Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Ellie Cohen, President and CEO, Point Blue Conservation Science

Archive: Nov 2013

  1. Conservation Science News November 15, 2013

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    Focus of the WeekDrought in California; What Typhoon Haiyan Tells Us about Adaptation; Oyster Reefs Protect Shoreline in SF Bay

    1-ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED

    2-CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

    3-
    POLICY

    4- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

    5-
    RESOURCES and REFERENCES

    6-OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST 

    7-IMAGES OF THE WEEK

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

    The items contained in this update were drawn from www.dailyclimate.org, www.sciencedaily.com, SER The Society for Ecological Restorationhttp://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.slate.com, www.sfgate.com, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, www.blm.gov/ca/news/newsbytes/2012/529.html and other sources as indicated.  This is a compilation of information available on-line, not verified and not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  
    You can sign up for the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative ListServe or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium listserve to receive this or you can email me directly at Ellie Cohen, ecohen at pointblue.org if you want your name added to or dropped from this list. 

    Point Blue’s 140 scientists advance nature-based solutions to climate change, habitat loss and other environmental threats to benefit wildlife and people, through bird and ecosystem science, partnerships and outreach.

     

     

    Focus of the Week- Drought in California; What Typhoon Haiyan Tells Us about Adaptation; Oyster Reefs Protect Shoreline in SF Bay

     

    1-California on course for driest year on record

    Peter Fimrite Updated 10:27 am, Sunday, November 10, 2013

    Thirsty California may get a smidgen of rain this coming week, but it is not likely to change what, so far, has been the driest calendar year in recorded history. No rain at all fell in San Francisco in October and only 3.95 inches has fallen since Jan. 1, the smallest amount of precipitation to date since record keeping began 164 years ago, according to the National Weather Service. Things can still change, but the storm predicted to roll in Monday and Tuesday has already petered out, according to forecasters, who are expecting only sprinkles, if that. “It’s absolutely dry,” said Bob Benjamin, a National Weather Service forecaster. “We just went through October where there was no measurable precipitation in downtown San Francisco. That’s only happened seven times since records started.” The previous record dry year was in 1976, when 5.57 inches of rain fell in San Francisco over the 311 days between Jan. 1 and Nov. 7. Meteorologists use San Francisco as a benchmark because it has the longest consecutive rainfall record in the state, going back to 1849-50…..

     

    ….”We’ve never had any year dryer through October,” said Null, adding that there is no reason to get panicky with two months left in the year. Making predictions based on rainfall through October is, he said, “like giving the final score of the Giants game after eight innings.” Looking up at the perpetually blaring sun is nevertheless giving water managers reason to be downcast. The state’s reservoirs are all well below their normal carrying capacity, according to Arthur Hinojosa, the chief of hydrology and flood operations for the California Department of Water Resources. …

    ….The dry weather is also extending the fire season. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has responded to 6,439 fires this year, almost 2,000 more fires than during an average year, said Battalion Chief Julie Hutchinson. That doesn’t include fires on federal land like the Rim Fire, which burned 400 square miles in and around the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park. “We’ve seen about a 39 percent increase in activity compared to an average year,” Hutchinson said. “There have been more fires and more frequent fires, which is due to the lack of rainfall and the dryness. We also saw a significant number of fires statewide in higher elevation timber stands, which you normally don’t see. That’s because of the lack of snowfall.”….

     



     

     

    Obama Administration’s National Drought Resilience Partnership to Help Communities Prepare for Drought November 15, 2013

    As part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, the Obama Administration today announced an interagency
    National Drought Resilience Partnership
    to help communities better prepare for future droughts and reduce the impact of drought events on livelihoods and the economy. Responding to requests from communities, businesses, and farmers and ranchers, the National Drought Resilience Partnership will make it easier to access Federal drought resources, and will help link information such as monitoring, forecasts, outlooks, and early warnings with longer-term drought resilience strategies in critical sectors such as agriculture, municipal water systems, energy, recreation, tourism and manufacturing.   In its first year, the Partnership will focus on creating a new, web-based portal to ease access to Federal agency drought recovery resources, hosting more frequent regional drought outlook forums that provide access to experts and locally relevant information, supporting the coordination of a national soil moisture monitoring network to help improve monitoring and forecasting drought conditions, and identifying a single point of contact for the public. In collaboration with local, state and regional governments, the Partnership will also undertake a pilot project in a western area hard hit by drought to create a local-scale drought resilience plan that could be applied in other areas.   

     

     

    2- What a deadly typhoon in the Philippines can tell us about climate adaptation

    By Brad Plumer, Washington Post Published: November 12 at 12:29 pm

    The massive typhoon that devastated the central Philippines over the weekend was deadly for a host of complex reasons — accidents of geography, a growing population, poor infrastructure. And, to a lesser extent, global warming may have factored in.

    An aerial view shows damaged houses on a coastal community after Typhoon Haiyan hit Iloilo province in the central Philippines.  (Raul Banias for Reuters)

    It’s that last one that’s getting all the attention this week, as the latest round of U.N. climate negotiations opened in Warsaw on Monday. The delegate from the Philippines, Naderev Saño, gave an emotional speech arguing that Typhoon Haiyan was “a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action.” But what does this mean, exactly? There are all sorts of things that Typhoon Haiyan highlighted about the difficulties that poorer countries such as the Philippines will face in dealing with natural disasters as the world warms. Here’s a partial rundown:

     

    1) The Philippines has become increasingly vulnerable to typhoons for lots of reasons — and climate change is only one angle here.

    Thanks to basic geography, the Philippines has long been one of the most storm-ravaged places on Earth, with about 8 to 9 typhoons making landfall each year, on average. The warm waters surrounding the island nation help fuel strong tropical cyclones, and there are few natural barriers to slow the storms down or break them up. Those tropical cyclones appear to have become increasingly deadly in recent years — since 2004, the Philippines has experienced five storms that have each killed more than 1,000 people, not including Haiyan. In a report last year, the Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) argued that typhoons were becoming more destructive over the past 20 years. But the reasons given were multifaceted. Climate change may be playing a supporting role in that longer-term trend: One 2008 study (pdf) in Nature found that the very strongest typhoons in the northwest Pacific appeared to have become somewhat more intense since 1981 — by about 20 mph, on average — as the oceans have warmed. That said, detecting a trend in tropical cyclones over time is notoriously difficult — and attributing a single storm like Haiyan to climate change is even harder. On the other hand, sea levels around the Philippines have also risen by half an inch in the past 20 years, faster than the global average. That can intensify the risk of storm surges, which reportedly reached 15 to 20 feet in Haiyan’s case. But climate is just a small part of a much more complex tale. One crucial factor for the rise in destruction: The Philippines population keeps expanding in high-risk coastal areas. As the AP’s Seth Borenstein reports, the city of Tacloban, which got hit hardest by Haiyan, has nearly tripled in population over the past four decades. Nearly 40 percent of the country now live in large, storm-prone coastal cities. Even if the typhoons weren’t changing at all, many more people are now in harm’s way. Poverty and shoddy construction have also combined to make storms especially lethal. “About one-third of Tacloban’s homes have wooden exterior walls,” reports Borenstein. “And 1 in 7 homes have grass roofs, according to the census office.” Even a weaker storm than Haiyan would have caused plenty of havoc. The DENR also notes that the deforestation of mangroves has removed a natural barrier that can blunt the impact of storms. What’s more, as my colleague Max Fisher reports, extremely poor infrastructure and a weak central government has hindered the disaster response in the Philippines. Only 22 percent of the nation’s roads are paved. Aid workers have struggled to reach the affected areas. The list goes on.

     

    2) Typhoons aren’t the only natural disaster the Philippines has to worry about. This map from the DENR shows just how many different climate-related risks the Philippines could face in the years ahead:

    There’s no simple story here: The northern parts of the country could see more intense rainfall events. The central Luzon area could face a higher risk of typhoons, as the oceans heat up, increasing the “speed limit” for storms. Meanwhile, western Mindanano could face greater risk of drought due to both rising temperatures and El Niño events. Add it all up, the U.N. ranks the Philippines as the third-most vulnerable country in the world to climate change, thanks to a combination of natural exposure and poverty. “Owing to their proximity to the sea,” a recent report notes, “island states are particularly exposed to the natural hazards of cyclones, flooding and sea level rise.” But the precise risks are often difficult to pinpoint — and that makes preparation even harder. Many climate models still have trouble making predictions at a very fine-grained, regional level. And typhoons are especially difficult to forecast: While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change thinks it’s “likely” that tropical cyclones will get stronger as the oceans warm, it’s less clear how the frequency of storms will change in the years ahead (they may even become less frequent).

     

    3) Adaptation can help, but it’s not always enough. Many countries have managed to reduce their exposure to natural disasters over the years by implementing detailed adaptation plans. If climate change does increase the risk of natural disasters in the years ahead, then those plans will become increasingly important. Bangladesh, for instance, has steadily reduced the number of deaths from tropical cyclones since the 1970s through early-warning systems, shelters and evacuation plans, and building coastal embankments. India has also stepped up its defenses: In 1999, a cyclone hit the state of Odisha and killed 10,000 people (see map). This year, a similar-sized cyclone, Phailin, hit the same region — but only 44 people died. There were a lot of reasons for that, but some credit goes to improved weather forecasting and a mass evacuation plan that moved nearly 1 million people to safety before the storm hit. The Philippines, for its part, is still struggling with disaster preparation and response. Early reports suggest that early storm warnings didn’t reach everyone in afflicted areas such as Tacloban. And the hard-hit city was wholly unprepared for a massive storm surge.

    But it’s also worth noting that even better preparation and infrastructure isn’t always a panacea — particularly in the face of especially large storms. Many of those who did receive warnings before Haiyan hit simply had nowhere to go, thanks to the nation’s far-flung island geography. What’s more, hours before Haiyan hit, Philippine authorities managed to move 800,000 people to sturdier evacuation centers — churches or schools. Yet many of those structures couldn’t withstand the storm’s ferocity.

    “Sometimes, no matter how much and how carefully you prepare, the disaster is just too big,” Zhang Qiang, an expert on disaster mitigation at Beijing Normal University, told the AP.

     

    4) Where will the money come from for adaptation?
    There are two key questions that always come up at international climate talks like the one now going on in Warsaw. First, how will the world cut its carbon emissions to slow global warming? And second, where will the money come from to help poorer states prepare for its effects? The second question is likely to get more attention in the wake of Haiyan.

    Consider, again, the Philippines. The country’s officials estimate that each typhoon season already knocks about 2 percent off GDP each year — basic reconstruction is already a struggle, let alone building infrastructure to prepare for worse disasters in the future. The Philippines’ stated position is that wealthy countries should pitch in to help with the latter. This is always a contentious issue in global talks. Developing countries like the Philippines argue that the big emitters should help pay for climate adaptation — after all, nations such as the United States and Europe and China were the ones who put all that carbon in the atmosphere. (The United States is already sending emergency aid in the wake of Haiyan, $20 million so far, as is Britain and Australia, but this is usually considered a separate conversation.) Wealthier nations, for their part, often argue that it’s difficult to disentangle how much, exactly, they owe here. After all, as we’ve seen above, the devastation from Haiyan is only partly due to climate change. Things like poor construction and shoddy infrastructure played a major role here. How do you separate out all those responsibilities? How do you assess blame for climate change specifically?

    Those debates have often bogged down climate talks — and even when differences do get resolved, the money isn’t always forthcoming. Back in 2009, the world’s developed countries pledged $30 billion in climate aid, which would rise over time. But a recent report from Oxfam found that most developed countries have yet to make any concrete plans to follow through. “We have received no climate finance to adapt or to prepare ourselves for typhoons and other extreme weather we are now experiencing,” Saño told the Guardian. “It cannot be a way of life that we end up running always from storms.”

     

     

    3- 2 million oysters in bay begin restoration effort

    Researchers documented a 30 percent reduction in wave energy at the site compared with a control area

    By Peter Fimrite Updated 8:14 am, Friday, November 15, 2013

    Volunteer Kristina Sawyer (right) and Stephanie Kiriakopolos inspect Olympia oyster beds on a man-made reef near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge. Photo: Michael Short, The Chronicle

    Two million native oysters have settled on man-made reefs in San Francisco Bay over the past year, marking the first major success in an effort to bring back a species ravaged by human excess, researchers said Thursday.

    The reefs, made of mesh bags filled with discarded shells from Drakes Bay Oyster Co., are part of the most comprehensive experiment ever attempted to bring back the nearly extinct Olympia oyster and restore its long-lost reef habitat. “We’re seeing a lot of oysters,” said Chela Zabin, a wetsuit-clad UC Davis biologist, as she headed into the bay mud to return 60 Olympias that her team of scientists had collected the previous day and studied in the lab overnight. “We’re now seeing a second generation of oysters settling on the first, which is what you want to see.” The five-year, $2 million effort, led by the California Coastal Conservancy, is part of the San Francisco Bay Living Shorelines Project, which is testing a variety of oyster and eelgrass restoration projects and assessing their impacts on wildlife, wave action and shoreline erosion. The 1-acre shell-mound reef in San Rafael near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge – and another one south of the San Mateo Bridge in Hayward – are attempts by scientists, including researchers from UC Davis and San Francisco State University, to figure out whether a natural protective barrier can be combined with habitat restoration to protect the shoreline and minimize problems caused by sea-level rise. “Our hope is that this will be a self-sustaining reef,” said Marilyn Latta, the project manager for the Living Shorelines Project and the California State Coastal Conservancy. “To see 2 million oysters in one site in one year shows the potential for this to be successful. I’m already getting calls from cities and counties who would like to do this to protect their shorelines.”

    Coastal Conservancy project manager Marilyn Latta is interviewed by a news crew near the bay in San Rafael. Photo: Michael Short, The Chronicle

    Oysters once legion

    Besides the huge increase in native oysters, Latta said, wave action has been reduced and more fish, invertebrates and birds have been seen hanging around the reefs. It is the first major success in a 15-year effort by conservation groups, the aquaculture industry and state and federal agencies to bring back the native oysters, which were once an integral part of the American Indian diet and a staple during the Gold Rush. The Living Shorelines Project, which is borrowing techniques previously used on the East Coast and Gulf Coast, is the largest oyster restoration effort attempted on the West Coast. Olympia oysters, known scientifically as Ostrea lurida, once blanketed subtidal regions from Southern California to southeastern Alaska. The shells were abundant in the many American Indian middens discovered around the bay, some dating back 4,000 years.

    Beds picked clean

    The tiny mollusks, about the size of a 50-cent piece, were a delicacy during the Gold Rush. The Hangtown Fry was created, according to one legend, by a condemned man who ordered the two most expensive items he knew of at the time – oysters and eggs – for his last meal. In 1893, Olympia oyster beds covered a total of 8,033 acres in Newport Bay, Elkhorn Slough, San Francisco Bay and Humboldt Bay, according to a recent study published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Almost a half-million oysters per acre once crowded together along the bay floor, according to the report. By 1911, the native oyster beds in the Bay Area were gone, scoured clean by ravenous San Franciscans. The oysters that people now eat along the West Coast, including those grown commercially in Drakes and Tomales bays, are Pacific oysters, natives of Japan that are incapable of reproducing naturally in this climate.

    A Black Oyster Cracker stands on a rock crusted with oyster shells on the shoreline in San Rafael. Photo: Michael Short, The Chronicle

    Other beneficial effects

    The large crop of native oysters on nearby reefs is a promising sign for several reasons, Latta said. For one, oysters clean the water by filter feeding. A single oyster can filter up to 30 gallons of water a day, removing nitrogen and other pollutants. The other reason is that the oyster beds, or reefs, provide habitat for myriad fish, crabs and other creatures. There has already been a marked increase in juvenile Dungeness crab, bay shrimp and rock crab in the test area, she said. More birds, including black oyster catchers, great egrets and great blue herons, have also been seen, indicating an increase in the number of fish at the site. The oysters will not be available for human consumption or fishing, researchers said, adding that they would not be safe to eat because of bay pollution. Researchers documented a 30 percent reduction in wave energy at the site compared with a control area. That, she said, is a clear indication that the reefs can be effective barriers and might someday be useful in helping protect shoreline communities during storms. “We are thrilled to see this level of native oysters at the site and to see all of the other species there,” Latta said. “It’s an indication that it is healthy habitat and that we are bringing back some ecosystem functions that they can thrive on.”

    Not all smooth sailing

    Obstacles still remain, however. Recovery of Olympias has thus far been hampered by silty bay mud left over from the Gold Rush, pollution and a voracious alien whelk snail known as the Atlantic oyster drill. The gluttonous snail, introduced to the area in shipments of Atlantic oysters, drills into the shells of oysters and sucks out the insides. Latta said the biological reefs that researchers are building will help them figure out the best way to restore San Francisco’s long-lost bay ecosystem, which sustained humans for thousands of years – then was wiped out in one century. “That is our hope,” she said. “It’s a very innovative time. We’re developing new data that may affect policy in the future.”

    Online resources: The website for the San Francisco Bay Living Shorelines Project is at www.sfbaylivingshorelines.org.

    Peter Fimrite is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: pfimrite@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @pfimrite

     

     

     

     

     

    Bacteria may allow animals to send quick, voluminous messages
    (November 11, 2013) — Twitter clips human thoughts to a mere 140 characters. Animals’ scent posts may be equally as short, relatively speaking, yet they convey an encyclopedia of information about the animals that left them. Researcher now show that the detailed scent posts of hyenas are, in part, products of symbiotic bacteria, microbes that have a mutually beneficial relationship with their hosts. … > full story

     

    Buried leaves reveal precolonial eastern U.S. forests and guide stream restoration
    (November 13, 2013) — Sediment behind milldams in Pennsylvania preserved leaves deposited just before European contact that provide a glimpse of the ancient forests, according to a team of geoscientists, who note that neither the forests nor the streams were what they are today. …

    U.S. census shows that by 1840, tens of thousands of milldams existed in the mid-Atlantic region. About 10,000 of these were in Pennsylvania. In Lancaster County, estimates were one dam for every mile of stream. The abundance of dams in the area altered the landscape dramatically, according to the researchers.We expected to see evidence for single stream channels that meandered back and forth across the valley bottom landscape for millennia, ” they wrote. “Instead, we found that most of the valley bottoms at the time of European contact were dominated by wetland ecosystems with numerous small, stable ‘anastomosing’ streams.” These branching and reconnecting streams were far different from the steep-banked meandering streams that, since the dams were breached, now cut through the silt deposits created by the dams….full story

     

    Scientists accidentally kill world’s oldest animal at age 507

    USA TODAY

     - ‎1 hour ago‎

           

    The oldest animal ever known lived from 1499 until the day researchers cracked its shell open, killing it in the process. Ming, an ocean quahog from the species Arctica islandica, was initially thought to be a record-setting 402 years old.

     

    ‘Saving our Fish’ needs more than ban on discarding
    (November 10, 2013) — Banning the practice of throwing unmarketable or over-quota fish back into the sea is just one of the measures needed to deliver sustainable fisheries, according to new research. … > full story

    Tracking young salmon’s first moves in the ocean
    (November 8, 2013) — Basic ocean conditions such as current directions and water temperature play a huge role in determining the behavior of young migrating salmon as they move from rivers and hit ocean waters for the first time, according to new research. How the fish fare during their first few weeks in the ocean has a profound impact on species’ ability to survive into adulthood. … > full story

    An albacore tuna tagged off the coast of Gipuzkoa had managed to cover a record distance when recaptured in Venezuela
    (November 8, 2013) — 6,370 kilometers across the Atlantic Ocean. That is the vast distance, as the crow flies, which has been covered by an albacore tuna tagged and released into the sea off a Gipuzkoan locality, 20 km to the north of Donostia-San Sebastian in October 2006. The specimen has recently been caught by Venezuelan fishermen just off the coast of their country. This is a record distance. … > full story

     

     

    Soybeans grown into corn stalks in a no-till field in Union County, Iowa (USDA)


    No-till farming is on the rise

    November 10 2013 Washington Post Here’s a fascinating trend in U.S. agriculture that’s been going on for the past few decades. It’s the dramatic rise … of no-till farming. Plowing and tillage are major sources of soil erosion around the world. What’s more, churning up all that soil can release a significant amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. “No-till farming” sounds pretty dull at first. The term basically describes ways to grow crops each year without disturbing the soil through tillage or plowing. But it’s an important idea. Plowing and tillage are major sources of soil erosion around the world — they were key factors behind the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. What’s more, churning up all that soil can release a significant amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, helping to warm the planet. So, since the 1980s, more and more American farmers (and policymakers) have started taking no-till farming seriously. In the United States, no-till farming is now growing at a pace of about 1.5 percent per year, according to the Department of Agriculture. In 2009, about 35.5 percent of the country’s cropland had at least some no-tillage operations — though only 10 percent were full-time no-till operations. (The rest involve a selective use of no-till or a mix of techniques.)

     

     

    Volunteers join scientists in finding out who gets rid of cow dung
    (November 8, 2013) — With more than a billion cows around the world, an immense amount of dung is produced each day. Most of these droppings will evidently disappear, as the world is still green rather than brown. Now a team of scientists have joined forces with local volunteers to find out who decomposes the most of it in Finland, Northern Europe. … > full story

     

    Staying alive in the high and dry
    (November 5, 2013) — New research published this week sheds light on how desert plants gain nutrients they desperately need — even in the driest circumstances. … > full story

     

    Endangered limpets (sea snail) change sex to improve their chances of survival
    (November 12, 2013) — The Ribbed Mediterranean Limpet is one of the most endangered invertebrates of the Mediterranean Sea and is classed as being in danger of extinction. Researchers have discovered their reproductive strategy, consisting in changing sex from male to female and vice versa, which improves their ability to adapt to changes in their environment. … > full story

     

    An Accidental Cattle Ranch Points the Way in Sustainable Farming


    Jim Wilson/The New York Times The ranch’s goal is to help reverse the trend of lower levels of carbon in soil, a worldwide issue that coincides with the growth of greenhouse gas emissions in the air.

    By STEPHANIE STROM  Published: November 11, 2013

    PESCADERO, Calif. — When Tom Steyer first learned that his wife, Kat Taylor, wanted to sell beef from the cattle herd on their ranch here, he rolled his eyes. Mr. Steyer is the founder of Farallon Capital, one of the largest hedge funds in the world with some $20 billion under management for universities, foundations and some of the country’s wealthiest people — and he was sure beef was a lousy business investment, particularly on a small scale. “Practically every year since 1865 has been a bad year for beef,” he said, only somewhat in jest. “And Katherine” — virtually everyone else calls her Kat — “knew nothing about selling beef.” Mr. Steyer may have made billions of dollars for his investors before retiring this year, but he would have lost money betting against Ms. Taylor and Leftcoast Grassfed, the brand name of the Steyer-Taylor beef. While Ms. Taylor says, modestly, that it is hard to know how profitable the business is, her husband said it had outperformed his expectations. “We could sell 10 times the amount we raise, in 10 minutes,” he said. The couple did not set out to raise prime grass-fed beef at TomKat Ranch, which sprawls across some 1,800 acres in this rural community near the ocean off Highway 1. The plan was to create a model conservation project, demonstrating ways to improve soil health, use solar energy and conserve water. “This wasn’t about cows,” Ms. Taylor said. But once cows became part of the plan to restore the land, it was not too long before TomKat also became an agricultural project, one that the couple hope will help develop sustainable farming practices that can be put to use far beyond Pescadero. “Think of the ranch as a huge science experiment,” Mr. Steyer said. “Can you raise animals sustainably? Can the land become the carbon sink that it once was? Can you demonstrate a way of doing agriculture, raising food, that doesn’t damage the environment?” Since his retirement, Mr. Steyer has stepped up his work on environmental causes, creating a national campaign to oppose the Keystone XL pipeline and spending heavily to support candidates around the country whose credentials on environmental issues mesh with his goals. No statistics are available on the size of the market for grass-fed beef. But in a sign of the growing interest in it, the Agriculture Department this fall began publishing a monthly report on prices for such meat in partnership with the Wallace Center, part of a network of nonprofit groups established by the Rockefellers that work on food issues…..

    Jim Wilson/The New York Times\ Kat Taylor, an owner of the TomKat Ranch in California, and Jeremiah Stent, who manages the ranch.

