Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Ellie Cohen, President and CEO, Point Blue Conservation Science

Archive: Sep 2013

  1. Conservation Science News September 27, 2013

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    Highlight of the Week
    IPCC REPORT RELEASED: Upper Limit on Emissions is Nearing -3.6 degrees F by ~2040

     

    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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    Conservation science for a healthy planet

    NOTE: Please feel free to pass on my weekly news update that has been prepared for
    Point Blue Conservation Science
    staff.  The information contained in this update was drawn from
    www.sciencedaily.com, SER The Society for Ecological Restorationhttp://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.slate.com, www.sfgate.com, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, www.blm.gov/ca/news/newsbytes/2012/529.html and other sources as indicated.  This is a compilation of articles and other information available on line, which were not verified and are not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  Please email me directly at Ellie Cohen, ecohen at pointblue.org if you want your name added to or dropped from this list.  You can also receive this through the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative ListServe or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium list.   Also, we are starting to experiment with blog posting at www.pointblue.org/sciencenews

    We have changed our name to Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO).  Our 140 Point Blue
    scientists and educators work with hundreds of partners, pointing the way forward to secure a healthy, blue planet well into the future.  We work collaboratively to reduce the impacts of climate change, together with other environmental threats, through nature-based solutions that benefit wildlife and people.  For more information please see From Point Reyes to Point Blue as well as our first Point Blue Quarterly.  You might also enjoy viewing our inspiring ~6 minute video introducing Point Blue that includes partner and staff highlights as well as a brief congratulatory video from Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-2).  Our new website is www.pointblue.org.

     


     

     

    Highlight of the Week- IPCC REPORT RELEASED: Upper Limit on Emissions is Nearing, 3.6 degrees F by ~2040

     

     

    Climate Panel Says Upper Limit on Emissions Is Nearing

    By JUSTIN GILLIS NY Times Published: September 27, 2013 208 Comments

     

    STOCKHOLM — For the first time, the world’s top climate scientists on Friday formally embraced an upper limit on greenhouse gases while warning that it is likely to be exceeded within decades if emissions continue at a brisk pace, underscoring the profound challenge humanity faces in bringing global warming under control.

     

    A panel of experts appointed by the United Nations, unveiling its latest assessment of climate research, reinforced its earlier conclusions that global warming is real, that it is caused primarily if not exclusively by human emissions, and that it is likely to get substantially worse unless efforts to limit those emissions are rapidly accelerated. “Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes,” the report said. “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

     

    Going well beyond its four previous analyses of the emissions problem, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change endorsed a “carbon budget” for humanity — an upper limit on the amount of the primary greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, that can be emitted from industrial activities and forest destruction. To stand the best chance of keeping the planetary warming below an internationally agreed target of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels and thus avoiding the most dangerous effects of climate change, the panel found, only about 1 trillion tons of carbon can be burned and the resulting gas spewed into the atmosphere.

     


    Just over half that amount has already been emitted since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and at current rates of energy consumption, the trillionth ton will be released around 2040
    , according to calculations by Myles R. Allen, a scientist at the University of Oxford and one of the authors of the new report. More than 3 trillion tons of carbon are still left in the ground as fossil fuels.
    Limiting the warming to the agreed-upon target “is technically doable, but at the moment we’re not going in the right direction,” Dr. Allen said in an interview. “I don’t think we’ll do it unless we bite the bullet and start talking about what we’re going to do with that extra carbon that we can’t afford to dump into the atmosphere
    .” ….

     

    Scientists are concerned it will be difficult to stay below the 2C target

    Viewpoints: Reactions to the UN climate report

    September 27, 2013 BBC News

    Continue reading the main story

    Related Stories UN ’95% sure’ humans cause warming ; Sceptics ‘winning’ climate argument ; Q&A: Climate change

     

    A landmark report says scientists are 95% certain that humans are the “dominant cause” of global warming since the 1950s. The report by the UN’s climate panel details the physical evidence behind climate change. Here are a selection of reactions to the report.

     

    Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society

    It is becoming increasingly clear that we are responsible for warming of the Earth primarily due to the burning of fossil fuels. Predicting the implications of this or how the picture will change in the future are big challenges for scientists and today’s report by the IPCC, whilst recognising uncertainties, gives us the best possible insight into what may lay ahead.

    Those who predict imminent disaster are probably overstating the case, but equally those who claim that we can carry on regardless are likely to be burying their heads in the sand.

    Predicting what will happen to climate is very complicated and there is still a lot that we do not know, but we cannot afford to wait until we can predict the future with absolute certainty before addressing the risks. We invest substantially, both as a country and individually, to insure ourselves against a wide range of risks that are less likely than climate change.

    Continue reading the main story

     

    Dr Emily Shuckburgh, British Antarctic Survey

    Our collective actions have generated a climate problem that threatens our future and our children’s future. Increasing levels of greenhouse gases are disrupting our climate. And because it is the cumulative amounts of greenhouse gases that determine the severity of the impact, any delay in reducing emissions will lead to greater risks and a need to deploy more difficult and expensive means to adapt to the impacts. One of the key developments since the last report has been an increased understanding of changes in the polar regions and their global effects. Arctic sea ice has declined significantly and new research is starting to shed light how this affects our weather in the UK. The Antarctic Peninsula has seen significant warming and the breakup of a number of its ice shelves. The Southern Ocean around Antarctica has warmed throughout its depth. And it has now been possible to estimate the contribution of melting of the polar ice sheets to sea level rise.

     

    Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester

    What has changed significantly since the last report is that we have pumped an additional 200 billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Annual emissions are now 60% higher than at the time of the first report in 1990 and atmospheric CO2 levels are the highest they have been for over two million years.
    So what are we doing in the UK to help reverse this reckless growth in emissions? Record levels of investment in North Sea oil, tax breaks for shale gas, investment in oil from tar sands and companies preparing to drill beneath the Arctic. Against this backdrop, the UK Treasury is pushing for over 30 new gas power stations, whilst the government supports further airport expansion and has dropped its 2030 decarbonisation target – all this alongside beleaguered plans for a few wind farms and weak energy efficiency measures. Governments, businesses and high-emitting individuals around the world now face a stark choice: to reduce emissions in line with the clear message of the IPCC report, or continue with their carbon-profligate behaviour at the expense of both climate-vulnerable communities and future generations.

    Continue reading the main story

     

    What is the IPCC?

    In its own words, the IPCC is there “to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts”. The offspring of two UN bodies, the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, it has issued four heavyweight assessment reports to date on the state of the climate. These are commissioned by the governments of 195 countries, essentially the entire world. These reports are critical in informing the climate policies adopted by these governments. The IPCC itself is a small organisation, run from Geneva with a full time staff of 12. All the scientists who are involved with it do so on a voluntary basis. The IPCC report provides a sound evidence base on which policy makers can make their decisions on appropriate action. Ignoring the problem is simply not sensible and most governments, businesses and individuals recognise that. The more convincing the evidence becomes, the more confident I am that rationality and science will win out and we will grasp the opportunities that decarbonising our economy offers.

     

    Climate change glossary

    Select a term to learn more:

    Adaptation

    Adaptation

    Action that helps cope with the effects of climate change – for example construction of barriers to protect against rising sea levels, or conversion to crops capable of surviving high temperatures and drought.

    Glossary in full ….

     

     

    Related news from the Daily Climate-
    If you would like to start receiving our newsletter yourself you may subscribe here.

     

    Why is IPCC so certain about the influence of humans? 100 percent of the global warming over the past 60 years is human-caused, according to the IPCC’s latest report. The Guardian

    Climate scientists get Swift-boated. Six years after the IPCC’s massive Fourth Assessment Report was excoriated for a handful of errors, four years after the uproar over leaked emails put scientists on the defensive, the climate denial camp still controls the message. Daily Climate

     

    Interactive look at 11 indicators of a warming world. While temperature change is the most commonly cited climate change indicator, there are numerous others that also show what climate change looks like. They range from rising seas to melting glaciers and ice sheets to changing ecosystems. Climate Central

     

     

     

     

    Point Blue in the news:

    New technology aims to protect whales from ship strikes outside the Golden Gate

    By Mark Prado Marin Independent Journal Posted:   09/20/2013 05:05:53 PM PDT


    A hiker gets a close look at a dead fin whale washed up on a beach along the Point Reyes National Seashore on June 21, 2012. The 47-foot whale was killed after having contact with a ship. It was found south of Wildcat beach. (Photo provided by National Park Service)

    A new “whale spotter” app aimed at preventing ships from hitting the giant sea creatures will be tested during a cruise launched next week from Sausalito.

    The testing will take place on a week-long research trip, during which scientists from Point Blue Conservation Science — formerly the Point Reyes Bird Observatory — and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Cordell Bank and Gulf of Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries will record whale sightings with the app. “Having data on whale movement is key to working with the shipping industry and making informed management decisions,” said Fairfax resident Dan Howard, superintendent of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. “Having real-time information from the whale spotter app will take data collation to a whole new level.”….

     

     

    An invasive species facilitates the recovery of salt marsh ecosystems on Cape Cod

    Mark D. Bertness 1 and Tyler C. Coverdale Ecology April 2013

    Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Box G-W, Providence, Rhode Island 02912 USA

    With global increases in human impacts, invasive species have become a major threat to ecosystems worldwide. While they have been traditionally viewed as harmful, invasive species may facilitate the restoration of degraded ecosystems outside their native ranges. In New England (USA) overfishing has depleted salt marsh predators, allowing the herbivorous crab Sesarma reticulatum to denude hundreds of hectares of low marsh. Here, using multiple site surveys and field caging experiments, we show that the subsequent invasion of green crabs, Carcinus maenas, into heavily burrowed marshes partially reverses decades of cordgrass die-off. By consuming Sesarma, eliciting a nonlethal escape response, and evicting Sesarma from burrows, Carcinus reduces Sesarma herbivory and promotes cordgrass recovery. These results suggest that invasive species can contribute to restoring degraded ecosystems and underscores the potential for invasive species to return ecological functions lost to human impacts.

    Mark D. Bertness and Tyler C. Coverdale 2013. An invasive species facilitates the recovery of salt marsh ecosystems on Cape Cod. Ecology 94:1937–1943. http://dx.doi.org/10.1890/12-2150.1

     

    The Audubon’s warbler (shown here) shares the same mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) with myrtle warblers. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of British Columbia)

    Songbirds may have ‘borrowed’ DNA to fuel migration
    (September 20, 2013)A common songbird may have acquired genes from fellow migrating birds in order to travel greater distances, according to a University of British Columbia study published this week in the journal
    Evolution.. While most birds either migrate or remain resident in one region, the Audubon’s warbler, with habitat ranging from the Pacific Northwest to Mexico, exhibits different behaviours in different locations. The northern populations breed and migrate south for the winter, while southern populations have a tendency to stay put all year long. Evolutionary biologists have long been puzzled by research that indicates some Audubon’s warblers share the same mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) with myrtle warblers — a different species of songbird that migrates annually to the southeastern U.S., Central America and the Caribbean — even though they look dramatically different.

    “Mitochondria are only passed down from mothers to their offspring,” says David Toews, a PhD candidate in UBC’s Department of Zoology. “So it’s a very useful marker for differentiating species. In this case, finding two species of songbirds sharing the same mtDNA is very surprising, so we set out to find out why.” By analyzing genetic data and stable isotopes in feathers, and by measuring oxygen consumption of the mitochondria in their flight muscles, Toews and fellow researcher Milica Mandic pinpointed the precise geographical location near the Utah-Arizona border where the myrtle warblers’ “wanderlust” genes displace the Audubon warbler’s ancestral mitochondria. This region happens to also be the transition zone where we see a change in the migratory behaviour of Audubon’s warblers.

    “Because of its prominent role in reconstructing evolutionary relationships, people often forget that mitochondria actually have a very important function as the main energy generator of cells,” says Toews. “Our findings suggest that over generations, the Audubon’s warbler may have co-opted the myrtle’s mitochondria to better power its own travels.”

     

    David P. L. Toews, Milica Mandic, Jeffrey G. Richards, Darren E. Irwin. Migration, Mitochondria and the Yellow-Rumped Warbler. Evolution, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/evo.12260

     

     

    Seeing the forest and the trees: Panoramic, very-high-resolution, time-lapse photography for plant and ecosystem research
    (September 25, 2013) — A new technique uses the GigaPan EPIC Pro, a robotic camera system, to create time-lapse sequences of panoramas that allow the viewer to zoom in at an incredible level of detail, e.g., from a landscape view to that of an individual plant. This system greatly improves the utility of time-lapse photography by capturing interactions between the environment and plant populations in a single sequence. … > full story

     

     

    WCS researchers and other stranding team members worked to capture some of the melon-headed whales in order to transport them to the open ocean. (Credit: Photo credit: T. Collins/WCS)

    Whale mass stranding attributed to sonar for first time
    (September 25, 2013) — An independent scientific review panel has concluded that the mass stranding of approximately 100 melon-headed whales in the Loza Lagoon system in northwest Madagascar in 2008 was primarily triggered by acoustic stimuli, more specifically, a multi-beam echosounder system operated by a survey vessel contracted by ExxonMobil Exploration and Production (Northern Madagascar) Limited. …

    According to the final report issued today, this is the first known marine mammal mass stranding event of this nature to be closely associated with high-frequency mapping sonar systems. Based on these findings, there is cause for concern over the impact of noise on marine mammals as these high-frequency mapping sonar systems are used by various stakeholders including the hydrocarbon industry, military, and research vessels used by other industries. The report concluded: “The potential for behavioral responses and indirect injury or mortality from the use of similar MBES [multi-beam echosounder systems] should be considered in future environmental assessments, operational planning and regulatory decisions.” The full report can be found at: http://iwc.int/2008-mass-stranding-in-madagascar. full story

     

     

    The whale’s body orientation during bottom side-roll feeding is depicted in this computer-generated image. (Credit: Colin Ware, University of New Hampshire Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping)

    Research Reveals Bottom Feeding Techniques of Tagged Humpback Whales in Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary

    Sep. 26, 2013 — New NOAA-led research on tagged humpback whales in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary reveals a variety of previously unknown feeding techniques along the seafloor. Rather than a single bottom feeding behavior, the whales show three distinct feeding approaches: simple side-rolls, side-roll inversions, and repetitive scooping. A recently published paper, in the journal Marine Mammal Science, indicates that bottom side-roll techniques are common in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the Great South Channel study area, a deep-water passage between Nantucket, Mass. and Georges Bank-further southeast.

     

    Species density (a relative measure of species richness) decreases poleward. Functional diversity is highest in the Tropical Eastern Pacific and at dispersed hotspots at a range of latitudes. Color classifications differ between maps due to different ranges and distributions of diversity values. Minimum and maximum observed values are provided in the key for each plot as effective numbers per 500 square meters. (Credit: Virginia Institute of Marine Science)

    Global Study Reveals New Hotspots of Fish Biodiversity

    September 25, 2013 — Teeming with species, tropical coral reefs have been long thought to be the areas of greatest biodiversity for fishes and other marine life — and thus most deserving of resources for conservation. But a new global study of reef fishes reveals a surprise: when measured by factors other than the traditional species count — instead using features such as a species’ role in an ecosystem or the number of individuals within a species — new hotspots of biodiversity emerge, including some nutrient-rich, temperate waters…. > full story

     

    Uphill for the trees of the world
    (September 24, 2013) — You’ll need to get out your mountain boots to go for a walk in the woods in the future. A new study shows that forests are to an increasing extent growing on steep slopes all over the world.
    Human civilisation has had an impact on the world, and it continues to have an even greater impact. One of these is that the forests have been cleared and especia
    lly so in flat lowlands, so that they have gradually become restricted to steep terrain. This pattern is now emerging all across the world..
    Developed countries have been particularly efficient at removing forests from fertile, flat areas of land. The process has been going on throughout the last centuries, for example in Europe. And there is a clear correlation. The better the economy, the better the political organisation, and the more orderly societal conditions a country has, the more efficient the population has been at restricting forests to steep areas, reflecting their lower utility and value. Researchers at Aarhus University have reached this conclusion by making use of the rapidly increasing amount of data from satellites that monitor the global environment with a high level of detail. The researchers analysed high-resolution global satellite data describing the distribution of tree cover in the period 2000-2005, linking this to global data for terrain (slope), climate, human activity, and a number of political and socio-economic factors. The study is being published in Nature Communications. While the process has been going on in densely populated, developed countries for a long time, it has also accelerated in recent times in less well-developed countries and societies, which have also started to clear forests to make room for agriculture and urban development. In thinly populated areas such as parts of Amazon, Siberia and Congo, there are still large, continuous stretches of unspoiled forests. As populations grow and human impacts increase, however, development will increasingly affect even these relatively isolated areas. The more well-developed societies around the world are now increasingly replanting trees, just as forests are naturally regrowing in areas that have been abandoned as people move to the cities. These dynamics occur in steep areas in particular, given modern efficient land use practices cannot easily be implemented here, strengthening the development leading towards future forests becoming concentrated on slopes. This development gives rise to concern about the biodiversity of the forests of the future, according to Brody Sandel, who is one of the researchers responsible for the study.

     


    How Green is the Valley? Putting a Dollar Value on Ecosystems- Agriculture in NM

    Jon Goldstein / Published September 12, 2013 in Ecosystems

    An acequia, or irrigation ditch, in New Mexico.

    How much is something worth? If you are looking at an ounce of gold, a pound of rice or a barrel of oil, the answer is easy. Markets exist to set prices between  buyers and sellers.

    But what if you are trying to establish the value of clean air and water, the cohesiveness of your community or your health? What if you wanted to understand how much each of this these things was worth in order to knit them together and establish the value of an entire ecosystem? Economists call this establishing the value of “ecosystem services,” and it is no less important than setting the right price for a barrel of West Texas Crude. By working together, economists, ecologists, local residents and others can help begin to set the values for the pieces that make up an ecosystem. Through study, interviews with locals and research, things like the value of clean water to irrigate crops, or a well-functioning wetland as habitat for aquatic species begin to come into sharper focus. Understanding these values can help protect these natural landscapes in the face of development pressures and a changing climate. This understanding also helps scientists bolster what is working and transfer lessons learned to other landscapes that may not be functioning as well. A few weeks ago, a team of scientists, policy experts from EDF and other groups and local citizens, led by Dr. Steven Archambault of New Mexico State University and Dr. Nejem Raheem of Emerson College in Boston, began such an effort to examine ecosystem service values in agricultural communities in northern New Mexico. As is the case across the Southwest, many of these villages were settled by Spanish colonists in the 1600′s and their ecosystem is defined by irrigation systems called acequias. Each acequia (a-say-key-a, from the Arabic word for “water bearer”) is a hand-dug and locally maintained ditch that channels mountain snowmelt into the fertile valley bottoms for agricultural and domestic use…..

     

     

    CDFA Releases New Ecosystems Services Database

    The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) recently released an Ecosystem Services Database. The database was developed to help the department discuss the multiple benefits provided by California agriculture and to provide growers, ranchers, and stakeholders with information about ecosystem services. CDFA developed the database by identifying nearly 400 farms and ranches from websites and other sources, including several produced by CalCAN and available on our website, and indicating what ecosystems services they provide. The database can be queried by key word, county, crop type, and type of ecosystem service. An interactive map allows users to view where the services are taking place. Growers can add their own operation to the site by filling out a simple online questionnaire. “California’s working farms and ranches are an important part of our natural landscape,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “The commitment to ecosystem services demonstrates clearly that beyond the productivity of fields and pastures, resource management decisions by farmers and ranchers provide us with wildlife and pollinator habitat, contribute to clean water and air, provide recreational and tourism connections, and much more.”

     

     

     


     

    Loss of digging mammals linked to ecosystem decline

    The Guardian

    Sept 24 2013

     
     

    Written by

    Oliver Milman

     
           

    The rapid loss of foraging animals such as bilbies, bandicoots and potoroos since the European colonisation of Australia has been linked to ecosystem decline, owing to the role they play in keeping land healthy. A new study led by Murdoch University .

     

    Europe-wide studies published on cormorant-fishery conflicts
    (September 24, 2013) — Findings from a major Europe-wide study into cormorant-fishery conflicts are published this week, providing one of the most detailed ecological and socio-economic investigations of these fish-eating birds, their
    impacts and implications for their management…..
    Cormorant numbers across Europe have been increasing, particularly within the last three decades, for a range of reasons including protection from persecution, the effect of improved food sources, for example as a result of nutrient enrichment and fish farms, and changes in pollution levels. However, the enlarged cormorant populations have led to significant conflicts in many parts of Europe with recreational and commercial fisheries, and fish farms. For this reason, an interdisciplinary network of almost 70 researchers from 30 countries contributed to the ‘INTERCAFE: Interdisciplinary Initiative to Reduce Pan-European Cormorant-Fisheries Conflicts’ project which was funded through the EU COST Action programme. … > full story

     

     

    Whale earwax used to determine contaminant exposure in whales
    (September 23, 2013) — A novel technique has been developed for reconstructing contaminant and hormone profiles using whale earplugs to determine, for the first time, lifetime chemical exposures and hormone profiles, from birth to death, for an individual whale. This information has not been previously attainable. … > full story

     

     

     

    Invasive Fish Species in Danube River Creates Entirely New Ecosystem

    Science World Report

     - ‎September 23, 2013‎

           

    Invasive species are conquering native ones as aquatic environments begin to shift. Now, scientists have discovered a fish species in the Danube River that’s making a huge splash; not only is this invasive species conquering new habitat, but it’s also That’s not all round goby are doing. They’re also reducing the diversity and abundance of invertebrates. Stoneflies, caddisflies and mayflies are being particularly hard hit as they become preferred prey. With the ability to quickly adapt to its new surroundings, the round goby is drastically impacting ecosystems. In fact, the researchers found that the goby invasion has led to a “novel ecosystem” in the headwater of the Danube. This ecosystem is comprised of previously unknown combinations of species. Similar occurrences are also happening in other areas that the round goby is colonizing, including the Great Lakes of North America. “What we are observing is a very flexible and robust network of different species that adapts itself perfectly to new environments,” said Jurgen Geist, one of the researchers, in a news release. “Biodiversity is declining and once the original ecosystem is lost, we can never go back.” The findings are published in the journal PLOS One.

     

     

    Three new species of tiny frogs from the remarkable region of Papua New Guinea
    (September 20, 2013) — Following the description of the world’s smallest frogs, biologists now offer three more species of tiny amphibians from the region of Papua New Guinea. Despite their minute size, around 20 mm, the three new frog species are still substantially larger than the prize holders, described in 2011. The new species represent a small part and attest for the remarkable anuran biodiversity of the Papuan region. … > full story

     

    Artificial lighting and noise alter biorhythms of birds
    (September 24, 2013) — Noise from traffic and artificial night lighting cause birds in the city centre to become active up to five hours earlier in the morning than birds in more natural areas. These were the findings from an investigation conducted on 400 blackbirds in Leipzig by the interdisciplinary research group “Loss of the Night”. These findings showed how ambient noise and light pollution caused by humans have significant effects on the behavioural patterns of city blackbirds, affecting their natural cycles. … > full story

     

    Antibacterial products fuel resistant bacteria in streams and rivers
    (September 19, 2013) — Triclosan — a synthetic antibacterial widely used in personal care products — is fueling the development of resistant bacteria in streams and rivers. So reports a new paper that is the first to document triclosan resistance in a natural environment. … > full story

     

    Steroids may persist longer in the environment than expected
    (September 26, 2013) — Certain anabolic steroids and pharmaceutical products last longer in the environment than previously known, according to a new study. The researchers found that the steroid trenbolone acetate, along with some other pharmaceutical products, never fully degrade in the environment, and in fact can partially regenerate themselves. … > full story

     

    The future of the suburbs
    (September 25, 2013) — Few living environments are more universally maligned than the suburbs. The suburbs stand accused of being boring, homogeneous, inefficient, car-oriented, and sterile. Some critics even argue that the suburbs make people fat. While criticisms mount, however, a large proportion of the world’s population continues to live in the suburban fringes of growing cities. What factors will affect the future of the suburbs? What changes do planners need to accommodate in planning the next generation of urban growth? … > full story

     

     

     

     

     

    Feeding Cows Different Food Could Lower Their Emissions By 30 Percent

    By Katie Valentine on September 26, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    CREDIT: Shutterstock

    Emissions from livestock can be cut by 30 percent just by adopting better farming practices, according to a new report by the U.N. The report, published Thursday by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, found that using better, more easily-digestible feeds can reduce the amount of methane generated by ruminants like cows, and that better breeding techniques and maintenance of animals’ health can also reduce the numbers of unproductive animals in a herd. In addition, better soil management on grazing lands can increase the pasture’s ability to act as a carbon sink. For pigs and poultry, the report found that using precision feeding — meeting the animals’ nutritional requirements, instead of overfeeding them nutrient-deficient foods — and switching to feed sources that are less energy-intensive can help reduce emissions. And for cows and poultry, using manure as fertilizer instead of storing and discarding it can help recycle nutrients back into the soil and also cut down on emissions from decomposing manure. Livestock is responsible for 14.5 percent of the world’s emissions, according to the report. Most of those — 65 percent — come from cattle and are in the form of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that’s responsible for about 44 percent of livestock’s emissions. Forty-five percent of greenhouse gases from livestock are emitted during feed production and processing — meaning growing and shipping the corn and soy used to feed most farm animals. The report stated that many of these recommendations had the ability to boost production as well as decrease emissions. The report recommended that governments, especially in developing countries, provide incentives to farmers to adopt these better practices, and also to increase public awareness of livestock’s role in climate change. …

     

     

    What ocean heating reveals about global warming

    RealClimate

    September 25 2013

           

    The heat content of the oceans is growing and growing. That means that the greenhouse effect has not taken a pause and the cold sun is not noticeably slowing global warming. NOAA posts regularly updated measurements of the amount of heat stored in the ocean The amount of heat stored in the oceans is one of the most important diagnostics for global warming, because about 90% of the additional heat is stored there (you can read more about this in the last IPCC report from 2007).  The atmosphere stores only about 2% because of its small heat capacity.  The surface (including the continental ice masses) can only absorb heat slowly because it is a poor heat conductor.  Thus, heat absorbed by the oceans accounts for almost all of the planet’s radiative imbalance….We see two very interesting things.

    First:  Roughly two thirds of the warming since 1980 occurred in the upper ocean.  The heat content of the upper layer has gone up twice as much as in the lower layer (700 – 2000 m).  The average temperature of the upper layer has increased more than three times as much as the lower (because the upper layer is only 700 m thick, and the lower one 1300 m).  That is not surprising, as after all the ocean is heated from above and it takes time for the heat to penetrate deeper.

    Second:  In the last ten years the upper layer has warmed more slowly than before.  In spite of this the temperature still is changing as rapidly there as in the lower layer.  This recent slower warming in the upper ocean is closely related to the slower warming of the global surface temperature, because the temperature of the overlaying atmosphere is strongly coupled to the temperature of the ocean surface. That the heat absorption of the ocean as a whole (at least to 2000 m) has not significantly slowed makes it clear that the reduced warming of the upper layer is not (at least not much) due to decreasing heating from above, but rather mostly due to greater heat loss to lower down:  through the 700 m level, from the upper to the lower layer.  (The transition from solar maximum to solar minimum probably also contributed a small part as planetary heat absorption decreased by about 15%, Abraham, et al., 2013).  It is difficult to establish the exact mechanism for this stronger heat flux to deeper water, given the diverse internal variability in the oceans.

     

     

    Climate report struggles with temperature quirks. September 21, 2013 Associated Press Scientists working on a landmark U.N. report on climate change are struggling over how to address a wrinkle in the meteorological data that has given ammunition to global-warming skeptics: The heating of Earth’s surface appears to have slowed in the past 15 years even though greenhouse gas emissions keep rising.

     


    Faux Pause: Ocean Warming, Sea Level Rise And Polar Ice Melt Speed Up, Surface Warming To Follow


    By Joe Romm on September 25, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Decadal surface-air temperature (°C) via average of datasets maintained by the HadCRU, NOAA and NASA.

    “Global Warming Has Accelerated In Past 15 Years, New Study Of Oceans Confirms,” as we reported back in March. And “Greenland Ice Melt Up Nearly Five-Fold Since Mid-1990s, Antartica’s Ice Loss Up 50% In Past Decade,” as we reported last November. Another study that month found “sea level rising 60% faster than projected.” And yet much of the media believes climate change isn’t what gets measured and reported by scientists, but is somehow a dialectic or a debate between scientists and deniers. So while 2010 was the hottest year on record and the 2000s the hottest decade on record, we are subject to nonsensically framed stories like this one from CBS, headlined “Controversy over U.N. report on climate change as warming appears to slow.” The drama-driven junkies of the MSM apparently think that the most newsworthy thing in the once-every-several-years literature review by hundreds of the world’s leading scientists is that people who make a living denying climate science … wait for it … deny climate science. That CBS story actually begins, “Climatologists and climate-change deniers agree on at least one thing this week: everyone is awaiting the landmark U.N. report on climate change that will be presented at next week’s meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).” Stop the presses! No, please, stop the damn presses already if you are an editor or reporter who thinks deniers deserve equal billing with scientists.

    Because the media keeps making the same faux pas about the faux pause, scientists and science writers have had to debunk it repeatedly. Anyone in the media who insists on buying into the false dialectic MUST read the new piece at Real Climate by climatologist Stefan Rahmstorf, the Mother Jones piece by Chris Mooney, this piece by Tamino, and almost anything at Skeptical Science (such as this or this).

    Let me extract the key points and figures. Back in July, scientist Dana Nuccitelli summarized a new study, “Distinctive climate signals in reanalysis of global ocean heat content“:

    • Completely contrary to the popular contrarian myth, global warming has accelerated, with more overall global warming in the past 15 years than the prior 15 years. This is because about 90% of overall global warming goes into heating the oceans, and the oceans have been warming dramatically.
    • As suspected, much of the ‘missing heat’ Kevin Trenberth previously talked about has been found in the deep oceans. Consistent with the results of Nuccitelli et al. (2012), this study finds that 30% of the ocean warming over the past decade has occurred in the deeper oceans below 700 meters, which they note is unprecedented over at least the past half century.
    • Some recent studies have concluded based on the slowed global surface warming over the past decade that the sensitivity of the climate to the increased greenhouse effect is somewhat lower than the IPCC best estimate. Those studies are fundamentally flawed because they do not account for the warming of the deep oceans.
    • The slowed surface air warming over the past decade has lulled many people into a false and unwarranted sense of security…..

     

    Arctic Ice Makes Comeback From Record Low, but Long-Term Decline May Continue

    New York Times 

     - ‎September 21, 2013‎

           

    Sea ice in the Arctic Ocean underwent a sharp recovery this year from the record-low levels of 2012, with 50 percent more ice surviving the summer melt season, scientists said Friday. The experts added, however, that much of the ice remains thin and slushy, a far cry from the thick Arctic pack ice of the past. Because thin ice is subject to rapid future melting, the scientists said this year’s recovery was unlikely to portend any change in the relentless long-term decline of Arctic sea ice…..

     

     

    The deep Greenland Sea is warming faster than the world ocean
    (
    September 25, 2013) — Recent warming of the Greenland Sea Deep Water is about ten times higher than warming rates estimated for the global ocean. Scientists analyzed temperature data from 1950 to 2010 in the abyssal Greenland Sea, which is an ocean area located just to the south of the Arctic Ocean. … In the last thirty years, the water temperature between 2000 metres depth and the sea floor has risen by 0.3 degrees centigrade. ‘This sounds like a small number, but we need to see this in relation to the large mass of water that has been warmed’ says the AWI scientist and lead author of the study, Dr. Raquel Somavilla Cabrillo. ‘The amount of heat accumulated within the lowest 1.5 kilometres in the abyssal Greenland Sea would warm the atmosphere above Europe by 4 degrees centigrade. The Greenland Sea is just a small part of the global ocean. However, the observed increase of 0.3 degrees in the deep Greenland Sea is ten times higher than the temperature increase in the global ocean on average. For this reason, this area and the remaining less studied polar oceans need to be taken into consideration’. The cause of the warming is a change in the subtle interplay of two processes in the Greenland Sea: the cooling by deep convection of very cold surface waters in winter and the warming by the import of relatively warm deep waters from the interior Arctic Ocean. “Until the early 1980s, the central Greenland Sea has been mixed from the top to the bottom by winter cooling at the surface making waters dense enough to reach the sea floor” explains Somavilla. “This transfer of cold water from the top to the bottom has not occurred in the last 30 years. However, relatively warm water continues to flow from the deep Arctic Ocean into the Greenland Sea. Cooling from above and warming through inflow are no longer balanced, and thus the Greenland Sea is progressively becoming warmer and warmer.” ….> full story

     

     

    As Rim Fire landscape shows signs of new life, scientists begin to assess forest management.

    TRACIE CONE September 27, 2013 Associated Press The forest is beginning to repair itself. The conundrum facing forest ecologists is what to do now in an agency that is transitioning from a heavy focus on timber production to take into consideration the impacts of climate change, carbon sequestration and habitat. ….

    ust four weeks after the most intense day of California’s Rim Fire — when wind and extremely arid conditions created a conflagration that turned 30,000 acres of dense conifers and oaks into a moonscape — life is returning as the forest begins to repair itself. “It’s a pretty harsh environment, but we know fire can be good and that species depend on it, and that fire allows seeds to germinate,” said Sean Collins of the South Central Sierra Incident Command Team as he examined tiny patches of greenery amid a disorienting sepia-tone landscape.

    “Next spring we’ll see a lot of wildflowers and plants that haven’t been seen around here for a long, long time. In 20 years, we’ll see something really nice. But it will take 200 years at least for it to grow back the way it was,” he said.
    A hunter’s illegal campfire ignited California’s third-largest fire in history Aug. 17 in Stanislaus National Forest, launching a 400-square-mile mosaic of destruction interspersed with unaltered refuges across the 1,400-square-mile forest. It scorched canyon walls in 25 watersheds nurturing sensitive trout and supplying drinking water to millions of Californians before spreading into Yosemite National Park.
    Experts estimate the Stanislaus lost 1 billion board feet of potential lumber in a forest that balances recreation and natural beauty with select timber sales. Forest archeologists are assessing damage and the potential loss of historic logging camps, Gold Rush cabins and native Miwok artifacts.
    But the conundrum facing forest ecologists is what to do now in an agency that is transitioning from one with a heavy focus on timber production to one whose actions now take into consideration the impacts of climate change, carbon sequestration and habitat.

    Decades ago when the last fires swept through the Stanislaus, foresters replanted vast stands of conifers. Absent funding to manage those forests, and lacking a market for small trees that could be sold from thinning, they had stood relatively untouched. Inspections this week revealed that those were some of the most heavily devastated from a fire that has become a laboratory for forest management in an era of rapid environmental changes brought by climate warming. “When they planted those plantations, the foresters wanted to grow forest for wood production,” said federal forest ecologist Hugh Safford a day after surveying the impact. “Now there are a lot of things that we are trying to do that we have to take into consideration: watershed protection, wildlife habitat restoration, climate change resilience. That’s a big switch in thinking.”

     

     

    Into the Wildfire

    What science is learning about fire and how to live with it.

    New York Times ‎- Paul Tullis Photographs by Richard Barnes September 19, 2013

     

    Lassen Volcanic National Park, in Northern California, consists of more than 100,000 acres of wilderness and woodlands surrounding Lassen Peak, a volcano named for a pioneer and huckster who guided migrants through the area, that last blew its top in 1915, before anybody knew it was an active volcano. Last summer the park, like much of the West, was in the midst of a yearlong drought — which could be more accurately described as the continuation of a decade-long drought that had merely been less severe for a couple of years…. Fire has always been a part of the natural ecology — many plant species evolved in direct response to it and couldn’t survive without it; when the sap of some pine cones melts, for example, seeds are released. But the reflexive practice of putting out all fires, which has dominated national policy for so many decades, has turned much of the American West into a tinderbox….…Seven weeks later, a hunter’s illegal campfire started a wildfire near Yosemite National Park; named the Rim Fire, it would go on to burn an area about the size of San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland and Sacramento combined, involve nearly 5,000 firefighters at one point and cost roughly $90 million to fight. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency as the fire threatened San Francisco’s water supplies and access to electricity. That same week in August, images of giant flames from a fire burning over a 174-square-mile area near Ketchum, Idaho — close to where a fire in 2007 burned 65 square miles — dominated nightly news coverage.

     

    Wildfires of a size and intensity that only a decade ago were rare are now almost an annual occurrence. This summer, more than 500 homes were destroyed by fire in the Colorado Springs area; last year, the nearby Waldo Canyon Fire burned down 347 structures, at a cost of $453 million. In 2011, 5,600 homes and buildings were destroyed by fires in Texas. In 2009, one wildfire lasting several weeks burned an area in Los Angeles County the size of more than 10 Manhattans and cost $93 million. The amount the federal government spent putting out fires over the last decade was triple what it was in the ’90s. We probably wouldn’t be as concerned about fires that are getting bigger and spreading farther, of course, were it not for the increasing intrusion of people and buildings into fire-prone landscapes. This development creates what fire experts call the wild-land-urban interface, or WUI (pronounced WOO-ee), and from Bozeman, Mont., to Laurel Canyon in California, more and more of us want to live there, with forested views and coyotes for neighbors — but without the fire. About 80,000 wildfires in the United States were designated for suppression each year between 1998 and 2007, and only an average of 327 were allowed to burn. Yet trying to put out all those fires leads inevitably to more intense, more dangerous and more expensive fires later on. The accumulation of dead wood and unburned “ladder fuels” — what ecologists call lower vegetation that can carry fire to taller trees — turn lower-intensity fires into hotter fires that kill entire stands of trees that otherwise might survive.

