Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Ellie Cohen, President and CEO, Point Blue Conservation Science

Archive: Jan 2014

  1. Conservation Science News January 31, 2014

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    Focus of the WeekCalifornia Drought—climate change, past megadroughts, birds, what works and what we can do

    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- California Drought—climate change, past megadroughts, birds, what works and what we can do

     


     

    MUST READ:

     

    Leading Scientists Explain How Climate Change Is Worsening California’s Epic Drought

    By Joe Romm on January 31, 2014 at 9:15 am www.climateprogress.org

    Scientists have long predicted that climate change would bring on ever-worsening droughts, especially in semi-arid regions like the U.S. Southwest. As climatologist James Hansen, who co-authored one of the earliest studies on this subject back in 1990, told me this week, “Increasingly intense droughts in California, all of the Southwest, and even into the Midwest have everything to do with human-made climate change.” Why does it matter if climate change is playing a role in the Western drought? As one top researcher on the climate-drought link reconfirmed with me this week, “The U.S. may never again return to the relatively wet conditions experienced from 1977 to 1999.” If his and other projections are correct, then there may be no greater tasks facing humanity than 1) working to slash carbon pollution and avoid the worst climate impact scenarios and 2) figuring out how to feed nine billion people by mid-century in a Dust-Bowl-ifying world.

    Remarkably, climate scientists specifically predicted a decade ago that Arctic ice loss would bring on worse droughts in the West, especially California. As it turns out, Arctic ice loss has been much faster than the researchers — and indeed all climate modelers — expected. And, of course, California is now in the death-grip of a brutal, record-breaking drought, driven by the very change in the jet stream that scientists had anticipated. Is this just an amazing coincidence — or were the scientists right? And what would that mean for the future? Building on my post from last summer, I talked to the lead researcher and several other of the world’s leading climatologists and drought experts.

    First, a little background. Climate change makes Western droughts longer and stronger and more frequent in several ways, as I discussed in my 2011 literature review in the journal Nature:….

    precipitation patterns are expected to shift, expanding the dry subtropics. What precipitation there is will probably come in extreme deluges, resulting in runoff rather than drought alleviation. Warming causes greater evaporation and, once the ground is dry, the Sun’s energy goes into baking the soil, leading to a further increase in air temperature. That is why, for instance, so many temperature records were set for the United States in the 1930s Dust Bowl; and why, in 2011, drought-stricken Texas saw the hottest summer ever recorded for a US state. Finally, many regions are expected to see earlier snowmelt, so less water will be stored on mountain tops for the summer dry season.

     

    I labeled this synergy Dust-Bowlification. The West has gotten hotter thanks to global warming, and that alone is problematic for California. “The extra heat from the increase in heat trapping gases in the atmosphere over six months is equivalent to running a small microwave oven at full power for about half an hour over every square foot of the land under the drought,” climatologist Kevin Trenberth explained to me via email, during a drought. “No wonder wild fires have increased! So climate change undoubtedly affects the intensity and duration of drought, and it has consequences. California must be very vigilant with regard to wild fires as the spring arrives.”

     

    Climate change undoubtedly affects the intensity and duration of drought, and it has consequences. And then we have the observed earlier snow melt, which matters in the West because it robs the region of a reservoir needed for the summer dry season — see “US Geological Survey (2011): Global Warming Drives Rockies Snowpack Loss Unrivaled in 800 Years, Threatens Western Water Supply” and “USGS (2013): Warmer Springs Causing Loss Of Snow Cover Throughout The Rocky Mountains.” As climatologist and water expert Peter Gleick noted to me, quite separate from the impact of climate change on precipitation, “look at the temperature patterns here, which are leading to a greater ratio of rain-to-snow, faster melting of snow, and greater evaporation. Those changes alone make any drought more intense.”

     

    But what of the possibility that climate change is actually contributing to the reduction in rainfall? After all, as Daniel Swain has noted, “calendar year 2013 was the driest on record in California’s 119 year formal record, and likely the driest since at least the Gold Rush era.” Trenberth explained that, according to climate models, “some areas are more likely to get drier including the SW: In part this relates a bit to the “wet get wetter and dry get drier” syndrome, so the subtropics are more apt to become drier. It also relates to the expansion and poleward shift of the tropics.”

    Back in 2005, I first heard climatologist Jonathan Overpeck discuss evidence that temperature and annual precipitation had started to head in opposite directions in the U.S. Southwest, which raises the question of whether we are at the “dawn of the super-interglacial drought.” Overpeck, a leading drought expert at the University of Arizona, warned “climate change seldom occurs gradually.”

     

    What’s going on in the Southwest is what anthropogenic global warming looks like for the region. In a major 2008 USGS report, Abrupt Climate Change, the Bush Administration (!) warned:
    “In the Southwest, for example, the models project a permanent drying by the mid-21st century that reaches the level of aridity seen in historical droughts, and a quarter of the projections may reach this level of aridity much earlier.” In 2011 US Senate testimony, Overpeck stated:

    There is broad agreement in the climate science research community that the Southwest, including New Mexico, will very likely continue to warm. There is also a strong consensus that the same region will become drier and increasingly snow-free with time, particularly in the winter and spring. Climate science also suggests that the warmer atmosphere will lead to more frequent and more severe (drier) droughts in the future. All of the above changes have already started, in large part driven by human-caused climate change.

    Overpeck told me this week, “because I think the science only gets stronger with time, I’ll stick to my statements that you quote.” He added, “what’s going on in the Southwest is what anthropogenic global warming looks like for the region.”

     

    Beyond the expansion and drying of the subtropics predicted by climate models, some climatologists have found in their research evidence that the stunning decline in Arctic sea ice would also drive western drought — by shifting storm tracks.

    “Given the very large reductions in Arctic sea ice, and the heat escaping from the Arctic ocean into the overlying atmosphere, it would be surprising if the retreat in Arctic sea ice did *not* modify the large-scale circulation of the atmosphere in some way,” Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, told me this week. “We now have a healthy body of research, ranging from Lisa Sloan’s and Jacob Sewall’s work a decade ago, to Francis’s more recent work, suggesting that we may indeed be seeing already this now in the form of more persistent anomalies in temperature, rainfall, and drought in North America.”

     

     

    Back in 2004, Lisa Sloan, professor of Earth sciences at UC Santa Cruz, and her graduate student Jacob Sewall published an article in Geophysical Research Letters, “Disappearing Arctic sea ice reduces available water in the American west” (subs. req’d). As the news release at the time explained, they “used powerful computers running a global climate model developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to simulate the effects of reduced Arctic sea ice.” And “their most striking finding was a significant reduction in rain and snowfall in the American West.”

     

    “Where the sea ice is reduced, heat transfer from the ocean warms the atmosphere, resulting in a rising column of relatively warm air,” Sewall said. “The shift in storm tracks over North America was linked to the formation of these columns of warmer air over areas of reduced sea ice in the Greenland Sea and a few other locations.” Last year, I contacted Sloan to ask her if she thought there was a connection between the staggering loss of Arctic sea ice and the brutal drought gripping the West, as her research predicted. She wrote, “Yes, sadly, I think we were correct in our findings, and it will only be worse with Arctic sea ice diminishing quickly.” This week, Sewall wrote me that “both the pattern and even the magnitude of the anomaly looks very similar to what the models predicted in the 2005 study (see Fig. 3a).” Here is what Sewall’s model predicted in his 2005 paper, “Precipitation Shifts over Western North America as a Result of Declining Arctic Sea Ice Cover“:

     

    Figure 3a: Differences in DJF [winter] averaged atmospheric quantities due to an imposed reduction in Arctic sea ice cover. The 500-millibar geopotential height (meters) increases by up to 70 m off the west coast of North America. Increased geopotential height deflects storms away from the dry locus and north into the wet locus

     

    “Geopotential height” is basically the height above mean sea level for a given pressure level. The “500 mb level is often referred to as the steering level as most weather systems and precipitation follow the winds at this level…. This level averages around 18,000 feet above sea level and is roughly half-way up through the weather producing part of the atmosphere called the troposphere.”

    Now here is what the 500 mb geopotential height anomaly looked like over the last year, via NOAA:

     

    Look familiar? That is either an accurate prediction or one heck of a coincidence. The San Jose Mercury News described what was happening in layman’s terms:

    … meteorologists have fixed their attention on the scientific phenomenon they say is to blame for the emerging drought: a vast zone of high pressure in the atmosphere off the West Coast, nearly four miles high and 2,000 miles long, so stubborn that one researcher [Swain] has dubbed it the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge.” Like a brick wall, the mass of high pressure air has been blocking Pacific winter storms from coming ashore in California, deflecting them up into Alaska and British Columbia, even delivering rain and cold weather to the East Coast. This high pressure ridge is forcing the jet stream along a much more northerly track. Sewall told me that multiple factors are driving drought in California:

    There are, of course, caveats. This is one year, the model studies were looking at averages of multiple decades (20 or 50 years). There are other factors besides the Arctic ice that influence storm tracks; some preliminary work suggests that a strong El Nino overwhelms any influence of the ice. In El Nino “neutral” times (such as recently), the ice impact can have more of an effect.

    And for this year, it looks like ice may well be having more of an effect.
    The geopotential height anomaly looks very much like what the models predicted as sea ice declined. The storm track response also looks very similar with correspondingly similar impacts on precipitation (reduced rainfall in CA, increased precipitation in SE Alaska). While other factors play an influence, the similarity of these patterns certainly suggests that we shouldn’t discount warming climate and declining Arctic sea ice as culprits in the CA drought.

     

    NOAA and Prof. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers have more recently shown that the loss of Arctic ice is boosting the chances of extreme US weather.

    …this extremely distorted and persistent jet stream pattern is an excellent example of what we expect to occur more frequently as Arctic ice continues to melt.

    Francis told me this week that “the highly amplified pattern that the jet stream has been in since early December is certainly playing a role in the CA drought. The extremely strong ridge over Alaska has been very persistent and has caused record warmth and unprecedented winter rains in parts of AK while preventing Pacific storms from delivering rain to CA,” she explained. “But is this pattern a result of human-caused climate change, or more specifically, to rapid Arctic warming and the dramatic losses of sea ice? It’s very difficult to pin any specific weather event on climate change, but this extremely distorted and persistent jet stream pattern is an excellent example of what we expect to occur more frequently as Arctic ice continues to melt.”

    While there is no doubt that climate change is making droughts more intense, the specific connection the loss of Arctic ice is emerging science, and some, like Trenberth, are skeptical that the case has been made.

     

    Whether or not there is a proven link to the loss of Arctic ice, Senior Weather Channel meteorologist (and former skeptic) Stu Ostro has been documenting “large magnitude ridges in the mid-upper level geopotential height field” lasting as long as many months that “have been conspicuous in the meteorology of extreme weather phenomena.” Ostro gave a talk last year (with Franics), and as Climate Desk summarized, “Ostro’s observations suggest that global warming is increasing the atmosphere’s thickness, leading to stronger and more persistent ridges of high pressure, which in turn are a key to temperature, rainfall, and snowfall extremes and topsy-turvy weather patterns like we’ve had in recent years.”

     

    The climate is changing. “All of our weather is now, and increasingly in the future, influenced by climate change,” Gleick wrote me. “The question about attribution (i.e., is this drought caused by climate change) is, of course, the wrong question — easy for deniers to dismiss because it is not easy to show unambiguous links to some kinds of individual events.” What is especially worrisome is that climate change has only just started to have an impact on Western droughts. We’ve only warmed 1.5°F in the past century. Absent strong climate action, we are on track to warm 10°F over the next century!

     

    We continue to dawdle even though scientists have been warning us of what was coming for decades. Hansen himself co-authored a 1990 study, “Potential evapotranspiration and the likelihood of future drought,” which projected that severe to extreme drought in the United States, then occurring every 20 years or so, could become an every-other-year phenomenon by mid-century.

     

    So we should listen to Hansen’s current warnings. In 2012 he warned in the NY Times of a return to Dust Bowls, writing, “over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought … California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.” Hansen repeated those concerns in an email to me this week, noting that the current drought “will break, of course, likely with the upcoming El Nino, but as long as we keep increasing greenhouse gases, intense droughts will increase, especially in the Southwest. Rainfall, when and where it comes will tend to be in more intense events, with more extreme flooding. These are not speculations, the science is clear.”

     

    How long can these droughts last? They have lasted for decades in the distant past, and one 2010 study warned that we could see “an unprecedented combination” of multi-decade droughts “with even warmer temperatures.” Drought researcher Aiguo Dai was quoted in a 2012 NCAR news release for a 2012 study warning, “The U.S. may never again return to the relatively wet conditions experienced from 1977 to 1999.” This week I asked him, “Do you still stand by that statement?” He replied:

    Yes, I still stand by that statement. The model projections have not changed. To the extent we can trust the CMIP [Coupled Model Intercomparison Project] model projections, I still think the U.S. will experience increased risk of drought in the coming decades. What has been happening during recent years in the central and western U.S. is very consistent to what I have been predicting: both the natural variability (IPO [Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation]) and human-induced climate change will increase the risk of drought over these regions for the next 1-2 decades. After that, the IPO may switch to a positive phase that normally would bring more rain over the U.S. regions, but by that time the human-induced warming have over-dominate the natural variability, with the U.S. regions still in drier conditions (compared with the 1980s-1990s).

     

    Finally, a 2009 NOAA-led paper warned that, for the Southwest and many semi-arid regions around the world, “the climate change that is taking place because of increases in carbon dioxide concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop.” Impacts that should be expected if we don’t aggressively slash carbon pollution “are irreversible dry-season rainfall reductions in several regions comparable to those of the ‘dust bowl’ era.”

     

    When the climate changes, it ain’t gonna change back.

     

     

    California drought: Past dry periods have lasted more than 200 years, scientists say

    By Paul Rogers San Jose Mercury News Posted:   01/25/2014 04:21:50 PM PST |

    A boat dock is nowhere near the low water level at the Stevens Creek Reservoir in Cupertino, Calif., on Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014.

     

    California’s current drought is being billed as the driest period in the state’s recorded rainfall history. But scientists who study the West’s long-term climate patterns say the state has been parched for much longer stretches before that 163-year historical period began. And they worry that the “megadroughts” typical of California’s earlier history could come again.

    Through studies of tree rings, sediment and other natural evidence, researchers have documented multiple droughts in California that lasted 10 or 20 years in a row during the past 1,000 years — compared to the mere three-year duration of the current dry spell. The two most severe megadroughts make the Dust Bowl of the 1930s look tame: a 240-year-long drought that started in 850 and, 50 years after the conclusion of that one, another that stretched at least 180 years.

    We continue to run California as if the longest drought we are ever going to encounter is about seven years,” said Scott Stine, a professor of geography and environmental studies at Cal State East Bay. “We’re living in a dream world.”

    California in 2013 received less rain than in any year since it became a state in 1850. And at least one Bay Area scientist says that based on tree ring data, the current rainfall season is on pace to be the driest since 1580 — more than 150 years before George Washington was born. The question is: How much longer will it last?

    A megadrought today would have catastrophic effects. California, the nation’s most populous state with 38 million residents, has built a massive economy, Silicon Valley, Hollywood and millions of acres of farmland, all in a semiarid area. The state’s dams, canals and reservoirs have never been tested by the kind of prolonged drought that experts say will almost certainly occur again.

    Stine, who has spent decades studying tree stumps in Mono Lake, Tenaya Lake, the Walker River and other parts of the Sierra Nevada, said that the past century has been among the wettest of the last 7,000 years.
    Looking back, the long-term record also shows some staggeringly wet periods. The decades between the two medieval megadroughts, for example, delivered years of above-normal rainfall — the kind that would cause devastating floods today. The longest droughts of the 20th century, what Californians think of as severe, occurred from 1987 to 1992 and from 1928 to 1934. Both, Stine said, are minor compared to the ancient droughts of 850 to 1090 and 1140 to 1320. What would happen if the current drought continued for another 10 years or more? Without question, longtime water experts say, farmers would bear the brunt. Cities would suffer but adapt….

     

     

    Prolonged drought forces birds from Central Valley fields

    By Edward Ortiz January 31, 2014 Sacramento Bee

    On a typical January in the Sacramento Valley, the rice fields are ankle-deep in water – and full of birds that use them for food and shelter. This year, however, lack of rain and limited access to allocated water has forced rice growers to leave fields dry. The result: Waterfowl are changing where and how they congregate and when they fly. South of Sacramento, in the San Joaquin Valley, scientists have seen a significant drop in the number of migratory waterfowl. Almost all of the 550,000 acres of rice planted in the state is in the Sacramento Valley – where farmers keep rice fields flooded in the winter as much to create “surrogate wetlands” for birds as to decompose rice straw. That flooding is considered crucial to waterfowl, given that only 3 percent of the state’s historic wetlands remain, the rest displaced by farmland and urban growth. Nearly 7 million waterfowl and 300,000 shorebirds annually visit the Sacramento Valley, a key stop on the Pacific Flyway. A majority of the food they eat comes from rice fields. “The few places that have water – they have birds,” said rice grower Tom McClellan. “But you’re not seeing a great number of birds.” The effect of the drought is most telling in the western part of the Sacramento Valley, where McClellan farms. He has not been able to replenish his fields with water. When drought conditions take hold, the federal Bureau of Reclamation looks to rice decomposition water for additional supplies. When that happens, as it has this year, water cannot be diverted to McClellan’s farm from the federally controlled Sacramento River. Whatever water is found on his property is water that already existed in storage drains, he said. As a result, many of the 1,500 acres that McClellan farms in Sacramento and Sutter counties are now dry. …Studies have shown that when rice field burning was replaced with flooding in the 1990s, the change had a positive effect on waterfowl. “We saw an increase in the winter body weight of many duck species,” said Greg Yarris, wildlife biologist … [Central Valley Joint Venture]. “Birds that have higher weight have higher survival weights and will reproduce at higher rates come spring.”

    Disease rates also plummet when weights are higher, he said. How the drought is affecting bird populations in the Sacramento Valley is still unclear. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is conducting its annual midwinter survey of birds in the Sacramento Valley and expects to release results in the first week of February, said Melanie Weaver, an environmental scientist with the department.

    Currently, the only thing that is known for sure is that a dry spring will affect bird breeding, Weaver said. “If there is no rain going into summer – that would be bad,” said Weaver. “It doesn’t mean that ducks are going to disappear from the landscape. We’ve had drought cycles before and they’ve gone through that.”

    “But less water means that hens do not have an area to take their broods, or ducklings,” she said. “They don’t have a safe place to molt.”……


    California drought lessons – what works, what doesn’t

    Ellen Hanak and Jay Lund SF Chronicle Published 4:51 pm, Sunday, January 26, 2014

     

    California is now officially in a drought emergency, and the signs are bleak: record-low flows in many rivers and streams, shrinking reservoirs and mountain snowpack at just one-fifth of normal. The governor’s declaration of drought won’t reverse these trends, but it does increase the state’s flexibility to help manage available supplies and reduce hardships for some communities. Past droughts show us that this crisis is not only a challenge, but also an opportunity for making California’s water system better able to support its cities, farms and environment. The challenge is to avoid making hasty decisions that provide some short-term relief at a much higher long-term cost.

     

    During the longest recent drought, 1987 to 1992, California’s water managers fell prey to this temptation when deciding how much water to export from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Water was pumped from the delta to supply cities and farms at record-high levels, dramatically changing flow and salinity conditions, and favoring the proliferation of invasive species that compete with native species for food and habitat. Notably, the overbite clam, which strips plankton from the western delta, became widespread during the drought. These invasions helped set the stage for the dramatic declines of delta smelt and other native fish species that have plagued the management of this system ever since.

    Grants for drilling

    Another example of imprudent crisis management comes from the most recent drought, from 2007 to 2009, when federal aid to San Joaquin Valley farmers came in the form of grants to drill more wells. Groundwater is often valuable during droughts, but in places that are already severely over-tapped, additional pumping can cause significant harm. In this case, excessive pumping during the drought accelerated the sinking of lands near major infrastructure, damaging the California Aqueduct, a key artery in the state’s water system.

    Fortunately, California has also gotten it right in some important ways during past droughts. The drought in 1977 – before now, the single driest year on record – led to widespread urban water conservation and spurred the creation of a water market, in which those who have relatively ample supplies can lease water to those who don’t. Agencies within the federal Central Valley Project traded among themselves that year, and the Legislature subsequently passed a series of laws to facilitate trading more broadly. The state led the way in developing this market as the 1987-92 drought unfolded, reducing the costs of water shortages to cities, farms and wildlife refuges. That drought also saw the launch of the California Urban Water Conservation Council, a collaborative effort among the state’s urban water agencies to manage demand and reduce per capita water use over the longer term.

    Protecting communities

    The 1987-92 drought also spurred broader thinking about making communities more drought-resistant, and in subsequent years numerous investments have occurred in groundwater storage, new surface storage in local reservoirs, reuse of highly treated recycled wastewater, and even desalination. Local Bay Area agencies have also invested to interconnect their systems so that they can help one another during emergencies.

    Without all these measures, California would be facing a much more serious water crisis today. Indeed, Southern California cities and suburbs are in relatively good shape despite a third year of dry weather, thanks to systematic attention to reducing water use and diversifying supply sources.

    So, how can we leverage this current drought to address short-term emergency needs while making our water system more resilient? One priority is improving the water market. Opaque and shifting trading rules and cumbersome approval procedures diminished the effectiveness of the market during the 2007-09 drought. The current drought emergency offers an opportunity to focus high-level state, federal and local agency attention on how to simplify trading rules without compromising protection for the environment and others who might be harmed by water trading.

    Another priority is to prevent irreparable harm to our overtaxed groundwater basins. Instead of freely spending tax dollars on new irrigation wells that will exacerbate the problem, agencies might better spend those funds on needy communities affected by the reduced agricultural activity that is unavoidable in a major drought.

    And last, but not least, officials need to make balanced decisions about allocating water to cities, farms and the environment. As part of this effort, we should be prepared to use public funds to purchase additional water to support habitat for fish and wildlife.

    California’s leaders – and all Californians – are facing a major challenge, but this is not the first time we’ve faced a drought, and it won’t be the last. It’s time, once again, to roll up our sleeves and make sure we don’t let a good crisis go to waste. Managing this crisis well will help ensure that the next one is less critical.

    Online: To read more about the California drought, go to www.sfgate.com/drought.

    Ellen Hanak is a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California and Jay Lund is director of the Center for Watershed Sciences at UC Davis and adjunct fellow at PPIC. Jeffrey Mount, a PPIC senior fellow, also contributed to this commentary.

     

    What We Can Do

    Water is a critical part of California’s way of life. Our economy, our environment and our day-to-day lifestyle need water to flourish.  But our water is limited–especially this year. The lack of rain and snow mean that our water supply will be challenged to meet the state’s needs.  Conservation will help us stretch the water that we do have.  California is suffering from a drought so we cannot afford to waste any water.  The good news is there are lots of simple ways to reduce the amount of water that we use at home, both inside and outside.  If we all work together, we can make a difference for California’s future.

    * Follow our easy tips both indoors and outdoors and start saving water every day. 

    * Tour the California Urban Water Conservation Council’s interactive H2ouse to learn more ways to save water indoors and outdoors!


    Calculate Your Water Use at Home



    Use our handy calculator to find out how much water you use inside and outside each day!


    Saving Water, INDOORS


    It’s easy to save water at home. Learn new ways to conserve indoors and outdoors. Water is essential to each of us every day. But it’s a limited resource, so we all need to rethink the way we use water on a daily basis. By following these water-saving tips inside your home, you can help save water every day:

    Laundry Room

    • Use the washing machine for full loads only to save water and energy
    • Install a water-efficient clothes washer Save: 16 Gallons/Load 
    • Washing dark clothes in cold water saves water and energy, and helps your clothes retain their color.

    Kitchen

    • Run the dishwasher only when full to save water and energy.
    • Install a water- and energy-efficient dishwasher.  Save: 3 to 8 Gallons/Load.
    • Install aerators on the kitchen faucet to reduce flows to less than 1 gallon per minute. 
    • When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run. Fill one basin with wash water and the other with rinse water.
    • Dishwashers typically use less water than washing dishes by hand.
    • If your dishwasher is new, cut back on rinsing. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.
    • Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
    • Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Instead, compost vegetable food waste and save gallons every time.
    • Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.
    • Don’t use running water to thaw food.   Defrost food in the refrigerator.
    • Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap.
    • Cook food in as little water as possible. This also helps it retain more nutrients.
    • Select the proper pan size for cooking. Large pans may require more cooking water than necessary.
    • If you accidentally drop ice cubes, don’t throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.
    • Collect the water you use while rinsing fruit and vegetables. Use it to water house plants.

    Bathroom

    • Install low-flow shower heads. Save: 2.5 Gallons
    • Take five minute showers instead of 10 minute showers. Save:  12.5 gallons with a low flow showerhead, 25 gallons with a standard 5.0 gallon per minute showerhead.
    • Fill the bathtub halfway or less. Save: 12 Gallons
    • When running a bath, plug the bathtub before turning on the water. Adjust the temperature as the tub fills.
    • Install aerators on bathroom faucets. Save: 1.2 Gallons Per Person/Day
    • Turn water off when brushing teeth or shaving. Save: Approximately 10 Gallons/Day
    • Install a high-efficiency toilet. Save: 19 Gallons Per Person/Day Read more about toilets.
    • Don’t use the toilet as a wastebasket.
    • Be sure to test your toilet for leaks at least once a year.
    • Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the bowl without flushing, there’s a leak. Fix it and start saving gallons.
    • Consider buying a dual-flush toilet. It has two flush options: a half-flush for liquid waste and a full-flush for solid waste.
    • Plug the sink instead of running the water to rinse your razor and save up to 300 gallons a month.
    • Turn off the water while washing your hair and save up to 150 gallons a month.
    • When washing your hands, turn the water off while you lather.
    • Take a (short) shower instead of a bath. A bathtub can use up to 70 gallons of water.

      [SEE GRAYWATER INFORMATION BELOW]


    Outdoors


    Most Californians think that they use more water indoors than outdoors.  Typically, the opposite is true.  In some areas, 50% or more of the water we use daily goes on lawns and outdoor landscaping.  There are lots of ways to save water at home, but reducing the water you use outdoors can make the biggest difference of all.  Here are a few easy ways to change the way you use water outside your home.

    Know the Basics

    • Water early in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures are cooler.   Save: 25 gallons/each time you water
    • Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street. Save: 15-12 gallons/each time you water
    • Choose a water-efficient irrigation system such as drip irrigation for your trees, shrubs, and flowers. Save: 15 gallons/each time you water.
    • Water deeply but less frequently to create healthier and stronger landscapes.
    • Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool. Organic mulch also improves the soil and prevents weeds. Save: 20-30 gallons/each time you water/1,000 sq. ft.
    • Plant drought-resistant trees and plants. Save: 30- 60 gallons/each time you water/1,000 sq. ft

    Don’t Overwater

    One easy way to cut down how much water you use outdoors is to learn how much water your landscaping actually needs in order to thrive.  Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes people make.  To understand how much water your landscaping really needs, learn more about evapotranspiration (ET) here.  For Southern California residents, try this easy watering calculator to help determine how much you should be watering outside.  

    Get Smart

    If you really want to be a sophisticated water user, invest in a weather-based irrigation controller—or a smart controller. These devices will automatically adjust the watering time and frequency based on soil moisture, rain, wind, and evaporation and transpiration rates.  Check with your local water agency to see if there is a rebate available for the purchase of a smart controller.  

    Know Your Climate

    One way to save water outdoors is to plant the right plants for your climate. Here are some tools to help you learn how to be a water-wise gardener:

    Outdoor Cleanup

    Water is often a go-to tool for outdoor clean-up jobs.   

    • Use a broom to clean driveways, sidewalks and patios. Save: 8-18 gallons /minute.
    • Wash cars/boats with a bucket, sponge, and hose with self-closing nozzle. Save: 8-18 gallons/minute.
    • Invest in a water broom.  If you have to use water to clean up outside, a water broom will attach to your hose but uses a combination of air and water pressure to aid cleaning. Water brooms can use as little as 2.8 gallons per minute (gpm) to remove dirt, food spills, leaves, and litter from concrete and asphalt while a standard hose typically uses 5 to 20 gpm.

    Click here for more information ways to save water outdoors. For more information on water-wise sprinklers, visit Sprinklers 101.

     


    Build a Beautiful Water-Wise Garden



    See gardening tips and photo galleries with interactive garden and plant images.

     

    Upfront: Fifty shades of graywater
    (became legal in Marin County in 2011)


    Drought solutions flooding in as agencies take action by Peter Seidman January 30 2014 Pacific Sun

    ….. According to the newly created WaterNow website, “Today’s best opportunities are at the beginning and the end of the water use cycle. Source water landscapes—watersheds—provide enormously important services capturing, storing, filtering and releasing water for downstream consumption. Ensuring the health of this green infrastructure is vital for water quality and supply. Once potable water has reached our homes and businesses, there are major opportunities for conserving and reusing this expensive resource that we are only now, and slowly, beginning to employ.” ……Promoting methods to use graywater, for instance, is a major part of the WaterNow rollout in Marin….The WaterNow goals to promote sustainable water use and technologies fall into two broad categories: restoring and maintaining watershed land in the state and promoting what WaterNow calls “urban water use.” That includes recycling and reusing water. It also involves reducing the amount of potable water used for irrigations and other outdoor purposes. In Marin that outdoor use accounts for about 60 percent of the total supply….

     

    A major focus of the WaterNow strategy for Marin focuses on increasing the use of graywater, which is the wastewater that doesn’t include serious contaminants. Baths, showers and clothes washers generate graywater. Wastewater from toilets, kitchen sinks and dishwashers is called blackwater. Graywater can be used to irrigate. Considering the large amount of water used outdoors, graywater could become a valuable water source in the Marin district. ….Promoting the use of graywater can stretch a water supply, essentially creating a new supply source, but more mundane strategies also can make a big difference. Dan Carney, conservation manager at the district, says customers with large yards can meet a 25-percent reduction target just by turning off their outdoor irrigation systems and watering manually. He notes, however, that many customers don’t have large yards, or any yards. “But a lot of people,” he notes, “still have older toilets, and changing to a high-efficiency toilet can sometimes cut a flush in half.” That, along with installing a high-efficiency showerhead “can get to 20 to 25 percent right there.”

     

     

     

     


    North American monarch butterfly migration falls to record lows, report says


    The number of monarch butterflies wintering in Mexico has plunged to its lowest level since studies began in 1993.

    (Marco Ugarte/ AP ) -

    By Joshua Partlow, Wednesday, January 29, 12:55 PM Washington Post MEXICO CITY — One of North America’s most dazzling natural phenomena, the annual winter migration to central Mexico by millions of monarch butterflies from the northern United States and Canada, has shrunk to record lows and is danger of ending, environmentalists from across the continent said Wednesday. The monarch migration has been documented in books and movies and attracts thousands of tourists to a nature preserve about 100 miles west of Mexico City. The black-and-orange butterflies hang from the trees there like shaggy beards….

     

    Exporting the Colorado River to Asia, through hay
    National Geographic News

    As the West suffers long-term drought, experts look for ways to save water while still supporting local farmers. Alfalfa, once a reliable and local crop, has become a global commodity. But the fact that the Colorado River is fueling the export boom has some western water advocates worried. … Virtual Water Exports When Robert Glennon, a water policy expert at the University of Arizona and author of the book Unquenchable: America’s Water Crisis and What to Do About It, first learned that the U.S. was exporting alfalfa crops that had been grown with the very limited western irrigation water, his reaction was “utter disbelief.” Glennon crunched some numbers and figured that in 2012, roughly 50 billion gallons of western water—enough to supply the annual household needs of half a million families—were exported to China. Not literally bottled up and shipped, but embedded in alfalfa crops grown with irrigation water. And that’s just to China, which still trails Japan and the United Arab Emirates as a top destination for American alfalfa… But what troubles Glennon, and others who obsess over the West’s water woes, is the growing trend of shipping hay overseas. “What’s new here is that hay is a forage crop, and the exports are coming from the West, where water is scarce.” Daniel Putnam is quick to defend alfalfa and other forage crops, which he studies carefully as an agronomist at the University of California, Davis’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “Alfalfa has become a whipping boy because people don’t understand it, and undervalue it,” said Putnam. Alfalfa may sell for cheap, he said, but people don’t consider the value it provides by supporting the local dairy industry; by supplying a regular, year-round income as a “cash crop” for farmers; and by contributing to wildlife, since alfalfa fields are favored by migratory birds… Critics argue that the water itself, available to farmers at a fraction of true market value, is a form of indirect subsidy.

    ….On top of the demand spike, a staggering trade imbalance between China and the U.S. creates an incredible advantage for any American producer to ship anything at all to China, even bulky, heavy bales of hay. For every two container ships that bring those iPods and T-shirts to California ports from China, one goes back empty. As a result, “it costs less today to ship a ton of alfalfa from Long Beach to Beijing than it does to ship it from the Imperial Valley in California to the Central Valley,” explains Glennon. All of this leads to alfalfa and hay exports that have more than doubled since 1999 and increased by 60 percent since 2007, with the biggest increases by far being in shipments to China and the United Arab Emirates. For instance, in 2007, China imported just 2,400 metric tons of hay. By 2012, that had increased over 200 times to more than 485,000 metric tons. And in a paper Putnam presented earlier this month, he predicts another 50 percent growth over the previous year’s volume in 2013. Putnam also anticipates that Saudi Arabia will soon, like the U.A.E., restrict alfalfa growth, which would cause another big spike in overseas demand. Today, at least 12.5 percent of alfalfa grown in western states is exported, and in some areas like California’s Imperial Valley—just across the Colorado River from Yuma County—that figure grows to a full 50 percent….

     

    ….Glennon insists that the right policies could protect farmers and keep places like Yuma and the Imperial Valley wet and productive, without sending Colorado River water overseas. He points to research done by Mike Ottman of the University of Arizona, which shows that alfalfa farmers are actually getting less product in the summer months for the same amount of water spent. Ottman explains that the typical alfalfa farms in the Southwest have eight cuttings, or harvests, a year, and that the last four of these, during the scorching summer months, yield about half as much product. But alfalfa is incredibly resilient, and the perennial crop survives just fine if it isn’t watered for a few months. Putnam has researched this practice, as well as so-called “deficit irrigation”—where the crops get less water than they’d need for maximum growth—and the crops fare just fine in the long term after a dry spell. This has Glennon thinking of some creative conservation and efficiency solutions. “There’s a lot of water being wasted growing alfalfa in the summer,” he said. “The farmers do it because they don’t have anything else to do with the water, and because they fear they’ll lose their rights to it if they don’t keep using it. That’s a rule that could be changed.Glennon proposes a “temporary suspension of summertime irrigation of alfalfa,” combined with changes in policy that would encourage farmers to sell limited volumes of their righted water to the highest bidder, probably cities or industries.

     

    Bones of a previously unknown species prove to be one of the oldest seabirds
    (January 30, 2014) — Fossils discovered in Canterbury, New Zealand reveal the nature of one of the world’s oldest flying seabirds. Thought to have lived between 60.5 and 61.6 million years ago, the fossil is suggested to have formed shortly after the extinction of dinosaurs and many marine organisms. … > full story

     

    One good tern deserves another: Low-power, remote monitoring of island birds cuts bills
    (January 24, 2014) — A new report reveals details of an energy-efficient system for monitoring wild birds that reduces power consumption without significantly compromising image quality. … > full story

    Bluebirds struggle to find happiness on island paradise
    (January 27, 2014) — A recent study shows that Eastern bluebirds in Ohio differ in a variety of ways from their relatives in Bermuda. … > full story

    Common crop pesticides kill honeybee larvae in the hive
    (January 27, 2014) — Four pesticides commonly used on crops to kill insects and fungi also kill honeybee larvae within their hives, according to new research. Scientists also found that N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone — an inert, or inactive, chemical commonly used as a pesticide additive — is highly toxic to honeybee larvae. … > full story

     

    Nine Steps to Save Waterways and Fisheries Identified by Researchers

    Jan. 31, 2014 — The key to clean waterways and sustainable fisheries is to follow nine guiding principles of water management, says a team of Canadian researchers…. Fish habitats need ecosystems that are rich in food with places to hide from predators and lay eggs, according to the framework published today in the journal Environmental Reviews. Humans have put key freshwater ecosystems at risk because of land development and the loss of the vegetation along rivers and streams….With more pressure on Canada’s freshwater ecosystems, Richardson and his colleagues wanted to create a framework of evidence-based principles that managers, policy makers and others could easily use in their work. “It’s a made in Canada solution, but the principles could be applied anywhere in the world,” he says. Healthy freshwater ecosystems are shrinking and reports suggest that the animals that depend on them are becoming endangered or extinct at higher rates than marine or terrestrial species, says Richardson. Humans also depend on these ecosystems for basic resources like clean drinking water and food as well as economic activity from the natural resource sector, tourism and more.

    The components of a successful management plan include:

    1. Protect and restore habitats for fisheries
    2. Protect biodiversity as it enhances resilience and productivity
    3. Identify threats to ecosystem productivity
    4. Identify all contributions made by aquatic ecosystems
    5. Implement ecosystem based-management of natural resources while acknowledging the impact of humans
    6. Adopt a precautionary approach to management as we face uncertainty
    7. Embrace adaptive management — environments continue to change so research needs to be ongoing for scientific evidence-based decision making
    8. Define metrics that will indicate whether management plans are successful or failing
    9. Engage and consult with stakeholders
    10. Ensure that decision-makers have the capacity, legislation and authority to implement policies and management plans.

    These recommendations are based on nine principles of ecology:

    1. Acknowledge the physical and chemical limits of an ecosystem
    2. Population dynamics are at work and there needs to be a minimum number of fish for the population to survive
    3. Habitat quantity and quality are needed for fish productivity
    4. Connecting habitats is essential for movement of fish and their resources
    5. The success of freshwater species is influenced by the watershed
    6. Biodiversity enhances ecosystem resilience and productivity
    7. Global climate change affects local populations of fish
    8. Human impacts to the habitat affect future generations of fish
    9. Evolution is important to species survival

       

    Nicolas W.R. Lapointe, et al. Principles for ensuring healthy and productive freshwater ecosystems that support sustainable fisheries. Environmental Reviews, 2013; 1 DOI: 10.1139/er-2013-0038

     

     

    Rainforests in Far East shaped by humans for the last 11,000 years
    (January 24, 2014) — New research shows that the tropical forests of South East Asia have been shaped by humans for the last 11,000 years. The rain forests of Borneo, Sumatra, Java, Thailand and Vietnam were previously thought to have been largely unaffected by humans, but the latest research suggests otherwise. … > full story

    Farming salmon on land is possible, project suggests

    Future of fisheries may not require fish to ever see the ocean

    Courtesy of J. Armstrong/University of Washington

    By Evelyn Boychuk CBC News January 6, 2014

    As its name implies, the Atlantic salmon has always been seen as an ocean dweller. But the Canadian fishing industry is on the verge of being able to grow this saltwater fish anywhere – including, hypothetically, in the prairie provinces. The Namgis closed containment facility on Vancouver Island is the first salmon farm in North America to grow Atlantic salmon on a commercial scale in a completely land-based aquaculture system. Read the full article here.

     

     

    First New Species of River Dolphin Discovered in a Century

    January 24, 2014 National Geographic 

    A suspected new river dolphin species has emerged in Brazil, and scientists warn that it is highly endangered. River dolphins (also known as botos) are among the rarest, and most endangered, dolphins in the world. Three of the four known species are listed as “threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The discovery of a wholly new species—the first such find in a century—is thus exciting news for biologists and conservation officials….

     

     

    POINT BLUE IN THE NEWS:

     

    Helping Restore Hamilton Wetland from the Ground Up

    by Eric Simons on January 24, 2014 Bay Nature

    Give it a decade or two and the former Hamilton Airfield will be one of the most magnificent outdoor spaces in the Bay Area: several hundred acres of upland, lowland and tidal marsh habitat, dotted with oak and buckeye, bursting with toyon and snowberry, carved by tidal channels, and bordered by a trail and viewing stations. But right now it is really a very magnificent amount of dirt. Buried under 5.6 million square yards of dredged mud, the land that was once a military airport lies in undulating brown rows, stretching out from suburban housing development to the water’s edge. In a few months, the levee separating the mud from the Bay will be breached, allowing the tides to once again wash the marsh. But again, right now, extraordinarily high-potential dirt. …. These are “restoration polygons,” precise instructions for what plants to stick in the ground where. Each 214-square-foot restoration polygon consists of 16 plants, each plant in the polygon arranged in a certain spatial orientation with notes on depth and composition of substrate that McWhorter can return to to learn about what causes things to succeed or fail in replanting.

    The precision is useful, not just scientifically but because on this Friday the job of implementing the polygons fell to several dozen reasonably enthusiastic middle schoolers from Hamilton School and Todd Adams’ 7th grade science class. This might be one of the cooler elements of the entire project: Several thousand of the 60,000 plants intended to go into the ground will arrive there via the hands of young Marin residents as part of the Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed Program, part of Point Blue Conservation Science. STRAW has been working on restoration projects around Marin for two decades, and helping at Hamilton for the last few years. Emily Allen, a project manager who joined the program as a STRAW intern about 10 years ago, knows the value of a decade. When she first started, she says, her coworkers would say, “There’s this big restoration project at Hamilton and someday you’ll get to see it.” Allen remembers thinking, “Yeah, right.” Now, the restoration project is underway, and Allen is the one telling her charges to dream big. “One of the kids was like, ‘It’s a wasteland out here’,” Allen says. “But I said, ‘Can you imagine it in 10 years?’” Most of the kids can. Their delight at being out of school doesn’t entirely hide the fact that the kids can connect to watersheds and wetlands in a fundamental way. Many of them live nearby, many of them have explored the area in its previous incarnations. Friday morning, as the students walked out to the restoration site, one boy broke away to tell Allen that he remembered building rock forts on the old airfield. Allen said she intended to shepherd about 1,000 plants into the ground over the course of a few high-activity weeks, with 400 students from second to seventh grade involved in the planting. “We could just be a restoration crew,” she says. “But the STRAW idea is to let the kids have a real project, and make that real connection to their community.”….

    ….

     

     

    MUIR BEACH: Restoration Complete

    Redwood Creek, which starts on the slopes of Mount Tamalpais and empties into the Pacific Ocean, has now been restored to its natural floodplain at Muir Beach. It’s time to see the major improvements to the landscape—and visitor amenities. More >>

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    CA BLM WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK

     

    Sea Stars, formerly referred to as “starfish”, have which of the following characteristics:

    (a) Multiple arms (5-24)
    (b) Regenerate two new arms for every one that has been lost
    (c) Hundreds of tube feet per arm
    (d) Hundreds of small eyes all over their body
    (e) A mouth located on the bottom side of the central disk
    (f) All of the above
    (g) a, c, and e

    See answer at bottom

     

     

     

    • CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS

     


    Human cause of global warming is near certainty, UN reports



    30 January 2014 – Global warming is unequivocal, human influence has been the dominant cause since the mid-20th century, and atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, already at levels not seen in at least 800,000 years, will persist for many centuries, the final version of the latest United Nations report on climate change warned today. “Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system,” according to the report, which finalizes a summary of findings by the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued in September, outlining a litany of threats from the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to rising oceans to extreme weather events such as cyclones and heat waves. “Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions,” it stresses, using the term “extremely likely” for human causality since the mid-20th century, meaning there is a 95 to 100 per cent probability that humankind, and not naturally occurring phenomena, are to blame, a 5 percent increase from the 90 to 100 per cent “very likely” probability of if the IPCC’s last report in 2007. Even if emissions of global warming carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are stopped, most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries. “This represents a substantial multi-century climate change commitment created by past, present and future emissions of CO2,” the report warns. “Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes,” it says. “This evidence for human influence has grown since AR4 (the last IPCC report). It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” ….

     


    The Hockey Stick Lives: Canadian Arctic Warming Unprecedented In 120,000 Years


    By Joe Romm on January 27, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    Recent warming has been unprecedented in speed, scale, and cause. Last year, we reported on a study that found the rate of warming since 1900 is 50 times greater than the rate of cooling in the previous 5000 years, which threatens to destroy the stable climate that enabled civilization. The warming is so fast that it’s easy to forget how cold it used to be just a few decades ago, which is the point of a recent Climate Central analysis and the awesome xkcd cartoon based on it. We’ve known for a while that the Arctic — which is warming at twice the rate of Earth as a whole — is now warmer than it has been in at least 2000 years. As a National Center for Atmospheric Research study found in 2009:

    Arctic temperatures in the 1990s reached their warmest level of any decade in at least 2,000 years, new research indicates. The study, which incorporates geologic records and computer simulations, provides new evidence that the Arctic would be cooling if not for greenhouse gas emissions that are overpowering natural climate patterns. That is one long hockey stick. But now a new study led by UC Boulder Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research Associate Director Gifford Miller takes things way, way back:
    Average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic during the last 100 years are higher now than during any century in the past 44,000 years…. Since radiocarbon dating is only accurate to about 50,000 years and because Earth’s geological record shows it was in a glaciation stage prior to that time, the indications are that Canadian Arctic temperatures today have not been matched or exceeded for roughly 120,000 years, Miller said. “The key piece here is just how unprecedented the warming of Arctic Canada is,” said Miller…. “This study really says the warming we are seeing is outside any kind of known natural variability, and it has to be due to increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.” A video explaining the study can be found here. This research answers the key question of whether recent warming exceeded that of the highest temperatures following the end of the last Ice Age:…

     

     

    ‘Natural’ engineering offers solution against future flooding

    January 28, 2014 Science Daily

    Back-to-nature flood schemes which use the land’s natural defenses to slow river flow and reduce flooding could be a cost-effective way of tackling one of the biggest problems facing the UK today.

     
     
     

    The schemes — which include capturing flow upstream to prevent floods downstream where they are likely to have a greater impact on infrastructure and homes — have been trialled as part of a five-year research project by experts from Newcastle University in partnership with the Environment Agency.

    Using Belford Burn in Northumberland as a demonstration, the team have shown that by changing and hindering the natural flow pathways within a small catchment system, it is possible to manage the amount of run-off from the land. This reduces the risk of flooding in low-lying areas and also cuts down on pollution by preventing phosphorus and nitrates from being washed off the land. Published this month in the academic journal Science of the Total Environment, the findings were presented last week at the House of Commons Office of Science and Technology to inform the Government’s Environment White Paper. Research lead, Dr Mark Wilkinson, who carried out the work while at Newcastle University and is now based at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, said: “Climate projections for the UK suggest that total rainfall during winter months will continue to rise and with it the risk of flooding. What we have shown at Belford is that by employing so-called ‘soft engineering solutions’ to restrict the progress of water through a catchment — disconnecting fast-flow pathways and adding storage — we have been able to reduce the risk of flooding in the lower areas and, most importantly, in the town. Belford is not unique and there are many other areas around the UK where these solutions could make a significant impact and potentially protect peoples’ homes from some of the more severe flooding we are seeing at the moment.”

     

    Strategies for Natural Flood Management (NFM)

    Natural Flood Management aims to reduce the downstream maximum water height of a flood — the peak — or delay the arrival of the flood peak downstream, increasing the time available to prepare. This is done by restricting the progress of water through a catchment and relies on one, or a combination of four key mechanisms which work with the environment to provide a sustainable solution to the problem:

    • Storing water such as ponds, ditches and field attenuation bunds
    • Increasing soil infiltration through the creation of ‘infiltration zones’ to help water get into the soil at certain locations, for example tree belts.
    • Slowing water by increasing resistance to its flow, for example planting in the floodplain or riverside woodland
    • Redirecting the water by channelling it away from the main flow into temporary water storage areas or buffer zones to hold the water back until the flood peak drops or restoring river meanders. This increases the length of the river and decreases its slope, slowing down the flow

    Costing around £200,000, the Belford scheme was installed after a study of the area suggested the cost of a full conventional flood defence scheme for the town would cost in the region of £2.5 m

     

    “The situation in Belford is typical of many rural towns around the UK that are at risk of flooding,” explains Dr Paul Quinn, based in the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at Newcastle University. “It is a town with a long history of flooding but the floods tend to be short-lived — albeit severe — and only tend to affect a small number of properties. A feasibility study concluded that traditional flood defenses were not suitable because of the high-cost, lack of space for flood walls and banks and the relatively small number of properties involved.” Just five months after the feasibility report was published, the July 2007 storm hit the North of England and ten homes and businesses in Belford were flooded. It was after this event the Newcastle University demonstrator project was launched. “One of the main reasons why the Belford scheme has been such a success is because we’ve had the support of the community and local landowners behind us,” explains Dr Quinn, who has since carried out a second Catchment Management Scheme at Netherton Burn, Northumberland. “There is no single solution to flooding — no ‘silver bullet’ — but what the Belford scheme has shown us is what can be achieved with local support and a thorough understanding of the land and the local environment.”

