Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Ellie Cohen, President and CEO, Point Blue Conservation Science

Archive: Dec 2013

  1. Conservation Science News December 20, 2013

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    Focus of the WeekEndangered Species Act at 40 (NATURE)-4 experts weigh in

    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. We work collaboratively to guide and inspire positive conservation outcomes today — for a healthy, blue planet teeming with life in the future. Read more about our 5-year strategic approach here.

     

     

    Focus of the Week- Endangered Species Act at 40 (NATURE)

     

    Conservation: The Endangered Species Act at 40

    Nature 504, 369–370 (19 December 2013)
    doi:10.1038/504369a

    Noah Greenwald, Amy W Ando, Stuart H M Butchart & John Tschirhart

    On the anniversary of a landmark piece of US legislation, four experts weigh in on what has worked and what needs to change.PDF; Rights & Permissions

     

    AFLO/NATUREPL.COM

     

    Noah Greenwald: Cherish the act’s proven power

    Endangered species programme director, Center for Biological Diversity

    The US Endangered Species Act (ESA) is the reason that there are bald eagles from coast to coast, grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem and American alligators in the southeastern United States. The act remains our best tool for saving species and their habitats and practically our only way of helping declining populations to recover.

    Since it came into effect in 1973, the ESA has had unqualified success at saving species from extinction. So far, only ten of the more than 1,500 species protected under the ESA (see ‘On the list’) have gone extinct, and eight of these were probably extinct before they received protection. A 2006 analysis1 found that, were it not for the ESA, as many as 227 US species would have disappeared.

    This landmark law is also putting animals and plants on the path to recovery. An analysis2 of all federally protected species in the northeast found that more than 90% were stabilized or improving since being put on the list; more than 80% were on track to meet recovery goals set by scientists.

    The ESA has been criticized for mandating protection of individual species rather than of ecosystems. Yet it has driven some of the most successful efforts in ecosystem management, most notably the Northwest Forest Plan adopted in 1994. These land-use policies have protected forested and aquatic habitats for northern spotted owls, marbled murrelets and Pacific salmonids.

    Too often, those who advocate moving away from the firm protections of the act argue for flexible ecosystem management not to advance conservation, but to avoid economic conflicts. In practice, saving a species can mean saving an entire ecosystem. That helps wildlife and people who depend on clean water, clean air and the other benefits that functioning ecosystems provide.

    SOURCE: US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE

    Amy W. Ando: Focus on the bigger picture

    Professor of environmental and natural resource economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    The ESA has accomplished important victories. However, it causes regulators to stand by until species are near the brink of extinction, and so engenders counterproductive cycles of support and endangerment. Protection can be withdrawn without eliminating the forces that led the species to be imperilled. The ESA can help species threatened by direct human action such as hunting — as it did for the American bison (Bison bison). But most species are in decline because of diffuse threats such as invasive species, large-scale land conversion and climate change, over which the act has little power. Efforts to use the ESA to protect the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) from melting sea ice cannot, for example, force an international agreement on greenhouse-gas emissions.

    Furthermore, a conservation policy that counts all species as having equal value can be counterproductive. Mandatory expenditures perceived by the public as having little value could exhaust society’s desire to commit resources to conservation and actually reduce the sum of government and private citizens’ conservation efforts. For instance, ESA policies to preserve a small, unalluring fish known as the delta smelt (Hypomesus transpacificus) has led to controversial water-use restrictions in California, feeding anti-conservation sentiment.

    Policies to protect individual species should not be based on indiscriminate rules. They should be justified case by case, according to the value society places on the species, either for the part it plays in a natural community, or because of the place it holds in people’s hearts and lives. For example, freshwater mussels filter out dangerous bacteria; sea turtles inspire awe with their epic migrations. Effective and secure conservation policy will acknowledge these different types of value.

    Stuart H. M. Butchart: Clarify extinction risk

    Head of science, BirdLife International

    The ESA is one of the most powerful pieces of nature legislation in the world. But it has shortcomings. The act’s criteria for listing species as threatened and endangered are remarkably vague. Classifications include terms that lack precise legal or biological meaning, for example, ‘in danger of’, ‘likely’ and ‘foreseeable future’. The resulting legal wrangling costs too much time and money. The phrase ‘significant portion of its range’ is particularly problematic, prompting lengthy arguments in courts and countless pages of legal documents. In the past decade, dozens of challenges to listing decisions have focused on the term.

    To be more effective, ESA assessments should incorporate what is widely accepted as the most authoritative system for systematically categorizing species by extinction risk: the Red List of Threatened Species maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the largest global coalition of environmental organizations. This list uses objective, quantitative criteria that account for uncertainty and gaps in data. For example, species with a population size of fewer than 50 mature individuals are classified as critically endangered.

    Regulators in other countries have taken note. Canada’s ESA equivalent, the Species at Risk Act, uses the IUCN Red List system to determine extinction risk; individual species are then listed by explicitly taking into account other societal considerations, such as the perceived economic or even political costs associated with listing. This separates the science and policy aspects of setting conservation priorities. A similar practice might help to unblock the current logjam at the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

    Most of the agency’s decisions to review how a species should be listed are initiated not because of scientific uncertainty, but because of lawsuits brought by individuals or interest groups hoping to alter legal protection for particular species. Costly legal arguments caused by ambiguities in the listing process leave the agency with few resources for proactive steps that would help it to fulfil its primary mission to save species.

    John Tschirhart: Account for economics

    Professor of economics, University of Wyoming

    Economic impacts of conservation plans cause many of the controversies surrounding the ESA. To manage endangered species effectively, we need sophisticated, integrated models that evaluate ecosystem and economic trade-offs. If these describe unanticipated economic beneficiaries, conservation plans could have unexpected champions.

    Many governments use complex economic models called computable general equilibrium models. These can predict how a tax or tariff policy might affect various industries and how those effects would ripple out to other industries and to consumers’ incomes. Few models consider the effects of conservation policies. Those that do are usually narrow in scope and restricted to a single species.

    That is not surprising: ecosystem models that cover multiple species and their effects on each other are relatively new, yet they can reveal unexpected insights. Such large-scale general ecosystem models have, for example, forecast that an increase in pollock (Theragra) levels in Alaskan fisheries could decrease levels of sea otters, even though the species do not interact directly3. More pollock swells populations of their predators, sea lions, which in turn boosts populations of their predators, killer whales, which also feed on otters. Although most ecological modelling considers only two or three species at once, integrated models are emerging, and these will be essential to manage endangered species effectively.

    The biggest benefits will come when ecosystem models are integrated into economic ones. Ecological and economic variables are, after all, interdependent. For instance, policies that keep chicken-farm waste from reaching rivers might produce economic benefits in the recreation and fishing industries. Pollock-fishing losses could be outweighed by gains in tourism as more sightseers go to watch sea lions cavort. Economic modelling will not always show net gains for conservation policies, but the current models rarely capture gains at all.


    References


    • Scott, J. M., Goble, D. D., Svancana, L. K. & Pidgorna, A. in The Endangered Species Act at Thirty Vol. 1 (eds Goble, D. D., Scott, J. M. & Davis, F. W.) Ch. 2 (Island, 2006). Show context
    • Suckling, K. Measuring the Success of the Endangered Species Act (Centre for Biological Diversity, 2006). Show context
    • Finnoff, D. & Tschirhart, J. Res. Energy Econ. 30, 91–114 (2008). Article; Show context


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    Point Blue in the News:

     

    Why the notion of bird-conservation triage is no longer heretical

    12/3/2013 | Birdwatching Magazine


    Black Skimmers at Cape May Point, New Jersey, by Linda Widdop.

    A pair of ecologists from Point Blue (PRBO) Conservation Science have stated the unthinkable. “Biodiversity is in a bind,” write John A. Wiens and Thomas Gardali in the August 2013 issue of The Condor. Despite wide-spread awareness of the biodiversity crisis, conservation efforts are failing to keep pace. Government funding has stagnated, and nongovernmental support is insufficient to cover the shortfall. Worse, as many as 20,000 imperiled species in the United States are “conservation-reliant” — that is, even after, or if, they come back, they will still require costly ongoing management to maintain their numbers. “Clearly, the financial resources (not to mention the political will) to support the management needed to conserve all of these species are unlikely to materialize,” write the researchers. “Choices about how to allocate scarce conservation resources will have to be made.” To help set priorities, Wiens and Gardali analyzed 92 species, subspecies, and populations listed either as California Bird Species of Special Concern or as endangered or threatened by the federal government or the state of California. Then they categorized each one according to the threat level it faces and the amount of management it will require going forward….

     

    Read the abstract: John A. Wiens and Thomas Gardali, 2013, Conservation Reliance Among California’s At-Risk BirdsThe Condor 115(3):456-464. Abstract

     

     

    Close to Home: Eradication of mice on Farallon Islands is right move

    A view of Seal Cove at the Farallones National Wildlife Refuge. (RIC RISBERG / Associated Press)

    By PETER PYLE Opinion Santa Rosa Press Democrat December 16, 2013, 3:00 AM

    I would like to respond to Richard Charter’s Close to Home (“Farallon Islands ecosystem at risk,” Dec. 8.) I am a wildlife researcher who spent parts of 24 years as a biologist on the Farallon Islands, including more than 20 fall seasons when the invasive house mouse population there explodes and crashes each year. I am usually against the use of chemical agents in the environment, but the long-term benefits of a successful mouse eradication on the Farallon ecosystem so vastly outweigh the costs of a single application of brodifacoum that it is greatly worth an attempt. Use of a chemical in the environment is an easy subject to get the public worked up about. In this case, Charter and others have done an admiral job of recruiting opinion against an eradication attempt from a lot of people who have never been to the Farallones, have not read the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s exhaustive draft environmental impact statement on the project and are forming an opinion without full consideration of the scientific facts or long-term trade-offs of an eradication attempt. It is easy under such circumstances to have the public believe false and distorted scientific information, as seems to be occurring to some extent with the review process of this project. By reading the environmental statement, a 700-page document (available online) in which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides great detail on rodent eradication from islands and alternatives for controlling or removing mice from the Farallones. You will learn that:

    • Each fall, the mouse population reaches plague-like densities of more than 490 mice per acre and some 60,000 to 100,000 mice overall, after which the population crashes to hundreds, at most, in spring. Populations with this sort of extreme and unbalanced annual cycling cannot be eradicated or controlled at low levels through trapping or other means.
    • The mouse crash results in considerable suffering for tens of thousands of mice each year, including hypothermia following winter rains and widespread cannibalism. Those against animal suffering should be for eradication to end this gruesome annual destruction.
    • Migrating burrowing owls will not remain on the island once mice are removed. Storm-petrels are essentially absent from the Farallones from November to February, there is nothing else, besides mice, for arriving migrant owls to eat during this period, and they will continue migrating as do thousands of other migratory birds that stop over on the Farallones each fall. Currently, many or most wintering owls die there in spring, as even the presence of storm-petrels, in the absence of mice, is not enough to sustain them for spring migration. Thus, both owls and storm-petrels die unnecessarily every year due to the mice.
    • The application would take place in November or December, during and after the mouse population crash, and when less than 1 percent of the breeding seabirds (including gulls) are typically present on the islands. Owls will be trapped and relocated to the mainland before application.
    • In saltwater, brodifacoum will dissolve within two to three hours and, at the very low quantities expected to reach the Farallon marine environment, will be undetectable in the turbulent ocean there within a day, if not a few hours. Those against pesticide use would do much better to focus on pesticide and herbicide use on farms and lawns, or tenting of houses for termites, rather than the much-lower-impact, one-time application of brodifacoum on the Farallones.
    • Brodifacoum has been used to successfully eradicate rodents from more than 50 other islands, in most cases, no or only minor incidental death occurred, and each trial results in more data and improved knowledge to limit non-target ingestion during future applications.

    I liken the trade-offs to a marble of single-time cost within a living room of permanent benefit. I urge those interested or concerned about this issue to become better-informed of the scientific facts and to carefully consider the big picture before commenting against the project.

     

    Purchase of Skaggs Island farm to restore S.F. Bay marshland

    San Francisco Chronicle ‎- by John King ‎- December 14, 2013

    By any measure, it’s a good thing when 1,092 acres along San Francisco Bay become permanently protected open space. This is even better: Friday’s sale of an oat farm near Highway 37 to the Sonoma Land Trust will allow 4,400 acres of dry land to be restored to a functioning marsh, just like it was before humans put up dikes and walled out San Francisco Bay. The complicated $8.3 million transaction was announced Friday in a media event on Skaggs Island, which in a few years is fated to begin to disappear – replaced by a managed weave of wetlands and water that will be part of San Pablo Bay’s ever more extensive marshes. The area is a favored stop on the Pacific Flyway for hundreds of thousands of migrating waterfowl each winter. “It’s been a couple of years of work to get to this day,” said Wendy Eliot, the conservation director for the land trust. The deal comes nearly three years after the other 3,300 acres of Skaggs Island was purchased by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Before that, it was owned by the U.S. Navy……

     

     

    Saving the Great Plains water supply
    (December 13, 2013) — Significant portions of the Ogalalla Aquifer, one of the largest bodies of water in the United States, are at risk of drying up if it continues to be drained at its current rate. …
    “Already, there are regions in Texas and Kansas where farmers can’t pump enough water to meet the demands of their crops,” said Bruno
    Basso, co-author and MSU ecosystem scientist. “If current withdrawal rates continue, such depletion will expand across extensive portions of the central and southern areas served by the aquifer during the next few decades.”

    Despite the widespread, rapid decline of the water table, the number of irrigated acres across the region continues to increase. The situation isn’t completely dire, though, as the National Science Foundation-funded research revealed. Basso, David Hyndman and Anthony Kendall, MSU colleagues and co-authors, offered some policy solutions to avert some aspects of this water crisis. Federal crop insurance could be changed to allow substantial water reductions, especially crops categorized as fully irrigated. An example of such a sustainable model was recently proposed by the governor of Kansas. It could save significant amounts of water, and it could be adopted regionally. Another sustainable approach would be to adopt wholesale precision agriculture strategies. These would allow farmers to identify which areas in fields need more water and fertilizer. New precision agriculture strategies combine GPS technologies with site-specific management to apply optimal amounts of water and nutrients, which will increase farmer’s profitability and reduce environmental impact. “When you have a cut in your hand and need disinfectant, you don’t dive into a pool of medicine, you apply it only where you need it and in the quantity that is strictly necessary; we can do the same in agricultural now,” said Basso, part of MSU’s Global Water Initiative. Lastly, policies should address the issue in terms of crop yield – more crop per drop of water. Selecting crops with higher density can increase yield and decrease groundwater evaporation. Upgrades in irrigation systems can reduce water loss from 30 percent to almost zero. And careful water management can stop excess water from flooding fields and leaching valuable nutrients from the soil. Simply put, the current water management strategies of the High Plains Aquifer are unsustainable. For the region to maintain this water source, there has to be a complete paradigm shift, Basso added. full story

     

    Low-cost countries not best conservation investment
    (December 18, 2013) — Wildlife conservation projects in countries where management costs are low are less likely to succeed and could also have a negative impact on people, according to new research. The research, which analyzed conservation management, human rights, and governance data, found that countries with low costs generally had low levels of public involvement in conservation projects — resulting in donors becoming more reliant on governments to achieve things on-the-ground. However, worryingly the study also found that governments in low-cost countries scored poorly on bureaucratic quality, corruption and respect for human rights. The research is particularly useful for international donors who play a major role in funding wildlife conservation projects throughout the world and need prioritization strategies to make sure their money is well spent…. > full story

     

     

    Trash-loving birds [Western Gulls] take bite out of wild salmon

    Posted on November 22, 2013 SeaGrant

    A gauntlet of Western gulls congregate at the mouth of Scott Creek in Santa Cruz County to bathe, drink and prey on passing fish, including threatened steelhead. Credit: Anne-Marie Osterback

    Birds are taking a bite out of young salmon populations in Central California, and researchers suspect that our trash is the likely root of the avian-predation problem. A new study by California Sea Grant-funded researchers shows that a young steelhead has about a 30-percent chance of being eaten by Western gulls during its transit to sea through creek mouths in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties.

    Depending on the specific creek and year, gauntlets of gulls lining narrow streams may consume anywhere from 7-83 percent of young steelhead in the Waddell, Scott and Gazos watershed mouths, according to the same study, published in the journal Ecosphere. Intriguingly, the gulls appear to prefer wild over hatchery-born fish. (Who would guess the raucous dumpster divers would have a gourmet streak?) Central California watersheds support both steelhead, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and coho salmon, which have gone locally extinct in 12 of their 14 historic streams south of San Francisco and are considered in danger of extinction. Steelhead were the focus of the Sea Grant project for the practical reason that they can still be found in multiple watersheds in the region. There is no reason to believe, however, that gulls are not also impacting young coho salmon numbers…..

     

    Publications referenced in this article and/or produced with support from this grant include:

     

     

    Effectively monitoring the state of Europe’s marine environment

    Cordis News

     - ‎12 hours ago‎

           

    An EU-funded project has just been launched that will help Member States to effectively and efficiently monitor the environmental status of oceans and seas. This will enable them to meet their obligations under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive …

     

    Variation of Fish Habitat and Extent of the Low-Salinity Zone with Freshwater Flow in the San Francisco Estuary
    SF Estuary and Watershed Science December 2013

    Wim J. Kimmerer, Michael L. MacWilliams, and Edward S. Gross

     

     

    Traffic jams lend insight into emperor penguin huddle
    (December 16, 2013) — Emperor penguins maintain the tight huddle that protects them from the harsh conditions of an Antarctic winter with stop-and-go movements like cars in a traffic jam, a new study has shown. … > full story

    Pollination, land degradation: Top priorities for assessment by new UN intergovernmental body
    (December 16, 2013) — Meeting in Antalya, Turkey, nations from around the world agreed Saturday to fast-track science assessments of two priority environmental issues, to include recommendations for government policy changes. The fast-track assessments of land degradation and of the impact on food production of changes in the populations of bees and other insect pollinators around the world form part of the first work program agreed upon for the new UN Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. … > full story

     


    Detailing The Evolution Of Plumage Patterns In Male, Female Birds



    RedOrbit

     - December 20 2013‎

           

    Waterfowl such as ducks, geese and swans belong to the order Anseriformes. Game birds such as pheasants, partridges, hens and turkeys are known as the order Galliformes. The birds belonging to both of these orders are recognized not only for their meat, but also for the elegant display of their plumage. Some members within the orders show differences between male and female, known as sexual dimorphism. Such as with the mallard, the male and female plumage is so different that for years they were thought to be a separate species altogether. However, in some species, various members of the same order show little difference between the two sexes. Thanh-Lan Gluckman, a Cambridge PhD candidate, has researched this phenomenon and published her findings in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. She notes the similarities and differences in the plumage of almost 300 members of both orders – focusing mainly on the patterning between male and female instead of the color….. “My research looked at the plumage patterns of male and female birds on a separate and equal basis – and then went on to identify similarities and differences between them. By tracing the evolutionary pathways in the dimorphism of 288 species of waterfowl and game birds, I reconstructed the evolutionary history of plumage pattern sexual dimorphism, which allowed me to demonstrate that plumage patterns in females are not a result of genetic correlation,” Gluckman said. “Essentially, what I found was that plumage patterning is remarkably labile – both male and female birds have the capacity to change between different types of patterns. What’s interesting is to consider what are the forces driving these changes in male and female plumage patterns – whether they have an environmental basis and/or whether they have a signaling function between birds of different sexes or within the same sex,” she explained. A paper by John Hunter in 1780, published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, states the difference in plumage between male and female in a species of bird, are sexually driven. Since then, the view that the male shows off his coloring to win over a female has been understood. An explanation has been given to explain the dimorphism in correspondence with mating habits. A polygamous male (having more than one mate) will develop beautiful plumage to attract as many females as possible. On the other hand, a monogamous male (having only one mate) will have similar patterns and colors to the female. But, this is not always true. According to Gluckman, “Previous research has shown that the traditional argument that differences in plumage between the sexes stem from differences in breeding systems doesn’t always hold up. In many putatively monogamous species, the plumage of the males is significantly different to that of females and, likewise, males and females in many polygamous species have the same type of plumage. This suggests that plumage is not exclusively an outcome of breeding habits – but is a matter of function in a highly complex way.”…

     

     

    Rice grown in Maryland? Farmer sees a future that doesn’t involve flooding.

    View Photo Gallery — Maryland rice, flood not included: An innovative farmer produces a short-grain rice without the paddy fields.

    By Tim Carman, Published: December 17

    When Heinz Thomet decided in 2011 to plant rice, perhaps the first farmer in more than 130 years to do so in the Chesapeake region, he remembered a magazine article he had read nearly two decades earlier. It concerned a Jamaican man who’d moved to Albany, N.Y., and adopted a practice that deviated from those of virtually every rice farmer in America: He grew his plants without flooded or swampy land. “I thought, ‘If they can do it in Albany, we can grow it here,’ ” recalled Thomet, co-owner of Next Step Produce in Newburg. A Swiss native who grew up on a farm, Thomet, 54, knew that the porous sandy soil in Charles County would never hold water for a traditional rice paddy, at least not without major expense. So he did research and relied on his 40 years of farming experience to cobble together his own idiosyncratic method for growing rice, unaware that some of his practices would place him squarely in the middle of a low-rumbling debate on the best way to produce the grain. Thomet has unwittingly aligned himself with a small group of experimental U.S. farmers and hobbyists, probably no more than 50, who are breaking with a tradition that dates to colonial America. They’re rejecting paddy rice in favor of an increasingly accepted agricultural system that promises to increase crop yields while decreasing water use, chemical dependency and even the amount of arsenic in our grains… This fall, Thomet harvested more than 400 pounds and started selling the short-grain brown rice for $12 a pound at the FreshFarm Market at Dupont Circle…. For the most part, rice in the United States is grown in flooded fields or the boggy lands near rivers or other bodies of water, after practices that date back millennia to rice farming in China and Southeast Asia. The floodwaters serve a purpose: They control weeds that otherwise would compete with the rice plants, which have a unique ability to survive the oxygen-less environment of a paddy field. But as water becomes a precious resource and as consumers fret over arsenic levels in rice (which are higher in plants grown in paddies), some advocates have been promoting an alternative method: It’s called system of rice intensification, or SRI. What exactly is SRI? Erika Styger, director of programs at the SRI International Network and Resources Center at Cornell University, lays out four practices that broadly define the system. They are transplanting seedlings at a young age (to promote disease and pest resistance); reducing plant density (to decrease competition); adding organic matter such as compost to the soil (to increase fertility); and eliminating flooded fields (to allow the roots to breathe better). “A lack of oxygen — rice can tolerate it, but rice is not thriving in it,” Styger says. “Usually when you flood the fields, the roots are basically rotting away, because roots need to breathe as well.”…. Rice researchers are also developing seed varieties that, one day, may be drought resistant or grown with less water or even tolerant of higher-salinity water. “Water resources are the most limiting resource,” says Linscombe. “You can absolutely grow rice with less water. . . . It’s coming down the road in 10 years,” at the earliest. SRI advocates scratch their heads over such high-tech research. Norman Uphoff, professor of government and international agriculture at Cornell and senior advisor of the SRI Center, often wonders why major U.S. rice growers don’t just adopt SRI practices instead of wasting time on expensive systems that SRI proponents contend are ultimately unsustainable. If growers need evidence, Uphoff can point them to a large-scale, mechanized farm in Pakistan that has had success incorporating SRI practices into a number of crops. The Pakistani experiment, Uphoff notes, “really opened up the door for large-scale production.”

     

    Saving Fiji’s coral reefs linked to forest conservation upstream
    (December 17, 2013) — The health of coral reefs offshore depend on the protection of forests near the sea, according to a new study that outlines the importance of terrestrial protected areas to coastal biodiversity. … > full story

     

     

    Rainforest rodents risk their lives to eat
    (December 17, 2013) — Hungry rodents that wake up early are much more likely to be eaten by ocelots than rodents getting plenty of food and shut-eye, according to new results. … > full story

    species found that owe lives to Giant Sequoias

    San Francisco Chronicle ‎- December 14 2013

    The complex, mysterious web of life surrounding sequoia trees got a little brighter this week when scientists announced the discovery of two species that thrive on the towering, ancient redwoods. State researchers identified two new types of fungus gnats that buzz around the base of Giant Sequoias, feasting on mushrooms and serving as dinner for countless salamanders, birds, spiders, bats and other animals that call the trees home. The creatures, Azana malinamoena and Azana frizzelli, are black flies – no bigger than the tip of a pencil – that play an important role in the complicated ecosystem supported by redwoods, according to the zoology journal Zootaxa, which published the findings. They’re also the first of the Azana genus discovered in western North America. “It goes to show the world of discovery is not always about the biggest things. It’s often about the smallest things – how they work together, what they do, how they make life possible,” said Richard Campbell, conservation science manager of Save the Redwoods League, a San Francisco nonprofit that funded the research. “There’s still so much out there to discover.” The discovery was made by Peter Kerr, an entomologist with the state Department of Food and Agriculture, who was researching bugs in the Sierra Nevada redwood forests in an attempt to learn more about the area’s biodiversity…..

     

    Linking social science, ecology to solve the world’s environmental problems
    (
    December 16, 2013) — Researchers are engaging social science to help solve some of the world’s biggest environmental problems. … > full story

    Deep-sea corals record dramatic long-term shift in Pacific Ocean ecosystem
    (December 15, 2013) — Long-lived deep-sea corals preserve evidence of a major shift in the open Pacific Ocean ecosystem since around 1850, according to a new study. The findings indicate that changes at the base of the marine food web observed in recent decades in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre may have begun more than 150 years ago at the end of the Little Ice Age. … > full story

     

    Disease, not climate change, fueling frog declines in the Andes
    (December 13, 2013) — Climate change is widely believed to be behind the rapid decline of frog populations in the Andes mountains, but a new study finds that the real culprit is a deadly fungus that has wiped out amphibian species worldwide. Researchers found that highland frogs, while tolerant of increasing temperatures, live in the optimal temperature range for Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, also known as Bd. … > full story

     

    Nitrogen deposition poses threat to diversity of Europe’s forest vegetation
    (December 16, 2013) — Unless nitrogen emissions are curbed, the diversity of plant communities in Europe’s forests will decrease. Atmospheric nitrogen deposition has already changed the number and richness of forest floor vegetation species in European forests over the last 20-30 years. In particular, the coverage of plant species adapted to nutrient-poor conditions has reduced. However, levels of nitrogen deposition in Finnish forests remain small compared to Southern and Central Europe. … > full story

     

    Poor owner knowledge of cat sex life linked to 850,000 unplanned kittens every year
    (December 16, 2013) — Widespread ignorance among cat-owners about the sex lives of their pets may be leading to more than 200,000 unplanned litters — or more than 850,000 kittens every year in the UK, finds research. … > full story

     

    Spiders are partial to a side order of pollen with their flies
    (December 18, 2013) — Spiders may not be the pure predators we generally believe, after a study found that some make up a quarter of their diet by eating pollen. Biologists have now demonstrated that orb web spiders — like the common garden variety — choose to eat pollen even when insects are available. … > full story

     

     

    CA BLM WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK

    Which of the statements about coyotes are true?
    a) are considered clever and adaptable animals
    b) can run up to 40-miles an hour
    c) found only in remote and wild areas
    d) good swimmers
    e) all of the above
    f) a, b, and d

    See answer – at end of poast

     

     

     

     

     

    NOAA: November global temperature highest on record

    Year-to-date global temperature ties for fourth highest on record

    December 17, 2013 NOAA Climate Portal: http://www.climate.gov/ National Snow and Ice Data Center, http://nsidc.org/.

    According to NOAA scientists, the globally-averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for November 2013 was the highest for November since record keeping began in 1880. It also marked the 37th consecutive November and 345th consecutive month (more than 28 years) with a global temperature above the 20th century average. The last below-average November global temperature was November 1976 and the last below-average global temperature for any month was February 1985. Most areas of the world experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, including: much of Eurasia, coastal Africa, Central America, central South America, parts of the North Atlantic Ocean, the south west Pacific Ocean, and the Indian Ocean. Much of southern Russia, northwest Kazakhstan, south India, southern Madagascar, parts of the central and south Indian Ocean, and sections of the Pacific Ocean were record warm. Meanwhile, northern Australia, parts of North America, south west Greenland, and parts of the Southern Ocean near South America were cooler than average. No regions of the globe were record cold. This monthly summary from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, the business sector, academia, and the public to support informed decision-making.

    …..For the ocean, the November global sea surface temperature was 0.97°F (0.54°C) above the 20th century average of 60.4°F (15.8°C), tying with 2009 as the third highest for November on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.07°F (0.04°C). Neither El Niño nor La Niña conditions were present across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean during November. According to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, neutral conditions are favored into the Northern Hemisphere summer 2014. …..The first 11 months of 2013 tied with 2002 as the fourth warmest such period on record, with a combined global land and ocean average surface temperature of 1.12°F (0.62°C) above the 20th century average of 57.0°F (13.9°C). The margin of error is +/- 0.18°F (0.10°C). The January-November worldwide land surface temperature was 1.76°F (0.98°C) above the 20th century average, also tying with 2002 as the fourth warmest such period on record. The margin of error is +/- 0.38°F (0.21°C).

    The global ocean surface temperature for the year to date was 0.86°F (0.48°C) above average, tying with 2006 as the eighth warmest such period on record. The margin of error is +/-0.07°F (0.04°C).

     

    Faux Pause 2: Warmest November On Record, Reports NASA, As New Studies Confirm Warming Trend

    By Joe Romm on December 15, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Last month saw the hottest global November surface temperature on record, according to the latest data from NASA.

    Earth’s surface temperature in °C for each November since 1880 (compared to base period, 1951-1980). Red line is smoothing with a 15-year filter.

    Of course, the global surface temperature is only one of many indicators the planet just keeps warming, as I wrote in my September post, “Faux Pause: Ocean Warming, Sea Level Rise And Polar Ice Melt Speed Up, Surface Warming To Follow.”

    Now two new studies demolish the myth that warming — including surface warming — has not continued apace. Stefan Rahmstorf, Co-Chair of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, discusses the first paper at RealClimate: A new study by British and Canadian researchers shows that the global temperature rise of the past 15 years has been greatly underestimated. The reason is the data gaps in the weather station network, especially in the Arctic. If you fill these data gaps using satellite measurements, the warming trend is more than doubled in the widely used HadCRUT4 data, and the much-discussed “warming pause” has virtually disappeared. “There are no permanent weather stations in the Arctic Ocean, the place on Earth that has been warming fastest,” as New Scientist explained five years ago. “The UK’s Hadley Centre record simply excludes this area, whereas the NASA version assumes its surface temperature is the same as that of the nearest land-based stations.” As I’ve discussed many times, that’s why we know with high certainty that the planet has actually warmed up more in the past decade than reported by the global temperature records, especially the Hadley Center’s. Rahmstorf explains that two scientists, Kevin Cowtan and Robert Way have devised a new method that uses satellite data to fill in the data gaps: Cowtan and Way apply their method to the HadCRUT4 data, which are state-of-the-art except for their treatment of data gaps. For 1997-2012 these data show a relatively small warming trend of only 0.05 °C per decade – which has often been misleadingly called a “warming pause”….

    But after filling the data gaps this trend is 0.12 °C per decade and thus exactly equal to the long-term trend mentioned by the IPCC. And so the pause is faux. The second study also reveals “Global warming is unpaused and stuck on fast forward,” as environmental scientist Dana Nuccitelli explains at Skeptical Science: New research by Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo of the National Center for Atmospheric Research investigates how the warming of the Earth’s climate has behaved over the past 15 years compared with the previous few decades. They conclude that while the rate of increase of average global surface temperatures has slowed since 1998, melting of Arctic ice, rising sea levels, and warming oceans have continued apace. The widespread mainstream media focus on the slowed global surface warming has led some climate scientists like Trenberth and Fasullo to investigate its causes and how much various factors have contributed to the so-called ‘pause’ or ‘hiatus.’ However, the authors note that while the increase in global temperatures has slowed, the oceans have taken up heat at a faster rate since the turn of the century. Over 90 percent of the overall extra heat goes into the oceans, with only about 2 percent heating the Earth’s atmosphere. The myth of the ‘pause’ is based on ignoring 98 percent of global warming and focusing exclusively on the one bit that’s slowed.

     

    NWF Releases Report on Impacts of Climate Change on Big Game (pdf)

    In mid-November, the National Wildlife Federation released a report documenting impacts to big game wildlife due to changing climate and outlining key steps needed to reduce those impacts. The report Nowhere to Run: Big Game Wildlife in a Warming World discusses how wildfire, floods and extreme weather events like heat waves, drought and heavy rain are becoming more frequent and more severe. These changes are impacting traditional summer and winter ranges, changing movement patterns, increasing parasites and causing habitat damage through natural disasters and invasive plants. “The recovery of big game species is one of America’s wildlife conservation success stories, made possible in large part by sustained investment by generations of sportsmen,” said Dr. Doug Inkley, senior scientist at the National Wildlife Federation. “But today, a changing climate threatens to rewrite that success story.

