Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Ellie Cohen, President and CEO, Point Blue Conservation Science

Archive: May 2013

  1. Conservation Science News May 31, 2013

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    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

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    Highlight of the Week-

     


    Peter Moyle with a pikeminnow. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of California – Davis) [PeterMoyle is a member of PRBO's Science Advisory Committee—congratulations to Peter and coauthors on this paper!]

     

    Climate Change Vulnerability of Native and Alien Freshwater Fishes of California: A Systematic Assessment Approach

    Peter B. Moyle1*, Joseph D. Kiernan1,2, Patrick K. Crain1,3, Rebecca M. Quin˜ ones1,4

    1 Center for Watershed Sciences and Department of Wildlife Fish and Conservation Biology, University of California Davis, Davis, California, United States of America,

    2 Fisheries Ecology Division, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service, Santa Cruz, California, United States of America, 3 ICF

    International, Sacramento, California, United States of America, 4 Lehrstuhl fu¨ r Aquatische Systembiologie, Technische Universita¨t Mu¨ nchen, Freising, Germany

    Abstract

    Freshwater fishes are highly vulnerable to human-caused climate change. Because quantitative data on status and trends are unavailable for most fish species, a systematic assessment approach that incorporates expert knowledge was developed to determine status and future vulnerability to climate change of freshwater fishes in California, USA. The method uses expert knowledge, supported by literature reviews of status and biology of the fishes, to score ten metrics for both (1) current status of each species (baseline vulnerability to extinction) and (2) likely future impacts of climate change (vulnerability to extinction). Baseline and climate change vulnerability scores were derived for 121 native and 43 alien fish species. The two scores were highly correlated and were concordant among different scorers. Native species had both greater baseline and greater climate change vulnerability than did alien species. Fifty percent of California’s native fish fauna was assessed as having critical or high baseline vulnerability to extinction whereas all alien species were classified as being less or least vulnerable. For vulnerability to climate change, 82% of native species were classified as highly vulnerable, compared with only 19% for aliens. Predicted climate change effects on freshwater environments will dramatically change the fish fauna of California. Most native fishes will suffer population declines and become more restricted in their distributions; some will likely be driven to extinction. Fishes requiring cold water (,22uC) are particularly likely to go extinct. In contrast, most alien fishes will thrive, with some species increasing in abundance and range. However, a few alien species will likewise be negatively affected through loss of aquatic habitats during severe droughts and physiologically stressful conditions present in most waterways during summer. Our method has high utility for predicting vulnerability to climate change of diverse fish species. It should be useful for setting conservation priorities in many different regions.

     

    Main comparison paper—PRBO’s (Point Blue):

    Gardali T, Seavy NE, DiGaudio RT, Comrack LA (2012) A climate change vulnerability assessment of California’s at-risk birds. PLoS ONE 7: e29507. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0029507.

    Climate change threatens extinction for 82 percent of California native fish
    (May 30, 2013) — Of 121 native fish species in California, researchers predict 82 percent are likely to be driven to extinction or very low numbers as climate change speeds the decline of already depleted populations. …
    May 30, 2013 — Salmon and other native fr
    eshwater fish in California will likely become extinct within the next century due to climate change if current trends continue, ceding their habitats to non-native fish, predicts a study by scientists from the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California, Davis. The study, published online in May in the journal PLOS ONE, assessed how vulnerable each freshwater species in California is to climate change and estimated the likelihood that those species would become extinct in 100 years. The researchers found that, of 121 native fish species, 82 percent are likely to be driven to extinction or very low numbers as climate change speeds the decline of already depleted populations. In contrast, only 19 percent of the 50 non-native fish species in the state face a similar risk of extinction. “If present trends continue, much of the unique California fish fauna will disappear and be replaced by alien fishes, such as carp, largemouth bass, fathead minnows and green sunfish,” said Peter Moyle, a professor of fish biology at UC Davis who has been documenting the biology and status of California fish for the past 40 years.

    “Disappearing fish will include not only obscure species of minnows, suckers and pupfishes, but also coho salmon, most runs of steelhead trout and Chinook salmon, and Sacramento perch,” Moyle said. Fish requiring cold water, such as salmon and trout, are particularly likely to go extinct, the study said. However, non-native fish species are expected to thrive, although some will lose their aquatic habitats during severe droughts and low-flow summer months. The top 20 native California fish most likely to become extinct in California within 100 years as the result of climate change include (asterisks denote a species already listed as threatened or endangered):

    1. Klamath Mountains Province summer steelhead
    2. McCloud River redband trout
    3. Unarmored threespine stickleback*
    4. Shay Creek stickleback
    5. Delta smelt*
    6. Long Valley speckled dace
    7. Central Valley late fall Chinook salmon
    8. Kern River rainbow trout
    9. Shoshone pupfish
    10. Razorback sucker*
    11. Upper Klamath-Trinity spring Chinook salmon
    12. Southern steelhead*
    13. Clear Lake hitch
    14. Owens speckled dace
    15. Northern California coast summer steelhead
    16. Amargosa Canyon speckled dace
    17. Central coast coho salmon*
    18. Southern Oregon Northern California coast coho salmon*
    19. Modoc sucker*
    20. Pink salmon

    The species are listed in order of vulnerability to extinction, with No. 1 being the most vulnerable.

    Climate change and human-caused degradation of aquatic habitats is causing worldwide declines in freshwater fishes, especially in regions with arid or Mediterranean climates, the study said. These declines pose a major conservation challenge. However, there has been little research in the scientific literature related to the status of most fish species, particularly native ones of little economic value…..full story

    California native fish could disappear with climate change

    Los Angeles Times  - May 31 2013‎

    UC Davis professor Peter Moyle, an expert on California fish and lead author of a paper that found climate change could push many of the state’s native fish to extinction…..

     

     

     

     

    • ECOLOGY

     

    Even farm animal diversity is declining as accelerating species loss threatens humanity
    (May 27, 2013)
    The accelerating disappearance of Earth’s species of both wild and domesticated plants and animals constitutes a fundamental threat to the well-being and even the survival of
    humankind, warns the founding Chair of a new global organization created to narrow the gulf between leading international biodiversity scientists and national policy-makers.. In Norway to address an elite gathering of 450 international officials with government responsibilities in the fields of biodiversity and economic planning, Zakri Abdul Hamid offered his first public remarks since being elected in January to head the new Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) — an independent body modeled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    Dr. Zakri, a national of Malaysia who co-chaired 2005′s landmark Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and serves also as science advisor to his country’s prime minister, cited fast-growing evidence that “we are hurtling towards irreversible environmental tipping points that, once passed, would reduce the ability of ecosystems to provide essential goods and services to humankind.” The incremental loss of Amazon rainforest, for example, “may seem small with shortsighted perspective” but will eventually “accumulate to cause a larger, more important change,” he said. Experts warn that ongoing climate change, combined with land use change and fires, “could cause much of the Amazon forest to transform abruptly to more open, dry-adapted ecosystems, threatening the region’s enormous biodiversity and priceless services,” he added.

    It has been clear for some time that a credible, permanent IPCC-like science policy platform for biodiversity and ecosystem services is an important but missing element in the international response to the biodiversity crisis,” Dr. Zakri told the 7th Trondheim Conference on Biodiversity.

    The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment “demonstrated that such an intergovernmental platform can create a clear, valuable policy-relevant consensus from a wide range of information sources about the state, trends and outlooks of human-environment interactions, with focus on the impacts of ecosystem change on human well-being. It showed that such a platform can support decision-makers in the translation of knowledge into policy. “The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment provides our baseline,” he said. “The IPBES will tell us how much we have achieved, where we are on track, where we are not, why, and options for moving forward. It will help to build public support and identify priorities.” The structure of IPBES mimics that of the IPCC but its aims go further to include capacity building to help bridge different knowledge systems.

    … > full story

     

    Improving ‘crop per drop’ could boost global food security and water sustainability
    (May 29, 2013) — Improvements in crop water productivity — the amount of food produced per unit of water consumed — have the potential to improve both food security and water sustainability in many parts of the world, according to a new study. … > full story


    Small dams on Chinese river harm environment more than expected, study finds
    (May 30, 2013) — A fresh look at the environmental impacts of dams on an ecologically diverse and partially protected river in China found that small dams can pose a greater threat to ecosystems and natural
    landscape than large dams. The research team’s surveys of habitat loss and damage at several dam sites on the Nu River and its tributaries in Yunnan Province revealed that, watt-for-watt, the environmental harm from small dams was often greater than from large dams. …
    From its headwaters in the Tibetan Plateau, the Nu River flows through China, Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand. “While the number of small hydropower dams in operation or planned for tributaries to the Nu River is unreported,” the authors note in this study, “our field surveys indicate that nearly one hundred small dams currently exist within Nujiang Prefecture alone.” Thirteen large hydropower dams are proposed for the main stream of the Nu River in Tibet and Yunnan Province in China. “No large dams have been built, but there have been reports that site preparations have begun at some proposed dam sites,” Kibler said. Environmental, social, and economic factors make the Nu River basin extremely sensitive to hydropower installations. In addition to supporting several protected species, the region is home to a large proportion of ethnic minorities and valuable natural resources, the authors report in the study. Parts of the Nu River are also designated as a World Heritage site and the Nature Conservancy and Conservation International have delineated stretches of this river and its tributaries as biodiversity hotspots. But proposed hydropower projects are threatening these statuses, according to Kibler. While large hydropower projects are managed by the central government, and both large and small hydropower projects undergo environmental impact assessments, decisions about small hydropower projects are made at a provincial or other regional level and receive far less oversight, Kibler and Tullos state in their paper. Small dams in China “often lack sufficient enforcement of environmental regulations” because they are “left to the jurisdiction of the province,” said Guy Ziv, lead scientist for the Natural Capital Project, an organization which develops tools to assess and quantify natural resources, and a researcher for the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University. This study, he added, is “an important contribution to the field of natural resource management.” The lack of regulation paired with a dearth of communication between small dam projects in China allows for the impacts to multiply and accumulate through several dam sites, the study authors write…. full story

     

     

    Simplified solutions to deforestation ineffective in long run
    (May 29, 2013) — Deforestation is the second largest source of CO2 emissions after consumption of fossil fuels. So-called PES programs, where landowners are paid to replant or protect forests, have been promoted as a way to reduce deforestation. However, the effectiveness of the programs has been questioned, and new research points to potential negative long-term effects and a need for broader guidelines and policies.   … > full story

     

    Call to protect all coral reefs
    pp528 - 530

    Tom C. L. Bridge, Terry P. Hughes, John M. Guinotte and Pim Bongaerts
    doi:10.1038/nclimate1879 NatureClimateChange
    The world’s coral reefs are in decline, threatening the food security of millions of people. Adopting an ecosystem-scale approach that protects deep as well as shallow reefs would deliver several social and economic benefits.

     

    Rare species perform unique roles, even in diverse ecosystems
    (May 28, 2013) — A new study reveals the potential importance of rare species in the functioning of highly diverse ecosystems. Using data from three different ecosystems — coral reefs, tropical forests and alpine meadows — a team of researchers has shown that it’s primarily the rare species, rather than more common ones, that have distinct traits involved in unique ecological functions. As biodiversity declines, these unique features are particularly vulnerable to extinction because rare species are likely to disappear first. … > full story

     

    Novel disease in songbirds demonstrates evolution in the blink of an eye

    Posted: 28 May 2013 03:08 PM PDT

    A novel disease in songbirds has rapidly evolved to become more harmful to its host on at least two separate occasions in just two decades, according to a new study. The research provides a real-life model to help understand how diseases that threaten humans can be expected to change in virulence as they emerge.

     

    Striking green-eyed butterfly discovered in the United States

    Posted: 28 May 2013 09:25 AM PDT

    Striking olive-green eye colour allows scientists to distinguish a new butterfly species, which was confirmed using Smithsonian entomology collections. Previously unrecognized because of its similarity with the common Gray Ministreak, the newly described Vicroy’s Ministreak was named after the wife of Jeffrey Glassberg, who discovered it. It may turn out to be the last distinctive butterfly species from the United States.

     

    New bait may cut horseshoe crab bait use

    May 30, 2013 LEWES, Del. (AP) — Researchers announced Wednesday that a new bait alternative may help reduce the number of horseshoe crabs harvested to be used as bait. Researchers with the University of Delaware and DuPont that they have developed a recipe… more »

     

    More at-risk bird species in Brazilian forest than previously thought
    (May 29, 2013) — In a new study, a team of researchers has applied a novel method for linking large-scale habitat fragmentation to population sustainability. … > full story

     

    Antarctic polar icecap is 33.6 million years old, researchers show

    Posted: 27 May 2013 07:05 AM PDT

    Seasonal primary productivity of plankton communities appeared with the first ice. This phenomenon, still active today, influences global food webs. These findings are based on fossil records in sediment cores at different depths.

     

     

    How Kitty Is Killing the Dolphins The pathogens of land animals are spreading to the oceans, threatening otters, seals, whales, coral and other sea creatures

    By Christopher Solomon April 29, 2013

    DOMESTIC CATS carry a parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, that has sickened dolphins found stranded in the Mediterranean Sea. Image: SHERI L. GIBLIN Getty Images (cat); HIROYA MINAKUCHI Getty Images (dolphin)

    In Brief

    • Pathogens from people, cats and other land animals are entering the oceans and attacking sea mammals. A parasite from opossums is killing California sea otters; a parasite from cats is killing dolphins.
    • Although data are still new, these “pollutagens” seem to be on the rise. Furthermore, drug-resistant bacteria from humans have been found in sharks and seals, raising the chance that the bugs could mutate and reinfect humans, who might be ill equipped to fight them.
    • Thoroughly cleansing wastewater and expanding wetlands that buffer land from sea could lessen the pollutagen threat.

    The detective story had begun, as they always do, with a ringing phone. A biologist was on the line. He had found a corpse. A few days later he called a second time, having found another. Soon the calls were coming “again and again,” Melissa A. Miller recalls. “At the hıghest point, we were getting four a day.” As the bodies piled up, so did the questions. Miller is a wildlife pathologist and veterinarian. The dead were California sea otters, a threatened subspecies of sea otter that today numbers fewer than 2,800 along the state’s central coast. In all, more than 40 sick and dying otters washed ashore during that terrible April 2004 episode—an astounding number in such a short time…..

     

     

    Bees tell birds to buzz off: How bumblebees steal birds’ nests

    Posted: 28 May 2013 06:21 AM PDT

    A new study reveals how bumblebees steal birds’ nests. The study highlights the ‘parasitism by theft’ of bumblebees that invade birds’ nests and claim them as their own. Their warning buzz helps bumblebees to “scare” the bird away from the nest.

     

    Recovery of Hawaiian green sea turtles still short of historic levels
    (May 29, 2013) — Hawaiian green sea turtle populations have increased in recent years, but their numbers still fall far short of historic levels. A new report suggests that calls to lift protection for this species may be premature. … > full story

     

    Human activity echoes through Brazilian rainforest
    (May 30, 2013) — The disappearance of large, fruit-eating birds from tropical forests in Brazil has caused the region’s forest palms to produce smaller, less successful seeds over the past century, researchers say. The findings provide evidence that human activity can trigger fast-paced evolutionary changes in natural populations. … > full story

     

     

     

    • CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

     

     

    Vulnerability assessment methodologies: an annotated bibliography for climate change and the fisheries and aquaculture sector

    Barsley, W., De Young, C & Brugère, C. 2013.
    FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular No. 1083. Rome, FAO. 43 pp

    The PDF publication can be downloaded from the following url:
    http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3315e/i3315e.pdf

     

     

    The Jet Stream: How Its Response To Enhanced Arctic Warming Is Driving More Extreme Weather

    Posted: 30 May 2013 02:19 PM PDT

    We’ve written
    extensively about how how arctic ice loss is driving extreme weather. We’ve known for a long time that global warming melts highly reflective white ice and snow, which is replaced by the dark blue sea or dark land, both of which absorb far more sunlight and hence far more solar energy. That is one of the many sources of “polar amplification,” whereby the Arctic warms much faster than other parts of the globe. Now it seems increasingly clear that the amplified Arctic warming in turn amplifies extreme weather by weakening the jetstream (see video here). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explained in an October 2012 news release: The effects of Arctic amplification will increase as more summer ice retreats over coming decades. Enhanced warming of the Arctic affects the jet stream by slowing its west-to-east winds and by promoting larger north-south meanders in the flow. Predicting those meanders and where the weather associated with them will be located in any given year, however, remains a challenge. The researchers say that with more solar energy going into the Arctic Ocean because of lost ice, there is reason to expect more extreme weather events, such as heavy snowfall, heat waves, and flooding in North America and Europe but these will vary in location, intensity, and timescales.

    Dr. Jennifer A. Francis of Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences explains, “As the Arctic warms at twice the global rate, we expect an increased probability of extreme weather events across the temperate latitudes of the northern hemisphere, where billions of people live.”

    This effect is all but certain to become even larger in the next decade or two (see Experts Warn ‘Near Ice-Free Arctic In Summer’ In A Decade If Volume Trends Continue). So all of us need to understand the jetstream better John Mason at Skeptical Science has put together an extensive, must-read primer, “A Rough Guide to the Jet Stream: what it is, how it works and how it is responding to enhanced Arctic warming.” This figure-filled piece also explains key terms we’ll all be hearing more about in the coming years, including the “North Atlantic Oscillation” and “blocking ridge.”

    He concludes, “Evidence is mounting to indicate that the response of the jet stream to” polar amplification “has been to tend to slow down and meander more, with a greater tendency to develop blocking patterns,” which in turn prolong and intensify all sorts of extreme weather events. We are only just beginning to sort out the implications of this for key global concerns, such as food security.

    Related Posts:

     

    Study explores atmospheric impact of declining Arctic sea ice

    May 28, 2013 There is growing recognition that reductions in Arctic sea ice levels will influence patterns of atmospheric circulation both within and beyond the Arctic. New research in the International Journal of Climatology explores the impact of 2007 ice conditions, the second lowest Arctic sea ice extent in the satellite era, on atmospheric circulation and surface temperatures. Two 30-year simulations, one using the sea ice levels of 2007 and another using sea ice levels at the end of the 20th century, were used to access the impact of ice free seas. The results showed a significant response to the anomalous open water of 2007. The results confirm that the atmospheric response to declining sea ice could have implications far beyond the Arctic such as a decrease in the pole to equator temperature gradient, given the increased temperatures associated with the increase in open water, leading to a weaker jet stream and less storminess in the mid-latitudes. “In the context of decreasing Arctic sea ice extent, our experiments investigating the impacts of anomalous open water on the atmosphere showed increased heat transfer from the ocean to the atmosphere and warmer temperatures in areas of reduced sea ice. Comparing the model simulated circulation to the observed circulation for the summer of 2007 (the year of focus for the model experiments), we found the simulated circulation to be quite different than what was observed for spring and summer while more similar for autumn and fall,” said Elizabeth Cassano from the University of Colorado. “This suggests the sea ice conditions in the months preceding and during the summer of 2007 were not responsible for contributing to a circulation pattern which favored the large observed sea ice loss in that year. The circulation during autumn and winter which was more similar between the model simulations and the observed circulation suggests that the reduced sea ice in 2007 was in part responsible for the observed atmospheric circulation during autumn and winter of that year.”

     

    Is More Global Warming Hiding in the Oceans?

    By Jeff Nesbit
    May 29, 2013
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    The HMS Challenger set sail 135 years ago. It was the world’s first scientific survey of ocean life. But the HMS Challenger also studied ocean temperatures along the way by dropping thermometers attached to Italian hemp ropes hundreds of meters deep – an effort that has been used as a baseline for global warming in oceans since pre-industrial times. Now, according to a new study, U.S. and Australian researchers have combined the work of the HMS Challenger with modern-era climate science models – and have some surprising results.
    The study found we may be significantly under-estimating global warming’s impact and heat content in the oceans; and sea level rise from global warming seems to be split 60/40, with 40 percent coming from expansion of sea water caused by warming, and the remaining 60 percent coming from melting ice sheets and glaciers
    . The U.S. and Australian researchers who re-examined the HMS Challenger thermometer readings in light of modern supercomputer climate models say it provides further confirmation of human-produced global warming over the past century. “Our research revealed warming of the planet can be clearly detected since 1873 and that our oceans continue to absorb the great majority of this heat,” said Dr. Will Hobbs, the study’s lead author and a researcher at the University of Tasmania’s Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies. “Currently scientists estimate the oceans absorb more than 90 percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases, and we attribute the global warming to anthropogenic causes.”…. This research on ocean heat content comes at a critical moment in the discussion of global warming. A leading climate scientist, Dr. Kevin Trenberth, recently wrote in a blog post for The Conversation that we may be vastly under-estimating just how much global warming is hiding in the world’s oceans – and that we may need to re-define the way we think about global warming. “Rising surface temperatures are just one manifestation. Melting Arctic sea ice is another. So is melting of glaciers and other land ice that contribute to rising sea levels. Increasing the water cycle and invigorating storms is yet another,” wrote Trenberth, who is a senior scientist at the National Center For Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. “But most (more than 90 percent) of the energy imbalance goes into the ocean, and several analyses have now shown this. But even there, how much warms the upper layers of the ocean, as opposed to how much penetrates deeper into the ocean where it may not have much immediate influence, is a key issue,” he continued. Trenberth and some of his colleagues recently published a new analysis of their own which shows that, in the past decade, roughly 30 percent of global warming heat may be hiding below 2,000 feet in the world’s oceans – essentially, in the bottom half of most of the oceans where very little observational research has been done. That’s a significant analysis – because there has been virtually no research on missing heat at the deepest depths of the world’s oceans (below 700 meters). “The cause of the shift is a particular change in winds, especially in the Pacific Ocean where the subtropical trade winds have become noticeably stronger, changing ocean currents and providing a mechanism for heat to be carried down into the (deep) ocean,” Trenberth wrote. “This is associated with weather patterns in the Pacific, which are in turn related to the La Niña phase of the El Niño phenomenon.” Trenberth predicted that some of this “missing heat” will return at some point – with long-term consequences. “Some of the penetration of heat into the depths of the ocean is reversible, as it comes back in the next El Niño,” he wrote. “But a lot is not; instead it contributes to the overall warming of the deep ocean. This means less short-term warming at the surface, but at the expense of greater long-term warming, and faster sea levels rise. So this has consequences.” But one thing is abundantly clear, Trenberth wrote. Despite the ups and downs of ocean heat, the La Nina/el Nino cycles and solar cycles that impact surface temperature from year to year, global warming is here to stay. “The past decade is by far the warmest on record,” he wrote. “Human induced global warming really kicked in during the 1970s, and warming has been pretty steady since then.


    Long-term warming restructures Arctic tundra without changing net soil carbon storage

     
    NATURE May 29 2013 Nearly half of the world’s soil carbon is stored at high latitudes, so it is vital to understand how these regions will respond to climate change. A two-decade warming experiment in an Alaskan tundra ecosystem shows that while warming alters the structure of plant and soil communities, the overall soil carbon storage remains unchanged. There was an increase in shrub dominance and, although decomposer activity at the surface decreased, it increased in the deep mineral soil following a ‘biotic awakening’.

     

    Climate researchers discover new rhythm for El Niño
    (May 27, 2013)
    El Niño wreaks havoc across the globe, shifting weather patterns that spawn droughts in some regions and floods in others. The impacts of this tropical Pacific climate phenomenon are well known and documented.

    A mystery, however, has remained despite decades of research: Why does El Niño always peak around Christmas and end quickly by February to April? Now there is an answer: An unusual wind pattern that straddles the equatorial Pacific during strong El Niño events and swings back and forth with a period of 15 months explains El Niño’s close ties to the annual cycle. This finding is reported in the May 26, 2013, online issue of Nature Geoscience by scientists from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa Meteorology Department and International Pacific Research Center. “This atmospheric pattern peaks in February and triggers some of the well-known El Niño impacts, such as droughts in the Philippines and across Micronesia and heavy rainfall over French Polynesia,” says lead author Malte Stuecker. When anomalous trade winds shift south they can terminate an El Niño by generating eastward propagating equatorial Kelvin waves that eventually resume upwelling of cold water in the eastern equatorial Pacific. This wind shift is part of the larger, unusual atmospheric pattern accompanying El Niño events, in which a high-pressure system hovers over the Philippines and the major rain band of the South Pacific rapidly shifts equatorward. With the help of numerical atmospheric models, the scientists discovered that this unusual pattern originates from an interaction between El Niño and the seasonal evolution of temperatures in the western tropical Pacific warm pool….

     

    Arctic current flowed under deep freeze of last ice age, study says
    (May 29, 2013) — During the last ice age, when thick ice covered the Arctic, many scientists assumed that the deep currents below that feed the North Atlantic Ocean and help drive global ocean currents slowed or even stopped. But in a researchers have now shown that the deep Arctic Ocean has been churning briskly for the last 35,000 years, through the chill of the last ice age and warmth of modern times. … > full story

     

    Framing biological responses to a changing ocean pp530 - 533
    Philip W. Boyd Nature Climate Change
    doi:10.1038/nclimate1881
    To understand how marine biota are likely to respond to climate change-mediated alterations in ocean properties, researchers need to harmonize experimental protocols and environmental manipulations, and make better use of reference organisms.