    M.E. Wilkinson, P.F. Quinn, N.J. Barber, J. Jonczyk. A framework for managing runoff and pollution in the rural landscape using a Catchment Systems Engineering approach. Science of The Total Environment, 2014; 468-469: 1245 DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2013.07.055

     

    Reducing Climate Risks with Natural Infrastructure
    (pdf)

    January 29, 2014 This report from The Nature Conservancy 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 are that 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 along with Louis Blumberg and Eric Hallstein, and produced by Nancy Crowley in the TNC marketing department. The California State Coastal Conservancy, the Landscape Conservation Collaborative and Pacific Gas and Electric joined with TNC in providing financial support for the project. We released the report in December and shared it with the President’s Taskforce on Climate Preparedness for initial meeting on Tuesday and with the Natural Resources Agency as it collects input on its draft Safeguarding California Plan. Please share it widely.

     

    Climate study projects major changes in vegetation distribution by 2100

    Date: January 30, 2014 Source: University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

     
     
     
     

    An international research team led by Song Feng, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Arkansas, used a scenario projecting an annual 3- to 10-degree increase in Celsius temperatures by 2100 to calculate that climate types will change in 46.3 percent of the global land area. That scenario is referred to by climate scientists, according to Song, as “business as usual” because it assumes that “what we continue to do today we will do in the future, meaning that there will be no significant measures to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions that are warming the planet,” he said.

    The scenario has been adopted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and calls for moderate to strong warming in the middle and high latitudes of the northern hemisphere and weaker warming in the tropics and the southern hemisphere. “Climates are associated with certain types of vegetation,” Feng said. “If the surface continues to get warmer, certain native species may no longer grow well in their climate, especially in higher latitudes. They will give their territory to other species. That is the most likely scenario.” Feng and colleagues in the United States and Asia published their findings in the January issue of the journal Global and Planetary Change, in a study titled “Projected climate regime shift under future global warming from multi-model, multi-scenario CMIP5 simulations.”….

     

    Song Feng et al. Projected climate regime shift under future global warming from multi-model, multi-scenario CMIP5 simulations. Global and Planetary Change, January 2014

     

    Savanna vegetation predictions best done by continent
    (January 30, 2014) — A “one-size-fits-all” model to predict the effects of climate change on savanna vegetation isn’t as effective as examining individual savannas by continent, according to new research. … > full story

     

     

    New NASA laser technology reveals how ice measures up
    (January 28, 2014) — A new photon-counting technique will allow researchers to track the melt or growth of Earth’s frozen regions. … > full story

     


    Disappearing Snow Increases Risk of Collapsing Ice Shelves in Antarctica



    Jan. 30, 2014 — A number of floating ice shelves in Antarctica are at risk of disappearing entirely in the next 200 years, as global warming reduces their snow cover. Their collapse would enhance the discharge of ice into the oceans and increase the rate at which sea-level rises. A rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions could save a number of these ice shelves, researchers at Utrecht University and the British Antarctic Survey say in a new paper published today in the Journal of Glaciology.

     
     
     

    Back in 1995 and 2002, two floating ice shelves in the north of the Antarctic Peninsula (Larsen A and B) suddenly collapsed — each event occurred in a matter of weeks.

    Dr Peter Kuipers Munneke, the paper’s lead author, said: “This was a spectacular event, especially when you imagine the size of these ice shelves, which are several hundreds of metres thick, and have been in place for over 10,000 years.” The team of researchers suspected that the disappearance of the snow layer on top of the ice shelves could be an important precursor for shelf collapse. Their calculations confirm this hypothesis, and show that many more ice shelves could disappear in the next 200 years. The scientists believed the snow layer plays an important role in regulating the effect of meltwater lakes on the ice shelves. As long as the snow layer is sufficiently thick and cold, all meltwater can sink into the snow and refreeze. But in a warmer climate, the amount of meltwater increases, and the snow layers become thinner. As a result, meltwater can no longer refreeze and forms large lakes on the surface of the ice shelves. The water drains through cracks and faults, causing them to widen until they become so wide and deep that the entire ice shelf disintegrates. After their collapse, ice shelves can no longer provide resistance to the flow of the glaciers previously feeding them. As a result, the glacier flow accelerates significantly, contributing to an increase in sea-level rise…..full story

     

    Sea level variations escalating along eastern Gulf of Mexico coast
    (January 29, 2014) — Around the globe, sea levels typically rise a little in summer and fall again in winter. Now, a new study shows that, from the Florida Keys to southern Alabama, those fluctuations have been intensifying over the past 20 years. … > full story

     

    Ocean acidification is already driving changes in Northwestern marine ecology

    Cally Carswell | Jan 22, 2014 09:00 AM

    For a time, Pseudolithophyllum muricatum was king of the kelp forest understory around Tatoosh Island, a rocky blip of land off the northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula. In experimental “bouts” staged there by famed ecologist Bob Paine that pitted the crusty, milky red algae against other species of coralline algae it lived amongst, P. muricatum “won” almost 100 percent of the time, growing more abundantly than any of its competitors. Its edge was its especially thick crust, which allowed it to slip over the lip of its more thinly crusted neighbors and overtake them. In 2012, Sophie McCoy, a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago, collected samples of P. muricatum from Tatoosh Island and compared them with samples Paine had collected in the 1980s. Her samples were only half as thick as his. Now, by repeating Paine’s experimental plant battles, McCoy has shown that P. muricatum has indeed lost its competitive edge. “It’s now winning only about a quarter of the time,” she says. “It loses to basically everybody some of the time. That’s a huge change.” The cause of this paradigm shift? Most likely, says McCoy, it’s the downward creep of the ocean’s pH, caused in large part by the vast amounts of carbon dioxide the ocean has absorbed since humans began burning fossil fuels. This phenomenon, known as ocean acidification, was once described by former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco as the “equally evil twin” of climate change. The waters that lap Tatoosh Island are already experiencing pH creep at a rate 10 times faster than models predicted. Combine that fact with the decades of detailed ecological data collected there by Paine and his disciples, and you’ve got an ideal place to study the ecological consequences of changing ocean chemistry….

     


    Hurricane Sandy May Be a Blessing for Tiny Piping Plover



    Jan. 28, 2014 — The piping plover, a threatened shorebird, is expected to capitalize on new habitat created by Hurricane Sandy on hard-hit Long Island, N.Y. The storm created wider sandy beaches, the plover’s … full story

    Warmer winters may be pushing raptors northward
    (January 29, 2014) — Research shows that several raptor species appear to be responding to warmer winters by shortening their annual migration by as much as seven or eight kilometers (four to five miles) per year. … > full story

     

    POINT BLUE and partners’ new publication:

     

    Antarctic Climate Change: Extreme Events Disrupt Plastic Phenotypic Response in Adélie Penguins

    Amélie Lescroël, Grant Ballard, David Grémillet, Matthieu Authier, David G. Ainley

    Abstract: In the context of predicted alteration of sea ice cover and increased frequency of extreme events, it is especially timely to investigate plasticity within Antarctic species responding to a key environmental aspect of their ecology: sea ice variability. Using 13 years of longitudinal data, we investigated the effect of sea ice concentration (SIC) on the foraging efficiency of Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) breeding in the Ross Sea. A ‘natural experiment’ brought by the exceptional presence of giant icebergs during 5 consecutive years provided unprecedented habitat variation for testing the effects of extreme events on the relationship between SIC and foraging efficiency in this sea-ice dependent species. Significant levels of phenotypic plasticity were evident in response to changes in SIC in normal environmental conditions. Maximum foraging efficiency occurred at relatively low SIC, peaking at 6.1% and decreasing with higher SIC. The ‘natural experiment’ uncoupled efficiency levels from SIC variations. Our study suggests that lower summer SIC than currently observed would benefit the foraging performance of Adélie penguins in their southernmost breeding area. Importantly, it also provides evidence that extreme climatic events can disrupt response plasticity in a wild seabird population. This questions the predictive power of relationships built on past observations, when not only the average climatic conditions are changing but the frequency of extreme climatic anomalies is also on the rise.

     

     

    Changing Climate In Argentina Is Killing Penguin Chicks

    January 30, 2014 4:00 PM NPR 4 min 1 sec

    Magellanic penguins strut their stuff on the rocky shoreline of Argentina’s Punta Tombo, home to the largest colony of the birds in the world. Craig Lovell/Corbis

    There’s a patch of seashore along the coast of Argentina where hundreds of thousands of penguins make their home. It’s called Punta Tombo . Dee Boersma, a conservation biologist at the University of Washington, has been going there for 30 years, and she’s discovered that a changing climate is killing those penguins……

     

    It wasn’t until around 2010 that Boersma figured out the real problem: Punta Tombo was experiencing bigger, stronger and wetter rainstorms. “When you get three years in a row where lots of chicks die because they get wet, it hits you pretty hard,” she says now. Now, you might be wondering: Penguins swim. They love the water. They live in cold places, like the Antarctic. And now they’re dying of hypothermia after a heavy rain? How can that be? “You have to really know penguins to understand why,” says Boersma. “Chicks are covered in down. Their juvenile plumage … doesn’t even really come in to protect them at all until they are older than 40 days. So until they get some of their juvenile plumage, they’re not waterproof — at all.” And local weather records show that things had been changing for years. “There’s more rainfall,” Boersma says, “and more of these severe storms and that’s what can kill penguin chicks — if the storm comes when they are more vulnerable.”

    And they are more vulnerable. Here’s why: Usually, the penguins hatch their young at the same time, over the course of about two weeks in December. But now, for some reason that still eludes Boersma, the birds are hatching over a six-week period. So the period of time when chicks are vulnerable to storms has stretched out. Moreover, the hatch is now taking place later in the year — at a time when there are more storms in Patagonia. The penguins are struggling with this new climate. In one year, half the hatchlings died in storms. On a few occasions, chicks have also died from heat waves. As Boersma points out, even as storms are getting bigger and more frequent, summertime heat waves are more common too. She notes that these effects are predicted by climate scientists. Warmer air temperatures mean not only hotter weather but more evaporation from the Atlantic, which puts more moisture in the air and thus creates wetter storms. “It’s these climate change events that penguins didn’t have in the past,” says Boersma, with an urgency born of living with these creatures for almost half her life. “And it’s not like penguins can adapt.”….. Boersma published this week in the journal PLoS One. She’s planning more visits to Punta Tombo. Now she’s got herself a real house to live in there. As for the trailer — it’s now on exhibit in a natural history museum just down the road from the colony.

    Recordings of the Punta Tombo penguins used in our radio story come from the Radio Expedition archive at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

     

     

    Sensitivity of carbon cycle to tropical temperature variations has doubled
    (January 26, 2014) — The tropical carbon cycle has become twice as sensitive to temperature variations over the past 50 years, new research has revealed. The research shows that a one degree rise in tropical temperature leads to around two billion extra tons of carbon being released per year into the atmosphere from tropical ecosystems, compared with the same tropical warming in the 1960s and 1970s. … > full story

     

     

    The Great Lakes Go Dry: How One-Fifth Of The World’s Fresh Water Is Dwindling Away

    By Joanna M. Foster on January 28, 2014 at 11:23 am

    ….The Great Lakes, which contain one-fifth of the world’s above-ground fresh water supply, are sometimes referred to as America’s “northern coast.” As communities along the rest of the nation’s shorelines brace for rising waters brought by climate change, however, and spend billions on replacing sand swept out to sea in storms, the communities of the Great Lakes find themselves with more and more sand and less and less water. ….As the lake retreats, some people blame the Army Corps of Engineers for dredging projects that widen channels leading out of Lake Michigan. Others wonder if the watershed can no longer support the 40 million people in the U.S. and Canada who now rely on the lakes for their drinking water. Increasingly, scientists believe that climate change is driving the warming waters and setting up a new regime in the Great Lakes that may lead to lower lake levels and a permanently altered shoreline. Ever since the 1990s, Lake Michigan has been predominantly below its long-term water level average, and trending downwards. Water levels plummeted precipitously in the late 1990s, after a strong El Niño event warmed up the waters. “That event drastically increased water temperatures,” explained Drew Gronewold, a physical scientist at NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL). “Over the course of just one year, water temperatures went up by 2.5 degrees Celsius. That’s huge. And the cycle is reinforcing; one really warm year led to more than a decade of dropping lake levels.” As the lake warms, it’s changing the water levels, as well. Most evaporation on the Great Lakes occurs in the fall when the lake is still warm from the summer, but the air has turned cold and dry. When the water is warmer than usual, the peak evaporation season begins earlier and lasts longer into the early winter. Warmer water also leads to less ice formation and fewer days of ice cover. ….

     

     

     

    New Studies Needed to Predict How Marine Organisms May Adapt to the Future’s Acidic Oceans

    Jan. 28, 2014 — The world’s oceans are becoming more acidic, changing in a way that hasn’t happened for millions of years. But will marine organisms from tiny coccolithophores to king crabs change along with the … full story

     

     

    Its great lake shriveled, Iran confronts crisis of water supply. January 31, 2014 NY Times

    Iran is facing a water shortage potentially so serious that officials are making contingency plans for rationing in the greater Tehran area, home to 22 million, and other major cities around the country.

     

     

    During Drought, Pop-Up Wetlands Give Birds a Break

    Audio Report by Lauren Sommer for KQED Radio’s QUEST Northern California on Jan 27, 2014

    Migratory birds stop at flooded rice fields at the Cosumnes River Preserve in the Central Valley. (Photo: Nancy Crowley/The Nature Conservancy)

    California’s severe drought is taking a toll on wildlife around the state. Millions of birds migrate through this time of year, but the waterways and wetlands they rely on are largely dry. In the Sacramento Valley, one environmental group is working with farmers and citizen scientists to provide some help by creating temporary “pop-up” wetlands. Winter is always a busy bird season at Douglas Thomas’s rice farm in Olivehurst, California, about 40 miles north of Sacramento. “Those fields behind there will fill with geese,” he says. “It’s just so loud. You can’t sleep at night. The first couple nights are pretty rough and I’m actually cussing them even though I love them.” On a recent winter morning, Thomas watches as a young bald eagle dives at some 3,000 snow geese floating in the rice fields. “As soon as they start getting here, this is what I sit and do,” he says “I keep my binoculars in my truck.”

    The orange areas show where migratory birds are likely to be on March 17 in the Central Valley, based on citizen science data from eBird. The blue shows available water. Scientists used a series of these maps to look for areas where wetlands are lacking. (Source: Cornell eBird, Point Blue Conservation Science, The Nature Conservancy)

    The birds come here because Thomas keeps his rice fields flooded in December and January. The water decomposes the rice straw leftover from last year’s harvest.

    Normally, at the end of January, “we would let our water go and start trying to dry our fields out because the lake that’s in front of us has to be dry enough to drive a tractor in it and then we’ve got to seed it,” he says But not this year. Thomas is leaving water on his fields a little longer as part of an experimental project with The Nature Conservancy, designed to provide extra habitat for the birds when they need it most. Thomas’s farm is in the middle of the Pacific Flyway, a vast migration route that stretches from the Arctic to South America. The Central Valley is a key pit stop for millions of birds along the way. “California is really the linchpin of the Pacific Flyway,” says Nature Conservancy scientist Mark Reynolds. “Many of these species breed in the high Arctic and are coming down to spend the wintertime in southern latitudes.” Some birds, like snow geese, spend the winter in California. Others only stop briefly before continuing hundreds of miles south. “It’s like stopping on a road trip so anywhere that they can find habitat and find things to eat to put on fat for their journey, they’ll stop,” he says.

    But wetlands aren’t as abundant as they once were. Ninety percent of the Central Valley’s historic wetlands have been filled in and dry years like this one make it even tougher. “Many of these

    water bird species on the flyway have had long-term declining population trends,” Reynolds says. Reynolds wanted to know where and when the birds need wetlands, so he turned to an app called e-Bird. Birders have used it to report tens of thousands of bird sightings, creating a detailed data set. “What it gives us that we’ve not really had before is for many, many species, we now can look week-by-week at arrival patterns in California,” Reynolds says. In places that lack wetlands, the Nature Conservancy asked rice farmers to put up bids, pricing out how much it would cost to keep their fields flooded.

     

    The group is paying farmers to create about 10,000 acres of these temporary wetlands in February and March. The bidding process is secret, but bids came in both above and below $45 per acre, the payments some farmers get from federal conservation programs. Thomas says his cost is largely labor. “It’ll push back our planting cycle,” he says. “We can’t get into our fields earlier. So we’re putting harder, longer hours on our tractor and our crew. We’re taking a greater risk doing this.” Thomas will keep two-to-four inches of water on his fields for four weeks. The water level is tailored for shorebirds, like long-billed dowitchers, sandpipers, and godwits. Nature Conservancy economist Eric Hallstein says the payments help offset the farmers’ risks and are a cost-effective way to create habitat. “The traditional model in conservation – it’s actually to permanently buy a piece of property or an easement,” Hallstein says. “It’s very expensive, prohibitively expensive. And also, we don’t want to displace farmers from that property.” Douglas Thomas sees a more personal upside. “Northern pintail is my favorite bird,” he says. “It’s such a graceful, amazing creature. And that we’re part of that annual cycle, that’s a neat, special thing.” By April, his fields will be dry and the birds will be on their way back north.

     

     

    Birds Find An Unlikely Resting Place In Drought-Stricken California

    By Joanna M. Foster on January 28, 2014

    The Nature Conservancy is teaming up with rice farmers in the Central Valley to create temporary wetlands exactly where migratory birds need it most.

     

     

    California drought has ranchers selling cattle

    AP News | Jan 27, 2014

    AROMAS, Calif. (AP) — In January, business at the 101 Livestock Market’s cattle auction on California’s Central Coast is usually slow. The busy season is normally in June or July, when ranchers have had time to fatten their animals for weeks on spring grasses. This year, however, business is bustling, with packed pens of moaning cattle and cowboys standing on tip-toe to get a glance at their potential prizes.

    Because of historically dry conditions, California’s soil moisture — a key ingredient for the forage that cattle graze on — is low throughout the state. With feed costs high and weeks of dry weather in the forecast, ranchers are already selling off parts of their herds as normally green grazing pastures have turned brown. “We’re in the drought now, so a lot of these are going back to Texas,” said rancher and auction house co-owner Monty Avery, gesturing to a pen packed full of cows. “We usually sell about 100-150 animals per week. Now we’re seeing 800-1,000 per week, so the volume’s jumped up.”

    Gov. Jerry Brown has formally proclaimed a drought in California, a move that codified what farmers and ranchers in the state had known for weeks. The U.S. Drought Monitor has said there are “extreme drought” conditions in central and northern California, where much of the state’s ranching is located….

     

     

    California drought: communities at risk of running dry in 100 days

    Kurtis Alexander SF Chronicle Updated 8:51 am, Thursday, January 30, 2014

    A discarded tire is seen stuck in the exposed lake bed of the Almaden Reservoir which is experiencing extremely low water levels due to the ongoing drought, in San Jose. Photo: Michael Short, The Chronicle

    Plant restoration as seen at the Wildlife Refuge, on Friday Jan. 11, 2013, is well on it’s way after being planted seven years ago in San Joaquin Co., Calif. Some 1,600 acres of former farmland at the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers near Modesto are being restored to its natural state as a floodplain. Riparian vegetation and bird habitat are being restored at Dos Rios Ranch, which is right across the river from another former ranch called Three Amigos, that has already been restored and is now known as the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle

     

    It is a bleak roadmap of the deepening crisis brought on by one of California’s worst droughts – a list of 17 communities and water districts that within 100 days could run dry of the state’s most precious commodity. The threatened towns and districts, identified this week by state health officials, are mostly small and in rural areas. They get their water in a variety of ways, from reservoirs to wells to rivers. But, in all cases, a largely rainless winter has left their supplies near empty. In the Bay Area, Cloverdale and Healdsburg in Sonoma County are among those at risk of running out of water, according to the state. The small Lompico Water District in the Santa Cruz Mountains is also on the list. Others could be added if the dry weather lingers.

    “These systems all are experiencing challenges meeting customer need, and those challenges are exacerbated by drought conditions,” said Matt Conens, a spokesman for the California Department of Public Health. The health department is looking to help the communities in several ways, Conens said. In some areas, new wells will be dug. In others, water may be hauled in. In some cases, smaller water systems will be connected with larger ones.

    Drought emergency

    The state’s offer to provide assistance follows Gov. Jerry Brown‘s declaration of a drought emergency this month, which gives state agencies expanded powers and the flexibility to intervene.

    In the mountain town of Lompico in Santa Cruz County, the creek that provides the community with water has run dry, while three wells that tap an underground aquifer aren’t drawing as much as usual.

    The water district has required its 1,200 or so customers to scale back water use by 30 percent to preserve what little water it has, but officials aren’t sure the conservation targets are realistic.

    “Here’s the problem: We live in the Santa Cruz Mountains. People don’t have lawns. They don’t have gardens. How are they going to conserve 30 percent?” said Lois Henry, president of the Lompico Water District board. The district has begun exploring opportunities to expand its supplies, perhaps upgrading wells or working with a neighboring water district. But the options are costly and could take time – quandaries that Henry expects to discuss with the state. In Healdsburg, where the low-flowing Russian River threatens to undermine city wells, the mayor spoke with state officials this week about tapping additional wells in the nearby Dry Creek Valley, according to the city manager’s office. The city has the right to use the Dry Creek wells, but only for part of the year – and not until spring.

    City Manager Marjie Pettus said lining up the additional water is a precautionary measure. Despite Healdsburg’s listing on the state’s most-vulnerable roster, she said, the city is not at risk of running dry.

    “We do not anticipate having any difficulty meeting demand,” she said. Healdsburg was one of the first cities in the North Bay to enact mandatory conservation measures, imposing rules on homes and businesses last week. People can water landscaping only on certain days, while washing cars and filling swimming pools are prohibited. Willits, in Mendocino County, is also on the state’s list – and it, too, has declared a water shortage and passed mandatory conservation measures. City leaders said the move is a bid to keep the two reservoirs that provide city water from running dry in the spring should the drought persist.

    ‘Preparing for worst’

    “While we are hoping for the best, we want to be proactive in preparing for the worst,” said City Manager Adrienne Moore. A weather system rolling through the Bay Area this week is bringing some needed rain, but not enough of it. Until Wednesday, most of the state had seen little or no rainfall this month, setting up California for a third consecutive dry rainy season. The Bay Area has seen less than 10 percent of the rainfall it ordinarily sees by this point in the season, and forecasters say rain would have to fall every day through May – and heavily – to bring conditions back to normal. In addition to the Bay Area districts, the systems and communities in danger run from Kern County to the south through the Sierra Nevada foothills to the north. The districts at risk serve from 39 to 11,000 residents.

    Communities at risk

    State public health officials have identified 17 towns and water districts that could run out of water within 100 days if nothing is done to enhance their supplies:

    • Shaver Lake Heights Mutual Water Company (Fresno County)
    • Sierra Cedars Community Services District (Fresno County)
    • Bass Lake Water Company (Madera County)
    • Whispering Pines Apartments (Mariposa County)
    • Boulder Canyon Water Association (Kern County)
    • Cypress Canyon Water System (Kern County)
    • Lake Of The Woods Mutual Water Company (Kern County)
    • Camp Condor (Kern County)
    • Jackson Valley Irrigation District (Amador County)
    • City of Willits (Mendocino County)
    • Redwood Valley Community Water District (Mendocino County)
    • Brooktrail Township Community Services District (Mendocino County)
    • Washington Ridge Conservation Camp (Nevada County)
    • Ophir Gardens (Placer County)
    • Lompico Water District (Santa Cruz County)
    • City of Cloverdale (Sonoma County)
    • City of Healdsburg (Sonoma County)

     

     

    Jay Lund and Ellen Hanak: Resistance is futile — 10 inevitable water changes [in California]

    Posted January 11, 2014 at 6 p.m. “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt” — anonymous

    Water policy in California has always been about making and resisting change. The gold mining period, the growth of agriculture and cities, and today’s environmental priorities all led to fundamental changes in water and land management, law and regulation. These changes were driven by environmental degradation and the evolution of California’s economic structure and societal priorities. Change has rarely happened quickly, and it has usually been controversial….California water policy and management will need to prepare for these seeming inevitabilities and find solutions that support a strong economy and a healthy environment, while easing transitions for vulnerable groups. Here is our list of 10 changes to come:

    1. Parts of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta will permanently flood….

    2. Reduced diversions of water from the Delta also seem inevitable….

    3. The Tulare Basin and San Joaquin River regions will have less irrigated agriculture. ….

    4. Urban areas will use less water per capita, reuse more wastewater and capture more stormwater. ….

    5. Some native species will become unsustainable in the wild despite protective efforts. ….

    6. Funding for water system solutions will become even more local and regional. ….

    7. State and federal regulations will increasingly drive water management. ….

    8. Groundwater in many agricultural areas will be increasingly contaminated by nitrate. ….

    9. California’s groundwater will become more tightly and formally managed. ….

    10. The Salton Sea will be largely abandoned by humans, fish and waterfowl. ….

    Most of these changes will be accompanied by prolonged angst, as well as studies, controversies and expense. After all, the details of how each change is managed are worth millions of dollars to individual stakeholder groups. Forward-looking adaptive actions are likely to reduce the pain and improve the prospects for water supporting the kind of society, economy and environment that Californians desire. That will require facing change head on and planning for the inevitable, rather than wishfully thinking that California can avoid change.

     

     

    Big Dam Turnaround: In the latest twist in society’s love-hate relationship with dams, the structures could serve as engineered resilience to climate change.

    Shasta Dam, California © iStockphoto.com/slobo

    @VirginiaGewin Freelance science journalist

    January 27, 2014 — It’s official: Last year was Australia’s hottest on record. As temperatures go up Down Under, so do concerns about how to keep rivers cool in a warming world. Ironically, the soundest solution could mean tapping into what has long been considered a pollutant. Until recently, scientists only studied how cold water releases from dams can send a thermal shock to downstream aquatic species — impacting fish growth and reproduction. But, not long from now due to the changing climate, what was a thermal shock could be a cool splash of relief, as dam managers increase efforts to mimic the timing and quantity of natural stream flows. A growing trickle of evidence, including a 2013 report [PDF] from Australia’s National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, suggests that dams can provide engineered resilience to climate change — if we can figure out how to dial in a suitable temperature. It’s a strategy dam managers around the world are exploring. Dams have, unquestionably, altered stream ecology — and have long been vilified for blocking fish migrations. But the deep reservoirs of dammed water do something free-flowing rivers can’t: stratify so that the cooler layers settle to the bottom, blanketed by the lower density, sun-kissed surface waters. And most dams, especially those in Australia, are built to release water from the chilliest lower levels. Australia is feeling the heat sooner than most. Melbourne’s average annual number of days above 35 C (95 F) are expected to increase — from nine days currently to 26 by 2070 — meaning, among other things, Australia’s native freshwater fishes face an uncertain future. “We don’t have a lot of room to play with here in Australia because the continent is generally flat, so fish can’t easily swim up in altitude to find cooler water,” says Jamie Pittock, an international expert on the sustainable management of water at Australian National University in Canberra…..

     

    These Backpacks For Cow Farts Reduce Climate Change And Generate Power

    Bovine farts are powerful enough to power your refrigerator. The trick, which this gear nicely solves, is capturing the gas that is passed.

    January 28, 2014

    Argentine researchers are using special backpacks made for cows to capture cow belches and turn them into power while fighting climate change. The cows are each hooked up to tubes that carry flatulence away from the cow’s digestive system and store the gas in a balloon-like bag on their backs. Since their belches are mostly made up of methane–the main component of natural gas–the contents of the backpack can be converted into energy that can actually be used. Is it time for a war on cows? A cow can produce up to 300 liters of methane a day, which is enough to keep a refrigerator running for the same amount of time. While cattle aren’t likely to replace standard power plants anytime soon (read: ever), the power could be useful for people living off-grid. “We believe that today it could be used in areas where conventional energy is not available,” Guillermo Berra, the scientist working on the project at Argentina’s National Institute of Agricultural Technology, told the BBC. Argentina might be a good candidate for that type of alternative power, since the country has more than 50 million cows in rural areas (more cows, in fact, than people in the country). But the biggest benefit of the technology, if it takes off beyond the researchers’ experiments, is the potential to help curb climate change…..

     

     

    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE --SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA-- 901 PM PST SUN JAN 26 2014


    DISCUSSION...AS OF 9:00 PM PST SUNDAY......HIGH TEMPERATURES WERE 7 TO 15 DEGREES WARMER THAN NORMAL AND SIX MORE DAILY HIGH TEMPERATURE RECORDS WERE SET OR TIED TODAY. THERE HAVE NOW BEEN 14 CONSECUTIVE DAYS OF RECORD WARMTH IN OUR FORECAST AREA AND A TOTAL OF 80 DAILY HIGH TEMPERATURE RECORDS ACROSS THE SAN FRANCISCO AND MONTEREY BAY AREAS DURING THE MONTH OF JANUARY….. RAINFALL AMOUNTS THROUGH THURSDAY ARE DIFFICULT TO PREDICT WITH MUCH CONFIDENCE AT THIS POINT...BUT THE BEST ESTIMATE AT THIS TIME WOULD BE ANYWHERE FROM 0.25 TO 0.75...WITH PERHAPS AS MUCH AS AN INCH IN THE COASTAL MOUNTAINS OF THE NORTH BAY. AN IMPORTANT QUESTION IS WHETHER THIS MIDWEEK SYSTEM WILL HERALD A LONGER-LASTING PATTERN CHANGE AWAY FROM THE PERSISTENT DRY PATTERN WE`VE SEEN FOR MOST OF THIS WINTER. THE MODELS ARE OFFERING MIXED ANSWERS TO THIS QUESTION. THE 00Z GFS SHOWS A STRONG RIDGE RE-DEVELOPING JUST OFFSHORE DURING THE FIRST WEEK IN FEBRUARY...AS DOES THE 12Z GFS ENSEMBLE MEAN. HOWEVER...THE 12Z ECMWF DEVELOPS A RIDGE FARTHER OFFSHORE...WHICH WOULD LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN FOR CONTINUED UNSETTLED WEATHER.

     

     

     

     

     


    Jekyll And Hyde: The Two Sides Of Obama’s Energy Strategy


    By Joe Romm on January 28, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    CREDIT: C-SPAN In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama once again tried to reconcile the split personality of his energy policy.

    On the one hand, the President clearly stated his Dr. Jekyll commitment to cutting carbon pollution and fighting climate change. But not before he pushed his Mr. Hyde expansion of domestic fossil fuel production, starting early in the speech, where he touted this success: “More oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world –- the first time that’s happened in nearly twenty years.” And he repeated this theme when he began the energy and climate part of his speech: The all-of-the-above energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today, America is closer to energy independence than we’ve been in decades…. It’s not just oil and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar, too. Finally, he touted his climate policy: “Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth. But we have to act with more urgency -– because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods. That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities, and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air. The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.”

    The climate passage is great. It shows that he is committed to using the power he has to cut carbon pollution without waiting for Congress to act. But it is surprising that he stuck with his “all of the above” framing — given that just one week ago the leaders of pretty much every major environmental organization in the country sent him a letter saying this approach is fundamentally incompatible with his climate policy….

     

    The New Farm Bill: Yet Again, Not Ready for Climate Change

    Mother Jones

    Jan 31 2014

     
     

    Written by

    Tom Philpott

     
           

    Wouldn’t you push for a robust, climate change-ready agriculture—one that stores carbon in the soil, helping stabilize the climate while also making farms more resilient to weather extremes?

     

    What The New Farm Bill Means For Energy And The Environment

    By Katie Valentine on January 29, 2014

    Conservation programs, renewable energy, and agriculture are all affected by this year’s Farm Bill.

     

    Wilderness Act Turns 50; Local Celebration Plans Underway

    (Martinez News-Gazette, 01/28/14)
    The Wilderness Act continues to protect pure lands with the yearly possibility of new designations. Currently, California focus areas of the Wilderness Society are the Sierra Nevada, the San Gabriel Mountains and the California Desert. In California, there are 25 national parks, 18 national forests, 270 state parks and beaches and over 15 million acres of BLM lands.


    The Extraordinary Climate And Environmental Legacy Of Henry Waxman


    By Ryan Koronowski on January 30, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Following 40 years of sustained fighting on behalf of human health, the environment, and a livable climate, Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) announced on Thursday that he would retire from Congress after this year…..

     

    Lord Stern: I should have been fiercer in climate change review

    The Guardian January 23, 2014

    Global temperatures are set to be 4-5C higher in the next century and governments are fooling themselves if they think this will only have a modest impact on their economies, says Stern….

     

    Accidents surge as oil industry takes the train. NY TIMES

    The transport of domestic oil by rail has increased rapidly in recent years, because of the lack of pipeline capacity. The trains often travel through populated areas, leading to concerns among residents over the hazards they can pose, including spills and fires.

     

    Final State Water Action Plan released: Outlines California’s near- and long-term water priorities

    Maven’s Notebook January 27, 2014 ….”As California experiences one of the driest winters on record, the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture released the final California Water Action Plan, laying out goals and vision for the next five years. The plan will guide state efforts to enhance water supply reliability, restore damaged and destroyed ecosystems, and improve the resilience of our infrastructure…. The Governor’s proposed 2014-15 budget lays a solid fiscal foundation for implementing near-term actions for the plan, recommending $618.7 million in funding for water efficiency projects, wetland and watershed restoration, groundwater programs, conservation, flood control, and integrated water management…. Final revisions to the draft plan, released in October, include an expanded section on drought response and a new effort focused on better management of Sierra Nevada headwaters that helps water storage and quality, and ecosystems. Public comment on the draft plan made it clear that California must better understand the economic and ecological harm of sustained dry weather. The Governor’s proposed budget would provide $472.5 million in Proposition 84 funds to the Department of Water Resources (DWR) for integrated regional water management. The bond funds would leverage local and federal investment in projects that reduce demand, build supply, and offer additional benefits such as wildlife habitat and flood management. The budget also placed immediate emphasis on water and energy use efficiency and wetlands and coastal watershed restoration to further support the resiliency of water supply and ecosystems during this dry weather period.

    The governor’s budget also would allow DWR to better monitor the groundwater resources that provide more than one-third of California’s supplies in dry years, and supports the development of a state backstop for sustainable groundwater management practices by the State Water Resources Control Board, should local efforts to do so not materialize…. Key actions identified in the Plan include:

    • Make conservation a California way of life.
    • Increase regional self-reliance and integrated water management across all levels of government.
    • Achieve the co-equal goals for the Delta.
    • Protect and restore important ecosystems.
    • Manage and prepare for dry periods.
    • Expand water storage capacity and improve groundwater management.
    • Provide safe water for all communities.
    • Increase flood protection.
    • Increase operational and regulatory efficiency.
    • Identify sustainable and integrated financing opportunities.

    The report is available here.

     

    Bay Area Democrats, Central Valley GOP clash over water

    Carolyn Lochhead SF Chronicle Updated 10:41 pm, Wednesday, January 29, 2014

     Washington — Republican leaders are expected to pave the way for House consideration as early as next week of a bill to halt the restoration of the San Joaquin River and send water south to Central Valley farms. The move by GOP Reps. Devin Nunes of Tulare, Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield and David Valadao of Hanford (Kings County) infuriated Bay Area Democrats, who noted that the bill would do nothing for communities, mostly in Northern California, that the state says are on the verge of running out of water. It also evoked the wrath of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who has often broken with her party to secure more water for Central Valley farms. The GOP lawmakers introduced the Sacramento-San Joaquin Valley Emergency Water Delivery Act on Wednesday, just two days after their 11th-hour effort to insert a drought policy rider into the giant five-year farm bill was rejected by the House and Senate agriculture committees. “My constituents are suffering from drought conditions severely exacerbated by erroneous federal regulations,” Valadao said in a statement announcing the bill. The bill is expected to bypass committee consideration and go directly to the House floor. Lawmakers are considering a fast-track procedure that requires assent of two-thirds of the House and is usually reserved for noncontroversial bills. Given staunch Democratic opposition, use of the procedure would all but ensure its defeat. Rep. Jared Huffman, a San Rafael Democrat who sits on the water subcommittee that normally would consider such legislation, called the maneuver “pure political theater” that would allow Republicans to blame Democrats for its failure, which he said “will play really well in the deep-red part of the San Joaquin Valley.” Huffman, whose district includes the North Coast, noted that the Sonoma County towns of Healdsburg and Cloverdale and Willits in Mendocino County are on a state list of communities that have less than 100 days of water remaining.

    Marin County organic dairies are getting “hammered,” he said, because organic milk requires local, organic grass, and pastures are dry, he said. “Forage losses are now at 100 percent in most of Marin County.” The Republicans’ bill would permanently repeal the effort to reconnect the San Joaquin River to San Francisco Bay, which requires increased releases from the Friant Dam east of Fresno. It would also cap water allocations for environmental restorations at 800,000 acre-feet from the current 1.2 million acre-feet….

     

    Global Warming Battle Is Over Market Share, Not Science

    By Barry Ritholtz, Bloomberg January 27, 2014  Last week, the New York Times reported that venerable Dow Jones Industrial Average component Coca-Cola Co. was awakening to the impact of climate change on its business. The increase in unpredictable weather, droughts, floods and other climate-related events was disrupting the company’s product supply. Some of their “essential ingredients” are now under threat. Global warming, according to the article, is being seen “as a force that contributes to lower gross domestic products, higher food and commodity costs, broken supply chains and increased financial risk.” This debate is no longer about whether global warming is real (it is) or whether humans are the most likely cause (you are), but rather, some very interesting and different questions that might be more professionally relevant to finance: How is this going to affect business? What are the investing consequences? Who will be the financial winners and losers of climate change? Investors should be considering this as a fight over market share, not a scientific debate…..

     

     

     

     

     

    New Paper on Developing Local Renewable Energy
    January 29, 2014 Climate Protection Campaign

    The Climate Protection Campaign has just released “Local Energy Resources Development – Planning Concepts.” It is a living document intended to help stimulate a growing conversation about local energy resource development enabled by Sonoma Clean Power. The document describes the Climate Protection Campaign’s vision, approach, and other thoughts about the best ways to advance a local clean energy economy. “Planning Concepts” also presents several potential programs that Sonoma Clean Power might initiate…..

    China installed record amounts of solar power in 2013. But coal is still winning. January 31, 2014 Washington Post

    In 2013, China added at least 12 gigawatts of solar capacity – 50 percent more than any country has ever built in a single year. Impressive. But let’s also put this in context….

     

    Put a plastic bag in your tank: Converting polyethylene waste into liquid fuel
    (January 27, 2014) — Researchers in India have developed a relatively low-temperature process to convert certain kinds of plastic waste into liquid fuel as a way to reuse discarded plastic bags and other products. … > full story

    Electrical current sensors harvest wasted electromagnetic energy
    (January 27, 2014) — Electricity is the lifeblood of modern cities. It flows at every moment and everywhere to power up everything from home appliances which improve our comfort and convenience, to services like transportation, building, communication and manufacturing that are essential to our daily life. To ensure a reliable operation of power grids and a proper delivery of electricity to where it needs to be, it is crucial to have a loyal guard to keep watch on the activities of electricity transport. As technology advances, the safety, reliability and availability of electrical engineering assets and public utilities can now be guarded by one tiny chip of electrical current sensors. … > full story

     

    One step closer to low cost solar cells
    (January 27, 2014) — The dwindling resources for conventional energy sources make renewable energy an exciting and increasingly important avenue of research. However, even seemingly new and green forms of energy production, like silicon-based solar cells, are not as cost effective as they could be. Scientists are now investigating solar cells based on organic materials that have electrodes both flexible and transparent, enabling the fabrication of these solar cells at a low cost. … > full story

     

    Oil drilling on US Arctic coast put on ice. AP January 30, 2014 Oil companies’ rush to find reserves off Alaska’s Arctic shores suffered a setback on Thursday after Shell said it would suspend its operations in the region — and possibly withdraw for good. Shell is the main company to have purchased leases for oilfields off Alaska’s Arctic shores, but its attempts to drill have been halting due to technical and legal hurdles.

     

    Actually, Electric Cars Are Good for the Planet

    By Will Oremus January 27 2014

    Here’s a news flash, courtesy of tech blog the Verge: “Electric cars won’t save the planet.” The argument, based on a policy analysis from a civil engineering professor at North Carolina State University, hinges on two points.

    First, passenger vehicles account for only about 20 percent of U.S. emissions today. So even if they all ran on fairy dust, we’d still be polluting the air in plenty of other ways. And second, electric cars don’t run on fairy dust: Most of them run on power from the U.S. electricity grid, a lot of which comes from burning coal and natural gas (for now, anyway). Both of these things are true, and it’s also true that electric cars on their own won’t save the planet. True, but trivial—and, all in all, a lazy and counterproductive thing to say. Of course electric cars on their own won’t save the planet. Who on Earth would disagree with that? At the risk of belaboring the point, here is a brief partial list off the top of my head of other things that won’t save the planet…. “It’s not that there’s no emissions benefit from electric drive vehicles,” the paper’s author, Joseph DeCarolis, told me in a phone interview. “It’s that there’s all this other stuff going on in this larger energy system that effects overall emissions.” As is often the case, the headlines don’t match what the study actually says. …

     

     


    Towards a Sustainable School Cafeteria


    [about my sister's work in NYC!]

    Karen Moline, TruthAtlas Special Correspondent • Jan. 28, 2014 • Innovators, Special FeatureComments (0) • 131

    Debby Lee Cohen showing second graders from PS 20 Manhattan how to make whiskers for styro hand-puppets; as a part of Cafeteria Culture’s “ARTS+ACTION, Make Change Messaging workshop.” Photo by Atsuko Quirk for Cafeteria Culture.

    NEW YORK, NY–”It’s not easy being green,” sang Sesame Street’s Kermit the Frog. He may have been lamenting his skin color, but he could just have easily been lamenting the destruction of our environment and the unwitting hazards placed in front of our children. This hit home for 54-year-old New Yorker Debby Lee Cohen when she took her daughter Anna, now 12, to a climate-change exhibit at the Museum of Natural History in 2009. Anna stared at one diorama in particular–a polar bear sitting on a pile of trash. “When we got home, she told me she didn’t want to eat school lunches anymore, because she wanted to save the polar bears,” Debby Lee says. “It took me a year to realize she’d connected the Styrofoam trash in the diorama with what she was handed in the school cafeteria.”….

     

     

     

    1. RESOURCES and REFERENCES

     
     

     

     

     


     

     

     

     

     

    Webinar Recording Available: Metadata for Documenting and Sharing Geospatial Data

    Click here to watch this webinar by Deanne DiPietro, CA LCC Data Manager, on what geospatial metadata is and why it is important for internal data management and climate-smart planning. A second webinar on creating FGDC standard metadata using ESRI’s Arc Catalog will be advertised soon. The previously advertised date has been postponed. Click here to access resources on this topic.

     

    SF Bay State of the Estuary Conference Report

     

     

    Lake Tahoe’s Pioneering Approach to
    Regional Sustainability Planning

    Congratulations to the Lake Tahoe Sustainability Collaborative, Tahoe Basin Partnership for Sustainable Communities, Tahoe Metropolitan Planning Organization (TMPO), and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) for the release of the Lake Tahoe Sustainability Action Plan. This is a major milestone for the Lake Tahoe Sustainable Communities Program.The Sustainability Action Plan is a toolkit for Tahoe Region agencies to consistently incorporate sustainability into all aspects of planning. Many cross-cutting sustainability strategies are addressed, including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction, climate change adaptation and resilience, natural resource protection, community health, social equity, and economic prosperity. The plan empowers the community to participate by offering ideas to residents, businesses, schools, and visitors to reduce their own environmental impact and help implement the plan…

     

    WEBINARS:


    COASTAL BLUE CARBON

    Thursday, February 6th at 3:30 p.m. ET to discuss Restore America’s Estuaries’ upcoming landmark blue carbon report which for the first time, documents the climate benefits of restoration efforts at-scale. The report will be released at 9:30 ET on the 6th. 

     
     

    WHEN: Thursday, February 6, 2014 Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

     
     

    HOW: To receive the webinar link and dial-in passcode, register here: To

     https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/9041105250798563073    Please note that webinar space is limited.

     
     

    The webinar will feature two of the report’s authors: Dr. Steve Crooks (ESA) and Steve Emmett-Mattox (RAE) who will share information about the exciting results and national implications. The report: “Coastal Blue Carbon Opportunity Assessment for the Snohomish Estuary: The Climate Benefits of Estuary Restoration,” provides a much needed approach for determining blue carbon benefits of restoration in other geographic areas. More information on RAE’s Blue Carbon efforts, please check out our website. This report was a collaborative effort of Restore America’s Estuaries, Environmental Science Associates (ESA), EarthCorps, and Western Washington University and lead funding was provided by NOAA’s Office of Habitat Conservation, and additional support was provided by The Boeing Company and the Wildlife Forever Fund. We hope you can join us.

         
     

    Please note that webinar space is limited.

    California Dept of Fish and Wildlife CLIMATE COLLEGE- Year 2- Marine Focus- starts Mon Feb. 10th 2 pm PT (7 part lecture series)

    The California Department of Fish and Wildlife will hold the second iteration of its Climate College in the spring of 2014, this time focusing on the state’s marine resources and featuring tribal perspectives on marine ecosystem management….The course will describe California’s unique challenges and opportunities in managing its 1,100 miles of coastline, bays/estuaries, and marine protected areas under climate impacts.  It will also discuss case studies to show examples of responses to climate impacts. The second Climate College course will consist of a 7-part lecture series with the first class scheduled for 2pm on Monday, February 10th in the Resources Building Auditorium at 1416 9th Street, Sacramento.  Remaining classes are still being planned, and will be posted as they are confirmed.  We encourage all who are interested to participate either in person or via WebEx.  Please check this web page for future updates:  http://www.dfg.ca.gov/Climate_and_Energy/Climate_Change/Climate_College/

     


    The Biology of Soil Compaction February 11, 2014
    2PM Eastern / 11AM Pacific

    Jim Hoorman Extension Educator, Cover Crops and Water Quality, The Ohio State University 

    This webinar is presented by the USDA NRCS National Soil Health and Sustainability Team located at the East National Technology Support Center.  Join the Webinar  Save to Calendar 

    Related Files  AEX-543-09 The Biology of Soil Compaction.pdf (1159Kb)

     

     

    Vulnerability Assessment for Focal Resources of the Sierra Nevada- February 12, 2014 12:00-1:00pm PST
    Chrissy Howell, US Forest Service, and Jessi Kershner, EcoAdapt, will present results of focal resource vulnerability assessments from the Sierra Nevada and discuss broader impacts and next steps for adaptation implementation. Click here for more information on this CA LCC project. To join the online meeting.

    1. Click here

    2. If a password is required, enter the meeting password: calcc

    3. Call-in number: 1-866-737-4154

    4. Passcode: 287 267 0

     

     

     

    UPCOMING CONFERENCES:

     
     

    California Drought Forum, planned for February 19-20, in Sacramento, California

    We would like to invite you to the California Drought Forum, planned for February 19-20, in Sacramento, California.  The Forum is being co-organized and co-sponsored by the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and California partners.This two-day event will cover a range of critical drought topics, including current drought conditions, the outlook for continued drought, impacts and responses among different sectors, drought forecasting and monitoring, early warning information needs and resources, and opportunities to improve drought preparedness, resilience, and readiness. More details will be coming soon.  For now, please hold the dates, and we look forward to seeing you at the Forum.  

    Anne Steinemann, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; University of California, San Diego; CIRES / NIDIS University of Colorado, Boulder

     

     

    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. 

     

     

     

    Climate-Smart Conservation  NWF/NCTC ALC3195 

    March 4-6, 2014 Sacramento State University – Modoc Hall. Sacramento, CA 3 days /no tuition for this class.

    The target audience includes conservation practitioners and natural resource managers working at multiple scales to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of their work in an era of climate change. This course is based on a forthcoming guide to the principles and practice of Climate-Smart Conservation. This publication is the product of an expert workgroup on climate change adaptation convened by the National Wildlife Federation in collaboration with the FWS’s National Conservation Training Center and other partners (see sidebar). The course is designed to demystify climate adaptation for application to on-the-ground conservation. It will provide guidance in how to carry out adaptation with intentionality, how to manage for change and not just persistence, how to craft climate-informed conservation goals, and how to integrate adaptation into on-going work. Conservation practitioners and natural resource managers will learn to become savvy consumers of climate information, tools, and models. Register online at http://training.fws.gov . In partnership with staff from National Wildlife Federation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, EcoAdapt, Geos Institute, and Point Blue Conservation Science.

    Contact for Registration Questions: Jill DelVecchio at 304/876-7424 or jill_delvecchio@fws.gov  

    Contact for Content Questions: Christy Coghlan at 304/876-7438 or christy_coghlan@fws.gov

     

     

    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

     

     

    California Adaptation Forum 
    August 18-20, 2014
    .