     

    PHOTO: The fire-whirl generator inside the Fire Sciences Laboratory in Missoula.

    We know this, but we haven’t wanted to pay the costs to do things differently. It’s possible to break up and remove smaller trees and other vegetation, but the heavy equipment needed to do that is very expensive. (The process can inhibit plant growth too.) It’s also possible to set “prescribed” fires, but these carefully controlled operations can take decades to produce the desired effects in a given area. And managing a fire that starts naturally in order to let it clean up ladder fuels is risky and costly. “If we let fires burn, it takes up resources to watch them, and we don’t have the luxury to do that,” says Ken Pimlott, the director of California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. “We’ve got to put it out and move on to the next fire.” A sudden change in wind can send a fire raging toward populated areas, which can lead to fatalities, damage and lawsuits. With responsibility for 31 million acres, almost all privately owned, that have more and more people living on them, Pimlott maintains a strict policy of immediate and full suppression for every fire that starts in his area, even as he recognizes the policy flies in the face of logic and science. “The entire cycle is out of whack,” he says. “The movement of people into the WUI, the fires they start there and infrastructure that needs protection, plus drought, climate, suppression — you combine all these things, and it’s creating more intense fires. It just becomes a larger problem.” ….

    The Fire Sciences Lab is hoping to come up with a physics-based model that would incorporate the findings. More than that, they want their research to lead to a better understanding of fire and hence better decisions in the field. The dynamics that Finney, Cohen and their collaborators have observed would explain a lot of fire behavior that has puzzled firefighters — a wildfire suddenly spreading rapidly without wind, say, or failing to be tamped down by cooler, moist night air. “There may be a general principle that can be applied to every wildfire,” Finney said. What that general principle might be is still unformulated, so exactly how it might change the way we approach any specific fire remains unknown. But what we do know now is that fire spreads in ways we didn’t realize before. This argues even more strongly for a policy that encourages removal of underbrush and managed or prescribed burns, and for the regulation of communities living at a forest’s edge. The way to make wildfires, and the people living near them, safer is by making peace with the idea that we need to let more of them burn longer. ….


     

    SEEING MORE THAN CARBON FOR THE TREES

    ‘Best practice’ carbon farming that considers more than just the carbon in trees is needed if the full benefits of trees in the landscape are to be realised by farmers, landholders, and the community.
    September 24 2013- CSIRO-led research confirms that tree plantings in rural lands have significant potential to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and, if done well, can provide a stream of other benefits to farmers, local communities and the environment. “Schemes which offer economic incentives for growing trees for carbon present an opportunity to reverse trends in land clearing but also to restore ecosystem services – such as pest control, pollination, soil and water conservation – that provide important benefits to farmers and the broader community,”  according to CSIRO’s  Dr Brenda Lin.
     The removal of trees may have disrupted refuges for native insects that control pests, pollination, carbon sequestration, organic matter accumulation and water and soil conservation which are important for sustainable farming and the environment. “The ability of carbon tree plantings to restore some of these other benefits that support agricultural production may be a key factor in encouraging farmers and landholders to take up this type of carbon farming,” Dr Lin said.”Land-use models show that policies aimed solely at maximising carbon storage may not produce additional agricultural and environmental benefits and may even produce unwanted outcomes for farmers, landowners and communities. For example, studies of past revegetation in agricultural landscapes show that in some locations intensive single-species (or monoculture) plantations can affect water flows, increase invasive pests and lead to biodiversity loss, be fire prone and have poor growth rates. Poorly located vegetation could reduce the availability of land for food production.” Alternatively, there are many opportunities for tree plantings, if planned and implemented properly, to provide additional benefits to the farmer beyond just carbon. “By revegetating unused, marginal or degraded cropping land, using multiple species of trees and shrubs, we could see improvements to pest control, pollination and water quality, increased wind protection and reduced soil erosion and salinity,” Dr Lin said. “For example, we know that remnant native vegetation patches that currently persist in agricultural landscapes, if they are well managed and contain few weed species, support a range of insect and spider predators and parasitic wasps that can attack pests of grain crops.” The benefits for local communities and the public could include increased water quality, reduced pesticide use, more habitat for species such as birds, and other cultural benefits. The research, published in the American BioScience journal, highlights the need to better understand these private, public and shared benefits  and tradeoffs so that future policies and initiatives encourage ‘best practice’ tree plantings that maximize the positives while also storing carbon.

    .. > 

     

     

    Severe thunderstorms, such as this one observed in Oklahoma in 2009, that could create tornadoes will become more common with global warming. (Credit: Sean Waugh / NOAA/NSSL)

    Global warming is likely to increase severe thunderstorm conditions in U.S., research finds
    (September 23, 2013)
    Severe thunderstorms, often exhibiting destructive rainfall, hail and tornadoes, are one of the primary causes of catastrophic losses in the United States. New climate models suggest a robust increase in these types of storms across the country.
    In 2012, 11 weather disasters in the United States crossed the billion-dollar threshold in economic losses. Seven of those events were related to severe thunderstorms. New climate analyses led by Stanford scientists indicate that global warming is likely to cause a robust increase in the conditions that produce these types of storms across much of the country over the next century. Severe thunderstorms are one of the primary causes of catastrophic losses in the United States and often exhibit the conditions that generate heavy rainfall, damaging winds, hail and tornadoes. Sparse historical data describing the atmospheric conditions that cause severe thunderstorms has limited scientists’ ability to project the long-term effects of global warming on storm frequency. But, using a complex ensemble of physics-based climate models, researchers led by Noah Diffenbaugh, an associate professor of environmental Earth system science at Stanford, have produced the most comprehensive projections of severe storm conditions for the next century.… > full story

     

     

    During boreal summer, Earth’s tropical rain belt migrates north. A similar but prolonged shift could happen if the north continues to heat faster than the south, disrupting global rainfall patterns. (Credit: Mats Halldin)

    Wind and rain belts to shift north as planet warms: Redistribution of rainfall could make Middle East, Western US and Amazonia drier
    (September 23, 2013)As humans continue to heat the planet, a northward shift of Earth’s wind and rain belts could make a broad swath of regions drier, including the Middle East, American West and Amazonia, while making Monsoon Asia and equatorial Africa wetter, says a new study.
    The study authors base their prediction on the warming that brought Earth out of the last ice age, som
    e 15,000 years ago. As the North Atlantic Ocean began to churn more vigorously, it melted Arctic sea ice, setting up a temperature contrast with the southern hemisphere where sea ice was expanding around Antarctica. The temperature gradient between the poles appears to have pushed the tropical rain belt and mid-latitude jet stream north, redistributing water in two bands around the planet. Today, with Arctic sea ice again in retreat, and the northern hemisphere heating up faster than the south, history could repeat itself.
    If the kinds of changes we saw during the deglaciation were to occur today that would have a very big impact,” said the study’s lead author, Wallace Broecker, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. Marshaling climate data collected from around the world, from tree-rings, polar ice cores, cave formations, and lake and ocean sediments, Broecker and study coauthor, Aaron Putnam, a climate scientist at Lamont-Doherty, hypothesize that the wind and rain belts shifted north from about 14,600 years ago to 12,700 years ago as the northern hemisphere was heating up. At the southern edge of the tropical rain belt, the great ancient Lake Tauca in the Bolivian Andes nearly dried up at this time while rivers in eastern Brazil slowed to a trickle and rain-fed stalagmites in the same region stopped growing. In the middle latitudes, the northward advance of the jet stream may have caused Lake Lisan, a precursor to the Dead Sea in Jordan’s Rift Valley, to shrink, along with several prehistoric lakes in the western U.S., including Lake Bonneville in present day Utah. Meanwhile, a northward shift of the tropical rains recharged the rivers that drain Venezuela’s Cariaco Basin and East Africa’s Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika. Stalagmites in China’s Hulu Cave grew bigger. Evidence for a stronger Asian monsoon during this time also shows up in the Greenland ice cores….… > full story

     

     

    What 95% certainty of warming means to scientists.
    Associated Press Top scientists from a variety of fields say they are about as certain that global warming is a real, man-made threat as they are that cigarettes kill. They are as sure about climate change as they are about the age of the universe. And for some non-scientists, that’s just not good enough.

     

     

    Climate Change Devastating Ocean Fisherman: ‘Sometimes We’ll Catch 5,000 Pounds Of Jellyfish’

    By Katie Valentine on September 24, 2013 at 9:02 am

    For many U.S. fisherman, there’s no debate about climate change. It’s here, and already majorly impacting their industries. In New Jersey, Rutgers scientists have documented for 24 years how climate change is affecting the state’s oceans through weekly fish surveys. The researchers are finding fewer and fewer northern species and more and more southern species — fish like the Atlantic croaker, which historically have rarely ventured into the cool waters surrounding New Jersey. Mackerel and clams, which were once common, are now moving north, forcing fisherman to reevaluate what they fish for.

    “As far as fishermen are concerned, climate change is here. This is a reality,” Tom Fote, of the Jersey Coast Anglers Association, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “We’re going to have to change the way we fish.” And it’s not just in New Jersey. Off the coast of Oregon, ocean acidification and hypoxia — a depletion in the ocean’s oxygen which can cause dead zones — are two of the biggest problems facing the region’s ocean ecosystems. Both are linked to climate change: the ocean absorbs about 30 to 40 percent of the atmosphere’s excess carbon, causing its pH to drop, and one study found hypoxia tends to increase as temperatures rise. Particularly off the coast of Oregon, where hypoxia began occurring in 2002 and anoxia — an area with zero oxygen — first emerged in 2006, more evidence is pointing to climate change as a likely culprit of the patches of depleted oxygen. These effects are causing trouble for Oregon fishermen. Rising water temperatures and ocean acidification are causing jellyfish populations to increase off the coast of Oregon (and also around the world), disrupting the ocean ecosystem and clogging fishermen’s nets. “Sometimes we’ll catch 4,000 or 5,000 pounds of jellyfish. They spray all around. We get stung,” fisherman Ryan Rogers told the Register-Guard. “It makes it difficult to bring your net in. You have to let it go and lose the salmon that are in your net.”

     

     

    Climate change: Polar bears change to diet with higher contaminant loads
    (September 20, 2013) — Over the past 30 years, polar bears have increasingly exchanged ringed seal with harp seal and hooded seal in their diet. This change exposes the polar bear to more contaminants, according to a recent international study. … > full story

     


    Climate Change Action Could Save 500000 Lives Annually, Study Says


    National Geographic September 26, 2013The research, published Sunday in Nature Climate Change, said the benefits were especially striking for China, with its large population now exposed to some of the worst pollution in the world.

     

    Why Autumn Leaves May Be Dulled by Climate Change

    Wunderground.com (blog)

     - ‎September 24 2013‎

           

    Every year, New England and other northern regions reliably burst into a blaze of fall color. But this natural phenomenon will likely become less reliable as climate change disrupts the planet, experts say. Add those brilliant reds and oranges to the list of global warming victims. Though climate effects are complicated, warmer weather will generally mean duller fall vistas in the United States, said Howie Neufeld, a professor of plant physiology at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. Climate change could dampen fall foliage by delaying the season, bleaching out red tones and ushering in invasive species, Neufeld told LiveScience. Though pretty red leaves might seem minor compared with the more dire predictions of climate change, fall color represents a significant economic and cultural resource. Last year, fall tourism brought over $1.5 billion to Maine alone. With 25 states across the country, from the Midwest to New England to the Piedmont, claiming significant autumn tourism seasons, Neufeld estimates “leaf peepers” generate about $25 billion a year. “That’s pretty significant,” he said…..A 23-year observational study at Harvard Forest has shown that fall hues now arrive three to five days later today, on average, than they did at the beginning of the study. That correlates with an increase of about 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius) in average temperatures in the Northeast, said John O’Keefe, an emeritus professor at Harvard who collected the data. ”Should that pattern continue, by the middle of the century, we’d be at well over a week later” for fall color, O’Keefe said. Trees cue in on both day length and temperature when moving toward leaf “senescence,” the process that produces fall color. Warmer fall days will make trees delay this process, Neufeld said. “The trees say, ‘It’s not getting colder, so I’ll just keep my leaves,’ ” he said. All else being equal, however, a later fall start might not do much harm to the leaf-peeping season, as global warming could also delay the frost and push off the end of fall, O’Keefe said. Unfortunately, “all else” is not equal, and studies like O’Keefe’s fail to account for the ways climate change might rob New England of its red leaves, Neufeld said. For one thing, climate change will likely alter the “suitable habitat” for many of the trees that bring fall color, particularly New England’s prized sugar maples, “one of the most important contributors to fall foliage,” O’Keefe said.

    Simulations show that climate change will push sugar maples from New England into Canada, reducing the suitable habitat for these trees in the United States by 40 to 60 percent by 2100, said Louis Iverson, a landscape ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service, whose “Climate Change Tree Atlas” forecasted the shift…

     

    Risky measures to save big trees from Rim fire worked.
    September 22, 2013 Los Angeles Times

    Giant sequoias evolved to face wildfire. But officials feared that the third-largest blaze in California history could kill even trees that had been shrugging off flames since before Rome burned. Firefighters were fearful as they set backfires to save giant sequoias and a stand of giant pines standing in the way of the third-largest blaze in California history.

    Flames consume the pine forest just off Evergreen Road near Yosemite National Park on Aug. 25. Firefighters set backfires to keep the Rim fire away from ancient trees. (Don Bartletti, Los Angeles Times / August 25, 2013)

    YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — Each afternoon the fire’s thunderous plume rose. At night, helicopter crews at the Crane Flat lookout watched a line of orange burning across the horizon. The line kept drawing closer. By the last week of August, every effort to halt the Rim fire before it moved deeper into the national park had failed. The blaze now had a clear path to the Tuolumne and Merced groves of giant sequoia, and the Rockefeller grove, one of the last stands of giant sugar pine untouched by logging. On Aug. 30, a Friday, a group of firefighters gathered at the lookout to launch a risky plan to protect some of Earth’s oldest and largest living organisms. Even Ben Jacobs, the division commander, was nervous. Jacobs, 55, had fought wildfires and managed prescribed burns at Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park. But he had seen crews take chances earlier in the week trying to save family camps and businesses. If they’d gambled for buildings, what would they do for living giants? He also worried that if crews lost control of the backfires they were about to ignite, flames could spread for miles, even as far as the Merced River, west of the park’s famous valley. “Listen,” he said. “Nobody wants to be the guy who burned down Yosemite.”…..

     

     

     

    Eight days, 1,000-year rain, 100-year flood. September 22, 2013 Boulder Daily Camera On a hot night in early September, there was no way to know that Boulder and the surrounding region were about to endure what experts would ultimately call a 1,000-year rain and a 100-year flood.

     

     

    Climate Change Has Reached Our Shores

    By CHRISTOPHER J. LOEAK NYTIMES September 26, 2013

    My country, the Marshall Islands, is in terrible danger. But we can do something about it — and you can help. .. Nowhere in the world is this threat more immediate than in the Marshall Islands, a loose string of more than 1,000 small islands a short plane ride southwest of Hawaii. As one of only four low-lying coral atoll nations in the world, we are increasingly panicked by recent scientific reports suggesting that the world is currently heading for a three- to six-foot rise in sea levels by the end of the century. If such predictions are accurate, my country will be lost forever. Earlier this year, I was forced to declare a state of disaster for our northern atolls after an unprecedented drought left thousands of our people without food or fresh water. Just six weeks later, a giant “king tide” hit our capital, Majuro, flooding the airport runway, some surrounding neighborhoods and even my own backyard as the waves crashed over a thick, protective sea wall — the second devastating climate disaster in two months. Some have suggested that we move to higher ground, but in the Marshall Islands there isn’t any — and we are not prepared to abandon our country….. For too long, others have used American inaction as an excuse not to act themselves. The world needs American leadership on climate change. United States support for the Majuro Declaration could not be more welcome, and it is likely to spur action from others. At this month’s post-forum dialogue, we heard strong support for the Majuro Declaration from Britain, Indonesia, France, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, the Philippines and the European Union, and we look forward to their commitments as well. This is precisely the upward spiral we are seeking to spark.

    This week, I am in New York with my fellow Pacific leaders to seek broader support for the Majuro Declaration, and to present it to the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, as our “Pacific gift” to his efforts to build political will for accelerating climate action, and the signing of a new global agreement in 2015. In doing so, we will call on countries, businesses and organizations to bring forward new commitments, and rededicate ourselves to finding a solution to the challenge of our generation. Nothing could be more important.

     

     

     

    A Pause, Not an End, to Warming

    By RICHARD A. MULLER OP ED NY TIMES September 25, 2013

    The lull is consistent with historic temperature variability.

     

     

    Children will bear brunt of climate change impact, new study says

    Most comprehensive climate change review to date warns of risks to children, with UNICEF arguing that children have been largely left out of the debate so far

    Indian children displaced due to the flooding of the River Ganges sit by a roadside in Allahabad. Photograph: Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP

    September 23 2013 The Guardian– Children will bear the brunt of the impact of climate change because of their increased risk of health problems, malnutrition and migration, according to a new study published on Monday. And food prices are likely to soar as a result of warming, undoing the progress made in combating world hunger.  The findings are published as scientists began meeting in Stockholm to produce the most comprehensive assessment yet of our knowledge of climate change. Over the next five days, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, bringing together the world’s leading experts, will thrash out the final details of a message to the world’s governments….

     

     

     

     

     

    Challenges await plan to reduce emissions. September 21, 2013 New York Times The Obama administration’s potentially pathbreaking proposal for carbon emission limits on new power plants will face political and legal challenges from opponents who argue that the technology needed has not been close to being proven as the law requires.

     

    New EPA rules: Coal’s future depends on cheap carbon capture. September 21, 2013 Christian Science Monitor The Environmental Protection Agency’s new rules on carbon emissions make carbon capture and storage a make-or-break technology for the coal industry. Ultimately, the fate of the technology and the coal industry lies with market forces, not technical know-how.

     

     

    National Parks Will Close To The Public But Stay Open To Drilling If The Government Shuts Down

    By Jessica Goad, Guest Blogger and Matt Lee-Ashley on September 26, 2013 at 10:58 am

    CREDIT: upadowna.org

    Despite the fact that most Americans object to the tactic of shutting down the government over Obamacare, Congressional Republicans continue to insist that they will not pass a budget for the federal government unless the Affordable Care Act is defunded, meaning that the government could potentially shut down when its current funding authorization runs out this coming Monday, September 30th.

    A review of the most recent contingency plans completed in December 2011 for federal agencies shows that under a government shutdown, federal land management agencies would be required to close national parks, wildlife refuges, and national forests to the general public but keep them open to most oil, gas, and mining operations.

    The National Park Service’s contingency plan says: Effective immediately upon a lapse in appropriations, the National Park Service will take all necessary steps to close and secure national park facilities and grounds in order to suspend all activities except for those that are essential to respond to emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property…Where ever possible, park roads will be closed and access will be denied….

    The closures, which may happen just 48 hours after tens of thousands of volunteers turn out this Saturday for National Public Lands Day, will not only throw a wrench in countless family plans, but will send chills through the country’s multibillion dollar tourism and recreation industry.

     


    New Life for the National Marine Sanctuary System

    NOAA’s proposal for a new framework for future expansion of the National Marine Sanctuary System represents real progress for marine-natural-resource management.

    By Shiva Polefka | Wednesday, August 28, 2013

     

    How the insurance industry is dealing with climate change.
    Smithsonian Magazine When it comes to the calculating the likelihood of catastrophic weather, one group has an obvious financial stake in the game: the insurance industry. In recent years, the industry researchers who determine the annual odds of catastrophic weather-related disasters say they’re seeing something new. ….”Our business depends on us being neutral. We simply try to make the best possible assessment of risk today, with no vested interest,” says Robert Muir-Wood, the chief scientist of Risk Management Solutions (RMS), a company that creates software models to allow insurance companies to calculate risk. “In the past, when making these assessments, we looked to history. But in fact, we’ve now realized that that’s no longer a safe assumption—we can see, with certain phenomena in certain parts of the world, that the activity today is not simply the average of history.” This pronounced shift can be seen in extreme rainfall events, heat waves and wind storms. The underlying reason, he says, is climate change, driven by rising greenhouse gas emissions. Muir-Wood’s company is responsible for figuring out just how much more risk the world’s insurance companies face as a result of climate change when homeowners buy policies to protect their property….

    SLowly, Democrats embrace fracking. Sept 25 2013 Washington Post Blue states are now rushing to grab a piece of the fracking pie just as fast as red states, despite concerns raised by environmental activists.

    Reuters Pump jacks pump for oil in the Monterey Shale.


    Oil firms seek to unlock big California field.
    Wall Street Journal California’s Monterey Shale formation is estimated to hold as much as two-thirds of the recoverable onshore shale-oil reserves in the U.S.’s lower 48 states, but there’s a catch: It is proving very hard to get.
    Formed by upheaval of the earth, the Monterey hol
    ds an estimated 15.4 billion barrels of recoverable shale oil, or as much as five times the amount in North Dakota’s booming Bakken Field, according to 2011 estimates by the Department of Energy. The problem is, the same forces that helped stockpile the oil have tucked it into layers of rock seemingly as impenetrable as another limiting factor: California’s famously rigid regulatory climate. California has become one of the U.S.’s top oil-producing states over the past century, largely by tapping into the easier-to-get oil that has seeped out of the Monterey beneath places like Bakersfield and Los Angeles County. But with production in general decline since the 1980s, producers are trying a smorgasbord of techniques—called enhanced oil recovery in industry parlance—in an effort to tap into the mother lode. So far, there have been no production breakthroughs…. Despite its limited use in the state, fracking is drawing fire from environmentalists and other critics for potentially causing harm, such as lowering water quality. On Friday Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill requiring more disclosures on fracking, which producers have been reporting to the state on a voluntary basis. The law takes effect at the start of 2014….

     

    Cargo ship carves a path in Arctic sea.
    Wall Street Journal A coal-laden cargo ship is on track to become the first bulk carrier to traverse the Northwest Passage through Canada’s Arctic waters, blazing a trail that shippers hope will become a time-saving route in global trade.

     

    Fight Over Energy Finds a New Front in a Corner of Idaho

    By KIRK JOHNSON NYT September 26, 2013

    …The Nez Perce Indians, who have called these empty spaces and rushing rivers home for thousands of years, were drawn into the national brawl over the future of energy last month when they tried to stop a giant load of oil-processing equipment from coming through their lands. The setting was U.S. Highway 12, a winding, mostly two-lane ribbon of blacktop that bisects the tribal homeland here in North Central Idaho.

     

     

    California Farmers Get Renewable Energy Boost
    www.calclimateag.org

    On Sept. 19th, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) cleared the way for new rules that will make it easier for California farmers, school districts, businesses and others making use of the state’s Net Energy Metering (NEM) program to produce renewable energy. The CPUC Commissioners directed the public utilities to put in place procedures that allow NEM customers to aggregate electric meters on their property and use excess clean energy generated at one meter to be credited against other meters. Farmers and ranchers typically have multiple meters on their property.  Current California law prohibits the power generated from an on-site renewable facility to be counted against other meters.  Consequently, farmers would have to install a separate facility for each meter, which is extremely inefficient and cost prohibitive, limiting their ability to cost-effectively generate renewable energy. The change came about because of the 2012 passage of a bill, Senate Bill 594, authored by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis). The California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN), a coalition of sustainable agriculture organizations, supported the bill. Read more…

     

     


    Do-it-yourself foreign policy



    Rachel Kleinfeld   SF Chronicle Opinion Week in Review Updated 4:35 pm, Friday, September 20, 2013


    Last week’s landmark agreement between China and California to cooperate on economic ventures that tackle climate change was more than the first-ever accord between China and a state government. It was a concrete example of the flattening of foreign policy, which is moving from something governments do on behalf of “regular people,” to something that governments and citizens undertake together. For years, global governments have worked to tackle climate change through domestic policy and international agreements. They wanted to succeed: from the mid-1990s, far-seeing leaders understood that climate change was going to create refugees and greater poverty in already poor regions such as Bangladesh, exacerbate resource conflicts over water and land in already volatile areas (such as the African savannahs where the Muslim north meets the Christian south), and enable tropical diseases to migrate to formerly temperate states in Europe and the United States. Yet, as each of these prophecies came true, governments proved unable to act. The 1997 Kyoto Protocol was deemed a failure because the United States, then the largest contributor to climate change, abstained. In 2009, the Copenhagen climate talks were scuttled by a recalcitrant China, which had become the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases. When the U.S. government tried to tackle the problem domestically in 2010, Congress defeated an attempt to create a cap on U.S. carbon emissions. And a carbon tax – supported by conservative economists and liberal environmentalists alike as the fairest and most market-driven method of action – is a political nonstarter among tax-averse politicians. For many in Silicon Valley, this morality tale has a clear lesson: avoid the government and get things done through the private sector…..

     

     

    Brown signs bill on fracking, upsetting both sides of oil issue.
    September 21, 2013 Los Angeles Times The nation’s toughest restrictions on a controversial oil drilling technique known as fracking were signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday. Hotly opposed by the oil industry, the measure “establishes strong environmental protections and transparency requirements,” the governor said in a statement.

     

     

     

     
     

     

    TOOLS:

     

     


    The Climate Commons offers a starting point for discovery of climate change data and related resources, information about the science that produced it, and the opportunity to communicate with others about applying climate change science to conservation in California.


    Tools for Assessing the Impacts of Climate Change


    Search the Commons Catalogs:

     


    Datasets



    Documents
    Web Resources


    CA LCC Projects



    Featured Articles
    New!–Tools

     

     

    California Salmon Snapshots

    How Many Salmon Return to Our Coastal Watersheds? The Nature Conservancy’s California Salmon Snapshots is a collaborative information-sharing effort, critical to the on-going recovery of the state’s salmon species. For the first time ever, population data — from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife and others — are compiled to show the number of salmon in our coastal California watersheds….

     

     

     

    WEBINARS:

     

    Managing Coastal Watersheds to Address Climate Change: Vulnerability and Adaptation in the Middle Patuxent Subwatershed

    Space is limited.

    Thursday, October 3, 2013 

     

    1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDT   11 AM- 12:30 PT 

     

    The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) received funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Restoration Center to help set the stage for addressing climate change impacts in the Chesapeake Bay, focusing on how to integrate climate change in coastal restoration and conservation activities. This webinar provides an overview of how to address climate change (both vulnerability and adaptation) through a case study at a subwatershed level in the Chesapeake Bay. The focus will be on using a case study to show how to determine the vulnerability of a subwatershed to potential climate change impacts as well as providing a suite of potential adaptation options to address those vulnerabilities.
    Although the case study is specific to the Chesapeake Bay the information from the project will be useful to those working within this watershed and beyond. The process and approach used for this effort is one that managers can replicate to help them conduct a vulnerability assessment and develop actionable adaptation options efficiently and effectively.

     
     
     

      

     

    CONFERENCES:

     

    Analytical Frameworks for Wetland and Riparian Buffers in Agricultural Settings

    October 4, 2013 8:30 – 5:00

    Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve  Including field site training at ALBA’s Triple M Ranch, Las Lomas;  Carlie Henneman- POINT BLUE CONSERVATION SCIENCE, Dale Huss, Marc Los Huertos, and Paul Robins, Instructors

    This one-day workshop trains participants in how to improve their analyses in consideration of the use of buffers for wetland and riparian areas in agricultural settings.  During an in-depth field training session , participants will also have opportunities to discuss farming operations and buffers with Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) affiliated Francisco Serrano (Serrano Organic Farm), Hector Mora (Hector’s Organic Farm), and Guilebaldo Nuñez (Nuñez Farms) as well as Kaley Grimland- ALBA’s Triple M Ranch Wetland Restoration Project Manager.  To register and for more information: http://www.elkhornsloughctp.org/training/show_train_detail.php?TRAIN_ID=AnP4EPT

     

     

     

    Working for Conservation Conference-Active Engagement in Forest and Woodland Sustainability

    Thursday, October 10, 2013   –  Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel, 1230 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814 916-341-401

    University of California Forestry and Outreach

    California’s forests and woodlands provide a tremendous array of values for society, including diverse habitats, water supply, carbon storage, energy, building products, aesthetics, outdoor recreation. With a population approaching 38 million people and 14 million international visitors, there is no area of the state not touched by humans. This conference will focus on what we can learn from innovative and novel strategies that seek to achieve desired outcome in natural systems that have been historically altered and will continue to be altered. We have scores of risk avoidance strategies that these new approaches can be compared to. We will discuss new policies and management strategies that recognize the realities of these impacts, and encourage active approaches to ensure that these values continue into the future.  This one day conference will provide a series of presentations illustrating the trajectory of our fingerprints across the state’s 40 million acres of forest and woodlands and consider novel approaches being implemented to get ahead of challenges where ‘no action’ approaches may not work. A series of case studies will be presented on how hybrids of restoration ecology , silviculture, and conservation biology are being combined in innovative conservation strategies. The response panelists will highlight the risks and opportunities of innovative approaches and will also ask questions that are submitted from participants. A wrap-up reception and poster session will be held to encourage discussion of the topics developed in the formal presentations.

    Intended Audience: Resource managers, governmental, industry and NGO leaders, the interested general public. A list of useful background reading is provided at this LINK. Registration is $100, and includes breaks, lunch, and a reception. Early registration is due by October 1, 2013. Register by clicking HERE

     

    Agenda Updates, Final Bootcamp Schedule and New Plenary Speakers
    Hotel Room Reservation Deadline is Thursday, September 26


    The updated program agenda is now posted at:
    http://www.ClimateStrategiesForum.org/CSF-2013-Agenda.pdf

    About the Forum

    The Climate Strategies Forum provides education and training aligned with the Core Competences for Climate Change Professionals, which will serve as the foundation for the CCO CertificationTM to be launched in 2014. 

    The program will feature a suite of keynote conversations in plenary format complemented by more than 15 climate bootcamps — the bootcamps are technical, deep-dive programs taking place in half-day sessions.  Attendees will bank foundational or continuing education credits for the CCO CertificationTM.

    A list of current participating organizations is now available.

     

     

    Roadmap for Adapting to Coastal Risk

    Tuesday Oct. 22, 2013 9am to 5pm    Sumner Auditorium, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

    8625 Discovery Way, San Diego, CA , 92037   Register Here

    FREE! Space is limited Registration is required by October 4, 2013  Dress comfortably for afternoon walking tour   This intensive one-day training will introduce the “Roadmap” assessment approach designed to help communities characterize their exposure to current and future hazard and climate threats. This participatory assessment process is designed to:

    • Engage key staff members and stakeholders in a comprehensive assessment of local vulnerabilities;

    • Evaluate potential hazard and climate impacts using existing information resources;

    • Collaborate across disciplines to better understand and plan for impacts; and

    • Identify opportunities for improving resilience to current and future hazard risks.

    NOAA’s Coastal Services Center expert training staff will lead instruction, with participants spending the morning being trained in the classroom, followed by an afternoon field experience.

    Who should attend? Professionals interested in: (1) increasing their understanding of, and skills in, coastal hazard mitigation, and (2) networking among other professionals. Specifically: program administrators, land use planners, public works staff members, floodplain managers, hazard mitigation planners, emergency managers, community groups, and coastal resource managers. For further information contact:  John Sandmeyer at jsandmeyer@sandiego.gov  

     

    Establishing Functional California Native Grasslands – Thursday, Oct. 24th

    Save the date for CA Native Grassland Associatio’s popular “how-to” workshop for native grassland restoration & revegetation projects.
    WHEN:  Thursday October 24th   8:00am – 4:30pm WHERE: Lake Solano Nature Center and field visit to upland restoration site west of Winters, CA
    WHO: course led by CNGA expert instructors Bryan Young, J.P. Marie, Chris Rose, Emily Allen of Hedgerow Farms, assisted by Jon O’Brien and Kurt Vaughn.
    QUESTIONS: Contact our Admin. Director admin@cnga.org or drop us a note via our Contact us link. Hope to see you in October!  Early bird registration extends through October 14th.

     

     

    Quivira Conference 2013– Inspiring Adaptation  Wednesday, November 13 – Friday, November 15, 2013  Registration Deadlines:  November 5, 2013
    “The Westerner is less a person than a continuing adaptation. The West is less a place than a process.” – Wallace Stegner 

    From prehistoric times to the present, human societies have successfully adapted to the challenges of a changing West, including periods of severe drought, limitations created by scarce resources and shifting cultural and economic pressures. Now, the American West is entering an era of unprecedented change brought on by new climate realities, which will test our capacity for adaptation as well as challenge the resilience of the region’s native flora and fauna. It is therefore paramount that we find and share inspiring ideas and practical strategies that help all of the region’s inhabitants adapt to a rapidly changing world.  We will hear from scientists, ranchers, farmers, conservationists, urban planners and others who have bright ideas and important tools to share from their adaptation toolbox.

     

    Date CHANGED! : Rangeland Coalition Summit 2014 January 21-22, 2014  Oakdale, CA  Please note that the dates have been changed for the 9th Annual California Rangeland Conservation Coalition Summit to be hosted at the Oakdale Community Center. Mark your calendar for January 21-22, 2014, more details will be coming soon! The planning committee will have a conference call on September 11 at 9:00 AM to start planning for the event. If you are interested in serving on the planning committee or being a sponsor please contact Pelayo Alvarez: pelayo@carangeland.org.

     

     

    The Ecological Society of America, American Geophysical Union, and US Geological Survey are co-sponsors of the upcoming

    Soil Science Society of America ecosystems services conference–abstracts are now being invited and are due by 12/1/2013.

    March 6-9, 2014 Sheraton Grand Hotel, Sacramento, CA

    Purpose of Conference:  Soils provide provisioning and regulating ecosystem services relevant to grand challenge areas of 1) climate change adaptation and mitigation, 2) food and energy security, 3) water protection, 4) biotechnology for human health, 5) ecological sustainability, and 6) slowing of desertification. The purposes of this conference will be to evaluate knowledge strengths and gaps, encourage cross-disciplinary synergies to accelerate new learning, and prioritize research needs.

    More info is available here:  https://www.soils.org/meetings/specialized/ecosystem-services

     

     

    99th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America
    Sacramento, California  August 10-15, 2014  http://www.esa.org/sacramento

    Call for Proposals– Symposia, Organized Oral Sessions, and Organized Poster Sessions

    Deadline for Submission: September 26, 2013

     

     

    FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES:

     

    Deadline 2103-12-01: SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund 

    Grants support projects in 4 key categories: Species Research, Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation, Habitat Protection, and Conservation Education. Application deadline is December 1 each year for grants beginning the following year.  Past programs have supported projects in the range of 5-25K for a one-year term.

     

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program at San Francisco Bay  The program’s focus is on the San Mateo and Marin Counties’ outer Coast and is also available to projects in watersheds draining into San Francisco Bay. The mission of the Coastal Program at San Francisco Bay is to conserve coastal ecosystems by engaging external partners and other Service programs in activities that restore, enhance and protect fish and wildlife habitats and habitat forming processes. Funding Available: about $100,000 to $200,000 annually. There is no rigid application format or deadline to apply. However, our money is available on a Federal fiscal year basis (October 1 to September 30), and we encourage you to contact us as early as possible so that we can explore potential partnership opportunities for your project. We would like to hear from you starting in January each year, cooperative agreements for each year are generally finalized by June.  

     
     

    NOAA Announces Solicitation for the U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observation Network
    This funding opportunity invites proposals for projects that demonstrate how an operational Marine Biodiversity Observation Network could be developed for the nation by establishing one or more prototype networks in U.S. coastal waters, the Great Lakes, and the EEZ. Applications are due on December 2, 2013.

    For more information, click here

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Deep sea ecosystem may take decades to recover from Deepwater Horizon spill
    (September 25, 2013) — The deep-sea soft-sediment ecosystem in the immediate area of the 2010′s Deepwater Horizon well head blowout and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will likely take decades to recover from the spill’s impacts, according to a new scientific article. … > full story


    Can Bacteria Combat Oil Spill Disasters?



    September 26, 2013 — Scientists have decrypted the effectiveness of two types of bacteria, which could be used in the future to help combat oil spill disasters. Alcanivorax borkumensis converts hydrocarbons into fatty … > full story

     

    Time to rethink misguided policies that promote biofuels to protect climate, experts say
    (September 24, 2013)
    Policymakers need to rethink the idea of promoting biofuels to protect the climate because the methods used to justify such policies are inherently flawed, according to a University of Michigan energy researcher.
    In a new paper published online in the journal Climatic Change, John DeCicco takes on the widespread but scientifically simplistic perception that biofuels such as ethanol are inherently “carbon neutral,” meaning that the heat-trapping carbon dioxide gas emitted when the fuels are burned is fully balanced by the carbon dioxide uptake that occurs as the plants grow. That view is misguided because the plants used to make biofuels — including corn, soybeans and sugarcane — are already pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis, said DeCicco, a research professor at the U-M Energy Institute and a professor of practice at the School of Natural Resources and Environment. DeCicco’s paper is unique because it methodically deconstructs the life-cycle-analysis approach that forms a basis for current environmental policies promoting biofuels. Instead, he presents a rigorous carbon cycle analysis based on biogeochemical fundamentals to identify conditions under which biofuels might have a climatic benefit. These conditions are much more limited than has been presumed. “Plants used to make biofuels do not remove any additional carbon dioxide just because they are used to make fuel as opposed to, say, corn flakes,” DeCicco said. full story

     

    Four Charts That Prove the Future of Clean Energy Is Arriving

    Stephen Lacey: September 18, 2013

    It would be hard for most Americans to look around and conclude that we are in the middle of an historic shift in our energy sector. Gas-powered cars still dominate the roads, most of us don’t own a solar PV system, and more than 70 percent of homes still rely on 100-year-old incandescent light bulbs.