     

     

    Climate change thaws out 400-year-old plants

    Grist   May 28 2013‎

    As glaciers melt and slowly recede from the land they once covered, we don’t really know what we’re going to find there. Scientists have already found plants that have been chilling out under glaciers for about four centuries – plants that, now that …

     

    Active or ‘extremely active’ Atlantic hurricane season predicted for 2013
    (May 24, 2013) — In its 2013 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued today, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting an active or extremely active season this year. … > full story

     

    Scientists Discover Way to Neutalize CO2 Acid in Oceans

    Latinos Post  - ‎May 28 2013‎

    Scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California have developed a technique that, basically, exchanges bad carbon dioxide with an eco-friendly solution.

     

     

    Fast-sinking jellyfish could boost the oceans’ uptake of carbon dioxide

    Posted: 28 May 2013 09:25 AM PDT

    Increasing numbers of gelatinous plankton might help in mitigating the carbon dioxide problem. In field and laboratory experiments scientists have shown that dead jellyfish and pelagic tunicates sink much faster than phytoplankton and marine snow remains. Jellies are especially important because they rapidly consume plankton and particles and quickly export biomass and carbon to the ocean interior.

     

    CBS News Ties Extreme Weather To Manmade Climate Change

    Posted: 28 May 2013 08:38 AM PDT

    CBS News had a terrific panel discussing the climate change link to the extreme weather slamming the country on Face the Nation Sunday.

    Watch the key issues discussed by Climate Central’s Chief Climatologist Heidi Cullen, WFOR’s Chief Meteorologist David Bernard, TIME‘s Jeffrey Kluger and American Meteorological Society President Marshall Shepherd:

    It’s good to see experts who distinguish between the extreme weather events that we know global warming is already making worse — such as droughts, heat waves, and superstorms — and the cases where the link is more tenuous, such as tornadoes (see “Tornadoes, Extreme Weather And Climate Change, Revisited“). And unlike many panels of experts who ignore the central cause of recent climate change, Kluger stated clearly, “We’re getting a level of consensus on thousands of peer reviewed studies over decades that have established the human contribution to climate change.”

    Finally, Cullen made clear we must act now to reduce carbon pollution because “the longer you wait to fix it the tougher it gets to fix, so the sooner we start the better off we are.”

    Related Post: Silence Of The Lambs 3: Media Coverage Of Climate Mixed In 2012, But Still Down Sharply From 2009

     

     

    Drought Will Magnify Water Scarcity Issues

    Posted: 30 May 2013 11:19 AM PDT

    Dr. Upmanu Lall is the director of the Columbia University Water Center and a leading expert on hydroclimatology, climate change adaptation, risk analysis and mitigation.

    Credit: J. Carl Ganter/Circle of Blue

    By Dr. Upmanu Lall, director of the Columbia University Water Center

    It’s well-documented that more regions of the United States will face increased water scarcity over the years to come, yet we often forget that an age-old problem — drought — magnifies the effects of water scarcity. A new report issued by the Columbia University Water Center, in conjunction with Veolia Water and Growing Blue, shows the water-scarce regions where drought is expected to have the greatest impact. The study reveals that some of the most iconic areas of the United States will be affected.

    Of greatest concern are several notable metropolitan areas, including Washington, D.C., New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. Taken alone, this could impact nearly 40 million Americans. However, this threat extends to numerous counties, many located in “America’s breadbasket” — Nebraska, Illinois and Minnesota — which produce almost 40 percent of the country’s corn.

    In response, organizations are starting to develop tools designed to map water scarcity risk. The estimates used by these tools are typically based on supply and demand. It’s clearly important to understand any discrepancies between supply and demand, but without understanding climate variations, a major factor is being ignored.

    In fact, these types of analyses actually understate the potential water risk that arises due to climate variations. Some areas which do not use more water than the existing supply will still be stressed by persistent shortage due to climate-related water conditions. As argued in the study:

    A clear understanding of shortages induced by droughts, in terms of the magnitude, duration and recurrence frequency will better inform the water businesses and water-related sectors.

    Drought will occur regardless of whether a region’s water resources are plentiful or stretched. And when drought hits a region with stretched resources, it magnifies preexisting problems — a scenario that will play out more and more as America’s demand for water outstrips its supply.

    In order to take climate-related variations into consideration when factoring water risk, Columbia University researchers examined not only demand, but also variations in renewable water supply. Water risk was estimated using more than 60 years of daily precipitation data compared to the current water use pattern for U.S. counties.

    Only precipitation that occurs directly over each county is considered, to reflect the dependence of that county on the need for storage or groundwater or water from other counties that may flow in through rivers or canals. We believe that this reveals a more accurate depiction of the discrepancy between water use and water availability, and the potential for spatial competition and conflict during times of water stress.

    In the past, we’ve often talked about “growing green,” but this study reaffirms that the answer to the water scarcity problems of the future is to “grow blue.” We must change our current approach to water management, focusing on extracting more productivity out of each drop, reducing wastage and implementing new technologies and management processes that are focused on sustainability. Our problems of water scarcity can be mitigated, but it will take the will to do so; the result will be a better world for generations to come.

    Related Post:

     

    Global warming caused by CFCs, not carbon dioxide, researcher claims in controversial study
    (May 30, 2013) — Chlorofluorocarbons are to blame for global warming since the 1970s and not carbon dioxide, a researcher claims in a controversial new study. CFCs are already known to deplete ozone, but in-depth statistical analysis now suggests that CFCs are also the key driver in global climate change, rather than carbon dioxide emissions, the researcher argues. … > full story

     

    Intense Heat Wave In India Brings Sunstroke Deaths, Electric Grid Meltdown, And Spoiled Fruit

    Posted: 29 May 2013 03:30 PM PDT

    Heat wave conditions have claimed the lives of over 500 people in India since April. India’s Department of Disaster Management reported that 524 people have died of sunstroke since April 1. The Indian Meteorological Department said tomorrow’s forecast called for clear skies and continued heat, warning that “the heatwave will continue.” The Times of India reported that the state of Hyderabad’s 500 sunstroke deaths in just three days is the highest such death toll in recent history. New Delhi saw 43 degrees C (or over 109 degrees Fahrenheit) today, western states such as Gujarat saw highs between 116-118 degrees Fahrenheit, and the northern state of Uttar Pradesh hit 45 C (113 F). This state is one of the nation’s poorest, with 190 million people. Its energy infrastructure is inadequate to the demand of so many residents trying to cool themselves. Since pumps are often required to provide water, this also means that a power outage comes with a water outage. Angry residents attacked power company officials and even set fire to a power station. For the rest of the population, power outages combined with humidity caused most people to stay indoors…..

     

     

     

    • POLICY

     

    Battle Brewing in California over Climate Change Funds

    Huffington Post  - ‎May 28 2013‎

    California has led the nation in attacking climate change, setting up a cap-and-trade program to charge polluters for greenhouse gas emissions, with the money going to reduce pollution and boost the clean energy economy.

     

    Calif tunnels, delta restoration at $24.54 billion

    AP May 29 2013 State officials say the plan will help restore dwindling fish species in the delta while creating a more reliable means to supply water to 25 million Californians and about 4,700 square miles of farmland. [...] opponents, including delta… more »

     

     

    Land-based carbon offsets: False hope? Forest and soil carbon is important, but does not offset fossil fuel emissions
    (May 30, 2013) — Leading world climate change experts have thrown cold water on the idea that planting trees can offset carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels. Land carbon sinks cannot solve the problem of atmospheric carbon emissions but they legitimize the ongoing use of fossil fuels. … > full story

     

    Brendan Mackey, I. Colin Prentice, Will Steffen, Joanna I. House, David Lindenmayer, Heather Keith, Sandra Berry. Untangling the confusion around land carbon science and climate change mitigation policy. Nature Climate Change, 2013; 3 (6): 552 DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1804

     

    Syria Today Is A Preview Of Memorial Day, 2030

    Posted: 27 May 2013 08:17 AM PDT

    The worst direct impacts to humans from our unsustainable use of energy — over the next few decades — will, I think, be Dust-Bowlification and extreme weather and food insecurity: Hell and High Water.

    But all of the impacts occurring at once will have an even more devastating synergy (see “An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts“). This means the rich countries will be far less likely to be offering much assistance to the poorer ones, since there will be ever worsening catastrophes everywhere simultaneously so we’ll be suffering at the same time. Heck, the deep economic downturn and the record-smashing disasters of the past three years has already exacerbated media myopia and compassion fatigue to help those around the world staggered by floods and droughts.

    And that suggests another deadly climate impact — far more difficult to project quantitatively because there is no paleoclimate analog — may well affect far more people both directly and indirectly: war, conflict, competition for arable and/or habitable land.

    We will have to work as hard as possible to make sure we don’t leave a world of wars to our children. That means avoiding decades if not centuries of strife and conflict from catastrophic climate change. That also means finally ending our addiction to oil, a source — if not the source — of two of our biggest recent wars.] In November 2011, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan “said rising temperatures and rainwater shortages are having a devastating effect on food production. Failing to address the problem will have repercussions on health, security and stability.”

    Last week, Tom Friedman described how warming-worsened drought has exacerbated political instability even now in Syria. His must-read piece “Without Water, Revolution” explains:

    THIS Syrian disaster is like a superstorm. It’s what happens when an extreme weather event, the worst drought in Syria’s modern history, combines with a fast-growing population and a repressive and corrupt regime and unleashes extreme sectarian and religious passions, fueled by money from rival outside powers — Iran and Hezbollah on one side, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar on the other, each of which have an extreme interest in its Syrian allies’ defeating the other’s allies — all at a time when America, in its post-Iraq/Afghanistan phase, is extremely wary of getting involved.

    I came here to write my column and work on a film for the Showtime series, “Years of Living Dangerously,” about the “Jafaf,” or drought, one of the key drivers of the Syrian war. In an age of climate change, we’re likely to see many more such conflicts.

    Warming-worsened drought is causing problems all around the Mediterranean:


    NOAA concluded in 2011 that “human-caused climate change [is now] a major factor in more frequent Mediterranean droughts.” Reds and oranges highlight lands around the Mediterranean that experienced significantly drier winters during 1971-2010 than the comparison period of 1902-2010.  [Click to enlarge.] But, obviously, the poorer a country is — and the worse it is governed — the more warming-worsened drought is likely to drive instability:

    “The drought did not cause Syria’s civil war,” said the Syrian economist Samir Aita, but, he added, the failure of the government to respond to the drought played a huge role in fueling the uprising. What happened, Aita explained, was that after Assad took over in 2000 he opened up the regulated agricultural sector in Syria for big farmers, many of them government cronies, to buy up land and drill as much water as they wanted, eventually severely diminishing the water table. This began driving small farmers off the land into towns, where they had to scrounge for work….

    Then, between 2006 and 2011, some 60 percent of Syria’s land mass was ravaged by the drought and, with the water table already too low and river irrigation shrunken, it wiped out the livelihoods of 800,000 Syrian farmers and herders, the United Nations reported. “Half the population in Syria between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers left the land” for urban areas during the last decade, said Aita. And with Assad doing nothing to help the drought refugees, a lot of very simple farmers and their kids got politicized. “State and government was invented in this part of the world, in ancient Mesopotamia, precisely to manage irrigation and crop growing,” said Aita, “and Assad failed in that basic task.”

    Young people and farmers starved for jobs — and land starved for water — were a prescription for revolution.

    The NY Times
    reported in 2009, “climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions, say the analysts, experts at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies who for the first time are taking a serious look at the national security implications of climate change.”….

     

     

    Bill Would Shift NOAA Resources from Climate Research

    Published: May 28th, 2013 , Last Updated: May 28th, 2013 By Andrew Freedman

    A bill being drafted in the House could potentially undermine the climate science research activities and the oceans programs of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It also would open up the weather satellite sector, which has been a troubled area for NOAA in recent years, to more privatization. The bill, known as the “Weather Forecasting Improvement Act,” would put more emphasis on research and development of new weather forecasting capabilities for anticipating near-term, high-impact events, such as tornadoes and hurricanes, at the possible expense of two of the agency’s other long-standing areas of focus — climate and marine science. The bill was the subject of a May 23 hearing in the House Science Subcommittee on the Environment. It has not yet been formally introduced, and is largely being drafted by Republicans on the subcommittee, which has jurisidiction over NOAA’s National Weather Service, according to several close observers of the legislation. Representatives of NOAA and the academic research community were absent from the hearing, which featured members of two private sector weather companies — AccuWeather and GeoOptics. In the past, AccuWeather has backed legislation to open more of NOAA’s activities to private competition. NOAA said it was invited to the hearing but did not receive sufficient advanced notice to allow it to formulate a response to the bill and also clear testimony through the White House. The agency has asked for an opportunity to testify at a subsequent hearing. The subcommittee’s Democratic members requested a second hearing to give NOAA officials a chance to testify, and to bring in representatives of the academic research community, as well…..

     

     

    Four Things The Farm Bill Could Do For Clean Energy

    Posted: 26 May 2013 06:22 AM PDT

    Cattle feedlot solar installation (Credit: Business Wire)

    America’s agriculture is highly dependent on specific, stable climate conditions. Yet global warming is wreaking havoc on our nation’s farmlands — an industry that produces nearly $300 billion per year in commodities. The frequency and severity of droughts, floods, and changes in precipitation are having negative effects on crops. It’s only going to get worse. According to the U.S. Climate Assessment, the future holds far more devastating droughts, more floods and more heat waves — resulting in the further decline of crops and livestock production. An effective strategy to protect America’s agricultural sector will have to involve both climate change mitigation and adaptation practices. Indeed, Mark Hertsgaard wrote last year in The New York Times, “The farm bill is not only the centerpiece of United States food and agriculture policy, it is also a de facto climate bill.”

     

     

    • RESOURCES and REFERENCES

     

     

    Rangeland Services and Payments Workshop

    June 19, 2013 ~ 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

    Marin and Sonoma Ranchers are vital service providers. In addition to the world class agricultural products they produce, they provide multiple benefits to the environment through conservation and stewardship on their lands. These rangelands supply habitat, clean water, productive soil and numerous other valuable environmental services. This workshop offers ranchers the opportunity to learn more about how to measure, communicate, and capture returns from these services they provide. Presenters include ranchers and organization representatives that are already participating in payments for ecosystem service programs. Confirmed speakers include:

    • Tyler Dawley, Big Bluff Ranch
    • Paul Fuller, Full Belly Farm
    • Ed Anchordoguy, Anchordoguy Lamb
    • Nancy Scolari, Marin RCD
    • Valerie Minton, Sotoyome RCD
    • Forrest Mertens, SunOne Solutions

    Register by June 12, 2013 or call Paige at (415) 437-4204. $10 per person, lunch included The Dance Palace ~

     

     

    Western Governors’ Association – 2013 Annual Meeting

    Friday, June 28, 2013 – Sunday, June 30, 2013
    Montage Deer Valley 9100 Marsac Avenue Park City, Utah 84060 United States

    Early registration ends Friday (May 31) for the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Western Governors’ Association June 28-30 at the beautiful Montage Deer Valley in Park City, Utah. 

    We’re excited to announce that new Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has agreed to attend and will participate on a panel examining ways to align state and federal resources to improve health and management of public lands.  Our keynote speaker will be T. Boone Pickens, the Chairman of BP Capital Management. In addition to building one of the largest independent oil companies in the United States, he’s a compelling speaker on energy. You can also take your pick of a variety of Plenary Sessions on compelling issues such as Healthcare, Education, Endangered Species, Energy and Public Lands that will be attended by Western governors and other high-profile guests.
    Much more is being planned. Hotels in the Park City area are beginning to fill, so register NOW to get the best rate and secure your room.
    Register here.

     

     

    22nd Biennial Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation (CERF) Conference this November 3-7 in San Diego, California.

    As part of the conference, CERF and The Coastal Society (TCS) are collaborating on the organization of a Sea Level Rise plenary symposium and associated concurrent sessions on understanding and adapting to impacts. CERF is offering a special extension of the abstract submission date to June 10th for current and potential members of the Coastal Society interested in participating in the conference. Anyone interested in submitting abstracts for the TCS track Sea Level Rise concurrent sessions should address all inquiries to Megan Bailiff (TCS’s local contact organizing this effort) at mdbailiff@gmail.com .

    3B Street, Point Reyes Station, 94956

     

     

     

    • RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

     

    Despite safety and other concerns, nuclear power saves lives, greenhouse gas emissions, experts say
    (May 29, 2013) — Global use of nuclear power has prevented about 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and release of 64 billion tons of greenhouse gases that would have resulted from burning coal and other fossil fuels, a new study concludes. … > full story

     

    The US shale-gas revolution and European renewables: Divergence and cooperation in alternative energy
    (May 29, 2013) — That the United States and Europe have been following different energy policies over the past few decades won’t come as a surprise. However, according to one researcher, their divergence – with the US leading ‘the shale gas revolution’ and Europe investing heavily in modern renewables – is a good thing for the development of both alternative-energy sources. … > full story

     

    Must-See Video Shows Impact Of Coal As Its Use In U.S. Power Sector Rebounds

    Posted: 29 May 2013 11:12 AM PDT

    A new video from the Sierra Club makes the connection between coal, public health, and greenhouse gas emissions. Coal 101 points out that the United States still gets 40 percent of its electricity from coal, and new data from the Energy Information Administration shows that natural gas is not replacing coal as many assume. In fact, coal is reclaiming its market share. What does this mean? As the U.S. burns more coal, carbon dioxide emissions will rise. This has serious impacts both globally and locally. Burning coal also harms human health from air and water pollution, mercury poisoning, and toxic waste in the form of coal ash. Rural communities have to deal with mountaintop removal mining — i.e. blowing up a mountain to get at what’s inside, and leaving slag behind. There are signs of hope — the amount of electricity from renewable energy has doubled over the last few years, with Iowa and South Dakota getting more than 20 percent of their energy from wind for example.

     

     

    MindDrive: World’s First Social Media Powered Electric Car is Fueled by Tweets and Likes

    by Lori Zimmer, 05/28/13

    A group of Kansas City teens have transformed a 1967 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia into the world’s first social-media fueled vehicle! With the help of non-profit MindDrive, the teens converted the vintage car into an electric vehicle that gets jolt of power for every tweet, like and social media share. MindDrive created the social-media powered car to engage at-risk youth by giving them the skills to build an electric vehicle.

    How Better Place got lost

    May 28, 2013 Peter Hannam Carbon economy editor

    The Australian former head of electric car venture Better Place, Evan Thornley, has blamed the company’s failure on poor management but says the shift away from petrol and diesel-powered cars is inevitable.

    Speaking to the media for the first time since Israel-based Better Place filed for liquidation over the weekend, Mr Thornley described the head office failings as his ”biggest surprise. Israel is pound-for-pound the best high-tech economy in the world. Why this company didn’t live up to Israel’s usual standards is something I will always wonder.”

    Many savvy investors, including Morgan Stanley, HSBC and Israeli’s richest man, Idan Ofer, pumped about $US850 million ($885 million) into Better Place after being sold on the vision of fleets of electric-powered vehicles flooding global markets.

    Better place? No, the end of the line.

    The company’s business model relied not only on such a transformation but on drivers turning to Better Place’s battery switching and management technology in volume.

    Mr Thornley, who made a fortune with his LookSmart internet venture before a brief stint as a Labor MP in the Victorian Parliament, headed Better Place’s Australian operations before becoming global chief executive. He resigned after just three months when he disagreed with the board’s decision to close the Australian and US operations to focus on Israel and Denmark.


    Tesla to Expand Electric-Car Charging for Coast-to-Coast

    By Douglas MacMillan – May 29, 2013 8:26 PM PT

    Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) will roll out a rapid-charging network for its electric cars that will allow drivers to travel to New York from Los Angeles, according to Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive officer and biggest shareholder.

    Tesla is expanding a network of fast-charging stations to major U.S. and Canadian metropolitan areas to make its Model S a more viable alternative to gasoline-fueled cars, Musk said in an onstage interview at the D: All Things Digital conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

    Tesla needs an expanded network of charging stations to appeal to customers beyond California and the Northeast U.S., where it now has fueling spots.

     

    Combining Electric Cars With Smart Grid Technology Can Cut Charging Costs In Half

    Posted: 31 May 2013 09:46 AM PDT


    Credit: Anthill Online

    Electric cars are one of the key pieces of the renewable energy economy of the future, but they do come with a few challenges: charging them currently takes a while (30 minutes to a few hours), charging can add considerably to a home’s overall electricity use, and — when scaled up to thousands or millions of homes — that charging places a lot of extra demand on an electrical grid. At the same time, smart grid technology offers two-way information and communication between consumers and providers, allowing the first to better manage their electricity use and costs, and the second to better manage electricity supply. But so far, there hasn’t been much investigation into how smart grid technology could help with electric car charging specifically.

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    American environmentalist Bill McKibben wins Sophie Prize for his fight against global warming

    By Associated Press, Updated: Tuesday, May 28, 3:03 AM

    OSLO, Norway — American environmentalist Bill McKibben has won the $100,000 Sophie Prize for being a mobilizing force in the fight against global warming. The award committee commended McKibben for “building a global, social movement, fighting to preserve a sustainable planet.”

    McKibben, born in 1960, has written widely about the impact of global warming. In 2008, he founded 350.org, an international movement aimed at solving the climate crisis with representatives in some 190 countries. The annual Sophie Prize was created in 1997 to reward efforts for a sustainable future. The winner is selected by a Norwegian cultural committee, which said Tuesday that the award ceremony will be held in October in Oslo….

     

    Apes get emotional over games of chance
    (May 29, 2013) — Like some humans, chimpanzees and bonobos exhibit emotional responses to outcomes of their decisions by pouting or throwing angry tantrums when a risk-taking strategy fails to pay off, according to new research. … > full story

     

    Why early human ancestors took to two feet
    (May 24, 2013) — A new study by archaeologists challenges evolutionary theories behind the development of our earliest ancestors from tree dwelling quadrupeds to upright bipeds capable of walking and scrambling. … > full story

     

    Cinnamon compound has potential ability to prevent Alzheimer’s
    (May 23, 2013) — Cinnamon: Can the red-brown spice with the unmistakable fragrance and variety of uses offer an important benefit? The common baking spice might hold the key to delaying the onset of — or warding off — the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. … > full story

     

    Picking up a second language is predicted by ability to learn patterns

    Posted: 28 May 2013 11:38 AM PDT

    Some people seem to pick up a second language with relative ease, while others have a much more difficult time. Now, a new study suggests that learning to understand and read a second language may be driven, at least in part, by our ability to pick up on statistical regularities.

     


    Artificial Sweeteners May Do More Than Sweeten: It Can Affect How the Body Reacts to Glucose

    May 29, 2013 — Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that a popular artificial sweetener can modify how the body handles sugar. In a small study, the researchers analyzed the sweetener sucralose (Splenda®) in 17 severely obese people who do not have diabetes and don’t use artificial sweeteners regularly. “Our results indicate that this artificial sweetener is not inert — it does have an effect,” said first author M. Yanina Pepino, PhD, research assistant professor of medicine. “And we need to do more studies to determine whether this observation means long-term use could be harmful.” The study is available online in the journal Diabetes Care

     

     

     

    • IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

     

    Video (Spoof): What’s Better? More Pollution Or Less Pollution?

    Posted: 27 May 2013 06:08 AM PDT

    Moms Clean Air Force has created a series of ads with the Environmental Defense Fund taking off on a recent set of AT&T commercials.

    These ads thank various senators for their “opposition to anti-Clean Air Act amendments during Senate budget debates in March that would have blocked the EPA’s historic Carbon Pollution Standard, the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, as well as other clean air standards and public health protections.”

     

     


     

    Star Trek San Francisco

    http://blog.sfgate.com/thebigevent/2013/05/30/to-boldly-grow-star-trek-imagines-san-francisco-in-2260/#12686-7

  2. Conservation Science News May 17, 2013

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    Highlight of the Week- Warming oceans are reshaping fisheries

    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- Warming oceans are reshaping fisheries

     

     

    ‘Fish thermometer’ reveals long-standing, global impact of climate change
    (May 15, 2013) — Climate change has been impacting global fisheries for the past four decades by driving species towards cooler, deeper waters, according to scientists. …

    In a Nature study published this week, UBC researchers used temperature preferences of fish and other marine species as a sort of “thermometer” to assess effects of climate change on the world’s oceans between 1970 and 2006.

    They found that global fisheries catches were increasingly dominated by warm-water species as a result of fish migrating towards the poles in response to rising ocean temperatures. “One way for marine animals to respond to ocean warming is by moving to cooler regions,” says the study’s lead author William Cheung, an assistant professor at UBC’s Fisheries Centre. “As a result, places like New England on the northeast coast of the U.S. saw new species typically found in warmer waters, closer to the tropics. “Meanwhile in the tropics, climate change meant fewer marine species and reduced catches, with serious implications for food security.

