hoping they come up with some new gizmo to save the planet. Solutions are at hand. Money shouldn’t be a problem either, considering the hundreds of billions of dollars, and more lives, another Sandy or two will cost. So the problem is not technological or, from a long-term cost-benefit perspective, financial. Rather it is the existential challenge to the messy democracy we’ve devised. The hardest part of what lies ahead won’t be deciding whether to construct Eiffel Tower-size sea walls across the Verrazano Narrows and Hell Gate, or overhauling the city’s sewage and storm water system, which spews toxic waste into rivers whenever a couple of inches of rain fall because the sea levels have already risen so much. These are monumental tasks. But more difficult still will be staring down the pain, dislocation and inequity that promise to upend lives, undo communities and shake assumptions about city life and society. More than requiring the untangling of colossal red tape, saving New York and the whole region for the centuries ahead will become a test of civic unity….. Now the task is to create a whole new ecological infrastructure for the region. The hurdles go beyond just a single state authority fearful to concede even a footbridge. They include an alphabet soup of agencies and public officials: Congress and the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut; the Corps of Engineers; FEMA; the Homeland Security Department; the New York State Public Service Commission (which in principle has the leverage to compel companies like Con Ed and Verizon to safeguard its equipment); Amtrak; the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; the city’s planning, transportation, parks and environmental protection departments; and the Port Authority, devised as the organization in charge of such epic undertakings, today a shadow of its former self.

     The Australians have a mantra for battling climate change: Protect, Redesign, Rebuild, Elevate, Relocate and Retreat. Guy Nordenson, a New York engineer who has spent years researching the subject, talks about controlling floods and controlled flooding, accepting that the water will ultimately get in. This means thinking like the Australians, long term about evolving nature. Our election cycle tends to thwart infrastructural improvements that can take decades and don’t provide short-term ribbon-cutting payoffs for politicians, which is why it’s a wry commonplace among engineers and architects that autocratic regimes make the most aggressive builders of massive projects.

     

    Holding Back Floodwaters With a Balloon

    ILC Dover The giant 16-foot diameter tunnel plug design is tested for inflation at manufacturer ILC Dover’s facility in Delaware.

    By HENRY FOUNTAIN Published: November 19, 2012

    As air flowed into it through a hose, the bundle inflated until it was crammed tight inside the 16-foot-diameter tunnel, looking like the filling in a giant concrete-and-steel cannoli. The three-minute procedure, conducted on a chilly morning this month in an airport hangar not far from West Virginia University, was the latest test of a device that may someday help guard real tunnels during disasters — whether a terrorist strike or a storm like Hurricane Sandy, whose wind-driven surge of water overwhelmed New York City’s subway system, shutting it down for days.

    “The goal is to provide flooding protection for transportation tunnels,” said John Fortune, who is managing the project for the federal Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate. The idea is a simple one: rather than retrofitting tunnels with metal floodgates or other expensive structures, the project aims to use a relatively cheap inflatable plug to hold back floodwaters. In theory, it would be like blowing up a balloon inside a tube. But in practice, developing a plug that is strong, durable, quick to install and foolproof to deploy is a difficult engineering task, one made even more challenging because of the pliable, relatively lightweight materials required. “Water is heavy, there’s a lot of pressure,” said Greg Holter, an engineer with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory who helps manage the project. “So it’s not as simple as just inflating and filling the space. The plug has to be able to withstand the pressure of the water behind it.” The idea has been in development for more than five years — this test was the 21st — and Dr. Fortune says there are at least a few more years of testing and design work ahead. If the plugs are shown to be effective, they will be made available to transit systems around the country; at least initially, they are expected to cost about $400,000 each. ….

     

     

    Do The Math: Mr. McKibben Goes To Washington

    By Stephen Lacey on Nov 19, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    ….Joined by other leaders of the climate activism movement, McKibben was at the Warner Theater yesterday — just blocks from the White House — discussing his new “Do The Math” campaign, which lays out the case for divesting from fossil fuel companies. It’s a no-nonsense, make-no-apologies approach to limiting carbon emissions by attempting to weaken the finances of companies responsible for climate change. When the lights dimmed and McKibben walked on stage to a theater full of roughly 1,800 cheering supporters, the large screen above his head prominently displayed a new mantra within the climate activism movement. “We’re going after the fossil fuel companies.”
    Simple. Aggressive. And a campaign waged almost completely outside the paralysis of national politics.

    Do The Math is based on a very simple premise. In order to have a serious chance (better than 3 in 4) of limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius — a threshold needed to prevent catastrophic climate change — the world can only emit about 565 gigatons of carbon dioxide by 2050. We will burn through that carbon in 16 years at our current rate. Fossil fuel companies have reported their intent to burn reserves of carbon five times that amount. So preventing uncontrollable global warming means keeping roughly 80 percent of proven carbon reserves in the ground.

    The International Energy Agency backed up those calculations in a report last week that concluded two thirds of carbon reserves need to stay in the ground by 2050 in order to avoid catastrophic climate change.

    Rather than wait on a weak signal from Washington that would likely result in very modest carbon reductions, activists are attempting to create a carbon price of their own by exposing the financial unhealthiness of fossil fuel companies…..

     

     

    Greenland’s viking settlers gorged on seals
    (November 19, 2012) — Greenland’s viking settlers, the Norse, disappeared suddenly and mysteriously from Greenland about 500 years ago. Natural disasters, climate change and the inability to adapt have all been proposed as theories to explain their disappearance. But now a Danish-Canadian research team has demonstrated the Norse society did not die out due to an inability to adapt to the Greenlandic diet: an isotopic analysis of their bones shows they ate plenty of seals. …

    “Nothing suggests that the Norse disappeared as a result of a natural disaster. If anything they might have become bored with eating seals out on the edge of the world. The skeletal evidence shows signs that they slowly left Greenland. For example, young women are underrepresented in the graves in the period toward the end of the Norse settlement. This indicates that the young in particular were leaving Greenland, and when the numbers of fertile women drops, the population cannot support itself,” Lynnerup explains….full story

     

    Spoils: Film Documents Americans Who Reap An ‘Extraordinary Harvest’ From Waste

    Posted: 21 Nov 2012 08:23 AM PST

    Food waste is a big deal in America. As grocery stores stock their shelves with holiday goodies, preparing for the rush of feasting consumers, much of what retailers sell won’t end up in people’s stomachs — it’ll end up in the trash.

    Each year, 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted around the world, much of it in rich countries where grocery stores throw out imperfect products and consumers toss uneaten food. Since the 1970′s, America has seen a 50 percent jump in the amount of food wasted, according to the National Resources Defense Council. Consumers play a major role, tossing away roughly 250 pounds of food per person every year. But supermarkets play an even bigger role, discarding 10 percent of America’s total food supply at the retail level.

    All that uneaten food accounts for nearly one quarter of U.S. methane emissions, a greenhouse gas that traps 25 times more heat than CO2.

    This problem has spawned a range of reports and education programs designed to get Americans and retailers to waste less. But there’s another option that often gets overlooked: why don’t we just eat more of the food that grocery stores are throwing in the dumpster? That cuts back on both consumer and retailer waste.

     

    Could fruit help to improve vascular health?
    (November 22, 2012) — New research aims to identify whether the nutrients in everyday fruit and vegetables could help to improve people’s cardiovascular health and protect them from Type-2 diabetes. … > full story

     

     

     

    • IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

    PRBO ecologists attaching radio transmitter on Dowitcher in CA’s Central Valley. Photo by Michelle Gilbert/PRBO.

     

     

     

     

     

    Envision Solar

     

    Protecting the City, Before Next Time

    Architecture Research Office and dlandstudio

    URBAN WETLANDS A rendering of Lower Manhattan that shows tidal marshes to absorb waves.

     

    Scape/Landscape Architecture

    WATERWORLD A reef constructed from rock and shell piles to host oyster growth, as seen in a rendering for a proposal in Brooklyn. Such a structure could filter water and mitigate storm surge.

     

    Scape/Landscape Architecture

    AQUACULTURE Oyster beds as depicted in a rendering for a proposal in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The shellfish could be cultivated by community groups and seeded on a planned reef, part of a water filtration and surge-mitigating system.

     

     


     

     

  3. Conservation Science News November 16, 2012

    Leave a Comment

    Highlight of the WeekWATER, DROUGHT and NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS

    1-ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED

    2-CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

    3-POLICY

    4-RESOURCES and REFERENCES

    5- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

    6-OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

    7-IMAGES OF THE WEEK

    ——————————–

    Highlight of the Week- WATER, DROUGHT and NATURE-BASED SOLUTIONS

     

     

     

    California Snowpack Outlook Grim for Water

    CLIMATE CHANGE Snowpack decline to hurt supply for cities, farms

    David Perlman Sunday, November 11, 2012

    The future of water for drinking and irrigation looks increasingly bleak throughout California and the world’s northern regions as the changing global climate shrinks mountain snowpacks and speeds early runoffs, Stanford researchers forecast. Decreases in winter snowpacks are likely to be most noticeable during the next 30 years and will continue to shrink through the century, according to an analysis of future climate trends by a team of specialists led by Noah Diffenbaugh at Stanford’s Department of Environmental Earth System Science. …

     

    Forecast: Drought And More Drought

    By Joe Romm on Nov 13, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Two charts tell the story. First, here’s last week’s U.S. Drought Monitor:


    David Miskus of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center explains why this drought persists: … a persistent ridge of high pressure located over the central Rockies kept the Southwest, Great Basin, and southern halves of the Rockies and Plains unseasonably mild and dry. The weakened Pacific storm systems were diverted northeastward into south-central Canada by the ridge, then southeastward by the eastern trough into the northern Plains, lower Missouri Valley, the Delta, and across the Southeast….

     

    Observations Support Predictions Of Extreme Warming And Worse Droughts This Century

    Posted: 09 Nov 2012 12:27 PM PST

    “Future warming likely to be on high side of climate projections,” concluded a new analysis by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). And that “higher temperature rise would produce greater impacts on society in terms of sea level rise, heat waves, droughts, and other threats.”

    Many in the media have been getting this story wrong — unintentionally lowballing the future warming we should expect this century if the NCAR analysis is correct. For instance, the Washington Post writes, “the world could be in for a devastating increase of about eight degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, resulting in drastically higher seas, disappearing coastlines and more severe droughts, floods and other destructive weather.” Not quite. The news release makes clear that amount of warming would likely occur well before 2100. Since this confusion is quite common in climate coverage, I’ll quote at length from NCAR to set the record straight:

    The most common benchmark for comparing model projections is equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS), or the amount of warming that eventually occurs in a model when carbon dioxide is doubled over preindustrial values. At current rates of global emission, that doubling will occur well before 2100.

    For more than 30 years, ECS in the leading models has averaged around 5 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius).  This provides the best estimate of global temperature increase expected by the late 21st century compared to late 19th century values, assuming that society continues to emit significant amounts of carbon dioxide. However, the ECS within individual models is as low as 3 degrees F and as high as 8 degrees F. At current rates of global emissions, that doubling (to 550 ppm) will occur around mid-century, and we might approach a quadrupling by 2100!

    The “good news” is that inherent delays in the climate system mean we don’t hit the ECS immediately upon doubling. The “bad news” is that the ECS ignores key non-equilibrium feedbacks like the release of carbon currently locked in the frozen tundra (see “Carbon Feedback From Thawing Permafrost Will Likely Add 0.4°F – 1.5°F To Total Global Warming By 2100“)….

     

     

     


    CRWFS Releases New Report on Water: From Storage to Retention

     

     

    Nov. 13, 2012.

    On November 13, 2012, the California Roundtable on Water and Food Supply releases its latest report, From Storage to Retention: Expanding California’s Options for Meeting Its Water Needs. The report builds on earlier work focused on agricultural water stewardship, and argues for an expansion of approaches to storing water that increase supply reliability for specialty crop agricultural production and other beneficial uses while protecting ecosystem health. Management approaches must support a broad range of options, including ecologically sound large-scale reservoirs, a patchwork of on-farm ponds, expanded soil capacity to retain water, and improvements in groundwater recharge, among others. The report highlights both a conceptual shift in water management that it argues is a necessary underpinning of effective water storage, and recommends a set of priority actions that constitute high-leverage opportunities to improve California’s water storage capacity and management. The Roundtable is grateful to the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and Gaia Fund for their support.

    Highlights

    Achieving a more effective and flexible water storage system requires a shift in the way that we, as a society, understand, define, and use storage as an element of integrated water management. Broadening our view of what constitutes a storage reservoir must be accompanied by a shift in our policies and programs to support a “retention” approach to storage—one that holds as much water as possible in the landscape for later use, while maintaining healthy ecosystems.
    To be more resilient and better prepared for future variations in water supply, California must take advantage of all storage opportunities throughout the system that meet the goals of reliable water supply and ecosystem restoration. Several valuable aspects of water storage tend to be overlooked in terms of their ability to contribute to the availability and reliability of water supplies for uses that benefit society. In particular, California’s agricultural lands play an important role in the storage infrastructure. The value of working lands in helping to sequester water for later use while achieving many benefits, such as food security, flood management and habitat restoration, represents a critical missed opportunity for improving water security.

    4 Key principles must guide efforts to ensure effective water retention in the future:

    1. Storage integrates all hydrological components affecting water availability, movement, and retention to improve supply reliability statewide for evolving needs.

    2. Comprehensive, timely, accurate, accessible, and transparent data and resulting information about our water resources is an essential foundation for effectively managing water storage in California.

    3. An effective storage system requires the coordination of policies and regulations, activities, oversight, and accountability of all government agencies to meet local, regional, and statewide needs simultaneously.

    4. Water storage and retention for improved water supply reliability and watershed health is facilitated by the availability of new sources of financial support that allow investment in quantified outcomes.

    Improving the flow of information through coordinated data management and institutional coordination can lead to powerful water retention outcomes. Several new and innovative funding mechanisms can complement traditional funding streams for water retention and are particularly well suited to agricultural applications.

     

     


     

     

    • ECOLOGY

     

     

    Pacific fishing zones: Lifeline for overfished tuna?
    (November 14, 2012) — Marine zoning in the Pacific Ocean, in combination with other measures, could significantly improve numbers of heavily overfished bigeye tuna and improve local economies, a fish modelling study has found. … > full story

     

    Scientists think a third of sea species unknown

    David Perlman SF Chron Updated 11:21 p.m., Thursday, November 15, 2012

    The world’s oceans are teeming with as many as a million different species – from microscopic plankton to monster whales – and possibly a third of them are still unknown to science, according to the first full-scale register of the seas’ diversity. The census of all the ocean’s plants and animals by hundreds of ocean scientists from around the world is just an estimate, but even still the species-by-species count is crucial for understanding the biodiversity of all the oceans and for protecting their future in a swiftly changing environment, said Stephen Palumbi, director of Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove. “It’s the best job ever of tallying everything we know – and what we don’t know – about life in the oceans today,” Palumbi said. “It’s the first time anyone’s done this kind of dirty work that’s so important with the world’s oceans facing a biodiversity crisis.” Scientists say the crisis has many causes, including overfishing as human populations increase, widespread damage to coastal environments, and increasing acidification of ocean waters as carbon dioxide levels rise in the atmosphere, to name three of the most significant threats….