        

     

    Big data project reveals where carbon-stocking projects in Africa provide greatest benefits
    (December 19, 2013) — One way to reduce concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is to ensure that carbon is stored on the ground to the greatest extent possible. But how do you quantify the potential of landscapes to stock carbon? Researchers now present the first continental-scale assessment of which areas may provide the greatest direct and indirect benefits from carbon storage reforestation projects in Africa. …

    “Therefore, we applied a method to optimally select areas which would not only have high carbon returns, but would also conserve native biodiversity and support ecosystem services, that is, services that the environment provides which benefit humans. The areas also had to have low land value and human population density, so as to reduce conflict with people, and high levels of governance, because setting up projects in areas with high levels of violence and corruption would be too risky and have too low chances of success,” Michelle Greve explains…..full story

     

     

    Lost freshwater may double climate change effects on agriculture
    (December 16, 2013) — A new analysis combining climate, agricultural, and hydrological models finds that shortages of freshwater used for irrigation could double the detrimental effects of climate change on agriculture. Given the present trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions, agricultural models estimate that climate change will directly reduce food production from maize, soybeans, wheat and rice by as much as 43 percent by the end of the 21st century. But hydrological models looking at the effect of warming climate on freshwater supplies project further agricultural losses, due to the reversion of 20 to 60 million hectares of currently irrigated fields back to rain-fed crops. “It’s a huge effect, and an effect that’s basically on the same order of magnitude as the direct effect of climate change,” said Joshua Elliott, a research scientist with the Computation Institute’s Center for Robust Decision Making on Climate and Energy Policy (RDCEP), Argonne National Laboratory, and lead author of the paper. “So the effect of limited irrigation availability in some regions could end up doubling the effect of climate change.” … However, while the models predict freshwater shortages in some areas of the world, such as the western United States, India and China, other regions may end up with a surplus of freshwater. Redistributing that excess water to restore or add irrigation to rain-fed crop areas could dampen some of the consequences of climate change upon irrigation and agriculture, Elliott said. “We found that maximal usage of available surplus freshwater could end up ameliorating between 12 and 57 percent of the negative direct effects of climate change on food production,” Elliott said. “However, there are lots of different political, economic and infrastructural reasons why you would consider that to be overly optimistic.” The results are among several major findings reported in the ISI-MIP special issue of PNAS by the AgMIP group, which conducted a “fast-track” exercise to generate new knowledge about climate change impacts on agriculture for the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Understanding the climate change implications of freshwater availability is key to the future food security goals of society,” said Cynthia Rosenzweig, co-primary investigator of AgMIP. “The rigorous AgMIP multi-model approach is enabling advances in research on how climate change will affect agriculture worldwide and water is a vital component.” > full story

     

    Joshua Elliott, et al. Constraints and potentials of future irrigation water availability on agricultural production under climate change. PNAS, December 16, 2013 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1222474110

     

     

    It Doesn’t Take Much Global Warming To Drive Global Water Scarcity Way Up

    By Jeff Spross on December 17, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Relative change in water resources at 2°C of warming compared to present day. Color is percent change, color saturation is degree of agreement between models. (See below at right.)

    CREDIT: Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

    According to new modeling by German researchers, global warming of just 2.7 degrees Celsius would inflict a “severe decrease in water resources” on 15 percent of the global population. What’s especially significant is that most of the damage gets done by relatively low amounts of global warming. The researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, who carried out the modeling, chose as their central framework the RCP8.5 — a future scenario of global warming laid out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which assumes a business-as-usual path for carbon emissions. The projections of future population growth relied on the middle-of-road SSP2 scenario. When the researchers looked for the greatest overlap between the results, they found that 1°C to 2°C of global warming drove up absolute water scarcity around the world by 40 percent. That was due to climate change alone, before the effect of population growth was factored in. At 3°C of warming, climate change’s effect falls to just 25 percent of the increase in scarcity, as population growth takes over. But the severe impacts continued well past 2°C of warming. “Absolute water scarcity” is defined as access to less than 500 cubic meters of water per person per year. “Chronic water scarcity” is access to 1,000 cubic meters or less every year. The global average for water consumption per person is 1,200 cubic meters per year, and the number gets considerably higher in advanced western countries. The study involved taking eleven different computer models of water flow and use around the globe, and then running them through five global climate scenarios — a simulation “of unprecedented size” according to the Institute’s press release….

     

     

    A roly-poly pika gathers much moss: High-fiber salad bar may help lagomorphs survive climate change
    (December 17, 2013) — In some mountain ranges, Earth’s warming climate is driving rabbit relatives known as pikas to higher elevations or wiping them out. But biologists discovered that roly-poly pikas living in rockslides near sea level in Oregon can survive hot weather by eating more moss than any other mammal. … > full story

     

    Tiny, Rabbit-Like Animals Eating “Paper” to Survive Global Warming

    National Geographic

     - ‎ December 19, 2013‎

           

    As the planet continues to warm, conservation biologists worry about the future of species that depend on the cold, such as the furry pikas that live in mountainous areas of North America, Europe, and Asia. But American pikas (Ochotona princeps) may be able to survive a warming planet thanks to a most unusual food source.

    A new study found that pikas living at lower elevations seem to thrive in part by eating nutrient-poor mosses, which suggests that these animals may be able to adapt their behavior to a warming planet. Pikas are known for their ability to live in frigid, alpine areas, and these furry critters are a common sight on the rocky slopes of Mount Hood, outside of Portland, Oregon. Part of the lagomorph order, which includes rabbits and hares, the American pika is the size of a large mouse and looks like a miniature guinea pig.

    The pika has a very high metabolism, which enables it to produce large amounts of body heat. Its large belly, short limbs, small ears, and absent tail give it an almost spherical shape that helps it conserve this body heat, as does its thick layer of gray-brown fur. The pika is so good at conserving heat that spending more than two days living at temperatures above 78°F (25.5°C) can kill it. It’s why University of Utah Ph.D. student Johanna Varner was so surprised to hear reports of pikas living in the Columbia River Gorge, a low-lying area not far from Mount Hood. The environment in the gorge is totally different from what the pikas were used to on Mount Hood itself. On the mountain, the pikas had only three months without snow—a short summer period in which the roly-poly furballs made a mad dash to collect as many plants, grasses, and shrubs as they could to create caches of food known as haypiles to nibble on throughout the long winter. The Columbia River Gorge, on the other hand, is covered in snow for less than three weeks per year. Varner wanted to know how these pikas lived and what they ate…..

     

     

     

    A conceptualized image of a wind-powered, remotely controlled ship that could seed clouds over the ocean to deflect sunlight. (Credit: John MacNeill)

    Hack the planet? Geoengineering research, ethics, governance explored
    (December 17, 2013) — Experts have described the proposed Oxford Principles to govern geoengineering research and surveyed the technical hurdles, ethics and regulatory issues related to deliberately manipulating the planet’s climate. …A lot of people, from across the academy, are getting interested in the Anthropocene — the idea that we may have entered a new geological era where human
    influence is a dominant feature, and what that means for various issues,” Gardiner said. The collection aims to prompt a serious academic discussion the editors say has so far been lacking. “It’s an interdisciplinary discussion with an emphasis on the research angle — whether and how we should be researching geoengineering,” said co-editor Lauren Hartzell-Nichols, a UW lecturer in philosophy. “We hope it helps people think about this issue in a more interdisciplinary and integrated way.”

    full story

    Further information: http://link.springer.com/journal/10584/121/3/page/1

     

    Geoengineering Is Unlikely To Succeed, Natural Defenses Are The Best

    Countercurrents.org  16 December, 2013

    Reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the planet’s surface by geoengineering may not undo climate change after all. [1] Axel Kleidon and Maik Renner, two German scientists used a simple energy balance analysis to explain how Earth’s water cycle responds differently to heating by sunlight than it does to warming due to a stronger atmospheric greenhouse effect. They show that this difference implies that reflecting sunlight to reduce temperatures may have unwanted effects on Earth’s rainfall patterns. . ….Many geoengineering approaches aim to reduce global warming by reducing the amount of sunlight reaching Earth’s surface (or, in the pot analogy, reduce the heat from the stove). But when Kleidon and Renner applied their results to such a geoengineering scenario, they found out that simultaneous changes in the water cycle and the atmosphere cannot be compensated for at the same time. Therefore, reflecting sunlight by geoengineering is unlikely to restore the planet’s original climate. “It’s like putting a lid on the pot and turning down the heat at the same time,” explains Kleidon. “While in the kitchen you can reduce your energy bill by doing so, in the Earth system this slows down the water cycle with wide-ranging potential consequences,” he says…..

     

    Humans threaten wetlands’ ability to keep pace with sea-level rise

    Coastal wetlands can resist rapid levels of sea-level rise. But humans could be sabotaging some of their best defenses, according to a Nature review paper published December 5 from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center . [2] The threat of disappearing coastlines has alerted many to the dangers of climate change. Wetlands in particular — with their ability to buffer coastal cities from floods and storms, and filter out pollution — offer protections that could be lost in the future. But, say co-authors Matt Kirwan and Patrick Megonigal, higher waters aren’t the key factor in wetland demise. Thanks to an intricate system of feedbacks, wetlands are remarkably good at building up their soils to outpace sea level rise. The real issue, they say, is that human structures such as dams and seawalls are disrupting the natural mechanisms that have allowed coastal marshes to survive rising seas since at least the end of the last Ice Age. ….Groundwater withdrawal and artificial drainage can cause the land to sink, as is happening right now in Chesapeake Bay . Because of this kind of subsidence, 8 of the world’s 20 largest coastal cities are experiencing relative sea-level rise greater than climate change projections. Dams and reservoirs also prevent 20 percent of the global sediment load from reaching the coast.
    Marshes on the Yangtze River Delta survived relative sea-level rise of more than 50 mm per year since the 7th century C.E., until the building of more than 50,000 dams cut off their supply of sediment and sped up erosion
    .
    In addition to building vertically, marshes can also respond to sea-level rise by migrating landward.

    But, the authors note, human activities have hindered this response as well. Conventional ways of protecting coastal property, such dykes and seawalls, keep wetlands from moving inland and create a “shoreline squeeze,” Kirwan says. Because rates of marsh-edge erosion increase with rates of sea-level rise, the authors warn that the impacts of coastal barriers will accelerate with climate change.

     

    ‘Natural defenses’ are best protection from rising sea levels 

    Citing a similar study finding Tim Radford reported [3]: Insidious things like sea level rise, coastal subsidence and the loss of wetlands could bring the sea water coursing through city streets in the decades to come. Jonathan Woodruff of the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the US and colleagues report in Nature that shorelines are increasingly at risk, and humans must adapt and learn to live with increasing hazard. …. “Most engineered coastlines are not designed for this increase in extreme flood frequency, and the dominance of sea level rise and landscape dynamics on impacts by landfalling tropical cyclones must be acknowledged for effective planning and management of our future coastlines.”

    The scientists reviewed nearly 100 research studies of coastal change. They also noted that, according to an international register of disasters, more than 60% of economic losses – around $400 bn – occurred in the North Atlantic , one of the areas least at risk from tropical hurricanes. The lesson is that governments and civic authorities will need to think more carefully about future threats. “Sea-level rise, severe storms, changing climate, erosion and policy issues are just some of the factors to assess in order to understand risk”, says another of the authors, Jennifer Irish of Virginia Tech College of Engineering. “We reviewed just three of the physical factors – tropical cyclone climatology, sea-level rise and shoreline change. If we look at them separately, we don’t see how they are interconnected.
    “But if we pull back to look at the whole picture, we stand a better chance of protecting our homes, roadways, energy and water networks, and the most critical and expensive infrastructure along the coastlines.”

     

     

    [1] Story Source: The story is based on materials provided by European Geosciences Union (EGU). Journal Reference: A. Kleidon, M. Renner. A simple explanation for the sensitivity of the hydrologic cycle to global climate change. Earth System Dynamics Discussions, 2013; 4 (2): 853 DOI: 10.5194/esdd-4-853-2013

    European Geosciences Union (EGU) (2013, December 5). Geoengineering approaches to reduce climate change unlikely to succeed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 6, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2013/12/131205092049.htm

    [2] Story Source: The story is based on materials provided by Virginia Institute of Marine Science. The original article was written by Kristen Minogue, SERC.

    Journal Reference: Matthew L. Kirwan, J. Patrick Megonigal. Tidal wetland stability in the face of human impacts and sea-level rise. Nature, 2013; 504 (7478): 53 DOI: 10.1038/nature12856

    Source: Virginia Institute of Marine Science (2013, December 4). Humans threaten wetlands’ ability to keep pace with sea-level rise. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 5, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2013/12/131204132024.htm

    [3] Source: This article was produced by the Climate News Network. RTCC.org, December 5, 2013, “‘Natural defences’ offer best protection from rising sea levels”, http://www.rtcc.org/2013/12/05/natural-defences-offer-best-protection-from-rising-sea-levels/

     

     

    Lower Rio Grande Basin study shows shortfall in future water supply
    (December 17, 2013) — Reclamation released the Lower Rio Grande Basin Study that evaluated the impacts of climate change on water demand and supply imbalances along the Rio Grande from Fort Quitman, Tex., to the Gulf of Mexico. As a result of climate change, a projected 86,438 acre-feet of water per year will need to be added to the 592,084 acre-feet per year of supply shortfall predicted in the existing regional planning process in 2060. … > full story

     

     

    Global warming: Four degree rise will end vegetation ‘carbon sink’, research suggests
    (December 16, 2013) — New research suggests that a temperature increase of four degrees is likely to “saturate” areas of dense vegetation with carbon, preventing plants from helping to balance CO2 escalation — and consequently accelerating climate change.
    Carbon will spend increasingly less time in vegetation as the negative impacts of climate change take their toll through factors such as increased drought levels — with carbon rapidly released back into the atmosphere where it will
    continue to add to global warming. Researchers say that extensive modelling shows a four degree temperature rise will be the threshold beyond which CO2 will start to increase more rapidly, as natural carbon ‘sinks’ of global vegetation become “saturated” and unable to sequester any more CO2 from the Earth’s atmosphere.

    They call for a “change in research priorities” away from the broad-stroke production of plants and towards carbon ‘residence time’ — which is little understood — and the interaction of different kinds of vegetation in ecosystems such as carbon sinks. Carbon sinks are natural systems that drain and store CO2 from the atmosphere, with vegetation providing many of the key sinks that help chemically balance the world — such as the Amazon rainforest and the vast, circumpolar Boreal forest. As the world continues to warm, consequent events such as Boreal forest fires and mid-latitude droughts will release increasing amounts of carbon into the atmosphere — pushing temperatures ever higher. Initially, higher atmospheric CO2 will encourage plant growth as more CO2 stimulates photosynthesis, say researchers. But the impact of a warmer world through drought will start to negate this natural balance until it reaches a saturation point.“In heatwaves, ecosystems can emit more CO2 than they absorb from the atmosphere,” said Friend. “We saw this in the 2003 European heatwave when temperatures rose six degrees above average — and the amount of CO2 produced was sufficient to reverse the effect of four years of net ecosystem carbon sequestration.” For Friend, this research should feed into policy: “To make policy you need to understand the impact of decisions. The idea here is to understand at what point the increase in global temperature starts to have serious effects across all the sectors, so that policy makers can weigh up impacts of allowing emissions to go above a certain level, and what mitigation strategies are necessary.” full story

     

    Andrew D. Friend, et al. Carbon residence time dominates uncertainty in terrestrial vegetation responses to future climate and atmospheric CO2. PNAS, December 16, 2013 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1222477110

     

    Amazon River carbon dioxide outgassing fuelled by wetlands ▶

    Gwenaël Abril, Jean-Michel Martinez, L. Felipe Artigas et al. NATURE Dec 19 2013

    Global carbon budgets reveal that inland waters emit substantial amounts of carbon, which is believed to originate from the terrestrial biosphere; however, here the carbon emitted from the Amazon River system is shown to originate from temporary wetlands in the flooded area itself, such as flooded forests.

     

    Different developmental stages of the amphipod Themisto compressa. Found in the sediment traps: Three different developmental stages of the amphipod Themisto compressa – juvenile (top), sub-adult (middle), and a mature adult (bottom). (Credit: Angelina Kraft, Alfred-Wegener-Institut)

    New actors in the Arctic ecosystem
    (December 18, 2013)
    Biologists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have
    for the first time shown that amphipods from the warmer Atlantic are now reproducing in Arctic waters to the west of Spitsbergen. This surprising discovery indicates a possible shift of the Arctic zooplankton community, scientists report in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.
    The primary victims of this “Atlantification” are likely to be marine birds, fish and whales. The reason is that the migrating amphipods measure around one centimetre, and so are smaller than the respective Arctic species; this makes them less nutritious prey.… > full story

     

    A Kraft, EM Nöthig, E Bauerfeind, DJ Wildish, GW Pohle, UV Bathmann, A Beszczynska-Möller, M Klages. First evidence of reproductive success in a southern invader indicates possible community shifts among Arctic zooplankton. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 2013; 493: 291 DOI: 10.3354/meps10507

     

     

    An Agassiz’s desert tortoise outfitted with monitoring equipment in Joshua Tree National Park. (Jeffrey E. Lovich/U.S. Geological Survey / December 13, 2013)

    Decline of Desert Tortoise in Joshua Tree Linked to Longer Droughts
    LA Times, 12/13/13
    Dwindling populations of the reptiles with scruffy carapaces and skin as tough as rhino hide are facing an even greater threat: longer droughts spurred by climate change in their Sonoran Desert kingdom of arroyos and burrows, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study…..

     

    ELLIE’s NOTE: This new opinion published in Nature Climate Change today highlights the urgent need to conduct research on how grass fed and grass finished cattle under intensive, prescribed grazing management on western rangelands contribute to methane emissions but also how this management approach enhances ecosystem services such as soil carbon, water storage/flow and biodiversity.   Industrial cattle operations appear to have very different ecological impacts.

     

    Want To Stop Global Warming? Stop Eating Meat: Reducing Methane-Producing ‘Ruminant’ Population Will Abate Climate Change

    By
    Ajit Jha on December 20, 2013 10:05 AM EST International Science Times

    Ruminant animals, like cows, are a more pressing cause of climate change than CO2 emissions, a new study claims. (Photo: Shutterstock)

    The focus of climate change target — carbon dioxide emissions — could be lopsided, according to an opinion commentary published in Nature Climate Change. While CO2 emissions are damaging to climate, they are also just a part of the problem; in reality, a more serious cause of climate change are the methane-emitting animals we raise for food. Pound for pound, the two greatest greenhouse culprits are methane and nitrous oxide – both of which trap more heat than CO2 does. The research team, led by William Ripple from the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, concluded that unless methane and nitrous oxide emissions are curbed along with CO2, we are unlikely to make a real impact on the climate change. Ripple and his team don’t recommend that CO2 should be ignored or that methane and nitrous oxides alone be targeted, but rather that we need multiple approaches to address the threat of climate change. “We clearly need to reduce the burning of fossil fuels to cut CO2 emissions. But that addresses only part of the problem. We also need to reduce non CO2 greenhouse gases to lessen the likelihood of us crossing this climatic threshold,” Ripple said in a press statement. Ruminant animals, including cattle, goats, sheep, and buffalo, according to the researchers are primarily responsible for methane emissions. They produce a copious amount of methane in comparison to non-ruminants like pigs and poultry. Ruminants are mammals that have a special, extra stomach that enables them to get more nutrients out of plant-based foods through a process of fermentation prior to digestion…

     

    Ruminants, climate change and climate policy

    William J. Ripple,  Pete Smith, Helmut Haberl, Stephen A. Montzka, Clive McAlpine & Douglas H. Boucher ; Affiliations; Corresponding author

    Nature Climate Change 4, 2–5 (2014) doi:10.1038/nclimate2081   Published online  20 December 2013

    Greenhouse gas emissions from ruminant meat production are significant. Reductions in global ruminant numbers could make a substantial contribution to climate change mitigation goals and yield important social and environmental co-benefits.

     

    Continued global warming after CO2 emissions stoppage pp40 – 44

    Thomas Lukas Frölicher, Michael Winton and Jorge Louis Sarmiento

    Nature Climate Change (2014) doi:10.1038/nclimate2060   Published online  20 December 2013

    Stopping anthropogenic carbon emissions will not result in a sudden decrease in temperature. Earth system models are used to show that there may be an increase in warming after an initial decrease. This is a result of feedbacks from decreased ocean heat uptake, which exceed the cooling from decreased atmospheric CO2.

     

    Extreme summer weather in northern mid-latitudes linked to a vanishing cryosphere pp45 – 50

    Qiuhong Tang, Xuejun Zhang and Jennifer A. Francis

    Nature Climate Change (2014) doi:10.1038/nclimate2065   Published online  20 December 2013

    The Northern Hemisphere has seen record declines in the summer sea-ice and snow cover at high latitudes, as well as a recent increase in extreme summer events at mid latitudes. The connection between these has been unclear; however, changes in atmospheric circulation attributable to the reduced cryosphere are now shown to be linked to the summer extremes.

     

     

    Recognizing the elephant in the room: Future climate impacts across sectors
    (December 16, 2013) — A pioneering collaboration within the international scientific community has provided comprehensive projections of climate change effects, ranging from water scarcity to risks to crop yields. This interdisciplinary effort, employing extensive model inter-comparisons, allows research gaps to be identified, whilst producing the most robust possible findings. The results provide crucial insights for decision-making regarding mitigation efforts in the face of potential impact cascades. …

    “There is an elephant in the room: current and future climate change impacts. But strangely, many people seem to be blind to it,” says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and co-author of the special feature’s introduction as well as several of its papers. “Many decision makers prefer to turn a blind eye to global warming consequences, while many scientists tend to focus on very specific aspects of climate change. So we resemble the fabled blind men, who unknowingly touch different parts of the same elephant: grasping the animal’s trunk, one of the men is convinced he has a snake in his hand, whilst one other mistakes the tail for a rope. To recognize the animal, they must talk to each other to properly identify the individual parts and to bring them together. This is exactly what this international project does.”….
    One of the core products of ISI-MIP is a public data archive, where the output as well as the input data from the project is available for further research and to promote maximum transparency. A specific aim is to further enhance the quality of the computer models of impacts. After the publication of its first results, the project now enters a second phase, broadening the scope of impacts considered (addressing, for example, the energy industry and global fisheries) and incorporating models that look more closely at specific regions. “The climate change impacts picture remains far from complete, in particular with regard to socio-economic consequences,” says Pavel Kabat, director of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, co-author of several contributions to the special feature, and co-editor. “The human costs of climate change are often triggered by the biophysical impacts, but are not identical to the impacts themselves. For example, water shortages in some regions might contribute to human conflicts and drive large-scale migration. We already have enough certainty today about climate change impacts to recognize it is high time to act. But as scientists we will work hard to further integrate and strengthen the existing expertise to better see the elephant in the room — and just how dangerous the mighty beast really is.”full story

    Schellnhuber, H.J., Frieler, K., Kabat, P. The Elephant, the Blind, and the ISI-MIP. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1321791111

     

    Alps Warming At Double The Average Global Rate, New Study Confirms

    By Ari Phillips on December 16, 2013

    Glaciologists have found a 2,600-year-old leaf that offers further evidence of the rapid climactic changes taking place in areas of high elevation that have been frozen for millennia.

     

    Battle to save barn owl after freak weather kills thousands.
    London Observer

    Ornithologists fear that there are now fewer than 1,000 breeding pairs of barn owls in England, following four years of extreme weather that have resulted in the population of the protected bird declining by more than three-quarters.

     

    A Natural Capital Approach for Climate Adaptation in Belize

    Posted: 17 Dec 2013 07:57 AM PST By Rebecca Traldi and Amy Rosenthal

    State and national governments are beginning to consider how to help vulnerable industries and communities adapt to climate change. However, a lack of good examples and large knowledge gaps pose challenges for integrating adaptation into policy. Existing research and policy on climate adaptation often accounts for either economic values….

     

    Struggles to survive in an upside-down world one month after Haiyan’s record surge.
    Climate Wire

    Millions of families displaced in the typhoon-torn region of the central Philippines will have to weather a rainy season set to begin in late January under the cover of donated blue tarps and scraps of metal as the government struggles with challenges related to land and property rights.

     

     

     

    Climate change threatens genetic diversity, future of world’s caribou
    (December 16, 2013) — Caribou in southern and eastern Canada may disappear from most of their current range in 60 years if climate change takes the toll on their habitat that scientists predict. Scientists looked at reservoirs of genetic diversity in caribou and whether that diversity was linked to stable habitats. … > full story

    Species diversity in coral reefs: Very similar looking coral species differ in how they survive in harsh environments
    (December 13, 2013) — Some corals have been found to have the ability to survive in harsh environments, according to new research. The researchers report previously unrecognized species diversity that had been was hiding some corals’ ability to respond to climate change. … > full story

     

    California 2013 Wildfire Season Goes Out With A Blaze

    By Joanna M. Foster on December 17, 2013

    The 2013 California wildfire season began in early May and now an unusually late fire in Big Sur, is extending the season well into December.

     

    In the Philippines, Fighting Climate Change Impacts with Nature (Part 2)

    Lynn Tang December 16, 2013

    This is the second half of a two-part blog about the role that restoring and protecting ecosystems like mangroves, reefs and forests can play in buffering communities from extreme weather events like Typhoon Haiyan. Read Part 1. (Note: Although this blog was written prior to the storm, we were relieved to learn that the regions discussed were largely spared from destruction.)


    Lynn Tang plants a mangrove seedling in Silonay, Philippines. Mangrove replanting on another Philippine island (Samar) is thought to have played a role in the region’s relatively minor damage from Typhoon Haiyan. (© CI/photo by Kristin Prukop)

    In 2008, CI-Philippines conducted a climate change vulnerability assessment in the Verde Island Passage, a species-rich region that is highly valued as a fishing ground, tourist site and shipping lane between the Philippine islands. The assessment identified the coastal community of Silonay as one of the most vulnerable to storm surges and sea level rise. …Mangrove planting activities are a small part of a larger strategy of using ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) to cope with climate change. A relatively new concept, EbA is defined as reducing the impacts of climate change through the conservation and restoration of natural ecosystems. Because natural systems provide additional benefits besides climate adaptation, such as alternative livelihoods, they are often much more cost-effective than hard-engineered solutions….

     

    Parched Jordan faces water crisis as Syrian refugees flood in.
    Reuters A flood of Syrian refugees is threatening to turn Jordan’s chronic water shortage into a crisis, stoking tension among Jordanians already resentful of what they see as Syria’s unfair exploitation of shared water supplies.

     

     

    British Wine Benefits as the Climate Changes

    New York Times

     - ‎Dec 13, 2013‎

           

    DORKING, England – For more than a decade, Matthieu Elzinga ran his own vineyard in the western Loire Valley of France. But this year, just as he was gaining an international reputation for his dry and crisp Muscadets, Mr. Elzinga sold the vineyard …

     

     

    Rising sea levels torment coastal US. USA TODAY December 18, 2013

    One block from the beach on the narrow Willoughby Spit in Norfolk, Va., Bob Parsons was watching the weather news on TV in November 2009 when brackish water suddenly oozed up through the floors of his home. Next year, he will spend $100,000 to raise that home five feet.

     

    Honest Conversations about Climate Change and Uncertainty

    By Sara S. Moore ClimatePrep December 12 2013

    Uncertainty is hard. Planning for uncertain events, particularly highly uncertain and dangerous events, is even more difficult. Even certain events with uncertain timing, like an earthquake on a fault line, can stop people in their tracks. People don’t want to plan for terrible things. I once attended a doctoral seminar at UC Berkeley (on the Hayward Fault) on climate change adaptation and asked the room, in the middle of complaining about the stubbornness of climate change denialists, how many had earthquake preparedness kits at home. The answer: less than a third. We all live in some degree of denial about highly uncertain, dangerous events. They are just too scary to think through…..So how do you engage with people, acknowledging their fears, in a way that helps us start planning for climate change?…. Scenario planning, pioneered by the U.S. military and developed for wider use in the 1970′s by the Global Business Network, is being used more and more to create a space to talk about climate change. Scenario planning provides a framework for a group to develop multiple plausible futures based on discussion of relative certainties, including many kinds of information, from quantitative scientific projections to personal observations about the changing land. This way, communities can talk through responses to worst case scenarios that feel plausible and imminent, grounded in scientific knowns and unknowns, defining our nightmares to move forward into envisioning solutions.

    …..In January 2011, I organized a scenario planning workshop for 35 resource managers in Marin, California. The participants came from the public and private non-profit sectors, representing local, county, and national landscape management institutions. There were water district managers, fire district managers, invasive plant detection experts, researchers, and more. At the end of the day, we had our ‘aha’ moment: fire and water managers need to work more closely across a larger region to plan for long-term change. Two years later, I’m working with the North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative  and North Bay Watershed Association to make these cross-sector, multi-county planning discussions happen. The managers we engage in planning these discussions continue to affirm that we can no longer plan for one natural system separate from another. The dream is certainty; the reality is that we can’t always reduce climate change uncertainty, and the fear that stems from this can paralyze us. However, we can define our worst-case scenarios, thinking through the consequences of the most critical uncertainties (and how the consequences interact). Scenario planning is not a panacea for all the barriers to climate change preparedness, but it can help us address our biggest nightmares, and hopefully navigate past uncertainty.

    Read more articles by Sara Moore at The Past is Not an Option.

     

     

     

     

    Letter: [CA] Governor convenes interagency Drought Task Force

    By Maven on Dec 18, 2013 09:54 pm

    Governor Brown has directed the Department of Water Resources, the State Water Resources Control Board, the Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Office of Emergency Services to immediately convene an interagency Drought Task Force.
    In a letter addressed to Director Mark Cowin, Chair Felicia Marcus, Secretary Karen Ross and Director Mark Ghilarducci, the Governor directs the task force to meet weekly to review expected allocations, the state’s level of preparedness, and whether the conditions warrant declaration of a statewide drought. “We must do everything we can to address the impacts of water shortages and move water from where it is available to where it is needed.  These actions include establishing a clearinghouse of water shortage-related information; assessing the regions most affected by dry conditions and the local community socio- and economic impacts within those regions; and determining potential water transfers, infrastructure improvements, water trucking and other actions that could alleviate the impacts of water shortages.  These measures will work in concert with my directive earlier this year to expedite voluntary transfers of water and water rights to alleviate critical impacts to San Joaquin Valley agriculture and Department of Water Resource’s designation of a drought coordinator.” Read the full letter here: Governor Drought Task Force letter (2) Related posts:

    1. Letter: Feinstein and Costa request Governor declare a drought emergency
    2. Letter: California’s Republican representatives write letter to the President and the Governor, asking him to ‘take immediate action to mitigate the catastrophic effects of another natural drought exacerbated by environmental conditions”
    3. Letter: NGO’s send letter to Governor Brown outlining three actions for achieving a Delta solution

     

    Jerry Brown’s top water official Jerry Meral to retire

    Sacramento Bee December 14, 2013

    Jerry Meral, Gov. Jerry Brown‘s top water official and a major figure in the controversial, $25 billion water project proposed by the governor, will retire at the end of the month, the Brown administration confirmed Saturday. Meral, deputy secretary of the state’s Natural Resources Agency, told Brown of his retirement in a letter Monday – the same day the Brown administration released its latest environmental analysis of a plan to build two tunnels to divert water around the Delta to the south. “While additional permits will be required,” Meral said in the letter, “it is virtually certain that the plan will be implemented.” Meral, who is widely regarded as one of California’s most accomplished preservationists, worked for Brown as a water adviser when Brown was governor before, from 1975 to 1983. He was one of several high-profile advisers brought back by the Democratic governor when Brown took office in 2011.

     

    Jerry Meral blogs on the Delta controversy and the Bay Delta Conservation Plan

    by Maven December 20, 2013

    Jerry Meral has posted a three-part blog series over at the Bay Delta Conservation Plan website which covers the history of the controversy in the Delta, from development of the State Water Project to present day.   “Californians have been debating the role of the Delta and the best way to move water to where it’s needed for nearly 70 years,” he writes in the introduction.  “The recently released draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan and accompanying draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) reflect the ongoing evolution of Delta water policy in the critical areas of supply, water quality, environmental impacts, species preservation and the interests of the Delta communities.  This is the first of a three-part blog that summarizes how our understanding of these issues has changed in relation to the dynamic growth of California and our constantly expanding appreciation of the needs of its environment.”…

     

     

    Months After Banning Fracking, France Now Has A Carbon Tax

    By Emily Atkin on December 19, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    The French Parliament on Thursday adopted a budget for 2014 which includes a tax on carbon emissions from gas, heating oil and coal, according to a report in Platts. The money derived from the tax — which largely targets transport fuels and domestic heating — will be used to reduce emissions through increased installation of renewable energy throughout the country, according to the report. The move is projected to raise €4 billion, or $5.5 billion, per year by 2016, which can then spent on tax breaks for the wind and solar power industries. “Its operation is simple: part of domestic consumption taxes on fuels and fossil fuels will be based on CO2 emissions given off by their use,” Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrualt said when introducing the proposed tax in September, noting the tax will affect the petrol, diesel, coal, natural gas, and heavy fuel oil industries. “Throughout this transition, the Government will pay attention to the situation of the French, especially the poorest, who often worry about these changes.”…

     

    Chinese carbon market opens to a busy first day.
    Reuters December 20 2013

    The first day of trading in what will be by far the largest carbon market in China started briskly on Thursday with pricing in line with expectations, as Beijing continued its drive to slow its rapid growth of heat-trapping emissions.

     

    White House delayed enacting rules ahead of 2012 election to avoid controversy.
    Washington Post The White House systematically delayed enacting a series of rules on the environment, worker safety and health care to prevent them from becoming points of contention before the 2012 election, according to documents and interviews with current and former administration officials.

     

    2013 year in review: Obama talks climate change but pushes fracking. Friday, December 20, 2013 The Guardian This was the year when climate change came out of the closet. But it was also a year when Obama claimed as a personal achievement the expansion of oil and gas production through hydraulic fracturing, and when the coal industry sent coal overseas to rescue the mines closing down at home.

     

    White House to get aggressive on climate change?