    But within the energy industry, there are major improvements in the economics of renewables, electric vehicles and lighting that are accelerating an increasingly rapid shift in certain sectors.

    A new report from the Department of Energy report lays out some of these advances in wind, solar PV, LED lighting and electric vehicles throughout the U.S. They’re worth a look

     

    Santa Monica bets on electric cars, but consumers are slow to switch. September 21, 2013. New York Times

    It would seem to be a good time to own an electric car in Santa Monica. From the charging stations dotted around town to the dedicated public parking spaces — all provided at no cost by the city — Santa Monica has rolled out the welcome mat for electric cars. But only a core group of owners have switched.

     

     

    Novel financing for electric-car charging stations

    San Francisco Chronicle ‎- September 25, 2013

    he wants drivers who are contemplating buying an electric vehicle to feel
    Lowenthal teased the news Monday at an event in San Francisco.

     

    Green energy pays for itself in lives saved from smog.
    New Scientist Switching to clean energy might seem like the expensive option, but it would pay for itself almost immediately, according to a new analysis. The reason? Reducing our reliance on fossil fuels will cut air pollution, saving lives and therefore money.

     

    India Plans To Build The Largest Solar Plant In The World

    By Andrew Breiner on September 24, 2013

    Indian utilities plan to use 23,000 acres of land to build the largest solar power plant in the world, at 4GW of power.

     

     

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    For scientists, early to press means success
    (September 20, 2013) — A provocative new study suggests it is straightforward to predict which academics will succeed as publishing scientists. Being English-speaking and male also helps. … > full story

    Spinning CDs to clean sewage water
    (September 23, 2013) — Audio CDs, all the rage in the ’90s, seem increasingly obsolete in a world of MP3 files and iPods, leaving many music lovers with the question of what to do with their extensive compact disk collections. While you could turn your old disks into a work of avant-garde art, researchers in Taiwan have come up with a more practical application: breaking down sewage. … > full story


    Ruth Patrick, 105, a Pioneer in Science And Pollution Control Efforts, Is Dead


    NY TIMES Sept 24 2013 Dr. Patrick was one of the country’s leading experts in the study of freshwater ecosystems, or limnology. She achieved that renown after entering science in the 1930s, when few women were able to do so, and working for the academy for eight years

     

     

     

     

     

    The POV video shows the eagle hunting its prey and flying high over the Mer de Glace glacier in the Alps and the Montenvers Railway on the northern slopes of the Mont Blanc massif. Compared to machine-enabled flight videos, which provide a steady feeling, the bird-mounted camera gives a realistic experience of flight; as the bird beats its wings and banks off to the side, the camera shakes slightly, reminding us that riding on its back, like in “The NeverEnding Story’, would be nothing short of a bumpy ride.


    Bird-Mounted Camera Lets You Fly Like an Eagle!


    (click to see video)

    by Lidija Grozdanic, 09/24/13 If you’ve ever wanted to fly like a bird, then you’ll definitely want to check out this amazing video. A falconer strapped a small camera to the back of an eagle in the southeast corner of France, and when the eagle took flight the camera captured an incredible birds-eye view of the landscape. Check out the vertigo-inducing clip and listen to the sound of the wind as the eagle soars over mountain slopes, cuts through the air and almost brushes against the treetops!

     

    bhttp://www.sfgate.com/national/article/Going-viral-First-ever-photos-Golden-eagle-4841877.php#photo-5233717

    A golden eagle captures a young sika deer in the Russian Far East. The rare attack was captured by a camera trap set up by the Zoological Society of London and Wildlife Conservation Society. Photo credit: Linda Kerley, Zoological Society of London (ZSL) Photo: Linda Kerley, Zoological Society Of London (ZSL)

     

     

     

     

  2. Conservation Science News September 20, 2013

    Leave a Comment

    Highlight of the Week- NATURE SPECIAL: OUTLOOK FOR EARTH- NEW IPCC REPORT

    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

    ——————————–

    NOTE: Please feel free to pass on my weekly news update that has been prepared for
    Point Blue Conservation Science
    staff.  The information contained in this update was drawn from
    www.sciencedaily.com, SER The Society for Ecological Restorationhttp://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.slate.com, www.sfgate.com, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, www.blm.gov/ca/news/newsbytes/2012/529.html and other sources as indicated.  This is a compilation of articles and other information available on line, which were not verified and are not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  Please email me directly at Ellie Cohen, ecohen at pointblue.org if you want your name added to or dropped from this list.  You can also receive this through the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative ListServe or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium list.   Also, we are starting to experiment with blog posting at www.pointblue.org/sciencenews

    We have changed our name to Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO).  Our 140 Point Blue
    scientists and educators work with hundreds of partners, pointing the way forward to secure a healthy, blue planet well into the future.  We work collaboratively to reduce the impacts of climate change, together with other environmental threats, through nature-based solutions that benefit wildlife and people.  For more information please see From Point Reyes to Point Blue as well as our first Point Blue Quarterly.  You might also enjoy viewing our inspiring ~6 minute video introducing Point Blue that includes partner and staff highlights as well as a brief congratulatory video from Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-2).  Our new website, www.pointblue.org, is under construction through mid-September. Until then, our existing website, www.prbo.org, will remain active.

     


     

     

    Highlight of the Week-

     

    NATURE SPECIAL: OUTLOOK FOR EARTH
    NATURE
    September 19, 2013

    This Nature special issue explores the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – an international body of hundreds of scientists and policy experts that regularly assesses the state of knowledge about how climate is changing, what impacts that will have, and how nations can mitigate the problem. ….

     

    • Editorial :
      The final assessment
      The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has provided invaluable evidence for policy-makers, but giant reports should give way to nimbler, more relevant research.

      ….The IPCC’s fifth assessment will provide a comprehensive analysis of policy options and the scientific basis for the next round of climate negotiations, which are scheduled to come to a head in 2015. What is missing from these talks is not science but political ambition, which is ultimately a reflection of public support. The IPCC has a crucial role in this process and must remain the central authority on global warming. It is not clear, however, that to immediately launch into yet another comprehensive assessment — which would consume immeasurable time and energy, and would probably come to the same bottom-line conclusions — represents the best use of our scientific resources. Instead, climate scientists should focus on smaller and more rapid assessments of more pressing questions that have a particular political interest and for which science is evolving quickly.
      These reports could look more like the panel’s recent special report on extreme weather; longer and more detailed assessments could be performed as needed, when there is sufficient interest from the governments that the IPCC serves. Such a structure might also help to avoid an unfortunate consequence of the current framework, which ensures that the IPCC’s mega-assessments are out of date by the time they hit the streets

      …..Absent from next week’s report, for instance, is recent and ongoing research on the rate of warming and what is — or is not — behind the plateau in average global temperatures that the world has experienced during the past 15 years. These questions have important policy implications, and the IPCC is the right body to answer them. But it need not wait six years to do so.

       

       

    • Outlook for Earth As the IPCC finalizes its next big climate-science assessment, Nature looks at the past and future of the planet’s watchdog….

      In December 1988, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed a call to create a panel to assess “the magnitude, timing and potential environmental and socio-economic impact of climate change and realistic response strategies”. Now in its 25th year, the resulting Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has grown substantially from its early days, when just a few dozen experts convened to write its first scientific assessment report. Next week, the group will publish its fifth such report, which has been crafted by more than 250 lead authors and editors — as well as hundreds more contributors and reviewers — who spent five years on the project and had to deal with a flood of some 52,000 comments submitted in response to early drafts (see page 298)….

     

    • 25 years of the IPCC A graphical tour through the history of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the science that underlies it.

     

    • Rising tide
      Researchers struggle to project how fast, how high and how far the oceans will rise.

      ….Stefan Rahmstorf, a physical oceanographer at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, is deeply unsatisfied with the standard tools for forecasting sea-level rise: ‘process’ models that try to represent the physics of every contributing factor. One reason for this discomfort was clear back in 2007. When researchers added up all the individual processes that contributed to rising seas, they could account for only 60% of the observed lift from 1961 to 2003 (see ‘Too much water’- and below). “The whole was bigger than the sum of its parts,” says John Church, co-lead author of the chapter on sea-level rise in the forthcoming IPCC report and an oceanographer at the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Hobart. The two biggest effects — the expansion of water as it warms, and the addition of water to the oceans from melting glaciers — each accounted for about one-quarter of the total. A little extra was added in from the melting of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. That left a gaping hole.

      So Rahmstorf decided to pursue an entirely different type of model. He looked at the annual rate of sea-level rise from the 1880s onwards, and then matched it with air temperatures at those times. He found a simple relationship: the warmer it got, the faster the sea level rose. In 2007, too late to be considered by that year’s IPCC assessment, his model predicted3 up to 1.4 metres of sea-level rise by 2100 — more than twice the IPCC number.

      ‘Semi-empirical’ models such as this have advantages: by definition, they accurately model the rise that has already occurred, and they do not require a full understanding of how and why it is happening. But no one knows how long the relationship at the heart of these models will hold, particularly as melting ice sheets become a bigger factor. The models, says Rahmstorf, “could be good for 50 years, or 100 years. We don’t know.”

      ….For the past few years, Maureen Raymo, a marine geologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, has traipsed around abandoned diamond mines in South Africa, visited quarries in Australia and examined road cuts on the east coast of North America, looking for shells and other remnants of beaches from 3 million years ago. She hopes to reconstruct sea levels from the Pliocene epoch, the last time when carbon dioxide concentrations were as high as they are today: about 400 parts per million of the atmospheric volume. That, in turn, should provide a glimpse of what the world might look like in thousands of years, once the planet has had time to react fully to today’s emissions. Current estimates of sea-level rise in the Pliocene range from very little to 40 metres, says Raymo. “But that’s not very helpful,” she says. The difference between the lower and higher estimates is the difference — crucially — between much of the vast East Antarctic ice sheet melting and staying frozen. Whether or not it melted in the Pliocene, in turn, provides insight for modellers who are trying to work out whether — and how fast — ice sheets might collapse in the next few hundred years.

       

      …..Given the large error bars, the only way to pinpoint Pliocene sea levels is to get data from many sites and to calculate one best-fit answer for global sea level. Raymo and her team have so far surveyed thousands of kilometres of coast, gathering evidence from dozens of beach sites. She says she needs perhaps eight more locations and five years to finish the job.

      But, she admits, whatever she finds will not be a worst-case scenario because greenhouse-gas concentrations are already climbing beyond where they were in the Pliocene. “The real worst-case scenario is we don’t limit fossil-fuel combustion,” she says. “Then it’s ‘Hello Eocene’” — returning to a world akin to a warm period 55 million years ago, with maybe just a trace of ice at the poles. Nearly 70 metres of sea-level rise would drown all of Florida and much of Brazil, and swamp the Statue of Liberty up to her waist. But that might not happen until so many thousands of years from now that humanity has time to adapt — even if that means surrendering much of the land to the waves.

       

       

    • The climate chairman Getting hundreds of experts to agree is never easy. Ottmar Edenhofer takes a firm, philosophical approach to the task.

       

    • A patchwork of emissions cuts
      Home-made national approaches can be effective for climate-change mitigation if countries agree on rules and build trust, says Elliot Diringer.

     

    • Pushing the climate frontier The first large-scale environmental surveys, carried out on the US arid lands, hold scientific lessons for policy-making still relevant today, explains K. John Holmes.

      ….The public response to Powell’s plan and to the need to address the climate of the arid lands is telling. Opinion swung back and forth over many decades as a multitude of factors intervened, including misinformation campaigns and external events such as economic recessions and unusual weather conditions. In a similar way, the climate-change debate today ebbs and flows. The collapse of Powell’s watershed-based strategy demonstrates the importance of choosing appropriate institutions and economic policies. His call for a class of self-financed regional-management entities, taking responsibility for resource management away from existing federal and state bodies, failed because it was not feasible economically or politically. Similarly, management scale and political realities must be considered when implementing various climate-change-mitigation strategies. For complex issues such as climate change, history reminds us that the first comprehensive policy adopted will not be the last. Policies evolve. The addressing of irrigation needs through the Reclamation Act, although itself the culmination of a lengthy debate, was bolstered three decades later by soil-conservation efforts in response to the extreme Dust Bowl conditions of the 1930s. Sadly, in the end, the motivation to act might come only from rare catastrophic events such as droughts; human cost offers a sharp impetus for politicians. As a US senator noted in a 1935 debate, a Great Plains dust storm that travelled more than 1,600 kilometres to reach the country’s capital was “the most tragic, the most impressive lobbyist” in those earlier deliberations over climatic disaster10.

       


      SOURCE: 2007 BUDGET: IPCC; 2011 BUDGET: J. A. CHURCH ET AL. GEOPHYS. RES. LETT. 38, L18601 (2011); MAP: REF. 7

     

     

     

    POINT BLUE PUBLICATION:

     

     

    Editor: John A. Wiens, Chief Scientist, Point Blue Conservation Science

    Oil in the Environment: Legacies and Lessons of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

    UnUUniversity of Cambridge Press
    August 2013, isbn: 9781107614697.

    What light does nearly 25 years of scientific study of the Exxon Valdez oil spill shed on the fate and effects of a spill? How can the results help in assessing future spills? How can ecological risks be assessed and quantified? In this, the first book on the effects of Exxon Valdez in 15 years, scientists directly involved in studying the spill provide a comprehensive perspective on, and synthesis of, scientific information on long-term spill effects. The coverage is multidisciplinary, with chapters discussing a range of issues including effects on biota, successes and failures of post-spill studies and techniques, and areas of continued disagreement. An even-handed and critical examination of more than two decades of scientific study, this is an invaluable guide for studying future oil spills and, more broadly, for unraveling the consequences of any large environmental disruption.

     

     

     

     

    Model systems for a no-analog future: species associations and climates during the last deglaciation

    Williams, J.W., Blois, J.L., Gill, J. L., Gonzales, L. Grim, E., Ordonez, A., Shuman, B. and Veloz, S. D. [Point Blue Spatial Ecologist] Model systems for a no-analog future: species associations and climate during the last deglaciation. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Online Early.

    ABSTRACT: As the earth system moves to a novel state, model systems (experimental, observational, paleoecological) are needed to assess and improve the predictive accuracy of ecological models under environments with no contemporary analog. …. Steps forward include combining recent and paleoecological data to more fully describe species’ fundamental niches, employing community-level models to model shifts in species interactions under no-analog climates, and assimilating paleoecological data with mechanistic ecosystem models. Accurately modeling species interactions under novel environments remains a fundamental challenge for all forms of ecological models.

     

    POINT BLUE in the news:

    ‘Whale Spotting’ App Seeks to Reduce Ship Strikes

    By AP / Jason Dearen TIME Sept. 18, 2013 SAN FRANCISCO— Marine scientists looking for new ways to reduce the number of whales struck and killed off California’s coast by massive commercial ships have turned to a familiar tool: mobile devices. An app called “Whale Spotter” uses crowd-sourcing to gather data, allowing sailors, fishermen and marine scientists who spot whales to plot their location on an interactive map. The maps created could then be used by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Coast Guard officials to recommend different vessel routes. The app is the latest development in a collaboration between shipping companies, government officials and scientists to reduce whale strikes. Testing begins this weekend to see how effective it will be…..In June, large vessels traveling to ports on the California coast began using new traffic lanes developed to move ships away from whales. In the busy ports of the San Francisco Bay Area, more than 7,300 large ships head through the Golden Gate each year. Just outside the bay, whales often swim along the continental shelf, where their food supply is plentiful. Several dead whales, including an endangered fin whale, suspected to have been killed by ship strikes have washed ashore this year in the Bay Area. “We are out there on our research cruises only five times a year, if we’re lucky, so we only get three to five snapshots of where whales are, and why they are there,” said Jaime Jahncke, director of Point Blue’s California Current Research Group, which provides whale location data to maritime officials. The idea behind the app is to create a network of whale spotters off California’s coast so the marine mammals can be tracked, in real time, as they migrate. The weeklong tests of the app beginning Saturday will occur in the Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries. Marine scientists working on the Farallon Islands off San Francisco’s coast already have been inputting whale sightings from their unique perch, from where the westernmost shipping lanes can be seen. A big hurdle for the app is that cellphone coverage at sea is spotty at best, so data may be delayed to a point where it’s not immediately helpful. But Jahncke said the GPS on phones is being constantly tracked by satellite, so the phone’s location can be determined off of that. Also, information about whale location is stored on the phone’s hard drive, which can be uploaded back at port. Dan Howard, superintendent of the Cordell Bank sanctuary, was hopeful the app will make a difference by bridging a gap in data about whale location. “Having data on whale movement is key to working with the shipping industry and making informed management decisions,” said Howard.

     

     

    Point Blue Conservation Science Press Release for September 18, 2013

    Scientists to Test Whale Tracking App Near San Francisco Bay

    App will be used to record whale sightings in real-time; crowdsourced data may help prevent whales from being struck by ships traveling in and out of San Francisco Bay.

     

     

    ‘Whale Spotting’ app seeks to reduce ship strikes

    In this summer 2013 photo provided by Point Blue Conservation Science, Point Blue interns Emma Kelsey, using a telescope, and Ryan Potter, using an iPad, record whale sightings at the lighthouse on South East Farallon Island, at the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, Calif. (AP Photo/Point Blue, Sammi Ocher)
    By JASON DEAREN PRESS DEMOCRAT AP September 18, 2013, 2:03 PM

    SAN FRANCISCO — Marine scientists looking for new ways to reduce the number of whales struck and killed off California’s coast by massive commercial ships have turned to a familiar tool: mobile devices.……

    Related news:

    Coast Guard warns ships to slow for whales outside San Francisco Bay

     

     

     

    Million Second Quiz

    “Making the News yesterday, what app is being developed to help prevent ships from colliding with ocean life?

    September 19, 2013

    A. Dolphin Spotter

    B. Reef Spotter

    C. Shark Spotter

    D. Whale Spotter

    Hosted by Ryan Seacrest, “The Million Second Quiz” is a state-of-the-art, electrifying new live competition where contestants test the limits of their knowledge, nerve and endurance as they battle each other in intense head-to-head bouts of trivia for 12 consecutive days and nights. When the million second draw to a close, the champions will compete in a grand finale and the ultimate winner will claim the largest prize in game show history. ”

     

     

     

    Today’s worst watershed stresses may become the new normal
    (September 18, 2013) — Nearly one in 10 US watersheds is “stressed,” with demand for water exceeding natural supply, according to a new analysis of surface water in the United States. “By midcentury, we expect to see less reliable surface water supplies in several regions of the United States,” said the study’s lead author, Kristen Averyt, associate director for science at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder. “This is likely to create growing challenges for agriculture, electrical suppliers and municipalities, as there may be more demand for water and less to go around.” Averyt and her colleagues evaluated supplies and demands on freshwater resources for each of the 2,103 watersheds in the continental United States, using a large suite of existing data sets. They identified times of extreme water stress between 1999 and 2007, and they estimated future surface water stress — using existing climate projections — for every watershed. In the paper, published online in Environmental Research Letters on Sept. 17, the authors also diagnosed the reasons contributing to stress. Across the United States, the team found that water supplies are already stressed (i.e., demands for water outstrip natural supplies) in 193 of the 2,103 watersheds examined. In addition, the researchers reported:

    • The U.S. West is particularly vulnerable to water stress, for two reasons: 1) the differences between average demand and average supply are relatively small, so slight shifts in either supplies or demands can trigger stress, and 2) Western water users have long relied on imported and stored water to supplement natural supplies, in order to meet demands.
    • In most parts of the country, agriculture requires the most water, and contributes most to water stress.
    • In Southern California, thirsty cities are the greatest stress on the surface water system.
    • In scattered locations, the cooling water needs of electric power plants represent the biggest demand on water.

    …. The authors deliberately didn’t account for future changes in demand for freshwater. Rather, this analysis was designed to identify the sensitivity of U.S. watersheds to changes in surface water availability. The researchers hope that the analysis will provide useful information for people reliant on surface waters. “We hope research like this helps us understand challenges we might face in building a more resilient future,” Meldrum said.

    K Averyt, J Meldrum, P Caldwell, G Sun, S McNulty, A Huber-Lee, N Madden. Sectoral contributions to surface water stress in the coterminous United States. Environmental Research Letters, 2013; 8 (3): 035046 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/035046

     

     

    RELATED NEWS:

    Not Just Hydropower: Energy Needs Water And Water Needs Energy, Report Finds

    Posted: 18 Sep 2013 02:29 PM PDT

    ….It takes water to generate energy, and energy to move water. The extent of this relationship, and the scale of it, literally pumping water over mountains in some cases, is rarely seriously considered outside of the wonky water-energy nexus circle. But with the demand for both growing while supplies shrink or rise in cost, a reckoning with these two trends is as foreseeable as the reckoning of climate change. In fact, it is exacerbated by climate change, which leads to reduced precipitation and hotter temperatures in many places, elevating demands for water and energy. A new study by Water in the West, a research center at Stanford University, lays this all out in a report called, “Water and Energy Nexus: A Literature Review.” The report finds robust opportunities for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as for the conservation of scarce water resources. A comprehensive survey of publications by academic, government and nonprofit sectors over the last 23 years, it also identifies substantial money- and energy-savings opportunities for water and wastewater managers. …

     

     

    ‘Cascade of Events’ Caused Sudden Explosion of Animal Life

    Sep. 19, 2013 — The explosion of animal life on Earth around 520 million years ago was the result of a combination of interlinked factors rather than a single underlying cause, according to a new study. Dozens of individual theories have been put forward over the past few decades for this rapid diversification of animal species in the early Cambrian period of geological time.

    But a paper by Professor Paul Smith of Oxford University and Professor David Harper of Durham University suggests a more holistic approach is required to discover the reasons behind what has become known as the Cambrian Explosion. Theories for the Cambrian Explosion fall into three main categories — geological, geochemical and biological — and most have been claimed as standalone processes that were the main cause of the explosion. Whatever the cause, this major evolutionary event led to a wide range of biological innovation, including the origin of modern ecosystems, a rapid increase in animal diversity, the origin of skeletons and the first appearance of specialist modes of life such as burrowing and swimming…..

     

     

    Wetlands more cost-effective in nutrient removal, but multiple payments would be of uncertain value
    (
    September 17, 2013)

    Removing nitrogen from the environment “the natural way” by creating a wetland is a long-term, nutrient-removal solution, more cost effective than upgrading a wastewater treatment plant, but it isn’t necessarily socially beneficial to offer landowners multiple payments for the environmental services that flow from such wetlands, according to a new study. …The study analyzed the amount of land needed to reduce nitrogen pollution, data on the costs of actual wetland restorations, and other factors such as the opportunity costs to the landowner from no longer farming the new wetland area. “Wastewater treatment plants can already remove nitrogen, but their current technology is only capable of removing them up to a point,” Ando said. “If they wanted to do more nitrogen removal, they would have to make upgrades. The cost of phosphorus removal isn’t high, but for nitrogen, the upgrades are pretty expensive.” Ando also explained that, depending on how environmental

    permit markets are set up, if an area is set aside as a wetland, the landowner could qualify for several incentive programs through pollution trading markets, even if the original purpose of the wetland conversion was only to reduce nitrogen. “This is a big issue in the design of markets for ecosystem services,” Ando said. “A wetland does a lot of things. It will filter out nutrients, but it also creates habitat for waterfowl, and it might sequester carbon. The cost of installing a wetland is large enough that in some cases no single payment might be enough to convince a farmer to do it, but if they get paid for the full value to society of all three benefits, then they might be willing to do it.… > full story

     

    Adam H. Lentz, Amy W. Ando, Nicholas Brozovicć. Water Quality Trading with Lumpy Investments, Credit Stacking, and Ancillary Benefits. JAWRA Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/jawr.12117

     

     

    Got calcium? Mineral is key to restoring acid rain-damaged forests
    (September 19, 2013) — Scientists have reversed the decline of a New Hampshire watershed by gradually adding calcium back into the soil over 15 years. The experimental forest had suffered depletion of key soil nutrients due to acid rain. The study not only illustrates the impact of acid rain, but a potential treatment to help reverse the damage. … > full story

     

    Environmental complexity promotes biodiversity
    (September 17, 2013) — A new study helps explain how spatial variation in natural environments helps spur evolution and give rise to biodiversity. The study…suggests that a varied environment spurs the evolution of new species and promotes biodiversity by creating places of refuge — “refugia” — for new organisms to evolve. The model represents asexual organisms that reproduce like plants. To investigate how environmental variation affects evolution, Haller modeled an environment with complex spatial structure. “We wanted to look at more realistic environments, with more random variation in environmental conditions from place to place,” says Haller. While simpler than a real-world environment, the resultant model provides a much more realistic basis for studying biodiversity formation than has been possible before. In addition to the new “refugium effect,” the study shows that too much variation can end up being detrimental for biodiversity. “It’s a little like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” says Haller. “For promoting biodiversity, you can have too little variation, or too much variation, or the variation can be just right.” The study also shows that the scale of landscape variation, in comparison with a species’ dispersal distance, changes how much biodiversity can emerge. The new work provides a better basis for understanding how biodiversity evolves. While many people laud the idea of preserving biodiversity, says Haller, much remains unknown about what an environment needs in order to maintain or produce biodiversity. “It’s very hard to conserve something that you don’t even understand,” says Haller…. > full story

     

     

    Early-warning system to prevent fishery collapse
    (September 16, 2013) — Threats from overfishing can be detected early enough to save fisheries — and livelihoods — with minimal adjustments in harvesting practices, a new study shows. ….Specifically, the work demonstrates how extinction and overfishing threats from multispecies fisheries can be identified decades before valuable species are over-harvested and populations decline. Most of the world’s large fisheries use nets or lines with multiple hooks, which catch multiple species simultaneously and have serious ecological consequences. Past population declines and current increases in harvest rates can be used to assess current threats of overfishing and extinction, but this approach doesn’t apply to future threats. By predicting future threats, the researchers’ new method would enable conservation measures to prevent overfishing and extinction. The “Eventual Threat Index,” presented in the study, uses minimal data to identify the conditions that would eventually cause a species to be harvested at an unsustainable rate. The central premise of the Eventual Threat Index is that because multispecies fisheries impact many species with the same effort, the long-term fates of all species can be predicted if the fate of any one species can be predicted. In any multispecies fishery, there are a few ‘key’ profitable or managed species, which are easy to identify and whose socio-economic importance makes their long-term harvest rate somewhat predictable. Threats to other species are predicted by measuring their harvest rates relative to these key species. … > full story

     

    Matthew G. Burgess, Stephen Polasky, and David Tilman. Predicting overfishing and extinction threats in multispecies fisheries. PNAS, September 16, 2013 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1314472110

     

    Plankton Portal uses crowd-sourcing to classify strange oceanic creatures
    (September 17, 2013)

    Today, an online citizen-science project “Plankton Portal” launches. Plankton Portal allows you to explore the open ocean from the comfort of your own home. Dive hundreds of feet deep, and observe the unperturbed ocean and the myriad animals that inhabit the earth’s last frontier. … full story

     

    Study suggests overfishing of sharks is harming coral reefs
    (September 18, 2013) — A team of scientists from Canada and Australia have discovered that the decline in shark populations is detrimental to coral reefs. Where shark numbers are reduced due to commercial fishing, there is also a decrease in the herbivorous fishes which play a key role in promoting reef health. … > full story

     

     

    Algorithm finds missing phytoplankton in Southern Ocean
    (September 18, 2013) — NASA satellites may have missed more than 50 percent of the phytoplankton in the Southern Ocean. But now, new research has led to the development of an algorithm that produces substantially more accurate estimates of Southern Ocean phytoplankton populations. … > full story

     

     

    Giant Galapagos tortoises, once extinct in the wild, retake island from invasive rats

    By Sarah Laskow

    abmiller99

    For more than a century, ever since humans introduced them to the Galapagos, rats have ruled Pinzón Island. Just one year ago, 180 million rats lived on this island, hardly seven square miles of land. And because the rats were so hungry for turtle eggs and turtle hatchlings, for years the native giant tortoises — a subspecies called Chelonoidis nigra duncanensis — had to breed in captivity and were considered extinct in the wild. But now, John R. Platt reports at Scientific American, 118 juvenile tortoises have been let free on the island. And they may just survive — because the rats are gone. It took, though, more than 44,000 pounds of poison to eradicate them. That’s not as bad as it sounds, Platt says: The poisons, which dissolve after a few days, were specially designed to attract rats but repel birds and other wildlife that might accidentally consume them. The rodents quickly took the bait and Pinzón has now been tentatively declared rat-free. And for the first time, it might be possible for these giant tortoises to live like they did before humans came, in some fashion.

     

    Four new species of ‘legless lizards’ discovered living on the edge
    (September 18, 2013) — Legless lizards evolved on five continents to burrow in loose soil and sand, but are rarely seen because they live underground. Hence the surprise when biologists found four new species in California, living in marginal areas like downtown Bakersfield, San Joaquin Valley oil fields and west of the runways at the airport. The discovery, which brings the number of species in the state to five, illustrates the undiscovered biodiversity around us. … > full story

     

    Bird Songs Altered by PCB Contamination, Study Finds

    Effects linked to particular PCBs—even at low levels
    September 18, 2013 Ithaca, N.Y.—It may not kill them outright, but low-level PCB contamination is disrupting the way some birds sing their songs. So conclude the authors of a seven-year Cornell University study published today in the science journal PLOS ONE. Before the chemicals were banned in the United States in 1979, polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, were widely used…

     

    Sara DeLeon, Rayko Halitschke, Ralph S. Hames, André Kessler, Timothy J. DeVoogd, André A. Dhondt. The Effect of Polychlorinated Biphenyls on the Song of Two Passerine Species. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (9): e73471 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073471

     

     

    A large number of red-eyed vireos were among the estimated 7,500 migrating songbirds killed by the flare at Canaport LNG. (Courtesy of the Migration Research Foundation

    7,500 songbirds killed at Canaport gas plant in Saint John

    Migrating birds, some possible endangered species, flew into
    gas flare

    CBC News Posted: Sep 17, 2013 1:24 PM AT Last Updated: Sep 18, 2013 7:48 AM AT

    About 7,500 songbirds, possibly including some endangered species, were killed while flying over a gas plant in Saint John late last week, officials have confirmed. It appears the migrating birds flew into the gas flare at Canaport LNG between Friday night and Saturday morning, said Fraser Forsythe, the company’s health, safety, security and environmental manager. The birds were drawn to the flame like moths, an extremely unusual event, according to Don McAlpine, the head of zoology at the New Brunswick Museum. “They would circle in around that and of course with a large flame like that and high temperatures, they wouldn’t need to get terribly close to become singed or burned.” The weather conditions were foggy and overcast at the time, which may have contributed to the incident, said McAlpine. Not much is known about how such birds navigate at night, but officials believe they are attracted to light, particularly red or flashing lights, he said….

     

     

    Heavily logged forests still valuable for tropical wildlife
    (September 17, 2013) — New research has found rainforests that have been logged several times continue to hold substantial value for biodiversity and could have a role in conservation. . The research, which monitored bats as an indicator for environmental change on Borneo, is the first of its kind to have wildlife in forests logged more than two times. The findings are particularly important because across the tropics forest that has been intensively harvested is frequently targeted for conversion to agriculture and is perceived to hold little value for timber, carbon or biodiversity…… > full story

     

     

     

    ‘Shy’ male birds flock together — and have fewer friends
    (September 18, 2013) — Male birds that exhibit “shy” social behavior are much more likely to join flocks of birds with a similar personality than their “bold” male counterparts, a new study has found. But shy birds also have fewer social partners than bold birds. … > full story

     

     

    How birds got their wings: Fossil data show scaling of limbs altered as birds originated from dinosaurs
    (September 17, 2013) — Birds originated from a group of small, meat-eating theropod dinosaurs called maniraptorans sometime around 150 million years ago. Recent findings from around the world show that many maniraptorans were very bird-like, with feathers, hollow bones, small body sizes and high metabolic rates. But the question remains, at what point did forelimbs evolve into wings — making it possible to fly?

     

     

    Birds appear to lack important anti-inflammatory protein
    (September 16, 2013) — Bird diseases can have a vast impact on humans, so understanding their immune systems can be a benefit for people. An important element in the immune system of many animals is the protein TTP, which plays an anti-inflammatory role, yet researchers have been unable to find it in birds. New research suggests birds are an anomaly. … > full story

     

    Ten-year project redraws the map of bird brains
    (September 17, 2013) — Pursuing their interests in using the brains of birds as a model for the human brain, neuroscientists have just completed a mapping of the bird brain based on a 10-year exploration of the tiny cerebrums of eight species of birds. … > full story

     

     

    Earth’s wobble ‘fixes’ dinner for marine organisms
    (September 13, 2013) — The cyclic wobble of the Earth on its axis controls the production of a nutrient essential to the health of the ocean, according to a new study. The discovery of factors that control this nutrient, known as “fixed” nitrogen, gives researchers insight into how the ocean regulates its own life-support system, which in turn affects the Earth’s climate and the size of marine fisheries. … > full story

     

     

    Tuna closely related to some of the strangest fish in the sea
    (September 13, 2013) — Some of the strangest fish in the sea are closely related to dinner table favorites the tunas and mackerels, an international team of scientists has found. … > full story

     

    Wildlife winners, losers in Mt. Diablo fire

    Kevin Fagan and Kurtis Alexander SF Chronicle Updated 8:57 am, Thursday, September 12, 2013

    First came the dread and destruction. Now comes the rebirth and wonder. The wildfire that just spent four days rampaging through Mount Diablo’s craggy slopes left behind 3,100 acres of ash where nature lovers once hiked in thick brushland – but it was great news for ravenous predators and wildflower fans. And in the end, the fire is just part of the normal life cycle of a chaparral landscape, where occasional blazes are required to clean out scrubby overgrowth and regenerate environmental diversity, wildland experts said Wednesday. Some pine trees on the mountain even require flames for their cones to pop open. The immediate benefit is clear to the mountain lions, coyotes and red-tailed hawks for which Mount Diablo has suddenly turned into a gigantic, flame-broiled buffet. The thousands of ground squirrels and other lesser critters they victimize for chow are so dazed and displaced that their scurrying little bodies are more available than ever, naturalists say…..

     

     

    Death and disability from air pollution down 35 percent in the US
    (September 17, 2013) — Improvements in US air quality since 1990 have sparked a 35 percent reduction in deaths and disability specifically attributable to air pollution. … > full story

     


    The blue-footed booby, native to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, South America. The bird is rarely seen north of the Salton Sea but in recent weeks has been seen along the Southern California Coast and as far north as Marin County. (Sybil Sassoon/Robert Harding /AP photo) Sybil Sassoon/Robert Harding

    Dancing blue-footed booby makes rare Marin appearance

    By Mark Prado
    Marin Independent Journal Posted:   09/19/2013 06:32:21 PM PDT

    Rare sightings of dancing, blue-footed birds are being recorded along the Point Reyes Peninsula and other areas of the county’s coast. The arrival of the blue-footed booby along Marin’s coast is part of an invasion of the species into the state as the birds stray far from their normal roaming grounds from the Galapagos Islands to the Sea of Cortez. Birder and Marin Audubon member Len Blumin of Mill Valley saw one of the birds Thursday afternoon at Chimney Rock. “It is a striking bird,” Blumin said. “We were lucky to have seen it.”

    There was a report of one off of Rodeo Beach recently and of two at the Point Reyes Lighthouse Thursday morning. Point Blue Conservation Science researchers on the Farallon Islands also reported a sighting of the species Thursday morning.

    The blue-footed booby is known for its long, pointed beak, clumsy waddle and unique seafoam-blue webbed feet — a combination that makes the bird look like it walked off a Pixar movie set…..

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Tiny plankton could have big impact on climate: CO2–hungry microbes might short-circuit the marine foodweb
    (September 13, 2013) — As the climate changes and oceans’ acidity increases, tiny plankton seem set to succeed. Marine scientists have found that the smallest plankton groups thrive under elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. This could cause an imbalance in the food web as well as decrease ocean CO2 uptake, an important regulator of global climate. “If the tiny plankton blooms, it consumes the nutrients that are normally also available to larger plankton species,” explains Ulf Riebesell, a professor of biological oceanography at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany and head of the experimental team. This could mean the larger plankton run short of food.

    Large plankton play an important role in carbon export to the deep ocean, but in a system dominated by the so-called pico- and nanoplankton, less carbon is transported out of surface waters. “This may cause the oceans to absorb less CO2 in the future,” says Riebesell.

    The potential imbalance in the plankton food web may have an even bigger climate impact. Large plankton are also important producers of a climate-cooling gas called dimethyl sulphide, which stimulates cloud-formation over the oceans. Less dimethyl sulphide means more sunlight reaches Earth’s surface, adding to the greenhouse effect. “These important services of the ocean may thus be significantly affected by acidification.”..… > full story

     

    U. Riebesell, J.-P. Gattuso, T. F. Thingstad, J. J. Middelburg. Preface “Arctic ocean acidification: pelagic ecosystem and biogeochemical responses during a mesocosm study”. Biogeosciences, 2013; 10 (8): 5619 DOI: 10.5194/bg-10-5619-2013

     

    Carbon farming schemes should consider multiple cobenefits
    (September 13, 2013) — Carbon farming schemes will have harmful effects, such as impairing ecosystem services, reducing biodiversity, and reducing food supply, unless resulting revegetation decisions take into account the full range of cobenefits and disbenefits expected from various types of planting. In particular, the views of local inhabitants as well as landowners should be considered in order to maximize the probability of long-term success. … > full story

     

    NOAA: August global temperature ties for fourth highest on record; August global ocean temperature ties for record highest

    September 17, 2013

    According to NOAA scientists, the globally-averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for August 2013 tied with 2005 as the fourth warmest August since record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 35th consecutive August and 342nd consecutive month (more than 28 years) with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average August global temperature was August 1978 and the last below-average global temperature for any month was February 1985. Most areas of the world experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, including: New Zealand, Australia, northern South America, western North America, Europe, much of eastern Asia, and most of the global ocean regions. Far eastern China, part of northeastern South America, part of the Barents Sea, sections of the western Pacific Ocean, and part of the south central Indian Ocean were record warm. Meanwhile, the southeastern United States, Far East Russia, northern South Africa, Paraguay, Bolivia, and the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean were cooler than average. No regions of the globe were record cold. This monthly summary from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, the business sector, academia, and the public to support informed decision-making..Some national temperature highlights include:

    • South Korea reported its warmest average August temperature since national records began in 1973, at 4.0 F (2.2 C) above the 1981-2010 average.
    • New Zealand observed its warmest August since national records began in 1909, at 3.4°F (1.9°C) above the 1971-2000 monthly average.
    • Australia reported its second warmest nationally-averaged August temperature since records began in 1910, at 2.88°F (1.60°C) above the 1961-1990 average. With the exception of the southernmost island state of Tasmania, all states and territories had average temperatures that were among their 10 highest for August.
    • For the ocean, the August global sea surface temperature was 1.03°F (0.57°C) above the 20th century average of 61.4°F (16.4°C), tying with 1998, 2003, 2005, and 2009 as the record highest for August on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.09°F (0.05°C).