    This two-day forum will build off a successful National Adaptation Forum held in Colorado in 2013. The attendance of many California leaders there underscored the need for a California-focused event, which will be held every other year to complement the biennial national conference.  To register go to:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/886364449

     

     

    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.  

    2015 NOAA Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

    California Sea Grant College Program is now seeking applications for the 2015 NOAA Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship.  Deadline: February 14, 2014

    The Knauss Fellowship, established in 1979, provides a unique educational experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean and coastal resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. 

     

    Western Rivers Conservancy Lands Director

    Additional information regarding Olive Grove www.theolivegrove.com and Western Rivers Conservancy www.westernrivers.org can be found on our websites.

    Vegetation & Fire Ecologist Marin County- The Vegetation and Fire Ecologist will develop, plan, organize and administer the functions and activities of the Vegetation and Biodiversity Management Plan (VBMP) and associated Environmental Impact Report, in order to reduce fire fuels and protect the natural biodiversity of Marin County Parks. Closes 2/18/2014

     

     

     

    1. OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST


    Startling Number of Scientific Papers Disputed Human-Caused Global Warming …


    Weather Channel January 23 2014

    Despite searching just over a year’s worth of the scientific literature on global warming and climate change, one man’s exhaustive search could turn up only a single paper that dissented from the consensus view on the human causes of global warming….

     

    Why Birds Attacked the Peace Doves in Rome

    National Geographic

     - Jan 27 2014‎

           

    The irony was too much: When Pope Francis and two children released two white “peace doves” at the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City on Sunday, the doves were immediately attacked by other birds, losing feathers and being driven away as a huge crowd 

     

    300,000-year-old hearth found: Microscopic evidence shows repeated fire use in one spot over time
    (January 27, 2014) — When did humans really begin to control fire and use it for their daily needs? Scientists discovered in the Qesem Cave, an archaeological site near present-day Rosh Ha’ayin, the earliest evidence — dating to around 300,000 years ago — of unequivocal repeated fire building over a continuous period. These findings help answer the question and hint that those prehistoric humans already had a highly advanced social structure and intellectual capacity. … > full story


    Natural plant compound prevents Alzheimer’s disease in mice
    (January 27, 2014) — A chemical that’s found in fruits and vegetables from strawberries to cucumbers appears to stop memory loss that accompanies Alzheimer’s disease in mice, scientists have discovered. In experiments on mice that normally develop Alzheimer’s symptoms less than a year after birth, a daily dose of the compound — a flavonol called fisetin — prevented the progressive memory and learning impairments. The drug, however, did not alter the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, accumulations of proteins which are commonly blamed for Alzheimer’s disease. … > 
    full story

     

    Cannabis during pregnancy endangers fetal brain development
    (January 27, 2014) — A current study by an international consortium of researchers shows that the consumption of Cannabis during pregnancy can impair the development of the fetus’ brain with long-lasting effects after birth. Cannabis is particularly powerful to derail how nerve cells form connections, potentially limiting the amount of information the affected brain can process. … > full story


    Those Beads in Your Body Wash? They’re Harming Ecosystems


    Truthdig

     - ‎Jan 26, 2014‎

     

    Drug to reverse breast cancer spread in development
    (January 25, 2014) — Researchers are developing a novel compound known to reverse the spread of malignant breast cancer cells. The vast majority of deaths from cancer result from its progressive spread to vital organs, known as metastasis. In breast cancer up to 12,000 patients a year develop this form of the disease, often several years after initial diagnosis of a breast lump. In a recent series of studies, researchers identified a previously unknown critical role for a potential cancer causing gene, Bcl3, in metastatic breast cancer. … > full story

     

     

     

    1. IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

     

    Possible siting of extremely rare North Pacific Right Whale in Baja, likely seen off Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge in early January by Point Blue’s Ryan Berger—

    American Cetacean Society– https://www.facebook.com/acs.lachapter

    ….”The researchers at the Farallon Islands off San Francisco reported possibly seeing a right whale from a distance last month. “Point Blue Conservation Science” [formerly Point Reyes Bird Observatory that manages and does research on the Farallones reported on January 4, 2014 seeing a whale with a V-shaped blow near the Farallon Islands off San Francisco, but the whale was not seen again by other whale-watching operations further south.”

     

    Pics from wildlife cams tell a story (30-pic gallery)

    Posted on January 25, 2014 | By tstienstra@sfchronicle.com (Tom Stienstra)

    A series of candid moments with mountain lions, bears and other wildlife, captured with trail cams this winter across the Bay Area and Northern California, show wildlife in a little-seen world where they think nobody is watching.

    To get this mountain lion photo, it took five weeks after John Richards mounted a wildlife cam above Foothills Park, located on the Peninsula near Skyline. Photo by John Richards

     

     


     

     


     

     


     

     


     

    Sea Stars, formerly referred to as “starfish”, have which of the following characteristics:

    (g) a, c, and e

    EXPLANATION: Sea stars do have multiple arms, and can regenerate arms when lost, but not two at a time. Some sea stars start with a smaller number of arms and grow more as they get older. Sea stars do have hundreds of tube feet on the bottom of each arm, but there are only two eyes per arm.

    SOURCES:
    Sea Stars Photo Gallery
    (National Geographic Website)
    http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/photos/starfish/

    Exploring the Rocky Shores of the Southern Oregon Coast
    (Oregon Tidepooling.com Website):
    http://www.ca.blm.gov/qqld

    RELATED: Starfish Die-off: What’s Killing Sea Stars Along the California Coastline?
    (Los Altos Patch, 01/03/14)
    Starfish are mysteriously dying from a ‘sea star wasting disease’ and scientists aren’t sure whom or what to blame.
    http://www.ca.blm.gov/pqld

    ————

    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. Climate Scientists as Advocates

    Leave a Comment


    If You See Something, Say Something



    By MICHAEL E. MANN NY TIMES OPINION JAN. 17, 2014

    STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — THE overwhelming consensus among climate scientists is that human-caused climate change is happening. Yet a fringe minority of our populace clings to an irrational rejection of well-established science. This virulent strain of anti-science infects the halls of Congress, the pages of leading newspapers and what we see on TV, leading to the appearance of a debate where none should exist.

    In fact, there is broad agreement among climate scientists not only that climate change is real (a survey and a review of the scientific literature published say about 97 percent agree), but that we must respond to the dangers of a warming planet. If one is looking for real differences among mainstream scientists, they can be found on two fronts: the precise implications of those higher temperatures, and which technologies and policies offer the best solution to reducing, on a global scale, the emission of greenhouse gases.

    For example, should we go full-bore on nuclear power? Invest in and deploy renewable energy — wind, solar and geothermal — on a huge scale? Price carbon emissions through cap-and-trade legislation or by imposing a carbon tax? Until the public fully understands the danger of our present trajectory, those debates are likely to continue to founder.

    This is where scientists come in. In my view, it is no longer acceptable for scientists to remain on the sidelines. I should know. I had no choice but to enter the fray. I was hounded by elected officials, threatened with violence and more — after a single study I co-wrote a decade and a half ago found that the Northern Hemisphere’s average warmth had no precedent in at least the past 1,000 years. Our “hockey stick” graph became a vivid centerpiece of the climate wars, and to this day, it continues to win me the enmity of those who have conflated a problem of science and society with partisan politics.

    So what should scientists do? At one end of the spectrum, you have the distinguished former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, James Hansen, who has turned to civil disobedience to underscore the dangers he sees. He was arrested in 2009 protesting mountaintop removal coal mining, then again in 2011 and 2013 in Washington protesting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Texas Gulf. He has warned that the pipeline, which awaits approval by the State Department, would open the floodgates to dirty tar sands oil from Canada, something he says would be “game over for the climate.”

    Dr. Hansen recently published an article in the journal PLoS One with the economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia’s Earth Institute, and other scientists, making a compelling case that emissions from fossil fuel burning must be reduced rapidly if we are to avert catastrophic climate change. They called for the immediate introduction of a price on carbon emissions, arguing that it is our moral obligation to not leave a degraded planet behind for our children and grandchildren.

    This activist approach has concerned some scientists, even those who have been outspoken on climate change. One of them, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who has argued that “the only ethical path is to stop using the atmosphere as a waste dump for greenhouse gas pollution,” expressed concern about the “presentation of such a prescriptive and value-laden work” in a paper not labeled opinion.

    Are Dr. Hansen and his colleagues going too far? Should we resist commenting on the implications of our science? There was a time when I would, without hesitation, have answered “yes” to this question. In 2003, when asked in a Senate hearing to comment on a matter of policy, I readily responded that “I am not a specialist in public policy” and it would not “be useful for me to testify on that.”

    It is not an uncommon view among scientists that we potentially compromise our objectivity if we choose to wade into policy matters or the societal implications of our work. And it would be problematic if our views on policy somehow influenced the way we went about doing our science. But there is nothing inappropriate at all about drawing on our scientific knowledge to speak out about the very real implications of our research.

    My colleague Stephen Schneider of Stanford University, who died in 2010, used to say that being a scientist-advocate is not an oxymoron. Just because we are scientists does not mean that we should check our citizenship at the door of a public meeting, he would explain. The New Republic once called him a “scientific pugilist” for advocating a forceful approach to global warming. But fighting for scientific truth and an informed debate is nothing to apologize for.

    If scientists choose not to engage in the public debate, we leave a vacuum that will be filled by those whose agenda is one of short-term self-interest. There is a great cost to society if scientists fail to participate in the larger conversation — if we do not do all we can to ensure that the policy debate is informed by an honest assessment of the risks. In fact, it would be an abrogation of our responsibility to society if we remained quiet in the face of such a grave threat.

    This is hardly a radical position. Our Department of Homeland Security has urged citizens to report anything dangerous they witness: “If you see something, say something.” We scientists are citizens, too, and, in climate change, we see a clear and present danger. The public is beginning to see the danger, too — Midwestern farmers struggling with drought, more damaging wildfires out West, and withering record summer heat across the country — while wondering about possible linkages between rapid Arctic warming and strange weather patterns, like the recent outbreak of Arctic air across much of the United States.

    The urgency for action was underscored this past week by a draft United Nations report warning that another 15 years of failure to cut heat-trapping emissions would make the problem virtually impossible to solve with known technologies and thus impose enormous costs on future generations. It confirmed that the sooner we act, the less it will cost.

    How will history judge us if we watch the threat unfold before our eyes, but fail to communicate the urgency of acting to avert potential disaster? How would I explain to the future children of my 8-year-old daughter that their grandfather saw the threat, but didn’t speak up in time?

    Those are the stakes.

    Michael E. Mann is the director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University and the author of “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines.”

     

    If You See Something, Say Something: Another Top Climatologist On The Necessity Of Speaking Out

    By Joe Romm on January 21, 2014 at 5:40 pm  www.climateprogress.org

    Back in 2010, the great cryo-scientist Lonnie Thompson wrote a terrific paper explaining why more and more climate scientists were speaking out:

    Virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.”

     

    Contrast that to President Obama as quoted in the current New Yorker, “I think we are fortunate at the moment that we do not face a crisis of the scale and scope that Lincoln or F.D.R. faced.” In fact, World War II (and the Civil War) are good analogies for the scale and scope of the crisis we face (as I argued 5 years ago). Climatologists have their work cut out for them getting this message out.  On Sunday leading climatologist Michael Mann had a must-read New York Times op-ed [see above] elaborating on the moral necessity of speaking up, “If You See Something, Say Something.” ….

     

    Well, for an individual, attempts to avoid the severe health consequences of cigarette smoking by smoking less may turn out to be futile — and yet it is the smart thing to do. And it is the moral responsibility of their doctor to tell them so — particularly since we know that, overall, the population benefits from a large-scale reduction in smoking. And so it is with carbon pollution.

    Scientists can change their minds, of course, but that typically happens on the basis of evidence. And the evidence for dangerous climate change has gotten stronger over time. Indeed, recent research underscores the fact that the uncertainties still remaining in climate science are primarily about whether things will be even worse than most of the models have been projecting — see “Nature Bombshell: Observations Point To 10°F Warming by 2100.” As the lead author, Prof Steven Sherwood, said of his findings this month:

    “Climate sceptics like to criticize climate models for getting things wrong, and we are the first to admit they are not perfect, but what we are finding is that the mistakes are being made by those models which predict less warming, not those that predict more.”….

     

    Fresh Views on Climate Scientists as Advocates

    By ANDREW C. REVKIN

    Kirsten Luce for The New York Times New York City’s slogan for watchfulness against potential terrorists was appropriated by a tattoo artist in 2007.

    Updated, 4:54 p.m. | “If You See Something, Say Something,” is the headline on a Sunday Op-Ed article by Michael E. Mann, the Penn State climate scientist who, after years of attacks from groups fighting restrictions on greenhouse gases, has become a prominent climate and political campaigner, as well. The piece appropriately defends the right of scientists to be citizens, fighting disinformation and pressing for action — a theme explored here starting with a 2008 contribution from Richard Somerville, a longtime climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

     

    ….There’s a troubling section, however, in which Mann creates a flawed dichotomy, hailing a paper by James Hansen and Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University (and others) pressing for deep carbon cuts and criticizing a peer,* Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution, for complaining that the paper failed the Stephen Schneider / Gavin Schmidt test for distinguishing between the “is” of science and the “ought” determined by individual feelings about the state of the world and how to shape it…

     

    …..Climate scientists, like all of us, come in all shapes and sizes and demeanors. I agree with Mann that it’s unwise for scientists to avoid the public debate over drivers of climate risk and options for reducing it. But I agree with Caldeira (and Gavin Schmidt and the departed Steve Schneider) that it’s counterproductive to blur lines between observations based on science and values-based views on solutions. Here’s Caldeira’s note:

     

    “The issue of going beyond expertise is an important one. There is a disease wherein one develops expertise in one area and then feels free to pontificate on other areas about which one knows nothing. This is an affliction of many senior scientists, common even among Nobel Prize winners, and an affliction to which I have not been immune. If someone is speaking with great confidence while uttering pure hogwash, this does tend to reduce confidence in the utterances of the scientist. So, there is a cost to science and to our personal credibility when scientists make poorly supported assertions in areas outside of their expertise. In any case, scientists should be clear when they are making an assertion that is an empirical fact and when they are simply expressing their values and political opinions. Human beings do have a responsibility to speak out on issues that we feel strongly about.

     

    One way to thread the needle is for climate scientists to speak out loudly and in detail about the areas we know something about — climate change and its consequences — but then speak with a greater degree of generality when coming to prescriptions about what exactly we should do. In other words, it is one thing to say (as a human being who happens to be a scientist) that we need to stop using the sky as a waste dump for our greenhouse gas pollution. It is another thing entirely to wegh in on specific policy instruments (taxes versus cap-and-trade versus regulations), specific energy technologies, and so on. It is fine for climate scientists to say (as human beings) that we need policies to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, that to do this we will need energy technologies with near-zero emissions, etc, and that we need to do all of this very soon.

     

    It disturbs me when anyone, including climate scientists, (1) fails to distinguish between matters of empirical fact and matters of values and political opinion, and (2) speaks with an air of authority on topics about which they are largely ignorant.I do not claim to be entirely innocent of either of these transgressions. Although I work to try to keep myself on the straight and narrow, I do sometimes succumb to temptation.”

     

    Postscript, 5:00 p.m. *| At the asterisk above, my characterization of Mann’s positions, as Mann and others have said on Twitter, was indeed too caricatured — although I maintain that his piece could easily be interpreted as very sympathetic to one approach and critical of the other. Ken Caldeira offered this note in the comment thread:

    Michael Mann and I largely agree on what needs to be done, and our primary differences relate to what we do in the role of ‘informed citizen’ and what we do in the role of ‘scientist’.  I was thankful that he quoted me, airing alternate views in his Op-Ed piece. Michael Mann may or may not be critical of my viewpoint, but I see no evidence that he is critical of me as a person. Some of my best friends are people I strongly disagree with. A more difficult question is what a scientist should do when we feel strongly about something but have no special relevant expertise. For example, if I feel strongly that Obama should pardon Edward Snowden, should I make public statements on this matter? Would I be using my standing as a climate scientist to communicate about civil liberties and national security issues about which I am not expert? Is this bad? Is keeping quiet about injustice that I perceive a greater evil? In any case, it seems important for scientists to make clear that our political statements are in our roles as ordinary people, not in our role as climate scientists…..

     

     

     


  3. Conservation Science News January 24, 2014

    Leave a Comment

    Focus of the WeekClimate Scientists as Advocates

    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.  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- Climate Scientists as Advocates

     


    If You See Something, Say Something


    By MICHAEL E. MANN NY TIMES OPINION JAN. 17, 2014

    STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — THE overwhelming consensus among climate scientists is that human-caused climate change is happening. Yet a fringe minority of our populace clings to an irrational rejection of well-established science. This virulent strain of anti-science infects the halls of Congress, the pages of leading newspapers and what we see on TV, leading to the appearance of a debate where none should exist.

    In fact, there is broad agreement among climate scientists not only that climate change is real (a survey and a review of the scientific literature published say about 97 percent agree), but that we must respond to the dangers of a warming planet. If one is looking for real differences among mainstream scientists, they can be found on two fronts: the precise implications of those higher temperatures, and which technologies and policies offer the best solution to reducing, on a global scale, the emission of greenhouse gases.

    For example, should we go full-bore on nuclear power? Invest in and deploy renewable energy — wind, solar and geothermal — on a huge scale? Price carbon emissions through cap-and-trade legislation or by imposing a carbon tax? Until the public fully understands the danger of our present trajectory, those debates are likely to continue to founder.

    This is where scientists come in. In my view, it is no longer acceptable for scientists to remain on the sidelines. I should know. I had no choice but to enter the fray. I was hounded by elected officials, threatened with violence and more — after a single study I co-wrote a decade and a half ago found that the Northern Hemisphere’s average warmth had no precedent in at least the past 1,000 years. Our “hockey stick” graph became a vivid centerpiece of the climate wars, and to this day, it continues to win me the enmity of those who have conflated a problem of science and society with partisan politics.

    So what should scientists do? At one end of the spectrum, you have the distinguished former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, James Hansen, who has turned to civil disobedience to underscore the dangers he sees. He was arrested in 2009 protesting mountaintop removal coal mining, then again in 2011 and 2013 in Washington protesting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Texas Gulf. He has warned that the pipeline, which awaits approval by the State Department, would open the floodgates to dirty tar sands oil from Canada, something he says would be “game over for the climate.”

    Dr. Hansen recently published an article in the journal PLoS One with the economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia’s Earth Institute, and other scientists, making a compelling case that emissions from fossil fuel burning must be reduced rapidly if we are to avert catastrophic climate change. They called for the immediate introduction of a price on carbon emissions, arguing that it is our moral obligation to not leave a degraded planet behind for our children and grandchildren.

    This activist approach has concerned some scientists, even those who have been outspoken on climate change. One of them, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who has argued that “the only ethical path is to stop using the atmosphere as a waste dump for greenhouse gas pollution,” expressed concern about the “presentation of such a prescriptive and value-laden work” in a paper not labeled opinion.

    Are Dr. Hansen and his colleagues going too far? Should we resist commenting on the implications of our science? There was a time when I would, without hesitation, have answered “yes” to this question. In 2003, when asked in a Senate hearing to comment on a matter of policy, I readily responded that “I am not a specialist in public policy” and it would not “be useful for me to testify on that.”

    It is not an uncommon view among scientists that we potentially compromise our objectivity if we choose to wade into policy matters or the societal implications of our work. And it would be problematic if our views on policy somehow influenced the way we went about doing our science. But there is nothing inappropriate at all about drawing on our scientific knowledge to speak out about the very real implications of our research.

    My colleague Stephen Schneider of Stanford University, who died in 2010, used to say that being a scientist-advocate is not an oxymoron. Just because we are scientists does not mean that we should check our citizenship at the door of a public meeting, he would explain. The New Republic once called him a “scientific pugilist” for advocating a forceful approach to global warming. But fighting for scientific truth and an informed debate is nothing to apologize for.

    If scientists choose not to engage in the public debate, we leave a vacuum that will be filled by those whose agenda is one of short-term self-interest. There is a great cost to society if scientists fail to participate in the larger conversation — if we do not do all we can to ensure that the policy debate is informed by an honest assessment of the risks. In fact, it would be an abrogation of our responsibility to society if we remained quiet in the face of such a grave threat.

    This is hardly a radical position. Our Department of Homeland Security has urged citizens to report anything dangerous they witness: “If you see something, say something.” We scientists are citizens, too, and, in climate change, we see a clear and present danger. The public is beginning to see the danger, too — Midwestern farmers struggling with drought, more damaging wildfires out West, and withering record summer heat across the country — while wondering about possible linkages between rapid Arctic warming and strange weather patterns, like the recent outbreak of Arctic air across much of the United States.

    The urgency for action was underscored this past week by a draft United Nations report warning that another 15 years of failure to cut heat-trapping emissions would make the problem virtually impossible to solve with known technologies and thus impose enormous costs on future generations. It confirmed that the sooner we act, the less it will cost.

    How will history judge us if we watch the threat unfold before our eyes, but fail to communicate the urgency of acting to avert potential disaster? How would I explain to the future children of my 8-year-old daughter that their grandfather saw the threat, but didn’t speak up in time?

    Those are the stakes.

    Michael E. Mann is the director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University and the author of “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines.”

     

    If You See Something, Say Something: Another Top Climatologist On The Necessity Of Speaking Out

    By Joe Romm on January 21, 2014 at 5:40 pm www.climateprogress.org

    Back in 2010, the great cryo-scientist Lonnie Thompson wrote a terrific paper explaining why more and more climate scientists were speaking out:

    Virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.”

     

    Contrast that to President Obama as quoted in the current New Yorker, “I think we are fortunate at the moment that we do not face a crisis of the scale and scope that Lincoln or F.D.R. faced.” In fact, World War II (and the Civil War) are good analogies for the scale and scope of the crisis we face (as I argued 5 years ago). Climatologists have their work cut out for them getting this message out. On Sunday leading climatologist Michael Mann had a must-read New York Times op-ed [see above] elaborating on the moral necessity of speaking up, “If You See Something, Say Something.” ….

     

    Well, for an individual, attempts to avoid the severe health consequences of cigarette smoking by smoking less may turn out to be futile — and yet it is the smart thing to do. And it is the moral responsibility of their doctor to tell them so — particularly since we know that, overall, the population benefits from a large-scale reduction in smoking. And so it is with carbon pollution.

    Scientists can change their minds, of course, but that typically happens on the basis of evidence. And the evidence for dangerous climate change has gotten stronger over time. Indeed, recent research underscores the fact that the uncertainties still remaining in climate science are primarily about whether things will be even worse than most of the models have been projecting — see “Nature Bombshell: Observations Point To 10°F Warming by 2100.” As the lead author, Prof Steven Sherwood, said of his findings this month:

    “Climate sceptics like to criticize climate models for getting things wrong, and we are the first to admit they are not perfect, but what we are finding is that the mistakes are being made by those models which predict less warming, not those that predict more.”….

     

    Fresh Views on Climate Scientists as Advocates

    By ANDREW C. REVKIN

    Kirsten Luce for The New York Times New York City’s slogan for watchfulness against potential terrorists was appropriated by a tattoo artist in 2007.

    Updated, 4:54 p.m. | “If You See Something, Say Something,” is the headline on a Sunday Op-Ed article by Michael E. Mann, the Penn State climate scientist who, after years of attacks from groups fighting restrictions on greenhouse gases, has become a prominent climate and political campaigner, as well. The piece appropriately defends the right of scientists to be citizens, fighting disinformation and pressing for action — a theme explored here starting with a 2008 contribution from Richard Somerville, a longtime climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

     

    ….There’s a troubling section, however, in which Mann creates a flawed dichotomy, hailing a paper by James Hansen and Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University (and others) pressing for deep carbon cuts and criticizing a peer,* Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution, for complaining that the paper failed the Stephen Schneider / Gavin Schmidt test for distinguishing between the “is” of science and the “ought” determined by individual feelings about the state of the world and how to shape it…

     

    …..Climate scientists, like all of us, come in all shapes and sizes and demeanors. I agree with Mann that it’s unwise for scientists to avoid the public debate over drivers of climate risk and options for reducing it. But I agree with Caldeira (and Gavin Schmidt and the departed Steve Schneider) that it’s counterproductive to blur lines between observations based on science and values-based views on solutions. Here’s Caldeira’s note:

     

    “The issue of going beyond expertise is an important one. There is a disease wherein one develops expertise in one area and then feels free to pontificate on other areas about which one knows nothing. This is an affliction of many senior scientists, common even among Nobel Prize winners, and an affliction to which I have not been immune. If someone is speaking with great confidence while uttering pure hogwash, this does tend to reduce confidence in the utterances of the scientist. So, there is a cost to science and to our personal credibility when scientists make poorly supported assertions in areas outside of their expertise. In any case, scientists should be clear when they are making an assertion that is an empirical fact and when they are simply expressing their values and political opinions. Human beings do have a responsibility to speak out on issues that we feel strongly about.

     

    One way to thread the needle is for climate scientists to speak out loudly and in detail about the areas we know something about — climate change and its consequences — but then speak with a greater degree of generality when coming to prescriptions about what exactly we should do. In other words, it is one thing to say (as a human being who happens to be a scientist) that we need to stop using the sky as a waste dump for our greenhouse gas pollution. It is another thing entirely to wegh in on specific policy instruments (taxes versus cap-and-trade versus regulations), specific energy technologies, and so on. It is fine for climate scientists to say (as human beings) that we need policies to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, that to do this we will need energy technologies with near-zero emissions, etc, and that we need to do all of this very soon.

     

    It disturbs me when anyone, including climate scientists, (1) fails to distinguish between matters of empirical fact and matters of values and political opinion, and (2) speaks with an air of authority on topics about which they are largely ignorant.I do not claim to be entirely innocent of either of these transgressions. Although I work to try to keep myself on the straight and narrow, I do sometimes succumb to temptation.”

     

    Postscript, 5:00 p.m. *| At the asterisk above, my characterization of Mann’s positions, as Mann and others have said on Twitter, was indeed too caricatured — although I maintain that his piece could easily be interpreted as very sympathetic to one approach and critical of the other. Ken Caldeira offered this note in the comment thread:

    Michael Mann and I largely agree on what needs to be done, and our primary differences relate to what we do in the role of ‘informed citizen’ and what we do in the role of ‘scientist’. I was thankful that he quoted me, airing alternate views in his Op-Ed piece. Michael Mann may or may not be critical of my viewpoint, but I see no evidence that he is critical of me as a person. Some of my best friends are people I strongly disagree with. A more difficult question is what a scientist should do when we feel strongly about something but have no special relevant expertise. For example, if I feel strongly that Obama should pardon Edward Snowden, should I make public statements on this matter? Would I be using my standing as a climate scientist to communicate about civil liberties and national security issues about which I am not expert? Is this bad? Is keeping quiet about injustice that I perceive a greater evil? In any case, it seems important for scientists to make clear that our political statements are in our roles as ordinary people, not in our role as climate scientists…..

     

     

     


     

     

     

     

    Time to leave GDP behind

    Gross domestic product is a misleading measure of national success. Countries should act now to embrace new metrics, urge Robert Costanza and colleagues.

    Robert Costanza, et al NATURE COMMENT 15 January 2014 Nature 505, 283–285 (16 January 2014) doi:10.1038/505283a

    ….Meanwhile, researchers have become much better at measuring what actually does make life worthwhile. The environmental and social effects of GDP growth can be estimated, as can the effects of income inequality2. The psychology of human well-being can now be surveyed comprehensively and quantitatively3,4. A plethora of experiments has produced alternative measures of progress (see Supplementary Information; go.nature.com/bnquxn)…..The chance to dethrone GDP is now in sight. By 2015, the UN is scheduled to announce the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of international objectives to improve global well-being. Developing integrated measures of progress attached to these goals offers the global community the opportunity to define what sustainable well-being means, how to measure it and how to achieve it. Missing this opportunity would condone growing inequality and the continued destruction of the natural capital on which all life on the planet depends.
    WHY ARE WE STUCK? There is broad agreement that global society should strive for a high quality of life that is equitably shared and sustainable. Several groups and reports have concluded that GDP is dangerously inadequate as a measure of quality of life — including those published by the French government’s 2008 Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress10, the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future11 and the European Commission’s ongoing Beyond GDP initiative…..Any ‘top-down’ process must be supplemented with a ‘bottom-up’ engagement of civil society that includes city and regional governments, non-governmental organizations, business and other parties. We recently formed the Alliance for Sustainability and Prosperity (www.asap4all.com) to do just that. This web-based ‘network of networks’ can communicate research about sustainable quality of life and the elements that contribute to it (see Supplementary Information), and so help to build consensus among the thousands of groups now concerned with these issues. The successor to GDP should be a new set of metrics that integrates current knowledge of how ecology, economics, psychology and sociology collectively contribute to establishing and measuring sustainable well-being. The new metrics must garner broad support from stakeholders in the coming conclaves. It is often said that what you measure is what you get. Building the future we desire requires that we measure what we want, remembering that it is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong.

     

    No-till soybean fields give (even some rare) birds foothold in Illinois (January 22, 2014) – Researchers report in a new study that several bird species — some of them relatively rare — are making extensive use of soybean fields in Illinois. The team found significantly more birds and a greater diversity of bird species nesting, roosting and feeding in no-till soybean fields than in tilled fields. … > full story

     

    Changing landscapes not global warming to blame for increased flood risk
    (January 21, 2014) — A timely article considers the findings of an international report on flood risk, and the possible linkage with climate change/global warming and an increase in global and regional flooding. Major flood events occur around the world every year, but with international loss databases documenting increased incidents of flooding, more material loss and greater fatality rates, are these events on the increase, and are they getting worse? A new study published in Hydrological Sciences Journal examines the key reasons for increasing frequency and severity of floods; considering whether this is due to improved reporting by the media, an increasing and expanding global population, or whether climate change is the crucial factor. The authors combine the outcomes of the IPCC Special Report on “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” (SREX report) with more recent research to give a rounded view of the cost of flooding (both human and material), the causes of increased flood risk and predictions of future global flooding patterns. Studies have shown that there is a clear link between population density and flooding. Currently 800 million humans are living in areas vulnerable to flooding. This is predicted to rise by a further 140 million during 21st Century as we see continued economic and population growth. At the same time reduction of woodland, changing river flow and the urbanisation of flood plains will increase flood risk in many regions. .. Whilst scientists recognise that climatic factors such as atmospheric water vapour, evapotranspiration, snowmelt, temperature sequences, ground water and soil moisture content can all contribute to flooding; further long term study of regional flood patterns is needed to fully understand how a change in the climate could alter these climatic factors and impact on future flood risk. Furthermore, whilst climate change and greenhouse gas emissions are strongly linked to flooding, the relationship is very complex, and to date neither empirical analysis nor data modelling has been able to accurately describe the connections. The key message of this research is that: “The scientific community needs to emphasize that the problem of flood losses is mostly about what we do on or to the landscape and that will be the case for decades to come.“….> full story

     

    Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz, et al. Flood risk and climate change: global and regional perspectives. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 2013; : 1 DOI: 10.1080/02626667.2013.857411

     

    Caltrans Agrees to Stop Using Bird-Killing Nets

    by Chris Clarke KCET on January 16, 2014 5:09 PM

    Cliff swallow looks out of its nest in Palo Alto | Photo: Ingrid Taylar/Flickr/Creative Commons License

    California’s transportation agency has agreed to stop using bird netting at its construction sites that ended up killing what may be hundreds of protected cliff swallows at a bridge construction project site in Sonoma County, and the agreement will influence how it conducts its projects elsewhere in the state. According to an announcement released Thursday, Caltrans will remove netting that was intended to keep swallows from nesting on the Petaluma River Bridge and Lakeville Highway Overpass as the two adjacent Route 101 viaducts are being upgraded. According to the group Native Songbird Care and Conservation, one of five groups that filed a federal lawsuit in May 2013 to make Caltrans get rid of the netting, more than a hundred cliff swallows had become fatally entangled in the netting by the previous month. With Thursday’s settlement, the agency is agreeing to use safer measures to keep nesting birds away from its projects, including scheduling those projects to avoid nesting season…..

     

    Constructed Wetlands Save Frogs, Birds Threatened With Extinction

    Jan. 21, 2014 — Science News Daily 

    Over the last few decades, several thousands of wetlands have been constructed in Sweden in agricultural landscapes. The primary reason is that the wetlands prevent a surfeit of nutrients from reaching our oceans and lakes. A study from Halmstad University shows, in addition, that wetlands have contributed to saving several frog and bird species from the “Red List” — a list that shows which species are at risk of dying out in Sweden. In the latest update, five of the nine red-listed bird species that breed in wetlands-including the little grebe and the little ringed plover-could be taken off the list. Yet another bird species was moved to a lower threat category. As regards batrachians, four species-among them the European tree frog-have been taken off the list, and two species have been moved to a lower threat category….

     

    Captive breeding no help to endangered woodrat
    (January 23, 2014) — Captive breeading and release program does not help save the federally endangered Key Largo woodrat, a new study shows. … > full story

     


    Streamflow Alteration Impacts Fish Diversity in Local Rivers


    January 16, 2014 — A US Geological Survey study quantifies change in fish diversity in response to streamflow alteration in the Tennessee River basin. The study highlights the importance of the timing, magnitude, and … > full story

     

    One quarter of the world’s cartilaginous fish, namely sharks and rays, face imminent extinction
    (January 22, 2014) — One quarter of the world’s cartilaginous fish, namely sharks and rays, face extinction within the next few decades, according to the first study to systematically and globally assess their fate. … > full story

    Salamanders Help Predict Health of Forest Ecosystems, Inform Forest Management

    Jan. 22, 2014 — Woodland salamanders are small, lungless amphibians that live in moist, forest habitats throughout the U.S. and the world. Salamanders often serve as vital links in forest food chains; their population size and recovery from major disturbances can help predict the health of forest ecosystems. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have determined that salamander population size reflects forest habitat quality and can predict how ecosystems recover from forest logging activity. MU researchers believe these findings can be translated to other species within forest ecosystems throughout the world

     

    Ocean Radioactivity from Fukushima Leak to be Tracked

    By Tanya Lewis, Staff Writer   |   January 16, 2014 12:15pm ET

    Since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami crippled Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011, concerns have spread among the public that water with traces of radioactive material might be traveling in a plume across the Pacific Ocean toward the west coast of North America.

    Experts say the radiation levels reaching the U.S. coast and Hawaiian Islands will be too low to threaten human health or marine life, but no U.S. government or international agency is actually monitoring radiation in these places.Now, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts is launching a new citizen science project to measure levels of radioactive cesium in water washing up along the West Coast. [Fukushima Radiation Leak: 5 Things You Should Know] “The levels of cesium in the ocean we expect of the west coast of North America are not of concern for our own exposure or fisheries,” said WHOI marine chemist Ken Buesseler, who is leading the project. But whether people agree with these predictions or not, radiation levels should be monitored to confirm them, Buesseler told LiveScience. A recent study suggests the radioactive plume from Fukushima will reach U.S. coastal waters this year, peaking in 2016. But ocean currents off Japan’s eastern coast have most likely diluted the radioactivity to well within safe levels set by the World Health Organization, said study leader Vincent Rossi, an oceanographer and postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Physics and Complex Systems in Spain…..

     

    Seals Are Scientists’ Little Helpers for Collecting Ocean Data

    For the past 10 years, hundreds of seals equipped with special headgear have collected crucial data on ocean temperature and salinity for scientists

    By Rachel Nuwer January 20, 2014 Smithsonian Magazine | Subscribe

    In recruiting a research team, some scientists would do well to include a few seals. Over the past ten years, around 350 of these blubbery mammals—mostly elephant seals, but also Weddell and crabeater seals—have been outfitted as data-collecting helpers in the Southern Ocean. …. According to new research published in Geophysical Research Letters, including seal data in an ocean model paints a significantly more accurate picture of the local environment than relying on buoy-derived information alone.
    Over the past decade, a small army of sensor-equipped seals has produced more than 150,000 environmental profiles. ….Originally, these sensors were invented to gain insight into seal foraging and behavior patterns. … … A seal-sharing program called “Marine Mammals Exploring the Oceans Pole to Pole” was created to facilitate mutual collaboration, and the authors of this new paper just published the calibrated data collected from 2004 to 2010 in the program’s joint database
    ….

     

    Billions and Billions of “Snack Packets” Found Floating in the Ocean

    Scientific American

     - ‎Jan 18, 2014‎

           

    Now postdoc Steven Biller and researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have learned that all sorts of marine bacteria produce extracellular vesicles containing carbon, nutrients, chemicals and genetic material, which other oceanic organisms

     


    Wikimedia Commons/Alena Houšková

    The Endangered Jaguarundi Is Coming Back To Texas

    By Kelly Dickerson January 20, 2014 Business Insider  Its been almost 30 years since the rare jaguarundi was last spotted in Texas, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has plans to change that.  They hope to reintroduce the endangered feline to its native land: the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.  The ultimate goal is to establish a jaguarundi population of 500 by 2050 and get the species safely taken off the endangered list.

     

    Feast or fancy? Black widows shake for love
    (January 17, 2014) — Biologists have found that courting male black widow spiders shake their abdomens to produce carefully pitched vibrations and avoid potential attacks by females — who otherwise may misinterpret the advances as the vibrations of prey. … > full story

     

     

     

     

     

    POINT BLUE IN THE NEWS: 

    Huge Rim Fire Gives Opportunity to Restore Forest Differently

    Scientists in California hope to improve the management tools of salvage logging, replanting, and controlled burns through research.

    January 20, 2014 National Geographic

     

    After fiery devastation comes rebirth, but in the case of last summer’s massive Rim Fire in California, just how that regrowth is best accomplished remains a hot topic. Started by a hunter’s illegal fire that got out of control, the Rim Fire burned about 400 square miles (1,000 square kilometers) of forest in the Sierra Nevadas, from August 17 to October 24, 2013. Exacerbated by a heatwave and drought, the fire caused an estimated $54 million in damage and destroyed 11 homes, three commercial buildings, and 98 outbuildings, despite the efforts of 5,000 firefighters. The blaze engulfed the backwoods of Yosemite National Park(threatening ancient sequoias) and large swaths of Stanislaus National Forest, as well as private land in Tuolumne and Mariposa counties. The fire was named for its proximity to the Rim of the World vista point in the national forest.

     

    Replant—or Not?

    Ryan Burnett, a bird biologist with the California-based conservation group Point Blue, has been studying forest science in the Sierra Nevada for the past 14 years. He noted that fires tend to be good for some species and bad for others. The black-backed woodpecker, for example, a species that is being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act, is a “postfire specialist that benefits from really hot fire,” Burnett said. His research has shown that the woodpecker population increases dramatically after fire kills large numbers of trees. “When trees die, wood-boring beetles come in and lay their eggs in them.” Burnett explained. “Their young eat the wood and become these big, delicious grubs, and woodpeckers go crazy eating them.” To prosper, the woodpeckers need a very high density of snags, or standing dead trees, preferably on the order of 200 to 300 snags per acre, said Burnett. “Forest Service guidelines are only four to five snags per acre, so we’ve told them they need to set places aside for this species, and leave some burned areas totally untouched.” Burnett added, “We know trees will grow in those burned areas eventually, but it will be valuable habitat for [the woodpeckers] for 10 to 20 years.” Leaving heavily burned areas to revert back to forest on their own runs counter to traditional management after a blaze, said Burnett. “The public looks at dead trees and thinks managers aren’t being good stewards of the land.” But his research shows that “places where people did not plant lots of trees right away have higher bird diversity.” Given the way restoration is usually handled, some areas damaged by the Rim Fire are likely to be replanted in the near future, Burnett said. He hopes the science he is working on will help inform which tree species are selected for which areas to provide the richest forest habitat. For example, the fire may offer an opportunity to restore aspens to some areas, since the species depends on fire to open up the forest.

     

    Salvage Logging “Very Controversial”

    The Forest Service is also likely to contract out some amount of “salvage logging” of trees burned by the blaze. That must be done within about two and a half years or the dead trees will rot. Salvage logging is “very controversial,” Burnett said. Opponents of the practice, including many environmentalists, say the benefits to forest health and reducing future fires have not been proved, and claim that the practice is primarily a financial boon to loggers, allowing them to get at trees in protected areas. Done poorly, salvage logging can damage live trees, can hurt the forest’s ability to naturally regenerate, and may actually increase fire risk if dead kindling is left on the ground, critics say. Branham, of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, agrees that salvage logging is “always controversial,” but he’s hopeful that “we can have a discussion about doing salvage and leaving part of the landscape in a condition that supports species.” That’s because the size of the Rim Fire left a “mosaic” landscape, with a range of damage, that “gives a lot of opportunity,” he said.

     

    Fighting Fire With Fire

    The Rim Fire burned so hot because “for the last 75 years, we suppressed fire pretty well,” Burnett said. As a result, a large amount of dead wood built up, so when the forest caught fire in August, it turned into an inferno, spurred by the dry, hot weather. To try to decrease some of that fuel load, the Forest Service has had a policy of doing “mechanical thinning,” or selective logging, particularly around houses and other buildings. “We have to remove some fuel to reduce temperatures of fires, but there’s no way you can thin ten million acres,” Burnett said, referring to the size of forest in the region. Even it that were possible, thinning isn’t a silver bullet. “If fire comes in and it’s hot, it’s going to burn everything—it doesn’t matter if you thin it.” An important management tool is allowing some controlled fires to burn, said Burnett, especially fires sparked by lightning in the spring, when the forest is relatively wet. That way dead wood is naturally pruned. Plus, that opens up more habitat for species of concern, he noted. Branham said consensus has been building among various agencies around more natural fire management. The National Park Service has recently begun experimenting with this approach on its lands, allowing some lightning fires to burn in parts of Yosemite. Such fires are not without risk, however. The Cerro Grande fire in 2000 in Los Alamos, New Mexico, started as a controlled burn, then raged out of control, destroying the homes of 400 families and costing $1 billion. “But we can’t stop fires,” said Burnett. “We can have more fire on our terms or kick the can down the road and have more catastrophic fires. You have to allow fires to burn and recognize the value of fire on the landscape.”

    He added that large tracts of public lands may offer the best laboratories to try more natural fire management. The Rim Fire burned only a handful of buildings, in part because so few people live in the national forest, he noted.

     

    Next 15 years vital for taming warming: UN panel

    AFP  |  Paris 
    January 17, 2014 Last Updated at 20:58 IST

    The next 15 years will be vital in determining whether global warming can be limited to 2C (3.6F) by 2100, with energy and transport presenting the heftiest challenges, according to a draft UN report. “Delaying mitigation through 2030 will increase the challenges…. And reduce the options,” warns a summary of the report seen by AFP. The draft is the third volume in a long-awaited trilogy by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a Nobel-winning group of scientists. Major efforts are needed to brake the growth in carbon emissions for a good chance to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, says the summary. “(It) would entail global consumption losses of one to four percent in 2030, two to six per cent in 2050 and two to 12 per cent in 2100,” the 29-page summary says. These costs do not factor in benefits, such as growth in new areas of the economy, or savings from avoiding some of the worst impacts of climate change. The estimates are based on the assumption that “all countries of the world” begin curbing carbon emissions immediately and that there are “well-functioning markets” to establish a single global price for carbon. The report looks at options, but makes no recommendations, for mitigating greenhouse gases that are driving the climate-change crisis by trapping solar heat and warming Earth’s surface. The final version of the document is due to be thrashed out at a meeting in Berlin in April. The trilogy is the IPCC’s long-awaited Fifth Assessment Report, the first great overview of the causes and effects of global warming, and options for dealing with it, since 2007. The draft document notes that global emissions of greenhouse gases surged by an average 2.2 per cent per year between 2000 and 2010, compared to 1.3 per cent per year over the entire 30-year period between 1970 and 2000.

     

    NASA Finds 2013 Sustained Long-Term Climate Warming Trend

    Posted Jan. 21, 2014

    NASA scientists say 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the 10 warmest years in the 134-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the warmest years on record. NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which analyzes global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated report Tuesday on temperatures around the globe in 2013. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience temperatures warmer than those measured several decades ago. The average temperature in 2013 was 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit (14.6 degrees Celsius), which is 1.1 °F (0.6 °C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline. The average global temperature has risen about 1.4 °F (0.8 °C) since 1880, according to the new analysis. Exact rankings for individual years are sensitive to data inputs and analysis methods…..

     

     

    Northern mystery: Why are birds of the Arctic in decline? Yale Environment 360
    January 23, 2014

    With some species of Arctic birds experiencing steep drops in population and their prey also undergoing marked shifts, scientists are working to understand what role climate change is playing in these unfolding ecological transformations. On Coats Island, in northern Hudson Bay, thick-billed murres — members of the auk family — have been under assault on several fronts in recent years. Polar bears, faced with a sharp decline in the sea ice from which they hunt ringed seals, have retreated to the island and are eating the murres’ eggs. As the sea ice disappears, the murres now have to fly farther and work harder to get food that they normally find along the ice edges. And as temperatures around Hudson Bay rise, mosquitoes are hatching earlier in the season.
    So many mosquitoes have swarmed on Coats Island in recent years that some of the nesting murres have perished from blood loss, according to biologist Anthony Gaston of Environment Canada, who has been studying the murre colonies on the island since 1984. Gaston believes that the toll these changes are taking on long-lived murres and their chicks will inevitably lead to a sharp decline and ultimate collapse of the island’s 30,000 breeding pairs. “Maybe not in my lifetime, but it will happen,” says Gaston, who will retire in March. “These and other seabirds are superbly adapted to the sea ice environment. Without that ice, and with polar bears and mosquitoes hitting them hard, the only future in the Arctic for them is to move north.”
    Across the Arctic, resident birds such as the murres are experiencing increasing stresses that affect their foraging patterns and reproductive success. Researchers say that the gyrfalcon, the peregrine falcon, the willow and rock ptarmigan, the long-tailed jaeger or skua, and Ross’s and ivory gulls are in decline, as are some other birds that fly north to nest in the Arctic. In many cases, the birds’ prey — from lemmings, to snowshoe hare, to cod in the southern reaches of the Arctic Ocean — are experiencing population declines and shifts in their reproductive cycles….

     

     

    A polar bear, Ursus maritmus, eats a caribou. (Credit: Copyright American Museum of Natural History/R. Rockwell)

    Polar bear diet changes as sea ice melts
    (January 22, 2014)At least some polar bears in the western Hudson Bay population are using flexible foraging strategies while on land, such as prey-switching and eating a mixed diet of plants and animals, as they survive in their rapidly changing environment, new research suggests. … > full story

     

     

    Differences in Mammal Responses to Climate Change Demonstrated

    Jan. 22, 2014 — If you were a shrew snuffling around a North American forest, you would be 27 times less likely to respond to climate change than if you were a moose grazing nearby.

    ….The analysis showed only 52 percent of the mammal species responded as expected to climate change, while 7 percent responded the opposite of expectations and the remaining 41 percent had no detectable response. The two main traits tied to climate change responses in the CU-Boulder study were large mammal body size and restricted times during a 24-hour day when particular mammal species are active, she said. A paper on the study by McCain and former CU-Boulder postdoctoral fellow Sarah King was published online Jan. 22 in the journal Global Change Biology.

    While body size was by far the best predictor for response to climate change — almost all of the largest mammals responded negatively — the new study also showed that mammals active only during the day or only at night were twice as likely to respond to climate change as mammals that had flexible activity times, she said.”This is the first time anyone has identified specific traits that tell us which mammals are responding to climate change and which are not,” said McCain of CU-Boulder’s ecology and evolutionary biology department. McCain said she and King were surprised by some of the findings. “Overall the study suggests our large, charismatic fauna — animals like foxes, elk, reindeer and bighorn sheep — may be at more risk from climate change,” she said. “The thinking that all animals will respond similarly and uniformly to temperature change is clearly not the case.”….