    We’ve been talking about climate change as if it’s something that’s going to happen in the distant future — our study shows that it has been affecting our fisheries and oceans for decades,” says Daniel Pauly, principal investigator with UBC’s Sea Around Us Project and the study’s co-author. “These global changes have implications for everyone in every part of the planet.”

    A summary of the study is available at http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/fact-sheets/warming-oceans-are-reshaping-fisheries-85899474034.


    http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/fact-sheets/warming-oceans-are-reshaping-fisheries-85899475142

     

    Signature of ocean warming in global fisheries catch

    William W. L. Cheung1, RegWatson2 & Daniel Pauly3

    1 6 M AY 2 0 1 3 | VO L 4 9 7 | N AT U R E | 3 6 5 http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v497/n7449/pdf/nature12156.pdf

    Marine fishes and invertebrates respond to ocean warming through distribution shifts, generally to higher latitudes and deeper waters. Consequently, fisheries should be affected by ‘tropicalization’ of catch1–4 (increasing dominance of warm-water species). However, a signature of such climate-change effects on global fisheries catch has so far not been detected. Here we report such an index, the mean temperature of the catch (MTC), that is calculated from the average inferred temperature preference of exploited species weighted by their annual catch. Our results show that, after accounting for the effects of fishing and large-scale oceanographic variability, global MTC increased at a rate of 0.19 degrees Celsius per decade between 1970 and 2006, and non-tropical MTC increased at a rate of 0.23 degrees Celsius per decade. In tropical areas, MTC increased initially because of the reduction in the proportion of subtropical species catches, but subsequently stabilized as scope for further tropicalization of communities became limited. Changes in MTC in 52 large marine ecosystems, covering the majority of the world’s coastal and shelf areas, are significantly and positively related to regional changes in sea surface temperature5. This study shows that ocean warming has already affected global fisheries in the past four decades, highlighting the immediate need to develop adaptation plans to minimize the effect of such warming on the economy and food security of coastal communities, particularly in tropical regions6,7.

     

     

     

     

     

    • ECOLOGY

     

    Productivity increases with species diversity, just as Darwin predicted
    (May 13, 2013) — Environments containing species that are distantly related to one another are more productive than those containing closely related species, according to new research. … > full story

     

    Land management options outlined to address cheatgrass invasion
    (May 13, 2013)

    A new study suggests that overgrazing and other factors increase the severity of cheatgrass invasion in sagebrush steppe, one of North America’s most endangered ecosystems. Researchers said one of the most effective restoration approaches would be to minimize the cumulative impact of grazing, by better managing the timing, frequency of grazing and number of animals. … > full story

    Intensive Grazing Won’t Beat Back an Invasive Plant Blamed for Increasing Wildfire Frequency in the West, According to a New Study

    By Phil Taylor, E&E reporter, May 13, 2013

    The study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology found cheatgrass, which has affected vast swaths of the West particularly in Nevada’s Great Basin, is resistant to even the most intensive grazing regimes. In addition, overgrazing can reduce the prevalence of native bunchgrasses and trample soils, weakening the land’s ability to resist cheatgrass invasions, the study found. It recommended reducing cumulative grazing impacts by better managing the timing, frequency of grazing and number of animals — proposals that are rarely without political controversy.

    From the summary: Grazing exacerbates Bromus tectorum dominance in one of North America’s most endangered ecosystems by adversely impacting key mechanisms mediating resistance to invasion. If the goal is to conserve and restore resistance of these systems, managers should consider maintaining or restoring: (i) high bunchgrass cover and structure characterized by spatially dispersed bunchgrasses and small gaps between them; (ii) a diverse assemblage of bunchgrass species to maximize competitive interactions with B. tectorum in time and space; and (iii) biological soil crusts to limit B. tectorum establishment. Passive restoration by reducing cumulative cattle grazing may be one of the most effective means of achieving these three goals…..

     

     

    Seabird bones reveal changes in open-ocean food chain
    (May 13, 2013) — Remains of endangered Hawaiian petrels — both ancient and modern — show how drastically today’s open seas fish menu has changed. Scientists analyzed the bones of Hawaiian petrels — birds that spend the majority of their lives foraging the open waters of the Pacific. They found that the substantial change in petrels’ eating habits, eating prey that are lower rather than higher in the food chain, coincides with the growth of industrialized fishing. … > full story

     


    World’s Most Extraordinary Species Mapped for the First Time

     

     


    May 15, 2013 — The black-and-white ruffed lemur, Mexican salamander and Sunda pangolin all feature on the first map of the world’s most unique and threatened mammals and … > full story

     

    H1N1 discovered in marine mammals
    (May 15, 2013)Scientists detected the H1N1 (2009) virus in free-ranging northern elephant seals off the central California coast a year after the human pandemic began, according to a study published today, May 15, in the journal PLOS ONE. It is the first report of that flu strain in any marine mammal. … Neither infected seal appeared to be ill, indicating marine mammals may be infected without showing clinical signs of illness. The findings are particularly pertinent to people who handle marine mammals, such as veterinarians and animal rescue and rehabilitation workers, Goldstein said. They are also a reminder of the importance of wearing personal protective gear when working around marine mammals, both to prevent workers’ exposure to diseases, as well as to prevent the transmission of human diseases to animals….. > full story

    Tracey Goldstein, Ignacio Mena, Simon J. Anthony, Rafael Medina, Patrick W. Robinson, Denise J. Greig, Daniel P. Costa, W. Ian Lipkin, Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, Walter M. Boyce. Pandemic H1N1 Influenza Isolated from Free-Ranging Northern Elephant Seals in 2010 off the Central California Coast. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (5): e62259 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062259

    Insecticides lead to starvation of aquatic organisms

    Posted: 15 May 2013 05:30 PM PDT

    Neonicotinoid insecticides have adverse effects not only on bees but also on freshwater invertebrates. Exposure to low but constant concentrations of these substances – which are highly soluble in water – has lethal effects on these aquatic organisms.
    World’s most extraordinary species mapped for the first time

    Posted: 15 May 2013 02:44 PM PDT

    The black-and-white ruffed lemur, Mexican salamander and Sunda pangolin all feature on the first map of the world’s most unique and threatened mammals and amphibians.

     

    Coral reef fishes prove invaluable in the study of evolutionary ecology

    Posted: 16 May 2013 09:36 AM PDT

    Coral reef fish species have proven invaluable for experimental testing of key concepts in social evolution and already have yielded insights about the ultimate reasons for female reproductive suppression, group living, and bidirectional sex change. major focus in evolutionary ecology lies in explaining the evolution and maintenance of social systems. Although most theoretical formulations of social system evolution were initially inspired by studies of birds, mammals, and insects, incorporating a wider taxonomic perspective is important for testing deeply entrenched theory. In their new study, the researchers suggest that habitat-specialist coral reef fishes provide that wider perspective. “While such coral reef fishes are ecologically similar, they display remarkable variation in mating systems, social organization, and sex allocation strategies,” says Wong. “Our review of recent research clearly shows the amenability of these fishes for experimental testing of key concepts in social evolution.”…

     

     

    Clam fossils divulge secrets of ecologic stability

    Posted: 15 May 2013 02:40 PM PDT

    Clam fossils from the middle Devonian era now yield a better paleontological picture of the capacity of ecosystems to remain stable in the face of environmental change, according to new research.

     

    No-win situation for agricultural expansion in the Amazon
    (May 10, 2013) — The large-scale expansion of agriculture in the Amazon through deforestation will be a no-win scenario, according to a new study. The study shows that deforestation will not only reduce the capacity of the Amazon’s natural carbon sink, but will also inflict climate feedbacks that will decrease the productivity of pasture and soybeans. … > full story

     

    Using earthquake sensors to track endangered whales
    (May 13, 2013) — Oceanographers used data from seafloor seismometers to analyze more than 300,000 fin-whale calls. By triangulating the position they created more than 150 tracks off the Pacific Northwest coast. … > full story

     

     

     

    • CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

     

     

    Why a Hotter World Will Mean More Extinctions

    Time by Bryan Walsh May 13 2013

    ….But the plants and animals that share this planet with us are a different story. Even before climate change has really kicked in, human expansion had led to the destruction of habitat on land and in the sea, as we crowd out other species. By some estimates we’re already in the midst of the sixth great extinction wave, one that’s largely human caused, with extinction rates that are 1,000 to 10,000 times higher than the background rate of species loss.
    So what will happen to those plants and animals if and when the climate really starts warming? According to a new study in Nature Climate Change, the answer is pretty simple: they will run out of habitable space, and many of them will die. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has estimated that 20% to 30% of species would be at increasingly high risk of extinction if global temperatures rise more than 2˚C to 3˚C above preindustrial levels. Given that temperatures have already gone up by nearly 1˚C, and carbon continues to pile up in the atmosphere, that amount of warming is almost a certainty….But Rachel Warren and her colleagues at the University of East Anglia (UEA), in England, wanted to know more precisely how that extinction risk intensifies with warming — and whether we might be able to save some species by mitigating climate change. In the Nature Climate Change paper, they found that almost two-thirds of common plants and half of animals could lose more than half their climatic range by 2080 if global warming continues unchecked, with temperatures increasing 4˚C above preindustrial levels by the end of the century. Unsurprisingly, the biggest effects will be felt near the equator, in areas like Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Amazon and Australia, but biodiversity will suffer across the board.

    In statement, Warren said: Our research predicts that climate change will greatly reduce the diversity of even very common species found in most parts of the world. This loss of global-scale biodiversity would significantly impoverish the biosphere and the ecosystem services it provides. We looked at the effect of rising global temperatures, but other symptoms of climate change such as extreme weather events, pests, and diseases mean that our estimates are probably conservative. Animals in particular may decline more as our predictions will be compounded by a loss of food from plants.

     

    Climate change will cause widespread global-scale loss of common plants and animals, researchers predict
    (May 12, 2013) — Climate change will cause widespread global-scale loss of common plants and animals. More than half of common plants and one third of the animals could see a dramatic decline this century due to climate change, according to new research. The study looked at 50,000 globally widespread and common species and found that more than one half of the plants and one third of the animals will lose more than half of their climatic range by 2080 if nothing is done to reduce the amount of global warming and slow it down. … > full story

    R. Warren, J. VanDerWal, J. Price, J. A. Welbergen, I. Atkinson, et al. Quantifying the benefit of early climate change mitigation in avoiding biodiversity loss. Nature Climate Change, 2013 DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1887

     

     

    Scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change

    Posted: 15 May 2013 05:30 PM PDT

    A comprehensive analysis of peer-reviewed articles on the topic of global warming and climate change has revealed an overwhelming consensus among scientists that recent warming is human-caused.

     

    Arctic expedition to study impact of climate change on plankton

    The Guardian  - ‎ May 14 2013‎

    The question they will try to answer is how will plankton react to the consequences of climate change. In the summer of 2012, the ice floes had melted to an extent scientists had never seen before.

     

    Global warming trends contribute to spread of West Nile virus to new regions in Europe
    (May 13, 2013) — Global warming trends have a significant influence on the spread of West Nile Virus to new regions in Europe and neighboring countries, where the disease wasn’t present before, according to a new study. The study found that rising temperatures have a more considerable contribution than humidity, to the spread of the disease, while the effect of rain was inconclusive. … > full story

     

     

    U.S. Geological Survey: Warmer Springs Causing Loss Of Snow Cover Throughout The Rocky Mountains

    By Joe Romm on May 16, 2013 at 7:16 pm

    A new U.S. Geological Survey study finds, “Warmer spring temperatures since 1980 are causing an estimated 20 percent loss of snow cover across the Rocky Mountains of western North America.” The USGS explains, “The new study builds upon a previous USGS snowpack investigation which showed that, until the 1980s, the northern Rocky Mountains experienced large snowpacks when the central and southern Rockies experienced meager ones, and vice versa. Yet, since the 1980s, there have been simultaneous snowpack declines along the entire length of the Rocky Mountains, and unusually severe declines in the north.” We reported on that previous work in 2011 — see “USGS: Global Warming Drives Rockies Snowpack Loss Unrivaled in 800 Years, Threatens Western Water Supply.” The USGS explained back then:

    The warming and snowpack decline are projected to worsen through the 21st century, foreshadowing a strain on water supplies. Runoff from winter snowpack – layers of snow that accumulate at high altitude – accounts for 60 to 80 percent of the annual water supply for more than 70 million people living in the western United States.

    What’s most worrisome is that we now have three major trends driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases that threaten to significantly worsen drought and water problems in the West and Southwest:

    Assuming the anti-science crowd continues to block any serious action, these catastrophic changes will last a long, long time (see NOAA: Climate change “largely irreversible for 1000 years,” with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe). For the record, it was the possibility of losing the Sierra snowpack in the second half of the century that led then Energy Secretary Chu to warn in 2009, “Wake up,” America, “we’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.” Geophysical Research Letters published the new research, Regional patterns and proximal causes of the recent snowpack decline in the Rocky Mountains” (subs. req’d). Here are the key points from the USGS news release:…

     

     

    Scientists find extensive glacial retreat in Mount Everest region
    (May 13, 2013) — Researchers taking a new look at the snow and ice covering Mount Everest and the national park that surrounds it are finding abundant evidence that the world’s tallest peak is shedding its frozen cloak. The scientists have also been studying temperature and precipitation trends in the area and found that the Everest region has been warming while snowfall has been declining since the early 1990s. … > full story

    Satellites see double jeopardy for Southern California fire season
    (May 13, 2013) — New insights into two factors that are creating a potentially volatile Southern California wildfire season come from an ongoing project using NASA and Indian satellite data by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.; and Chapman University, Orange, Calif. … > full story

     

    Do we need a better yardstick to measure severe droughts?

    Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter ClimateWire: Friday, May 10, 2013

    After more than a decade, the U.S. Drought Monitor might be due for a tuneup. As Illinois’ State Climatologist Jim Angel puts it, it’s like the scene in the 1984 parody of hard rock documentaries “This Is Spinal Tap” in which heavy metal guitarist Nigel Tufnel shows off his amplifiers with volume knobs that go up to 11. Tufnel’s amplifiers, he brags to the filmmaker in the spoof, give his guitars that ear-splitting “extra push off the cliff” compared with traditional amps that only reach 10. Angel sees this as an analogy for the Drought Monitor, the weekly map of drought-afflicted areas in the country. After a long, widespread U.S. drought that has drawn comparisons to the 1930s Dust Bowl, do the makers of the map need to crank up the magnitude of the worst-hit spots from D4 — the current designation for exceptional drought — and create a D5? “We know that the climate we have now isn’t the climate from 1965,” said Michael Brewer, one of the authors of the Drought Monitor and a scientist at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. That was the year the Palmer Drought Severity Index was introduced, and it is used as the primary drought indicator today. It’s very possible that D4 won’t be an accurate measure for the most severe drought in the future, said Angel, who referenced the “Spinal Tap” scene at the U.S. Drought Monitor Forum last month in West Palm Beach, Fla. What was once a D4 event is milder than what exceptional drought looks like today. As climate change makes these things more uncertain, the authors of the Drought Monitor are asking themselves whether, and how, to adapt…..

     

     

    Carbon dioxide at NOAA’s Mauna Loa Observatory reaches new milestone: Tops 400 parts per million
    (May 10, 2013) — On May 9, the daily mean concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mauna Loa, Hawaii, surpassed 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time since measurements began in 1958. Independent measurements made by both NOAA and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have been approaching this level during the past week. It marks an important milestone because Mauna Loa, as the oldest continuous carbon dioxide measurement station in the world, is the primary global benchmark site for monitoring the increase of this potent heat-trapping gas. … > full story

     

     

    Heat-Trapping Gas Passes Milestone, Raising Fears –must read

    The average carbon dioxide reading surpassed 400 parts per million at the research facility atop the Mauna Loa volcano on the island of Hawaii for the 24 hours that ended at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

    By JUSTIN GILLIS NY Times Published: May 10, 2013

    The level of the most important heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide, has passed a long-feared milestone, scientists reported Friday, reaching a concentration not seen on the earth for millions of years. Scientific instruments showed that the gas had reached an average daily level above 400 parts per million — just an odometer moment in one sense, but also a sobering reminder that decades of efforts to bring human-produced emissions under control are faltering. The best available evidence suggests the amount of the gas in the air has not been this high for at least three million years, before humans evolved, and scientists believe the rise portends large changes in the climate and the level of the sea. “It symbolizes that so far we have failed miserably in tackling this problem,” said Pieter P. Tans, who runs the monitoring program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that reported the new reading. Ralph Keeling, who runs another monitoring program at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, said a continuing rise could be catastrophic. “It means we are quickly losing the possibility of keeping the climate below what people thought were possibly tolerable thresholds,” he said. Virtually every automobile ride, every plane trip and, in most places, every flip of a light switch adds carbon dioxide to the air, and relatively little money is being spent to find and deploy alternative technologies.

    China is now the largest emitter, but Americans have been consuming fossil fuels extensively for far longer, and experts say the United States is more responsible than any other nation for the high level. ….. Carbon dioxide rises and falls on a seasonal cycle, and the level will dip below 400 this summer as leaf growth in the Northern Hemisphere pulls about 10 billion tons of carbon out of the air. But experts say that will be a brief reprieve — the moment is approaching when no measurement of the ambient air anywhere on earth, in any season, will produce a reading below 400.

    “It feels like the inevitable march toward disaster,” said Maureen E. Raymo, a scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a unit of Columbia University….

    From studying air bubbles trapped in Antarctic ice, scientists know that going back 800,000 years, the carbon dioxide level oscillated in a tight band, from about 180 parts per million in the depths of ice ages to about 280 during the warm periods between. The evidence shows that global temperatures and CO2 levels are tightly linked.

    For the entire period of human civilization, roughly 8,000 years, the carbon dioxide level was relatively stable near that upper bound. But the burning of fossil fuels has caused a 41 percent increase in the heat-trapping gas since the Industrial Revolution, a mere geological instant, and scientists say the climate is beginning to react, though they expect far larger changes in the future.

    Indirect measurements suggest that the last time the carbon dioxide level was this high was at least three million years ago, during an epoch called the Pliocene. Geological research shows that the climate then was far warmer than today, the world’s ice caps were smaller, and the sea level might have been as much as 60 or 80 feet higher.

    Experts fear that humanity may be precipitating a return to such conditions — except this time, billions of people are in harm’s way. “It takes a long time to melt ice, but we’re doing it,” Dr. Keeling said. “It’s scary.” …. Research shows that even at such low levels, carbon dioxide is potent at trapping heat near the surface of the earth. “If you’re looking to stave off climate perturbations that I don’t believe our culture is ready to adapt to, then significant reductions in CO2 emissions have to occur right away,” said Mark Pagani, a Yale geochemist who studies climates of the past. “I feel like the time to do something was yesterday.”

     

    Methane emissions higher than thought across much of U.S.
    (May 15, 2013) — After taking a rented camper outfitted with special equipment to measure methane on a cross-continent drive, a scientist has found that methane emissions across large parts of the US are higher than currently known, confirming what other more local studies have found. … > full story

     

    Emotional response to climate change influences whether we seek or avoid further information
    (May 15, 2013) — Because information about climate change is ubiquitous in the media, researchers looked at why many Americans know so little about its causes and why many are not interested in finding out more. … > full story

     


    World’s Melting Glaciers Making Large Contribution to Sea Rise

    May 16, 2013 — While 99 percent of Earth’s land ice is locked up in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the remaining ice in the world’s glaciers contributed just as much to sea rise as the two ice sheets … The new research found that all glacial regions lost mass from 2003 to 2009, with the biggest ice losses occurring in Arctic Canada, Alaska, coastal Greenland, the southern Andes and the Himalayas. The glaciers outside of the Greenland and Antarctic sheets lost an average of roughly 260 billion metric tons of ice annually during the study period, causing the oceans to rise 0.03 inches, or about 0.7 millimeters per year. > full story

     

    Fall warming on Antarctic Peninsula driven by tropically forced circulation
    (May 15, 2013) — New research shows that, in recent decades, fall is the only period of extensive warming over the entire Antarctic Peninsula, and it is mostly from atmospheric circulation patterns originating in the tropics. … > full story

     

    Helping forests gain ground on climate change
    (May 15, 2013)
    Researchers in Canada have developed guidelines being used by foresters and the timber industry to get a jump on climate change when planting trees. …
    Maps developed by Laura Gray, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Renewable Resources at the U of A, provide projections of climatically suitable habitat for tree species based on climate predictions for the 2020s, 2050s and 2080s. Currently, Alberta forestry companies and government agencies plant 80 million spruce, fir and pine seedlings to reforest more than 50,000 hectares of harvested land annually. “The information helps forest managers have more confidence in their decisions on what and where to plant. It allows them to more accurately assess the climactic risk,” said Gray, co-author of the study with associate professor Andreas Hamann. The study addresses concerns that many populations of wide-ranging tree species, which are adapted to local growing conditions, may now or in the future actually lag behind their optimal growing environment because of changing temperature and precipitation conditions. The work is the first of its kind to tackle multiple potential climate scenarios for a large number of tree species across western North America…..full story

     

    Mold After the Hurricane

    (NYT) May 17, 2013 Compiled: 12:59 AM

    A climate economist says the coastal flooding responsible for the mold that occurred after Sandy is only going to get worse with climate change.

     


    (Credit: www.jxnews.com.cn)

    30 Million People Displaced By Climate- And Weather-Related Events Last Year

    Posted: 13 May 2013 06:16 AM PDT

    A new report out today shows that over 30 million people were displaced by climate-related extreme weather events … [Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre Publications] The Global Estimates report reveals that 32.4 million people were forced to flee their homes in 2012 by disasters such as floods, storms and earthquakes. While Asia and west and central Africa bore the brunt, 1.3 million were displaced in rich countries, with the USA particularly affected. 98% of all displacement in 2012 was related to climate- and weather-related events, with flood disasters in India and Nigeria accounting for 41% of global displacement in 2012. In India, monsoon floods displaced 6.9 million, and in Nigeria 6.1 million people were newly displaced. While over the past five years 81% of global displacement has occurred in Asia, in 2012 Africa had a record high for the region of 8.2 million people newly displaced, over four times more than in any of the previous four years.

    … Just as climate expert Lord Stern predicts that hundreds of millions will be displaced this century. [Guardian]

    It is increasingly likely that hundreds of millions of people will be displaced from their homelands in the near future as a result of global warming. That is the stark warning of economist and climate change expert Lord Stern following the news last week that concentrations of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere had reached a level of 400 parts per million (ppm).

    Massive movements of people are likely to occur over the rest of the century because global temperatures are likely to rise to by up to 5C because carbon dioxide levels have risen unabated for 50 years, said Stern, who is head of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change.

    “When temperatures rise to that level, we will have disrupted weather patterns and spreading deserts,” he said. “Hundreds of millions of people will be forced to leave their homelands because their crops and animals will have died. The trouble will come when they try to migrate into new lands, however. That will bring them into armed conflict with people already living there. Nor will it be an occasional occurrence. It could become a permanent feature of life on Earth.”

     

     

    Climate Resilience: Deconstructing The New Buzz Word

    Posted: 13 May 2013 12:56 PM PDT

    By Cara Pike via Climate Access

    “Climate resiliency” is a new buzzword in environmental communications. Buzzwords are exciting because when successful, they convey important concepts in a compact and compelling way. At the same time, it is easy to assume audience understanding and for terms to be co-opted over time.

    …..According to the American Heritage Dictionary, resiliency is defined as “the ability to recover quickly from illness, change, or misfortune; buoyancy,” This is appealing because “climate resiliency” conveys both an inherent recognition of a threat that needs to be responded to, as well as a sense of efficacy – that it is possible to respond to that threat.

    On the other hand, the other meaning of “resiliency” is “the property of a material that enables it to resume its original shape or position after being bent, stretched, or compressed; elasticity.” This is problematic because when used in the climate context, it can feed into the desire to return to the status quo as quickly as possible.

    Mindy Fullilove, professor of Clinical Sociomedical Sciences and director of the Cities Research Group at Columbia University provided an example at CCB of how climate resiliency can mean very different things to different audiences. For those who have the resources to protect themselves from extreme weather events and other challenges, resiliency conveys a sense of strength. On the other hand, for communities already struggling due to economic and social injustice, resiliency can imply an expectation that people within those communities continue to withstand challenges, largely without the resources or support to adequately do so.

    At the crux of this conflict is the idea that resiliency is about resuming an original form, a bouncing back to what was. This fails to recognize that the status quo wasn’t working in the first place as we were already on an unsustainable and inequitable path. The desire to return to normal in the wake of a disturbance is understandable,; however, what is needed is a “bouncing forward” to new approaches that tackle both the reality of a two-degree Celsius temperature increase as well as the systemic injustices that threaten the well-being of citizens who often also face some of the worst climate impacts.