    Neither El Niño nor La Niña conditions were present across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean during August, with sea surface temperatures below average in the eastern equatorial Pacific. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, neutral conditions are favored through the Northern Hemisphere winter 2013/14. Polar ice highlights: August

    • According to data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the average August Arctic sea ice extent was 2.35 million square miles, 440,000 square miles (15.65 percent) below the 1981-2010 average of 2.79 million square miles. This was the sixth smallest August Arctic sea ice extent since satellite records began in 1979. Arctic sea ice extent during August 2013 was 533,000 square miles larger than the record low August extent of 2012.
    • The August Antarctic sea ice extent of 7.31 million square miles was 320,000 square miles (4.47 percent) above the 1981-2010 average of 6.99 million square miles. This was the largest August Antarctic sea ice extent on record, surpassing August 2010 when the sea ice extent was 7.28 million square miles.
    • The globally combined Arctic and Antarctic sea ice extent during August was 9.66 million square miles, 120,000 square miles (1.26 percent) below the 1981-2010 average of 9.78 million square miles. This marked the 13th smallest August global sea ice extent in the 45-year period of record.

     

    Weather affects crop yield, especially hot days
    (September 16, 2013) — A study has determined the relationship between long-term weather and yield of 11 horticultural crops and one field crop in Wisconsin. The number of hot days during the growing season was determined to be the most important factor among the weather conditions examined. Results revealed the importance of the amount and frequency of seasonal precipitation, showed the negative effects of extreme temperatures on vegetable crop yields, and emphasized the importance of breeding vegetables for heat tolerance. … > full story

     

    World’s most vulnerable areas to climate change mapped
    (September 16, 2013) — Using data from the world’s ecosystems and predictions of how climate change will impact them, scientists have produced a roadmap that ID’s the world’s most and least vulnerable areas in the Age of Climate Change. … > full story

     

    Oysters Dying as Coast Hit Hard

    A Washington family opens a hatchery in Hawaii to escape lethal waters.

    Sept 11 2013 Seattle Times Story by Craig Welch HILO, Hawaii — It appears at the end of a palm tree-lined drive, not far from piles of hardened black lava: the newest addition to the Northwest’s famed oyster industry. Half an ocean from Seattle, on a green patch of island below a tropical volcano, a Washington state oyster family built a 20,000-square-foot shellfish hatchery. Ocean acidification left the Nisbet family no choice. Carbon dioxide from fossil-fuel emissions had turned seawater in Willapa Bay along Washington’s coast so lethal that slippery young Pacific oysters stopped growing. The same corrosive ocean water got sucked into an Oregon hatchery and routinely killed larvae the family bought as oyster seed. So the Nisbets became the closest thing the world has seen to ocean-acidification refugees. They took out loans and spent $1 million and moved half their production 3,000 miles away. “I was afraid for everything we’d built,” Goose Point Oyster Co. founder Dave Nisbet said of the hatchery, which opened last year. “We had to do something. We had to figure this thing out, or we’d be out of business.”

    Oysters started dying by the billions along the Northwest coast in 2005, and have been struggling ever since. When scientists cautiously linked the deaths to plummeting ocean pH in 2008 and 2009, few outside the West Coast’s $110 million industry believed it…..

     

    A year’s worth of rain fell in a week (Image: Dennis Pierce/AP/PA)

    Heatwave and wildfires worsened Colorado flooding

    18:49 17 September 2013 by Alyssa A. Botelho

    A truly ferocious and exceptional event. That is how Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, describes the storm that pummelled his state last week. “This was a once-in-1000-year rainfall,” he says, meaning that the storm was of such an intensity and duration that it had a 1-in-1000 chance of occurring in any given year in Colorado. The rains and subsequent floods have so far killed eight people, displaced 11,750 and destroyed close to 18,000 homes. The city of Boulder received a year’s rainfall in less than a week, says Daniel Leszcynski at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That huge volume was due in part to a lingering heatwave that for months blocked tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico from reaching the Rocky Mountains, he says. When that heatwave began to move east last week, weak winds allowed the growing storm system to sit above the Colorado peaks for days. Once that deluge hit the ground, more trouble awaited. Because of Colorado’s mountainous terrain, the region is flood-prone anyway but recent wildfires exacerbated things near Boulder and Fort Collins, two areas hardest hit by floodwaters. The fires had cleared land of vegetation that would normally absorb rainwater, says Trenberth.
    Urban areas were also hit hard because of their abundance of impenetrable surfaces, says Matthew Kelsch from the National Center for Atmospheric Research. “Cities have drainage systems designed to move water off streets and into streams as quickly as possible,” he says.

    Though natural disasters are difficult to attribute to climate change, Trenberth says that the 1 ˚C rise in ocean temperature since the 1970s accounts for 5 per cent more moisture in today’s atmosphere. That’s enough to invigorate already powerful storms such as last week’s, he says. “There’s natural variability to these events, but maybe there was a little more rain because of climate change,” he says. “With weather, small differences can actually result in big effects in terms of damage done.”

     

     

    Did Climate Change Worsen the Colorado Floods?

    Mother Jones

    Sept 18 2013

     
     

    Written by

    Chris Mooney

     
           

    Indeed, according to climate scientist Martin Hoerling of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “this single event has now made the calendar year (2013) the single wettest year on record for Boulder….

     

     

    Colorado now tracking 10 oil spills in flood zones. September 20, 2013 Denver Post Rushing floodwaters loaded with heavy debris damaged oil and gas pipes and tanks, causing the two large spills that state and federal regulators were tracking Thursday.

     

    Colorado’s Flooding Becomes A 1,000 Year Event As Rescuers Search For 500 Missing People

    Posted: 15 Sep 2013 09:18 AM PDT

    CREDIT: AP/Colorado Heli-Ops, Dennis Pierce

    Boulder County, Colorado is bracing for up to four more inches of rain Sunday afternoon, a forecast that Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says would magnify the problems rescuers are already facing in trying to reach stranded residents. Hickenlooper said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday that the forecast of more rain in a region that’s received more than 14 inches in the last week is troubling because the ground is already saturated with water, making it easy for more rain to lead to even more flooding. So far, rescuers have moved 2,000 people out of Boulder, but 500 are still missing and at least four have been killed. This week’s rain has already washed away roads leading into smaller valley regions, Hickenlooper said, and more rainfall would mean rescuers would have a hard time reaching stranded residents by air. “There are many, many homes that have been destroyed,” Hickenlooper said. “A number have been collapsed and we haven’t been in them yet. So we’re still dealing with that. How do we save lives first?”… As Climate Central notes, it will take months of research before climate scientists can determine whether climate change played a role in making the Boulder flood more likely to occur. However, previous research has shown that extreme precipitation events are likely to become more common as the Earth warms, and the draft National Climate Assessment report released in this January found extreme precipitation events have already become more common across the U.S.

     

     

    Rain Returns to Flooded Colorado, Frustrating Efforts to Rescue Stranded


    Paul Aiken/The Daily Camera, via Associated Press
    Residents reinforced a dam in Boulder on Sunday. Many people were reported unaccounted for.

    By JACK HEALY Published: September 15, 2013 DENVER — Efforts to reach hundreds of people still stranded in the flooded mountains of Colorado ran headlong into another day of pelting rain on Sunday, the authorities said.
    After a week of record-breaking rains, Sunday’s storms were the last thing anyone wanted. They dumped more water into gorged streams, flooded sodden fields and prevented rescue helicopters from reaching residents who are stuck behind shredded roads and walls of debris
    ..

     

     

    Two Powerful Storms Strike Mexico At Once, Turning A Quiet Atlantic Hurricane Season Extreme

    Posted: 18 Sep 2013 01:01 PM PDT

    People stand on the rooftop of a home in a flooded neighborhood in Acapulco. CREDIT: ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A so-far-quiet hurricane season took an extreme turn as Tropical Storm Manuel and Hurricane Ingrid struck southern and central Mexico on Sunday and Monday, killing at least 57 by the latest count available on Wednesday. The state of Guerrero on the Pacific coast was hardest-hit, closing major roads out of Acapulco and blocking most air traffic, which left tens of thousands stranded.

    It was the first time since 1958 that two tropical storms or hurricanes hit both of Mexico’s coasts within 24 hours. And the bad weather may not be over for Mexico yet, as Manuel, downgraded to a tropical depression, began to regain strength in the Pacific Ocean. It promises to dump more rain on the state of Sinaloa, causing more flooding and mudslides, and may make landfall on Baja California as a renewed tropical storm….

     

     

    Super Typhoon Usagi, The Strongest Storm Of 2013, Is Headed Toward Hong Kong

    By Andrew Breiner on September 20, 2013

    Usagi, a super-typhoon, reached category 5 strength Thursday, and continued to grow past category 5.

     

     

    Concepts for Houston, Texas flood barrier
    (September 15, 2013) — This month it will be exactly five years ago that Hurricane Ike caused enormous damage in and around Houston and Galveston in the US state of Texas. With more than billion in damage and over 100 deaths, Ike ranks third in the list of the costliest hurricanes in US history. But it could have been a lot worse. With more than two million inhabitants, Houston is not only the fourth largest city in the United States, it is also the centre of the oil and gas industry. The Port of Houston fulfils a crucial economic role and generates


    Texas surge barrier. (Credit: Image courtesy of Delft University of Technology)

     

     

     

    New Mexico’s drought threatens the flow of a culture.

    Communal watercourses called acequias, some of which date to the 1600s, connect people to their land, neighbors and ancestors. But as the channels dry up, farmers consider more efficient irrigation.

    September 16, 2013 Los Angeles Times By Cindy Carcamo

    For 200 years, the earthen water canal has nourished the land where Peggy Boney’s farm now sits. It sustains the alfalfa pastures for her cattle and the corn and pumpkins she puts on her kitchen table for supper….

     

     

    Human Activity Affects Vertical Structure of Atmospheric Temperature

    Sep. 17, 2013 — Human influences have directly impacted the latitude/altitude pattern of atmospheric temperature. That is the conclusion of a new report by scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and six other scientific institutions. The research compares multiple satellite records of atmospheric temperature change with results from a large, multi-model archive of simulations.

    Human activity has very different effects on the temperature of the upper and lower atmosphere, and a very different fingerprint from purely natural influences,” said Benjamin Santer, the lead researcher in the paper appearing in the Sept.16 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Our results provide clear evidence for a discernible human influence on the thermal structure of the atmosphere.” Observational satellite data and the computer model-predicted response to human influence have a common latitude/altitude pattern of atmospheric temperature change. The key features of this pattern are global-scale tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling over the 34-year satellite temperature record. (The troposphere is the lowest portion of Earth’s atmosphere. The stratosphere lies above the troposphere.) “Current climate models are highly unlikely to produce this distinctive signal pattern by internal variability alone, or in response to naturally forced changes in solar output and volcanic aerosol loadings,” Santer said. Natural internal fluctuations in climate are generated by complex interactions of the coupled atmosphere-ocean system, such as the well-known El Nino/Southern Oscillation. External influences include human-caused changes in well-mixed greenhouse gases, stratospheric ozone and other radiative forcing agents, as well as purely natural fluctuations in solar irradiance and volcanic aerosols. Each of these external influences has a unique “fingerprint” in the detailed latitude/altitude pattern of atmospheric temperature change.

    Fingerprint information has proved particularly useful in separating human, solar and volcanic influences on climate.

    The pattern of temperature change that has been observed vertically in the atmosphere, from ground level to the stratosphere, fits with what is expected from human-caused increases in greenhouse gases. The observed pattern conflicts with what would be expected from an alternative explanation, such as fluctuations in the sun’s output,” Santer said.

    Another LLNL co-author of the paper, Celine Bonfils, noted that major volcanic eruptions also can profoundly disturb the vertical structure of atmospheric temperature. “During the recovery from such eruptions, tropospheric warming and stratospheric cooling also occur” Bonfils said. “But in contrast to volcanic influences, human-caused atmospheric temperature changes affect all latitudes and last longer. This suggests that the recent changes in temperature are not simply a recovery from past volcanic events.”…

     

    B. D. Santer, J. F. Painter, C. Bonfils, C. A. Mears, S. Solomon, T. M. L. Wigley, P. J. Gleckler, G. A. Schmidt, C. Doutriaux, N. P. Gillett, K. E. Taylor, P. W. Thorne, F. J. Wentz. Human and natural influences on the changing thermal structure of the atmosphere. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1305332110

     

    Stronger winds may explain puzzling growth of sea ice in Antarctica, model shows
    (September 18, 2013) — Much attention is paid to melting sea ice in the Arctic. But less clear is the situation on the other side of the planet. Despite warmer air and oceans, there’s more sea ice in Antarctica now than in the 1970s — a fact often pounced on by global warming skeptics. The latest numbers suggest the Antarctic sea ice may be heading toward a record high this year. The reason may lie in the winds. A new modeling study shows that stronger polar winds lead to an increase in Antarctic sea ice, even in a warming climate. … > full story

     

    Undersea mountains provide crucial piece in climate prediction puzzle
    (September 18, 2013) — A mystery in the ocean near Antarctica has been solved by researchers who have long puzzled over how deep and mid-depth ocean waters are mixed. They found that sea water mixes dramatically as it rushes over undersea mountains in Drake Passage — the channel between the southern tip of South America and the Antarctic continent. Mixing of water layers in the oceans is crucial in regulating the Earth’s climate and ocean currents. … > full story

     

    Walrus move to shore in northwest Alaska. Sept 18 2013 Associated Press With climate warming, sea ice in recent years has melted far beyond shallow Chukchi Sea waters and over areas where the bottom is 10,000 feet deep or more. Unless there’s remnant ice, many walrus choose to come ashore. This year, an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 walrus have gathered on a beach near Alaska’s Point Lay. …

     

    French islands under threat from rising sea levels
    (September 17, 2013) — By the year 2100, global warming will have caused sea levels to rise by 1 to 3 meters. This will strongly affect islands, their flora, fauna and inhabitants. Scientists have studied the impact of rising sea levels on 1,269 French islands throughout the world. Their model shows that between 5% and 12% of these islands could be totally submerged in the future. On a worldwide scale, they predict that about 300 endemic island species are at risk of extinction, while the habitat of thousands of others will be drastically reduced. … > full story

     

    Finding a better message on the risks of climate change. September 12, 2013 Yale Environment 360
    It’s a common refrain: If people only knew more about the science, there wouldn’t be so much polarization on the issue of climate change. But Dan M. Kahan’s groundbreaking work has gone a long way to prove that idea wrong. In fact, he’s found, it’s not the lack of scientific understanding that has led to conflict over climate change, but rather the need to adhere to the philosophy and values of one’s “cultural” group. Kahan, a professor of law and psychology at Yale Law School, says “individualists” — those who believe individuals should be responsible for their own well-being and who are wary of regulation or government control – tend to minimize the risk of climate change. On the other side, he notes, those who identify with the “communitarianism” group favor a larger role for government and other collective entities in securing the welfare of individuals and tend to be wary of commercial activity – he sees them as likely to favor restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions…..

     

    Journalists Should Talk About Climate Change More Like A Pension Policy, Study Suggests

    Posted: 19 Sep 2013 09:28 AM PDT

    ….Explicit risk, the study’s author, James Painter, advises, is actually a better way to discuss climate change because it puts it into a quantifiable, actionable perspective for a general public. “One of the arguments in favour of using the language of risk,” Painter writes, “is that it shifts public debate away from the idea that decisions should be delayed until conclusive proof or absolute certainty is obtained (a criterion that may never be satisfied), towards timely action informed by an analysis of the comparative costs and risks of different choices and options (including doing nothing).”

    … “Another is that risk is an essential part of everyday experience, including the worlds of insurance, health, and investment. Many people have to deal with it daily and manage it in different ways: most people in the developed world take out house insurance against the low probability, very high impact event of a fire. Patients are increasingly familiar with the concept of the risks and benefits of different health treatments (though they rely on trusted intermediaries to help them to navigate the risk). And some of the risk assessments people make are on the same timescale as possible climate impacts – for example, taking out a pension policy into which they pay for 40 years.….

     

     


    After the Storms, a Different Opinion on Climate Change



    September 19, 2013 — Extreme weather may lead people to think more seriously about climate change, according to new research. In the wake of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, New Jersey residents were more likely to show … > full story

     

     

     

     

     

    US EPA moves to limit emissions of future coal- and gas-fired power plants. By Lenny Bernstein and Juliet Eilperin, Published: September 19 Washington Post The Environmental Protection Agency will move Friday to strictly limit the amount of carbon that future coal- and gas-fired power plants can pour into the atmosphere, the first such restrictions on greenhouse gases imposed by the agency. The Environmental Protection Agency will move Friday to strictly limit the amount of carbon that future coal- and gas-fired power plants can pour into the atmosphere, the first such restrictions on greenhouse gases imposed by the agency. The limits in the proposed rule will be difficult for any new coal plant to meet without incurring the substantial costs of additional technology to limit carbon dioxide output or developing new methods of cleansing emissions. The industry almost certainly will challenge it in court. For the administration, the revised rule is the first major domestic initiative since President Obama laid out his climate action plan in June. Ahead is the EPA’s decision on limiting emissions from existing power plants, which Administrator Gina McCarthy said Thursday will be made in June 2014


     

    Surprise! The Federal Government Just Did Something That Will Actually Address Climate Change

    By Ryan Koronowski on September 20, 2013

    The Obama administration isn’t blinking as it moves to rein in the carbon pollution that causes climate change, all thanks to your friendly neighborhood Clean Air Act.

     

     


    California takes aim at hunters’ lead bullets



    Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle Updated 11:13 am, Monday, September 16, 2013

    California condors, like this one wearing a tracking device over Big Sur, are especially susceptible to lead poisoning. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

    California would become the first state in the nation to ban hunting with lead bullets under a bill approved by the Legislature this week that environmentalists hope will inspire the rest of the country to follow suit. AB711, which awaits Gov. Jerry Brown‘s signature, would require all ammunition used for hunting in California to be made out of something other than lead, the primary ingredient in bullets for so long that it is now a part of American lore. Hollywood cowboys and gangsters have a habit of filling or threatening to fill their rivals “full of lead.” The problem, according to the authors of the bill, is that leftover fragments from lead ammunition are extremely harmful, even deadly, to humans and nontarget animals, including the endangered California condor. Toxicologists and other experts say spent ammunition is the largest unregulated source of lead that is knowingly discharged into the environment. “The Centers for Disease Control and leading scientists from around the country agree that there is no safe level of lead exposure for humans,” said Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, the chairman of the Assembly Health Committee and a co-author of the bill. The legislation was overwhelmingly approved by lawmakers at the Capitol despite a fusillade of attacks by gun lobbyists. Dan Taylor, the director of public policy for Audubon California, a backer of the bill, said copper, steel and other metals are already being used by 35 ammunition manufacturers and by the U.S. Army. Lead bullets, which date to the 14th century, were easier to manufacture and did less damage to the barrels of early muskets because lead is softer than iron. “AB711 is a milestone in the effort to protect wildlife,” Taylor said. “We’ve removed lead from gasoline, paint and children’s toys. It’s clear that lead ammunition has no place in hunting when safer and more effective alternatives are available.”…

     

     

     

    Planes need a California emissions standard

    Linda Adams SF Chronicle Opinion Published 5:50 pm, Tuesday, September 17, 2013

    For decades now, “California emissions” has been industry shorthand for low-polluting cars and trucks. Beginning next week, the world will meet to discuss the serious risks of global-warming pollution from airplanes. They should follow California’s lead, too. At the meeting in Montreal, the International Civil Aviation Organization will attempt to adopt a market-based plan next week to help the world’s airlines cut their emissions. As we saw in Detroit, when the auto industry embraced a fuel-efficient future, it suddenly became competitive again after years of decline. If a low carbon economy is going to be our future, then taking a leadership role in the clean energy race now can only advantage our airlines in the long term…. In 2012, airline flights produced 689 million tons of the world’s carbon emissions. That is a little less than all of Germany’s, but more than South Korea’s or the United Kingdom’s total carbon emissions. If airlines were a country, they would be the world’s seventh largest carbon dioxide polluter… President Obama seemed to understand this when he said that he did not want America’s children to live in a world threatened by climate change. Unfortunately, he signed a bill into law that allows the administration to ban U.S. airlines from complying with the European Union‘s Emissions Trading System, a market-based system like the one we have in California. California established a statewide cap on carbon and allocated emissions allowances to more than 350 companies. Emit more than the baseline and you have to buy carbon allowances. Emit less and you can trade your surplus credits on the market. Carbon trading is the most effective tool we have for tackling global warming, with more than 50 markets now up and running (or on the way), from Brussels to Beijing. Acting early gives first movers a business advantage in tomorrow’s low-carbon economy. We need it. The United States is responsible for 40 percent of the world’s aviation emissions, and the numbers are rising fast. A global market-based program to curb aviation emissions could reduce aviation’s climate change impact 30 percent by 2050 as compared to business as usual. If we cannot make the transition to a low-carbon economy, the aviation industry will feel the heat along with the rest of us, as turbulence increases and frequent extreme weather events drive up airline costs…..

     

     

     

    Climate change experts under pressure to address slowdown in global warming. September 20, 2013 AP Scientists working on a landmark United Nations report on climate change are struggling to explain why global warming appears to have slowed down in the past 15 years even though greenhouse gas emissions keep rising.

     

    Ahead of IPCC climate report, skeptic groups launch global anti-science campaign.
    Inside Climate News Conservative groups at the forefront of global warming skepticism are doubling down on trying to discredit the next big report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

     

     

    Upfront: Lipstick on a Pigouvian tax

    Climate Lobby’s answer to global warming? The free market…

    Posted: Thursday, September 12, 2013 9:00 am by Peter Seidman | 0 comments

    ….One of the prominent organizations involved in the market-based approach is called the Citizens Climate Lobby. Marshall Saunders, a California resident who made his name in real estate specializing in shopping center development and leasing, founded the organization after becoming aware of climate change in 2006. He began presenting talks about climate to a wide range of groups. During the talks, discussion touched on what actions individuals can take to reduce climate change. According to Saunders’ Climate Lobby mission statement, “I realized that anything my listeners intended to do as individuals was totally swamped by public policy, by what the government did or didn’t do. While I suggested ways for people to reduce their use of carbon, Congress extended a law that gave $18 billion in tax credits to oil and coal companies.” Saunders believed that congressional representatives were ineffectual, missing the mark on energy proposals and ways to reduce pollution. The reasons were obvious to him, as they are to virtually anyone who follows energy policy: The fossil fuel industry exerts inordinate power and has the power to bend potential legislation to its liking…….The keystone (pun intended) idea behind using market forces to bend the climate-change curve involves reducing reliance on specific regulations to cut emissions and moving to what’s called a fee-and-dividend strategy. The idea is to put a Pigouvian charge on emissions at the source. The fee would be based on the amount of carbon in a fossil fuel. The fee would increase progressively. It would start low, say $15 per ton, and gradually increase by, say $10, each year. Congress would set the amount of increase. Producers of emissions could decide how to increase efficiencies and otherwise cut carbon emissions, rather than work to comply with increasingly stringent and complex government regulations. “Efficiency becomes a goal,” says Joseph. The fee-and-dividend strategy would be simpler and more effective than the cap-and-trade strategy now employed in California. In that strategy, a set level of emissions is the cap. Producers who emit anything above the cap can trade on their emissions, essentially paying to produce more pollution. The money can go toward pollution reduction programs. Other advocates of harsh measures to curb emissions call for public and private divestment of investments in the fossil-fuel industry. But, says Joseph, that strategy may succeed in tarnishing a company’s image but it fails in the long run. As divestment causes a company’s stock to decline, other investors will be glad to snap up bargains, and the company continues producing and using fossil fuels that generate emissions which enter the economy. “The best way to achieve divestment,” says Joseph, is a carbon fee. The main advantage of a fee is the price signal it sends to the market, which instantly recognizes that renewable energy is more attractive than fossil fuels.” As the price of fossil fuel and production using fossil fuels increases, industry will search for cost-cutting alternatives. A utility company contemplating building a new generation plan, for instance, would be more inclined to invest in a solar production facility than a fossil-fuel facility if the company knew the price of fossil fuel was on an escalating curve as a result of a fee-and-dividend strategy. It’s the dividend part of the equation that has many people, including industry representatives and legislators, perking their ears. Several permutations of the fee-and-dividend strategy are floating around in their formative stages. In the most progressive version, 100 percent of the fee assessed on carbon would be returned to every American as a regularly disbursed rebate. That’s a plan similar to the oil-income distribution that Alaska residents receive. The rebates would ensure that family budgets could absorb fossil-fuel increases. It makes the proposal revenue neutral. No big infusions of money into government coffers. And that could make the fee-and-dividend proposal attractive, or at least acceptable, to Republicans who disdain any increased taxation. Even fossil-fuel bigwigs like Rex Tillerson, chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil, say that a carbon fee is the way to go to enter an age of energy transformation, better than a volatile cap-and-trade strategy. The fee-and-dividend strategy also is attracting a gaggle of conservative economists who recognize the intense need to curb carbon emissions as good business. If there’s a strategy that also can stimulate a new green economy, which proponents of fee-and-dividend say can happen, so much the better. The fee-and-dividend strategy doesn’t seem as kooky as it once did. That alteration is similar to the progression of thinking about environmental issues and organic foods. “What is starting to happen,” says Mark Reynolds, executive director of the Climate Lobby, “is enough political cover has emerged for Republicans” to get on the fee and dividend train.

    But Reynolds and other advocates of the new paradigm are under no illusions. While what he calls “conservative thought leaders” are starting to listen to the fee-and-dividend message, legislators who embrace the strategy publicly are in danger of a primary attack from the far right. “It’s a tough political dynamic.” The Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies set what’s called the social cost of carbon to estimate climate-change effects used in crafting legislation. In May, the Obama administration increased the social cost of carbon from $22 to $36 per ton of carbon dioxide emitted. That increase reflects an increase in estimated consequences. Republican legislators almost immediately pushed back on the increase. It’s avoiding that kind of contretemps and using positive market forces to affect change that proponents think the fee-and-dividend strategy can produce. For a time, proponents shied away from even using the word “tax.” They called it a fee. But the nomenclature may have moved to the distinction without a difference territory. “People who are inclined to see it as a tax will see it as a tax,” says Daniel Richter, legislative director for the Climate Lobby. “We’ve given up trying to find a clever word to use instead of calling it a tax.” But one thing remains no matter what anyone calls it, a tax or a fee, it’s still revenue neutral. “We’re seeing more interest in this type of proposal than ever before,” says Richter.

     

    What we’re seeing now: Media digs in, drills down on climate coverage. September 17, 2013 Daily Climate A new effort from Al Jazeera ups environmental coverage in the U.S. as Canadian coverage of tarsands and government cuts shines. But newsrooms keep shrinking, and Al Gore is still the boogey man.

     

     

    Cattle giant to cash in carbon credits. Sept 20 2013 Australia ABC News The Tipperary Group has become the first beef producer in Australia to earn carbon credits under the savanna-burning carbon farming methodology.

     

    10 Truths that Should Be Said at This Week’s House Climate Change Hearing

    By Daniel Weiss Center for American Progress September 16, 2013

    This Wednesday, September 18, the House Energy and Power Subcommittee will conduct a long-overdue hearing on climate change. It is unfortunately not to seek scientific facts from reputable institutions, such as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Meteorological Society, and similar experts, as requested 27 times by Ranking Committee and Subcommittee Members Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Bobby Rush (D-IL). Instead, the hearing is titled “The Obama Administration’s Climate Change Policies and Activities.” The scheduled witnesses are Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy. During the hearing, they will probably be subjected to a barrage of phony claims by the 14 climate-science deniers who are serving on the subcommittee in an attempt to discredit President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan. Instead of these stale attacks on settled climate science, hyperinflated estimates of the cost of cleanup, or denial of executive authority to act, here are 10 truths that should be said at the hearing…..

     

    The future of the f-word.
    Chico News & Review California is on the brink of a great experiment in fracking regulation. SB 4 has intensified debate on a fundamental issue—whether fracking can be successfully regulated and safely conducted. The bill, which Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign readily, will establish some of the nation’s most stringent regulations for fracking and acidizing.

     

    Fracking may not be as bad for the climate as we thought. Sept 18 2013 Washington Post At first glance, the shale-gas boom in the United States looks like good news for efforts to tackle global warming. Cheap natural gas is pushing out dirtier coal in the power sector. But there’s always been a massive caveat to this story — methane.

     

     

     

     

     
     

     

    ONE WATER LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE LOS ANGELES SEPTEMBER 23-26 2013

    The Leadership Summit is organized annually by the U.S. Water Alliance’s Urban Water Sustainability Council.  Through this Leadership Summit the Council seeks to connect the dots among water, land use, parks, forests, transportation, energy, and other sectors around a goal of revitalizing cities with multi-benefit projects that produce triple bottom-line results.

     

     

    WEBINARS:

     

    Building Business Resilience to Climate Change: Weyerhaeuser

    Join us for a Webinar on September 25.  Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT  Reserve your Webinar seat now at:  https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/674795351

    This webinar will take a detailed look at resilience planning at one of the world’s leading forestry companies.   Sara Kendall will discuss Weyerhaeuser’s strategic initiatives, opportunities, and challenges for building resilience to the impacts of a changing climate on forestry and land use.

     

     

    Reforming Coastal Insurance

    Union of Concerned Scientists

    September 26: Reforming Coastal Insurance

    Date: Thursday, September 26
    Time: 8:00 p.m. EDT 5 pm PDT

    Sea level is rising at an accelerating rate and increasing the risk of destructive flooding events during powerful coastal storms. At the same time, increasing coastal development and a growing population are putting more people and more property in harm’s way. A recent UCS report, Overwhelming Risk: Rethinking Flood Insurance in a World of Rising Seas, points out that this risky pattern of development is being reinforced by the taxpayer-subsidized National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which sets artificially low insurance rates that do not reflect the true risks to coastal properties. Now we invite you to hear more from UCS experts on sea level rise and coastal property insurance, and to ask your own questions.
    Register Today

     

    Managing Coastal Watersheds to Address Climate Change: Vulnerability and Adaptation in the Middle Patuxent Subwatershed

    Space is limited.

    Thursday, October 3, 2013

     

    1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDT 11 AM- 12:30 PT

     

    The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) received funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Restoration Center to help set the stage for addressing climate change impacts in the Chesapeake Bay, focusing on how to integrate climate change in coastal restoration and conservation activities. This webinar provides an overview of how to address climate change (both vulnerability and adaptation) through a case study at a subwatershed level in the Chesapeake Bay. The focus will be on using a case study to show how to determine the vulnerability of a subwatershed to potential climate change impacts as well as providing a suite of potential adaptation options to address those vulnerabilities.
    Although the case study is specific to the Chesapeake Bay the information from the project will be useful to those working within this watershed and beyond. The process and approach used for this effort is one that managers can replicate to help them conduct a vulnerability assessment and develop actionable adaptation options efficiently and effectively.

     
     
     

     

    CONFERENCES:

     

    Working for Conservation Conference-Active Engagement in Forest and Woodland Sustainability

    Thursday, October 10, 2013Sheraton Grand Sacramento Hotel, 1230 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95814 916-341-401

    University of California Forestry and Outreach

    California’s forests and woodlands provide a tremendous array of values for society, including diverse habitats, water supply, carbon storage, energy, building products, aesthetics, outdoor recreation. With a population approaching 38 million people and 14 million international visitors, there is no area of the state not touched by humans. This conference will focus on what we can learn from innovative and novel strategies that seek to achieve desired outcome in natural systems that have been historically altered and will continue to be altered. We have scores of risk avoidance strategies that these new approaches can be compared to. We will discuss new policies and management strategies that recognize the realities of these impacts, and encourage active approaches to ensure that these values continue into the future. This one day conference will provide a series of presentations illustrating the trajectory of our fingerprints across the state’s 40 million acres of forest and woodlands and consider novel approaches being implemented to get ahead of challenges where ‘no action’ approaches may not work. A series of case studies will be presented on how hybrids of restoration ecology , silviculture, and conservation biology are being combined in innovative conservation strategies. The response panelists will highlight the risks and opportunities of innovative approaches and will also ask questions that are submitted from participants. A wrap-up reception and poster session will be held to encourage discussion of the topics developed in the formal presentations.

    Intended Audience: Resource managers, governmental, industry and NGO leaders, the interested general public. A list of useful background reading is provided at this LINK. Registration is $100, and includes breaks, lunch, and a reception. Early registration is due by October 1, 2013. Register by clicking HERE

     

     

     

    The San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve  is excited to announce this upcoming workshop! 
    Project Design and Evaluation
    September 23-24, 2013  9:00am – 5:00pm both days

    The Project Design and Evaluation course provides coastal resource management extension and education professionals with the knowledge, skills, and tools to design and implement projects that have measurable impacts on the audience they want to reach. This interactive curriculum can help you increase the effectiveness of your projects by applying valid instructional design theory to their design. For more information or to register, click here.  Course Instructed by NOAA Coastal Services Center 

     

     

    Analytical Frameworks for Wetland and Riparian Buffers in Agricultural Settings

    October 4, 2013 8:30 – 5:00

    Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve  Including field site training at ALBA’s Triple M Ranch, Las Lomas;  Carlie Henneman- POINT BLUE CONSERVATION SCIENCE, Dale Huss, Marc Los Huertos, and Paul Robins, Instructors

    This one-day workshop trains participants in how to improve their analyses in consideration of the use of buffers for wetland and riparian areas in agricultural settings.  During an in-depth field training session , participants will also have opportunities to discuss farming operations and buffers with Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) affiliated Francisco Serrano (Serrano Organic Farm), Hector Mora (Hector’s Organic Farm), and Guilebaldo Nuñez (Nuñez Farms) as well as Kaley Grimland- ALBA’s Triple M Ranch Wetland Restoration Project Manager.  To register and for more information: http://www.elkhornsloughctp.org/training/show_train_detail.php?TRAIN_ID=AnP4EPT

     

     

    Roadmap for Adapting to Coastal Risk

    Tuesday Oct. 22, 2013 9am to 5pm Sumner Auditorium, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

    8625 Discovery Way, San Diego, CA , 92037 Register Here

    FREE! Space is limited Registration is required by October 4, 2013 Dress comfortably for afternoon walking tour This intensive one-day training will introduce the “Roadmap” assessment approach designed to help communities characterize their exposure to current and future hazard and climate threats. This participatory assessment process is designed to:

    • Engage key staff members and stakeholders in a comprehensive assessment of local vulnerabilities;

    • Evaluate potential hazard and climate impacts using existing information resources;

    • Collaborate across disciplines to better understand and plan for impacts; and

    • Identify opportunities for improving resilience to current and future hazard risks.

    NOAA’s Coastal Services Center expert training staff will lead instruction, with participants spending the morning being trained in the classroom, followed by an afternoon field experience.

    Who should attend? Professionals interested in: (1) increasing their understanding of, and skills in, coastal hazard mitigation, and (2) networking among other professionals. Specifically: program administrators, land use planners, public works staff members, floodplain managers, hazard mitigation planners, emergency managers, community groups, and coastal resource managers. For further information contact: John Sandmeyer at jsandmeyer@sandiego.gov

     

    Quivira Conference 2013– Inspiring Adaptation  Wednesday, November 13 – Friday, November 15, 2013  Registration Deadlines:  November 5, 2013
    “The Westerner is less a person than a continuing adaptation. The West is less a place than a process.” – Wallace Stegner 

    From prehistoric times to the present, human societies have successfully adapted to the challenges of a changing West, including periods of severe drought, limitations created by scarce resources and shifting cultural and economic pressures. Now, the American West is entering an era of unprecedented change brought on by new climate realities, which will test our capacity for adaptation as well as challenge the resilience of the region’s native flora and fauna. It is therefore paramount that we find and share inspiring ideas and practical strategies that help all of the region’s inhabitants adapt to a rapidly changing world.  We will hear from scientists, ranchers, farmers, conservationists, urban planners and others who have bright ideas and important tools to share from their adaptation toolbox.

     

    Date CHANGED! : Rangeland Coalition Summit 2014 January 21-22, 2014  Oakdale, CA  Please note that the dates have been changed for the 9th Annual California Rangeland Conservation Coalition Summit to be hosted at the Oakdale Community Center. Mark your calendar for January 21-22, 2014, more details will be coming soon! The planning committee will have a conference call on September 11 at 9:00 AM to start planning for the event. If you are interested in serving on the planning committee or being a sponsor please contact Pelayo Alvarez: pelayo@carangeland.org.