     

    Christy M. McCain, Sarah R. B. King. Body size and activity times mediate mammalian responses to climate change. Global Change Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12499

     

     

     

    Sierra’s bears wide-awake during warm winter

    Kurtis Alexander SF Chronicle published 6:08 pm, Monday, January 20, 2014

    A bear and a cub cross a road in Yosemite National Park in August, a sight being repeated during the warm winter. Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

    The black bears of the high Sierra are normally curled up in caves in January, enjoying long winter naps. But with winter conditions hardly wintry this year, some bears are finding little reason to hibernate and are instead traipsing around like it’s the middle of August. Mountain residents and visitors have been startled by unexpected encounters with the giants, and wildlife managers from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite National Park are cautioning folks about bear activity. Increased interaction between man and beast can lead to problems. This month, skiers at Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe were stopped in their tracks by a bear scampering across a ski slope, a scene that was caught on video and spread across the Internet. Fortunately, the bear scurried off without incident. On the north side of the lake, a 260-pound male bear broke into several cars last month and at least one home. He was deemed a threat to public safety, prompting wildlife managers to put the animal down. An Incline Village woman was given Nevada’s first written warning for feeding the bear, authorities said. The effects of the mild winter go further than bears, biologists say. All kinds of critters act differently during drought times, particularly if the dry weather extends through spring and causes food and water shortages, which can push animals beyond their normal range in search of sustenance….This winter ranks among California’s driest, and the parched spell follows two low-precipitation winters. As of last week, snowpack in the Sierra measured just 17 percent of normal.The mild conditions mean more bears are awake than usual, and wildlife managers worry the problem is just beginning. Should the dry weather continue, it could upset the Sierra food chain – for example, limiting the amount of berries or insects for bears to feed on – and force the hungry animals into town. “A drought basically dries up the natural food availability and dries up the water sources, and you get them not only wandering farther, but often coming to urban areas to fulfill their daily needs,” explained Jason Holley, wildlife biologist supervisor for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We’ve seen upticks in drought years. We could be looking at that in the spring.” The same can be said of other critters: deer, coyotes, bobcats. “A drought will affect basically all wildlife,” Holley said. “They’ll either walk or fly far enough to find what they need.”

     

     

     


    Time to invest in some weatherproofing.     Photo: Getty Images

     

    Get Used to Heat Waves: Extreme El Nino Events to Double

    Jan. 19, 2014 ScienceDaily— Extreme weather events fueled by unusually strong El Ninos, such as the 1983 heatwave that led to the Ash Wednesday bushfires in Australia, are likely to double in number as our planet warms. An international team of scientists from organizations including the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science (CoECSS), the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and CSIRO, published their findings in the journal Nature Climate Change. “We currently experience an unusually strong El Niño event every 20 years. Our research shows this will double to one event every 10 years,” said co-author, Dr Agus Santoso of CoECSS. “El Nino events are a multi-dimensional problem, and only now are we starting to understand better how they respond to global warming,” said Dr Santoso. Extreme El Niño events develop differently from standard El Ninos, which first appear in the western Pacific. Extreme El Nino’s occur when sea surface temperatures exceeding 28°C develop in the normally cold and dry eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. This different location for the origin of the temperature increase causes massive changes in global rainfall patterns. “The question of how global warming will change the frequency of extreme El Niño events has challenged scientists for more than 20 years,” said co-author Dr Mike McPhaden of US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “This research is the first comprehensive examination of the issue to produce robust and convincing results,” said Dr McPhaden. The impacts of extreme El Niño events extend to every continent across the globe. The 1997-98 event alone caused $35-45 US billion in damage and claimed an estimated 23,000 human lives worldwide. “During an extreme El Niño event countries in the western Pacific, such as Australia and Indonesia, experienced devastating droughts and wild fires, while catastrophic floods occurred in the eastern equatorial region of Ecuador and northern Peru,” said lead author, CSIRO’s Dr Wenju Cai
    In Australia, the drought and dry conditions induced by the 1982-83 extreme El Niño preconditioned the Ash Wednesday Bushfire in southeast Australia, leading to 75 fatalities…..

     

    Wenju Cai, Simon Borlace, Matthieu Lengaigne, Peter van Rensch, Mat Collins, Gabriel Vecchi, Axel Timmermann, Agus Santoso, Michael J. McPhaden, Lixin Wu, Matthew H. England, Guojian Wang, Eric Guilyardi, Fei-Fei Jin. Increasing frequency of extreme El Niño events due to greenhouse warming. Nature Climate Change, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2100

     

     

    Water cycle amplifies abrupt climate change
    (
    January 19, 2014) — During the abrupt cooling at the onset of the so-called Younger Dryas period 12680 years ago, changes in the water cycle were the main drivers of widespread environmental change in western Europe. Thus, the regional impacts of future climate changes can be largely driven by hydrological changes, not only in the monsoonal areas of the world, but also in temperate areas. … > full story

     

    Seafloor Marine Life Face Major Threat from Climate

    Published: January 18th, 2014 By Alex Kirby, Climate News Network

    LONDON – Creatures which live deep beneath the ocean surface are likely to be badly hit by climate change over the next century, a new study says.

    The study, by an international research team from the UK, Canada, Australia and France, is the first to quantify future losses in deep-sea marine life, using advanced climate models.

    The researchers say their results show that even the most remote deep-sea ecosystems are not safe from the impacts of a warming world. They say the weight of the marine creatures that will be lost is greater than the combined weight of every person on Earth.
    The scientists predict that seafloor-dwelling organisms will decline by over 5 percent globally and by 38 percent in the North Atlantic over the next century. This is because there will be a reduction in their food source, the plants and animals living at the ocean surface which nourish deep-sea communities when they die and sink to the depths.

    The team has found a direct link between climate change and the loss of life on the sea floor. The surface-dwellers will themselves be threatened by a dwindling nutrient supply, triggered by climate impacts such as the slowing of the circulation of the world’s oceans and increased separation between layers of water – known as stratification – as a result of warmer and rainier weather….

     

     

     

    California drought: Scientists to probe cause

    Carolyn Lochhead SF Chronicle Updated 8:31 am, Wednesday, January 22, 2014

    This image compares January 13, 2013 and January 13, 2014 snow cover as seen by the Suomi NPP satellite’s VIIRS instrument. The Snow Water Equivalents in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California are abnormally low for this time of year, as can be seen in this image comparing 2013 to 2014. Photo: NASA

    WashingtonCalifornia’s drought will be one of the extreme weather events that the American Meteorological Society will examine later this year to determine whether the cause is natural variability or human-caused climate change, a federal official said Tuesday. The American Meteorological Society’s study will be similar to one the group undertook of extreme weather events of 2012. In September, the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society released a report finding that a 2012 Midwestern drought was mainly due to natural variation in weather, but that climate change was a factor in U.S. heat waves that spring and summer. Scientists have not yet linked the California drought directly to climate change, Thomas Karl, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s National Climatic Data Center, said Tuesday in announcing the latest study. “I’m sure there’s a way, but we haven’t done it yet,” he said. Last year’s peer-reviewed study was conducted by 18 research teams from around the world, and examined the causes of a dozen extreme events that occurred on five continents and in the Arctic during 2012. Three of the four lead editors on the report were NOAA scientists. The next report is due in September. Karl made his comments during a conference call on new findings by NOAA and NASA that last year was tied with 2003 as the fourth-warmest year globally since record-keeping began in 1880.

    Gavin Schmidt, deputy director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, noted that the rate of warming has slowed in the past decade. He said that may be due to poorly understood effects of air pollution, chiefly from burning coal.

    Such so-called aerosols, which are also produced by volcanoes, may help reflect solar radiation and prevent some warming, Schmidt said. However, the long-term warming trend is “extremely robust,” Schmidt said. It may be snowing on the East Coast, he said, but “the long-term trends are very clear.” The new report from NOAA and NASA said ice continues to decrease in the Arctic but increase in Antarctica. Schmidt said the increase in Antarctica varies considerably by region and may be affected by the ozone hole over the South Pole, which in turn could be affecting wind currents.

    Asked about charges by climate-change skeptics that scientists are attributing a loss of Arctic ice to global warming and an increase in Antarctic ice to natural variability, Schmidt said, “All of us are skeptics because we are scientists.”

    The report found that the 2013 global average land surface temperature was 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. “Including 2013, nine of the 10 warmest years in the 134-year period of record have occurred in the 21st century,” the report said. “Only one year during the 20th century – 1998 – was warmer than 2013.” Precipitation changes are particularly difficult to predict, Karl said. While California is experiencing a record drought, he said, “that’s juxtaposed in just the U.S. with some of wettest weather we’ve seen,” with North Dakota setting an all-time record for precipitation.

     

    California drought: Farmers, ranchers face uncertain future

    Stacy Finz SF Chronicle Published 5:16 pm, Saturday, January 18, 2014

    Frank Imhof checks out a pond on the property in Pleasanton that he leases for his cattle. There is usually 6 feet of water in the pond. Photo: Lacy Atkins, The Chronicle

    Frank Imhof, a Sunol cattleman is checking the weather constantly. If he doesn’t get rain soon, “lots of people are going to be out of a job,” he says.

    He’s considering culling nearly 40 percent of his breeding herd and selling calves that are four to five months short of their market weight, because he doesn’t have enough grass in his pastures to feed them. On Friday, amid California’s driest year on record, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in the state. As days pass without snow or rain, dairymen, farmers and other livestock producers are finding themselves in the same predicament as Imhof. Without water to irrigate, produce growers fear they will have to leave some fields fallow. Ranchers and farmers say that as long as the drought continues, the nation’s largest agricultural state will remain in turmoil, with repercussions stretching to consumer pocketbooks in the form of higher prices for such basic staples as meat, milk, fruit and vegetables.”If it doesn’t rain in another month there will be ranchers and farmers going out of business,” Imhof said. For most, there is little to no financial relief or government aid to bail them out. Only 35 of California’s 400 crops are eligible for farm insurance, said Karen Ross, secretary of the state Department of Food and Agriculture. Almonds, corn, cotton, citrus and avocados are a few of those crops. Livestock operations are not…..

     

    Why state’s water woes could be just beginning

    By Steve Hockensmith, NewsCenter | January 21, 2014 BERKELEY —

    As 2013 came to a close, the media dutifully reported that the year had been the driest in California since records began to be kept in the 1840s. UC Berkeley paleoclimatologist B. Lynn Ingram didn’t think the news stories captured the seriousness of the situation. “This could potentially be the driest water year in 500 years,” says Ingram, a professor of earth and planetary science and geography. Ingram has an especially long-term perspective. As a paleoclimatologist — a scientist who studies changes in climate by teasing data out of rocks, sediments, shells, microfossils, trees and other sources — she’s accustomed to looking back over eons. And according to the width of old tree rings (which can record the coming and going of wet or waterless stretches), California hasn’t been so parched since 1580.”These extremely dry years are very rare,” she says.

    But soon, perhaps, they won’t be as rare as they used to be. The state is facing its third drought year in a row, and Ingram wouldn’t be surprised if that dry stretch continues. Given that possibility, the title of a recent book by Ingram seems grimly apropos. The West Without Water: What Past Floods, Droughts, and Other Climatic Clues Tell Us About Tomorrow, co-written with geographer and environmental biologist (and UC Berkeley visiting scholar) Frances Malamud-Roam, was released by the University of California Press last year. The NewsCenter spoke to Ingram about the lessons to be drawn from her research as California heads into what could be its worst drought in half a millennium.

    Q: California is in its third dry year in a row. How long could that continue?

    A: If you go back thousands of years, you see that droughts can go on for years if not decades, and there were some dry periods that lasted over a century, like during the Medieval period and the middle Holocene. The 20th century was unusually mild here, in the sense that the droughts weren’t as severe as in the past. It was a wetter century, and a lot of our development has been based on that.

    The late 1930s to the early 1950s were when a lot of our dams and aqueducts were built, and those were wetter decades. I think there’s an assumption that we’ll go back to that, and that’s not necessarily the case. We might be heading into a drier period now. It’s hard for us to predict, but that’s a possibility, especially with global warming. When the climate’s warmer, it tends to be drier in the West. The storms tend to hit further into the Pacific Northwest, like they are this year, and we don’t experience as many storms in the winter season. We get only about seven a year, and it can take the deficit of just a few to create a drought.

    You mentioned global warming. Is what we’re seeing consistent with the predictions that have been made about how climate change could affect California?

    Yes. We’ve already started having a decreased snow pack and increased wild fire frequency. And we’ve been warming, and it’s gotten drier. With Pacific Decadal Oscillation [the ever-changing temperature of surface water in the North Pacific Ocean], every 20 or 30 years we go in and out of these positive and negative shifts that affect precipitation and temperature. But now we’re entering a period where it looks like we’re getting drier even though it doesn’t necessarily correspond to that cycle. It looks like a trend. It’s warming and drying, and that’s definitely a big concern for Western states….

     

    California drought: Water officials look to rules of ’70s

    Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle Updated 8:47 am, Sunday, January 19, 2014

    The floating fishing pier at Quarry Lakes Regional Park is closed due to low water levels caused by the ongoing drought and construction drainage, in Fremont, CA, Thursday, January 16, 2014. Photo: Michael Short, The Chronicle

     

     

     

    Climate change: Promising future for cotton in Cameroon?
    (January 20, 2014) — While climate change threatens most crops in Africa, its impact could be less on cotton cultivation in Cameroon. A new study shows that the expected climate change over the coming decades should not have a negative effect on Cameroonian plantations. Against all odds, their productivity should even improve significantly by 2050, thanks in particular to conservation agriculture practices adopted by the country. …
    Conservation agriculture is essential–
    This unexpected benefit would result from the combination of several factors. Firstly, how the cotton is grown is crucial. Field productivity is highly dependent on local farming practices. For ten years, Cameroon has adopted measures to restore land with conservation farming techniques, such as sowing under plant cover, tillage or mulching. Many farming practices that would limit the deterioration of cultivated soils are at work in the north of the country and, according to the researchers’ simulations, counteract the effects of climate change on crops…..full story

     

    Changing climate: How dust changed the face of Earth
    (January 23, 2014) — In spring 2010, the research icebreaker Polarstern returned from the South Pacific with a scientific treasure — ocean sediments from a previously almost unexplored part of the South Polar Sea. What looks like an inconspicuous sample of mud to a layman is, to geological history researchers, a valuable archive from which they can reconstruct the climatic history of the polar areas over many years of analysis. This, in turn, is of fundamental importance for understanding global climatic development. … > full story

     

    Air pollution from Asia affecting world’s weather
    (January 21, 2014) — Extreme air pollution in Asia is affecting the world’s weather and climate patterns, according to a new study. Using climate models and data collected about aerosols and meteorology over the past 30 years, researchers found that air pollution over Asia — much of it coming from China — is impacting global air circulations. … > full story

     

    Nine Nations or Territories Set All-Time Heat Records in 2013

    By Dr. Jeff Masters

    Published: 2:43 PM GMT on January 20, 2014

    • It was another notable year for all-time heat records in 2013, with six nations and three territories tying or setting records for hottest temperature on record. No nations set an all-time cold record in 2013. For comparison, five countries and two territories set all-time hottest temperature records in 2012, and the most all-time national heat records in a year was twenty nations and one territory in 2010. Since 2010, 45 nations or territories have set or tied all-time heat records, but only one nation has set an all-time cold temperature record. Since each of those years ranked as one of the top eleven warmest years in Earth’s recorded history, and 2010 was the warmest year on record, this sort of disparity in national heat and cold records is to be expected. …….

      Figure 1. A moose takes a dip to cool off in a backyard pool in this photo taken in Big Lake, Alaska on June 17, 2013, by Lonea Moore McGowen (Courtesy KTUU-TV.) Bentalit Lodge, Alaska hit 36.7°C (98°F) on June 17, tying the mark set in Richardson on 15 June 1969 for hottest undisputed temperature in Alaska history. The official heat record for Alaska remains the 100°F registered at Fort Yukon on June 27, 1915. However, there are questions concerning this figure as outlined by our weather historian, Christopher C. Burt.

      New all-time national heat records set in 2013

      ….The United States tied its highest undisputed temperature at the Furnace Creek Visitors Center, Death Valley California, with 53.9°C (129°F) on 30 June. The only higher temperatures ever recorded on the planet occurred in Death Valley on July 10, 12, and 13, 1913, when readings of 134°F, 130°F, and 131°F were recorded. These 100-year-old official hottest temperatures in Earth’s history have many doubters, though, including Mr. Burt, who noted in a 2010 blog post that “The record has been scrutinized perhaps more than any other in the United States. I don’t have much more to add to the debate aside from my belief it is most likely not a valid reading when one looks at all the evidence.

      Greenland, a territory of Denmark, set a new all time highest temperature with 25.9°C (78.6°F) at Maniitsoq Airport on 30 July. Previous record: 25.5°C at Kangerlussuaq on 27 July 1990. There is a claimed 30.1°C measurement at Ivigtut on 23 June 1915, but this is almost certainly a mistake, since the reading doesn’t fit at all with the hourly data of that day, and the station in over a century has never recorded any temperature above 24°C……


      Figure 2. The official Furnace Creek, Death Valley maximum recording thermometer for the maximum temperature measured on June 30th, 2013. The 129.2°F (54.0°C) reading was the highest June temperature ever measured on Earth. Photo courtesy of Death Valley National Park and NWS-Las Vegas. Note, though, since only whole Fahrenheit figures are official in the U.S., the value was registered as 129°F.

     

    Tiny Fungus Puts Up A Mighty Fight Against Climate Change

    By Annie-Rose Strasser on January 9, 2014 at 10:27 am

    A mushroom from an ectomycorrhizal fungus CREDIT: Creative Commons

    You might be a person who loves to eat a portabello sandwich or one who turns your nose at the sight of a salad bar button mushroom, but no matter your feelings on the gustatory nature of fungal fruit, you’ve got to respect fungi for one thing: Helping to fight climate change in a small but mighty way. In a new study, scientists found that two certain types of fungi, known as ecto- and ericoid mycorrhizal (EEM) fungi, have the ability to drastically alter how much carbon gets sunk into soil or released into the air by as much as 70 percent. Since soil holds massive amounts of carbon — more than air and plants combined — this has a huge impact on the climate. Here’s how it works: Nitrogen in soil is what feeds the little microorganisms that break down dead matter and release its carbon back into the atmosphere. But the EEM fungi (not to be confused with a mushroom — the mushroom is the fruit of a fungus) that live in the roots of plants steal some of that nitrogen out of the soil and turn it into nutrients for plants. In the process of stealing it, they’re ridding the soil of nitrogen. So when that plant eventually dies and returns to the soil to be broken down, in places where EEM fungi are present, it’s less quickly turned into carbon that goes back into the atmosphere. This happens anywhere EEM fungi live — no matter the makeup of the soil, or what the climate of the location is.

    The process might sound technical and small-scale, but its implications are significant. No scientist studying carbon cycles has factored in the high carbon capture rates of EEM fungi before. And though it isn’t the most common type of fungus in soil — another type makes up 85 percent of soil — it could still change climate models. “This study is showing that trees and decomposers are really connected via these mycorrhizal fungi, and you can’t make accurate predictions about future carbon cycling without thinking about how the two groups interact. We need to think of these systems holistically,” Colin Averill, the lead author on the study, said. ….

     


    Climate change adaptation takes root in Peruvian coffee farms

    With the support of Lidl and Fairtrade, coffee co-ops are receiving training to prevent deforestation and learn sustainable farming best practice

    Challenges to resiliant coffee farming such as leaf rust mean that farmers need support and programming to ensure the longevity of their farms. Photograph: Karen Robinson

    January 22, 2014 The Guardian

    Climate change is a big risk for small farmers around the world and Peruvian coffee producers are no different. Lower rainfall, higher temperatures, and the rampant spread of disease are becoming the norm rather than the exception.

    This year, in particular, has proved challenging as coffee farms throughout Latin America have been devastated by the spread of coffee leaf rust known as “La Roya”. Farmers are looking for technical and financial support to be better prepared to tackle climate change along with all the new challenges it presents. Thanks to the support of Lidl, a German-based chain of grocery stores, farmer members at the Sonomoro Cooperative in Pangoa, Peru, are receiving training to cope with the effects of climate change. In the first phase of this programme, 10 lead farmers – or promoters – were trained by the organisation Twin Trading to conduct risk and opportunity assessments in their communities. A demonstration farm was established where farmers can learn about best practices, including shade and weed management, composting, treatment of waste water and more….

     

     


    Arctic Inland Waters Emit Large Amounts of Carbon



    January 23, 2014 — Streams and lakes of Northern Sweden are hotspots for emissions of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, according to new … > full story


    Ancient Forests Stabilized Earth’s CO2 and Climate



    January 23, 2014 — Researchers have identified a biological mechanism that could explain how the Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate were stabilized over the past 24 million years. When CO2 levels … > full story

     

     

     

     

     

    Climate proofing of farms seen too slow as industry faces havoc Bloomberg News January 20, 2014

    Adapting agriculture to withstand a world with a changed climate and depleting resources isn’t happening fast enough. Climate change will play havoc with farming, and policy makers and researchers aren’t fully aware of the significance on food supply, according to the World Bank. Earth will warm by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) “in your lifetime,” Rachel Kyte, the World Bank’s vice-president for climate change, said at a meeting of agriculture ministers in Berlin over the weekend. That will make farming untenable in some areas, she said. Extreme weather from China’s coldest winter in at least half a century in 2010 to a July hailstorm in Reutlingen, Germany, already started to affect food prices. In the past three years, orange juice, corn, wheat, soybean meal and sugar were five of the top eight most volatile commodities, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Natural gas was first. “Significant damage and destruction is already happening,” Kyte said. “It isn’t a benign and slightly warmer world. It will be a volatile warming of the planet, with unpredictable impact.” ….The world risks “cataclysmic changes” caused by extreme heat waves, rising sea levels and depleted food stocks, as average temperatures are headed for a 4 degree Celsius jump by 2100, the World Bank reported in November 2012. “It’s all going to take political leadership,” said Gordon Conway, professor of international development at Imperial Colleage London. “We need more ministers of agriculture with self confidence who will stand up and say what they need, who will speak to their president or prime minster.” Long-term climate change may have “potentially catastrophic” effects on food production in the period from 2050 to 2100, the UN’s Food & Agricuture Organization has said. Crop failures such as in Russia in 2010 are likely to become more common as climate change causes more extreme weather with heat and drought stress, according to a study that year led by the U.K.’s University of Leeds. “If we look globally at climate science, we see the warming of temperatures and the resulting impact, for example extreme heat zones in sub-Saharan Africa,” Kyte said. “The agricultural community has still some way to go in realizing the full significance.” …Tackling waste may be crucial to feeding a bigger population in a time of climate change. About a third of food is wasted, according to UNEP’s Steiner. “Some estimates show that if you reduce food waste to zero, we can feed 2 billion people,” FAO deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo said. Policy makers have a task in raising public awareness about the environmental impact of waste, according to Steiner, who mentioned the amount of water needed to produce a hamburger. “One hamburger is six baths of water simply thrown down the drain.”

     

    Arctic Ocean oil drilling opponents win appeal.
    January 23, 2014 Los Angeles Times

    The U.S. government violated the law when it opened millions of acres of the Arctic Ocean to offshore oil drilling, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday, possibly delaying plans by companies such as Royal Dutch Shell to drill off the northwest coast of Alaska in the near future. ‘

     

    U.N. Leader Says Banks Should Finance More Sustainable Businesses

    By CHAD BRAY NYTimes January 24, 2014

    At the World Economic Forum, Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, said he wanted banks and other financial companies to focus their lending in the future on the development of sustainable energy sources and businesses with low carbon footprints.

     

    EU to cut carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030. The Guardian January 23, 2014

    Europe will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, the toughest climate change target of any region in the world, and will produce 27 percent of its energy from renewable sources by the same date.

     

    Latest European climate targets may never be met.
    New Scientist January 23, 2014

    Europe has proposed fresh targets for cutting its greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2030. But officials baulked at imposing national targets for investment in renewable energy, leaving it unclear how the overall targets will be reached.

     

    Earth’s Record 41 different billion-dollar weather disasters of 2013
    Weather Underground

    Earth set a new record for billion-dollar weather disasters in 2013 with 41, said insurance broker Aon Benfield in their Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report issued this week. Despite the record number of billion-dollar disasters, weather-related natural disaster losses (excluding earthquakes) were only slightly above average in 2013, and well below what occurred in 2012….

     

     

    LATIMES Editorial: Stop the foot-dragging on climate change

    A U.N. panel says the world has perhaps just 15 years to make serious inroads on the problem. Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress disagree.

    After a cold winter last year, the number of believers in climate change in this country dropped from 70% to 63%, according to the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. Above: A section of Greenland’s thinning ice sheet is seen in 2005. (John McConnico / Associated Press / January 21, 2014)

    By The Times editorial board January 21, 2014

    The world has very little time — perhaps 15 years — to make serious inroads on climate change, according to a leaked report from a United Nations panel. Current efforts, even among the most committed nations, fall short, and at the current rate of carbon emissions, the problem might grow too large to overcome with existing technology. Yet the recalcitrance and myth-making about global warming continue — and become more prevalent — in the United States. Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to employ a little-known law to try to halt a key portion of the Obama administration’s climate plan. And at a Senate committee hearing on climate change, Republican senators delivered their usual speeches denying that a problem exists. There was recently cold weather in the Northeast, they argued. And New Orleans hasn’t seen particularly bad hurricanes during the last few years. If anything is to be done about climate change, several of them hinted or said outright, it must be accomplished without taking away jobs or driving up electricity bills.

    Underlying many of the misperceptions about global warming is the myth that climate — a long-term trend — is the same thing as isolated weather events. After a cold winter last year, the number of believers in climate change in this country dropped from 70% to 63%, according to the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. Its most recent poll results, released last week, found that the number of people who don’t believe that climate change is occurring climbed from 16% to 23% from April to November. And that poll was conducted before the polar vortex descended this winter. Meanwhile, McConnell — a Republican from the coal-mining state of Kentucky — filed a resolution to “disapprove” the Environmental Protection Agency‘s preliminary new limits on carbon emissions from new coal plants. His action invoked the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law that has been used only once or twice. It allows Congress to repeal an executive branch regulation by a simple majority vote. The resolution’s prospects are uncertain, but its political intentions are clear: Democrats would have to vote on this shortly before the November elections, possibly turning off voters who fear the economic impacts.

    It would be misleading to suggest that there will be no sacrifice involved in reducing carbon emissions. Yet, according to the leaked report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the cost of waiting will be greater and the options more limited. There can be no more pretending that an Arctic-style winter in Chicago means that climate change is not a problem.

     

    Europe divides over more ambitious pollution limits January 21, 2014 Bloomberg News

    The European Union is poised to take its first formal steps to expand the world’s most ambitious limits on fossil fuel pollution, a move that may widen a rift in how it balances green policies with the need for cheaper power…..

     

    Number of Americans who don’t believe in climate change rises

    Stephanie Pappas LiveScience January 17, 2014

    The number of Americans who believe global warming isn’t happening has risen, according to a new survey. The number of Americans who believe global warming isn’t happening has risen to 23 percent, up 7 percentage points since April 2013. The latest survey, taken in November 2013, finds that the majority of Americans — 63 percent — do believe in climate change, and 53 percent are “somewhat” or “very” worried about the consequences. The proportion of people who do believe in climate change has been steady since April 2013, but the proportion of those who say they “don’t know” whether climate change is happening dropped 6 percentage points between April and November 2013, suggesting that many “don’t knows” moved into the “not happening” category. “People who prior said don’t know are increasingly saying they don’t believe it,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, which released the new results today (Jan. 16). [10 Climate Change Myths, Busted] …..

     

     

    Debunking the myth about Southern California’s water use

    5:04 PM, Jan 20, 2014   |  
    21  comments

    SACRAMENTO – Northern Californians who blame the water shortage on their wasteful neighbors to the south as much as they do the lack of rain may be surprised to learn the truth. “The myth that we’d be debunking is that Southern California is wasting water,” said Terry Erlewine, general manager of the State Water Contractors, an association of 27 public water agencies that purchase water from the State Water Project. The agencies include the Metropolitan Water District, which serves 19 million people in six Southern California counties. Southern California water providers have spent more than $12 billion over the past two decades to increase storage capacity while encouraging conservation. Some offer rebates for water-efficient toilets, washing machines and sprinklers.  Homeowners in some cities can collect up to $2 per square foot of lawn they replace with drought-tolerant landscaping. “There’s been a huge amount of water conservation implemented in Southern California,” said Erlewine, who pointed out that despite a population increase of 3 million over the past 20 years, water use in Southern California has remained flat. …”People in Sacramento use 279 gallons of water every day, 90 gallons more each than the people of Los Angeles.” See news video here.

     

     

    California drought: We can preserve Bay Area’s water supply

    David Sedlak OPINION SF GATE Updated 5:03 pm, Monday, January 20, 2014

    Most Bay Area residents obtain their drinking water from a system of reservoirs, canals and pipes that was built during the first half of the 20th century. In the near future, it is likely that we’ll pump a lot of money into this aging system to adapt it to rising sea levels and changes in rainfall patterns. These investments are essential to the security of our water supply, but they will not protect us from the effects of a drought. Plans to build advanced water recycling plants, such as the project proposed in the Livermore Valley more than a decade ago, or desalination plants, such as the regional project proposed in Contra Costa County, have languished due to public apathy and concerns about potential risks to public health or the environment. In light of the drought state of emergency the governor declared last week, these approaches deserve close scrutiny with respect to costs and risks….. In Southern California, Australia, Texas and other places that have recently grappled with water shortages, cities are investing in new types of local water supplies that are less susceptible to droughts. For example, building on the success of potable water-recycling projects in Orange County, Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, our neighbors to the south are aggressively pursuing plans to more than double the amount of recycled water entering their drinking water supply. And in Perth, seawater desalination plants now provide about half of the city’s drinking water. Information technology and advanced new materials are starting to make the dream of off-the-water-grid houses a reality. Water conservation is important, but it will not protect us from the most severe droughts. New technologies provide us with many options for decreasing our reliance on imported water. Irrespective of the path that we follow, we have the means to create a drought-proof water supply. But all of these options require years to finance, design and build. We need to get started before it’s too late.

     

     

    School Lunchroom Movement Wins NY Styrene Fight

    By Chad Bouchard Posted January 2, 2014

    A national movement against plastic foam food containers got a boost of momentum as New York moves closer to a citywide ban.

    Photo: Courtesy of Cafeteria Culture A child works the arms of a giant puppet made of styrene foam trays during a demonstration calling for a citywide ban in New York City.

    Fomenting Rebellion

    New York is the latest and largest U.S. city to pass a ban on single-use polystyrene foam containers for food and drinks. In a unanimous decision, the City Council voted at the end of December to prohibit restaurants, food carts and stores from using styrene cups, clamshell takeout boxes, school lunch trays — and even those ubiquitous packing peanuts.

    The decision marks the culmination of a six-year fight that started over styrene use in the city’s public school lunchrooms. Debby Lee Cohen, a public school mom and the director and co-founder of Cafeteria Culture, mustered for action with other environmentally-minded moms and teachers in the spring of 2009 to stop the waste of millions of polystyrene trays per day. Soon after, they launched a kid-driven pilot project to sort waste in lunchrooms, and 15 other groups in the city took up the cause. “This landmark decision puts another nail in the coffin of toxic styrenes. It’s a victory for our health and our future!” Lee Cohen said in a release. “Our children’s children’s children will be thankful!” Cafeteria Culture has pushed for compostable trays to replace polystyrene ones, and spurred collective purchasing to keep costs down.
    Approval of the ban comes just days before the end of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 12-year reign. Activists say his successor, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, has supported past efforts to curb waste. The mayor’s office says polystyrene foam can’t be recycled, and currently an estimated 20,000 tons of the stuff contaminates the pool of recyclable materials like glass and plastics.

    There are caveats. The ban won’t go into effect until July 2015, giving the industry one more chance to prove that food-smeared foam can feasibly be recycled. Small businesses can also apply for a waiver after the rule goes into effect. Dart Container and the Restaurant Action Alliance have fought fiercely against the ban, saying that polystyrene foam is recyclable and pricier alternatives would put an unfair burden on school districts in poor neighborhoods. Lee Cohen countered that argument by pointing out the health risks posed by food eaten from polystyrene affects poor neighborhoods disproportionately. The National Toxicology Program found in its 12th edition of the Report on Carcinogens that styrene is “reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen.”….

     

     

     

     

    Etihad Airways’ 45-minute demonstration flight in Abu Dhabi on Saturday was the first ever to be powered with U.A.E.-produced biofuel.

    Meet the jet fuels of the future CNN January 23 2014

    In little over a week, Boeing has announced three new developments in its quest to produce sustainable aviation biofuel. Last week, the company identified “green diesel” as a new biofuel that would emit at least 50 percent less carbon dioxide than fossil fuel over its lifecycle….While aviation companies such as Boeing and Airbus pour money and manpower into researching aviation biofuels, there are still critics that say it’s not worth the effort, and in fact may be causing more harm. Last year, The New York Times reported that the expansion of the biofuels industry is causing a shortage of land for food crops in the poor regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The European Commission proposed amending a policy on biofuels last year, due to concerns that first-generation biofuel production is pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than it saves through use as fuel, but a compromise to restrict EU subsidies for first-generation biofuel was rejected in December. The issue is expected to remain at a standstill until the new parliament takes office later this year. “Boeing’s position, and that of many airlines we work with, is that aviation biofuel must be produced sustainably, meeting criteria for environmental, economic and social benefit,” said Kowal. “We do not pursue development of biofuel using feedstocks that compete for resources (such as land or water) used for food production.”…

     

     

    More oil spilled from trains in 2013 than in previous 4 decades. January 21, 2014 McClatchy Newspapers

    Including major derailments in Alabama and North Dakota, more than 1.15 million gallons of crude oil was spilled from rail cars in 2013.

     

    As uses of biochar expand, climate benefits still uncertain
    Mark Hertsgaard January 21, 2014

    Yale Environment 360

    Research shows that biochar made from plant fodder and even chicken manure can be used to scrub mercury from power plant emissions and clean up polluted soil. The big question is whether biochar can be produced on a sufficiently large scale to slow or reverse global warming.

     

    White roofs beat ‘green’ roofs on climate change, says Berkeley Lab study.
    San Francisco Business Times

    Though so-called “green” roofs with gardens growing on them are popular today and have some environmental advantages, plain white roofs reflect sunlight and reduce global warming. According to a study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a simple white roof reflects three times as much sunshine as a green rooftop garden. “By absorbing less sunlight than either green or black roofs, white roofs offset a portion of the warming effect from greenhouse gas emissions,” the lab said. Simple white roofs are cheap compared to green roofs, which cost a lot to install, and so are more cost-effective, too, the study found.
    Julian Sproul, Benjamin Mandel and Arthur Rosenfeld of Lawrence Berkeley Lab worked with Man Pun Wan of Nanyang Technological University to analyze the cost of various types of roof over 50 years. Black roofs were the worst and “should be phased out,” said Rosenfeld. The trendy green roofs, even with their benefits from cooling and capture of rainwater, cost so much up front that even over half a century they don’t catch up to white roofs in value….

     

    Study: Electric Drive Vehicles Have Little Impact On US Pollutant Emissions

    Jan. 21, 2014 — A new study from North Carolina State University indicates that even a sharp increase in the use of electric drive passenger vehicles (EDVs) by 2050 would not significantly reduce emissions of high-profile air pollutants carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides.”EDVs” is a catch-all term that includes hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles. “We wanted to see how important EDVs may be over the next 40 years in terms of their ability to reduce emissions,” says Dr. Joseph DeCarolis, an assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper on the new model. “We found that increasing the use of EDVs is not an effective way to produce large emissions reductions.” The researchers ran 108 different scenarios in a powerful energy systems model to determine the impact of EDV use on emissions between now and 2050. They found that, even if EDVs made up 42 percent of passenger vehicles in the U.S., there would be little or no reduction in the emission of key air pollutants. “There are a number of reasons for this,” DeCarolis says. “In part, it’s because some of the benefits of EDVs are wiped out by higher emissions from power plants. Another factor is that passenger vehicles make up a relatively small share of total emissions, limiting the potential impact of EDVs in the first place. For example, passenger vehicles make up only 20 percent of carbon dioxide emissions….

     

     

    Too many electric cars, not enough workplace chargers creating tension on Silicon Valley tech campuses
    San Jose Mercury News January 20, 2014

    Sixty-one of the roughly 1,800 employees on the SAP campus now drive a plug-in vehicle, overwhelming the 16 available chargers. And as demand for chargers exceeds supply, a host of thorny etiquette issues have arisen, along with some rare but notorious incidents of “charge rage.” …

     

    Solar-power device would use heat to enhance efficiency
    (January 19, 2014) — A new approach to harvesting solar energy could improve efficiency by using sunlight to heat a high-temperature material whose infrared radiation would then be collected by a conventional photovoltaic cell. This technique could also make it easier to store the energy for later use, the researchers say. … > 

     

     

    1. RESOURCES and REFERENCES

     
     

     

    WEBINARS:

     


    The Biology of Soil Compaction February 11, 2014
    2PM Eastern / 11AM Pacific

    Jim Hoorman Extension Educator, Cover Crops and Water Quality, The Ohio State University 

    This webinar is presented by the USDA NRCS National Soil Health and Sustainability Team located at the East National Technology Support Center.
    Join the Webinar
    Save to Calendar

    Related Files AEX-543-09 The Biology of Soil Compaction.pdf (1159Kb)

     

     

     

    UPCOMING CONFERENCES:

     
     

    California Drought Forum, planned for February 19-20, in Sacramento, California

    We would like to invite you to the California Drought Forum, planned for February 19-20, in Sacramento, California.  The Forum is being co-organized and co-sponsored by the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and California partners.This two-day event will cover a range of critical drought topics, including current drought conditions, the outlook for continued drought, impacts and responses among different sectors, drought forecasting and monitoring, early warning information needs and resources, and opportunities to improve drought preparedness, resilience, and readiness. More details will be coming soon.  For now, please hold the dates, and we look forward to seeing you at the Forum.  

    Anne Steinemann, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; University of California, San Diego; CIRES / NIDIS University of Colorado, Boulder

     

     

    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. 

     

     

     

    Climate-Smart Conservation  NWF/NCTC ALC3195 

    March 4-6, 2014 Sacramento State University – Modoc Hall. Sacramento, CA 3 days /no tuition for this class.

    The target audience includes conservation practitioners and natural resource managers working at multiple scales to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of their work in an era of climate change. This course is based on a forthcoming guide to the principles and practice of Climate-Smart Conservation. This publication is the product of an expert workgroup on climate change adaptation convened by the National Wildlife Federation in collaboration with the FWS’s National Conservation Training Center and other partners (see sidebar). The course is designed to demystify climate adaptation for application to on-the-ground conservation. It will provide guidance in how to carry out adaptation with intentionality, how to manage for change and not just persistence, how to craft climate-informed conservation goals, and how to integrate adaptation into on-going work. Conservation practitioners and natural resource managers will learn to become savvy consumers of climate information, tools, and models. Register online at http://training.fws.gov . In partnership with staff from National Wildlife Federation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, EcoAdapt, Geos Institute, and Point Blue Conservation Science.

    Contact for Registration Questions: Jill DelVecchio at 304/876-7424 or jill_delvecchio@fws.gov  

    Contact for Content Questions: Christy Coghlan at 304/876-7438 or christy_coghlan@fws.gov

     

     

    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

     

     

    California Adaptation Forum 
    August 18-20, 2014
    .

    This two-day forum will build off a successful National Adaptation Forum held in Colorado in 2013. The attendance of many California leaders there underscored the need for a California-focused event, which will be held every other year to complement the biennial national conference.  To register go to:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/886364449

     

     

    JOBS:

     

    2015 NOAA Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

    California Sea Grant College Program is now seeking applications for the 2015 NOAA Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship.  Deadline: February 14, 2014

    The Knauss Fellowship, established in 1979, provides a unique educational experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean and coastal resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. 

     

    Western Rivers Conservancy Lands Director

    The Lands Director will manage their land acquisition program, mentor the program team and ensure a robust, high quality pipeline of conservation deals are executed with rigor and creativity. The Lands Director (Director) plays an essential role in WRC’s mission by developing, managing and implementing the organization’s land acquisition program. Reporting to the President, the Director leads WRC’s program staff while managing his/her own portfolio of acquisition projects. The Director develops new opportunities for conservation acquisitions, shapes transactions, and aligns the resources necessary to complete those transactions while mentoring WRC’s program staff in their efforts to do the same. Working closely with the President and the team, the Director will be part of developing the new strategic plan that will guide WRC’s program focus for the next 5 years. Members of the land acquisition team are located in Oregon, California, Washington and Colorado and have portfolios that extend across the West. The Director will be based in Portland, OR. The Director will be expected to draw upon a significant set of experiences with land transactions to serve as a mentor and problem-solver, developing creative responses to both new conservation opportunities and the challenges that can hinder transactions.. Additional information regarding Olive Grove www.theolivegrove.com and Western Rivers Conservancy www.westernrivers.org can be found on our websites.

    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™.

     

     
     

     

     

    FUNDING:

    ***NFWF 2013 Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grants Program
    – $100 million

    Application Due: January 31, 2014 Eligible Entities: Local governments and agencies, recognized tribes, state government agencies, non-profit 501(c) organizations, and academic institutions.

     Marking the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Department of the Interior launched the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program. The program will use competitive grants to award funding for science-based solutions by states, local communities, non-profit organizations, and other partners to help restore key habitats and bolster natural systems, enabling these areas to withstand the impacts and better protect local communities from future storms. For more information, visit the program webpage.

     

     

     

     

     

    1. OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    Tiny swimming bio-bots boldly go where no bot has swum before
    (January 17, 2014) — The alien world of aquatic micro-organisms just got new residents: synthetic self-propelled swimming bio-bots. Engineers have developed a class of tiny bio-hybrid machines that swim like sperm, the first synthetic structures that can traverse the viscous fluids of biological environments on their own. … > full story

     

    THE ONION: ‘It’s Not Too Late To Reverse The Alarming Trend Of Climate Change,’ Scientists Who Know It’s Too Late Announce

    Jan 8, 2014 GENEVA—With the implementation of tighter carbon emissions caps and more responsible household energy use, it is not too late to reverse the dire course of global warming, a panel of scientists who know full well that it is far too late and we are all doomed told reporters today. “If we all do our part right now to design and enforce more responsible business and environmental practices, there’s still a good chance we can avoid the calamitous consequences of worldwide climate change,” said climatologist Dr. Kevin Little, a man who, deep in his heart, knows all too acutely that it’s over, there’s not a damned thing we can do, and so we might as well just start preparing now for what is certain to be the unprecedented destruction of human civilization at the hands of a ravaged ecosystem. “It will take massive investment and cooperation on a global scale, but I’m optimistic we can be in good shape by around 2030 or so.” The researchers who awake each morning with the grim realization that they are bearing witness to mankind’s sad, inevitable endgame also suggested there is still very much a chance of stabilizing the rapid loss of Arctic sea ice.

     

    Humanity’s most common male ancestor emerged earlier than thought: 209,000 years ago, study finds
    (January 22, 2014) — Our most common male ancestor emerged some 209,000 years ago — earlier than many scientists previously thought, according to new research. … > full story

     

     

    Building Toward the Home of Tomorrow

    By JENNA WORTHAMJAN. 19, 2014

    The home of the future — complete with helper bots and automated appliances — has long been the stuff of science fiction. The tech world is determined to make it a reality. Soon, the vision goes, everything from garden products to bathroom appliances will be controlled by the touch of a smartphone. Without setting foot in the door, a person headed home could turn off the security system and turn on the shower, and begin preheating the oven. The concept of outfitting everyday objects with sensors and connecting them to the web, often called the Internet of Things, has been brewing for several years. But the announcement last week that Google was paying $3 billion to acquire Nest, a maker of Internet-connected home products, put a sort of Good Housekeeping seal of approval on this nascent market…..

     

    Multivitamins And Supplements Are A ‘Waste Of Money’, Study Suggests

    Headlines & Global News

     - ‎ January 20, 2014‎

           

    “Stop wasting your money on multivitamins and supplements. They aren’t doing a damn thing!” is the message researchers of a new study send out to all its readers.

     

    Ingredients in chocolate, tea, berries could guard against diabetes
    (January 20, 2014) — Eating high levels of flavonoids including anthocyanins and other compounds (found in berries, tea, and chocolate) could offer protection from type 2 diabetes — according to research. The study of almost 2,000 people showed that high intakes of these dietary compounds are associated with lower insulin resistance and better blood glucose regulation. … > full story

     

     

     

    1. IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     


    Cold air invades the Eastern U.S.

    A frigid blast of Arctic air is pouring southeastwards across the eastern U.S. today, and will bring temperatures 15 – 25° below normal Wednesday and Thursday. The cold air brought several record lows for the date on Tuesday (-22°F at Gaylord, MI, and -13° at Flint, MI). At least one record low for the date has been set so far on Wednesday: a low temperature of -30°F in Massena, New York. However, this cold blast isn’t intense enough to set many records, since it is competing with one of the greatest cold waves in North American history: the great January 21, 1985 cold wave, one the two most intense cold waves on record. Wunderground’s weather historian Christopher C. Burt has a fascinating account of the records set in that historic event in his latest post, Anniversary of the Great Cold Wave of January 21, 1985. Chicago (-27°), Norfolk, VA (-3°), Jacksonville, FL (7°), and dozens of other major cities set their all-time cold records during the cold wave.


    Figure 2. Departure of temperature from average at 2 meters (6.6′) as diagnosed by the GFS model at 00 UTC January 22, 2014. A strongly negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO) created a sharp kink in the jet stream (Figure 3), which allowed cold air to spill southwards out of the Arctic over the Eastern U.S. and Western Europe. Compensating warm air flowed northwards into the Arctic underneath ridges of high pressure over Alaska and Greenland. Data/image obtained using Climate Reanalyzer™ (http://cci-reanalyzer.org), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, Maine.


    Figure 3. Winds at a height where the pressure is 250 mb show the axis of the jet stream, seen here at 00 UTC January 22, 2014. A sharp trough of low pressure was present over the Eastern U.S., and unusually strong ridges of high pressure were over the Western U.S. and the North Atlantic. Data/image obtained using Climate Reanalyzer™ (http://cci-reanalyzer.org), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, Maine.

     

        

    A snowy owl perches itself atop an awning during rush hour in downtown Washington

    (Bryan McGannon) – An owl spotted and photographed by Bryan McGannon on the15th street side of Mcpherson Square park. The typical winter migration for the snowy owl is along the southern border of Canada.

    By Darryl Fears, Published: January 22 Washington Post

    It appeared from seemingly out of nowhere, a great arctic snowy owl on a bitter cold Wednesday in the middle of downtown Washington. Pedestrians at rush hour stopped in their tracks. Was it some kind of omen?



    Snowy Owl Invasion Puzzles Scientists, Dazzles Enthusiasts


    Jan 8, 2014 – Scientists aren’t sure why snowy owls, who spent much of their lives It’s unclear whether climate change is playing a role in this year’s owl display.

     



    WuMo


     by Wulff & Morgenthaler January 18, 2014


     

     

    ————

    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.

     

  4. Grazing and Climate Change

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    Western Land Managers will Need all Available Tools for Adapting to Climate Change, Including Grazing: A Critique of Beschta et al.

    Received: 29 July 2013 / Accepted: 11 December 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2014

    Abstract (for more information see: http://rangelandwatersheds.ucdavis.edu/Main/projects.htm)

    In a previous article, Beschta et al. (Environ Manag 51(2):474–491,2013 ) argue that grazing by large ungulates (both native and domestic) should be eliminated or greatly reduced on western public lands to reduce potential climate change impacts. The authors did not present a balanced synthesis of the scientific literature, and their publication is more of an opinion article. Their conclusions do not reflect the complexities associated with herbivore grazing. Because grazing is a complex ecological process, synthesis of the scientific literature can be achallenge. Legacy effects of uncontrolled grazing during the homestead era further complicate analysis of current grazing impacts. Interactions of climate change and grazing will depend on the specific situation. For example, increasing atmospheric CO2 and temperatures may increase accumulation of fine fuels (primarily grasses) and thus increase wildfire risk. Prescribed grazing by livestock is one of the few management tools available for reducing fine fuel accumulation. While there are certainly points on the landscape where herbivore impacts can be identified there are also vast grazed areas where impacts are minimal. Broad scale reduction of domestic and wild herbivores to help native plant communities cope with climate change will be unnecessary because over the past 20–50 years land managers have actively sought to bring populations of native and domestic herbivores in balance with the potential of vegetation and soils. To cope with a changing climate, land managers will need access to all available vegetation management tools, including grazing.