    Washington Post (blog)

     - ‎December 18, 2013‎

           

    …Beyond this flap, there is some important news in the piece about Podesta: He agreed to the job on the condition that he be allowed to oversee an aggressive climate change agenda via executive action. As Politico’s Glenn Thrush reports: The deal-sealer

     

     

    Most companies still releasing unsustainable amounts of CO2 – study. December 20 2013 Reuters The majority of large global corporations that have reported their annual greenhouse gas emissions for several years now are still releasing more carbon dioxide than they should, a new study published on Wednesday showed.

     

     

    Obama and Climate Change: The Real Story

    By Bill McKibben December 17, 2013 9:00 AM ET Rollingstone.com

    Two years ago, on a gorgeous November day, 12,000 activists surrounded the White House to protest the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Signs we carried featured quotes from Barack Obama in 2008: “Time to end the tyranny of oil”; “In my administration, the rise of the oceans will begin to slow.”

    Our hope was that we could inspire him to keep those promises. Even then, there were plenty of cynics who said Obama and his insiders were too closely tied to the fossil-fuel industry to take climate change seriously. But in the two years since, it’s looked more and more like they were right – that in our hope for action we were willing ourselves to overlook the black-and-white proof of how he really feels. If you want to understand how people will remember the Obama climate legacy, a few facts tell the tale: By the time Obama leaves office, the U.S. will pass Saudi Arabia as the planet’s biggest oil producer and Russia as the world’s biggest producer of oil and gas combined. In the same years, even as we’ve begun to burn less coal at home, our coal exports have climbed to record highs. We are, despite slight declines in our domestic emissions, a global-warming machine: At the moment when physics tell us we should be jamming on the carbon brakes, America is revving the engine.

     

     … In November, for instance, the EPA allowed Kentucky to weaken a crucial regulation, making it easier for mountaintop-removal coal mining to continue. As the Sierra Club’s Bruce Nilles said, “It’s dismaying that the Obama administration approved something even worse than what the Bush administration proposed.” All these steps are particularly toxic because we’ve learned something else about global warming during the Obama years: Most of the coal and gas and oil that’s underground has to stay there if we’re going to slow climate change.…As the administration’s backers consistently point out, America has cut its own carbon emissions by 12 percent in the past five years, and we may meet our announced national goal of a 17 percent reduction by decade’s end. We’ve built lots of new solar panels and wind towers in the past five years (though way below the pace set by nations like Germany). In any event, building more renewable energy is not a useful task if you’re also digging more carbon energy – it’s like eating a pan of Weight Watchers brownies after you’ve already gobbled a quart of Ben and Jerry’s.

     

    Let’s lay aside the fact that climate scientists have long since decided these targets are too timid and that we’d have to cut much more deeply to get ahead of global warming. All this new carbon drilling, digging and burning the White House has approved will add up to enough to negate the administration’s actual achievements: The coal from the Powder River Basin alone, as the commentator Dave Roberts pointed out in Grist, would “undo all of Obama’s other climate work.”

    The perfect example of this folly is the Keystone XL pipeline stretching south from the tar sands of Canada – the one we were protesting that November day. The tar sands are absurdly dirty: To even get oil to flow out of the muck you need to heat it up with huge quantities of natural gas, making it a double-dip climate disaster. More important, these millions of untouched acres just beneath the Arctic Circle make up one of the biggest pools of carbon on Earth. If those fields get fully developed, as NASA’s recently retired senior climate scientist James Hansen pointed out, it will be “game over” for the climate.

     

    Obama has all the authority he needs to block any pipelines that cross the border to the U.S. And were he to shut down Keystone XL, say analysts, it would dramatically slow tar-sands expansion plans in the region. But soon after taking office, he approved the first, small Keystone pipeline, apparently without any qualms. And no one doubts that if a major campaign hadn’t appeared, he would have approved the much larger Keystone XL without a peep – even though the oil that will flow through that one pipe will produce almost as much carbon as he was theoretically saving with his new auto-mileage law.

     

    But the fight to shut down the pipeline sparked a grassroots movement that has changed the culture of environmentalism – but not, so far, the culture of the White House. For me, the most telling moment came a month or two ago when it emerged that the president’s former communications director, Anita Dunn, had taken a contract to flack for the pipeline. The reason for fighting Keystone all along was not just to block further expansion of the tar sands – though that’s required, given the amount of carbon contained in that expanse of Alberta. We also hoped that doing the right thing would jump-start Washington in the direction of real climate action. Instead, the effort necessary to hold off this one pipeline has kept environmentalists distracted as Obama has opened the Arctic and sold off the Powder River Basin, as he’s fracked and drilled. It kept us quiet as both he and Mitt Romney spent the whole 2012 campaign studiously ignoring climate change…..


    Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math

     

    Pennsylvania gas drilling decision leaves future uncertain. December 19 2013 AP The energy industry and policy makers in Pennsylvania, the heart of the nation’s gas drilling boom, are thinking about their next moves after the state’s highest court threw out significant portions of a law that limited the power of cities and counties to regulate the industry.

     

     


    California Plans Tighter Control of Fracking, but Not Enough for Some



    New York Times

     - ‎Dec 13, 2013‎

           

    SAN FRANCISCO – California drillers eager to use hydraulic fracturing to tap the nation’s largest oil shale formation will face comprehensive regulation for the first time next year under rules issued this week.

     

    Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones Looking to Expand

    Bay Nature

     - ‎December 18, 2013

           

    The Gulf of the Farallones and the Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries cover roughly 1,800 square miles off the California Coast and provide rich feeding grounds for populations of endangered blue, humpback, and gray whales, as well as some of the …

     

     

    Interior Department Has Stopped Trying To Raise Oil And Gas Royalty Rates, Say Government Auditors

    By Jessica Goad, Guest Blogger on December 17, 2013

    A report released Tuesday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Department of the Interior has “discontinued” an effort to increase the royalty rate that companies must pay to the government for extracting oil and gas from onshore public lands.

     

     

    Congress Works on Compromises for Farm Bill, Ag Budget Before Recess

    December 17, 2013

    Members of the U.S. House of Representatives began their holiday recess this week, but Rep. Frank Lucas, Chair of the House Agriculture Committee and Rep. Collin Peterson, ranking Democrat on the same Committee announced that they would be in Washington to negotiate the final terms of a new Farm Bill. They will be meeting with their counterparts in the Senate, which is still in session, to work on what they hope will be the final terms of a deal that could clear the way to pass a new Farm Bill early next year.   

    Read More >>

     

    FDA antibiotics effort a good first step

    Published 8:00 pm, Thursday, December 12, 2013

    Leftcoast Grassfed in Pescadero is an example of a ranch that has successfully bred cattle without the use of antibiotics. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

    SFChronicle, December 13, 2013

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has taken a significant and long overdue first step toward reducing the use of antibiotics on healthy cows, chickens and pigs that are being raised for human consumption. Under the new guidelines, antibiotics no longer can be added to feed and water for the sole purpose of making livestock grow bigger and faster. The case for limiting – or even banning – the use of low doses of antibiotics on healthy animals has been known since at least 1977, when the FDA correctly predicted that the practice could lead to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Medical science has indeed witnessed a decline in the effectiveness of various antibiotics – and their role in livestock production is suspected to be a factor. About 23,000 Americans a year are dying from antibiotic-resistant infections…..

     

    Activist Tom Steyer launches California oil tax campaign

    Carla Marinucci San Francisco Chronicle

    December 17, 2013 Environmental activist Tom Steyer, the billionaire Democrat who poured millions of dollars into 2013 campaigns around the country, launched a political drive Monday in his home state to call for an oil extraction tax that he argues will raise… more »

     

    A 2014 New Year’s resolution every Californian can support

    Tom Steyer SF Chronicle Opinion Published 4:23 pm, Sunday, December 15, 2013

    California receives just $4.22 for each barrel of oil extracted from such sites as the Midway- Sunset field in Kern County. Texas gets more than three times as much in taxes and royalties. Photo: Jim Wilson, New York Times

    Californians will have the opportunity next year to end yet another billion-dollar corporate tax giveaway – this time, to the oil and gas industry. …. California is the only major oil-producing state in the nation that does not collect taxes from the extraction of oil on private lands. This must be changed – and, with the support of state policymakers, we can get it done this year. Since our first productive well was drilled in 1865, California has maintained its position as an oil giant – we’re still the fourth-largest oil-producing state (behind Alaska, Texas and North Dakota), producing 200 million barrels per year. But when it comes to reaping the financial benefits of our own oil resources, Californians rank dead last. California assesses only a 14-cent fee per barrel of oil – an amount referred to as a “free ride” by experts. Even after accounting for property, income and corporate taxes, the combined revenue collected in California is $4.22 per barrel. By comparison, Texas – America’s No. 1 oil producer, and a state of legendarily lax regulations and low taxes – charges oil producers a tax rate of 4.6 percent and royalties of 28 percent, and uses the revenues to benefit public education and other services. That amounts to $14.40 per barrel – more than three times what California charges for the privilege of removing its oil from the ground……

     

    Presidio Trust director’s political, ecological challenges: Terri Thomas

    SF Chronicle 9:26 pm, Saturday, December 14, 2013
    Peter Fimrite

    If there’s anything Terri Thomas has learned in the nearly 30 years she has been protecting natural resources on Bay Area public lands, it’s that bad habits die hard and good things sometimes have negative consequences. It was, for instance, a pretty neat thing for wildlife biologists when coyotes crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in 2000 and returned to their old hunting grounds in the Presidio, but it wasn’t such a happy time for local cat fanciers. The wily predators discovered a well-established population of cats, some of which were surviving on bowls of food left in the park by locals. The well-fed kitties did not, it was quickly demonstrated, have nine lives. “They started eating all the cats,” said Thomas, the director of conservation, stewardship and research for the Presidio Trust, a federal agency created by Congress in 1996 to transform the former U.S. Army post into a financially self-sustaining urban national park. “The cat owners were really upset and wanted us to kill all the coyotes.” It was one of many prickly situations the Bay Area native has clawed her way out of since 1976, when she began working for the National Park Service. She has spent the last 29 years, first with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and then with the Presidio Trust, helping restore the ecological balance of the long-neglected collection of military bases, beaches and bluffs in and around San Francisco that were cobbled together and turned into the 80,000-acre recreation area….

     

     

    Gil Philip Friend Named as Palo Alto’s [first] Chief Sustainability Officer

    Palo Alto, CA – City Manager James Keene announced today that he has selected Gil Philip Friend to serve as the City’s first Chief Sustainability Officer. ….”Gil is a pioneer in the field of sustainability, and has extensive experience leading and developing strategic sustainability practices for cities and companies across the globe,” said City Manager James Keene. “His thought leadership has inspired many, and he has instituted some of the most innovative programs in the field, including the first sustainability business dashboards nearly 20 years ago. Gil’s deep experience and connections will be instrumental in making Palo Alto not only the greenest city in America, but also a major contributor to advancing world-class sustainability strategies that link to the San Francisco Bay region and beyond.” For the past 22 years, Friend has developed sustainability strategies and roadmaps for companies in the technology, food, energy, retail, apparel and other sectors. He developed green product rating systems for two large retail companies, led integrated ecoaudits for more than 100 diverse manufacturing companies, and developed and delivered sustainability training for leadership teams associated with large public sector organizations. Friend’s experience also includes work with city governments and nonprofit groups to design equitable and environmentally sound economic and community development strategies.” “Palo Alto is a remarkable city with unmatched assets,” said Friend. “I’ve been eager to bring my experience to bear in one place, and I’m delighted this is it. I’m looking forward to working with leaders in the community, business, Stanford, and City staff to build on Palo Alto’s strong foundation, and to contribute to a new, regenerative economy for the planet.”

     

     

     

     

    A Bipartisan Group Of Lawmakers Is Out To Kill The Corn-Based Ethanol Mandate

    By Jeff Spross on December 16, 2013

    It’s the latest twist in the beleaguered story of American biofuels, but there’s at least a partial case that corn-based ethanol needs to go.

     

    Los Angeles Becomes First Major City To Require ‘Cool Roofs’

    By Ari Phillips on December 18, 2013

    Los Angeles is the first major city to require all new and refurbished homes to have cool roofs, which reflect light.

     

    Signs of Baby Steps on Stanching Wasteful Flaring of Natural Gas

    By ANDREW C. REVKIN NY Times December 18, 2013

    Signs of progress on wasteful, warming flaring of natural gas in America’s Bakken oil patch

     

    Green innovator: Turning chicken feathers and plant fiber into eco-leather, bio-based circuit boards
    (December 16, 2013) — A scientist is turning materials like chicken feathers, vegetable oil, and plant fiber into such green innovations as eco-leather and bio-based circuit boards. … > full story

     

    Turning a building’s water system into a hydroelectric plant. NY Times Why not harness the power of the wasted water running down the drain? With Hong Kong’s high concentration of skyscrapers, could gravity generate a considerable amount of electricity?

     

     

     

    1. RESOURCES and REFERENCES

     
     

     

    California Draft Delivery Reliability Report 2013 DWR

     

     

    Sonoma State University’s 30th Annual Planning Commissioners Conference –Resources:

     

    US/Global Wind Maps

    US wind map (http://hint.fm/wind/) — beautiful and useful when thinking about scheduled survey conditions.

    Now there is a wind map available for the entire Earth, so that you can check out, for example, the daily likelihood of South Polar Skuas getting blown off their nests at Cape Crozier: http://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/1000hPa/orthographic

     

    Marine Protected Areas– Ocean Conservancy Video

    Marine Protected Areas – Restoring the Beauty, Bounty and Diversity of our Natural Undersea World

    This video was produced by the Aquarium of the Bay in collaboration with the Ocean Conservancy.

     

    UPCOMING CONFERENCES:

     

    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.

     

    EcoFarm Conference
    January 22-24, 2014  Pacific Grove, CA
    This year’s conference features Temple Grandin as a plenary speaker and workshop presenter.  The special workshop Integrating Stockmanship with Range Management, on January 23 will teach participants how to incorporate stockmanship, the skillful handling of livestock in a safe, efficient, low-stress manner, into range and pasture management for economic and environmental benefits. Presenters will discuss opportunities for how stockmanship can reduce predation from herding and restore native grasslands. Other ranching topics include Managing Pastures for Optimal Forage Quality and Improved Nutrition of Meat, Milk and Eggs, Safe, Wholesome Raw Milk From Your Farm, among others.  Farmer/rancher scholarships and discounts are available now on a first-come, first-serve basis.

     

    Fostering Resilience in Southwestern Ecosystems: A Problem Solving Workshop

    February 25-27, 2014
    Tucson, Arizona
    This workshop will focus on answering urgent questions such as: How do managers “build resilience” when ecosystems are undergoing rapid change? What are our options when megafires remove huge swaths of forests not well adapted to this disturbance?

    Click here for more information or to register. 

     

     

     

    Communicating Climate Change: Climate Engagement Strategies and Problem Solving

    San Francisco Bay NERR  March 4, 2014 Contact: Heidi Nutters, 415-338-3511 -or-
    Elkhorn Slough NERR   March 6, 2014
    Contact: Virginia Guhin, 831-274-8700  Please read the details carefully as this 1-day training is being offered in two locations!

    Sponsored by: Elkhorn Slough and San Francisco Bay Coastal Training Programs Instructor: Cara Pike, TRIG’s Social Capital Project/Climate Access

    Most Americans accept the reality of climate disruption and climate impacts are beginning to act as a wake-up call for many. Engaging key stakeholders and the public in preparing for and reducing the risks from these impacts is essential.  This engagement requires approaches that recognize how people process risk, such as the importance of values, identities, and peer groups. Join environmental communication expert Cara Pike for an in-depth training in public engagement best practices for climate change. Participants will have an opportunity to design strategies for reaching and motivating target audiences, and be part of a unique problem-solving approach where a common public engagement challenge is tackled collaboratively.

    Intended Audience:

    Coastal resource managers, government staff, public engagement staff, outreach specialists and environmental interpreters

    Workshop Format: This one-day workshop will be held in two locations, the registration fee is $60 for either, and includes your attendance in a follow-up webinar that will take place on March 19, 2014 more details to follow.  The fee also includes lunch and materials.

    Important Registration and Payment Details Please note, you must pre-register, and we must receive your payment no later than 5 p.m. on February 10, 2013 for us to reserve a spot for you at the workshop. Your registration will not be completed without payment received by this date.  Please pay by credit card from this site or, if sending a check, make it payable to Elkhorn Slough Foundation. Mail to: Elkhorn Slough Foundation ATTN: Virginia Guhin 1700 Elkhorn Road Watsonville, CA 95076

    Follow-up Webinar – March 19 from 10:00am-11:30am (for all workshop attendees) additional details will be emailed to registered attendees and shared at workshop.  This workshop is complementary to the February 4 and February 6 training (Communicating Climate Change: Effective skills for engaging stakeholders, partners and the public.)

     

    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

     

    Sanctuary Currents Symposium; Marine Debris: How do you pitch in?
    Saturday April 26, 2014, University Center, California State University Monterey Bay

    By now we are all familiar with our collective role in polluting the planet, the ocean included. But we are also critical for the many potential solutions. Please join us for a morning of lively discussions about the many scales of problems and solutions, ranging from the small plastic nurdles to a state-size garbage patch, from the deep sea to the intertidal, from local policies to the international arena.  Discussions will occur around plenary sessions featuring internationally-recognized scientists, a research poster session, and exhibitry throughout the day.

    Research Posters: Call for abstracts will occur in January. Visit the Sanctuary Currents Symposium website for updates and information: Sanctuary Currents Symposium

     

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

     

     

    NEW BOOK:

    Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community

    Karen T. Litfin ISBN: 978-0-7456-7949-5 224 pages December 2013, Polity

    In a world of dwindling natural resources and mounting environmental crisis, who is devising ways of living that will work for the long haul? And how can we, as individuals, make a difference? To answer these fundamental questions, Professor Karen Litfin embarked upon a journey to many of the world’s ecovillages, intentional communities at the cutting-edge of sustainable living. From rural to urban, high tech to low tech, spiritual to secular, she discovered an under-the-radar global movement making positive and radical changes from the ground up. In this inspiring and insightful book, Karen Litfin shares her unique experience of these experiments in sustainable living through four broad windows – ecology, economics, community, and consciousness – or E2C2. Whether we live in an ecovillage or a city, she contends, we must incorporate these four key elements if we wish to harmonize our lives with our home planet. Not only is another world possible, it is already being born in small pockets the world over. These micro-societies, however, are small and time is short. Fortunately – as Litfin persuasively argues – their successes can be applied to existing social structures, from the local to the global scale, providing sustainable ways of living for generations to come.

     

     

     

    AND FOR THE CLIMATE SKEPTIC IN YOUR FAMILY
    (of if you just want a great holiday read on climate change):

    One of my favorites is by Naomi Oreskes– Merchants of Doubt. It starts with detailed documentation of how the tobacco industry hoodwinked the public and congress by getting just a few scientists to question the dangers of smoking that were proven as early as the 1952 or so. It goes into climate change– with many of the same scientists recruited by the oil industry to question the reality of global warming. Another great book is more about the history of civilization and the impact of extreme weather eventsThe Winds of Change by Eugene Linden. Finally another favorite– from the perspective of scientists studying high mountain glaciers– Thin Ice by Mark Bowen. A fantastic read….

        Also a great website: http://www.skepticalscience.com/ . Below is a sample of the excellent information with detailed scientific background they provide:

     

    Global Warming & Climate Change Myths

    Here is a summary of global warming and climate change myths, sorted by recent popularity vs what science says. Click the response for a more detailed response. You can also view them sorted by taxonomy, by popularity, in a print-friendly version, with short URLs or with fixed numbers you can use for permanent references.

     

    Climate Myth

    vs

    What the Science Says

    1

    “Climate’s changed before”

    Climate reacts to whatever forces it to change at the time; humans are now the dominant forcing.

    2

    “It’s the sun”

    In the last 35 years of global warming, sun and climate have been going in opposite directions

    3

    “It’s not bad”

    Negative impacts of global warming on agriculture, health & environment far outweigh any positives.

    4

    “There is no consensus”

    97% of climate experts agree humans are causing global warming.

    5

    “It’s cooling”

    The last decade 2000-2009 was the hottest on record.

    6

    “Models are unreliable”

    Models successfully reproduce temperatures since 1900 globally, by land, in the air and the ocean.

    7

    “Temp record is unreliable”

    The warming trend is the same in rural and urban areas, measured by thermometers and satellites.

    8

    “Animals and plants can adapt”

    Global warming will cause mass extinctions of species that cannot adapt on short time scales.

    9

    “It hasn’t warmed since 1998″

    For global records, 2010 is the hottest year on record, tied with 2005.

    10

    “Antarctica is gaining ice”

    Satellites measure Antarctica losing land ice at an accelerating rate.

    11

    “Ice age predicted in the 70s”

    The vast majority of climate papers in the 1970s predicted warming.

    12

    “CO2 lags temperature”

    CO2 didn’t initiate warming from past ice ages but it did amplify the warming.

    13

    “Climate sensitivity is low”

    Net positive feedback is confirmed by many different lines of evidence.

    14

    “We’re heading into an ice age”

    Worry about global warming impacts in the next 100 years, not an ice age in over 10,000 years.

    15

    “Ocean acidification isn’t serious”

    Ocean acidification threatens entire marine food chains.

    16

    “Hockey stick is broken”

    Recent studies agree that recent global temperatures are unprecedented in the last 1000 years.

    17

    “Climategate CRU emails suggest conspiracy”

    A number of investigations have cleared scientists of any wrongdoing in the media-hyped email incident.

    18

    “Hurricanes aren’t linked to global warming”

    There is increasing evidence that hurricanes are getting stronger due to global warming.

    19

    “Al Gore got it wrong”

    Al Gore book is quite accurate, and far more accurate than contrarian books.

    20

    “Glaciers are growing”

    Most glaciers are retreating, posing a serious problem for millions who rely on glaciers for water.

    21

    “It’s cosmic rays”

    Cosmic rays show no trend over the last 30 years & have had little impact on recent global warming.

    22

    “1934 – hottest year on record”

    1934 was one of the hottest years in the US, not globally.

    23

    “It’s freaking cold!”

    A local cold day has nothing to do with the long-term trend of increasing global temperatures.

    24

    “Extreme weather isn’t caused by global warming”

    Extreme weather events are being made more frequent and worse by global warming.

    25

    “Sea level rise is exaggerated”

    A variety of different measurements find steadily rising sea levels over the past century.

    26

    “It’s Urban Heat Island effect”

    Urban and rural regions show the same warming trend.

    27

    “Medieval Warm Period was warmer”

    Globally averaged temperature now is higher than global temperature in medieval times.

    28

    “Mars is warming”

    Mars is not warming globally.

    29

    “Arctic icemelt is a natural cycle”

    Thick arctic sea ice is undergoing a rapid retreat.

    30

    “Increasing CO2 has little to no effect”

    The strong CO2 effect has been observed by many different measurements.

    31

    “Oceans are cooling”

    The most recent ocean measurements show consistent warming.

    32

    “It’s a 1500 year cycle”

    Ancient natural cycles are irrelevant for attributing recent global warming to humans.

    33

    “Human CO2 is a tiny % of CO2 emissions”

    The natural cycle adds and removes CO2 to keep a balance; humans add extra CO2 without removing any.

    34

    “IPCC is alarmist”

    Numerous papers have documented how IPCC predictions are more likely to underestimate the climate response.

    35

    “Water vapor is the most powerful greenhouse gas”

    Rising CO2 increases atmospheric water vapor, which makes global warming much worse.

    36

    “Polar bear numbers are increasing”

    Polar bears are in danger of extinction as well as many other species.….

     

     

    JOBS:

     

    POINT BLUE: CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER

    Point Blue Conservation Science is a renowned, award-winning non-profit working to reduce the impacts of accelerating changes in climate, land-use and the ocean on wildlife and people while promoting climate-smart conservation. At the core of our work is ecosystem science using long-term data to identify and evaluate both natural and human-driven changes over time. We work hand-in-hand with public and private natural resource managers from the Sierra to the sea and Alaska to Antarctica studying birds and ecosystems. Founded in 1965 as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, the organization has tripled in size over the last decade, and currently has a $10M annual budget with significant growth expected to continue. We seek a qualified CFO, who is passionate about our mission and vision, to join a team of 140+ scientists, informatics experts and educators.  

     

    National Wildlife Federation: Senior Climate Policy Rep

    The Senior Policy Representative (Climate & Energy) will help define and support efforts to implement National Wildlife Federation’s national climate and energy policy initiatives, including securing carbon controls under existing statutes, and devising strategies to advance new federal policies. This position will require initiating meetings and briefings with decision makers, conducting policy analysis, preparing electronic communications, and developing resource materials, including reports, blogs, fact sheets, and presentations.

     

    California Park & Recreation Society (CPRS) (pdf) Executive Director

    CPRS is a nonprofit, professional and public interest organization with more than 3,000 members. CPRS supports its members who provide recreational experiences to individuals, families and communities with the goal of fostering human development, health and wellness, and cultural unity. As the largest state society of park and recreation professionals in the United States, CPRS has the collective strength in numbers to be able to advance the positive impact and value of the profession on society. CPRS is the organization that furthers careers of those who know that Parks Make Life Better™.

     

     

     

    1. OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

     

    Reddit forum bans climate change ‘deniers’

    The Hill (blog)

    December 18, 2013

           

    Nathan Allen, the moderator for the forum /r/science – which provides a digital space for people to discuss recent, peer-reviewed science publications – wrote about the move to ban skeptics of climate science on Grist. A representative for Reddit

     

    3rd Annual Crane Race Summary – 29.11.13, Agamon Hula, Israel

    We are happy to send you the presentation summarizing the 3rd Crane Race experience that after three years has turned into an annual tradition. The race presentation can be viewed at   http://bit.ly/1bvtBmZ    and a short movie can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUnxdTO_dqA&feature=youtu.be. The initiative began in 2011 when the Chairman of Ernst & Young, Ronen Barel and Boaz Dekel, Chairman of PMI, were  guests at the Agamon Hula to view the cranes and visit the ringing station, together with Maj. Gen. Noam Tibon, and a group of friends, running enthusiasts. After the ringing in the morning, at Ramot Naftali, with the group of visitors having greatly enjoyed the visit, it was decided to combine the love of running with the love of birds, and this is the third year that the “coolest” race in Israel has been held at the Agamon Hula with 35,000 wintering cranes in magical surroundings. About 1,000 professional runners, about 500 IDF soldiers headed by GOC (General Officer Commanding) Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan, Maj.-Gen. Noam Tibon Commander of the northern sector, and Brigade Commander Colonel Yaniv Assor. This year, due to the Hanukkah holiday, 600 school children from the northern region of the Ministry of Education didn’t arrive, but about 400 children and parents took part in the Prinia Race (1 km), about 400 people ran in the Hoopoe Race (5 km), and about 1,000 professional runners in the Crane Race (10 km). Due to the late approval of the state budget, this year we didn’t manage in hosting 100 Jordanians and Palestinians like last year, and we’ll make every effort for this to happen in 2014.

     


    How household dogs protect against asthma and infection
    (December 16, 2013) — Children’s risk for developing allergies and asthma is reduced when they are exposed in early infancy to a dog in the household, and now researchers have discovered a reason why. … > full story

     

    The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder

    By ALAN SCHWARZ NY Times December 15, 2013

    The number of A.D.H.D. diagnoses has soared amid a 20-year marketing campaign by drug makers…..

     

    Study: Pay kids to eat fruits, vegetables
    (December 17, 2013) — Researchers observed three schools adjust to new school lunch standards that require a serving of fruits or vegetables on every student’s tray — whether the child intends to eat it or not. Students discarded 70 percent of the extra fruits and vegetables — wasting about .8 million each day. … > full story

    Research backs risk-reduction surgery for ovarian cancer
    (December 17, 2013) — A study backs preventative surgery to improve survival for women who are at greater risk of getting ovarian cancer and suggests it appears helpful for women at risk of getting breast cancer because of genetic. … > full story

    Smoking changes our genes
    (December 17, 2013) — We inherit our genes from our parents at birth. Later in life the genetic material can be changed by epigenetic modifications, i.e. chemical alterations of the DNA the affect the activity of the genes. Such alterations are normally caused by aging, but can also result from environmental factors and lifestyle. New research findings show that smoking alters several genes that can be associated with health problems for smokers, such as increased risk for cancer and diabetes. … > full story

     

    Dogs recognize familiar faces from images
    (December 18, 2013) — So far the specialized skill for recognizing facial features holistically has been assumed to be a quality that only humans and possibly primates possess. Although it’s well known, that faces and eye contact play an important role in the communication between dogs and humans, this was the first study, where facial recognition of dogs was investigated with eye movement tracking. … > full story

    An apple a day keeps the doctor away
    (December 17, 2013) — Prescribing an apple a day to all adults aged 50 and over would prevent or delay around 8,500 vascular deaths such as heart attacks and strokes every year in the UK — similar to giving statins to everyone over 50 years who is not already taking them — according to a study. … > full story

     

     

     

     

    1. IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

     

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/drought/

     

    http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/RegionalDroughtMonitor.aspx?west

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Happy Beethoven’s Birthday:

     

    CA BLM WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer

    Which of the statements about coyotes are true?
    f) a, b, and d

     

     

    ————

    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 December 13, 2013

    Leave a Comment

    Focus of the WeekReducing Climate Risk with Natural Infrastructure (CA TNC); Forests as Infrastructure (Harvard)

    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- Reducing Climate Risk with Natural Infrastructure (CA TNC); Forests as Infrastructure (Harvard)

     

     

     

    Reducing Climate Risks with Natural Infrastructure

    December 12, 2013 (Louis Blumberg/TNC) A new report from TNC’s California Climate Change Initiative entitled, “Reducing Climate Risks with Natural Infrastructure” draws on experience from nine case studies in California and makes a compelling case for conservation as an effective tool to reduce risks of a changing climate. The main conclusions:

    Green infrastructure:

    1. can provide cost-effective flood and coastal protection.
    2. has been demonstrated successfully in a wide variety of settings.
    3. can be designed to adapt to changing conditions.
    4. provides multiple benefits.
    5. can inspire strong local support.

    The report was written by consultant Jim Downing and produced by Nancy Crowley in the TNC (CA) marketing department. The California State Coastal Conservancy, the CA Landscape Conservation Collaborative and Pacific Gas and Electric joined with TNC in providing financial support for the project.

     

     

     

     

    Harvard study urges Mass. to embrace ‘forests as infrastructure’

    Elizabeth Harball, E&E reporter Published: Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    A new Harvard study urges Massachusetts to
    optimize its forests’ ability to store carbon and maintain water quality as part of its future climate adaptation and mitigation goals.
    Additionally, the study’s authors modeled a scenario where these goals could be met while still increasing the amount of timber harvesting taking place on the state’s 3 million acres of forested land. And as policymakers appear ready to update the state’s zoning laws, the authors also encourage more concentrated development to reduce conflict between future community growth and woodlands. “Our ability to be resilient to climate change is linked to how much forest we retain on the landscape,” said Jonathan Thompson, senior ecologist with the Harvard Forest program at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. “Conservation matters, so we need to redouble our efforts.” With this study, “we’ve shown the benefits of growing smart as opposed to growing dispersed and that forests are generally underutilized as a source of local wood and local fuel,” Thompson said. Harvard Forest and the Smithsonian Institution worked with the Massachusetts government and local environmental groups to develop four forest management scenarios for the study. The researchers then modeled the impacts and benefits of these scenarios over the next half-century, assuming that climate change will cause a total temperature increase of 4 degrees Fahrenheit and between a 5 and 7 percent increase in yearly precipitation in the state.

    They concluded that one scenario, dubbed “Forests as Infrastructure,” provided the maximum benefit for both people and the environment. This scenario envisions policymakers and private landowners assuming more aggressive forest management practices, protecting about 15,000 acres of woodlands per year and designating two-thirds of this new area as “priority habitat.” The scenario also has cities and towns prioritizing “clustered development” while still growing as projected, the executive summary states….

     


    The study’s Forests as Infrastructure landscape scenario maps a future in which policies, markets, state and local planning, and incentives focus on increasing the commonwealth’s “living infrastructure,” with more targeted conservation, smart growth development, and improvement forestry. This scenario scored best for 7 out of 9 nature-based benefits to the commonwealth.  In the full report, town insets like this one help to visualize landscape change. Maps by O2 Planning + Design.

     

    Urban Sprawl Threatens Water Quality, Climate Protection, and Land Conservation Gains

    Dec. 11, 2013 — A groundbreaking study by Harvard University’s Harvard Forest and the Smithsonian Institution reveals that, if left unchecked, recent trends in the loss of forests to development will undermine significant land conservation gains in Massachusetts, jeopardize water quality, and limit the natural landscape’s ability to protect against climate change. The scientists researched and analyzed four plausible scenarios for what Massachusetts could look like in the future. …. This is the first time a study of this magnitude has been conducted for an entire state. Thompson goes on to say, “Massachusetts is an important place to study land-use because it is densely populated, heavily forested, and experiencing rapid change — much like the broader forested landscape of the eastern U.S. The results of the study show that sprawl, coupled with a permanent loss of forest cover in Massachusetts, create an urgent need to address land-use choices. We know from decades of research that forests are more than a collection of trees, they are ‘living infrastructure’ that works 24-hours a day to provide climate protection, clean water, local wood products, and natural areas for people and wildlife. The results of this new study show that seemingly imperceptible changes to the land add-up in ways that can significantly enhance or erode these vital benefits, depending on the choices we all make,” said David Foster, Director of the Harvard Forest and co-author of the study…… “The Forests as Infrastructure scenario shows it’s possible to protect forest benefits while also increasing local wood production and supporting economic development, by making important but achievable changes,” said Thompson. Forests as Infrastructure clusters more of the development, implements “improvement forestry” on much of the harvested land, and increases the rate of forest conservation with a focus on priority habitat. By 2060, compared to Recent Trends, this scenario would:

    • Limit flooding risks in virtually all of the state’s major watersheds
    • Protect water quality by minimizing impervious surfaces like roads and parking lots
    • Grow 20% more high-value trees like large oak, sugar maple, and white pine
    • Double the amount of local wood harvested
    • Maintain a 35% increase in the storage of carbon that would otherwise warm Earth
    • Reduce forest fragmentation by 25%
    • Protect a quarter-million more acres of high-priority wildlife habitat…

     

    Download the report and the executive summary with policy addendum; watch a short video on the report; and access maps, figures at: http://harvardforest.fas.harvard.edu/changes-to-the-land.