     

     

    Mid-nineteenth century Chinese maps controlled water and directed labor
    (November 14, 2013) — A sequence of twelve maps from the mid-nineteenth century reveal that they were accurate enough for planning and executing middle-sized water control projects for the department of Dengchuan in southwest China. … > full story

     

     

     

     

     

    Scientists warn of hot, sour, breathless oceans

    By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer Updated 4:30 pm, Wednesday, November 13, 2013 WASHINGTON (AP) — Greenhouse gases are making the world’s oceans hot, sour and breathless, and the way those changes work together is creating a grimmer outlook for global waters, according to a new report Wednesday from 540 international scientists. The world’s oceans are getting more acidic at an unprecedented rate, faster than at any time in the past 300 million years, the report said. But it’s how this interacts with other global warming impacts to waters that scientists say is getting them even more worried. Scientists already had calculated how the oceans had become 26 percent more acidic since the 1880s because of the increased carbon in the water. They also previously had measured how the world’s oceans had warmed because of carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil and gas. And they’ve observed that at different depths the oceans were moving less oxygen around because of the increased heat. But together “they actually amplify each other,” said report co-author Ulf Riebesell, a biochemist at the Geomar Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research in Germany. He said scientists are increasingly referring to the ocean’s future prospects as “hot, sour and breathless.”
    The 26-page report released by the United Nations and several scientific research organizations brings together the latest ocean science on climate change, stemming from a major conference of ocean scientists last year.

    For example off the U.S. Pacific coast, the way the ocean is becoming stratified and less mixed means lower oxygen in the water, and the latest studies show that means “80 percent more acidification than what was originally predicted,” said study co-author Richard Feely of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab in Seattle. And computer models predict that the American northwest coast will be hit harder because of the combined change than other places, Feely said. The theory is that species like squid can only live in waters at certain temperature, acidity and oxygen levels, and the sweet spots where the factors combine are getting harder to find, Feely and Riebesell said. The world ocean pH already has gone from 8.1 to 8.0 — it’s considered a 26 percent increase in acidity because scientists measure hydrogen ions for this. But computer models predict the world will hit 8.0 in the next 20 years to 30 years and 7.9 in about 50 years, Riebesell said. At those levels shells of some mollusks, like clams and mussels, start corroding, he said. “This is another loss that we’re facing,” Riebesell said. “It’s going to affect human society.

     

    Expert assessment: Ocean acidification may increase 170 percent this century
    (November 13, 2013) — In a major new international report, experts conclude that the acidity of the world’s ocean may increase by around 170 percent by the end of the century bringing significant economic losses. People who rely on the ocean’s ecosystem services — often in developing countries — are especially
    vulnerable.
    A group of experts have agreed on ‘levels of confidence’ in relation to ocean acidification statements summarising the state of knowledge. The summary was led by the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and results from the world’s largest gathering of experts on ocean acidification ever convened. The Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High CO2 World was held in Monterey, California (September 2012), and attended by 540 experts from 37 countries. The summary will be launched at the UNFCCC climate negotiations in Warsaw, 18 November, for the benefit of policymakers. Experts conclude that marine ecosystems and biodiversity are likely to change as a result of ocean acidification, with far-reaching consequences for society. Economic losses from declines in shellfish aquaculture and the degradation of tropical coral reefs may be substantial owing to the sensitivity of molluscs and corals to ocean acidification. One of the lead authors of the summary, and chair of the symposium, Ulf Riebesell of GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel said: “What we can now say with high levels of confidence about ocean acidification sends a clear message. Globally we have to be prepared for significant economic and ecosystem service losses. But we also know that reducing the rate of carbon dioxide emissions will slow acidification. That has to be the major message for the COP19 meeting.One outcome emphasised by experts is that if society continues on the current high emissions trajectory, cold water coral reefs, located in the deep sea, may be unsustainable and tropical coral reef erosion is likely to outpace reef building this century. However, significant emissions reductions to meet the two-degree target by 2100 could ensure that half of surface waters presently occupied by tropical coral reefs remain favourable for their growth. Author Wendy Broadgate, Deputy Director at the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, said: “Emissions reductions may protect some reefs and marine organisms but we know that the ocean is subject to many other stresses such as warming, deoxygenation, pollution and overfishing. Warming and deoxygenation are also caused by rising carbon dioxide emissions, underlining the importance of reducing fossil fuel emissions. Reducing other stressors such as pollution and overfishing, and the introduction of large scale marine protected areas, may help build some resilience to ocean acidification.”

    The summary for policymakers makes 21 statements about ocean acidification with a range of confidence levels from “very high” to “low.” These include:

    Very high confidence

    • Ocean acidification is caused by carbon dioxide emissions from human activity to the atmosphere that end up in the ocean.
    • The capacity of the ocean to act as a carbon sink decreases as it acidifies
    • Reducing carbon dioxide emissions will slow the progress of ocean acidification.
    • Anthropogenic ocean acidification is currently in progress and is measurable
    • The legacy of historical fossil fuel emissions on ocean acidification will be felt for centuries.

    High confidence

    • If carbon dioxide emissions continue on the current trajectory, coral reef erosion is likely to outpace reef building some time this century.
    • Cold-water coral communities are at risk and may be unsustainable.
    • Molluscs (such as mussels, oysters and pteropods) are one of the groups most sensitive to ocean acidification.
    • The varied responses of species to ocean acidification and other stressors are likely to lead to changes in marine ecosystems, but the extent of the impact is difficult to predict.
    • Multiple stressors compound the effects of ocean acidification.

    Medium confidence

    1. Negative socio-economic impacts on coral reefs are expected, but the scale of the costs is uncertain.
    2. Declines in shellfisheries will lead to economic losses, but the extent of the losses is uncertain.
    3. Ocean acidification may have some direct effects on fish behaviour and physiology.
    4. The shells of marine snails known as pteropods, an important link in the marine food web, are already dissolving.

     

    Climate Change Is Messing With Rainfall Across The Entire Planet

    By Ari Phillips on November 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    The redistribution of rainfall predicted by climate change modeling is playing out in real life, a new study by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has found. The research, published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is the first study to find the signal of climate change in global precipitation shifts across land and sea. According to The Australian, large-scale studies to date have overlooked the 77 percent of global rainfall that occurs over the oceans. The initial change has resulted in wet areas, such as the tropics, becoming wetter, while drier regions such as deserts have become more arid. The effect is expected to worsen as climate change continues to worsen. According to the study, greenhouse gasses affect the distribution of precipitation through two mechanisms. Increasing temperatures that are expected to make wet regions wetter and dry regions drier (thermodynamic changes) and changes in atmospheric circulation patterns will push storm tracks and subtropical dry zones toward the poles. “Both these changes are occurring simultaneously in global precipitation and this behavior cannot be explained by natural variability alone,” said lead author Kate Marvel. “External influences such as the increase in greenhouse gases are responsible for the changes.” The study also found that ozone depletion had played a significant role in the movement of atmospheric circulation patterns toward the poles. Marvel and colleagues reviewed more than 30 years of data, including NASA satellite information and rain gauge measurements, in an effort to overcome the complications of the local nature of rainfall patterns and natural precipitation phenomena such as El Nino. The paper says new rainfall patterns are one of the most significant potential consequences of climate change because water is the most important natural resource and many societal and natural impacts of climate change will depend on the response to changes to the hydrological cycle.

     

    ‘Missing heat’ discovery prompts new estimate of global warming: Arctic warming fast
    (November 13, 2013) — Scientists say they have found “missing heat” in Earth’s climate system, casting doubt on suggestions that global warming has slowed or stopped over the past decade. The new research shows that the Arctic is warming at about eight times the pace of the rest of the planet. … > full story

     

    Climate Adaptation Strategies are Limited by Outdated Legal Interpretations 
    (PDF)

    Developing new laws or amendments to older ones that rely on resilience theory, adaptive management, and managing uncertainty is an important, though perhaps long-range, goal. But, change is happening on the ground in our public lands today and managers need rules and standards to apply that are relevant, sensible, cognizant of today’s realities, and already extant. This can be accomplished in many cases by reexamining and reinterpreting existing law. In many cases, adhering to existing regulatory interpretations unnecessarily circumscribes agencies’ range of management options in the face of rapid ecological change. Regulatory reinterpretation is certainly not a wholesale or permanent solution, but it is a necessary beginning. Craig (2010) and Doremus (2010) have each provided useful principles intended to guide future legislation, many of which could be put to use at the agency level in determining how best to reinterpret statutes to meet the realities of climate change as well as legal obligations … It is essential that the highest officials of each land management agency do the work of analyzing and determining what their agency’s interpretation of relevant statutes will be in light of climate change.

     

    Report on climate change depicts a planet in peril

    Climate change will disrupt not only the natural world but society, posing risks to resources and fomenting conflict, panel says.

    By Tony Barboza LA Times November 11, 2013, 9:30 p.m.

    Climate change will disrupt not only the natural world but also society, posing risks to the world’s economy and the food and water supply and contributing to violent conflict, an international panel of scientists says. The warnings came in a report drafted by the United Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The 29-page summary, leaked and posted on a blog critical of the panel, has been distributed to governments around the world for review. It could change before it is released in March. “We see a wide range of impacts that have already occurred … on people, ecosystems and economies,” said Chris Field, a scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science and co-chairman of the group writing the report. “Looking into the future, we see increasing risks that are more pervasive and more severe with greater amounts of climate change.” Field and an IPCC spokesman confirmed the authenticity of the draft. “This is a close-to-final work in progress,” Field said. The report describes a planet in peril as a result of the human-caused buildup of greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution, where glaciers are shrinking and plants and animals have shifted their ranges in response to rising temperatures. As global warming continues through the 21st century, many species will face greater risk of extinction, marine life will shift toward the poles and seawater will grow more acidic, the report says. By 2100, hundreds of millions of people in coastal areas will be flooded or displaced by rising sea levels. The arid subtropics will have less fresh water, leading to more competition for resources. The global food supply is also at risk, with yields of wheat, rice, corn and other major crops projected to drop by as much as 2% each decade for the rest of the century, even as demand rises. Among the other risks forecast in the report: extreme heat waves that will be especially deadly in urban areas, where a growing population will also contend
    with severe storms, flooding and drought.
    Rural areas will cope with less drinking and irrigation water and less productive farming. Global surface temperature has risen about 1.5 degrees since 1880 as greenhouse gases have accumulated in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels, industrial activity, agriculture and deforestation. Cutting emissions could ease the rate of change, but not until the second half of the century, the report says. The report “brings this issue home and it shows us why it’s important,” said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University who did not contribute to the assessment. “The reason we care about climate change is because it affects us: It affects our food, our water, our health, our roads, buildings and infrastructure and our natural environment….

     

    Scientists nearing forecasts of long-lived wildfires
    (November 14, 2013) — Scientists have developed a new computer modeling technique that offers the promise, for the first time, of producing continually updated daylong predictions of wildfire growth throughout the lifetime of long-lived blazes. The technique combines detailed computer simulations with newly available satellite observations. … > full story

     

    Snow melts faster under trees than in open areas in mild climates
    (November 13, 2013) — Researchers have found that tree cover actually causes snow to melt more quickly in warm, Mediterranean-type climates around the world. Alternatively, open, clear gaps in the forests tend to keep snow on the ground longer into the spring and summer. … > full story

     

    Warming climate puts trout in jeopardy.
    NPR Nov 14 2013 In the mountain streams of the American West, the trout rules. People don’t just catch this fish; they honor it. And spend lots of money pursuing it. But some western trout may be in trouble.

     

    Island biodiversity in danger of total submersion with climate change
    (November 13, 2013) — Island ecosystems constitute the most biodiverse regions in the world, holding a large number of endemic flora and fauna. Islands are also under direct threat of predicted sea level rises, with gloomy prognoses predicting large areas submerged, whole islands sinking and up to 11 percent islands inundated. A new study looks at three scenarios to estimate the risks posed by global change to island ecosystems. … > full story

     

    A Jolt to Complacency on Food Supply

    Josh Haner/The New York Times Trials of drought-resistant durum wheat varieties at the International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement in Mexico.

    By JUSTIN GILLIS NY TIMES Published: November 11, 2013

    At the beginning of 2012, the Agriculture Department projected the largest corn crop in the country’s history. But then a savage heat wave and drought struck over the summer. Plants withered, prices spiked, and the final harvest came in 27 percent below the forecast. The situation bore a striking resemblance to what happened in Europe in 2003, after a heat wave cut agricultural production for some crops by as much as 30 percent and sent prices soaring. Several researchers concluded that the European heat wave was made more likely by human-caused climate change; scientists are still arguing over the 2012 heat blast in the United States. Whatever their origin, heat waves like these give us a taste of what could be in store in a future with global warming.

    Among those who are getting nervous are the people who spend their lives thinking about where our food will come from. “The negative impacts of global climate change on agriculture are only expected to get worse,” said a report earlier this year from researchers at the London School of Economics
    and a Washington think tank, the Information Technology and & Innovation Foundation. The report cited a need for “more resilient crops and agricultural production systems than we currently possess in today’s world.” This may be the greatest single fear about global warming: that climate change could so destabilize the world’s food system as to lead to rising hunger or even mass starvation. Two weeks ago, a leaked draft of a report by the United Nations climate committee, known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, suggested that the group’s concerns have grown, and that the report, scheduled for release in March in Yokohama, Japan, is likely to contain a sharp warning about risks to the food supply. The tone is strikingly different from that of a report from the same group in 2007, which discussed some risks, but saw global warming as likely to benefit agriculture in many important growing regions. ….

     

     

    ‘Tiger stripes’ underneath Antarctic glaciers slow the flow
    (November 8, 2013) — Researchers have discovered that most resistance to the movement of glaciers over the underlying bedrock comes from narrow, high-friction stripes that lie within large, extremely slippery areas underneath the glacier. These stripes are thought to govern the speed at which Antarctic glaciers are moving. … > full story

    NOAA: Contiguous U.S. had cooler than average October with near-average precipitation

    Alaska had its warmest October on record; Drought improved in parts of the Great Plains and Intermountain West; and drought conditions developed in the Northeast

    The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during October was 53.6°F, 0.6°F below the 20th century average – the 37th coolest October on record for the Lower 48. Below-average temperatures were widespread across the West, while the Northeast was warmer than average. The October national precipitation total was 2.23 inches, 0.12 inch above the 20th century average. Above-average precipitation in the central United States was counterbalanced by below-average precipitation along both coasts. 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….

     

    Amazon rainforest more able to withstand drought than previously thought
    (November 14, 2013) — New research suggests that the Amazon rainforest may be more able to cope with dry conditions than previously predicted. Researchers used a computer model to demonstrate that, providing forest conservation measures are in place, the Amazon rainforest may be more able to withstand periods of drought than has been estimated by other climate models. … > full story

     

    South Florida Faces Ominous Prospects From Rising Waters

    Shannon Kaestle/The Miami Herald, via Associated Press
    Storm clouds swirled over downtown Miami last month as Tropical Storm Karen headed toward the Florida Panhandle. By 2100, the sea level could rise five or six feet, or more, threatening the city.

    By NICK MADIGAN NY TIMES Published: November 10, 2013

    MIAMI BEACH — In the most dire predictions, South Florida‘s delicate barrier islands, coastal communities and captivating subtropical beaches will be lost to the rising waters in as few as 100 years.


    Angel Valentin for The New York Times During high tide last week, water covered an intersection in Miami Beach.

    Further inland, the Everglades, the river of grass that gives the region its fresh water, could one day be useless, some scientists fear, contaminated by the inexorable advance of the salt-filled ocean. The Florida Keys, the pearl-like strand of islands that stretches into the Gulf of Mexico, would be mostly submerged alongside their exotic crown jewel, Key West. “I don’t think people realize how vulnerable Florida is,” Harold R. Wanless, the chairman of the geological sciences department at the University of Miami, said in an interview last week. “We’re going to get four or five or six feet of water, or more, by the end of the century. You have to wake up to the reality of what’s coming.” Concern about rising seas is stirring not only in the halls of academia but also in local governments along the state’s southeastern coast. The four counties there — Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach, with a combined population of 5.6 million — have formed an alliance to figure out solutions. Long battered by hurricanes and prone to flooding from intense thunderstorms, Florida is the most vulnerable state in the country to the rise in sea levels. Even predictions more modest than Professor Wanless’s foresee most of low-lying coastal Florida subject to increasingly frequent floods as the polar ice caps melt more quickly and the oceans surge and gain ground. Much of Florida’s 1,197-mile coastline is only a few feet above the current sea level, and billions of dollars’ worth of buildings, roads and other infrastructure lies on highly porous limestone that leaches water like a sponge. But while officials here and in other coastal cities, many of whom attended a two-day conference onclimate change last week in Fort Lauderdale, have begun to address the problem, the issue has gotten little traction among state legislators in Tallahassee…..

     

    Super typhoon Haiyan a preview of calamities to come

    by Chera Amlag and Roger Rigor · November 10, 2013 ·

    With 10,000 people feared dead, the latest typhoon to hit the Philippines is a sure sign it’s time for real action on climate change.

    The past few years have seen an alarming increase in both the number and intensity of typhoons hitting the island nation of the Philippines. Super typhoon Haiyan was the latest to hit last Friday at 4:30 a.m. with maximum winds of at least 170 miles per hour, 3.5 times more forceful than hurricane Katrina. Typhoon Haiyan has been dubbed by international climatologists as the most powerful storm to ever hit land. Haiyan is the fourth typhoon to hit the Philippines in the span of less than a year, galvanizing the claims that climate change is ravaging a country still recovering from the devastation less than a month ago of one of the most destructive earthquakes in years. In December 2012, at Doha, Qatar, then Philippine representative to the 18th United Nations Climate Change Conference, Naderev “Yeb” Saño, made a stirring andemotional appeal to the gathering of nations on how climate change is affecting underdeveloped countries like the Philippines…..

    A satellite photo shows Typhoon Haiyan approaching the Philippines on November 7th. (Photo via Japan Meteorological Agency)

     

     

     


    National Geographic Maps Our Coastline After We Melt All Earth’s Ice, Raising Seas Over 200 Feet


    By Joe Romm on November 10, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Homo sapiens sapiens, the species with the ironic name, is not known for long-term thinking. So if the prospect of Sandy-level storm surges happening every year (!) in a half century or so isn’t enough to get us to stop using the atmosphere as an open sewer for carbon pollution, then the prospect we are going to melt all of the Earth’s landlocked ice and raise sea levels more than 200 feet over the next couple of millenna or so ain’t gonna do the trick. Still, National Geographic has been one of the few major magazines to consistently warn the public about the risks posed by unrestricted carbon pollution. And who better to be alarmed about how we are going to destroy the nation’s geography than National Geographic? Unsurprisingly, the deniers and confusionists, including Bjorn Lomborg himself, have suggested that somehow Nat Geo’s concern is misplaced. Sadly, it isn’t. The best science suggests that on our current CO2 emissions path, by 2100 we could well pass the tipping point that would make 200+ feet of sea level rise all but unstoppable — though it would certainly take a long time after 2100 for the full melt-out to actually occur. That said, the text on Nat Geo’s graphic is a little confusing and has the unfortunate effect of suggesting that we would need 22°F of global warming to melt all the ice on the planet, when that’s not what the paleoclimate record suggests…..

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    A week into UN talks, adaptation cash becomes a ‘red line’ for developing countries.
    Daily Climate The failure of rich countries to fulfill a $100 billion promise to help poorer countries adapt to climate change has become a major block at the halfway mark of the United Nations talks now underway in Poland.

     

    Typhoon Haiyan overshadows UN climate talks.
    November 11, 2013 AP WARSAW, Poland (AP) — The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan cast a gloom over U.N. climate talks Monday as the envoy from the Philippines broke down in tears and announced he would fast until a “meaningful outcome is in sight.” Naderev “Yeb” Sano’s emotional appeal was met with a standing ovation at the start of two-week talks in Warsaw where more than 190 countries will try to lay the groundwork for a new pact to fight global warming. U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres also made reference to the “devastating impact” of the typhoon in her opening speech, and urged delegates to “go that extra mile” in their negotiations. Scientists say single weather events cannot conclusively be linked to global warming. Also, the link between man-made warming and hurricane activity is unclear, though rising sea levels are expected to make low-lying nations more vulnerable to storm surges. Nevertheless, extreme weather such as hurricanes often prompt calls for urgency at the U.N. talks. Last year, Hurricane Sandy’s assault on the U.S. East Coast and Typhoon Bopha’s impact on the Philippines were mentioned as examples of disasters the world could see more of unless it reins in the greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say are warming the planet. “We can fix this. We can stop this madness. Right now, right here,” Sano told delegates in Warsaw….

     

    Typhoon in Philippines Casts Long Shadow Over U.N. Talks on Climate Treaty

    By HENRY FOUNTAIN and JUSTIN GILLIS

    Published: November 11, 2013

    The typhoon that struck the Philippines produced an outpouring of emotion on Monday at United Nations talks on a global climate treaty in Warsaw, where delegates were quick to suggest that a warming planet had turned the storm into a lethal monster. Olai Ngedikes, the lead negotiator for an alliance of small island nations, said in a statement that the typhoon, named Haiyan, which by some estimates killed 10,000 people in one city alone, “serves as a stark reminder of the cost of inaction on climate change and should serve to motivate our work in Warsaw.” Naderev Saño, the chief representative of the Philippines at the conference, said he would stop eating in solidarity with the storm victims until “a meaningful outcome is in sight.” “What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness; the climate crisis is madness,” Mr. Saño said. “We can stop this madness right here in Warsaw.” His declaration, coupled with the scope of the disaster, moved many of the delegates to tears. Yet scientists remain cautious about drawing links between extreme storms like this typhoon and climate change. There is not enough data, they say, to draw conclusions about any single storm. “Whether we’re seeing some result of climate change, we find that impossible to find out,” said Kerry A. Emanuel, an atmospheric scientist at M.I.T. Scientists largely agree that it appears that storms will become more powerful as the climate changes. Dr. Emanuel helped write a 2010 study, for example, that forecast that the average intensity of hurricanes and typhoons — different names for the same phenomenon — would increase by up to 11 percent by the end of the century. Typhoon Haiyan, with winds of at least 140 miles an hour, was considered one of the strongest storms to make landfall on record. “The data suggests that things like this will be more frequent with global warming,” said James P. Kossin, an atmospheric scientist at the National Climatic Data Center. Dr. Emanuel said that as the planet warms because of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, the difference between sea and air temperatures increases. It is this difference that fuels these kinds of cyclonic storms. “As you warm the climate, you basically raise the speed limit on hurricanes,” he said. As with Hurricane Sandy last year in the United States, powerful storm surges contributed to the deaths and destruction in the Philippines. And Dr. Kossin and others noted that one of the impacts of climate change — an overall rise in sea levels — is sure to worsen storm surges. While factors like wind speed, storm track, geography and the timing of tides affect the height and extent of a surge and the damage it causes, a higher sea level baseline will lead to a higher surge. “When you strip everything else away, we’re seeing a general rise in sea level,” Dr. Kossin said. “There’s no question that storm surge is going to be compounded.” The effect of climate change on storms in the Pacific is especially difficult to study, scientists said, because no governments fly research planes into storms there to gather data. In the Atlantic, the United States government regularly sends reconnaissance flights into hurricanes, but the last regular flights into Pacific typhoons — also by American aircraft — occurred more than a quarter of a century ago. “Since then, we’ve been pretty much blind,” Dr. Emanuel said. Instead, researchers have to rely on remote sensing data from satellites that essentially detect the degree of cloud cover, and use pattern-recognition software and algorithms to come up with estimates of storm intensity. Dr. Kossin used that data in a 2008 study of the Pacific that found “that the strongest storms are getting stronger,” he said….