     

    CONCLUSION:

    ….Beschta et al. (2013) devote a significant portion of their climate change discussion to warmer spring temperatures, reduced snow packs, earlier peak flows, and reduced summer stream flows. It is unclear how removing grazing would overcome the effects of large-scale climatic changes (such as reduced snow packs) that are triggered by larger and more complex resource issues than grazing. Some of the discussion on carbon sequestration is particularly unclear. For example, Beschta et al. (2013) cite Lal (2001) as saying that heavy grazing has long-term negative impacts on soil organic carbon. That citation is a chapter in a book titled ”The Potential of US Grazing Lands to Sequester Carbon and Mitigate the Greenhouse Effect” (Follett et al. 2001). This book provides examples where grazing increases carbon sequestration compared to no grazing. Beschta et al. (201 ) suggest that the economic impacts of their proposal would be ”relatively minor to modestly positive”. That may be true for unique areas with high recreational potential such as Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but it is not true for most of the rural West and not necessarily for even some of the high value recreation areas. A few studies have examined the regional economic impact of removing public land grazing from representative ranches and all show significant negative impacts to local economies (Torell et al. 2002 ; Rimbey et al. 2003; Tanaka et al. 2007). Whether recreation service jobs will replace ranching jobs and income lost in a local economy is largely unknown. To summarize, grazing is a complex ecological process with impacts that vary across time and space. This complexity leads to challenges in synthesizing the scientific literature and allows authors to select the literature which supports particular points of view about grazing impacts. Legacy impacts of homestead era over-grazing and potential climate change further complicate assessment of current grazing impacts. Clearly, there are examples where reduced grazing can increase the potential negative impacts of climate change (in the case of wildfire risk). We suggest that land managers in the western US will need all available vegetation management tools to cope with climate change.

     

     

    Original Paper by Beschta:

    Beschta RL, Donahue DL, DellaSala DA, Rhodes JJ, Karr JR, O’Brien MH, Fleischner TL, Williams CD (2013) Adapting to climate change on western public lands: addressing the ecological effects of domestic, wild, and feral ungulates. Environmental Management. 51(2):474–491

    Abstract. Climate change affects public land ecosystems and services throughout the American West and these effects are projected to intensify. Even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, adaptation strategies for public lands are needed to reduce anthropogenic stressors of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and to help native species and ecosystems survive in an altered environment. Historical and contemporary livestock production-the most widespread and long-running commercial use of public lands-can alter vegetation, soils, hydrology, and wildlife species composition and abundances in ways that exacerbate the effects of climate change on these resources. Excess abundance of native ungulates (e.g., deer or elk) and feral horses and burros add to these impacts. Although many of these consequences have been studied for decades, the ongoing and impending effects of ungulates in a changing climate require new management strategies for limiting their threats to the long-term supply of ecosystem services on public lands. Removing or reducing livestock across large areas of public land would alleviate a widely recognized and long-term stressor and make these lands less susceptible to the effects of climate change. Where livestock use continues, or where significant densities of wild or feral ungulates occur, management should carefully document the ecological, social, and economic consequences (both costs and benefits) to better ensure management that minimizes ungulate impacts to plant and animal communities, soils, and water resources. Reestablishing apex predators in large, contiguous areas of public land may help mitigate any adverse ecological effects of wild ungulates.

  5. Conservation Science News January 17, 2014

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    Focus of the WeekNew IPCC Leaked Report- Risk of Severe Climate Change Disruption Rising; Drought Emergency Declared in CA

    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.  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- New IPCC Leaked Report- Risk of Severe Climate Change Disruption Rising; Drought Emergency Declared in CA

     

     

    1-U.N. Says Lag in Confronting Climate Woes Will Be Costly

     

    By JUSTIN GILLIS NY Times JAN. 16, 2014 Related:

     

    Nations have so dragged their feet in battling climate change that the situation has grown critical and the risk of severe economic disruption is rising, according to a draft United Nations report. Another 15 years of failure to limit carbon emissions could make the problem virtually impossible to solve with current technologies, experts found. Delay would likely force future generations to develop the ability to suck greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and store them underground to preserve the livability of the planet, the report found. But it is not clear whether such technologies will ever exist at the necessary scale, and even if they do, the approach would likely be wildly expensive compared with taking steps now to slow emissions.

     

    The report said that governments of the world were still spending far more money to subsidize fossil fuels than to accelerate the shift to cleaner energy, thus encouraging continued investment in projects like coal-burning power plants that pose a long-term climate risk. While the spread of technologies like solar power and wind farms might give the impression of progress, the report said, such developments are being overtaken by rising emissions from fossil fuels over the past decade, especially in fast-growing countries like China. And one of the most important sources of low-carbon energy, nuclear power, is actually declining over time as a percentage of the global energy mix, the report said.

     

    Unless far greater efforts are made to reduce emissions, “the fundamental drivers of emissions growth are expected to persist despite major improvements in energy supply” and in the efficiency with which energy is used, the report declared. The new warnings come in a draft report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations panel of climate experts that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its efforts to analyze and communicate the risks of climate change. The report is not final, but a draft dated Dec. 17 leaked this week and was first reported by Reuters. The New York Times obtained a copy independently.

     

    Business leaders will address many of the problems raised in the draft next week, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where a day will be devoted to addressing the rising economic costs of climate change — and the costs to businesses and governments of solving the problem. Within the business community, “there is an awakening of increasing economic risk — a recognition that operating conditions are changing and we need to respond,” said Dominic Waughray, head of environmental initiatives for the forum. “There has been a failure of government to address these solutions. If there is an alliance of companies that can bite off pieces of the puzzle, it might help.” In the dry language of a technical committee, the draft outlines an increasingly dire situation.

     

    Even as the early effects of climate change are starting to be felt around the world, the panel concluded that efforts are lagging not only in reducing emissions, but in adapting to the climatic changes that have become inevitable. It is true, the report found, that the political willingness to tackle climate change is growing in many countries and new policies are spreading, but the report said these were essentially being outrun by the rapid growth of fossil fuels. While emissions appear to have fallen in recent years in some of the wealthiest countries, that is somewhat of an illusion, the report found. The growth of international trade means many of the goods consumed in wealthy countries are now made abroad — so that those countries have, in effect, outsourced their greenhouse gas emissions to countries like China.

     

    Emissions in the United States rose slightly in 2013, but are still about 10 percent below their 2005 levels, largely because of the newfound abundance of natural gas, which produces less greenhouse gases than burning coal. The Kyoto Protocol, an international treaty meant to limit emissions, has “not been as successful as intended,” the report found. That is partly because some important countries like the United States refused to ratify it or later withdrew, but also because of flaws within the treaty itself, the report found. The treaty exempted developing countries from taking strong action, for instance, a decision that many experts now say was a mistake. Efforts are underway to negotiate a new international treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol, but it is not even supposed to take effect until 2020, and it is unclear whether countries will agree on ambitious goals to limit emissions. It is equally unclear how much political support a new treaty will gain in China and the United States, the world’s largest emitters.

     

    The Obama administration is pushing for a deal, but any treaty would have to be ratified by the Senate; many Republicans and some coal-state Democrats are wary, fearing economic damage to the country. The new report suggests, however, that the real question is whether to take some economic pain now, or more later.
    Nations have agreed to try to limit the warming of the planet to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial levels. Even though it will be exceedingly difficult to meet, this target would still mean vast ecological and economic damage, experts have found. But the hope is that these would come on slowly enough to be somewhat manageable; having no target would be to risk catastrophic disruption, the thinking goes
    .
    As scientists can best figure, the target requires that atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, stay below 500 parts per million. The level recently surpassed 400, and at present growth rates will surpass 500 within a few decades.

     

    If countries permit continued high emissions growth until 2030, the draft report found, the target will likely be impossible to meet, at least without a hugely expensive crash program to rebuild the energy system, and even that might not work.If emissions do overshoot the target, the report found, future generations would likely have to develop ways to pull greenhouse gases out of the air. It is fairly clear this will be technically possible. It could be achieved, for instance, by growing bioenergy crops that take up carbon dioxide, burning the resulting fuel and then injecting the emissions into underground formations.

     

    The leaked draft is the third and final segment of a major report that the climate change panel is completing in stages. The first segment, published in Stockholm in September, reviewed the fundamental physical science of climate change, finding a 95 percent or greater likelihood that human activity is the main cause of the ongoing planetary warming. The second segment, focusing on the probable impacts of climate change, leaked in October and is due for publication in Yokohama, Japan, in March; a major finding is expected to be that the food supply is at serious risk as warming continues. The third segment, prepared by a committee made up largely of economists and policy analysts, many of them with some scientific training, focuses on policies that could limit the overall damages from climate change, and is to be published after an editing session in Berlin in April.

     

    Coral Davenport contributed reporting.

     

     

    2- DROUGHT EMERGENCY in CALIFORNIA:

     

     

    Jerry Brown declares drought emergency, asks public to ration water

    Kurtis Alexander SF Chronicle Updated 9:17 am, Friday, January 17, 2014

    (01-17) 09:16 PST San Francisco — Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday officially declared a drought emergency in California, asking for a collaborative effort from water users around the state to ration supplies. The governor, while not ordering mandatory rationing, said he is seeking the voluntary reduction of water use by 20 percent from people and businesses around the state. The declaration, announced at a news conference at the governor’s San Francisco office, comes as the state is gripped by a third consecutive year of dry weather. Rivers are running low. Snowpack is meager. And communities across California are worried about having sufficient water for homes, businesses and farmland. The dry weather also has increased the threat of wildfire, with record acreage burning this month, including a 1,700-acre fire that continues to char the hills above Los Angeles. Friday’s declaration is the third statewide drought declaration statewide since 1987, the previous coming between 2007 and 2009. An earlier declaration came during the 1976-77 drought, amid Brown’s first stint as governor.

     

    This January, most of California has seen little or no rainfall. The dry spell follows a record-dry 2013 in much of the state, and climate models suggest rain will remain scant during the next few months, setting up California for its third dry winter in a row. Meanwhile, the Sierra Nevada snowpack, vital to filling the state’s sprawling system of reservoirs, measured just 17 percent of normal this week. Already, a handful of water agencies have imposed restrictions on consumers while others – including some in the Bay Area – are asking for voluntary water reductions. Sacramento is the biggest community to enact requirements so far, ordering consumers Tuesday to scale back water use by 20 to 30 percent. Few areas are threatened as much as the Central Valley, where farmers dependent on state and federal water allocations face among their lowest allotments in years. The State Water Project estimated in November that it would fill only 5 percent of the water requests it has received from contracting agencies. Federal officials offered some support Thursday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture designated 27 of California’s 58 counties – alongside portions of 10 other states – as natural disaster areas because of the drought, which means farmers can get emergency low-interest loans. While projections released his week from the National Weather Service don’t offer much hope of improving conditions, forecasters note that two months remain of the wet season – plenty of time to make up for lost ground.

     


    National Overview


    - Annual 2013

    Top of Form


    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/temp-and-precip/maps.php

     

    CALIFORNIA OUTLOOK: Logan Johnson, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, National Weather Service, San Francisco Bay Area/Monterey, CA:

     

    NOAA DROUGHT STATEMENT- SF BAY AREA

     

    DROUGHT INFORMATION STATEMENT–NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA 1233 PM PST THU JAN 16 2014

     

    DROUGHT CONDITIONS INCREASE TO EXTREME (D3) IN CALIFORNIA…

     

    AS OF 7 AM EASTERN TODAY [January 16, 2014], THE U.S. DROUGHT MONITOR HAS ASSIGNED EXTREME DROUGHT CONDITIONS (D3) TO THE ENTIRE CENTRAL CALIFORNIA COAST, INCLUDING THE GREATER MONTEREY BAY AND S.F. BAY AREA. THIS REASSESSMENT REPRESENTS PART OF A MUCH MORE WIDESPREAD CATEGORICAL INCREASE IN DROUGHT CONDITIONS ACROSS THE WESTERN UNITED STATES, WHERE AN INCREDIBLY PERSISTENT RIDGE OF HIGH PRESSURE HAS BLOCKED WET WEATHER SYSTEMS IN THE PACIFIC FROM REACHING THE WEST COAST. THE LAST DROUGHT INFORMATION STATEMENT, AND THE FOURTH OF THE 2013-2014 WATER YEAR, INDICATED THAT SEVERE DROUGHT (D2) CONDITIONS COVERED THE SOUTHWESTERN UNITED STATES, INCLUDING ALL OF CALIFORNIA, AND THAT EXTREME (D3) CONDITIONS HAD EXTENDED THROUGH THE SOUTHERNMOST PORTION OF MONTEREY COUNTY AND INTO SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY AND AREAS SOUTH. THE U.S. DROUGHT MONITOR CLASSIFIES DROUGHT INTO FIVE CATEGORIES OF INCREASING SEVERITY: ABNORMALLY DRY (D0), MODERATE DROUGHT (D1), SEVERE DROUGHT (D2), EXTREME DROUGHT (D3), AND EXCEPTIONAL DROUGHT (D4). INTERESTINGLY, THE VAST MAJORITY OF OBJECTIVE DROUGHT CLASSIFIERS, BASED ON BLENDS OF VARIOUS METEOROLOGIC AND HYDROLOGIC DATA AND INDICES, SUGGEST THAT D4 CONDITIONS (EXCEPTIONAL DROUGHT) HAVE LONG BEEN MET IN MOST OF CALIFORNIA. BUT BECAUSE DROUGHT LEVELS (D0 THROUGH D4) ARE ALSO BASED ON IMPACTS AND NOT JUST AMBIENT CONDITIONS, THE DROUGHT LEVEL HAS NOT YET REACHED D4.

     

    AT THIS POINT, LONG TERM CLIMATIC INDICATORS SUCH AS THE EL NINO SOUTHERN OSCILLATION INDEX PROVIDE LITTLE GUIDANCE ON FUTURE MOISTURE ARRIVAL AND AVAILABILITY CONDITIONS. THE CPC HAS ALSO SUGGESTED PERSISTENCE OF DRY AND WARM CONDITIONS, AND THE LONG RANGE WEATHER FORECAST INDICATES WE WILL NOT LIKELY SEE ANY CHANCE FOR LOCAL PRECIPITATION UNTIL AT LEAST EARLY FEBRUARY. WATER AVAILABILITY CONTINUES TO DECREASE IN BOTH SURFACE AND GROUNDWATER SUPPLIES, AND THE EFFECTS OF THIS MOISTURE DEFICIT ARE BECOMING MORE PAINFUL AND ACUTE.

     

    PLEASE NOTE THAT NEITHER NOAA NOR THE NWS DECLARES DROUGHTS. DROUGHTS ARE DECLARED IN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA BY THE DEPARTMENT OF WATER RESOURCES AND THE GOVERNOR. HOWEVER, LOCAL OFFICIALS CAN DECLARE DROUGHT OR WATER EMERGENCIES AT TIMES WHEN THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA HAS NOT DECLARED AN OFFICIAL DROUGHT. LOCAL WATER PURVEYORS CAN ALSO IMPLEMENT VOLUNTARY OR MANDATORY RESTRICTIONS ON WATER USAGE IN RESPONSE TO CURRENT OR FORECAST WATER SUPPLY CONDITIONS, REGARDLESS OF DROUGHT DECLARATIONS. THIS DROUGHT STATEMENT PROVIDES A SUMMARY OF PERTINENT INFORMATION TO ENHANCE PUBLIC AWARENESS OF DROUGHT OR ABNORMALLY DRY CONDITIONS…

    • RESERVOIRS
    • GROUNDWATER
    • PRECIPITATION OUTLOOK
    • More….

       

       


     

     

     

    Living on islands makes animals tamer
    (January 10, 2014) — Biologists have found that island lizards are “tame” compared to their mainland relatives, confirming Charles Darwin’s observations of island tameness. Darwin had noted that island animals often acted tame, and presumed that they had evolved to be so after coming to inhabit islands that lacked most predators. The researchers found island lizards were more accessible the farther the islands were from the mainland. … > full story

     

    Nitrous oxide emissions in streams and rivers examined
    (January 14, 2014) — The scientists are trying to understand how populations of microorganisms regulate emissions of nitrous oxide from streams and rivers. … > full story

     

    Death dust: The valley-fever menance. New Yorker January 20, 2014


    Dust storms in the West stir up microscopic spores of the toxic soil-dwelling fungus Coccidioides immitis. The Centers for Disease Control reports a tenfold increase in infections, some of them fatal.

    In 1977, the San Joaquin Valley—the swath of agricultural land that runs through central California—was designated a disaster area. Record-low runoff and scant rainfall had created drought conditions. At the beginning of Christmas week, the weather was normal in Bakersfield, the city at the Valley’s southern end, but in the early hours of December 20th a strong wind began to blow from the Great Basin through the Tehachapi Mountains. Hitting the ground on the downslope, it lofted a cloud of loose topsoil and mustard-colored dust into the sky. The plume rose to five thousand feet; dust blotted out the sun four counties away. Traffic on Highway 5, the state’s main artery, stopped. At a certain point, the anemometers failed; the U.S. Geological Survey estimated wind speeds as high as a hundred and ninety-two miles an hour. Windows on houses were sandblasted to paper thinness. The Tempest from Tehachapi, as one researcher called it, spread dirt over an area the size of Maine. Twenty hours afterward, the dust reached Sacramento, four hundred miles north of Bakersfield, in the form of a murky haze that hung in the air for another day, stinging the eyes and noses of the residents. On the twenty-first, it started raining in Sacramento, which turned the dust to mud, coating the cars and sidewalks, and marked the end of the drought. Over the next several weeks, Sacramento County recorded more than a hundred cases of coccidioidomycosis, otherwise known as valley fever, or cocci, a disease caused by inhaling the microscopic spores of Coccidioides immitis, a soil-dwelling fungus found in Bakersfield. (In the previous twenty years, there had never been more than half a dozen cases a year.) Six of the victims died…..

     


    Scientists warn: Conservation work in zoos is too random


    (January 15, 2014) — The world’s zoos work hard and spend enormous resources on the conservation of endangered species, but the resources are not always optimally spent. One big problem is international legislation and the need of more zoos to work in regional or global networks. Zoo resources can be spent much more effectively, say scientists after analyzing animal collections across the world’s zoos. … > full story

     

    Ice-Loving Sea Anemone Discovered Beneath the Ross Ice Shelf

    Jan. 16, 2014 — Using a camera-equipped robot to explore beneath the Ross Ice Shelf off Antarctica, scientists and engineers with the Antarctic Geological Drilling (ANDRILL) Program made an astonishing discovery. Thousands upon thousands of small sea anemones were burrowed into the underside of the ice shelf, their tentacles protruding into frigid water like flowers on a ceiling. “The pictures blew my mind,” said Marymegan Daly of Ohio State University, who studied the specimens retrieved by ANDRILL team members in Antarctica. The new species, discovered in late December 2010, was publicly identified for the first time in a recent article in the journal PLoS ONE. Though other sea anemones have been found in Antarctica, the newly discovered species is the first known to live in ice. They also live upside down, hanging from the ice, compared to other sea anemones that live on or in the sea floor. …..

     

    Bee sensors take flight to help farmers

    Thousands of honey bees in Australia are being fitted with tiny sensors as part of a world-first research program to monitor the insects and their environment using a technique known as ‘swarm sensing’.

    15 January 2014

    The research is being led by CSIRO and aims to improve honey bee pollination and productivity on farms as well as help understand the drivers of bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a condition decimating honey bee populations worldwide. Up to 5 000 sensors, measuring 2.5mm x 2.5 mm are being fitted to the backs of the bees in Hobart, Tasmania, before being released into the wild. It’s the first time such large numbers of insects have been used for environmental monitoring. “Honey bees play a vital role in the landscape through a free pollination service for agriculture, which various crops rely on to increase yields. A recent CSIRO study showed bee pollination in Faba beans can lead to a productivity increase of 17 per cent,” CSIRO science leader Dr Paulo de Souza, who leads the swarm sensing project, said. “Around one third of the food we eat relies on pollination, but honey bee populations around the world are crashing because of the dreaded Varroa mite and Colony Collapse Disorder. Thankfully, Australia is currently free from both of those threats.” The research will also look at the impacts of agricultural pesticides on honey bees by monitoring insects that feed at sites with trace amounts of commonly used chemicals. Using this technology, we aim to understand the bee’s relationship with its environment.”….

     

     

    Sonoma County wine growers set goal of 100% sustainability

    Wine commission wants all vineyards on board within 5 years

    In the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County, a worker prunes some cabernet vines for the winter. Sustainability also helps the workers get health insurance Tuesday January 14, 2014. Sonoma County vintners are announcing that winemakers here will be completely sustainable within five years, making it the first wine region in the country with such a designation.

    By Stacy Finz SF Chronicle January 15, 2014 6:18 AM

    The Sonoma County Winegrape Commission wants every vineyard and winery in its domain to be certified sustainable in the next five years. The plan, which will be announced Wednesday, could make Sonoma County the first wine region in the nation to be 100 percent sustainable. It’s a tall order, given that it’s difficult to get 100 percent compliance in any voluntary program, but in particular, farmers tend to be an independent lot. Then there’s the problem that the word “sustainable” is used so often that no one really knows what it means.

    Yes, the commission’s president, Karissa Kruse, acknowledges that “sustainable” has become a buzzword in the market. But to growers the tenet of sustainability is fairly simple: good farming practices and living as light on the land as possible.It’s being a good steward, a good employer and a good neighbor,” she said, explaining that it comes down to using fewer chemicals and less water, and preserving the natural resources of the land. Given that 85 percent of the 1,800 vineyards in Sonoma County are family owned, there should be a strong commitment to keeping them healthy and viable to pass on to the next generation, Kruse said. There’s also a financial incentive. Consumers – whether they know what it means or not – are demanding products produced sustainably. Big-box stores such as Walmart have even begun to ask wholesalers for information on their sustainability programs, Kruse said. For those reasons most of the growers and winemakers in the region have already rolled out sustainability programs, many having third-party certification, Kruse said. “What makes this new is the exhaustive approach we’re taking,” Kruse said, adding that she hopes the push will entice small growers, who might have been reluctant to pay $1,500 to $2,000 in third-party certification, to make the investment. Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, said that while other regions are deep into promoting good farming and winemaking practices – including the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance – which helped develop the “Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Workbook,” Sonoma’s plan is the most ambitious. “What’s unique about Sonoma is the goal of 100 percent participation within a set time,” she said. “It’s pretty bold to have that level of commitment on a county-wide base system.”….

     

     


    The variables in the song of every male spectacled warbler could play a crucial role in mating,
    defending territory and recognition between individuals of this species. (Credit: Ana Plamero)

    Male Spectacled Warblers Are Innovative Singers

    Jan. 14, 2014
    Science Daily— The variability in the song of the male spectacled warbler could play a crucial role in mating, defending territory and recognition between individuals of this species. Studying their acoustic signals will help to understand how this bird, with a small brain and limited social needs, can use a complex system of communication. Each male specimen of spectacled warbler, Sylvia conspicillata, has a complex, diverse song, in which new syllables are added and the order is changed as they go along, with a level of skill that relies on their capacity for innovation. Spanish scientists have characterised the acoustic signal of this species, its virtuosity and variability, to try to understand the role that this signal plays in mating, defending territory and recognising individual birds….

     


    Farmers urged to count birds to help conservation


    Johann Tasker Monday 13 January 2014 10:50

    Farmers are being urged to take part in the first annual Big Farmland Bird Count and help researchers understand how conservation work is helping threatened species.

    The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) says the event will be one of the largest counts of farmland birds ever undertaken in the UK. It is due to take place between 1-7 February, when farmers will be invited to spend about half an hour recording the species and number of birds seen on one area of their farm. Once sightings are recorded, they will be submitted either online or post to the GWCT. Jim Egan, of the GWCT’s Allerton Project Farm, said, “Farmers and gamekeepers are responsible for managing the largest songbird habitat in this country on their land. “Their efforts to ensure the future survival of many of our most cherished farmland bird species such as skylark, yellowhammer, corn buntings and wild grey partridges are therefore vital. “We believe that having a better understanding of which conservation measures are proving to be attractive to birds and which are not will be enormously helpful in adding to our understanding of why our birds are still declining.” Official figures suggest farmland bird numbers are falling. But many farmers dispute this. Some 16,000ha (40,000 acres) of special wildlife seed crops are now being grown on farmland across England according to DEFRA and the Campaign for the Farmed Environment. In addition, farmers provide thousands of tonnes of grain as supplementary food for farmland birds during the “hungry gap” – helping birds survive the leanest months of winter.

     

    Fly like a bird: The V formation finally explained

    By Victoria Gill Science reporter, BBC News January 15, 2014

    Lead researcher Steven Portugal explains new findings that reveal why birds fly in a V formation.

    The mystery of why so many birds fly in a V formation may have been solved. Scientists from the Royal Veterinary College fitted data loggers to a flock of rare birds that were being trained to migrate by following a microlight. This revealed that the birds flew in the optimal position – gaining lift from the bird in front by remaining close to its wingtip. The study, published in the journal Nature, also showed that the birds timed their wing beats. A previous experiment in pelicans was the first real clue of the energy-saving purpose of V formations. It revealed that birds’ heart rates went down when they were flying together in V. But this latest study tracked and monitored the flight of every bird in the flock – recording its position, speed and heading as well as every wing flap. …

    Flapping and flying

    As a bird’s wings move through the air, they are held at a slight angle, which deflects the air downward.

    This deflection means the air flows faster over the wing than underneath, causing air pressure to build up beneath the wings, while the pressure above the wings is reduced. It is this difference in pressure that produces lift. Flapping creates an additional forward and upward force known as thrust, which counteracts the weight and the “drag” of air resistance. The downstroke of the flap is also called the “power stroke”, as it provides the majority of the thrust. During this, the wing is angled downwards even more steeply. You can imagine this stroke as a very brief downward dive through the air – it momentarily uses the animal’s own weight in order to move forward. But because the wings continue to generate lift, the creature remains airborne.

    In each upstroke, the wing is slightly folded inwards to reduce resistance. This was possible thanks to a unique conservation project by the Waldarappteam in Austria, which has raised flocks of northern bald ibises and trained them to migrate behind a microlight. The aim of this unusual project is to bring the northern bald ibis back to Europe; the birds were wiped out by hunting, so the team is retraining the birds to navigate a migration route that has now been lost. Fitting tiny data loggers to these critically endangered ibises showed that the birds often changed position and altered the timing of their wing beats to give them an aerodynamic advantage. Lead researcher Dr Steven Portugal explained: “They’re seemingly very aware of where the other birds are in the flock and they put themselves in the best possible position.” This makes the most of upward-moving air generated by the bird in front. This so-called “upwash” is created as a bird flies forward; whether it is gliding or flapping, it pushes air downward beneath its wings. ….

     

    Steven J. Portugal, et al. Upwash exploitation and downwash avoidance by flap phasing in ibis formation flight. Nature, 2014; 505 (7483): 399 DOI: 10.1038/nature12939

     

    River Otters Coming Back to the Urban S.F. Bay Area


    By Denis Cuff Contra Costa Times Posted:   01/11/2014 05:33:53 PM PST

    When fishermen reported seeing river otters in Lake Temescal earlier this year, park superintendent Doug Cantwell thought it might be an urban legend in the making.  He had never heard of the playful creatures being spotted before at the urban lake wedged between two Oakland freeways. “Maybe we should call it the Loch Ness otter,” he said with a laugh.  But Cantwell become a proud believer this fall when he saw them for himself, adding another small chapter to the comeback story of the sleek and frisky river otter to the urban Bay Area.  Otter watchers see the return as a good omen.  “We think this a hopeful sign for our water environments,” said Megan Isadore of the River Otter Ecology Project, a Marin County-based nonprofit that monitors and studies otters in the region. “The otters are clearly expanding into areas where they were not seen before.”  After decades of few or any sightings, in the past two years the group has recorded about 600 otter reports.  Either unnoticed or gone from the Bay Area three decades ago, the North American otter has been spotted in Los Gatos, San Francisco, Oakland, Fremont, Martinez, Walnut Creek, Richmond, Berkeley, Napa, Lafayette and elsewhere in the Bay Area….

     

     

     

     

    US carbon emissions rose 2 percent in 2013 after years of decline.
    Los Angeles Times By Tony Barboza January 13, 2014

    Carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s energy sector rose about 2 percent in 2013 after declining for several years, federal energy officials reported Monday. The reversal came because power plants last year burned more coal to generate electricity, after years in which natural gas accounted for an increasing share of the nation’s electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the analytical branch of the Department of Energy. Though the 2013 figures are not final, once all the data are in, analysts expect a roughly 2% increase in carbon emissions over 2012 because of a small rise in coal consumption, the agency said in a report posted online on Monday. Power plants are the biggest source of greenhouse gases that are building up in the atmosphere and causing climate change. Carbon dioxide emissions from domestic power generation peaked in 2007 and have declined four out of the six years since, the agency said. The downward trend is tied in part to sagging energy demand in the wake of the recent recession, but is also being propelled by improvements in energy efficiency, shifts in energy prices and the displacement of coal power by natural gas and renewables. The energy administration, in a report last year, warned of the 2013 increase in carbon emissions. That report found coal use on the upswing because of a drop in coal prices and a rise in natural gas prices. Power plants that burn natural gas produce about half as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide as coal-fired plants.

     
     

    Western Land Managers will Need all Available Tools for Adapting to Climate Change, Including Grazing: A Critique of Beschta et al.

    Received: 29 July 2013 / Accepted: 11 December 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2014

    Abstract (for more information see: http://rangelandwatersheds.ucdavis.edu/Main/projects.htm)

    In a previous article, Beschta et al. (Environ Manag 51(2):474–491,2013 ) argue that grazing by large ungulates (both native and domestic) should be eliminated or greatly reduced on western public lands to reduce potential climate change impacts. The authors did not present a balanced synthesis of the scientific literature, and their publication is more of an opinion article. Their conclusions do not reflect the complexities associated with herbivore grazing. Because grazing is a complex ecological process, synthesis of the scientific literature can be achallenge. Legacy effects of uncontrolled grazing during the homestead era further complicate analysis of current grazing impacts. Interactions of climate change and grazing will depend on the specific situation. For example, increasing atmospheric CO2 and temperatures may increase accumulation of fine fuels (primarily grasses) and thus increase wildfire risk. Prescribed grazing by livestock is one of the few management tools available for reducing fine fuel accumulation. While there are certainly points on the landscape where herbivore impacts can be identified there are also vast grazed areas where impacts are minimal. Broad scale reduction of domestic and wild herbivores to help native plant communities cope with climate change will be unnecessary because over the past 20–50 years land managers have actively sought to bring populations of native and domestic herbivores in balance with the potential of vegetation and soils. To cope with a changing climate, land managers will need access to all available vegetation management tools, including grazing.

    CONCLUSION:

    ….Beschta et al. (2013) devote a significant portion of their climate change discussion to warmer spring temperatures, reduced snow packs, earlier peak flows, and reduced summer stream flows. It is unclear how removing grazing would overcome the effects of large-scale climatic changes (such as reduced snow packs) that are triggered by larger and more complex resource issues than grazing. Some of the discussion on carbon sequestration is particularly unclear. For example, Beschta et al. (2013) cite Lal (2001) as saying that heavy grazing has long-term negative impacts on soil organic carbon. That citation is a chapter in a book titled ”The Potential of US Grazing Lands to Sequester Carbon and Mitigate the Greenhouse Effect” (Follett et al. 2001). This book provides examples where grazing increases carbon sequestration compared to no grazing. Beschta et al. (201 ) suggest that the economic impacts of their proposal would be ”relatively minor to modestly positive”. That may be true for unique areas with high recreational potential such as Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but it is not true for most of the rural West and not necessarily for even some of the high value recreation areas. A few studies have examined the regional economic impact of removing public land grazing from representative ranches and all show significant negative impacts to local economies (Torell et al. 2002 ; Rimbey et al. 2003; Tanaka et al. 2007). Whether recreation service jobs will replace ranching jobs and income lost in a local economy is largely unknown. To summarize, grazing is a complex ecological process with impacts that vary across time and space. This complexity leads to challenges in synthesizing the scientific literature and allows authors to select the literature which supports particular points of view about grazing impacts. Legacy impacts of homestead era over-grazing and potential climate change further complicate assessment of current grazing impacts. Clearly, there are examples where reduced grazing can increase the potential negative impacts of climate change (in the case of wildfire risk). We suggest that land managers in the western US will need all available vegetation management tools to cope with climate change.

     

     

    Original Paper by Beschta:

    Beschta RL, Donahue DL, DellaSala DA, Rhodes JJ, Karr JR, O’Brien MH, Fleischner TL, Williams CD (2013) Adapting to climate change on western public lands: addressing the ecological effects of domestic, wild, and feral ungulates. Environmental Management. 51(2):474–491

    Abstract. Climate change affects public land ecosystems and services throughout the American West and these effects are projected to intensify. Even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, adaptation strategies for public lands are needed to reduce anthropogenic stressors of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems and to help native species and ecosystems survive in an altered environment. Historical and contemporary livestock production-the most widespread and long-running commercial use of public lands-can alter vegetation, soils, hydrology, and wildlife species composition and abundances in ways that exacerbate the effects of climate change on these resources. Excess abundance of native ungulates (e.g., deer or elk) and feral horses and burros add to these impacts. Although many of these consequences have been studied for decades, the ongoing and impending effects of ungulates in a changing climate require new management strategies for limiting their threats to the long-term supply of ecosystem services on public lands. Removing or reducing livestock across large areas of public land would alleviate a widely recognized and long-term stressor and make these lands less susceptible to the effects of climate change. Where livestock use continues, or where significant densities of wild or feral ungulates occur, management should carefully document the ecological, social, and economic consequences (both costs and benefits) to better ensure management that minimizes ungulate impacts to plant and animal communities, soils, and water resources. Reestablishing apex predators in large, contiguous areas of public land may help mitigate any adverse ecological effects of wild ungulates.

     

    The case for low methane-emitting cattle
    (January 10, 2014) — A new research project looks into the possibilities of adapting every aspect of cattle husbandry and selection processes to lower their greenhouse gas emissions. … > 

     

    A wildfire burns in the hills just north of the San Gabriel Valley community of Glendora, Calif., on Thursday, Jan 16, 2014. Southern California authorities have ordered the evacuation of homes at the edge of a fast-moving wildfire burning in the dangerously dry foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. CREDIT: AP Photo/Nick Ut

    Extreme Red Flag Fire Warnings Across Southern California, As Drought And Wind Fuel Fire

    By Ari Phillips on January 16, 2014

    On Wednesday, the National Weather Service issued a red flag fire warning for Kern County, north of Los Angeles, for the first time ever in January. Low humidity, strong winds and a lack of rain or snowfall has made the mountainous area especially susceptible the early onset of fire season. Dry and windy conditions across the region have led to critical fire warnings in counties including Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and south toward the Mexico border, as well as some areas near the San Francisco Bay. “Following the driest year on record, 2014 is kicking off as what may be the driest January on record in many locations in California,” weather.com senior meteorologist Jon Erdman said. ….In the next few days, California Governor Jerry Brown is expected to declare the state is officially in the midst of a drought…..

     


    Acidification, Predators Pose Double Threat to Oysters


    January 15, 2014The once-booming, now struggling Olympia oyster native to the West Coast could face a double threat from ocean acidification and invasive predators, according to new research from the University of California, Davis’ Bodega Marine Laboratory. The work is published Jan. 15 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.… Invasive snails ate 20 percent more juvenile oysters when both oysters and snails were raised under ocean conditions forecast for the end of this century, the researchers found. The results highlight the dangers of multiple stressors on ecosystems, said Eric Sanford, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis and first author on the study. “You might decide to go to work if you had a toothache. But what if you had a toothache, the flu, and a broken leg? At some point, multiple stressors will cause natural systems to break down,” he said. Native Olympia oysters were once so common in San Francisco Bay that they were a cheap food during the Gold Rush, commemorated in Hangtown Fry, an omelet of eggs, bacon and oysters. The population collapsed from overfishing in the late 1800s and has never recovered. Atlantic oysters imported to the West Coast brought predatory snails such as the Atlantic oyster drill, which uses acid and a rasping tongue to drill holes in oyster shells.

    ….Scientists have become increasingly concerned about the effects of climate change on ocean chemistry. As heat-trapping carbon dioxide builds up in the atmosphere, some of the gas dissolves in the oceans, causing a steady rise in the overall acidity of the oceans. An interdisciplinary team of researchers based at UC Davis’ Bodega Marine Laboratory is looking into the oceans’ future by raising animals in seawater with raised levels of dissolved carbon dioxide. In earlier work, they found that oysters raised under conditions predicted for the end of this century are smaller than present-day animals. In Tomales Bay north of San Francisco, young snails emerge from egg capsules at about the same time of year that juvenile oysters settle from the plankton and grow into adults. Sanford and colleagues raised both oysters and snails in the lab to simulate this process under present-day conditions and with levels of carbon dioxide forecast for 2100. They found that oysters raised under high carbon dioxide were smaller, but did not have thinner shells than oysters reared under present-day conditions. The snails were not affected by high carbon dioxide, but ate 20 percent more oysters under these conditions. “It’s like if you go out for tacos,” Sanford said. “If the tacos are smaller, you’re going to eat more of them….> full story

     

    E. Sanford, et al Ocean acidification increases the vulnerability of native oysters to predation by invasive snails. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2014; 281 (1778): 20132681 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2681

     

    Key species of algae shows effects of climate change over time
    (January 15, 2014)
    A study of marine life in the temperate coastal waters of the northeast Pacific Ocean shows a reversal of competitive dominance among species of algae, suggesting that increased ocean acidification caused by global climate change is altering biodiversity. The study, published online January 15, 2014, in the journal Ecology Letters, examined competitive dynamics among crustose coralline algae, a group of species living in the waters around Tatoosh Island, Washington. These species of algae grow skeletons made of calcium carbonate, much like other shelled organisms such as mussels and oysters. As the ocean absorbs more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the water becomes more acidic. Crustose coralline algae and shellfish have difficulty producing their skeletons and shells in such an environment, and can provide an early indicator of how increasing ocean acidification affects marine life. “Coralline algae is one of the poster organisms for studying ocean acidification,” said lead study author Sophie McCoy, a PhD candidate in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago. “On one hand, they can grow faster because of increased carbon dioxide in the water, but on the other hand, ocean acidification makes it harder for them to deposit the skeleton. It’s an important tradeoff.” … > full story

     

     

    Coral reefs in Palau surprisingly resistant to naturally acidified waters
    (January 15, 2014) — Ocean researchers working on the coral reefs of Palau in 2011 and 2012 made two unexpected discoveries that could provide insight into corals’ resistance and resilience to ocean acidification, and aid in the creation of a plan to protect them. … > full story

     

    Safe havens revealed for biodiversity in a changed climate
    (January 13, 2014) — Researchers have found a way to project future habitat locations under climate change, identifying potential safe havens for
    threatened biodiversity. ….
    or the first time, their novel approach, recently published in PLOS One and involving Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) instruments, is able to translate a traditional plot observation to the entire landscape. Dr Wardell-Johnson said this enabled the team to apply expected future changes in rainfall to landscape-scale vegetation and find potential refugial sites, essential for conservation efforts. “Global warming is a particular issue in Mediterranean-climate regions. It is especially so in the flat landscapes of south-western Australia — home to a global biodiversity hotspot,” Dr Wardell-Johnson said. “South-western Australians have been living through the impacts of a drying climate for more than 40 years and are bracing for a continuing drier and warmer trend. Understanding where refugia will be is of particular importance in light of human-caused global warming, to offer the best chances for our precious flora and fauna in times of transformative change.”

    By using 4-metre x 4-metre plot-based data of vegetation profiles on and around granite outcrops across south-western Australia, the team were able to relate vegetation types to soil depth and rainfall. They found a very strong relationship between all three. This finding meant the team could compare current climate and future climate under a continuing trend of reduced rainfall in the region…. Dr Wardell-Johnson said that very large shifts in vegetation structure were predicted and able to be mapped for future climates, with greatest changes expected to happen in the highest rainfall areas.

    “We found it very likely that some refugia will be found in sites receiving greatest water run-off below granite outcrops, as well as areas where a reduction in rainfall is offset by deeper soil,” Dr Wardell-Johnson said. … > full story

     

    Antonius G. T. Schut, et al. Rapid Characterisation of Vegetation Structure to Predict Refugia and Climate Change Impacts across a Global Biodiversity Hotspot. PLoS ONE, 2014; 9 (1): e82778 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082778

     

    Arctic: Mercury deposition and ozone depletion, linked to sea-ice dynamics
    (January 15, 2014) — Scientists have established, for the first time, a link between Arctic sea ice dynamics and the region’s changing atmospheric chemistry potentially leading to increased amounts of mercury deposited to the Earth’s northernmost and most fragile ecosystems. … > full story

     

    Massive Antarctic Glacier Has Entered Irreversible Melt, Could Add Up To 1 Centimeter To Sea Level

    By Ari Phillips on January 13, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    CREDIT: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    After last week’s Arctic-fueled cold snap — dubbed the ‘Polar Vortex’ — brought freezing temperatures and claims of climate change denial to the attention of the general public, the situation has now returned to normal. Or the new normal at least — in which climate change happens out-of-sight and out-of-mind for many Americans. One of the latest indicators that climate change is progressing whether we’re looking or not comes from a study in the journal Nature Climate Change finding that one of the largest glaciers in Antarctica has started melting irreversibly. An international team of researchers found that Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier, the single largest Antarctic contributor to sea-level rise, could add as much as one centimeter to ocean levels within the next 20 years.

    The glacier “has started a phase of self-sustained retreat and will irreversibly continue its decline,” Gael Durand, a glaciologist with France’s Grenoble Alps University, told Australian Broadcasting Corporation. The team of researchers used state-of-the-art ice-flow models and field observations to help determine how the glacier’s ice flows will change in coming years. “At the Pine Island Glacier we have seen that not only is more ice flowing from the glacier into the ocean, but it’s also flowing faster across the grounding line — the boundary between the grounded ice and the floating ice,” Dr. G. Hilmar Gudmundsson, a researcher on the project, told Planet Earth Magazine. The glaciologists found that that glacier’s grounding line, which has already receded up to 10 kilometers this century, is “probably engaged in an unstable 40-kilometer retreat.” Pine Island Glacier is one of the main avenues for ice to flow from Antarctica into the ocean. As the tip of the glacier melts and thins, the glacier is discharging more ice into the sea. The glacier has been losing about 20 billion tonnes of ice a year for the last two decades, but scientists see this rising to 100 billion tonnes a year in the coming decades.

     

    The Flood Next Time

    By JUSTIN GILLIS NY Times January 13 2014

    The numbers are unmistakable, scientists say. Global sea level is rising, while land along the East Coast is sinking. Just ask Norfolk, Va. ….That may not sound like much, but scientists say even the smallest increase causes the seawater to eat away more aggressively at the shoreline in calm weather, and leads to higher tidal surges during storms. The sea-level rise of decades past thus explains why coastal towns nearly everywhere are having to spend billions of dollars fighting erosion. The evidence suggests that the sea-level rise has probably accelerated, to about a foot a century, and scientists think it will accelerate still more with the continued emission of large amounts of greenhouse gases into the air. The gases heat the planet and cause land ice to melt into the sea. The official stance of the world’s climate scientists is that the global sea level could rise as much as three feet by the end of this century, if emissions continue at a rapid pace. But some scientific evidence supports even higher numbers, five feet and beyond in the worst case…..

     

    Climate Aids in Study Face Big Obstacles

    By HENRY FOUNTAIN NY TIMES JAN. 16, 2014

    Some of the technologies cited in the latest draft report by United Nations climate experts face significant obstacles before they can be widely put in effect to limit the impact of climate change. The technologies, including a method of energy production that permanently removes carbon dioxide from the air, are still in their infancy, with few projects operating around the world. The report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change refers to bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or Beccs, as a possible mitigation technology. Beccs involves using biomass — often waste from crop or forest production — to produce energy. Vegetation removes carbon dioxide that is currently in the air through photosynthesis and stores the carbon in its tissues. When the vegetation is burned, carbon dioxide is released. With Beccs, this gas is captured and injected deep underground. The net effect is permanent removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Fossil fuels form from vegetation that is millions of years old, so capturing the carbon released by burning does not reduce current atmospheric concentrations. Some studies have suggested that the technology, if widely adopted, could result in the removal of about 10 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide a year by 2050. (Energy producers and industry currently emit about 30 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide a year.) But there are many challenges to widespread adoption of Beccs, and while there have been a few small demonstration projects overseas, there is only one in the United States, in central Illinois. ….

     

     

    Far West Got Drier Last Year, Data Shows

    By HENRY FOUNTAIN NY Times JAN. 15, 2014

    Drought conditions in California and elsewhere in the Far West intensified last year, government scientists said Wednesday, adding to concerns about water supplies in the region.
    Although on the whole 2013 was a wetter than average year for the contiguous 48 states, the scientists said, that statistic masked sharp regional differences. Many states east of the Rockies had much higher than average precipitation, helping to alleviate drought in the central United States and the Southeast. “But California had its driest calendar year on record, by a pretty wide margin,” said Jake Crouch, a scientist with the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Other Western states were affected as well: Oregon, for example, had its fourth-driest year on record. According to the center, which released its annual review of the nation’s weather, California had almost two and a half inches less precipitation than it had in the previous record year, 1898. Snowpack levels at many mountain locations in the state were about 25 percent of normal, Mr. Crouch said. Melted snow normally provides about one-third of the state’s water. In the early part of 2013, the scientists said, the state experienced a dry end to the wet season, which began the previous November. “We knew by the time we got into midspring that the next really good chance to see drought relief was late 2013,” said Deke Arndt, the chief of the data center’s climate monitoring branch. But dry conditions persisted last fall. “We have not seen a productive season,” he said. Last year was also warmer than average for the 48 contiguous states, the scientists said. But the nation got a respite from the blistering conditions of 2012, which was the hottest year in the 119 years that records have been kept. Over all, 2013 was slightly more than three degrees cooler than 2012, and the average summer temperature, 72.6 degrees, was the lowest since 2009. Last year was also relatively quiet in terms of extreme weather, with the fewest hurricanes and tornadoes in decades. The tornado count was about 900, or about 70 percent of the annual average and the lowest number since 1989. There were only two hurricanes in 2013, the fewest since 1982, and neither made landfall in the United States. The data center reported seven weather disasters with losses of $1 billion or more last year.

    Five involved severe storms or tornadoes, including the Category 5 tornado that hit Moore, Okla., on May 20, killing 24 people. The center has not yet estimated the total monetary damage for each disaster, but the total of seven is lower than in each of the previous two years. Over all, 2013 was a “relatively benign year,” Mr. Arndt said, especially compared with 2011 and 2012. But any single year “by itself doesn’t fully affirm or refute what we already know about climate change,” he said. Mr. Arndt added, “We’re very confident that we see in the data an increase in the three main variables that we know are related to climate change.” Those variables are stronger and more frequent heat waves, more frequent episodes of heavy precipitation and fewer intense cold snaps…..

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    Big, old trees keep growing and capturing carbon, study finds

    The world’s biggest trees – such as this large western white pine in the Sierra Nevada – are also the fastest-growing trees, according to a new study. (Rob Hayden)

    By Bettina Boxall LA TIMES January 15, 2014, 7:17 p.m.

    Scientists who gathered decades of measurements from hundreds of thousands of trees all over the world are punching a hole in the common assumption that large, old trees are biologically pretty much over the hill. To the contrary, researchers found that the senior trees have rapid growth rates and keep capturing carbon – lots of it. “The growth rate just keeps increasing as trees get bigger,” said study leader Nate Stephenson, a California-based research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. The findings, published Wednesday in a letter in the journal Nature, are based on repeated measurements of 673,046 trees belonging to 403 species across every forested continent. The 38 authors said that extraordinary growth was not limited to a few standout species, like giant sequoias. “Rather, rapid growth in giant trees is the global norm and can exceed [1,300 pounds] per year in the largest individuals,” they wrote. The productivity of individual leaves – that is, the amount of mass a tree adds per unit of leaf area – does decline with age. “But the thing is that old trees have so much more leaf area than a little tree, they more than compensate for that decline in productivity,” Stephenson said. It’s well known that large trees are good at locking up carbon, preventing it from escaping into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming. But the research suggests that the big guys are not just storing carbon. They are fixing large amounts of it with continued rapid growth, every year adding a little more mass to their trunks, limbs and leaves. At the high end, the authors said a single big tree can in one year add the same amount of carbon to a forest as is stored in an entire mid-sized tree. “It’s the equivalent of managing a sports team,” Stephenson said. “You need to know who your star players are. It turns out they’re not the 20-year-olds. They’re the 90-year-olds.”
    In old growth plots in the western U.S., the authors said the largest trees comprised 6% of the forest but contributed a third of the annual growth in forest mass.
    That does not mean, however, that on a forest level old stands capture more carbon overall than young stands. Young forests are denser, with more trees, and when old trees die, they release carbon back into the atmosphere….

    Stephenson and Adrian Das, a USGS coauthor, got the idea for the study after observing rapid growth rates in big trees in Sierra Nevada research plots. They wanted to know whether the same was true elsewhere. So they put out a call for data. Researchers from around the world responded, providing diameter measurements that had periodically been taken of the same large trees, in some cases over decades. The measurements were then used to figure increases in the trees’ overall mass. “We already knew it’s important to conserve old trees for the species that depend on them,” Stephenson said. “I just think this adds a little bit of extra emphasis. Not only do they lock up a lot of carbon, they’re really good at pulling carbon out of the atmosphere.”