     

     

    The Ecological Society of America, American Geophysical Union, and US Geological Survey are co-sponsors of the upcoming

    Soil Science Society of America ecosystems services conference–abstracts are now being invited and are due by 12/1/2013.

    March 6-9, 2014 Sheraton Grand Hotel, Sacramento, CA

    Purpose of Conference:  Soils provide provisioning and regulating ecosystem services relevant to grand challenge areas of 1) climate change adaptation and mitigation, 2) food and energy security, 3) water protection, 4) biotechnology for human health, 5) ecological sustainability, and 6) slowing of desertification. The purposes of this conference will be to evaluate knowledge strengths and gaps, encourage cross-disciplinary synergies to accelerate new learning, and prioritize research needs.

    More info is available here:  https://www.soils.org/meetings/specialized/ecosystem-services

     

     

    99th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America
    Sacramento, California  August 10-15, 2014  http://www.esa.org/sacramento

    Call for Proposals– Symposia, Organized Oral Sessions, and Organized Poster Sessions

    Deadline for Submission: September 26, 2013

     

     

    FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES:

     

    Deadline 2103-12-01: SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund 

    Grants support projects in 4 key categories: Species Research, Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation, Habitat Protection, and Conservation Education. Application deadline is December 1 each year for grants beginning the following year.  Past programs have supported projects in the range of 5-25K for a one-year term.

     

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program at San Francisco Bay  The program’s focus is on the San Mateo and Marin Counties’ outer Coast and is also available to projects in watersheds draining into San Francisco Bay. The mission of the Coastal Program at San Francisco Bay is to conserve coastal ecosystems by engaging external partners and other Service programs in activities that restore, enhance and protect fish and wildlife habitats and habitat forming processes. Funding Available: about $100,000 to $200,000 annually. There is no rigid application format or deadline to apply. However, our money is available on a Federal fiscal year basis (October 1 to September 30), and we encourage you to contact us as early as possible so that we can explore potential partnership opportunities for your project. We would like to hear from you starting in January each year, cooperative agreements for each year are generally finalized by June.  

     
     

    NOAA Announces Solicitation for the U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observation Network
    This funding opportunity invites proposals for projects that demonstrate how an operational Marine Biodiversity Observation Network could be developed for the nation by establishing one or more prototype networks in U.S. coastal waters, the Great Lakes, and the EEZ. Applications are due on December 2, 2013.

    For more information, click here

     

     

     

    JOBS:

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Clean energy least costly to power America’s electricity needs
    (September 17, 2013) — Findings show carbon pollution from power plants can be cut cost-effectively by using wind, solar and natural gas. It’s less costly to get electricity from wind turbines and solar panels than coal-fired power plants when climate change costs and other health impacts are factored in, according to a new study. … > full story

     

     

    Coal’s future darkens around the world.
    Associated Press The future of coal is getting darker. Economic forces, pollution concerns and competition from cleaner fuels are slowly nudging nations around the globe away from the fuel that made the industrial revolution possible.

     

    Remote Scottish windfarms to receive guaranteed price for their electricity. September 15, 2013 The Guardian Community-owned windfarms on some of Scotland’s remotest islands are likely to gain from a new deal to buy their electricity at a higher price, Ed Davey, the energy and climate secretary, has said.

     

     

    Fracking may emit less methane than previous estimates. September 17 2013 Climate Central Fracked natural gas wells leak much less methane — a potent climate change-driving greenhouse gas — at certain points during the production process than previous studies and the Environmental Protection Agency have estimated, according to a University of Texas study released Monday. Methane is one of the chief components of natural gas locked up in underground shale formations — the target of a natural gas drilling boom stretching from Pennsylvania to the Rockies and beyond. Energy companies tap the formations using a method called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a well completion process that requires large volumes of water, sand and chemicals to be injected into the shale at high pressure, cracking the rock and allowing the trapped gas to flow into the well and to the surface.

    Credit: FracTracker.org

    The natural gas wells and the fracking process are hardly leak-free, however. The EPA estimated in 2011 that natural gas drilling accounts for at least about 1,200 gigagrams — about 2.6 billion pounds — of methane emissions each year from well completions, equipment leaks and pneumatic controllers. The EPA estimated that “flowback,” one of the final stages in the well completion process during which fracking fluids and other materials flow out of the well, emits an average of 81 milligrams of methane per operation. The study, led by University of Texas chemical engineering professor David T. Allen and sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund and nine oil and gas companies, found that methane emissions from the natural gas production sites were overall about the same as EPA estimates with some notable exceptions. But if emissions control technology is used, emissions can be drastically reduced during some parts of the gas production process. The study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. …

     

     

    Tidal energy scheme off northern Scotland gets go-ahead. September 16, 2013 The Guardian

    Six vast underwater turbines are to be lowered into the tidal currents of the Pentland firth in the first phase of one of the largest tidal energy schemes in Europe. … Installing and running these machines in the harsh north Atlantic waters off northern Scotland is highly challenging because of the extreme weather conditions, strength of the tides and depths of water. The Scottish government’s estimates that the Pentland Firth, where tides race between the Atlantic and North Sea through a narrow eight-mile gap, can support 14GW of installed capacity are disputed by experts.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    The Many Small Ways Americans Are Adapting to Climate Change

    The Atlantic

    September 19, 2013

           

    In some places, climate change is an explicit factor driving a city’s action; such is the case in Baltimore, Maryland, which has a Climate Action Plan and a recently appointed “Hazard Mitigation and Adaptation Planner” who is trying to build more tree

     

    Female Leaders to Push for Climate Change Action

    LiveScience.com

     - ‎September 19 2013‎

           

    Female scientists and leaders from more than 35 countries will descend on the small town of Suffern, N.Y., this weekend to discuss issues at the intersection of climate policy and women’s empowerment. The first International Women’s Earth and Climate Change … Among those present will be renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jody Williams, noted marine biologist Sylvia Earle, former Brazilian Minister of Environment Marina Silva and leaders from the Global Gender Climate Alliance and the Women’s Environment and Development Organization.

     

    Booby invasion causes ‘huge excitement’ among Bay Area birders

    By Jason Hoppin, Santa Cruz Sentinel Posted:   09/19/2013

    The blue-footed booby, native to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, South America, has been spotted at least twice in Santa Cruz County this week. (Sybil Sassoon/Robert Harding /AP Images) (Sybil Sassoon/Robert Harding)

    LIVE OAK — On a rocky shelf next to Sunny Cove, UC Santa Cruz student Abe Borker and some friends looked over the water Tuesday, scanning for an impossibility.

    Yet there it was: the blue-footed booby, a subtropical seabird famed from the Galapagos Islands to the Sea of Cortez for its long, pointed beak, clumsy waddle and pastel-colored webbed feet, a combination that makes the bird look like it walked off a Pixar movie set….

     

     

    Report links antibiotics at farms to human deaths

    San Francisco Chronicle ‎- September 17 2013

    The link between overuse of antibiotics in livestock and microbial resistance has been suspected since the 1960s, but Congress, at the behest 

     

     

    How politics distorts our perceptions

    Kevin Drum September 15, 2013 MotherJones.com

    “Politics makes morons of us all,” said Kevin Drum. That’s the conclusion of a new study carried out by Yale law professor Dan Kahan. He tested the math skills of 1,100 participants, asked for their political orientation, and then asked them to analyze the results of a bogus study on a divisive political issue—whether a gun ban decreased or increased crime. Kahan gave half the participants data indicating the ban cut crime, and the other half data indicating the opposite. A strange thing then happened. Participants who had proven they could do basic mathematical analysis “suddenly got really stupid if they didn’t like the answer they got.” When given data indicating that gun bans don’t work, liberals with good math skills nonetheless said the statistics proved they do work. When given data indicating that gun bans do work, conservatives likewise lost the ability to do math, and wrongly insisted that the data proved otherwise. The depressing conclusion? No matter how intelligent we are, when it comes to politics, “we believe what we want to believe, and neither facts nor evidence ever changes that much.”

     

    Earth expected to be habitable for another 1.75 billion years
    (September 18, 2013) — Habitable conditions on Earth will be possible for at least another 1.75 billion years – according to astrobiologists. “If we ever needed to move to another planet, Mars is probably our best bet. It’s very close and will remain in the habitable zone until the end of the Sun’s lifetime — six billion years from now,” one of the researchers said. … > full story

     

    Endocrine-disrupting chemicals pose global health threat, experts say
    (September 19, 2013) — Endocrine experts agreed that endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) pose a threat to human health and to the ecosystems of Earth. The editorial comes in response to a commentary (Dietrich et al. Chem Biol Interact) signed by a number of editors of toxicology journals that dismisses the state-of-the-science on EDCs and argues for the status quo in the regulation of these hazardous substances. … > full story

     

    Red grapes, blueberries may enhance immune function
    (September 17, 2013) — In an analysis of 446 compounds for their the ability to boost the innate immune system in humans, researchers discovered just two that stood out from the crowd — the resveratrol found in red grapes and a compound called pterostilbene from blueberries. … > full story

     

    CA BLM WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK

    What would happen to you if you are bitten by a lyre snake?
    Would you most likely:

    (a.) suffer from symptoms similar to a rattlesnake bite, such as dizziness and difficulty breathing?
    (b.) need to be airlifted to a hospital for antivenin treatments?
    (c.) not be severely injured by their venom?
    (d.) not be bitten at all, as lyre snakes cannot bite?
    (e.) develop an inexplicable urge to listen to ancient Greek music?

    See answer at end….

     

     

     

     

     

     


     

     



     





     

    CA BLM QUIZ ANSWER:

    What would happen to you if you are bitten by a lyre snake? Would you most likely:
    (c.) not be severely injured by their venom

  3. Conservation Science News September 13, 2013

    Leave a Comment

    Highlight of the Week -WATER SCARCITY, GROUNDWATER and DROUGHT

     

    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

    ——————————–

    NOTE: Please feel free to pass on my weekly news update that has been prepared for
    Point Blue Conservation Science
    staff.  The information contained in this update was drawn from
    www.sciencedaily.com, SER The Society for Ecological Restorationhttp://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.slate.com, www.sfgate.com, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, www.blm.gov/ca/news/newsbytes/2012/529.html and other sources as indicated.  This is a compilation of articles and other information available on line, which were not verified and are not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  Please email me directly at Ellie Cohen, ecohen at pointblue.org if you want your name added to or dropped from this list.  You can also receive this through the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative ListServe or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium list.   Also, we are starting to experiment with blog posting at www.pointblue.org/sciencenews

    We have changed our name to Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO).  Our 140 Point Blue
    scientists and educators work with hundreds of partners, pointing the way forward to secure a healthy, blue planet well into the future.  We work collaboratively to reduce the impacts of climate change, together with other environmental threats, through nature-based solutions that benefit wildlife and people.  For more information please see From Point Reyes to Point Blue as well as our first Point Blue Quarterly.  You might also enjoy viewing our inspiring ~6 minute video introducing Point Blue that includes partner and staff highlights as well as a brief congratulatory video from Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-2).  Our new website, www.pointblue.org, is under construction through mid-September. Until then, our existing website, www.prbo.org, will remain active.

     


     

     

    Highlight of the Week- WATER SCARCITY, GROUNDWATER and DROUGHT

     

    Current pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions put over 600 million people at risk of higher water scarcity
    (September 12, 2013) — Our current pledges to reduce
    greenhouse gas emissions, which are projected to set the global mean temperature increase at around 3.5°C above pre-industrial levels, will expose 668 million people worldwide to new or aggravated water scarcity.
    This is according to a new study published today, 13 September, in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters, which has calculated that a further 11 per cent of the world’s population, taken from the year 2000, will live in water-scarce river basins or, for those already living in water-scarce regions, find that the effects will be aggravated. The results show that people in the Middle East, North Africa, Southern Europe and the Southwest of the USA will experience the most significant changes. The results show that if the global mean temperature increases by 2°C — the internationally agreed target — then eight per cent of the world population (486 million people) will be exposed to new or aggravated water scarcity, specifically in the Near and Middle East. Lead author of the research Dr Dieter Gerten, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said: “Our global assessments suggest that many regions will have less water available per person. “Even if the increase is restricted to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, many regions will have to adapt their water management and demand to a lower supply, especially since the population is expected to grow significantly in many of these regions.” “The unequal spatial pattern of exposure to climate change impacts sheds interesting light on the responsibility of high-emission countries and could have a bearing on both mitigation and adaption burden sharing.”…full story

    Dieter Gerten, Wolfgang Lucht, Sebastian Ostberg, Jens Heinke, Martin Kowarsch, Holger Kreft, Zbigniew W Kundzewicz, Johann Rastgooy, Rachel Warren, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. Asynchronous exposure to global warming: freshwater resources and terrestrial ecosystems. Environmental Research Letters, 2013; 8 (3): 034032 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/034032

     

     

    Dust Bowl Worries Swirl Up As Shelterbelt Buckles

    NPR Joe Wertz September 10, 2013 5:12 PM 4 min 9 sec

    A Dust Bowl farmer digs out a fence post to keep it from being buried under drifting sand in Cimarron County, Okla., in 1936. Arthur Rothstein

    In the 1930s, the Dust Bowl ravaged crops and helped plunge the U.S. into an environmental and economic depression. Farmland in parts of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas disappeared. After the howling winds passed and the dust settled, federal foresters planted 100 million trees across the Great Plains, forming a giant windbreak — known as a shelterbelt — that stretched from Texas to Canada. Now, those trees are dying from drought, leaving some to worry whether another Dust Bowl might swirl up again. In Western Oklahoma water is scarce, but rains often cause flooding. The ground is baked by searing heat, and raked by blizzards and ice storms. This environment has always been tough for farmers, who struggle to make the soil submit and stay near the ground. Back in the ’30s, a combination of severe drought, overgrazing, and extensive plowing had rendered the ground rootless, loose and bone dry. Without anything to anchor it down, the dirt raged in dust storms dubbed “black blizzards.” Hundreds of thousands of families fled their dust-shrouded farms to more livable lands. In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration decided to plant a 1,000-mile line of trees, and the national shelterbelt program was born. The idea was simple: A giant windbreak would shield crops, and prevent erosion. Landowners filled out an application, gave up a few acres of land, and agreed to maintain the trees. The federal government did the rest. State forester Tom Murray says it was an experiment — and it worked. “This used to be a cotton field, if I remember right, looking back at the history,” he says. “And it just blew — it’s sand and it blew. By putting this here, it stopped that south wind from blowing across this field.” Now, drought threatens to sully the experiment’s track record. As Oklahoma weathers a third year of drought, many of the trees that helped save the state decades ago are dying. Husks of trunks line the side of the highway…..

     

    In drought, water war in Calif. fought underground

    By GOSIA WOZNIACKA, Associated Press Updated 8:03 am, Sunday, September 8, 2013

    In this Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 photo, Micha Berry, with the city of Fresno’s water division, unscrews the motor that sits on top of a groundwater well in order to repair the well’s pump, in Fresno, Calif. Fresno, which has for decades relied exclusively on groundwater as a drinking water source for its residents, is one of many water users throughout central California that have seen a drop in their water table causing some wells to bring up sand, slow to a trickle or go completely dry. Photo: AP

    Top of Form

    Bottom of Form

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — For decades, this city in California’s agricultural heartland relied exclusively on cheap, plentiful groundwater and pumped increasingly larger amounts from an aquifer as its population grew. But eventually, the water table dropped by more than 100 feet, causing some of Fresno’s wells to cave in and others to slow to a trickle. The cost of replacing those wells and extracting groundwater ballooned by 400 percent.

    We became the largest energy demand in the region — $11 million a year for electricity just to run the pumps,” said Martin Querin, manager of the city’s water division, which supplies 550,000 residents. Fresno is just one player in a water war that’s quietly being fought underground. Throughout the Central Valley — one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions — farmers, residents and cities have seen their wells go dry. Those who can afford it have drilled deeper wells that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Experts say water supplies have been strained by growing city populations and massive tracts of newly planted orchards and vineyards. “Water levels are dropping dramatically in some areas. It’s never been this bad,” said Steve Arthur, vice president of Arthur and Orum Well Drilling. The drops create concerns that groundwater is becoming unaffordable and that overuse could cause serious land subsidence, which can damage infrastructure such as roads. “We can’t keep over-pumping groundwater,” said Peter Gleick, president of Pacific Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Oakland. “It’s simply unsustainable and not economically viable in the long run.

    California has few rules governing groundwater. While some basins limit pumping through management plans or court rulings, anyone can build a well and pump unlimited amounts in most of the state. The U.S. Geological Survey has found in much of California — the San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast and Southern California — more water has historically been pulled out of the ground than was replenished. Climate change and droughts are putting additional pressure on aquifers, said USGS hydrologist Claudia C. Faunt. There also is a recent shift among California farmers to replace row crops such as tomatoes with orchards, which can’t be scaled back in dry times.

    On the west side of the Valley, massive farms whose surface water deliveries have been severely curtailed to protect fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are increasingly relying on groundwater and digging deeper wells. Farmers have also seen wells go dry east of Modesto in the Sierra foothills, where they’ve planted hundreds of thousands of acres of new orchards. They’ve been forced to drill new wells as deep as 800 feet. “There are more straws taking water out of the basin,” said Al Rossini, a third generation farmer from Oakdale. And whoever has the longest straw — and the deepest pockets — is winning.

    Some small farmers can’t afford to drill deeper. Rural residents who rely on smaller wells for drinking, cooking and bathing are also feeling the brunt. “Our well went dry, and we had to redrill,” said Gerald Vieira, a retired Denair resident. Vieira paid $13,000 this summer for a new well — drilled 200 feet deeper than it had been before. A dozen of his neighbors also bought new wells. Some farmers and urban districts are now trying to find solutions to prevent groundwater overuse.

    Fresno plans to use a combination of surface, ground and treated wastewater and to greatly expand the city’s program to replenish groundwater, and farmers in the Sierra foothills also plan to dig recharging ponds. Meanwhile, many farmers and other water users say the state must build more storage, especially groundwater banks, to hold water during wet years. “Water is like blood to the body,” said Rossini. “Without water, California won’t be the same state.”

     

    Pumping draws arsenic toward a big-city aquifer
    (September 11, 2013) — Naturally occurring arsenic pollutes wells across the world, especially in south and southeast Asia, where an estimated 100 million people are exposed to dangerous levels. Now, scientists working in Vietnam have shown that massive pumping of groundwater from a clean aquifer is slowly but surely drawing the poison into the water fro a nearby polluted one. The study, done near Hanoi, confirms suspicions that booming water usage could eventually threaten millions more people across Asia. … > full story

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The real reason to worry about bees
    (September 10, 2013) — Honey bees should be on everyone’s worry list, and not because of the risk of a nasty sting, an expert on the health of those beneficial insects. Despite years of intensive research, scientists do not understand the cause, nor can they provi
    de remedies, for what is killing honey bees.
    Set aside the fact that the honeybee’s cousins — hornets, wasps and yellow jackets — actually account for most stings, said Richard Fell, Ph.D. Despite years of intensive research, scientists do not understand the cause, nor can they provide remedies, for what is killing honeybees. “Some estimates put the value of honeybees in pollinating fruit, vegetable and other crops at almost $15 billion annually,” Fell said. “Without bees to spread pollen from the male parts of plants to the female parts, fruit may not form. That would severely impact consumers, affecting the price of some of the healthiest and most desirable foods.” Farmers use honeybees to pollinate more than 100 different fruit and vegetable crops around the country in an approach known as “managed pollination.” It involves placing bee hives in fields when crops are ready for pollination. “The biggest impacts from decreased hive numbers will be felt by farmers producing crops with high pollination requirements, such as almonds. Consumers may see a lowered availability of certain fruits and vegetables and some higher costs,” explained Fell. He discussed the ongoing decline in honeybee populations in the U.S. and some other countries — a condition sometimes termed colony collapse disorder (CCD). Although honeybees have been doing better in recent years, something continues to kill about 1 in every 3 honeybees each year. “There is a good bit of misinformation in the popular press about CCD and colony decline, especially with regard to pesticides,” Fell said. He is an emeritus professor of entomology at Virginia Tech, and an authority on colony decline in bees. “I think it is important to emphasize that we do not understand the causes of colony decline and CCD and that there are probably a number of factors involved. Also, the factors that trigger a decline may be different in different areas of the country and at different times of year.” Some of the leading theories about the cause of CCD include the use of certain pesticides, parasites, diseases and overall hive nutrition. Beekeeper and other organizations are pushing to stop the sale of certain neonicotinoids, insecticides that some regard as the main culprit of CCD. However, Fell said that would be premature. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently reviewed the situation and concluded that there is no scientific evidence that the neonicotinoids are causing serious problems with bee colonies. … > full story

     

    Pacific humpback whale abundance higher in British Columbia
    (September 11, 2013)Humpback whale populations are on the rise in the coastal fjords of British Columbia, doubling in size from 2004 to 2011. … > full story

     

     

    Surprising underwater-sounds: Humpback whales also spend their winter in Antarctica
    (September 9, 2013) — Biologists and physicists have discovered that not all of the Southern Hemisphere humpback whales migrate towards the equator at the end of the Antarctic summer. … > full story

     

    Genetics of how and why fish swim in schools: Research sheds light on complex social behavior
    (September 12, 2013) — How and why fish swim in schools has long fascinated biologists looking for clues to understand the complexities of social behavior. A new study may help provide some insight. … > full story

    Darwin’s dilemma resolved: Evolution’s ‘big bang’ explained by five times faster rates of evolution
    (September 12, 2013) — Biologists have estimated, for the first time, the rates of evolution during the “Cambrian explosion” when most modern animal groups appeared between 540 and 520 million years ago. … > full story

     

    Biologist tweaks airport ecosystems to manage bird threats

    By Sarah Zhang, The Seattle Times Posted:   09/10/2013 10:26:02 AM PDT SEATTLE — Steve Osmek is standing next to a tangle of shrubs and wildflowers, talking about conservation. But every 45 seconds or so, a jet rumbles overhead — drowning out all his words.

    He’s used to the planes by now. As the resident wildlife biologist at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Osmek is in charge of making sure animals play nice with the planes. “If it moves, if it has legs, I’m responsible,” he says. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of keeping animals out, like the 12-foot fence that prevents coyotes and deer from wandering onto the runways. But it’s more complicated for the airport’s greatest wildlife hazard: birds. Bird strikes cost the U.S. aviation industry $700 million annually, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, and more than 200 people have died as a result of bird-plane collisions in the past quarter-century worldwide. When a flight taking off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport lost engine power after hitting a flock of geese but landed safely in the river in 2009, it was called “Miracle on the Hudson” for good reason. Sea-Tac had an emergency landing of its own in 2002, when a Boeing 737 struck 26 birds. There’s no barrier to put up against birds. Instead, Osmek is talking about conservation biology in a grassy field next to Sea-Tac. Airports are ecosystems despite all the concrete. They’re home not only to planes and trucks but also pigeons, voles, grasshoppers, blackberry shrubs, and even salmon, in the case of Sea-Tac. Managing bird strikes is about creating environments that discourage the hazardous birds, especially ones that flock, like European starlings, or large birds of prey, like red-tailed hawks. That means Osmek is actually responsible for things that don’t move and don’t have legs, either; he also has to think about plants. Inside the airfield, pavement alternates with patches of grass, kept short to discourage rodents or insects that attract birds looking for food. The topsoil is low in nutrition, to prevent grass from growing tall in the first place. And the grass seeds themselves were chosen because they contain a fungus whose taste drives away waterfowl. Around the airfield is a buffer zone of 2,646 acres. Plants with berries, nuts and seeds that attract birds are kept to a minimum. Instead, Sea-Tac plants shrubs with dense cover that discourages nesting. Goats were brought in to mow down the especially pervasive blackberries in 2008, but they were a little too good at their job; they ate all the desirable plants, too. Now the landscaping is done by humans…..

     

     

    Monarch Population Status September 12, 2013

    So where are the monarchs this year?? As you may know, the overwintering monarch population for the

    2012-2013 season was the smallest recorded to date: http://monarchwatch.org/blog/2013/03/monarch-population-status-18/

    To recover from a bad year, the conditions for the development of the population the following year have to be favorable. Unfortunately, the conditions this spring were not favorable for a rapid recovery.

    The temperatures in Texas in the spring were colder than normal as were the conditions at the time that the first generation monarchs moved north (May-early June). The result of the combination of a low returning population with the temperatures and weather patterns of the spring was a low early summer monarch population. Is there a chance that the population can rebound as it has before? Yes, but the temperatures in nearly all of the northern breeding range would have to be above normal by 2-3F throughout the summer for the population to increase. None of the observations or data to date suggest either a strong migration or a wintering population that will be larger than the 1.19 hectares measured last year. In fact, the population is likely to be even lower. Please visit the Monarch Watch Blog for a more detailed account of the current monarch population and updates as the season progresses: http://monarchwatch.org/blog

     

     

     

    Big Brained Birds May Stress Less

    By Alex Reis, ScienceNOW 09.11.13

    An Australian raven. Image: Daniel Sol

    Bird species with larger than average brains have lower levels of a key stress hormone, an analysis of nearly 200 avian studies has concluded. Such birds keep their stress down by anticipating or learning to avoid problems more effectively than smaller-brained counterparts, researchers suggest.

    Birds in the wild lead a stressful life. Constantly spotting predators lurking in the trees or sensing dramatic changes in temperature is essential for survival, but can leave birds on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Reading these cues triggers changes in the birds’ metabolism, particularly increases in the stress hormone corticosterone. A sharp release of the hormone within 1 to 2 minutes after a cue triggers an emergency response and prepares birds to react quickly to the threat. However, regular exposure to the dangers of the wild and, hence, to high levels of this hormone, has serious health consequences and shortens life expectancy.

    Not all birds respond to stress in the same way, however, notes Daniel Sol an ornithologist at the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications in Cerdanyola del Vallès, Spain. He and colleagues have for years looked at the differences between big-brained birds, such as crows and parrots, and those with smaller brains, such as chickens and quails. The former survive better in nature and are also more successful at establishing a community in a new environment.

    In their new work, they connect brain size to handling stress. Sol; Ádám Lendvai, an evolutionary biologist at the College of Nyíregyháza in Hungary; and colleagues scoured the avian research literature to find studies that had measured corticosterone levels in birds in varying situations. They found 189 reports published before 2010 with comparable corticosterone and whole brain mass measurements for 119 bird species. The analysis, reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, revealed that birds with large brains have lower circulating levels of the stress hormone, which rise only slightly in response to challenging situations, whereas these values can skyrocket in birds on the opposite end of the “brainy” scale.

     

    Farmers can now get a birds-eye view of their fields — in full HD — thanks to new drone
    (September 10, 2013) — Farmers can now get a birds-eye view of their fields — in full HD — thanks to Michigan State University landing its first drone. … > full story

     

    Butterfly wings inspire new technologies: From fabrics and cosmetics to sensors
    (September 9, 2013) — A new study has revealed that the stunning iridescent wings of the tropical blue Morpho butterfly could expand the range of innovative technologies. Scientific lessons learned from these butterflies have already inspired designs of new displays, fabrics and cosmetics. … > full story

     

     

     

    Unprecedented Rate and Scale of Ocean Acidification Found in the Arctic
    Released: 9/11/2013 5:30:00 PM USGS

    St Petersburg, Fla. — Acidification of the Arctic Ocean is occurring faster than projected according to new findings published in the journal PLOS ONE.  The increase in rate is being blamed on rapidly melting sea ice, a process that may have important consequences for health of the Arctic ecosystem.

    Ocean acidification is the process by which pH levels of seawater decrease due to greater amounts of carbon dioxide being absorbed by the oceans from the atmosphere.  Currently oceans absorb about one-fourth of the greenhouse gas.  Lower pH levels make water more acidic and lab studies have shown that more acidic water decrease calcification rates in many calcifying organisms, reducing their ability to build shells or skeletons.  These changes, in species ranging from corals to shrimp, have the potential to impact species up and down the food web.

    The team of federal and university researchers found that the decline of sea ice in the Arctic summer has important consequences for the surface layer of the Arctic Ocean.  As sea ice cover recedes to record lows, as it did late in the summer of 2012, the seawater beneath is exposed to carbon dioxide, which is the main driver of ocean acidification. In addition, the freshwater melted from sea ice dilutes the seawater, lowering pH levels and reducing the concentrations of calcium and carbonate, which are the constituents, or building blocks, of the mineral aragonite. Aragonite and other carbonate minerals make up the hard part of many marine micro-organisms’ skeletons and shells. The lowering of calcium and carbonate concentrations may impact the growth of organisms that many species rely on for food.  The new research shows that acidification in surface waters of the Arctic Ocean is rapidly expanding into areas that were previously isolated from contact with the atmosphere due to the former widespread ice cover. “A remarkable 20 percent of the Canadian Basin has become more corrosive to carbonate minerals in an unprecedented short period of time.  Nowhere on Earth have we documented such large scale, rapid ocean acidification” according to lead researcher and ocean acidification project chief, U.S. Geological Survey oceanographer Lisa Robbins. Globally, Earth’s ocean surface is becoming acidified due to absorption of man-made carbon dioxide. Ocean acidification models show that with increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, the Arctic Ocean will have crucially low concentrations of dissolved carbonate minerals, such as aragonite, in the next decade. “In the Arctic, where multi-year sea ice has been receding, we see that the dilution of seawater with melted sea ice adds fuel to the fire of ocean acidification” according to co-author, and co-project chief, Jonathan Wynn, a geologist from the University of the South Florida. “Not only is the ice cover removed leaving the surface water exposed to man-made carbon dioxide, the surface layer of frigid waters is now fresher, and this means less calcium and carbonate ions are available for organisms.” Researchers were able to investigate seawater chemistry at high spatial resolution during three years of research cruises in the Arctic, alongside joint U.S.-Canada research efforts aimed at mapping the seafloor as part of the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf program.  In addition to the NOAA supported ECS ship time, the ocean acidification researchers were funded by the USGS, National Science Foundation, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Compared to other oceans, the Arctic Ocean has been rather lightly sampled. “It’s a beautiful but challenging place to work,” said Robert Byrne, a USF marine chemist. Using new automated instruments, the scientists were able to make 34,000 water-chemistry measurements from the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker. “This unusually large data set, in combination with earlier studies, not only documents remarkable changes in Arctic seawater chemistry but also provides a much-needed baseline against which future measurements can be compared.” Byrne credits scientists and engineers at the USF college of Marine Science with developing much of the new technology. Information on the most recent Arctic research cruise is available on online.

     

     

    Climate change may speed up forests’ life cycles
    (September 11, 2013) — Many climate studies have predicted that tree species will respond to global warming by migrating via seed dispersal to cooler climates. But a study of 65 different species in 31 eastern states finds that nearly 80 percent of the species are staying in place and speeding up their life cycles. The Duke University-led study, published online Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Global Change Biology, is the first to show that a changing climate may have dual impacts on forests. It adds to a growing body of evidence, including a 2011 study by the same Duke team, that climate-driven migration is occurring much more slowly than predicted, and most plant species may not be able to migrate fast enough to stay one step ahead of rising temperatures. ….”Our analysis reveals no consistent, large-scale northward migration is taking place. Instead, most trees are responding through faster turnover — meaning they are staying in place but speeding up their life cycles in response to longer growing seasons and higher temperatures,” said James S. Clark, H.L. Blomquist Professor of Environment at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment….Anticipating the impacts of this unexpected change on U.S. forests is an important issue for forest managers and for the nation as a whole, Clark said. It will have far-reaching consequences for biodiversity and carbon storage. “The patterns we were able to see from this massive study are consistent with forests having faster turnover, where young trees tend to be more abundant than adult trees in warm, wet climates. This pattern is what we would expect to see if populations speed up their life cycle in warming climates,” said lead author Kai Zhu, a doctoral student of Clark’s at Duke. “This is a first sign of climate change impacts, before we see large-scale migrations. It gives a very different picture of how trees are responding to climate change.” The fact that most trees are not yet showing signs of migration “should increase awareness that there is a significant lag time in how tree species are responding to the changing climate,” Zhu said…. > full story

     

    Kai Zhu, Christopher W. Woodall, Souparno Ghosh, Alan E. Gelfand, James S. Clark. Dual impacts of climate change: forest migration and turnover through life history. Global Change Biology, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12382

     

     

    Movement of marine life follows speed and direction of climate change
    (September 12, 2013)
    Scientists expect climate change and warmer oceans to push the fish that people rely on for food and income into new territory. Predictions of where and when species will relocate, however, are
    based on broad expectations about how animals will move and have often not played out in nature. New research shows that the trick to predicting when and where sea animals will relocate due to climate change is to follow the pace and direction of local temperature changes, known as climate velocity. ……
    Details of the surveys revealed that sea creatures adhere to a “complex mosaic of local climate velocities,” the researchers reported. On average, changes in temperature for North America moved north a mere 4.5 miles per decade, but in parts of Newfoundland that pace was a speedier 38 miles north per decade. In areas off the U.S. West Coast, temperatures shifted south at 30 miles per decade, while in the Gulf of Mexico velocities varied from 19 miles south to 11 miles north per decade. Animal movements were just as motley. As a whole, species shifted an average of 5 miles north per decade, but 45 percent of animal specific populations swam south. Cod off Newfoundland moved 37 miles north per decade, while lobster in the northeastern United States went the same direction at 43 miles per decade. On the other hand, pink shrimp, a staple of Gulf Coast fisheries, migrated south 41 miles per decade, the researchers found…Daniel Pauly, a professor of fisheries at the University of British Columbia, said that the researchers reveal finer details of marine movements that are crucial for preservation and commercial fishing, yet often get lost in the global-scale models typically used to predict how fish will respond to altered environs. Pauly is familiar with the Princeton research but had no role in it. Regional factors such as wind can actually counteract warmer water and result in cooler seas, as is the case off the coasts of California and Peru, Pauly said. In addition, fish are extremely sensitive to even slight temperature changes and will quickly seek ideal locales, which can appear like erratic shifts in distribution. Large-scale models based on global averages don’t reflect these nuances….

    An idea first proposed in 2009, climate velocity explains why as many as 60 percent of land and sea species have deviated from the expectation that rising global temperatures would drive animals toward cooler high latitudes and elevations, or deeper waters, the researchers report. Instead, animals follow local temperatures, which over the next few decades may warm or cool even as global temperatures overall are rising, Pinsky said. In the case of ocean temperatures, the march of balmy tides depends on currents, changes in the atmosphere, and geological features on the shore and in the ocean. The temperatures that species prefer tend to move toward the poles, but not as a single wave. In some cases, local changes in water temperature move away from the poles, or to deep water. As a result, the researchers found that 73 percent of animals that moved south and 75 percent that relocated to shallower waters were following temperature changes….full story

    Malin L. Pinsky, Boris Worm, Michael J. Fogarty, Jorge L. Sarmiento, and Simon A. Levin. Marine Taxa Track Local Climate Velocities. Science, 13 September 2013: 1239-1242 DOI: 10.1126/science.1239352

     

    Climate change will upset vital ocean chemical cycles, research shows
    (September 8, 2013) — New research shows that rising ocean temperatures will upset natural cycles of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and phosphorus. Plankton plays an important role in the ocean’s carbon cycle by removing half of all CO2 from the atmosphere during photosynthesis and storing it deep under the sea. New findings reveal that water temperature has a direct impact on maintaining the delicate plankton ecosystem of our oceans. … > full story

     

     

    Skyscraper-sized waves recorded beneath the ocean.
    Nature World News by James A. Foley Sep 10, 2013 01:21 PM EDT


    For the first time, scientist have recorded an enormous wave the size of a skyscraper breaking at a key location at the bottom of the South Pacific Ocean. (Photo : Tom Peacock, MIT | Wide Eye Productions)

    For the first time, scientists have recorded an enormous wave the size of a skyscraper breaking at a key location at the bottom of the South Pacific Ocean.

    Researchers from the University of Washington recorded the 800 foot wave breaking at a key bottleneck for ocean circulation where water of different density collides. Such massive underwater waves play a crucial role in long-term climate cycles, transporting heat, carbon, and nutrients around the world. Where and how these waves break is important to global climate as well as ocean circulation, the researchers said.”Climate models are really sensitive not only to how much turbulence there is in the deep ocean, but to where it is,” said lead author Matthew Alford, an oceanographer in the UW Applied Physics Laboratory. “The primary importance of understanding deep-ocean turbulence is to get the climate models right on long timescales.”…

     

    ‘Biblical’ Amounts Of Rainfall Slam Colorado, Causing Death, Destruction, And Massive Flooding

    By Ryan Koronowski on September 13, 2013 at 11:45 am

    Local residents look over a road washed out by a torrent of water following overnight flash flooding near Left Hand Canyon, south of Lyons, Colo., Thursday, Sept 12, 2013. CREDIT: (Credit: AP)

    Massive, historic, “biblical” rainfall cascaded through much of Colorado Thursday, leaving three people dead and one missing as of Thursday night as a result of the flooding.

    Up to 8 inches of rain fell across a hundred-mile expanse of Colorado’s Front Range, causing thousands to be evacuated as local streams turned into rampaging torrents. The heavy rains returned to the foothills region Thursday night, with more precipitation forecast for Friday. The National Weather Service issued constantly-updated versions of a local area forecast, and one at 9:41 a.m. MDT reported a dire warning: MAJOR FLOODING/FLASH FLOODING EVENT UNDERWAY AT THIS TIME WITH BIBLICAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS REPORTED IN MANY AREAS IN/NEAR THE FOOTHILLS….