     

     

     

     

     

    Vast freshwater reserves found beneath the oceans
    (December 8, 2013) — Scientists have discovered huge reserves of freshwater beneath the oceans kilometers out to sea, providing new opportunities to stave off a looming global water crisis. A new study reveals that an estimated half a million cubic kilometers of low-salinity water are buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves around
    the world.
    A new study, published December 5 in the international scientific journal Nature, reveals that an estimated half a million cubic kilometres of low-salinity water are buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves around the world. The water, which could perhaps be used to eke out supplies to the world’s burgeoning coastal cities, has been located off Australia, China, North America and South Africa. “The volume of this water resource is a hundred times greater than the amount we’ve extracted from the Earth’s sub-surface in the past century since 1900,” says lead author Dr Vincent Post (pictured) of the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training (NCGRT) and the School of the Environment at Flinders University…..hese reserves were formed over the past hundreds of thousands of years when on average the sea level was much lower than it is today, and when the coastline was further out, Dr Post explains. “So when it rained, the water would infiltrate into the ground and fill up the water table in areas that are nowadays under the sea….”Freshwater on our planet is increasingly under stress and strain so the discovery of significant new stores off the coast is very exciting. It means that more options can be considered to help reduce the impact of droughts and continental water shortages.” But while nations may now have new reserves of freshwater offshore, Dr Post says they will need to take care in how they manage the seabed: “For example, where low-salinity groundwater below the sea is likely to exist, we should take care to not contaminate it…..Dr Post also warns that these water reserves are non-renewable: “We should use them carefully — once gone, they won’t be replenished until the sea level drops again, which is not likely to happen for a very long time.”…

    Vincent E.A. Post, Jacobus Groen, Henk Kooi, Mark Person, Shemin Ge, W. Mike Edmunds. Offshore fresh groundwater reserves as a global phenomenon. Nature, 2013; 504 (7478): 71 DOI: 10.1038/nature12858

     

    Quality of biodiversity, not just quantity, is key: Right mix of species is needed for conservation
    (December 8, 2013) — A new study of biodiversity loss in a salt marsh finds that it’s not just the total number of species preserved that matters; it’s the number of key species. If humans want to reap the benefits of the full range of functions that salt marshes and other coastal ecosystems provide, we need to preserve the right mix of species. In a new study of biodiversity loss in a salt marsh, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they find that it’s not just the total number of species preserved that matters, it’s the number of key species. If humans want to reap the benefits of the full range of functions that salt marshes and other coastal ecosystems provide, we need to preserve the right mix of species, they said. “Having a group of distantly related species, representing markedly different ecologies and biology, is as important, or more important, than just having more species in general,” said Brian R. Silliman, Rachel Carson associate professor of marine conservation biology at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. “It’s quality, not just quantity,” said lead author Marc J. S. Hensel, a Ph.D. student at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. “We need to preserve a wide variety of species.” Salt marshes perform a long list of ecological services: they buffer coastal erosion; filter runoff; reduce the risk of flooding; provide habitat for juvenile fish, crabs and shrimp; and store excess carbon, keeping it from re-entering Earth’s atmosphere… They set up eight different experimental treatments, each with a different mix of three of the marsh’s most abundant “consumer” species: purple marsh crabs; marsh periwinkle snails; and fungus. At first, all three species were present, to mirror the natural “intact” conditions of the marsh. Silliman and Hensel then began sequentially removing species — first one, then two, then all three — to simulate extinctions. Throughout the experiment, they measured the effects of each species mix on three important salt marsh functions: overall grass growth (productivity); the rate of dead plant removal (decomposition); and how fast tidal or storm surge water percolated through the marsh (filtration). The effect of the species removals on individual functions varied considerably, because in salt marshes, each species is very good at performing one or two functions. However, when all three key species were present, the average rate of all functions — a measure of overall ecosystem health — rose simultaneously.It suggests that the ability of nature to perform well at multiple levels may depend not just on the overall number of species present, but on having many distantly related species, each of which performs a particular task that keeps an ecosystem healthy and allows it to provide the multiple benefits humans value. If we had only been looking at three different species of similarly functioning crabs, or only one marsh function, we would have missed that, and erroneously predicted that only one consumer species is needed to maintain high system performance,” he said. > full story

     

    M. J. S. Hensel, B. R. Silliman. Consumer diversity across kingdoms supports multiple functions in a coastal ecosystem. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1312317110

     

    Rapid Evolution of Novel Forms: Environmental Change Triggers Inborn Capacity for Adaptation

    Dec. 12, 2013 — In the classical view of evolution, species experience spontaneous genetic mutations that produce various novel traits — some helpful, some detrimental. Nature then selects for those most beneficial, passing them along to subsequent generations. It’s an elegant model. It’s also an extremely time-consuming process likely to fail organisms needing to cope with sudden, potentially life-threatening changes in their environments. Surely some other mechanism could enable more rapid adaptive response. In this week’s edition of the journal Science, a team of researchers from Harvard Medical School and Whitehead Institute report that, at least in the case of one variety of cavefish, that other agent of change is the heat shock protein known as HSP90.

    “It’s a very cool story in terms of the speed of evolution,” says Nicolas Rohner, lead author of the Science paper and a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Harvard Medical School Genetics Professor Clifford Tabin….

     

    A penguin’s tale: Diet linked to breeding failure (December 12, 2013) — A study on a Victorian penguin colony has revealed new insight into the link between seabird diet and breeding success. … We found that a sharp decline of anchovy in 2010 had a negative impact on little penguin reproduction. However, in 2011, despite the relatively low anchovy abundance, their breeding success was extremely high. “We believe the decrease of anchovy itself was not the only cause for low breeding success in 2010 but in combination with the scarcity of alternative prey. Our results show that little penguins are resilient to changes in their preferred prey but their ability to adapt to these changes is limited by the availability of alternative prey species.”

    Ms Kowalczyk said understanding seabird diet was integral to their conservation and management.

    “Our results highlight that resource abundance and the availability of a variety of prey are critical factors in enabling this inshore seabird to adjust to changes in environmental conditions and fluctuations in their primary source of prey,” Ms Kowalczyk said. Dietary changes have been linked to population declines and provide information about foraging conditions, particular prey species and foraging locations that require protection.”… > full story

     

    Study offers economical solutions for maintaining critical delta environments
    (December 9, 2013) — A new study documents the historic sediment record along the Danube River delta, and offers simple and inexpensive strategies to enhance deltas’ natural ability to trap sediment and maintain their floodplains against rising sea levels and increasingly frequent and severe storms. … > full story

     

     

    A penguin’s tale: Diet linked to breeding failure
    (December 12, 2013) — A study on a Victorian penguin colony has revealed new insight into the link between seabird diet and breeding success. … We found that a sharp decline of anchovy in 2010 had a negative impact on little penguin reproduction. However, in 2011, despite the relatively low anchovy abundance, their breeding success was extremely high. “We believe the decrease of anchovy itself was not the only cause for low breeding success in 2010 but in combination with the scarcity of alternative prey. Our results show that little penguins are resilient to changes in their preferred prey but their ability to adapt to these changes is limited by the availability of alternative prey species.” Ms Kowalczyk said understanding seabird diet was integral to their conservation and management. “Our results highlight that resource abundance and the availability of a variety of prey are critical factors in enabling this inshore seabird to adjust to changes in environmental conditions and fluctuations in their primary source of prey,” Ms Kowalczyk said. “Dietary changes have been linked to population declines and provide information about foraging conditions, particular prey species and foraging locations that require protection.” > full story

     

    Nicole D. Kowalczyk, Andre Chiaradia, Tiana J. Preston, Richard D. Reina. Linking dietary shifts and reproductive failure in seabirds: a stable isotope approach. Functional Ecology, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/1365-2435.12216

     

    Scientists map food security, self-provision of major cities
    (December 12, 2013) — Wealthy capital cities vary greatly in their dependence on the global food market. The Australian capital Canberra produces the majority of its most common food in its regional hinterland, while Tokyo primarily ensures its food security through import. The Copenhagen hinterland produces less than half of the consumption of the most common foods. For the first time, researchers have mapped the food systems of capital cities, an essential insight for future food security. … > full story

     

    Messed Up Migrations

    Air Date: Week of December 6, 2013 PRI Living on Earth stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

    Monarch butterflies in Mexico (photo: bigstockphoto.com)

    From the wildebeest to the monarch butterfly, this year many of the world’s great animal migrations are out of whack. Migration expert and Princeton Ecology professor David Wilcove joins host Steve Curwood to discuss what’s going on.

    CURWOOD: Some of the most awe-inspiring spectacles of the natural world are the migrations of creatures great and small – from turtles and terns, to butterflies and beasts. But this year some of the world’s most famous migrations seem to be out of sorts. To find out what’s going on, we called up David Wilcove, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton. Welcome to Living on Earth….CURWOOD: First, let’s talk about the butterflies. As I understand it, usually by November there are millions of Monarch butterflies that have arrived in Central Mexico. Could you describe that migration for us?

    WILCOVE: It’s really an extraordinary migration. The butterflies begin moving south from the northeastern United States around August or September, and they funnel into this tiny area in Mexico where they will roost for the winter, and then in the spring, the survivors will head north, and they will hit the Gulf States, lay eggs and die. Those eggs will develop into the next generation of Monarchs, which will continue migrating north, they’ll lay eggs and die. And it takes about three or four generations until Monarchs have repopulated the eastern United States and Canada. And that last generation born in the summer is the one that will somehow know to go back to that small area in Mexico where their great-grandparents left the previous spring.

    CURWOOD: When exactly are the monarchs supposed to arrive and what’s the cultural significance to folks in Mexico?

    WILCOVE: Well, the monarchs arrive as we get into the late autumn beginning of the winter, and for some people in Mexico, it’s really part of the Day of the Dead celebrations, the idea being that the monarchs represent the souls of their departed loved ones returning to Mexico, returning to that set of forests in the mountains. The Monarch migration is also an important tourist draw. It’s such a beautiful phenomenon to see these millions of butterflies covering the trees that people from around the world come to Michoacan, Mexico, to see it. And so it’s become an important economic force in those communities, and of course, in a broader sense, it’s part of the world’s natural heritage because it is such a remarkable phenomenon. CURWOOD: But this year, things were different. What happened?

    WILCOVE: It appears as through the Monarchs are either very late in arriving at the site, or very few of them have survived making it down to Mexico. So we hope that it’s merely a case of them being very late, and that eventually we’ll get a healthy population, but there is the alarming possibility that the population has really crashed.

    CURWOOD: What could put them at risk? WILCOVE: The Monarchs face a number of problems. The one that’s gotten the most attention over the years has been illegal logging of the forests on that mountain in Mexico where they winter. So if you imagine the trees as providing a kind of thermal blanket for the butterflies, the illegal logging essentially means that we’re cutting holes in the blanket, and so when the cold weather hits, many of the Monarchs freeze to death. But there’s another issue that is starting to attract attention, and that’s the loss of the milkweed flowers that the butterflies lay their eggs on and rely on for their development. And it turns out that more and more farmers are planting crops that have been genetically modified so that they can withstand herbicides, and the farmers then apply herbicides to eliminate plants like the milkweed, which they view as a competitor with the crops. So unfortunately, as we’ve gotten cleaner, more industrialized, agricultural fields, we’re losing habitat for Monarchs and all sorts of other insects.

     

    …CURWOOD: Now, similarly Right whales off the New England coast aren’t showing up at their usual breeding grounds…..CURWOOD: What do scientists think is going on? WILCOVE: They’re not certain. They know that these zooplankton, these little copepods that the whales depend on have shifted in abundance, and they think that that may be causing the whales to find new foraging areas for the summer. Why that is all happening is still a subject of research, but there’s a strong possibility that we’re seeing climate change here, changing the ecology of the Bay of Fundy, changing the food resources that the whales depend on, and causing the whales to move elsewhere….

     

    …CURWOOD: Now of course one of the largest migrations in the world, and certainly spectacular is that of the Wildebeest in east Africa. Could you describe that for us?….WILCOVE: The Wildebeests are very important to that ecosystem. They are basically recycling nutrients because they’re consuming the forage, and then through their dung they redistribute nutrients. So it could have a major disruptive effect for many of the grazing mammals, any of the birds that occur in these savannahs.

    CURWOOD: Generally, why do you think we’re seeing so many disruptions in the animal migration patterns?

    WILCOVE: We’re seeing disruptions in the animal migration in large part because we’re disrupting the environment. You have to remember that migratory animals really connect different parts of the world, and so they’re sensitive to changes in any of those parts. When due to things like climate change or habitat alteration we change their summering grounds, wintering grounds or even the stopover sites…they’re going to respond. In some cases, their numbers are going to decline, or crash completely; in other cases, they’re going to have to find new places to go to. Either way, there are useful early warning signs of the types of disruptions that we’re creating in the environment.

     

    ….CURWOOD: So far, climate change amounts to less than two degrees centigrade, about a degree centigrade around the world. How do you think climate change going forward would impact migration?

    WILCOVE: It’s not just changes in temperature. It’s changes in precipitation, which can be very important for animals because those precipitation changes affect vegetation. It’s also changes in the extremes of heat, cold, drought, flood, all of that can be very disruptive to animal populations. We’re really basically reshuffling the deck and the consequences are going to be idiosyncratic and difficult to predict. CURWOOD: What can we do to prepare for these changes and better protect migratory species?

    WILCOVE: The best thing we can do, in my opinion, is to continue to protect natural ecosystems, to maintain connectivity between protected areas, so animals, plants, food; to restore connectivity where we’ve disrupted it, and of course take steps to reduce climate change.

     

    Report: Turbines Kill Up To 328000 Birds Annually

    Washington Free Beacon

     - ‎December 11, 2013‎

           

    A new report published in Biological Conservation estimates that between 140,000 and 328,000 birds are killed annually by wind turbines in the United States….

     

    Eagle deaths split wind-farm debate

    Peter Fimrite San Francisco Chronicle ‎- December 11, 2013

    The golden eagle swooped low, close to the sloping field of yellow brush covering the Altamont Pass, searching for ground squirrels, rabbits and snakes, then soared upward between two giant whooshing wind turbines. In these windswept, rolling hills, the country’s environmental movement hits a divide. It is where two laudable green movements – the renewable energy industry and wildlife conservation – come in direct conflict. “In an ideal world, we wouldn’t put a wind farm here,” said Doug Bell, the wildlife program manager for the East Bay Regional Park District, as he walked past one of the many ridgetop windmills on a 600-acre parcel that the district acquired several years ago with its accompanying wind farm. “Having said that, the Altamont isn’t going to go away.”

    Altamont Pass, just east of Livermore, is both the birthplace of the wind power movement and the deadliest spot in the United States for eagles and other birds, according to wildlife biologists. The wind turbines, on many different parcels and owned by a variety of companies, were first built in the wake of the energy crisis in the 1970s. Their spinning blades, the tips of which reach speeds of 179 miles per hour, annually kill about 10,000 birds, 2,000 of which are raptors. The pass contains about 4,200 turbines – about a third of California’s 13,000 turbines, which produce about 4,260 kilowatts, or enough to light up San Francisco. The Obama administration, to encourage investment in this renewable energy source, has extended a permitting system for wind-energy companies that allows them to kill a certain number of bald and golden eagles for up to 30 years. The Audubon Society and other wildlife advocates are furious, depicting the move by the Department of the Interior as a license for indiscriminate killing. “Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, Interior wrote the wind industry a blank check,” said David Yarnold, National Audubon Society president and CEO. “It’s outrageous that the government is sanctioning the killing of America’s symbol, the bald eagle.” The irony is that the Audubon Society and other bird advocates have previously supported so-called “take permits” for wind farms and other companies that might harm eagles, albeit for a five-year period, not 30 years. Wildlife advocates supported shorter permits on the belief that they would force what had previously been an unregulated industry to conduct studies, determine how many birds are killed every year by turbines and develop methods to reduce that number.

    The problem is that the system has had no teeth…..

     

    ‘Shocking’ decline of UK countryside birds revealed

    Wide-ranging study of bird populations since 1995 shows grim picture for willow tit, cuckoo, lapwing and many others

    Jessica Aldred The Guardian, Sunday 8 December 2013

    Cuckoo numbers have halved in the UK in less than 20 years. Photograph: Wildlife GmbH /Alamy

    Some of Britain’s most familiar countryside birds have plummeted in numbers since the 1990s, and some species have disappeared from parts of the UK, according to an authoritative annual report.

    Numbers of the farmland-dwelling grey partridge have halved since 1995, while the turtle dove has declined by 95%. The yellow wagtail, which inhabits farm and wetland, has declined by 45% over the same period. The State of the UK’s Birds report, from the RSPB, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust and several UK government nature bodies, shows that of the UK’s 107 most widespread and common breeding birds, 16 species have declined by more than a third since 1995, including the willow tit, starling, cuckoo, lapwing and wood warbler. Many of these species do not require highly managed landscapes such as nature reserves or protected areas, but are once common birds that live in the “wider countryside”, in farmland, open country, commons, woodlands or local country parks. Dr Mark Eaton, RSPB conservation scientist, said many contributors to the report were shocked at how poorly familiar species were faring. “Many of the birds we’re referring to aren’t rare and don’t occur in remote locations. To the contrary, they are ones you used to see while walking the dog or enjoying a family picnic. But over two decades many of these species have ebbed away from huge swaths of our countryside.” The report has been running since 1999 and brings together the most recently published research, which is used to update population trends. This year’s report draws heavily on the findings of the BTO’s Bird Atlas 2007-11, which was published last month, a massive volunteer-led project that mapped changes in the patterns of distribution and abundance of 296 breeding and wintering bird species in Britain and Ireland. By including the BTO findings, the report has for the first time in 20 years enabled conservationists to look at bird populations in terms of population trends and range. “The shocking thing when you put both sets of figures together is the decline in number and range,” said an RSPB spokesman…..

     

    A main cause is thought to be the loss of habitat due to wetlands being drained for farming or development, she said. “We need to protect and restore these habitats in order for species like these – and all wetland wildlife – to survive and prosper.” The report also highlights some species that have seen significant population recoveries. Following its reintroduction into England and Scotland and its continuing recovery in Wales, red kite numbers have increased by 676% since 1995. Songbirds such as the goldfinch and blackcap have also increased their populations since 1995, by 109% and 133% respectively. Phil Grice, Natural England’s senior ornithology specialist, said: “While we’ve made progress with reversing the declines in many of our rarer bird species, thanks to site management and species recovery work, improving the fortunes of our ‘wider countryside’ birds requires us to think beyond good management of our special sites.”….

     

     

    New report shows influence of cognitive factors on ecosystem services valuation
    (December 9, 2013) — A new report, drawing on behavioral economics literature from 2001 to 2012, has examined how cognitive factors influencing people’s choices and preferences can affect the values that they place upon ecosystem services and upon ecosystem sustainability. Ecosystem services valuation is currently central to forestry and natural resources strategies and policy-making
    .
    Ecosystem services refer to the benefits or outputs that people derive from ecosystems. Following the publication of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment there has been a growing interest in assessing the flows of such services and valuing the contribution they make to human well-being. Evidence shows that the values placed on particular ecosystem services will vary depending upon how survey questions are framed, the setting in which questions are posed and a range of other factors influencing people’s choices and preferences. Better understanding of these implications will enable a more nuanced interpretation of valuation evidence and better understanding of potential pitfalls in undertaking valuation studies. … > full story

     

    Mystery ailment is wiping out [CA] coast’s starfish

    Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle Updated 6:49 am, Monday, December 9, 2013

    At the Monterey Bay Aquarium, a bat star is suspected of suffering from wasting disease. Photo: Russell Yip, The Chronicle

    A mysterious pathogen is wiping out starfish along the Pacific coast, a potential catastrophe that has flummoxed marine biologists who are joining forces to find the culprit. The uncontested star of tide pools is disappearing from large areas along the coast, including Monterey, where the marine invertebrates have been withering and dying by the thousands. Nobody knows what is causing the die-off, but the killer – most likely some kind of virus, bacteria or pollutant – is widespread and extremely virulent. It has ravaged a variety of starfish species in tide pools and in deeper water along the coast from Mexico to Alaska. Pete Raimondi, a marine biologist and lead researcher on a team of scientists, laboratory technicians and geneticists, said he has seen 90 percent of the sea stars, as the multi-armed animals are also known, die within in an infected area in just two weeks. ….The disease, which has been dubbed sea star wasting disease, was first detected last summer in tide pool areas along the coast of Monterey.… Raimondi said he believes the starfish are succumbing mainly to a secondary bacterial infection caused by the disease, which spreads in the water almost like the common cold among the dense, often interwoven, populations of starfish. … They are looking for marine biotoxins and viruses and exploring a variety of possible sources, including radiation from the debris that washed across the Pacific Ocean after the Fukushima disaster. Although he doubts it will result in extinctions, Raimondi said the loss of so many starfish could have serious consequences as mussels and other starfish prey begin to overpopulate areas where their numbers were once controlled.
    As a result, he said, fish, invertebrates, crabs and other species that feed on algae, plants and other sea life that thrive when starfish are in control will be marginalized and forced to look elsewhere for food.
    “It just started, so we don’t know yet what it is going to do,” Raimondi said. “The theory is that there is going to be a fundamental shift” in the balance of sea life. Starfish die-offs have occurred in the past, but Raimondi said they have been localized and clearly associated with specific events, like a sewage spill or a sudden influx of warm water. The last substantial sea star die-off occurred during the 1998 El Niño weather pattern, but that was restricted to Southern California. It isn’t the only weird thing to happen of late along the California coast. Marine scientists have been trying to find out why previously unknown blooms of toxic algae are suddenly proliferating along the coast. The mysterious blooms, including deadly red tides, have been bigger, occurred more frequently and killed more wildlife than in the past. Last year at about this time, legions of big predatory Humboldt squid gathered along the Northern California coast and stranded themselves on Santa Cruz beaches, far north of their normal habitat.

    By most accounts, though, the California ocean ecosystem has been healthy. Herring were abundant in San Francisco Bay last year, and there are plenty of salmon off the coast. Harbor porpoises, bottlenose dolphins and orcas have returned to the region in larger numbers than anyone can remember, while humpback and other whale migrations have been growing.

    The strangest thing about the starfish die-off is that it is happening at a time when ocean temperatures along the West Coast are going through an extended cool period, something normally associated with ocean abundance.
    So far, Raimondi said, there are no signs that the mysterious killer is slowing down. “Usually it is pretty obvious what is causing it. None of those factors exist,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the end. We see it in more and more sites.”

     

    Common bird-killing disease documented in Alaska for 1st time

    By ZAZ HOLLANDER December 6, 2013 Updated 3 hours ago

    Avian cholera has been found for the first time in Alaska. Die-off on St. Paul Island. This is one of the first 3 dead birds sent to a biologist in Nome, who sent them to a USGS lab in Wisconsin that made the avian cholera diagnosis.

    Hundreds of dead sea birds found on the beaches of St. Lawrence Island were the victims of  Alaska’s first detected avian cholera outbreak, officials said this week. One hunter in Gambell spotted a bird on the beach, its head flopping backward, said Kimberlee Beckmen, a wildlife veterinarian with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The bird acted like it was having a seizure. Then it dropped dead. Avian cholera, common in certain areas of the Lower 48 and Canada, causes mass die-offs of wild birds in places like California, Nevada and Texas. The fast-spreading disease can kill birds in six to 12 hours, though it isn’t much of a threat to humans. “It’s super, super common,” Beckmen said. “The only unusual part is us finding a die-off in Alaska.” The outbreak on St. Lawrence Island — 200 miles from the mainland in the Bering Sea — is apparently already declining, wildlife authorities said. Seabird carcasses are also less plentiful than expected, according to reports from the island villages of Gambell and Savoonga during a teleconference Friday. A local biologist will try to get an aerial count of infected birds or carcasses next week.

     

    China Bans Shark Fin Soup From Official Banquets

    By Katie Valentine on December 9, 2013

    “It’s a commendable decision and a brave one that the Chinese government has taken,” one environmental leader said….According to conservation group WildAid, up to 73 million sharks are killed each year solely so that their fins can be sold for shark fin soup, 95 percent of which is consumed in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. As recently as 2006, as the Washington Post reports, many Chinese citizens didn’t even know the soup came from sharks — 80 percent, according to one poll, were unaware of the origin of the soup’s key ingredient. But after WildAid launched a campaign in the country against the soup, using celebrities such as Chinese professional basketball player Yao Ming to speak out against the harm the soup causes shark populations and the oceans overall, the tide began turning in China. In January 2012, luxury hotel chain Shangri-La Asia announced it would ban shark fin soup from all 72 of its hotels. Several high-end restaurants and hotels have followed suit, and in September, Hong Kong announced a ban on shark fin soup (as well as the increasingly rare bluefin tuna and black moss) at government functions. Far from all restaurants and hotels in China have banned the soup, but overall demand has dropped off in recent years. This is good news for sharks, whose populations have been decimated by the shark finning trade, a fishing practice that is considered one of the cruelest and most wasteful, as fins are often cut off from live sharks, who are then thrown back into the ocean to die. Some shark populations have declined by 98 percent in the last 15 years due to finning, and all 14 species most commonly caught for their fins are now at risk of extinction. As a top marine predator, their drastic drops in numbers put considerable stress on an ocean ecosystem already at major risk from acidification and over-fishing.

     

     

    System developed for assessing how effective species are at pollinating crops
    (December 9, 2013) — From tomatoes to pumpkins, most fruit and vegetable crops rely on pollination by bees and other insect species — and the future of many of those species is uncertain. Now researchers are proposing a set of guidelines for assessing the performance of pollinator species in order to determine which species are most important and should be prioritized for protection. … > full story

     

     

    NRCS, Farmers and Ranchers in California Invested more than $200 Million in 2013
    Alan Forkey, November 20, 2013 California’s air, water, soil, wildlife and landscapes all received a healthy boost in federal fiscal year 2013. Over 2400 farmers and ranchers joined with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and partners to voluntarily invest time and money in protecting and restoring natural resources under their care. NRCS California invested $102.8 million in working lands conservation programs, and when contributions by farmers and ranchers are included this figure rises to at least $180 million. Additionally NRCS invested over $21.1 million in easement projects that preserve and restore California farmlands, wetlands, grasslands and forests. “Californians value both their access to diverse, high quality fresh food as well as environmental quality,” says Carlos Suarez, State Conservationist for NRCS in California. “Our role is to help farmers and ranchers achieve and balance both production and conservation goals”…..

     

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Turns Back on Baby Peregrines?

    by Peter Jon Shuler | June 25, 2013 — 8:39 PM KQED San Francisco

    A group instrumental in the recovery of peregrine falcons in California is now battling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The dispute is over the group’s long-standing efforts to rescue young birds from drowning in San Francisco Bay. Thanks in large part to the Predatory Bird Research Group at UC Santa Cruz, peregrines are no longer an endangered species. The birds have adapted to the urban environment, nesting in skyscrapers and bridges.  But when they choose bridges, young birds sometimes fly into the water and drown. Until this year, PBRG staff and volunteers have rescued many of the fledglings.  But now the group’s director, Glenn Stewart, says that Fish and Wildlife wants to let nature take its course. “They are saying that they will issue no more permits for rescuing and then releasing these young birds at a safe place,”  Stewart says. Fish and Wildlife defends its hands-off approach, saying peregrines are now thriving and could threaten other smaller birds.

     

     

     

     

     

    US Navy predicts summer ice free Arctic by 2016

    Is conventional modelling out of pace with speed and abruptness of global warming?

    December 9, 2013 Ahmed

    An ongoing US Department of Energy-backed research project led by a US Navy scientist predicts that the Arctic could lose its summer sea ice cover as early as 2016 – 84 years ahead of conventional model projections. The project, based out of the US Naval Postgraduate School‘s Department of Oceanography, uses complex modelling techniques that make its projections more accurate than others. A paper by principal investigator Professor Wieslaw Maslowski in the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences sets out some of the findings so far of the research project:

    “Given the estimated trend and the volume estimate for October–November of 2007 at less than 9,000 km3, one can project that at this rate it would take only 9 more years or until 2016 ± 3 years to reach a nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean in summer. Regardless of high uncertainty associated with such an estimate, it does provide a lower bound of the time range for projections of seasonal sea ice cover.” The paper is highly critical of global climate models (GCM) and even the majority of regional models, noting that “many Arctic climatic processes that are omitted from, or poorly represented in, most current-generation GCMs” which “do not account for important feedbacks among various system components.” There is therefore “a great need for improved understanding and model representation of physical processes and interactions specific to polar regions that currently might not be fully accounted for or are missing in GCMs.”

    According to the US Department of Energy describing the project’s development of the Regional Arctic System Model (RASM): “Given that the Arctic is warming faster than the rest of the globe, understanding the processes and feedbacks of this polar amplification is a top priority. In addition, Arctic glaciers and the Greenland Ice Sheet are expected to change significantly and contribute to sea level rise in the coming decades.” Such Arctic changes “could have significant ramifications for global sea level, the ocean thermohaline circulation and heat budget, ecosystems, native communities, natural resource exploration, and commercial transportation.” The regional focus of RASM permits “significantly higher spatial resolution” to represent and evaluate the interaction of “important fine-scale Arctic processes and feedbacks”, such as: “… sea ice deformation, ocean eddies, and associated ice-ocean boundary layer mixing, multiphase clouds as well as land-atmosphere-ice-ocean interactions.” The role of the Department of Energy in backing the research is not surprising considering that President Obama’s national Arctic strategy launched in May is focused on protecting commercial and corporate opportunities related to control of the region’s vast untapped oil, gas and mineral resources. The model coheres with the predictions of several other Arctic specialists – namely Prof Peter Wadhams, head of polar ocean physics at Cambridge University and Prof Carlos Duarte, director of the Ocean Institute at the University of Western Australia – who see the disappearance of the Arctic sea ice in the summer of 2015 as likely….

     

    But scientists also largely agree that an ice free Arctic in the summer could have serious consequences for the global climate. Some research has pointed out a link between the warming Arctic and changes in the jet stream, contributing to unprecedented weather extremes over the last few years. These extreme events in turn have dramatically impacted crop production in key food basket regions. A landmark new study in Nature Climate Change finds the melting of the sea ice over the last 30 years at a rate of 8% per decade is directly linked to extreme summer weather in the US and elsewhere in the form of droughts and heatwaves. Lead study author Quihang Tang at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research in Beijing said:

    As the high latitudes warm faster than the mid-latitudes because of amplifying effects of melting ice, the west-to-east jet-stream wind is weakened. Consequently, the atmospheric circulation change tends to favour more persistent weather systems and a higher likelihood of summer weather extremes.” The new study supplements earlier research published in Geophysical Research Letters demonstrating a link between Arctic sea ice loss and extreme weather particularly in both the summer and winter, including prolongation of “drought, flooding, cold spells, and heat waves.”

    Last year Prof Duarte was lead author of a paper in the Royal Swedish Academy of Science’s journal AMBIO warning that the Arctic was at risk of passing critical “tipping points” that could lead to a cascading “domino effect once the summer sea ice is lost.” Prof Duarte said at the time: “If set in motion, they can generate profound climate change which places the Arctic not at the periphery but at the core of the Earth system. There is evidence that these forces are starting to be set in motion. This has major consequences for the future of human kind as climate change progresses.”

     

     

    Rivers and streams release more greenhouse gas than all lakes
    (December 9, 2013)Rivers and streams release carbon dioxide at a rate five times greater than the world’s lakes and reservoirs combined, contrary to common belief. Research from the University of Waterloo was a key component of the international study, the findings of which appear in a recent issue of the journal Nature.

    Identifying the sources and amounts of carbon dioxide released from continental water sources has been a gap in understanding the carbon cycle. Our findings show just how much carbon dioxide inland waters release and identified that rivers and streams are the main source not lakes and reservoirs, as previously thought,” said Professor Hans Dürr, research professor from the Faculty of Science at Waterloo. A team of scientists from Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany and the United States found that the rate at which lakes and reservoirs release carbon dioxide, or evasion rate, was lower than previous estimates. The rate from rivers and streams was three times higher and even greater in smaller, fast-moving streams. The researchers found that the global carbon dioxide evasion rate from rivers and streams was 1.8 billion tons of carbon per year, compared with the 0.32 billion tons from lakes and reservoirs…. “This study is an example of how new knowledge can be gained by bringing together different tools, techniques and ideas from hundreds of scientists to tackle a global issue,” said Professor Dürr. “More integrated, international collaborations like this are needed.” The model is a global database of water bodies, or catchments, that connect to oceans. This land-ocean water connection is important for the movement of nutrients, greenhouse gases and metals in water systems. This study provides new insights into how rivers and streams affect the global carbon cycle but emphasizes that additional research is needed to determine the carbon dioxide evasion rate for inland waters in the northern hemisphere. Better estimates of carbon dioxide emissions are crucial because climate models project higher temperature increases than the global average in latitudes higher than 60 degrees north, yet many of the tools are derived from satellite products that do not yet exist for these latitudes.… > full story

    Peter A. Raymond, Jens Hartmann, Ronny Lauerwald, Sebastian Sobek, Cory McDonald, Mark Hoover, David Butman, Robert Striegl, Emilio Mayorga, Christoph Humborg, Pirkko Kortelainen, Hans Dürr, Michel Meybeck, Philippe Ciais, Peter Guth. Global carbon dioxide emissions from inland waters. Nature, 2013; 503 (7476): 355 DOI: 10.1038/nature12760

     

     

    Santa Ana Watershed Study Completed

    December 12, 2013 — The Santa Ana River Watershed Basin Study, which addresses water supply and demand projections for the next 50 years and identifies potential climate change impacts to Southern California’s Santa Ana … > full story The results of the study are posted on Reclamation’s website at www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/bsp/

     

    Is the West’s dry spell really a megadrought? December 13, 2013 Climate Central

    The drought that has been afflicting most of the Western states for the past 13 years may be a “megadrought,” like nothing else seen over the past 1,000 years, according to research presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting on Wednesday and Thursday. Today, drought or abnormally dry conditions are affecting every state west of the Mississippi River and many on the East Coast, with much of the Southwest under long-term severe, extreme or exceptional drought conditions. While drought conditions nationwide are down this year, they remain entrenched in the West.