     

    Tide Gauges Needed for Research Are Often Victims of Storms

    By JUSTIN GILLIS NY Times January 13 2014

    As Hurricanes Sandy, Katrina and Rita showed, equipment for accurate tidal readings, vital to understanding individual storms, may not withstand them.

     

     

    High levels of molecular chlorine found in arctic atmosphere
    (January 13, 2014) — Scientists studying the atmosphere above Barrow, Alaska, have discovered unprecedented levels of molecular chlorine in the air, a new study reports. … > full story

     

     

    Walden Pond trees leafing out far earlier than in Thoreau’s time
    (January 13, 2014) — Climate-change studies show leaf-out times of trees and shrubs at Walden Pond are an average of 18 days earlier than when Henry David Thoreau made his observations there in the 1850s. … > full story

     

     

    The Rim fire, its recovery and the debate

    By Pia Lopez
    plopez@sacbee.com Published: Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014 – 12:00 am

    Smoke still curls out of smoldering forest from the Rim fire that swept through the Stanislaus National Forest, Yosemite National Park and private timberland late last summer. A sea of black candlesticks covers vast sections of the landscape. The Rim fire scorched 257,000 acres, making it the largest wildfire ever recorded in the Sierra Nevada. That’s like having 40 percent of Sacramento County burn. ….So now the issue is recovery. On the table for debate is how much salvage logging should be allowed in the national forest, how much land should be left untouched, and how much should be planted in conifer seedlings to help regenerate the forest within our lifetime. Unfortunately, the extremes have dominated the stage. At one end are those who advocate logging even the most inaccessible dead trees on steep slopes and who want massive, tree-farm replanting. At the other end are those who advocate leaving every dead tree in place. Both could contribute to high-intensity fire in the future.

     

    [Also, SAC BEE Editorial - http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/12/6062626/editorial-mcclintock-is-complicating.html]

     

    Heatwave halts Australian Open tennis matches

    Soaring temperatures have halted matches at the Australian Open tennis tournament, as a report warns that the country will see hotter heatwaves. Melbourne, where the tournament is held, is seeing a third consecutive day of heat above 40C, with temperatures of 41.7C (107F) on Thursday. Australia’s Climate Council says in a report that the number of hot days in the country has “more than doubled”. 2013 was recently declared Australia’s hottest year on record. The Climate Council report attributed the development to climate change, caused by greenhouse gases….

     

    Australia’s record heatwave: melting bottles and fainting ball boys

    Top-ranked tennis players in Australia faint and hallucinate as a heatwave melts water bottles and forces beach life guards to work at night

    By Jonathan Pearlman, Sydney 2:26PM GMT 14 Jan 2014

    Australia is in the grip of an extreme heatwave which has forced beach life guards to work at night and left players and ball-boys hallucinating and complaining of “inhumane” conditions at the Australian Open tennis championship. The worst-affected cities have been Melbourne and Adelaide, which are facing daily temperatures of up to 113F (45C) for the rest of the week. The state of Victoria has warned it is facing its highest fire danger since the devastating Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, which killed 173 people and destroyed 2000 homes. Tens of thousands of firefighters have been put on standby and fire bans were imposed across the state. ….At the Australian Open in Melbourne, plastic water bottles melted on the rubberised courts as the tournament faced one of its hottest days in history. A Canadian player, Frank Dancevic, hallucinated and thought he saw “Snoopy” before collapsing and receiving treatment during his first-round defeat to Frenchman Benoit Paire. The temperatures at the open hit a high of 109F (42.8C). ….

     

     

     

    Australian heatwave set to worsen as fires rage. Agence France-Presse

    Australians sweltering through a severe heatwave were warned on Thursday that the worst Is yet to come, with hundreds of fires raging in several states and temperatures nearing record highs….

     

    Shishmaref, Alaska, a village eroding due to climate change, asks for congressional action.
    Anchorage Alaska Dispatch
    Five residents from the eroding village of Shishmaref in Northwest Alaska journeyed to Washington, D.C., this week to sound the alarm on climate change, while hauling a pineapple-sized chunk of frozen tundra to present to lawmakers.

     

    Extreme Weather Wreaking Havoc on Food as Farmers Suffer

    By Brian K. Sullivan, Elizabeth Campbell and Rudy Ruitenberg January 17, 2014

    The cut off stalks of corn plants stand in a field cleared after drought conditions and extreme heat during pollination irreversibly damaged the crop in the United States. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

    Volatile weather around the world is taking farmers on a wild ride. Too much rain in northern China damaged crops in May, three years after too little rain turned the world’s second-biggest corn producer into a net importer of the grain. Dry weather in the U.S. will cut beef output from the world’s biggest producer to the lowest level since 1994, following 2013′s bumper corn crop, which pushed America’s inventory up 30 percent. U.K. farmers couldn’t plant in muddy fields after the second-wettest year on record in 2012 dented the nation’s wheat production….

     

     

    Environment Agency warns of risk of further flooding in southern England

    The Guardian

     - ‎January 10 2014‎

           

    People living along the lower reaches of the Thames, as well as the Avon in Hampshire and the Stour in Dorset, should be prepared for the risk of flooding 

     

    Meltwater from Tibetan glaciers floods pastures
    (January 16, 2014) — Glaciers are important indicators of climate change. Global warming causes mountain glaciers to melt, which, apart from the shrinking of the Greenlandic and Antarctic ice sheets, is regarded as one of the main causes of the present global sea-level rise. Tibet’s glaciers are also losing mass clearly, as scientists reveal using satellite-based laser measurements. Over the last decade, the research team has detected a “clear loss in mass of around 16 gigatons a year in around 80 percent of the Tibetan glaciers,” says a glaciologist. …

     

    Increasing threat of intense tropical cyclones hitting East Asia
    (January 15, 2014) — The intensity of tropical cyclones hitting East Asia has significantly increased over the past 30 years, according to a new study. … > full story

     

     

    Climate-change denying scientists … er … scientist getting a bit lonely

    By Meteor Blades Jan 14, 2014 11:18am PST  Daily Kos

    Here’s how many scientists published peer-reviewed articles denying climate change in the past year (se diagram above). Writes Holly Richmond at Grist:  Only one — ONE — of the 9,137 authors of peer-reviewed climate change articles rejected anthropogenic global warming. Geochemist James Powell did the research on publications from November 2012 and December 2013. (But if a year-long sample isn’t good enough for you, Powell previously examined 21 years of peer-reviewed literature and found that only 24 out of 13,950 articles — or two-tenths of a percent — came out and rejected human-caused climate change.)  The lone dissident, S. V. Avakyan, wrote in Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences, “The contribution of the greenhouse effect of carbon-containing gases to global warming turns out to be insignificant.” But Coby Beck smacks this idea down in his “How to talk to a climate skeptic” series….Another big chunk, moderate Republicans and, sadly, many Democrats, are delayers when it comes climate change policy. And delay is denial….

     

     

     

    Records fall as temperatures rise in SF Bay Area

    Vivian Ho, San Francisco Chronicle Published 7:38 pm, Wednesday, January 15, 2014

    (01-15) 19:37 PST SAN FRANCISCO — Temperatures reached record highs throughout the Bay Area on Wednesday, bringing the number of shattered records to 36 since Jan. 1. Oakland International Airport saw temperatures soar to 77 degrees, with downtown Oakland at 76, both beating records set in 2009, the National Weather Service said. San Francisco International Airport hit 73 degrees, breaking a 1974 record high of 69, but downtown San Francisco, at 71, missed the 2009 record by 2 degrees. Napa, at 72 degrees, burned past a 1966 record of 70, while temperatures at Moffett Field tied a 2009 record of 72. Marin County also surpassed a record, with a high of 68 in Kentfield. The last record, 67 degrees, was reported in 1945. The recent winter spate of dry, warm weather has broken a number of records, with San Jose beating a 2009 record on Tuesday, reaching 74 by 3 p.m., and Pinnacles National Park in San Benito County hitting 83. In contrast, December’s cold snap set 37 record lows, the National Weather Service reported. The heat is expected to continue through Thursday, said meteorologist Will Pi. “It will probably end by Friday, and get a little cooler,” he said. “But in general, the high-pressure system is still over us, so it will be pretty warm.”

     

    Major drought a curse, blessing

    SF Chronicle January 17, 2014

    Historic dry spell could become a dire emergency. But rather than just fretting, some are enjoying the great weather.

     

     

     

    U.N. Says Lag in Confronting Climate Woes Will Be Costly

    By JUSTIN GILLIS NY Times JAN. 16, 2014

    Nations have so dragged their feet in battling climate change that the situation has grown critical and the risk of severe economic disruption is rising, according to a draft United Nations report. Another 15 years of failure to limit carbon emissions could make the problem virtually impossible to solve with current technologies, experts found. Delay would likely force future generations to develop the ability to suck greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and store them underground to preserve the livability of the planet, the report found. But it is not clear whether such technologies will ever exist at the necessary scale, and even if they do, the approach would likely be wildly expensive compared with taking steps now to slow emissions. The report said that governments of the world were still spending far more money to subsidize fossil fuels than to accelerate the shift to cleaner energy, thus encouraging continued investment in projects like coal-burning power plants that pose a long-term climate risk….The new warnings come in a draft report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations panel of climate experts that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for its efforts to analyze and communicate the risks of climate change. The report is not final, but a draft dated Dec. 17 leaked this week and was first reported by Reuters. The New York Times obtained a copy independently.

    Boxer task force’s 1st goal to change political climate

    Carolyn Lochhead Updated 10:10 pm, Tuesday, January 14, 2014

    Sen. Barbara Boxer leads a task force made up of Democrats and independents. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

    WashingtonShrugging off potential political damage to vulnerable Southern and mountain-state Democrats, Sen. Barbara Boxer led 18 senators Tuesday on an election-year assault against climate change denial, accusing oil and coal interests of holding members of Congress captive on the issue. These ostensible captives are not just Republicans, but Democrats representing conservative-leaning states that are home to large fossil-fuel industries. Democratic senators facing tough re-election battles in November include Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, home to the nation’s offshore oil industry, and Mark Begich of Alaska, another big oil producer. Democrats also must defend three seats left open by retirements in coal and gas country: Montana, West Virginia and South Dakota. In all five states, Republicans lead by large margins in early polling. Democrats now control the Senate by a five-vote margin. Asked about the risk of a climate-change task force whose agenda she unveiled Tuesday, Boxer, D-Calif., called the political calculus “ridiculous.” “How about we get five Republicans from coastal states whose states are already suffering from sea-level rise, droughts, floods and all the rest of it?” Boxer said. “I’m not going to walk into that issue, that I have to have 100 percent of Democrats. I don’t need 100 percent of Democrats. All I need is a majority of Democrats and Republicans, and we will change this place and we will make sure that our grandchildren have a safe planet.”….Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., did not join the task force, but is a member of an allied group of Democratic senators called the Climate Change Clearinghouse, a kind of internal think tank.

     

     

    Feinstein, Boxer, Costa Call on President to Form Federal Drought Task Force

    Urge Swift Action if State Requests Federal Disaster Declaration

    Washington, DC January 16 2014 Maven’s Notebook

    In light of California’s extreme dry conditions, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Barbara Boxer, and Congressman Jim Costa called on President Obama to form a federal drought task force capable of coordinating a swift, decisive crossagency response to the state’s looming water crisis. In a letter, the lawmakers also asked that the President move quickly to authorize a disaster declaration should California request a federal declaration. Last month, Costa and Feinstein urged California Governor Jerry Brown to declare a statewide drought emergencythat would mobilize additional resources necessary to address the state’s current water challenges. Full text of the letter here.

     

    Environmental groups say Obama needs to address climate change more …

    Washington Post January 17, 2014 Juliet Eilperin and Lenny Bernstein

    A group of the nation’s leading environmental organizations is breaking with the administration over its energy policy, arguing that the White House needs to apply a strict climate test to all of its energy decisions or risk undermining one of the president’s top second-term priorities. The rift — reflected in a letter sent to President Obama by 18 groups, including the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and Earthjustice — signals that the administration is under pressure to confront the fossil-fuel industry or risk losing support from a critical part of its political base during an already difficult election year. For years, the administration has pushed aggressively to limit pollution from coal-fired power plants and improve fuel efficiency in transportation while also embracing domestic production of natural gas, oil and coal under an “all of the above” energy strategy. This has angered environmental groups, which reluctantly went along until Thursday’s break. “You can’t have it both ways,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said in an interview. The criticism came on the same day that the fossil-fuel industry and its congressional allies began separate efforts to challenge the administration’s environmental policies. That suggests that the White House will have to marshal additional resources to defend the work it is already doing to address climate change….

     

     

    Global warming’s biggest contributors identified

    Alex Morales Bloomberg January 15, 2014 4:52 PM

    China, India and Brazil, three of the largest developing nations, joined the U.S. in a list of the biggest historical contributors to global warming, according to a study by researchers in Canada. Seven nations between them accounted for more than 60 percent of all heat-trapping gas emissions between 1750 and 2005, researchers at Concordia University, Montreal, said Wednesday. Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany rounded out the list. The findings are important for diplomats trying to broker a new deal by 2015 to limit fossil fuel emissions. The question of historical responsibility caused friction at talks in Warsaw in November, when richer nations blocked a Brazilian proposal that would use pollution levels dating back to the Industrial Revolution to help set limits on future emissions. “A clear understanding of national contributions to climate warming provides important information with which to determine national responsibility for global warming, and can therefore be used as a framework to allocate future emissions,” the researchers said in their paper, to be published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. “Our analysis has the potential to contribute to this discussion.” The U.S. is the “unambiguous leader,” responsible for about 20 percent of total warming since industrialization.
    That’s equivalent to about 0.27 degree Fahrenheit, according to the researchers. The group was led by Damon Matthews, an associate professor in Concordia’s department of geography, planning and environment. China and Russia each accounted for about 8 percent of total emissions. Brazil and India had 7 percent apiece, and the United Kingdom and Germany each were responsible for 5 percent…..

     

     

    Who pays for climate regulation? 
    Taxing carbon emissions at $15 a metric ton would have a significant economic impact on key industries and on the poorest consumers, says Charles Kolstad

     


    Climate change will cut California’s ability to make electricity just as more is needed – report.



    Climate change will decrease California’s ability to make electricity while creating heavier demands for it, and the state needs to ramp up planning now, energy leaders warned yesterday. ClimateWire

     

    Antarctica and the Arctic: A polar primer for the new great game. Christian Science Monitor

    Antarctica and the Arctic are the focus of global hunger for untapped resources – and global warming has helped drive the polar rush.

     

     

    Climate Engineering: What do the public think?
    (January 12, 2014) — Members of the public have a negative view of climate engineering, the deliberate large-scale manipulation of the environment to counteract climate change, according to a new study. … > full story

    Environmental groups sue Navy over sonar use

    Published January 16, 2014 Associated Press

    SAN DIEGO –  Environmental organizations have added the Navy to their lawsuit against the federal government that seeks more measures to protect whales and other marine mammals from the military’s sonar use. Earthjustice and other organizations announced the addition Wednesday to their lawsuit filed in December against the National Marine Fisheries Service. The lawsuit demands that the service force the Navy to seek alternatives to its five-year plan that will intensify off the California and Hawaii coasts.

     

     

     

     

    Offshore windfarms could protect cities from hurricanes
    Giant offshore turbines could protect cities by reducing the wind speed of hurricanes coming from the sea, says a research team led by Mark Jacobson.
    Program in Atmosphere/Energy

     

    Solar on a grand scale: Big power plants coming online in the West.
    Washington Post January 16, 2014

    High-tech plants that use the sun to generate electricity are coming online, but a smaller future looms.

     

    Researchers harness sun’s energy during day for use at night
    (January 14, 2014) — Solar energy has long been used as a clean alternative to fossil fuels such as coal and oil, but it could only be harnessed during the day when the sun’s rays were strongest. Now researchers have built a system that converts the sun’s energy not into electricity but hydrogen fuel and stores it for later use, allowing us to power our devices long after the sun goes down. … > full story

     

     

     

    1. RESOURCES and REFERENCES

     
     

     

     

    UPCOMING CONFERENCES:

     
     

    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.

     

     

    Sustainable Communities – Implementation Challenges and Opportunities   

    Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM PST University of California Center Sacramento 1130 K Street, Suite LL22, Sacramento, CA 95814

    Presented by the UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy and the National Center for Sustainable Transportation.The Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008 (SB 375) aims to help California reach its AB 32 greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets by creating incentives for smarter land use and transportation planning with the ultimate goal of creating more sustainable communities. This forum series consists of four sessions that will bring together researchers, policy-makers, and stakeholders to discuss and explore the latest research and real-world experience with implementation of SB 375 and related policies. Each forum session will include short presentations, discussion and opportunity to ask questions.This first forum session will present the policy landscape and current activities relating to sustainable communities. Speakers will address the role of SB 375 in meeting the state’s climate, environmental quality, public health, economic and housing needs. The program will begin with lunch at 11:30am and will conclude at 1:30pm.  Due to limited space, please RSVP as soon as possible by clicking the link below. Register Now!

     

     

    California Drought Forum, planned for February 19-20, in Sacramento, California

    We would like to invite you to the California Drought Forum, planned for February 19-20, in Sacramento, California.  The Forum is being co-organized and co-sponsored by the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and California partners.This two-day event will cover a range of critical drought topics, including current drought conditions, the outlook for continued drought, impacts and responses among different sectors, drought forecasting and monitoring, early warning information needs and resources, and opportunities to improve drought preparedness, resilience, and readiness. More details will be coming soon.  For now, please hold the dates, and we look forward to seeing you at the Forum.  

    Anne Steinemann, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; University of California, San Diego; CIRES / NIDIS University of Colorado, Boulder

     

     

    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. 

     

     

     

    Climate-Smart Conservation  NWF/NCTC ALC3195 

    March 4-6, 2014 Sacramento State University – Modoc Hall. Sacramento, CA 3 days /no tuition for this class.

    The target audience includes conservation practitioners and natural resource managers working at multiple scales to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of their work in an era of climate change. This course is based on a forthcoming guide to the principles and practice of Climate-Smart Conservation. This publication is the product of an expert workgroup on climate change adaptation convened by the National Wildlife Federation in collaboration with the FWS’s National Conservation Training Center and other partners (see sidebar). The course is designed to demystify climate adaptation for application to on-the-ground conservation. It will provide guidance in how to carry out adaptation with intentionality, how to manage for change and not just persistence, how to craft climate-informed conservation goals, and how to integrate adaptation into on-going work. Conservation practitioners and natural resource managers will learn to become savvy consumers of climate information, tools, and models. Register online at http://training.fws.gov . In partnership with staff from National Wildlife Federation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, EcoAdapt, Geos Institute, and Point Blue Conservation Science.

    Contact for Registration Questions: Jill DelVecchio at 304/876-7424 or jill_delvecchio@fws.gov  

    Contact for Content Questions: Christy Coghlan at 304/876-7438 or christy_coghlan@fws.gov

     

     

    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

     

     

    California Adaptation Forum 
    August 18-20, 2014
    .

    This two-day forum will build off a successful National Adaptation Forum held in Colorado in 2013. The attendance of many California leaders there underscored the need for a California-focused event, which will be held every other year to complement the biennial national conference. To register go to:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/886364449

     

     

    JOBS:

     

    2015 NOAA Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship

    California Sea Grant College Program is now seeking applications for the 2015 NOAA Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. Deadline: February 14, 2014

    The Knauss Fellowship, established in 1979, provides a unique educational experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean and coastal resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. 

     

    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™.

     

     
     

     
     

    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.

     

     

    FUNDING:

    ***NFWF 2013 Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grants Program
    – $100 million

    Application Due: January 31, 2014 Eligible Entities: Local governments and agencies, recognized tribes, state government agencies, non-profit 501(c) organizations, and academic institutions.

     Marking the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Department of the Interior launched the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program. The program will use competitive grants to award funding for science-based solutions by states, local communities, non-profit organizations, and other partners to help restore key habitats and bolster natural systems, enabling these areas to withstand the impacts and better protect local communities from future storms. For more information, visit the program webpage.

     

     

     

     

    1. OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    It’s all coming back to me now: Researchers find caffeine enhances memory
    (
    January 12, 2014) — Caffeine is the energy boost of choice for millions. Now, however, researchers have found another use for the stimulant: memory enhancer. … > full story


    Reading the Tea Leaves: Impact of Climate Change on World Favorite Drink



    January 16, 2014 — Climate change is reportedly affecting the cultivation of tea in China, with changes in temperatures and rainfall altering not only the taste, aroma, and potential health benefits of the popular … > full story

    Researchers target sea level rise to save years of archaeological evidence
    (January 16, 2014) — Prehistoric shell mounds found on some of Florida’s most pristine beaches are at risk of washing away as the sea level rises, wiping away thousands of years of archaeological evidence. … > 

    Building ‘belt’ offers cheap, quick repair of earthquake damage
    (January 13, 2014) — Four years after the January 2010 earthquake, 145,000 people still remain homeless in Haiti. A cheap and simple technology to repair earthquake damaged buildings could help to reduce these delays by quickly making buildings safe and habitable. … > full story

     

    Doctor shares simple tips to keep immune system strong during flu season

    MyFoxAL

     - ‎January 12 2014‎

           

    FOX6 News spoke with a local doctor about some ways you can keep your immune system strong during flu season. Dr. Thomas Nielsen with American Family Care says according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Alabama was the first state with a …

     

     

     

    1. IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

     

     

     


     

     

    Video: Fish leaps to catch birds on the wing
    NATURE Daniel Cressey 09 January 2014

    Tigerfish swallows swallows after grabbing them out of the air over African lake.

    The waters of the African lake seem calm and peaceful. A few migrant swallows flit near the surface. Suddenly, leaping from the water, a fish grabs one of the famously speedy birds straight out of the air.
    “The whole action of jumping and catching the swallow in flight happens so incredibly quickly that after we first saw it, it took all of us a while to really fully comprehend what we had just seen,” says Nico Smit, director of the Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management at North-West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa.
    After the images did sink in, he adds, “the first reaction was one of pure joy, because we realized that we were spectators to something really incredible and unique”…. This is the first confirmed record of a freshwater fish preying on birds in flight, the team reports in the Journal of Fish Biology1. Rumours of such behaviour by the African tigerfish (Hydrocynus vittatus), which has been reported as reaching one metre in length, have circulated since the 1940s. But Smit says that his team was “never really convinced by the anecdotal reports”. So, when they set out to study of the migration and habitat use of these animals in a South African lake in the Mapungubwe National Park, near the border with Botswana and Zimbabwe, they were not necessarily looking for fish flying out of the water….

     

     

     


     


    ————

    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.

     

     

  6. Conservation Science News January 10, 2014

    Leave a Comment

    Focus of the Week“Natural Capital” and Economic Growth

    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.  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- “Natural Capital” and Economic Growth

     

    Efforts to curb unbridled growth that’s killing the planet

    ‘Natural capital’ of resources viewed as more vital than economic growth

    By Carolyn Lochhead SF Chronicle Page 1 January 5, 2014

     

    Fresh-faced tech millionaires snap up glitzy new condos in San Francisco. Across America, construction is up and unemployment is down. Consumers are buying. The economy is growing.
    Yet instead of applause, voices from across the political spectrum – Berkeley activists and Beltway conservatives, Pope Francis and even some corporate CEOs – offer a critique of economic growth and its harm to the well-being of humans and the planet. Ecologists warn that economic growth is strangling the natural systems on which life depends, creating not just wealth, but filth on a planetary scale.
    Carbon pollution is changing the climate. Water shortages, deforestation, tens of millions of acres of land too polluted to plant, and other global environmental ills are increasingly viewed as strategic risks by governments and corporations around the world.
    “The physical pressure that human activities put on the environment can’t possibly be sustained,” said Stanford University ecologist Gretchen Daily, who is at the forefront of efforts across the world to incorporate “natural capital,” the value of such things as water, topsoil and genetic diversity that nature provides, into economic decision making.
    The efforts are “mostly behind the scenes,” Daily said. “No one is going out really trumpeting this work. It’s kind of quiet, but really rapid and intensive innovation” around the world.
    “Everybody basically understands why we need to change our ways,” she said. “The big question now is how.”

     

    No limits?

    Mainstream economists universally reject the concept of growth limits. As Larry Summers, a former adviser to President Obama, once put it, “The idea that we should put limits on growth because of some natural limit is a profound error, and one that, were it ever to prove influential, would have staggering social costs.”
    Since World War II, the overarching goal of U.S. policy under both parties has been to keep the economy growing as fast as possible, forever. Growth is seen as the base cure for every social ill, from poverty and unemployment to a shrinking middle class. It is seen even by some as the path to a cleaner environment, generating the means for pollution cleanup.
    Last month, Obama offered a remedy to widening income inequality: “We’ve got to grow the economy even faster.”
    Yet from the Bay Area to Beijing, many leading thinkers are questioning the premise that growth, with no consideration for its environmental consequences, automatically equals prosperity.
    Officials in Seoul are promoting sharing over ownership to help address pollution as well as parking, transportation and housing shortages. China, the bad boy of soaring economic growth and rapacious environmental destruction, is developing a companion metric to gross domestic product that would measure the value of nature. If approved in March, the new indicator would be used alongside GDP to gauge the performance of local and regional Chinese officials, with potentially far-reaching implications, Daily said.

    As the world economy grows relentlessly, ecologists warn that nature’s ability to absorb wastes and regenerate natural resources is being exhausted. “We’re driving natural capital to its lowest levels ever in human history,” Daily said.

     

    Exhausting fisheries

    For example, scientists estimate that commercial fishing, if it continues at the current rate, will exhaust fisheries within the lifetime of today’s children. The global “by-catch” of discarded birds, turtles and other marine animals alone has reached at least 20 million tons a year.
    “It’s not just a bummer for us to not get sushi,” said Annie Leonard, founder of the Story of Stuff project, a Berkeley effort to curb mass consumption. “We are approaching the planet’s limitations. So when I see the media barrage about buying more stuff, it’s almost like a science fiction movie where there is this huge contextual information, we are undermining the very ecological systems which allow life to continue, but no one’s allowed to talk about it.”

     

    A full world

    Nineteenth century economists assumed that the economy would stop growing naturally, reaching “a very pleasant steady state,” said UC Berkeley economist Richard Norgaard, chairman of the Delta Independent Science Board advising California on water issues, and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “People would have more time for the arts and less time spent working.”
    Sometime in the 20th century, the idea that the economy must grow became a truism, he said, yet “there is no theoretical reason why the economy has to keep growing.” An economic model pioneered by University of Maryland economist Herman Daly provides an alternative, if untested, path. A former senior World Bank economist, Daly believes that economic growth has transformed what was an “empty world,” where nature was abundant and the human presence small, into a “full world” where human activity has reached the limits of Earth’s capacity to absorb wastes and generate resources.
    “It’s really just common sense once you think about it,” said Paul Craig Roberts, an assistant Treasury secretary in the Reagan administration and one of the founding theoreticians of supply-side economics. “Of course for most economists, paying attention to ecology is not anything they do.” Modern economic theory treats nature as a free good. The planet delivers resources such as air and water, and absorbs the wastes of economic activity, allowing perpetual economic growth and ever-rising consumption. “It’s an assertion that finite resources can support infinite growth,” Roberts said. “This of course contradicts physics,” he said, and represents a “very stunning shortcoming” of modern economics. Daly proposes a “steady state” economy for countries that have achieved material wealth. Using tools such as carbon taxes on fossil fuels, the economy’s material production and consumption would be capped at the Earth’s capacity to cleanse and replenish itself. Higher consumption would be replaced by higher quality of life.

     

    Resource wars

    In Daly’s concept of an empty world, fish catches were limited by the number of boats in the water, reflecting a scarcity of man-made capital. In today’s full world, boats are abundant, but the fish catch is limited by the fish remaining in the sea. It is nature’s capital that has become scarce. This is not a theoretical concept.
    In October, Florida sued drought-stricken Georgia, accusing the state of siphoning upstream water to quench the booming Atlanta suburbs. The water withdrawals killed the oyster beds in Apalachicola Bay and the livelihoods of people who depended on them.

    Worried about climate-induced sea level rise and water shortages, Dow Chemical is conducting a pilot project at its plant in Freeport, Texas, the largest single-company chemical complex in North America, to assess how nature contributes to its bottom line. In a first-ever collaboration with an environmental group, the Nature Conservancy, the company is exploring coastal marsh and dune restoration to shield its plant against storm surges, and paying nearby homeowners to switch from lawns to native landscaping. Water “was previously considered an almost limitless, free or low priced commodity,” said Dow’s latest report on the project. “It is simply not an option to run out of water.”

     

    Sharing resources

    Some experts point to rapid growth in the so-called sharing economy as a way to reduce consumption and ease pressure on the environment. Battered by the recession, young people in some cities are sharing cars instead of buying them, noted Julian Agyeman, a professor of urban and environmental policy at Tufts University near Boston. He thinks this model could spread to many consumer goods, such as power tools that sit unused in people’s basements.
    “How about having the utility of these wonderful products that technology and science have given us, but not necessarily owning them?” Agyeman said.
    Mainstream economists dismiss such schemes as utopian.
    “We keep expanding and we keep growing, and I’ve not heard one president say we’ve got to go to zero growth, with higher unemployment, and live on a simpler scale,” said Sterling Burnett, an analyst with the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas.
    Conservatives acknowledge that markets fail to reflect environmental costs, but insist that when nature becomes scarce enough, markets will assign value to its benefits, just as farmers pay beekeepers to pollinate their crops.

     

    A different gauge

    Burnett said a monetary value could be placed on some things in nature, “maybe the waste-cleaning of a stream,” but not whole ecosystems.
    “Values develop in markets as resources become scarce,” he said. “We’ve proven time after time that we can drastically alter ecosystems so that they are no longer recognizable, such as New York City or any modern metropolitan area, and yet humans don’t only survive, they thrive.”
    Still, some governments in the U.S. and around the world are taking steps to assign value to nature’s “goods.”
    Maryland and Vermont have adopted a genuine progress indicator, or GPI, which includes environmental factors. Sean McGuire, leader of the Maryland GPI Project, said the measure highlights how economic growth contributes to such things as pollution in Chesapeake Bay or increased traffic congestion. Oregon, Utah, Colorado and several other states are looking at the measure
    .
    The United Kingdom, led by conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, has pledged to make natural capital “hardwired into economic decision making.” Bhutan pioneered a “gross national happiness” indicator that includes pollution and wildlife. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is working on models to incorporate environmental concerns into economic policy.
    Stanford’s Daily pointed to efforts in Latin America, funded by governments and corporations, to pay farmers to restore and protect watersheds. The approach may soon be tested in Kenya and India.

     

    China’s efforts

    China is paying 120 million households to restore watersheds after disastrous flooding in 1998 that was magnified by deforestation and farming on steep slopes. Daily called China’s efforts “really quite staggering.”
    The biggest-ever U.S. project in restoring natural capital is under way in the Gulf of Mexico, where Hurricane Katrina and the British Petroleum oil spill awakened concern about the environmental vulnerability of 50 million people, 600,000 jobs and $234 billion in economic activity in oceanfront states.
    The region receives 40 percent of the drainage from the continental United States, mainly from the radically re-engineered Mississippi River. Marshlands and barrier islands that protect the gulf states are rapidly turning to open water. Each year, fertilizer runoff from the Corn Belt forms a giant dead zone in the gulf.

     

    Funding restoration

    Just 0.1 percent of the gulf region’s old-growth cypress forests remain, and just 20 percent of its bottomland hardwood forests. Eighty-five percent of its oyster reefs have been destroyed.
    Under legislation called the Restore Act, recently passed by Congress with bipartisan support, billions of dollars in criminal and civil penalties from the BP oil spill will go to environmental restoration. The states are awaiting a court decision on as much as $29 billion in civil damages under the Clean Water Act, said Robert Bendick, director of the Gulf of Mexico program for the Nature Conservancy.

    Expanding such efforts would be a departure from the current U.S. economic growth model. But economies are not fixed and unchangeable, said UC Berkeley’s Norgaard. Efficient economies come in many different forms, he said. The United States had a centrally planned economy in World War II, then a mixed Cold War economy that built the Interstate Highway System and established social welfare programs like Medicare. Today’s more free-market economy took root in the 1980s. “Economies aren’t natural,” Norgaard said. “We build them to do what we need to do, and we built the economy we have.”

     

     

     

     

     

    Loss of large carnivores poses global conservation problem
    (January 9, 2014)In ecosystems around the world, the decline of large predators such as lions, dingoes, wolves, otters, and bears is changing the face of landscapes from the tropics to the Arctic — but an analysis of 31 carnivore species shows for the first time how threats such as habitat loss, persecution by humans and loss of prey combine to create global hotspots of carnivore decline. More than 75 percent of the 31 large-carnivore species are declining, and 17 species now occupy less than half of their former ranges, the authors reported. Southeast Asia, southern and East Africa and the Amazon are among areas in which multiple large carnivore species are declining. With some exceptions, large carnivores have already been exterminated from much of the developed world, including Western Europe and the eastern United States. “Globally, we are losing our large carnivores,” said William Ripple, lead author of the paper and a professor in the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University. “Many of them are endangered,” he said. “Their ranges are collapsing. Many of these animals are at risk of extinction, either locally or globally. And, ironically, they are vanishing just as we are learning about their important ecological effects.” Ripple and colleagues from the United States, Australia, Italy and Sweden called for an international initiative to conserve large predators in coexistence with people. They suggested that such an effort be modeled on the Large Carnivore Initiative for Europe, a nonprofit scientific group affiliated with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature…. The authors call for a deeper understanding of the impact of large carnivores on ecosystems, a view that they trace back to the work of landmark ecologist Aldo Leopold. The classic concept that predators are harmful and deplete fish and wildlife is outdated, they said. Scientists and wildlife managers need to recognize a growing body of evidence for the complex roles that carnivores play in ecosystems and for their social and economic benefits.

    Leopold recognized such relationships between predators and ecosystems, Ripple said, but his observations on that point were largely ignored for decades after his death in 1948. “Human tolerance of these species is a major issue for conservation,” Ripple said. “We say these animals have an intrinsic right to exist, but they are also providing economic and ecological services that people value.” Among the services that have been documented in other studies are carbon sequestration, riparian restoration, biodiversity and disease control.
    Where large carnivores have been restored — such as wolves in Yellowstone or Eurasian lynx in Finland — ecosystems have responded quickly, said Ripple. “I am impressed with how resilient the Yellowstone ecosystem is. It isn’t happening quickly everywhere, but in some places, ecosystem restoration has started there.” In those cases, where loss of vegetation has led to soil erosion, for example, full restoration in the near term may not be possible, he said. “Nature is highly interconnected,” said Ripple. “The work at Yellowstone and other places shows how one species affects another and another through different pathways. It’s humbling as a scientist to see the interconnectedness of nature.”… > full story

     

    W. J. Ripple, et al. Status and Ecological Effects of the World’s Largest Carnivores. Science, 2014; 343 (6167): 1241484 DOI: 10.1126/science.1241484

     

    79 years of monitoring demonstrates dramatic [Sierra Nevada] forest change
    (January 6, 2014) — Long-term changes to forests affect biodiversity and how future fires burn. A team of scientists found dramatic differences in forests today compared to historic conditions prior to logging and fire suppression. …
    In many forests of the western US, increased potential for fires of uncharacteristic intensity and severity is frequently attributed to structural changes brought about by fire exclusion, past land management practices
    , and climate. Extent of forest change and effect on understory vegetation over time are not well understood, but such information is useful to forest management focused on restoring biodiversity and resilience to these ecosystems…..full story

    Knapp, Eric E.; Skinner, Carl N.; North, Malcolm P.; Estes, Becky L. Long-term overstory and understory change following logging and fire exclusion in a Sierra Nevada mixed-conifer forest. Forest Ecology and Management, 310: 903%u2013914

     

    Snowball effect of overfishing highlighted
    (January 7, 2014)Researchers have completed a major review of fisheries data that examines the domino effect that occurs when too many fish are harvested from one habitat. Florida State University researchers have spearheaded a major review of fisheries research that examines the domino effect that occurs when too many fish are harvested from one habitat. The loss of a major species from an ecosystem can have unintended consequences because of the connections between that species and others in the system. Moreover, these changes often occur rapidly and unexpectedly, and are difficult to reverse. “You don’t realize how interdependent species are until it all unravels,” said Felicia Coleman, director of the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory and a co-author on the study. Coleman and her co-authors, led by FSU biology professor Joe Travis, examined case studies of several distressed ecosystems that had been thoroughly changed over the years because of overfishing. For example, in the Northern Benguela ecosystem off Namibia, stocks of sardine and anchovy collapsed in the 1970s from overfishing and were replaced by bearded goby and jellyfish. But the bearded goby and jellyfish are far less energy-rich than a sardine or anchovy, which meant that their populations were not an adequate food source for other sea animals in the region such as penguins, gannets and hake, which had fed on the sardines and anchovies. African penguins and Cape gannets have declined by 77 percent and 94 percent respectively. Cape hake and deep-water hake production plummeted from 725,000 metric tons in 1972, to 110,000 metric tons in 1990. And the population of Cape fur seals has fluctuated dramatically. “When you put all these examples together, you realize there really is something important going on in the world’s ecosystems,” Travis said. “It’s easy to write off one case study. But, when you string them all together as this paper does, I think you come away with a compelling case that tipping points are real, we’ve crossed them in many ecosystems, and we’ll cross more of them unless we can get this problem under control.” The full study appears in the Dec. 23 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences … > full story

     

    J. Travis, F. C. Coleman, P. J. Auster, P. M. Cury, J. A. Estes, J. Orensanz, C. H. Peterson, Mary E. Power, R. S. Steneck, J. T. Wootton. Integrating the invisible fabric of nature into fisheries management. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1305853111

     


    Spectacular herring hordes return



    Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle January 10, 2014

    Sea lions, porpoises and tens of thousands of birds are jockeying for position with fishermen this week as the annual herring run splashes into San Francisco Bay, a spectacular marine wildlife showcase that conservationists say is one of the largest in North America. The schools of herring, which surge into the bay in several waves, have attracted as many as 70,000 birds to the region, particularly to Richardson Bay in Marin County, a spawning hot spot for the squiggling hordes. The fish arrived en masse beginning last week to lay and fertilize eggs, or roe – a delicacy for a wide variety of species, including sushi-loving humans. Fishermen are rushing out every morning to cast their nets before the menagerie of honking, squawking ducks, pelicans and diving birds can devour all the good stuff. “We’re the last predators to get a crack at those fish. Everyone else has come to the table, and we get the leftovers,” said Nick Sohrakoff, a herring fisherman and chairman of the local herring advisory committee. “There’s a lot of fish in the bay, and they seem this year to be a little bit bigger than they were in the past few years.” The riotous reception is a good sign that the bay’s once-thriving herring runs, which collapsed four years ago, are returning to glory. The San Francisco run – the last urban fishery in the United States – is the only big-time fishing operation where spectators can actually sit on shore and watch commercial boats haul in the catch. The herring, which live up to nine years and can grow to more than 12 inches long, spend most of their lives in the open ocean. They come to spawn in the bay and its estuaries starting in November, when the females lay their eggs on rocks, seaweed, riprap or pilings, and the males fertilize the eggs with what’s called their milt. The fish normally surge into the bay in as many as 14 waves until about mid-March. The herring fishing season officially began Jan. 1…..

     

     

    NEW POINT BLUE PUBLICATIONS:

    THE IMPORTANCE OF AGRICULTURE TO Long-billed Curlews in California’s Central Valley in Fall

    Shuford, W. D., G. W. Page, G. M. Langham, and C. M. Hickey. 2013. The importance of agriculture to Long-billed Curlews in California’s Central Valley in fall. Western Birds 44:196–205.

    ABSTRACT: The Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus)—a large shorebird of continental conservation concern—is a migrant and winter resident in California’s Central Valley. The size of the curlew’s North American breeding population has been estimated recently, but little is known about its abundance and habitat needs at migratory stopovers and wintering areas. Following two broad-scale surveys of the curlew in the central and southern portions of the Central Valley in fall in 2007 and 2008, we coordinated a survey of it throughout the valley in August 2009, recording 20,469 curlews in 195 flocks. On all three surveys, during this otherwise arid season, curlews were found primarily in irrigated alfalfa and irrigated pasture. There was a strong, positive relationship between curlew abundance by subregion of the Central Valley and the subregion’s proportion of the entire valley’s acreage of both alfalfa and irrigated pasture. Identifying the habitat features important to curlews at both fine and landscape scales, documenting the birds’ movements (within and between seasons) in the Central Valley, and monitoring their populations is needed to aid in the conservation of this shorebird at risk.

     

    Annual migratory patterns of Long-billed Curlews in the American West

    Gary W. Page , Nils Warnock , T. Lee Tibbitts , Dennis Jorgensen , C. Alex Hartman , and Lynne E. Stenzel The Condor 116(1):50-61. 2014

    ABSTRACT Effective conservation of migratory species requires comprehensive knowledge of annual movement patterns. Such information is sparse for the Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus), a North American endemic shorebird of conservation concern. To test hypotheses about individual and area differences in migratory patterns across western North America, we tagged 29 curlews with satellite transmitters at breeding sites in Oregon, Nevada, and Montana. Transmissions from 28 birds for up to 4 years demonstrated that all wintered within the species’ known winter range,

    including 9 from Oregon tracked to agricultural areas of California’s Central Valley; 5 from Nevada tracked to the Central Valley, northern Gulf of California, or west coast of Baja California, Mexico; and 14 from Montana that wintered inland, from the Texas Panhandle south to the Mexican Plateau, or near the Gulf of Mexico. Montana breeders migrated east of the Rocky Mountains and traveled more than twice the distance of Oregon and Nevada breeders. Montana birds also stopped more often and longer during most passages. As a group, curlews arrived on their Oregon breeding grounds earlier than in Montana, while males preceded females in Montana and possibly Oregon. No consistent pattern emerged between sexes in departure from breeding areas, although within pairs males departed later than their mates. Individuals exhibited strong fidelity to breeding and wintering sites, and many birds showed a strong propensity for agricultural regions during winter. Our results underscore the importance of studying migration behavior across the breeding range to adequately capture variation in migratory patterns of a species.

     

     

     

    Mice Capades: Potential use of rodenticides on the mice of the Farallon Islands divides environmentalists

    by Alastair Bland

    ….Today, Pyle, now working with the Institute for Bird Populations in Point Reyes, remembers his many seasons at the islands with a strange blend of sweet nostalgia and dread that makes the skin crawl—for the islands, now as then, are crawling with house mice. The animals are non-native, introduced accidentally more than a century ago by boaters, and every summer and fall their population explodes to grotesque numbers on two of the islands—namely, Southeast Farallon Island and an abutting crag called West End that becomes separated from the bigger island at high tide.

    “They’re just crawling around everywhere,” says Pyle, who was working with the Point Reyes Bird Observatory during his years of island research. “It’s like some invasion-of-the-rats movie.”…. It may sound like an unlikely prospect—eradicating invasive rodents from a place where the ground appears to crawl with them. Yet this has been successfully achieved on many small islands worldwide. For instance, Anacapa Island, off of Santa Barbara, was successfully cleared of rats in 2001 using grain-based pellets laced with a powerful rodenticide called brodifacoum.

    Jim Tietz/Point Blue Burrow owls have flocked to the islands for the mice, but are also eating rare native birds in the winter and spring.

    This is likely the poison that would be used at the Farallones. A tiny amount would be applied, according to Cordell. He says the pellets under consideration contain just 0.005 percent rodenticide—such a low density, Cordell says, that any bait pellets that drift into the ocean would dissolve and be rendered virtually harmless. The pellets would not be aimlessly scattered either, according to Jaime Jahncke, a researcher with Point Blue Conservation Science, formerly the Point Reyes Bird Observatory. Jahncke, who backs the poisoning plan, says the pellets would be dropped from a low-flying helicopter and directed away from the tidal zone via a deflector at the mouth of the dispenser. This, he says, would minimize the number of pellets that reach the water….

     

     

     

    Environment affects an organism’s complexity
    (January 3, 2014) — Scientists have demonstrated that organisms with greater complexity are more likely to evolve in complex environments a
    ccording to research published this week in
    PLOS Computational Biology. The researchers, based at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and University of Vermont, created a programme that simulated the evolution of virtual creatures in a variety of landscapes. Overall, the researchers found that the investigated environments actively induced selection on the body plans and nervous systems of the simulated creatures. More complex landscapes led to more complex organisms than simpler environments due to the cost inherent in morphological complexity: evolution only produces complex body shapes in environments that demand them.full story

    Joshua E. Auerbach, Josh C. Bongard. Environmental Influence on the Evolution of Morphological Complexity in Machines. PLoS Computational Biology, 2014; 10 (1): e1003399 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003399

     


    Oceanographer Examines Pollutants in Antarctic Seal Milk



    January 8, 2014 — An oceanographer is analyzing the milk from Antarctic fur seals to determine the type and quantity of pollutants the seals are accumulating and passing on to their … > full story

     

    New study finds extreme longevity in white sharks

    Posted: 08 Jan 2014 09:41 PM PST

    Great white sharks — top predators throughout the world’s ocean — grow much slower and live significantly longer than previously thought, according to a new study. In the first successful radiocarbon age validation study for adult white sharks, researchers analyzed vertebrae from four females and four males from the northwestern Atlantic Ocean. Age estimates were up to 73 years old for the largest male and 40 years old for the largest female. “Our results dramatically extend the maximum age and longevity of white sharks compared to earlier studies,” said Li Ling Hamady, MIT/WHOI Joint Program student and lead author of the study published in PLOS ONE. “Understanding longevity of the species, growth rate, age at sexual maturity, and differences in growth between males and females are especially important for sustainable management and conservation efforts.”….

     

     

    How Scientists Harness The Sun To Help Sharks

    Sun Sentinel  |  By KEN KAYE Posted: 01/01/2014 8:00 am EST  |  Updated: 01/02/2014 8:41 am EST

    Researchers are looking to the sun to give hunted and overfished sharks a new ray of hope. Using a special solar-powered tag, marine scientists now can study a shark’s movements for up to two years by way of data beamed to satellites. Previously, researchers relied on tags that ran on batteries and sometimes died before all the information could be transmitted. The new tags are like “a smartphone for marine animals,” said Marco Flagg, CEO of Desert Star, a Marina, Calif., company that offers the solar devices. “Just like smartphones, the tags have many sensors and communication capability….

     

    Science’s Sokal moment: It seems dangerously easy to get scientific nonsense published

    Oct 5th 2013 |From the print edition The Economist

    IN 1996 Alan Sokal, a physicist at New York University, submitted a paper to Social Text, a leading scholarly journal of postmodernist cultural studies. The journal’s peer reviewers, whose job it is to ensure that published research is up to snuff, gave it a resounding thumbs-up. But when the editors duly published the paper, Dr Sokal revealed that it had been liberally, and deliberately, “salted with nonsense”. The Sokal hoax, as it came to be known, demonstrated how easy it was for any old drivel to pass academic quality control in highbrow humanities journals, so long as it contained lots of fancy words and pandered to referees’ and editors’ ideological preconceptions. Hard scientists gloated. That could never happen in proper science, they sniffed. Or could it? Alas, as a report in this week’s Science shows, the answer is yes, it could. John Bohannon, a biologist at Harvard with a side gig as a science journalist, wrote his own Sokalesque paper describing how a chemical extracted from lichen apparently slowed the growth of cancer cells. He then submitted the study, under a made-up name from a fictitious academic institution, to 304 peer-reviewed journals around the world. Despite bursting with clangers in experimental design, analysis and interpretation of results, the study passed muster at 157 of them. Only 98 rejected it. (The remaining 49 had either not responded or had not reviewed the paper by the time Science went to press.) Just 36 came back with comments implying that they had cottoned on to the paper’s sundry deficiencies, though Dr Bohannon says that 16 of those eventually accepted it anyway. The publications Dr Bohannon selected for his sting operation were all open-access journals. These make papers available free, and cover their costs by charging authors a fee (typically $1,000-2,000). Policymakers have been keen on such periodicals of late. Since taxpayers already sponsor most academic research, the thinking goes, providing free access to its fruits does not seem unreasonable. But critics of the open-access model have long warned that making authors rather than readers their client risks skewing publishers’ incentives towards tolerating shoddy science. Dr Bohannon has shown that the risk is real. Researchers can take comfort that the most prestigious open-access journals, such as those published by the Public Library of Science, an American outfit, did not fall for the jape. But plenty of periodicals run by other prominent publishers, such as Elsevier, Wolters Kluwer and Sage, did. With the number of open-access papers forecast to grow from 194,000 in 2011 (out of a total of 1.7m publications) to 352,000 in 2015, the Bohannon hoax ought to focus editors’ minds-and policymakers’, too.