    My sense is just like with sustainability, using resiliency, as the new buzzword will not solve challenges engaging the public in these issues. Perhaps more important is to focus on conveying the characteristics that resilient systems and communities should reflect such as flexibility, diversity, and transparency; and to highlight strategies that enhance resilience in a range of areas, such as disaster risk-reduction and improving the quality of daily life.

    A good example of an organization focusing on community-level solutions that illustrate both climate as well as social resiliency is IOBY – or “In Our Backyards.” Founded by Cassie Flynn (see her Garrison presentation), Erin Barnes and Brandon Whitney, IOBY emphasizes  what people want to see in their neighborhoods versus the typical “not in my backyard” environmental approach. By helping citizens organize and fund local projects, IOBY is fostering community buy-in for solutions, a network of long-term stewards, and visible benefits of taking action such as having access to green spaces and organic food.

    What is perhaps most interesting about IOBY, however, is how it has become a network for organizing citizens around other local challenges. For example, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, IOBY participants helped organize neighborhood response efforts by using the lists of project volunteers in their area as well the  IOBY neighborhood gardens to gather and coordinate.

    Social resiliency and connectivity are among the most important capacities to develop as we learn to prepare for local climate impacts. Amplifying local climate solutions that benefit and bring people together is critically needed so we can begin to close the climate efficacy gap and build hope for the future.

    – Cara Pike is the director of Climate Access

     

     

    What Will a Doubling of Carbon Dioxide Mean for Climate?

    By JUSTIN GILLIS (NYT) May 14, 2013 Compiled: 1:00 AM

    While some recent studies suggest that the doubling of carbon dioxide levels will not result in as high an increase in temperature as previously thought, they are not the last word.

     

    America’s Climate Refugees

    The Guardian- 3 part series An undeniable truth? From Palin to Parnell, Alaska’s politicians have struggled to reconcile policy with actuality

    Part One America’s first climate refugees
    › One family’s great escape

    Part Two An undeniable truth?
    › The at risk list

    Part Three “It’s happening now… The village is sinking”= › The state we’re in


     Could carbon dioxide be injected in sandstone? Would it stay there?
    (
    May 14, 2013) — As carbon dioxide levels in the Earth’s atmosphere top 400 parts per million, options such as storing the greenhouse gas in porous sandstone rock formations found in abundance on the sea floor are of increasing interest. But how do we know if carbon dioxide can be safely injected into spongy sandstone, and that once it is there, that it will stay there? … > full story

     

    Scientists use crowd-sourcing to help map global carbon dioxide emissions
    (May 14, 2013) — Climate science researchers from Arizona State University are launching a first-of-its-kind website to better understand and track greenhouse gas emissions from global power plants. … > full story

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • POLICY

     


    Fracking in California needs close oversight

    Jayni Foley Hein and Michael Kiparsky SF Chronicle May 12, 2013

    It’s a watershed moment for the regulation of fracking in California. While oil and gas producers have used hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in California for many years, new fracturing techniques combined with demand for oil have led to alarming projections of dramatically increased fracking activity in California. Such developments may have outstripped the ability of responsible government agencies to effectively oversee fracking activity and its attendant impacts on our land, air and water resources. The Monterey Shale formation in Southern California is estimated to hold 15.4 billion barrels of oil, or 64 percent of the nation’s recoverable shale oil resources. High oil prices, combined with the rapid development of technology to access tight reserves, could lead to a fracking boom in California in the same way that similar circumstances drove natural gas booms in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and other states. While California hasn’t yet experienced a dramatic shift to high-volume, directionally drilled hydraulic wells, other states have, and it could very well happen here. Fracturing technologies are evolving rapidly. Historically, wells in California have used single, vertically drilled shafts with small volumes of fracking fluids. New methods involve multiple lateral bores drilled horizontally from the main vertical well. These larger scale operations can use millions of gallons of fluids per well, with attendant increased impacts. In addition, the constituents of fracking fluids continue to evolve faster than our ability to study their risks, for example in acid matrix fracking. Given these unknowns, state regulators should be proactive in their oversight of the industry. Hydraulic fracturing is the process of injecting fluids under high pressure to crack underground rocks and release tightly held oil or gas. Hydraulic fracturing has been used to produce oil from vertical wells in California for more than 50 years. The majority of fracking in California has been in pursuit of oil rather than natural gas. Arguments that natural gas is a transitional fuel to renewable energy sources do not apply to oil, which is by no means a low-carbon fuel. Further, an average of nine barrels of water must be pumped for every one barrel of oil. Not only is this a lot of water that must be managed at the surface, but it also requires energy to pump, move and treat, exacerbating the carbon intensity of California oil. ….

     

    Analysis: Obama climate agenda faces Supreme Court reckoning- EPA

    By Lawrence Hurley and Valerie Volcovici

    WASHINGTON | Thu May 16, 2013 1:25am EDT

    (Reuters) – With a barrage of legal briefs, a coalition of business groups and Republican-leaning states are taking their fight against Obama administration climate change regulations to the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other industry groups, along with states such as Texas and Virginia, have filed nine petitions in recent weeks asking the justices to review four U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations that are designed to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. If the court were to take up any one of the petitions, it would be the biggest environmental case since Massachusetts v. EPA, the landmark 2007 decision in which the justices ruled that carbon dioxide is a pollutant that could be regulated under the Clean Air Act. The court’s decision on whether to take up any of the petitions, likely to come in October, could help shape or shatter the administration’s efforts to solidify its climate change agenda before President Obama leaves office in 2017. The EPA regulations are among Obama’s most significant tools to address climate change after the U.S. Senate scuttled in 2010 his effort to pass a federal law that would, among other things, have set a cap on greenhouse gas emissions….

     

    Business Leaders To Policymakers: Public Lands Create A Competitive Advantage For Us

    By Jessica Goad, Guest Blogger on May 16, 2013 at 11:13 am

    A healthy environment is obviously important for outdoor industry companies like Patagonia and L.L. Bean.  But a lesser-known fact is that the outdoors is also a significant resource to companies who choose to locate near great places in order to lure employees to work for them.

    That was the message delivered by a group of business leaders who visited Washington, D.C. this week to tell their elected officials that protected public lands like national parks, national monuments, and wildness areas are key to attracting talent and maintaining their bottom line.  As Jeff Welch, the co-founder and president of Bozeman, Montana-based communications and advertising firm MercuryCSC put it: The outdoors for us in our region is a big competitive advantage, it helps us recruit people from all over the country, even other places in the world to come to Montana.  It’s really the only thing we have as a competitive advantage in a place like Bozeman…..

     

     

    Senate approves Barbara Boxer’s bill for Sacramento levees

    May 15, 2013

    In a rare display of bipartisanship on major legislation, the U.S. Senate passed Sen. Barbara Boxer’s water resources bill Wednesday.

    The $12.5 billion bill, which includes a long-sought authorization for levee improvements in Sacramento, drew overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans. The vote was 83-14.

    “This type of a bill is not easy to get through. Every state has its own needs,” Boxer said. “We were able to meet the needs of the entire country.”

    After the vote, Boxer praised the work of her staff, and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, her Republican partner on the Environment and Public Works Committee, which she chairs.

    Vitter, who agrees with Boxer on little else, called her a “great partner.”

    “We can come together on the infrastructure side of our committee,” he said.

    The Water Resources Development Act would authorize a variety of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects across the country, including flood control efforts, port improvements, wetlands restoration and coastal storm protection. It includes language that would expedite the environmental review process that many critics say lead to unnecessary delays and added costs in such projects.

    But environmental groups objected to that language, and Wednesday, they voiced their disappointment in the Senate bill.

    “Unfortunately, language in this bill undermines the bedrock environmental principle that the federal government should look before it leaps,” said Larry Schweiger, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, in a statement.

    “This bill must be fixed before the President signs it into law,” he added.

    The bill now moves to the House of Representatives. Rep. Doris Matsui, a Sacramento Democrat and a leading supporter of water resources legislation, said it was time for her colleagues to act.

    “The Senate has provided a good starting point as well as a good example of cooperation; working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, I know we can do the same in the House,” she said in a statement.

    Editor’s Note: This post was updated at 1:12 p.m. May 15, 2013 to correct the vote to 83-14.

     

     

    Peak oil, climate change and pipeline geopolitics driving Syria conflict

    The Guardian  - ‎May 13, 2013‎

    Then from 2010 to 2011, the price of wheat doubled – fueled by a combination of extreme weather events linked to climate change, oil price spikes and intensified speculation on food commodities – impacting on Syrian wheat imports. Assad’s inability to …

     

    Insurers Stray From the Conservative Line on Climate Change

    By EDUARDO PORTER (NYT) May 15, 2013 Compiled: 12:59 AM

    A new institute, financed by the insurance industry, not only believes in global warming but also supports a carbon tax to combat it.

     

    Wind farms get pass on deaths of eagles, other protected birds

    The Seattle Times  - ‎ May 16 2013‎

    Each killing of a protected bird is a federal crime, a charge that the Obama administration has used to prosecute oil companies when birds drown in their waste pits, and power companies when birds are electrocuted by their power lines. No wind-energy

     

     

    Interior Appoints New Climate Change Advisory Committee Members to Provide Guidance on Adaptation Science Initiatives

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced the members of a newly created federal advisory committee who will provide guidance about the Interior Department’s climate change adaptation science initiatives. The Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science will advise the Secretary of the Interior about the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center and the Department of the Interior Climate Science Centers, which are managed by the U.S. Geological Survey. To view the original news release, please click here.

     

    Icy Arctic rising as economic, security hot spot

    Published: May 10, 2013 6:30 PM By The Associated Press  LARA JAKES (AP National Security Writer) WASHINGTON – (AP) –

    The icy Arctic is emerging as a global economic hot spot — and one that is becoming a security concern for the U.S. as world powers jockey to tap its vast energy resources and stake out unclaimed territories. Diplomats from eight Arctic nations, including Secretary of State John Kerry, will meet next week over how to protect the thawing region as its waterways increasingly open to commercial shipping traffic. U.S. officials estimate the Arctic holds 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves, and 30 percent of undiscovered gas deposits. Until recently, however, the lucrative resources that could reap hundreds of billions of dollars in revenues were frozen over and unreachable. But global warming has melted sea ice to levels that have given rise to what experts describe as a kind of gold rush scramble to the Arctic. On Friday, President Barack Obama announced a new U.S. strategy for the Arctic, calling the region “an amazing place” and maintaining a need among nations to protect its fragile environment and keep it free of conflict…..

     

     

     

    • RESOURCES and REFERENCES

    CLIMATE CHANGE: Future Federal Adaptation Efforts Could Better Support Local Infrastructure Decision Makers,

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is conducting several climate change and adaptation-related studies at the moment. Yesterday, they released their study: “CLIMATE CHANGE: Future Federal Adaptation Efforts Could Better Support Local Infrastructure Decision Makers,” that examines:

    1.     The impacts of climate change on roads and bridges, wastewater systems, and NASA centers;

    2.     The extent to which climate change is incorporated into infrastructure planning;

    3.     Factors that enabled some decision makers to implement adaptive measures; and

    4.     Federal efforts to address local adaptation needs, as well as potential opportunities for improvement.

    This study includes high-level recommendations for executive action in this area which you might be interested in. Here is more information on the study: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-242
    SF BAY AREA: The Critical Linkages report is now available at or  www.scwildlands.org.
    Critical Linkages: Bay Area & Beyond identifies 14 landscape level connections of crucial biological value. These linkages are essential for natural ecological processes—such as migration and range shifts with climate change–to continue operating as they have for millennia. Critical Linkages was designed to preserve landscape level processes and maintain connected wildlife populations from Mendocino National Forest in the north to the beaches of the Santa Lucia Range on Los Padres National Forest and Hearst Ranch in the south, and eastward to the southern end of the Inner Coast Range. These landscape linkages and the wildlands they connect are meant to serve as the backbone of a regional wildlands network to which smaller wildlands can be connected.

     

     

    WEBINARS:

     

    Climate and Food Webinar  May 22, 2013 – 1:00pm EST
    Description:
    Dr. Molly Brown, research scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, will explore the impact of various factors on food production, and how climate change may impact food production in the future. Using remote sensing satellites, changes in moisture conditions that affect this year’s crop as well as long-term changes in ecosystems that can affect food production were detected.

    Please note you must register for this session.

     

    CA LCC: Pacific Coastal Fog Webinar Wednesday, May 29, 2013 – 12:00pm-1:00pm
    Alicia Torregrosa, Physical Scientist at USGS, will present how this project created critically needed coastal fog datasets and show potential users an internet platform for sharing the data.
    For details on this project click here  To join the online meeting: 1. Go to here 2. Meeting password: calcc 3. Call-in toll-free number: 1-866-737-4154 Attendee access code: 287 267 0#

    The Desert LCC announces grants to fund applied science related to critical resource management concerns in the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan desert regions

    The Fish and Wildlife Service Request For Proposals related to the Desert LCC is open to Federal and non-Federal entities for work conducted in the U.S. and/or Mexico. Applications are due by 4 PM MDT on June 7, 2013. 
    You can find this opportunity at this link

     

    Zoomable climate change time-lapse of entire earth over 30 years

    AMERICAblog (blog)  - ‎May 13, 2013‎

    Using satellite photos from Landsat, a joint mission between the USGS and NASA, Google has partnered with Carnegie Mellon University to put together a very cool series of time-lapse images of the earth, showing changes in the earth, including impacts …

     

     

    JOBS/INTERNSHIPS:

     

    PALOMARIN FIELD STATION BANDING INTERNSHIPS.  Fall Interns needed at PRBO’s Palomarin Field Station on the California coast, north of San Francisco in Point Reyes National Seashore, a fall birding hotspot.  Fieldwork includes mist-netting, area search surveys  and habitat assessment in coastal scrub and riparian habitats.   All interns participate in public outreach during banding operations and daily data entry and verification.  Expect long hours in the field and office.  Interns will become proficient in landbird monitoring techniques and learn about various aspects of avian ecology (e.g., hands-on and via scientific literature).  Interns may participate in the North American Banding Council certification process.  A strong interest in birds, self-motivation, a sense of humor, and the desire to spend long hours in the field and office are required. Participants must be able to work in groups and independently. Exposure to poison oak is unavoidable. A functioning pair of binoculars is required. Some internships require the use of a personal vehicle, current proof of insurance, and a driver’s license. Use of personal vehicles will be reimbursed by the mile. Approximate dates are August 1 to November 15. On-site housing is provided. This is a voluntary training position that includes a stipend to offset living expenses while on the project ($800 per month [gross]).  Email a letter of interest describing previous experience with field research, specific dates of availability and whether or not you have a vehicle, a resume, and contact information for three references (Please note if applying to other positions within PRBO) to RENEE CORMIER, PRBO Conservation Science
    (415-868-0655 ext. 316; EM: rcormier@prbo.org). Please apply by June 1.

     

    USFWS Title: National Landscape Conservation Coordinator
    OPM Title: Fish and Wildlife Administrator
    Series and Grade: GS-0480, Series 15
    Duty Location: Washington, DC (Arlington, VA, is actual office
    location)
    This is a heads up for those who might be interested in applying for the position of National Coordinator for the Landscape Conservation Cooperatives initiative. Doug Austen has announced his departure, and the FWS will shortly post the position in USA JOBS. We believe the posting will be only open for two weeks. The following infomation should be helpful in locating the position, but regular users of USAJobs will know that the published title might not match exactly what the position title is….

     

     

     

     

    • RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

     

     

    Cotton offers a new ecologically friendly way to clean up oil spills

    Posted: 15 May 2013 08:38 AM PDT

    With the Deepwater Horizon disaster emphasizing the need for better ways of cleaning up oil spills, scientists are reporting that unprocessed, raw cotton may be an ideal, ecologically friendly answer, with an amazing ability to sop up oil.

     

    Many entrepreneurs claim to care about sustainability, yet make decisions that are harmful to environment
    (May 13, 2013) — Many entrepreneurs claim that they care about sustainability, yet they make decisions that are harmful to the environment. Economic researchers have discovered that many bosses do indeed have firm convictions — but that they unconsciously disengage their values from their business actions. The type of entrepreneur most likely to fall into this category are those who perceive themselves as highly influential or who are operating in a challenging industry environment. … > full story

     

    Strategies to achieve net-zero energy homes
    (May 15, 2013) — Chances are you know how many miles your car logs for each gallon or tankful of gas, but you probably have only a foggy idea of how much energy your house consumes, even though home energy expenditures often account for a larger share of the household budget. … > full story

     

     

    Significant improvement in performance of solar-powered hydrogen generation
    (May 15, 2013) — Using a powerful combination of microanalytic techniques that simultaneously image photoelectric current and chemical reaction rates across a surface on a micrometer scale, researchers have shed new light on what may become a cost-effective way to generate hydrogen gas directly from water and sunlight. … > full story

     

    With Record Sales, Tesla Turns A Profit As Consumer Reports Says It ‘Comes Close’ To Being ‘The Best Car Ever’!

    Posted: 13 May 2013 08:50 AM PDT


    Credit: AutomobileMag.com

    Tesla Motors Company is coming off a very good week. On Wednesday, the company reported that it had sold more electric vehicles than any other automaker during the first quarter of the year, and turned a profit for the first time in its 10 year history. On Thursday, Consumer Reports — the famously austere purveyors of customer satisfaction surveys and product testing for all manner of consumer goods — announced that Tesla’s Model S roadster outperformed every other commercially-available vehicle in their annual battery of stress tests, scoring a 99 out of a possible 100: The Tesla Model S outscores every other car in our test Ratings. It does so even though it’s an electric car. In fact, it does so because it is electric. Built from the ground up as an EV, this car’s overall balance benefits from mounting the battery under the floor and in the lowest part of the body. That gives the car a rock-bottom center of gravity that enables excellent handling, a comfortable ride, and lots of room inside…..

     

     

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    ‘Space Oddity’ Astronaut Rock Star Has Unique Perspective On Climate Change

    Billion-year-old water could hold clues to life on Earth and Mars
    (May 15, 2013) — Scientists have discovered ancient pockets of water, which have been isolated deep underground for billions of years and contain abundant chemicals known to support life. This water could be some of the oldest on the planet and may even contain life. Not just that, but the similarity between the rocks that trapped it and those on Mars raises the hope that comparable life-sustaining water could lie buried beneath the Red Planet’s surface. … > full story

     

    Few Breast Cancer Patients Understand Surgery Options

    Search, Share, Spare Campaign Addresses Knowledge Gaps

    Angelina Jolie Advises Women “…to seek out the information and medical experts who can help you through this aspect of your life, and to make your own informed choices.”

    Dr. Rache Simmons of New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center

    SAN FRANCISCO, May 15, 2013 — Studies have shown nearly 70 percent of patients with breast cancer do not discuss all surgical options with their surgeon before their initial surgery and that such a discussion significantly affects a woman’s treatment decision1. To address this knowledge gap, the Search, Share, Spare campaign launched today to raise awareness about surgery options that spare a woman’s breast while effectively removing cancer. The campaign encourages women facing breast cancer surgery to visit breastcancersurgeryoptions.com to search for information, share what they learn and spare their breast.
    “More than 225,000 American women each year are diagnosed with breast cancer that requires surgery. Unfortunately, few women are aware that surgical advances now enable doctors to effectively remove cancer while sparing the skin and often the nipple, resulting in a more natural-looking reconstructed breast,” said Dr. Rache Simmons, chief of breast surgery at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and past president of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. Dr. Simmons is nationally recognized for her innovations and contributions in the field of minimally invasive breast cancer surgery. “The Search, Share, Spare campaign educates women about all their surgical options, including skin-sparing mastectomy and nipple-sparing mastectomy. Armed with this information, a woman can talk with her team of doctors to make an informed decision about what is right for her.”….

     

     

    • IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

     

     

    Amazing sightings: Hawk gives blackbird free ride (gallery) sfgate.com


    (Eric Dugan) Red-winged blackbird takes a free ride on the back of a red-tailed hawk

    Spend enough time in the outdoors and you never know what you might see.

    Take your camera with a long lens with you and you can bring the memories home to share. This is what photographer Eric Dugan has learned. On a trip last week to the Napa-Sonoma Marsh Wildlife Area, just off Highway 37 along the Petaluma River near Port Sonoma, Eric captured this sequence where a red-winged blackbird chased down and landed on the back of a red-tailed hawk — and then enjoyed a free ride into the wild blue yonder….


    Study Finds 97% Consensus on Human-Caused Global Warming in the Peer-Reviewed Literature

    By Climate Guest Blogger on May 15, 2013 at 7:05 pm

     

     

     

     



     

  3. Conservation Science News May 10, 2013

    Leave a Comment

    Highlight of the WeekWe surpassed 400 ppm CO2 daily avg. yesterday (May 9)–first time in human history … and 2/3 of common plants and animals will suffer major declines from climate change without action now- Nature Climatte Change

    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- We surpassed 400 ppm CO2 daily avg. yesterday (May 9)–first time in human history … and 2/3 of common plants and animals will suffer major declines from climate change without action now- Nature Climatte Change

     

    Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations Surpass 400 PPM Milestone In May 9 Daily Average

    The Huffington Post  |  By James Gerken Posted: 05/10/2013 2:21 pm EDT  |  Updated: 05/10/2013 2:32 pm EDT

    Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide surpassed a notable milestone this week.

     


    Special note on May 9, 2013 reading

     

     

    May 10, 2013 Comment:
    NOAA has reported 400.03 for May 9, 2013, while Scripps has reported 399.73. The difference partly reflects different reporting periods. NOAA uses UTC, whereas Scripps uses local time in Hawaii to define the 24-hr reporting period. If Scripps were to use same reporting period as NOAA, we would report 400.08 for May 9.

     

    The Keeling Curve
    Latest reading: 399.73 ppm CO2 concentration on May 9, 2013    A daily record of atmospheric carbon dioxide from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego

    Bottom of Form

     

     

    ——————–

    Press Release:

     

    Climate change will cause widespread global-scale loss of common plants and animals

     

    EMBARGO: 18.00 BST (London Time) on SUNDAY MAY 12, 2013 (13.00 US EST on SUNDAY MAY 12, 2013)

     

    Quantifying the benefit of early climate change mitigation in avoiding biodiversity loss‘ will be published by the journal Nature Climate Change
    on Sunday May 12, 2013.

     

    Almost two thirds of common plants and half the animals could see a dramatic decline this century due to climate change – according to research from the University of East Anglia.  Research published today in the journal Nature Climate Change looked at 50,000 globally widespread and common species and found that two thirds of the plants and half of the animals will lose more than half of their climatic range by 2080 if nothing is done to reduce the amount of global warming and slow it down. This means that geographic ranges of common plants and animals will shrink globally and biodiversity will decline almost everywhere.

    Plants, reptiles and particularly amphibians are expected to be at highest risk. Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, Amazonia and Australia would lose the most species of plants and animals. And a major loss of plant species is projected for North Africa, Central Asia and South-eastern Europe. But acting quickly to mitigate climate change could reduce losses by 60 per cent and buy an additional 40 years for species to adapt. This is because this mitigation would slow and then stop global temperatures from rising by more than two degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial times (1765). Without this mitigation, global temperatures could rise by 4 degrees Celsius by 2100.

    The study was led by Dr Rachel Warren from UEA’s school of Environmental Sciences and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Collaborators include Dr.Jeremy VanDerWal at James Cook University in Australia and Dr Jeff Price, also at UEA’s school of Environmental Sciences and the Tyndall Centre. The research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Dr Warren said: “While there has been much research on the effect of climate change on rare and endangered species, little has been known about how an increase in global temperature will affect more common species. “This broader issue of potential range loss in widespread species is a serious concern as even small declines in these species can significantly disrupt ecosystems.

    “Our research predicts that climate change will greatly reduce the diversity of even very common species found in most parts of the world. This loss of global-scale biodiversity would significantly impoverish the biosphere and the ecosystem services it provides.

    “We looked at the effect of rising global temperatures, but other symptoms of climate change such as extreme weather events, pests, and diseases mean that our estimates are probably conservative. Animals in particular may decline more as our predictions will be compounded by a loss of food from plants.

    “There will also be a knock-on effect for humans because these species are important for things like water and air purification, flood control, nutrient cycling, and eco-tourism. “The good news is that our research provides crucial new evidence of how swift action to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gases can prevent the biodiversity loss by reducing the amount of global warming to 2 degrees Celsius rather than 4 degrees. This would also buy time – up to four decades – for plants and animals to adapt to the remaining 2 degrees of climate change.”

    The research team quantified the benefits of acting now to mitigate climate change and found that up to 60 per cent of the projected climatic range loss for biodiversity can be avoided. Dr Warren said: “Prompt and stringent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally would reduce these biodiversity losses by 60 per cent if global emissions peak in 2016, or by 40 per cent if emissions peak in 2030, showing that early action is very beneficial. This will both reduce the amount of climate change and also slow climate change down, making it easier for species and humans to adapt.” Information on the current distributions of the species used in this research came from the datasets shared online by hundreds of volunteers, scientists and natural history collections through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).