     

    Australia: Native Street Trees Can Boost Birds’ Survival
    November 13, 2012
    As native birds continue to lose their homes due to the spread of the Australia’s cities, scientists are urging city planners and householders to help save them by planting more Australian trees. A world-first study in the Australian national capital shows that the amount of native trees on suburban streets has a big effect on the numbers and types of birds in the area. Scientists found that more than 30% native tree have 11% more bird species of all types than those with exotic street trees. The researchers surveyed 66 bird species at 40 locations across Canberra and grouped native birds by their tolerance of urbanization…

     

    Study offers new tool for incorporating water impacts into policy decisions
    (November 12, 2012) — A new policy-making framework provides a tool for assessing and valuing the many services clean water provides — from recreation and beauty to navigation and hydropower — and incorporating them into policy decisions. …

    If you’ve eaten fish, gone for a boat ride or even taken a drink from the tap, you know clean water is a valuable commodity. But just how valuable? That’s always been a tough question for policy makers to answer as they weigh the worth of clean water against societal needs that compromise it, such as the need to grow food or produce fossil fuels. Now, however, their ability to do so has been greatly enhanced by a new policy-making framework developed by a team of scientists led by Bonnie Keeler, research associate at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. The framework, published in the Nov. 6 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides a tool for assessing and valuing the many services clean water provides — from recreation and beauty to navigation and hydropower — and incorporating them into policy decisions. “After repeated requests for information on the value of water quality, we realized that there was a huge gap between the demand for economic values of water quality and our ability to provide tools to estimate those values. This gap limits our ability to make informed decisions,” Keeler said. “We provide a framework that describes the numerous pathways in which changes in water quality affect our health, recreation and livelihoods and the economic value of those changes. This yields a far more accurate picture of the costs and benefits of decisions.”…full story

    B. L. Keeler, S. Polasky, K. A. Brauman, K. A. Johnson, J. C. Finlay, A. O’Neill, K. Kovacs, B. Dalzell. Linking water quality and well-being for improved assessment and valuation of ecosystem services. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; 109 (45): 18619 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1215991109

     

    Species persistence or extinction: Through a mathematical lens
    (November 12, 2012) — A new study uses mathematical modeling to study Allee effects, the phenomenon by which a population’s growth declines at low densities. … > full story

     

     

    Conservationists in Conflict
    Many ecologists seek to restore damaged ecosystems to their original states, but others argue they are being ‘unrealistically nostalgic’ and that invading species open up new ecosystems. The phrases scientists choose to portray natural phenomena can shape our perceptions of the world, and affect crucial decisions made by policy-makers. The “novel ecosystems” theory, energetically promoted by a group of influential ecologists in recent years, is a case in point. The theory’s advocates say they are simply describing unprecedented changes in ecosystems, and warning of their consequences. Their critics claim that the way they have characterized these changes could have a disastrous impact on environmental policy. ..

    Over the last decade, restoration has become a front-line strategy in global conservation. At home, we have seen expanding restoration of native woodlands and, with more difficulty, of bog ecosystems. Restoration is now written large into European policy, with the EU committed to restoring 15 per cent of degraded landscapes by 2020. And yet, just at this breakthrough moment, novel-ecosystem theory appears to be undermining, from the inside as it were, basic restoration principles that have only recently been established. One of the foundational pillars of restoration science is that restoration projects should be based on “historical reference systems”. If you want to restore native oak woodland on a degraded site, for example, you should reconstruct in detail a model of its previously healthy condition. This model becomes the template for the biological communities and ecosystem functions appropriate to your project. Novel-ecosystem theorists, however, argue that many, perhaps most, of today’s ecosystems are changing so rapidly, and so unpredictably, that attempting to restore to an historical reference system is often a waste of scarce resources. They say that global human impacts on nature, ranging from climate change to the introduction of invasive alien species, are creating “novel” biological communities. And these new combinations of species may also create unprecedented ecosystem dynamics. They theorise that such systems have crossed “irreversible thresholds” – radically altered soil composition, for example – that make restoration to historical conditions impossible…..

     

     

    The Puffin Charmer Wed Nov 7 Slate.com

    By thinking like a social bird, Stephen Kress brought puffins back to the United States. Atlantic puffins were once driven to near-extinction in the United States by hunting and egg collecting. In 1973, Kress and a small group of colleagues went to a puffin breeding colony in Newfoundland. Kress placed some wooden puffin decoys on the island, carefully clustered in groups as if absorbed in conversation. In 1977, a curious puffin landed in the water near the island. The busy colonies off the Maine coast today are the result of a long-running restoration project. It took a tremendous amount of time and effort to turn a heretical idea into the noisy, messy, thriving reality of the Maine puffin colonies-and it takes even more work to keep that reality in place.

     

    Craig County Man’s Covert Operation Helping to Restore Quail

    For 60 years, Wysor Smith Jr. has listened for the mating call of the bobwhite quail, as a hunter and now as a conservationist. But over the decades since the 1970s, as farms have wooded over or sprouted crops of houses and businesses, the “bob-WHITE” call has faded, and in places disappeared. Through state and federal programs, however, Smith and his family are restoring quail-friendly native grasslands on their 550-acre Craig County farm. He only wishes he’d done it sooner. Today, Smith’s family is doing selective logging of trees that have grown up since the 1950s, and reestablishing native grasses on about 80 acres in hopes of luring wild quail back to the land.

     

    Rare bird indeed: Count reveals scrub jay among rarest in US

    NBCNews.com - ‎Nov 14 2012‎

    There are far fewer island scrub jays than previously thought, a new calculation of their population size finds. The new count makes them one of the 10 rarest songbirds in the continental United States.

     

    To Birds, Storm Survival Is Only Natural

    By NATALIE ANGIER
    November 12, 2012 NY Times

    In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the spiteful me-too northeaster, much of the East Coast looked so battered and flooded, so strewed with toppled trees and stripped of dunes and beaches, that many observers feared the worst. Any day now, surely, the wildlife corpses would start showing up — especially birds, for who likelier to pay when a sky turns rogue than the ones who act as if they own it?

    Yet biologists studying the hurricane’s aftermath say there is remarkably little evidence that birds, or any other countable, charismatic fauna for that matter, have suffered the sort of mass casualties seen in environmental disasters like the BP oil spill of 2010, when thousands of oil-slicked seabirds washed ashore, unable to fly, feed or stay warm.

    “With an oil spill, the mortality is way more direct and evident,” said Andrew Farnsworth, a scientist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “And though it’s possible that thousands of birds were slammed into the ocean by this storm and we’ll never know about it, my gut tells me that didn’t happen.”

    To the contrary, scientists said, powerful new satellite tracking studies of birds on the wing — including one that coincided with the height of Hurricane Sandy’s fury — reveal birds as the supreme masters of extreme weather management, able to skirt deftly around gale-force winds, correct course after being blown horribly astray, or even use a hurricane as a kind of slingshot to propel themselves forward at hyperspeed.

     

     

     

     

    • CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

     

    Global Carbon Dioxide Emissions Rose 2.5 Percent In 2011

    * Recovering industrial activity boosts CO2 output
    * Highest emitter China widens gap on U.S.

    FRANKFURT, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2011 rose 2.5 percent to 34 billion tonnes, a new record, Germany’s renewable energy institute said on Tuesday. The IWR, which advises German ministries, cited recovered industrial activity after the end of the global economic crisis of recent years. “If the current trend is sustained, worldwide CO2 emissions will go up by another 20 percent to over 40 billion tonnes by 2020,” IWR director Norbert Allnoch said. China led the table of emitters in 2011 with 8.9 billion tonnes, up from 8.3 billion a year earlier. Its CO2 output was 50 percent more than the 6 billion tonnes in the United States. India was third, ahead of Russia, Japan and Germany. In May the International Energy Agency said that global CO2 emissions rose 3.2 percent last year to 31.6 billion tonnes, led by China.

     

    NOAA: Global temperatures were fifth highest on record for October

    Arctic sea ice doubles from last month, yet remains second lowest on record for October

    According to NOAA scientists, the globally-averaged temperature for October 2012 was the fifth warmest October since recordkeeping began in 1880. It marked the 36th consecutive October and 332nd consecutive month with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average October temperature was October 1976, and the last below-average temperature for any month was February 1985. Higher-than-average monthly temperatures were observed across much of Europe, western and far eastern Asia, northeastern and southwestern North America, central South America, northern Africa, and most of Australia. Meanwhile, much of northwestern and central North America, central Asia, parts of western and northern Europe, and southern Africa were notably below average. This monthly analysis (summary, full report) from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.

     


    Year seen as warmest in contiguous U.S.

     

     


    November 16, 2012 SF Chronicle Temperatures from January through October were 1.1 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the previous mark, set in 1998, and 3.4 degrees above the long-term average, said Jake Crouch, a climatologist at the center in Asheville, N.C. U.S. records go back… more »

     

    32-Foot-Plus Waves From Hurricane Sandy Topple Records

    November 14th, 2012 , Last Updated: November 14th, 2012 By Andrew Freedman climatecentral.org

    Hurricane Sandy has already broken dozens of records, from the lowest air pressure reading ever recorded in the Northeast to the highest storm surge on record in Lower Manhattan. After reviewing wave height data, the National Weather Service office in Philadelphia has determined that the wave heights recorded at two buoys — including one monster 32.5-foot significant wave height at a buoy near the entrance to New York Harbor — set records for the largest waves seen in this region since such records began in 1975. One of the buoys is located near the entrance to New York Harbor, about 15 nautical miles southeast of Breezy Point, N.Y., which sustained heavy damage from a merciless combination of coastal flooding and a fire that spread out of control. The harbor entrance buoy recorded a significant wave height of 32.5 feet at 8:50 pm on Oct. 29, beating the previous record set during Hurricane Irene by 6.5 feet! Records at that buoy extend only to 2008, which minimizes the historical significance of the record somewhat.

     

     

    Cuomo On Climate Change: ‘Extreme Weather Is The New Normal’

    Posted: 11/15/2012 11:31 am EST Updated: 11/15/2012 11:32 am EST

    New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, reacting to the destruction caused by Superstorm Sandy, penned an op-ed in Thursday’s Daily News calling for more preparedness in a “new age of extreme weather.”

    Titled, “We Will Lead On Climate Change,” Cuomo’s op-ed details the ways the state can ready itself for future storms, while only briefly mentioning a single measure to prevent climate change itself.

    “First,” the governor writes, “we must begin by thinking about where and how we rebuild. The next generation’s infrastructure must be able to withstand another storm. We must also reduce the energy consumption that contributes to climate change — which means, for starters, upgrading our building codes.” He uses the Con Ed substation in lower Manhattan as an example of poorly located infrastructure. The substation, near the East River, experienced severe flooding when Sandy hit, causing a giant explosion that plunged much of the island, and thousands of New Yorkers, into darkness.

    Addressing the gas shortage that followed Sandy, Cuomo writes that the state needs to build “redundancies into our fuel system and [put] in place generators and pumping systems that are readily deployable.”….

     

    Henning Wagenbreth

    We Need to Retreat From the Beach

    By ORRIN H. PILKEY
    November 14, 2012 NY TIMES Op-Ed Contributor

    AS ocean waters warm, the Northeast is likely to face more Sandy-like storms. And as sea levels continue to rise, the surges of these future storms will be higher and even more deadly. We can’t stop these powerful storms. But we can reduce the deaths and damage they cause. Hurricane Sandy’s immense power, which destroyed or damaged thousands of homes, actually pushed the footprints of the barrier islands along the South Shore of Long Island and the Jersey Shore landward as the storm carried precious beach sand out to deep waters or swept it across the islands. This process of barrier-island migration toward the mainland has gone on for 10,000 years. Yet there is already a push to rebuild homes close to the beach and bring back the shorelines to where they were. The federal government encourages this: there will be billions available to replace roads, pipelines and other infrastructure and to clean up storm debris, provide security and emergency housing. Claims to the National Flood Insurance Program could reach $7 billion. And the Army Corps of Engineers will be ready to mobilize its sand-pumping dredges, dump trucks and bulldozers to rebuild beaches washed away time and again.

    But this “let’s come back stronger and better” attitude, though empowering, is the wrong approach to the increasing hazard of living close to the rising sea. Disaster will strike again. We should not simply replace all lost property and infrastructure. Instead, we need to take account of rising sea levels, intensifying storms and continuing shoreline erosion….This is not the time for a solution based purely on engineering. The Army Corps undoubtedly will be heavily involved. But as New Jersey and New York move forward, officials should seek advice from oceanographers, coastal geologists, coastal and construction engineers and others who understand the future of rising seas and their impact on barrier islands. We need more resilient development, to be sure. But we also need to begin to retreat from the ocean’s edge.
    Orrin H. Pilkey is an emeritus professor of earth sciences at Duke University and a co-author of “The Rising Sea.”

     

    America’s ancient hurricane belt and the U.S.-Canada equator
    (November 15, 2012) — The recent storms that have battered settlements on the east coast of America may have been much more frequent in the region 450 million years ago, according to scientists. … > full story

     


    Climate change greater threat to EM financial centres to storm-hit New York

     

     

    November 15, 2012 10:10 am by Rob Minto If you thought ‘superstorm’ Sandy was bad, here’s a sobering thought: New York isn’t even a high-risk city when it comes to climate change. For that, head to Asia. According to a report by Maplecroft, the risk consultancy, several big Asian financial and manufacturing centres are in the danger zone…..

     

    Communication of the role of natural variability in future North American climate: As climate models improve, decision-makers’ expectations for accurate climate predictions are growing. Natural climate variability, however, poses inherent limits to climate predictability and the related goal of adaptation guidance in many places, as illustrated here for North America. Other locations with low natural variability show a more predictable future in which anthropogenic forcing can be more readily identified, even on small scales. We call for a more focused dialogue between scientists, policymakers and the public to improve communication and avoid raising expectations for accurate regional predictions everywhere. Deser et al. Nature Climate Change
    2, 775–779 (2012)  doi:10.1038/nclimate1562 Published online Oct 26, 2012.

     

    ‘Groundwater inundation’ doubles previous predictions of flooding with future sea level rise
    (November 11, 2012) — A new study by researchers in Hawaii shows that besides marine inundation (flooding), low-lying coastal areas may also be vulnerable to “groundwater inundation,” a factor largely unrecognized in earlier predictions on the effects of sea level rise. … > full story

    New dating of sea-level records reveals rapid response between ice volume and polar temperature
    (November 14, 2012) — A new study has revealed a rapid response between global temperature and ice volume/sea-level, which could lead to sea-levels rising by over one meter. During the last few million years, global ice-volume variability has been one of the main feedback mechanisms in climate change, because of the strong reflective properties of large ice sheets. Ice volume changes in ancient times can be reconstructed from sea-level records. However, detailed assessment of the role of ice volume in climate change is hindered by inadequacies in sea-level records and/or their timescales. Now, for the first time, scientists are able to accurately date continuous sea-level records, to allow detailed comparisons of the ice-volume variability with independently dated ice-core records from Antarctica and Greenland. … “Ice sheet responses to a change in climate forcing are like the responses of heavy freight trains to firing up the locomotive. They are hard to set in motion (slow to ‘spin up’), but once they are reacting, they will be equally slow to ‘spin down’. So a lag of a few centuries is worrisome, because we have been warming up the climate for 150-160 years now. If the natural relationship (when changes in climate were slower than today) also holds for the very fast changes in climate today, then we are coming into that ‘window’ of time where we may expect to start seeing some unprecedented responses in the large ice sheets.
    This then may tie in with observations of the past decade or so of large ice-shelf collapses around Antarctica and Greenland, the major melt-area expansion over Greenland, changes in the flow speed of major ice streams (both Antarctica and Greenland), and increasing ice-mass loss over West Antarctica/the Antarctic Peninsula and Greenland. “We cannot say whether this proves the case, but at least the time delay of the modern ice-sheet responses relative to climate change would seem to agree with the response timescales we have now found in the palaeo-record.”full story

     

    Melting glaciers raise sea level
    (November 14, 2012) — Anthropogenic climate change leads to melting glaciers and rising sea level. Between 1902 and 2009, melting glaciers contributed 11 cm to sea level rise. They were therefore the most important cause of sea level rise. Scientists have numerically modeled the changes of each of the world’s 300,000 glaciers. Until 2100, glaciers could lead to an additional 22 cm of sea level rise. Melting glaciers will raise the sea level between 15 and 22 cm until 2100. “Where we end up within this range is up to us – it mostly depends on how much greenhouse gas we will emit”, says Marzeion. The same is true for the longer term: “Until 2300, we can expect the sea level to rise between 25 and 42 cm due to glacier melt. With 42 cm sea level rise, most of the glaciers of the world will be gone, leaving behind only small remains in very high altitudes.” But also in the future, warming and thus expanding sea water, melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and changing terrestrial water storage have to be added to obtain the full sea level rise. > full story

     

     

    Tropical Indo-Pacific climate shifts to a more El Niño-like state
    (November 14, 2012) — Climate models predict a slowdown of the Walker circulation with global warming. Atmospheric models, however, have failed to reproduce the slowdown already observed over the last 60 years, casting doubt on their ability to simulate slow climate change. Now a study has succeeded in simulating the slowdown and shows that changes in the sea surface temperature pattern across the Indo-Pacific are the cause. … > full story

    Changing Climate, Not Tourism, Seems to Be Driving Decline in Chinstrap-Penguin Populations

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 14, 2012) — The breeding population of chinstrap penguins has declined significantly as temperatures have rapidly warmed on the Antarctic Peninsula, according to researchers funded in part by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  The study indicates that changing climatic conditions, rather than the impact of tourism, have had the greatest effect on the chinstrap population.  Ron Naveen, founder of a nonprofit science and conservation organization, Oceanites, Inc., of Chevy Chase, Md., documented the decline in a paper published in the journal Polar Biology. Naveen and coauthor Heather Lynch, of Stony Brook University, are researchers with the Antarctic Site Inventory (ASI).