     

    Iconic Australasian trees found as fossils in South America
    (January 9, 2014) — Today in Australia they call it Kauri, in Asia they call it Dammar, and in South America it does not exist at all unless planted there. But 52 million years ago the giant coniferous evergreen tree known to botanists as Agathis thrived in the Patagonian region of Argentina, according to an international team of paleobotanists, who have found numerous fossilized remains there. … > full story

     

    Tourists collecting sea shells hurting ecosystems: Study

    Toronto Sun

     - ‎January 9 2014‎

           

    A new study says tourists who are taking seemingly abandoned seashells home from vacation are harming natural habitats and damaging the natural ecosystem. Researchers from the U.S. and Spain said 70% of mollusk shells disappeared from beaches on 

     

    CA BLM WILDLIFE TRIVIA QUESTION of the WEEK

    Which of the following western gray squirrel stereotypes is false?

    (a.) They seem to be everywhere because their population just keeps growing.

    (b.) They hide acorns underground to dig up later for food.

    (c.) They sleep and nest in holes in trees.

    (d.) They prefer to jump from tree to tree rather than travel on the ground.

    (e.) They were the subject of the second-most-read story ever on the World Weekly News’ website: “Gray squirrels really space aliens in disguise; May control your neighbors’ thoughts with radio wave ‘acorns.’”

    ——> See answer near the end of this News.bytes.

     

     

     

     


    Penguins’ climate-change solution? Cliff-climbing

    NBC News January 8, 2014

    Emperor penguins may be one of the most awkward birds on land, but it turns out they can clamber up Antarctica’s steep ice cliffs and start new breeding colonies if their sea ice homes disappear, a new study of the birds’ behaviors finds. “This is a new breeding behavior we’re witnessing here,” said Peter Fretwell, a geographer with the British Antarctic Survey and lead study author. “This has totally taken us by surprise. We didn’t know they could go and breed up on the ice shelves,” Fretwell told LiveScience. Emperor penguins are famous for their nesting behavior — males huddle together through winter, each warming a single, precious egg while the females hunt. Between 2008 and 2012, Fretwell and his colleagues discovered two emperor-penguin colonies permanently established on Antarctic ice shelves, which are floating tongues of ice extending into the ocean from glaciers on land. Until now, scientists have only seen emperor penguins breeding on “fast” sea ice, which is sea ice attached to the shoreline. Two more colonies temporarily moved to ice shelves when sea ice formed too late for breeding. Their findings were published today (Jan. 8) in the journal PLOS ONE. Though the Antarctic sea ice  hit a record maximum this year, the sea-ice distribution around the continent is changing. The two ice-shelf colonies are at the warmest reaches of the emperor penguin’s range, where large ice shelves collapsed and disappeared in recent decades. Because of predictions of further ice loss in coming decades, the emperor penguin is listed as “near threatened” on the Red List of Threatened Species maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature….

     

     

    Bats fall to extreme weather amid widespread decline. January 10, 2014 Toronto Star

    Frigid cold in Toronto and extreme heat in Australia has reduced bat populations, which are already severely weakened in North America.

    By:
    Joel Eastwood Staff Reporter, Published on Fri Jan 10 2014

    Trish Wimberley / AP Who says bats aren’t cute? In this photo released by the Australian Bat Clinic, fifteen heat-stressed baby Flying Foxes (a type of bat) are lined up ready to feed at the Australia Bat Clinic near the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia.

    Thousands of bats near Brisbane and the Gold Coast have succumbed to the extreme heat, falling out of trees and dying during Australia’s hottest year on record. Despite their mythical portrayal as malevolent bloodsuckers — and a more modern connection with vengeance-minded superheroes — bats on both sides of the planet are fighting for survival against a more banal foe: extreme temperatures. Rescue workers at the Toronto Wildlife Centre are caring for 68 bats, including a colony from Newmarket that was found freezing to death during the ice storm.

    “Every winter, this does happen with some bats; it’s just this is more bats than usual this winter,” said Nathalie Karvonen, the centre’s executive director. Half a world away, a scorching heat wave in Australia has killed tens of thousands of bats. Experts say there are parallels. “Small body size is the big factor in both cases,” said Kenneth Welch Jr., who teaches biology at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus. Welch said their diminutive size — the species known as big brown bats, being sheltered at the wildlife centre, weigh a mere 15 grams each — makes the animals very sensitive to changes in their environment…..

     

     

    Climate change: How does soil store carbon dioxide?
    (January 8, 2014) — Global carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise — in 2012 alone, 35.7 billion tons of this greenhouse gas entered the atmosphere. Some of it is absorbed by the oceans, plants and soil. They provide a significant reservoir of carbon. Scientists have now discovered how organic carbon is stored in soil: The carbon only binds to certain soil structures. This means that soil’s capacity to absorb CO2 needs to be re-assessed and incorporated into today’s climate models. …
    Previous studies have established that carbon binds to tiny mineral particles. In this latest study, published in
    Nature Communications, researchers of the Technische Universität München (TUM) and the Helmholtz Zentrum München have shown that the surface of the minerals plays just as important a role as their size. “The carbon binds to minerals that are just a few thousandths of a millimeter in size — and it accumulates there almost exclusively on rough and angular surfaces,” explains Prof. Ingrid Kögel-Knabner, TUM Chair of Soil Science.

    The role of microorganisms in sequestering carbon

    It is presumed that the rough mineral surfaces provide an attractive habitat for microbes. These convert the carbon and play a part in binding it to minerals. “We discovered veritable hot spots with a high proportion of carbon in the soil,” relates Cordula Vogel, the lead author of the study. “Furthermore, new carbon binds to areas which already have a high carbon content.” These carbon hot spots are, however, only found on around 20 percent of the mineral surfaces. It was previously assumed that carbon is evenly distributed in the soil. “Thanks to our study, we can now pin-point the soil that is especially good for sequestering CO2,” continues Kögel-Knabner. “The next step is to include these findings in carbon cycle models.”….full story

     

    Cordula Vogel, et al. Submicron structures provide preferential spots for carbon and nitrogen sequestration in soils. Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3947

     

     

    Population Stability ‘Hope’ in Species’ Response to Climate Change

    Jan. 5, 2014 — Stable population trends are a prerequisite for species’ range expansion, according to new research led by scientists at the University of York. The climate in Britain has warmed over the last four decades, and many species, including butterflies, have shifted their distributions northwards. The extent of distribution changes has varied greatly among species, however, with some showing rapid expansion and others showing none at all. But this variation can be explained by taking into account the abundance trends of species. The study by researchers in Department of Biology at York, Butterfly Conservation and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Centre for Ecology and Hydrology showed that butterflies were able to expand their distributions only if they had stable (or increasing) abundance trends. It is published by Nature Climate Change. For those species with stable or increasing population trends that have been expanding their distributions, the amount of suitable habitat available in the landscape is important. The more habitat that is available, the faster a species can expand its distribution area…. Louise Mair says: “My previous research revealed huge variation among butterflies in relation to their range expansion rates. It’s now clear from our new research that much of this variation can be accounted for once species’ population trends are known.” Professor Jane Hill at York says: “Increasing habitat availability in the landscape has been suggested as a way to help species respond to climate change, but our research shows this will only be effective for species whose abundances are stable or increasing.” Dr Richard Fox at Butterfly Conservation says: “We are grateful to the thousands of volunteer recorders who have collected these butterfly data over the past years. Their efforts and the information they’ve gathered are proving crucial to our understanding of the impacts of climate change on British butterflies. These latest research findings have important implications for our work to conserve threatened butterflies.” Dr Marc Botham, at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, says: “Our research highlights the importance of the long-running UK Butterfly Monitoring Scheme for developing effective conservation measures for British butterflies.” Chris Thomas, Professor of Conservation Biology at York, adds: “Conservation management to increase species’ abundances within their ranges is a vital step in the process of helping species respond to climate changes.

     

    Mair, L., Hill, J. K., Fox, R., Botham, M., Brereton, T. & Thomas, C. D. Abundance changes and habitat availability drive species’ responses to climate change. Nature Climate Change, January 2014

     

    Colorado River Drought Forces a Painful Reckoning for States

    Jim Wilson/The New York Times To help the Colorado, federal authorities this year will for the first time reduce the water flow into Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, created by Hoover Dam.

    By MICHAEL WINES NYTimes Published: January 5, 2014

    LAKE MEAD, Nev. — The sinuous Colorado River and its slew of man-made reservoirs from the Rockies to southern Arizona are being sapped by 14 years of drought nearly unrivaled in 1,250 years.

    Graphic ; Southwest’s Dwindling Water Supply

    The once broad and blue river has in many places dwindled to a murky brown trickle. Reservoirs have shrunk to less than half their capacities, the canyon walls around them ringed with white mineral deposits where water once lapped. Seeking to stretch their allotments of the river, regional water agencies are recycling sewage effluent, offering rebates to tear up grass lawns and subsidizing less thirsty appliances from dishwashers to shower heads. But many experts believe the current drought is only the harbinger of a new, drier era in which the Colorado’s flow will be substantially and permanently diminished. Faced with the shortage, federal authorities this year will for the first time decrease the amount of water that flows into Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, from Lake Powell 180 miles upstream. That will reduce even more the level of Lake Mead, a crucial source of water for cities from Las Vegas to Los Angeles and for millions of acres of farmland. Reclamation officials say there is a 50-50 chance that by 2015, Lake Mead’s water will be rationed to states downstream. That, too, has never happened before. “If Lake Mead goes below elevation 1,000″ — 1,000 feet above sea level — “we lose any capacity to pump water to serve the municipal needs of seven in 10 people in the state of Nevada,” said John Entsminger, the senior deputy general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. Since 2008, Mr. Entsminger’s agency has been drilling an $817 million tunnel under Lake Mead — a third attempt to capture more water as two higher tunnels have become threatened by the lake’s falling level. In September, faced with the prospect that one of the tunnels could run dry before the third one was completed, the authority took emergency measures: still another tunnel, this one to stretch the life of the most threatened intake until construction of the third one is finished. These new realities are forcing a profound reassessment of how the 1,450-mile Colorado, the Southwest’s only major river, can continue to slake the thirst of one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions. Agriculture, from California’s Imperial Valley to Wyoming’s cattle herds, soaks up about three-quarters of its water, and produces 15 percent of the nation’s food. But 40 million people also depend on the river and its tributaries, and their numbers are rising rapidly. …

     

    Unfortunately, the Colorado during most of Lake Mead’s 78-year history was not normal at all. Studies now show that the 20th century was one of the three wettest of the last 13 centuries in the Colorado basin. On average, the Colorado’s flow over that period was actually 15 percent lower than in the 1900s. And most experts agree that the basin will get even drier: A brace of global-warming studies concludes that rising temperatures will reduce the Colorado’s average flow after 2050 by five to 35 percent, even if rainfall remains the same — and most of those studies predict that rains will diminish. Already, the drought is upending many of the assumptions on which water barons relied when they tamed the Colorado in the 1900s….

    …The Southern California region using Colorado water is expected to add six million people to the existing 19 million in the next 45 years, and its other water source — the Sierra Nevada to the north — is suffering the same drought and climate problems as the Colorado basin. “The basic blueprint of our plan calls for a reliable foundation that we then build upon, and that reliable foundation is the Colorado River and Northern California water,” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, the general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. “To the extent we lose one of those supplies, I don’t know that there is enough technology and new supplies to replace them.”

     

    There may be ways to live with a permanently drier Colorado, but none of them are easy. Finding more water is possible — San Diego is already building a desalination plant on the Pacific shore — but there are too few sources to make a serious dent in a shortage. That leaves conservation, a tack the lower-basin states already are pursuing. Arizona farmers reduce runoff, for example, by using laser technology to ensure that their fields are table flat. The state consumes essentially as much water today as in 1955, even as its population has grown nearly twelvefold.

     

    Working to reduce water consumption by 20 percent per person from 2010 to 2020, Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District is recycling sewage effluent, giving away high-efficiency water nozzles and subsidizing items like artificial turf and zero-water urinals.

     

    Southern Nevada’s water-saving measures are in some ways most impressive of all: Virtually all water used indoors, from home dishwashers to the toilets and bathtubs used by the 40 million tourists who visit Las Vegas each year, is treated and returned to Lake Mead. Officials here boast that everyone could take a 20-minute shower every day without increasing the city’s water consumption by a drop. Moreover, an intensive conservation program slashed the region’s water consumption from 2002 to 2012, even as the area added 400,000 residents.

    Even after those measures, federal officials say, much greater conservation is possible. Local officials say they have little choice.

     

    “The era of big water transfers is either over, or it’s rapidly coming to an end,” said Mr. Entsminger, the southern Nevada water official. “It sure looks like in the 21st century, we’re all going to have to use less water.” …

     

     

    Central Valley sinks as parched farms wring water from aquifers

    Debra Kahn, E&E reporter Greenwire: Friday, January 3, 2014 FIREBAUGH, Calif. –

    A large swath of Central Valley is sinking as farms pump groundwater in the face of searing drought, sparking a scramble for solutions as forecasts show no end to dry conditions.
    So says the U.S. Geological Survey, whose research shows land near the San Joaquin River sank by nearly a foot per year from 2008 to 2010, one of the most dramatic rates ever measured in the San Joaquin Valley.

    Using satellite imagery, scientists identified a sinking bowl that sprawls more than 1,200 square miles and includes five towns, part of the San Joaquin River and a network of canals used for irrigation and flood control. USGS had studied the area a half-century or so ago.

    Subsidence is causing the sides of the Delta-Mendota Canal to buckle. Photo by Debra Kahn.

    “We’d largely stopped measuring subsidence about 30 years ago because it wasn’t a problem anymore,” hydrologist Michelle Sneed said. “We were really surprised about the large size of the area and the high rate of subsidence measured as part of the recent study.” The most recent subsidence has buckled concrete liners in the Delta-Mendota Canal, which distributes water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Central California Irrigation District has spent $5 million in recent years on shoring up leaks in a canal that has lost nearly half its capacity…..The sinking points to an important issue for California: unregulated groundwater withdrawals. Water experts say California lives up to its “Wild West” reputation in groundwater management with a patchwork of more than 2,500 water service providers that may or may not have authority over a resource that supplies roughly 35 percent of agricultural and urban water usage.“We may have the least [groundwater regulation] of any state,” said Felicia Marcus, head of the State Water Resources Control Board. “It’s probably a tie with Texas at the state level.”…. The construction of huge state-funded and federally funded canals in the mid-20th century had managed to halt subsidences by bringing water from rivers to farmers and cities. But recent drought and regulatory cutbacks in water deliveries to protect endangered fish have forced farmers to turn back to large-scale groundwater pumping. Groundwater conditions vary according to topography — there are 515 groundwater basins in the state — and local regulatory structures, making it a regional problem. “There’s plenty that you can do to manage around subsidence, but it requires some really specific local knowledge about supplies,” the Central California Irrigation District’s White said. “It’s so site-specific, what the problem might be, that a state agency just has so many different types of areas to deal with; it’s better dealt with on the local level.” Officials are trying to encourage regional authorities to exercise more power over groundwater withdrawals. The state water board released a draft in October suggesting that agencies set water quantity and quality standards for the most at-risk water basins and then monitor groundwater to ensure that the standards are being met. The state would step in only in those cases where local or regional agencies could not.

    “If you’re managing groundwater at the regional level, you don’t need the state to do it,” said Marcus of the water board. But “it’s sort of been an underground, ‘You can’t see it’ issue. We’re going to have to figure out collectively how to better manage water both above and below ground in the face of climate change and population growth. We’re going to have to be better at all of it — more efficient and just more real about using it more than once.”

    “The fix to the problem would be to maintain groundwater levels,” USGS’s Sneed said. “That’s easier said than done in a state with very little laws about what you can pump.”

    But Marcus pointed to some success stories. In San Jose, which subsided about 13 feet between 1915 and 1970, for example, the Santa Clara Valley Water District not only monitors its groundwater quality and levels but also uses water recycling and reinjects treated water. Solutions are difficult in the Central Valley because the area of subsidence is outside any water district’s current jurisdiction. But White said landowners have stepped up to conserve water. “They’ve managed their groundwater differently over the last year and a half and cut subsidence in half,” he said. “The idea is to get it down to zero.”

     

     

    In Dry Year, California Looks to Cloud Seeding

    Audio Report by Lauren Sommer for QUEST Northern California on Jan 06, 2014

    Cloud seeding tower at the summit of Alpine Meadows ski area near Lake Tahoe, California. (Lauren Sommer/KQED)

    California’s snowpack is just 20 percent of normal for this time of year, according to snow survey results released on Friday. That’s not surprising after 2013 ended as the driest year ever recorded in many parts of the state, but it’s fueling concerns about California’s water supply. With rationing looking likely, water managers are hoping to squeeze every last drop out of Mother Nature with cloud seeding. The decades-old technology is designed to wring extra moisture out of storm systems, though the storms have to appear in the first place. “There’s only so much we can do,” says Jeff Tilley, who runs the cloud seeding program at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada. “If we could make the clouds appear out of the thin air, we would, but we can’t do that yet.” This time of year, Tilley and his team are scouring weather imagery, waiting for the right conditions to turn on five ground-based cloud seeding towers. One sits at the summit of the Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, north of Lake Tahoe, right where the chairlift drops off. The large metal bunker with a chimney on top goes mostly unnoticed by skiers zipping by. It’s not a snow-making machine, like those the ski areas are relying on this winter. The chimney releases tiny particles of silver iodide – the seeds that rise thousands of feet into the clouds. “Water needs some sort of substance to condense upon,” says Tilley. Clouds are made of millions of tiny water droplets, but the droplets don’t automatically fall as rain or snow. They stick to tiny particles like dust……

    The silver iodide eventually ends up in the local environment, where some worry it’s a contaminant, though Tilley says tests show it’s only a trace amount….. Cloud seeding has been used for six decades in California. In the early days, it was closer to “magical thinking,” an idea Tilley says has stuck around. “We get voodoo,” he says. “We get Dr. Frankenstein. We get all sorts of things. But we’ve been able to refine the technology.” “For a long time there’s been hope that we could somehow figure out of a way to squeeze more water out of nature,” says Peter Gleick, president of The Pacific Institute, a water policy think tank. Gleick says the problem with cloud seeding is that it’s tough to measure or verify how much water it produces and if it’s worth the investment. A review by the National Academy of Sciences in 2003 found that more research needs to be done to prove its effectiveness.

    Click to enlarge – cloud seeding areas in California. (Source: California Department of Water Resources)

    “But even more importantly, it’s limited no matter what,” says Gleick. “We get a certain number of clouds with moisture in them. If we can wring a little more out of those clouds, that’s sort of the idea behind cloud seeding. But we’re not going to wring a lot more out of those clouds “So it’s not a silver bullet,” he says. “There is no silver bullet for California’s water problems.” Nine other western states also use cloud seeding, where it’s commonly done with airplanes. The Desert Research Institute is also looking into using drones, potentially cutting the cost of flights. Across California, water agencies and utilities spend $3-to-5 million a year on seeding, which is estimated to boost runoff by around four percent. That might not sound like much, but these days when every drop counts, Jeff Tilley says cloud seeding getting a second wind. “I think for the entire Intermountain West, it’s becoming more important,” he says. “It’s not going to be the whole answer but it can be one tool in the toolkit and it’s a cost-effective one.”

    Improving cloud seeding may depend on scientists unraveling something that’s still mysterious: what exactly makes it rain? “It’s incredibly complicated,” says Kim Prather, who studies atmospheric chemistry at the University of California-San Diego. Prather wanted to know why some clouds produce snow in the Sierra Nevada and others don’t. So, she and her team flew an airplane through the clouds, testing them to see what kinds of tiny particles were forming snowflakes. What she found was a big surprise. On snowy days, the clouds contained dust from a faraway source. “Dust had made its way across the Pacific, clear from Asia and even Africa, the Middle East where there are these big dust storms,” she says. “Takes about 7-to-10 days to get here, but it makes it. It’s not a lot of dust. It’s just the right amount of dust that seeds the very top of the clouds.” Prather says that type of dust can boost snowfall, but other kinds of particles seem to have the opposite effect. Air pollution, from California sources and all the way from Asia, could be adding too many tiny cloud seeds. “There’s only so much water available and in order to get rain, you have to have big enough droplets for them to fall. The more seeds you have, you have many more tiny droplets. If you have too many seeds, you’re not going to get precipitation out of that cloud.” “Potentially it’s us affecting our own water supply,” she says. “Potentially it’s stuff coming from much farther away and to be able to sort that out, we’re just at the tip of the iceberg. Prather says understanding that process could improve cloud-seeding techniques or show when it may not be effective, something that could be key as California relies more than ever on every last raindrop.

     

     

    Sunny Sierra raises chilling drought
    fears

    San Francisco Chronicle ‎- January 3, 2014 Peter Fimrite

    High-country vacationers have been enjoying brilliant blue skies and 50-plus-degree temperatures throughout the holidays at Tahoe, where 

     

    Dust on Rockies snow quickens melting, disrupts water supplies. January 8, 2014 Wall ST Journal Dusty air blowing in from the drought-parched Southwest is subtly changing the color of the snow on the Rocky Mountains, affecting water supplies for millions of people in more than half a dozen states.

     

    Los Angeles storms to grow more destructive as sea level rises, study says. January 8, 2014 LA Times Major storms will be more destructive to coastal areas of Los Angeles as sea-level rise accelerates over the century, according to a new study the city of Los Angeles commissioned to help it adjust to climate change.

     

    Scientists: Americans are becoming weather wimps. January 10, 2014 AP

    When a deep freeze strikes, scientists say, it seems more unprecedented than it really is. An Associated Press analysis of the daily national winter temperature shows that cold extremes have happened about once every four years since 1900. Until recently….

     

    White House: It May Be Cold, But Climate Change Is Real
    Video

    Huffington Post  |  By Andrew Perez Posted: 01/08/2014 6:44 pm EST

    The Obama administration responded Wednesday to conservatives who say the historic cold snap affecting the United States proves that climate change is not real. The White House released a new video featuring Dr. John Holdren, the director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, who explains that the “polar vortex” does not invalidate scientific consensus. “If you’ve been hearing that extreme cold spells, like the one that we’re having in the United States now, disprove global warming, don’t believe it,” Holdren said. “The fact is that no single weather episode can either prove or disprove global climate change.”….

     

     

    US polar vortex may be example of global warming

    The Guardian Jan 7 2014- Scientists said the deep freeze gripping the U.S. does not indicate a halt or reversal in global warming trends, either. In fact, it may be a counterintuitive example of global warming in action. Researchers told Climate Central that the weather pattern driving the extreme cold into the U.S. — with a weaker polar vortex moving around the Arctic like a slowing spinning top, eventually falling over and blowing open the door to the Arctic freezer — fits with other recently observed instances of unusual fall and wintertime jet stream configurations.

     

    Can global warming be real if it’s cold in the U.S.? Um… yes!

    By Brad Plumer Washington Post January 6 at 2:44 pm

    It’s quite cold across much of the United States right now, thanks to the dread “polar vortex.” Bitterly cold. Horrifically cold! So what does this tell us about global warming? Not very much. Sorry. A single cold snap in the U.S. doesn’t disprove global warming any more than the record heat waves currently hitting Australia prove that it’s happening. But since a lot of people — like  Donald Trump — seem confused on this point, it’s worth recapping a few basics:

     

    1) Global warming refers to the whole planet, not just the United States. The term “global warming” typically refers to the rise in the average temperature of Earth’s climate system since the late 19th century, as well as predictions for future warming. A key bit there is “Earth’s average temperature.” It can be very cold in one part of the world and very hot in another at the exact same time. (Sometimes the exact same weather event can do both: The jet stream is currently making some parts of the U.S. unusually hot and some parts unusually cold.)

    What we’re interested in is whether the global average is changing over a longer period. That’s impossible to judge from a single point in time in a small area — the continental United States is less than 2 percent of the Earth’s surface.

     

    2) For example: December 2013 was an unusually warm month even though it was colder in the U.S. So let’s take this past December as an example. North America was colder than the average over the past decade. But Europe and Russia were much hotter than average. India was cooler than average. Australia was warmer than average. And so on:

    What happens when you add it all up? Early data suggests that December 2013 was tied for the 2nd-hottest December on record since 1979, the beginning of satellite measurements, according to data from the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Meanwhile, global average temperatures for all of 2013 are expected to be among the 10 highest since 1850 (though we still don’t have a final count yet). So you couldn’t really infer all that much from a cool month in the United States.

     

    3) The global temperature won’t necessarily go up every year. Focus on long-term trends. Sort of a corollary to #1 and #2. This is a good chart to watch:

    The global average surface temperature has clearly gone up since the 19th century, by more than half a degree Celsius. But there’s also fair bit of variation year to year. Climate scientists are quite sure that if we keep adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, that will trap more heat at the Earth’s surface and the global average temperature will continue to rise over time. But carbon dioxide isn’t the only force affecting Earth’s climate. There are El Niño and La Niña cycles, which can shift heat into and out of the ocean. There are volcanoes. There’s air pollution. There are changes in solar activity. And so forth. Scientists are currently debating which of those other factors might be responsible for the slower pace of surface warming since 1998. And the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) expects that these natural fluctuations will continue to be significant until about mid-century. But in the long run, the IPCC says, global average temperatures should trend upward with an increase in greenhouse gases.

     

    4) Global warming isn’t expected to abolish winters in the U.S. anytime soon. Right now, climate experts are worried about a 2°C to 4°C rise in global average temperatures by the end of the century. That would create all sorts of disruptive changes. But those few degrees aren’t enough to completely undo the larger swings in temperature we see each year between summer and winter in many parts of the world.

    Indeed, many climate models suggest that we’ll still see record cold snaps in the United States as the planet heats up. They’ll just become much less frequent over time — while record heat waves will become increasingly common. See this paper in Geophysical Research Letters from 2009: Over the past decade, it notes, the U.S. has experienced about two daily record high temperatures for every record low. If the planet keeps heating up, that ratio will shift to 20:1 by mid-century. There will still be record lows in many areas. They’ll just be rarer. Like so:

     

    5) Heavy snowstorms will also still be possible as the planet warms. This sounds bizarre, but it makes some intuitive sense. As seen above, global warming isn’t going to eradicate winter temperatures in the United States anytime soon. But a warmer planet will allow the air to hold more moisture on average. So, in theory, you could have the ingredients for more intense winter storms. Will they still be as frequent? That’s less clear. One 2006 study found an increase in winter storm activity in the Midwest and Northeastern United States over the past century, as the Earth has warmed. And the IPCC says that heavy precipitation events in the Northern Hemisphere are expected to increase as the planet heats up. But that prediction is for all seasons, not just winter, and there’s less certainty on more fine-grained forecasts.

     

    6) Yes, there is a theory for how global warming could cause severe cold in the U.S. — but it’s still heavily debated. Right now, the Arctic region is warming rapidly. And a few scientists think this could cause the jet stream to slow down and weaken and meander all over the place more often.

    (The Washington Post)

    That could have lots of unpredictable effects. It might cause storms or heat waves to linger in one place for longer periods of time. Or it could allow bigger blasts of frigid Arctic air to travel down to the United States — as is happening right now. But key caveat: This is a relatively new idea, and there’s still a whole lot of debate over the link between Arctic warming and extreme weather. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers sketched out the theory here. In August, Elizabeth Barnes of Colorado State disputed the link (and Francis responded here). No doubt there will be a lot more research done.

    For now, the consensus view still holds that global warming will bring fewer cold snaps to places like the U.S., not more. The IPCC in 2007 predicted that there was “likely to be a decline in the frequency of cold air outbreaks… in [northern hemisphere] winter in most areas.”

     

    7) A few points on Antarctic sea ice. Occasionally we’ll hear that sea ice in Antarctica has been expanding lately and that’s an inconvenient problem for the theory of global warming. This came up recently after a bunch of climate researchers on a ship got themselves stuck in Antarctic sea ice. But it’s worth putting this in context. Note that there are two types of ice in Antarctica. First, there’s sea ice, which is the ice floating in the ocean around the continent. For reasons that are still unclear, the extent of Antarctic sea ice has indeed been growing in recent years. This increase is less drastic than the long-term decline of summer sea ice up north in the Arctic, but it’s real nonetheless. And it’s still a mystery. But that’s not the only thing going on down in Antarctica. There’s also land ice. This is the snow and ice that sits on top of land in large ice sheets. And it’s arguably more relevant from a practical standpoint, since when that ice melts and falls into the ocean, it pushes up sea levels. (Changes in sea-ice extent, by contrast, don’t directly affect sea levels very much — though they can have indirect effects.) And current estimates suggest that Antarctica is losing land ice:

    So there you go. It’s horribly cold outside. The planet’s still warming. Strange but true. Now here’s a fun video of how Canadians are entertaining themselves in subzero temperatures. Further reading: As always, our colleagues at Capital Weather Gang have indispensable coverage of the polar vortex and the current cold weather.

     

     

    Everything You Wanted To Know About The ‘Polar Vortex’

    By Emily Atkin on January 6, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    A person struggles to cross a street in blowing and falling snow Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014, in St. Louis. CREDIT: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

    On Sunday night, a reporter for The Weather Channel stood in a Minnesota snowstorm, talking about local efforts to move homeless children into heated shelters. “How cold is it supposed to get?” the anchor, back in the studio, asked. The reporter replied: “Colder than Mars.” Indeed, recent temperatures across the U.S. have been Mars-like. Forecasts in the midwest call for temperatures to drop to 32 below zero in Fargo, N.D.; minus 21 in Madison, Wis.; and 15 below zero in Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Chicago. Wind chills have been predicted to fall to negative 60 degrees — a dangerous cold that could break decades-old records. All of which begs the question — if climate change is real, then how did it get so cold?

    The question is based on common misconceptions of how cold weather moves across the planet, said Greg Laden, a bioanthroplogist who writes for National Geographic’s Scienceblog. According to Laden, the recent record-cold temperatures indicate to many that the Arctic’s cold air is expanding, engulfing other countries. If true, this would be a perfect argument for a “global cooling” theory. The Arctic’s coldness is growing. Laden asks, “How can such a thing happen with global warming?”

    The answer, he writes, is that the Arctic air that usually sits on top of our planet is “taking an excursion” south for a couple of days, leaving the North Pole “relatively warm” and our temperate region not-so-temperate. “Go Home Arctic, You’re Drunk,” he titled the explanation.

    “The Polar Vortex, a huge system of moving swirling air that normally contains the polar cold air, has shifted so it is not sitting right on the pole as it usually does,” Laden writes. “We are not seeing an expansion of cold, an ice age, or an anti-global warming phenomenon. We are seeing the usual cold polar air taking an excursion. So, this cold weather we are having does not disprove global warming.”

    In fact, some scientists have theorized that the influx of extreme cold is actually fueled by effects of climate change. Jennifer Francis, a research professor at Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Science, told ClimateProgress on Monday that it’s not the Arctic who is drunk. It’s the jet stream.

    The “drunk” jet stream on Jan. 6, 2014. CREDIT: intellicast.com

    “The drunk part is that the jet stream is in this wavy pattern, like a drunk walking along,” Francis, who primarily studies Arctic links to global weather patterns, said. “In other places, you could see the tropics are drunk.” Arctic warming, she said, is causing less drastic changes in temperatures between northern and southern climates, leading to weakened west-to-east winds, and ultimately, a wavier jet stream. The stream’s recent “waviness” has been taking coldness down to the temperate United States and leaving Alaska and the Arctic relatively warm, Francis said. The same thing has been happening in other countries as well. Winter storms have been pounding the U.K., she noted, while Scandinavia is having a very warm winter. “This kind of pattern is going to be more likely, and has been more likely,” she said. “Extremes on both ends are a symptom. Wild, unusual temperatures of both sides, both warmer and colder.” Francis’ research, however, is still disputed. Dr. Kevin E. Trenberth, a distinguished senior climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told ClimateProgress on Monday that he was skeptical of Francis’ assessment. “Jennifer’s work shows a correlation, but correlation is not causation,” he cautioned. “In fact it is much more likely to work the other way around.”

    Instead of Francis’ theory that a warm Arctic moves the jet stream, Trenberth said it could be that the jet stream moves, leading to a warmer Arctic. And Francis’ theory could work if the Arctic was, in fact, particularly warm and iceless — at the moment, in winter, the Arctic is cooler and icier. “I am not saying there is no [climate change] influence, but in midwinter, the energy in these big storms is huge and the climate change influence is impossible to find statistically,” he said. “So we have to fall back on understanding the processes and mechanisms.” Still, Trenberth — based in Boulder, CO., — just had 11 inches of snow on Saturday, which he said is the third largest ever for the month. Normally the area gets only light, fluffy snow. But, he said temperatures on Friday were 62 degrees, making for extra moisture and heat, “probably” contributing to the extra snow. The incident mimics what Trenberth’s research has shown — that increased moisture and heat from climate change has an effect on weather events. “The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question,” he has written. “All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be.”

     

     

    Freezing cold pushing some birds south

    USA TODAY

     - ‎January 6, 2014‎

           

    This week’s intense cold could result in some surprising bird sightings, experts say. For some species it’s just too cold to stay put.

     

     

     

    Tim Roberts Photography/Shutterstock

    Can America’s Grasslands Be Saved?

    By Tom Kenworthy on January 8, 2014 at 11:41 am BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA — To the uneducated eyes of a visitor traveling along secondary roads in central North Dakota, it seems like farmers there are harvesting boulders. But the big rock piles frequently seen at the edges of new agricultural fields are actually signs of a massive change in land use in recent years. Dramatic alterations to this region’s lands have important implications, not just for wildlife in a place vital for waterfowl and other birds, but also for climate change.

    As climate change projections become more dire, cutting carbon emissions becomes ever more crucial. While more efficient buildings and vehicles, rapid deployment of clean energy, and reduced dependence on fossil fuels are common solutions, an important piece of the carbon sequestration puzzle lies in protecting the ability of natural systems to store carbon. Here in the northern reaches of America’s Great Plains, vast areas of grasslands have in recent years been converted to the production of corn and soybeans, a dramatic change that is eating away at our carbon storage reserves. Driven by rising prices that reflect increased worldwide demand for food and energy crops, as well as federal farm policies and new crop technology that has allowed the corn belt to march west into more arid country, farmers and ranchers in the northern Great Plains have undertaken one of the great land conversions in recent U.S. history. “We are looking at rates of conversion that exceed the rates of [tropical] rain forest loss at their peak,” said Joe Fargione, science director for the North American region of The Nature Conservancy. “It is a globally significant hot spot of habitat loss.” Most people don’t realize how much carbon is stored in a a prairie. A study published early this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that 1.3 million acres of grassland had been converted to corn and soybeans between 2006 and 2011 in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa. Native prairie — whose plants have deep and extensive root systems — is a very effective carbon sink if not cultivated, but plowing and converting that land to annual row crops leads to the emission of 20 to 75 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per acre. As a point of comparison, a typical passenger car emits about 5.1 tons of carbon dioxide a year. Even if that converted land is devoted fully to the production of corn for ethanol that replaces fossil fuels, the study found, it would take 30 years to make up for the loss of carbon sequestration. “Most people don’t realize how much carbon is stored in a a prairie,” said Fargione. “It’s in the roots of the plants and also in the soil. When you look at a prairie, you see grasses waving back and forth. But there’s five times as much biomass below ground in the roots. So there is a lot more carbon in the roots and even more in the soil. When that soil is plowed up you lose about 40 percent of the carbon in the top foot of soil.“…

     

     

    Still Stuck in a Climate Argument

    Andrew Peacock/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images The Akademik Shokalskiy was trapped in the ice off East Antarctica after shifting winds caused loose pack ice to jam against the vessel.

    By HENRY FOUNTAIN NYTIMES Published: January 6, 2014

    When a ship carrying scientists and adventure tourists became stuck in ice in the Antarctic late last month, climate change skeptics had a field day. On Twitter and other social media sites, they pointed out that a group whose journey was meant to highlight the effects of global warming was trapped by a substance that was supposed to be melting. ….. “We’re constantly struggling against that statement, that Antarctic ice is increasing,” said Sharon E. Stammerjohn, a scientist at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at the University of Colorado. “It misses key changes that are happening. And there are really strong climate signals in those changes.”  Most of the sea ice changes are occurring in an area covering about a third of the Antarctic coast, from the Ross Sea to the Bellingshausen Sea and the Antarctic Peninsula, said Paul Holland, a researcher with the British Antarctic Survey. Areas around the Ross Sea, for example, have seen large increases in ice, while in the Bellingshausen and along the peninsula, ice cover has declined sharply. (The area where the research ship became stuck, west of the Ross Sea, has had a slight increase in ice cover over the past 35 years.) Researchers agree that the changes in those seas are related to north-south winds that circulate clockwise around a stationary zone of increasingly lower-pressure air. That brings warmer air from the north into the Bellingshausen Sea and peninsula, pushing ice against the coast and melting some of it, and colder air from the south into the Ross Sea, which spreads the ice away from the coast and creates more of it. But why that low-pressure air is getting lower is still a subject of debate.

    Scientists say that increases in greenhouse gas concentration in the atmosphere, as well as depletion of atmospheric ozone, have changed temperature gradients from the tropics to the poles, which affects atmospheric circulation. “There are clear signals of winds increasing due to climate change” in the Southern Ocean around the Antarctic, Dr. Stammerjohn said. Those intensifying winds might be affecting the low-pressure zone, she said, but there are also other factors that do not rule out natural variability. “The jury is definitely still out on that,” Dr. Stammerjohn said. Whatever the explanation, much of the Bellingshausen is now ice free for long periods each summer. That allows the relatively warmer waters of the Southern Ocean to flow more freely to the more permanent ice that extends from the land in glaciers and sheets. “The combination of the warm ocean and the effects of waves on these glaciers may increase the rate of loss of glacial ice,” Dr. Maksym said. The consensus now is that there is a net loss of ice from Antarctica’s ice sheets and glaciers, Dr. Maksym added, and it is the melting of this ice, rather than any loss of sea ice, that concerns scientists who study sea-level increases. He cautioned that there was still a lot unknown about Antarctic sea ice, which has been studied far less than Arctic ice. In many ways the regions are opposites — the Arctic is an ocean largely hemmed in by land, while Antarctica is a land mass surrounded by a vast open ocean — so lessons learned from studying one do not necessarily apply to the other. “The skeptics do have a good point,” Dr. Maksym said. “Why are we not paying as much attention to what’s going on in the Antarctic? There are good reasons to figure out why these changes are happening.”

     

     

    The global warming Hot List for 2014.
    Daily Climate Tracking the year through the Daily Climate archives, it’s easy to spot 2013′s winners and losers – climate change’s version of nerds and prom kings, arena acts and wedding singers. These are the people and issues who will – and will not – be driving the news in 2014. This is not peer-reviewed.

     

     

    Quiet year for disasters in USA; not so in Europe. January 7, 2014 USA Today

    For the first time in two decades, the world’s costliest natural disasters in 2013 were not in the U.S., according to a report released today by Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance firm….

     

     

    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA 918 PM PST MON JAN 6 2014 [what happens when the weather forecasters get bored of the same old drought weather conditions!!]

    AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION…AS OF 9:18 PM PST MONDAY…THE WEATHER HAS BECOME SO BANAL THAT MID AND HIGH LEVEL CLOUDS NOW COUNT AS INTERESTING…. IN GENERAL NOT EXPECTING MUCH CHANGE IN THE WEATHER FOR TUESDAY WITH HIGH PRESSURE AND SCATTERED MID AND HIGH LEVEL CLOUDS ACROSS THE REGION….. STRONG HIGH PRESSURE WILL QUICKLY BUILD OVER THE BAY AREA FOR FRIDAY WITH SUNNY SKIES AND ABOVE NORMAL TEMPS ONCE AGAIN. THE PATTERN REMAINS ACTIVE TO OUR NORTH WITH ANOTHER SYSTEM INTO FAR NORTHERN CALIFORNIA BY SATURDAY BUT ALL SIGNS SHOW THE RAIN FALLING APART AS IT REACHES THE NORTH BAY SOMETIME SATURDAY AFTERNOON WITH LITTLE OR NO CHANCE SOUTH OF THE GOLDEN GATE. NO SENSE IN FIGHTING PERSISTENCE OR MOTHER NATURE AT THIS POINT. ABOVE AVERAGE CONFIDENCE AND MODEL AGREEMENT THAT STRONG HIGH PRESSURE WILL BRING ABOVE NORMAL TEMPS AND CONTINUED DRY WEATHER FROM SUNDAY THROUGH MOST OF NEXT WEEK WITH LONG RANGE GUIDANCE SUGGESTING DRY CONDITIONS RIGHT THROUGH MLK WEEKEND.

     

    BRAIN TEASER FOR TONIGHT: ROSSBY WAVE THEORY SUGGESTS WHEN A STRONG RIDGE IS IN PLACE OVER THE WEST COAST AN EQUALLY STRONG TROUGH WILL BE IN PLACE OVER THE EASTERN HALF OF AMERICA. THUS WHILE THE BAY AREA AND MOST OF CALIFORNIA HAVE SEEN A WARM AND MILD JANUARY MUCH OF THE EAST COAST HAS BEEN BRUTALLY COLD AND SNOWY. RELIABLE CLIMATE DATA RECORDS IN DOWNTOWN SAN FRANCISCO GO ALL THE WAY BACK TO 1850 WHILE MADISON WISCONSIN HAS CLIMATE RECORDS BACK TO 1871. ON JANUARY 6TH 1887 DOWNTOWN SAN FRANCISCO SET A RECORD HIGH OF 73 DEGREES THAT STILL STANDS TODAY WHILE ON JANUARY 7TH 1887 MADISON WISCONSIN FELL TO -29 DEGREES WHICH STILL REMAINS A RECORD LOW. IN JANUARY OF 1887 DOWNTOWN SF RECEIVED 1.90 INCHES OF RAIN WITH NEARLY ALL OF IT FALLING IN A TWO DAY WINDOW FROM JANUARY 18-19. LITTLE OR NO RAIN FELL THE REST OF THE MONTH. SO WHAT HAPPENED IN FEBRUARY OF 1887 IN DOWNTOWN SF? 9.24 INCHES OF RAIN FELL (ALONG WITH 3.7 INCHES OF SNOW ON FEB 5TH). NOT HARD SCIENCE HERE FOLKS BUT STILL HOPE AS MANY OF OUR READERS ARE ACHING FOR RAIN AND MOUNTAIN SNOW.

     

     

     

     

     


    Rethinking How to Split the Costs of Carbon- Life Cycle Carbon Accounting


    Apple expects an iPhone 5S to inject 70 kilograms – about 154 pounds — of CO2 equivalent into the atmosphere over its lifetime, 11 pounds less than the iPhone 5 that Apple introduced last year.; Justin Sullivan / Getty Image

    By EDUARDO PORTER NY Times December 24, 2013

    It is probably a safe bet that very few Americans unwrapping a brand-new iPhone left under their Christmas tree are thinking about its impact on the global climate. I have some good news for them, and some bad. No, Apple hasn’t managed to produce the device without adding heat-trapping carbon to the air. The company expects an iPhone 5s to inject 70 kilograms — about 154 pounds — of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere over its lifetime, 11 pounds less than the iPhone 5 that Apple introduced last year. The “good” news is that under the standard accounting of carbon emissions bandied about at climate talks, it’s not, mostly, Americans’ fault. About three-quarters of the carbon dioxide is considered the responsibility of other people — in places like China and Taiwan, South Korea and Inner Mongolia — where the phone and its parts were made.

    The bad news is not just that the effort to curb global warming is as stuck as ever, but that, whether we like it or not, we’re all in this together. The obstacles remain significant. Countless summit conferences since the Kyoto Protocol on climate change was adopted more than 15 years ago have failed to budge the fundamental roadblocks standing in the way of collective action: How should the costs be divided? Who did what to whom? Globalization — which in the process of “exporting” production and jobs from rich to poor countries also “exported” the carbon dioxide emitted to make the products consumed by the rich countries — adds another complex twist to allocating responsibility for the carbon in the air. The disquieting question is this: Are emissions the responsibility of the countries that made them or of the countries for whom the products were made?

    Two years ago, some of the greenest constituencies in the country asked Elizabeth Stanton and colleagues at the Stockholm Environment Institute-U.S. Center to perform a set of calculations on their carbon emissions. Rather than tally the carbon they produced, they wanted an inventory of the emissions generated in making, transporting, using and disposing of what they consumed. They were in for a surprise. San Francisco, for example, generated only eight million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2008. The city’s consumption, by contrast, added nearly 22 million tons of carbon to the air. Using consumption-based measurements, Oregon’s emissions in 2005 jumped to 78 million tons from 53 million.

    “The people who hired us to do it saw themselves as so green and innovative,” said Frank Ackerman, who led the Climate Economics Group at the center at the time and now works with Ms. Stanton at Synapse Energy Economics, a consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass. “They thought that because they had nice initiatives going on they would come out lower, never mind the fact that a lot of the manufactures they consumed were made abroad.”

    The focus on consumption makes sense. Understanding its impact on climate change is a necessary first step for families, and municipalities, to take concrete action to mitigate carbon emissions. This sort of recalculation, however, could have an unforeseen effect on the international politics of climate change by shifting responsibility on a global scale…..But if the world is to prevent catastrophic climate change from eventually undermining civilization, somebody — somewhere — must pay the cost of consuming less carbon. And nobody is volunteering.

    Email: eporter@nytimes.com; Twitter: @portereduardo

     

    Climate-change response demands urgency

    By Editorial Board, Washington Post Published: January 4 2014

    JUST HOW much will the Earth heat up over the next 100 or 200 years? Climate scientists are not able to predict with high certainty. They have estimated that average global temperatures will increase by 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius — 2.7 to 8.1 degrees Fahrenheit — given a doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That range of estimates for “climate sensitivity” would mean the difference between relatively small effects and significant consequences for human welfare… A new paper in the journal Nature suggests … — that the consequences of climate change are likely to be toward the middle or higher end of the predicted temperature range. “This new research takes away the lower end of climate sensitivity estimates… That translates into a rise of 4 degrees Celsius by the year 2100 and perhaps 8 degrees Celsius by 2200, barring a reduction in carbon dioxide output.”….Next year, international negotiators will gather in Paris in another attempt to create a working international anti-carbon system. It’s important to invest diplomatic capital in that effort. But leaders cannot rely on that forum to produce the action the world needs. The United States needs to lead the way with a smarter climate policy and then encourage a global response.

     

     

    NY Times Editorial

    Curbing a Potent Greenhouse Gas

    Published: January 7, 2014

    On Dec. 17, the European Union drafted important legislation to cut hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, by 79 percent by 2030. This is the most concrete move yet to rein in HFCs, which are potent greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air-conditioners. In June, the United States and China reached an agreement to reduce these gases, and in September leaders of the Group of 20 nations pledged to do their share. With Europe’s move, the goal of a global agreement on the gases is closer than ever. Global support has been growing for tackling HFCs through the Montreal Protocol — which phased out chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, that were destroying the ozone layer — rather than through the broader and more cumbersome United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. While HFCs, developed to replace CFCs in refrigeration and air-conditioning, do not harm the ozone layer, they are fast becoming a significant contributor to global warming….. The United Nations Environment Program projects that HFCs, only 1 percent of greenhouse gases today, will make up 20 percent by 2030 if nothing is done. Eliminating HFCs would be the equivalent of taking 100 billion tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. HFCs have higher global warming potential than carbon dioxide, but they disappear from the atmosphere much more quickly. Global negotiations on limiting more persistent greenhouse gases must continue, but eliminating HFCs will help. New technologies exist to replace HFCs. The European legislation proposes phasing out consumer refrigerators using HFCs in 2015 and imposing additional bans on a range of commercial refrigeration and air-conditioning products that use the most potent HFCs in 2020 and 2022. With this breakthrough in Europe, India, one of the fastest-growing markets for coolants, is now the last big holdout on reduction of HFCs. Despite joining the G-20 pledge, India has reiterated its opposition to tackling HFCs through the Montreal Protocol. The United States and India should continue bilateral talks to address concerns about costs so that India can join the international effort. The European Union should move quickly now to pass into law the draft legislation to give industry a clear timeline to begin the necessary transition.