    Co-author Dr Jeff Price, also from UEA’s school of Environmental Studies, said: “Without free and open access to massive amounts of data such as those made available online through GBIF, no individual researcher is able to contact every country, every museum, every scientist holding the data and pull it all together. So this research would not be possible without GBIF and its global community of researchers and volunteers who make their data freely available.”

    EDITOR’S NOTES 1/ For more information, a copy of the paper, images or to arrange an interview with Dr Rachel Warren, please contact the UEA Press Office on +44 (0)1603 592764 or email l.horton@uea.ac.uk . 2/ The University of East Anglia (UEA) was founded in 1963 and this year celebrates its 50th anniversary. It has played a significant role in advancing human understanding and in 2012

     

     

     

     

    • ECOLOGY

     

     

    Targeted action needed to protect waterbirds

    Wetlands are disappearing rapidly worldwide in spite of performing vital functions including flood defence, removal of nutrients and toxicants, and providing humans with essential services such as drinking water, fish stocks and water for agriculture. Credit: Tamas Szekely

    May 01, 2013 (Phys.org) —Researchers from our Biodiversity Lab have identified specific areas around the world where conservation efforts could best be targeted to safeguard inland-breeding waterbirds. In their new report, the first ever global study of its kind, Laura Williamson and Professor Tamás Székely, analysed data from 471 species of birds, focusing on waterbird species which breed in inland wetlands. These inland wetland habitats are important breeding grounds for birds and are strongly affected by human activities. Waterbirds make up around 10 per cent of all bird species and are an important indicator for the health of a wetland ecosystem, including lakes, streams and rivers. The main threats to waterbirds are from habitat loss, primarily caused by human activities such as land reclamation and development, agriculture, pollution, transportation and energy production…..

     

     

    Fracking Water Use Draining Resources, Especially In Western U.S., New Studies Find

    Posted: 05/09/2013 11:50 am EDT

    The natural gas extraction technique known as fracking uses so much water that it could threaten groundwater resources, especially in the Western U.S., two new reports conclude. The first report (pdf), from the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), found that hydraulic fracking removes 7 billion gallons of water every year in just four states: North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado. The organization blames inadequate federal and state-level protections for the use and/or contamination of fresh water. “Fracking’s growing demand for water can threaten availability of water for agriculture and Western rural communities,” WORC board member Bob LeResche said in a prepared release. He also told The Dickinson Press that “Unless our states take real action soon, we stand to watch our agricultural economies, and even our human habitation of some places, disappear. Ninety-nine percent of rural Americans rely on groundwater for their domestic needs, as do 51 percent of all Americans.” WORC is calling on states to improve the way they monitor and regulate oil and gas drilling, especially where it affects water — and in many states, water issues are handled by multiple agencies, none of which take full responsibility for water usage. The second report, from the sustainable business organization Ceres, said fracking is affecting water-stressed regions throughout the country, with Texas and Colorado being two of the most heavily affected states. The Ceres report used data on more than 25,000 wells collected by FracFocus.org and compared it with water stress indicator maps. Their research concluded that 47 percent of wells are being developed in areas where the water basins are currently suffering from either high or extremely high water stress. “These findings highlight emerging tensions in many U.S. regions between growing hydraulic fracturing activity and localized water supply needs,” Ceres President Mindy Lubber said in a prepared statement…..

     

     

    Zeal to ensure clean leafy greens takes bite out of riverside habitat in California
    (May 6, 2013) — As consumers, we like to hear that produce growers and distributors go above and beyond food safety mandates to ensure that healthy fresh fruits and vegetables do not carry bacteria or viruses that can make us sick. But in California’s Salinas Valley, some more vigorous interventions are cutting into the last corners of wildlife habitat, without evidence of food safety benefits, creating tensions between wildlife preservation and food safety where none need exist. … > full story

    Loss of eastern hemlock will affect forest water use
    (May 9, 2013) — The loss of eastern hemlock from forests in the Southern Appalachian region of the United States could permanently change the area’s hydrologic cycle, reports a new study. … > full story

     

    Human impacts on natural world underestimated
    (May 8, 2013) — A comprehensive five-year study by ecologists — which included monitoring the activity of wolves, elks, cattle and humans — indicates that two accepted principles of how ecosystems naturally operate could be overshadowed by the importance of human activity. … > full story

     

    Monarch Population Status
    May 9, 2013

    Measures of the areas occupied by each of the nine monarch colonies in the states of Michoacan and Mexico totaled 1.19 hectares this winter. This number represents a decline of almost 59% from the area occupied the previous winter and the smallest recorded since the monarch colonies came to the attention of scientists in 1975….Monarch Watch (http://monarchwatch.org) is a nonprofit education, conservation, and research program based at the University of Kansas that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat, and its spectacular fall migration.

     

    Criteria for ‘Red List’ of Endangered Ecosystems Released

    Yahoo! News  - ‎May 9 2013‎

    With many of the world’s ecosystems threatened or endangered by human activities like logging and urbanization, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published its criteria for a new “Red List” of endangered ecosystems today (May 8

     

    Scientists use satellites, underwater robot to study atlantic sturgeon migrations

    Posted: 03 May 2013 08:03 PM PDT

    Researchers are using satellites, acoustic transmitters, an underwater robot and historical records to pinpoint the ocean conditions that the fish prefer during migrations — and potentially help fishermen avoid spots where they might unintentionally catch this endangered species.

     




    East Coast readies for colossal numbers of cicadas

    Christian Science Monitor  - ‎May 5, 2013‎

    Colossal numbers of cicadas, unhurriedly growing underground since 1996, are about to emerge along much of the US East Coast to begin passionately singing and mating as their remarkable life cycle restarts…..

     

    The more feathers a male sparrow carries to the nest, the more eggs the female will lay

    Posted: 07 May 2013 03:08 AM PDT

    A new study has found that female sparrows will invest more energy into laying eggs according to the male’s ability to fill the nest with feathers which serve to insulate the chicks from the cold and keep them alive.

    Lola García-López de Hierro, Marcos Moleón, Peter G. Ryan. Is Carrying Feathers a Sexually Selected Trait in House Sparrows?
    Ethology, 2013; 119 (3): 199 DOI: 10.1111/eth.12053

    Bird fossil sheds light on how swift and hummingbird flight came to be
    (May 1, 2013) — A tiny bird fossil discovered in Wyoming offers clues to the precursors of swift and hummingbird wings. The fossil is unusual in having exceptionally well-preserved feathers, which allowed the researchers to reconstruct the size and shape of the bird’s wings in ways not possible with bones alone. … > full story

     

    Do bats know voices of friends they hang out with? Bats may recognize voices of other bats
    (May 7, 2013) — Is it possible that mammals have the ability to recognize individuals of the same species, whom they know well, by their voice? A new study has found that even in nocturnal, fast-moving animals such as bats, there is an ability to recognize certain vocal aspects of other bats from their social groups. … > full story

     

     

     

    Balancing nutrient diets determines how ecosystems age
    PLoS Blogs – ‎ May ‎7 2013

    From rainforests to rocky glaciers, the life of an ecosystem is rooted in the balance of nutrients in its soil. Shifting levels of soil nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) define how ecosystems evolve, and understanding the dynamics of these key nutrients

     

    The Bottom Line: Embracing Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management

    National Geographic  - ‎May 7 2013‎

    This was strong progress. Unfortunately, domestic overfishing soon replaced the overexploitation by foreign vessels. Along with this came damage to ocean ecosystems from indiscriminate industrial fishing practices. So Congress strengthened the law in ..

     

    Coral reefs suffering, but collapse not inevitable
    (May 9, 2013) — Coral reefs are in decline, but their collapse can still be avoided with local and global action. That’s according to findings based on an analysis that combines the latest science on reef dynamics with the latest climate models. … > full story

     

     

    ‘Dark oxidants’ form away from sunlight in lake and ocean depths, underground soils
    (
    May 3, 2013) — All forms of life that breathe oxygen — even ones that can’t be seen with the naked eye, such as bacteria — must fight oxidants to live. But neutralizing environmental oxidants such as superoxide was a worry only for organisms that dwell in sunlight — in habitats that cover a mere 5 percent of the planet. That was the only place where such environmental oxidants were thought to exist. Now researchers have discovered the first light-independent source of superoxide. The key is bacteria common in the depths of the oceans and other dark places. … > full story

    Global highways of invasive marine species calculated

    Posted: 05 May 2013 04:37 AM PDT

    New research has mapped the most detailed forecast to date for importing potentially harmful invasive species with the ballast water of cargo ships.

     

    You are what (and where) you eat: Mercury pollution threatens Arctic foxes
    (May 6, 2013) — New scientific results show that arctic foxes accumulate dangerous levels of mercury if they live in coastal habitats and feed on prey which lives in the ocean. … > full story

     

    Orcas feast on gray whale calves off Monterey

    David Cruz, Natures Lantern–Killer whales hunt gray whale calves as they migrate across a canyon in Monterey Bay.

    By Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle May 6, 2013

    Scores of killer whales are patrolling Monterey Bay, ambushing gray whales and picking off their young as the leviathans attempt to cross a deepwater canyon that bisects their annual migration route. It is a desperate situation for the migrating mother whales, which are trying to lead their calves through a gauntlet of hungry orcas to reach their feeding grounds in Alaska. Whale watchers and scientists, who are crowding onto boats to witness the action, have described it as the “Serengeti of the Sea.” …Scientists say the violent drama, involving fleeing whales and pursuing packs of orcas, is an annual extravaganza of death off the coast of Monterey that is growing in intensity as the number of whales and orcas increase.The mother gray whales and their calves leave their breeding grounds in Baja, Mexico, in April and travel north along the Northern California coast this time each year. As many as 35 whales and calves a day are swimming by right now, hugging the shore trying to elude predators, Black said. The problem for the mothers and calves is that they must navigate around a deepwater depression, called the Monterey Submarine Canyon, at Point Pinos…..Transient killer whales, which at 22 to 26 feet long are the ocean’s apex predators, congregate along the edges of the canyon, which starts a quarter mile from shore and is 6,000 feet deep in the middle. They wait for the big beasts – which are about 45 feet long – to attempt the crossing, kind of like crocodiles waiting for migrating wildebeests to swim across the Nile.

    The more stealthy grays take the long way around, sticking close to shore and swimming through the kelp beds, but some of the more bold or hurried whales cut across the canyon, using sonar to follow the contour lines at the bottom.


    Courtesy Jodi Frediani Female Orca CA138 tosses the common dolphin she is hunting into the air in Monterey Bay. Dozens of orcas are patrolling the bay as gray whales pass through it on their way to Alaska.

    “It is one of the few places on the gray whale migration where they have to leave the protection of the shore,” said Black, who has been studying killer whales since 1992 and is considered the Bay Area’s foremost expert. “The killer whales come in the area and patrol the canyon, searching for calves.” Most of the attacks occur along the edge of the drop-off, where packs of between four and seven mostly female orcas use the cover of deep water to approach from underneath, said Black and other researchers. It is not an easy kill. The calves are 18 to 20 feet long, weighing many tons. ….

     

     

    Progress made removing Nevada mine-claim pipes that can kill birds

    May 4, 2013 Reno

    Wildlife officials and conservationists in Nevada said they’re making progress knocking down the white plastic pipes that miners traditionally have used to stake their claims, because such markers can become death traps for hundreds of thousands of small birds that get stuck inside. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management estimated there are more than 3.4 million of the white polyvinyl chloride pipes sticking out of the ground across the West — more than 1 million in Nevada alone in a 2011 survey. The American Bird Conservancy, Nevada Department of Wildlife, BLM and several mining companies have been tracking and removing the pipes, which have been required since 2009 to be replaced by solid posts under state law in Nevada, the biggest producer of gold in the nation and sixth-largest in the world. Darin Schroeder of the American Bird Conservancy estimates the PVC markers cause the death of more than a million birds a year nationally. He said small cavity-nesting birds mistake the openings for an ideal home, but once inside are doomed by the smooth sides of the pipe with a narrow diameter that keeps them from climbing or flying out…

     

    The world’s extinct and endangered species – interactive map

    Shiona Tregaskis
    guardian.co.uk, Monday 3 September 2012 06.33 EDT

    Over the past 500 years, human activity is known to have decimated 869 species. Habitat destruction, hunting, alien species, disease and climate change are among the forces responsible for the vulnerability and loss of the 12,000 species on the IUCN’s red list of endangered species. With a total of 16,928 plant and animal species at risk, life on Earth is populated by creatures poised at the brink of extinction. Today, one in eight birds, one in four mammals, one in five invertebrates, one in three amphibians, and half of all turtles face extinction….

     

     

     

     

    • CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

     

     

    Rising sea levels threaten migratory birds – PhysOrg.com

    Phys.Org May 6 2013


    Migrant egrits fly around a rice field looking for food in Pampanga province, the Philippines on January 23, 2011.

    Millions of birds that stop at coastal wetlands during annual migrations could die as rising sea levels and land reclamation wipe out their feeding grounds, researchers warned Monday. The study into the migratory habits of shorebirds predicted that a loss of 23 to 40 percent of their main feeding areas could lead to a 70 percent decline in their population. Led by a team of scientists from Australia’s government-backed National Environmental Research Programme, the study said some areas have already reported alarming population losses of 30-80 percent. “Each year, millions of shorebirds stop at coastal wetlands to rest and feed as they migrate from Russia and Alaska to the coasts of Southeast Asia and Australasia,” said researcher Richard Fuller. “We’ve discovered that some of these wetlands are highly vulnerable to sea level rise and might be lost in the next few decades. “If the birds can no longer stop at these areas to ‘refuel’, they may not be able to complete the journey to their breeding grounds.” The researchers studied wetlands along migration routes across Alaska, Russia, China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.


    Graphic showing the bird migration zone that links Siberia with tropical Asia and southern New Zealand for some 50 million waterbirds. Researchers warned Monday that rising sea levels could lead to devastating losses for shorebirds reliant on coastal wetlands.

    In many cases rapid coastal development and reclamation for agriculture were already chewing into tidal wetlands the birds use as feeding grounds on their long journeys, which sometimes extend half way around the world. Species showing signs of being in trouble include the bar-tailed godwit, curlew sandpiper, great knot, grey-tailed tattler, lesser sand plover, and red knot, said the study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal. The scientists used “graph theory“, a mathematical approach, to estimate the impact of the loss of these wetlands on shorebirds. It found that if a tidal wetland habitat served as an important “stepping stone” for the shorebirds, a small amount of habitat loss could trigger disproportionately large declines in bird populations. “This is because some of these tidal wetlands are ‘bottleneck’ sites where the majority of the birds stop to refuel,” said Takuya Iwamura, of Stanford University. “For example, we discovered that a sea level rise of 150 centimetres (59 inches) may result in the loss of 35 percent of coastal wetlands, but it could lead to a 60 percent decline in curlew sandpipers, eastern curlews and great knots.”

     

    Acidification threatening Arctic ecosystems

    eNCA  - ‎May 6, 2013‎

    Oslo – The Arctic ecosystem, already under pressure from record ice melts, faces another potential threat in the form of rapid acidification of the ocean, according to an international study published on Monday….

     

    On Top Of Sea Ice Death Spiral, Ocean Acidification Poised To Radically Alter Arctic

    Posted: 08 May 2013 07:59 AM PDT

    The Arctic is the fastest changing place on earth. The most obvious and important change is the staggering loss of sea ice (see “CryoSat-2 Confirms Sea Ice Volume Has Collapsed“). In addition, “the Arctic marine waters are experiencing widespread and rapid ocean acidification,” a new study finds. This first-ever Arctic Ocean Acidification Assessment, commissioned by the Arctic Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), explains that the “primary driver of ocean acidification is uptake of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere by human activities.” We knew from a 2010 Nature Geoscience study that the oceans are now acidifying 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred. We are risking a marine biological meltdown “by end of century” as a 2010 Geological Society study put it. As the lead author of a 2012 study on acidification in Science explained, “if industrial carbon emissions continue at the current pace, we may lose organisms we care about—coral reefs, oysters, salmon.”

    Here is a video from AMAP on Arctic Ocean acidification:

    The Key Findings of the AMAP study are here.

    Related Posts:

     

     

    Ice-free Arctic may be in our future, international researchers say
    (May 9, 2013) — Analyses of the longest continental sediment core ever collected in the Arctic provide “absolutely new knowledge” of Arctic climate from 2.2 to 3.6 million years ago. The research has major implications for understanding how the Arctic transitioned from a forested landscape without ice sheets to the ice- and snow-covered land we know today. … > full story

     

    Climate change, not human activity, led to megafauna extinction

    Posted: 06 May 2013 03:17 PM PDT

    Most species of gigantic animals that once roamed Australia had disappeared by the time people arrived, a major review of the available evidence has concluded. The research challenges the claim that humans were primarily responsible for the demise of the megafauna in a proposed “extinction window” between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, and points the finger instead at climate change.

     

     

    Global Warming: We are halfway to a mass extinction event

    5/10/2013 10:00am by Gaius Publius
    3 Comments

    As you may know, we’ve restarted our climate crisis writing here at La Maison, beginning with this piece, a global warming picture “from 10,000 feet”:

    The climate crisis in three easy charts

    There we took the long view and noticed that the big temperature spike in the early days of the Cambrian, some 540 million years ago when life on earth was exploding in number and diversity of species, is a match for the temperature spike we could very well see in 2100 under the “do nothing” carbon scenario. The Cambrian temperature spikes reached 7°C (12.5°F) above pre-industrial (pre-1800) norms, which is also where we could be headed if we don’t stop.

    We also saw that the entire period of time from the Cambrian (again, about 540 million years ago) until now is divided into just three geologic eras, or major divisions …

    • The Paleozoic Era — the era of life before the Age of Dinosaurs, 540–250 million years ago
      The Mesozoic Era — the Age of Dinosaurs, 250–65 million years ago
      The Cenozoic Era — the Age of Mammals, which we’re now in

    … and that each of the first two eras ended in a major mass extinction event. Will a mass extinction end the Cenozoic Era, the Age of Mammals? If we hit a warm enough temperature, yes. This piece explains why and looks at the broad consequences for man under a couple of warming scenarios.

    What does “major mass extinction” mean?

    In order to discuss global warming and mass extinction, we need to look at mass extinctions in general to get a sense of the scale of these events and their effect.

    Consider again the chart of extinctions since the Cambrian, 540 million years ago. (This chart was presented in slightly different form here.) The labels across the top — “Cm” and so on — are geologic “periods”. For your convenience I’ve added the larger divisions, the three geologic eras as well, and indicated where the current geologic period, the Quarternary, fits in…..

     

    As climate changes, boreal forests to shift north, relinquish more carbon than expected…

    Phys.Org  - ‎ May 5, 2013‎

    It’s difficult to imagine how a degree or two of warming will affect a location. Will it rain less? What will happen to the area’s vegetation? New Berkeley Lab research offers a way to envision a warmer future. It maps how Earth’s myriad climates—and the ecosystems that depend on them—will move from one area to another as global temperatures rise. The approach foresees big changes for one of the planet’s great carbon sponges. Boreal forests will likely shift north at a steady clip this century. Along the way, the vegetation will relinquish more trapped carbon than most current climate models predict. The research is published online May 5 in the journal Nature Geoscience. Boreal ecosystems encircle the planet’s high latitudes, covering swaths of Canada, Europe, and Russia in coniferous trees and wetlands. This vegetation stores vast amounts of carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere where it can contribute to climate change.

    Scientists use incredibly complex computer simulations called Earth system models to predict the interactions between climate change and ecosystems such as boreal forests. These models show that boreal habitat will expand poleward in the coming decades as regions to their north become warmer and wetter. This means that boreal ecosystems are expected to store even more carbon than they do today. But the Berkeley Lab research tells a different story. The planet’s boreal forests won’t expand poleward. Instead, they’ll shift poleward. The difference lies in the prediction that as boreal ecosystems follow the warming climate northward, their southern boundaries will be overtaken by even warmer and drier climates better suited for grassland. And that’s a key difference. Grassland stores a lot of carbon in its soil, but it accumulates at a much slower rate than is lost from diminishing forests. “I found that the boreal ecosystems ringing the globe will be pushed north and replaced in their current location by what’s currently to their south. In some places, that will be forest, but in other places it will be grassland,” says Charles Koven, a scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division who conducted the research. “Most Earth system models don’t predict this, which means they overestimate the amount of carbon that high-latitude vegetation will store in the future,” he adds.

     

    Boreal carbon loss due to poleward shift in low-carbon ecosystems, DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1801 Journal reference: Nature Geoscience

     

    NASA Study Projects Warming-Driven Changes in Global Rainfall

    NASA May 3, 2013

    “In response to carbon dioxide-induced warming, the global water cycle undergoes a gigantic competition for moisture resulting in a global pattern of increased heavy rain, decreased moderate rain, and prolonged droughts in certain regions,” said …

     

    ‘Mother Nature Turned Off The Spigot’: California Wildfires Fueled By ‘Remarkable’ Dry Weather Conditions

    California has experienced record low rainfall since the “rain year” began in July 2012

    Posted: 03 May 2013 09:35 AM PDT

    AP photo

    A Southern California wildfire that burned through 8,000 acres yesterday has marked an early and ominous start to the state’s fire season. The fire, fueled by unusually dry conditions and 25 to 60 mph winds that usually aren’t seen until late fall, has damaged 15 homes and forced the evacuation of hundreds of Ventura County residents. As of today, the so-called Springs fire spans more than 15 square miles, with weather forecasts predicting temperatures in the 90s and continuing strong winds. California has experienced record low rainfall since the “rain year” began in July 2012, with Los Angeles receiving only about five inches of rain since then. Though the winter and early spring months are typically some of Califorina’s wettest, since 2013 began, downtown L.A. has received less than two inches of rain — a fraction of the 11 inches that’s typical for the region at this time of year. The year’s low rainfall coupled with strong Santa Ana winds have created perfect conditions for wildfires in the region, as climatologist William Patzert told the L.A. Times: It was promising up to December and then all of sudden Mother Nature turned off the spigot,” he said. “It’s remarkable to get Santa Anas in May.… Every way you look at it, it’s been remarkable, unusual and incendiary.” So far, firefighters in California have responded to more than 680 wildfires this year — 200 more the average for this point in the season. In addition to the Springs fire, a wildfire in Riverside County east of L.A. burned through at least 2,950 acres and destroyed two homes before being contained on Thursday, and several fires erupted in Northern California this week as well. The fire risk isn’t expected to let up as the summer goes on — forecasters doubt the Southern California region will receive substantial rain this summer, which has led federal officials to warn of a potentially “devastating” fire season for the state. And California’s isn’t alone. Multiple studies have linked the risk of stronger, more frequent wildfires to the effects of climate change — most recently, a federal report warned that climate change will double the area of the U.S. burned by wildfires by 2050. Thanks to dry, hot conditions in much of the western U.S., the National Interagency Fire Center predicted this week that fire season could begin early in Oregon and Washington this year as well as in California. In addition to California’s low rainfall, the state is experiencing decreased snowpack this year, a problem that, as well as exacerbating the state’s dry conditions, spells trouble for California’s freshwater supply. California’s snowpack levels are only at 17 percent of normal readings for this time of year. Water from snowpack usually accounts for up to 75 percent of western California’s freshwater supply and 30 percent of freshwater to the state as a whole…..

     

    Climate change may bring drought to temperate areas, study says

    Los Angeles Times May 5, 2013

    WASHINGTON – Climate change may increase the risk of extreme rainfall in the tropics and drought in the world’s temperate zones, according to a new study led by NASA….”These results in many ways are the worst of all possible worlds,” said Peter Gleick, a climatologist and water expert who is president of the Pacific Institute, an Oakland research organization. “Wet areas will get wetter and dry areas will get drier.” The regions that could get the heaviest rainfall are along the equator, mainly over the Pacific Ocean and the Asian tropics. Increased aridity and drought could have a greater effect on human life, however, because those conditions are more likely to occur where most of the world’s population lives. In the Northern Hemisphere, drought-prone areas include the Southwestern United States, Mexico, North Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan and northwestern China. In the Southern Hemisphere, drought could become more likely in South Africa, northwestern Australia, coastal Central America and northeastern Brazil. “Large changes in moderate rainfall, as well as prolonged no-rain events, can have the most impact on society because they occur in regions where most people live,” said William Lau, the study’s lead author and a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “The regions of heavier rainfall, except for the Asian monsoon, may have the smallest societal impact because they usually occur over the ocean,” he added. The study is based on the results of 14 models that show agreement on the possible rainfall trends, Gleick said. The study will be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. ….To prevent the 2 degree Celsius rise and its effects, including extremes in rainfall, the world has to keep emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide below a ratio of 400 parts per million. According to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, there have been isolated measurements of 400 parts per million in the Arctic, and scientists expect readings in Hawaii to exceed 400 parts per million this month.

     

     

    Decline in snow cover spells trouble for many plants, animals

    For plants and animals forced to tough out harsh winter weather, the coverlet of snow that blankets the north country is a refuge, a stable beneath-the-snow habitat that gives essential respite from biting winds and subzero temperatures.