     

    Climate change increases stress, need for restoration on grazed public lands
    (November 14, 2012) — Eight researchers in a new report say that climate change is causing additional stress to many western rangelands, and as a result land managers should consider a significant reduction, or in some places elimination of livestock and other large animals from public lands. … > full story

    Robert L. Beschta, Debra L. Donahue, Dominick A. DellaSala, Jonathan J. Rhodes, James R. Karr, Mary H. O’Brien, Thomas L. Fleischner, Cindy Deacon Williams. Adapting to Climate Change on Western Public Lands: Addressing the Ecological Effects of Domestic, Wild, and Feral Ungulates. Environmental Management, 2012; [link]


    Cultural dimensions of climate change are underestimated, overlooked and misunderstood
    (November 11, 2012) — The impact of climate change on many aspects of cultural life for people all over the world is not being sufficiently accounted for by scientists and policy-makers. Cultural
    factors are key to making climate change real to people and to motivating their responses, new research suggests. …
    From enjoying beaches or winter sports and visiting iconic natural spaces to using traditional methods of agriculture and construction in our daily lives, the research highlights the cultural experiences that bind our communities and are under threat as a result of climate change. The paper argues that governments’ programmes for dealing with the consequences of climate change do not give enough consideration to what really matters to individuals and communities.

    Culture binds people together and helps them overcome threats to their environments and livelihoods. Some are already experiencing such threats and profound changes to their lives. For example, the Polynesian Island of Niue, which experiences cyclones, has a population of 1,500 with four times as many Niueans now living in New Zealand. The research shows that most people remaining on the island resist migrating because of a strong attachment to the island. There is strong evidence to suggest that it is important for people’s emotional well-being to have control over whether and where they move. The researchers argue that these psychological factors have not been addressed… Professor Katrina Brown from the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute adds: “The evidence is clear; when people experience the impacts of climate change in places that matter to them, the problems become real and they are motivated to make their futures more sustainable. This is as true in coastal Cornwall as in Pacific Islands.”.full story

     

    Climate science: Trends in use of words in scientific studies may impact public perceptions
    (November 7, 2012) — The impact of climate science research on society is likely to depend on regular fashion cycles in the public’s use of specific keywords relating to climate change, according to new research. … > full story

    Bad news for salmon: streams warmer and lower

    November 6, 2012
    A study of mountain streams in the West over the past 60 years finds the hottest temperatures of summer and the lowest water levels of fall are converging—which is bad news for salmon. 

     

     

    Dr. Jeff Masters’ WunderBlog

    Despite a cool October, U.S. on track for its warmest year on record

    Posted by: Dr. Jeff Masters, 7:06 PM GMT on November 10, 2012 +36

    For the first time in sixteen months, the contiguous U.S. has had a month with below-average temperatures, with October 2012 ranking as the 44th coldest (73rd warmest) October since record keeping began in 1895, said NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in their latest State of the Climate report. Temperature extremes were scarce in October, as no states had a top-ten warmest or coldest October. Despite the cool October temperatures, the year-to-date period of January – October was the warmest such period on record for the contiguous U.S.–a remarkable 1.1°F above the previous record. Even if the remainder of 2012 ranks historically in the coldest one-third of November – Decembers ever seen, 2012 will beat out 1998 for warmest year. The first ten days of November have been warmer than average, and the next two weeks are predicted to also average out on the warm side, so it appears likely that we will have to have our coldest December on record in order to keep 2012 from setting the new mark. The November 2011 – October 2012 period was the warmest such 12-month period on record for the contiguous U.S., and the seven warmest 12-month periods since record keeping began in 1895 have all ended during 2012. Texas had their 9th driest October on record last month, and Washington, Michigan Ohio, Maine, and Maryland had top-ten wettest Octobers; Delaware had their wettest October on record, thanks to rains from Hurricane Sandy. The area of the U.S. experiencing moderate-to-exceptional drought shrank from 65% at the beginning of October to 59% by November 6, with drought conditions improving across parts of the Midwest and Northeast, but worsening across portions of the Northern Rockies.

     

     

    U.S. Ranchers Struggle to Adapt to Climate Change
    Scientific American - ‎November 14, 2012‎

    But scientists agree that climate change will up the ante considerably by bringing more extreme weather gyrations – searing drought one year, followed by torrential storms that can wash away cracked soil and destroy crops rather than quench their thirst.

     

    New Study Shows Effects of Climate Conditions On Bark Beetle Outbreaks

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 9, 2012) — A recent study by a team of scientists from the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest and Pacific Northwest research stations, and the University of Idaho confirms the important role climate plays on bark beetle outbreaks. Based on three decades of bark beetle outbreaks in Oregon and Washington, the researchers developed a statistical probability model to quantify the contribution of various climate conditions, such as temperature and precipitation, on outbreak levels and to estimate expected amounts of damage to lodgepole pine forests (e.g. total area with beetle outbreaks).

     

    Why Antarctic sea ice cover has increased under the effects of climate change
    (
    November 11, 2012) — Scientists have the first direct evidence that marked changes to Antarctic sea ice drift have occurred over the last 20 years, in response to changing winds. They can now explain why, unlike the dramatic losses reported in the Arctic, the Antarctic sea ice cover has increased under the effects of climate change. … > full story

    Warming temperatures will change Greenland’s face, experts predict
    (November 13, 2012) — Global climate models abound. What is harder to pin down, is how a warmer global temperature might affect any specific region on Earth. Researchers have now made the global local. Using a combination of climate models, they predict how different greenhouse gas scenarios would change the face of Greenland and impact sea level rise. … > full story

     

    Tracking post-Sandy sewage
    (November 9, 2012) — With millions of gallons of raw sewage dumping into New Jersey waterways following Hurricane Sandy, scientists are using satellites to help predict the sludge’s track into the ocean. … > full story

     

    Sonoma County Emissions Down in 2011

    Posted on November 13, 2012 by brad

    Greenhouse Gas Emissions Have Fallen 14% in Three Years

    Santa Rosa – Sonoma County greenhouse gas emissions totaled 3.8 million tons in 2011, according to a new report by the Climate Protection Campaign. This marks a reduction of 170,000 tons from the previous year and 600,000 tons from the county’s high mark in 2008.

    “We might actually make it to our 2015 target, but it’s going to take a lot of dedication and work,” said Climate Protection Campaign Executive Director Ann Hancock.

    In 2005, Sonoma County and its nine cities each pledged to reduce the emissions that cause climate change by 25 percent below the 1990 level by 2015, the most aggressive target in the U.S. at the time.

     

     

     

     

    • POLICY

     

     

    Breaking Down The BP Settlement: Where Will The Money Go?

    By Climate Guest Blogger on Nov 16, 2012 at 9:19 am by Kiley Kroh

    Yesterday, the Justice Department announced BP agreed to plead guilty to 14 criminal charges stemming from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and agreed to pay $4.5 billion in fines and penalties – the largest single criminal fine and largest total criminal resolution in US history. Attorney General Eric Holder emphasized several times that the announcement is only one piece of the government’s ongoing efforts to hold BP fully accountable for the deaths of 11 men and one of the worst environmental disasters in US history.

    Here’s a rundown of what the settlement entailed and what lies ahead.

    What were the charges?

    • BP plead guilty to 14 counts: 11 felony counts of misconduct for the 11 workers killed at the rig, one misdemeanor count under the Clean Water Act, one misdemeanor count under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and one felony count of obstruction of Congress.
    • Three BP employees were also charged, two of them with manslaughter.

    Where will the money go?

    In addition to the size of today’s resolution, the settlement is also historic in its dedication of the majority of funds to the affected Gulf Coast states for environmental restoration.

    • $2.4 billion will go to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, – an independent, non-profit conservation group chartered by Congress in 1984. The funds will be paid out over a period of five years and be earmarked for environmental restoration and preservation in Gulf states.
    • $350 million will go to the National Academy of Sciences for oil spill prevention, education, research, and training – also to be paid out over five years.
    • More than $1 billion will go to the Coast Guard’s Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard to be available to pay for future oil spill cleanup.
    • The oil giant will also pay $525 million to resolve claims with the Securities and Exchange Commission for misleading its investors regarding the size of the Deepwater Horizon spill

     

     

    Global warming talk heats up, revisits carbon tax

    By SETH BORENSTEIN AP Science Writer /  November 13, 2012

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Climate change is suddenly a hot topic again. The issue is resurfacing in talks about a once radical idea: a possible carbon tax.

    On Tuesday, a conservative think tank held discussions about it while a more liberal think tank released a paper on it. And the Congressional Budget Office issued a 19-page report on the different ways to make a carbon tax less burdensome on lower income people.

    A carbon tax works by making people pay more for using fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas that produce heat-trapping carbon dioxide.

     

    Obama spokesman: “We would never propose a carbon tax”

    Posted: Nov 15, 2012 10:42 AM PST Updated: Nov 15, 2012 12:14 PM PST

    By Taylor Kuykendall, Reporter

    Directly taxing emission of carbon dioxide to thwart its effect on climate has been much talked about post-election, but an spokesman for the president said it’s off the table. By implementing a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, many believed significant reductions of greenhouse gas emissions could be achieved absent the complicated system of cap-and-trade that failed Congressional muster in 2010. The coal industry likely stands to suffer the most from any sort of tax on carbon dioxide emissions. At a press conference Wednesday, President Barack Obama emphasized a need to address climate change, but White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that something would not be a “carbon tax.” “We would never propose a carbon tax and have no intention of proposing one,” Carney said in a press briefing. “The point the president was making is that our focus right now is the same as the American people’s focus, which is on the need to extend economic growth, expand job creation.” The president, Carney said, is focused on first and foremost the American economy and avoiding the approaching “fiscal cliff” of tax increases and spending cuts that will happen without bipartisan cooperation.

     

    Obama Addresses Climate Change In First Press Conference Since Reelection

    The Huffington Post  |  By James Gerken Posted: 11/14/2012 3:45 pm EST Updated: 11/14/2012 3:57 pm EST President Barack Obama reiterated the need to address climate change on Wednesday in his first press conference since winning reelection, but suggested that any legislative action to curb global warming was likely a long way off. “I am a firm believer that climate change is real, that it is impacted by human behavior and carbon emissions,” Obama said. “And as a consequence, I think we’ve got an obligation to future generations to do something about it.”

    Responding to a question from The New York Times’ Mark Landler about calls to combat climate change in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Obama cautioned, as others have, that no single weather event can be linked directly to climate change. But he said that the overwhelming scientific evidence suggests that the changing climate is contributing to extreme weather more generally. “What we do know is the temperature around the globe is increasing faster than was predicted even 10 years ago,” Obama stated. “We do know that the Arctic ice cap is melting faster than was predicted even five years ago. We do know that there have been an extraordinarily large number of severe weather events here in North America, but also around the globe.” Obama emphasized measures taken during his first term to improve vehicle fuel efficiency standards and increase renewable energy production, and acknowledged that “we haven’t done as much as we need to.” Despite near silence during the campaign season on climate change, Obama said that the American people will hear more on the issue in the near future as he works to make “short-term progress in reducing carbons.” “You can expect that you’ll hear more from me in the coming months and years about how we can shape an agenda that garners bipartisan support and helps move this agenda forward,” Obama said.

    At the same time, however, the president acknowledged that the political will necessary to make the “tough political choices” necessary to address climate change doesn’t currently exist, given the pressing economic concerns. “Understandably, I think the American people right now have been so focused and will continue to be focused on our economy and jobs and growth that, you know, if the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody’s going to go for that. I won’t go for that,” Obama said. Asked by Landler whether his comments meant that there was no consensus in Washington about how to combat climate change, Obama replied, “that I’m pretty certain of.” “Look, we’re still trying to debate whether we can just make sure that middle-class families don’t get a tax hike. Let’s see if we can resolve that. That should be easy. This one’s hard,” the president said. Some environmentalists reacted strongly to Obama’s remarks at the press conference, which saw more attention given to topics like economic recovery and the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. 350.org Executive Director May Boeve said in a statement, “The climate silence is broken, and now the president can show us he’s serious with a decision already on his desk: rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would unlock so much carbon that climate scientists say, if it were built, it would be ‘game over’ for the climate.” Yet Time senior editor Bryan Walsh tweeted that “Obama answer did not make it sound like climate action was a priority of the first order.” Obama’s remarks on climate change come after environmentalists — many of whom criticized the president for failing to discuss climate change during the campaign and advocating an “all of the above” energy strategy — reacted with guarded optimism upon his reelection. Andrew Steer, the president of the World Resources Institute, told HuffPost’s Tom Zeller Jr. in an emailed statement, “At the top of the list should be climate change — which is already taking a serious toll on people, property, resources and the econom

     

    How cheap energy from shale will reshape America … – The Guardian

    www.guardian.co.uk › EnvironmentShale gas and fracking

    November 15, 2012 – After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of China and the Arab spring, American energy independence looks likely to trigger the next great

     

    Greens pressure Obama to veto airline emissions bill
    The Hill (blog) – November 14, 2012 Environmentalists are pressuring President Obama to veto a bill that would exclude U.S. airlines from European carbon emissions fees, casting it as the first test of the president’s commitment to fighting climate change in his second term. Congress

     

    Wildlife agency prepares for Alaska employee loss

    DAN JOLING, Associated Press Associated Press November 16, 2012

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service office in Alaska is bracing for an exodus of expertise. Forty to 50 employees — just under 10 percent of the workforce — are expected to retire Dec. 31 to take advantage of a window to boost retirement pay. Agency spokesman Bruce Woods says hundreds of years of experience will be lost with the departures. The agency manages 16 wildlife refuges in the state. The refuges together total nearly….

     


    NY city set to use laser to harass roosting crows

     

     


    AP November 16, 2012 A spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation says crows like cities in winter because a “heat bubble” makes them 5 to 10 degrees warmer than the surrounding countryside and it’s easier to avoid predators. more »

     

    California to Hold Auction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    By FELICITY BARRINGER (NYT) November 14, 2012 Compiled: 12:55 AM

    An auction will formally open California’s cap-and-trade system, intended to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by issuing allowances to polluters, then trading them in a market.

     

    Do cap-and-trade systems work?

    ENVIRONMENT David R. Baker Published 9:22 p.m., Sunday, November 11, 2012


    Europe already has a carbon cap-and-trade system similar to the one California will launch on Wednesday. The northeastern United States does too, albeit in a far more limited form. Do they work? Do they cut the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming and do so at a reasonable price?

    Both follow the same basic principles, setting an overall limit on emissions and forcing companies to buy and sell permits to release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Europe’s market, called the EU Emissions Trading System, opened in 2005 and now covers more than 11,000 power plants and industrial facilities in….

     

    Swept in by a Hurricane, Climate Change Returns to Washington

    After two years as the new third rail of American politics, climate change is poised for a return to Capitol Hill.

    By Brandon Keim on Mon. November 12, 2012 3:00 AM PDT In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and this summer’s drought, the political atmosphere seems to have changed. Washington observers say the cost of extreme weather is too big and obvious to be ignored.

     

    Voters Approve 81 Percent Of Land Conservation Ballot Initiatives

    By Public Lands Team on Nov 13, 2012 at 10:30 am

    by Tom Kenworthy

    The presidential and congressional elections of last week brought good news for those who value sensible land conservation policies. But there was more good news on the state and local levels as well.

    Even in a time of fiscal constraints, voters in 21 states gave overwhelming approval to ballot measures providing some $767 million for new parks, open space, water quality protections and the preservation of farms and ranches, according to The Trust for Public Land.

    Of the 57 measures that went to the voters on election day last week, 46 won — a success rate of 81%.

    “From Maine to Texas to San Francisco, we saw voters across the political spectrum say yes to taxes and spending for conservation which helps their communities,” noted the trust’s president Will Rogers.

     

    ‘Complicit’ San Francisco Voters Reject Plan To Restore Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy
    November 7, 2012
    In San Francisco a local initiative put forth by environmentalists to return the Hetch Hetchy Valley to Yosemite Park for restoration by expanding the lower Don Pedro Dam was soundly defeated by voters. The valley’s destruction, the brainchild of San Francisco industrialists who falsely claimed to congress the city burned after the 1906 earthquake due to a lack of available water supply, has been called the greatest environmental wrong over water rights in California’s ongoing battles over the precious resource

     

    California OKs Rewards for Smart Water Usage

    November 9, 2012

    One of California’s largest water providers can reward customers who use the resource efficiently under a new plan approved by the state.

     

    New storm water runoff rules could cost cities billions

    November 9, 2012

    The regional water board regulations place restrictions on 33 pollutants.