     

     

    Trying to build a better bridge between climate science and policy

    Coleen Jose, E&E reporter Published: Friday, November 8, 2013

    There is a wide gap between climate science and the adaptive policies that put preparation and management into place, says a report published today in the journal Science. Climate adaptation is increasingly becoming a key focus in U.S. and international policy circles, due in large part to the recent rise in climate-induced events, such as wildfires, droughts and intensifying storms. The topic has become an important and emerging theme in scientific research. The inherent challenge is transforming research into sound policy. “It’s like one hand clapping until we work with local officials who can further advise whether or not to do X, Y or Z,” said Philip Mote, a co-author of the paper and director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State University. Along with a growing number of scientists, Mote and the authors of “Hell and High Water: Practice-Relevant Adaptation Science” urge scientific research to deliver information in a decision-ready context and say that failing to do so will make it more difficult, if not impossible, to prepare for the impacts of climate change. Emerging adaptation science should identify the cost, feasibility, social acceptance, tradition and other factors to better inform decisionmakers, the study says, adding that to “close a usability gap, scientific information must fit into existing contexts.” In addition to local efforts on the ground, policy hinges on this year’s executive order detailing a national Climate Action Plan. As of last Friday, another executive order established the Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience to advise the Obama administration on how the federal government can respond to the needs of communities at the forefront of climate change impacts. “We’ll partner with communities seeking help to prepare for droughts and floods, reduce the risks of wildfires, protect the dunes and wetlands that pull double duty as green space and as storm barriers,” President Obama said in June, upon introducing the Climate Action Plan.

    There is a limited but growing number of states and cities that are developing and have adopted plans, the study noted. The researchers outlined a number of strategies to adopt, from prioritizing adaptation funding and establishing climate information services at the national and international levels to creating a national institute. The institute would guide climate preparedness and collaborate with existing agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for adaptation in priority sectors or challenges. Additionally, the institute could mirror the geographic distribution and function of the National Institutes of Health, the paper says. It would only be a part of the larger picture, said Mote, adding that the “goal is to have an optimal line that would connect with regional institutions that are responsive to needs on the ground.” Separate studies also published this week in a special issue of the Ecological Society of America’s journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment aim similarly at both scientists and policymakers. More than 50 ecological scientists condensed reports they produced for the U.S. National Climate Assessment set for release next year. “The central paradox is that as climate change increases and effects become more evident, the need for adaptation will become more apparent,” said Bruce Stein, lead author of one of the studies detailing climate preparedness and director of the Climate Change Adaptation National Advocacy Center of the National Wildlife Federation. “The options are going to vary from place to place,” he said. “It’s about getting people to think about what climate adaptation means in their particular context.”

     

     

    Food waste: national campaign aims to stop the rot by 2020

    The Guardian

     - ‎November 12, 2013

           

    The report highlights where and why food waste is happening at each stage of the UK supply chain; what actions are being taken to tackle food waste in each sector and what more can be done in the future to drive the positive environmental, economic and ..

     

     

     

    Majority of red-state Americans believe climate change is real, study shows

    The Guardian

     - ‎Nov 14, 2013‎

           

    A vast majority of red-state Americans believe climate change is real and at least two-thirds of those want the government to cut greenhouse gas emissions, new research revealed on Wednesday.

     

     

    Warming since 1950s partly caused by El Niño?
    (November 13, 2013) — A natural shift to stronger warm El Niño events in the Pacific Ocean might be responsible for a substantial portion of the global warming recorded during the past 50 years, according to new research. …
    “Our modeling shows that natural climate cycles explain at least part of the ocean warming we’ve se
    en since the 1950s,” said Dr. Roy Spencer, a principal research scientist in UAH’s Earth System Science Center and the new study’s lead author. “But we also found that because the globe has had more frequent La Niña cooling events in the past 10 or 15 years, they are canceling out some of the effects of global warming.”full story


    Climate misinformer: Roy SpencerSkeptical Science


    www.skepticalscience.com/skeptic_Roy_Spencer.htm‎ Climate Misinformer: Roy Spencer. Dr. Roy Spencer is a principal research scientist for the University of Alabama in Huntsville, as well as the U.S. Science Team 

     

     

     

     

     

    Waste could help fuel low carbon energy and transport
    (November 11, 2013) — In a time when society – and nature itself – are threatened by climate change, it seems fair to ask: Does recycling still matter? Two Swedish scientists say it does. … > full story

     

    Better batteries through biology? Modified viruses boost battery performance
    (November 13, 2013) — Researchers find a way to boost lithium-air battery performance, with the help of modified viruses. … > full story

    Threats to our clean water: Impacts to human and marine environments
    (November 11, 2013) — Despite the abundance of water on our planet, it remains a precious and sought after life sustaining resource. Without the technology to provide safe, clean water to the masses, the general public would be consuming massive amounts of deadly bacteria daily. This is a case of the natural environment endangering humans. However, this can go both ways. Every year humans endanger the lives of millions of marine animals by (accidentally) contaminating their water with oil. Oil spills dump thousands of tons of oil into the ocean every year affecting many species of animals. … > full story

     

    A 459-foot tall solar tower, surrounded by thousands of reflecting mirrors, is one of three towers about to go online at BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah solar project in east San Bernardino County. Intense radiation from the mirrors, aimed at a boiler on top of the tower, is melting the feathers of some birds flying through the project, which could also occur at BrightSource’s proposed Palen plant east of the Coachella Valley. / Desert Sun file photo

    California solar power plants singeing bird feathers

    USA TODAY

     - ‎Nov 10 2013‎

           

    IN THE MOJAVE DESERT, Calif. — The picture is unsettling and disturbing. A small bird, barely the size of a human hand, had its wings reduced to a web of charred spines. No longer able to keep aloft, the bird was found on the ground after it had flown through the intense heat of a solar thermal project soon to go online in the California desert. The photograph, taken at BrightSource Energy’s Ivanpah plant in east San Bernardino County, has raised the stakes for a similar project in Riverside County. Months from final state and federal approvals, the Palen solar thermal power system could put two 750-foot-tall solar towers and thousands of reflecting mirrors near two of the region’s key wildlife refuges and stopping points for birds migrating along the Pacific Flyway. The project is roughly 50 miles from both the Salton Sea to the southwest and the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona to the southeast.

    “A migrating bird has to be in top form, having the flight feathers in really good shape,” said Kimball L. Garrett, ornithology collections manager at the Museum of Natural History of Los Angeles County, who has not seen the picture from Ivanpah, but has long been concerned about bird deaths at large solar projects. “If some of its flight feathers are damaged, what does that mean for the rest of the bird’s migration?” he said. “It weakens feathers. These are things people don’t study because — how can you?” Trying to estimate how many birds could be injured or killed at large-scale solar projects, and what might be done to prevent mortalities — has become a pressing concern for solar developers and environmental agencies as these projects multiply across California.


    An injured northern rough-winged swallow found on Colosseum Road at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. / Courtesy BrightSource Energy Inc

    What the commission wants to know

    The four key questions from the California Energy Commission about BrightSource Energy’s proposed Palen solar project:
    1. Are incidental take permits available or necessary under the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the state Fully Protected Species Act, and at what point would such permits be required for the incidental deaths of any species covered by the laws?
    2. Based on available evidence in the official record, what should the commission conclude about the likely or potential magnitude of avian mortality at the project and what measures should be used to weigh the impact?
    3. Should the Energy Commission require the project to take additional steps to avoid avian mortality, including possible curtailment, if project operations were to result in excessive bird deaths.
    4. What modifications should be made to ensure public transparency of a technical advisory committee that will formulate and monitor plans to minimize bird deaths.
    Source: The California Energy Commission, www.energy.ca.gov

    The laws


    The Migratory Bird Treaty Act: Originally passed in 1918 and now covering 1,026 species, the federal law prohibits anyone from pursuing, hunting, taking, capturing or killing any migratory bird covered by the law, unless allowed by regulations. The law does not allow for incidental takes, that is, the unintentional killing of species as the result of a lawfully permitted project.
    The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act: Passed in 1940, the federal law prohibits any “take” of bald or golden eagles, or their parts, nests or eggs, alive or dead, without a permit.
    Fully Protected Species Act: This state law predates the California Endangered Species Act. It covers 37 species, including 11 bird species and prohibits any incidental take “except for collecting these species for necessary scientific research and relocation of the bird species for the protection of livestock.”
    Sources: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, www.fws.gov and California Department of Fish and Wildlife, www.dfg.ca.gov

     

    Proposed desalination plant could harm ocean environment, report says

    Los Angeles Times

     - ‎November 10, 2013‎

           

    A proposed seawater desalination plant in Huntington Beach could significantly harm parts of the Southern California ocean environment unless substantial changes are made in its design and operation, according to the staff of the state Coastal Commission.

     

     

    Japan starts up offshore wind farm near Fukushima. Associated Press Japan switched on the first turbine at a wind farm 20 kilometers (12 miles) off the coast of Fukushima on Monday, feeding electricity to the grid tethered to the tsunami-crippled nuclear plant onshore.

     

    New invention ‘harvests’ electricity from background radiation.
    London Daily Mail Engineers at Duke University have designed a breakthrough gadget that ‘harvests’ background microwave radiation and converts it into electricity, with the same efficiency as solar panels. The development raises exciting possibilities such as recharging a phone wirelessly and providing power to remote locations that can’t access conventional electricity.

     

     

    Forests could face threat from biomass power ‘gold rush’

    The Guardian

     - ‎ November 11 2013

           

    The Environment Agency estimates that biomass-fired electricity generation, most of which involves burning wood pellets, can cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% compared with coal-fired power stations.

     

     

     

    1. RESOURCES and REFERENCES

     
     

     

    Green Infrastructure Strategic Agenda

    The US EPA has released an updated Green Infrastructure Strategic Agenda and has created a greenstream listserv featuring updates on green infrastructure publications, training, and funding opportunities. If you’re interested in joining, send an email to join-greenstream@lists.epa.gov.

     

    Institute For Tribal Environmental Professionals

    Host institutions needed for summer interns working on climate or air quality

     

     

    WEBINARS:

     

    Impacts of Sea Level Rise on National Parks  November 14, 2013 10:00-11:00am PST NOAA
    Climate change and sea level rise will challenge National Park efforts to protect natural and cultural resources and to provide visitor access and recreational opportunities.  Learn how several national parks are addressing these challenges.

    Click here, for more information

     

     

     

    UPCOMING CONFERENCES:

     

    Eleventh Annual Workshop: Habitat Conservation Planning from Tahoe to the Bay

    November 20, 2013, Ulatis Community Center, Vacaville  Speakers and Presentations

    The Conservation Planning Partners is an ad-hoc association of eight County and Sub-county scale Habitat Conservation Plans and Natural Community Conservation Plans.

    County and sub-county scale Habitat Conservation Plans and Natural Community Conservation Plans are in preparation or being implemented in a number of counties in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sacramento Region.  These plans provide a means for the conservation of endangered species and contribute to the ir recovery, while allowing appropriate, compatible growth and development in the metropolitan areas.

     

    The Future of the Concrete Channel

    Thursday 21 November 2013, UC Berkeley

    Ubiquitous in the urban landscape, concrete channels embody a mid-20th-century attitude of subduing nature and maximizing developable land.  Yet these optimistically-engineering structures have proven hard to maintain, and society increasingly regrets the loss of riparian ecosystems and the opportunity for human recreation and renewal once offered by the natural streams.  As concrete channels inevitably age and reach the end of their design lives, river managers confront the question of what to do with this deteriorating infrastructure?  Can the channels be rebuilt or modified to pass floods increasing due to urbanization and climate change?  Or is this an opportunity to implement alternative approaches that restore valuable functions of natural rivers?  …..  The conference will wrap up with an exhibition of Concrete Channel Art.  ….For more information and to register, please visit the conference website:http://laep.ced.berkeley.edu/next100years/events/the-future-of-the-concrete-channel/

     

    The Great Basin: A Landscape Under Fire

    Dec 9-10, University of Nevada, Reno

    (Secretary Jewell invited keynote speaker)

     

    Introducing Green Infrastructure for Coastal Resilience
    December 12, 2013

    9:30am – 4:30 pm David Brower Center, Kinzie Room 741 Allston Way Berkeley, CA 94710

    Registration: To register, click here. Registration is limited to 41 participants and is expected to fill fast. The deadline to register is December 6, 2013.  

    A workshop sponsored by the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and NOAA Coastal Services Center.  Green Infrastructure incorporates the natural environment and constructed systems that mimic natural processes in an integrated network that benefits nature and people. A green infrastructure approach to community planning helps diverse community members come together to balance environmental and economic goals. This day-long workshop will include a morning introductory course and afternoon panels by local experts. Who Should Attend: City and county officials, Engineers, Floodplain managers, Landscape Architects, NGO’s, Planners, and other Decision Makers involved in Coastal Management Issues 

    This workshop is being developed in partnership by the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and NOAA Coastal Services Center. In addition, an advisory committee have provided feedback on the training including participants from: San Francisco Estuary PartnershipBay Area Ecosystems Climate Change ConsortiumSan Francisco Bay Conservation and Development CommissionCalifornia Coastal Conservancy and the Bay Institute. Questions? Contact Heidi Nutters, heidin@sfsu.edu, 415-338-3511 Feel free to forward this message to others who might be interested. 

     

    Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) January 17-18, 2014, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

    Elkhorn Slough Coastal Training Program and Center for Integrated Spatial Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz Registration fee: $500 Instructor: Barry Nickel, Director of the Center for Integrated Spatial Research

    This course is an introduction to the concepts and application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The course presents conceptual and practical discussions of the analysis of spatial information with the addition of exercises using the ESRI ArcGIS suite of applications. The class is designed to provide a basic introduction to GIS including spatial data structures and sources, spatial tools, spatial data display and query, map generation, and basic spatial analysis using ArcGIS software. It is the foundation for the rest of the classes offered in our GIS series.

    Course Format: Approximately 50% lecture and 50% lab exercise. Please Note – There is a lot of information presented in this workshop in a short amount of time. We will maintain a fast pace, so please be prepared.

     
     

    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.

     

    Communicating Climate Change: Effective skills for engaging stakeholders, partners and the public

    Sponsored by: Elkhorn Slough and San Francisco Bay Coastal Training Programs

    Presenter: Cara Pike, TRIG’s Social Capital Project/Climate Access 

    San Francisco Bay NERR                               or                                         Elkhorn Slough NERR

     February 4, 2014                                                                                         February 6, 2014

    Contact: Heidi Nutters, 415-338-3511                                                   Contact: Virginia Guhin, 831-274-8700

     

    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 Sponsored by the Ecological Society of America, American Geophysical Union, and US Geological Survey. More info is available here:  https://www.soils.org/meetings/specialized/ecosystem-services

     

    WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT  2014 Conference

    North Bay Watershed Association  Friday, April 11, 2014  NOVATO, CA  8:00 AM to 4:30 PM PDT

    The conference will bring together key participants from around the North Bay to focus on how we can work together to manage our water resources.

    Keynote Speakers

    • Mark Cowin, Director, CA Department of Water Resources
    • Jared Huffman, U.S. Congressman, California 2nd District
    • Felicia Marcus, Chair, State Water Resources Control Board

    For more information or questions contact: Elizabeth Preim-Rohtla North Bay Watershed Association nbwa@marinwater.org 415-945-1475

     

    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:

     

    CA NRCS Announces Assistance for Catastrophic Fire Recovery

    DAVIS, Calif., Oct. 18, 2013—The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today announced that applications will be accepted to assist private landowners in California affected by wildfires in the last 18 months. Financial assistance for implementing conservation practices may be available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applications for this initiative can be submitted for primary consideration and ranking through Nov. 15, 2013

     

    Proposal Deadline: 3 December 2013 – Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Grants 2014

    The United States Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act established an annual, competitive grants program to support projects that promote the conservation of neotropical migratory birds and their habitats in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Because our Website was not available during the U.S. Federal government shutdown, the deadline for applying to the NMBCA program has been extended, and proposals are now due no later than 3 December 2013. All applications must be submitted through Grants.gov, a process that requires an active “Dun and Bradstreet number” (DUNS) and active registration in the “System for Award Management” (SAM).

     

    JOBS:

     

    National Audubon Society: Policy Director for California, based in San Francisco or Sacramento.

    Climate Protection Campaign Director of Development and Communications- Santa Rosa, CA (Sonoma County)

    WHSRN (Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network) Director

     

     

     

     

    1. OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene

    By ROY SCRANTON NY Times Opinion THE STONE November 10, 2013, 3:00 pm 285 Comments

    Civilizations have marched blindly toward disaster because humans are wired to believe that tomorrow will be much like today.

    I. Driving into Iraq just after the 2003 invasion felt like driving into the future. ….

    …..And today, with recovery still going on more than a year after Sandy and many
    critics
     arguing that the Eastern seaboard is no more prepared for a huge weather event than we were last November, it’s clear that future’s not going away. This March, Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, the commander of the United States Pacific Command, told security and foreign policy specialists in Cambridge, Mass., that global climate change was the greatest threat the United States faced — more dangerous than terrorism, Chinese hackers and North Korean nuclear missiles. Upheaval from increased temperatures, rising seas and radical destabilization “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen…” he said, “that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.” Locklear’s not alone. Tom Donilon, the national security adviser, said much the same thing in April, speaking to an audience at Columbia’s new Center on Global Energy Policy. James Clapper, director of national intelligence, told the Senate in March that “Extreme weather events (floods, droughts, heat waves) will increasingly disrupt food and energy markets, exacerbating state weakness, forcing human migrations, and triggering riots, civil disobedience, and vandalism.” On the civilian side, the World Bank’s recent report, “Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience,” offers a dire prognosis for the effects of global warming, which climatologists now predict will raise global temperatures by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit within a generation and 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit within 90 years. Projections from researchers at the University of Hawaii find us dealing with “historically unprecedented” climates as soon as 2047. The climate scientist James Hansen, formerly with NASA, has argued that we face an “apocalyptic” future. This grim view is seconded by researchers worldwide, including Anders LevermannPaul and Anne Ehrlich,Lonnie Thompson and manymanymany others.

    This chorus of Jeremiahs predicts a radically transformed global climate forcing widespread upheaval — not possibly, not potentially, but inevitably. We have passed the point of no return. From the point of view of policy experts, climate scientists and national security officials, the question is no longer whether global warming exists or how we might stop it, but how we are going to deal with it.

     

    II.There’s a word for this new era we live in: the Anthropocene. This term, taken up by geologistspondered by intellectuals and discussed in the pages of publications such as The Economist and the The New York Times, represents the idea that we have entered a new epoch in Earth’s geological history, one characterized by the arrival of the human species as a geological force. The Nobel-Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen coined the term in 2002, and it has steadily gained acceptance as evidence has increasingly mounted that the changes wrought by global warming will affect not just the world’s climate and biological diversity, but its very geology — and not just for a few centuries, but for millenniums. The geophysicist David Archer’s 2009 book, “The Long Thaw: How Humans are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth’s Climate,” lays out a clear and concise argument for how huge concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and melting ice will radically transform the planet, beyond freak storms and warmer summers, beyond any foreseeable future.

    The Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London — the scientists responsible for pinning the “golden spikes” that demarcate geological epochs such as the Pliocene, Pleistocene, and Holocene — have adopted the Anthropocene as a term deserving further consideration, “significant on the scale of Earth history.” Working groups are discussing what level of geological time-scale it might be (an “epoch” like the Holocene, or merely an “age” like the Calabrian), and at what date we might say it began. The beginning of the Great Acceleration, in the middle of the 20th century? The beginning of the Industrial Revolution, around 1800? The advent of agriculture?….

     

     

    Dogs likely originated in Europe more than 18,000 years ago, biologists report
    (November 14, 2013) — Wolves likely were domesticated by European hunter-gatherers more than 18,000 years ago, and gradually evolved into dogs that became household pets, biologists report. … > full story

     

    Early uses of chili peppers in Mexico
    (November 13, 2013) — Chili peppers may have been used to make spicy beverages thousands of years ago in Mexico. … > full story

     

    Microbiome changed by gluten increases incidences of type 1 diabetes
    (November 13, 2013) — Research has shown that the intestinal microbiome plays a large role in the development of type 1 diabetes. … > full story

     

     

    1. IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

     


     


     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    ————

    Ellie Cohen, President and CEO

    Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO)

    3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 11, Petaluma, CA 94954

    707-781-2555 x318

     

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

     

    Point Blue—Conservation science for a healthy planet.

     

  2. Conservation Science News November 8, 2013

    Leave a Comment

    Focus of the Week
    Executive Order on Climate Adaptation; New UN Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Body

    1-ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED

    2-CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

    3-
    POLICY

    4- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

    5-
    RESOURCES and REFERENCES

    6-OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST 

    7-IMAGES OF THE WEEK

    ——————————–

    NOTE: Please pass on my weekly news update that has been prepared for
    Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO) staff.  You can find these weekly compilations posted on line by clicking here.  For more information please see www.pointblue.org. The items contained in this update were drawn from www.dailyclimate.org, www.sciencedaily.com, SER The Society for Ecological Restorationhttp://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.slate.com, www.sfgate.com, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, www.blm.gov/ca/news/newsbytes/2012/529.html and other sources as indicated.  This is a compilation of information available on-line, not verified and not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  
    You can sign up for the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative ListServe or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium listserve to receive this or you can email me directly at Ellie Cohen, ecohen at pointblue.org if you want your name added to or dropped from this list.  Point Blue’s 140 scientists advance nature-based solutions to climate change, habitat loss and other environmental threats to benefit wildlife and people, through bird and ecosystem science, partnerships and outreach.

     

     

    Focus of the Week- Executive Order on Climate Adaptation; New UN Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Body

     

    Executive Order calls for climate adaptation

    Holly Doremus, professor of law | 11/5/13 | UC Berkeley blog

    On Nov. 1, President Obama issued an Executive Order intended “to prepare the Nation for the impacts of climate change by undertaking actions to enhance climate preparedness and resilience.” In some respects, this order simply continues ongoing efforts. Under this administration, the executive branch has already been doing a great deal of research, assessment, and planning for adaptation. This Executive Order will continue those efforts. But it also lays the foundation for moving from planning to action. Two provisions strike me as potentially important advances.

    • First, the Executive Order tells the nation’s key land and water management agencies, working with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to complete an inventory and assessment of proposed and completed changes to their land- and water-related policies, programs, and regulations necessary to make the Nation’s watersheds, natural resources, and ecosystems, and the communities and economies that depend on them, more resilient in the face of a changing climate.
    • Second, it directs federal agencies to “work together to develop and provide authoritative, easily accessible, usable, and timely data, information, and decision-support tools on climate preparedness and resilience.” That’s very general, of course, but the Order provides at least one specific directive: it tells CEQ and OMB to create a special portal for climate issues and decision-making on the data.gov site.

    Both of these measures hold great promise. The first provides a needed nudge for agencies to adjust their programs in light of increasing understanding of the potential effects of climate change. And the second offers the hope that for once data and tools will be shared within and between agencies, and with the public and other governments, in ways that will improve the effectiveness and decrease the costs of adaptation work. The key test, of course, is the extent of follow-through. If the White House makes this effort a priority, the agencies will too. If the White House forgets about it and moves on to other things, it could end up as nothing more than hopeful words. Cross-posted from the environmental law and policy blog Legal Planet.

     

     

    Click here for the text of the Order.

     

    An executive order puts climate change up front

    PBS

     - ‎Nov 4, 2013‎

           

    Margaret Talev, White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, assesses a new executive order by President Obama requiring federal agencies and local governments to account for climate change when undertaking big new projects….the executive order is telling federal agencies and local governments, but especially federal agencies to analyze all of the risks that climate change may have to their missions and what they do and to talk about what they are already doing and what they should be doing. And it sets up a task force to put all of these suggestions and recommendations together and analysis over the next nine months

     

    White House Will Focus on Climate Shifts While Trying to Cut Greenhouse Gases

    By JUSTIN GILLIS Nov 1 2013

    White House aides said President Obama would sign an executive order on Friday morning directing federal agencies to make it easier for states to build resilience against storms.

     

    And….


     

    Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

     


    Most Nations Lack Means to Assess Biodiversity, Key Ecosystem Services and Their Value



     

    November 7, 2013 — Most of the world’s nations — unanimously committed to protecting biodiversity — nevertheless cannot measure and assess their genetic and biological resources, nor the value of key ecosystem … Strengthening the ability of nations to conduct biodiversity and ecosystem service-related assessments for better informed policy decision-making is a key mandate of the UN’s new Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which convened the meeting, hosted by the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology and supported by the Government of Norway.

     

    Often likened to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the new Bonn-based IPBES is chaired by Zakri Abdul Hamid, science advisor to Malaysia’s prime minister.”There’s an old saying: We measure what we treasure,” said Dr. Zakri, recently appointed also to the UN Secretary-General’s new Science Advisory Board. “Unfortunately, though we profess to treasure biodiversity, most nations have yet to devote adequate resources to properly measure and assess it along with the value of ecosystem services. Correcting that is a priority assignment from the world community to IPBES.”…. ‘

     

    Dr. Zakri said biodiversity scientists, who see a crisis looming in the rapid rate of loss of species and ecosystem services in many areas, “need to stop talking amongst ourselves. The message needs to get through to policy makers, politicians, captains of industry and the general public. We need to start talking in terms people understand — economics and health, for example.”