    Lakeside homes, Lake Isabella, Calif. Credit: Don Barrett/flickr

    Since 2000, the West has seen landscape-level changes to its forests as giant wildfires have swept through the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada, bark beetles have altered the ecology of forests by killing countless trees and western cities have begun to come to terms with water shortages made worse by these changes as future snowpack and rainfall becomes less and less certain in a changing climate.

    “The current drought could be classified as a megadrought — 13 years running,” paleoclimatologist Edward Cook, director of the Tree Ring Laboratory at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., said at an AGU presentation Wednesday night. “There’s no indication it’ll be getting any better in the near term.” But the long period of drought the West is currently experiencing may not be a product of human-caused climate change, and could be natural, he said. “It’s tempting to blame radiative forcing of climate as the cause of megadrought,” Cook said. “That would be premature. Why? There’s a lot of variability in the system that still can’t be separated cleanly from CO2 forcing on climate. Natural variability still has a tremendous impact on the climate system.”

    Tree ring data show that decades-long droughts have occurred before humans started emitting greenhouse gases that fuel climate change. Long-lasting drought events have been tied to fluctuations in ocean conditions, which can alter large-scale weather patterns. For example, when the tropical Pacific Ocean is cooler than average, but the Atlantic Ocean is unusually mild — as has been the case during the past several years — there is a higher risk of drought in parts of the West and Central U.S.  The area of the West that was affected by severe drought in the Medieval period was much higher and much longer than the current drought, tree ring data show. It is “indeed pretty scary,” Cook said. “One lasted 29 years. One lasted 28 years. They span the entire continental United States.”



     

    Two megadroughts in the Sierra Nevada of California lasted between 100 and 200 years. Cook is among the first to suggest that the current drought in the West is a megadrought, which is typically defined as a widespread drought lasting for two decades or longer, Cornell University assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences Toby Ault said during an AGU presentation Thursday.

    But the idea that the current 13-year dry spell will be of similar magnitude of the megadroughts found in tree ring records is subject of debate. “Are we in a megadrought? I guess we are,” Ault said. “They are a threat to civilization in the future.”….. Ault is studying the probability that the U.S. will experience a megadrought this century on the order of no other dry period seen here at any time in the last millennium.

    Data gleaned from tree rings and other sources show that the chance of a decade-long drought in the U.S. this century would be about 45 percent, and a multi-decade-long drought less than 10 percent, he said.   “That’s not the whole picture because we’re going to see climate change in this century,” he said. He said that the chances of a widespread multi-decade megadrought are high in the worst-case scenario, but he quoted University of Arizona geosciences professor Jonathan Overpeck to characterize the chances of megadrought in less severe scenarios: “It’s extremely non-negligible, the risk of prolonged multi-decadal megadrought.” The bottom line: “The picture looks like we’re going to have to take this seriously,” Ault said. Such dry spells would have severe implications for the nation’s water supply, and the U.S. is going to have to adapt and find smarter ways to cope, he said. The current drought is occurring at a time of sweeping and abrupt changes in the nation’s forests as a result of both the extended dry period and human-caused climate change, said Lisa Graumlich, dean of the College of the Environment at the University of Washington. Speaking at AGU on Wednesday, Graumlich said vast ecosystem changes are happening at an unprecedented scale across the country as tree mortality in Western forests is increasing dramatically, partly because bark beetles are spreading widely as summer warm seasons are longer than before. “The time in which forests are burning in the West is much longer than it was in previous decades,” she said. “Forest insects are erupting across the West.”

    Those changes and others including loss of sea ice, longer growing seasons in the Arctic, tundra being replaced by forests and shrubs, are occurring across an area scientists haven’t seen before, she said.

    “We’re seeing right now ecosystem tipping points,” she said. “They’re at an unprecedented spatial scale. They’re related to timing of biological events that ecologists are finding surprising.”

     

     

    Environment drives genetics in ‘Evolution Canyon’: Discovery sheds light on climate change
    (December 12, 2013) — Researchers studying life from a unique natural environment in Israel discover heat stress seems to influence a species’ genetic makeup, a finding that may influence understanding of climate change. … > full story

     

    What the Past Tells Us About Modern Sea-Level Rise

    December 12, 2013 — Researchers report that sea-level rise since the industrial revolution has been fast by natural standards and – at current rates – may reach 80cm above the modern level by 2100 and 2.5 meters by … > full story

     

    NOAA: Contiguous U.S. experiences wetter and warmer than average autumn, while November was drier and cooler than average

    December 11, 2013 Lower 48 drought footprint shrank to 30.6 percent by early December; Alaska experienced its 10th warmest autumn…

     

    Long-term warming and environmental change trends persist in the Arctic in 2013

    Though not as extreme as last year, new report by NOAA and partners finds that the Arctic continues to show evidence of a shift to a new warmer, greener state

    December 12, 2013 NOAA

    According to a new report released today by NOAA and its partners, cooler temperatures in the summer of 2013 across the central Arctic Ocean, Greenland and northern Canada moderated the record sea ice loss and extensive melting that the surface of the Greenland ice sheet experienced last year. Yet there continued to be regional extremes, including record low May snow cover in Eurasia and record high summer temperatures in Alaska.

     

    Thawing Arctic throwing climate out of kilter

    December 9, 2013 – 8:05AM Sydney Morning Herald

    It’s not just bad for polar bears. Photo: Supplied

    A thaw of Arctic ice and snow is linked to worsening summer heatwaves and downpours thousands of miles south in Europe, the United States and other areas, underlying the scale of the threat posed by global warming, scientists said. ….warned of increasingly extreme weather across “much of North America and Eurasia where billions of people will be affected”. The study is part of a drive to work out how climate change affects the frequency of extreme weather, from droughts to floods. Governments want to know the trends to plan everything from water supplies to what crops to plant. But the science of a warming Arctic is far from settled. Writing in the journal Nature Climate Change, experts in China and the United States said they could not conclusively say the Arctic thaw caused more extreme weather, or vice versa. But they said they had found evidence of a relationship between the two. Rising temperatures over thawing snow on land and sea ice in the Arctic were changing atmospheric pressure and winds, the report said. The changes slowed the eastward movement of vast meandering weather systems and meant more time for extreme weather to develop – such as a heatwave in Russia in 2010, droughts in the United States and China in 2011 and 2012, or heavy summer rains that caused floods in Britain in 2012, the paper added. “The study contributes to a growing body of evidence that … the melting Arctic has wide-ranging implications for people living in the middle latitudes,” lead author Qiuhong Tang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences told Reuters. Sea ice in the Arctic shrank to a record low in 2012 and the U.N.’s panel of climate scientists says it could almost vanish in summers by 2050 with rising greenhouse gas emissions….


    A Closer Look at Tornadoes in a Human-Heated Climate

    By ANDREW C. REVKIN NY Times dotEarth December 9, 2013

    Six scientists focused on how tornadoes might be affected by global warming last week criticized the central claim in “The Truth About Tornadoes,” a recent Op-Ed article asserting there was a measurable decline in strong tornadoes. The piece was by Richard Muller, the University of California, Berkeley, physicist and author who gained national attention for doing independent analysis confirming that humans were warming the climate after years of criticizing global warming researchers. The critique of Muller’s article by the tornado researchers was initially posted on LiveScience and a short letter by two of the scientists ran in The Times. One of the researchers, Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., mentioned that he was eager to make the unedited version available (he said the LiveScience version had been tweaked), so I’m posting it below in its original form. The piece is followed by a reaction that I received from Muller after I sent him the scientists’ critique. At the end of the post, I’ll weigh in on a Twitter discussion that centered on this debate. First, here’s the rebuttal of Muller’s opinion piece, written by Paul Markowski, a professor of meteorology at Pennsylvania State University, Brooks and four others:….

     

     

    Austalia Well On Its Way To Hottest Year Ever

    By Joanna M. Foster on December 7, 2013

    Australia’s spring was the warmest on record. 2013 is likely to be the Australia’s hottest year ever. Mean temperatures for Australia’s spring (which occurs during the U.S.’s fall) were 1.57°C above the 1961-1990 average. September was especially hot, with an average temperature of 2.75°C or nearly 5°F above normal. October came in at 1.43°C above average, while November came closer to normal, at 0.52C above average. And in addition to being unusually warm, spring also came early. On August 31, the last day of winter, average temperatures reached 85.9°F. It was the warmest last day of winter recorded since Australia started collecting temperature data 104 years ago. To date, the year is 1.23°C above average and 0.18°C above the previous record year, 2005….

     

     

     

    More logging, deforestation may better serve climate in some areas

    Posted: 05 Dec 2013 11:16 AM PST

    Replacing forests with snow-covered meadows may provide greater climatic and economic benefits than if trees are left standing in some regions, according to a study that for the first time puts a dollar value on snow’s ability to reflect the sun’s energy. The findings suggest more frequent logging or deforestation may better serve our planet and pocketbooks in high latitude areas where snowfall is common and timber productivity is low. Such a scenario could involve including snow cover/albedo in existing greenhouse gas exchanges like the Kyoto protocol or a cap-and-trade program or ecosystem services market in which landowners are paid to maintain snow cover and produce timber rather than conserve forests and store carbon. Previous studies have put a price on many ecosystem services — or services that nature provides to humans that have both economic and biological value, such as drinking water and crop pollination — but the Dartmouth study is the first to do so for albedo, or the surface reflection of incoming solar energy…..

     

     

    Reducing salt is bad for glacial health, NASA finds

    Posted: 06 Dec 2013 11:36 AM PST

    A new NASA-led study has discovered an intriguing link between sea ice conditions and the melting rate of Totten Glacier, the glacier in East Antarctica that discharges the most ice into the ocean. The discovery, involving cold, extra salty water — brine — that forms within openings in sea ice, adds to our understanding of how ice sheets interact with the ocean, and may improve our ability to forecast and prepare for future sea level rise…. Ice loss seen in Antarctica is generally attributed to the well-documented rise in temperature of the surrounding ocean, but scientists are still puzzling out the mechanisms behind the regional variations that they are observing. The new study highlights the key role of processes occurring on small geographic scales in determining how global climate change can affect the stability of ice sheets….That ocean basin, as elsewhere around Antarctica, contains polynyas (poe-LEEN-yahs), large, annually recurring openings in the winter sea ice cover. Polynya sizes and numbers vary markedly from winter to winter, although there is no overall trend in this region. The computer simulations revealed that these year-to-year variations in the polynyas greatly affected the glacier’s melting rate. In polynyas, large quantities of sea ice form, only to be swept away by the winds that formed the openings in the first place. When seawater freezes it expels its salts, producing a layer of very dense, briny water at the freezing temperature. The cold and dense brine formed in polynyas sinks to the seafloor, where it can flow into the cavities under the ice shelves, just as warmer ocean water could.

    The researchers hypothesized that when the cold brine pooled under Totten Ice Shelf, it mixed with the water there, lowering its temperature and slowing the glacier’s winter melt rate. If so, a reduction in cold brine would mean the glacier’s winter melt rate would increase….. in the latter part of the study period, the extent of polynyas (and therefore the production of cold brine) decreased significantly. ICESat observations showed that at the same time, the thinning of Totten Glacier increased, as the team’s hypothesis predicted it would. If there are more winters with reduced polynya extents, Khazendar points out, the cavity under Totten can fill with warmer ocean water rather than cold brine. “If that happens, the glacier’s flow could be significantly destabilized, causing it to discharge even more ice into the ocean,” he said. “With the widespread changes seen in Antarctic sea ice conditions over the last few years, this process could be affecting other glaciers around Antarctica and the volume of ice they discharge into the ocean,” he added.

     

    For more information on ICESat, visit: http://icesat.gsfc.nasa.gov/ .For more information on the ECCO2 ocean modeling and data synthesis project, visit: http://ecco2.jpl.nasa.gov/ .

     

    Worrisome Arctic ocean methane leaks.
    Living On Earth New research based in the East Siberian continental shelf of the Arctic Ocean finds the powerful greenhouse gas methane is escaping from the seabed into the atmosphere twice as fast as scientists previously thought, threatening runaway global warming.

     

    Alpine glacier, unchanged for thousands of years, now melting: New ice cores suggest Alps have been strongly warming since 1980s
    (December 11, 2013) — Less than 20 miles from the site where melting ice exposed the 5,000-year-old body of Ötzi the Iceman, scientists have discovered new and compelling evidence that the Italian Alps are warming at an unprecedented rate. Part of that evidence comes in the form of a single dried-out leaf from a larch tree that grew thousands of years ago. … > full story

     

    Global warming is unpaused and stuck on fast forward, new research shows

    December 10, 2013 the Guardian UK

    New research by Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo of the National Center for Atmospheric Research investigates how the warming of the Earth’s climate has behaved over the past 15 years compared with the previous few decades. They conclude that while the rate of increase of average global surface temperatures has slowed since 1998, melting of Arctic ice, rising sea levels, and warming oceans have continued apace.….Previous estimates put the amount of heat accumulated by the world’s oceans over the past decade equivalent to about 4 Hiroshima atomic bomb detonations per second, on average, but Trenberth’s research puts the estimate equivalent to more than 6 detonations per second. Trenberth and Fasullo note that using their ocean heating estimate by itself would increase the equilibrium climate sensitivity estimate in the paper referenced by Ridley from 2°C to 2.5°C average global surface warming in response to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and using other more widespread accepted values would bring the estimate in line with the standard value of 3°C. They thus note, “Using short records with uncertain forcings of the Earth system that is not in equilibrium does not (yet) produce reliable estimates of climate sensitivity.” In any case, the main point of the paper is that global warming is stuck on fast forward. Ice continues to melt, sea levels continue to rise, and the oceans continue to warm rapidly. While the warming of global surface temperatures has slowed somewhat, that appears to primarily be due to changing ocean cycles, particularly in the Pacific. However, these changes are mostly just causing the oceans to absorb more heat, leaving less for the atmosphere. As Trenberth and Fasullo conclude, “[Global warming] is very much alive but being manifested in somewhat different ways than a simple increase in global mean surface temperature.”

     

    Climate Change Opens the Arctic to Shipping, Drilling, Militarization

    BillMoyers.com

     - ‎December 9 2013‎

           

    As climate change transforms our planet and the polar ice caps recede, new, previously inaccessible areas of the Arctic are opening up for business.

     

    Arctic cyclones more common than previously thought
    (December 11, 2013) — From 2000 to 2010, about 1,900 cyclones churned across the top of the world each year, leaving warm water and air in their wakes — and melting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. That’s about 40 percent more than previously thought, according to a new analysis of these Arctic storms. … > full story

     

    New results from inside the ozone hole
    (December 11, 2013) — Scientists have revealed the inner workings of the ozone hole that forms annually over Antarctica and found that declining chlorine in the stratosphere has not yet caused a recovery of the ozone hole. … > full story

     

    New long-lived greenhouse gas discovered: Highest global-warming impact of any compound to date
    (December 9, 2013) — Scientists have discovered a novel chemical lurking in the atmosphere that appears to be a long-lived greenhouse gas. The chemical — perfluorotributylamine — is the most radiatively efficient chemical found to date, breaking all other chemical records for its potential to impact climate
    . … PFTBA has been in use since the mid-20th century for various applications in electrical equipment and is currently used in thermally and chemically stable liquids marketed for use in electronic testing and as heat transfer agents. It does not occur n
    aturally, that is, it is produced by humans. There are no known processes that would destroy or remove PFTBA in the lower atmosphere so it has a very long lifetime, possibly hundreds of years, and is destroyed in the upper atmosphere…. …> full story

     

    Cuba creates nature reserves in response to climate change

    Published: Monday, December 9, 2013

    Efforts to increase the number of nature reserves and other protected areas are going largely unnoticed in Cuba as a chronic economic crisis harms efforts to adapt to climate change.

    Nature reserves “are a reservoir of genetic biodiversity of many species,” biologist Ángel Quirós said. “Many of the species of economic importance for the future will come out of these areas, adapted to the new environmental conditions.” But “the varied and complex role played by protected areas in curbing global warming is not very well-known,” said Quirós, a researcher with the Centre for Environmental Studies and Services, a government institution. He said protected areas curb effects of climate change such as higher temperatures, sea-level rise, and unprecedented weather events like Superstorm Sandy, which wreaked havoc in the east of Cuba, other Caribbean nations and the northeastern United States in October 2012. Nature reserves “containing large forests contribute to stabilizing average rainfall and temperatures,” Quirós said. Cuba’s investment in protecting the environment rose from $278 million in 2007 to $488 million in 2012, but lack of funding has been an obstacle for the teams leading the efforts to create protected areas. The number of nature reserves in Cuba rose from 35 in 2007 to 80 in 2011 and 103 in 2012, according to the national statistics office. The local managers of Los Caimanes National Park, a marine park located on the coast between the provinces of Villa Clara and Ciego de Ávila, have turned to community work to help raise badly needed funds. Raising environmental awareness among the local populations of protected areas is a long-term task, said María Elena Chirino, who lives in a biosphere reserve. “When I was little, we would kill birds, for example. But we weren’t really taught not to do so. Now people have a better idea of the importance of what surrounds us, but there’s still a long way to go,” Chirino said (Ivet González Inter Press Service, Dec. 5).

     

    Climate change may be worsening wildfires in the West

    NBC News December 12 2013

    Rich Pedroncelli / AP file

    A firefighter hoses down flames from the Butte Lightening Complex fire as he approaches a fire line near Concow, Calif. The fire destroyed more than 50 homes while consuming more than 45,000 acres in July 2008.

    SAN FRANCISCO — Wildfires in the western United States are getting worse, and human-caused climate change may be the main culprit in the hotter, more dangerous infernos, new research suggests.

    “We’re seeing an increase in fire activity across the western United States, and we’re seeing it in many different facets of fire activity,” study co-author Philip Dennison, a geographer at the University of Utah, said Tuesday here at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. “Total area burned, number of fires and the size of the largest fires are all increasing.”

    Though Dennison’s study isn’t the first to suggest that climate change may be fueling more Western wildfires, past studies often looked at limited data sets, ruled out private or public lands or were limited to smaller regions of the country. Using data available from the Earth-observing Landsat satellite, the team looked at all the Western fires that burned more than 1,000 acres (400 hectares) of both public and private land starting in 1984. That amounted to more than 6,000 fires. Across the West, in both grasslands and high mountain forests, wildfires seem to be getting worse, although there were regional variations in how that increased fire activity appeared. In Southern California, for instance, where nearly all wildfires are started by people (whether by arson or accident), the total number of ignitions didn’t increase. But those fires tended to become bigger, and the largest conflagrations are getting bigger, Dennison said. [Yosemite Aflame: Rim Fire in Photos]

    In higher-elevation forests, infernos come earlier in the summer fire season, he said….

     
     

     

     

     

     

    China publishes comprehensive plan to deal with climate change

    The Verge

    Dec 10 2013

     
     

    Written by

    Nathan Ingraham

     
           

    The potential threats stemming from global climate change is something that countries across the world are considering – China is now the latest to publish a comprehensive look at what pitfalls might await it due to global warming and how it can work

     

    For Environmental Concerns, The Ryan-Murray Budget Deal Is A Mixed Bag

    By Jeff Spross on December 11, 2013

    It keeps most of sequestration’s cuts, could open more offshore waters to drilling, and modestly reduces some federal assistance to fossil fuel interests….

     

     

    Obama’s pollution-control agenda to face courtroom challenges. December 9, 2013 Business Week
    Two of President Barack Obama’s top pollution-control measures face courtroom tests tomorrow as coal-dependent utilities, miners and some states challenge what they call overreach by the Environmental Protection Agency.

     

    As Keystone ruling nears, Canada short on time for climate plan. December 9, 2013 Reuters Canada is running out of time to offer U.S. President Barack Obama a climate change concession that might clinch the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, as the country’s energy industry continues to resist costly curbs on greenhouse gas emissions.

     

    Large Companies Prepared to Pay Price on Carbon

    By CORAL DAVENPORT NY Times December 7, 2013

    More than two dozen of the nation’s biggest corporations, including the five major oil companies, are preparing to pay climate-related taxes, a departure from the policies they usually support. he development is a striking departure from conservative orthodoxy and a reflection of growing divisions between the Republican Party and its business supporters. A new report by the environmental data company CDP has found that at least 29 companies, some with close ties to Republicans, including ExxonMobil, Walmart and American Electric Power, are incorporating a price on carbon into their long-term financial plans. Both supporters and opponents of action to fight global warming say the development is significant because businesses that chart a financial course to make money in a carbon-constrained future could be more inclined to support policies that address climate change. But unlike the five big oil companies — ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, BP and Shell, all major contributors to the Republican party — Koch Industries, a conglomerate that has played a major role in pushing Republicans away from action on climate change, is ramping up an already-aggressive campaign against climate policy — specifically against any tax or price on carbon. Owned by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, the company includes oil refiners and the paper-goods company Georgia-Pacific. … Other companies that are incorporating a carbon price into their strategic planning include Microsoft, General Electric, Walt Disney, ConAgra Foods, Wells Fargo, DuPont, Duke Energy, Google and Delta Air Lines…..

    In 1994, dozens of Democratic lawmakers lost their jobs after Al Gore, who was vice president at the time, urged them to vote for a climate change bill that would have effectively taxed carbon pollution. In 2009, President Obama urged House Democrats to vote for a cap-and-trade bill that would have required companies whose carbon-dioxide emissions exceeded set levels to buy emissions rights from those who emitted less. The next year, Tea Party groups spent millions to successfully unseat members who voted for the bill.

    But ExxonMobil, which last year was ranked by the Fortune 500 as the nation’s most profitable company, is representative of Big Oil’s slow evolution on climate change policy. A decade ago, the company was known for contributing to research organizations that questioned the science of climate change. In 2010, ExxonMobil purchased a company that produces natural gas, which creates less carbon pollution than oil or coal. ExxonMobil is now the nation’s biggest natural gas producer, meaning that it will stand to profit in a future in which a price is placed on carbon emissions. Coal, which produces twice the carbon pollution of natural gas, would be a loser. Today, ExxonMobil openly acknowledges that carbon pollution from fossil fuels contributes to climate change. ….

    Koch Industries maintains ties to the Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity, which last year campaigned against Republicans who acknowledged the science of climate change. The company also contributes money to the American Energy Alliance, a Washington-based advocacy group that campaigns against lawmakers that it claims support a carbon price. This year, the American Energy Alliance says it has spent about $1.2 million in ads and campaign activities attacking candidates who it says support a carbon price. Robert Murphy, senior economist at the American Energy Alliance, said his group was not concerned that it had taken a different position from the major oil companies. “We’re not taking marching orders from Big Oil,” he said. In fact, Koch has a longtime resentment of the biggest oil companies. According to company history, Koch’s founder, Fred Koch, the father of Charles and David, invented a chemical process to more efficiently refine oil but was blocked from bringing it to the market by John D. Rockefeller, the owner of Standard Oil — the company that was later broken up to make some of the major oil companies of today, including ExxonMobil. People at Koch say sore feelings remain to this day.

     

     

    Safeguarding California DRAFT Plan: Available for Public Comment

    The California Natural Resources Agency is pleased to announce the release of a public review draft of Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk
    (PDF; an update to the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy).

    You may find a copy of the Safeguarding California Plan on our website, along with information about public workshops and how to submit comments.  http://resources.ca.gov/climate_adaptation/

    As a reminder, two public workshops will be held in January on the 22nd (Sacramento) and the 27th (San Francisco) to get public input on the draft (more information at http://resources.ca.gov/climate_adaptation/).

    From the press release:

    “The draft plan released today is an excellent addition to the state’s developing climate policy and we look forward to providing input,” said Louis Blumberg, director, California Climate Change Initiative for The Nature Conservancy. “This plan will help guide state agencies to consider escalating climate change impacts into their planning and projects.” Below are the nine broad areas impacted by climate change. Each suggests real-world, realistic recommendations for actions that we can do today to ensure a better future.

     

    Safeguarding our Everyday Lives from Climate Change:

             A Changing Water Future: Develop an urban water use plan that reduces reliance on distant, unpredictable sources.

             Keeping the Lights On: Promote development of smart grids that are connected, but localized.

             More Hot Days: Protect vulnerable people from extreme heat. More hot days in a row are already responsible for more frequent hospitalizations and deaths.

             Do Better Today, Live Better Tomorrow: By reducing our carbon output today, we can lessen the extent of impacts in the future.

     
     

    Safeguarding our Natural World:

             Nature Moves with the Climate: As climate patterns shift, so will nature. Proving habitat connectivity and chances for adaptation will help allow species and habitats to survive.

             Help Nature Protect Herself: Improve forest and other habitat resilience.

     
     

    Safeguarding California – What Science and Lawmakers Can Do:

             Knowing the Real Impacts: Sound science will highlight risks, and help provide a path to solutions.

             Help is on the Way: Assess adequacy of emergency responders.

             Better Together: Collaborate with federal and local government.

        

    Governors prepared to do more to fight wildfires. AP During the annual winter meeting of the Western Governors Association on Thursday, state leaders told federal officials that they recognize times are tight and that they plan to spend more of their own resources fighting fires in their states….

     

    INTERIOR: RULE PERMITS EAGLE DEATHS FOR WIND FARM PROJECTS (ESA News)

    For additional information on the rule, click here:

    https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/12/09/2013-29088/changes-in-the-regulations-governing-eagle-permitting-eagle-permits

    On Dec. 6, the US Department of Interior (DOI) announced a new rule that would allow renewable energy projects such as wind farms to obtain permits to disturb, injure or kill bald and golden eagles for up to 30 years. permits are contingent on applicants adhering to adaptive management measures to limit detrimental impacts on the eagles.

    According to DOI, “permits will be closely monitored to ensure that allowable take numbers are not exceeded and that conservation measures are in place and effective over the life of the permit.” The US Fish and Wildlife Service would review the permits and eagle conservation measures every five years. The rule drew strange bedfellows of criticism from not only environmental groups, but Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member David Vitter (R-LA). “Permits to kill eagles just seems unpatriotic, and 30 years is a long time for some of these projects to accrue a high death rate,” said Ranking Member Vitter. “The administration has repeatedly prosecuted oil, gas, and other businesses for taking birds, but looks the other way when wind farms or other renewable energy companies do the exact same thing.” The Natural Resources Defense Council asserted that Interior rejected recommendations that would have allowed the wind projects to move forward while increasing safety for the eagles.

     

    Obama extends eagle ‘take’ permits to 30 years. December 7, 2013 Greenwire The Interior Department announced today that it has finalized a new rule that will allow renewable energy and other projects to obtain permits to injure, kill or disturb bald and golden eagles for up to 30 years, a move that pleases the wind power industry but alarms environmentalists.

     

    Warsaw Climate Talks End with Foundation for a Global Agreement

    Center For American Progress

     - ‎Dec 4, 2013‎

           

    Delegates from nearly 200 countries convened in Warsaw, Poland, for the annual Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC, to craft an effective global strategy to reduce global warming pollution and adapt

     

    Top 3 climate change adaptation outcomes at the UN climate talks

    PreventionWeb (press release)

    December 10, 2013

           

    The top 3 climate change adaptation outcomes of the UN Climate Summit according to Acclimatise were in the field of climate finance, loss and damage and ‘the Caring for Climate Business Forum,’ which offered the business world an opportunity to network  “In summary Warsaw just about did the minimum that could be achieved to avoid being dubbed a total failure. It forms a basis for further discussions, but most of the central questions around adaptation finance remain unanswered…In the meantime the UNFCCC process seems increasingly inadequate as a mechanism to deal with climate change impacts. The main lesson from Warsaw is that governments, businesses and development agencies simply cannot wait for a global agreement; they must all act now.”

     

     

    AGRICULTURE: ESA SENDS LETTER ON USDA DRAFT RESEARCH ACTION PLAN

    View the full letter here: http://www.esa.org/esa/?post_type=document&p=10274

    On Dec. 2, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) issued a letter to Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics and Chief Scientist Catherine Woteki on the US Department of Agriculture’s draft Research, Education, and Economics (REE) Mission Area Action Plan. ESA sought to enhance the focus of ecology in the USDA research and education action plan. “Most fundamentally, agroecology works from the acknowledgment that agricultural systems are inescapably ecological and social systems, and thus must be analyzed from these contexts,” the letter states. “Agroecologists study agriculture’s effects on natural resources, the socioeconomic viability and effects of different farming systems and practices, disease ecology and prevention in crops and livestock, forestry, conservation biology, biotechnology and crop genetics, biodiversity, pest control, soil science, and agriculture’s responses to and effects on climate change, among other areas. In other words, its areas of focus precisely align with USDA REE objectives.” In addition to bolstering ecology’s presence in the plan, the letter calls for USDA REE to have a dedicated budget for agroecology research. It also calls for a USDA agroecology conference to foster collaboration among the agency, the agroecological research community, farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders.

     

     

    Ecological Society of America (ESA) Poilcy News: CURRENT POLICY December 9 2013

    Introduced in House

    • H.R. 3640, the Innovation, Research and Manufacturing Act – Introduced Dec. 3 by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), the bill would make permanent the research and development tax credit and increase the existing credit by 50 percent. The bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.

    Approved by House Committee/Subcommittee

    On Dec. 4, the House Natural Resources Committee approved several bills by voice vote, including the following:

    • H.R. 3286, the Protecting States, Opening National Parks Act – Introduced by Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT), the bill would direct the Secretary of the Treasury to reimburse states that opened national parks during the Oct. 2013 federal government shutdown. The bill has 26 bipartisan cosponsors. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate (S. 1572) that also has bipartisan support.
    • H.R. 1425, the Marine Debris Emergency Act of 2013 – Introduced by Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), the bill would amend the Marine Debris Act to encourage the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and state governors to improve response to severe marine debris.
    • H.R. 1491, The Tsunami Debris Cleanup Reimbursement Act – Introduced by Rep. Bonamici, the bill would provide funding to address the marine debris impacts of the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

    On Dec. 5, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee approved the following bipartisan bills by voice vote:

    • H.R. 2413, the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act – Introduced by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), the bill seeks to reprioritize weather forecasting and tornado warning data within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The bill was amended from a previous version by Environment Subcommittee Chairman Chris Stewart (R-UT) and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) to prioritize weather related activities, including climate and ocean research. A previous version of the bill sought to move funding away from climate research.
    • H.R. 2431, the National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act of 2013 – Introduced by Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), the bill would reauthorize the National Integrated Drought Information System. The bill was also amended to include research on extreme weather and climate variability.
    • H.R. 2981, the Technology and Research Accelerating National Security and Future Economic Resiliency (TRANSFER) Act of 2013 – Introduced by Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), the bill would direct each federal agency to establish a small business technology transfer (STTR) program to help accelerate the commercialization of federally funded research.

    ————————————————————————–

    Send questions or comments to Terence Houston, Policy Analyst, Terence@esa.org. If you received Policy News from a friend and would like to receive it directly, please send an e-mail to listserv@listserv.umd.edu with the following in the body of the message: sub ESANEWS {your first and last name}

     

     

    Environmentalists pressured to embrace fracking on climate, health issues. Environmentalists should embrace hydraulic fracturing for natural gas as a means to mitigate climate change and ease air pollution, a University of California, Berkeley, physicist contends in a new report. EnergyWire

     

     

     

     

     

    Reservoir emissions: A quiet threat to expanding hydropower.
    ClimateWire Hydropower is a frequent target for criticism. Regardless of your views on global warming, turning a serene stretch of river into an artificial lake humming with electrical equipment can make you unpopular, and the announcement of any new hydropower project is often swiftly followed by outcries.

     

    The dirty secrets of clean cars.
    Economist
    Lacking clean electricity, the plug-in electric vehicles and hydrogen cars that manufacturers are being pressed to produce to meet the zero-emission vehicles goals could wind up being bigger polluters than the petrol and diesel vehicles they replace. That is the message carmakers hope will be heard loud and clear by lawmakers everywhere….