     

    Opinion: Time to approve desalination project  November 7, 2012

    The city of Carlsbad, like San Diego as a region, has worked hard to build strong biotechnology research, tourism and manufacturing industries, as well as support the continuing viability of agriculture. For these important sectors to remain competitive in the future, we must create reliable, local water sources.

     

    Three Climate Change Actions For Obama’s Second Term

    Posted: 12 Nov 2012 08:39 AM PST by Kevin Kennedy, via WRI Insights

    With President Obama’s re-election, he has the opportunity to extend his legacy and take on big challenges. Climate change stands high on the list of issues that need to be addressed. As the President said in his acceptance speech:

    “We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”…. In the last four years, America has made some progress to address climate change, particularly in working with auto companies to establish strong vehicle rules that will significantly reduce emissions and our reliance on foreign oil. However, much more needs to be done. Here are three key pieces of an agenda for the second Obama administration to address climate change:

    1) Use the Bully Pulpit….

    2) Establish an American Plan for Climate Action…

    3) Reduce Emissions of Other Potent Greenhouse Gases….

    Climate science is clear: We’re running out of time to prevent global warming’s most severe impacts. With the campaign behind him, it’s time for President Obama to demonstrate his commitment to leading the country on a sustainable, low-carbon path to economic prosperity.

     

    A New Manhattan Project

    By BILL KELLER NY Times Opinion November 11, 2012

    When the monster storm struck, my colleagues at The Times’s Room for Debate desk asked an array of experts whether New York should build protective barriers against the next one. The answers covered, pardon the expression, the waterfront: Do something big! (“Worth the Investment”) Do something small! (“Big Projects, Big Problems”) Do nothing much! (“Low on the List of Life-Saving Ideas”) Think about doing, well, something! (“A Wake-Up Call to Consider the Options”)
    My friend and fellow columnist Joe Nocera, who grew up in Providence, R.I., thinks New York should look to that city’s waterfront defense system of dikes and gates. ….. When President Obama visits this week, he has an opportunity to address not just the misery before his eyes, but the magnitude of the future threat it represents and the scale of the commitment required. Leading the world in the effort to curtail climate change is a moral obligation to our descendants, but there is an equally urgent need to defend against the consequences of the damage already done to our poor biosphere. At the risk of slighting the brutalized communities of the Rockaways and the Jersey Shore, I’ll call it a new Manhattan Project. It would make someone a fine legacy.
    I’ve spent some time talking to people who study weather disasters from different angles, looking for a leadership to-do list. Here’s where I’d start:

    • Come together….
    • Think big and small, long and short…
    • Think green … enough.

      In a post-Sandy roundup of bright ideas for the New York waterfront, The Times’s Alan Feuer described a plan devised by an architecture firm to buffer Lower Manhattan against future storms by creating “a fringe of mossy wetlands strapped like a beard to Lower Manhattan’s chin” — parks and tidal salt marshes that would sponge up the surging tide. The architect’s rendering looked unbelievably cool. In the green part of my heart, I find this appealing. The practical part of my brain suspects it is a lovely fantasy. (Bowman, the barrier-minded oceanographer, calls it “science fiction.”) But if wetlands restoration is not the answer, most experts say it is part of the answer. One reason runways at Kennedy Airport are less vulnerable to the disabling waves that afflict La Guardia in a storm is that restored wetlands in Jamaica Bay absorb a lot of water. Green should have a seat at the table.

    • Don’t just rebuild. Rethink….
    • Stop subsidizing stupidity….
    • Redundancy, redundancy, redundancy….
    • New thinking about budgets….

    The original Manhattan Project mobilized 130,000 people, cost the 2012 equivalent of $25 billion and gave us, for better or for worse, the atom bomb. A new Manhattan Project could cost as much, might well employ as many people (jobs!) and would give us another century or two of America’s greatest metropolis. Because that’s what it’s really about. When Malcolm Bowman asks offhandedly, “How long do we want New York City to last?,” he is not dealing in hyperbole. He is just asking the right question.

     

     


    Chesapeake Bay Foundation says law firm courting counties, threatening …

     

     


    BALTIMORE November 14, 2012 – A Baltimore law firm is asking rural counties to band together to challenge the new federally led Chesapeake Bay restoration strategy, something a foundation dedicated to the bay’s health called one of the most serious attacks on clean

     

    Fiscal Cliff Threatens Environmental Protections That Voters Supported

    Posted: 13 Nov 2012 12:00 PM PST

    by Frances Beinecke, via NRDC’s Switchboard

    Americans elected clean energy and clean air champions up and down the ticket last week. Even though oil, gas, and coal companies spent more than $270 million on campaign ads in the past two months, the majority of people rejected their dirty agenda. Voters want healthy air and safe drinking water, not more pollution. Our leaders should keep this in mind as they negotiate a way off the fiscal cliff as Congress reconvenes this week. If Congress fails to reach an agreement, automatic, across-the-board spending cuts would kick in, making it much harder for the government to deliver the health and environmental protections people value….

     

     

     

     

     

    • RESOURCES and REFERENCES

    The San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is excited to announce:

    More than a Message — Planning Campaigns for Measurable  

    The second training in the Water Words that Work series.

    Date: January 25, 2012 Time: 9am to 3:30pm Location: TBD  Cost: $60.00*

    Includes lunch, as well as coffee and light refreshments in the morning. Registration info will be announced next month. Check our website for more information.  Even the strongest message won’t deliver itself! Developing effective communication techniques to engage the public can be a major challenge for planners, managers and scientists. Learn how the pros plan their campaigns, measure their accomplishments, and do it even better next time. More than a Message provides a conceptual framework and practical tips to get the most out of the dollars and hours you put into your communications and outreach. The techniques presented in the workshop will help turn those blank stares into nodding heads – to reach your target audiences and inspire them to action on pressing environmental issues facing all of us. Join us for this follow up to Water Words that Work to take your communications to next level.  We are able to keep the cost reasonable for this workshop thanks to generous support from the California Coastal Conservancy.

    8th Annual California Rangeland Conservation Coalition Summit & 2nd Rangeland Science Symposium

    January 24-25, 2013 – UC Davis Freeborn Hall
     The California Rangeland Conservation Coalition is excited to announce the agenda and new additions to our 2013 Summit set for January 25, 2013. This year’s event will be held in conjunction with the 2nd Rangeland Science Symposium on January 24, 2013 directed by the California Rangeland Watershed Laboratory. The two-day program and social will be held at University of California, Davis Freeborn Hall. Today’s Rangeland Management: Integrating Science, Practices, Partnerships and Policy, is the theme for the 2013 event. This 2-day event will highlight the latest scientific finding on economics, natural resources and specific species regarding rangeland management. The event will also feature future opportunities in collaborative research across the state, and host California and Wyoming ranchers who will share their stories of ranching in complex and challenging settings. Click here for the agenda.


    Storm Warnings: Climate Change and Extreme WeatherScientific American‘s Latest E-Book

     

     

    By The Editors | November 13, 2012

    Scientific American launched its e-Book program this summer, starting with The Science of Sports: Winning in the Olympics. Each month, we add new titles selected from the most relevant issues facing science today. For November, we turn our attention to our immediate environment. Hurricanes. Blizzards. Flooding. Drought. If extreme weather events like these seem to be on the rise, your powers of observation are accurate. The first three-quarters of 2012 brought the worst European winter in 25 years, massive flooding in Australia, Brazil and China, and a deepening drought in the U.S. affecting more than 50 percent of the country. And then came the superstorm Sandy late last month, inflicting billions of dollars of damage to the Northeast. The likelihood of such extreme weather events is increasingly being tied to anthropogenic—or manmade, mostly through overproduction of carbon dioxide—global warming. It’s no longer an abstract idea; it’s being experienced directly and locally, on nearly every level. Scientific American‘s latest eBook, Storm Warnings: Climate Change and Extreme Weather, gives readers the tools to better understand what is driving climate change, what might be in store in the coming decades and how we can begin to reverse the detrimental effects that human activity is having on Earth’s climate systems…..

    JOB OPENING:

    NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Deputy Director

    Below are the links for the job announcement for the ONMS Deputy Director position.  One is for non-federal employees and the other is for current and recently separated federal employees. It opened today and will be open for two weeks.   ONMS Director Dan Basta wants you all to have this in the event any of you are interested in applying.
    Announcement for non-federal employees
    Announcement for federal employees

     

    Ocean Climate Initiative Specialist Position Available Immediately

    Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary

    Send resume and cover letter to Kelley Higgason at kelley.higgason@noaa.gov or 991 Marine Dr.,The Presidio, San Francisco, CA 94129 by December 14, 2012. Available immediately, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary is seeking a part‐time, 20 hour per week Ocean Climate Initiative Specialist.

     

     

    • RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

     

    IEA Report: Fossil Fuel Boom Is A Climate Disaster In The Making

    By Climate Guest Blogger on Nov 13, 2012 at 9:23 am by Lorne Stockman, via Oil Change International

    The International Energy Agency released its annual flagship publication yesterday, the World Energy Outlook. The IEA made an historic statement in the executive summary. It said, “No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the 2 °C goal,” the internationally recognized limit to average global warming in order to prevent catastrophic climate change….

     

     

    US: Gulf Oil Spill Early Restoration Plan to Focus on Bird and Turtle Habitat
    The Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) trustees (Trustees) have released the Deepwater Horizon Phase II Draft Early Restoration Plan & Environmental Review (DERP/ER) for public review and comment. The plan includes two proposed projects totaling about $9 million that focus on restoring nesting habitat for birds and sea turtles…

     

     

     

    A common sight in Germany: wind turbines in fields of rapeseed. Oil from the plant is made into biodiesel fuel to power cars, produce electricity and heat buildings. Credit: Osha Gray Davidson, InsideClimate News.

    German Law Gave Ordinary Citizens a Stake in Switch to Clean Energy

    Clean Break: Chapter 2 in the story of Germany’s switch to renewables

    By Osha Gray Davidson Nov 14, 2012

    Zingst, Germany—”What an eyesore, huh?” the man standing next to me on the beach said, nodding in the direction of a little girl flying a kite. The man, in his mid-40s, seemed to enjoy my confusion. He waited a beat before pointing beyond the girl, far out into the Baltic Sea. “There,” he said, smiling to make sure I understood his sarcasm. “The ‘ugly’ wind farm.” Staring hard, it was barely possible to make out the turbines on the horizon. Ten miles from shore, the Baltic 1 Wind Farm seemed as small and insubstantial as the scruffy grass along the coast. But, in fact, each of the nearly two dozen turbines is as tall as a 27-story building and has fiberglass epoxy blades nearly 150 feet long. Work has already begun on wind farms with even larger turbines that will generate twice the power of those at Baltic 1, enough to supply 250,000 households with electricity. Wind turbines produce 10 times more electricity in Germany today than they did in 1999. What’s even more remarkable is that this expansion is modest compared to the growth of solar power. In 1999, Germany had an installed solar capacity of 32 megawatts. In 2012, that figure was 30,000 megawatts—a nearly 1,000-fold increase in a nation that gets roughly as much sunlight as Alaska. On a sunny day that’s as much electricity as 13 nuclear power plants would produce…..

     

     

    Doing The Climate Math: Action Obama Can Take Now

    Posted: 14 Nov 2012 07:30 AM PST by RL Miller

    Like her formal name Cassandra, Hurricane Sandy brought to American consciousness what science has been yelling at us for years: climate change is real, it’s happening now, and it’s likely worse than models predict. The global economy fiddles away $500 billion each year — the cost of inaction on climate.

    The dirty hippies at Pricewaterhouse Cooper warn that the previous goal of two degrees Celsius is virtually unattainable (pdf). Yet consensus for climate action in the United States in President Obama’s second term seems limited to Environmental Protection Agency actions nibbling around the edges of what power plants can burn. There’s a better solution: keep the coal in the ground.

    It’s time for a moratorium on Powder River Basin coal. The Powder River Basin in eastern Wyoming supplies coal to the Midwest and, if the coal barons have their way, the Far East. The American coal market is declining, which Bob Murray blames on President Obama but those in the reality-based community attribute, mostly, to cheap natural gas.  Thus, the coal barons are eyeing Asian markets through Washington and Oregon, but encountering stiff resistance from Pacific Northwest folk concerned about everything from longer waits at traffic signals to gigatons of carbon changing our climate.

    Meanwhile, Powder River Basin coal, much of which is located on federal land, is auctioned by the Bureau of Land Management for obscenely low prices – Peabody Coal recently won the right to mine for $1.11/ton what is sold in China for $97 – $123/ton. The gap between what taxpayers receive and what Peabody sells means that United States taxpayers subsidize Chinese demand.

    The current vogue in Washington speculation is for a carbon tax despite the minor detail of a lack of support from both the House and the White House. But will a $20/ton tax on carbon solve global warming? The Breakthrough Institute warns that carbon pricing will encourage natural gas more than renewables. We need to keep it in the ground.

    Last week, I attended Bill McKibben’s Do The Math lecture at UCLA, in which he showed how the fossil fuel companies enable our addiction: the drunk knows that one beer is the safe limit, but the barkeeper keeps putting a dizzying array of products on the counter top. His math is pretty simple: to keep the world on pace to warm no more than two degrees Celsius, we need to keep 80% of the world’s fossil fuels in the ground.

    Today, the wild eyed fanatics at the International Energy Agency backed up McKibben in the World Energy Outlook: No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the 2 °C goal, unless carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is widely deployed. This finding is based on our assessment of global “carbon reserves”, measured as the potential CO2 emissions from proven fossil-fuel reserves. Almost two-thirds of these carbon reserves are related to coal, 22% to oil and 15% to gas. Geographically, two-thirds are held by North America, the Middle East, China and Russia. As with the Keystone XL pipeline battle, a Powder River Basin moratorium can be accomplished by executive order, without any need for Congressional action. There’s precedent – in 2009, the Obama administration suspended 77 Bush-era oil/gas leases in Utah, and last week drastically scaled back public lands available for oil shale leasing. The land can be studied for a Strategic Coal Reserve. A moratorium needn’t be forever – just long enough to calculate the true costs to the American taxpayer of mining and burning all that carbon, and pricing it accordingly.A $20/ton tax won’t deter the enemy of the human race. We need a plan to keep the coal in the ground. Start with the Powder River Basin, President Obama.

    RL Miller is an attorney and environment blogger with Climate Hawks. This piece was originally published at Daily Kos and was reprinted with permission by the author.



    Four Important Things To Know About California’s First Ever Carbon Auction

    Posted: 14 Nov 2012 05:50 AM PST

    by Emily Reyna, via Environmental Defense Fund

    While millions of Americans recover from the Sandy-Nor’easter extreme weather event combo, and even as President Obama’s remarks about action against a “warming planet” linger, all eyes will be on California this coming Wednesday. This is when the next big event in the climate change conversation will take place. Between 10am and 1pm pacific time on November 14th, California will conduct the state’s first ever cap-and-trade auction for climate change pollution.  This landmark event will kick off the second largest carbon market in the world, the European Union being the first. Entities covered in the program include utilities, oil refineries, oil producers, and large manufactures, though other individuals and organizations can also participate to buy carbon allowances if they meet the state’s rigorous requirements.  A practice run was held back in August, and all systems are ready to go. More information about the nuts and bolts of the auction can be read here. In anticipation of this historic occasion, here are four things to keep in mind:

    1.  This is the best designed cap-and-trade program in the world
    California has the good fortune of learning from predecessor cap-and-trade programs like the European Union Emissions Trading Platform, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, and the Acid Rain Program, just to name a few. Key elements of California’s program include giving free allowances to industry in the beginning years to help with transition; letting entities bank allowances for future use; and establishing an allowance reserve in case prices exceed a certain value. All help keep carbon prices more stable and make for a well-functioning market.

    2.  A price will be established for carbon, but that will vary as the program evolves
    The California program will include
    auctions four times a year through 2020 – 32 more times after November 2012.  As such, the number of participants, the settlement price and other results of the first auction may not necessarily predict the activity of future auctions. Over time, the market will change and both prices and participation will fluctuate as the cap reduces and businesses decide how best to participate.

    3. Money from the auctions will be used to invest in California’s clean energy future
    Proceeds from the auction must be invested in ways that further the goals of the law – the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32).  Though these investments are scheduled to start in the next fiscal year, a specific investment plan is still underway and is being guided by two bills passed at the end of California’s legislative session. Likely project categories include renewable energy, energy efficiency, advanced vehicles, and natural resource conservation. In addition, 25% of proceeds must be used in ways that benefit disadvantaged communities. These investments will boost clean tech in California, improve air quality, and create jobs.