    Scientific papers have documented that biodiversity, for example, provides a kind of human health insurance, he noted, by diluting the pool of virus targets.

     

    Other research in recent years has revealed enormous dollar values of ecosystem services — including food, pollution treatment and climate regulation — provided by forests and coral reefs.

     

    A single hectare of coral reef, for example, provides annual services to humans estimated at US $130,000 on average, rising to as much as $1.2 million, according to researchers with The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). TEEB estimated in 2010 that the planet’s 63 million hectares of wetlands provide some $3.4 billion in storm protection, food and other services to humans each year. Up to half of the $640 billion pharmaceutical market relies on genetic resources, with anti-cancer agents from marine organisms alone valued at up to $1 billion annually. And the loss of biodiversity through deforestation will cost the global economy up to $4.5 trillion every year.
    “Harvard professor E.O. Wilson put it well,” said Dr. Zakri, “Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal.” The rainforest in Malaysia is estimated to be around 130 million years old…..full story

     

     

     

     

     

    Creatures of influence
    (November 6, 2013) — An
    international research team has developed mathematical tools that can estimate which species are most influential in a food web. In the children’s game “Jenga,” removing the wrong block from a tower of wooden blocks can cause the entire tower to collapse. In the same way, removing certain species from an ecosystem can cause a collapse in ecological function. A common scientific question has been to identify these critical species in different ecosystems and an international research team has developed mathematical tools that can estimate which species are most influential in a food web.
    The researchers from the University of Bristol, the Max Planck Institute for Physics of Complex Systems and the US Geological Survey have taken a new modeling approach to the question. The team, using the new mathematical tools, found that long-lived, generalist top predators — such as otters — play the most influential roles within a food web. The findings are published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Helge Aufderheide of the Max Planck Institute and University of Bristol, who led the research, said: “The interactions in an ecosystem are so complex that one can often only guess about the roles that each species plays. Therefore, knowing how to find the key players makes all the difference for understanding where to focus studies.” Long-lived, generalist top predators can highly influence ecosystems because they feed on different types of prey that occupy different parts of the food web. For example, otters feed on a wide variety of aquatic prey and can influence multiple species throughout the course of their relatively long lifespan. Removing otters from the ecosystem would cause long-term disruptions to all those species, a theory that the new models can now confirm for other species and ecosystems. Understanding how the gain or loss of a single species affects a complex food web has been a difficult mathematical challenge, and the new findings provide fundamental insights into complex natural systems. The new study offers a rule of thumb to help other studies focus their research and data collection on species in order of their expected importance, and increase the efficiency of their research effort... > full story

     

    Helge Aufderheide, Lars Rudolf, Thilo Gross, and Kevin D. Lafferty. Predicting community responses in the face of imperfect knowledge and network complexity. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, November 2013

     

    Global Map Provides New Insights Into Land Use

    Global land system archetypes: world map. The data for this classification refer to the year 2005. (Credit: Tomáš Václavík/UFZ)

    Nov. 5, 2013 — In order to assess the global impacts of land use on the environment and help provide appropriate countermeasures, a group of researchers under the leadership of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) has created a new world map of land use systems. Based on various indicators of land-use intensity, climate, environmental and socio-economic conditions, they identified twelve global patterns called land system archetypes. The scientists from UFZ with colleagues from the Humboldt-University Berlin and University Bonn have recently published their results in the journal Global Environmental Change. Land use changes come in various forms: maize fields replace meadows and grasslands, tropical forests are cleared for pastures, steppes become cropland. The reasons are complex, the impacts are immense: animal and plant communities change, ecosystem functions disappear, carbon emissions contribute to climate change. Whatever happens regionally has global consequences. In order to better assess these impacts and help provide effective countermeasures, the researchers from UFZ created a world map that identifies twelve global land-use systems, also called archetypes. These include barren lands in the developing world, pastoral systems or extensive cropping systems. Germany, for instance, together with most of the Western Europe, Eastern USA and Western Australia represents the ‘intensive cropping system’ that covers about 5% of the terrestrial Earth surface. This system is characterized by high density of cropland, high inputs of nitrogen fertilizers, temperate climate, high crop yields, large capital investments in the agricultural sector, low proportion of GDP originating from agriculture and good access to market places.

    What is novel about this research is the fact that the scientists analyzed significantly more data and indicators than what is common in similar studies….

     

    Tomáš Václavík, Sven Lautenbach, Tobias Kuemmerle, Ralf Seppelt. Mapping global land system archetypes. Global Environmental Change, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2013.09.004

     

     

    Great civilisations have fallen because they failed to prevent the degradation of the soils on which they were founded. The modern world could suffer the same fate. (Credit: © philipus / Fotolia)

    Civilizations rise and fall on the quality of their soil
    (November 4, 2013)
    Great civilizations have fallen because they failed to prevent the degradation of the soils on which they were founded. The modern world could suffer the same fate. … This is according to Professor Mary Scholes and Dr Bob Scholes who have published a paper in the journal, Science, which describes how the productivity of many lands has been dramatically reduced as a result of soil erosion, accumulation of salinity, and nutrient depletion.

    “Cultivating soil continuously for too long destroys the bacteria which convert the organic matter into nutrients,” says Mary Scholes, who is a Professor in the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences at Wits University.

    Although improved technology — including the unsustainably high use of fertilisers, irrigation, and ploughing — provides a false sense of security, about 1% of global land area is degraded every year. In Africa, where much of the future growth in agriculture must take place, erosion has reduced yields by 8% and nutrient depletion is widespread. “Soil fertility is both a biophysical property and a social property — it is a social property because humankind depends heavily on it for food production,” says Bob Scholes, who is a systems ecologist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

    Soil fertility was a mystery to the ancients. Traditional farmers speak of soils becoming tired, sick, or cold; the solution was typically to move on until they recovered. By the mid-20th century, soils and plants could be routinely tested to diagnose deficiencies, and a global agrochemical industry set out to fix them. Soil came to be viewed as little more than an inert supportive matrix, to be flooded with a soup of nutrients. This narrow approach led to an unprecedented increase in food production, but also contributed to global warming and the pollution of aquifers, rivers, lakes, and coastal ecosystems. Activities associated with agriculture are currently responsible for just under one third of greenhouse gas emissions; more than half of these originate from the soil. Replacing the fertility-sustaining processes in the soil with a dependence on external inputs has also made the soil ecosystem, and humans, vulnerable to interruptions in the supply of those inputs, for instance due to price shocks. However, it is not possible to feed the current and future world population with a dogmatically “organic” approach to global agriculture. Given the large additional area it would require, such an approach would also not avert climate change, spare biodiversity, or purify the rivers.

    To achieve lasting food and environmental security, we need an agricultural soil ecosystem that more closely approximates the close and efficient cycling in natural ecosystems, and that also benefits from the yield increases made possible by biotechnology and inorganic fertilisers.

     

    M. C. Scholes, R. J. Scholes. Dust Unto Dust. Science, 2013; 342 (6158): 565 DOI: 10.1126/science.1244579

     


    Plan to Address Hypoxia in Gulf of Mexico Urged by Experts



    November 7, 2013 — Despite a 12-year action plan calling for reducing the hypoxia zone in the Gulf of Mexico, little progress has been made, and there is no evidence that nutrient loading to the Gulf has decreased … > full story

     

     

    Flying the Coop: Antibiotic Resistance Spreads to Birds, Other Wildlife

    Scientific American

    November 5 2013

           

    Her mission: to collect as much bird poop as possible. Back in the laboratory, Ellis’ colleagues combed through the feces….

     

    Will Jellyfish Rule the Ocean?

    Nov 6, 2013 08:40 AM ET // by Elizabeth Howell, Livescience

    In 2000, a bloom of sea tomato jellyfish in Australia was so enormous — it stretched for more than 1,000 miles from north to south — that it was even visible from space. It was certainly a bloom that Australian jellyfish researcher Lisa-ann Gershwin won’t forget. While most blooms are not quite that big, Gershwin’s survey of research on jellyfish from the last few decades indicate that populations are most likely on the rise, and that this boom is taking place in an ocean that is faced with overfishing, acid rain, nutrient pollution from fertilizers and climate change, among other problems. There have been many reports about jellyfish numbers increasing in the past few years; some researchers think it is part of a larger trend, while others say it may be just a numerical fluke. Most agree, however, that more data is needed before coming to a definitive conclusion. Gershwin, a research scientist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation who specializes in jellyfish, recently wrote about her findings in a book called “Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean” (University Of Chicago Press, 2013). The book, which is aimed at a general audience and is not peer-reviewed, details dozens of studies that Gershwin read and concludes it’s possible that ocean conditions are ripe for a jellyfish takeover. [Image Gallery: Jellyfish Rule!] “What we see in the areas that are the most damaged from numerous different disturbances, we see these jellyfish bloom problems,” Gershwin told LiveScience. In the Sea of Japan, for example, jellyfish are drifting in from China, where reports indicate the country is facing massive overfishing and pollution, as well as coastal construction where jellyfish polyps (or young) can find a home, Gershwin said. Some researchers say that overfishing removes other species that compete for the same food jellyfish eat, such as plankton. Gershwin thinks that overfishing, climate change and a combination of other factors are clearing the way for a jellyfish takeover. Jellyfish are said to prefer warmer oceans; no direct link has been found for why acidification would benefit them, according to a 2008 paper in the journal Limnology and Oceanography, but some researchers say jellyfish increase in abundance in acidic conditions….

     

    Motion of the ocean: Predicting the big swells
    (November 5, 2013) — New research will help you every morning with the surf report. It is estimated that 75 per cent of waves across the world are not actually generated by local winds. Instead, they are driven by distant storms which propagate as swell. … > full story

     

    Clean Air Act has led to improved water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed
    (November 6, 2013) — A new study shows that the reduction of pollution emissions from power plants in the mid-Atlantic is making an impact on the quality of the water that ends up in the Chesapeake Bay. … > full story

     

    Negative effects of road noises on migratory birds
    (November 6, 2013) — A new study shows that the negative effects of roads on wildlife are largely because of traffic noise.
    Biologists have known that bird populations decline near roads. But pinpointing noise as a cause has been a problem because past studies of the effects of road noise on wildlife were conducted in the presence of the other confounding effects of roads. These include visual disturbances, collisions and chemical pollution, among others. “We present the first study to experimentally apply traffic noise to a roadless area at a landscape scale, thus avoiding the other confounding aspects of roads present in past studies,” said Christopher J. W. McClure, post-doctoral research associate in the Department of Biological Sciences. “Understanding the effects of road noise can help wildlife managers in the selection, conservation and management of habitat for birds,” said Jesse R. Barber, assistant professor of biological sciences and one of McClure’s fellow researchers.… > full story

     

    C. J. W. McClure, H. E. Ware, J. Carlisle, G. Kaltenecker, J. R. Barber. An experimental investigation into the effects of traffic noise on distributions of birds: avoiding the phantom road. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2013; 280 (1773): 20132290 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2290

     

    Early bird catches the worm — for dinner
    (November 5, 2013) — Birds, such as great and blue tits, scout for food in the morning but only return to eat it in late afternoon to maximize their chances of evading predators in the day without starving to death
    overnight. … ‘Birds have to store body-fat to avoid starving during the cold winter nights, but this can make them slower and less manoeuvrable so that they are more likely to be caught by predators,’ said Damien Farine of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology, who led the research. ‘So there is a trade-off, where birds need to remain lean enough in order to ‘outrun’ their predators, or at least the next slowest bird, during the day but also store enough fat to survive each night.’.. ‘Because small birds can’t reproduce without surviving the winter they have evolved a complex set of behaviours that enables them to maximise their chance of both surviving predators and avoiding starvation,’ said Damien Farine ‘It’s a good example of how animals alter their behaviour to respond to constantly changing environmental conditions. It also shows how new technologies, like tiny PIT tags, are enabling us to explore questions about animal survival strategies at an unprecedented scale.’full story

     

    D. R. Farine, S. D. J. Lang. The early bird gets the worm: foraging strategies of wild songbirds lead to the early discovery of food sources. Biology Letters, 2013; 9 (6): 20130578 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2013.0578

     

    How pigeons may smell their way home
    (November 5, 2013) — Homing pigeons are extraordinary navigators, but how they manage to find their way back to their lofts is still debated. To navigate, birds require a ‘map’ (to tell them home is south, for example) and a ‘compass’ (to tell them where south is), with the sun and the Earth’s magnetic field being the preferred compass systems. A new paper provides evidence that the information pigeons use as a map is in fact available in the atmosphere: odors and winds allow them to find their way home. … > full story

     

    Maine’s Penobscot River finally runs free after huge restoration project

    CBS News

    November 6, 2013

           

    Billed as the largest river restoration project in the country, it took 10 years to get Penobscot River back to its natural state.


    Saddling Up Against the Threat to Our National Parks



    November 7, 2013 — An Australian research team has investigated the threat horse riding poses to the ecology of national parks around the world. And it seems there’s a growing problem in horse … > full story

     


    Natural Products Discovery Group Asks for Public’s Help With Citizen Science Program



    November 7, 2013 — A research group has taken an unconventional approach to finding new compounds with therapeutic relevance by launching a crowdsourcing initiative with citizen scientists from around the country. … > full story

     

    Staying alive in the high and dry
    (November 5, 2013) — New research published this week sheds light on how desert plants gain nutrients they desperately need — even in the driest circumstances. … > full story

     

     

     

     

    Yosemite Rim Fire Map:

    http://tmappsevents.esri.com/website/rim-fire-perspectives-map/

     

     

    Hottest September On Record, Fastest Pacific Warming In 10,000 Years, Warmest Arctic In 120,000 Years

    By Joe Romm on November 3, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Temperature change over past 11,300 years (in blue, via Science, 2013) plus projected warming on humanity’s current emissions path (in red, via recent literature.

    It’s been a hot week for global warming. NASA released global temperature data showing that this September tied with 2005 for the warmest September on record. That’s doubly impressive since 2005 was warmed by an El Niño and accompanying warm Pacific ocean temperatures, whereas 2013 has had cooler Pacific temperatures all year. Greenhouse gases keep warming the planet to unprecedented levels with unprecedented speed. That’s the conclusion of two new studies out this week.

    The first, “Unprecedented recent summer warmth in Arctic Canada,” concludes: “Our results indicate that anthropogenic increases in greenhouse gases have led to unprecedented regional warmth.” How unprecedented? The news release explains: Average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic during the last 100 years are higher now than during any century in the past 44,000 years and perhaps as long ago as 120,000 years, says a new INSTAAR study. The study is the first direct evidence the present warmth in the Eastern Canadian Arctic exceeds the peak warmth there in the Early Holocene, when the amount of the sun’s energy reaching the Northern Hemisphere in summer was roughly 9 percent greater than today, said study leader Gifford Miller. The Holocene is our current geological epoch. It began after Earth’s last Ice age ended some 11,700 years ago. The release notes that, “The ice cores showed that the youngest time interval from which summer temperatures in the Arctic were plausibly as warm as today is about 120,000 years ago.”

    What does the unprecedented warming mean? “The key piece here is just how unprecedented the warming of Arctic Canada is,” said Miller, also an INSTAAR fellow. “This study really says the warming we are seeing is outside any kind of known natural variability, and it has to be due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” And it isn’t just the level of warming that is unprecedented. It is also the rate of warming. Columbia University’s Earth Island Institute explained that in an article Thursday, “Is Global Heating Hiding Out in the Oceans?“:

    … a new study in the leading journal Science adds support to the idea that the oceans are taking up some of the excess heat, at least for the moment. In a reconstruction of Pacific Ocean temperatures in the last 10,000 years, researchers have found that its middle depths have warmed 15 times faster in the last 60 years than they did during apparent natural warming cycles in the previous 10,000. “We’re experimenting by putting all this heat in the ocean without quite knowing how it’s going to come back out and affect climate,” said study coauthor Braddock Linsley, a climate scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “It’s not so much the magnitude of the change, but the rate of change.” We are experimenting on our previously stable climate without wisdom or morality, we are experimenting on our children and grandchildren without their consent. If we don’t stop ASAP, it won’t end well.

     

     

     

    Natural Infrastructure: Investing in Forested Landscapes for Source Water Protection in the United States

    Securing clean water is becoming increasingly difficult in the United States. Infrastructure like dams and treatment plants are aging, water demand is increasing, and more frequent extreme weather events like wildfires and flooding are driving up the cost of water management. It’s a complex problem, but one of the potential solutions is decidedly low-tech: Invest in nature.

    Natural Infrastructure: Investing in Forested Landscapes for Source Water Protection in the United States, pulls together the insights of more than 50 authors from the front lines of efforts to integrate “natural infrastructure” into water management. Incorporating strategically secured networks of forests, wetlands, and floodplains to complement existing “built” infrastructure can reduce water-management costs and effectively secure clean drinking water.

    Edited by the World Resources Institute, in collaboration with Earth Economics and the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences, this publication provides comprehensive guidance to help water utilities, municipalities, businesses, land management organizations, and other decision makers better manage their water systems by securing forests and other ecosystems. The guide paints a picture of the current “state of practice” of natural infrastructure investment, and details the businesses case, science, partnerships, and finance mechanisms underlying successful natural infrastructure investments across the United States.

     

     

    Environmentalists look to carbon markets to slow grassland conversion

    Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter Greenwire: Monday, November 4, 2013

    Spurred largely by high crop prices and increased demand, landowners in the Great Plains have converted hundreds of thousands of acres of native grasslands over the past several years into fields of corn and soybeans. Environmentalists have long warned that increased conversion to cropland, while boosting the pocketbooks of farmers, has led to a loss of habitat for wildlife and declining water quality. But researchers are beginning to quantify that it’s also meant a significant loss of the soil’s potential to store carbon. Armed with a model that takes into account emissions data from grassland conversion, environmentalists and the Agriculture Department hope to harness the financial incentives of carbon markets to slow the rate of declining native grassland in the environmentally sensitive Prairie Pothole region. In a first-of-its-kind program, they’re offering up carbon offsets to farmers in several North Dakota counties who agree to preserve their grassland. “The basic idea is that there’s a lot of carbon stored in these grasslands,” said Peter Weisberg, program manager at the Climate Trust. “When you convert it, more carbon decomposes and is lost.” In 2011, USDA awarded Ducks Unlimited a $161,000 grant to develop a way to monetize the preservation of grassland using carbon markets. The organization partnered with the Climate Trust, the Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund and Terra Global Capital and announced last week that it has successfully developed a way of quantifying avoided carbon losses from grassland conversion. Using the model, which has cost about a half-million dollars to develop, Ducks Unlimited has begun enrolling farmers in eight North Dakota counties in a pilot program to provide farmers with money from the sale of carbon offsets. Under the pilot, Ducks Unlimited has agreed to find carbon buyers for landowners when they agree to preserve grassland. Ducks Unlimited currently has an inventory of offset options from landowners; once money becomes available, the conservation group will go out and sell the offsets to entities such as companies that want to demonstrate sustainability. Ducks Unlimited will then pay the farmer market value for the carbon…..

     

     

    Climate change scientists must turn their attention to clean skies, experts urge
    (November 6, 2013) — Natural aerosols, such as emissions from volcanoes or plants, may contribute more uncertainty than previously thought to estimates of how the climate might respond to greenhouse gas emissions. … > full story

     

    Oldest ice core: Finding a 1.5 million-year record of Earth’s climate
    (November 5, 2013) — How far into the past can ice-core records go? Scientists have now identified regions in Antarctica they say could store information about Earth’s climate and greenhouse gases extending as far back as 1.5 million years, almost twice as old as the oldest ice core drilled to date. … > full story

     

    Global warming led to dwarfism in mammals — twice
    (November 2, 2013) — Mammal body size decreased significantly during at least two ancient global warming events, a new finding that suggests a similar outcome is possible in response to human-caused climate change, according to paleontologists. … > full story

     

    Preparing for Hell and High Water: Researchers Advocate for Climate Adaptation Science

    Nov. 7, 2013 — Changes are already happening to Earth’s climate due to the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and large-scale agriculture. As changes get more pronounced, people everywhere will have to adjust. In this week’s issue of the journal Science, an international group of researchers urge the development of science needed to manage climate risks and capitalize on unexpected opportunities. “Adapting to an evolving climate is going to be required in every sector of society, in every region of the globe. We need to get going, to provide integrated science if we are going to meet the challenge,” said senior scientist Richard Moss of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “In this article, we describe the foundations for this research and suggest measures to establish it.” Climate preparedness research needs to integrate social and climate science, engineering, and other disciplines. It prepares for impacts by determining who and what are most vulnerable to changes and considering ways to adapt. “Science for adaptation starts with understanding decision-making processes and information needs, determining where the vulnerabilities are, and then moves to climate modeling. A final step tracks whether adaptation is effective,” said Moss, who is based at the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a collaboration between PNNL in Richland, Wash. and the University of Maryland….This research is motivated by a practical challenge, ensuring reliable water supplies. Among the scientific advances that will be required is better integration of weather and climate models to improve decadal climate information to help people plan,” Moss said. Bringing together diverse disciplines at the Aspen workshop allowed the international team to explore all facets of adaptation, including less examined ones such as how scientific information is (and isn’t) used in making decisions. “Traditionally we think that what society needs is better predictions. But at this workshop, all of us — climate and social scientists alike — recognized the need to consider how decisions get implemented and that climate is only one of many factors that will determine how people will adapt,” he said. The focus on problem-solving could open up new sources of funding as well, sources such as non-governmental organizations, industry — any group with specific problems that adaptation science could solve.

     

    R. H. Moss, et al. Hell and High Water: Practice-Relevant Adaptation Science. Science, 2013; 342 (6159): 696 DOI: 10.1126/science.1239569

     

     

    Can sea life adapt to souring oceans? Seattle Times
    The violet bottom-dwelling, prickle-backed spheres wriggling in the tank in Gretchen Hofmann’s lab aren’t really known for their speed. But these lowly sea urchins adapt so quickly they’re helping to understand ocean acidification.

     


    Amazon Deforestation Could Mean Droughts for Western U.S.


    November 7, 2013 — Total deforestation of the Amazon could mean 20 percent less rain for the coastal Northwest and a 50 percent reduction in the Sierra Nevada snowpack, resulting in water and food shortages, and a … > full story

     

    Britain’s New Flood Protection Plan: Surrender To The Ocean

    By Joanna M. Foster on November 5, 2013

    In the south of England, land is being surrendered to the ocean to create the ultimate flood protection system.

    Medberry managed realignment project CREDIT: Environment Agency

    For hundreds of years, the Manhood Peninsula that juts into the English channel has relied on a shingle barricade to keep the ocean out. Today, residents are welcoming the ocean in. Earlier this year, a massive hole was punched through the western flood wall near Medmerry, and the ocean is now at liberty to come rushing over 452 acres of land, just as it has been trying to do for as long as anyone can remember. It may seem like surrender, but in low-lying Medmerry, this was a more realistic strategy in the face of climate change. Some areas near the town are below sea level, so taking down a part of the sea wall and creating a floodplain buffer zone is more feasible than constantly building and rebuilding an ultimately indefensible barrier at the water’s edge…..

     


    Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of strongest storms ever, heads for central Philippines

    By Jethro Mullen, CNNupdated 2:23 PM EST, Thu November 7, 2013

    Super Typhoon Haiyan one of the biggest ever

    STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • The storm is one of the strongest ever observed
    • The storm is forecast to make landfall in the Eastern Visayas region Friday
    • Authorities have relocated thousands of people ahead of its arrival
    • People left homeless by a quake on Bohol island are among the most vulnerable

    (CNN) — Thousands of people in vulnerable areas of the Philippines are being relocated as one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever observed spins toward the country. With sustained winds of 315 kph (195 mph) and gusts as strong as 380 kph (235 mph), Super Typhoon Haiyan was churning across the Western Pacific toward the central Philippines. Its wind strength makes it equivalent to an exceptionally strong Category 5 hurricane. The storm, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, is expected to still be a super typhoon, with winds in excess of 240 kph (149 mph), when it makes landfall Friday morning in the region of Eastern Visayas. The storm is so large in diameter that clouds from it are affecting two-thirds of the country….