    May 7, 2013 — For plants and animals forced to tough out harsh winter weather, the coverlet of snow that blankets the north country is a refuge, a stable beneath-the-snow habitat that gives essential respite from biting winds and subzero temperatures. But in a warming world, winter and spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere is in decline, putting at risk many plants and animals that depend on the space beneath the snow to survive the blustery chill of winter. In a report published May 2 in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison describes the gradual decay of the Northern Hemisphere’s “subnivium,” the term scientists use to describe the seasonal microenvironment beneath the snow, a habitat where life from microbes to bears take full advantage of warmer temperatures, near constant humidity and the absence of wind. “Underneath that homogenous blanket of snow is an incredibly stable refuge where the vast majority of organisms persist through the winter,” explains Jonathan Pauli, a UW-Madison professor of forest and wildlife ecology and a co-author of the new report. “The snow holds in heat radiating from the ground, plants photosynthesize, and it’s a haven for insects, reptiles, amphibians and many other organisms.”….

     

     

    U.S. urban trees store carbon, provide billions in economic value, finds state-by-state analysis

    Posted: 07 May 2013 04:58 PM PDT

    America’s urban forests store an estimated 708 million tons of carbon, an environmental service with an estimated value of $50 billion, according to a recent study.

     

    Hawaii in Climate Change Bullseye

    Discovery News

    May 5, 2013

    Written by

    Larry O’Hanlon

    Tropical cyclones of the future may have the Hawaiian islands in their cross hairs, according to a new study of how climate change will alter eastern Pacific Ocean storms near the end of the 21st century. In the middle of Earth’s largest ocean and

     

    Pacific islands look for model to combat changes due to global warming

    The Guardian  - May 7 2013‎

    With islands and atolls scattered across the ocean, the small Pacific island states are among those most exposed to the effects of global warming: increasing acidity and rising sea level, more frequent natural disasters and damage to coral reefs.

     

     

    Into The Valley Of Death Rode The 600, Into The Valley Of 400 PPM Road The 7 Billion

    Posted: 05 May 2013 09:34 AM PDT Joe Romm www.climateprogress.org


    “Forward, the Light Brigade!”
    Was there a man dismay’d ?
    Not tho’ the soldier knew
    Some one had blunder’d:
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do & die,
    Into the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.

    – “The Charge Of The Light Brigade,” Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1854

    How will poets memorialize us? How will we be remembered if, like the British light cavalry charging a well-prepared Russian artillery battery in the Crimean War in 1854, we don’t reason why, we just keep on our current path even though it is eself-evidently suicidal.

    CO2 levels for past 12,000 years and projected to 2100 assuming no change in policies (via Koomey)

    “It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.” So ends Field Notes from a Catastrophe, the terrific 2006 book by Elizabeth Kolbert, one of the country’s most thoughtful climate journalists. Certainly as we hit 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human existence, with not even a plan to avoid 600 ppm, 800 ppm, and then 1000 — not even a national discussion or an outcry by the so-called intelligentsia – it is worth asking, why? Is there something inherent in homo “sapiens” that makes us oblivious to the obvious? In his latest analysis, uber-hedge fund manager Jeremy Grantham points us in the direction of a new book, Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail, by William Ophuls. Grantham, a self-described “die hard contrarian,” is one of the few leading financial figures who gets both global warming and growing food insecurity (see “Welcome to Dystopia”: We Are “Entering A Long-Term And Politically Dangerous Food Crisis“). Ophuls’ treatise, a synthesis of various analyses for civilizations fail, is well worth reading, though it isn’t a sunny book. Grantham’s analysis is a short, marginally-more optimistic version of the book, augmented with his own thinking. Grantham begins…

     

     

     

    The good folks at Climate Nexus have an ICYMI 71-second video of the week’s news: ICYM Week of April 29th from Climate Nexus on Vimeo.

     

    Filling In The Gap On Climate Education In Classrooms

    NPR May 07, 2013 4:35 PM

    The auditorium at James Blake High School in Silver Spring, Md., is packed when Cy Maramangalam strolls onstage, sporting jeans and a shaved head. “All right, how’s everyone doing today?” he says to rousing cheers. It feels as if he’s about to introduce a hot new band, but Maramangalam is with the , or ACE, and he’s here to talk climate change. In the past few years, the nonprofit has put on multimedia presentations for more than 1 million students across the country. Think of it as Al Gore for Gen Y. “Check this out,” Maramangalam tells the students, as cartoon characters and graphs dance on a giant screen behind him. He explains that carbon dioxide levels are higher than they’ve ever been in 800,000 years, and that this is driving up the globe’s thermostat.

    “Jacking up the temperature toward this point should be freaking people out,” he says. “But it’s happening quietly.” ACE aims to fill a big gap. Polls show most U.S. students learn little about climate change at school, and even many adults have a fuzzy notion of what causes it.

    For the first time, new issued in April include climate change. But the standards, written by a consortium of science and education groups in consultation with 26 states, are only voluntary and could take years to roll out. So Maramangalam hopes to bring kids up to speed fast on a topic that scientists say must be urgently addressed…..

     

     

     

     


    Global carbon dioxide levels set to pass 400ppm milestone

    The concentration of carbon in the atmosphere over the next few days is expected to hit record levels

    John Vidal The Guardian, Monday 29 April 2013 15.32 EDT

    The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 399.72 parts per million (ppm) and is likely to pass the symbolically important 400ppm level for the first time in the next few days. Readings at the US government’s Earth Systems Research laboratory in Hawaii, are not expected to reach their 2013 peak until mid May, but were recorded at a daily average of 399.72ppm on 25 April. The weekly average stood at 398.5 on Monday. Hourly readings above 400ppm have been recorded six times in the last week, and on occasion, at observatories in the high Arctic. But the Mauna Loa station, sited at 3,400m and far away from major pollution sources in the Pacific Ocean, has been monitoring levels for more than 50 years and is considered the gold standard. “I wish it weren’t true but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400ppm level without losing a beat. At this pace we’ll hit 450ppm within a few decades,” said Ralph Keeling, a geologist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography which operates the Hawaiian observatory. “Each year, the concentration of CO2 at Mauna Loa rises and falls in a sawtooth fashion, with the next year higher than the year before. The peak of the sawtooth typically comes in May. If CO2 levels don’t top 400ppm in May 2013, they almost certainly will next year,” Keeling said. CO2 atmospheric levels have been steadily rising for 200 years, registering around 280ppm at the start of the industrial revolution and 316ppm in 1958 when the Mauna Loa observatory started measurements. The increase in the global burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause of the increase. The approaching record level comes as countries resumed deadlocked UN climate talks in Bonn. No global agreement to reduce emissions is expected to be reached until 2015. “The 400ppm threshold is a sobering milestone, and should serve as a wake up call for all of us to support clean energy technology and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, before it’s too late for our children and grandchildren,” said Tim Lueker, an oceanographer and carbon cycle researcher with Scripps CO2 Group. The last time CO2 levels were so high was probably in the Pliocene epoch, between 3.2m and 5m years ago, when Earth’s climate was much warmer than today…..

     

    The measure of global warming

    Carbon-dioxide concentrations hit their highest level in 4m years

    May 11th 2013

    AT NOON on May 4th the carbon-dioxide concentration in the atmosphere around the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii hit 400 parts per million (ppm). The average for the day was 399.73 and researchers at the observatory expect this figure, too, to exceed 400 in the next few days. The last time such values prevailed on Earth was in the Pliocene epoch, 4m years ago, when jungles covered northern Canada. There have already been a few readings above 400ppm elsewhere—those taken over the Arctic Ocean in May 2012, for example—but they were exceptional. Mauna Loa is the benchmark for CO2 measurement (and has been since 1958, see chart) because Hawaii is so far from large concentrations of humanity. The Arctic, by contrast, gets a lot of polluted air from Europe and North America. The concentration of CO2 peaks in May, falls until October as plant growth in the northern hemisphere’s summer absorbs the gas, and then goes up again during winter and spring. This year the average reading for the whole month will probably also reach 400ppm, according to Pieter Tans, who is in charge of monitoring at Mauna Loa, and the seasonally adjusted annual figure will reach 400ppm in the spring of 2014 or 2015…

     

     

     

     

     

    • POLICY

     

    Republican Senators Boycott Vote On Gina McCarthy’s Nomination To Head EPA

    Posted: 09 May 2013 08:53 AM PDT

    Zero Republicans show up to vote on Gina McCarthy’s nomination to be EPA Administrator.

    The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee was scheduled to vote today at 9:15 on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to be the next EPA Administrator. Despite the fact that she has answered more than a thousand of the committee’s questions, Senate Republicans announced just before the hearing that they would be boycotting the vote, denying the committee quorum and postponing the confirmation hearing.

    The committee rules require that at least two members of the minority party be present during a vote. Not a single Republican bothered to show up.

    Senator Barbara Boxer, Chair of the committee, still held a meeting, allowing the Democrats in attendance to try to explain to the American people why they still have no EPA Administrator. The ostensible reason that the Republicans boycotted today’s vote was because they said she did not satisfactorily answer their questions. Senator Boxer reminded those present that Gina McCarthy has already answered more than a thousand questions from the committee and moreover is eminently qualified with an excellent track record of working with the business community and and both parties to do her job. Boxer later floated the idea of changing the rules of the committee so that a boycott such as this would not gum up the works. She urged her GOP colleagues to listen to the many “mainstream” Republicans who support Gina McCarthy’s nomination and “get out of the fringe lane.” If senators oppose a nominee, they should show up and vote against the nominee, not hold the process hostage for ideological reasons.

    In 2009, the Senate easily confirmed the highly qualified McCarthy by a voice vote to head the Clean Air division of the EPA. With nearly three decades of experience working at the local, state and federal levels, McCarthy has been a champion for clean air and has even won plaudits from Republican leaders. She has received extensive support from business, health officials, environmental organizations and scientists, who have repeatedly suggested she is willing to work with all sides to find the best outcome.

     

    Jerry Brown blames climate change for state’s early fire season

    Los Angeles Times  - ‎May 6 2013‎

    Jerry Brown put the state’s early wildfire season in global terms Monday, saying the state would have to grow accustomed to more forest fires as a consequence of climate change. Brown’s remarks at the California Department of Forestry and Fire

     

    Charles: ‘Climate change sceptics are turning Earth into dying patient’

    The Guardian May 9 2013

    Prince Charles has attacked corporate lobbyists and climate change sceptics for turning the Earth into a “dying patient”, making his most outspoken criticism yet of the world’s failure to tackle global warming just when the heir to the throne is

     

     

     

    European carbon market in trouble

    Washington Post May 6, 2013

    LONDON – As the centerpiece of Europe’s pledge to lead the global battle against climate change, the region’s market for carbon emissions effectively turned pollution into a commodity that could be traded like gold or oil.

     

     

    Fishermen want humpback whales off endangered list – Newsday

    (AP) May 3 2013 — A group of Hawaii fishermen is asking the federal government to remove northern Pacific humpback whales from the endangered species list, saying the population has steadily grown since the international community banned commercial whaling May

     

    Environmentalists seize on Biden’s Keystone XL remarks to launch new attack

    Posted by Juliet Eilperin on May 8, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Environmentalists have seized on a comment Vice President Biden made while working a rope line in Columbia, S.C., on Friday, in which he told an activist he is “in the minority” within the administration when it comes to opposing the Keystone XL pipeline.

     

     

     

    • RESOURCES and REFERENCES

     


    Don’t miss the chance to present your work during the 5th World Conference on Ecological Restoration in Madison, WI, USA from October 6-11, 2013.  The deadline for oral and poster abstracts is Wednesday, May 15. Visit the Call for Abstracts page on the conference website for complete instructions and a link to the online submission form. We welcome abstracts from restoration researchers, practitioners, government officials, and others on a broad range of topics and themes related to ecological restoration.  We also encourage submissions on new and emerging topics in the field, so don’t feel limited to this list!

     

     


    Fan Video: View stunning changes to the Earth’s landscape

     

     


    http://xfinity.comcast.net/video/29753923917/view_stunning_changes_to_the_earths_landscape
    (If clicking on the link doesn’t work, try copying and pasting it into your browser and hit “enter.”)

     

     

    Tools/resources on dealing with the economic/financial aspects of coastal climate change adaptation from EBM Tools Listserve that might be of interest:

    Tools: COAST http://efc.muskie.usm.maine.edu/pages/projects_cre.html

    Publications:

    Reports:

     

     

    Campaign Manager

    Natural Resources Defense Council – San Francisco Bay Area

     

     

     

     

    • RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

     

     

     

     

    Some ‘green’ hot water systems fail to deliver on promises, study shows

    Posted: 01 May 2013 04:29 PM PDT

    A new research paper reports that hot water recirculating systems touted as “green” actually use both more energy and water than their standard counterparts.

     

    Fisker, Tesla on diverging paths

    May 5, 2013 SF Chronicle As Tesla prepares to report its first quarterly profit, Fisker struggles and appears headed for bankruptcy


    Tesla Motors posts first quarterly profit in its 10-year history

    Tesla Motors is producing about 400 cars a week at its Fremont, Calif., factory. Above, a Tesla employee works on a Model S, which starts at about $62,000. (David Paul Morris, Bloomberg / April 11, 2012)

    By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times May 9, 2013

    For the first time in its 10 year history, electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. turned a quarterly profit, beating analysts expectations for sales of its pricey luxury sedans. The Palo Alto automaker on Wednesday reported net income of $11.2 million, or 12 cents a share, in the three month period that ended March 31. That’s up from a loss of $89.9 million, or 76 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts, on average, had predicted a profit of 4 cents a share. Tesla reported revenue of $561.8 million on record sales of 4,900 of its top-of-the-line Model S sedans. That surpassed the company’s forecast by more than 250 vehicles and prompted the automaker to raise its 2013 forecast. It now expects to sell about 21,000 of its Model S vehicles by the end of this year. “There was a lot of skepticism out there that the company would be able to reach that delivery mark,” said Elaine Kwei, an analyst with Jefferies & Co. “So the fact that they’re raising it — albeit moderately — shows they have visibility to not only hit the mark — but exceeded it. That gives investors additional confidence that the company can hit their targets.” Tesla shares surged in after-hours trading, up nearly $13.91, or 25%, to $69.70. For the quarter, Tesla was the top seller of rechargeable cars in North America, surging past Nissan Motor Co.‘s 3,695 deliveries of the Leaf and General Motors Co.‘s 4,421 sales of the Volt plug-in hybrid. That’s notable considering that Tesla vehicles command premium prices. The Model S starts at about $62,000 and can top $100,000, depending on trim level and options. The car is stylish and fast, boasting a zero-to-60 mph acceleration of less than six seconds. Wealthy, eco-conscious buyers are snapping up the company’s sedans as fast as the company can build them. The company sold 2,650 vehicles in 2012.

     

     

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    Flame retardants, used in everyday products, may be toxic to children: Lower intelligence, hyperactivity seen
    (May 6, 2013) — Chemicals called polybrominated diphenyl ethers have been used for decades to reduce fires in everyday products such as baby strollers, carpeting and electronics. A new study shows that prenatal exposure to the flame retardants is associated with lower intelligence and hyperactivity in early childhood. … > full story

    Tom Steyer, Climate-Change Batman

    Businessweek  - ‎ May 7, 2013‎

    In last week’s issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, I wrote a short profile of Tom Steyer, the billionaire co-founder of Farallon Capital Management who left the hedge fund last year to devote his time and fortune to protecting earth’s climate. Steyer’s

     

    Global Conference 2013
    A Conversation with Al Gore: Six Drivers of Global Change

    http://www.milkeninstitute.org/presentations/mediapage.taf?ID=3761

     

    Genes show one big European family

    Posted: 07 May 2013 04:56 PM PDT

    From Ireland to the Balkans, Europeans are basically one big family, closely related to one another for the past thousand years, according to a new study of the DNA of people from across the continent.

     

    20-million-year-old amber shatters theories of glass as a liquid

    Posted: 07 May 2013 12:49 PM PDT

    Fact or fiction? Stained glass found in medieval cathedrals becomes thicker at the bottom because glass moves over time. For years researchers have had their doubts, now scientists have further evidence that glass is not going anywhere.

     

    Do bats know voices of friends they hang out with? Bats may recognize voices of other bats

    Posted: 07 May 2013 08:55 AM PDT

    Is it possible that mammals have the ability to recognize individuals of the same species, whom they know well, by their voice? A new study has found that even in nocturnal, fast-moving animals such as bats, there is an ability to recognize certain vocal aspects of other bats from their social groups.
    Parents who suck on their infants’ pacifiers may protect their children against developing allergy

    Posted: 07 May 2013 07:31 AM PDT

    Allergies are very common in industrialized countries. It has been suggested that exposure to harmless bacteria during infancy may be protective against the development of allergy. However, it has been difficult to pinpoint which bacteria a baby should be exposed to, and at what time and by which route this exposure should ideally occur.

     

     

     

     

    • IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  4. Conservation Science News May 3, 2013

    Leave a Comment

    Highlight of the Week we are surpassing 400 parts per million of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere for first time in human history….

    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- we are surpassing 400 ppm CO2 for first time in human history…. The last time CO2 levels were this high was likely during the Pliocene epoch, between 3.2 million and 5 million years ago. The Earth’s climate was warmer during the Pliocene than it is today—perhaps by 2 to 3 C—and sea levels were much higher. It was a very different planet than the one we’ve lived on so successfully for thousands of years…..

     

    The Keeling Curve

    A daily record of atmospheric carbon dioxide from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego

    Bottom of Form

    Latest reading: 399.39 ppm

    CO2 concentration on May 1, 2013         May 2, 2013 instrument status: operational

    Historical Charts

    1 week 

    1 month  

    1 year

    2 years

    Keeling Curve (1958-present) 

    300 years

    800,000 years

     


    Greenhouse Effect: CO2 Concentrations Set to Hit Record High of 400 PPM

     

     

    By Bryan Walsh May 02, 2013 TIME


    Jonathan Kingston Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii

    Climate change is, first and foremost, a consequence of the addition of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We emit carbon dioxide, through burning fossil fuels or forests, and some of that carbon stays in the atmosphere, intensifying the heat-trapping greenhouse effect and warming the climate. What kind of global warming we’ll see in the future will largely be due to how much carbon dioxide—and to a lesser extent, other greenhouse gases like methane—we add to the atmosphere. And to fully understand the future, we need to understand the present and the past, and track the concentration of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere.

    The fact that we can and have been tracking that very important number is due largely to the efforts of the geochemist Charles David Keeling. As a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology in the 1950s, Keeling developed the first instrument that could accurately measure the CO2 levels in the entire atmosphere through sampling. When he got to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography a few years later, Keeling began taking regularly CO2 measurements at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. Keeling discovered that atmospheric CO2 underwent a seasonal cycle, as plants bloomed and decayed in the Northern Hemisphere, and more importantly, that CO2 was rising fast. In 1958, CO2 levels recorded at Mauna Loa were about 316 parts per million (ppm). By 2005, when Keeling died—and his son, Ralph Keeling, took up the project—CO2 levels were just under 380 ppm.
    Plotted on a graph, the readings over time curve upwards sharply as humans added more and more CO2 to the atmosphere—which is why the readings came to be known as the Keeling Curve.

    Now, thanks to Keeling’s successors at Scripps, we know that global CO2 levels are about to pass a major threshold: 400 ppm. It’s a momentous enough occasion, at least for scientists, that Scripps has begun releasing daily readings—today the level is 399.50 ppm—on a website and via a Twitter account. We should pass 400 ppm any day now—possibly, by the time that you read this. And that’s not good.

    .
    http://keelingcurve.ucsd.edu/

     

    The fact that we’re going to cross 400 ppm doesn’t mean that much by itself. It’s not like the sound barrier—the difference in warming between 399 ppm and 400 ppm would likely be minute. But the sheer rate of increase over just the past 55 years shows how fast global warming could hit us in the future—and the present—and underscores how much we’ve failed as a planet to slow down carbon emissions. As Ralph Keeling put it in a statement:

    I wish it weren’t true, but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400-ppm level without losing a beat. At this pace we’ll hit 450 ppm within a few decades.

    400 ppm may be high enough. The last time CO2 levels were this high was likely during the Pliocene epoch, between 3.2 million and 5 million years ago. The Earth’s climate was warmer during the Pliocene than it is today—perhaps by 2 to 3 C—and sea levels were much higher. It was a very different planet than the one we’ve lived on so successfully for thousands of years.

    There’s no guarantee that we’d experience the same levels of warming in the future if CO2 levels stay that high, but it doesn’t look good. Nor will CO2 levels stop at CO2—barring a virtually impossible immediate turn away from fossil fuels, CO2 emissions will keep growing globally, and CO2 concentrations will keep rising. The U.N.’s official goal is to keep CO2 levels below 450 ppm, and as Ralph Keeling indicated, we’re rapidly running out of time to make that happen. CO2 can stay in the atmosphere for centuries, which means that we’ve already baked in far more warming than we’ve yet experienced. But we will soon enough. The Keeling Curve tells us our past, but it’s also a roadmap for our future—a future that will almost certainly be hotter and wilder….


    MORE:
    Carbon dioxide now at highest level in 5 million years – USA Today Apr 24, 2013 – For the first time in roughly 5 million years, the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere could top 400 parts per million next month…..


    http://co2now.org/Current-CO2/CO2-Now/noaa-mauna-loa-co2-data.html

     

     

     

    • ECOLOGY

     

    PRBO IN THE NEWS:

     

    1st northern gannet found on Farallones

    Sophie Webb, PRBO Conservation Science The northern gannet is an Atlantic Ocean native never before seen in the Pacific – is its arrival a sign of global warming?

    By Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle April 27, 2013

    A strange seabird hanging around the Farallon Islands has created quite a ruckus among scientists, who have identified the sleek, mostly white creature as a species of booby never seen before in this part of the world. The bird is a northern gannet, which is native to the Atlantic Ocean. The one at the Farallones is believed to be the first of its kind ever to visit the Pacific Ocean, according to researchers with PRBO Conservation Science….The species thrives in cold, open water. The birds generally live in large colonies on rocky islands or cliffs between Quebec and Britain, where they are protected. Residents of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides are allowed by tradition to take a limited number of the fishy-tasting delicacies. The bizarre presence of the booby appears – at least to the marine scientists at the Farallones – to be a product of climate change. This particular seabird does not fly over land and, ornithologists agree, could never have flown over the North American continent. The only possible route to the Pacific would have been over the Arctic. Arctic sea ice reached a record low last summer as a result of rising temperatures, according to NASA, leaving an open passageway from ocean to ocean along the fabled but, until recently, impassable Northwest Passage. …It isn’t the first time migrating animals have ventured to alien lands. Scientists have documented Pacific birds and plankton in the Atlantic over the past few years. In 2010, a Pacific gray whale was spotted in the Mediterranean Sea, possibly after getting lost and traversing the newly melted arctic passage. “There have been more sightings of northern marine animals winding up on opposite sides of the world,” [Russ] Bradley said. “These are potential early warning signs of how future climate change could change the distributions of animals.” ….

     

    News From the Farallones: So Far, So Good
    PRBO biologists documented the earliest Common Murre egg ever on record and earliest Cassin’s Auklet population-wide breeding effort in over 10 years. Early egg laying may be a sign of a good year for seabirds and the marine ecosystem off north-central California. Time will tell if these conditions last and translate up the food chain to species such as Brandt’s Cormorant that feeds entirely on small fish. Meanwhile, a single Northern Gannet, the first of its kind to be documented in the Pacific Ocean, remains at the Farallones a year after its arrival (see SF Chronicle article above.)
    >>Read recent San Francisco Chronicle front page article
    >>Read about our extensive work on the Farallones
    >>Follow our Farallones blog

     

     

    Boom in Jellyfish: Overfishing Called Into Question


    Jellyfish food chain. (Credit: © IRD / L. Corsini)

    May 3, 2013 — Will we soon be forced to eat jellyfish? Since the beginning of the 2000s, these gelatinous creatures have invaded many of the world’s seas, like the Japan Sea, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, etc. Is it a cyclic phenomenon, caused by changes in marine currents or even global warming? Until now, the causes remained unknown. A new study conducted by IRD researchers and its partners, published in Bulletin of Marine Science, exposes overfishing as the main factor. Jellyfish predators, such as tuna and sea turtles, are disappearing due to overfishing. However, jellyfish are primarily taking advantage of the overfishing of small pelagic fish. Just like these cnidarians, sardines, herring, anchovies and more feed off zooplankton. Thus, they represent their main competition for food. In areas where too many of these fish are caught, they free up an ecological niche. Jellyfish now have free rein and can thrive. Furthermore, small fish eat the eggs and larvae of jellyfish. Therefore, under normal conditions, they regulate the population. In their absence, there is nothing to stop the proliferation of these gelatinous creatures……A vicious circle is developing in affected areas. Under the water, the links in the food chain are much more flexible than on Earth: prey species can feed off their predators. As such, jellyfish devour larval fish. Their proliferation prevents the renewal of fishery resources. This invasive species in turn threatens fisheries. In Namibia, some 10 million tonnes of sardines in the 1960s made way for 12 million tonnes of jellyfish….Jellyfish are made up of 98% water. They have neither a brain, nor a heart or teeth… And yet, they are fierce predators! They immobilise their prey with their poisonous tentacles. The boom in jellyfish is observed across the entire planet. To date, however, there is no hard data on the increase in their global population. There are hundreds of species of jellyfish which come in a great variety of colours, shapes and sizes, ranging from a few millimetres to several metres in diameter. The majority of them are carnivorous.