    4. California’s leadership will serve as a launch pad for other programs
    California is the ninth largest economy on the planet, and the world is watching. No state or country can stop climate change alone, but California’s environmental policies have a history of success and replication, including clean car, clean fuel and energy efficiency standards that have saved consumers across the US hundreds of billions of dollars in avoided energy purchases.  If the past is any indicator, California’s rich history of leading the nation on responses to critical environmental problems, while delivering wide ranging benefits, means the US is on the brink of something special.

    A public notice of the auction results will be released on Monday, November 19, 2012 and will be posted to both the Air Resources Board and auction website.

    Emily Reyna is Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships and Alliances for the Climate & Air Program at the Environmental Defense Fund. This piece was originally published at EDF and was reprinted with permission.

     

    BP To Pay Largest Criminal Fine In U.S. History For Deepwater Horizon Disaster

    Posted: 15 Nov 2012 09:25 AM PST BP has agreed to pay an historic $4.5 billion criminal fine over a six-year period, after pleading guilty to 11 felony counts and criminal charges for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 workers. After two years, the litigation is not yet over since BP faces damages from Gulf states and additional civil charges from the Justice Department.

     

    Exxon: Carbon Tax Would ‘Play A Significant Role In Addressing Rising Emissions’

    Posted: 15 Nov 2012 06:41 AM PST President Obama indicated yesterday in a press conference that a carbon tax is not high on his Administration’s priority list. Nor does the policy have much support from leading Republicans in the House of Representatives.
    But with chatter about carbon taxes in both conservative and progressive Washington political circles growing into a serious bi-partisan conversation, influential players are chiming in with their support. Speaking to Bloomberg News, oil and gas giant Exxon reiterated its support for a carbon tax yesterday. A spokeswoman for the company said that the tool could “play a significant role in addressing the challenge of rising emissions.” “Combined with further advances in energy efficiency and new technologies spurred by market innovation, a well-designed carbon tax could play a significant role in addressing the challenge of rising emissions,” Kimberly Brasington, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an e-mail. “A carbon tax should be made revenue neutral via tax offsets in other areas,” she added.

    Exxon’s political action committee gave nearly $1.2 million to political candidates in the past two years, 93 percent of it to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.


    Gannets could be affected by offshore energy developments
    (November 9, 2012) — Scientists have discovered that proposed offshore renewable energy developments in the English Channel have the potential to affect the foraging behavior of northern gannets from Alderney in the Channel Islands. …

     

     

    Using rust and water to store solar energy as hydrogen
    (November 11, 2012) — How can solar energy be stored so that it can be available any time, day or night, when the sun shining or not? Scientists are developing a technology that can transform light energy into a clean fuel that has a neutral carbon footprint: hydrogen. The basic ingredients of the recipe are water and metal oxides, such as iron oxide, better known as rust. … > full story

     

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    Crossing the Line

    New Yorker by Elizabeth Kolbert November 12, 2012

    In the summer of 2007, Eve Mosher, an artist who grew up in Texas and lives in New York, bought a machine known as a Heavy Hitter. Heavy Hitters are typically used to produce the white chalk lines found on Little League fields, but Mosher had an entirely different purpose in mind. She filled the Heavy Hitter with a combination of white chalk and blue pigment and began pushing it through the streets of Brooklyn.

    Mosher’s idea was to draw a line around the edge of the borough. The line would follow a particular elevation—ten feet above sea level—much like a contour line on a map. Ten feet above sea level was the height that waters were expected to reach in New York during a hundred-year flood. Owing to climate change, though, the whole concept of a hundred-year flood was becoming obsolete. By the twenty-twenties, according to a report that Mosher read by a scientist at Columbia University, what used to be a hundred-year flood could be happening once every forty years. By the twenty-fifties, as sea levels continued to rise, it would become a twenty-year event. And by the twenty-eighties it could be occurring as often as once every four years. Mosher couldn’t understand why a projection like this wasn’t a major topic of discussion in Washington. In fact, it wasn’t being discussed at all.

     

    Nature Close Up with the Bird Photo Booth

    Posted By: Robert Lachman November 15, 2012 LATIMEs

    When I visited the L.A. Art Mobile Arts Festival in Santa Monica a few months ago, one group of photographs really caught my attention, striking close-ups of birds. Normally nature photographs aren’t that unusual, but these larger-than-life blowups were taken with an iPhone. I haven’t had much success getting any birds close enough to get photographs worth mounting on my wall. There must be a trick for photographer and inventor Bryson Lovett’s success, and, of course, there is, the Bird Photo Booth. I knew photo booths at parties and nightclubs have become the rage, but a photo booth for birds? After trying out a booth recently at a party, I think the photo booth for birds makes a lot more sense. I know there’s a lot of nostalgia for fuzzy quartets of  low-quality snapshots of you and your friends making funny faces, but really are you going to enlarge and frame them? Is they really high-quality pictures? High-quality photographs of birds in nature are far more interesting. Lovett’s Bird Photo Booth invention also fits a GoPro camera. Equally as fun is the video you can shoot. The Bird Photo Booth is made from precision CNC metal and sustainably harvested white oak with special inserts for your iPhone or GoPro. He has it listed on Kickstarter, which raises funds for inventors’ creative designs using the public as investors. I was sold going for the $149 price, which includes the Bird Photo Booth, a macro lens and a polarizing filter. Lovett created Bird Photo Booth because he wanted to bring birds close to people, to be able to see the expressions and personalities of birds up close with great detail. Because it comes with a macro lens, the iPhone focuses on the subjects, not the background….

     

    Captive animals show signs of boredom, study finds
    (November 14, 2012) — Wondering if your caged hamster gets bored? It’s highly likely if the critter has nothing to do all day. Those are the findings of researchers in the first study to empirically demonstrate boredom in confined animals. … > full story

     

    Exposure to light at night may cause depression, learning issues, mouse study suggests
    (November 14, 2012) — For most of history, humans rose with the sun and slept when it set. Enter Thomas Edison and colleagues, and with a flick of a switch, night became day, enabling us to work, play and post cat and kid photos on Facebook into the wee hours. According to a new study of mice, however, this typical 21st-century scenario may come at a serious cost: When people routinely burn the midnight oil, they risk suffering depression and learning issues, and not only because of lack of sleep. The culprit could also be exposure to bright light at night from lamps, computers and even iPads. … > full story

     

    High exposure to food-borne toxins: Preschool children particularly vulnerable to compounds linked to cancer, other conditions
    (November 13, 2012) — In a sobering study, researchers measured food-borne toxin exposure in children and adults by pinpointing foods with high levels of toxic compounds and determining how much of these foods were consumed. … > full story

     

    Even low-level radioactivity is damaging, scientists conclude
    (November 13, 2012) — Even the very lowest levels of radiation are harmful to life, scientists have concluded, reporting the results of a wide-ranging analysis of 46 peer-reviewed studies published over the past 40 years. Variation in low-level, natural background radiation was found to have small, but highly statistically significant, negative effects on DNA as well as several measures of health. … > full story

    Weekly soft drink consumption bubbles up knee osteoarthritis; especially in men
    (November 11, 2012) — Sugary soft drink consumption contributes not only to weight gain, but also may play a role in the progression of knee osteoarthritis, especially in men, according to new research findings. … > full story

     

     

     

     

     

    • IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  4. PRBO Science News- November 2, 2012

    Leave a Comment

    Highlight of the Week- Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change

    1-ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED

    2-CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

    3- POLICY

    4- RESOURCES

    5- RENEWABLES AND RELATED

    6-OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

    7-IMAGES OF THE WEEK

    ——————————–

    Highlight of the Week- Sandy and Climate Change….(with more photos in IMAGES OF THE WEEK below)

     

    How Does Climate Change Make Superstorms Like Sandy More Destructive?

    Posted: 31 Oct 2012 02:03 PM PDT Climateprogress.org


    Satellite image of Superstorm Sandy taken at 10 am EDT Tuesday. Image NASA GSFC via Masters.

    Climate science explains how global warming can make a superstorms like Sandy more destructive in several ways:

    • Warming-driven sea level rise makes storm surges more destructive. In fact, a recent study found “The sea level on a stretch of the US Atlantic coast that features the cities of New York, Norfolk and Boston is rising up to four times faster than the global average.”
    • “Owing to higher SSTs [sea surface temperatures] from human activities, the increased water vapor in the atmosphere leads to 5 to 10% more rainfall and increases the risk of flooding,” as Kevin Trenberth explained to me in a 2011 email about Hurricane Irene. He elaborates on that point for Sandy here and for all superstorms in this article.
    • “However, because water vapor and higher ocean temperatures help fuel the storm, it is likely to be more intense and bigger as well,” Trenberth added (see another of his articles here). Relatedly, warming also extends the range of warm SSTs, which can help sustain the strength of a hurricane as it steers on a northerly track into cooler water (much as apparently happened for Irene). September had the second highest global ocean temperatures on record and the Eastern seaboard was 5°F warmer than average (with global warming  responsible for about 1°F of that).
    • The unusual path of the storm — into the heavily populated east coast rather than out to see — was caused by a very strong blocking high pressure system that recent studies have linked to warming.  Meteorologist and former Hurricane Hunter Jeff Masters has an excellent analysis of this, “Why did Hurricane Sandy take such an unusual track into New Jersey?

    I have put these in order from most scientific certainty to least. The first two — the impact of sea level rise and increased water vapor — are unequivocal. The third is extremely likely. The fourth is more speculative. Remember, climate scientists and others have for quite some time been warning New York City that climate change was dramatically increasing the odds of a devastating storm surge — see Greg Laden’s post, “Peer Reviewed Research Predicted NYC Subway Flooding by #Sandy.” See also today’s NY Times story, “For Years, Warnings That It Could Happen Here.” Also a brand new study of storm surges since 1923 finds “that Katrina-magnitude events have been twice as frequent in warm years compared with cold years” — so more severe surges are on the way.

    And that’s the other key reason we must make the connection to climate change: Scientists worst-case scenarios are already happening — so their latest findings deserve attention so that Sandy doesn’t become just another Cassandra whose warnings are ignored. Now climate scientists project that we risk up to 10 times as much warming this century as in the last 50 years — with many devastating consequences from dramatic sea level rise to Dust-Bowlification (see my review of more than 60 recent studies). That means the 4 factors described above are going to have a greater and greater impact over time. That’s one of the many, many reasons we must act to reduce emissions ASAP, so we don’t keep getting “new normals” that ultimately make Sandy and Irene seem tame. …

     

     

    It’s Global Warming, Stupid

    By Paul M. Barrett on November 01, 2012 Bloomberg Business Week

    Yes, yes, it’s unsophisticated to blame any given storm on climate change. Men and women in white lab coats tell us—and they’re right—that many factors contribute to each severe weather episode. Climate deniers exploit scientific complexity to avoid any discussion at all. Clarity, however, is not beyond reach. Hurricane Sandy demands it: At least 40 U.S. deaths. Economic losses expected to climb as high as $50 billion. Eight million homes without power. Hundreds of thousands of people evacuated. More than 15,000 flights grounded. Factories, stores, and hospitals shut. Lower Manhattan dark, silent, and underwater…. In an Oct. 30 blog post, Mark Fischetti of Scientific American took a spin through Ph.D.-land and found more and more credentialed experts willing to shrug off the climate caveats. The broadening consensus: “Climate change amps up other basic factors that contribute to big storms. For example, the oceans have warmed, providing more energy for storms. And the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed, so it retains more moisture, which is drawn into storms and is then dumped on us.” Even those of us who are science-phobic can get the gist of that.

    Sandy featured a scary extra twist implicating climate change. An Atlantic hurricane moving up the East Coast crashed into cold air dipping south from Canada. The collision supercharged the storm’s energy level and extended its geographical reach. Pushing that cold air south was an atmospheric pattern, known as a blocking high, above the Arctic Ocean. Climate scientists Charles Greene and Bruce Monger of Cornell University, writing earlier this year in Oceanography, provided evidence that Arctic icemelts linked to global warming contribute to the very atmospheric pattern that sent the frigid burst down across Canada and the eastern U.S.

    If all that doesn’t impress, forget the scientists ostensibly devoted to advancing knowledge and saving lives. Listen instead to corporate insurers committed to compiling statistics for profit.

    On Oct. 17 the giant German reinsurance company Munich Re issued a prescient report titled Severe Weather in North America. Globally, the rate of extreme weather events is rising, and “nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America.” From 1980 through 2011, weather disasters caused losses totaling $1.06 trillion. Munich Re found “a nearly quintupled number of weather-related loss events in North America for the past three decades.” By contrast, there was “an increase factor of 4 in Asia, 2.5 in Africa, 2 in Europe, and 1.5 in South America.” Human-caused climate change “is believed to contribute to this trend,” the report said, “though it influences various perils in different ways.”

    Global warming “particularly affects formation of heat waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity,” Munich Re said. This July was the hottest month recorded in the U.S. since record-keeping began in 1895, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The U.S. Drought Monitor reported that two-thirds of the continental U.S. suffered drought conditions this summer.

     

    New York Times November 1, 2012:

     

     


    Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change- Fact Sheet

     

     


    Center for Climate and Energy Solutions October 31, 2012

    Overview

    Hurricane Sandy is a stark reminder of the rising risks of climate change. A number of warming-related factors may well have intensified the storm’s impact. Higher ocean temperatures contributed to heavier rainfall. Higher sea levels produced stronger storm surges. New research suggests that Arctic melting may be increasing the risk of the kind of atmospheric traffic jam that drove Sandy inland. While no single weather event can be said to have been directly caused by climate change, our weather now is the product of our changing climate, as increased warming raises the probability of extreme weather events. In highlighting our vulnerabilities to extreme weather, Hurricane Sandy underscores two imperatives: We need to reduce the risks of climate change by reducing our carbon emissions, and we must strengthen our defenses against future impacts that it may be too late to avoid.

    • Enhanced Precipitation

      Warming increases the amount of moisture in the atmosphere. Globally, the resulting increases in heavy precipitation are well documented. Like Hurricane Irene last year, Sandy carried an unusual amount of moisture, which increased the risk of very heavy precipitation within its path. Much of the warming from climate change occurs in the ocean, and this year’s sea surface temperatures are well above normal. September saw the second highest ocean temperatures on record globally. Sandy spent significant time over uncommonly warm sea surface temperatures – 5 degrees above normal — boosting the amount of moisture available to rain down on the Northeast U.S.

    • Sea Level Rise

      Recent studies have identified the Northeast U.S. as a “hotspot” of accelerated sea level rise. Over the past 30 years, sea levels in the region have risen four times faster than the global average, increasing the risk of storm surges and flooding. During a storm surge, a matter of inches can mean the difference between safety and extensive flooding. Hurricane Sandy’s storm surge was exacerbated by both the warming-driven sea-level rise and the timing of the lunar cycle. Sandy occurred during the astronomical high tide, which is 2 to 3 inches above a normal high tide. Global sea level has already increased by 4 inches since 1950, creating the equivalent of a fulltime astronomical high tide. In New York, a record storm surge 13 feet above mean low water level flooded parts of lower Manhattan and poured into subway tunnels.

    • Atlantic Traffic Jam

      Hurricane Sandy encountered a “traffic jam” in the North Atlantic, known as a “block” to meteorologists. This block did not allow Sandy to track out to sea like most northeast storms. Meanwhile, a storm associated with some very cold air over the Midwest also ran into this Atlantic traffic jam, resulting in an unusual “hybrid” storm. Recent research has shown that these blocking events and fall cold outbreaks are related to sea ice loss in the Arctic. In short, open water in the arctic helps break down the barrier between high- and mid-latitude weather, which increases the risk of cold outbreaks and blocking events. Hurricane Sandy seems to have tracked into the middle of one of these unusual meanders in the jet stream. While this is an evolving field of research and these conditions could have occurred in the absence of climate change, there is growing evidence that climate change is increasing the risk of extreme atmospheric arrangements.

    • Vulnerability

      Hurricane Sandy provides important lessons about our vulnerability to the kinds of extreme weather likely to become more common in a warming world.  Our levees, sea walls and other infrastructure were built to cope with the extreme weather risks of the 20th century.  Sandy is offering an opportunity to see where we fall short in preparations for the 21st century.

     

    Lessons from Hurricane Sandy for [SF] Bay Area business leaders

    Posted on October 29, 2012 by UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences
    By Jeffrey F. Mount, geology professor and founding director of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences


    Likely seawater inundation of Bay Area from an intense 100-year storm (1% probability in any given year) today (blue) and with 150 cm sea level rise (red). US Geological Survey, 2010

    As you read this today, Hurricane Sandy is colliding with cold air from Canada and creating an impressive storm in the Northeast. Strong onshore winds and an intense low-pressure system are causing storm surges as high as 13 feet in Lower Manhattan, threatening to swamp the subway system. On the land, 5-10 inches of rain is flooding creeks and rivers and overwhelming stormwater systems.