     


    Strongest typhoon of the year hits Philippines


    Fox News November 7, 2013 MANILA, Philippines – The world’s strongest typhoon of the year has slammed into the Philippines. One weather expert says Typhoon Haiyan was set to be the strongest any tropical cyclone has ever been when it made landfall..

     

    Super typhoon smashes into Philippines. November 8, 2013 USA Today A massive typhoon packing winds approaching 200 mph and called one of the most powerful storms ever recorded blasted into the Philippines on Friday, killing at least four people.

     

     

    After drought, historic flash flood leaves Austin residents digging through the mud. USA Today November 7, 2013

    Neighborhoods near Austin-Bergstrom International Airport were overwhelmed in the early morning hours of Oct. 31, when water from a nearby creek surged down streets and filled homes within minutes. It was a flash flood with more force and volume than the city has ever seen.

     

    Rising temperatures challenge Salt Lake City’s water supply
    (November 1, 2013) — In an example of the challenges water-strapped Western cities will face in a warming world, new research shows that every degree Fahrenheit of warming in the Salt Lake City region could mean a 1.8 to 6.5 percent drop in the annual flow of streams that provide water to the city. … By midcentury, warming Western temperatures may mean that some of the creeks and streams that help slake Salt Lake City’s thirst will dry up several weeks earlier in the summer and fall, according to the new paper, published today in the journal Earth Interactions. The findings may help regional planners make choices about long-term investments, including water storage and even land-protection policies. “Many Western water suppliers are aware that climate change will have impacts, but they don’t have detailed information that can help them plan for the future,” said lead author Tim Bardsley, with NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder. “Because our research team included hydrologists, climate scientists and water utility experts, we could dig into the issues that mattered most to the operators responsible for making sure clean water flows through taps and sprinklers without interruption.”…Among the details in the new assessment:

    • Temperatures are already rising in northern Utah, about 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the last century, and continue to climb. Summer temperatures have increased especially steeply and are expected to continue to do so. Increasing temperatures during the summer irrigation season may increase water demand.
    • Every increase in a degree Fahrenheit means an average decrease of 3.8 percent in annual water flow from watersheds used by Salt Lake City. This means less water available from Salt Lake City’s watersheds in the future.
    • Lower-elevation streams are more sensitive to increasing temperatures, especially from May through September, and city water experts may need to rely on less-sensitive, higher-elevation sources in late summer, or more water storage.
    • Models tell an uncertain story about total future precipitation in the region, primarily because Utah is on the boundary of the Southwest (projected to dry) and the U.S. northern tier states (projected to get wetter).
    • Overall, models suggest increased winter flows, when water demand is lower, and decreased summer flows when water demand peaks.
    • Annual precipitation would need to increase by about 10 percent to counteract the stream-drying effect of a 5-degree increase in temperature.
    • A 5-degree temperature increase would also mean that peak water flow in the western Wasatch creeks would occur two to four weeks earlier in the summer than it does today. This earlier stream runoff will make it more difficult to meet water demand as the summer irrigation season progresses. > full story

     

    Tim Bardsley, Andrew Wood, Mike Hobbins, Tracie Kirkham, Laura Briefer, Jeff Niermeyer, Steven Burian. Planning for an Uncertain Future: Climate Change Sensitivity Assessment toward Adaptation Planning for Public Water Supply. Earth Interactions, 2013; 17 (23): 1 DOI: 10.1175/2012EI000501.1

     

     

    Leaked IPCC report links climate change to global food scarcity

    IPCC’s forecast of lowered crop yields will ultimately affect us all

    The Guardian November 7, 2013
    It’s a human-centric approach, but the prospect of a food scare should be one way to get people—believers and deniers alike—to seriously evaluate the effects of climate change. Last week, a source leaked a draft report, drawn up by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and due to be released next March. It’s the second of three reports, following the first that came out in September this year. Among other things, the text clearly outlines the threats climate change poses to the global food supply, citing a decrease of up to 2% each decade in yields of staple crops like maize, wheat, and rice. That projected dip looks even more serious when one considers the parallel 14% increase per decade in the demand for food that scientists are expecting, to match the needs of a population that will reach 9 billion-plus by 2050. It’s a familiar message. But, “what is probably new compared to previous reports is the recognition of climate change’s impacts much sooner than was expected,” says Alexandre Meybeck, senior policy officer on Agriculture, Environment and Climate Change with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. “We are not talking about 2100, we are talking about what’s going to happen in 20, 30 years.” The New York Times
    first reported on the story in depth, author Justin Gillis writing: The warning on the food supply is the sharpest in tone the panel has issued. Its previous report, in 2007, was more hopeful…The new tone reflects a large body of research in recent years that has shown how sensitive crops appear to be to heat waves. This IPCC report, which focuses on the impacts of, vulnerability and adaption to, climate change, finds that the negative impacts on crops and yields have been more common than the positive ones, the latter occurring in some higher latitudes where atmospheric carbon dioxide can aid plant growth. ….

     

    Heat waves in Eastern US will become deadlier, study.
    Environmental Health News
    Heat waves will kill about 10 times more people in the Eastern United States in 45 years than they did at the turn of this century, according to a new projection from researchers.

     

     

    Combating Climate Change – And Responding to Skeptics

    By Michael Edesess November 5, 2013 Advisor Perspectives

    Climate change is a highly contentious issue. Well, not entirely. The distance between climate “skeptics” and climate “believers” can be measured only in percentages of estimated probabilities. From the way the issue is typically framed in the media, one would think that battle lines are drawn and forces are lined up in adamant opposition. But that’s not the way it really is – or should be. Scientists are skeptics by nature. Those who contributed to the Fifth Assessment Report – the latest in a series of assessments of scientific research on climate change prepared by the United Nations-established Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – are no exception. Numerous discussions and disagreements lay behind the production of the so-called consensus report. The end result projects temperature changes by the end of the century ranging from virtually no change to an increase of 10⁰F.

    Nevertheless, the climate-change threat is real, even if it is only a matter of probabilities. What action we should take, and how action should be brought about, are knotty problems. Harvard Business School’s Business and Environment Initiative (BEI) says they can be attacked with a business approach…

     

     

    Jordan’s farmers struggle to weather climate change.
    Inter Press Service
    For the small community of farmers in the Zarqa river basin east of the capital Amman, industrial development, poor resource management and climate change have converged to create a perfect storm of problems that damage farmers’ produce and livelihoods and ultimately threaten food security in Jordan…
    Others suggest that while climate change exacerbates existing environmental problems in Jordan, the core of mitigation lies not in tackling climate change but in improving how Jordan consumes and manages the scant resources it does have. Between 1975 and 2007 grain-cultivating areas decreased by 65 percent and vegetable-cultivating areas by 91 percent. Among the driest countries in the world, Jordan has an average of 145 cubic metres of water available per person annually (the water poverty line is 500 cubic metres). Its average annual precipitation is 111 millimetres. Prime areas for agricultural cultivation, such as rain-fed areas, are shrinking, in part because of urbanisation and development. Farmers in Abu Waleed’s area have meanwhile noticed changes in weather in recent years. Along with a decrease in rainfall, temperatures have risen, leading to more pests and bugs and shifting growing seasons. They are calling on the government to help mitigate these effects. Some in the government too admit that it needs to do more…..

     

     

     

    ‘Climate change puts 5m. Israelis at risk of severe flooding events’

    The conditions could also result in outbreaks of transmissible diseases from pests such as mosquitoes

    A storm touches down on water off Atlit coast Photo: Baz Ratner / Reuters

    Rising temperatures and climbing sea levels due to climate change could be putting more than five million Israelis at severe risk, a special Environmental Protection Ministry report has indicated. The rise of the Mediterranean Sea’s levels as well as the flooding of rivers could gravely impact five million Israelis as water barrels into their communities, the study warned. In addition to the flooding dangers, the conditions could also result in outbreaks of transmissible diseases from pests such as mosquitoes, the report explained. Escalating temperatures combined with population growth will also undoubtedly lead to an increased demand for water from decreasing aquifer supplies, it said…About 2.5 million people are located in these seaside risk prone areas, while another 2.8 million also may be in danger due to their proximity to rivers, the study explained. In order to weaken the impact of extreme weather events, the report recommended erecting barriers against flooding as well as increasing the diameters of drainage pipes so that they can handle greater amounts of water at a time. For every $1 invested in flooding preparation, cities will save about $8 worth of damage and compensation costs, according to the study. Despite the rising sea levels that climate change brings, reduced rain events and escalating temperatures will reduce available groundwater for an increasingly thirsty population, the report warned. To cope with some of these challenges, the study suggested using treated wastewater for firefighting and for cleaning streets, as well as collecting rainwater from roofs for gardening purposes and spreading messages about the importance of water conservation. The government should be encouraging green building, which reduces about 30 percent of electricity consumption and 10% of water consumption, the report added. Potential heat waves in the future could lead to an increased presence of invasive species, such as mosquitoes, which could bring with them malaria outbreaks and intestinal diseases, the study said. The report recommended that all public institutions be properly air conditioned and that the public always receive timely warnings ahead of extreme heat or cold events….

     

     

     

     

     

    US invites views on climate change adaptation plans

    Energy Live News

     - ‎Nov 4, 2013‎

           

    The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is inviting public views and opinions on its Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans – which includes adapting to increased extreme weather, floods and droughts and preventing pollution. It aims to integrate climate adaptation planning into its programmes, policies and rules to ensure its work continues to be effective even as the climate changes. The draft plans are in support of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan announced earlier this year. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said: “To meet our mission of protecting public health and the environment, EPA must help communities adapt to a changing climate. These Implementation Plans offer a roadmap for agency work to meet that responsibility while carrying out President Obama’s goal of preparing the country for climate-related challenges.” The public review will last for around two months. Earlier this year the EPA published new standards to cut carbon emissions from new-built power plants in the nation.

    The EPA released its draft Climate Change Adaptation Implementation Plans for public review and comment. In support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and Executive Order on Preparing the United States for the Impacts of Climate Change, the Implementation Plans provide detailed information about the actions EPA plans to take across the country to help communities adapt to a changing climate. 

    Click here for more information.

     

    Election day 2013: Fossil fuels take hits from Virginia to Washington State. Christian Science Monitor
    November 7 2013

    Voters on election day 2013 threw their weight behind politicians and policies that limited the use of coal, oil, or natural gas. Bans on fracking, coal exports, and tar sands were on the ballot in a handful of states, and in most cases, election results did not favor fossil fuels. … In particular, they point to the defeat of pro-coal Ken Cuccinelli by pro-regulation Terry McAuliffe in the race for governor of Virginia, a state that has long profited from the region’s coal industry.  ”This victory in Virginia is round one,” Michael Brune, executive director of Sierra Club, an environmental group that contributed to Mr. McAuliffe’s campaign, said in a statement late Tuesday. “Those running for office now must choose whether they stand with solutions or whether they stand in the way. The climate crisis won’t wait, and neither will we.” Voters in three Colorado cities choose to limit or outright ban the use of hydraulic fracturing in their communities. Boulder and Fort Collins placed five-year bans on the advanced drilling technique used to wring oil and gas from stubborn shale rock formations. Lafayette went one step further, banning any new oil and gas wells in town. A push to place a five-year moratorium in Broomfield, Colo., was narrowly defeated….

     

     

    The Political Scientist: Michael Mann’s Moment in the Campaign Spotlight

    6 November 2013 5:00 pm

    For climate researcher Michael Mann, yesterday’s elections marked the end of what has been an unusual—and perhaps unique—adventure in electoral politics for an academic scientist. The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, professor was recruited to spend days on the campaign trail with Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D), and he was even asked to introduce former President Bill Clinton at a major rally. And he was featured in millions of dollars’ worth of television ads attacking McAuliffe’s opponent, Ken Cuccinelli (R), the Virginia attorney general who launched a controversial investigation into research that Mann conducted when he worked at the University of Virginia (UVA). “Scientists by our nature try to avoid getting entangled in partisan politics, but in this case … I didn’t come to politics, politics came to me,” Mann told ScienceInsider today from his home in Pennsylvania, where he was working after a late night of watching election returns and celebrating McAuliffe’s narrow victory. But the “difficult decision” to get involved in the McAuliffe-Cuccinelli duel came down to one thing, he says: “I wanted to make sure that the forces of antiscience did not gain a stronger foothold in our politics, and that’s what a Cuccinelli victory would have meant. …  Here you had a candidate who not only rejected what science has to say about climate change, but felt it necessary to attack scientists.” Three years ago, when Cuccinelli launched his investigation of Mann, it was hard to imagine that the balding climate specialist would end up playing such an active role in thwarting the telegenic conservative star….

     

    Climate Change Rescue in U.S. Makes Steyer Converge With Paulson

    By Edward Robinson – Sep 30, 2013 9:00 PM PT Bloomberg Markets Magazine

    Robyn Twomey/Bloomberg Markets

    “We need to get rid of this idea that going with the status quo is a smart economic thing,” says billionaire Tom Steyer, who is funding an effort to make an economic case for addressing climate change. Billionaire Tom Steyer recalls a dinner at the U.S. Treasury in Washington with two senior department officials and six money managers. It was August 2012, and the meal was part of an effort by the agency to keep up with what the financial community was worrying about. The diners discussed China’s slowdown, Federal Reserve policy and other trends affecting the U.S. economy. Steyer says they were overlooking the biggest game changer of all. He told the group the country would have to overhaul its energy policy to address greenhouse gas emissions….His fellow guests were skeptical. ….

     

    Warsaw climate talks warned time is running out to close ‘emissions gap’

    UN calls on governments to step up action to prevent catastrophic climate change, reports BusinessGreen
    November 5 2013

    As world leaders prepare to meet in Poland for the latest United Nations summit on climate change, a major new report has warned that the chance to limit global temperature rises to below 2C is swiftly diminishing. The United Nations Environment Programme’s annual “Gap report”, issued on Tuesday aims to highlight the efforts needed by governments and businesses to avoid catastrophic climate change. This year’s report shows that even if nations meet their current climate pledges, greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 are likely to be eight to 12 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent (GtCO2e) above the level needed to have a good chance of remain below 2C by 2020 on the lowest cost pathway. The report shows that emissions should peak at 44 GtCO2e by 2020 and fall to 22GtCO2e by 2050 to stay within a 2C target, but under a business-as-usual scenario, which includes no emissions pledges, emissions would reach 59 GtCO2e in 2020. Even if countries deliver policies and investments that allow them to meet their current emissions targets, emissions would be just 3-7GtCO2e lower than the business-as-usual scenario, the report warns. Unep is now warning that rising emissions means it is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to limit warming to safe levels. However, it finds that it concludes it is still possible to meet a 2C target if leaders agree more ambitious targets for 2020. The report found governments could go half way to closing the emissions gap if they tightened rules governing existing pledges in the climate negotiations, achieved the top end of their current reduction pledges and further expanded the scope of their current commitments….

     

    Poland To Host Both UN Climate Change Conference And International Coal Summit

    Huffington Post

     - ‎November 8 2013‎

           

    Organizers say the International Coal and Climate Summit will bring together coal industry executives, policy-makers and others to “discuss the role of coal in the global economy, in the context of the climate change agenda.” In a statement Thursday to

     


    Changes to Fisheries Legislation Have Removed Habitat Protection for Most Fish Species in Canada



    November 7, 2013 — Federal government changes to Canada’s fisheries legislation “have eviscerated” the ability to protect habitat for most of the country’s fish species, scientists say in a new … > full story

     

    Fossil Fuels Receive $500 Billion A Year In Government Subsidies Worldwide

    By Emily Atkin on November 7, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Producers of oil, gas and coal received more than $500 billion in government subsidies around the world in 2011, with the richest nations collectively spending more than $70 billion every year to support fossil fuels.

    Those are the findings of a recent report by the Overseas Development Institute, a think tank based in the United Kingdom….

     

    The Climate Impact Of Canada’s Tar Sands Is Growing

    By Katie Valentine on November 7, 2013

    Canada’s tar sands are emitting more greenhouse gases per barrel now than they did five years ago, according to a new environmental report card. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers found per barrel greenhouse gas emissions for tar sands and other unconventional oil sources — like oil shale — have grown by 21 percent, from 90 million metric tons in 2008 to 109 million metric tons in 2012. The increase is the result of a growth in the production of tar sands and other sources of unconventional oil and is in spite of industry attempts to reduce the energy it consumes to produce tar sands, a fuel that’s among the most energy-intensive on Earth. The news could have implications for the U.S. government, which has yet to decide whether to approve the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. In his landmark climate address this summer, President Obama said he would only approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry tar sands crude from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, if the project “does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” …

     

     

    Top climate scientists ask environmentalists to support nuclear power in climate battle. Associated Press

    Some of the world’s top climate scientists say wind and solar energy won’t be enough to head off extreme global warming, and they’re asking environmentalists to support the development of safer nuclear power as one way to cut fossil fuel pollution.

     

    China’s Soviet-Style Suburbia Heralds Environmental Pain

    By Bloomberg News – Nov 7, 2013 1:41 AM PT

    Take away the haze of air pollution and Waterfront Corso Mansions near Tianjin might seem like an urban idyll for China’s growing population of city dwellers. Inside a gated compound, residential towers and houses overlook a lake and manicured gardens. What’s missing from the neighborhood are shops and amenities, turning the block and hundreds like it in the suburb of Meijiang into a giant dormitory for Tianjin, 40 minutes away by car.


    A pedestrian walks on a bridge in front of residential buildings in Tianjin, China. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

    …This is one of China’s superblocks, developments that are storing up a social, energy and environmental crisis by forcing millions of new urban middle-class residents to drive everywhere. As China’s ruling Communist Party convenes this week to debate an economic blueprint for the future, the Soviet-inspired urban plan pits municipal governments that rely on the land sales for a fifth of their revenue against Premier Li Keqiang, who is trying to balance urbanization with efforts to clean up the environment. What the U.S. did in the 1950s with 160 million people, China is doing now with more than a billion — moving to suburbia….

     

    Bill de Blasio’s biggest challenge is climate change

    New York’s new mayor-elect will have to deal with the costly impacts of global warming on his city. Failure to do would be even more expensive

    theguardian.com Thursday 7 November 2013 06.18 EST Ben Adler for Grist

    Bill de Blasio, New York City’s new mayor-elect, didn’t spend much time during the campaign talking about climate change, but he’ll likely spend a lot of his time at City Hall dealing with it. New York finds itself these days with an unusual conundrum: Its biggest problems are largely the byproduct of its biggest successes. Just 20 years ago, New York was, like American cities generally, blighted by rampant crime and less populated than at its mid-century heyday.…. But other serious challenges loom in New York’s future, even though they were hardly mentioned in this year’s mayoral campaign. Indeed, they are arguably already here: extreme weather events caused by climate change, and felt especially hard in coastal areas developed during the city’s boom years. New York is built on a collection of islands, with 520 miles of coastline and entire neighborhoods constructed on landfill. One year ago, Hurricane Sandy flooded New York’s low-lying neighborhoods, from Lower Manhattan to the Rockaways in southeastern Queens, leaving elderly, impoverished New Yorkers stranded in high-rise housing projects without power for weeks. Some families are still displaced, living seven to a hotel room. Global warming leads to melting polar ice caps, which lead to higher sea levels. Global warming is also raising surface water temperatures, leading to larger, more frequent storms. The former could permanently submerge miles of New York’s currently inhabited land, while the latter threatens to periodically topple buildings, destroy power stations, and knock trees onto cars. New York Harbor is where the Hudson River meets the Atlantic Ocean, and what we call the East and lower Hudson Rivers are actually tidal estuaries. Much of New York’s recent economic and real estate development has been in the very same waterfront areas that are most at risk from climate change. Tribeca, DUMBO, and Red Hook have seen former waterfront warehouses filled first with artists and then well-heeled professionals. A year ago, they saw neck-high water flowing through their streets…..

     

     

    California must adopt aggressive climate-change policies, report says

    Los Angeles Times

    Nov 6 2013

     
     

    Written by

    Tony Barboza

     
           

    California will fall short of its goal to slash greenhouse gas emissions by midcentury unless it adopts aggressive policies to fight climate change, a new report says. The state is still on track to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat

     

    Obama appoints Brown, Garcetti to climate-change task force

    Los Angeles Times 

    November 5, 2013

           

    Jerry Brown are among the state and local leaders named to a national task force that will recommend steps the federal government can take to help communities cope with climate change. President Obama established the task force last week when he ..

     

     

     

     

     

    High bat mortality from wind turbines
    November 8 2013

    A new estimate of bat deaths caused by wind turbines concludes that more than 600,000 of the mammals likely died this way in 2012 in the contiguous United States. The estimate, published in an article in BioScience, used sophisticated statistical techniques to infer the probable number of bat deaths at wind energy facilities from the number of dead bats found at 21 locations, correcting for the installed power capacity of the facilities. Bats, although not widely loved, play an important role in the ecosystem as insect-eaters, and also pollinate some plants. They are killed at wind turbines not only by collisions with moving turbine blades, but also by the trauma resulting from sudden changes in air pressure that occur near a fast-moving blade. The article by Mark Hayes of the University of Colorado notes that 600,000 is a conservative estimate; the actual figure could be 50 percent higher. The estimate is in rough agreement with some previous estimates, but bigger than most. The data that Hayes analyzed also suggest that some areas of the country might experience much higher bat fatality rates at wind energy facilities than others: the Appalachian Mountains have the highest estimated fatality rates in Hayes’s analysis. The consequences of deaths at wind energy facilities for bat populations are hard to assess because there are no high quality estimates of the population sizes of most North American bat species. But Hayes notes that bat populations are already under stress because of climate change and disease, in particular white-nose syndrome. The new estimate is therefore worrisome, especially as bat populations grow only very slowly, with most species producing only one young per year.

     

    Increasing Wind Turbine Turn-On Speeds Could Help Reduce Bat Deaths, New Study Says

    At the North American bat convention, biologists seek ways to reduce bat deaths at wind farms

    By Rebecca Boyle
    Posted 10.30.2010 at 2:30 pm

     

     

    Marshall Islands pioneers sustainable technology solutions to climate change

    The Guardian

    November 5, 2013

           

    But climate change has propelled the Pacific Ocean nation to the international centre stage. With its exposure to rising sea levels, the Marshall Islands are in peril of being the first country obliterated by climate change, but the country has seized

     

    Yet another Model S fire puts heat on Tesla

    CNBC.com

    November 7 2013

           

    A driver of a Tesla Model S in Tennessee escaped a fire without injury after puncturing the battery compartment, reports CNBC’s Phil LeBeau….

     

    Bringing sun’s light and energy to interior rooms: Innovative solar technology may lead to interior lighting revolution
    (November 6, 2013) — Researchers have seen the light — a bright, powerful light — and it just might change the future of how building interiors are brightened. In fact, that light comes directly from the sun. And with the help of tiny, electrofluidic cells and a series of open-air “ducts,” sunlight can naturally illuminate windowless work spaces deep inside office buildings and excess energy can be harnessed, stored and directed to other applications. … > full story

     

    The top 10 most energy-efficient states.
    Bloomberg News Debates persist over the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly mix of nuclear energy, coal, gas and liquid hydrocarbons and renewable sources. Too often left out of these discussions is the so-called fifth fuel: energy efficiency.

     

    Wind turbine collapses in Washington.
    Portland Oregonian
    Another of the thousands of wind turbines that now dot the Columbia Plateau has collapsed in a wind storm, this one at the Stateline wind farm near Touchet, Washington.

     

    Smart water meters stop money going down the drain
    (November 6, 2013) — Water is increasingly becoming one of Australia’s most precious commodities, yet leaking taps and pipes may be costing householders an extra 10 percent on their water bills. … > full story

     


    Thorium-Fueled Automobile Engine Needs Refueling Once a Century



    By: David Russell Schilling | October 28th, 2013  

     

     

     

    1. RESOURCES and REFERENCES

     
     

    Green Infrastructure Strategic Agenda

    The US EPA has released an updated Green Infrastructure Strategic Agenda and has created a greenstream listserv featuring updates on green infrastructure publications, training, and funding opportunities. If you’re interested in joining, send an email to join-greenstream@lists.epa.gov.