     

    Jean-Paul Roux, Carl D van der Lingen, Mark J Gibbons, Nadine E Moroff, Lynne J Shannon, Anthony DM Smith, Philippe M Cury. Jellyfication of Marine Ecosystems as a Likely Consequence of Overfishing Small Pelagic Fishes: Lessons from the Benguela. Bulletin of Marine Science, 2013; 89 (1): 249 DOI: 10.5343/bms.2011.1145

    Scientists Are Divided Over Threat to Pacific Northwest Salmon

    By KIRK JOHNSON NY Times Published: May 2, 2013

    SEATTLE — Like mariners scanning the horizon from the crow’s nest, scientists have for years been on the lookout in the Pacific Northwest for signs that a dreaded salmon-killing disease, scourge to farmed salmon in other parts of the world, has arrived here, threatening some of the world’s richest wild salmon habitats. Most say there is no evidence. But for years, a biologist in Canada named Alexandra Morton — regarded by some as a visionary Cassandra, by others as a misguided prophet of doom — has said definitively and unquestionably that they are wrong. Wild Pacific salmon, she has said, are testing positive for a European strain of the virus that causes the disease, infectious salmon anemia, or I.S.A. The virus, which has struck farmed salmon populations in Chile, among other places, is not harmful to humans who eat the fish, but could potentially pose grave threats in a part of the world where salmon plays a huge role in local economies and ecosystems. If the virus, which is in the influenza family, mutates into a virulent Pacific strain in the crowded fish farms in British Columbia, where wild and farmed salmon are sometimes in proximity, fish populations on both sides of the farm/wild divide, Ms. Morton believes, could be devastated. “It’s an uncomfortable truth,” she said. But scientists and government testing groups in Canada and the United States have said repeatedly over several years that Ms. Morton’s findings were not sufficient to sound an alarm, and that the risks to wild salmon, even in the event of a fish-farm outbreak, are unclear. After rounds of government hearings and millions of dollars spent on research, the two sides are in an increasingly bitter standoff. …..


    US: Many causes for dramatic bee disappearance

    Thursday May 02, 2013  |  Associated Press

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A new U.S. report blames a combination of problems for a mysterious and dramatic disappearance of honeybees across the country since 2006. The multiple causes make it harder to do something about what’s called colony collapse disorder, experts say. The disorder has caused as much as one-third of the nation’s bees to just disappear each winter since 2006. Bees, especially honeybees, are needed to pollinate crops, and they are crucial to the U.S. food supply. About $30 billion a year in agriculture depends on their health, said Sonny Ramaswamy with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The problem has also hit bee colonies in Europe, where regulators are considering a ban on a type of pesticides that some environmental groups blame for the bee collapse. The report, issued Thursday by the USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency, is the result of a large conference of scientists that the government brought together last year to figure out what’s going on….

     

     

    Smoke signals: How burning plants tell seeds to rise from the ashes
    (April 29, 2013) — In the spring following a forest fire, trees that survived the blaze explode in new growth and plants sprout in abundance from the scorched earth. For centuries, it was a mystery how seeds, some long dormant in the soil, knew to push through the ashes to regenerate the burned forest. … > full story

     

    Biologists propose a new research roadmap for connecting genes to ecology
    (April 30, 2013) — A team of researchers is proposing a new investigative roadmap for the field of evolutionary developmental biology, or “evo devo,” to better understand how innovation at the genetic level can lead to ecological adaptations over time. Evo devo seeks to understand the specific genetic mechanisms underlying evolutionary change. … > full story

     

    Bird navigation: Great balls of iron
    (April 26, 2013) — Every year millions of birds make heroic journeys guided by the earth’s magnetic field. How they detect magnetic fields has puzzled scientists for decades. Today, biologists have added some important pieces to this puzzle.
    Their work, published in
    Current Biology, reports the discovery of iron balls in sensory neurons. These cells, called hair cells, are found in the ear and are responsible for detecting sound and gravity. Remarkably, each cell has just one iron ball, and it is in the same place in every cell. “It’s very exciting. We find these iron balls in every bird, whether it’s a pigeon or an ostrich” adds Mattias Lauwers who discovered them “but not in humans.” It is an astonishing finding, despite decades of research these conspicuous balls of iron had not been discovered.But we’re a long way off to understanding how magnetic sensing works — we still don’t know what these mysterious iron balls are doing.” said Dr Keays. “Who knows, perhaps they are the elusive magnetoreceptors” muses Dr Keays “only time will tell.”full story

     

     

    Allan Savory to Reverse Desertification, Solve Global Warming, Feed World’s Poor

    Written By: Jason Dorrier Posted: 05/2/13 9:25 AM


    Allan Savory TED Talk

    As a young scientist in Africa, Allan Savory helped set aside national parks. His organization removed indigenous “hunting, drum-beating people” to protect animals. Newly burgeoning herds of elephants were then identified as causing desertification by overgrazing. Savory theorized as much in a paper and sent it to his peers for review. Other scientists corroborated the report, and the government killed 400,000 elephants. Instead of improving, desertification worsened. Savory opens his recent TED talk with this story, assuming responsibility for an awful mistake. But, he says, the experience taught him a lesson, “One good thing did come out of it. It made me absolutely determined to devote my life to finding solutions.” I had to rewind the video the first time I heard that.

    According to his account, this was a man already devoted to finding solutions, and those solutions, implemented on a grand scale, failed just as grandly. That experience might imbue some with a severe and undying sense of humility in the face of nature’s grandeur and complexity. Not so, Allan Savory. Savory says his favored solution—holistic management and planned grazing—is the right solution and should be implemented on an even grander, global scale. “I can think of almost nothing that offers more hope for our planet, for your children, and their children, and all of humanity.” Queue the standing ovation. Holistic management goes against the grain. Common wisdom would have it that desertification, or the human degradation of once verdant grasslands, can be caused by overgrazing of large herds of livestock. But that common wisdom underpinned Savory’s mistake with the elephants, and therefore he now believes the opposite is true—if properly managed. Savory says Earth’s grasslands evolved with large herding creatures feeding, defecating, and moving to greener pastures before overgrazing. The herd’s passage assured good soil coverage, provided manure, and grasslands evolved to depend on it—not unlike how many ecosystems counterintuitively depend on fire to regenerate…..

     

     

     

    Behavior of seabirds during migration revealed
    (April 30, 2013) — The behavior of seabirds during migration — including patterns of foraging, rest and flight — has been revealed in new detail using novel computational analyses and tracking technologies. Using a new method called ‘ethoinformatics’, described as the application of computational methods in the investigation of animal behaviour, scientists have been able to analyse three years of migration data gathered from miniature tracking devices attached to the small seabird the Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus). The Manx Shearwater is currently on the ‘amber’ list of UK Birds of Conservation Concern. Up to 80% of the world population breeds in the UK, travelling 20,000km each year in their migrations to South America and back…..Results indicate that in winter, birds spend much less time foraging and in flight than in breeding season. Also, a much larger proportion of birds’ time in the southern hemisphere was spent at rest — probably a reflection of their release from the demands of reproduction and also the increased costs of flight during the winter…. > full story

     

    In the Northeast, forests with entirely native flora are not the norm
    (April 30, 2013) — Two-thirds of all forest inventory plots in the Northeast and Midwestern United States contain at least one non-native plant species, a new US Forest Service study found. The study across two dozen states from North Dakota to Maine can help land managers pinpoint areas on the landscape where invasive plants might take root. … > full story

     


    Amphibians Living Close to Farm Fields Are More Resistant to Common Insecticides

     

     


    May 1, 2013 — Amphibian populations living close to agricultural fields have become more resistant to a common insecticide and are actually resistant to multiple common insecticides, according to two recent … > full story

     

     

    World’s longest-running plant monitoring program now digitized
    (April 29, 2013) — Researchers have digitized 106 years of growth data on the birth, growth and death of individual plants on Tumamoc Hill in Tucson, Ariz., making the information available for study by people all over the world. The permanent research plots on the University of Arizona’s Tumamoc Hill represent the world’s longest-running study that monitors individual plants. Knowing how plants respond to changing conditions over many decades provides new insights into how ecosystems behave. … > full story

    Sea turtles benefiting from protected areas
    (April 29, 2013) — Nesting green sea turtles are benefiting from marine protected areas by using habitats found within their boundaries, according to a new study that is the first to track the federally protected turtles in Dry Tortugas National Park. …

     

    Computer scientists suggest new spin on origins of evolvability: Competition to survive not necessary?
    (April 26, 2013) — Scientists have long observed that species seem to have become increasingly capable of evolving in response to changes in the environment. But computer science researchers now say that the popular explanation of competition to survive in nature may not actually be necessary for evolvability to increase. … > full story

     

    Agencies should use common approach to evaluate risks pesticides pose to endangered species
    (April 30, 2013) — When determining the potential effects pesticides could pose to endangered or threatened species, the US Environmental Protection Agency, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service should use a common scientific approach, says a new report. … > full story

     

    Ecological knowledge offers perspectives for sustainable agriculture
    (April 29, 2013) — A smart combination of different crops, such as beans and maize, can significantly cut the use of crop protection agents and at the same time reduce the need for fertilizers. Integrating ecological knowledge from nature with knowledge of crops opens up the prospect of a sustainable strategy that will increase yield per hectare at reduced environmental costs. … > full story

     

    Farmers: Birds hurting rice crops

    Seattle Post Intelligencer  - ‎May 1, 2013‎

    LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) – South Louisiana farmers have been struggling this year to fight off birds feasting on newly planted rice seed.

     

    Swallows may delay Petaluma bridge work

    Brant Ward, The ChronicleA construction worker uses a cherry picker to watch swallows as they swarm around the Petaluma River Bridge.

    By Peter Fimrite SFChronicle April 29, 2013

    Swarms of swooping swallows are creating havoc for Sonoma County transportation officials whose attempts to prevent nesting on the Petaluma River Bridge have resulted in the deaths of dozens of the birds. The swallow imbroglio is threatening to delay a three-year, $82 million project by the California Department of Transportation to replace the bridge structure, which is part of a long-term effort to widen oft-congested Highway 101 along the notorious bottleneck known as the Marin-Sonoma narrows. Wildlife advocates say 80 to 100 cliff swallows have been killed in netting that was placed on the bridge by a contractor. State law and the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act require Caltrans to protect the birds and their nests.”The netting has not achieved what it was intended for, which was to exclude the swallows, and the birds continue to get caught in the nets,” said Veronica Bowers of the nonprofit group Native Songbird Care & Conservation. “We feel very strongly that that netting needs to come down.” ….

     

     

     

    • CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

     

    New PRBO Publication on Restoration and Conservation Planning in the Face of Uncertainty

    It may seem obvious to resist putting all your eggs in one basket, but when considering how best to spend conservation dollars and help ecosystems adapt to climate change, this age-old idea is key. PRBO’s new paper, led by Dr. Sam Veloz, found that considering a range of future conditions to prioritize restoration projects today leads to robust adaptation plans. Their conclusion: future uncertainty should not prevent us from developing and implementing climate-smart adaptation plans today.
    >>Read our publication brief
    >>Read the paper

    >>Read more about our work in tidal marsh

     

     


    Modeling climate change impacts on tidal marsh birds: Restoration and conservation planning in the face of uncertainty

     

    Samuel D. Veloz , Nadav Nur , Leonardo Salas , Dennis Jongsomjit , Julian Wood , Diana Stralberg 1, and Grant Ballard

    PRBO Conservation Science, 3820 Cypress Drive #11, Petaluma, California 94954 USA

    The large uncertainty surrounding the future effects of sea-level rise and other aspects of climate change on tidal marsh ecosystems exacerbates the difficulty in planning effective conservation and restoration actions. We addressed these difficulties in the context of large-scale wetland restoration activities underway in the San Francisco Estuary (Suisun, San Pablo and San Francisco Bays). We used a boosted regression tree approach to project the future distribution and abundance of five marsh bird species (through 2110) in response to changes in habitat availability and suitability as a result of projected sea-level rise, salinity, and sediment availability in the Estuary. To bracket the uncertainty, we considered four future scenarios based on two sediment availability scenarios (high or low), which varied regionally, and two rates of sea-level rise (0.52 or 1.65 m/100 yr). We evaluated three approaches for using model results to inform the selection of potential restoration projects: (1) Use current conditions only to prioritize restoration. (2) Use a single future scenario (among the four referred to above) in combination with current conditions to select priority restoration projects. (3) Combine current conditions with all four future scenarios, while incorporating uncertainty among future scenarios into the selection of restoration projects. We found that simply using current conditions resulted in the poorest performing restoration projects selected in terms of providing habitat for tidal marsh birds in light of possible future scenarios. The most robust method for selecting restoration projects, the “combined” strategy, used projections from all future scenarios with a discounting of areas with high levels of variability among future scenarios. We show that uncertainty about future conditions can be incorporated in site prioritization algorithms and should motivate the selection of adaptation measures that are robust to uncertain future conditions. These results and data have been made available via an interactive decision support tool at www.prbo.org/sfbayslr.

     

     


    David the cuckoo from Ceredigion turned back from the UK to visit France

    Ceredigion cuckoo takes European holiday to avoid UK weather

    By Joanna Humphreys BBC News May 2 2013

    A cuckoo returning to Ceredigion from migration in Africa has taken a holiday in France to avoid the UK weather. David the cuckoo returned to the UK from the Democratic Republic of the Congo last Friday but turned back on reaching Somerset. Bird experts say he could either wait until the weather warmed up or take a short European break. Five Welsh cuckoos were fitted with satellite tags in May 2012 to monitor their migration paths. The five birds – Idemili, David, Iolo, Lloyd and Indy – left Ceredigion in spring 2012 for Africa. They travelled over East Anglia, through Holland, Germany and Italy before reaching North Africa. The main reason for the journey is the hunt for their main food source: caterpillars. The birds bypass the dry climates of northern Africa because caterpillars cannot survive there, and head for the wetter countries of Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo where caterpillars thrive….

     

     

    Fire season starts early in California

    Skimpy Sierra snowpack means frequent conflagrations are a worry

    Kent Porter, Associated Press Flames whipped by gusty winds shoot into the sky early Wednesday near the border between Napa and Sonoma counties.

    By Peter Fimrite SF Chron May 2, 2013

    Snow that would normally be lingering in the Sierra is virtually gone and fire is already beginning to scorch the bone-dry hills of California, where the big storms of December are a distant memory.

    Wildfires, fed by hot weather and strong winds, burned 200 acres in Sonoma and Napa counties Wednesday as if in defiance of snow surveyors who are preparing for this week’s final survey of the Sierra snowpack. Fire officials are concerned that the early conflagrations might be a bad omen, a logical concern given the remarkable scarcity of wet weather this year. The state’s frozen water supply, as snow is known to water resources officials, is 21 percent of normal for this time of year, according to electronic measurements taken across the Sierra. The dismal numbers reflect what is happening across the Bay Area and in San Francisco, which just went through the driest first four months of the year in recorded history. “That’s not good,” said David Rizzardo, chief of snow surveys and water supply forecasting for the California Department of Water Resources. “We are below where we were last year at this time, which is disappointing because now we have strung together a couple of dry years.”

    The paltry snow levels are actually being propped up by the Central Sierra, which includes the Yuba and Merced river drainages, where the snowpack is 28 percent of the average for this time of year.

    That’s a relative blanket of snow compared with the Northern Sierra, which came in at 19 percent of normal and the Southern Sierra, which has only 11 percent of the snowpack it normally has this time of year. ….

     

     

    Calif. wildfire burns 15-mile path to Pacific

    By SHAYA TAYEFE MOHAJER and CHRISTOPHER WEBER, Associated Press Friday, May 3, 2013

    NEWBURY PARK, CA – MAY 02: Fire firghters set back fires to burn off dry brush to protect homes behind a hillsdie threatened by an out of control wildfire on May 2, 2013 in Newbury Park, California. Hundreds of firefighters are battling wind and dry conditions as over 6000 acres have already been burned northwest of Los Angeles. Photo: Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

    LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Southern California wildfire carving a path to the sea grew to more than 15 square miles and crews prepared Friday for another bad day of gusting winds and searing weather. “We’re going to be at Mother Nature’s mercy,” Ventura County fire spokesman Tom Kruschke said.

    The wind-whipped fire erupted Thursday in the Camarillo area, damaging 15 homes and a cluster of recreational vehicles in a parking lot. About 2,000 Ventura County homes remained threatened and evacuations remained in force although the fire line edged southwards toward Malibu. It was about 20 miles from the coastal enclave at daybreak. The blaze was 10 percent contained but the work of more than 900 firefighters and deputies was just beginning, fire officials said. The weather forecast called for parching single-digit humidity, highs in the 90s in some fire areas and morning winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 45 mph — slightly down from a day earlier. There’s still a chance of “explosive fire spread” before winds begin tapering off in the afternoon and cooler weather begins to kick in, said Curt Kaplan, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Oxnard. While winds calmed overnight, the fire that had burned about 12 1/2 square miles by Thursday night had increased to around 15 1/2 square miles by dawn. “It has grown throughout the night,” Kruschke said. “The fire has been coming down canyons all along Pacific Coast Highway and that’s where we’ve been concentrating a lot of our effort.”

     

     

    Why Climate Change Means More — And Less — Ice for the Antarctic

    PBS NewsHour May 1, 2013

    Scientists have been trying to create a clearer picture of how the Antarctic responds to climate change.

     

    Record low in Arctic sea ice caused by global warming, says UN

    Global warming not only increased temperatures last year but caused a record low in Arctic sea ice, as well as deadly storms and economic uncertainty, the UN has warned.

    Telegraph.co.uk May 2, 2013


     

    The World Meteorological Organisation, that tracks the weather on behalf of the 193 countries of the United Nations, confirmed 2012 was the 9th warmest year on record. The annual summary of climate change also warned Arctic sea ice reached its lowest ever level, rainfall increased causing floods around the world and a number of countries experienced drought. Extreme weather events, like Superstorm Sandy in the US and Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines, were linked to climate change. Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the WMO, said natural variability – like the La Nina/ El Nino pattern in the Pacific – means global warming will not necessarily make each year successively warmer than the last. Global average temperature in 2012 was 0.45 degrees Celsius warmer than the 1961 to 1990 long term average of 14C, according to the report….

     

    Last 12 Years Were Among 13 Warmest On Record, World Meteorological Organisation Confirms

    By Ryan Koronowski on May 2, 2013 at 8:56 am


    2012 was the ninth-warmest year since 1850, and 2001-2012 were all among the top 13 warmest years on record, according to the World Meteorological Organization. [Climate News Network] Last year was among the ten warmest years since records began more than 160 years ago, the World Meteorological Organisation says. The WMO says 2012 was the ninth warmest year recorded since 1850, and the 27th consecutive year in which the global land and ocean temperatures were above the 1961-1990 average…..

     

    New Research Finds Humans Causing More Strong Hurricanes

    By Climate Guest Blogger on May 1, 2013 at 2:55 pm By Dana Nuccitelli via Skeptical Science

    The link between human-caused global warming and extreme weather is often difficult to pin down, particularly with regards to hurricanes.  As Kevin Trenberth has discussed, all weather now occurs in a climate that humans have altered: “It is important to recognize that we have a ‘new normal’, whereby the environment in which all storms form is simply different than it was just a few decades ago.  Global climate change has contributed to the higher sea surface and sub-surface ocean temperatures, a warmer and moister atmosphere above the ocean, higher water levels around the globe, and perhaps more precipitation in storms.” Two new papers have recently been published examining the link between global warming and hurricane intensity.  In both cases, the scientists have found evidence that the most intense hurricanes are already occurring more often as a result of human-caused global warming.  However, their predictions about future hurricane changes differ somewhat.

    Last year, Tamino examined Grinsted et al. (2012), which demonstrated that the most extreme storm surge events can mainly be attributed to large landfalling hurricanes, and that those events are strongly linked to hurricane damage.  The study also found that there have been twice as many Katrina-magnitude storm surge events in globally warm years as compared to cold years.

    In a new paper, Grinsted et al. (2013) constructed a storm surge index beginning in 1923 from six long tide gauge records in the southeastern USA.  The idea is that surges in sea level recorded at tide gauge stations can tell us about strong hurricane events.  Consistent with their 2012 results, the authors found: “The strong winds and intense low pressure associated with tropical cyclones generate storm surges. These storm surges are the most harmful aspect of tropical cyclones in the current climate, and wherever tropical cyclones prevail they are the primary cause of storm surges.”…

     

     

    Along N.J. bay, rising sea draws ever closer

    By Sandy Bauers, Inquirer Staff Writer Posted: April 28, 2013

    …..Just visible across the grassy marsh is Gandys Beach with 80 homes. Farther south, Fortescue with 250 homes. All three are steadily disappearing. On the Atlantic coast, beach replenishment masks the effects of sea-level rise. But along the low-lying bay shore, veined with creeks, the problems are striking. With each nor’easter, more of the beachfronts erode. More of the streets and driveways flood. Septic systems, inundated with salt water, are failing. “We’re seeing beyond the normal damage,” said Steve Eisenhauer, a regional director with the Natural Lands Trust, which has a 7,000-acre preserve in the area. “We see the problems getting worse.” In the last century, sea level in the bay has risen a foot, gauges show, partly because the warming ocean is expanding and polar ice is melting. Also, New Jersey is sinking….

     

    Exploring the saltiness of the ocean to study climate change
    (April 30, 2013) — Details are emerging from a recent research expedition to the Sub-Tropical North Atlantic. The objective of the expedition was to study the salt concentration (salinity) of the upper ocean. Scientists explored the essential role of the ocean in the global water cycle. … > full story

     

    Extreme Weather and Climate Change in the American Mind
    May 1, 2013 Center For Climate Change Communication

    • About six in ten Americans (58%) say “global warming is affecting weather in the United States.”
    • Many Americans believe global warming made recent extreme weather & climatic events “more severe,” specifically: 2012 as the warmest year on record in the United States (50%); the ongoing drought in the Midwest and the Great Plains (49%); Superstorm Sandy (46%); and Superstorm Nemo (42%).
    • About two out of three Americans say weather in the U.S. has been worse over the past several years, up 12 percentage points since Spring 2012. By contrast, fewer Americans say weather has been getting better over the past several years – only one in ten (11%), down 16 points compared to a year ago.
    • Overall, 85 percent of Americans report that they experienced one or more types of extreme weather in the past year, most often citing extreme high winds (60%) or an extreme heat wave (51%).
    • Of those Americans who experienced extreme weather events in the past year, many say they were significantly harmed. Moreover, the number who have been harmed appears to be growing (up 5 percentage points since Fall 2012 and 4 points since Spring 2012). …

     


    Updated US Global Change Research Program Website Launched!

    We are happy to announce the launch of the USGCRP’s refreshed website at www.globalchange.govRead the full story in the newsletter…

     

     

    Protecting NZ from Antarctic change

    Stuff.co.nz May 2 2013

    Scientists are warning that climate change in Antarctica could have a “dramatic” influence on New Zealand. To try to understand what might happen, the issue has been included as one of the 10 science challenges announced by the Government this week.

     

    Why Sewage Plants Are Especially Vulnerable to Climate Change

    Eric Jaffe May 02, 2013

    Shutterstock

    If the subway disruption, and the housing damage and residential displacement, and the general psychological toll of Superstorm Sandy weren’t enough, there’s also the sewage. Approximately 11 billion gallons of untreated (or only semi-treated) waste spilled into waterways after Sandy, according to a new report from the environmental group Climate Central. The vast majority of that overflow occurred in the rivers and bays surrounding New York and New Jersey. Forgive us if we order sparkling the next few days…. Sewage treatment plants are “especially vulnerable” to problems in the climate change era, write the report authors. Unlike housing and transportation, which are nice to have near the coast but technically movable, the very function of sewage plants all but requires them to locate near waterways. A low-lying placement lets gravity do some of the work piping waste into plants, and proximity to water makes it easy to flush the plants of treated sewage. When a storm surge arrives, the plants have little choice but to re-route sewage — untreated or only partially treated — directly into the water to avoid flooding. Otherwise the facilities are at risk of flooding from the inside, too, if water builds up in the discharge pipes. That’s on top of the general problems of power outages, not to mention damage that could occur to pumps and holding tanks….Charts

     

     

     

     

    • POLICY

     

    General Motors signs call for climate change action

    General Motors is the first automaker to sign onto the Climate Declaration, a statement drafted by Ceres and its Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy project. General Motors has dramatically cut energy usage at its facilities and owns two of the world’s five largest rooftop solar arrays.