    ….. However, if air is used as the oxidiser instead of pure oxygen, burning hydrogen produces all the noxious oxides of nitrogen that fossil fuels generate. These are an even bigger curse than carbon dioxide as far as damaging greenhouse gases are concerned. That is why work on using hydrogen as a fuel for a modified internal-combustion engine has been more or less abandoned, even though getting such a power unit into production was considered cheaper than any of the clean alternatives. BMW built a couple of hydrogen-powered supercars, only to find them no cleaner than clunkers from the days before catalytic converters. Hence the embrace of fuel cells, which extract chemical energy from hydrogen without resorting to combustion. The process is essentially the opposite of electrolysis: instead of using electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, a fuel cell combines the two gases electrochemically to produce water, while generating an electric current in the process. A fuel cell’s only emissions are thus water vapour and heat. At its simplest, the “PEM” (short for proton-exchange membrane) type of fuel cell used in cars has two electrodes—an anode and a cathode—separated by an electrolyte in the form of a polymer membrane coated with a platinum-palladium catalyst. Hydrogen from a fuel tank is pumped into the anode side of the cell, while the cathode is surrounded by oxygen drawn from the air. Fuel-cell stacks are potentially three or four times more efficient than internal combustion engines. More to the point, cars using them are essentially electric vehicles, but without the heavy battery. As such, they solve two big problems that plague battery-powered electric vehicles: their limited range and their long recharging time. Vehicles powered by the latest fuel-cell stacks can achieve over 300 miles (480km) on a tankful of hydrogen. Filling the tank takes five minutes at most. And, like battery electrics, they are classed as zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). This matters because carmakers have to show state authorities (California’s Air Resources Board, in particular) that they are working hard to meet those states’ zero-emission sales targets. They have grown despondent about battery-powered electric cars—with their paltry ranges and long recharging times—being able to do the job, even if the batteries were to halve in price or double in range. By contrast, hydrogen vehicles—which behave more like conventional cars—could help them get closer to the mandated requirements. By 2025, car companies will need to have sold at least 1.5m zero-emission vehicles in California under the latest clean-air rules. In a normal year, Californians buy around 1.7m new cars. That means something like 15% of all new cars sold in the state will have to be ZEVs by 2025…..

     

    Big idea in tiny package

    SF Chronicle December 11, 2013

    Sonoma County builder is at the forefront of the burgeoning small-living movement.

     

     

     

     

    1. RESOURCES and REFERENCES

     
     

     

     

    CALCC Climate Commons new highlights:

    Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey led by Matt Reiter,

    Species Distribution Modeling and Conservation Planning workshop presented in September by Sam Veloz and friends.

     

     


    King Tide Dates for 2013/2014



    December 30th-31st
    January 1st-2nd  
    January 29th-31st

    For specifics on when the King Tides will occur in your area and how high they will be, check out the tide height and times information here.

     

     

    TargetedGrazing.com a Marketplace for Grazing Services
    A young rancher from Oregon has launched an innovative online campaign to raise funds to create TargetedGrazing.com, a website connecting land managers with professional graziers. There is an ever growing demand for grazing services all over the country. TargetedGrazing.com will create a market place to connect land management agencies and organizations in need of grazing services with ranchers willing to provide them. Livestock owners will be able to find grazing opportunities and land management agencies will be able to find experienced graziers through this website. This site will be completely free to use. Help create this website for the healthy landscapes of tomorrow! To learn more click here.

     

    UPCOMING CONFERENCES:

     

    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.

     

    EcoFarm Conference
    January 22-24, 2014 Pacific Grove, CA
    This year’s conference features Temple Grandin as a plenary speaker and workshop presenter.  The special workshop Integrating Stockmanship with Range Management, on January 23 will teach participants how to incorporate stockmanship, the skillful handling of livestock in a safe, efficient, low-stress manner, into range and pasture management for economic and environmental benefits. Presenters will discuss opportunities for how stockmanship can reduce predation from herding and restore native grasslands. Other ranching topics include Managing Pastures for Optimal Forage Quality and Improved Nutrition of Meat, Milk and Eggs, Safe, Wholesome Raw Milk From Your Farm, among others.  Farmer/rancher scholarships and discounts are available now on a first-come, first-serve basis.

     

    Fostering Resilience in Southwestern Ecosystems: A Problem Solving Workshop

    February 25-27, 2014
    Tucson, Arizona
    This workshop will focus on answering urgent questions such as: How do managers “build resilience” when ecosystems are undergoing rapid change? What are our options when megafires remove huge swaths of forests not well adapted to this disturbance?

    Click here for more information or to register. 

     

     

     

    Communicating Climate Change: Climate Engagement Strategies and Problem Solving

    San Francisco Bay NERR March 4, 2014 Contact: Heidi Nutters, 415-338-3511 -or-
    Elkhorn Slough NERR March 6, 2014
    Contact: Virginia Guhin, 831-274-8700 Please read the details carefully as this 1-day training is being offered in two locations!

    Sponsored by: Elkhorn Slough and San Francisco Bay Coastal Training Programs Instructor: Cara Pike, TRIG’s Social Capital Project/Climate Access

    Most Americans accept the reality of climate disruption and climate impacts are beginning to act as a wake-up call for many. Engaging key stakeholders and the public in preparing for and reducing the risks from these impacts is essential.  This engagement requires approaches that recognize how people process risk, such as the importance of values, identities, and peer groups. Join environmental communication expert Cara Pike for an in-depth training in public engagement best practices for climate change. Participants will have an opportunity to design strategies for reaching and motivating target audiences, and be part of a unique problem-solving approach where a common public engagement challenge is tackled collaboratively.

    Intended Audience:

    Coastal resource managers, government staff, public engagement staff, outreach specialists and environmental interpreters

    Workshop Format: This one-day workshop will be held in two locations, the registration fee is $60 for either, and includes your attendance in a follow-up webinar that will take place on March 19, 2014 more details to follow.  The fee also includes lunch and materials.

    Important Registration and Payment Details Please note, you must pre-register, and we must receive your payment no later than 5 p.m. on February 10, 2013 for us to reserve a spot for you at the workshop. Your registration will not be completed without payment received by this date.  Please pay by credit card from this site or, if sending a check, make it payable to Elkhorn Slough Foundation. Mail to: Elkhorn Slough Foundation ATTN: Virginia Guhin 1700 Elkhorn Road Watsonville, CA 95076

    Follow-up Webinar – March 19 from 10:00am-11:30am (for all workshop attendees) additional details will be emailed to registered attendees and shared at workshop.  This workshop is complementary to the February 4 and February 6 training (Communicating Climate Change: Effective skills for engaging stakeholders, partners and the public.)

     

    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

     

     

    JOBS:

     

    National Wildlife Federation: Senior Climate Policy Rep

    The Senior Policy Representative (Climate & Energy) will help define and support efforts to implement National Wildlife Federation’s national climate and energy policy initiatives, including securing carbon controls under existing statutes, and devising strategies to advance new federal policies. This position will require initiating meetings and briefings with decision makers, conducting policy analysis, preparing electronic communications, and developing resource materials, including reports, blogs, fact sheets, and presentations.

     

    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

     

    Decreased diversity of bacteria microbiome in gut associated colorectal cancer
    (December 6, 2013) — Decreased diversity in the microbial community found in the human gut is associated with colorectal cancer, according to a new study published. … > 

     

    Flying deer hits runner in Loudoun

    By Mary Pat Flaherty, Published: December 7 E-mail the writer

    Krystine Rivera had a bad day at work Thursday and was waffling over whether to head out for a seven-mile run. She decided to go for it. And then her day, as she says, “got astronomically worse.” She was hit by an airborne deer. Rivera, 27, was jogging on a path adjoining Claiborne Parkway in Ashburn near the Dulles Greenway about 6 p.m. A 71-year-old woman from South Riding was driving a Toyota SUV on the road. And the deer — a buck — came from somewhere. The SUV struck the deer, which sent the animal flying into Rivera, who remembers running one minute and then coming to in an ambulance as a paramedic told her he needed to cut away one of her favorite running shirts “because it had deer blood all over it.”….

     

    Results from first 59 leukemia patients who received investigational, personalized cellular therapy
    (December 8, 2013) — Three and a half years after beginning a clinical trial that demonstrated the first successful and sustained use of genetically engineered T cells to fight leukemia, a research team will today announce the latest results of studies involving both adults and children with advanced blood cancers that have failed to respond to standard therapies. … > full story

     

     

     

    1. IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

    ‘The Last Ocean’—Photos from the Ross Sea, Antarctica December 5, 2013 Washington Post

    John Weller, a conservation photographer and founder of Last Ocean, an advocacy group for the conservation of the Ross Sea, has a new photo book, “The Last Ocean: Antarctica’s Ross Sea Project.” Published by Rizzoli New York, it is a visual journey through one of the last pristine ecosystems on Earth — the Ross Sea. Hoping to preserve one of  the most healthy open-ocean ecosystems left on the planet, Weller uses his images to show the stunning beauty of one of the few places still untouched by humankind. The documentary “The Last Ocean” also has been released about Weller’s work and conservation efforts to protect the Ross Sea.

     

     

     


     


    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/drought/

     


    View the entries for the Climate Change Communication Challenge


    We challenged U-M students to create a public service announcement that would inspire positive action on climate change. Eleven teams of students put their skills to the test.


     

    PHOTOS: Shanghai’s Unbelievable Pollution Problem Started The Week Badly, Ended Worse

    By Rebecca Leber on December 9, 2013 at 9:02 am

    CREDIT: Greenpeace

    A heat map from a Greenpeace analysis of NOAA data shows how the smog has traveled from coal-burning regions into the city. Orange shows the highest concentrations of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and the pollutant’s trajectory. The sources come from coal regions Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong and Henan….What is China, and the world, doing to cut the sources of debilitating pollution?

    In 2013, China has doubled its renewable energy sector, accounting for over half of new power capacity. Recognizing more recently that renewable incentives must be paired with consequences for fossil fuels, China is launching its first carbon trading scheme and more transparency of public health trends. Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping have also announced they will seek to eliminate potent greenhouse gasses and to phase down the consumption and production of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). With Vice President Joe Biden is in China this week, the U.S. and China discussed a more aggressive approach to lowering vehicle emissions. Until China’s air problems improve, it is taking more than five years off the lives of northern residents.

     

     


    Nelson Mandela transformed himself and then his nation


    Dec 06, 2013

    ————

    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. Point Blue Conservation Science: Climate Smart Conservation Strategic Plan Summary 2014-2019

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    Point Blue: Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

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

     

    Science:
    At the core of
    our work is ecosystem science, studying birds and other environmental indicators to protect wildlife and nature’s benefits on land and at sea. We manage and interpret over half a billion ecological observations from across North America, including Point Blue’s invaluable long term bird ecology data, to understand natural and human-caused change over time. We develop sophisticated decision support tools to improve conservation today and in the future.

     


     

    Partnerships:
    We advance nature’s health through ext
    ensive collaborations with government agencies, private land owners, researchers and others; we are active science leaders in major regional, national, and international partnerships; and we are leaders in community-based restoration and conservation, helping ecosystems and people adapt to the changes ahead.

     

    Outreach: We bring the science needed by public and private wildlife and habitat managers to improve conservation outcomes for ecological and economic benefits. We educate school children and train budding ecologists, inspiring the next-generation of conservation leaders.

     

     

    As leaders and innovators in conservation science, Point Blue has the vision, the scientific rigor, the passion and the people to guide and inspire positive conservation outcomes today for a healthy, blue planet teeming with life in the future.

     

     

    Unprecedented Change Calls for Unprecedented Action

    We are at a pivotal moment in the history of life on our planet. Earth’s human population surpassed 7 billion, conversion of habitat for agricultural and urban uses reached ~43% of Earth’s land surface, and atmospheric carbon dioxide exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in human existence. Arctic summer ice was at its lowest extent and volume ever recorded, with 50% loss of sea ice extent in the past 20 years alone, and extreme heat waves, drought and storms continued to break records across North America. California, Point Blue’s home base, experienced the driest January- June and some of the largest wildfires on record in 2013.

     

    Unprecedented actions are needed to ensure that wildlife and people continue to thrive in the decades to come. As society transitions to clean energy and more efficient energy and water use, we must ensure that conservation of nature is an equal priority. To this end, Point Blue’s five-year strategic goal is to collaboratively implement “climate-smart” conservation.

     

    Climate-smart conservation directly addresses climate change along with other environmental threats such a habitat loss and pollution while promoting nature-based solutions to benefit wildlife and people.
    Climate-smart conservation
    :

    • sustains vibrant, diverse ecosystems;
    • enhances the benefits nature provides to humans (ecosystem services) including clean air, fresh water, fisheries, pollination, carbon sequestration, climate and flood control, recreational opportunities and spiritual enjoyment;
    • improves the ability of nature and humans to adjust to change (adaptation); and,
    • reduces greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation) whenever possible.

       

     

    Read more about climate-smart conservation principles at:
    www.pointblue.org/priorities/climate-smart-conservation/climate-smart-principles/

     

    Using the best available science, we are helping to ensure that public and private natural resource management plans, policies and actions maximize nature’s benefits for wildlife as well as our communities in the face of accelerating environmental change.

     

    • Point Blue’s Vision: Because of the collaborative climate-smart conservation work we do today, healthy ecosystems will continue to sustain thriving wildlife and human communities well into the future.
    • Point Blue’s Five-year goal: we will collaboratively implement climate-smart conservation from the Sierra to the sea, and the lessons we learn will be disseminated globally.

     

     

    Point Blue’s Climate-Smart Conservation Initiatives 2014-2019

    To make progress toward our vision and achieve our goal, we are engaging in 6 major initiatives. Below are brief descriptions of each initiative and a sampling of what we hope to achieve by 2019.

     


     

    1. Secure Water and Wildlife on Working Lands

    Point Blue works with farmers, ranchers, foresters, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the US Forest Service and others to increase groundwater storage; gradually filter and release water downstream; increase soil carbon storage; sustain birds and other wildlife; and make working lands more economically productive. We will achieve this by advancing wildlife-friendly grazing, farming and forestry practices, and developing metrics to document, improve and replicate our successes. By 2019, we will:

    •  
      • “Re-water” 1.1 million acres of rangelands in Central Valley and coastal foothills, equal to at least 2 Hetch Hetchy reservoirs every 5 years, and 45 landowners promoting an Aldo Leopold-like land ethic.
      • Secure significantly more wildlife use and water use efficiency on 100,000 acres of rice and other crops, working in collaboration with 100 new farmers.
      • Improve management of 100,000 acres of burned Sierra habitat resulting in a 25% increase in focal bird species, increased water quality and yield, and more fire and drought-resilient plants.
      • Engage 25 farmers and ranchers in ground-breaking habitat markets, securing additional conservation dollars for sustainable wildlife-compatible agriculture.

       

       


       

    2. Protect Our Shorelines

    We are identifying and prioritizing the best places and practices to protect coastal wetlands, streams, dunes and beaches in the face of more severe storms and rising seas. We are collaboratively guiding nature-based solutions that provide “green infrastructure” for wildlife and our communities. By 2019, we will:

    •  
      • Expand collaborations in at least 10 countries along the Americas’ Pacific coast advancing climate-smart conservation for migratory waterbirds and their habitats.
      • Rank California’s coastal habitats for protection in the face of accelerating change through sophisticated decision support tools, designed and implemented with resource managers.
      • Prioritize, guide and monitor SF Bay wetland restoration and acquisition to sustain bird, fish and other wildlife populations, and provide flood protection for human infrastructure.

       

     


     

    3. Conserve Ocean Food Webs

    Point Blue is identifying and prioritizing ocean food webs for protection to give marine wildlife and fisheries more opportunities to adapt to rapid environmental change. Collaborating with public agencies, NGOs, universities, fishing and shipping industries, and others, we monitor ocean ecosystem health, develop and assess new approaches to management, prioritize stronger protections as needed, and help to reduce conflicts between wildlife needs and human uses of the marine environment (e.g., clean energy, shipping, and fishing). By 2019, we will:

    • Forecast future climate change impacts on marine wildlife and food web hot spots in the California Current marine ecosystem (off the west coast from British Columbia to Baja California).
    • Provide the scientific basis and guidance for new ocean zones using Point Blue’s and others’ ecosystem monitoring results to improve marine conservation in National Marine Sanctuaries and the Ross Sea, Antarctica,
    • Reduce human impacts on whales, seals, sea lions, seabirds and other wildlife through
      policy recommendations and outreach.

       


     

    4. Climate-Smart Restoration

    Working with local communities and scores of public and private partners, we are developing innovative approaches to help ecosystems and people adapt to accelerating climate and land-use changes. We are designing habitats to better sustain nature’s benefits into the future. By 2019 we will:

    • Restore 2,500 acres of Sierra wet meadow through climate-smart restoration demonstration projects with 25% more bird species, 50% less downstream sedimentation, and 200% more carbon sequestration and forage production.
    • Restore eight miles of SF Bay Area riparian habitat, engaging students and local communities, by employing climate-smart restoration designs of plant species mixes that withstand greater extremes and that produce food throughout the year as wildlife life cycle timing changes.
    • Deploy new artificial Cassin’s auklet nest boxes for cooler temperatures inside as extreme heat days increase at the Farallon National Wildlife Refuge.

       


     

    5. Make Natural Resource Plans and Policies Climate-Smart

    As leaders in major conservation collaborations and pioneers in climate-smart conservation, we are helping public and private natural resource management entities, from local municipalities to international commissions, to incorporate climate-smart principles into their ocean and land-use plans and policies, and to put climate-smart conservation into action. By 2019, we will:

    • Incorporate climate-smart conservation into 20 natural resource management plans.
    • Ensure that funding allocations, planning processes and decision making are being prioritized according to climate-smart conservation approaches by a majority of our partnerships and agency partners (local, state and federal).
    •  


       

    6. Train the Next Generation

    Point Blue is providing hands-on training for future scientists and educators, equipping them with tools to protect nature’s benefits and help secure life as we know it. By 2019, we will:

    • Graduate 200 scientists-in-training on projects from the Sierra to the sea.
    • Collaborate with 80 graduate students and post-docs, with at least half pursuing careers in conservation science.

    • Train 3,000 students and 360 teachers in the SF Bay region, augmenting school curricula and better preparing them for a future of change.

    ——-

     

    For more information, visit www.pointblue.org or call 707.781.2555, ext. 324

     


     

  4. Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change

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    Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change:  Anticipating Surprises (2013)

    National Academy of Sciences

    Authors: Committee on Understanding and Monitoring Abrupt Climate Change and Its Impacts; Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate; Division on Earth and Life Studies; National Research Council

     

    COMMITTEE ON UNDERSTANDING AND MONITORING ABRUPT CLIMATE CHANGE AND ITS IMPACTS:

    • JAMES W.C. WHITE (Chair), University of Colorado, Boulder
    • RICHARD B. ALLEY, Pennsylvania State University, University Park
    • DAVID E. ARCHER, University of Chicago, Illinois
    • ANTHONY D. BARNOSKY, University of California, Berkeley
    • JONATHAN FOLEY, University of Minnesota, Saint Paul
    • RONG FU, University of Texas at Austin
    • MARIKA M. HOLLAND, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
    • M. SUSAN LOZIER, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
    • JOHANNA SCHMITT, University of California, Davis
    • LAURENCE C. SMITH, University of California, Los Angeles
    • GEORGE SUGIHARA, University of California, San Diego
    • DAVID W. J. THOMPSON, Colorado State University, Fort Collins
    • ANDREW J. WEAVER, University of Victoria, British Columbia
    • STEVEN C. WOFSY, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

     

     


     

    Climate is changing, forced out of the range of the past million years by levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not seen in the Earth’s atmosphere for a very, very long time. Lacking action by the world’s nations, it is clear that the planet will be warmer, sea level will rise, and patterns of rainfall will change. But the future is also partly uncertain — there is considerable uncertainty about how we will arrive at that different climate. Will the changes be gradual, allowing natural systems and societal infrastructure to adjust in a timely fashion? Or will some of the changes be more abrupt, crossing some threshold or “tipping point” to change so fast that the time between when a problem is recognized and when action is required shrinks to the point where orderly adaptation is not possible?

    Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change is an updated look at the issue of abrupt climate change and its potential impacts. This study differs from previous treatments of abrupt changes by focusing on abrupt climate changes and also abrupt climate impacts that have the potential to severely affect the physical climate system, natural systems, or human systems, often affecting multiple interconnected areas of concern. The primary timescale of concern is years to decades. A key characteristic of these changes is that they can come faster than expected, planned, or budgeted for, forcing more reactive, rather than proactive, modes of behavior.

    Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change summarizes the state of our knowledge about potential abrupt changes and abrupt climate impacts and categorizes changes that are already occurring, have a high probability of occurrence, or are unlikely to occur. Because of the substantial risks to society and nature posed by abrupt changes, this report recommends the development of an Abrupt Change Early Warning System that would allow for the prediction and possible mitigation of such changes before their societal impacts are severe. Identifying key vulnerabilities can help guide efforts to increase resiliency and avoid large damages from abrupt change in the climate system, or in abrupt impacts of gradual changes in the climate system, and facilitate more informed decisions on the proper balance between mitigation and adaptation. Although there is still much to learn about abrupt climate change and abrupt climate impacts, to willfully ignore the threat of abrupt change could lead to more costs, loss of life, suffering, and environmental degradation. Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change makes the case that the time is here to be serious about the threat of tipping points so as to better anticipate and prepare ourselves for the inevitable surprises.

     

    News coverage:

     

    Tipping points: Where may abrupt impacts from climate change occur?
    (December 3, 2013) ScienceDailyClimate change has increased concern over possible large and rapid changes in the physical climate system, which includes Earth’s atmosphere, land surfaces, and oceans. Some of these changes could occur within a few decades or even years, leaving little time for society and ecosystems to adapt. A new report from the National Research Council extends this idea of abrupt climate change, stating that even steady, gradual change in the physical climate system can have abrupt impacts elsewhere — in human infrastructure and ecosystems for example — if critical thresholds are crossed.

    The report calls for the development of an early warning system that could help society better anticipate sudden changes and emerging impacts. …

     

    Further scientific research and enhanced monitoring of the climate, ecosystems, and social systems may be able to provide information that a tipping point is imminent, allowing time for adaptation or possibly mitigation, or that a tipping point has recently occurred, the report says. “Right now we don’t know what many of these thresholds are,” White said. “But with better information, we will be able to anticipate some major changes before they occur and help reduce the potential consequences.” The report identifies several research needs, such as identifying keystone species whose population decline due to an abrupt change would have cascading effects on ecosystems and ultimately on human provisions such as food supply.

     

    If society hopes to anticipate tipping points in natural and human systems, an early warning system for abrupt changes needs to be developed, the report says. An effective system would need to include careful and vigilant monitoring, taking advantage of existing land and satellite systems and modifying them if necessary, or designing and implementing new systems when feasible. It would also need to be flexible and adaptive, regularly conducting and alternating between data collection, model testing and improvement, and model predictions that suggest future data needs

                                       
     

     

    Ready — Or Not. Abrupt Climate Changes Worry Scientists Most

    NPR December 03, 2013 5:01 PM

     An expert panel at the National Academy of Sciences is to alert us to abrupt and potentially catastrophic events triggered by climate change. The committee says science can anticipate some major changes to the Earth that could affect everything from agriculture to sea level. But we aren’t doing enough to look for those changes and anticipate their impacts. And this is not a matter for some distant future. The Earth is already experiencing both gradual and abrupt climate change. The air is warming up slowly, and we’re also seeing rapid changes such as the melting Arctic ice cap.

    ….”When you think about gradual changes you can kind of see where the road is and know where you’re going,” Barnosky said at a news conference unveiling the report Tuesday. “When you think about abrupt changes and threshold effects, the road suddenly drops out from under you. And it’s those kinds of things we’re suggesting we need to anticipate in a much more comprehensive way.

     

    Scientists know about some potential problems that could change the planet dramatically in a matter of years or decades. For example, sea level could quickly rise by as much as 25 feet if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to crumble into the sea. Yet committee chairman James White, an earth scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, says we’re not watching that ice sheet very carefully to measure how much warming seawater is weakening the ice. “We should be measuring ocean temperatures near the ice sheet,” White said. “We should be measuring, far better, where the outlets are — where the glaciers go into the ocean. We don’t do that.

     

    Another potential for disaster is in the Arctic. There is a huge amount of methane gas up there. The report says the region is unlikely to belch methane into the atmosphere rapidly and supercharge global warming. But government agencies aren’t keeping a close eye on methane and other greenhouse gases in the Arctic…. We know there needs to be monitoring capability,” White said. “We know we need to be watching the planet. We watch our streets, we watch our banks — if you live in the U.K. they watch everything — we watch other parts of the system very well. “But we do not watch our environment with nearly the same amount of care and zeal.” The committee didn’t just consider abrupt changes to the planet. It also looked at gradual changes that could trigger rapid disruptions for us. For example, parts of the Earth could quickly become inhospitable to crops like corn, once the temperature creeps past a certain threshold. Those concerns are greatest in the tropics and subtropics. “Probably the biggest issues are going to show up in the warm places, even though it will be easier to see them, and we will meet them sooner, in the Arctic,” says , a glaciologist at Penn State…..

     

    Federal Study Warns of Sudden Climate Change Woes

    WASHINGTON December 3, 2013 (AP) By SETH BORENSTEIN AP Science Writer

    Hard-to-predict sudden changes to Earth’s environment are more worrisome than climate change’s bigger but more gradual impacts, a panel of scientists advising the federal government concluded Tuesday. The 200-page report by the National Academy of Sciences looked at warming problems that can occur in years instead of centuries. The report repeatedly warns of potential “tipping points” where the climate passes thresholds, beyond which “major and rapid changes occur.” And some of these quick changes are happening now, said study chairman James White of the University of Colorado.

    The report says abrupt changes like melting ice in the Arctic Ocean and mass species extinctions have already started and are worse than predicted. It says thousands of species are changing their ranges, seasonal patterns or in some cases are going extinct because of human-caused climate change. Species in danger include some coral; pika, a rabbitlike creature; the Hawaiian silversword plant and polar bears. At the bottom of the world in Antarctica, the melting ice in the west could be more of a wild card than originally thought. If the massive ice sheet melts it may happen relatively rapidly and could raise world sea levels by 13 feet, but researchers aren’t certain how soon that may occur. However, the report had what researchers called “good news.” It said two other abrupt climate threats that worried researchers likely won’t be so sudden, giving people more time to prepare and adapt. Those two less-imminent threats are giant burps of undersea and frozen methane, a super-potent greenhouse gas, and the slowing of deep ocean currents. That slowdown is a scenario that would oddly lead to dramatic coastal cooling and was featured in the 2004 movie “The Day After Tomorrow.” Study co-author Richard Alley of Pennsylvania State University compared the threat of abrupt climate change effects to the random danger of drunk drivers. “You can’t see it coming, so you can’t prepare for it. The faster it is, the less you see it coming, the more it costs,” Alley told The Associated Press. “If you see the drunk driver coming, you can get out of the way.” The scientists said the issue of sudden changes is full of uncertainties, so the world can better prepare by monitoring places like Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets more. But because of budget cuts and aging satellites, researchers have fewer measurements of these crucial indicators than they did a few years ago and will have even fewer in upcoming years, study co-author Steven Wofsy of Harvard University said. The panel called on the government to create an early warning system….

     

    Panel Says Global Warming Risks Sudden, Deep Changes

    By JUSTIN GILLIS NY Times December 3 2013

    A scientific panel’s report ruled out some doomsday notions but said that dire climatic surprises seemed inevitable.

     

    An Update on Risks of Abrupt Jolts from Global Warming

    New York Times (blog)

    Dec 3, 2013

     
     

    Written by

    Andrew Revkin

     
           

    The findings laid out below reinforce the reality that the biggest impacts of greenhouse-driven global warming still lie several generations in the future.

  5. Conservation Science News December 6, 2013

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    Focus of the WeekAbrupt Impacts of Climate Change

    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-

    Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises (2013)

    National Academy of Sciences

    Authors: Committee on Understanding and Monitoring Abrupt Climate Change and Its Impacts; Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate; Division on Earth and Life Studies; National Research Council

     


    Climate is changing, forced out of the range of the past million years by levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases not seen in the Earth’s atmosphere for a very, very long time. Lacking action by the world’s nations, it is clear that the planet will be warmer, sea level will rise, and patterns of rainfall will change. But the future is also partly uncertain — there is considerable uncertainty about how we will arrive at that different climate. Will the changes be gradual, allowing natural systems and societal infrastructure to adjust in a timely fashion? Or will some of the changes be more abrupt, crossing some threshold or “tipping point” to change so fast that the time between when a problem is recognized and when action is required shrinks to the point where orderly adaptation is not possible?

    Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change is an updated look at the issue of abrupt climate change and its potential impacts. This study differs from previous treatments of abrupt changes by focusing on abrupt climate changes and also abrupt climate impacts that have the potential to severely affect the physical climate system, natural systems, or human systems, often affecting multiple interconnected areas of concern. The primary timescale of concern is years to decades. A key characteristic of these changes is that they can come faster than expected, planned, or budgeted for, forcing more reactive, rather than proactive, modes of behavior.

    Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change summarizes the state of our knowledge about potential abrupt changes and abrupt climate impacts and categorizes changes that are already occurring, have a high probability of occurrence, or are unlikely to occur. Because of the substantial risks to society and nature posed by abrupt changes, this report recommends the development of an Abrupt Change Early Warning System that would allow for the prediction and possible mitigation of such changes before their societal impacts are severe. Identifying key vulnerabilities can help guide efforts to increase resiliency and avoid large damages from abrupt change in the climate system, or in abrupt impacts of gradual changes in the climate system, and facilitate more informed decisions on the proper balance between mitigation and adaptation. Although there is still much to learn about abrupt climate change and abrupt climate impacts, to willfully ignore the threat of abrupt change could lead to more costs, loss of life, suffering, and environmental degradation. Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change makes the case that the time is here to be serious about the threat of tipping points so as to better anticipate and prepare ourselves for the inevitable surprises.

     

    News coverage:

     

    Tipping points: Where may abrupt impacts from climate change occur?
    (December 3, 2013) ScienceDailyClimate change has increased concern over possible large and rapid changes in the physical climate system, which includes Earth’s atmosphere, land surfaces, and oceans. Some of these changes could occur within a few decades or even years, leaving little time for society and ecosystems to adapt. A new report from the National Research Council extends this idea of abrupt climate change, stating that even steady, gradual change in the physical climate system can have abrupt impacts elsewhere — in human infrastructure and ecosystems for example — if critical thresholds are crossed.

    The report calls for the development of an early warning system that could help society better anticipate sudden changes and emerging impacts. …

     

    Further scientific research and enhanced monitoring of the climate, ecosystems, and social systems may be able to provide information that a tipping point is imminent, allowing time for adaptation or possibly mitigation, or that a tipping point has recently occurred, the report says. “Right now we don’t know what many of these thresholds are,” White said. “But with better information, we will be able to anticipate some major changes before they occur and help reduce the potential consequences.” The report identifies several research needs, such as identifying keystone species whose population decline due to an abrupt change would have cascading effects on ecosystems and ultimately on human provisions such as food supply.

     

    If society hopes to anticipate tipping points in natural and human systems, an early warning system for abrupt changes needs to be developed, the report says. An effective system would need to include careful and vigilant monitoring, taking advantage of existing land and satellite systems and modifying them if necessary, or designing and implementing new systems when feasible. It would also need to be flexible and adaptive, regularly conducting and alternating between data collection, model testing and improvement, and model predictions that suggest future data needs.

                

     

    Ready — Or Not. Abrupt Climate Changes Worry Scientists Most

    NPR December 03, 2013 5:01 PM

    An expert panel at the National Academy of Sciences is to alert us to abrupt and potentially catastrophic events triggered by climate change. The committee says science can anticipate some major changes to the Earth that could affect everything from agriculture to sea level. But we aren’t doing enough to look for those changes and anticipate their impacts. And this is not a matter for some distant future. The Earth is already experiencing both gradual and abrupt climate change. The air is warming up slowly, and we’re also seeing rapid changes such as the melting Arctic ice cap.

    ….”When you think about gradual changes you can kind of see where the road is and know where you’re going,” Barnosky said at a news conference unveiling the report Tuesday. “When you think about abrupt changes and threshold effects, the road suddenly drops out from under you. And it’s those kinds of things we’re suggesting we need to anticipate in a much more comprehensive way.

     

    Scientists know about some potential problems that could change the planet dramatically in a matter of years or decades. For example, sea level could quickly rise by as much as 25 feet if the West Antarctic Ice Sheet were to crumble into the sea. Yet committee chairman James White, an earth scientist at the University of Colorado in Boulder, says we’re not watching that ice sheet very carefully to measure how much warming seawater is weakening the ice. “We should be measuring ocean temperatures near the ice sheet,” White said. “We should be measuring, far better, where the outlets are — where the glaciers go into the ocean. We don’t do that.

     

    Another potential for disaster is in the Arctic. There is a huge amount of methane gas up there. The report says the region is unlikely to belch methane into the atmosphere rapidly and supercharge global warming. But government agencies aren’t keeping a close eye on methane and other greenhouse gases in the Arctic…. We know there needs to be monitoring capability,” White said. “We know we need to be watching the planet. We watch our streets, we watch our banks — if you live in the U.K. they watch everything — we watch other parts of the system very well. “But we do not watch our environment with nearly the same amount of care and zeal.” The committee didn’t just consider abrupt changes to the planet. It also looked at gradual changes that could trigger rapid disruptions for us. For example, parts of the Earth could quickly become inhospitable to crops like corn, once the temperature creeps past a certain threshold. Those concerns are greatest in the tropics and subtropics. “Probably the biggest issues are going to show up in the warm places, even though it will be easier to see them, and we will meet them sooner, in the Arctic,” says , a glaciologist at Penn State…..

     

    Federal Study Warns of Sudden Climate Change Woes

    WASHINGTON December 3, 2013 (AP) By SETH BORENSTEIN AP Science Writer

    Hard-to-predict sudden changes to Earth’s environment are more worrisome than climate change’s bigger but more gradual impacts, a panel of scientists advising the federal government concluded Tuesday. The 200-page report by the National Academy of Sciences looked at warming problems that can occur in years instead of centuries. The report repeatedly warns of potential “tipping points” where the climate passes thresholds, beyond which “major and rapid changes occur.” And some of these quick changes are happening now, said study chairman James White of the University of Colorado.