     

    Institute For Tribal Environmental Professionals

    Host institutions needed for summer interns working on climate or air quality

     

     

    WEBINARS:

     

    Impacts of Sea Level Rise on National Parks November 14, 2013 10:00-11:00am PST NOAA
    Climate change and sea level rise will challenge National Park efforts to protect natural and cultural resources and to provide visitor access and recreational opportunities.  Learn how several national parks are addressing these challenges.

    Click here, for more information

     

     

     

    UPCOMING CONFERENCES:

     

    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.

     

    Bay Area TRASH SUMMIT

    Friday, November 15, 2013 San Jose

    Join Bay Area cities, counties, agencies, and environmental organizations for a day of presentations and discussion about trash reduction and prevention.  

    Agenda Highlights: *Impacts of Litter on Aquatic Environments *Tobacco Product Litter *Engaging the Public in Trash Reduction *Food and Beverage Packaging Learn More and Register

     

    Eleventh Annual Workshop: Habitat Conservation Planning from Tahoe to the Bay

    November 20, 2013, Ulatis Community Center, Vacaville  Speakers and Presentations

    The Conservation Planning Partners is an ad-hoc association of eight County and Sub-county scale Habitat Conservation Plans and Natural Community Conservation Plans.

    County and sub-county scale Habitat Conservation Plans and Natural Community Conservation Plans are in preparation or being implemented in a number of counties in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sacramento Region.  These plans provide a means for the conservation of endangered species and contribute to the ir recovery, while allowing appropriate, compatible growth and development in the metropolitan areas.

     

    The Future of the Concrete Channel

    Thursday 21 November 2013, UC Berkeley

    Ubiquitous in the urban landscape, concrete channels embody a mid-20th-century attitude of subduing nature and maximizing developable land.  Yet these optimistically-engineering structures have proven hard to maintain, and society increasingly regrets the loss of riparian ecosystems and the opportunity for human recreation and renewal once offered by the natural streams.  As concrete channels inevitably age and reach the end of their design lives, river managers confront the question of what to do with this deteriorating infrastructure?  Can the channels be rebuilt or modified to pass floods increasing due to urbanization and climate change?  Or is this an opportunity to implement alternative approaches that restore valuable functions of natural rivers?  …..  The conference will wrap up with an exhibition of Concrete Channel Art.  ….For more information and to register, please visit the conference website:http://laep.ced.berkeley.edu/next100years/events/the-future-of-the-concrete-channel/

     

    The Great Basin: A Landscape Under Fire

    Dec 9-10, University of Nevada, Reno

    (Secretary Jewell invited keynote speaker)

     

    Introducing Green Infrastructure for Coastal Resilience
    December 12, 2013

    9:30am – 4:30 pm David Brower Center, Kinzie Room 741 Allston Way Berkeley, CA 94710

    Registration: To register, click here. Registration is limited to 41 participants and is expected to fill fast. The deadline to register is December 6, 2013.  

    A workshop sponsored by the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and NOAA Coastal Services Center.  Green Infrastructure incorporates the natural environment and constructed systems that mimic natural processes in an integrated network that benefits nature and people. A green infrastructure approach to community planning helps diverse community members come together to balance environmental and economic goals. This day-long workshop will include a morning introductory course and afternoon panels by local experts. Who Should Attend: City and county officials, Engineers, Floodplain managers, Landscape Architects, NGO’s, Planners, and other Decision Makers involved in Coastal Management Issues 

    This workshop is being developed in partnership by the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and NOAA Coastal Services Center. In addition, an advisory committee have provided feedback on the training including participants from: San Francisco Estuary PartnershipBay Area Ecosystems Climate Change ConsortiumSan Francisco Bay Conservation and Development CommissionCalifornia Coastal Conservancy and the Bay Institute. Questions? Contact Heidi Nutters, heidin@sfsu.edu, 415-338-3511 Feel free to forward this message to others who might be interested. 

     

    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.


    Communicating Climate Change: Effective skills for engaging stakeholders, partners and the public

    Sponsored by: Elkhorn Slough and San Francisco Bay Coastal Training Programs

    Presenter: Cara Pike, TRIG’s Social Capital Project/Climate Access 

    San Francisco Bay NERR                               or                                         Elkhorn Slough NERR

     February 4, 2014                                                                                         February 6, 2014

    Contact: Heidi Nutters, 415-338-3511                                                   Contact: Virginia Guhin, 831-274-8700

     

    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 Sponsored by the Ecological Society of America, American Geophysical Union, and US Geological Survey. More info is available here:  https://www.soils.org/meetings/specialized/ecosystem-services

     

    WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT 2014 Conference

    North Bay Watershed Association Friday, April 11, 2014 NOVATO, CA 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM PDT

    The conference will bring together key participants from around the North Bay to focus on how we can work together to manage our water resources.

    Keynote Speakers

    • Mark Cowin, Director, CA Department of Water Resources
    • Jared Huffman, U.S. Congressman, California 2nd District
    • Felicia Marcus, Chair, State Water Resources Control Board

    For more information or questions contact: Elizabeth Preim-Rohtla North Bay Watershed Association nbwa@marinwater.org 415-945-1475

     

    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:

     

    CA NRCS Announces Assistance for Catastrophic Fire Recovery

    DAVIS, Calif., Oct. 18, 2013—The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today announced that applications will be accepted to assist private landowners in California affected by wildfires in the last 18 months. Financial assistance for implementing conservation practices may be available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applications for this initiative can be submitted for primary consideration and ranking through Nov. 15, 2013

     

    Proposal Deadline: 3 December 2013 – Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Grants 2014

    The United States Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act established an annual, competitive grants program to support projects that promote the conservation of neotropical migratory birds and their habitats in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Because our Website was not available during the U.S. Federal government shutdown, the deadline for applying to the NMBCA program has been extended, and proposals are now due no later than 3 December 2013. All applications must be submitted through Grants.gov, a process that requires an active “Dun and Bradstreet number” (DUNS) and active registration in the “System for Award Management” (SAM).

     

    JOBS:

     

    National Audubon Society: Policy Director for California, based in San Francisco or Sacramento.

    Climate Protection Campaign Director of Development and Communications- Santa Rosa, CA (Sonoma County)

     

     

     

     

    1. OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    Nepal’s cawing ‘bird brother’ amazes crowds, raises awareness

    Reuters 

     - ‎Nov 2 2013‎

           

    “I told them to come, sit, be quiet and fly away,” said Sapkota, a 30-year-old school dropout who has been doing “crow shows” at schools since 2005 to entertain students and raise awareness about nature and the conservation of birds. He says he can …

     

    One dose of HPV vaccine may be enough to prevent cervical cancer
    (November 4, 2013) — Women vaccinated with one dose of a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine had antibodies against the viruses that remained stable in their blood for four years, suggesting that a single dose of vaccine may be sufficient to generate long-term immune responses and protection against new HPV infections, and ultimately cervical cancer. … > full story

    Health benefits of wild blueberries abound
    (November 6, 2013) — New research shows that regular long-term wild blueberry diets may help improve or prevent pathologies associated with the metabolic syndrome, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes. … > full story

    Responsibility requires a change of world view from companies
    (
    November 6, 2013) — Becoming a responsible actor and promoting sustainable development requires companies to adopt a new perspective on combining responsibility and strategy. One author states that market-oriented and image-centric corporate responsibility strategies cannot bring about sustainable development or the adoption of a responsible identity. In their place, he offers an awareness–sustainability approach that focuses on building a responsible corporate identity and operating on a sustainable basis. … > full story

     

     

     

    1. IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

     


    murmuration #4, 2013 inkjet on hahnemühle baryt, mounted on dibond, framed edition 7 + 2 e.a., 1/7 127 x 180 cm; 50 x70.9 inch; 4.2 x 5.9 feet

    the balletic murmurations of wild birds (click on link to see more photos, video)

    Designboom

     - ‎8 hours ago‎

           

    …the images of french photographer alain delorme seemingly capture a rare and extraordinary moment in the natural world: the murmurations of birds, balletic, synchronized, and dramatically graceful. however, upon closer inspection, the viewer discovers

     

     

     


     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Good Nature: Ellie Cohen and Andy Gunther, State of the Estuary Conference, 2013, by Richard Seagraves inspirationcampaign.org

     

    ————

    Ellie Cohen, President and CEO

    Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO)

    3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 11, Petaluma, CA 94954

    707-781-2555 x318

     

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

     

    Point Blue—Conservation science for a healthy planet.

     

  3. Conservation Science News November 1, 2013

    Leave a Comment

    Focus of the WeekSlowdown in CO2 Emissions Rise- sign of permanent slowdown in rate of increase?

    1-ECOLOGY, BIODIVERSITY, RELATED

    2-CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

    3-
    POLICY

    4- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED

    5-
    RESOURCES and REFERENCES

    6-OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST 

    7-IMAGES OF THE WEEK

    ——————————–

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


    The items contained in this update were drawn from www.dailyclimate.org, www.sciencedaily.com, SER The Society for Ecological Restorationhttp://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.slate.com, www.sfgate.com, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, www.blm.gov/ca/news/newsbytes/2012/529.html and other sources as indicated.  This is a compilation of information available on-line, not verified and not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  
    You can sign up for the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative ListServe or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium listserve to receive this or you can email me directly at Ellie Cohen, ecohen at pointblue.org if you want your name added to or dropped from this list. 

    Point Blue’s 140 scientists advance nature-based solutions to climate change, habitat loss and other environmental threats to benefit wildlife and people, through bird and ecosystem science, partnerships and outreach.

     

     

    Focus of the Week- Slowdown in CO2 Emissions Rise- sign of permanent slowdown in rate of increase?

     

     

    Report suggests slowdown in CO2 emissions rise

    October 31 2013 By Matt McGrath Environment correspondent, BBC News

     

    Global emissions of carbon dioxide may be showing the first signs of a “permanent slowdown” in the rate of increase. According to a new report, emissions in 2012 increased at less than half the average over the past decade. Key factors included the shift to shale gas for energy in the US while China increased its use of hydropower by 23%. However the use of cheap coal continues to be an issue, with UK consumption up by almost a quarter. The report on trends in global emissions has been produced annually by the Netherlands Environment Assessment Agency and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre. It finds that emissions of carbon dioxide reached a new record in 2012 of 34.5bn tonnes. But the rate of increase in CO2 was 1.4%, despite the global economy growing by 3.5%.

    This decoupling of emissions from economic growth is said to be down to the use of less fossil fuels, more renewable energy and increased energy savings. ….

     

    Trends in global CO2 emissions: 2013 report

    Report | 31-10-2013

    Actual global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached a new record of 34.5 billion tonnes in 2012. Yet, the increase in global CO2 emissions in that year slowed down to 1.1% (or 1.4%, not accounting the extra day in the leap year), which was less than half the average annual increase of 2.9% over the last decade. This development signals a shift towards less fossil-fuel-intensive activities, more use of renewable energy and increased energy saving.

    Links

     

    2012 sees slowdown in the increase in global CO2 emissions

    Three countries/regions remain responsible for 55% of total global CO2 emissions [China, EU, US]. Of these three, China (29% share) increased its CO2 emissions by 3%, which is low compared with annual increases of about 10% over the last decade. Although China’s CO2 emissions per capita are comparable to those in the EU and almost half of the US emissions per capita, its CO2 emissions per USD in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) are almost double those in the EU and the United States and similar to those in the Russian Federation. In the United States (16% share) CO2 emissions decreased by 4%, mainly because of a further shift from coal to gas in the power sector. The European Union (11% share) saw its emissions decrease by 1.6%, mainly due to a decrease in energy consumption ( oil and gas) and a decrease in road freight transport.

     

     

    An accelerated growth in renewable energy

    Energy carriers in the primary energy supply all showed continuous increases over the past decade, except for nuclear energy, which decreased since 2012 in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident. Renewable energy has shown an accelerated increase since 2002: the use of hydropower has shown an accelerated growth since 2002 and its output increased by 4.3% from 2011 to 2012. The share of the ‘new’ renewable energy sources solar, wind energy and biofuels also increased at an accelerating speed: from 1992 it took 15 years for the share to double from 0.5% to 1.1%, but only 6 more years to do so again, to 2.4% by 2012.

     

    More permanent slowdown?

    The small increase in emissions of 1.1% in 2012 (including a downward correction of 0.3% for it being a leap year), may be the first sign of a more permanent slowdown in the increase in global CO2 emissions, and ultimately of declining global emissions, if (a) China achieves its own target for a maximum level of energy consumption by 2015 and its shift to gas with a natural gas share of 10% by 2020; (b) the United States continues a shift in its energy mix towards more gas and renewable energy; and (c) in the European Union, Member States agree on restoring the effectiveness of the EU Emissions Trading System to further reduce actual emissions. These preliminary estimates have been made by PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC).

    The report is based on recent results from the Emissions Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR) and the latest statistics on energy use and various other activities.

     

     

     

     

     

    Tagging aquatic animals can disrupt natural behavior
    (October 31, 2013) — American and Canadian researchers have for the first time quantified the energy cost to aquatic animals when they carry satellite tags, video cameras and other research instruments. … Studying fibreglass casts of sea turtles in a wind tunnel, the team found that while most commercially available tags increased drag by less than five per cent for large adult animals in the wild, these same devices increased drag by more than 100 per cent on smaller or juvenile animals.

    “Many marine animals make yearlong breeding migrations crossing entire oceans, while others may rely on high speeds and acceleration — enabling them to catch prey or to escape predators,” says T. Todd Jones, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center in Hawaii, who led the study while a doctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia.

    “If the drag costs from carrying tags disrupts their natural behaviour, they may miss out on breeding and foraging seasons, be unable to catch enough food, or even end up becoming someone else’s meal.”

    The study, published today in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution, also includes a universal formula that allows scientists to calculate drag for a wide range of marine species including turtles, mammals, fish, and diving birds to inform study design…..> full story

     

    T. Todd Jones, Kyle S. Van Houtan, Brian L. Bostrom, Peter Ostafichuk, Jon Mikkelsen, Emre Tezcan, Michael Carey, Brittany Imlach, Jeffrey A. Seminoff. Calculating the ecological impacts of animal-borne instruments on aquatic organisms. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12109

     


    Fish Population Recovery in Marine Reserve



    October 25, 2013 — Protection in the Medes Islands marine reserve started more than 25 years ago. Dusky grouper, zebra seabream and European seabass have practically reached their carrying capacity, whereas brown … > full story

     

    Pronghorn warming to safe passages: Scientists observe as pronghorn use overpass without hesitation
    (October 31, 2013) — Scientists observing the fall migration of pronghorn from Grand Teton National Park to the Upper Green River Basin announced that for the second year, the animals have successfully used the newly constructed overpasses that provide safe passage over U.S. Highway 191 in Trapper’s Point, Wyoming. More telling, the scientists report that unlike the first year, the pronghorn showed no hesitation in using the overpass and have apparently adapted to the structure. … > full story

     

    First look at diverse life below rare tallgrass prairies
    (October 31, 2013)
    For the first time, a research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder has gotten a peek at another vitally important but rarely considered community that also once called the tallgrass prairie home: the diverse assortment of microbes that thrived in the dark, rich soils beneath the grass. “These soils played a huge role in American history because they were so fertile and so incredibly productive,” said Noah Fierer, a fellow at CU-Boulder’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) and lead author of the study published today in the journal Science. “They don’t exist anymore except in really small parcels. This is our first glimpse into what might have existed across the whole range.”. … “It was very hard to find sites that we knew had never been tilled,” Fierer said. “As soon as you till a soil, it’s totally different. Most gardeners are familiar with that.”full story

     

    Ancient bees could have died out with the dinosaurs

    WSOC Charlotte

     - ‎Oct 26, 2013‎

           

    According to a new study, the unknown event that killed off the dinosaurs millions of years ago could be the same event that wiped out ancient bees as well.

     

    Local communities produce high-quality forest monitoring data, rivals that of professional foresters
    (October 28, 2013) — A recent study by researchers at the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre and European and Southeast Asian institutions finds that local communities — using simple tools like ropes and sticks — can produce forest carbon data on par with results by professional foresters using high-tech devices. … > full story

    Paleontologist presents origin of life theory
    (October 29, 2013) — Meteorite bombardment left large craters that contained water and chemical building blocks for life, which ultimately led to the first organisms, according to one origin of life theory. … > full story

    New global policy effort to tackle crisis of plastic litter in oceans urged
    (October 29, 2013) — A new report explores the sources and impacts of plastic marine litter, and offers domestic and international policy recommendations to tackle these growing problems — a targeted, multifaceted approach aimed at protecting ocean wildlife, coastal waters and economies, and human health. … > full story

    Bottom-feeding behavior of humpback whales confirmed
    (October 30, 2013) — Scientists have confirmed that humpback whales in the southern Gulf of Maine are spending more feeding time on the ocean floor than in any of their known feeding behaviors, putting them at risk for entanglement in bottom-set fishing gear like lobster traps. … > full story

    Porpoises on European coasts maintain their populations but migrate southwards
    (October 30, 2013) — Seven oceanographic research vessels and three light aircraft from the SCANSII Project have recorded the abundance and distribution of small cetaceans in the waters of the European Atlantic shelf. Their results reveal that the harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena, also known as the common porpoise) is the most abundant on these shores and the only species that has moved further southwards to live. … > full story

    New species of dolphin found in Australian waters
    (October 29, 2013) — A species of humpback dolphin previously unknown to science is swimming in the waters off northern Australia, according to biologists. … > full story

     

    Echolocation: Bats and whales behave in surprisingly similar ways
    (October 29, 2013) — Sperm whales weigh up to 50 tons, and the smallest bat barely reaches a gram. Nevertheless, the two species share the same success story: They both have developed the ability to use echolocation — a biological sonar — for hunting. Now researchers show that the biosonar of toothed whales and bats share surprisingly many similarities — even though they live in very different environments and vary extremely in size. … > full story

    Earthworms invade New England
    (October 29, 2013) — At least 16 species of earthworms are now found in Vermont and elsewhere in New England. All are exotic and many are invasive. As they spread, they devour organic matter, disrupting forests and releasing carbon dioxide. But they also store carbon deep in the soil. So, do the worms, on balance, slow or accelerate climate change? Vermont researchers are on the case. … > full story

    Green flame moths: Scientists discover two new Limacodidae species from China and Taiwan
    (October 29, 2013) — Due to their distinguishable vibrant green wing patterns the moths from the Parasa undulata group contain some of the most exciting species within the Limacodidae family. A revision of the group in China and Taiwan presents two exciting new species, with a flame-like green wing pattern and the first record of a conifer-feeding caterpillar. … > full story

     

     

    Opinion: The climate change era is already upon us

    We’re beyond debating the existence of climate change. Impacts we’re seeing now should compel us to reduce emissions further and start planning in earnest. It’s time to quit dithering.

    By Jane Lubchenco and Thomas E. Lovejoy Oct. 28, 2013 The Daily Climate

    We have been given a sobering glimpse into the speed of our changing climate and the vulnerabilities of our world. It turns out we must focus greater attention to the tropics, where so much of humanity and wildlife live, and to our oceans. While policymakers posture, dither and deny, the unraveling has already begun. A sophisticated analysis, published in the premier scientific journal Nature by a team of young scientists at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, shows that impacts of climate change are already dramatic, with much more to come. While policymakers posture, dither and deny, the unraveling has already begun. Many changes will continue in the years ahead, but we can slow them and buffer some of their impacts – if we act. Using as a baseline the observed temperatures our world has known since 1860, when records first became reliable, biologist Camilo Mora and his co-authors sought to determine when future temperatures will move beyond the bounds of historical ranges. Others have examined how average temperatures will change; the Mora team examined how the full range of temperatures is changing, compared to historic ranges.  They come to the surprising conclusion that the tropics are particularly vulnerable. A shift out of the observed range of temperatures is expected as soon as 2020. When that happens, the coldest temperatures will be warmer than the hottest in the past. The implications for people, food supplies and biodiversity are tremendous. Over the next three decades, many of the rest of the world’s ecosystems – the deserts and jungles, the temperate zones, the polar regions – will likely move outside of temperature ranges that have nurtured life as we know it. Within 35 years or so, most cities on earth will be living in a climate different from that upon which we have built our societies and civilizationExamining changes other than temperature, the University of Hawaii team found that the oceans are already outside the historic range of variability for acidity. Oceans today are 30 percent more acidic than 150 years ago. And life in oceans is already showing signs of this stress. These findings and forecasts are startling, but there is some good news: This analysis found that if we reduce the amount of climate-altering emissions over the next few decades, we have the power to slow these changes significantly. These results do not mean polar regions won’t see significant shifts. Or that ecosystems won’t prove flexible or resilient. But we have every reason to expect these climate changes will radically reorganize ecosystems, with unknown consequences to humanity. We have every reason to expect these climate changes will radically reorganize ecosystems, with unknown consequences to humanity. As a professor of marine biology at Oregon State University and former administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a professor of science and public policy at George Mason University, we see in this study a powerful message to citizens and policymakers alike: It’s time to take action. A year ago, James Hansen, formerly of NASA, and his co-authors added a significant measure of understanding by looking at observed weather extremes over the last 30 years, particularly heat waves, compared to historical records. They found that we had lived through an exponential increase in outside-the-norm heat waves globally. This study by Mora and his co-authors adds an important measure to our knowledge. We’re beyond debating the existence of climate change, and onto documenting and forecasting how quickly it takes shape around us. Shouldn’t we also be acting to slow the changes and to be prepared for what has been set in motion? 

    Jane Lubchenco is former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator and a professor of marine biology at Oregon State University. Thomas E. Lovejoy is professor of science and public policy at George Mason University. The Daily Climate is an independent news service covering energy, the environment and climate change. Find us on Twitter @TheDailyClimate or email editor Douglas Fischer at dfischer [at] DailyClimate.org

     

     


    Geoengineering the Climate Could Reduce Vital Rains



    October 31, 2013 — Although a significant build-up in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere would alter worldwide precipitation patterns, a widely discussed technological approach to reduce future global warming would also interfere with rainfall and snowfall, new research shows. The international study, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), finds that global warming caused by a massive increase in greenhouse gases would spur a nearly 7 percent average increase in precipitation compared to preindustrial conditions. But trying to resolve the problem through “geoengineering” could result in monsoonal rains in North America, East Asia, and other regions dropping by 5-7 percent compared to preindustrial conditions. Globally, average precipitation could decrease by about 4.5 percent. “Geoengineering the planet doesn’t cure the problem,” says NCAR scientist Simone Tilmes, lead author of the new study. “Even if one of these techniques could keep global temperatures approximately balanced, precipitation would not return to preindustrial conditions.”….> full story

     

    Simone Tilmes, John Fasullo, Jean-Francois Lamarque, Daniel R. Marsh, Michael Mills, Kari Alterskjaer, Helene Muri, Jón E. Kristjánsson, Olivier Boucher, Michael Schulz, Jason N. S. Cole, Charles L. Curry, Andy Jones, Jim Haywood, Peter J. Irvine, Duoying Ji, John C. Moore, Diana B. Karam, Ben Kravitz, Philip J. Rasch, Balwinder Singh, Jin-Ho Yoon, Ulrike Niemeier, Hauke Schmidt, Alan Robock, Shuting Yang, Shingo Watanabe. The hydrological impact of geoengineering in the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP). Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 2013; 118 (19): 11,036 DOI: 10.1002/jgrd.50868

     

    Ocean Absorbing Heat 15 Times Faster Than Any Point in Last 10000 Years

    Nature World News

    November 1, 2013 The ocean is currently absorbing heat 15 times faster than at any point in the last 10,000 years, researchers have uncovered. (Photo : Reuters).