    This combination of too much runoff heading to the ocean and too much water surging in from the ocean will continue to cause dramatic coastal flooding this week. Worse, the combination is centered on the most densely populated part of the Northeast coast, setting the stage for maximum economic damage and disruption.

    The San Francisco Bay Area business community should be taking notes. This trifecta of high tides, storm surge and intense rain is also a Bay Area scenario. Scientists and a host of government agencies have been warning about such an event for years. It may not appear so on a map, but the Bay Area has half of California’s shoreline. Unlike the rest of the state’s coast, most of that shoreline is along reclaimed lowlands that are prone to flooding from the bay and surrounding creeks – the same as waterfront cities in New York and New Jersey.

    A major storm in the Bay Area would put more than 140,000 people at risk of serious flooding, along with $30 billion worth of public assets that include the Port of Oakland, two major airports and 800 miles of roadways. Though they are not hurricanes, California experiences its own form of tropical storms known as the Pineapple Express. Scientists call these storms “atmospheric rivers.” They tap into energy and moisture from the tropics, producing winds and rainfall rates that match the fury of Hurricane Sandy. When these storms combine with high tides, much as Sandy has, they can cause widespread flooding along the coast in the Bay Area. Many regional and local planning agencies have sounded the alarm: the Association of Bay Area Governments; the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the Bay Area Council; the Metropolitan Transportation Commission; CalTrans; the California Ocean Protection Council; the Environmental Protection Agency; and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. In addition, all nine Bay Area counties have identified this flooding scenario as significant potential hazard in their general plans.

    Meanwhile, the business community has been passive – ensuring nothing will get done. This may be because so much of the Bay Area discussion on flood risk has been in the long-term context of sea level rise resulting from climate change. Yet all of the flood studies have shown that the risk today is high. Sea level rise will only make matters worse.

    Bay Area business leaders should map this week’s whopper storm in the Northeast onto their own coastal turf. As California’s version of Sandy rolls in and overwhelms the Bay Area’s meager flood defenses, businesses like Oracle, Cisco, Intuit, Lockheed Martin, Google and Facebook will find themselves unable to do business, possibly for a long time.

    It makes good business sense for these businesses to move aggressively to manage their coastal flood risk.

    Further reading

     

    Sandy and the winds of change

    You don’t need a climate scientist to tell which way the wind blows.

    By Eugene Linden Los Angeles Times Op-Ed November 2, 2012

    Even as Sandy underwent its bizarre metamorphosis from hurricane to winter storm, the question arose in many inquiring minds (at least those not beholden to a solemn oath of climate-change denial): Was this historic storm a symptom of global warming? Climate science has two ready answers: Absolutely! And, of course not! On the one hand, a warming globe makes megastorms more probable, while on the other, it is impossible to pin a global warming sticker on Sandy because the circumstances that turned it into a monster could have been mere coincidence.There is, however, another way of looking at Sandy that might resolve this debate, and also help frame what we really should be worried about when it comes to global warming: An infrastructure created to defend against historical measures of worst-case natural threats was completely overpowered by this storm. New York City’s defenses were inadequate, and coastal defenses failed over a swath of hundreds of miles. Around the nation, such mismatches have been repeated ever more frequently in recent years.

    This summer, barge owners discovered that dredging in the Mississippi River, predicated on the history of the river’s ups and downs, left it too shallow for commercial traffic because of the intense Midwestern drought. And, famously, levees in New Orleans that were largely through the process of being improved even as Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 were still breached in 50 places. Then, seven years to the day after Katrina struck, Plaquemines Parish was drowned by Hurricane Isaac in flooding residents described as worse than Katrina’s.

    It’s true that factors other than megastorms — loss of flood plains, subsidence and neglect — can exacerbate a failure, but the number of failures of all types of defenses has been stunning. Such failures are telling us that something new is afoot. Our levees, dredging protocols and, in New York City, subway tunnel designs and improvements incorporate society’s best guess of what it takes to protect against the worst nature might throw at us. Such defenses are expensive, so a city or agency won’t spend more than it deems necessary. But the consequences of underestimating are also so enormous — consider the billions that will be spent restoring Manhattan’s infrastructure and ruined neighborhoods alone — that we routinely construct them to withstand 100- or even 500-year events, estimates based on probability calculations and history of rare, extreme disasters. Yet these days such events seem to occur annually. This is borne out by statistics. Among the many records set by Sandy, one was for the highest wave ever recorded in New York Harbor: 32.5 feet. That eclipsed the previous record wave of 26 feet. When was the earlier record set? Just last year, courtesy of Hurricane Irene. Another message from Sandy is the reminder that climate change is camouflaged. It arrives as familiar weather events and after slowly accumulating changes.

    Sandy was unusual in many ways, but it is also easy to dismiss its significance because it started out as a hurricane and hurricanes have always marched up the Atlantic coast, even as late as November. As for the surge that inundated beach towns and city streets, it came on top of a sea level that has been rising slowly, on average less than one-tenth of an inch per year, though the pace has been accelerating in recent decades. The oceans are now roughly 9 inches higher than they were 140 years ago, and, for the most part, our sea defenses have not kept pace. Perhaps the most important message from Sandy is that it underscores the enormous price of underestimating the threat of climate change. Damage increases exponentially even if preparations are only slightly wrong. In trying to protect Grand Forks, N.D., from a spring flood in 1997, the city used sandbags to defend against a high-water mark of 52 feet, comfortably above the 49-foot crest predicted by the National Weather Service but, unfortunately, below the 54-foot crest that occurred on April 21. It was only 10% higher than what was expected, but the damage was many hundred times greater than if the protections had not been breached; 50,000 homes suffered damage.

    At some point the consensus among climate scientists might convince even those now in denial that they ignore the role of global warming in extreme weather events at the nation’s peril. In the meantime, Sandy’s trampling of the Northeast’s defenses against the weather, as well as scores of other major infrastructure failures in the face of extreme floods, heat, drought and winds in the United States and around the world, tell us that climate change is already here.

    Eugene Linden is the author of “Winds of Change: Climate, Weather and the Destruction of Civilizations,” which won the 2007 Grantham Prize Special Award of Merit. {GREAT BOOK—recommended reading!}

     

    Cuomo Says Area Vulnerable to Extreme Storms

    Michael M. Grynbaum New York Times October 31, 2012

    Mr. Cuomo is sounding a sober note about the possibility of more extreme-weather scenarios in the New York City region. “Climate change is a reality,” the governor said. “Given the frequency of these extreme weather situations we have had — and I believe it is an increased frequency — for us to sit here today and say this is a once-in-a-generation, and it’s not going to happen again, I think would be short sighted.” The governor said that New York must “anticipate more of these extreme weather type situations in the future,” and he said that elected officials have a responsibility to think about new designs, or new techniques, to prevent similar damage to the region’s infrastructure in the face of future storms….

     

     

    And Toles cartoon from Tuesday Oct 30….

     

     

    • ECOLOGY

     

     


    Anthropocene Continues to Spark Scientific Debate

     

     


    November 1, 2012 — How have humans influenced Earth? Can geoscientists measure when human impacts began overtaking those of Earth’s other inhabitants and that of the natural Earth system? Responding to increasing … > full story

    50% in 10 Years: A New Global Collaboration to Restore Fisheries
    One billion people in the world depend upon fish for their primary protein. Representatives of 30 organizations are designing a global collaboration to bring 50% of fish and fisheries within sustainable management in 10 years. Economists at the World Bank estimate that the benefits of reform would add at least $20bn (£12.45bn) annually to the global economy. The Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit recently commissioned a set of 50 global case studies and among the lessons is one clear message: we know what to do in order to manage our ocean resources wisely, and good management pays.


    New Study to Examine Ecological Tipping Points in Hopes of Preventing Them

     

     

    ScienceDaily (Oct. 30, 2012) — Predation by otters keeps urchin populations in check, allowing kelp — a favorite food of urchins — to flourish. But what if otters were harvested to near extinction for their fur? The resulting overabundance of urchins would decimate the kelp forest, leaving little food or shelter for fish and invertebrates. And so it may go, as declines in these species are likely to affect others.

    NASA maps how nutrients affect plant productivity
    (November 1, 2012) — A new analysis has estimated how much the growth of plants worldwide is limited by the amount of nutrients available in their soil. The maps produced from the research will be particularly useful in evaluating how much carbon dioxide Earth’s ecosystems may be able to soak up as greenhouse gas levels increase. … > full story

    Mass extinction study provides lessons for modern world
    (October 29, 2012) — The Cretaceous Period of Earth history ended with a mass extinction that wiped out numerous species, most famously the dinosaurs. A new study now finds that the structure of North American ecosystems made the extinction worse than it might have been… “Our analyses show that more species became extinct for a given plant die-off in the youngest communities,” Mitchell said. “We can trace this difference in response to changes in a number of key ecological groups such as plant-eating dinosaurs like Triceratops and small mammals.” The results of Mitchell and his colleagues paint a picture of late Cretaceous North America in which pre-extinction changes to food webs — likely driven by a combination of environmental and biological factors — results in communities that were more fragile when faced with large disturbances.

    “Besides shedding light on this ancient extinction, our findings imply that seemingly innocuous changes to ecosystems caused by humans might reduce the ecosystems’ abilities to withstand unexpected disturbances,” Roopnarine said.

    … Most likely a combination of changing climate and other environmental factors caused some types of animals to become more or less diverse in the Cretaceous, the researchers concluded. In their paper they suggest that the drying up of a shallow sea that covered part of North America may have been one of the main factors leading to the observed changes in diversity. The study provides no evidence that the latest Cretaceous communities were on the verge of collapse before the asteroid hit. “The ecosystems collapsed because of the asteroid impact, and nothing in our study suggests that they would not have otherwise continued on successfully,” Mitchell said. “Unusual circumstances, such as the after-effects of the asteroid impact, were needed for the vulnerability of the communities to become important.”The study has implications for modern conservation efforts, Angielczyk observed. “Our study shows that the robustness or fragility of an ecosystem under duress depends very much on both the number of species present, as well as the types of species,” he said, referring to their ecological function. The study also shows that more is not necessarily better, because simply having many species does not insure against ecosystem collapse. “What you have is also important,” Angelczyk said. “It is therefore critical that conservation efforts pay attention to ecosystem functioning and the roles of species in their communities as we continue to degrade our modern ecosystems.”….> full story

     

    Feedlot prospects worrisome for U.S. cattle industry
    (October 30, 2012) — Not only are feedlots paying record prices for feed and essentially record prices for feeder cattle, it has been recognized for quite a while now that the supply of feeder cattle will be increasingly inadequate to maintain feedlot inventories at any price. … > full story

    Exhaustive family tree for birds shows recent, rapid diversification
    (October 31, 2012) — The most comprehensive family tree for birds to date has just been completed, connecting all living bird species — nearly 10,000 in total — and revealing surprising new details about their evolutionary history and its geographic context. … > full story

    The global diversity of birds in space and time

    W. Jetz, et al NATURE 31 October 2012

    Current global patterns of biodiversity result from processes that operate over both space and time and thus require an integrated macroecological and macroevolutionary perspective1, 2, 3, 4. Molecular time trees have advanced our understanding of the tempo and mode of diversification5, 6, 7 and have identified remarkable adaptive radiations across the tree of life8, 9, 10. However, incomplete joint phylogenetic and geographic sampling has limited broad-scale inference. Thus, the relative prevalence of rapid radiations and the importance of their geographic settings in shaping global biodiversity patterns remain unclear. Here we present, analyse and map the first complete dated phylogeny of all 9,993 extant species of birds, a widely studied group showing many unique adaptations. We find that birds have undergone a strong increase in diversification rate from about 50 million years ago to the near present. This acceleration is due to a number of significant rate increases, both within songbirds and within other young and mostly temperate radiations including the waterfowl, gulls and woodpeckers. Importantly, species characterized with very high past diversification rates are interspersed throughout the avian tree and across geographic space. Geographically, the major differences in diversification rates are hemispheric rather than latitudinal, with bird assemblages in Asia, North America and southern South America containing a disproportionate number of species from recent rapid radiations. The contribution of rapidly radiating lineages to both temporal diversification dynamics and spatial distributions of species diversity illustrates the benefits of an inclusive geographical and taxonomical perspective. Overall, whereas constituent clades may exhibit slowdowns10, 11, the adaptive zone into which modern birds have diversified since the Cretaceous may still offer opportunities for diversification.

     

    River floods predicted using new technology
    (October 29, 2012) — Scientists are now using high-tech solutions to provide real-time forecast of the dangers of river floods caused by climate change and human activities to help avoid disasters. … > full story


    Cave built to fight fatal bat disease

     

     


    November 1, 2012 SF Chronicle The nearly 80-foot-long concrete chamber was built to protect bats against white nose syndrome, a disease named for a white fungus that infects the skin of the muzzle, ears and wings of hibernating bats. Scientists have been confounded by the… more »

    Repopulation of countryside is essential tool to avoid major fires, Spanish experts say
    (October 28, 2012) — A preliminary report on the major fires Valencia, Spain suggests that repopulation of the countryside is an essential tool to avoid major forest fires, and points out alternative solutions such as biological firewalls that involve developing pastures. … > full story

    What’s Wrong with Putting a Price on Nature?
    The concept of pricing ecosystem services and allowing them to be bought and sold has gained wide acceptance among conservationists in recent years. But does this approach merely obscure nature’s true value and put the natural world at even greater risk?

    Maryland: Event Marks Transformation Of Polluted Baltimore Waterfront Into Preserve
    Some Baltimore school children are joining federal and state officials in celebrating the transformation of a polluted south Baltimore waterfront into an environmental preserve. The 11-acre nature area is part of a $22 million project to restore one of Baltimore harbor’s most polluted areas. More than 60,000 tons of trash and debris dating back more than a century have been removed, along with invasive plants and sickly trees. The area is being replanted with native trees, shrubs and wetland plants.

     

    Washington Legislature to examine killing wolves

    SEATTLE (AP) November 2, 2012 — A key state lawmaker says he’ll hold a hearing on the state Fish and Wildlife Department’s decision to kill a pack of wolves that had been preying on cattle in northeast Washington. The department says it had no choice but to… more »

     

    Minnesota wolf season opens Saturday

    AP November 2, 2012…Dan Stark a wolf specialist with the Department of Natural Resources, says he expects hunters will take about 70 wolves in the early season. Wisconsin hunters and trappers have taken more than 40 wolves since their season opened Oct. 15. more »

     

    Big Sears Point Marsh Restoration Gets $4.2 Million Boost
    With $4.2 million in new funding, the Sonoma Land Trust is set next year to begin an ambitious project to restore wetlands and provide public access to nearly 1,000 acres of former farmland along San Pablo Bay. The land trust estimates it will spend about $18 million to return the former hay and wheat fields to marshes…..

     


    27 dead doves in Vegas area have bird virus

     

     


    (AP) November 1, 2012— Wildlife officials in Nevada are asking the public to help look out for sick or dying pigeons or doves in the Las Vegas area after more than two dozen dead doves tested positive for a bird virus. Wolff says the virus known as PPMV1… more »


    6 more whooping cranes now headed to Florida

     

     


    (AP) November 1, 2012 –The cranes are part of the project conducted by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership, which is an international coalition of organizations that is reintroducing the bird in eastern North America. The birds were released Monday at Horicon… more »

     

     

    • CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

     

    Agriculture and food production contribute up to 29 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions
    (October 30, 2012) — Feeding the world releases up to 17,000 megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually, according to a new analysis. But while the emissions “footprint” of food production needs to be reduced, a companion policy brief lays out how climate change will require a complete recalibration of where specific crops are grown and livestock are raised. … > full story

     

    Climate Change Affecting Overall Weather Patterns, May Affect Water Availability, in California ScienceDaily November 1, 2012

    Climate change is affecting overall weather patterns, scientists say, and could affect water availability in California. … California isn’t going to face a superstorm like Hurricane Sandy because the Pacific Ocean is too cold to feed that kind of weather system. But that doesn’t mean California won’t see extreme weather, say researchers from the University of California, Merced. “We can see very big storms, and there are a couple of issues related to climate change to think about,” said Roger Bales, director of the Sierra Nevada Research Institute. “Most of our biggest storms are snow storms, which builds up snowpack in the mountains. The snowpack is a reservoir, storing water that will be used throughout the year across the state. “But if you warm the climate,” he said, “those storms become rain events — there’s more immediate runoff, less water storage, and the rain will actually melt some of the existing snowpack. > full story

     


    UK Butterfly Populations Threatened by Extreme Drought and Landscape Fragmentation

     

     

    ScienceDaily November 1, 2012

    A new study has found that the sensitivity and recovery of UK butterfly populations to extreme drought is affected by the overall area …  > full story

     

     

    VIDEO:  NASA Examines Hurricane Sandy as it Affects the Eastern U.S.