     

     

    Hottest days in some parts of Europe have warmed four times more than the global average
    (September 11, 2013) — Some of the hottest days and coldest nights in parts of Europe have warmed more than four times the global average change since 1950, according to a new article. … > full story

     

    Warming Climate Could Transform SF Bay Area Parks and Open Space

    Lauren Sommer, KQED Science | September 9, 2013 |

    By the end of the century, the Bay Area’s landscape could look more like Southern California’s, raising tough questions for land managers trying to preserve the region’s protected lands.

    It may not be an official record, but by some accounts, more open space has been preserved in the San Francisco Bay Area than in any other major U.S. metropolitan area. More than a million acres are permanently protected from development – that’s almost one-third of the 4.5 million acres that make up the 10-county region. Now, with temperatures on the rise, land managers and scientists are beginning to ask how the Bay Area’s landscape will withstand climate change. As plants and animals are forced to shift, some of the Bay Area’s iconic parks and vistas could look dramatically different.Scientists say signs of those changes may already be appearing in places such as the hills east of downtown San Jose. “This is a blue oak,” says Nature Conservancy
    ecologist Sasha Gennet, examining the small, dark leaves of a towering tree on the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve, part of the University of California Natural Reserve System. She pulls the branch down to eye level. “You can tell because they’re a little bit bluish or grayish,” she says. “They’re probably the hardiest of the oak species in the California. These are the ones that you see in those hottest, driest places, hanging on through the summer.” “But even these have their limits,” she adds, “and we’re starting to see what those limits are.”…. About a hundred miles north, UC Berkeley ecologist David Ackerly walks across a wooded hillside, pulling small orange and yellow flags out of the ground. Each marks a young tree….Ackerly and his field team are counting trees and gathering data inside a 60-by-60 foot research plot, one of 50 on the 3,000-acre Pepperwood Preserve in Sonoma County. “If you want to see the forest of the future, you look at the small plants,” he says. The plots will become a baseline for studying climate change, as the study team returns in five and ten years to document changes in the plant community and water availability. Change is what Ackerly expects to see, in the form of warmer temperatures, heat waves and more intense drought. “We know the direction things are moving and what we can expect is that our climate will be more like climates in Southern California,” he says. “So in 30 or 40 years, it might be like San Luis Obispo and in 60 or 70 or 100 years, it may become like Los Angeles.” That could lead to an expansion of plants more commonly found in Southern California, like chaparral, the dense shrubs and bushes that thrive in drier conditions. Ackerly says under some climate scenarios in the Bay Area, there could be twice as much land with conditions that favor chaparral….

     

    UC Berkeley researcher David Ackerly measures a tree’s diameter at the Pepperwood Preserve near Santa Rosa. (Photo: Lauren Sommer/KQED)

     

    Arctic sea ice rebounds, but don’t jump to ‘global cooling’ conclusions

    Christian Science Monitor

    September 10, 2013

     
     

    Written by

    Peter Spotts

     
           

    After a record-breaking decline in the extent of summer sea ice on the Arctic Ocean last year, this year’s minimum has returned to levels that more closely track the long-term rate of decline that scientists have measured for at least 34 years….

     

     

    A century of human impact on Arctic climate indicated by new models, historic aerosol data
    (September 12, 2013) — A new study suggests that both anthropogenic and natural factors — specifically sulphate aerosols from industrial activity and volcanic emissions, in addition to greenhouse gas releases from fossil fuel burning — account for Arctic surface temperature variations from 1900 to the present. … > full story

     

     

    Underlying ocean melts ice shelf, speeds up glacier movement
    (September 12, 2013) — Warm ocean water, not warm air, is melting the Pine Island Glacier’s floating ice shelf in Antarctica and may be the culprit for increased melting of other ice shelves, according to an international team of researchers. … > full story

     

    Micro-gels from tiny ice algae play an important role in polar ocean carbon budgets
    (September 10, 2013) — Secretion of polysaccharides from the micro community living within the sea ice stick organism together and forms greater particles introducing a rapid transport of carbon to the seafloor. New research now makes it possible to forecast the importance for the global carbon budget of this transport. … > full story

     

    Oil industry and household stoves speed Arctic thaw
    (September 10, 2013) — Gas flaring by the oil industry and smoke from residential burning contributes more black carbon pollution to Arctic than previously thought — potentially speeding the melting of Arctic sea ice and contributing to the fast rate of warming in the region. … > full story

     

    Study: cold Pacific keeps global warming at bay

    U-T San Diego

    September 8, 2013

           

    Cold Pacific waters may be acting as a kind of global air conditioner – dampening the warming effects of greenhouse gases, according to a new study from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla.

     

     

    A Hurricane Brews After Silent First Half to the Atlantic Storm Season

    By ANDREW C. REVKIN

    Forecasters predict that Hurricane Humberto will end the 2013 hurricane drought.

     

     

    Climate Change Leaves Hares Wearing The Wrong Colors

    by Lauren Sommer September 08, 2013 5:32 AM NPR 2 min 57 sec

    A white snowshoe hare against a brown background makes the animal easy prey. L.S. Mills Research Photo

    The effects of climate change often happen on a large scale, like drought or a rise in sea level. In the hills outside Missoula, Mont., wildlife biologists are looking at a change to something very small: the snowshoe hare. Life as snowshoe hare is pretty stressful. For one, almost everything in the forest wants to eat you. Alex Kumar, a graduate student at the University of Montana, lists the animals that are hungry for hares. “Lynx, foxes, coyotes, raptors, birds of prey. Interestingly enough, young hares, their main predator is actually red squirrels.” Yes, even squirrels. Kumar and field technician Tucker Seitz spend months searching these woods for hares. ….Hares switch color in the spring and fall in response to light, when the days get longer or shorter. But that means they’re at the mercy of the weather. If the snow comes late, you get a white hare on brown ground. “And they really think that they’re camouflaged,” Kumar says. “They act like we can’t see them. And it’s pretty embarrassing for the hare.” Kumar calls this “mismatch,” and it’s becoming more of a concern with climate change. “If the hares are consistently molting at the same time, year after year, and the snowfall comes later and melts earlier, there’s going to be more and more times when hares are mismatched,” he says. Scott Mills of North Carolina State University leads the research. He says they’re finding that mismatched hares die at higher rates. That’s a concern for the threatened Canada lynx, which mainly eats these hares….

     

    A Climate Alarm, Too Muted for Some

    By JUSTIN GILLIS NY TIMES Published: September 9, 2013

    This month, the world will get a new report from a United Nations panel about the science of climate change. Scientists will soon meet in Stockholm to put the finishing touches on the document, and behind the scenes, two big fights are brewing. In one case, we have a lot of mainstream science that says if human society keeps burning fossil fuels with abandon, considerable land ice could melt and the ocean could rise as much as three feet by the year 2100. We have some outlier science that says the problem could be quite a bit worse than that, with a maximum rise exceeding five feet. The drafters of the report went with the lower numbers, choosing to treat the outlier science as not very credible. In the second case, we have mainstream science that says if the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubles, which is well on its way to happening, the long-term rise in the temperature of the earth will be at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but more likely above 5 degrees. We have outlier science that says the rise could come in well below 3 degrees. In this case, the drafters of the report lowered the bottom end in a range of temperatures for how much the earth could warm, treating the outlier science as credible….

     

     

     

    Arctic Death Spiral: CryoSat Reveals Decline In Arctic Sea Ice Volume Continues

    By Joe Romm on September 11, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Arctic sea ice volume collapsed from 1979 to 2012, several decades ahead of what the climate models had predicted.

    Now new data from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat satellite has revealed that this ice volume trend continued through the spring of 2013:

    Recent changes in spring ice thickness as measured by CryoSat.

    University of Leeds Prof. Andrew Shepherd explains:

    “CryoSat continues to provide clear evidence of diminishing Arctic sea ice…. there has been a decrease in the volume of winter and summer ice over the past three years.

    “The volume of the sea ice at the end of last winter was less than 15 000 cubic km, which is lower than any other year going into summer and indicates less winter growth than usual.”

    The deniers and the confusionists generally focus on very short term trends in Arctic sea ice area. Two British tabloids known for climate disinformation have seized upon the supposed “recovery” in Arctic sea ice this summer to argue we are entering a period of global cooling. They have been widely
    debunked. And everyone’s favorite short-term, two-dimensional thinker, Judith Curry, tells the Wall Street Journal that the main significance of this year’s rebound in sea ice area is that “the narrative of the ‘spiral of death’ for the sea ice has been broken.” Seriously!….

     

     

    If All the Ice Melted

    National Geographic September 2013

    Explore the world’s new coastlines if sea level rises 216 feet.  The maps here show the world as it is now, with only one difference: All the ice on land has melted and drained into the sea, raising it 216 feet and creating new shorelines for our continents and inland seas. 

    There are more than five million cubic miles of ice on Earth, and some scientists say it would take more than 5,000 years to melt it all. If we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, we’ll very likely create an ice-free planet, with an average temperature of perhaps 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58.

     

     

     

     

    West Nile virus season to last longer as climate changes. September 9, 2013 Climate Central New research provides doses of good and bad news about how a changing climate will affect the southern house mosquito, the main mosquito transmiting West Nile across the southern tier of the United States.

     

     

    Warming climate begins to taint Europe’s blood supplies.
    Erica Rex, E&E Europe correspondent ClimateWire: Tuesday, September 10, 201

    A whole new set of ungovernable pathogens are being loosed on the world’s blood supplies. A warming climate has allowed blood-borne tropical diseases to flourish where once they were unheard of, and they’re getting around.

     

    Louisiana’s Gulf Coast adapts to global warming’s rising seas. by Eve Troeh
    Marketplace for Monday, September 9, 2013
    Story

    In southern Louisiana, the coast is moving. The sea is overtaking the land – pretty fast, too. And while you often hear people invoke the rich cultural heritage as a reason to save the region, there’s a lot of rich oil and gas companies that would like protection, too.

     

    Rainfall in South Pacific was more variable before 20th century
    (September 9, 2013) — A new reconstruction of climate in the South Pacific during the past 446 years shows rainfall varied much more dramatically before the start of the 20th century than after. The finding, based on an analysis of a cave formation called a stalagmite from the island nation of Vanuatu, could force climate modelers to adjust their models. … > full story

     

     

    NOAA: Contiguous U.S. had eighth wettest and 15th warmest summer

    Nation had wettest summer since 2004; Warmth dominated West and Northeast; Alaska had its second warmest

    The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during the summer season (June-August) was 72.6°F, 1.2°F above the 20th century average. The average August temperature was 73.1°F, 1.0°F above the 20th century average – the 28th warmest August on record for the Lower 48.

    The total summer precipitation averaged across the contiguous U.S. was 9.53 inches, 1.28 inches above average and the wettest summer since 2004. The August national precipitation total was slightly above average at 2.63 inches.

      This monthly summary from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, the business sector, academia, and the public to support informed decision-making…

    Additional information can be found on the following web sites:

     

     

    Oregon’s Massive Wildfires, As Seen Through Google Glass

    Posted: 11 Sep 2013 06:29 AM PDT

    Andrew Satter is the Senior Video Producer at the Center for American Progress.

    GRANTS PASS, OREGON — Deep in the dense forest of Southwest Oregon, 25 miles from this old logging town, tendrils of smoke billow from a charred valley below. To my left sits a copse of 40-year old Douglas Fir, burned to the crowns. The air smells of day-old campfire. The smoke plume is what remains of a handful of late-July lightning fires that scorched nearly 75,000 acres of this remote forest, sandwiched between I-5 and the Oregon coast.

    I went on the ground with Google Glass and Brian Ballou of the Oregon Department of Forestry to scope out the damage. Take a look:

    By now, the burning of the American West is familiar news. People frequently associate massive wildfires raging for weeks on end with the more arid and drought-stricken Southwest but in recent years, even the traditionally wetter Pacific Northwest has seen an increase in fire activity.

    According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a compilation of climate and weather data from the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, all but the Northwest corner of the state is mired in conditions ranging from abnormally dry to severe drought. That has made for a particularly devastating fire season.

    While Oregon has seen large fires in the past, the trend toward hotter, drier conditions — and greater risk of wildfires — is clear. As of September 10, Oregon’s state-protected lands have seen a ten-fold increase in acreage burned over the 10-year average. Throughout the entire state, more than 230,000 acres have burned. Last year was even worse — in 2012, nearly 1.3 million acres burned statewide.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    City overlooking desolate landscape (artist’s conception). Further delay in the implementation of comprehensive international climate policies could substantially increase the short-term costs of climate change mitigation. (Credit: © f9photos / Fotolia)

    Delaying climate policy would triple short-term mitigation costs
    (September 12, 2013) — Further delay in the implementation of comprehensive international climate policies could substantially increase the short-term costs of climate change mitigation. Global economic growth would be cut back by up to 7 percent within the first decade after climate policy implementation if the current international stalemate is continued until 2030 — compared to 2 percent if a climate agreement is reached by 2015 already, a new study shows. … > full story

     

    Luderer, G., Pietzcker, R.C., Bertram, C., Kriegler, E., Meinshausen, M., Edenhofer, O. Economic mitigation challenges: how further delay closes the door for achieving climate targets. Environmental Research Letters, 2013

     

     

    Climate Change’s Silver Bullet? Our Interview With One Of The World’s Top Geoengineering Scholars

    By Ari Phillips on September 6, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    MELBOURNE, Australia — Since coming to Australia almost two months ago I’ve heard about Clive Hamilton in the process of reporting just about every story I’ve done. Then I picked up his new book Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering and now I see what all the fuss is about. In all of the debates over how to address climate change, climate engineering — or geoengineering — is among the most contentious. It involves large-scale manipulation of the Earth’s climate using grand technological interventions, such as fertilizing the oceans with iron to absorb carbon dioxide or releasing sulfur into the atmosphere to reduce radiation. While its proponents call geoengineering a silver bullet for our climate woes, its skeptics are far more critical. Joe Romm, for one, likens geoengineering to a dangerous course of chemotherapy and radiation to treat a condition curable through diet and exercise — or, in this case, emissions reduction…..

     

     

    2013 Update to the California Climate Adaptation Strategy

    The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) invites you to participate
    in public meetings being held around the state to discuss preparing for
    climate risks and the proposed update to the 2009 California Climate
    Adaptation Strategy. These meetings are public forums intended to provide
    opportunities for input into updating the state’s plan for preparing for
    climate risks. The meetings are open to the public and full participation
    by all parties is encouraged.

    Meeting locations and dates listed below.
    For more detailed information please visit
    http://resources.ca.gov/climate_adaptation/

     

    Date:  September 30, 2013 Sacramento, California; Date: October 2, 2013 Klamath, California; Date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 Los Angeles, California; Date: October 10, 2013 Merced; California; Date: October 11, 2013 Truckee, California

     

     


     

    NY Times: Did Denier ‘Intimidation Tactics’ Move IPCC To ‘Lowball’ Sea Level Rise And Climate Sensitivity?

    Posted: 10 Sep 2013 02:39 PM PDT

    The New York Times has a must-read article on how and why the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “seems to be bending over backward to be scientifically conservative” in its forthcoming assessment.

    Climate Progress has explained many times why the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) is “an instantly out-of-date snapshot that lowballs future warming because it continues to ignore large parts of the recent literature and omit what it can’t model.” For instance, we have known for years that perhaps the single most important carbon-cycle feedback is the thawing of the northern permafrost. The AR5′s climate models completely ignore it, thereby lowballing likely warming this century.

     

     

     

    Climate change pact wins US support

    2013-09-08 12:44 Majuro – A new Pacific regional pact calling for aggressive action to combat climate change has achieved a “major accomplishment” by gaining US support, officials said on Sunday.

    The Majuro Declaration, endorsed by the 15-nation Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) at their summit last week, contains specific pledges on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The PIF nations, some of which are barely a metre (three feet) above sea level and risk being swamped by rising waters, have since received wide support led by the United States after presenting the document to more than two dozen countries at a post-forum dialogue. US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced during the session a new climate change fund for Pacific islands vulnerable to rising sea levels…

     

     

    Global Warming Is Very Real

    Scientists are fighting deniers with irrefutable proof the planet is headed for catastrophe


    Melting polar glaciers could raise sea levels by almost three feet by the end of the century. Henrik Egede Lassen/Alpha Film/Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme

    By Jeff Goodell Rolling Stone September 12, 2013 7:00 AM ET On September 27th, a group of international scientists associated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will gather in an old brick brewery in Stockholm and proclaim with near certainty that human activity is altering the planet in profound ways. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report offers slam-dunk evidence that burning fossil fuels is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades, and warn that sea levels could rise by almost three feet by the end of the century if we don’t change our ways. The report will underscore that the basic facts about climate change are more established than ever, and that the consequences of escalating carbon pollution are likely to mean that, as The New York Times recently argued, “babies being born now could live to see the early stages of a global calamity.” A leaked draft of the report points out that the link between fossil-fuel burning and climate change is already observable: “It is extremely likely that human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010. There is high confidence that this has warmed the ocean, melted snow and ice, raised global mean sea level and changed some climate extremes in the second half of the 20th century.” If you look beyond the tables and charts and graphs that fill the reports, you can see the Arctic vanishing, great cities like Miami and Shanghai drowning, droughts causing famine in Africa, and millions of refugees fleeing climate-related catastrophes. Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC, recently told a group of climate scientists that if we want to avoid this fate, governments must act now to cut carbon pollution: “We have five minutes before midnight.”….

     

     

    California passes bill to strictly regulate oil well ‘fracking.’ A bill that would give California the nation’s toughest regulation of a controversial oil drilling technique won easy passage Wednesday from the state Assembly. Los Angeles Times

     

    Arab Summer: Warming-Fueled Drought Helped Spark Syria’s Civil War

    Posted: 08 Sep 2013 08:54 AM PDT

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

    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. With our country facing tough choices about Syria, Moyers & Company’s John Light had a great piece on Friday: “Drought Helped Spark Syria’s Civil War — Is it One of Many Climate Wars to Come?” He interviewed one of our favorites, Francesco Femia, co-founder of the Center for Climate and Security, which has an advisory board of retired military commanders and foreign-policy experts…..

     

     

    Counting the Cost of Fixing the Future

    By EDUARDO PORTER NY Times September 10, 2013

    Deciding how much should be invested in fighting climate change depends on your investment outlook. In May, to little fanfare, the Obama administration published new estimates of the “social cost of carbon,” a dollars-and-cents measure of the future damage — from floods, pandemics, depressed agricultural productivity — that releasing each additional ton of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would cost. The new numbers are likely to be more important than the low-key announcement would imply. They suggest climate change could cause substantially more economic harm than the government previously believed. But they also suggest there is a legitimate debate to be had about the cost of preventing it from getting worse. Perhaps the most startling conclusion to be drawn from the new estimates is that the sacrifice demanded of our generation to prevent vast climate change down the road may turn out to be rather small. The typical passenger car emits a ton of CO2 in about two and a half months of driving. Under one set of assumptions, the government’s number-crunchers determined that the damage caused by an additional ton of CO2 spewed into the air in 2015 would amount to $65 in today’s money. That’s 50 percent more than was estimated just three years ago. This could justify fairly aggressive policies to slow emissions of CO2. A tax of $65 per ton of CO2 to force polluters to pay for the damage would add $0.56 to a gallon of gas. Exxon, say, might have to shell out $8.1 billion to cover the 125 million tons of CO2 it spewed last year. Farms might have to pay $35 billio

     

     

     

    Farm bill is critical to farmers, ranchers and birds in Colorado

    By Tammy VerCauteren and John W. Fitzpatrick

    Tammy VerCauteren is the executive director of Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory. John W. Fitzpatrick is director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
    Guest Commentary Denver Post Posted:   09/10/2013 02:20:46 PM MDT

    There are few aerial acrobatic performers like the McCown’s longspur. A bird of the eastern Colorado prairie, longspurs rise up out of the grass with deep strokes of their wings, elevating higher and higher until they throw their wings back and glide, unleashing a crystal clear warbling song as they float back down to earth. It’s a spectacular sight, and it’s one that’s disappearing. The McCown’s longspur population has plummeted by an estimated 92 percent in the past 45 years. Those longspurs that are left are heavily dependent on farmers and ranchers, according to the recently published State of the Birds 2013 report, co-authored by 15 bird conservation organizations and agencies including Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Almost three-quarters of the remaining McCown’s longspur population resides on private lands. A recurring theme in the report is the important role of America’s private landowners in safeguarding bird habitat. Altogether, more than 100 bird species have more than half of their population distribution on America’s 1.43 billion acres of private land. And there’s no program more critical to preserving bird habitat on private lands than the farm bill…..

     

     


    Climate Change in the Californian Mind September 2013

    The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication has just released a report Climate Change in the Californian Mind. The project, funded by Skoll Global Threats Fund and the Energy Foundation, was based on a survey of 800 adults from late June to early July 2013. Among the highlights:

    • Most Californians (79%) believe global warming is happening, while only 11% believe it is not.  
    • Over half (58%) believe that if global warming is happening, it is mostly due to human activities.
    • A majority (55%) also believes that most scientists think global warming is happening.

    Of those who believe global warming is happening, large majorities say that:

    • Global warming is already having an influence on the severity of heat waves (96%), wildfires (91%), and droughts (90%) in California.
    • Over the next 50 years, climate change will cause more heat waves (93%), droughts and water shortages (92%), declining numbers of fish and native wildlife (91%), increased allergies, asthma, infectious diseases, or other health problems (86%), and more power outages (84%) in the state.

    The study also found that Californians support more climate action:

    • Six in ten want more action by Governor Brown, the state legislature, and local government officials.
    • Even more say corporations and industry (73%) and citizens themselves (70%) should be doing more to address the issue.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     
     

     

     

    ONE WATER LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE LOS ANGELES SEPTEMBER 23-26 2013

    The Leadership Summit is organized annually by the U.S. Water Alliance’s Urban Water Sustainability Council.  Through this Leadership Summit the Council seeks to connect the dots among water, land use, parks, forests, transportation, energy, and other sectors around a goal of revitalizing cities with multi-benefit projects that produce triple bottom-line results.

     

     

     

    The San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve  is excited to announce this upcoming workshop! 
    Project Design and Evaluation
    September 23-24, 2013  9:00am – 5:00pm both days

    The Project Design and Evaluation course provides coastal resource management extension and education professionals with the knowledge, skills, and tools to design and implement projects that have measurable impacts on the audience they want to reach. This interactive curriculum can help you increase the effectiveness of your projects by applying valid instructional design theory to their design. For more information or to register, click here.  Course Instructed by NOAA Coastal Services Center 

     

     

    Building Business Resilience to Climate Change: Weyerhaeuser

    Join us for a Webinar on September 25.  Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT  Reserve your Webinar seat now at:  https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/674795351

    This webinar will take a detailed look at resilience planning at one of the world’s leading forestry companies.   Sara Kendall will discuss Weyerhaeuser’s strategic initiatives, opportunities, and challenges for building resilience to the impacts of a changing climate on forestry and land use.

     

     

    Analytical Frameworks for Wetland and Riparian Buffers in Agricultural Settings

    October 4, 2013 8:30 – 5:00

    Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve  Including field site training at ALBA’s Triple M Ranch, Las Lomas;  Carlie Henneman- POINT BLUE CONSERVATION SCIENCE, Dale Huss, Marc Los Huertos, and Paul Robins, Instructors

    This one-day workshop trains participants in how to improve their analyses in consideration of the use of buffers for wetland and riparian areas in agricultural settings.  During an in-depth field training session , participants will also have opportunities to discuss farming operations and buffers with Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) affiliated Francisco Serrano (Serrano Organic Farm), Hector Mora (Hector’s Organic Farm), and Guilebaldo Nuñez (Nuñez Farms) as well as Kaley Grimland- ALBA’s Triple M Ranch Wetland Restoration Project Manager.  To register and for more information: http://www.elkhornsloughctp.org/training/show_train_detail.php?TRAIN_ID=AnP4EPT

     

     

    Quivira Conference 2013– Inspiring Adaptation  Wednesday, November 13 – Friday, November 15, 2013  Registration Deadlines:  November 5, 2013
    “The Westerner is less a person than a continuing adaptation. The West is less a place than a process.” – Wallace Stegner 

    From prehistoric times to the present, human societies have successfully adapted to the challenges of a changing West, including periods of severe drought, limitations created by scarce resources and shifting cultural and economic pressures. Now, the American West is entering an era of unprecedented change brought on by new climate realities, which will test our capacity for adaptation as well as challenge the resilience of the region’s native flora and fauna. It is therefore paramount that we find and share inspiring ideas and practical strategies that help all of the region’s inhabitants adapt to a rapidly changing world.  We will hear from scientists, ranchers, farmers, conservationists, urban planners and others who have bright ideas and important tools to share from their adaptation toolbox.

     

     

    Date CHANGED! : Rangeland Coalition Summit 2014 January 21-22, 2014  Oakdale, CA  Please note that the dates have been changed for the 9th Annual California Rangeland Conservation Coalition Summit to be hosted at the Oakdale Community Center. Mark your calendar for January 21-22, 2014, more details will be coming soon! The planning committee will have a conference call on September 11 at 9:00 AM to start planning for the event. If you are interested in serving on the planning committee or being a sponsor please contact Pelayo Alvarez: pelayo@carangeland.org.

     

     

    The Ecological Society of America, American Geophysical Union, and US Geological Survey are co-sponsors of the upcoming

    Soil Science Society of America ecosystems services conference–abstracts are now being invited and are due by 12/1/2013.

    March 6-9, 2014 Sheraton Grand Hotel, Sacramento, CA

    Purpose of Conference:  Soils provide provisioning and regulating ecosystem services relevant to grand challenge areas of 1) climate change adaptation and mitigation, 2) food and energy security, 3) water protection, 4) biotechnology for human health, 5) ecological sustainability, and 6) slowing of desertification. The purposes of this conference will be to evaluate knowledge strengths and gaps, encourage cross-disciplinary synergies to accelerate new learning, and prioritize research needs.

    More info is available here:  https://www.soils.org/meetings/specialized/ecosystem-services

     

     

    99th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America
    Sacramento, California  August 10-15, 2014  http://www.esa.org/sacramento

    Call for Proposals– Symposia, Organized Oral Sessions, and Organized Poster Sessions

    Deadline for Submission: September 26, 2013

     

     

    FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES:

     

     


     

     


     

    NOAA Announces Solicitation for the U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observation Network
    This funding opportunity invites proposals for projects that demonstrate how an operational Marine Biodiversity Observation Network could be developed for the nation by establishing one or more prototype networks in U.S. coastal waters, the Great Lakes, and the EEZ. Applications are due on December 2, 2013.

    For more information, click here.

     

     

    JOBS:

     

    Rangeland Watershed Initiative (RWI) Coordinator – Point Blue

    The
    RWI Coordinator assists the RWI Director by facilitating RWI operations including managing Partner Biologist hiring efforts, assisting in the development and implementation of training curricula and workshops, and managing program reporting, budgeting, scheduling, logistics and communications, among other responsibilities.  The RWI Coordinator will be based out of the Chico office.  This is a unique opportunity for the qualified candidate to play a key role in a significant conservation effort that will be a model for other rangeland management efforts nationally and globally. To apply please email resume with cover letter to
    wgilgert@pointblue.org by September 16th, 2013.  Please put “Rangeland Watershed Initiative Coordinator” in the subject line. For additional information about Point Blue and highlights of current programs, see www.pointblue.org

     

     

    San Joaquin Valley Regional Director for Sustainable Conservation

    Sustainable Conservation is seeking an experienced and entrepreneurial Regional Director to oversee our Modesto office and our initiatives in the San Joaquin Valley that seek environmental solutions that make economic sense.  The Regional Director will lead Sustainable Conservation’s new effort to find a regional solution to address the environmental impact of dairies while providing profitable revenue streams and/or avoiding costs for the industry.  In addition, the Regional Director will partner with our team on promoting on-farm practices to reduce dairies’ groundwater contamination and contribution to air pollution and on expanding our groundwater recharge initiative in the San Joaquin Valley.  This is an excellent opportunity for a strategic and collaborative professional committed to healthy environment and healthy economy in the San Joaquin Valley.  The full job description is attached and can be found at http://www.ceaconsulting.com/what/position_details.aspx?client=CEA&jobId=231.

     

    Sierra Wildlife Ecologist (pdf)
    Sierra Forest Legacy is seeking a Wildlife Ecologist to provide technical support to our forest conservation and restoration program.  Sierra Forest Legacy engages citizens, communities, and coalition members in the healthy management of Sierra Nevada forest ecosystems to protect and restore the region’s natural values and unparalleled beauty.  We apply the best practices of science, advocacy and grassroots organizing to safeguard national forest lands throughout the Sierra Nevada. The Wildlife Ecologist joins a team of science and policy experts to develop and promote science-based conservation strategies on national forests in the Sierra Nevada. The position is responsible for providing professional wildlife expertise in the protection, management, and improvement of wildlife and wildlife habitat. The position is open until filled. Review of applications begins September 23, 2013. Sierra Forest Legacy, a project of the Tides Center, Thoreau Center for Sustainability, San Francisco, California, is an equal opportunity employer. The full job announcement is available at http://www.sierraforestlegacy.org/Resources/WildlifeEcologist_8-30-13.pdf.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Fracking Industry Eyes An Already Water-Starved California

    Even as California reels from drought, fracking companies are lusting after the state’s oil-infused shale.

    By Trisha Marczak | September 11, 2013

    At a time when the fracking industry is eyeing California’s Monterey Shale formation, state residents are already in the midst of a drought and subsequent water war that’s led to water theft between communities, a dilemma that’s gone so far as to shut down a Eureka, Calif. elementary school. The school’s water supply was stolen during the state’s drought, representing a phenomenon common as residents aim to fill their own tanks. “There were tire tracks in the field on the south side of the school,” Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Steve Knight told the Times Standard. “The school staff believes someone climbed the fence, and used a school garden hose to drain the tank.” Without water, the school had to close its doors — and while it’s an unexpected scenario, experts say it’s a trend that’s likely to continue. Residents throughout the state’s Central Valley, home to California’s agricultural industry, have already seen their wells go dry. Cases like that aren’t stopping state legislators from moving ahead with Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Sen. Fran Pavley (D). The bill is portrayed as one intended to regulate the fracking industry, but in reality, it gives the industry a green light to begin the process without environmental review, which would identify threats to local water sources. “Senate Bill 4, already a seriously flawed bill, has been further undermined and does not protect Californians from the threats that fracking poses to our water, air and communities,” Adam Scow, California campaign director for Food and Water Watch, said in a press release. “It’s time for Senator Pavley to drop this bill.” “Water levels are dropping dramatically in some areas,” Steven Arthur, vice president for Arthur and Orum Well Drilling, told the Sacramento Bee. “It’s never been this bad.” According to the U.S. Geological Survey, California’s San Joaquin Valley, along with the Central Coast and Southern California areas are in crisis mode, as more water is being drawn from groundwater supplies than the amount of water entering the system. The desperation expressed in the state’s water wars doesn’t bode well for the oil and gas industry, eager to put down the welcome mat for fracking operations…..

     

    ’50 dirtiest’ US power plants emit more greenhouse gases than South Korea

    A new study by an environmental group suggests that reining in a handful of America’s coal-fired power plants would have a major impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

    By Mark Clayton, Staff writer / September 10, 2013

    Fifty US power plants emit more greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels than all but six nations, says a new report. The study by Environment America paints a bulls-eye on the nation’s biggest coal-fired power plants, suggesting that reining in a relatively small share of America’s 6,000 electric generating facilities could have a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions. The report comes as the Obama administration is preparing the nation’s first-ever greenhouse gas emissions regulations for US power plants, which could be released as soon as this month. The administration’s goal is to have power plant emissions regulations in place by 2015, and the new study provides a window into which plants could face steep federal fines unless they slash emissions or close.

     

    Researchers read the coffee grounds and find a promising energy resource for the future
    (September 9, 2013) — What’s usually considered old garbage might be a promising asset for our energy supply, according to researchers. … > full story

    Tool created to avert future energy crisis
    (September 9, 2013) — Scientists have created a new measurement tool that could help avoid an energy crisis like the one California endured during the early 2000s and better prepare the electricity market for the era of the smart grid. … > full story

     

    An Inside Look At Living In One Of The World’s Most Sustainable Cities

    Posted: 10 Sep 2013 06:30 AM PDT www.climateprogress.org


    The future site of the 5×4 House. CREDIT: Ralph Alphonso

    MELBOURNE, Australia — Melbourne is a sprawling network of neighborhoods, trams, trains, bikes, laneways and, around almost every corner, coffee shops — a bit like Portland, Oregon but bigger, more European feeling and with giant bats. There are tall skyscrapers, Robert Moses-era public housing blocks, dense row houses, overgrown bungalows and suburban complexes.

    Over 15 years ago, Melbourne mounted a long-term campaign to change the way it uses energy and has attracted international acclaim for its commitment to sustainability. This has included encouraging bike riding and public transport and improving building efficiency. One notable example of this is the Council House 2 building, Australia’s first six-star green star new office design building. Completed in 2006, some of the building’s features include recycled water use, automatic windows, sun-tracking facades for shade and roof-mounted wind turbines to draw out hot air.

    While good public transport and efficient office buildings are a big part of being a sustainable city, residences — and the way people live in those residences — are likely just as important. Melbourne is only as sustainable as its Melbournians. A person’s carbon footprint, or energy economy, is some combination where they live and how they live. Two forward-thinking approaches to this idea in Melbourne are the 5×4 House, a soon-to-be-built super energy efficient, zero carbon dwelling on a 5×4-meter plot of land, and the Murundaka Co-housing Community, a new eco-housing complex of 20 residences based on the principles of sustainable and community living. …

     

     

    Artificial lung to remove carbon dioxide — from smokestacks
    (September 9, 2013) — After studying the functioning of the lungs of birds and the swim bladders of fish, scientists described how they created an improved method to capture carbon dioxide that acts like a reverse natural lung, breathing in the polluting gas. Their study details the best way to arrange tubes in a carbon dioxide capture. … > full story

     

    Researchers read the coffee grounds and find a promising energy resource for the future
    (September 9, 2013) — What’s usually considered old garbage might be a promising asset for our energy supply, according to researchers. … > full story

     

    Scientists calculate the energy required to store wind and solar power on the grid
    (September 9, 2013) — Renewable energy holds the promise of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. But there are times when solar and wind farms generate more electricity than is needed by consumers. Storing that surplus energy in batteries for later use seems like an obvious solution. But a new study finds that when you factor in the energetic costs, grid-scale batteries make sense for storing surplus solar energy, but not for wind. … > full story

     

    Oil industry touts $81B in carbon-cutting efforts. Sept 10 2013 Houston Chronicle The oil and gas industry’s largest trade group touted the sector’s investments in cleaning up greenhouse gas emissions, saying energy companies are doing more than the federal government to rein in the climate pollution.

     

    Solar panel is next granite countertop for homebuilders. Sept 10 2013 Bloomberg News Solar panels are the next granite countertops: an amenity for new homes that’s becoming a standard option for buyers in U.S. markets.

     

     

    Billionaire investor backs anti-Keystone XL TV ad campaign

    Tom Steyer says oil from Alberta will end up exported, travelling ‘through America not to America’

    By Mark Drajem, Bloomberg News September 7, 2013

    Rail cars arrive in Milton, N.D., loaded with pipes intended for TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline project in 2008. There is much debate about whether pipelines are the safest technology with which to move oil and gas to market. Photograph by: Eric Hylden, Grand Forks Herald, The Canadian Press, The Associated Press Files , Vancouver Sun

    Billionaire U.S. investor Tom Steyer said he is backing a four-part, $1 million advertising campaign aimed at convincing viewers the Keystone XL pipeline will hurt the economy and communities and should be blocked. The first commercial, airing today during the political talk shows, features Steyer in Port Arthur, Texas, saying much of the oil to be shipped from Alberta to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast would end up being exported. “Foreign countries will get more access to more oil to make more products to sell back to us, undercutting our economy,” Steyer, founder of the hedge fund Farallon Capital Management LLC, says in the advertisement. “Here’s the truth: Keystone oil will travel through America not to America.” Steyer’s commercials begin airing two months after the American Petroleum Institute, whose energy-industry members back the pipeline, started TV and online advertising portraying Keystone as a boon to job growth in the U.S….

     

    Steyer preparing for the battles ahead – close to home and from coast to coast.
    Elana Schor, E&E reporter E&E Daily: Tuesday, September 10, 2013

    The billionaire investor turned climate activist who has mounted a self-funded push to defeat the Keystone XL pipeline is tracking proposed hydraulic fracturing limits in his home state of California and is not ruling out entering the debate, which has opened a rift between Democrats and environmentalists. In an exclusive interview yesterday with E&E Daily, Tom Steyer — set to join outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson on a new climate change campaign next month — struck a self-deprecating note when asked if he would weigh in on regulations for oil companies eager to tap California’s vast Monterey Shale play. Steyer, who built a $20 billion hedge fund from the ground up, compared himself to “a garbage person” who steps in to do the jobs few others would. “It’s a necessary function, but not one everybody chooses,” Steyer said. “And so, in terms of fracking in California, we’re going to watch it for a while and see if there’s something not being said that needs to be said. With that approach, we can generally believe it’s not about us, but it’s about the issue, and respond to what’s really going on.” Some activists who align with Steyer against KXL are urging California state legislators to reject a bill that would impose the state’s first curbs on fracturing and similar acid-based production methods. They are calling the measure too watered down and are pressing for an outright moratorium on the shale oil extraction practice
    (Greenwire, Aug. 29). The same California lawmaker sponsoring the fracturing bill, which would come to a pivotal vote as soon as today, crafted the statewide emissions-reduction plan that Steyer spent $5 million to protect from a failed 2010 ballot initiative known as Proposition 23….. The New Yorker magazine first reported yesterday that Steyer will soon be working alongside Bloomberg, his self-professed role model in his efforts to create political consequences for opposing climate action — also an unlikely Wall Street-bred candidate when he ran for office in 2001. Asked for more details on the partnership with Bloomberg and Paulson, Steyer demurred with more self-deprecation, calling himself “certainly the least distinguished” of the trio and declining to “run out ahead of anybody else.”