    The report says abrupt changes like melting ice in the Arctic Ocean and mass species extinctions have already started and are worse than predicted. It says thousands of species are changing their ranges, seasonal patterns or in some cases are going extinct because of human-caused climate change. Species in danger include some coral; pika, a rabbitlike creature; the Hawaiian silversword plant and polar bears. At the bottom of the world in Antarctica, the melting ice in the west could be more of a wild card than originally thought. If the massive ice sheet melts it may happen relatively rapidly and could raise world sea levels by 13 feet, but researchers aren’t certain how soon that may occur. However, the report had what researchers called “good news.” It said two other abrupt climate threats that worried researchers likely won’t be so sudden, giving people more time to prepare and adapt. Those two less-imminent threats are giant burps of undersea and frozen methane, a super-potent greenhouse gas, and the slowing of deep ocean currents. That slowdown is a scenario that would oddly lead to dramatic coastal cooling and was featured in the 2004 movie “The Day After Tomorrow.” Study co-author Richard Alley of Pennsylvania State University compared the threat of abrupt climate change effects to the random danger of drunk drivers. “You can’t see it coming, so you can’t prepare for it. The faster it is, the less you see it coming, the more it costs,” Alley told The Associated Press. “If you see the drunk driver coming, you can get out of the way.” The scientists said the issue of sudden changes is full of uncertainties, so the world can better prepare by monitoring places like Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets more. But because of budget cuts and aging satellites, researchers have fewer measurements of these crucial indicators than they did a few years ago and will have even fewer in upcoming years, study co-author Steven Wofsy of Harvard University said. The panel called on the government to create an early warning system….

     

    Panel Says Global Warming Risks Sudden, Deep Changes

    By JUSTIN GILLIS NY Times December 3 2013

    A scientific panel’s report ruled out some doomsday notions but said that dire climatic surprises seemed inevitable.

     

    An Update on Risks of Abrupt Jolts from Global Warming

    New York Times (blog)

    Dec 3, 2013 

     
     

    Written by

    Andrew Revkin

     
           

    The findings laid out below reinforce the reality that the biggest impacts of greenhouse-driven global warming still lie several generations in the future.

     

     

     

     

    Evolution can select for evolvability, biologists find
    (November 14, 2013) — Evolution does not have foresight. But organisms with a greater capacity to evolve may fare better in changing environments. This raises the question: Does evolution favor characteristics that increase a species’ ability to evolve? For several years, biologists have attempted to provide evidence that natural selection has acted on evolvability. Now a new article offers clear evidence that the answer is yes. … > full story

    Ocean’s carbon dioxide uptake can impair digestion in marine animal
    (November 15, 2013) — Ocean acidification impairs digestion in marine organisms, according to a new study. Researchers have studied the larval stage of green sea urchins Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. The results show that the animals have problems digesting food in acidified water. … > full story

     


    Working with Beaver to Restore Salmon Habitat

    NOAA Michael Pollock, Chris Jordan, Nick Bouwes, Joseph Wheaton, Carol Volk, Nicholas Weber, Jason Hall, and Josh Goldsmith

     

    A threatened population of steelhead in Bridge Creek, Oregon is limited by degraded stream conditions (Pollock et al. 2012).  By reconnecting portions of this incised channel with its former floodplain, we hoped to improve habitat conditions for steelhead.  Restoring connections between a channelized stream and its floodplain can increase habitat complexity in both the stream and its associated riparian zone (Pollock et al. 2007).  However, conventional stream restoration techniques can be disruptive and quite costly.  Large volumes of fill must be moved and graded with heavy equipment, exposing large areas of bare ground that require extensive re–vegetation effort (Pollock et al. 2012).  After it was breached by high flows, beaver abandoned this dam (foreground).  They rebuilt it within 1 year of reinforcement.  An additional dam built on a post line is shown upstream.   

     

    In 2009, we began a study to restore channelized streams by encouraging a local beaver population to build longer–lived dams (Pollock et al. 2012).  Bridge Creek is a 710–km² watershed draining northwesterly into the lower John Day River.  At present, its beaver population is small, with growth impeded by short–lived dams.  Bridge Creek beaver dams are often short lived because they are built within an incised trench (Pollock et al. 2012).  This means that when annual flooding occurs, pressure from heavy flows is concentrated on the dam rather than dissipated across the floodplain.  Consequently, most beaver dams breach and fail within their first season.  We predicted that stable beaver colonies would gradually aggrade the incised reaches of Bridge Creek enough to raise the alluvial water table and reconnect the stream to its former floodplain.  Therefore, encouraging long–lived beaver dams would be a cost–effective method to produce measurable improvement in riparian and stream habitats, and subsequently in abundance of native steelhead.  Our objective is to help beaver build dams that will last long enough to lead to the establishment of stable colonies.  If this can be accomplished, the beaver dams should promote enough aggradation to reverse channel incision.  Such a reversal would yield a number of ecosystem improvements for steelhead and other species. ….

     

     

    An ecosystem-based approach to protect the deep sea from mining
    (December 5, 2013) — A new paper describes the expert-driven systematic conservation planning process applied to inform science-based recommendations to the International Seabed Authority for a system of deep-sea marine protected areas to safeguard biodiversity and ecosystem function in an abyssal Pacific region targeted for nodule mining (e.g. the Clarion–Clipperton fracture zone, CCZ). … > full story

     

    Five distinct humpback whale populations identified in North Pacific
    (December 4, 2013) — The first comprehensive genetic study of humpback whale populations in the North Pacific Ocean has identified five distinct populations — at the same time a proposal to designate North Pacific humpbacks as a single “distinct population segment” is being considered under the Endangered Species Act. …The scientists examined nearly 2,200 tissue biopsy samples collected from humpback whales in 10 feeding regions and eight winter breeding regions during a three-year international study, known as SPLASH (Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpbacks). They used sequences of maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA and “microsatellite genotypes,” or DNA profiles, to both describe the genetic differences and outline migratory connections between both breeding and feeding grounds. “Though humpback whales are found in all oceans of the world, the North Pacific humpback whales should probably be considered a sub-species at an ocean-basin level — based on genetic isolation of these populations on an evolutionary time scale,” said Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center and lead author on the paper. “Within this North Pacific sub-species, however, our results support the recognition of multiple distinct populations,” Baker added. “They differ based on geographic distribution and with genetic differentiations as well, and they have strong fidelity to their own breeding and feeding areas.” Humpback whales are listed as endangered in the United States under the Endangered Species Act, but had recently been downlisted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on a global level. However, two population segments recently were added as endangered by the IUCN — one in the Sea of Arabia, the other in Oceania — and it is likely that one or more of the newly identified populations in the North Pacific may be considered endangered, Baker said. How management authorities respond to the study identifying the distinct North Pacific humpback populations remains to be seen, Baker said, but the situation “underscores the complexity of studying and managing marine mammals on a global scale.” … > full story

     

    CS Baker, D Steel, J Calambokidis, E Falcone, U González-Peral, J Barlow, AM Burdin, PJ Clapham, JKB Ford, CM Gabriele, D Mattila, L Rojas-Bracho, JM Straley, BL Taylor, UrbánR Jorge, PR Wade, D Weller, B H.Witteveen, M Yamaguchi. Strong maternal fidelity and natal philopatry shape genetic structure in North Pacific humpback whales. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 2013; DOI: 10.3354/meps10508

    Plastic found to account for the majority of marine microlitter accumulating in the food chain
    (December 3, 2013) — Researchers have demonstrated that microplastics are transferred in the marine food web. The study also provided additional support to suspicions that many plankton organisms are unable to separate plastic particles from their natural food and that they therefore also ingest plastic. … > full story

    Microplastics make marine worms sick
    (December 2, 2013) — Tiny bits of plastic trash could spell big trouble for marine life, starting with the worms. Marine worms play a key ecological role as an important source of food for other animals. … > full story

    Microplastic transfers chemicals, impacting health: Plastic ingestion delivers pollutants and additives into animal tissue
    (December 2, 2013) — With global production of plastic exceeding 280 metric tons every year, a fair amount of it makes its way to the natural environment. However, until now researchers haven’t known whether ingested plastic transfers chemical additives or pollutants to wildlife. A new study shows toxic concentrations of pollutants and additives enter the tissue of animals that have eaten microplastic. … > full story

    Tracking marine food sources
    (December 3, 2013) — Scientists have developed a method to determine where animals obtain essential amino acids. They discovered that all life forms leave traces or ‘fingerprints’ in amino acids during biosynthesis. With these fingerprints, which are based on naturally occurring isotope variations, it is possible for the first time to distinguish between algal, bacterial, fungal and plant origins of amino acids through tissue samples. This discovery makes it possible to find out what animals have been feeding on without observing them directly or examining their stomach content. … > full story

    Biologist develops method for monitoring shipping noise in dolphin habitat
    (December 2, 2013) — A biologist has developed a system of techniques for tracking ships and monitoring underwater noise levels in a protected marine mammal habitat. The research focused on the bottlenose dolphin population in Scotland’s Moray Firth. … > full story

    Sharks prefer to sneak up from behind: Caribbean reef sharks can tell if a human is facing toward them
    (December 5, 2013) — “Never turn your back on a shark” is the message from a new article. Biologists contend that sharks can comprehend body orientation and therefore know whether humans are facing them or not. This ability helps sharks to approach and possibly attack their prey from the blind side — a technique they prefer. … > full story

    Rising concerns over tree pests and diseases
    (November 15, 2013) — New research has found that the number of pests and disease outbreaks in trees and forests across the world has been increasing. There is growing concern that aspects of globalization – in particular, high volumes and new forms of trade – may increase the risk of disease spreading and provide opportunities for genetic reassortment which can enhance pathogenicity (the ability of an organism to cause disease). … > full story

     

    Bacteria chokes ecosystems

    By Sam Harris Correspondent December 3, 2013 

    Cyanobacteria – known as the “cockroaches” of aquatic environments – have been around for more than 2 billion years. Over their long evolutionary history, they have learned to tolerate many extreme conditions and are one of the toughest microorganisms on Earth. Cyanobacteria are also largely responsible for creating the oxygen-rich conditions that stimulated modern life. But the bacteria, known for their blooms, have become quite a problem in the 21st century. In a research brief letter published in the October edition of Science, researchers from UNC Chapel Hill and Oregon State University describe how outbreaks of these bacteria are choking lakes and rivers across the globe – and how such outbreaks may worsen with climate change and human development….

     

    Reforestation in Lower Mississippi Valley reduces sediment
    (December 2, 2013) — A modeling study shows that reforesting the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley can significantly reduce runoff from agricultural lands and the amount of sediment entering the area’s rivers and streams — and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. … > full story

     

    Preventing, remediating degradation of soils in Europe through land care
    (November 28, 2013) — A new research project focusing on preventing and remediating soil degradation in Europe is underway. The RECARE project is a joint initiative of 27 institutions and organizations in Europe. … > full story

     

    Impacts of plant invasions become less robust over time: Invasive plants are more likely to be replaced by other ‘invasives’
    (November 20, 2013)
    Among the most impressive ecological findings of the past 25 years is the ability of invasive plants to radically change ecosystem function. Yet few if any studies have examined whether ecosystem impacts of invasions persist over time, and what that means for plant communities and ecosystem restoration. …
    “We were able to take advantage of detailed studies I and others had conducted in the 1990s. We permanently marked sites we had set up and were able to go back and gain insight into how plant invasions changed over time without management,” said D’Antonio, who also is a professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology. “Such studies are important because managers have little money to control invasive species or to study how impacts might change without management.” “Non-native plants can have very large impacts on ecosystem functioning — including altering groundwater, soil salinity or pH and pollination syndromes,” said lead author Yelenik, who earned her doctorate from UCSB’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology and now works for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center on the island of Hawaii. When D’Antonio and Yelenik revisited the study sites, they noticed that the invasive exotic perennial grasses (primarily an African invader called Melinis minutiflora) were dying, so they decided to repeat measures of nutrient cycling and plant community change. They found that the grasses’ self-reinforcing effects on soil nutrients had disappeared and the percentage of invader coverage had declined…..An important lesson here is that even if plant invasions can slow down on their own given enough time, native species may need further assistance in order to make a comeback, the researchers said. Other invaders may be poised to take advantage of reduced competition from the original invader. “Knowing the mechanisms of how and why invasions alter ecosystems is insightful for predicting what will happen, but without further management we may not get native species back,” Yelenik said. “When we see non-native species dying back and getting patchy, that may be the time to plant native species. It might turn out to be the most cost-effective way to get an ecosystem back to a more desirable state.”…full story

     

    Crows are no bird-brains: Neurobiologists investigate neuronal basis of crows’ intelligence
    (November 28, 2013) — Scientists have long suspected that corvids — the family of birds including ravens, crows and magpies — are highly intelligent. Now, neurobiologists have demonstrated how the brains of crows produce intelligent behavior when the birds have to make strategic decisions. … > full story

     

    Why Birds Can Sleep on Branches and Not Fall Off

    The Atlantic

    Dec 2 2013

     

    Written by

    Alexis Madrigal

     
           

    You ever see a bird clutching onto a branch high in a tree and wonder, “What happens if it falls asleep? How could it hold on?

     

    Hummingbird metabolism unique in burning glucose, fructose equally
    (December 5, 2013) — Hummingbird metabolism is a marvel of evolutionary engineering. These tiny birds can power all of their energetic hovering flight by burning the sugar contained in the floral nectar of their diet. … > full story

     

    California water atlas seeks to clarify water issues
    AP
    In California, few issues are as divisive as water. It pits North against South, fisherman versus farmer. With cycles of drought, dwindling groundwater and a future marked by a changing climate and a thirsty, booming population, no other resource is as imperiled in the Golden State.

     

    High resolution global maps show increasing forest loss in tropics. L ATIMES The first fine-scale mapping of global forest cover shows the rate of forest loss in the tropics has increased over the past 12 years

     

    Captive breeding for thousands of years has impaired olfactory functions in silkmoths
    (November 21, 2013) — Domesticated silkmoths Bombyx mori have a much more limited perception of environmental odors compared to their wild relatives. A new study on silkmoths revealed that the insects’ ability to perceive environmental odours has been reduced after about 5000 years of domestication by humans. Scientists compared olfactory functions in Bombyx mori and in their wild ancestors. Perception of the pheromone bombykol, however, remained highly sensitive in domesticated males. … > full story

    Iran’s looming environmental crisis

    American Voices Joel Brinkley 12:30 p.m. CST, November 12, 2013

    The world is watching the ongoing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. They began days after tens of thousands of Iranian demonstrators screamed “Death to America!” as they remonstrated outside the former United States embassy in Tehran. That’s what the world knows of Iran — its nuclear program, the resultant economic sanctions and the nation’s turbulent relations with the West. The Iranian government talks about little else. Neither does the Western news media. In the background, however, a far more serious problem afflicts the nation that almost no one of influence in Tehran ever discusses in public. Iran is, quite literally, blowing away. Lakes and ponds are drying up. Underground aquifers that supply most of the nation’s potable water are emptying fast. More than two-thirds of the country’s land is rapidly turning to desert; just 16 percent of it remains arable. And massive dust storms sweep across the country almost daily, afflicting 23 of the nation’s 31 provinces — making it hard to breathe and killing thousands of people a year. As the Tehran Times put it, quoting Yousef Rashidi, director of Tehran’s Air Quality Control Company, “dust storms severely affect the health of citizens.” After all, massive dust storms now envelop Tehran every third day, on average, and at least 80,000 people die from strangling dust and other pollutants annually, the state’s Health Ministry reported late last month. And yet, the nation’s leaders seem never to talk about this — or do anything about it — so fixated do they remain on their nuclear program and the American “devils.” Every once in a while, though, someone does speak out, as former Agriculture Minister Issa Kalantari did in a recent Iranian newspaper article: “The main problem that threatens us” and is “more dangerous than Israel and America or political fighting” is that “the Iranian plateau is becoming uninhabitable. If the situation is not reformed, in 30 years Iran will be a ghost town.” …

     

    Catastrophic collapse of Sahara Desert’s wildlife
    (December 3, 2013) — A new study warns that the world’s largest tropical desert, the Sahara, has suffered a catastrophic collapse of its wildlife populations. … > full story

    Bone grafting improvements with help of sea coral
    (
    November 29, 2013) — Sea coral could soon be used more extensively in bone grafting procedures thanks to new research that has refined the material’s properties and made it more compatible with natural bone. … > full story

    Study suggests why, in some species, mere presence of males shortens females’ lifespan
    (November 28, 2013) — Researchers have discovered that males of the laboratory roundworm secrete signaling molecules that significantly shorten the lifespan of the opposite sex. … > full story

     

    Oldest large body of ancient seawater identified under Chesapeake Bay
    (November 21, 2013) — USGS scientists have determined that high-salinity groundwater found more than 1,000 meters (0.6 mi.) deep under the Chesapeake Bay is actually remnant water from the Early Cretaceous North Atlantic Sea and is probably 100-145 million years old. This is the oldest sizeable body of seawater to be identified worldwide. … > full story

     

     

     

    Sustaining Resilience at Sea

    By THE EDITORIAL BOARD NY TIMES December 3 2013

    The value of a marine reserve goes beyond the obvious: new research indicates that it helps ward off some of the effects of climate change.

    On the face of it, the value of a marine reserve — the equivalent of a national park or wildlife preserve on land — seems obvious. The oceans are in trouble, and setting aside regions of biodiversity, where fishing is strictly limited, if not prohibited, is one of the few effective means of protecting many species at once. But politically, there is nothing simple about creating marine reserves in international waters. Recently, China and Russia succeeded in blocking, yet again, the creation of a large marine reserve in Antarctica.
    New research indicates that marine reserves may have an even greater importance than scientists previously supposed. A study recently published in Nature Climate Change found that marine reserves do more than merely shelter species that live within them. By enhancing the resilience of marine communities, reserves help ward off some of the effects of climate change, including invasion by species from warmer waters. The study was based on research conducted at the Maria Island Marine Reserve, just off the coast of Tasmania. Though the reserve was only established in 1991, data on marine life there had been collected for more than 70 years. Comparing the reserve’s ecosystem with similar but unprotected waters where fishing was allowed, scientists found greater long-term and short-term stability. The overall health of the ecosystem helped create what the authors of the study called “a feedback mechanism to promote stability.” The scientists found a substantial increase in the number of large-bodied fish and much less fluctuation, year to year, in the population of smaller fish. This is a reminder of something that all too easily goes unnoticed. How species will endure the effects of global warming depends less on the individual species than the overall health of the ecosystem it belongs to. This study also suggested another essential service that marine reserves provide. By giving us a view into a relatively unaltered past — since the 1940s in the case of Maria Island — they show how healthy ecosystems function, which will be increasingly valuable as climate change disorders them.

     

     

    Rapid climate changes at end of last glaciation, but with 120 year time lag
    (December 4, 2013) — Regional climate changes can be very rapid. Geoscientists now report that such a rapid climate change occurred in different regions with a time difference of 120 years. Investigation in the west German Eifel region and in southern Norway demonstrated that at the end of the last glaciation about 12,240 years before present climate became warmer, first recognized in the Eifel region and 120 years later in southern Norway. Nonetheless, the warming was equally rapid in both regions. …
    The result of this study has some implications on the understanding of both past and future climate change. The assumption of an everywhere and always synchronously changing climat
    e must be questioned and climate models have to better consider such regional aspects….

    C. S. Lane, A. Brauer, S. P. E. Blockley, P. Dulski. Volcanic ash reveals time-transgressive abrupt climate change during the Younger Dryas. Geology, 2013; 41 (12): 1251 DOI: 10.1130/G34867.1

     

    A Changing Climate for Endangered Species

    NOAA December 4, 2013

    Scientists are working to ensure that the Endangered Species Act remains effective in the face of a changing climate. A special section in the latest issue of Conservation Biology highlights their progress. Forty years ago this month the Endangered Species Act became law, and since then it has proved an effective tool for protecting species near the brink of extinction and the habitats they depend on. But the world is a very different place than it was in 1973, and federal agencies are adapting their science and management to protect endangered species against the array of threats they face today.

    When the Act was written, no one was thinking about climate change. Scientists operated under the assumption that the environment varied but was not changing in any particular direction, and that the past was a good guide to the future. That is no longer the case.

    How should we incorporate climate change into our decision-making under the Endangered Species Act? A special section in this month’s issue of Conservation Biology addresses this question with eight papers authored by NOAA scientists and their research partners who work on marine and aquatic species.

    The language of the Endangered Species Act requires us to peer into “the foreseeable future” using the “best available science.” But future conditions are not guaranteed, and a changing climate can upset established trends. Making decisions under these conditions, and keeping up with emerging science, is a fundamental challenge when protecting endangered species. The eight research papers aim to help with that. “We identify lessons learned and try to provide some tools for when scientists decide if a species is at serious risk, develop recovery plans, and identify critical habitat,” said Michelle McClure, the NOAA Fisheries biologist who led the team of scientists contributing to this special section of the journal. Scientists have incorporated climate change modeling into several recent decisions on threatened and endangered species. Among them is the bearded seal, an Arctic species recently listed as threatened whose sea ice habitat is expected to shrink in coming decades. Another example is the 68 species of coral that are collectively under review for listing under the Act. Their future is threatened by, among other things, warming-induced bleaching and ocean acidification. “Climate change is just one more impact that you have to evaluate on top of all the other impacts that we have on endangered species,” McClure said, “But it’s bigger, it’s less fixable, and it’s more pervasive, so we have to be creative in our approach.”…

     

    CONSERVATION BIOLOGY December 2013 Volume 27, Issue 6 Pages 1133–1494

    Special Section: Incorporating Climate Change into Risk Analyses under the U.S. Endangered Species Act

     

     

    350 Or Bust: Scientists Warn Even 2°C Warming Leads To ‘Disastrous Consequences’ And Must Be Avoided

    By Joe Romm on December 3, 2013

    Humanity is choosing to destroy a livable climate, warn 18 of the world’s leading climate experts in a new study. Led by James Hansen, they make the strongest case to date for a target of 350 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in the air, or about 1°C (1.8°F) total warming…..Humanity is choosing to destroy a livable climate, warn 18 of the world’s leading climate experts in a new study. Led by James Hansen, they make the strongest case to date for a target of 350 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in the air, or about 1°C (1.8°F) total warming.

    Yes, we are already near 400 ppm (and rising 2 ppm a year), and have warmed more than 0.8°C since preindustrial times, so the authors understand the challenge. But in their must-read article in the journal PLOS One, the scientists argue that “aiming for the 2°C [3.6°F pathway would be foolhardy” because it “would have consequences that can be described as disastrous”: … sea level rise of several meters could be expected. Increased climate extremes, already apparent at 0.8°C warming, would be more severe. Coral reefs and associated species, already stressed with current conditions, would be decimated by increased acidification, temperature and sea level rise. More generally, humanity and nature, the modern world as we know it, is adapted to the Holocene climate that has existed more than 10,000 years.

    They point that even a modest temperature rise will end the stable climate that enabled modern civilization is clear in this figure derived from another recent study:

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

    A key point of the new study — bluntly titled “Assessing ‘Dangerous Climate Change’: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature” — is that 2°C warming is unlikely to be stable because it “would spur ‘slow’ feedbacks and eventual warming of 3–4°C with disastrous consequences.” As Climate Progress has previously reported, the thawing permafrost alone is projected to add as much as 1.5°F (!) to total global warming by 2100 and ocean acidification could add another 0.9°F. ….

     

     

    Restore America’s Estuaries Submits First Greenhouse Gas Methodology for Tidal Wetland and Seagrass Restoration to Verified Carbon Standard

    Wetland and Seagrass Restoration One Step Closer to Receiving Offsets December 5, 2013

    Today, Restore America’s Estuaries submitted “Greenhouse Gas Accounting Methods for Tidal Wetland and Seagrass Restoration” to the Verified Carbon Standard to begin the approval process. This ground-breaking methodology opens the door for all tidal wetland and seagrass restoration projects that meet the eligibility conditions to calculate net greenhouse gas benefits and receive carbon credits.  ”This global methodology sets the stage to connect coastal restoration and carbon finance. We expect it will stimulate coastal wetlands carbon projects around the world, from mangroves and seagrass of the Coral Triangle to rebuilding tidal marshes here in the U.S.,” said Jeff Benoit, President of Restore America’s Estuaries. Coastal blue carbon refers to the role of coastal wetlands (tidal marshes, seagrass meadows and mangroves) in contributing to the global carbon cycle. Coastal wetlands sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the form of biomass and soil carbon. Though only representing 2% of the world’s surface area they sequester 50% of the carbon that is transferred to marine soils and sediments. Coastal wetlands are under threat and represent one of the highest rates of loss for any ecosystem globally. At current rates, within 100 years most of the world’s coastal wetlands will be lost. In the United States losses are increasing as well. Restoration of coastal ecosystems brings benefits that support the livelihood of local communities, improve fisheries, reduce risk of flooding, provide future climate change adaptation benefits, and reverse ongoing greenhouse gas emissions from converted wetlands. Methodology development was lead by Restore America’s Estuaries with financial support from the National Estuarine Research Reserve System Science Collaborative, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Habitat Conservation, The Ocean Foundation, The Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, and KBR. ….

     

     

    ”"/More extreme weather events likely: Climate projections of unparalleled accuracy for the whole of Europe
    (December 4, 2013) — Scientists have analyzed climate projections for the whole of Europe at an unprecedented resolution of 12 km, by downscaling the global simulations carried out for the 5th IPCC report. These simulations for the 21st century now provide a much more detailed representation of local phenomena and extreme events. Initial analyses confirm that there will be a significant increase in the frequency of extreme events, such as heavy rainfall, heatwaves and droughts. … > full story

     

    New Jersey Shore likely faces unprecedented flooding by mid-century
    (December 5, 2013) — Geoscientists estimate that the New Jersey shore will likely experience a sea-level rise of about 1.5 feet by 2050 and of about 3.5 feet by 2100 — 11 to 15 inches higher than the average for sea-level rise globally over the century. … > full story

    ”"/Humans threaten wetlands’ ability to keep pace with sea-level rise
    (December 4, 2013) — Left to themselves, coastal wetlands can withstand rapid levels of sea-level rise. But humans could be sabotaging some of their best
    defenses, according to a new review. …
    The threat of disappearing coastlines has alerted many to the dangers of climate change. Wetlands in particular — with their ability to buffer coastal cities from floods and storms, and filter out pollution — offer protections that could be lost in the future. But, say co-authors Matt Kirwan and Patrick Megonigal, higher waters aren’t the key factor in wetland demise. Thanks to an intricate system of feedbacks, wetlands are remarkably good at building up their soils to outpace sea level rise. The real issue, they say, is that human structures such as dams and seawalls are disrupting the natural mechanisms that have allowed coastal marshes to survive rising seas since at least the end of the last Ice Age. “Tidal marsh plants are amazing ecosystem engineers that can raise themselves upward if they remain healthy, and especially if there is sediment in the water,” says co-author Patrick Megonigal of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. “We know there are limits to this, and worry those limits are changing as people change the environment.” “In a more natural world, we wouldn’t be worried about marshes surviving the rates of sea level rise we’re seeing today,” says Kirwan, the study’s lead author and a geologist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. “They would either build vertically at faster rates or else move inland to slightly higher elevations. But now we have to decide whether we’ll let them.”….full story

     

    Sea-level rise to drive coastal flooding, regardless of change in cyclone activity
    (December 4, 2013) — Though recent studies focus on climate change impacts on intensity and frequency of tropical cyclones, a new review shows that sea level rise and shoreline retreat are the two more certain factors expected to drive an increase in future flood risk. …
    Sea level rise and its potential to dramatically change the coa
    stal landscape through shoreline erosion and barrier island degradation, for example, is an under-appreciated and understudied factor that could lead to catastrophic changes in flood risk associated with tropical cyclones, known as hurricanes in the North Atlantic, they say. Woodruff adds, “There is general agreement that while globally, tropical cyclones will decline in frequency, their strength will be more intense. However, there is less consensus on the magnitude of these changes, and it remains unclear how closely individual regions of tropical cyclone activity will follow global trends.” Despite these uncertainties, the UMass Amherst geoscientist notes, the intensity and frequency of flooding by tropical cyclones will increase significantly due to accelerated sea level rise. Further, the geologic record provides clear examples for the importance of accelerated sea level rise in initiating significant changes in shoreline behavior.

    full story

     

    Jonathan D. Woodruff, Jennifer L. Irish, Suzana J. Camargo. Coastal flooding by tropical cyclones and sea-level rise. Nature, 2013; 504 (7478): 44 DOI: 10.1038/nature12855

     

    While the Arctic Ocean is largely a carbon sink, parts are also a source of atmospheric carbon dioxide
    (December 4, 2013) — While the Arctic Ocean is largely a carbon sink, researchers find parts are also a source of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The Arctic Ocean as a whole seems to be storing more carbon than in previous years but the increase in the carbon sink may not be as large as scientists had previously thought. … > full story

    ”"/Rainfall to blame for decline in Arctic peregrines
    (
    December 3, 2013) — Rain, crucial to sustaining life on Earth, is proving deadly for young peregrine falcons in Canada’s Arctic, a new study shows. … > full story

     

    Antarctic fjords are climate-sensitive hotspots of diversity in a rapidly warming region
    (December 3, 2013) — In the first significant study of seafloor communities in the glacier-dominated fjords along the west Antarctic Peninsula, scientists expected to find an impoverished seafloor highly disturbed by glacial sedimentation, similar to what has been documented in well-studied Arctic regions. Instead, they found high levels of diversity and abundance in megafauna. The difference can be explained by the fact that the subpolar Antarctic is in an earlier stage of climate warming than the Arctic. … > full story

     

     

    Geoengineering approaches to reduce climate change unlikely to succeed
    (December 5, 2013) — Reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the planet’s surface by geoengineering may not undo climate change after all. Researchers used a simple energy balance analysis to explain how the Earth’s water cycle responds differently to heating by sunlight than it does to warming due to a stronger atmospheric greenhouse effect. Further, they show that this difference implies that reflecting sunlight to reduce temperatures may have unwanted effects on the Earth’s rainfall patterns. …

    Global warming alters Earth’s water cycle since more water evaporates to the air as temperatures increase. Increased evaporation can dry out some regions while, at the same time, result in more rain falling in other areas due to the excess moisture in the atmosphere. The more water evaporates per degree of warming, the stronger the influence of increasing temperature on the water cycle. But the new study shows the water cycle does not react the same way to different types of warming…..
    In the new Earth System Dynamics study the authors also show how these findings can have profound consequences for geoengineering. Many geoengineering approaches aim to reduce global warming by reducing the amount of sunlight reaching Earth’s surface (or, in the pot analogy, reduce the heat from the stove). But when Kleidon and Renner applied their results to such a geoengineering scenario, they found out that simultaneous changes in the water cycle and the atmosphere cannot be compensated for at the same time. Therefore, reflecting sunlight by geoengineering is unlikely to restore the planet’s original climate. “It’s like putting a lid on the pot and turning down the heat at the same time,” explains Kleidon. “While in the kitchen you can reduce your energy bill by doing so, in the Earth system this slows down the water cycle with wide-ranging potential consequences,” he says. Kleidon and Renner’s insight comes from looking at the processes that heat and cool Earth’s surface and how they change when the surface warms. Evaporation from the surface plays a key role, but the researchers also took into account how the evaporated water is transported into the atmosphere. They combined simple energy balance considerations with a physical assumption for the way water vapour is transported, and separated the contributions of surface heating from solar radiation and from increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to obtain the two sensitivities. One of the referees for the paper commented: “it is a stunning result that such a simple analysis yields the same results as the climate models.”….full story

     


    Can Hacking The Stratosphere Solve Climate Change?



    NPR

     - ‎ December 6, 2013‎

           

    Environmental scientist David Keith proposes a cheap and shocking way to address climate change: What if we inject a huge cloud of sulfur into the atmosphere to deflect sunlight and heat?

     

     

    ”"/Rising ocean acidification leads to anxiety in fish
    (
    December 4, 2013) — A new research study combining marine physiology, neuroscience, pharmacology, and behavioral psychology has revealed a surprising outcome from increases of carbon dioxide uptake in the oceans: anxious fish. Scientists have shown for the first time that rising acidity levels increase anxiety in juvenile rockfish, an important commercial species in California. … > full story

     


    The 2014 Shrimp Season In The Gulf Of Maine Has Been Canceled



    By Joanna M. Foster on December 4, 2013

    On Tuesday, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries closed the Northern shrimp fishery in the Gulf of Maine citing record low stocks. .. I think everyone was startled by what we saw in 2012, and there was a lot of pressure to close down the fishery for the 2013 season,” said John Annala, Chief Scientific Officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. “The survey this summer found just 20 percent of the 2012 record low, so it has fallen off incredibly sharply.” Perhaps most worrying is the fact that juvenile shrimp have not been picked up in a survey since 2010. Northern shrimp live about five years, so the lack of younger shrimp for three years straight may mean empty nets for years to come. “During the last ten years the water temperature in the Gulf of Maine has been running about 2.5 degrees Celsius or about 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the previous one hundred year average,” Annala said. “We don’t know what the thermal threshold of this species is, but the Gulf of Maine has always been the southernmost extreme of their range, so we probably don’t have much wiggle room.” Even if Northern shrimp prove themselves to be more heat tolerant than scientists predict, the warmer waters in the Gulf of Maine are proving deadly to the shrimp’s food supply, tiny zooplankton. Last spring, the usual surge in plankton never happened. Many species of plankton are also at the southernmost end of their thermal tolerance. Warmer waters are also making the Gulf more hospitable to shrimp predators like dogfish and red hake. “Decisions like this one show how fishermen are on the front lines of the battle against climate change,” said Michael Conathan, Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress in a phone interview. “This is not a nebulous, maybe-someday-in-the-future problem. This is unchecked carbon pollution affecting livelihoods here in Maine today.”….