     

    Trenberth: Hurricane Sandy Mixes Super-Storm Conditions With Climate Change

    By by Kevin Trenberth Climate Guest Blogger on Oct 29, 2012 at 10:15 am

    As I write this, Hurricane Sandy remains a very large, powerful hurricane. On Sunday afternoon (local time), Sandy brought winds gusting to 103km/h to coastal North Carolina. Heavy rains are already occurring from North Carolina to New Jersey with amounts recorded of 4cm so far.

    But Sandy is predicted to turn left and move ashore on the Atlantic coast somewhat south of New York and north of Washington DC in a day or so. Rainfalls exceeding 15cm are likely in some areas, but a major risk is from the coastal storm surge on top of very high sea levels made higher by climate change.

    A large easterly wind fetch has already piled waters up along the coast, and with high tide and the storm surge, and storm force winds extending a huge 800km plus from the center, the potential for the ocean surges to be over 3m is very real in the New York City area.

    The sea surface temperatures along the Atlantic coast have been running at over 3C above normal for a region extending 800km off shore all the way from Florida to Canada. Global warming contributes 0.6C to this. With every degree C, the water holding of the atmosphere goes up 7%, and the moisture provides fuel for the tropical storm, increases its intensity, and magnifies the rainfall by double that amount compared with normal conditions.

    Global climate change has contributed to the higher sea surface and ocean temperatures, and a warmer and moister atmosphere, and its effects are in the range of 5 to 10%. Natural variability and weather has provided the perhaps optimal conditions of a hurricane running into extra-tropical conditions to make for a huge intense storm, enhanced by global warming influences…..

     

    CNN Bans Term ‘Frankenstorm’, But It’s A Good Metaphor For Warming-Driven Monster: ‘Largest Hurricane In Atlantic History’

    By Joe Romm on Oct 28, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    UPDATE from Stu Ostro, Weather Channel Senior Meteorologist: “History is being written as an extreme weather event continues to unfold, one which will occupy a place in the annals of weather history as one of the most extraordinary to have affected the United States.

    What would you call an “unprecedented and bizarre“ storm that is:

    • The “largest hurricane in Atlantic history measured by diameter of gale force winds (1,040mi)” [Capital Weather Gang]
    • “A Storm Like No Other” [National Weather Service via AP]. NWS“I cannot recall ever seeing model forecasts of such an expansive areal wind field with values so high for so long a time. We are breaking new ground here.”
    • “A meteorologically mind-boggling combination of ingredients [] coming together: one of the largest expanses of tropical storm (gale) force winds on record with a tropical or subtropical cyclone in the Atlantic or for that matter anywhere else in the world; a track of the center making a sharp left turn in direction of movement toward New Jersey in a way that is unprecedented in the historical database, as it gets blocked from moving out to sea by a pattern that includes an exceptionally strong ridge of high pressure aloft near Greenland; a “warm-core” tropical cyclone embedded within a larger, nor’easter-like circulation; and eventually tropical moisture and arctic air combining to produce heavy snow in interior high elevations. This is an extraordinary situation, and I am not prone to hyperbole.” [Stu Ostro]
    • Being fueled in part by “ocean temperatures along the Northeast U.S. coast [] about 5°F above average,” so “there will be an unusually large amount of water vapor available to make heavy rain” [former Hurricane Hunter Jeff Masters]
    • Also being driven by a high pressure blocking pattern near Greenland “forecast to be three standard deviations from the average” [Climate Central and CWG]
    • “Stitched together from some spooky combination of the natural and the unnatural.” [Bill McKibben]
    • McKibben explains “Our relationship to the world around us is shifting as fast as that world is shifting. ‘Frankenstorm’ is the right name for Sandy, and indeed for many other storms and droughts and heat waves now.”

    …..Humans are changing the climate in dangerous and unprecedented ways. At first it was unintentional, but no one in the public arena can possibly claim today they haven’t been warned — repeatedly — by climate scientists and others (see, for instance Lonnie Thompson on why climatologists are speaking out: “Virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.”) Dr. Kevin Trenberth, former head of the Climate Analysis Section at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, explained in a must-read 2012 review article in Climatic Change:

    The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question. All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be….We can even make a stronger statement today in the case of hurricanes thanks to a brand new study, “Homogeneous record of Atlantic hurricane surge threat since 1923We demonstrate that the major events in our surge index record can be attributed to landfalling tropical cyclones; these events also correspond with the most economically damaging Atlantic cyclones. We find that warm years in general were more active in all cyclone size ranges than cold years. The largest cyclones are most affected by warmer conditions and we detect a statistically significant trend in the frequency of large surge events (roughly corresponding to tropical storm size) since 1923. In particular, we estimate that Katrina-magnitude events have been twice as frequent in warm years compared with cold years.”

    The name “Frankenstorm” fits. Ostro says this is “even more extreme” than the infamous Perfect Storm of 1991. The unique severity of the storm is the point! Manmade warming has consequences. The time to act is now. For those who aren’t regular readers of Climate Progress, here’s more of the literature on how manmade carbon pollution is making many of the most destructive kinds of extreme weather events — Frankenstorms – more frequent and more intense.

    UPDATE: Let’s start with a quote from Jennifer Francis of Rutgers (via DotEarth) on the link between Sandy and the record-smashing Arctic sea ice loss:

    Read more

     


    Why Seas Are Rising Ahead of Predictions: Estimates of Rate of Future Sea-Level Rise May Be Too Low

     

     

    ScienceDaily (Nov. 1, 2012) — Sea levels are rising faster than expected from global warming, and University of Colorado geologist Bill Hay has a good idea why. The last official IPCC report in 2007 projected a global sea level rise between 0.2 and 0.5 meters by the year 2100. But current sea-level rise measurements meet or exceed the high end of that range and suggest a rise of one meter or more by the end of the century. “What’s missing from the models used to forecast sea-level rise are critical feedbacks that speed everything up,” says Hay. He will be presenting some of these feedbacks in a talk on  Nov. 4, at the meeting of The Geological Society of America in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. One of those feedbacks involves Arctic sea ice, another the Greenland ice cap, and another soil moisture and groundwater mining.

    “There is an Arctic sea ice connection,” says Hay, despite the fact that melting sea ice — which is already in the ocean — does not itself raise sea level. Instead, it plays a role in the overall warming of the Arctic, which leads to ice losses in nearby Greenland and northern Canada. When sea ice melts, Hay explains, there is an oceanographic effect of releasing more fresh water from the Arctic, which is then replaced by inflows of brinier, warmer water from the south. “So it’s a big heat pump that brings heat to the Arctic,” says Hay. “That’s not in any of the models.” That warmer water pushes the Arctic toward more ice-free waters, which absorb sunlight rather than reflect it back into space like sea ice does. The more open water there is, the more heat is trapped in the Arctic waters, and the warmer things can get. Then there are those gigantic stores of ice in Greenland and Antarctica. During the last interglacial period, sea level rose 10 meters due to the melting of all that ice — without any help from humans. New data suggests that the sea-level rise in the oceans took place over a few centuries, according to Hay. “You can lose most of the Greenland ice cap in a few hundred years, not thousands, just under natural conditions,” says Hay. “There’s no telling how fast it can go with this spike of carbon dioxide we are adding to the atmosphere.”

    This possibility was brought home this last summer as Greenland underwent a stunning, record-setting melt. The ice streams, lubricated by water at their base, are speeding up.

     

     

    Flood risk will rise with climate change, experts say

    By Juliet Eilperin, Thursday, November 1, 9:52 AM

    As the Northeast struggles with the aftermath of the massive storm Sandy, many experts say the government for years has underestimated how much of the nation is prone to flooding, given the increasing likelihood of extreme weather because of climate change and the prospect of future sea level rise. These experts, who include not only environmentalists but also community planners, insurers and fiscal conservatives, have pressed agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency to rethink the way the government evaluates the risk of floods. Such a change could affect where and how infrastructure is built and make it harder to develop vulnerable areas. FEMA, which is updating flood insurance maps from the 1980s, is setting up a “technical mapping advisory council” that will study how the agency might take future climate change into account. At this point, it still bases its analysis on historical data.

    But Sandy’s devastating punch might bolster the case for change, given how it exposed many areas’ vulnerabilities to storm surge and sea level rise.

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said policymakers need to acknowledge that the infrastructure in place along the East Coast cannot withstand the changing climate.

    “Anyone who thinks that there is not a dramatic change in weather patterns is denying reality,” Cuomo said at a news conference Tuesday. “We have a new reality, and old infrastructures and old systems.”

    Flood planning is based on historical data rather than future projections. And much of the infrastructure damaged in a storm is rebuilt exactly the same way, without taking into account the climatic changes underway. FEMA draws the flood maps to provide guidelines to local authorities who determine where things can be built. Many developers and homeowners have resisted the idea of expanding the definition of flood risk because it raises costs and can restrict development. Policymakers “are afraid of the political backlash,” said Georgetown Climate Center executive director Vicki Arroyo. And expanding the maps means increasing the area covered by the 44-year-old National Flood Insurance Program, which covers Americans in flood-prone areas with federally backed insurance provided they meet federal standards aimed at minimizing risks. The program was at least $17.75 billion in debt before Sandy made landfall, and the storm could deplete the program’s remaining $3 billion statutory borrowing authority. The insurance is voluntary.

    Proponents argue that the flood insurance program provides coverage that would otherwise be unaffordable and saves taxpayers money by prodding communities to take precautions. Critics say the program encourages Americans to build in vulnerable areas, with 40 percent of the total payout going to 2 percent of properties that were repeatedly flooded.

    Climate change is only happening in one direction,” said Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “The temperature is warmer, the sea level is higher and the air is warmer so it can hold more moisture.”…..

     

    Beach Repairs at $8 Million a Mile Run Up Bill Sandy Left

    Jim Snyder San Francisco Chronicle November 1, 2012

    Superstorm Sandy washed away beaches and sent raw sewage and diesel fuel into waterways, leaving an environmental repair bill for New York and New Jersey exceeding $100 million. The harm to wildlife and habitats probably will be extensive given… more »

     

    Sandy to Erode Many Atlantic Beaches

    October 27, 2012Nearly three quarters of the coast along the Delmarva Peninsula is very likely to experience beach and dune erosion as Hurricane Sandy makes landfall, while overwash is expected along nearly half of … > full story

     

    Superstorm sweeps pelican into eastern Conn.

    Associated Press November 2, 2012

    Animal control officer Michael Martin captured the bird, which appeared healthy, and caged it. Patrick Comins, director of bird conservation for Audubon Connecticut, says many birds were blown around by Sandy’s hurricane-force winds, including… more »

     


    Long-Term Sea Level Rise in Washington, D.C. Could Have Significant Impact

     

     


    November 1, 2012 — The U.S. capital is likely to face flooding and infrastructure damage in both the short- and long-term brought about by sea level rise (SLR), current trends and predicted increases suggest. The rise … > full story

     

    Dust’s warming counters half of its cooling effect
    (October 31, 2012) — Dust that routinely rises above the world’s deserts causes a more significant localized warming effect than previously thought, a new study based on NASA field research shows. … > full story

     

    Uncertainty of future South Pacific Island rainfall explained
    (October 28, 2012) — With greenhouse warming, rainfall in the South Pacific islands will depend on two competing effects — an increase due to overall warming and a decrease due to changes in atmospheric water transport — according to a new study. In the South Pacific these two effects sometimes cancel each other out, resulting in highly uncertain rainfall projections. … > full story

     

    This Region Could See a 30 Percent Increase in Precipitation by 2100: STOP SAYING THAT!

    Posted: 31 Oct 2012 11:11 AM PDT Shaun Martin, WWF-US

    It’s Monday morning, October 29, 2012. Hurricane Sandy is strengthening as she approaches the US east coast. In Washington, DC the US federal government is closed, public transport has ceased operations, and WWF staff [...]

     


     

    Hurricane Sandy on October 25, 2012, with winds of 90 mph and a pressure of 954 mbar

     

     

     

     

     

    • POLICY

     

    Ross Sea protection bid fails—for now

    By Jamie Morton Friday Nov 2, 2012

    Philippa Ross, the great-great-great-granddaughter of polar explorer Sir James Clarke Ross, has vowed to keep fighting “until the entire Ross Sea is safe from fishing”. Photo / Wayne Drought

    A bid that would have safe-guarded the Ross Sea’s pristine eco-system with the world’s largest marine protected area has failed.

    New Zealand and the United States had proposed a 2.27 million sq km reserve, including a 1.6 million sq km designated no-take zone, but the 25-nation Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) yesterday failed to agree to such a proposal during the final day at its 11-day conference in Hobart, which ended late last night.
    Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Murray McCully told Radio New Zealand good progress had been made during the meeting, but more work was needed to convince some countries to back the compromise.”I’ve said consistently, in a response to some of the wild and woolly ideas that have been pushed around New Zealand politics, that getting 25 countries to agree to a marine protected zone in the Ross Sea was going to be a big ask – the real risk was that we’d get no agreement.”As it’s turned out we’ve seen New Zealand and the US come up with a proposal that I think will eventually get across the line but it’s going to take some work and there’s been a special meeting called for July next year during which we’ve got to try to get some countries that don’t share our views on conservation values in that region to join us on this thing.”…..

     

     

    Hurricane Tracking in Peril The New York Times Editorial November 2, 2012

    The capability of weather forecasters to predict the track of hurricanes with accuracy is at danger. The science allowing communities to prepare and evacuate could be lose because of mismanagement and federal budget cuts over the past decade. [NYT]


    California will soon launch its cap-and-trade program

     

     


    Center for Climate and Energy Solutions October 31, 2012

    California will soon launch its cap-and-trade program, which uses a market-based mechanism to lower greenhouse gas emissions. California’s program will be second in size only to the European Union’s Emissions Trading System based on the amount of emissions covered. In addition to driving emission cuts in the ninth largest economy in the world, California’s program will provide critical experience in how an economy-wide cap-and-trade system can function in the United States. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted the state’s cap-and-trade rule on October 20, 2011, and will implement and enforce the program. The first compliance period will begin on January 1, 2013. The program places a greenhouse gas emission limit that will decrease by two percent each year through 2015, and by three percent annually from 2015 through 2020. See Figure 2 for a chart of the declining cap.

    The cap-and-trade rules will first apply to electric power plants and large industrial plants that emit 25,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year or more. In 2015, the rules will also apply to fuel distributors (including distributors of heating and transportation fuels) that meet the 25,000 metric ton threshold, affecting around 360 businesses throughout California. The program will encompass nearly 85 percent of the state’s total emissions by 2015. Emission allowances will be distributed by a mix of free allocation and quarterly auctions.  The portion of emissions covered by free allowances will vary by industry, but generally will account for approximately 90 percent of a business’s overall emissions. The percentage of free allowances allocated to the businesses will decline over time. A business may also buy allowances from other entities that have reduced emissions below the amount of allowances held. These trades may be brokered through incorporated exchanges like the CME Group Incorporated (CME) and the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).  Trades may also take place Over-the-Counter (OTC) or through bilateral transactions between buyers and sellers. The first California allowance auction is scheduled for November 14, 2012. This date will mark the beginning of the first greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program in the United States since the group of nine Northeastern states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a greenhouse gas cap and trade program for power plants held its first auction in 2008.

     

    Insurance Companies Already Feeling Sandy’s Effects : NPR

    October 30 2012 – … Agency have been recalculating how to insure homeowners due to climate change. … 

     

    Watch: Television News Starts Covering The Link Between Climate Change And Superstorm Sandy

    Posted: 31 Oct 2012 09:35 AM PDT Coverage of climate change from television news outlets has dropped precipitously since 2009. And during the lead-up and arrival of Superstorm Sandy, the climate connection to extreme weather was conspicuously absent.

    But as broadcast journalists transition from tracking Superstorm Sandy to covering its aftermath, some television outlets are starting to explore the role of climate change in more detail. Starting yesterday afternoon, there was an increase in climate-related stories, with extensive segments appearing on Al Jazeera, Current TV, MSNBC, and NBC. (There were also a couple segments on Fox, both of which were used to raise doubts about climate science). Below are some of the top pieces covering the link between a warming planet and extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy. NBC News science reporter Robert Bazell had a terrific piece on yesterday’s Nightly News called, “Dramatic weather patterns the ‘new normal’ “….