     

    Is Global Heating Hiding out in the Oceans? Parts of Pacific Warming 15 Times Faster Than in Past 10,000 Years

    October 31, 2013 — In a reconstruction of Pacific Ocean temperatures in the last 10,000 years, researchers have found that its middle depths have warmed 15 times faster in the last 60 years than they did during … A recent slowdown in global warming has led some skeptics to renew their claims that industrial carbon emissions are not causing a century-long rise in Earth’s surface temperatures. But rather than letting humans off the hook, a new study in the leading journal Science adds support to the idea that the oceans are taking up some of the excess heat, at least for the moment. In a reconstruction of Pacific Ocean temperatures in the last 10,000 years, researchers have found that its middle depths have warmed 15 times faster in the last 60 years than they did during apparent natural warming cycles in the previous 10,000.> full story

     

     

    Thawing permafrost: The speed of coastal erosion in Eastern Siberia has nearly doubled
    (October 29, 2013)
    The high cliffs of Eastern Siberia — which mainly consist of permafrost — continue to erode at an ever quickening pace. This is the conclusion which scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Resear
    ch have reached after their evaluation of data and aerial photographs of the coastal regions for the last 40 years. According to the researchers, the reasons for this increasing erosion are rising summer temperatures in the Russian permafrost regions as well the retreat of the Arctic sea ice. This coastal protection recedes more and more on an annual basis. As a result, waves undermine the shores. At the same time, the land surface begins to sink. The small island of Muostakh east of the Lena Delta is especially affected by these changes. Experts fear that it might even disappear altogether should the loss of land continue.. …
    The warmer the east Siberian permafrost regions become, the quicker the coast erodes. “If the average temperature rises by 1 degree Celsius in the summer, erosion accelerates by 1.2 metres annually,” says AWI geographer Frank Günther, who investigates the causes of the coastal breakdown in Eastern Siberia together with German and Russian colleagues, and who has published his findings in two scientific articles.full story

     

    Melting Arctic sea ice could increase summer rainfall in northwest Europe suggests new study
    (October 28, 2013) — A new study offers an explanation for the extraordinary run of wet summers experienced by Britain and northwest Europe between 2007 and 2012. The study found that loss of Arctic sea ice shifts the jet stream further south than normal resulting in increased rain during the summer in northwest Europe.

    Dr James Screen from the University of Exeter used a computer model to investigate how the dramatic retreat of Arctic sea ice influences the European summer climate. He found that the pattern of rainfall predicted by the model closely resembles the rainfall pattern of recent summers. The study is published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

    Dr Screen said: “The results of the computer model suggest that melting Arctic sea ice causes a change in the position of the jet stream and this could help to explain the recent wet summers we have seen.Jet streams are currents of strong winds high in the atmosphere — around the height at which aeroplanes fly. These winds steer weather systems and their rain. Normally in summer the jet stream lies between Scotland and Iceland and weather systems pass north of Britain. When the jet stream shifts south in summer, it brings unseasonable wet weather to Britain and northwest Europe causing havoc for tourism and farming….full story

     

     

     

     

    Officials Search For Plan As California Reservoirs Drop Below Half Capacity

    By Ari Phillips on October 31, 2013 at 10:08 am

    A Sierra Nevada reservoir. CREDIT: Shutterstock: Katarish

    California is known for its massive water infrastructure in which northern reservoirs, which fill up from the Sierra Nevada snowpack, supply the populous southern and coastal regions of the state. However going into a third year of dry winter conditions, many of these northern man-made oases are at precariously low levels, hovering between one-third and one-half capacity, far less than the average for October. More than 20 million Californians and many farmers in the state’s crop-intensive Central Valley depend on northern reservoirs for their water. “Both the State Water Project and federal Central Valley Project heavily depend on the Sierra Nevada snowpack,” Mark Cowin, director of the state Department of Water Resources, told The Fresno Bee. “We are now facing real trouble if 2014 is dry.” Cowin said that dwindling reservoirs should be a wake-up call to Californians, and indicate that it’s time to prepare for additional water-conservation measures. Pete Lucero of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, owner of the Central Valley Project, told the Fresno Bee that January through May 2013 were California’s driest in about 90 years of recordkeeping. Currently the San Luis Reservoir, which gets water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, is only 22 percent of its historical average for this time of year. At a recent workshop that brought together leaders to hear about California’s water challenges, Cowin said that decades of disagreement among environmentalists, farmers, water agencies, and other interests in various parts of California has “resulted in gridlock.” And that with “environmental laws, climate change, and population growth intensifying the conflict, there’s simply no time to waste.”…

     

     

    Warm winters let trees sleep longer
    (October 30, 2013) — In the temperate zones, vegetation follows the change of the seasons. Researchers have now brought a new correlation to light: The colder the winter, the earlier native plants begin to grow again. Since warmer winters can be expected as the climate changes, the spring development phase for typical forest trees might start later and later — giving an advantage to shrubs and invasive trees that don’t depend on the cold. … > full story

     

    Reading Ancient Climate from Plankton Shells

    Oct. 25, 2013 — Climate changes from millions of years ago are recorded at daily rate in ancient sea shells, new research shows. A huge X-ray microscope has revealed growth bands in plankton shells that show how shell chemistry records the sea temperature. The results could allow scientists to chart short timescale changes in ocean temperatures hundreds of millions of years ago. Plankton shells show features like tree rings, recording historical climate. It’s important to understand current climate change in the light of how climate has varied in the geological past. One way to do this, for the last few thousand years, is to analyse ice from the poles. The planet’s temperature and atmosphere are recorded by bubbles of ancient air trapped in polar ice cores. The oldest Antarctic ice core records date back to around 800,000 years ago. Results just published in the journal Earth and Planetary Sciences Letters reveal how ancient climate change, pushing back hundreds of millions of years ago into deep time, is recorded by the shells of oceanic plankton. As microbial plankton grow in ocean waters, their shells, made of the mineral calcite, trap trace amounts of chemical impurities, maybe only a few atoms in a million getting replaced by impurity atoms. Scientists have noticed that plankton growing in warmer waters contain more impurities, but it has not been clear how and why this “proxy” for temperature works. When the plankton die, they fall to the muddy ocean floor, and can be recovered today from that muddy ocean floor sediments, which preserve the shells as they are buried. The amount of impurity, measured in fossil plankton shells, provides a record of past ocean temperature, dating back more than 100 million years ago….….”These growth bands in plankton show the day by day variations in magnesium in the shell at a 30 nanometre length scale. For slow-growing plankton it opens the way to seeing seasonal variations in ocean temperatures or plankton growth in samples dating back tens to hundreds of millions of years,” says Professor Simon Redfern, one of the experimenters on the project.
    “Our X-ray data show that the trace magnesium sits inside the crystalline mineral structure of the plankton shell. That’s important because it validates previous assumptions about using magnesium contents as a measure of past ocean temperature.” The chemical environment of the trace elements in the plankton shell, revealed in the new measurements, shows that the magnesium sits in calcite crystal replacing calcium, rather than in microbial membranes in their impurities in the shell. This helps explain why temperature affects the chemistry of plankton shells — warmer waters favour increased magnesium in calcite.

     

    Oscar Branson, Simon A.T. Redfern, Tolek Tyliszczak, Aleksey Sadekov, Gerald Langer, Katsunori Kimoto, Henry Elderfield. The coordination of Mg in foraminiferal calcite. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 2013; 383: 134 DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2013.09.037

     

     

    Managing Forests and Fire in Changing Climates

    In the October 4, 2013 issue of the journal Science, seven highly respected wildland fire scientists summarize their recommendations for sustainable wildland fire and forest management in the face of climate change. In “Managing Forests and Fire in Changing Climates” , the authors present a straightforward set of policy recommendations that highlight the importance of acknowledging diversity in fire ecology among forest types, and the unsustainable nature of suppression-focused policy. Read it here

     

    Rim Fire Near Yosemite
    Fully Contained After More Than 2 Months

    CBS Local ‎- October 26 2013

    A wildfire that burned more than 250000 acres in and around Yosemite National Park has been fully contained, the U.S. Forest Service said this 

    For more information see: http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3660/

     


    ‘Orange slime’ used for fighting fires heats debate

    The retardant is artificially colored bright red so that during a fire Cal Fire crews know where each drop started and left off. Cal Fire Air Technician Kevin Reed takes a handful of retardant at the Cal Fire Air Attack Base in Hemet, Calif. – one of 12 bases of its kind in California.

    - Maya Sugarman

    by Sanden Totten Marketplace for Tuesday, October 29, 2013
    Story

    During wildfire season, the nightly news often shows images of tanker planes dropping orange liquid near the infernos. That’s fire retardant, a substance designed to slow and, in some cases, halt a blaze. On average, California uses more retardant than any other state, but some forest service employees argue the substance doesn’t work when it matters most. Up close, retardant looks like carrot juice and feels like slime.  It’s totally safe for people to touch, says Kevin Reed. He works for the state agency CalFire at Hemet Ryan Air Attack Base and is in charge of preparing the retardant.

    He says it’s orange so firefighters can see it from the air. Retardant is mostly ammonium phosphate, a substance often used as fertilizer, says George Matousek with the company Phos-Chek, the only supplier of retardant in the U.S. When ammonium phosphate-covered wood feels the heat of an oncoming flame a reaction occurs, Matousek says. The phosphate converts the woody material into an almost pure form of carbon. Think of diamond or graphite. Pure carbon does not burn….

     

     

    Warming will disturb balance of soil nutrients in drylands, make drylands less productive
    (October 30, 2013)An increase in aridity due to global warming will disturb the balance of nutrients in the soil and reduce productivity of the world’s drylands, which support millions of people, a landmark study predicts. The research was conducted by a global collaboration of scientists who studied sites in 16 countries. It shows that increasing aridity is associated with a reduction in carbon and nitrogen in the soil and an increase in phosphorus. … The results are published in the journal Nature.

    Drylands cover about 41 per cent of Earth’s land surface and support more than 38 per cent of the world’s population,” says Professor Eldridge, who also works for the NSW Office of Environment & Heritage. “As the world’s population grows, people will increasingly rely on marginal lands — particularly drylands — for production of food, wood and biofuels. But these ecosystems will be severely affected by imbalances in the cycle of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus.” A worldwide decrease in soil moisture ranging from 5-15 per cent has been predicted for the 2080-2099 period. Phosphorus in rocks and sediments is released into the soil by weathering, and levels are expected to increase as soils become drier and erode more. This increase in phosphorus will be accompanied by reductions in carbon and nitrogen, which are more dependent on biological processes such as litter decomposition, photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation. Reduced plant cover will also exacerbate this effect.

    “Plants need all of these elements, in the correct amounts and at the right times, but increasing aridity will upset this balance, leading to a breakdown in essential soil processes,” says Professor Eldridge….. > full story

     

    Delgado-Baquerizo, et al Decoupling of soil nutrient cycles as a function of aridity in global drylands. Nature, 2013; 502 (7473): 672 DOI: 10.1038/nature12670

     

     

    Redwood trees reveal history of west coast rain, fog, ocean conditions
    (October 29, 2013) — Scientists have found a way to use coastal redwood trees as a window into historic climate, using oxygen and carbon atoms in the wood to detect fog and rainfall in previous seasons. … > full story

     


    Residents Weigh Global Benefits, Local Risks in Views of Climate Change Measures



    October 31, 2013 — A survey of Indiana residents tracks public acceptance of potential measures to address climate change in their … > full story

     

     

    Heat, Drought Draw Farmers Back To Sorghum, The ‘Camel Of Crops’

    by Dan Charles NPR October 31, 2013 4:56 PM 4 min 19 sec

    A test field of sorghum outside Manhattan, Kan., planted by Kansas State University. Dan Charles/NPR

    Much of the world is turning hotter and dryer these days, and it’s opening new doors for a water-saving cereal that’s been called “the camel of crops”: sorghum. In an odd twist, this old-fashioned crop even seems to be catching on among consumers who are looking for “ancient grains” that have been relatively untouched by modern agriculture. Sorghum isn’t nearly as famous as the big three of global agriculture: corn, rice and wheat. But maybe it should be. It’s a plant for tough times, and tough places.

    Sorghum “originated in the northeastern quadrant of Africa,” explains , a plant scientist from Ethiopia and professor at Purdue University. From there, it spread across Africa, India and even into China. “It’s got a lot of characteristics that make it a favorite crop for the drylands of Africa and the semi-arid tropics.”

    It’s an essential source of food in those regions, but it’s not typically a big money crop. In Africa, it’s grown by subsistence farmers. It’s never gotten much attention from seed companies or investors.But it is nutritious. It can grow in soils that other plants won’t tolerate. Above all, it doesn’t need much water. Compared with corn, for instance, it needs one-third less water, and it doesn’t give up and wilt when rains don’t come on time. It waits for moisture to arrive…..

     

     

    Natural Allies for the Next Sandy

    Aerial image by PictometryAn aerial image of two salt marsh islands in Jamaica Bay, N.Y., where work is being done to restore the natural storm barriers.

    By HENRY FOUNTAIN NY Times Published: October 28, 2013

    The floodwaters from Hurricane Sandy had barely receded in New York last fall when the suggestions started coming for ways to keep the city and other low-lying areas safe in future storms. Higher flood walls and more bulkheads were needed, some experts said. Others called for even bigger engineering projects, like storm-surge barriers, to keep the water at bay. But the most intriguing suggestions involved natural approaches. Why not return New York to its glory days as an oyster capital, some argued, and build reefs in the harbor that could help beat down a storm’s waves? Why not turn Lower Manhattan into an aquatic Shangri-La, fringing it in marshland that could reduce surging storm waters? “A lot of people want wetlands to be a solution, instead of walls,” said Philip Orton, a research scientist who studies storm surges at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J. “It’s a warm and fuzzy thing.” But natural features are, at best, an uncertain solution. While some natural barriers like dunes have been shown to be very effective at absorbing much of a storm’s energy — during Sandy, shore towns with dunes suffered less damage generally than those without — it is less clear that marshes, oyster reefs, kelp beds or the like provide much protection. Interactions between a storm and natural features are complex, and the dynamics of every storm are different, scientists say, making protection difficult to quantify. “There’s a lot of people saying that wetlands can reduce storm surges,” said Rusty Feagin, an ecologist at Texas A&M University. “There isn’t a lot of empirical evidence on it.” Proponents of a natural approach say their research shows that wetlands and reefs can offer some protection, especially from waves. They note that engineered solutions like sea walls have their own problems — for one thing, they can worsen flooding and erosion elsewhere. And marshes and oyster beds provide other benefits to ecosystems. Marshes, for example, can keep up with rising sea levels brought on by climate change, because as the marsh grasses slow down water, sediment carried by the water settles out, building up the soil. And oysters filter impurities, improving water quality. …

     

     

    Coral reefs may be able to adapt to moderate climate change
    (October 29, 2013) — Coral reefs may be able to adapt to moderate climate warming, improving their chance of surviving through the end of this century, if there are large reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new study. Results further suggest corals have already adapted to part of the warming that has occurred. … > full story

     

    Long-term forecasts of heat waves?

    Post date: October 27, 2013 UCAR

    Scientists find that an atmospheric pattern can foreshadow the emergence of summertime heat waves in the United States more than two weeks in advance.

     

     

    Preparing for extreme weather.
    Donna Bryson October 26, 2013 Al Jazeera America
    BOULDER, Colo. — Hurricane Katrina wreaks havoc on the Gulf Coast in 2005. Superstorm Sandy brings destruction to the East Coast in 2012. Heavy rains in the middle of the country lead to flooding in the rugged Rocky Mountains in 2013. Each crisis brings greater urgency to preparations for the next storm. Scientists disagree on whether climate change is causing these cataclysms, but agree that humans, whose carbon emissions have altered the environment, need to change their thinking and habits to reflect the new, powerful effects of disastrous weather. “All weather events these days are affected by climate change,” argues Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder and a lead author of several assessments by the United Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Extreme events like Sandy “are developing in an environment that is different than it would have been without climate change,” he told Al Jazeera. For instance, climate change has made our world wetter, meaning storms pack more water power: “It rains harder, the storms tend to be a bit stronger,” Trenberth said. Environmental impact is cumulative. Take Colorado, for instance, where scientists say a native beetle that would have been kept in check by periodic cold weather thrived during warmer winters. This upset a balance that had kept beetles from infesting and killing large swaths of forest. That damage, combined with drought — like warming winters, a phenomenon Trenberth links to climate change — killed an inordinate number of trees. The dead, dry wood helped fuel major forest fires. When the fires were followed by heavier rains than usual, little vegetation was left to hold back the soil, leading to land- and mudslides this September.

     

    UK Braces for Severe Storm

    ABC News

     - ‎October 27, 2013‎

           

    The worst storm in several years is forecast to hit the U.K. on Sunday, bringing heavy rain, hurricane-force winds and the expectation of flooding and transport disruption.

     

    Climate change to drive annual temps to new highs within a generation, study says

    CNN

     - ‎Oct 10, 2013‎

           

    (CNN) — Average annual temperatures will start to consistently exceed the highest levels previously recorded in as little as seven years in tropical hotspots and within four decades for the majority of the globe if nothing is done to stop climate change

     

     

    Humble clumps of moss yield sobering climate surprises. Oct 24 2013 Discover It has been something of an article of faith among skeptics of humanity’s role in global warming: The rise in temperatures observed in recent decades can’t be definitively pinned on humans because nature has produced temperatures during the past 11,000 years that were just as warm. But now, research involving moss that died at least 40,000 years ago has debunked this argument. …

     

     

    In The Long Run, Rebuilding Coastlines Could Prove Too Costly—A YEAR AFTER HURRICANE SANDY….

    NPR October 27, 2013 7:46 AM 5 min 19 sec

    One year ago Tuesday, Hurricane Sandy bore down on the East Coast, devastating shoreline communities from Florida to Maine. Many of these areas have been rebuilt, including the Long Beach boardwalk, about 30 miles outside New York City. Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new boardwalk Friday. Ninety percent of the funding for the restoration came from the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency paid $44 million to repair the devastation. … But should the federal government pay for shore restorations, when the beaches are sure to be hit and damaged by future storms? Rob Young, who directs the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University, is one of many geologists who say taxpayers are shelling out too much cash to rebuild coastal areas that will continue to be ravaged by the effects of climate change. “After storms, the federal government creates this moral hazard, in my opinion,” Young says. “We spend billions of dollars rebuilding coastal communities, a lot of it in place. The argument for the spending is that the coastal economy is worth the money. But Young asks, “If the coastal economy is that strong and vibrant, why can’t they pay for the risk of being here themselves?” Young suggests that some coastal areas should be abandoned altogether because climate change is eating away at the nation’s shorelines. The primary response post-Sandy has been to elevate some homes and elevate some infrastructure,” he says. “So it’s like you’re standing in the river and the flood is coming, and instead of getting out of the river, you just roll up your pant legs, or hike up your skirt.”… Mayor Michael Bloomberg set up a task force to look at how the city could better protect itself from a rising sea level and increasing storm events linked to climate change. Seth Pinsky, who ran that task force and is now executive vice president of RXR Realty, agrees that certain parts of Manhattan are vulnerable during storms. But Pinsky says retreating is not an option. “We’re dealing with 400 years of settlement here in New York City,” he says. “In New York today, we have 70,000 buildings — representing over 500 million square feet of built area — that are in our 100-year flood plain. The idea that we’re going to be able relocate those people, their jobs, their homes, that built infrastructure in any foreseeable future is just not realistic.“….

     

    If New York Freezes in January Blame Siberian Snow
    Now

    Bloomberg ‎- October 26, 2013

    Snow falling over Siberia is raising the prospect for frigid temperatures in New York come January… The weather half a world from Central Park can set off atmospheric events that result in icy air descending from the North Pole in December and January, driving U.S. temperatures down and natural gas and heating oil use up, according to Judah Cohen, director of seasonal forecasting at Atmosphere & Environmental Research in Lexington, Massachusetts. “It’s the best winter predictor that we have,” Cohen said in a telephone interview. “We haven’t made a forecast yet, but we’re watching it closely and the snow cover has definitely been above normal so far.” The more ground covered by snow across northern Europe and Asia at the end of October, the greater the chances of triggering a phenomenon known as the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation. That would flood North America, Europe and East Asia with polar air and possibly erect a blocking effect in the North Atlantic that would bottle up the cold in the U.S. In September, 2.36 million square kilometers (911,000 square miles) of northern Europe and Asia were covered by snow, according to the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab. That compared with the 1981-2010 mean of 1.5 million. “It’s running well above normal,” said Matt Rogers, president of Commodity Weather Group LLC, a commercial forecaster in Bethesda, Maryland. “Through the last week of September, it’s the highest snow total in Eurasia since 1977.” … One pattern that can negate Siberian snow is an oscillation in the stratospheric circulation of winds, said Robert Allen, an assistant professor of climatology at the University of California at Riverside. If they don’t line up right, the snow loses its ability to trigger sweeping cold events in the temperate regions, said Allen, who co-wrote a paper on the subject in 2011. The increase in Eurasian snow may be a side-effect of climate change, Allen said. The Arctic ice cap shrank to a record low last year, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center, and always reaches its smallest in September. The added moisture in the air might fuel snowstorms, he said. ….

     

     

    Dealing with climate change? Think like an octopus

     

    Octopus in the Palma Aquarium. Photo by Morten Brekkvold/flickr

    Nature has a lot to offer when dealing with risk, says University of Arizona ecologist Rafe Sagarin

    By Douglas Fischer The Daily Climate Oct. 31, 2013 BOZEMAN, Mont. – When it comes to addressing climate change, the octopus can shed a lot of insight on how to handle the issue’s unexpected impacts and intractable politics.

    Everything we do is about living in a world that’s full of risk. – Rafe Sagarin, University of Arizona

    That, at least, is the lesson University of Arizona ecologist Rafe Sagarin draws from his observations of nature: Organisms have lived and thrived on a risk-filled planet for billions of years. They’ve done so without planning or predictions. Instead, they’ve become adept at adapting. And they’re really good at it. “Everything in nature starts with success,” he said. “Adaptability is how all biological organisms have dealt with the fact that they can never eliminate the risks.” 

    Sagarin was at the Montana State University campus Tuesday for a public lecture hosted by the university’s Institute on Ecosystems. He sat with the Daily Climate before his talk and explained how his observations can apply to the climate conundrum. Sagarin, who is also the program director for the University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 Ocean, has talked before businesses, the military, teachers, government agencies, even the Red Cross on this point. The lessons, he said, apply equally to all facets of our world and work. “Everything we do, whether we’re an (army) base colonel … or a teacher or a CEO, is about living in a world that’s full of risk,” he said…..Nature’s mechanisms for dealing with that are fairly simple, he added: They’re decentralized, they have redundant parts, they form highly symbiotic networks, and they iterate success. (That latter point is what gets him worked up about much of modern management theory, with its emphasis on learning from mistakes. “To start with failure is totally nonsensical. You don’t start with failure. You end with failure.”)

    Applying this to climate, Sagarin sees success in the “emergent effects” of myriad other actions made in business and by society – decisions that often have nothing to do with climate change but that reduce emissions and carbon footprints anyway.

    Southwest Airlines, for instance, didn’t set out to be the world’s most fuel efficient airline. It focused its corporate energies on rock-bottom ticket prices and quick airplane turnaround at the gate. But those actions, Sagarin said, have the side benefit of reducing the company’s fuel use. Similarly, a new, vertical farm and food-business incubator in Chicago called The Plant didn’t set out to reduce the carbon footprint for many businesses and residents of the city. John Edel, the founder, simply wanted a place that could support sustainable food and craft breweries. But by using brewery waste to support a fish farm and adding a bakery that brings in a lunch crowd, the plant has found a sustainable business model that happens to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But what about politics: If decentralization is a key part of nature’s successful adaptation strategy, what does that say for the massive United Nations climate talks set to resume in Warsaw on Nov. 12? Sagarin stopped and smiled. He’s considered this.  In an increasingly decentralized world, he said after a pause, “there are still specialized roles for a central power.” A centralized power can see the whole; it adds legitimacy; it sets boundaries. 

    “Without a framework, without a body, how does the immune system work?”…..

     

     

     

     

     

     

    West Coast climate pact: back to the future?

    Posted on October 29, 2013 | By dbaker@sfchronicle.com (David R. Baker)

    It’s hard not to read through the new West Coast climate change pact without a strong sense of deja vu. Five years ago, the same three U.S. states and one Canadian province — California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia — signed an agreement to create a cap-and-trade market that would rein in greenhouse gas emissions. And they had company, with four other states and three additional provinces joining in. The results were less than impressive. California followed through, opening its carbon market last year. Quebec, another signatory to the 2008 agreement, is expected to join California’s market next year. British Columbia imposed a carbon tax. The other states and provinces all fell by the wayside, as climate change devolved into a partisan issue. So here we are again, with a new, smaller pact covering just the West Coast. Despite its reduced geographic footprint, the pact has lofty goals:

    * The governors of Oregon and Washington will pursue ways to put a price on greenhouse gas emissions, even though past attempts to do so died in each state’s legislature.

    * West Coast governments will push the adoption of zero-emission vehicles, particularly electric cars. By 2016, ZEVs will make up 10 percent of fleet purchases for public agencies and private fleets alike.