     

     

    In New Jersey Pines, Trouble Arrives on Six Legs

    By JUSTIN GILLIS December 2, 2013

    Scientists say the state has not adequately responded to a beetle invasion said to be caused by global warming.

     

    ”"2013 Set To Be One Of The Hottest Years Ever

    By Kiley Kroh on November 13, 2013 A new report from the World Meteorological Organization also found that sea levels hit a record high in 2013, making coastal communities more vulnerable to devastating storms like Haiyan.

     

    Climate change may disrupt butterfly flight seasons
    (November 21, 2013) — The flight season timing of a wide variety of butterflies is responsive to temperature and could be altered by climate change, according to a new study that leverages more than a century’s worth of museum and weather records. … > full story

     

    Researchers say Arctic Ocean leaking methane at an alarming rate
    November 30 2013 Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

    Ounce for ounce, methane has an effect on global warming more than 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and it’s leaking from the Arctic Ocean at an alarming rate, according to new research by scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

     

    Europe Could Be 9 Degrees Warmer By The End Of The Century

    By Katie Valentine on December 3, 2013

    New research predicts the continent to warm faster than the rest of the world, while also suffering increased droughts and deluges…. The research, which was conducted by 27 institutions and published this week in two scientific journals, found that by the end of the century, Europe could see average temperatures rise by 1 to 5 degrees Celsius, or 1.8 to 9.0 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s warmer than the IPCC’s most recent prediction of 0.3 to 4.8 degrees Celsius of average global warming by century’s end. The research also predicts an increase in heatwaves in south and central Europe and intense rainfall and droughts in Europe overall. That prediction is in line with previous research on extreme weather and climate change and is also in line with some of the extreme weather Europe has dealt with over the last decade. This summer, in the midst of a heatwave that baked much of Europe, Austria set an all-time high temperature record after one town hit 104.9 degrees F. And in 2003, a major heatwave caused 70,000 deaths in Europe. Another recent report from the European Academies Science Advisory Council found that over the last 30 years, Europe has experienced a 60 percent increase in damage costs of extreme weather events. And in October, a report from the Norwegian Meteorological Institute noted that extreme weather is “increasing in frequency and intensity within Europe” and made predictions of increasing droughts, extreme rainfall events, and heatwaves that backed up the most recent research.


    Global Carbon Project Updates Data on the Carbon Budget



    On November 19, 2013, the Global Carbon Project (GCP) published its annual update on the global carbon budget and emissions trends. International goals aim to reduce global emissions in order to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, which requires limiting total global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to 1 trillion tons. GCP’s update, Carbon Budget 2013, tracks fossil fuel emissions to better understand the world’s current climate change situation, and what changes can be made to emissions trends to stay within our carbon budget The Carbon Budget 2013 reports that annual emissions have been steadily increasing, though the major contributors to such emissions have changed within the last several years. In 2005, developing countries surpassed developed countries as the greater contributors to climate change. This is due to emission levels falling in developed countries like the European Union and the United States, but skyrocketing in developing countries like China and India. Annual CO2 emissions from developing nations, which accounted for approximately one-third of global emissions in 1990, now account for nearly 60 percent of global emissions.

    Glaciers sizzle as they disappear into warmer water
    (November 27, 2013) — The sounds of bubbles escaping from melting ice make underwater glacial fjords one of the loudest natural marine environments on earth, according to research. … > full story

    Elucidating heavy precipitation events
    (
    November 29, 2013) — It is difficult to forecast heavy precipitation events accurately and reliably. The quality of these forecasts is affected by two processes whose relative importance has now been quantified. The French researchers have shown that these processes should be taken into account in low wind speed events. Their findings should help forecast these events, which repeatedly cause significant damage. … > full story

    Lakes discovered beneath Greenland ice sheet
    (November 27, 2013) — Scientists have discovered two subglacial lakes 800 meters below the Greenland Ice Sheet. Subglacial lakes are likely to influence the flow of the ice sheet, impacting global sea level change. The discovery of the lakes in Greenland will also help researchers to understand how the ice will respond to changing environmental conditions. … > full story

    Subarctic lakes are drying up at a rate not seen in 200 years
    (November 27, 2013) — The decrease in snowfall observed in recent years in Canada’s subarctic regions has led to worrisome desiccation of the regions’ lakes. … > full story

    Drought likely to persist or develop in the Southwest, Southeastern U.S. this winter

    No strong climate pattern influence anticipated through upcoming winter season

    November 21, 2013

    ”"Download here. (Credit: NOAA)

    Winter is likely to offer little relief to the drought-stricken U.S. Southwest, and drought is likely to develop across parts of the Southeast as below-average precipitation is favored in these areas of the country, according to NOAA’s annual Winter Outlook announced today. Drought has been an ongoing concern across parts of the Southwest and Texas for nearly three years, and after some relief during the past few months, drought is likely to redevelop during winter. Sea surface temperatures across the equatorial Pacific have been near average since spring 2012, and forecasters expect that to continue through the winter. This means that neither El Niño nor La Niña is expected to influence the climate during the upcoming winter.

     

     

    ”"

     

    How Climate-smart Agriculture Is Improving the Lives of Millions Around the World

    Bruce Campbell Ph.D. Director, CGIAR Research Progam on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)

    Posted: 11/11/2013 5:00 pm

    The world’s climate is changing fast, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future, no matter what measures we now take to reduce humankind’s impact on it. And as temperatures rise, rainfall patterns and amounts change, and pests and diseases find new ranges, the face of world agriculture will have to change too. Humankind is facing enormous challenges in feeding everyone on the planet. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that 842 million people went hungry in 2011-13; that’s one in eight people worldwide. And the human population is still growing. By 2050 there will be another 2.4 billion mouths to feed. We will have to increase the amount of food we produce by 70 percent to meet the extra demands placed by population growth and changes in diets.

    Somewhat surprisingly, agriculture has, until recently, been on the sidelines of discussions of human-induced climate change. Once largely seen as a ‘victim’ of climate change, there is now, however, a growing recognition of both the contribution agriculture has made, and continues to make, to climate change and the role it can play in mitigating the impact of human activities on climate change……he Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines climate-smart agriculture as consisting of three main pillars:

    • sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes (food security);
    • adapting and building resilience to climate change (adaptation); and
    • reducing and/or removing greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation), where possible.

    But what exactly is “climate-smart agriculture”? Broadly speaking, it consists of proven practical techniques, such as mulching, intercropping, conservation agriculture, crop rotation, integrated crop-livestock management, agro-forestry, improved grazing, and improved water management, together with innovative practices, such as better weather forecasting, drought- and flood-tolerant crops, and crop and livestock insurance. A quick search online shows that many agencies and projects have are testing or promoting climate-smart agriculture, but few have shown widespread uptake. But a new booklet,
    Climate-smart agriculture — Success stories from farming communities around the world, shows that climate-smart agriculture can and does make a difference to millions of people’s lives. The booklet showcases 16 examples of successful climate-smart agriculture from both developed and developing countries. These initiatives are having a widespread impact on food security, adaptation to climate change and climate change mitigation, and are being implemented over vast areas and improving the lives of millions of people.

     

    Himalayan flowers shed light on climate change
    (
    December 3, 2013) — Flower color in some parts of the world, including the Himalayas, has evolved to attract bees as pollinators, research has shown for the first time. … > full story

     

    Ocean’s carbon dioxide uptake can impair digestion in marine animal
    (November 15, 2013) — Ocean acidification impairs digestion in marine organisms, according to a new study. Researchers have studied the larval stage of green sea urchins Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis. The results show that the animals have problems digesting food in acidified water. … > full story

    Deadly storms spawned more than 80 tornadoes in Midwest

    Chicago Tribune

     - ‎November 18 2013‎

           

    The scale of Sunday’s deadly storms became clearer this morning: Six people dead in Illinois, hundreds of homes flattened and splintered, 81 tornadoes sighted through the Midwest, 358 reports of damaging winds, 40 reports of large hail.

     

    ”"/Destroying greenhouse gases in environmentally-friendly way
    (November 27, 2013) — Researchers have developed a new catalyst for the “activation” of carbon-fluorine bonds. This process has many industrial applications, among which stands out the possibility to be used to reduce existing stocks of CFCs (chloro-fluoro-carbonated compounds), known as “greenhouse gases”. CFCs experienced a huge boom in the 80s, but later they were found to destroy the ozone layer because of their photochemical decomposition when they reached the upper layers of the atmosphere. … > full story

     

    Amazon drones: The latest weapon in combatting climate change
    (November 21, 2013) — A flying, insect-like robot will give an unprecedented look at Peru’s tropical cloud forest, one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems and a key indicator of global climate change. … > full story

     

    Wildlife could be biggest losers as South Carolina islands wash away. Dec 1 2013 Hilton Head Island Packet
    Chunks of seashore are vanishing from South Carolina’s Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge as rising ocean levels and storms chew up the remote, unspoiled beaches some animals depend on for survival.

     

    Growing Clamor About Inequities of Climate Crisis

    By STEVEN LEE MYERS and NICHOLAS KULISH

    The debate over how to address the disproportionate effects of climate change on poorer countries has gained momentum, but the steps can be politically daunting.

     

    High-detail maps to help county reduce carbon footprint
    Nov 18 2013 Santa Rosa Press Democrat

     

     

    Typhoon reminds us climate change is about people

    Pati Poblete Updated 6:24 pm, Friday, November 15, 2013 San Francisco Chronicle 

    I have been to countless summits and conferences on climate change, sustainable development and environmental policy in Asia in the past several years. Presenters, including me, often share findings from scientific research, show intricate charts and offer better ways forward while pointing to the risks of doing nothing – rising sea levels, deforestation, land degradation. What is often missing – and what has become so painfully clear in these past few days since Typhoon Haiyan tore through the central Philippines – is that what we’re really talking about is people. Climate change is about people. It’s about livelihoods that are affected and sometimes destroyed when severe weather ravages the land they depend on for income. It’s about displacement when they are then forced to leave home in search of a better life in communities that do not have the capacity to absorb them. And it’s about survival in areas that do not have the infrastructure in place to withstand extreme weather…..

     

    If you start geoengineering to halt global warming, don’t stop Inside Science News Service

    Some scientists believe they could relieve Earth’s rising temperatures by injecting material into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight. However, new research suggests one crucial weakness of the strategy: Once you start, you had better not stop. Things would quickly get worse.

     

     

     

     

    Continuing with pledge pathways to 2030 could push climate goals out of reach
    (
    December 3, 2013) — Current pledges for greenhouse gas emission reductions are inadequate and will further increase the challenge to reach internationally agreed climate targets, according to new research. …
    In the absence of a global agreement on emission limits, countries instead have made voluntary pledges to reduce their emissions by 2020 with the current negotiations trying to establish international agreements for emissions reductions for the year 2030. The mitigation effort of the 2020 pledges made by countries under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change would result in significantly higher emissions in 2030 than what would be cost-effective in order to reach the long-term climate targets acknowledged by that treaty, according to a new study by research teams from Europe, Asia and the United States published in the journal Technological Forecasting and Social Change. “The gap between where emissions are and where emissions would need to be in order to keep climate targets within reach is getting bigger and bigger,” says IIASA Energy Program Leader Keywan Riahi, lead author of the paper published today. “Our study brings together the leading research teams in the field to systematically assess the implications of this gap.”….full story

     

    Riahi, K., E. Kriegler, N. Johnson, C. Bertram, M. Den Elzen, J. Eom, M. Schaeffer, J. Edmonds, M. Isaac, V. Krey, T. Longden, G. Luderer, A. Mejean, D. McCollum, S. Mima, H. Turton, D. P. van Vuuren, D. Wada, V. Bosetti, P. Capros, P. Criqui, M. Hamdi-Cherif, M. Kainuma, O. Edenhofer. Locked into Copenhagen pledges – Implications of short-term emission targets for the cost and feasibility of long-term climate goals. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 2013 DOI: 10.1016.j.techfore.2013.09.016

     

    COP 19 Warsaw Wrap-Up: Where Does a Global Climate Deal Stand?

    Huffington Post

     - ‎Dec 1, 2013‎

           

    COP16 established the Cancun Adaptation Framework (CAN), which sought to enhance action on adaptation under the Convention.

     

    Mayors ask Washington to lead — or get out of the way — on resiliency

    Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter Published: Wednesday, December 4, 2013

    Three Democratic mayors say the federal government can help their cities prepare for climate change by offering information and support — and trying to reverse policies that have inhibited disaster planning. Visiting Washington, D.C., a week before the first meeting of the White House’s new adaptation task force, the mayors of Salt Lake City, Boulder, Colo., and Pinecrest, Fla., praised the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan. But while new efforts on adaptation and mitigation are important, Boulder Mayor Matthew Appelbaum said, “the first thing the feds should do is stop making things worse.” The mayors spoke at a forum hosted by the World Resources Institute and the Union of Concerned Scientists. …..

     

    Climate change: No longer electoral Kryptonite!

    By Tom Steyer December 2, 2013 GRIST

    How did things go so wrong for a conservative Republican in the coal-rich state of Virginia? Earlier this month, voters in that closely watched battleground state rejected Ken Cuccinelli’s extreme, right-wing bid for governor and dealt a serious blow to the deep-pocketed oil companies that backed his candidacy. Of course, now is when the number-crunchers confer behind closed doors, in hushed tones, about what it all really means — for the midterms in 2014 and the primaries in 2016, for soccer moms and NASCAR dads, for women’s bodies and marriage equality, and for climate change. I am here to tell you: A new political dynamic is emerging. Climate change is a winner, not a loser….

     

    414 Cities report over 4,000 climate actions

    Looking for inspiration when tackling Climate Change? In its November 2013 report, the carbonn Cities Climate Registry (cCCR) announced that 414 cities reported over 4,000 climate actions which are either completed or in progress until 2020. 63% of the reduction commitments are above 1% per year, exceeding the value of even the most ambitious national governments under the Kyoto Protocol.

     

    City Dwellers Are Giving Up Cars In Favor Of Subways And Bikes

    By Aviva Shen on December 4, 2013

    A new report finds that American cities are starting to favor more energy efficient modes of transportation.

     

    ”"/INTERACTIVE: Fossil-Fuel Emissions by Country

    NY TIMES November 16, 2013 The debate over how to address the effects of climate change emerged as a flashpoint at a United Nations meeting in Warsaw that began this week, with some countries claiming the need for reparations for most vulnerable nations. But determining each country’s degree of guilt is a complicated task.

     

    How Bloomberg’s New Financial Tool Helps Investors Game Out The Risks Of The Carbon Bubble

    By Jeff Spross on December 3, 2013

    The Carbon Risk Evaluation Tool allows investors, for the first time, to game out the risks of investing in fossil fuel companies.

     

    No climate-change deniers to be found in the reinsurance business Globe and Mail

    In the offices of Munich Re, the German giant of reinsurance – the business of insuring the policies of insurers, there wasn’t much debate as the claims cheques flew out the door: The higher frequency of extreme weather events is influenced by climate change.

     

    Banking on Coal

    Published by urgewald, BankTrack, CEE Bankwatch Network and Polska Zielona Sieć

    In cooperation with: Rainforest Action Network, World Development Movement, PowerShif

    From the report: The Top Twenty Coal Mining Banks The following chart shows the top 20 commercial banks that have bankrolled the coal mining boom since 2005 (through mid-2013). At the top of the list are four U.S. banks, followed by banks from Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, China and Japan. Collectively, these 20 banks represent 71% of the coal financing identified in this study. A full ranking of all banks can be found in the appendix.

    • Citi
    • Morgan Stanley
    • Bank of America
    • JPMorgan Chase
    • Deutsche Bank
    • Credit Suisse
    • Industrial and Commercial
    • Bank of China
    • Royal Bank of Scotland
    • Bank of China
    • BNP Paribas UBS
    • Barclays
    • China Construction Bank
    • Agricultural Bank of China
    • HSBC
    • China Development Bank
    • Mitsubishi UFJ Financial
    • Group Standard
    • Chartered Crédit Agricole
    • Goldman Sachs

     

     

    Water shortages may make fracking impractical, industry says

    The Guardian

     - ‎Nov 27 2013‎

           

    They added: “However, where water is in short supply there may not be enough available from public water supplies or the environment to meet the requirements for hydraulic fracturing.” Water can be brought in from other areas, but this is costly …

     

    Success of climate talks vital for 2°C target
    (November 15, 2013) — Achieving a global climate agreement soon could be crucial for the objective to keep global mean temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius. The challenges of meeting the long-term target will otherwise increase drastically both in terms of the required emissions reductions and economic impacts. … > full story

     

    Climate change pledges: rich nations face fury over moves to renege

    The Guardian

     - ‎November 18 2013‎

           

    Yeb Sano, the Philippines’ lead negotiator at the UN climate change summit being held this weekend in Warsaw, spoke of a major breakdown in relations overshadowing the crucial talks, which are due to pave the way for a 2015 deal to bring down global 

     

    California governor followed to events, heckled by environmentalists over fracking Dec 1 2013 Sacramento Bee

    Environmentalists frustrated with Gov. Jerry Brown’s permissiveness of hydraulic fracturing have followed him to events throughout California, heckling him for his approval of legislation establishing a permitting system for the controversial form of oil extraction…..

     

    Student fossil-fuel divestment movement persists.
    Associated Press

    The student campaign to press colleges and universities to divest from fossil fuels is entering a new phase, now that administrators at several top schools have said no.

     

     

    Why Bay Area should care about California delta

    Lois Kazakoff SF Chron Editorial Published 5:52 pm, Sunday, November 17, 2013

    The California delta’s water woes might seem distant, but if you live in Alameda, Contra Costa or Santa Clara counties, you may drink delta water. If you savor locally caught salmon, the delta’s health is crucial to maintaining the supply. If you love the dominant feature of our home, the San Francisco Bay, you should care about maintaining freshwater flows from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

    Next month, the state will release the final (and 25,000-page) draft of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, which includes a proposal to build a $14 billion “facility” and 30-foot-diameter twin tunnels to move water from the north delta to the state water pumps in the south delta. The public will then have 120 days to comment. The final document is anticipated next fall and a decision by the State Water Resources Control Board sometime thereafter…..

     

    Brown releases proposed rules for fracking. California Gov. Jerry Brown has released much-anticipated proposed rules for fracking, a controversial technique for drilling for oil and natural gas reviled by environmentalists. The draft regulations on fracking would require state permits, testing of groundwater and notification of neighbors, and are called the toughest in the U.S. Los Angeles Times

     

     

    TERM 91—Water Diversions to Rice Fields Stopped Due to Drought

    The Bureau of Reclamation evoked Term 91 in parts of the Sacramento Valley and the Delta.  That means no more water diversions for rice fields beginning this week through at least mid-November.  The notice is in effect until 16 November, but land managers expect it to be extended until northern CA receives significant rainfall.  During my aerial survey this week, I estimated around 40-50% of the rice fields in the Colusa and Sutter Basins were currently flooded. 

     

     

    A Balanced Oil And Gas Decision In Utah: Agency Pulls 100,000 Acres From Planned Drilling Auction

    By Tom Kenworthy on November 15, 2013

    The Bureau of Land Management’s Utah state office on Friday decided to defer 99,960 acres of proposed oil and gas leases in and around the San Rafael Swell, which has been considered for everything from National Monument to National Park status.

     

    Politico: Rahm Emanuel Wanted ‘To Kill’ Steven Chu For Talking About Climate Change

    By Joe Romm on November 15, 2013

    Is it harder to be the chief of state for an island nation threatened by climate change — or to be a cabinet secretary threatened by the White House Chief of Staff for talking about climate change?

     

    Goldman Sachs Advertises On #Sustainability While Pouring Millions Into Coal

    By Emily Atkin on December 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    The bank says it is helping advance clean energy by acting as the financial adviser to the shareholders of wind energy company Bons Vento during the company’s $541 million sale to Brazilian electricity generation and distribution utility company CPFL Energias Renováveis. It is important to note that Goldman did not invest in the wind company, nor did it pay the $541 million to sell it. Rather, its financial adviser services will enable the wind energy company “to benefit from CPFL Energias Renováveis’ strong management team, operational expertise and greater financial capacity to help further scale clean energy.”

    Contrast that to the Rainforest Action Network’s most recent Coal Finance Report Cards, which cite Goldman as large supporters of both mountain-top removal (MTR) coal mining and coal-fired power plants. The process of MTR uses explosives to blow up mountains in order to access coal reserves, forcing rocks and soil into valleys and increasing concentrations of mercury and arsenic in water supplies. Until this year, Goldman did not have any policy statements addressing the issue of MTR mining and its associated risks, while doing business in 2011 with Arch Coal and Alpha Natural Resources — the two largest MTR companies. Now, Goldman does have a due diligence policy for MTR transactions, which states that “we review companies’ environmental, health and safety track record, regulatory compliance, litigation and local community issues, remediation methods, and impact on water quality.” In 2012, Goldman financed both Alpha and Walter Energy, which cumulatively produced 29.42 percent of MTR coal mined in Appalachia that year, the RAN’s report said. In terms of coal-fired power involvement, Goldman provided $252 million in financing “as a lead arranger or lead manager in transactions” with coal-fired power companies profiled in the RAN’s 2013 report. Coal-fired power companies financed by Goldman include American Electric Power, Berkshire Hathaway, Duke Energy, Energy Future Holdings, FirstEnergy, NRG Energy, and the Southern Company.

    Goldman has recently indicated that the “window for profitable investment in coal mining is closing,” saying in a recent research paper that that competition from gas and renewable energy is slowing down the market; environmental regulations are discouraging coal-fired generation; and that improvements in energy efficiency are making investments there more viable. But Goldman’s pessimistic view of coal, according to its paper, is not based around a belief that action to address climate change will stop the coal market. In fact, the paper said, “climate change has been displaced by other issues as a top concern.” However, the bank said “a catastrophic weather event such as an ice-free summer at the North Pole, a particularly destructive hurricane season in North America or a weather disruption that materially impacts agricultural output. Under such a scenario, governments may be forced to respond with drastically tighter environmental regulations that would further erode the long term demand for coal.”…

     

    A New Alliance on Climate Change

    By THE EDITORIAL BOARD NEW YORK TIME EDITORIAL Published: November 13, 2013

    In an effort to compensate for the failure of central governments to address the dangers of climate change with comprehensive national policies, cities, states and regions have developed their own strategies to rein in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. California’s ambitious plan aims to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050 by requiring cleaner cars, more energy-efficient buildings and renewable fuels. Nine northeastern states have joined in a regional trading program aimed at reducing power-plant emissions.

     

    Contributing Op-Ed Writer

    Australia’s Politics of Global Warming

    By JULIA BAIRD Published: November 14, 2013

    SYDNEY — Huge clumps of strange, pink-stringed jellyfish drifted into the protected bay near my home in Sydney last year. Thousands swarmed under the surface, stinging indiscriminately. I swam through them in a full-body wet suit for several long months with my swimming group, wondering if warmer currents had changed the habitat patterns. Scientists are now talking about a peculiar “jellification” of the sea, prompted by climate change. We smeared ointments on our faces and packed antihistamines and creams for the red welts on our exposed skin.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Obama Executive Order: Federal Government Must Triple Renewable Energy In 7 Years

    By Emily Atkin”" on December 5, 2013 at 11:28 am

    When President Obama made his second State of the Union address, he talked extensively about the importance of addressing global climate change. “For the sake of our children and our future, we must do more,” he said. “But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.” Obama now seems to be making good on those statements. On Thursday, the administration released an executive order directing the federal government to triple its use of renewable energy by 2020, which would bring the government’s renewable energy usage to 20 percent. The order will apply to all federal agencies, including the military. The Associated Press, which obtained a copy of the executive order before it was published, noted that the federal government itself occupies approximately 500,000 buildings and operates 600,000 vehicles, and purchases more than $500 billion per year in goods and services. The order does not disclose the cost of the transition, but says the goal will be reached “to the extent economically feasible and technically practicable.” ….

     

    What happens when the energy price falls to zero?
    Renew Economy
    Numerous studies tell us that 100% renewables is possible, and cost effective. But how to structure an energy market where there is no fuel cost? Germany is already grappling with this dilemma, and the world is watching with interest.

     

     

    Guatemala’s ambitious project to capture 1.8 million tons of carbon. An ambitious agroforestry project to be developed over the next 20 years in a Guatemalan reserve for protecting water springs, seeks to capture 1.8 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) to help correct climate change on the planet. Latin American Herald Tribune

    Biotemplated design of piezoelectric energy harvesting device developed
    (December 3, 2013) — Scientists have developed a biotemplated design for a flexible piezoelectric energy harvesting device, called a “nanogenerator.” … > full story

    Specially designed nanostructured materials can increase the light-absorbing efficiency of solar cells
    (November 20, 2013) — The Sun is our most promising source of clean and renewable energy. The energy that reaches Earth from the Sun in an hour is almost equivalent to that consumed by humans over a year. Solar cells can tap this massive source of energy by converting light into an electrical current. However, these devices still require significant improvements in efficiency before they can compete with more traditional energy sources. New research has increased the light-absorbing efficiency of solar cells. … > full story

    Breakthrough for biofuel production from tiny marine algae
    (November 20, 2013) — Researchers have developed a method for greatly enhancing biofuel production in tiny marine algae. … > full story

     

    Urban Schools Aim for Environmental Revolution

    ”"/Joshua Bright for The New York Times

    Kindergartners in Manhattan being served lunch on plates made from sugar cane, which are expected to replace plastic foam trays next year in six districts.

    By MICHAEL WINES NY Times Published: December 1, 2013 46 Comments

    Nothing seemed special about the plates from which students at a handful of Miami schools devoured their meals for a few weeks last spring — round, rigid and colorless, with four compartments for food and a fifth in the center for a carton of milk. Six big-city school districts are working to persuade suppliers to sell healthier and more environment-friendly products, like compostable food trays.

    The new plates can be thrown away with any uneaten food and turned into compost. Looks, however, can be deceiving: They were the vanguard of what could become an environmental revolution in schools across the United States. With any uneaten food, the plates, made from sugar cane, can be thrown away and turned into a product prized by gardeners and farmers everywhere: compost. If all goes as planned, compostable plates will replace plastic foam lunch trays by September not just for the 345,000 students in the Miami-Dade County school system, but also for more than 2.6 million others nationwide. …

     

    Shale revolution spreads with record wells outside US: Energy consultants. The hydraulic fracturing of shale in search of oil and gas has hardly started outside the U.S., but that’s changing. A record 400 shale wells may be drilled beyond U.S. borders in 2014, with most in China and Russia, according to energy consultants Wood Mackenzie Ltd. Bloomberg News

     

     

     

    1. RESOURCES and REFERENCES

     
     

     

    CALCC Climate Commons new highlights:

     

     


    • King Tide Dates for 2013/2014



      December 30th-31st
      January 1st-2nd  
      January 29th-31st

      For specifics on when the King Tides will occur in your area and how high they will be, check out the tide height and times information here.

     

     

    UPCOMING CONFERENCES:

     

    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

     

     

    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

     

        
     

    Nelson Mandela’s Legacy for Climate Hawks: ‘It Always Seems Impossible Until It’s Done’

    By Joe Romm on December 6, 2013

    Nelson Mandela, who died yesterday at age 95, leaves two legacies for climate hawks — the necessity of persistence and the value of divestment. Who among us can even imagine the persistence required of a man who spent more than 27 years in jail — from 1962 to 1990 — in his quest to end Apartheid? But his indefatigable spirit triumphed, and he was elected the first black president of South Africa a little more than 4 years after his release. His forbearance and moral sensibility prevented what many saw as an inevitable civil war and achieved, instead, national reconciliation.

    Desmond Tutu wrote in a 2010 WWF editorial: “Last month we saw celebrations marking 20 years since the release of Nelson Mandela. That historic day signaled a turning point in the path this country was to take; we embarked on a new journey filled with hope for the future. Indeed, there were many who had to pinch themselves when it happened, so bleak were the preceding months and years during which many South Africans saw their country in crisis. The global movement urging action on climate change should take heart from that great event…. It took individual and collective activism and a sense of urgency and responsibility to change our nation. Twenty years later that’s what it will take to change the world.”

    Climate hawks have already begun to take a page out of the strategy that helped bring down apartheid. Bill McKibben discussed that very point in a 2012 National Journal profile: McKibben now plans to pressure U.S. institutions, starting with universities, to end their financial investments in oil, gas, and coal companies. He’ll launch a 20-college tour, joined by Nobel laureate and South African human-rights activist Archbishop Desmond Tutu, to pressure university boards, via student protests, to end university endowment’s holdings in fossil fuels.

    ”Two hundred colleges divested their holdings in companies that did business with South Africa. And when Nelson Mandela got out of prison, the first place he came was not the White House—it was California to thank University of California students who had helped get their system to divest $3 billion in holdings in South Africa,” McKibben said. “As Desmond Tutu says, this is the next great moral issue that we face, and the same kind of tactic is what’s necessary to face it.”

    Economy-wide divestment from fossil fuels is inevitable (see “Invest, Divest: Renewable Investment To Hit $630 Billion A Year In 2030, Fossil Fuel Stocks At Risk Today”). But, as I’ve written, we are poised to miss the window to avert catastrophic climate change by just a decade or two — resulting in possibly hundreds of years of misery for billions and billions of people. That’s why climate hawks must redouble our efforts against our redoutable opponents. Indeed, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote in 2010 that this was the heartening lesson Mandela’s persistence held for those tackling “the great causes of today” such as climate change: “And so the lesson of the South African struggle is surely that change never comes without a fight, but when we fight, progressives can change the course of history.”

    Mandela famously said, “it always seems impossible until it’s done.” But he had so many inspirational quotes. In his 1995 book, “Long Walk to Freedom,” he wrote, “There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”

    And, finally, he also wrote this: I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.

    Emily Atkin assisted with the research on this piece. Photo via iHeartClimateScientists.

     

     

     

    Nelson Mandela’s legacy to climate change activists

    Last updated on 6 December 2013, 10:05 am

    Former South African President’s philosophy and life offers important lessons for climate justice campaigners, writes
    Alex Lenferna

    ”"/

    (Pic: Flickr/Symphony Of Love)

    By Alex Lenferna

    ”Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great, you can be that generation” 

    As the life of one of the world’s great heroes draws to a close it provides an important opportunity to reflect back on Nelson Mandela’s long and courageous life in order to draw inspiration from one of the world’s moral stalwarts who weathered the storms of oppression, racism, injustice and inequality & not only managed to come out of the other side a smiling, compassionate & forgiving leader, but in doing so navigated a path through those storms which has helped to inspire generations of leaders to come.

    While climate change was not the issue that defined Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom, a reflection on Mandela’s philosophy and life reveals a profound overlap with the principles and commitments of the climate justice movement, and therein lies many important lessons not only for the climate community but for humanity as a whole to learn from.

    One prominent example is Mandela’s commitment to a cosmopolitan ethic of Ubuntu. Contrary to a strong individualism which permeates the Western world, the ethic of Ubuntu when combined with Mandela’s cosmopolitan valuing of all humanity, says that our own identity and well-being is tied into that of our community, the global community of humanity….. As we figure out how to respond to this crazy climate predicament we are in, reflecting on the life and struggles of Nelson Mandela can provide many important lessons as to how we make the seemingly impossible possible and become Mandela’s great generation, remembering , in the words of Mandela, that “it always seems impossible until it’s done”. – See more at: http://www.rtcc.org/2013/12/06/nelson-mandelas-legacy-to-climate-change-activists/#sthash.WY3cW3Jf.dpuf

     


    Oh, Amazon? Birds Are Going to Attack Those Delivery Drones.


    Slate Magazine (blog)

    December 5, 2013

           

    Smaller birds also bravely shoo away potential threats, including raptors. Kingbirds are most famous for this behavior and can sometimes be seen riding the backs of much larger birds, escorting them out of the area. It’s impressive behavior when seen

     

    ”"/Study: It’s not easy ‘being green’
    (December 2, 2013) — Think you don’t recycle enough? You’re not alone. However, people’s ability to overcome self-doubt plays a critical role in how successfully they act in support of environmental issues, according to a new study. … > full story

     

    Can certain herbs stave off Alzheimer’s disease?
    (November 15, 2013) — Researchers have found that antioxidant extracts from spearmint and rosemary fight mild cognitive impairment in an animal model. … > full story

    ”"/The heart’s own stem cells play their part in regeneration
    (November 28, 2013) — Up until a few years ago, the common school of thought held that the mammalian heart had very little regenerative capacity. However, scientists now know that heart muscle cells constantly regenerate, albeit at a very low rate. Sca1 stem cells replace steadily aging heart muscle cells, new research shows. … > full story

    Evidence of ancient human history encoded in music’s complex patterns
    (November 19, 2013) — Just as fragments of ancient pottery and bones offer valuable information about human history, music can also reveal clues about the past, according to new research. … > full story

     

    New research shows promise for possible HIV cure
    (December 3, 2013) — Researchers have used radioimmunotherapy to destroy remaining human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected cells in the blood samples of patients treated with antiretroviral therapy, offering the promise of a strategy for curing HIV infection. … > full story

     

     

    1. IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

    Watch our planet’s impending climate disaster unfold from space. This four-minute video lays out what will happen to the planet if we continue on our present course. Which is a bummer, but at least it looks beautiful. Fast Company

     

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    National Geographic http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2013/09/rising-seas/if-ice-melted-map


    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

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    Seeds of our culture war were there at the first Thanksgiving



    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/#ixzz2mN6EpWlC

     

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    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.