    By Richard Read, Guest blogger / May 2, 2013

    When we think of the companies and organizations concerned with climate change, we don’t often think of major automakers. But maybe we should think again. Yesterday, General Motors became the first automaker to sign onto the Climate Declaration, a statement drafted by Ceres and its Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy project. Ceres is a nonprofit launched in the wake of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, and it boasts a fairly unique vision. Ceres believes that green, sustainable practices are consistent with good business practices — in fact, the two are inseparable. Ceres builds coalitions among corporations, investors, and individuals to share that vision with the world. One of Ceres’ biggest projects to date is its Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy group, or BICEP, “an advocacy coalition of businesses committed to working with policy makers to pass meaningful energy and climate legislation enabling a rapid transition to a low-carbon, 21st century economy – an economy that will create new jobs and stimulate economic growth while stabilizing our planet’s fragile climate.”  Together, Ceres and BICEP have drafted the Climate Declaration, a document that urges the U.S. government to take action on climate issues. The reasoning isn’t so much that action is needed to avoid looming environmental crises, but that the U.S. can remain an economic and cultural superpower by setting the standards for policies and technologies that address climate change. From the paragraph-long Declaration:….

     

    China becoming global climate change leader, study says

    April 29, 2013 by Martin Parry

    Solar panels in the Sino-Singapore Eco-city near Tianjin last June. China is rapidly assuming a global leadership role on climate change alongside the United States, a new study said Monday, but it warned greenhouse gas emissions worldwide continue to rise strongly.

    China is rapidly assuming a global leadership role on climate change alongside the United States, a new study said Monday, but it warned greenhouse gas emissions worldwide continue to rise strongly. The report by the independent Australian-based Climate Commission, “The Critical Decade: International Action on Climate Change” presents an overview of action in the last nine months.

    It was released on the same day as a fresh round of UN talks were to start in Bonn on boosting action on climate change—a two-decade-long process that has been dogged by procedural bickering and defence of national interests. The study found that every major economy had policies in place to tackle the issue, but China was at the forefront in strengthening its response, “taking ambitious strides to add renewable energy to its mix”. “China is accelerating action,” said Tim Flannery, the co-author and a key figure at the Climate Commission, which brings together internationally-renowned scientists, as well as policy and business leaders. “China has halved its growth in electricity demand, dramatically increased its renewable energy capacity, and decelerated its emissions growth more quickly than expected.
    “After years of strong growth in coal use, this has begun to level off. They are beginning to put in place seven emissions trading schemes that will cover quarter of a billion people,” he said.

     

     

    EPA Revises Fracking Impact Results, Evoking Mixed Responses From Environmentalists

    By By KEVIN BEGOS Posted: 04/28/2013 12:12 pm EDT  |  Updated: 04/29/2013 10:17 am EDT PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency has dramatically lowered its estimate of how much of a potent heat-trapping gas leaks during natural gas production, in a shift with major implications for a debate that has divided environmentalists: Does the recent boom in fracking help or hurt the fight against climate change? Oil and gas drilling companies had pushed for the change, but there have been differing scientific estimates of the amount of methane that leaks from wells, pipelines and other facilities during production and delivery. Methane is the main component of natural gas. The new EPA data is “kind of an earthquake” in the debate over drilling, said Michael Shellenberger, the president of the Breakthrough Institute, an environmental group based in Oakland, Calif. “This is great news for anybody concerned about the climate and strong proof that existing technologies can be deployed to reduce methane leaks.” The scope of the EPA’s revision was vast. In a mid-April report on greenhouse emissions, the agency now says that tighter pollution controls instituted by the industry resulted in an average annual decrease of 41.6 million metric tons of methane emissions from 1990 through 2010, or more than 850 million metric tons overall. That’s about a 20 percent reduction from previous estimates. The agency converts the methane emissions into their equivalent in carbon dioxide, following standard scientific practice.

     


    Environment Groups Sue to Stop New Calif. Oil Leases The Sacramento Bee, 4/18/13
    Two environmental groups are suing the federal government over the December auction of nearly 18,000 acres of oil leases on prime public lands in Central California. The Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit on Thursday alleging that the Bureau of Land Management auctioned off the rights to drill for oil and gas without adequately considering the potential risks to the region’s water supply, wildlife and air posed by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

     

    Adapt faster to changing climate, Europe warned

    Cities around Europe may have to erect flood defences similar to the Thames Barrier as tidal surges become more likely

    Fiona Harvey, environment correspondent guardian.co.uk, Monday 29 April 2013 12.52 EDT

    The Thames Barrier was planned from the 1960s and finished in the 1980s, after the disastrous sea surge and floods of 1953 that claimed hundreds of lives in the UK. Photograph: Rex Features

    Cities around Europe may have to erect flood barriers similar to the Thames Barrier that protects London from sea surges, as climate change takes hold and leads to the danger of much more destructive storms, floods, heavy rainfall and higher sea levels, Europe’s environmental watchdog has warned. The effects of climate change will be so far-reaching across the continent that vineyards may have to plant new grape varieties, farmers may have to cultivate new crops and water suppliers look to technology such as desalination in order to cope with the probable effects of more extreme weather. Buildings and infrastructure such as transport, energy and communication networks will also have to be changed. The warnings come in a report from the European Environment Agency, called Adaptation in Europe. The research found that half of the 32 member countries of the EEA still lack plans to adapt to the effects of global warming, although others have begun to take action….

     

    The politics of climate change

    April 29, 2013 Phys.org

    U.S. residents who believe in the scientific consensus on global warming are more likely to support government action to curb emissions, regardless of whether they are Republican or Democrat, according to a study led by a Michigan State University sociologist. However, a political divide remains on the existence of climate change despite the fact that the vast majority of scientists believe it is real, said Aaron M. McCright, associate professor in Lyman Briggs College and the Department of Sociology. The study, in the journal Climatic Change, is one of the first to examine the influence of political orientation on perceived scientific agreement and support for government action to reduce emissions. “The more people believe scientists agree about climate change, the more willing they are to support government action, even when their party affiliation is taken into account,” McCright said. “But there is still a political split on levels of perceived scientific agreement, in that fewer Republicans and conservatives than Democrats and liberals believe there is a scientific consensus.”….

     

     

    Alaska ferries lose nature experts to budget cuts

    Posted:  04/28/2013 11:35 AM

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — As the sun creeps into the sleeping quarters of the Tustumena, passengers who take a second to look out the window wake up to volcanic topography, sky blue lakes and wildlife that looks extraterrestrial even to most Alaskans. That ethereal experience only lasts a few seconds; the berth’s stripped-down bunk beds and dreary wallpaper quickly remind passengers they are sailing on a ferry that is almost 50 years old. Having a ship that’s a  vestige of another era, however, does offer one small perk: During the summer, a handful of vessels have a nature expert on board who teaches passengers about the stunning local scenery and animals. Alaska’s state-owned ferries — which shuttle residents and tourists between remote towns on the coasts of Washington state, Canada and Alaska — are scaling back costs by getting rid of the naturalist program on all but one of the 11-ship fleet this year.

    State officials say the program may eventually be brought back, but for now, the plan is to replace them with computerized equipment and brochures on the so-called Alaska Marine Highway System, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

    In light of Alaska’s declining revenues and an unclear financial future, the state’s various departments were asked to bring expenses down by eliminating items that do not affect core functions.

    Naturalists, who are hired and paid by the U.S. Forest Service or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, make about $22,000 a season. The state provides them free room and board on the ferry, which costs about $5,000 per year, per ship, according to Jeremy Woodrow, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Transportation, the department responsible for the ferry system…..

     

    Climate Change Is An Existential Threat To Humanity, Just Don’t Mention Protecting ‘The Environment’

    By Ryan Koronowski on Apr 30, 2013 at 11:45 am

    A recent study found that some conservatives would not choose an efficient lightbulb with an environmental message, even when they would choose the same bulb without the message. The Atlantic Cities
    details this cognitive dissonance: The study then presented participants with a real-world choice: With a fixed amount of money in their wallet, respondents had to “buy” either an old-school light bulb or an efficient compact florescent bulb…. Both bulbs were labeled with basic hard data on their energy use…. When the bulbs cost the same, and even when the CFL cost more, conservatives and liberals were equally likely to buy the efficient bulb. But slap a message on the CFL’s packaging that says “Protect the Environment,” and “we saw a significant drop-off in more politically moderates and conservatives choosing that option,” said study author Dena Gromet, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. They chose the less-efficient option because the option they would ordinarily choose mentions the environmental benefit. Though some have found more success in making the argument for climate action and energy efficiency to conservatives in talking about preserving the “purity” of the natural world, focusing more on direct human impacts of air pollution and carbon pollution may be a better strategy. Washington Monthly‘s Ryan Louis Cooper, who remixed Dave Roberts’ TEDx Talk “Climate Change Is Simple,” is at it again with a video making the case of why climate change is not an environmental issue

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • RESOURCES and REFERENCES

     

    Central Valley Flood Mgmt Planning

    The Central Valley Flood Planning Office has posted the State-Led Basin-Wide Feasibility Studies (BWFS) Brochure to the Central Valley Flood Management Planning (CVFMP) Program webpage.  The brochure describes the scope, purpose, and approach to developing the BWFS as well as highlighting other efforts stemming from the Central Valley Flood Management.

     

     

     


     

    11th Annual H2O Conference

    May 28-30, 2013

    Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa on
    Mission Bay

    San Diego, California
    The 2013 Headwaters to Ocean (H2O) Conference registration is now open. The conference consists of roughly 100 presentations with the latest information relating to coasts, oceans, beaches, wetlands, rivers and watersheds.

    Register early to receive the discounted rated of $295. Early registration ends May 8th.
    Click here
    to register for the conference.  

     

     

    WEBINARS

    Shared Solutions to Protect Shared Values: The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy

    May 22, 2013 2:00-4:00 pm Eastern 11-1 Pacific YOU MUST REGISTER TO JOIN THIS WEBINAR

    A public webinar with speakers:

    • Mark Shaffer, National Climate Change Policy Advisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
    • Roger Griffis, Climate Change Coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service
    • Arpita Choundry, Science and Research Liaison, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

    Description:

    The recently National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy is the first nationwide strategy to help public and private decision makers address the impacts that climate change is having on our natural resources and the people and economies that depend on them.

    This collaborative effort led by the Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA, and the state agencies is the product of an extensive national dialogue that spanned nearly two years and was shaped by comments from more than 55,000 Americans.

    Join us to hear from the partners who developed this effort about how this Strategy provides a unified approach for reducing the negative impacts of climate change on natural systems, and discuss key recommendations for safeguarding the nation’s fish, wildlife and plants in a changing climate.

    For more information on the Strategy, visit: www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov

     

     

    NPS Webinar on U.S. Public Opinion on Climate Change: Key Beliefs, Issue Involvement, and Teachable Moments

    May 9, 11a.m-12:30p.m. (Pacific Time) among Global Warming’s Six Americas, Teresa Myers, Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University Registration Link


    ***EPA Webcasts

    May 8, 1:00-2:00 PM (EDT) – Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness 101: Risk Assessment Process

    Sponsored by EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities Initiative, this webcast provides an introduction to CRWU’s risk assessment tool, the Climate Resilience Evaluation and Awareness Tool (CREAT). This webinar outlines CREAT’s risk assessment process, how it can help utilities build more resilient systems, and examples of threats and adaptation options.

    Webcast Registration

     

    May 22, 1:00-2:00 PM (EDT) – Preparing for Extreme Weather Events Workshop Planner for the Water Sector / Adaptation Strategies Guide

    Sponsored by EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities Initiative, this joint webcast will highlight the Preparing for Extreme Weather Events Workshop Planner for the Water Sector and the Adaptation Strategies Guide, and how a utility can use them both when developing adaptation plans. It will also highlight utility experiences with the tools. 

    Webcast Registration

     

    May 29, 1:00-2:00 PM (EDT) – On-site Renewables: Lessons Learned from Idea to Implementation

    Organizations across the country continue to make direct investments in on-site renewable energy generation, indicating a long-term commitment to using renewable energy and securing the benefits of reduced electricity price volatility. This webcast, sponsored by EPA’s Green Power Partnership, will feature two EPA Green Power Partners, SC Johnson and Coca-Cola Refreshments, that have invested in on-site projects powered by landfill gas and wind, respectively, and highlight the companies’ experiences from initial investigation of on-site systems to the results obtained once the projects were brought online.

    Webcast Registration

     

     

    Department of Interior’s NCTC Training–(register at DOILearn

    July 15-19, 2013 – “Scenario Planning toward Climate Change Adaptation” ALC3194 – development led by the Wildlife Conservation Society
    August 27-29, 2013 – “Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment” ALC3184
    October 28-November 1, 2013 – “Climate Smart Conservation” ALC3195 – development led by the National Wildlife Federation. This pilot course is based on a forthcoming guide to the principles and practice of Climate-Smart Conservation.

     

    FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES:

     

    SF Bay Area Priority Conservation Areas Grants

    The State Coastal Conservancy (SCC), in cooperation with Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), will soon be issuing a call for proposals focused on the Priority Conservation Areas (PCAs) in Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo, and San Francisco Counties.  The call for proposals will be released in early May via email, and will also be available at http://scc.ca.gov.  Letters of Interest will be due from eligible applicants July 19, 2013.  MTC has made $5 million of federal funds available which will be combined with additional funding provided by SCC. The goal of the PCA Program is to support Plan Bay Area by preserving and enhancing the natural, economic and social value of rural lands amidst growing population across the Bay Area, for residents and businesses.  These values include globally unique ecosystems, productive agricultural lands, recreational opportunities, healthy fisheries, and climate protection (mitigation and adaptation), among others.  Proposed projects should: protect or enhance resource areas or habitats, provide or enhance bicycle and pedestrian access to open space/parkland resources, or support the agricultural economy of the region. Two public workshops will be held to provide prospective applicants with an overview of the Plan Bay Area PCA Grant Program and answer questions.

    May 20, 2013, 1pm to 3 pm

    Mountain View Community Center

    201 South Rengstorff Avenue

    Mountain View, CA 94040

     

    May 23, 2013, 1 pm to 3 pm

    Oakland State Building, Room 11

    1515 Clay Street

    Oakland, CA 94612

     

     

    Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Defense Council, and EKO Asset Management Partners release Creating Clean Water Cash Flows report

    This report provides guidance on key strategies that cities can deploy to attract private capital to fund green infrastructure development. Municipalities and state governments can potentially direct billions of dollars of private investment to modernize broken, aging stormwater systems and keep stormwater pollution out of waterways. Natural infrastructure, such as porous pavement, green roofs, parks, roadside plantings and rain barrels, addresses stormwater pollution by capturing rain on or near where it falls. The report, developed in collaboration with the Philadelphia Water Department and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, focuses on Philadelphia’s innovative Green City, Clean Waters program as a model for stimulating investment in natural infrastructure. The report was produced by the NatLab Consortium, a partnership consisting of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Nature Conservancy, and sustainable asset management firm EKO Asset Management Partners. View the report.

     

     

    EcoWest‘s mission is to creatively communicate what the latest research is revealing about how the region is changing. In essence, the website tells the story of the Western environment through the medium of PowerPoint, graphics, charts, maps, dashboards, and other data visualizations. More info below. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s Western Conservation program funded the development of the site. The Foundation wanted to create an enduring outlet for independent analysis of environmental trends for other funders, NGOs, journalists, researchers, agency staff, and policymakers.   Ecowest’s research and conclusions are organized in a half-dozen narrated PowerPoint presentations that cover biodiversity, climate change, land use, politics, water, and wildfires. We’ve also created an executive summary deck that synthesizes the findings and developed interactive dashboards, such as this one on wildfires.

     

     

    Tidal Marsh Restoration Field Trip Featuring:
    Hamilton and Sonoma Baylands, June 4, 2013 9:00am — 3:00pm  Lunch provided 

    Join us for this unique opportunity sponsored by the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Coastal Training Program, in partnership with the California Coastal Conservancy and the US Army Corps of Engineers! The Hamilton and Sonoma Baylands Restoration projects provide two examples of ongoing efforts to protect sensitive species, restore critical habitats and establish healthy tidal marsh ecosystems in the San Francisco Bay Area.  This field trip will provide an opportunity to learn about ongoing tidal restoration techniques in an interactive setting. The primary goal for this field trip is to inform site managers about tidal wetland restoration policies and practices. Featured speakers include: Tom Gandesbery, California Coastal Conservancy, Eric Jolliffe, US Army Corps of Engineers.
    Discussion topics will include
    ·      How tidal wetland restoration projects could be affected by sea-level rise
    ·      Regulatory processes for permitting wetland restoration projects
    ·      Best practices for tidal marsh restoration
    ·      Managing sediment through local beneficial reuse at restoration sites

     

     

    A Fierce Green Fire: Movie On History Of Environmental Activism Has Theatrical Premiere In DC Friday

    By Joe Romm on May 2, 2013 at 10:58 am

    We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters’ paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.” – Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac, 1949

    The movie A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet ….is “the first big-picture exploration of the environmental movement – grassroots and global activism spanning fifty years from conservation to climate change.” The movie is narrated by Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, Van Jones, Isabel Allende and Meryl Streep……

     

     

     

     

     

    • RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

     

    Spread of Hydrofracking Could Strain Water Resources in West, Study Finds


    Brennan Linsley/Associated Press In March, workers at a hydraulic fracturing site in western Colorado monitored water pumping pressure and temperature. The technique of oil and gas extraction, which is commonly called “fracking,” uses injected water to fracture the rock near the deposits.

    By FELICITY BARRINGER Published: May 2, 2013

    The rapid expansion of hydraulic fracturing to retrieve once-inaccessible reservoirs of oil and gas could put pressure on already-stressed water resources from the suburbs of Fort Worth to western Colorado, according to a new report from a nonprofit group that advises investors about companies’ environmental risks. “Given projected sharp increases” in the production of oil and gas by the technique commonly known as fracking, the report from the group Ceres said, “and the intense nature of local water demands, competition and conflicts over water should be a growing concern for companies, policy makers and investors.” The overall amount of water used for fracking, even in states like Colorado and Texas that have been through severe droughts in recent years, is still small: in many cases 1 percent or even as little as a tenth of 1 percent of overall consumption, far less than agricultural or municipal uses. But those figures mask more significant local effects, the report’s author, Monika Freyman, said in an interview. “You have to look at a county-by-county scale to capture the intense and short-term impact on water supplies,” she said. “The whole drilling and fracking process is a well-orchestrated, moment-by-moment process” requiring that one million to five million gallons of water are available for a brief period, she added. “They need an intense amount of water for a few days, and that’s it.” One of the options that oil and gas drillers have is recycling the water that comes back out of wells, which is called “produced water.” But the water injected into wells is laced with a proprietary mixture of chemicals and sand, and the water returning from thousands of feet below the surface can also contain natural pollutants or even radioactivity. Recycled water must therefore be treated, which can be expensive. …

     

     

    World’s Biggest Solar PV Projects Under Way In SoCal

    by Pete Danko

    What will become the world’s largest solar photovoltaic development is now in “major construction” mode in California’s Antelope Valley, about 60 miles north of Los Angeles.

    The solar manufacturer and developer SunPower and the utility company MidAmerican announced this new status late last week, coinciding with a big community event at the 3,230-acre site, where preliminary work began in January. The development consists of Antelope Valley Solar Project 1, a 309-MW plant that will straddle the Kern-Los Angeles county line; and AVSP 2, a 270-MW plant that will be entirely in Kern County. When completed by the end of 2015, if all goes according to plan, the Antelope Valley Solar Projects will add up to 579 MW, dwarfing any other PV outpost in the world. Right now, the Agua Caliente project in Arizona – a First Solar development owned by NRG and MidAmerican – is at the top of the heap, at 250 megawatts. Other U.S. projects under way are aiming to match or beat Agua Caliente, but even the biggest, the 550-MW Topaz project in San Luis Obispo County, won’t best the Antelope Valley Solar Projects.

     


    Health Defects Found in Fish Exposed to Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Three Years Later

     

     


    May 1, 2013 — Three years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, crude oil toxicity continues to sicken a sentinel Gulf Coast fish species, according to new … > full story

     

    Environmental labels may discourage conservatives from buying energy-efficient products
    (April 30, 2013) — When it comes to deciding which light bulb to buy, a label touting the product’s environmental benefit may actually discourage politically conservative shoppers. … > 

     

    Shifting the burden of recycling
    (April 30, 2013) — Over the past two decades governments around the world have been experimenting with a new strategy for managing waste. By making producers responsible for their products when they become wastes, policy makers seek to significantly increase the recycling — and recyclability — of computers, packaging, automobiles, and household hazardous wastes such as batteries, used oil motor, and leftover paint — and save money in the process. … > full story

    Charging electric vehicles cheaper and faster
    (April 30, 2013) — Researchers have developed a unique integrated motor drive and battery charger for electric vehicles. Compared to today’s electric vehicle chargers, they have managed to shorten the charging time from eight to two hours, and to reduce the cost by… > full story

     

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    Theodore Roosevelt’s White House Bird List

    Slate Magazine (blog)  - ‎May 1, 2013‎

    In 1877, at age 19, he co-authored an article titled “Summer Birds of the Adirondacks,” which was his first publication.

     

    How to Put America Back Together Again

    By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN NY TIMES Published: April 20, 2013

     

    Climate Change or Global Warming? Both.

    By Phil Plait Posted Sunday, April 28, 2013, at 8:00 AM

     

    British winemakers credit climate change for boom in bubbly sales

    By Anthony Faiola, Published: April 28

    CUCKMERE VALLEY, England — Blessed with soil similar to France’s Champagne region, vineyards in England nevertheless produced decades of low-grade goop that caused nary a Frenchman to tremble. But a Great British fizz boom is underway, with winemakers crediting climate change for the warmer weather that has seemed to improve their bubbly.

    Increasingly hospitable temperatures have helped transplanted champagne grapes such as chardonnay and pinot noir thrive in the microclimates of southern England, touching off a wine rush by investors banking on climate change. Once considered an oxymoron, fine English sparkling wine is now retailing for champagne prices of $45 to $70 a pop. In recent years, dozens of vineyards have sprouted in Britain’s burgeoning wine country, with at least one traditional French champagne maker doing the once-unthinkable — scooping up land to make sparkling wine in England…..

     


    Poison Lips? Troubling Levels of Toxic Metals Found in Cosmetics

     

     


    May 2, 2013 — Researchers found lead, cadmium, chromium, aluminum and five other metals in a sample of 32 different lipsticks and lip glosses commonly found in drugstores and department stores. Some of the metals … > full story

     

    No benefit of evening primrose oil for treating eczema, review suggests
    (April 29, 2013) — Research into the complementary therapies evening primrose oil and borage oil shows little, if any, benefit for people with eczema compared with placebo, according to a new systematic review. The authors conclude that further studies on the therapies would be difficult to justify. … > full story

    Mediterranean diet linked to preserving memory
    (April 29, 2013) — A new study suggests that the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes consuming foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, chicken and salad dressing, and avoiding saturated fats, meat and dairy foods, may be linked to preserving memory and thinking abilities. … > full story

     

    Will green tea help you lose weight?
    (April 29, 2013) — Green tea extract in tandem with an additional compound could be effective for body weight control and type 2 diabetes, a new study in mice indicates. Evidence has shown that green tea extract may be an effective herbal remedy useful for weight control and helping to regulate glucose in type 2 diabetes. … > full story

     


    Vitamin D: More May Not Be Better; Benefits in Healthy Adults Wear Off at Higher Doses, Research Suggests

     

     


    May 1, 2013 — In recent years, healthy people have been bombarded by stories in the media and on health websites warning about the dangers of too-low vitamin D levels, and urging high doses of supplements to … > full story

     

    New Scientist | Russell Foster
    The Science of Sleepy Teenagers
    Saturday, April 27, 2013, at 5:30 AM EDT
    School schedules make them grouchy, impulsive, and humorless.

     

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/benrosen/11-reasons-why-everything-is-terrible

    CA BLM WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK:

    After a particularly large meal, California condors:

    (a.) usually behave as if they are about to migrate south for the winter
    (b.) may have to spend hours on the ground or a low branch before they can fly again
    (c.) tend to focus their next hunt for a meal on slower-moving animals that are easy to catch
    (d.) try to cover any remains with leaves and branches, to save it for their next meal
    (e.) bury any remains, so as not to attract scavenger animals to their hunting territory
    (f.) Burp hugely, a cultural affectation that shows they appreciate the quality of the meal, as well as the quantity offered them

    See answer at the end.

     

     

     

    • IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

     

    Image by John Garrett (from climateprogress.org)

     

     

    2013 National Geographic Photo Contest Entries.

     

     

    CA BLM WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites
    (b.) may have to spend hours on the ground or a low branch before they can fly again

    SOURCE: “California Condor” (BLM California wildlife database)
    http://www.blm.gov/ca/forms/wildlife/details.php?metode=serial_number&search=2451