    * Washington and Oregon will adopt “low carbon fuel standards,” policies that encourage the use of alternative fuels. California and British Columbia already have those policies in place, despite court challenges to get rid of them.

    * The three states and one province will deploy high-speed rail systems up and down the coast…..

     

     

    FOREST SERVICE:
    ‘It’s just nuts’ as wildfires drain budget yet again

    Phil Taylor, E&E reporter Greenwire: Wednesday, October 30, 2013

    Lightning bolts rained across the West in August, sparking hundreds of wildfires in California, Oregon, Idaho and Montana and pushing the cash-strapped Forest Service to the brink. The service had at that point spent $967 million battling wildfires that had torched more than 3.4 million acres in 2013. Its emergency fund exhausted, it had about $50 million left — enough for about half a week. That’s become business as usual for an agency that’s run out of wildfire suppression funds seven times in the last 12 years. So Chief Tom Tidwell did what his predecessors had done: He raided the agency’s nonfire accounts to make up the shortfall. “I regret that we have to take this action and fully understand that it only increases costs and reduces efficiency,” Tidwell wrote in an Aug. 16 memo to his top deputies. He ordered that $600 million be borrowed, halting contracts, grants, and noncritical agency travel and hiring. The so-called fire borrowing — a result of insufficient appropriations — has happened with increasing frequency as wildfires have grown more intense and more homes are built in the forest. Unless Congress acts, wildfire costs will sap more money from the timber- and hazardous-fuel-reduction programs that are supposed to curb wildfire costs, in a vicious cycle….

     

     

    Against The Tide

    For centuries, the Netherlands has suffered from catastrophic floods. As the rest of the world now reckons with the same fate, the Dutch are sharing–and selling–what they’ve learned.Jeff Chu…

    Visitors who come to the Netherlands in the hopes of seeing a foolproof system of flood control that they can easily duplicate back in their home countries are bound to be disappointed. The Dutch have learned the hard way that no single solution will suffice. Their rebuilding efforts since 1953 have evolved away from post-disaster clichés–We’ll show the storm who’s boss!–to something far more sophisticated. What you see there now, especially what has been built in the past few years, is indeed the architecture of the future, as the fight against rising tides goes global. But it’s also the attitude of the future. The Dutch have lately been working with nature instead of battling it, lowering barriers against the water instead of raising them. They’re harnessing the power of the cloud–enormous amounts of data and cutting-edge computer modeling–to predict the consequences of the clouds. They’re building seawalls so beautiful you wouldn’t recognize them. And as I discovered, the most important lessons they are trying to impart might not be about dikes and dunes at all.Nearly half of the world’s population lives within 60 miles of the sea, and hundreds of millions more reside in river valleys. In Hong Kong and Singapore, New York and Shanghai, thousands of acres of new waterfront land have been created through the magic buildup of landfill–and then stacked with luxury condos and gleaming office towers. Yet the risk of coastal living has grown in lockstep with that land’s soaring value. Seas are rising. And land is sinking. The soil under Jakarta, Indonesia, for instance, drained steadily of groundwater, is collapsing 4 inches a year. As scientists predict a wetter, stormier future for much of the planet, the Dutch have become a nationwide consulting company, fanning across the world to talk about water. They are working on water-related projects from the Mississippi to the Mekong, and their thinking was a cornerstone of New York’s $20 billion post–Hurricane Sandy protection plan. “We are branding this knowledge around the globe, and we are benefiting from it,” says Piet Dircke, who is widely known as the “water guru” at the Amsterdam-based engineering-and-consulting firm Arcadis. “You don’t need too many Dutch,” he says, “but a few can help you a little bit!” Dircke is a jovial evangelist for better water management, who speaks of dikes with a passion usually reserved for football teams and refers to New Orleans’s revamped levees as “absolutely fabulous!” He spends about 200 days a year away from home, and his recent itinerary reflects the demand for Dutch help: Bangkok, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, Dhaka, Shanghai, New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, San Francisco….

    …Dutch ambitions go well beyond retrofitting. Architect Koen Olthuis’s atelier, Waterstudio.nl, does only water-based projects and has designed several floating houses in the Netherlands. Now, in the Maldives, he–in partnership with the developer Dutch Docklands–is building a resort, complete with an 18-hole golf course, that will float entirely on a Styrofoam-and-concrete foundation. He sees it as an early step into a wholly new market; eventually, he’d like to build floating housing for the poor in the Maldives and Bangladesh. “Building on water gives so much more freedom than land,” Olthuis says. “The next step is not going higher into the air, like 50 or 100 years ago. It’s going over the water.”

    The Waterborne House: Architect Koen Oithuis astride a floating villa he designed in the village of Kortenhoef

     

    A modern flood barrier aims to protect Verizon’s landmark building.
    New York Times
    October 31, 2013
    To protect their Manhattan settlement in the 17th century, the English built a wall. To protect Wall Street in the 21st century, Verizon is doing much the same thing.

    Land-Locked Texas Congressman Tacked On Amendment Upending National Ocean Policy

    By Kristan Uhlenbrock, Guest Blogger and Michael Conathan, Guest Blogger on October 24, 2013

    For the third time in the past year, Representative Bill Flores (R-TX) has succeeded in getting an amendment passed in the House that would obstruct implementation of the National Ocean Policy.

     

     

    Carbon cut-off point 27 years away – study. An end to greenhouse gas emissions is possible by 2050, a report finds. But a decade before that, other researchers say, the world is set to cross a fateful threshold. Climate News Network

    Developers of large buildings would have to prepare for climate change under proposed rules.
    Boston Globe City officials proposed new zoning rules Tuesday that would require developers of large new buildings in Boston to submit plans to deal with flooding, heat waves, and other potential complications of climate change.

     

    Major coastal cities face billions in flood losses.
    Al Jazeera America According to a recent study published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, average aggregated flood losses in 136 coastal cities were about $6 billion in 2005. Without any adaptation – improvements to protections and other flood mitigation efforts – those losses could rise to $1 trillion by 2050.

     

    Fracking Goes To Sea: California Regulators Startled To Learn Of Offshore Hydraulic Fracturing

    By Mark Dennin, Guest Blogger and Shiva Polefka, Guest Blogger on October 24, 2013

    In recent weeks, Californians have been surprised to find out that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been secretly occurring along their coastline for years, without any analysis of its potential environmental impact.

     

    New California fracking law triggers court action.
    EnergyWire A new California law on unconventional oil drilling has been cited in a court case as a reason to dismiss a lawsuit claiming the state has failed to properly police the process known as fracking.

     

    Fracking companies try to calm public fears with new code of conduct.
    Calgary Herald Eleven companies that perform hydraulic fracturing in Canada have signed onto a new code of conduct aimed at alleviating public fears by outlining standard practices as well as guidelines companies should follow.

     

    Some voters taking on fracking November 5, but is it a trend?
    Climate Central Regulating hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is often the domain of individual states, but on election day on Nov. 5, voters in cities in Colorado and Ohio will determine whether cities in their states should be able to regulate oil and gas development themselves.

     

    The Dangerous Bargain Harvard’s Dr. Faust Has Made With Fossil Fuels

    By Joe Romm on October 23, 2013

    Harvard President Drew Faust opposes divesting from companies with products and services that are destroying a livable climate for its students because they and the University use those products and services. Much like the original Dr. Faust, she is trading moral integrity for worldly gains.

     


    Washington, D.C., gathering shows liberal disdain for Keystone XL

    Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter Greenwire: Friday, October 25, 2013

    President Obama’s political friends yesterday left him very little room to maneuver on the politically controversial Keystone XL pipeline, taking turns panning the project at a Center for American Progress event attended by some of the most influential Democrats in Washington, D.C. Former Vice President Al Gore issued the bluntest indictment of the project, comparing American’s “addiction” to fossil fuels to a heroin addict’s need for a fix. “You know, junkies find veins in their toes when the ones in their arms and legs give out,” Gore told an appreciative crowd in a Washington, D.C., hotel ballroom.

    “We are now at the point where we’re going after these dirty and dangerous carbon-based fuels,” he said. TransCanada Corp’s proposed Alberta-to-Texas pipeline would carry oil from Canada’s oil sands region to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico coast. Oil sands production is more carbon-intensive than most petroleum production, though how much more is subject to debate. Environmentalists say crude from oil sands carries a well-to-wheels carbon footprint that is 25 percent greater than that of conventional crude, while the State Department in its environmental analysis puts the oil sands premium at 17 percent and the industry puts it at 8 percent or less. Industry also says that moving product via pipeline is safer and cleaner than relying on rail or barge transport. The State Department is working to finalize its environmental impact analysis for TransCanada’s proposed project, but the president will have the ultimate say on whether the pipeline is permitted. Obama has committed to evaluate Keystone XL’s effect on atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions when deciding whether to allow the project to go forward. His first-term climate change “czar,” Carol Browner, said yesterday that she expected that evaluation to lead to rejection of Keystone. “I think it’s a standard that can get him to know, and that’s important, right?” she said. Green For All President and former White House adviser Van Jones said approval of the project would be untenable.”This thing will go from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico, it will risk 60 percent of our aquifers, no one knows how to clean it up,” he said, adding that anyone who believes in global warming or “high-minded American politics” or who doesn’t “want to be drinking tar” should oppose the project. Billionaire climate activist and donor Tom Steyer, who has invested heavily in political candidates like now-Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) who oppose Keystone XL, said Obama must veto the project or forfeit America’s leadership on climate change internationally. He would not answer reporters’ questions after the CAP forum on future plans for his campaign against the pipeline. The only participant in the policy forum who will be directly involved in the decision on Keystone XL was Secretary of State John Kerry. The career-long advocate for climate action skirted the issue in his remarks, instead touting international energy policy as the key to combating climate change. Gore also used his address to pan the influence moneyed interests like Koch Industries have on American politics, declaring that democracy has been “hacked” and that structural changes are needed before issues like climate change can be addressed. “The Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch are full of passionate intensity,” he said, paraphrasing the famous William Butler Yeats quote. “But because they have taken so much control over the operations of our democracy doesn’t mean we cannot take it back,” he added.

     

     

    Midwestern ethanol producers challenge California global-warming regulations.
    Forbes A federal appeals court in California is mulling whether to reconsider a September ruling that upheld state global-warming regulations on ethanol producers. Critics say the decision gives the Golden State carte blanche to regulate virtually anything it doesn’t like.

     

     

     

     

     

    Staggering turbines improves performance 33%
    (October 30, 2013) — Researchers have found staggering and spacing out turbines in an offshore wind farm can improve performance by as much as 33 percent. … > full story

     

    A wireless electric bus that charges instantly at every stop.
    Fast Company

    We told you about electric buses in Geneva that are flash-charged–which means they’re rapidly powered up via a laser-directed arm–when they approach a bus stop. Now, researchers at the Utah State University have tested an electric bus that does away with the arm and charges wirelessly through induction.

     


    Tesla showcases West Coast charging network



    David Baker SF Chronicle November 1 2013 Owners of the Tesla Motors electric Model S can now drive from San Diego to Vancouver, British Columbia, without ever paying for juice. Tesla has installed enough high-speed Supercharger stations to complete a drive up the West Coast, the Palo… more »

     

    New recyclable building material, made partially from potatoes, could help solve waste problem
    (October 31, 2013) — A new biodegradable and recyclable form of medium density fibreboard (MDF) has been created that could dramatically reduce the problem of future waste. … > full story

     

    New ‘flexible’ power plants sway to keep up with renewables. Shifting rapidly with the weather, the supply of renewable power can be quite changeable. Most power plants, however, are anything but. Unable to ramp up or down quickly and efficiently, conventional facilities lack the ability to capitalize on a growing influx of wind and solar power to the grid. National Geographic News

     

    Owens Valley braces for solar gold rush.
    October 31 2013 Los Angeles KPCC

    Owens Valley residents fear the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s proposed solar ranch will open new ways to drain resources from the valley. .. The DWP has plans to cover two square miles of the valley floor north of Lone Pine with solar panels — a project called the Southern Inyo County Solar Ranch. The panels would generate 200 megawatts, 1.5 percent of the city’s current demand. A similar project is also on the drawing board for an area near Owens Dry Lake. Howard says it’s all part of a DWP strategy to get solar power from diverse locations – including in the L.A. basin.

    “We want to optimize the amount of solar in the City of L.A.,” Howard says. “But if you had all of your resources in the city, and it was an overcast day, the lights wouldn’t stay on.” More locations mean more reliability.  Perhaps not surprisingly, the plans have sparked opposition. “They’re looking here first. They should be looking here last,” said Daniel Pritchett with the Owens Valley Committee, an activist group that has long opposed the DWP’s use of valley resources…..

     

     

    Solar switch forces utilities to shift priorities.
    October 27, 2013 SF Chronicle Sitting on a rooftop, soaking up sun, the humble solar panel may not look like a threat to a multibillion-dollar industry. But some electric utility executives say it is. They even have a name for the nightmare scenario solar could create – the “death spiral.”

     

    Wal-Mart Now Draws More Solar Power Than 38 U.S. States

    Solar panels on the Wal-Mart in Foothill Ranch, California. Courtesy Wal-Mart

    By Tom Randall Oct 25, 2013 2:25 AM PT

    Solar power and keg stands have one thing in common: Wal-Mart wants to profit from them. In the race for commercial solar power, Wal-Mart is killing it. The company now has almost twice as much capacity as second-place Costco. A better comparison: Wal-Mart is converting more sun into energy than 38 U.S. states.


    Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

    In the beer department, Wal-Mart recently decided alcohol was good business and vowed to double sales by 2016. The result: 500 reps from the alcohol industry converged on the Sam’s Club auditorium in Bentonville, Arkansas, for an “adult beverages summit” focused on Wal-Mart. “It’s even selling it in garden centers,” Bloomberg News’s Renee Dudley wrote in August. With solar, will Wal-Mart have the same industry-focusing presence its had with booze? If small business is the heart of the U.S. economy, Wal-Mart is the gluteus maximus — the power muscle. The company redefines global supply chains and crunches cost reductions in just about every area it touches. More than 80 publicly traded companies rely on Wal-Mart for 10 percent or more of their annual revenue, according to Bloomberg data. “When we find something that works — like solar — we go big with it,” the company’s website proclaims….

     

    Romanian farmers choose subsistence over shale gas.
    Reuters
    The small hilly town of Pungesti in eastern Romania could be sitting on vast reserves of shale gas and U.S. energy major Chevron wants to find it. But the people of Pungesti want nothing to do with it.

     

    Measuring Longview terminal’s potential impact on climate.
    Longview Daily News
    If a proposed Longview coal export terminal is built, 44 million tons of coal will be shipped to Asia and will contribute about 81 million tons of carbon dioxide to the earth’s atmosphere every year when burned. Is that a lot? It depends on how you look at it.

     

     

     

     

    1. RESOURCES and REFERENCES

     
     

     

    Green Infrastructure Strategic Agenda

    The US EPA has released an updated Green Infrastructure Strategic Agenda and has created a greenstream listserv featuring updates on green infrastructure publications, training, and funding opportunities. If you’re interested in joining, send an email to join-greenstream@lists.epa.gov.

     

     

    Institute For Tribal Environmental Professionals

    Host institutions needed for summer interns working on climate or air quality

     

     

    WEBINARS:

     

    Making Shade Coffee Work: Challenges In Telling the Bird Friendly Story,

    Wednesday, November 6, 10:10-10:45 PT Webinar–Scott Weidensaul and Bill Wilson, Birds and Beans

    Bird Education Alliance for Conservation BEAC for our Post Federal Government Shutdown Extravaganza BEAC Call (AKA, the Rescheduled October Webinar/Call).  BEAC calls are open to ALL – new people are welcome to participate any time, so please share this invitation widely! Learn more here: http://birdedalliance.org. For audio you will need to call in with your phone…..To call in: US/Canada 1-866-600-3050 Mexico: 001-517-466-5793 Passcode: 9124900#  To join the web sharehttp://www.mymeetings.com/nc/join.php?i=276548554&p=&t=c

     

    ***EPA Webcasts

     Green Power Use and Opportunities for K-12 Schools

    November 6, 1:00-2:00 PM (EST) – Sponsored by EPA’s Green Power Partnership, thiswebinar will examine how elementary, middle, and high schools can capture economic, environmental, and educational benefits by using renewable energy. 
    The webinar will feature presentations by Judy Asselin, Sustainability Coordinator at Westtown School, a pre-K-12 school in Pennsylvania, and Margaret Watson, President of the Green Schools Alliance (GSA). Ms. Asselin will discuss the benefits and lessons learned from Westtown’s wide-ranging and evolving sustainability efforts, including the use of 100 percent green power, and the curricular tie-ins and campus-wide culture shift that have accompanied these efforts. Ms. Watson will present on the GSA’s work to help accelerate the adoption of renewable energy by K-12 schools. 
    Webinar participants will also learn about an opportunity to join a green power purchasing consortium
     made up of K-12 schools, enabling participating schools to purchase renewable energy in a simple and efficient manner by aggregating demand and reducing administrative burdens. Register Now

     

     

    UPCOMING CONFERENCES:

     

    The 11th Biennial State of the San Francisco Estuary Conference
    Oakland Marriott Hotel, October 29-30, 2013. 

    This year’s theme, “20/20 Vision: Past Reflections, Future Directions,” both celebrates the 20th anniversary of SFEP’s Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan, and focuses our attention on the many challenges ahead.  If you have not already registered, please register now.  The Pre-Registration deadline is October 23rd. Conference Updates (http://www.sfestuary.org/SOE/): On-Line registration is available through October 23rd: http://www.sfestuary.org/soe-registration/  An updated program is available on the conference web site:  http://www.sfestuary.org/soe-schedule/

     

    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.

     

     

    Bay Area TRASH SUMMIT

    Friday, November 15, 2013 San Jose

    Join Bay Area cities, counties, agencies, and environmental organizations for a day of presentations and discussion about trash reduction and prevention.  

    Agenda Highlights:

    *Impacts of Litter on Aquatic Environments

    *Tobacco Product Litter

    *Engaging the Public in Trash Reduction

    *Food and Beverage Packaging

    Learn More and Register

     

    Eleventh Annual Workshop: Habitat Conservation Planning from Tahoe to the Bay

    November 20, 2013, Ulatis Community Center, Vacaville  Speakers and Presentations

    The Conservation Planning Partners is an ad-hoc association of eight County and Sub-county scale Habitat Conservation Plans and Natural Community Conservation Plans.

    County and sub-county scale Habitat Conservation Plans and Natural Community Conservation Plans are in preparation or being implemented in a number of counties in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Sacramento Region.  These plans provide a means for the conservation of endangered species and contribute to the ir recovery, while allowing appropriate, compatible growth and development in the metropolitan areas.

     

    The Future of the Concrete Channel

    Thursday 21 November 2013, UC Berkeley

    Ubiquitous in the urban landscape, concrete channels embody a mid-20th-century attitude of subduing nature and maximizing developable land.  Yet these optimistically-engineering structures have proven hard to maintain, and society increasingly regrets the loss of riparian ecosystems and the opportunity for human recreation and renewal once offered by the natural streams.  As concrete channels inevitably age and reach the end of their design lives, river managers confront the question of what to do with this deteriorating infrastructure?  Can the channels be rebuilt or modified to pass floods increasing due to urbanization and climate change?  Or is this an opportunity to implement alternative approaches that restore valuable functions of natural rivers?  …..  The conference will wrap up with an exhibition of Concrete Channel Art.  ….For more information and to register, please visit the conference website:http://laep.ced.berkeley.edu/next100years/events/the-future-of-the-concrete-channel/

     

    The Great Basin: A Landscape Under Fire

    Dec 9-10, University of Nevada, Reno

    (Secretary Jewell invited keynote speaker)

     

    Introducing Green Infrastructure for Coastal Resilience
    December 12, 2013

    9:30am – 4:30 pm David Brower Center, Kinzie Room 741 Allston Way Berkeley, CA 94710

    Registration: To register, click here. Registration is limited to 41 participants and is expected to fill fast. The deadline to register is December 6, 2013.  

    A workshop sponsored by the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and NOAA Coastal Services Center.  Green Infrastructure incorporates the natural environment and constructed systems that mimic natural processes in an integrated network that benefits nature and people. A green infrastructure approach to community planning helps diverse community members come together to balance environmental and economic goals. This day-long workshop will include a morning introductory course and afternoon panels by local experts. Who Should Attend: City and county officials, Engineers, Floodplain managers, Landscape Architects, NGO’s, Planners, and other Decision Makers involved in Coastal Management Issues 

    This workshop is being developed in partnership by the San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and NOAA Coastal Services Center. In addition, an advisory committee have provided feedback on the training including participants from: San Francisco Estuary PartnershipBay Area Ecosystems Climate Change ConsortiumSan Francisco Bay Conservation and Development CommissionCalifornia Coastal Conservancy and the Bay Institute. Questions? Contact Heidi Nutters, heidin@sfsu.edu, 415-338-3511 Feel free to forward this message to others who might be interested. 

     

    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.

     

     

    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 Sponsored by the Ecological Society of America, American Geophysical Union, and US Geological Survey. 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:

     

    CA NRCS Announces Assistance for Catastrophic Fire Recovery

    DAVIS, Calif., Oct. 18, 2013—The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) today announced that applications will be accepted to assist private landowners in California affected by wildfires in the last 18 months. Financial assistance for implementing conservation practices may be available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Applications for this initiative can be submitted for primary consideration and ranking through Nov. 15, 2013.  “I encourage landowners who have private forestlands and rangelands that were damaged by the recent catastrophic fires to visit with their local NRCS field office about how this initiative can provide assistance to protect their natural resources,” said California State Conservationist Carlos Suarez. The purpose of the Catastrophic Fire Recovery EQIP Initiative is to provide immediate resource protection in areas burned by catastrophic fires in the past 18 months. Priority concerns include immediate soil erosion protection, minimizing noxious and invasive plant proliferation, protecting water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and bringing back forests and restoring livestock infrastructure necessary for grazing management. Priority applications will include practices that are implemented within one year and provide immediate erosion protection, adequate livestock water, and habitat protection. Participants interested in implementing practices beyond the scope of this special and limited initiative are encouraged to apply under the regular EQIP funding opportunities. NRCS has provided leadership in a partnership effort to help America’s private land owners and managers conserve their soil, water and other natural resources since 1935.

     

    Proposal Deadline: 3 December 2013 – Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Grants 2014

    The United States Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act established an annual, competitive grants program to support projects that promote the conservation of neotropical migratory birds and their habitats in the United States, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. Because our Website was not available during the U.S. Federal government shutdown, the deadline for applying to the NMBCA program has been extended, and proposals are now due no later than 3 December 2013. All applications must be submitted through Grants.gov, a process that requires an active “Dun and Bradstreet number” (DUNS) and active registration in the “System for Award Management” (SAM). Start preparing soon if you have never applied through Grants.gov, and start NOW if you do not have a DUNS! Information to help you through this process is available online at http://www.fws.gov/birdhabitat/Grants/NMBCA/Applicants.shtm.

     

     

     

     

     

    1. OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    Performing Global Warming

    By ANDREW C. REVKIN October 31, 2013

    Two students of global warming with a love of music explore the role of the arts in engaging the public on subtle environmental changes.You may have already heard Daniel Crawford perform his cello composition “A Song for Our Warming Planet,” built with notes representing each year’s global average surface temperature:

    And you probably know about “Liberated Carbon,” my very different musical take on the age of fossil fuels. Here’s the version from my forthcoming (and first) album, illustrated with excerpts from wacky stop-motion animated films produced by Thomas Edison and other archival footage:

     

    When to invest in the right innovations at the right moment in a product’s life cycle
    (October 31, 2013) — When it comes to reducing the environmental impacts of products and services while maximizing profits, firms sometimes invest in the wrong areas. … > full story

     

    Daylight saving time ends: Does it save energy?
    Christian Science Monitor Not wanting to be outdone by the Germans, the British and Americans also adopted the practice of daylight saving time to save energy during World War I, and later again in World War II. But does it really save energy? Studies show mixed results.

     

    Bike path proposed for Keystone pathway.
    Bloomberg News The debate over the Keystone XL pipeline has gotten pretty heated and Kinder Baumgardner has an idea to cool the emotions: a really long bike path.

     

     

     

     

    1. IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Ellie Cohen, President and CEO

    Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO)

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