    If Steyer does follow Bloomberg to the campaign trail, he described his ultimate goal as nothing less than the holy grail of the green community. Following an anecdotal template popular in political speeches, the father of four relayed the question a companion asked after their weekend summit of California’s 14,000-foot Mount Tyndall: What would it take for him to climb the mountain again? When offered a chance at “comprehensive climate legislation with the Chinese,” Steyer said he responded, “OK, I’ll do it barefoot.”

    Accomplishing that goal is bound to involve close work alongside the pantheon of environmental nonprofits that maintain a presence in Washington, D.C., from old-line players like the League of Conservation Voters to the younger, new-school groups led by 350.org. Steyer has walked in step with many in both camps from time to time but expressed no interest in remaking other nonprofits to fit the template of political savvy and grass-roots energy that he is working to create. “There are a bunch of people who are incredibly knowledgeable about what goes on inside the Beltway, some of whom I admire a lot and respect a lot,” Steyer said. “I’m not one of those people.” Still, some of his closest advisers have considerable Beltway experience, from former Center for American Progress Vice President Kate Gordon to ex-Clinton administration strategist Chris Lehane. “We believe that coalition is an enormous part of this, that the so-called environmental coalition has been far too small and far too narrow,” Steyer said. “I wouldn’t for a second want to change people, but I certainly want to partner with them, and I certainly want them to help us,” he said.

     

     

    What is America’s most fuel-efficient airline? The International Council on Clean Transportation ranked 15 major US airlines in order of fuel efficiency, but the group said more work needs to be done to learn why some airlines are more efficient than others. Climate Central

     

     

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

     

    Could life have survived a fall to Earth?
    (September 12, 2013) — It sounds like science fiction, but the theory of panspermia, in which life can naturally transfer between planets, is considered a serious hypothesis by planetary scientists. The suggestion that life did not originate on Earth but came from elsewhere in the universe (for instance, Mars), is one possible variant of panspermia. Planets and moons were heavily bombarded by meteorites when the Solar System was young, throwing lots of material back into space. Meteorites made of Mars rock are occasionally found on Earth to this day, so it is quite plausible that simple life forms like yeasts or bacteria could have been carried on them. … > full story

     


    Eating more berries, which are high in nutrients per calorie, can help increase the vitamin content of one’s diet. Photo: Preston Gannaway, Special To The Chronicle


    Food best source of vitamins, study finds



    San Francisco Chronicle-Sep 10, 2013

    About half of all Americans take a daily multivitamin as a way to improve their health and cut their risk of diseases. But experts now say that – in almost all cases – the best way to get a full dose of vitamins is from nutritious foods rather than from pills. There is a lot of scientific evidence showing diets rich in produce, nuts, whole grains and fish promote health and decrease risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer, according to a new “Vitamins and Minerals” report from Harvard Medical School. On the other hand, studies involving vitamin supplements – and there have been many – show mixed results. In fact, after reviewing a large body of research in 2006, the National Institutes of Health decided not to definitively rule for or against multivitamins’ ability to prevent diseases….

     

     

     

    Coffee Or Tea? Something Hiding In Your Trash Could Help Save Both From Climate Change

    Posted: 10 Sep 2013 07:48 AM PDT www.climateprogress.org

    ….Liu presents the findings to the American Chemical Society’s 246th National Meeting & Exposition this week. Their results show that oil content in the coffee-derived biodiesel meets official biofuel standards. There is room for improvement in how efficient using the spent grounds to purify the biodiesel actually is, especially compared with commercial products normally used to purify the fuel. The researchers would like to make the process more efficient, but the fact that otherwise-wasted coffee could be used to create biofuel is promising. And compared with fossil fuels, this biofuel seriously cuts the emissions of traditional pollutants. Around 1 million tons of coffee grounds are thrown out in America each year, and most go into landfills.

     

    The Sounds of Nature. How I Hate Them

    Wall Street Journal ‎- September 9, 2013 By MIKE GALLAGHER

    I used to assume that all greenbelts were peaceful, quiet oases—and they probably are in many parts of the country. Not so in Marin County, Calif. I know because my property abuts such an open space. A year ago, I thought it a brilliant purchase. Especially since a charming, creek-side writer’s cottage was grandfathered into the property. (I’m reluctant to call it an “in-law unit,” since those structures invariably attract in-laws.) I could no longer cope with the cacophony of city living. The idea was to find a solitary setting to (finally) finish my screenplay. Not “Starbucks solitary,” but somewhere truly isolated and quiet. After months of searching, I seemed to have found the serenity I was looking for: Walden with Wi-Fi. Resplendent with trees, meadows and wildflowers. It was like moving into a giant screen saver. It was perfect. Or so I thought….


    Woolly mammoths became extinct because of climate change – not hunting

    The Independent

     - ‎September 11, 2013‎

           

    DNA research on frozen woolly mammoths has found evidence which suggests climate change had a far more significant impact on the animals’ extinction than previously thought.

     

     

    Cilantro, that favorite salsa ingredient, purifies drinking water
    (September 12, 2013) — New research hints that a favorite ingredient in Mexican, Southeast Asian and other spicy cuisine may be an inexpensive new way of purifying drinking water. … > full story

     


     

     

     

     


     

     

    Voyager will live out its days circling the centre of our Milky Way Galaxy

    Voyager probe ‘leaves Solar System’

    By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News September 12 2013

    The Voyager-1 spacecraft has become the first manmade object to leave the Solar System. Scientists say the probe’s instruments indicate it has moved beyond the bubble of hot gas from our Sun and is now moving in the space between the stars. Launched in 1977, Voyager was sent initially to study the outer planets, but then just kept on going. Today, the veteran Nasa mission is almost 19 billion km (12 billion miles) from home. This distance is so vast that it takes 17 hours now for a radio signal sent from Voyager to reach receivers here on Earth. “This is really a key milestone that we’d been hoping we would reach when we started this project over 40 years ago – that we would get a spacecraft into interstellar space,” said Prof Ed Stone, the chief scientist on the venture. “Scientifically it’s a major milestone, but also historically – this is one of those journeys of exploration like circumnavigating the globe for the first time or having a footprint on the Moon for the first time. This is the first time we’ve begun to explore the space between the stars,” he told BBC News. Sensors on Voyager had been indicating for some time that its local environment had changed.

     

     

     

  4. Conservation Science News September 7, 2013

    Leave a Comment

    Highlight of the WeekClimate Perils of Human Population Growth

    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

    ——————————–

    NOTE: Please feel free to pass on my weekly news update that has been prepared for
    Point Blue Conservation Science
    staff.  The information contained in this update was drawn from
    www.sciencedaily.com, SER The Society for Ecological Restorationhttp://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.slate.com, www.sfgate.com, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, www.blm.gov/ca/news/newsbytes/2012/529.html and other sources as indicated.  This is a compilation of articles and other information available on line, which were not verified and are not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  Please email me directly at Ellie Cohen, ecohen at pointblue.org if you want your name added to or dropped from this list.  You can also receive this through the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative ListServe or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium list.   Also, we are starting to experiment with blog posting at www.prbo.org/sciencenews

     

    We have changed our name to Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO) reflecting the expanded depth and reach of our work, building on our long-term bird ecology expertise.  Our 140 Point Blue
    scientists and educators work with hundreds of partners, pointing the way forward to secure a healthy, blue planet well into the future.  We have changed our name to Point Blue
    to more directly address climate change, together with other environmental threats, through nature-based solutions that benefit wildlife and people.  For more information please see From Point Reyes to Point Blue as well as our first Point Blue Quarterly.  You might also enjoy viewing our inspiring ~6 minute video introducing Point Blue that includes partner and staff highlights as well as a brief congratulatory video from Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-2).  Our new website, www.pointblue.org, is under construction through the summer. Until then, our existing website, www.prbo.org, will remain active.

     

     

    Highlight of the Week-

    Climate perils of human population growth

     

    Carolyn Lochhead SF Chronicle September 3, 2013

    California has 157 endangered or threatened species, looming water shortages, eight of the 10 most air-polluted cities in the country and 725 metric tons of trash washing up on its coast each year. California also has 38 million people, up 10 percent in the last decade, including 10 million immigrants. They own 32 million registered vehicles and 14 million houses. By 2050, projections show 51 million people living in the state, more than twice as many as in 1980. In the public arena, almost no one connects these plainly visible dots. For various reasons, linking the world’s rapid population growth to its deepening environmental crisis, including climate change, is politically taboo. In the United States, Europe and Japan, there has been public hand-wringing over falling birthrates and government policies to encourage child-bearing. But those declining birthrates mask explosive growth elsewhere in the world. In less than a lifetime, the world population has tripled, to 7.1 billion, and continues to climb by more than 1.5 million people a week. A consensus statement issued in May by scientists at Stanford University and signed by more than 1,000 scientists warned that “Earth is reaching a tipping point.” An array of events under way – including what scientists have identified as the sixth mass extinction in the earth’s 540 million-year history – suggest that human activity already exceeds earth’s capacity. Climate change is but one of many signs of environmental stress. “The big connector is how many people are on earth,” said Anthony Barnosky, a UC Berkeley integrative biologist. The world population is expected to reach 9.6 billion by mid-century. The addition will be greater than the global population of 1950. The United States is expected to grow from 313 million people to 400 million. Economies have expanded many times faster, vastly increasing consumption of goods and services in rich and developing countries. “The combination of climate change and 9 billion people to me is one that is just fraught with potential catastrophes,” said John Harte, a UC Berkeley ecosystem scientist. The evidence that humans are damaging their ecological life-support system is overwhelming,” said the report by the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere at Stanford. “By the time today’s children reach middle age, it is extremely likely that the Earth’s life-support systems, critical for human prosperity and existence, will be irretrievably damaged.” California Gov. Jerry Brown had the report translated into Chinese and delivered it to Chinese President Xi Jinping in June.

     

    A new epoch?

    So complete is human domination of earth that scientists use the term “Anthropocene” to describe a new geological epoch. The most obvious sign is climate change. People have altered the composition of the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels. But other human impacts, widely discussed by scientists, seldom reach the political arena. Residues from 100 million tons of synthetic chemical compounds produced each year are so pervasive that they commonly appear in polar bear tissues, whale blubber and the umbilical cords of babies. Each year, humans appropriate up to 40 percent of the earth’s biomass, the product of photosynthesis, earth’s basic energy conversion necessary to all life. Humans have converted more than 40 percent of the earth’s land to cities or farms. Roads and structures fragment most of the rest. Humans appropriate more than half the world’s fresh water. Ancient aquifers in the world’s bread baskets, including the Ogallala in the Great Plains, are being drained. Only 2 percent of major U.S. rivers run unimpeded. California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta has been entirely re-engineered. The last time the Colorado River reached the Sea of Cortez was in 1998. The Nile, Indus and Ganges rivers have been reduced to a trickle. Humans surpass nature as a source of nitrogen emissions, altering the planet’s nitrogen cycle. A quarter of known mammal species, 43 percent of amphibians, 29 percent of reptiles and 14 percent of birds are threatened. African elephants may be extinct within a decade. A third of world fisheries are exhausted or degraded. Forty percent of coral reefs and a third of mangroves have been destroyed or degraded. Most species of predator fish are in decline.

     

    Ocean acidification, a product of fossil fuel burning, is dissolving calcifying plankton at the base of the food chain. A garbage gyre at least twice the size of Texas swirls in the Pacific Ocean.

    “We’re changing the ability of the planet to provide food and water,” Harte said. Even scientists who doubt ecological collapse, such as Michele Marvier, chair of environmental studies at Santa Clara University, acknowledge that “humans dominate every flux and cycle of the planet’s ecology and geochemistry.”

     

    Water and food

    In December, the Interior Department said by mid-century the Colorado River will not support demand from the seven states it supplies, including California. The main reason is expected population growth from 40 million to as many as 76 million people.

     

    Among the remedies considered: towing icebergs from the Arctic to Southern California. “Phoenix continues to grow at one of the highest rates in the country,” said Jerry Karnas, population and sustainability director of the Center for Biological Diversity, the only national environmental group campaigning to limit population growth. “There is no discussion about what the future Phoenix is going to do when the Colorado River is done.” Ecosystems can endure large stresses. But multiple stresses can act synergistically. Take food. The World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank, estimates that by mid-century the world will need 70 percent more food, because as people grow wealthier they eat more meat, requiring more grain to feed livestock. That will require converting more land to crops, even as urbanization destroys prime farmland. Farms are a big source of deforestation and a big emitter of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Climate change reduces yields by increasing the frequency of droughts and floods. Lower yields will require conversion of more land to farms. Still, nature has shown great resiliency, said Santa Clara University’s Marvier. Peregrine falcons nest in San Francisco skyscrapers. Coyotes roam Chicago. “We can’t just continue dumping nitrogen into the ocean at the same rate and expect everything to be fine,” Marvier said. “The good news, though, is that when we do clean up our act, we tend to see some pretty amazing bounce back.” Barnosky agreed that natural systems are resilient. “But you have to give them a chance to be resilient,” he said. “Falcons can live in cities. But elephants can’t.” People have been predicting disaster for centuries, including 18th century scholar Thomas Malthus and Stanford University ecologist Paul Ehrlich, who in 1968 with his wife Anne predicted famines from runaway population growth in “The Population Bomb.” Ehrlich said he was right because at least 2 billion people are malnourished. “You’ll find plenty of people who will tell you not to worry, technology will take care of it,” Ehrlich said. “We’ll feed, house, clothe and so on 9.5 billion people, give them happy lives with no problem at all. That’s exactly the line that Anne and I got when there were 3.5 billion people on the planet. … The answer is, they haven’t done it.”

     

    Touchy strategy on growth

    Reducing population growth was central to the U.S. environmental movement at its birth in 1970, spurred in part by Ehrlich’s book. Most environmental groups now steer clear of the subject. Forced sterilizations in India in the 1970s and China’s coercive one-child policy angered feminists and tainted family planning efforts. Liberals argue that blaming environmental problems on population growth is to “blame the poor.” They say the United States and other capitalist societies consume too much. Conservatives and religious groups who oppose abortion and celebrate reproduction attack family planning at home and abroad. This summer a House Appropriations panel again slashed money for family planning aid. Population and consumption each drive ecological damage. “Even in poorer nations that don’t have the impact that the average American has on the planet, population as it grows squeezes out other species because people need space to live, and the other species need space to live,” said Jeffrey McKee, an anthropologist at Ohio State University. “At some point they come into juxtaposition, and something has to give. So far, it hasn’t been us.”

     

    Population momentum

    Plummeting fertility rates, from 4.9 births per woman in the 1960s to the current 2.6, led to the belief that worries about population were overblown. The drop surprised demographers. Half the world – including Japan and Western Europe but also China, Vietnam, Brazil and other emerging economies – is below the 2.1 fertility rate needed for zero growth. The United States, the world’s third-largest country behind China and India, and the only rich country still growing rapidly, recently saw its birth rate fall to 1.9. Press coverage has stressed a “birth dearth” that threatens economic growth and elderly retirements, prompting fears that the human species could contract to 1 billion by 2300 because of a failure to reproduce. But an important exception to falling fertility rates is sub-Saharan Africa, along with such places as Afghanistan and Yemen, where birth rates remain exceptionally high. U.N. demographers sharply raised their population projections last year, adding another billion people by century’s end, to nearly 11 billion, because African fertility rates have peaked at more than five births per woman. From now until 2050, poor countries will add the equivalent of a city of 1 million people every five days, said a report last year by the Royal Society, a British scientific organization. Population momentum ensures that absolute numbers will keep rising for decades despite falling birth rates. That’s because the exponential growth that took just 12 years to add the last billion in 2011 – and will take just 14 more years to add the next billion – means growth is building from a large base of people, many in their child-bearing years. Falling birth rates have lulled people into complacency, said J. Joseph Speidel, a professor at UCSF’s Bixby Center on Global Reproductive Health. “The annual increment is rising quite dramatically,” he said. “We are still adding about 84 million people a year to the planet.” Although rich countries will have problems supporting their elderly, “I’d sure rather have the problems of Spain or Sweden than Nigeria or Niger,” Speidel said.

     

    Unintended births

    More than 40 percent of the world’s 208 million pregnancies each year are unplanned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a family planning research group. Half of U.S. pregnancies, about 3 million a year, are unintended, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a Washington advocacy group. About half of them end in abortion. Across cultures, from Iran to Thailand to California, voluntary access to contraception has slashed fertility rates, Speidel said. But discussion of population growth remains taboo. “Many young people on university campuses have been taught over the past 15 years that the connection between population growth and the environment is not an acceptable subject for discussion,” said Martha Campbell, director of International Population Dialogue at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, in a recent essay. Campbell argued that voluntary contraception is not coercive, but blocking women from controlling how many children they have is coercive. When given a chance, she said, women across cultures choose to provide a better life for fewer children. The Guttmacher Institute said it would cost an extra $4.1 billion a year, little more than a rounding error in the $3.8 trillion U.S. budget, to provide birth control to all 222 million women in the world who want to limit their pregnancies but lack access to contraception. “What many of us really worry about is that there will be this crash landing, from a planet with 9 billion, rapidly down to 5 or so,” said ecologist Harte. “The landing will result from methods of population reduction that none of us want to see, like famine, disease and war,” he added. “I don’t think anybody has described a workable trajectory that gets us up to 9 and then softly back down to 5.”

     

    Population change and birth rates

    Small increases in women’s fertility rates make a big difference in population growth over time.

    The difference between fertility rates of 1.75 and 2 births per woman equals:

    – 2 billion more people in 2100.

    – 5 billion more people in 2200.

    – 7 billion more people in 2300.

    A fertility rate of 1.5, just below the current average in Europe, would:

    – Keep world population at its current level of about 7 billion in 2100.

    – Cut world population below 3 billion in 2200.

    Sources: United Nations; and Stuart Basten, Wolfgang Lutz, Sergie Scherbov, “Very long range global population scenarios to 2300 and the implications of sustained low fertility” in Demographic Research, Vol. 28, Article 39, May 30.

     

    Carolyn Lochhead is The San Francisco Chronicle’s Washington correspondent. E-mail: clochhead@sfchronicle.com

     

        
     

     

     

     

    Point Blue in the news:

     

    Marin wildlife advocates have mixed views on Farallon Islands mice eradication plan

    By Mark Prado Marin Independent Journal POSTED:   08/30/2013 06:14:34 PM PDT

    A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal for a strategic strike over the Farallon Islands to rid it of thousands upon thousands of house mice is drawing criticism from Marin animal welfare groups. But other local groups, including Marin Audubon and
    Point Blue Conservation Science — the former Point Reyes Bird Observatory — say the plan to drop poison via helicopter is the only way to restore ecological balance on the island, which has been thrown out of whack by the invasive mice. The rodents were likely inadvertently introduced in the 1800s by fur traders who stopped at the islands, situated some 27 miles west of the Golden Gate. “There are times when there are so many mice there it looks as though the ground is moving,” said Gerry McChesney, refuge manager at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who is developing the mouse plan. He spoke on the issue this week during a hearing in the Presidio. “When you stay on the island, they crawl over you when you sleep in your bed,” he said. “We try to keep them out of the buildings, but it’s difficult.” In peak season, 500 mice were once counted on a single acre. The islands are 141 acres. While it would be inaccurate to assign 500 to each acre, McChesney said, they number easily in the thousands. “This is the highest density of these invasive mice on any island in the world,” said Ellie Cohen, who heads Point Blue Conservation Science. The group — which does research on the island — supports the eradication plan. A just released U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service environmental impact statement on the issue calls for no action, or for rodenticide grain pellets to be dropped via helicopter in two to three applications with a stated goal of wiping out the population. “We want to get every single one. It has been done,” McChesney said, noting mice have been removed from other islands in the manner being suggested. “If you leave one pregnant female on the island you have failed because they are such prolific breeders. They come back very, very quickly.”… Allowing the house mice to stay threatens other species, according to researchers. They are predators of Ashy Storm-petrel eggs and chicks, sea birds that are a “species of concern” in the state. There are only 15,000 worldwide, half of which breed and nest on the islands. Every year as much as 12 percent of the eggs and chicks of this species are lost to mice. Meanwhile the native, migratory burrowing owls have become unnatural residents on the islands every winter to munch on mice. As the mouse population declines the owls turn to seabirds for their diet. By spring, hundreds of Ashy Storm-petrels and other seabirds have been killed, according to researchers. By removing the mice, the Ashy Storm-petrel and other seabirds will avoid further population decline and the ecosystem will begin to be restored. That’s why the mice must go, supporters say…..The eradication could occur as soon as the fall of 2014. “We have to do it,” said Barbara Salzman, president of Marin Audubon, who attended the hearing as well. “What are the alternatives? If they let them increase, we will lose all the petrels.”….

     

    MORE INFORMATION:
    www.restorethefarallones. For organizations to sign on to a support letter see: http://www.restorethefarallones.org/signon-support-letter/ 

    Written comments on the Farallon Islands mice plan can be submitted until Sept. 30 at www.regulations.gov or by mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-NWRS-2013: Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM; Arlington, Va. 22203.

     

     

    Protecting 17 percent of Earth’s land could save two-thirds of plant species
    (
    September 5, 2013) —
    Protecting key regions that comprise just 17 percent of Earth’s land may help preserve more than two-thirds of its plant species, according to a scientists. … “Our analysis shows that two of the most ambitious goals set forth by the 2010 Convention on Biological Diversity — to protect 60 percent of Earth’s plant species and 17 percent of its land surface — can be achieved, with one major caveat,” said Stuart L. Pimm, Doris Duke Professor of Conservation Ecology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “To achieve these goals, we need to protect more land, on average, than we currently do, and much more in key places such as Madagascar, New Guinea and Ecuador,” Pimm said. “Our study identifies regions of importance. The logical — and very challenging — next step will be to make tactical local decisions within those regions to secure the most critical land for conservation.”….. To identify which of Earth’s regions contain the highest concentrations of endemic species, relative to their geographic size, the researchers analyzed data on more than 100,000 different species of flowering plants, compiled by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England….> full story

     

    L. N. Joppa, P. Visconti, C. N. Jenkins, S. L. Pimm. Achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Goals for Plant Conservation. Science, 2013; 341 (6150): 1100 DOI: 10.1126/science.1241706

     

     

    Genetic reproductive barriers: Long-held assumption about emergence of new species questioned
    (September 2, 2013) — Darwin referred to the origin of species as “that mystery of mysteries,” and even today, more than 150 years later, evolutionary biologists cannot fully explain how new animals and plants arise. For decades, nearly all research in the field has been based on the assumption that the main cause of the emergence of new species, a process called speciation, is the formation of barriers to reproduction between populations. But now researchers are questioning the long-held assumption that genetic reproductive barriers, also known as reproductive isolation, are a driving force behind speciation. … > full story

     

    Scientists encounter holes in tree of life, push for better data storage
    (September 3, 2013) — When it comes to public access, the tree of life has holes. A new study shows about 70 percent of published genetic sequence comparisons are not publicly accessible, leaving researchers worldwide unable to get to critical data they may need to tackle a host a problems ranging from climate change to disease control. … > full story

     

     

    Northeastern US forests transformed by human activity over 400 years
    (September 4, 2013) — Forests in the northeastern US have been radically transformed over the last four centuries by human activity, and their relationship with climate factors like rainfall weakened. … > full story

     

     

    Promiscuity and sperm selection improves genetic quality in birds
    (September 3, 2013) — Research shows that females can maximize the genetic quality of their offspring by being promiscuous. Researchers studied red junglefowl and found that mating with different males helps females produce healthier offspring — due to a mechanism in their reproductive tract which favors sperm from the most genetically different males. This is important for animal breeders because it shows that allowing multiple matings produces the most disease resistant and genetically healthy offspring. … > full story

     

    Birds Protect Coffee Crop

    Scientific American

     - ‎September 5 2013‎

           

    A study found that insectivorous birds cut infestations by the beetle Hypothenemus hampei by about half, saving a medium-sized coffee farm up to US$9,400 over a year’s harvest – roughly equal to Costa Rica’s average per-capita income.

     

    Birds choose sweet-smelling mates

    Published: Sept. 3, 2013 Contact(s): Layne Cameron , Danielle Whittaker

    For most animals, scent is the instant messenger of choice for quickly exchanging personal profiles. Scientists, however, have long dismissed birds as odor-eschewing Luddites that don’t take advantage of scent-based communications. In a first-of-its-kind study, however, a Michigan State University researcher has demonstrated that birds do indeed communicate via scents, and that odor reliably predicts their reproductive success. The study appears in the current issue of Animal Behaviour and focuses on volatile compounds in avian preen secretions….

     

     

    Wise old birds teach migration route to young whooping cranes

    A study of captive-bred whooping cranes found that young birds learn their migration routes over many years, and migrating alongside older birds improves the migratory efficiency of younger birds.

    Monday 2 September 2013 11.31 EDT

    This young whooping crane is on its first autumnal migration, guided by an Operation Migration ultralight. The tan markings will fade by its next migration in spring.Image: Joseph Duff/Operation Migration USA Inc.

    Ever since people first realised that birds migrate long distances on a seasonal basis, they’ve wondered how they do it: how can birds reliably find their way year after year, between their summer breeding areas and their wintering grounds? Is this “instinct” or learning? And if it is learning, how did the first birds learn to migrate and where to go? Birds are intelligent and highly social animals, and we now know that many of their behaviours result from a combination of both genetically inherited innate programs — “instinct” — and learning. But how can we as scientists untangle the contributions from innate genetic programs versus social learning and experience? To examine this “nature versus nurture” puzzle, an international team of scientists was assembled by ecologist Thomas Müller, who studies animal migration at the University of Maryland in College Park, and at the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F) in Frankfurt, Germany. According to their findings, which were just published in the journal, Science, young captive-bred whooping cranes perform better when migrating in the presence of older, more experienced birds, indicating that “instinct” is not enough for efficient and accurate migration. Further, the researchers also found that these birds refine their knowledge of their migration routes over many years. The whooping crane, Grus americana, is a large and long-lived migratory bird in North America. Due to hunting and habitat loss, this formerly widespread species declined until just 16 individuals remained in the wild in 1941. Currently, this species is slowly recovering: the US Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that as of 2011, there were 437 birds in the wild and more than 165 in captivity.

     

    Generosity leads to evolutionary success, biologists show
    (September 2, 2013) — With new insights into the classical game theory match-up known as the “Prisoner’s Dilemma,” biologists offer a mathematically based explanation for why cooperation and generosity have evolved in nature. … > full story

     

    Frogs that hear with their mouth: X-rays reveal a new hearing mechanism for animals without an ear
    (September 2, 2013) — Gardiner’s frogs from the Seychelles islands, one of the smallest frogs in the world, do not possess a middle ear with an eardrum yet can croak themselves, and hear other frogs. An international team of scientists using X-rays has now solved this mystery and established that these frogs are using their mouth cavity and tissue to transmit sound to their inner ears. … > full story

     

    Female tiger sharks migrate from Northwestern to Main Hawaiian Islands during fall pupping season
    (September 5, 2013) — A quarter of the mature female tiger sharks plying the waters around the remote coral atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands decamp for the populated Main Hawaiian Islands in the late summer and fall, swimming as far as 2,500 kilometers (1,500 miles) according to new research. … > full story

     

    To avoid sunburn, whales get a tan

    A humpback whale jumps out of the waters off Hawaii. / AP file photo

    by John Johnson, Newser August 31, 2013 Researchers have found an unusual way in which whales and humans are similar: we both get suntans. Blue whales, especially, tend to tan to protect themselves from the sun’s UV rays, reports the Canadian Press. Essentially, they tan during their summer migrations to ward off dangerous sunburns, as a Newcastle University researcher explains to the BBC: “When blue whales go on their holidays to the Gulf of California they get a tan the same way we do. And that tan protects blue whales from sunburnt DNA.” The big blues have lighter skins than the other two types studied-sperm whales and fin whales-and that makes the tanning necessary.

     

    Scientists discover new bat species in West Africa
    (September 3, 2013) — Biologists have discovered five new species of bats in West Africa. … > full story

     

    Soot suspect in mid-1800s Alps glacier retreat
    (September 2, 2013) — Scientists have uncovered strong evidence that soot, or black carbon, sent into the air by a rapidly industrializing Europe, likely caused the abrupt retreat of mountain glaciers in the European Alps. … > full story

     

    I’ll Tell You Why I Love Birds

    And Their Fate Is Our Fate tells you why we should listen to them.

    By Nicholas Lund|Posted Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, at 10:00 AM

    I love birds because they provide the perfect point of entry to the natural world. They’re ambassadors to places and concepts that I would otherwise be too daunted to tackle or too busy to get into. Since I’ve started following birds, I’ve been to just about every type of habitat this country offers: from Southern bayous to the California desert; from the Illinois prairie into the rolling waves of the Atlantic, Pacific, and the Gulf of Mexico. I’ve learned that “nature” doesn’t begin and end at national park boundaries—the rarest bird I’ve ever discovered came into my view after I took a wrong turn in a housing development—but rather it’s a much more integral part of our lives. Instead of trying to block time to enjoy the natural world, birders learn to tune in to the natural world that’s always around them. I’m birding whenever I am outside or, failing that, wherever there’s a window. ..

     

     

     

     

     

    Novel method to identify suitable new homes for animals under threat from climate change
    (September 5, 2013) — Scientists have devised a novel method to identify suitable new
    homes for animals under threat from climate change. Almost half of all bird and amphibian species are believed to be highly vulnerable to extinction from climate change. …
    “Our work shows that assisted colonisation may be the only way to guarantee the survival of this unique species under climate change,” Dr Chauvenet added. Translocations will continue to be an important part of conservation as climate changes. ZSL’s novel method shows how these interventions can be planned to be successful even under the influence of a changing environment. The method can be applied to any species threatened by climate change, and is likely to contribute to the success of future translocations….full story

     

    The Bureau of Land Management Silver State hotshot crew fights the southern flank of the Rim Fire. Containment increased to 35 percent, but the 2-week-old blaze grew rapidly. Photo: Mike McMillan, Associated Press

    Fire in Yosemite offers forest management lessons

    Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle Updated 12:14 am, Sunday, September 1, 2013

    Stanislaus National Forest, Tuolumne County — The danger of catastrophic fire was already clear to Scott Stephens when flames erupted almost on cue and chased his team of UC Berkeley researchers out of the Stanislaus National Forest. The enormous Rim Fire, which started on Aug. 17 and has now blackened 343 square miles of forest in and around Yosemite National Park, was almost licking at his heels.

    “I was thinking before the fire that if we ever get a fire in here, most of the old trees will be killed,” said Stephens, the university’s chief fire science expert. “I think that has happened.”

    The Rim Fire, now the largest fire in recorded Sierra Nevada history, is a treasure trove of information for scientists studying the effects of forest management techniques. That’s because it burned through a variety of different landscapes, including chaparral-covered canyons, newly planted tree plots, previously burned areas and dense forests.

    The key question is what happened on Aug. 22 and 23, when a 200-foot wall of flames burned almost 90,000 acres. “Almost half of this very, very large fire happened in just two days,” said Max Moritz, a fire scientist at the UC Berkeley Cooperative Extension. “If you are a scientist, that is very interesting.”

    Big increase in tree density

    A large part of the answer may be found in Stephens’ interrupted expedition. His four-person research team was in the process of measuring tree diameters and densities on 15,000 acres that had been studied by the U.S. Forest Service in 1911. The group found as many as 400 trees per acre on the land. That’s compared with between 60 and 90 trees per acre in 1911. There was also between 30 and 40 tons of woody debris per acre on the forest floor, compared with 6 to 8 tons 92 years ago, Stephens said. Besides the dramatic increase in tree density, the researchers found more undergrowth species and, although there were still many old growth trees, the average size of the trees was smaller than in 1911, he said. “We know the last fire in that area was in about 1905. That’s 100 years without fire,” Stephens said. “If you don’t clear trees and brush and do some prescribed burning, you are eventually going to get a very closed forest that is very dense.” Fires have historically been common in California, where burning actually prompts many native plants and trees to release more seeds. American Indians used to purposely set fires in an effort to clear out excess brush and prompt new growth, but the large trees normally survived. Experts say many areas of California, where fires used to burn every 10 or 15 years, are now more vulnerable to catastrophic fire because the forests are overgrown.

    Intense fires kill big trees

    High-intensity fires generally kill the big trees, which Stephens said is why forest thinning, prescribed burns, chipping of excess wood and other forest management techniques are necessary. “All those things would reduce tree mortality in wildfires,” he said. “It is something that could probably reduce mortality in fires by 50 percent.” The problem is that thinning is difficult in places where there are towns, utility corridors, highways and timber interests blocking the way, and tree thinning and brush-clearing operations are expensive. “We end up in court a lot on these projects because, lets face it, people don’t like chainsaws,” said Hugh Safford, a forest service vegetation and fire ecologist. As it is, Stephens fears the 350- to 500-year-old Douglas fir, sugar and ponderosa pine trees he documented in the research area were incinerated. Logging, fire suppression and a lack of management over the years all played a role in the Rim Fire, experts say, but there are several other factors that contributed to the disaster, including strong winds and extremely dry conditions. Forest service officials said the fire started under windy conditions in a chaparral-covered canyon near Groveland, burned over steep terrain into the area where Stephens was conducting his research and then went wild, climbing up the tree canopy and tripling in size. The fire scorched tens of thousands of acres in the Stanislaus forest that had previously burned in 1987. That area was replanted with ponderosa pines, Safford said, but most of the plots had not been thinned.”The Forest Service was slowly trying to reduce the density, but when you drove through that area you could see that had not happened in a large area, probably less than 10 percent,” Safford said. “It’s sad to have so many trees regenerate and then have them killed in another fire.”

    Slowed at Yosemite line

    The speed and intensity of the fire slowed dramatically when it crossed the Yosemite boundary on Aug. 23 because, experts believe, the National Park Service has a policy of allowing lightning-caused fires to burn out. Fuel densities in the Yosemite area are much lower than in the Stanislaus, officials said, because several fires have burned through the area, including 1996′s 47,000-acre Ackerson fire, near Hetch Hetchy. “The whole west side of Yosemite National Park is a mosaic of managed fire,” Safford said. In that way, “Yosemite is the world’s best experimental landscape.”

    Climate change

    Scientists have long predicted an increase in fire intensity and frequency in California as a result of climate change. The Rim Fire is one of a higher-than-average number of wildfires in the past two years. The worst year on record was in 2008, when 6,255 fires burned nearly 1.6 million acres in California. Fire behavior analysts say the conditions this year are eerily similar to the way they were then. “It is hard to point to any two or three years in a row and say, gosh, this is due to climate change, but the conditions now have a lot of characteristics of what we would expect from climate change,” Moritz said. “We are seeing some record-breaking fire years.” There will undoubtedly be a lot of debate over causes and solutions as scientists study the Rim Fire, but fire will always be a part of California’s future and, Stephens said, lessons must be learned. “We do really expect more fire in California because of climate change,” Stephens said. “The question is, can we do treatments today that will basically set the system up so that when fires do burn, their impact will be reduced? The answer to that is, yes we can.”

     


    Rim Fire becomes third largest in California history



    natmonitor.com

     - ‎September 7, 2013‎

           

    According to a report from the AFP, the Rim Fire has become the third largest wildfire in California history. The fire has grown to 385 square miles, but firefighters now have it 80 percent contained….

     

    Yosemite blaze blamed on hunter’s illegal fire – USA Today

    USA Today September 5, 2013- The 19-day-old fire is 80% contained but won’t be fully under control until Sept. 20.

     

    Yosemite fire displaces grazing ranch animals – San Francisco Chronicle

    September 2, 2013 Vivian Ho SF Chronicle

    For decades, the crisp air, natural water sources and abundant vegetation of Stanislaus National Forest have served as idyllic grazing land for grass-fed cattle in the summer months. About 4,000 cows were ranging there when the Rim Fire ignited Aug. 17. Now, as the fire continues to spread over more than 200,000 acres, ranch hands are scrambling to find what’s left of their herds – dead, wounded or unscathed. With large numbers believed to be dead, and the near future of grazing in the forest up in the air, the cattle industry is another victim of the massive blaze on the west edge of Yosemite. “They go out every day, gathering the cows they can find, the ones that have made it into the green areas,” said Susan Forbes, a national forest staffer. “They’re finding pockets of livestock and concentrating on removing them as fast as they can.” When the fire struck, many ranches located nearby were able to evacuate, often with the help of volunteers offering trucks, trailers and temporary land for displaced animals. But for those with permits to bring cattle into the national forest, moving them is laborious and time-consuming. The cattle are scattered over thousands of acres. Few ranchers had enough warning – or resources – to get up to the mountains and move livestock. Forbes said 12 of 36 grazing areas in the park were affected…..

     

    Green Column

    Wildfires and Climate Change

    By KATE GALBRAITH NY Times September 4, 2013

    Incursions by humans into forests, coupled with climate change, will make fires bigger and more destructive, with implications for air quality as well as homes and infrastructure. … Humans are often responsible for starting the fires, accidentally or intentionally; some spin out of control. The suppression of smaller fires can lead to buildups of burnable brush that can feed a huge, destructive blaze when it is sparked. That is true of the California blaze and many others in the American West; it is also what has happened in significant recent blazes in Turkey…. And climate change, to which humans contribute, is heating up and drying out some — though not all — areas. Global studies of wildfire patterns are rare. But a paper published last year in the journal Ecosphere predicted that climate change would have an effect on wildfires that varies widely, especially in accordance with a given region’s precipitation patterns. The paper — which focused on climate change but not other variables, like changing land management — projected that dry parts of the middle latitudes and Australia are likely to see more fires over the long term. The American West, already a tinderbox, will become more fire-prone. So, too, will high-latitude areas, the study found, partly because the carbon-rich peat soil there will burn under extreme weather conditions. The pattern of increased wildfires by the end of this century appears “clear for temperate and northern regions of the world, and it is most striking for the boreal forests/taiga and tundra biomes,” the paper stated. ….