     

    Local-State Clashes Grow During Oil And Gas Drilling Boom

    Posted: 01 Nov 2012 06:54 AM PDT by Tom Kenworthy

    Many parts of the nation are experiencing a boom that is unlocking large new reserves of oil and gas from shale formations. While this means an increase in domestic fuel production, it is also fostering a gusher of increasingly bitter fights among local authorities, state governments, energy companies, and landowners about who has the right to regulate where and how drilling occurs.

    Spurred in large part by concerns over the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, citizens and local governments are mobilizing in support of bans or other restrictions on oil and gas drilling and, specifically, fracking.

    Fracking—the high-pressure injection of water, chemicals, and sand to fracture underground rock formations and release trapped natural gas and oil—along with advances in horizontal drilling, has made it possible to develop extensive new fields of oil and gas around the United States. But the practice now used in an estimated 95 percent of U.S. oil and gas wells has elevated concerns about the health and safety of drilling, particularly in regard to those communities close to oil and gas developments.

    As of late July “more than 200 municipalities in 15 states, including city councils, town boards, and county legislatures, have banned natural gas drilling that uses hydraulic fracturing,” according to OMB Watch, a nonprofit organization that follows the Office of Management and Budget. Some of these recent developments include:

     

     

     

    Michael Bloomberg Endorses Obama, Citing Climate Change As Main Reason

    By Stephen Lacey on Nov 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg says that climate change is his top consideration this election season. In a piece headlined, “A Vote for a President Who Will Lead on Climate Change,” the Mayor explains: “Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be – given this week’s devastation – should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action. But we can’t do it alone. We need leadership from the White House – and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption, including setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. His administration also has adopted tighter controls on mercury emissions, which will help to close the dirtiest coal power plants (an effort I have supported through my philanthropy), which are estimated to kill 13,000 Americans a year.”…..

     

     

     

     

     

    • RESOURCES

     

    CA Dept of Fish and Game Climate College
    CA Dept of Fish and Game Climate Change Resources

    CA Dept of Fish and Game Climate College: Course Schedule and Materials

    Below is a list of lectures and speakers for DFG’s Climate College 2012-2013. Lectures are open to anyone who is interested in participating, and will be recorded and posted for those unable to join on the day of the event. Click on each lecture below for more information on the speaker(s), reading materials, companion webinars, and additional registration information.

    October 15, 2012- video: Climate 101; understanding the basics of climate science and what we can do about it. Speaker: Ellie Cohen, President and CEO, PRBO Conservation Science

    Materials

    A Quick Guide for Creating High-Quality Jobs through Restoration on National Forests
    This guide from the Ecosystem Workforce Program at the University of Oregon provides techniques for increasing local economic benefit and job creation from restoration using existing authorities and programs.

    Developing Socioeconomic Performance Measures for the Watershed Condition Framework
    This report outlines strategies for developing new social and economic performance measures related to the Forest Service’s Watershed Condition Framework and restoration on public lands more generally. The proposed performance measures make use of data the Forest Service already collects, and “score cards” that allow local units and their partners to monitor progress in the areas of adaptive capacity, economic benefit, and social equity. We hope that this report will help the Forest Service and their partners develop local performance measures and monitoring frameworks to track the social and economic impacts of their efforts. Over time, we hope this report will also foster a national dialogue about how to measure social and economic outcomes of restoration on public lands.

     

    WEBINAR November 5th– Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Symposium- 1- 4:30 PM PT

    CA LCC and CDFG Climate College

    The CA LCC is sponsoring a vulnerability assessment course held at Sacramento State University November 6-8, 2012.  The purpose of the course is to build upon the “Scanning the Conservation Horizon, A guide to Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment” by understanding the tools available and learning about examples of how to apply vulnerability assessments.  It is not intended to repeat the information in the guide because anyone can read it, but to take concepts and then get the participants to carry the discussion forward on what’s meaningful for them. It is set up as short lectures with lots of time for discussion and questions. There will be local case studies to use as examples on how to get past the assessment part and what to do with the information after that.  The course is highly sought after and most of the instructors were instrumental in writing the guide.  Instructors include Patty Glick; National Wildlife Federation, our own Sam Veloz; PRBO Conservation Science, Jeannie Hoffman; Ecoadapt, John Rozum; NOAA, and others.  A few slots are open.  For questions or to register contact Danielle_LaRock@fws.gov.

     

    ************************************************************************************************************
    November 5th Symposium – access info for webinars below
    The CA LCC and the DFG Climate College are working together to bring you a half day symposium on climate change from 1:00 – 4:30pm on Monday November 5th.
    This symposium will be both in person and via webinar. If participating via webinar, you may log on at any time and access information is provided below.  Please RSVP if you plan to attend in person to Rebecca_Fris@fws.gov or if you are part of the DFG Climate College email Registrar@dfg.ca.gov. The symposium will take place at the CA LCC office on Sacramento State Campus, Modoc Hall in the Willow Room on the 1st floor. The webinars will be recorded and posted on CA LCC’s updated webpage for later viewing.


    The DFG Climate College will kick off the event with a lecture from 1pm – 2pm followed by 3 additional talks on CA LCC projects.
    For more information about the DFG Climate College and options for training certification please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/Climate_and_Energy/Climate_Change/Climate_College/
    List of speakers:

    • 1:00pm- What’s happening? Projected climate change impacts to California and the San Francisco Bay region: 2C or not 2C, that is the Challenge. Tom Suchanek, USGS
    • 2:00pm- A climate change vulnerability assessment for Sierra Nevada birds. Rodney Siegel, The Institute for Bird Populations
    • 2:45pm- Setting Regional Strategies for Invasive Plant Management Using CalWeedMapper. Dana Morawitz , California Invasive Plant Council
    • 3:30pm- A Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Strategies for Focal Resources of the Sierra Nevada. Jessi Kershner, EcoAdapt

      Webinar Access information for the 4 talks listed above:
      Date: Monday, November 5, 2012
      Meeting Number: 748 487 130
      Meeting Password: calcc
      ——————————————————-
      To join the online meetings (Now from mobile devices!)
      ——————————————————-
      1. Go to https://mmancusa.webex.com/mmancusa/j.php?ED=191943157&UID=0&PW=NYzE1NTE3YTEw&RT=MiM0
      2. If requested, enter your name and email address.
      3. If a password is required, enter the meeting password: calcc
      4. Click “Join”.
      ——————————————————-
      To join the teleconference only
      ——————————————————-
      1- 888-957-9868
      Passcode: 7961323

     

     

    WEBINAR – Federal Landscape Conservation Initiatives:
    Wednesday, November 7, 2:00 – 3:30 pm, Eastern Time
    National Program Managers from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Department of Defense will give an overview of their agency’s landscape conservation initiatives and discuss how they work with partners to conserve open space. This, as well as all webinars in the series, is open to all who wish to attend. Please contact Sara Comas (scomas@fs.fed.us) with comments, special accommodations, or to be added to the mailing list.
    Scheduled speakers to include:
    ·         Doug Austen/ Ben Thatcher  USFWS:  Landscape Conservation Cooperatives

    ·         Kit Muller BLM:  Rapid Ecoregional Assessments, Landscape Conservation Cooperatives

    ·         Nancy Natoli DOD:  Sustainable Ranges Initiative

    ·         Bruce Wight NRCS:  Landscape Conservation Initiatives

    Please register in advance for this and future webinars.

     

     

     

     

    On Monday, 24 June – Wednesday, 26 June 2013, AGU will host the Science Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The conference will bring together scientists, policymakers, and stakeholders to discuss Earth and space science challenges facing our society. The theme for the 2013 conference, Preparing for Our Future, will feature the following topics: Arctic, Climate Change, Energy, Oceans, Natural Hazards, Technology and Infrastructure. Communicating the important role of science in these subjects is vital to ensuring the continued investment in the research that supports our economy, public safety, and national security. An updated website will be coming soon with information on registration and poster abstract submissions. Be sure to continue to check the conference home page for updates. —-

     

    The State of Climate Change Adaptation in the Great Lakes Region

    EcoAdapt is pleased to announce the release of the synthesis report, The State of Climate Change Adaptation in the Great Lakes Region! This report is the result of our survey of freshwater resource managers, planners, and practitioners in the region who are tasked with the challenge of developing strategies to prepare for and respond to a changing climate.

     This synthesis provides:

    • A summary of key regional climate change impacts;
    • Examples of over 100 adaptation initiatives from the region, focusing on activities in the natural and built environments as they relate to freshwater resources;
    • Fifty-seven case studies, detailing how adaptation is taking shape; and
    • An overview of challenges and opportunities for freshwater adaptation in the Great Lakes region.
    • Read the report and the case studies to find real world examples of how other people in similar disciplines or regions are incorporating climate change into their work!

    To learn more about the State of Adaptation Program and to view the Great Lakes project page, visit our website.  Products generated from this project, including case studies, will be shared through another EcoAdapt program, the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange (CAKE; www.cakex.org).

     

    (Documentary) Shellshocked: Saving Oysters to Save Ourselves
    Shellshocked: Saving Oysters to Save Ourselves, a documentary premiered Wednesday Oct 17th in New York, follows the rise and fall of the region’s oysters. While the film zooms in on the gloom and doom of the bivalve’s century-long plight, it doesn’t dwell there. Instead, Shellshocked delves into the efforts to bring oysters back to the Hudson. Scientists recently declared the wild oyster reef as the most severely impacted marine habitat on earth, and an estimated 85% of natural beds worldwide have disappeared.

     

    Virginia: Company Launches Funding Platform for Environmental Restoration & EducationProjects
     
    Ahyayha, Inc. announces today the launch of its website platform for funding environmental restoration and education projects. Its micro-finance model serves relatively small scale projects and provides a third way to fund ecosystem restoration – engaging individuals, businesses and organizations to fund and complete tangible projects.

    FOR CHILDREN:

    **Environmental/Climate Change Music & Performance for Kids– Jeff Kagan & Paige Doughty

    CDs & Music [my family loves this music!]

    ** The Charcoal Forest: How Fire Helps Animals & Plants

    on the importance of burned forests—by a former PRBO seasonal biologist!

     

     

    • RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

     

    Scientists Build the First All-Carbon Solar Cell

    ScienceDaily (Oct. 31, 2012)Stanford University scientists have built the first solar cell made entirely of carbon, a promising alternative to the expensive materials used in photovoltaic devices today. The results are published in the Oct. 31 online edition of the journal ACS Nano. “Carbon has the potential to deliver high performance at a low cost,” said study senior author Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of a working solar cell that has all of the components made of carbon. This study builds on previous work done in our lab.” Unlike rigid silicon solar panels that adorn many rooftops, Stanford’s thin film prototype is made of carbon materials that can be coated from solution. “Perhaps in the future we can look at alternative markets where flexible carbon solar cells are coated on the surface of buildings, on windows or on cars to generate electricity,” Bao said.

    The coating technique also has the potential to reduce manufacturing costs, said Stanford graduate student Michael Vosgueritchian, co-lead author of the study with postdoctoral researcher Marc Ramuz. “Processing silicon-based solar cells requires a lot of steps,” Vosgueritchian explained. “But our entire device can be built using simple coating methods that don’t require expensive tools and machines.”

     

    A Wireless Charging Solution for the Leaf and Volt

    By JIM MOTAVALLI October 30, 2012, NY Times

    Beginning in March, Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf owners will have the option of an aftermarket wireless charging solution for their cars. Wireless company Evatran, which makes chargers under the Plugless Power brand name, will shortly announce a partnership with SPX Service Solutions, an official charging supplier for the Chevrolet Volt, to provide residential installations.

    Wireless chargers use a transmitter located in a parking space or garage floor that connects to a receiver mounted under the car. Precise positioning is important — wireless charging works best when transmitter and receiver are six inches or less apart. Rebecca Hough, chief operating officer of Evatran, said in an interview that its aftermarket residential chargers will operate at approximately 90 percent efficiency, though she said that units now being developed with automakers may be a few percentage points better than that.

    “A lot of our customers have been asking for this kind of wireless solution,” Ms. Hough said. “It’s a premium offering, aimed at people in the top 10 to 20 percent of the E.V. market who are looking for a more convenient charging option. We compare it to the automatic garage door opener. Over time, it will become something that people will demand.”

     

     

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

     

    Global Warming and Visions of a Sustainable Planet

    Expanding Our Moral Imagination- We live in a culture of denial, especially about the grim reality of climate change. Sure, we want to savor the occasional shrimp cocktail without having to brood about ruined mangroves, but we can’t solve a problem we can’t face.

    By Mary Pipher Sept-Oct 2012 Psychotherapy Networker Magazine I don’t like to think about global environmental problems, and neither do you. Yet we can’t deal with problems we can’t face. Isak Dinesen wrote, “All sorrows can be borne if put into a story.” Here’s my story. In the cataclysmic summer of 2010, I experienced what environmentalists call the “‘Oh shit!’ moment.” At that time, the earth was experiencing its warmest decade, its warmest year, and the warmest April, May, and June on record. In 2010, Pakistan hit its record high (129 degrees), as did Russia (111 degrees). For the first time in memory, lightning ignited fires in the peat bogs of Russia, and these fires spread to the wheat fields further south. As doctors from Moscow rode to the rescue of heat and smoke victims, they fainted in their non-air-conditioned ambulances. In July, the heat index in my town, Lincoln, Nebraska, reached 115 degrees for several days in a row. Our planet and all living beings seemed to be gasping for breath. That same month, I read Bill McKibben’s Eaarth, in which he argues that our familiar Earth has vanished and that we now live on a new planet, Eaarth, with a rapidly changing ecology. He writes that without immediate action, our accustomed ways of life will disappear, not in our grandchildren’s adulthoods, but in the lifetimes of middle-aged people alive today. We don’t have 50 years to save our environment; we have the next decade. Nothing I’d previously read about the environment could quite prepare me for the bleakness of Eaarth. I couldn’t stop reading, and, when I finished it, I felt shell-shocked. For a few days, all I could experience was despair. Everything felt so hopeless and so finite. During this time, my grandchildren came to visit……What pulled me out of my despair was the desire to get to work. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I felt unqualified for virtually everything involving the environment, but I knew I had to do something to help. It was unclear how much my action would benefit the world, but I knew it would help me. I’ve never been able to tolerate stewing in my own anxiety. Action has always been my healing tonic…..

     

     

    Couple of weekly portions of oily fish can help ward off stroke; But fish oil supplements don’t have the same effect, study finds
    (October 30, 2012) — Eating at least two servings of oily fish a week is moderately but significantly associated with a reduced risk of stroke, finds a new study. … > full story

    Common food preservative may slow, even stop tumor growth
    (October 30, 2012) — Nisin, a common food preservative, may slow or stop squamous cell head and neck cancers, a new study found. … > full story

     

     

     

    • IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

     

     

     

    Sandy’s destruction from the Air — November 1, 2012

    http://www.sfgate.com/news/slideshow/Sandy-s-destruction-from-the-air-51675.php#photo-3675017

     

     

    A group of climate change activists braved the calm before the storm on Sunday afternoon (Oct 28, 2012) to rally in New York City’s Times Square. Leading environmental activist organization 350.org organized the event, “Connect the Dots between Extreme Weather and Climate Change,” in less than 48 hours, according to Phil Aroneanu, the group’s co-founder and U.S. campaign director. [Huffington Post]

    Photo: Adam Welz

     

    View NOAA’s aerial photos of Hurricane Sandy damage November 1, 2012

    Emergency responders and members of the public can now get a birds-eye view of some of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy.Through NOAA’s National Geodetic Survey website, visitors can view a map of the region and click on an icon to view a thumbnail or high-definition image of a specific area. Images are now available for some of the Northeast’s hardest-hit areas, including Atlantic City, NJ., Seaside Heights, N.J., Ocean City, Md., and parts of Delaware: http://storms.ngs.noaa.gov/storms/sandy/.

     

    Photos from the New York Times:

    • Patrick Cashin/Metropolitan Transportation Authority, via European Pressphoto Agency
    • Patrick Cashin/Metropolitan Transportation Authority, via Associated Press
    • Craig Ruttle/Associated Press
    • Spencer Platt/Getty Images
    • Master Sgt. Mark Olsen / Us Air Force / Handout/European Pressphoto Agency

     

    Tom Mihalek/Reuters

     

    Lucas Jackson/Reuters
    Librado Romero/The New York Times

    Steve Helber/Associated Press

     


    Floodwaters inundate Ground Zero construction site in NYC (AP)