     

    Yosemite fire lesson: Cut risk with biomass energy

    Julia Levin SF Chronicle Opinion Published 5:04 pm, Thursday, September 5, 2013

    The Rim Fire is a sad reminder that wildfires are a growing threat to public health, safety and the water and power supplies for large parts of California. California can significantly reduce those risks by investing in small, sustainable forest biomass facilities that would use green waste to create renewable energy. …..Seven of the 10 worst fires on record in California have occurred since 2000, and the Rim Fire is one of the worst yet. In recent years, wildfires in California have affected an average of more than 900,000 acres per year and cost taxpayers $1.2 billion annually in fire suppression and forest restoration efforts. The effects of these wildfires are devastating. They threaten lives, homes and businesses. They also have enormous impacts on public health from the smoke, soot and other emissions. The Rim Fire has emitted approximately 30 million tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the annual emissions from 5 million cars. A severe fire season can emit as much carbon as the annual emissions from the state’s entire transportation or energy sector.
    Rather than letting California’s forests go up in smoke, we can dramatically reduce the risk of wildfire and produce clean, renewable energy in its place.
    … The CPUC must work with the California Department of Forests and Fire to ensure that the program is environmentally sustainable. The Rim Fire makes very clear that doing nothing will cost ratepayers and the public far more than taking steps now to reduce the costs and impacts of catastrophic wildfires. Accelerating the development of small-scale forest biomass facilities is one of the most important steps California can take….

     

     

     

    Research Cites Role of Warming in Extremes

    By KENNETH CHANG NY Times September 6, 2013

    In examining a dozen extreme weather events last year, scientists found evidence that human activity was a partial culprit in about half….The articles’ editors likened climate change to someone habitually driving a bit over the speed limit. Even if the speeding itself is unlikely to directly cause an accident, it increases the likelihood that something else — a wet road or a distracting text message — will do so and that the accident, when it occurs, will be more calamitous. Even when global warming contributes to extreme weather, “natural variability can still be the primary factor in any individual extreme event,” the editors wrote. To examine causes of the Midwest drought last year, the most severe since the 1950s, researchers ran computer models comparing two situations: one with present-day concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, the other with the much lower greenhouse gas concentrations before the Industrial Revolution. They found little difference in the frequency of Midwest droughts. But scientists performing a similar comparison for the heat wave that blanketed much of the United States in July last year estimated that such heat waves now occur four times as frequently because of the influence of greenhouse gas emissions.

     

    Assessing the Role of Global Warming in Extreme Weather of 2012

    By ANDREW C. REVKIN Dot Earth NY Times September 6, 2013

    Scientists find strong evidence of a greenhouse role in extreme heat and shifted odds of storm surges, but say most extreme weather is driven mainly by natural variability.

     

     

    Global warming has increased risk of record heat
    (September 5, 2013) — Researchers calculate that intense heat like that in the summer of 2012 is up to four times more likely to occur now than in pre-industrial America, when there was much less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. … > full story

     

    Predicting Fish Habitats Months In Advance With New Ocean Forecast

    August 31, 2013

    Image Credit: Thinkstock.com

    As meteorological science advances, we have all become used to long-term weather forecasts, such as predicting what the coming winter might bring. A new study from the University of Washington and federal scientists, however, has developed the first long-term forecast of conditions that matter for Pacific Northwest fisheries. “Being able to predict future phytoplankton blooms, ocean temperatures and low-oxygen events could help fisheries managers,” said Samantha Siedlecki, a research scientist at the UW-based Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean. “This is an experiment to produce the first seasonal prediction system for the ocean ecosystem. We are excited about the initial results, but there is more to learn and explore about this tool – not only in terms of the science, but also in terms of its application,” she said. The prototype was launched in January of this year. When it immediately predicted low oxygen this summer off the Olympic coast, people scoffed. However, some skeptics began to take the new tool more seriously when an unusual low-oxygen patch developed off the Washington coast in July. The prototype has predicted the low-oxygen trend will continue, becoming worse in the coming months. “We’re taking the global climate model simulations and applying them to our coastal waters,” said Nick Bond, a UW research meteorologist and Washington’s state climatologist. “What’s cutting edge is how the tool connects the ocean chemistry and biology.”

     

    The oceans are acidifying at the fastest rate in 300 million years. How worried should we be?

    By Brad Plumer, Published: August 31 at 10:30

    The world’s oceans are turning acidic at what’s likely the fastest pace in 300 million years. Scientists tend to think this is a troubling development. But just how worried should we be, exactly?

    (Reuters)

    It’s a question marine experts have been racing to get a handle on in recent years. Here’s what they do know: As humans keep burning fossil fuels, the oceans are absorbing more and more carbon-dioxide. That staves off (some) global warming, but it also makes the seas more acidic — acidity levels have risen 30 percent since the Industrial Revolution. There’s reason for alarm here: Studies have found that acidifying seawater can chew away at coral reefs and kill oysters by making it harder to form protective shells. The process can also interfere with the food supply for key species like Alaska’s salmon. But it’s not fully clear what this all adds up to. What happens if the oceans keep acidifying and water temperatures keep rising as a result of global warming? Are those stresses going to wipe out coral reefs and fisheries around the globe, costing us trillions (as one paper suggested)? Or is there a chance that some ecosystems might remain surprisingly resilient?….

     

    Climate Change Threatens Caribbean’s Water Supply

    ABC News

     - ‎ September 5, 2013‎

           

    Experts are sounding a new alarm about the effects of climate change for parts of the Caribbean – the depletion of already strained drinking water throughout much of the region.

     

    Climate Change Doubles Likelihood of Sandy-Level Floods in NYC

    Bloomberg

    September 6, 2013

           

    Climate Central — As the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaches, a new study points to the rapidly escalating risk of Sandy-magnitude flooding events in the New York City…

    NOAA: Warming-Driven Sea Level Rise To Make Sandy-Type Storm Surges The Norm On East Coast

    Posted: 05 Sep 2013 02:56 PM PDT

    A new study by NOAA researchers finds future Hurricane Sandy level inundation will become commonplace in the future under business-as-usual sea level rise projections. NOAA’s news release for the report “Explaining Extreme Events of 2012 from a Climate Perspective” summarizes the key finding:

    The record-setting impacts of Sandy were largely attributable to the massive storm surge and resulting inundation from the onshore-directed storm path coincident with high tide. However, climate-change related increases in sea level have nearly doubled today’s annual probability of a Sandy-level flood recurrence as compared to 1950. Ongoing natural and human-induced forcing of sea level ensures that Sandy-level inundation events will occur more frequently in the future from storms with less intensity and lower storm surge than Sandy

     

     

    Climate change likely to steer away Sandy-like superstorms, study says

    Scientists predict stronger storms but say changing air patterns will prevent them from hitting US east coast

    Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent theguardian.com, Monday 2 September 2013 15.00 EDT

    Satellite image of Superstorm Sandy hitting the US east coast last year. In future, warming temperatures will push such storms further offshore, but scientists warn ‘US remains at risk and shouldn’t drop guard.’ Photograph: Nasa/Getty Images

    A recurrence of Superstorm Sandy – which barrelled head-on into the Atlantic coast, swamping New York City and large parts of New Jersey – is less likely under climate change, new research suggests. Scientists expect stronger hurricanes under climate change, and possibly even more frequent storms – especially those at category 3 and higher. But New York City and much of the seaboard will be at lower risk of taking a direct hit, the study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said. Instead, climate change will make it even less likely future storms will follow Sandy’s devastating track. The killer storm made a sharp left turn to slam straight into the Atlantic coast. The odds of a storm like Sandy were already extremely remote – a once in 700 year event – when it hit in October 2012. But it was that trajectory that made Sandy so devastating.

    “What made Sandy so different was that it was steered into the coast rather than away from it,” said Elizabeth Barnes, a climate scientist at Colorado State University and an author of the study.

    The researchers used climate models, based on a tripling of greenhouse gas emissions by 2100, to study whether future atmospheric conditions be more or less likely to blow a storm like Sandy westwards into the Atlantic coast. They found future air patterns under climate change make a repeat of such a rare event even less likely. Wind and atmospheric conditions, including changes in the jet stream, would be more likely to push major storms further offshore, away from the big population centres along the Atlantic coast, the researchers found. But, the researchers warned, the findings do not mean Americans can afford to be blasé about the risks to coastal areas from hurricanes and tropical storms. “You can’t let your guard down,” said Barnes. New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, earlier this year outlined a $19.5bn (£12.5bn) plan to protect the city from future Sandy-like catastrophes. Such precautions are still necessary say the scientists who caution that their study only looked at the tracking patterns of hurricanes – and not their frequency and intensity which are expected to increase.

    There is abundant evidence from that hurricanes are growing more powerful – and inflicting more damage because of climate change. Warmer temperatures generate bigger storms, with stronger winds and heavier rainfall, and over a greater swathe of territory. Sea-level rise leaves coastal cities more at risk from storm surges. A study last July by a scientist listed as an editor on Barnes’s paper – the MIT researcher Kerry Emanuel – also found there would be an increase in those major hurricanes under climate change, with up to 20 additional hurricanes and tropical storms every year by the end of the century. But it is less clear where those storms would hit…..

     

    Increased greenhouse gases and aerosols have similar effects on rainfall
    (September 1, 2013) — Although greenhouse gases and aerosols have very distinct properties, their effects on spatial patterns of rainfall change are surprisingly similar, according to new research. … > full story

     

    Air pollution worsened by climate change set to be more potent killer in the 21st century
    (September 4, 2013) — This century, climate change is expected to induce changes in air pollution, exposure to which could increase annual premature deaths by more than 100,000 adults worldwide. Scientists urge, in the face of future climate change, stronger emission controls to avoid worsening air pollution and the associated exacerbation of health problems, especially in more populated regions of the world. … > full story

     

    Spread of crop pests threatens global food security as Earth warms
    (September 1, 2013) — A new study has revealed that global warming is resulting in the spread of crop pests towards the North and South Poles at a rate of nearly 3 kilometers a year. The study shows a strong relationship between increased global temperatures over the past 50 years and expansion in the range of crop pests. … > full story

    Daniel P. Bebber, Mark A. T. Ramotowski, Sarah J. Gurr. Crop pests and pathogens move polewards in a warming world. Nature Climate Change, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1990

    Crop Pests Moving North Fast

    Sep 1, 2013 01:00 PM ET // by Larry O’Hanlon Discovery

    Pests that attack the plants humanity relies on for food have been creeping poleward at an average rate of almost 2 kilometers (3 miles) each year for the last 50 years, according to a new study of hundreds of harmful organisms in the journal Nature Climate Change. The primary cause of the spread of the insects, fungi and viruses is humans transporting them with crops and farming equipment, but the broad swath of species moving poleward also appears to be riding on the back of global warming, which is making it possible for those pests to take root in places that were just too cold in bygone times, say the researchers. In all, 612 crop pests and pathogens were investigated by the University of Exeter’s Daniel Bebber, Sarah Gurr and Mark Ramotowski of University of Oxford. This is the first study of so many pests — including fungi, bacteria, viruses, viroids, water molds, insects and nematodes — to look for a climate-related trend. What they found was that the average poleward shift was 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) per year since 1960, with significant differences among the pests. There were a few nematodes and viruses that were moving the other way, but they were in the minority. The danger the pests pose is alarming because most of the largest crops grown in the world today are not really up for a fight against new pathogens, explained Gurr, who is a fungi researcher. “In the process of boosting food production we have also created vast monocultures of, for instance, wheat,” said Gurr. “These genetically limited plants are very vulnerable.”..

     

    Bringing coral reefs back from the brink
    (September 3, 2013) — Shocks caused by climate and seasonal change could be used to aid recovery of some of the world’s badly-degraded coral reefs, scientists have proposed. Marine scientists suggest that it may be possible to restore living coral cover to a badly-degraded reef system — though not easy. … > full story

     

    Global warming in one unmistakably compelling chart

    By Jason Samenow, Published: September 4 at 10:40 amE-mail the writer

    If you have any doubt the balance of the globe has warmed over the last century, view this chart:


    NASA

    Produced by NASA, the chart illustrates how temperatures have compared to “normal” (or the 1951-1980 average) from 1880 to present, from pole to pole (-90 latitude to 90 latitude). From the 1880 to the 1920s, blue and green shades dominate the chart, signaling cooler than normal temperatures in that era.  Then, from the 1930s to the 1970s, warmer yellow, oranges, and reds shades ooze in, balancing the cooler shades. But since the 1970s, the blue and green shades rapidly erode and oranges and reds take over, dramatically.

    The rapid warming at the northern high latitudes especially jumps out in recent decades, reflecting “Arctic amplification” or more intense warming in the Arctic.  Although the warming is most pronounced up north, it is apparent at almost every latitude. (And yes, you can even sense the much discussed slow-down in the rate of warming over the last 10-20 years as the coverage of oranges and reds has remained pretty static) Of course, it is widely accepted the Earth has warmed in the last century.  Or, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change put it in 2007, the warming of the climate system is “unequivocal.” But even as the debate has moved on from whether warming has occurred to the effects, there remain some doubters.  Show them this this chart – it packs an incredible amount of data into one tidy, irrefutable visual.

     

     

    Pacific flights create most amount of ozone
    (September 4, 2013) — The amount of ozone created from aircraft pollution is highest from flights leaving and entering Australia and New Zealand, a new study has shown. The findings could have wide-reaching implications for aviation policy as ozone is a potent greenhouse gas with comparable short-term effects to those of carbon dioxide. … > full story

     

    Wheat research indicates rise in mean temperature would cut yields
    (September 4, 2013) — Wheat producers know that growing a healthy, high-yielding wheat crop takes skill and hard work. Quality drought-tolerant varieties that are resistant to pests and disease are important. And cooperation from Mother Nature in terms of temperature and precipitation doesn’t hurt, either. To quantify the impact of genetic improvement in wheat, disease and climate change over a 26-year period, researchers examined wheat variety yield data from Kansas performance tests, along with location-specific weather and disease data. … > full story

     

    For The Climate, It Matters When And Where You Fly

    Posted: 05 Sep 2013 01:38 PM PDT

    As fall begins its descent, and people start pulling sweaters out from the backs of closets, the sun-seekers among us are already online browsing flights to warmer climes. For the climate conscious, flying has always been a guilty pleasure, but now research from MIT may help those bitten by the travel bug avoid the most climate polluting flights.

    Out of 83,000 flight routes studied by the researchers from MIT’s aeronautics department, flights to and from Australia and New Zealand in October were guilty of creating the highest amounts of a potent global warming pollutant – tropospheric ozone. Tropospheric ozone is created when nitrogen oxides, released during the burning of jet fuel, react with carbon monoxide and other chemicals in the presence of sunlight. The area around the Solomon Islands in the Pacific was found to be the most sensitive to airplane emissions. Here, just 1 kilogram of nitrogen oxide emissions can cause an additional 15 kilograms of tropospheric ozone annually.
    A flight from Sydney to Mumbai results in an extra 25,000 kilograms of tropospheric ozone. This isn’t the first research to recommend rerouting certain flight paths. Last December, researchers from Stanford published data showing how flying around, rather than over the Arctic could help preserve precious climate stabilizing polar ice for a bit longer, buying the world more time. While skirting the Arctic would increase the total amount of fuel burned, the researchers argued that it would mean that aviation emissions would be dumped in a less stable part of the atmosphere where precipitation would quickly wash climate-damaging black carbon out of the air…..

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Obama’s Stealth War on Global Warming

    National Journal

    September 4, 2013

     
     

    Written by

    Coral Davenport

     
           

    As President Obama tries to fight global warming without any backing from a gridlocked Congress, he’s using every weapon in his executive arsenal….

     

    UN Chief Scientist Urges Action On Climate Change: ‘We Have Five Minutes Before Midnight’

    Posted: 03 Sep 2013 05:59 AM PDT

    Rajendra Pachuari, head of the United Nation’s group of climate scientists, said on Monday that humanity can no longer be content kicking the can down the road when it comes to climate change. “We have five minutes before midnight,” he emphasized. “We may utilize the gifts of nature just as we choose, but in our books the debits are always equal to the credits. May I submit that humanity has completely ignored, disregarded and been totally indifferent to the debits? Today we have the knowledge to be able to map out the debits and to understand what we have done to the condition of this planet.” The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which Pachuari heads, is slated to release its long-awaited Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) later this month. Drafts of the report seen by Reuters point to an even greater certainty that humans are the primary drivers of global warming, “It is at least 95 percent likely that human activities — chiefly the burning of fossil fuels — are the main cause of warming since the 1950s.” This is up from 90 percent in the 2007 report, 66 percent in 2001 and just over 50 percent in 1995, “steadily squeezing out the arguments by a small minority of scientists that natural variations in the climate might be to blame.”…

     

    USDA Seeks Input on Greenhouse Gas/Carbon Sequestration Report
    The Climate Change Program Office of the USDA’s Office of the Chief Economist has released a draft report outlining scientific methods for measuring greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) – and carbon storage – on entities such as farms and ranches. The report, titled “Science-Based Methods for Entity-Scale Quantification of Greenhouse Gas Sources and Sinks from Agriculture and Forestry Practices,” is available online and open for public comment. The objective of the report is to create a standard set of GHG estimation methods for use by USDA, landowners, and other stakeholders to assist them in evaluating the GHG impacts of their management decisions. To read the full report click here.

     

    Weather and Violence

    By MARSHALL BURKE, SOLOMON HSIANG and EDWARD MIGUEL NY Times August 30, 2013

    Researchers are quantifying the causal relationship between extreme climate and human conflict.

     

     

    Al Gore’s Incredible Shrinking Climate Change Footprint

    The former vice president set out to create the Apple Computer of climate change. From a sweeping, expensive “blitz” to a “niche” effort in digital media.

    September 3, 2013 at 10:54pm EDT

    Evan McMorris-Santoro, Ruby Cramer , BuzzFeed Staff


    Illustration by John Gara / BuzzFeed; Joe Raedle / Getty Images; Saul Loeb / Getty Images

    WASHINGTON — Last January, Al Gore took a boatload of scientists, donors, and celebrities to Antarctica to talk about climate change. Richard Branson, James Cameron, Ted Turner, Tom Brokaw, and Tommy Lee Jones joined more than 100 other paying guests — Gore’s handpicked best and brightest — on the National Geographic Explorer, an ice-class 367-foot cruise ship, to see “up close and personal” the effects of a warming planet, courtesy of the former vice president’s environmental nonprofit, the Climate Reality Project. Singer Jason Mraz, another passenger aboard Gore’s Antarctic voyage, would later describe the trip on his blog as “a kind of floating symposium, much like the TED Talks series.” Back in the more populated areas of the world, climate change activists snickered. The trip, and the Climate Reality Project, drew headlines but did little, they said privately, to affect the movement Gore hoped to revolutionize when he founded the group in 2006. In the years since the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth and the Nobel Peace Prize that followed made Gore the number-one climate change advocate in the world, the activist group he created with his fame has been steadily shrinking, as has its once-lofty mandate: to create a new nonpartisan global movement around climate change. The numbers, according to a review of the nonprofit’s tax filings, show the change has been severe. In 2009, at its peak, Gore’s group had more than 300 employees, with 40 field offices across 28 states, and a serious war chest: It poured $28 million into advertising and promotion, and paid about $200,000 in lobbying fees at the height of the “cap and trade” energy bill fight on Capitol Hill. ….

     

    ….Chapter 3.” From the embers of the lobbying effort came a smaller, less ambitious Alliance. The group that had planned to bring revolution to climate change advocacy instead sought out a smaller part of the existing movement. “We saw as our niche to bring together leaders in the advertising and social media and marketing worlds from some of the world’s most innovative companies,” Stiles said. The former top official said it was an end to the broad ambitions. “Everyone hunkered down and stopped going for the moonshots,” the former official said. Gore himself took a step back, as his involvement was seen as politicizing in a way that it hadn’t at the outset, when his documentary was an international hit. The smaller operation has drawn less interest from the national media — and even from some of the group’s own early backers. Susie Tompkins Buell, a California-based Democratic donor and one of Hillary Clinton’s closest friends, seeded $5 million in 2007 to the organization, but now says she hasn’t “followed it very much” or contributed since. Buell cited her admiration for Gore — for “sticking with it,” she said in an interview by phone — but acknowledged her frustration at the lack of progress from the group, and the climate movement on the whole. (Last year, she notably declined to contribute to Obama’s reelection campaign because, she said, he had not been “vocal enough” on environmental issues.) “I don’t regret doing it,” Buell said of her initial donation. “I think, honestly, we were all very naïve. We thought this would catch on. I really felt with the right media, with everything in place, we could really bring this problem to the forefront and really solve it.” The Gore group’s current era, Stiles said, is focused on a “lean, mean machine” — but practically, that means an organization that is spending less, raising less, and employing fewer people. ….

     

     

    GGNRA managers unleash dog-walking rules

    Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle Updated 11:15 pm, Friday, September 6, 2013

    The decades-old imbroglio over dog walking on Bay Area parkland cropped up again Friday when the National Park Service loosened some proposed restrictions and tightened others for the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, prompting a new round of grumbling and growling.

    The preferred alternative in the latest revision of the federal dog management plan would add more leashed areas to the GGNRA and let dogs run free in new areas of Fort Funston and Fort Mason. But it maintains most provisions of the original plan, which outraged canine advocates. ….Recreation area officials said the changes are needed because of a dramatic increase in the number of visitors and, as a result, conflicts over the past two decades. Some naturalists and bird-watchers have also complained about dogs trampling vegetation, frightening birds and harassing wildlife.

     

     

     

     
     

     

    ONE WATER LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE LOS ANGELES SEPTEMBER 23-26 2013

    The Leadership Summit is organized annually by the U.S. Water Alliance’s Urban Water Sustainability Council.  Through this Leadership Summit the Council seeks to connect the dots among water, land use, parks, forests, transportation, energy, and other sectors around a goal of revitalizing cities with multi-benefit projects that produce triple bottom-line results.

     

     

     

    The San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve  is excited to announce this upcoming workshop! 
    Project Design and Evaluation
    September 23-24, 2013  9:00am – 5:00pm both days

    The Project Design and Evaluation course provides coastal resource management extension and education professionals with the knowledge, skills, and tools to design and implement projects that have measurable impacts on the audience they want to reach. This interactive curriculum can help you increase the effectiveness of your projects by applying valid instructional design theory to their design. For more information or to register, click here.  Course Instructed by NOAA Coastal Services Center 

     

     

    Building Business Resilience to Climate Change: Entergy

    Join us for a Webinar on September 11 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT Space is limited.

    Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/523311367

    This webinar will take a detailed look at resilience planning in the electric power sector.  Jeff Williams will discuss strategies and opportunities for building a more resilient business at Entergy and among communities along the Gulf Coast.

     

    Building Business Resilience to Climate Change: Weyerhaeuser

    Join us for a Webinar on September 25.  Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT Reserve your Webinar seat now at:  https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/674795351

    This webinar will take a detailed look at resilience planning at one of the world’s leading forestry companies.   Sara Kendall will discuss Weyerhaeuser’s strategic initiatives, opportunities, and challenges for building resilience to the impacts of a changing climate on forestry and land use.

     

     

    Analytical Frameworks for Wetland and Riparian Buffers in Agricultural Settings

    October 4, 2013 8:30 – 5:00

    Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve  Including field site training at ALBA’s Triple M Ranch, Las Lomas;  Carlie Henneman- POINT BLUE CONSERVATION SCIENCE, Dale Huss, Marc Los Huertos, and Paul Robins, Instructors

    This one-day workshop trains participants in how to improve their analyses in consideration of the use of buffers for wetland and riparian areas in agricultural settings.  During an in-depth field training session , participants will also have opportunities to discuss farming operations and buffers with Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) affiliated Francisco Serrano (Serrano Organic Farm), Hector Mora (Hector’s Organic Farm), and Guilebaldo Nuñez (Nuñez Farms) as well as Kaley Grimland- ALBA’s Triple M Ranch Wetland Restoration Project Manager.  To register and for more information: http://www.elkhornsloughctp.org/training/show_train_detail.php?TRAIN_ID=AnP4EPT

     

     

    Quivira Conference 2013– Inspiring Adaptation
    Wednesday, November 13 – Friday, November 15, 2013 Registration Deadlines: November 5, 2013
    “The Westerner is less a person than a continuing adaptation. The West is less a place than a process.” – Wallace Stegner

    From prehistoric times to the present, human societies have successfully adapted to the challenges of a changing West, including periods of severe drought, limitations created by scarce resources and shifting cultural and economic pressures. Now, the American West is entering an era of unprecedented change brought on by new climate realities, which will test our capacity for adaptation as well as challenge the resilience of the region’s native flora and fauna. It is therefore paramount that we find and share inspiring ideas and practical strategies that help all of the region’s inhabitants adapt to a rapidly changing world.  We will hear from scientists, ranchers, farmers, conservationists, urban planners and others who have bright ideas and important tools to share from their adaptation toolbox.

     

     

    Date CHANGED! : Rangeland Coalition Summit 2014 January 21-22, 2014 Oakdale, CA
    Please note that the dates have been changed for the 9th Annual California Rangeland Conservation Coalition Summit to be hosted at the Oakdale Community Center. Mark your calendar for January 21-22, 2014, more details will be coming soon! The planning committee will have a conference call on September 11 at 9:00 AM to start planning for the event. If you are interested in serving on the planning committee or being a sponsor please contact Pelayo Alvarez: pelayo@carangeland.org.

     

     

    The Ecological Society of America, American Geophysical Union, and US Geological Survey are co-sponsors of the upcoming

    Soil Science Society of America ecosystems services conference–abstracts are now being invited and are due by 12/1/2013.

    March 6-9, 2014 Sheraton Grand Hotel, Sacramento, CA

    Purpose of Conference:  Soils provide provisioning and regulating ecosystem services relevant to grand challenge areas of 1) climate change adaptation and mitigation, 2) food and energy security, 3) water protection, 4) biotechnology for human health, 5) ecological sustainability, and 6) slowing of desertification. The purposes of this conference will be to evaluate knowledge strengths and gaps, encourage cross-disciplinary synergies to accelerate new learning, and prioritize research needs.

    More info is available here:  https://www.soils.org/meetings/specialized/ecosystem-services

     

     

    99th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America
    Sacramento, California  August 10-15, 2014  http://www.esa.org/sacramento

    Call for Proposals– Symposia, Organized Oral Sessions, and Organized Poster Sessions

    Deadline for Submission: September 26, 2013


     

     

    FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES:

     

    NOAA Climate Program Office Releases FY14 –Federal Funding Opportunity

    NOAA is accepting individual applications for nine competitions organized around the Climate Program Office’s Climate Observations and Monitoring; Earth System Science; Modeling, Analysis, Predictions, and Projections; and Climate and Societal Interactions (CSI) programs. Letters of intent are due by September 10, 2013; final applications are due by November 14, 2013. For the CSI programs, watch here for an FAQ and information about an informational teleconference on August 29 at 3pm eastern time to specifically discuss the letters of intent. 

    http://cpo.noaa.gov/GrantsandProjects.aspx

     


     

    National Science Foundation Solicits Proposals for Water Sustainability and Climate Program

    This solicitation from the seeks proposals to determine how our built water systems and our governance systems can be made more reliable, resilient, and sustainable to meet diverse needs. Successful proposals are expected to study water systems in their entirety and to enable a new interdisciplinary paradigm in water research. Projects supported under this solicitation may establish new observational sites or utilize existing observational sites and facilities already supported by NSF or other federal and state agencies. The application deadline is September 10, 2013. 
    For more information, click here

     


     

    NOAA Announces Solicitation for the U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observation Network
    This funding opportunity invites proposals for projects that demonstrate how an operational Marine Biodiversity Observation Network could be developed for the nation by establishing one or more prototype networks in U.S. coastal waters, the Great Lakes, and the EEZ. Applications are due on December 2, 2013.

    For more information, click here.

     

     

    JOBS:

     

    Rangeland Watershed Initiative (RWI) Coordinator – Point Blue

    The RWI Coordinator assists the RWI Director by facilitating RWI operations including managing Partner Biologist hiring efforts, assisting in the development and implementation of training curricula and workshops, and managing program reporting, budgeting, scheduling, logistics and communications, among other responsibilities.  The RWI Coordinator will be based out of the Chico office.  This is a unique opportunity for the qualified candidate to play a key role in a significant conservation effort that will be a model for other rangeland management efforts nationally and globally. To apply please email resume with cover letter to
    wgilgert@pointblue.org by September 16th, 2013.  Please put “Rangeland Watershed Initiative Coordinator” in the subject line. For additional information about Point Blue and highlights of current programs, see www.pointblue.org.

     

     

    San Joaquin Valley Regional Director for Sustainable Conservation

    Sustainable Conservation is seeking an experienced and entrepreneurial Regional Director to oversee our Modesto office and our initiatives in the San Joaquin Valley that seek environmental solutions that make economic sense.  The Regional Director will lead Sustainable Conservation’s new effort to find a regional solution to address the environmental impact of dairies while providing profitable revenue streams and/or avoiding costs for the industry.  In addition, the Regional Director will partner with our team on promoting on-farm practices to reduce dairies’ groundwater contamination and contribution to air pollution and on expanding our groundwater recharge initiative in the San Joaquin Valley.  This is an excellent opportunity for a strategic and collaborative professional committed to healthy environment and healthy economy in the San Joaquin Valley.  The full job description is attached and can be found at http://www.ceaconsulting.com/what/position_details.aspx?client=CEA&jobId=231.

     

    Sierra Wildlife Ecologist (pdf)
    Sierra Forest Legacy is seeking a Wildlife Ecologist to provide technical support to our forest conservation and restoration program.  Sierra Forest Legacy engages citizens, communities, and coalition members in the healthy management of Sierra Nevada forest ecosystems to protect and restore the region’s natural values and unparalleled beauty.  We apply the best practices of science, advocacy and grassroots organizing to safeguard national forest lands throughout the Sierra Nevada. The Wildlife Ecologist joins a team of science and policy experts to develop and promote science-based conservation strategies on national forests in the Sierra Nevada. The position is responsible for providing professional wildlife expertise in the protection, management, and improvement of wildlife and wildlife habitat. The position is open until filled. Review of applications begins September 23, 2013. Sierra Forest Legacy, a project of the Tides Center, Thoreau Center for Sustainability, San Francisco, California, is an equal opportunity employer. The full job announcement is available at http://www.sierraforestlegacy.org/Resources/WildlifeEcologist_8-30-13.pdf.

     

     

     

     

    Solar energy: A richer harvest on the horizon
    (
    August 31, 2013) — Theoretical simulations reveal that layered semiconductors with magnetic interfaces are potent catalysts for solar energy capture and conversion. … > full story

    New connection between stacked solar cells can handle energy of 70,000 suns
    (September 6, 2013) — Researchers have come up with a new technique for improving the connections between stacked solar cells, which should improve the overall efficiency of solar energy devices and reduce the cost of solar energy production. The new connections can allow these cells to operate at solar concentrations of 70,000 suns’ worth of energy without losing much voltage as ‘wasted energy’ or heat. … > full story

     

    How Bumps In The Road Can Help Replace Stops At The Gas Station

    Posted: 06 Sep 2013 06:53 AM PDT

    Cars are not very efficient. Lots of energy is lost as heat, noise, and friction as gears turn, brakes heat up, engines roar, and wind drags. But a new technology could transfer the bounces of a bumpy road into energy for the engine. ZF Friedrichshafen AG and Levant Power Corp. have joined together to produce the first fully-active advanced suspension system that recovers energy and directs it to charge the battery while the car is moving. The bumpier the road, the more power generated. Normal suspension systems encounter a trade-off between a smooth ride and precision handling — ZF and Levant’s design claims to achieve both. Active dampers change the pressure inside of the shock, smoothing out the ride — when there’s a lot motion from bumps, braking, and accelerating, fluid gets pushed through the pump, which drives a motor and creates electricity.

     

     

     

     

    • OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    Look at all these birds that have been accused of espionage

    By Andrea Peterson, Washington Post Published: September 3 at 5:18 pmE-mail the writer

    Run! (Universal Pictures)

    So, Egyptian authorities detained a stork on suspicions that its wildlife tracking anklet was a surveillance device. But that poor stork wasn’t the only bird to run afoul of suspicions of avian spying in recent years.

    Just in July, a kestral was detained by Turkish authorities because a metal ring on its foot had the words “24311 Tel Avivunia Israel” engraved on it — prompting the residents who found the bird to turn it over to the local governor as a possible avian agent of the state of Israel. The kestral was freed after an X-ray showed that the bird was not embedded with surveillance equipment, according to local reports.

    Similarly, in May of 2012 a dead common European bee-eater was suspected of engaging in espionage by Turkish locals because of an Israel stamped anklet — the locals reportedly called the local police after deciding the bird’s nostrils were unusually large and might carry microchip for Israeli surveillance. An official at the Turkish agricultural ministry reportedly told the BBC, “it took some effort to persuade local police that the little bee-eater posed no threat to national security.”

    In December 2012, Sudanese officials reportedly said they had discovered an Israeli secret agent that was a vulture. They claimed the bird was fitted with GPS and solar-powered equipment capable of broadcasting images via satellite. Israeli officials acknowledged the bird had been tagged with Israeli equipment but insisted it was being used to study migration patterns, not spy on Sudan. Feathers were also ruffled in Saudi Arabia in 2011 by an endangered griffon vulture because its wildlife tracking GPS transmitter bore the name of Tel Aviv University.

    And not to be left out, Iranian authorities claimed to have detained not one, but two, spy pigeons near the country’s nuclear processing plants in 2008.

    Here’s a pigeon from World War I wearing a camera. (German Federal Archive) While it seems unlikely that any of these specific birds were engaged in surveillance, the Iranian case seems the most plausible because pigeons have actually been deployed in surveillance capacities before — most notably through the use of pigeon cameras to spy on military bases in the First and Second World Wars.

     

     

    Gravity variations over Earth much bigger than previously thought
    (September 4, 2013) — Scientists have created the highest-resolution maps of Earth’s gravity field to date — showing gravitational variations up to 40 percent larger than previously assumed. New gravity maps revealed the variations of free-fall gravity over Earth were much bigger than previously thought. … > full story

     

     

    My Life as a Cellphone Holdout

    Roughly 21 million adult Americans don’t own a cellphone—and they’re getting by just fine, thank you.

    Gary Serovitz August 9, 2013, 5:43 p.m. ET

    THIS YEAR MARKS the 40th anniversary of the first official call by a hand-held cellphone, made by Motorola, in front of reporters on the streets of New York. This week marks my 40th birthday. A few weeks after that milestone I will be buying my first cellphone. I am not doing this because of a fascination with amazing inventions from 1973, like the Bic lighter or the Iditarod. I am buying one because my wife accepted a fellowship in California, and I will need to work remotely from there when I visit her.

    Related

     

     

     

    Why having “too little” can focus the mind

    Interview by Kai Ryssdal
    Marketplace for Tuesday, September 3, 2013
    Story

    At first blush, there is little in common between a Harvard economics professor who’s very busy and a poor person from India, struggling to simply put food on the table. But according to Sendhil Mullainathan, the Harvard economist, what they have in common is an idea: Of scarcity. “Both of us are touching on the exact same psychology,” Mullainathan says. “There is actually something primitive that happens to the human brain when experiencing very little.” In a book he’s written, with Eldar Shafir, about this topic, called “Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much,” Mullainathan says that scarcity can focus the mind. ….

     

     

    Lessons from the worm: How the elderly can live an active life
    (September 3, 2013) — When the tiny roundworm C. elegans reaches middle age —- at about 2 weeks old -— it can’t quite move like it did in the bloom of youth. But rather than imposing an exercise regimen to rebuild the worm’s body-wall muscles, researchers can bring the wriggle back by stimulating the animal’s neurons. And, they say, pharmaceuticals might have a similar effect in mammals. … > full story

    Aging really is ‘in your head:’ Scientists answer hotly debated questions about how calorie restriction delays aging process
    (September 3, 2013) — Among scientists, the role of proteins called sirtuins in enhancing longevity has been hotly debated, driven by contradictory results from many different scientists. But new research may settle the dispute. Researchers have identified the mechanism by which a specific sirtuin protein called Sirt1 operates in the brain to bring about a significant delay in aging and an increase in longevity. Both have been associated with a low-calorie diet. … > full story

     

    Mediterranean diet is good for the mind, research confirms
    (September 3, 2013) — Many pieces of research have identified a link between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and a lower risk of age-related disease such as dementia. Scientists have carried out the first systematic review and their findings.
    A Mediterranean diet typically consists of higher levels of olive oil, vegetables, fruit and fish. A higher adherence to the diet means higher daily intakes of fruit and vegetables and fish, and reduced intakes of meat and dairy products. … “Mediterranean food is both delicious and nutritious, and our systematic review shows it may help to protect the ageing brain by reducing the risk of dementia. While the link between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and dementia risk is not new, ours is the first study to systematically analyse all existing evidence.”….full story

     


    Sleep ‘regenerates brain support cells’



    Medical News Today

     - ‎September 4, 2013‎

           

    It goes without saying that we all need a good night’s sleep to feel re-energized for the day ahead. But now, researchers have found that sleep also helps to boost reproduction of the cells involved in brain repair….

     

     

     

     

     


     


     


    Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin at odds over Syria, gays and more