     

     

    Obama’s Second Term Is All About Climate Change

    By Jonathan Chait January 3, 2014 NY Magazine

    When President Obama leaves office three years from now, the major policy story of his second term — barring some kind of unforeseen invasion — is likely to be climate change. I made this argument at feature length last year, and the evidence continues to mount. Coral Davenport reports today about Secretary of State John Kerry’s “systematic, top-down push to create an agencywide focus on global warming.” Kerry is a longtime climate obsessive. (Ten years ago, I attended an off-the-record discussion with Kerry alongside several journalists, and our main takeaway was that he understood and cared about climate change more than any other issue.) His appointment to run the State Department is one of several Obama second-term moves that signal the high priority he assigns the issue. This is true not only of the figures Obama has appointed to posts that inherently concern climate change, like the his green appointees to run the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, but also to general political advisers, like Denis McDonough and John Podesta, both committed environmentalists who will drive Obama’s climate focus. The EPA’s new climate regulations are due to come out this June. They will face a certain legal challenge from conservatives. The main driving goal of Senate Democrats’ rule changes last year was to allow Obama to appoint judges to the D.C. Circuit, which will rule on those regulations. Meanwhile, the State Department today released its Climate Action Report, which reconfirms the administration’s commitment to issue new regulations of existing power plants, and further argues that such a plan could bring the United States into compliance with its international greenhouse gas reductions. Kerry has already negotiated an agreement with China to phase out hydrofluorocarbons. After the EPA’s regulations come out, the next step is for Kerry to negotiate the next international climate accord in 2015. As Brad Plumer correctly notes, with characteristic pessimism, a climate treaty is merely a necessary but insufficient step toward averting catastrophic climate change, with more reductions necessary. But that necessary first step is exactly what Obama is doing everything in his power to take with his remaining time.

     

     

    OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

    Save the Shark, Save the World

    By JOSHUA S. REICHERT Opinion NYTimes Published: December 30, 2013

    WASHINGTON — In 1971, an unexpected series of interactions between international table tennis players turned out to be the first indication of China’s willingness to engage with the United States after decades of estrangement. It presaged President Richard M. Nixon’s watershed visit to the country. This unlikely set of events later came to be known as Ping-Pong diplomacy. Now we could be witnessing the equivalent — call it shark-fin diplomacy — by which China signifies to the world that it is ready to step forward into new arenas of environmental protection.

    The world’s most populous nation faces serious issues: Air pollution has become a growing concern, with recent emissions of particulate matter so high in the northeastern city of Harbin that its official website stated, “You can’t see your own fingers in front of you.” Meanwhile, supplying wood for more than 80 billion sets of disposable chopsticks each year has decimated forests, and water pollution renders large sections of major rivers unfit for drinking and swimming. International concerns also loom large: Greenhouse gas emissions don’t respect borders. And trade in endangered plants and animals threatens to undermine the global ecosystems. Oceans, in particular, are at great risk because they are increasingly overfished, polluted and stressed by rising temperatures and acidification resulting from climate change.

    Fortunately, China has begun to take steps. The country consistently ranks No.1 or 2 in attracting private investment in clean energy. It has a national renewable-energy standard and has adopted some of the strongest vehicle fuel efficiency regulations on the planet. People have been called on to reuse chopsticks. And the government has announced a policy that will help stem the killing of a crucial ocean species: sharks.

    The new attitude toward sharks is particularly instructive, since shark-fin soup has long been considered a delicacy in China, served at banquets and weddings. But its popularity has contributed to a sharp decline in the worldwide populations of these apex predators, which help maintain healthy marine ecosystems. It is estimated that 100 million sharks are killed each year, primarily for their fins…..

    The first sign of a shift came in February, when President Xi Jinping issued instructions to all levels of the Chinese government that high-cost ingredients, including shark fins and specialties culled from other protected species, were not to be consumed at official meetings. In large part, this regulation stems from a crackdown on corruption and lavish spending, since shark-fin soup is expensive and has often represented a display of wealth. But language in the notice also acknowledged the importance of promoting “green, eco-friendly and low-carbon” consumption habits.

    Then, in September, came news from Hong Kong that the city government would ban shark fins from official functions there to “demonstrate its commitment to green living and sustainability.” Since 50 percent of the world’s annual trade in shark fins passes through Hong Kong, the move was highly encouraging.
    Together, those decisions are expected to reduce the global trade in fins and aid conservation initiatives, such as the establishment of shark sanctuaries. In those sanctuaries, which encompass 12.5 million square kilometers, catching, possessing and trading in shark products are prohibited. Open sea-dwelling species of sharks swim vast distances each year, passing in and out of national territorial waters where they are caught and killed. Sanctuaries will help to reduce the risk to these imperiled animals, which are slow growing, bear few young and play a vital role in ocean ecologies.

    Given China’s immense size and expanding influence, it has the potential to play a key role in helping to solve the problems of climate change, overfishing, pollution and conservation. The new shark-fin diplomacy may prove to be a pivotal event — but only if China adopts the environmental leadership that the world so desperately needs.

    Joshua S. Reichert is the executive vice president of the Pew Charitable Trusts, directing Pew’s environmental work.

     

     

    From birds nest farmers to pop stars—the unexpected casualties of China’s spending crackdown

    By Heather Timmons and Gang Yang January 9, 2014

    ….Sumatra and Malaysia’s bird’s nest farmers. Birds nest and sharks fin soup, among other celebratory treats, were banned from official banquets last month. China buys an estimated 60% of the world’s edible birds nests, mostly from Malaysia and Indonesia, where nests are cultivated in large windowless buildings. Annual revenues from the sale of the protein-rich nests of the swiftlet were estimated at $5 billion before the ban….

     

     

    California’s dry year is a chance to rethink water use

    SF Chronicle Editorial Published 12:17 pm, Sunday, January 5, 2014

    Shasta Lake was at 37 percent of its 4.5 million acre-foot capacity on Dec. 31. Photo: Andreas Fuhrmann, Associated Press

    It’s a fact of life in California that we have dry spells and wet years, and living in this Mediterranean climate means figuring out how to adapt when we don’t get wet weather. Typically, our state makes progress on evolving water management only in dry years, and thus 2014 promises to be a banner year for innovation.

    Snowpack, nature’s water storage system that we rely on, so far this year is 20 percent of average, according to Friday’s statewide survey. This follows 2012, a year when the snowpack also measured 20 percent of average – and was the driest year on record. The other fact of life here is that dry years affect regions differently. As a result of aggressive investments in management, storage, recycling and conservation, the mighty Metropolitan Water District in Southern California has no need to ration this year. “We’re prepared for multiyear drought cycles,” said Jeff Kightlinger, district general manager.

    Yet, Folsom, a Sierra foothill city between the American and Sacramento rivers in Northern California, has asked residents to cut water use by 20 percent.

    Meeting water demand this year and very likely next will require innovation. More communities (and more Northern California communities) need to invest in modern tools to recycle, reuse, restrict waste and conserve water. For example, computer analytics, typically (and successfully) used to help electric customers conserve, could do the same for water customers.

    The state needs to step up its efforts to help communities manage groundwater. Overdrafts already have resulted in sinking land in some regions. While local water agencies have started mapping and reporting to the state how much groundwater is in storage, the effort is insufficient. The Legislature needs to address what it can do to help.

    Ultimately, recycling and more efficient use can only help manage what water a community has. The state could help communities that import water, such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Jose, by streamlining water transfers.

    This is the time for the Legislature to reshape the November water bond to prioritize investments that address these concerns.

    While the state has not declared a drought, its Drought Task Force will discuss on Tuesday how to prepare for a third dry year. This is no crisis – it is an opportunity to weigh how we use our state’s most precious resource.

     

     

    Water restrictions begin to hit

    SF Chronicle January 10, 2014

    As record-breaking dry spell continues, citizens are facing cutbacks which, while modest now, could soon become very expensive.

     

    Water bonds shrivel as California sees driest year.
    Bloomberg News January 3, 2014 The driest year on record for Los Angeles and San Francisco is threatening water supplies to the world’s most productive agricultural region and almost doubling borrowing costs on some bonds issued by California water agencies.

     

    Koch-backed political network, built to shield donors, raised $400 million in 2012 elections.
    Washington Post The political network spearheaded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch has expanded into a far-reaching operation of unrivaled complexity, built around a maze of groups that cloaks its donors, according to an analysis of new tax returns and other documents.

     

     

     

    New group’s goal: Food reform on California’s front burner

    Stacy Finz SF Chronicle Updated 10:36 pm, Tuesday, January 7, 2014

    A new statewide coalition is putting pressure on politicians to pass progressive food and farm legislation in the hopes that it will “fix” California’s health, environmental and economic challenges.

    And it’s doing it the old-fashioned way: tracking legislators’ voting records and spreading the word. In its first report, released Wednesday, the California Food Policy Council analyzed 27 bills that they say were critically important in 2013 to California food reform.
    Of those, 11 made it to the floor for voting, and five were passed and signed by the governor. “A lot more can be done that hasn’t been done,” said Michael Dimock, the group’s strategic adviser and president of Roots of Change, a nonprofit dedicated to revamping food policy. “We think California is a bellwether for food and agriculture policy and Californians are more interested than ever in local food systems.” It won’t be long before voters in this state are backing candidates and legislators based on their food and farm platforms, Dimock said. The California Food Policy Council hopes to be a significant resource for voters as well as to politicians and policy circles that need guidance on what the public wants. Legislation such as making food stamps available to Medi-Cal recipients, taxing soda and supporting more farm-to-fork programs are just a few of the types of bills they’re monitoring….

     

     

    California Lawmakers Urge Jerry Brown To Adopt A Fracking Moratorium

    By Katie Valentine on January 7, 2014 at 9:29 am

    A group of California lawmakers is calling on Governor Jerry Brown to ban fracking until more research is done on the health and environmental impacts of the practice. Four California assemblymembers sent a letter to their governor asking him to put a hold on fracking while the state “fully investigate[s] the science behind fracking for oil production.” “The vast public health and safety implications of fracking, as well as the tremendous public concern over this practice, require our collective and urgent action,” the assemblymembers write. “We believe it is time to join with Californians who disapprove of the dangers fracking poses to their communities.” The letter is part of a CREDO Action campaign to enact a moratorium on fracking in California. The letter is signed by assemblymembers Das Williams, Adrin Nazarian, Richard Bloom and Marc Levine, who last year introduced unsuccessful legislation on fracking. “I don’t believe we have as much information as we need to continue allowing the oil industry to work unfettered before those regulations are in place,” Levine told the Sacramento Bee. Last year, California adopted SB 4, the state’s first fracking bill, as law, and it went into effect at the beginning of 2014. The law drew the ire of environmentalists in the state, who say it doesn’t go far enough in protecting Californians from the possible dangers of fracking. The law does require oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals they use in the fracking process, and will require oil and gas companies to get a permit for fracking, notify neighbors before drilling, and monitor ground water and air quality. The law also stipulates that state officials will have to complete a study by 2015 that evaluates the risk of fracking, but does not impose a moratorium on the process until that study is completed. The LA Times Editorial Board called SB 4′s regulations “so watered down as to be useless.” Following the adoption of SB 4, a group of scientists also called on Gov. Brown to adopt a moratorium on fracking while research was conducted. Twenty scientists — including James Hansen, former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and vocal advocate of taking action on climate change, and Michael Mann, professor of meteorology at Penn State University — signed the letter, which outlined the emissions impact, threat of dangerous pollution, and the vast water requirements of extracting gas and oil from California’s shale reserves. Despite these letters, Gov. Brown’s office hasn’t signaled that it will consider a moratorium in the state…..

     

    CA: Hearing on the Draft Sea-Level Rise Policy Guidance

    This is a reminder that Commission Staff will be presenting and accepting verbal comments on the Draft Sea-Level Rise Policy Guidance at the January Coastal Commission Hearing at the Catamaran Resort Hotel in San Diego. The presentation is scheduled for January 9th and will review material that was presented at the December Commission Hearing and include additional information on the comments received to date. For more information on the Commission Hearing, or to view a recording of the December Hearing, please visit:  http://www.coastal.ca.gov/mtgcurr.html

    Comment Period Extension 

    Additionally, please be aware that the public comment period for the Draft SLR Policy Guidance has been extended until 5:00 pm PST on February 14, 2014. Comments can be submitted by email to  SLRGuidanceDocument@coastal.ca.gov or in writing to:
    California Coastal Commission c/o Sea-Level Rise Working Group
    45 Fremont Street, Suite 2000 San Francisco, CA 94105
    More Information
    To download the Draft Guidance or to watch a previously recorded presentation of the document, please visit: http://www.coastal.ca.gov/climate/SLRguidance.html 

     

    Deer-crash study has plan for Caltrans

    Will Kane Updated 11:15 pm, Thursday, January 9, 2014

    A new UC Davis study found that Caltrans could do more to stop deer and other animals from wandering onto parts of Interstate 280 and getting hit by cars, but the transportation agency is “paralyzed in the ‘don’t know what to do’ state,” the study’s author said. Caltrans should build deer-proof fences, wildlife tunnels and overpasses accessible to animals along a stretch of I-280 that is notorious for deer crossings that cause collisions of car and beast and crashes by drivers swerving to avoid deer. Researchers at the UC Davis Road Ecology Center made these recommendations to Caltrans after spending 30 months analyzing roadkill, accident reports and wildlife habits along I-280 from San Bruno to Menlo Park to determine how and why so many cars strike deer and other wild animals. “There were places that there were more crashes and I think it is because at those places there was more accessibility” to the freeway, said study author Fraser Shilling, director of the ecology center. “The recommendation would be that you fence off the highway from the habitat and provide a place for the animals to cross.” There are roughly a dozen underpasses and bridges that animals can use to cross the busy freeway, Shilling said. Some were installed for wildlife but some, like those that are actually underpasses for roads or human walking trails, are not always a good fit for wild animals…..

     

     

     

     

     

    Simple, cheap way to increase solar cell efficiency
    (January 3, 2014) — Researchers have found an easy way to modify the molecular structure of a polymer commonly used in solar cells. Their modification can increase solar cell efficiency by more than 30 percent. … > full story

     

     

    8 Ways Wind Power Companies Are Trying to Stop Killing Birds and Bats

    Wildlife researchers and industry are collaborating on new approaches—some proven, some experimental and even far-fetched.

    —By Roger Drouin| Mon Jan. 6, 2014 3:00 AM GMT Mother Jones

    J. Marijs/Shutterstock

    This story originally appeared on Grist and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk initiative.

    Hundreds of thousands of birds and bats are killed by wind turbines in the US each year, including some protected species such as the golden eagle and the Indiana bat. That’s only a small fraction of the hundreds of millions killed by buildings, pesticides, fossil-fuel power plants, and other human causes, but it’s still worrying—especially as wind power is experiencing record growth.

    Both the wind industry and the federal government have been under intense public scrutiny over the issue in recent weeks. In late November, the Obama administration fined Duke Energy Renewables $1 million for illegally killing birds, the first time a wind company has been prosecuted under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Then, just two weeks later, the administration announced a controversial new rule that will allow energy companies to get 30-year permits for non-intentional eagle deaths at wind farms. The feds emphasize that the new rule requires additional conservation measures, but it still angered many conservationists. The pressure is now on for wind energy companies to reduce bird and bat mortality. Lindsay North, outreach manager for the American Wind Energy Association, which lobbies for the industry, says wind developers are committed to “doing our best to try to have the lowest impact on birds.” The industry is collaborating with wildlife researchers on promising technologies and approaches that are already being field-tested, and on some experimental and even far-fetched ideas that could help reduce mortality in the long term. “I am very optimistic we can make significant progress,” said biologist Taber Allison, director of research at the American Wind Wildlife Institute, a nonprofit partnership of wind companies, scientists, and environmental organizations such as the National Audubon Society and the Sierra Club.

    Here are eight things the industry is trying or considering in an effort to reduce bird and bat mortality.
    1. Smarter siting….

    2. Radar……

    3. GPS tracking……

    4. Ultrasonic acoustics…..

    5. Leaving turbines off when wind speeds are low….

    6. Painting turbines different colors…..

    7. Designing new turbine shapes….

    8. Strike detection….

    Reducing wind development’s impact on endangered species and other wildlife would help the industry avoid problems with the federal government and boost wind power’s public image. Allison believes there is also another motive: “They want to do it because they are conservation-mined, too. Many people in the wind industry work in the industry because they believe they’re doing something to reduce the impacts of climate change, which many believe is the single biggest threat.”

     

     

    New Technology Makes Plastic Out Of Carbon Pollution — Could It Help Solve The Climate Crisis?

    By Emily Atkin on January 8, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    What if we could stop making plastic out of oil, and start making it out of carbon pollution floating around in the atmosphere?

    It’s a particularly intriguing idea, posed Tuesday in a report from sustainable business website Triple Pundit on a company called Newlight Technologies. The company’s mission, as stated on its website, is to replace oil-based plastics with so-called “air-based plastics” on an unprecedented global scale. In doing so, the company hopes to “stabilize and end climate change.” Newlight’s product, called AirCarbon, has been around since 2012. But it is just recently starting to get more attention. Last month, USA Today reported on the product hitting the U.S. market, and CleanTechnica lauded it as an alternative to the Keystone XL pipeline this week. Chairs, food containers and automotive parts made from the plastic will soon appear on shelves. Next year, the plastic will form cellphone cases for Virgin Mobile…. “This is the kind of thing that sounds good but is ultimately nearly useless in the effort to combat climate change,” Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology, told Climate Progress. “Every molecule you put in, you have to take back out.” According to Caldeira, the process of converting oxidized carbon dioxide (CO2) to reduced carbon (C +O2) requires energy from combustion, effectively canceling out the energy saved by taking that carbon out of the atmosphere. Combustion still uses a good amount of energy — at least as much as a normal effort to make plastics would require — even if that energy is renewable. So the question remains — why use the extra energy on this, instead of powering the grid with that extra energy, and burning less fossil fuels? “It is much easier to avoid putting our CO2 pollution in the atmosphere in the first place than to spoil the atmosphere and try to clean it up later,” Caldeira said…..

     

     

    13 Major Clean Energy Breakthroughs Of 2013

    By Kiley Kroh and Jeff Spross on December 18, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    Dennis Schroeder, NREL

    While the news about climate change seems to get worse every day, the rapidly improving technology, declining costs, and increasing accessibility of clean energy is the true bright spot in the march toward a zero-carbon future. 2013 had more clean energy milestones than we could fit on one page, but here are thirteen of the key breakthroughs that happened this year.

     

    1. Using salt to keep producing solar power even when the sun goes down.
    Helped along by the Department of Energy’s loan program, Solana’s massive 280 megawatt (MW) solar plant came online in Arizona this October, with one unique distinction: the plant will use a ‘salt battery’ that will allow it to keep generating electricity even when the sun isn’t shining. Not only is this a first for the United States in terms of thermal energy storage, the Solana plant is also the largest in the world to use to use parabolic trough mirrors to concentrate solar energy.

    2. Electric vehicle batteries that can also power buildings. Nissan’s groundbreaking ‘Vehicle-To-Building‘ technology will enable companies to regulate their electricity needs by tapping into EVs plugged into their garages during times of peak demand. Then, when demand is low, electricity flows back to the vehicles, ensuring they’re charged for the drive home. With Nissan’s system, up to six electric vehicles can be plugged into a building at one time. As more forms renewable energy is added to the grid, storage innovations like this will help them all work together to provide reliable power.

    3. The next generation of wind turbines is a gamechanger. May of 2013 brought the arrival of GE’s Brilliant line of wind turbines, which bring two technologies within the turbines to address storage and intermittency concerns. An “industrial internet” communicates with grid operators, to predict wind availability and power needs, and to optimally position the turbine. Grid-scale batteries built into the turbines store power when the wind is blowing but the electricity isn’t needed — then feed it into the grid as demand comes along, smoothing out fluctuations in electricity supply. It’s a more efficient solution to demand peaks than fossil fuel plants, making it attractive even from a purely business aspect. Fifty-nine of the turbines are headed for Michigan, and two more will arrive in Texas.

    4. Solar electricity hits grid parity with coal. A single solar photovoltaic (PV) cell cost $76.67 per watt back in 1977, then fell off a cliff. Bloomberg Energy Finance forecast the price would reach $0.74 per watt in 2013 and as of the first quarter of this year, they were actually selling for $0.64 per watt. That cuts down on solar’s installation costs — and since the sunlight is free, lower installation costs mean lower electricity prices. And in 2013, they hit grid parity with coal: in February, a southwestern utility, agreed to purchase electricity from a New Mexico solar project for less than the going rate for a new coal plant. Unsubsidized solar power reached grid parity in countries such as Italy and India. And solar installations have boomed worldwide and here in America, as the lower module costs have driven
    down installation prices.

    5. Advancing renewable energy from ocean waves. With the nation’s first commercial, grid-connected underwater tidal turbine successfully generating renewable energy off the coast of Maine for a year, the Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) has its sights set on big growth. The project has invested more than $21 million into the Maine economy and an environmental assessment in March found no detrimental impact on the marine environment. With help from the Department of Energy, the project is set to deploy two more devices in 2014. In November, ORPC was chosen to manage a wave-energy conversion project in remote Yakutat, Alaska. And a Japanese delegation visited the project this year as the country seeks to produce 30 percent of its total power offshore by 2030.

    6. Harnessing ocean waves to produce fresh water.

    CREDIT: (AP Photo / Robert F. Bukaty)

    This year saw the announcement of Carnegie Wave Energy’s upcoming desalination plant near Perth, Australia. It will use the company’s underwater buoy technology to harness ocean wave force to pressurize the water, cutting out the fossil-fuel-powered electric pumps that usually force water through the membrane in the desalination process. The resulting system — “a world first” — will be carbon-free, and efficient in terms of both energy and cost. Plan details were completed in October, the manufacturing contract was awarded in November, and when it’s done, the plant will supply 55 billion litters of fresh drinking water per year.

    7. Ultra-thin solar cells that break efficiency records. Conversion efficiency is the amount of light hitting the solar cell that’s actually changed into electricity, and it’s typically 18.7 percent and 24 percent. But Alta Devices, a Silicon Valley solar manufacturer, set a new record of 30.8 percent conversion efficiency this year. Its method is more expensive, but the result is a durable and extremely thin solar cell that can generate a lot of electricity from a small surface area. That makes Alta’s cells perfect for small and portable electronic devices like smartphones and tablets, and the company is in discussions to apply them to mobile phones, smoke detectors, door alarms, computer watches, remote controls, and more.

    8. Batteries that are safer, lighter, and store more power. Abundant and cost-effective storage technology will be crucial for a clean energy economy — no where more so than with electric cars. But right now batteries don’t always hold enough charge to power automobiles for extended periods, and they add significantly to bulk and cost. But at the start of 2013, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory successfully demonstrated a new lithium-ion battery technology that can store far more power in a much smaller size, and that’s safer and less prone to shorts. They used nanotechnology to create an electrolyte that’s solid, ultra-thin, and porous, and they also combined the approach with lithium-sulfur battery technology, which could further enhance cost-effectiveness.

    9. New age offshore wind turbines that float. Offshore areas are prime real estate for wind farms, but standard turbines require lots of construction and are limited to waters 60 meters deep or less. But Statoil, the Norwegian-based oil and gas company, began work this year on a hub of floating wind turbines off the coast of Scotland. The turbines merely require a few cables to keep them anchored, and can be placed in water up to 700 meters. That could vastly expand the amount of economically practical offshore wind power. The hub off Scotland will be the largest floating wind farm in the world — and two floating turbines are planned off the coast of Fukushima, Japan, along with the world’s first floating electrical substation.

    10. Cutting electricity bills with direct current power. Alternating current (AC), rather than direct current (DC) is the dominant standard for electricity use. But DC current has its own advantages: its cheap, efficient, works better with solar panels and wind turbines, and doesn’t require adaptors that waste energy as heat. Facebook, JPMorgan, Sprint, Boeing, and Bank of America have all built datacenters that rely on DC power, since DC-powered datacenters are 20 percent more efficient, cost 30 percent less, and require 25 to 40 percent less floorspace. On the residential level, new USB technology will soon be able to deliver 100 watts of power, spreading DC power to ever more low voltage personal electronics, and saving homes inefficiency costs in their electricity bill.

    11. Commercial production of clean energy from plant waste is finally here. Ethanol derived from corn, once held up as a climate-friendly alternative to gasoline, is under
    increasing fire. Many experts believe it drives up food prices, and studies disagree on whether it actually releases any less carbon dioxide when its full life cycle is accounted for. Cellulosic biofuels, promise to get around those hurdles, and 2013 may be when the industry finally turned the corner. INOES Bio’s cellulosic ethanol plant in Florida and KiOR’s cellulosic plant in Mississippi began commercial production this year. Two more cellulosic plants are headed for Iowa, and yet another’s being constructed in Kansas. The industry says 2014′s proposed cellulosic fuel mandate of 17 million gallons will be easily met.

    12. Innovative financing bringing clean energy to more people. In DC, the first ever property-assessed clean energy (PACE) project allows investments in efficiency and renewables to be repaid through a special tax levied on the property, which lowers the risk for owners. Crowdfunding for clean energy projects made major strides bringing decentralized renewable energy to more people — particularly the world’s poor — and Solar Mosaic is pioneering crowdfunding to pool community investments in solar in the United States. California figured out how to allow customers who aren’t property owners or who don’t have a suitable roof for solar — that’s 75 percent of the state — to nonetheless purchase up to 100 percent clean energy for their home or business. Minnesota advanced its community solar gardens program, modeled after Colorado’s successful initiative. And Washington, DC voted to bring in virtual net metering, which allows people to buy a portion of a larger solar or wind project, and then have their portion of the electricity sold or credited back to the grid on their behalf, reducing the bill.

    13. Wind power is now competitive with fossil fuels. “We’re now seeing power agreements being signed with wind farms at as low as $25 per megawatt-hour,” Stephen Byrd, Morgan Stanley’s Head of North American Equity Research for Power & Utilities and Clean Energy, told the Columbia Energy Symposium in late November. Byrd explained that wind’s ongoing variable costs are negligible, which means an owner can bring down the cost of power purchase agreements by spreading the up-front investment over as many units as possible. As a result, larger wind farms in the Midwest are confronting coal plants in the Powder River Basin with “fairly vicious competition.” And even without the production tax credit, wind can still undercut many natural gas plants. A clear sign of its viability, wind power currently meets 25 percent of Iowa’s energy needs and is projected to reach a whopping 50 percent by 2018.

     

    Review in four gas drilling states finds confirmation of water contamination in some. AP In at least four states, hundreds of complaints have been made about well-water contamination from oil or gas drilling, and pollution was confirmed in a number of them, according to a review that casts doubt on industry suggestions
    that such problems rarely happen…

     

     

     

    1. RESOURCES and REFERENCES

     
     

     

    http://www.dailyclimate.org/ — free and excellent daily summary of climate change related news

     

     

     

    Bay Delta Conservation Plan Road Map

     

    California Natural Resources Agency – public meetings on draft Safeguarding California Plan

    The plan updates the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy. The meetings are an opportunity for the public to learn more about the plan and provide their ideas on how the state can best prepare for climate risks. Natural Resources agency staff will provide a presentation on development of the Safeguarding California Plan and the vision for the 2013 update. The workshop will also include an open house with an opportunity for attendees to interact with state agency staff to discuss the various chapters, climate risks, accomplishments, and strategies for moving forward. Following the open house there will be the opportunity for formal public input and comment. The public is welcome to attend the meetings at any time during the duration. The final plan is expected to be completed in spring 2014.

    The meetings will be held at the following dates, times and locations:

    • Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Sacramento

      California Energy Commission Hearing Room A 1516 Ninth Street Sacramento, CA 95814

      This meeting will be webcast for those unable to attend in person. The broadcast can be accessed on the day of the workshop http://resources.ca.gov/climate_adaptation/regional_public_workshops/schedule.html.

    • Monday, Jan. 27, 2014 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. San Francisco

      Milton Marks Conference Center San Francisco State Building 455 Golden Gate Avenue San Francisco, CA 94102

     

     

     

     

     

    WEBINARS:

     

     

    The Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey January 14, 2014 12:00-1:00pm PST

    How do changes in habitat management and climate effect shorebird populations at local, regional and hemispheric scales? The Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey project, let by Matt Reiter, PhD, of Point Blue Conservation Science, seeks to answer this question. 

     Click here for more information on this CA LCC webinar. To join this webinar:

    1. Click here at the scheduled time.
    2. If a password is required, enter the meeting password: calcc
    3. Call in number: 866-737-4154; passcode: 2872670

        

     

     

    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.

     

     

     

    Sustainable Communities – Implementation Challenges and Opportunities

    Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM PST University of California Center Sacramento 1130 K Street, Suite LL22, Sacramento, CA 95814

    Presented by the UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy and the National Center for Sustainable Transportation.The Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008 (SB 375) aims to help California reach its AB 32 greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets by creating incentives for smarter land use and transportation planning with the ultimate goal of creating more sustainable communities. This forum series consists of four sessions that will bring together researchers, policy-makers, and stakeholders to discuss and explore the latest research and real-world experience with implementation of SB 375 and related policies. Each forum session will include short presentations, discussion and opportunity to ask questions.This first forum session will present the policy landscape and current activities relating to sustainable communities. Speakers will address the role of SB 375 in meeting the state’s climate, environmental quality, public health, economic and housing needs. The program will begin with lunch at 11:30am and will conclude at 1:30pm. Due to limited space, please RSVP as soon as possible by clicking the link below. Register Now!

     

     

    California Drought Forum, planned for February 19-20, in Sacramento, California

    We would like to invite you to the California Drought Forum, planned for February 19-20, in Sacramento, California.  The Forum is being co-organized and co-sponsored by the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and California partners.This two-day event will cover a range of critical drought topics, including current drought conditions, the outlook for continued drought, impacts and responses among different sectors, drought forecasting and monitoring, early warning information needs and resources, and opportunities to improve drought preparedness, resilience, and readiness. More details will be coming soon.  For now, please hold the dates, and we look forward to seeing you at the Forum.  

    Anne Steinemann, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; University of California, San Diego; CIRES / NIDIS University of Colorado, Boulder

     

     

     

    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. 

     

     

     

     

    Climate-Smart Conservation NWF/NCTC ALC3195

    March 4-6, 2014 Sacramento State University – Modoc Hall. Sacramento, CA 3 days /no tuition for this class.

    The target audience includes conservation practitioners and natural resource managers working at multiple scales to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of their work in an era of climate change. This course is based on a forthcoming guide to the principles and practice of Climate-Smart Conservation. This publication is the product of an expert workgroup on climate change adaptation convened by the National Wildlife Federation in collaboration with the FWS’s National Conservation Training Center and other partners (see sidebar). The course is designed to demystify climate adaptation for application to on-the-ground conservation. It will provide guidance in how to carry out adaptation with intentionality, how to manage for change and not just persistence, how to craft climate-informed conservation goals, and how to integrate adaptation into on-going work. Conservation practitioners and natural resource managers will learn to become savvy consumers of climate information, tools, and models. Register online at http://training.fws.gov . In partnership with staff from National Wildlife Federation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, EcoAdapt, Geos Institute, and Point Blue Conservation Science.

    Contact for Registration Questions: Jill DelVecchio at 304/876-7424 or jill_delvecchio@fws.gov

    Contact for Content Questions: Christy Coghlan at 304/876-7438 or christy_coghlan@fws.gov

     

     

    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

     

     

    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™.

     

     
     

     
     

    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.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    1. OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

     


    To Curb China’s Haze, Air Pollution, Use Water



    January 6, 2014 — A new idea to cut back on air pollution: spray water into the atmosphere from sprinklers atop tall buildings and towers, similar to watering a garden. In an article published, a researcher suggests … > full story

     

    For your carbon footprint, it’s location, location, lifestyle.
    Daily Climate January 7, 2014

    Attention city dwellers: There’s consolation for your cramped apartments and crowded subway cars. Your carbon footprint might be a quarter the size of your suburban counterparts, with their green lawns, separate kid rooms and drives to get groceries and coffee.

     

    Green spaces deliver lasting mental health benefits
    (January 7, 2014) — Green space in towns and cities could lead to significant and sustained improvements in mental health, finds a new study. Analyzing data that followed people over a five year period, the research has found that moving to a greener area not only improves people’s mental health, but that the effect continues long after they have moved. … > full story

     

    BPA increases risk of cancer in human prostate tissue, study shows

    Posted: 07 Jan 2014 10:57 AM PST

    Fetal exposure to a commonly used plasticizer found in products such as water bottles, soup can liners and paper receipts, can increase the risk for prostate cancer later in life, according to a study.

     

     

    New Shade of Green: Stark Shift for Onetime Foe of Genetic Engineering in Crops

    By ANDREW C. REVKIN January 4 2014 NY Times

    In case you missed the coverage and commentary yesterday (the Twitter flow is here), you can now watch Mark Lynas, the British writer and environmentalist who once helped drive Europe’s movement against genetically engineered crops, apologize for those actions and embrace this technology as a vital tool for ending hunger and conserving the environment. He spoke yesterday at the Oxford Farming Conference at Oxford University. (Many other fascinating presentations are now online.) … The arc of Lynas’s fascinating career is in some ways neatly encapsulated by two acts at Oxford — throwing a cream pie in the face of Bjorn Lomborg, the skeptic of eco-calamity, at a book signing there in 2001, yelling “pies for lies” (see photo below), and now echoing more than a few of Lomborg’s assertions in his lecture at the Oxford Farming Conference on Thursday.In doing so, he has displayed an encouraging — and still rare — capacity to shed dogma in favor of data. His valuable 2011 book “The God Species” (a host of reviews here) was the first big sign of this transformation….

    So I did some reading. And I discovered that one by one my cherished beliefs about GM turned out to be little more than green urban myths.

    I’d assumed that it would increase the use of chemicals. It turned out that pest-resistant cotton and maize needed less insecticide.

    I’d assumed that GM benefited only the big companies. It turned out that billions of dollars of benefits were accruing to farmers needing fewer inputs.

    I’d assumed that Terminator Technology was robbing farmers of the right to save seed. It turned out that hybrids did that long ago, and that Terminator never happened.

    I’d assumed that no one wanted GM. Actually what happened was that Bt cotton was pirated into India and roundup ready soya into Brazil because farmers were so eager to use them.

    I’d assumed that GM was dangerous. It turned out that it was safer and more precise than conventional breeding using mutagenesis for example; GM just moves a couple of genes, whereas conventional breeding mucks about with the entire genome in a trial and error way.

    But what about mixing genes between unrelated species? The fish and the tomato? Turns out viruses do that all the time, as do plants and insects and even us – it’s called gene flow.

    But this was still only the beginning. So in my third book The God Species I junked all the environmentalist orthodoxy at the outset and tried to look at the bigger picture on a planetary scale. [The full text is here.] ….

     

    50 years ago Isaac Asimov kinda nailed modern technology

    Posted by cgarling@sfchronicle.com (Caleb Garling) Friday, January 3 at 9:38am

    Predictions on the future have always been something of a cottage industry. With the Internet, experts (and otherwise) have stood on an even bigger platform to provide their take on what’s to come. But few of those experts will likely reach the prestige of Isaac Asimov. Through stories like The Final Question, collections [...] [Read More]

     

    Dogs Sense Earth’s Magnetic Field

    National Geographic 

     - ‎January 3, 2014‎

           

    Dogs don’t need a compass: Your best friend can sense Earth’s magnetic field, say researchers who report that dogs preferentially align themselves facing north or south to do their business.

     

     

     

    1. IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     


     

    Photographer Tory Kallman Gets His Orca Breach And Bay Nature gets its Cover

    by Alessandra Bergamin on January 09, 2014

    In the Monterey Bay, an orca breaches in pursuit of a sea lion. Photo: Tory Kallman

     
     

     

    Climate change warning labels on gas pumps?

    Posted on January 9, 2014 | By dbaker@sfchronicle.com (David R. Baker)

    Image: 350.org

     

     

     

    WILDLIFE TRIVIA answer and related websites

    Which of the following western gray squirrel stereotypes is false?
    (a.) They seem to be everywhere, because their population just keeps growing.
    Note: While answer (e.) may also be false, it is not a common stereotype.
    What on earth is a Spadefoot?

    SOURCE: “Western Gray Squirrel – Sciurus griseus”

    (BLM California wildlife database)
    Gray squirrels typically occur in oak-conifer woodlands from California up to Washington. The range was expanded as people started planting more oak and walnut trees, but recently their range has been decreasing. The populations are becoming smaller and fragmented as urban sprawl and other developments destroy their habitat. In addition, introduced species are taking over prime habitat.
    http://www.ca.blm.gov/tnld

    To subscribe to CA BLM’s News.bytes, visit our News.bytes subscription page at: http://www.blm.gov/ca/caso/getnewsbytes.html.

    ————

    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.

     

  7. Conservation Science News January 3, 2014

    Leave a Comment

    Focus of the WeekHow Isaac Asimov in 1964 Imagined the World in 2014

    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.  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-


    In 1964, Isaac Asimov Imagined the World in 2014

    Rebecca J. Rosen Dec 31 2013, 12:20 PM ET The Atlantic

    America’s Independent Electric Light and Power Companies/Paleofuture

    In August of 1964, just more than 50 years ago, author Isaac Asimov wrote a piece in The New York Times, pegged to that summer’s World Fair.

    In the essay, Asimov imagines what the World Fair would be like in 2014—his future, our present.

    His notions were strange and wonderful (and conservative, as Matt Novak writes in a great run-down), in the way that dreams of the future from the point of view of the American mid-century tend to be. There will be electroluminescent walls for our windowless homes, levitating cars for our transportation, 3D cube televisions that will permit viewers to watch dance performances from all angles, and “Algae Bars” that taste like turkey and steak (“but,” he adds, “there will be considerable psychological resistance to such an innovation”).

    He got some things wrong and some things right, as is common for those who engage in the sport of prediction-making. Keeping score is of little interest to me. What is of interest: what Asimov understood about the entangled relationships among humans, technological development, and the planet—and the implications of those ideas for us today, knowing what we know now.

    Asimov begins by suggesting that in the coming decades, the gulf between humans and “nature” will expand, driven by technological development. “One thought that occurs to me,” he writes, “is that men will continue to withdraw from nature in order to create an environment that will suit them better. ”

    It is in this context that Asimov sees the future shining bright: underground, suburban houses, “free from the vicissitudes of weather, with air cleaned and light controlled, should be fairly common.” Windows, he says, “need be no more than an archaic touch,” with programmed, alterable, “scenery.” We will build our own world, an improvement on the natural one we found ourselves in for so long. Separation from nature, Asimov implies, will keep humans safe—safe from the irregularities of the natural world, and the bombs of the human one, a concern he just barely hints at, but that was deeply felt at the time.

    But Asimov knows too that humans cannot survive on technology alone. Eight years before astronauts’ Blue Marble image of Earth would reshape how humans thought about the planet, Asimov sees that humans need a healthy Earth, and he worries that an exploding human population (6.5 billion, he accurately extrapolated) will wear down our resources, creating massive inequality.

    Although technology will still keep up with population through 2014, it will be only through a supreme effort and with but partial success. Not all the world’s population will enjoy the gadgety world of the future to the full. A larger portion than today will be deprived and although they may be better off, materially, than today, they will be further behind when compared with the advanced portions of the world. They will have moved backward, relatively.

    This troubled him, but the real problems lay yet further in the future, as “unchecked” population growth pushed urban sprawl to every corner of the planet, creating a “World-Manhattan” by 2450. But, he exclaimed, “society will collapse long before that!” Humans would have to stop reproducing so quickly to avert this catastrophe, he believed, and he predicted that by 2014 we would have decided that lowering the birth rate was a policy priority.

    Asimov rightly saw the central role of the planet’s environmental health to a society: No matter how technologically developed humanity becomes, there is no escaping our fundamental reliance on Earth (at least not until we seriously leave Earth, that is). But in 1964 the environmental specters that haunt us today—climate change and impending mass extinctionswere only just beginning to gain notice. Asimov could not have imagined the particulars of this special blend of planetary destruction we are now brewing—and he was overly optimistic about our propensity to take action to protect an imperiled planet.

    2013 was not the warmest year on record but it will come close. Last month, November, was the warmest since 1880. All of the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998. A video from NASA shows the dramatic shift in recent years. Watch what happens in the decades after Asimov wrote his essay. (Yellow and red represent temperatures warmer than the average for the years from 1951 to 1980.)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=TO03ColwxHE

    What color will 2014 be on that map? And what about in 10, 20, or 50 years ahead? Predictions are a messy, often trivial sport, but the overall direction the planet is heading is all too clear. As Wen Stephenson wrote in a blistering essay last year, “It’s entirely possible that we’ll no longer have a livable climate—one that allows for stable, secure societies to survive—within the lifetimes of today’s children.” No prediction should scare us more.

     

     

    ECOLOGY

     

    Focus on Ocean’s Health as Dolphin Deaths Soar

    By LIZETTE ALVAREZ NY Times December 29, 2013

    The resurgence of a marine mammal virus on the Eastern Seaboard and “unusual mortality events” in the Gulf region have puzzled scientists.

     


    45 examples of conservation practices in California


    How California Farmers and Ranchers are Producing a Better Environment

    American Farmland Trust |   December 23, 2013 —- 45 Stewardship Profiles

    …”One of AFT’s top priorities is to promote sound farming practices and improve the environment by protecting our land, air and water,” said McElwaine. “The case studies we released today demonstrate how farmers all over California use conservation practices to protect the environment and the natural resources they and we depend on. They are role models for good stewardship of land and resources.” McElwaine said, “They demonstrate the potential benefits of conservation and serve as encouragement for other farmers to adopt the same practices. Programs authorized by the federal farm bill are critical to providing the kind of technical and financial assistance that farmers need to make these practices more widespread,” he said. The conservation practices highlighted in the Profiles conserve water, reduce greenhouse gases, improve air and water quality, restore wildlife habitat, generate renewable energy and achieve other environmental benefits,” said Edward Thompson, Jr., California state director for AFT. “We have seen practices like these become increasingly commonplace throughout the state and the profiles help document that trend.”

    Thompson added, “Many public agencies and private sector agricultural organizations in California are now promoting these practices, but have yet to join forces in a way that would take full advantage of their various contributions. AFT would like to help make that happen.”….

     

    DNA Barcoding to Monitor Marine Mammal Genetic Diversity

    Dec. 30, 2013 — Marine mammals are flagship and charismatic species, very attractive for the general public. Nowadays, they are also considered as highly relevant sentinel of the marine realm. Their presence and their welfare in an area is thought to indicate the health of the place, whereas their disappearance, their displacement, or a decrease in their abundance or health could reflect negative environmental changes, whether of anthropogenic origin or not. Monitoring marine mammal biodiversity is often difficult to perform. If some species can be easily observed, others are more difficult to detect, because for instance, of their scarcity or their discrete behavior. One of the solution suggested by scientists is based on the organization of stranding networks, listing and recording marine mammal strandings, which represent a cost-effective means to follow the marine mammal biodiversity.

    Eric Alfonsi, et al. The use of DNA barcoding to monitor the marine mammal biodiversity along the French Atlantic coast. ZooKeys, 2013; 365: 5 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.365.5873

     

    San Francisco Bay waters are becoming more clear, but that may mean threats from algae growth

    By Paul Rogers Bay Area News Group Posted:   12/29/2013 01:00:00 PM PST

    SAN FRANCISCO BAY is becoming clearer. Decades of tidal action have finally washed away most of the mess created 150 years ago by Gold Rush miners who blasted apart hillsides in the Sierra Nevada. The result was millions of tons of mud, gravel and sand that made its way downriver and ended up in the bay, clouding its waters and coating the bottom with a layer of silt up to 3 feet thick. Most of the silt, scientists say, has moved out to the ocean. But what sounds like good environmental news has a significant downside: The clearer water is letting in more sunlight — and that’s causing a big increase in the amount of algae blooming in the bay. “The bay is a very different place now than it was 15 years ago,” said David Schoellhamer, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. Since 1993, the concentration of algae in the South Bay, which is shallower and receives less tidal action, has increased 105 percent — 300 percent during the summer — according to the USGS. In San Pablo Bay, it has jumped 72 percent. All the algae hasn’t yet turned into vast mats of floating green slime, like in Lake Erie, or generated “dead zones,” like in the Gulf of Mexico, where low oxygen levels have killed fish and other marine life.

    But the issue is increasingly raising concerns. Scientists, state water regulators and operators of the 42 sewage treatment plants around the bay have stepped up research and planning over the past two years. They say that if algae levels continue to increase, sweeping new regulations that could cost from $5 billion to $10 billion may be imposed on the sewage plants to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus they put into the bay. Both act as fertilizers. “It’s a high-priority issue. Our goal is to avoid serious water quality problems,” said Naomi Feger, planning division chief of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board in Oakland. Over the next year, the water board will work on setting limits for nitrogen and phosphorus and begin computer modeling to see if moderate changes in the way sewage plants operate would reduce algae growth, Feger said….. Phytoplankton, algae and other microscopic plant life in the bay are vital to its health. They provide food for fish, clams and other marine life. And they create oxygen.

    How much is too much? “Phytoplankton is like red wine,” said Jim Cloern, a senior scientist with the USGS who has studied the bay for nearly 40 years. “A glass a day is good for our health, but a bottle a day is bad for our health. The question is where are we now between the glass and the bottle?” In addition to the Gold Rush sediment, Cloern said, two other things have helped keep algae blooms in check in years past: strong tidal action, and an abundance of clams and mussels consuming large amounts of algae. In recent years, the silt has decreased, as have the clams and mussels in many parts of the bay, Cloern said. That’s because ocean conditions have led to more fish and crabs coming through the Golden Gate to eat them. The sewage treatment plants haven’t been increasing the amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus they are putting in the bay. But the bay’s resistance to algae blooms has weakened…..

     

     

    DNA Barcodes Made of 147 Bird Species from The Netherlands

    Dec. 30, 2013 — DNA barcoding is used as an effective tool for both the identification of known species and the discovery of new ones. The core idea of DNA barcoding is based on the fact that just a small portion of a single gene already can show that there is less variation between the individuals of one species than between those of several species. Thus, when comparing two barcode sequences one can establish whether these belong to one single species (viz. when the amount of variation falls within the ‘normal’ range of the taxon under consideration and below a certain threshold level) or possibly to two species (when the amount exceeds this level). A recent study in the open access journal ZooKeys sequenced 388 individuals of 147 bird species from The Netherlands. 95% of these species were represented by a unique barcode, but with six species of gulls and skuas having at least one shared barcode. This is best explained by these species representing recent radiations with ongoing hybridization. In contrast, one species, the Western Lesser Whitethroat showed deep divergences between individuals, suggesting that they possibly represent two distinct taxa, the Western and the Northeastern Lesser Whitethroat. Our study adds to a growing body of DNA barcodes that have become available for birds, and shows that a DNA barcoding approach enables to identify known Dutch bird species with a very high resolution. In addition, some species were flagged up for further detailed taxonomic investigation, illustrating that even in ornithologically well-known areas such as the Netherlands, more is to be learned about the birds that are present.

     

    Mansour Aliabadia et al. DNA barcoding of Dutch birds. ZooKeys, 2013; 365: 25 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.365.6287

     


    Testosterone in Male Songbirds May Enhance Desire to Sing, but Not Song Quality



    December 30, 2013 — Introducing testosterone in select areas of a male canary’s brain can affect its ability to successfully attract and mate with a female through birdsong. These findings could shed light on how … > full story

     

    Sea Change: Food for millions at risk.
    Seattle Times
    Hundreds of millions of people around the world rely on marine life susceptible to warming temperatures and ocean acidification, the souring of seas from carbon dioxide emitted by burning coal, oil and natural gas. But from Africa to Alaska, many coastal communities face a substantially greater risk: a shortage of seafood.

     

    Extensive use of antibiotics in agriculture creating public health crisis, study shows
    (December 26, 2013) — Citing an overabundance in the use of antibiotics by the agriculture and aquaculture industries that poses a threat to public health, an economics professor has proposed a solution in the form of user fees on the non-human use of antibiotics. … > full story

    Cambodian Tailorbird (© Ashish John / WCS)

    Amazing New Species of Birds Discovered in 2013

    Sci-News.com

     - ‎December 31, 2013‎

           

    Meet the gorgeous and colorful new birds discovered this year: Cambodian Tailorbird, Guerrero Brush Finch, Sierra Madre Ground-Warbler, Junin Tapaculo and Rinjani Scops Owl.

     

     

    POINT BLUE IN THE NEWS:

    Fox Sparrows Plentiful at Palomarin Field Station

    by Alessandra Bergamin on December 19, 2013 BAY NATURE

    A sooty fox sparrow. Photo: Alejandro Erickson.

    This fall’s government shutdown left a two-week gap in Point Blue Conservation Science’s bird monitoring and banding data, the first such gap since Point Blue’s inception in the mid-1960s. But with the counts now in, the second half of October appears to have been a success, with researchers capturing and banding a surprisingly high number of birds — among them the mottled-brown, barrel-chested fox sparrow. “We banded an unprecedented number of fox sparrows—four times higher than we have ever captured before,” said Tom Gardali, Point Blue’s Pacific Coast and Central Valley group director. “They were really amazing numbers.” During 16 days of mist netting—a method used to capture birds in a net structure—at the Palomarin field station in October, researchers captured 379 fox sparrows out of a total of 532 birds of 34 species. The trend has continued through November on a slightly lesser scale, but with continued above average numbers—out of the 489 birds captured, 145 were fox sparrows. While an increase in one species often means increased competition for other species, Gardali said it probably isn’t the case this time. Researchers captured relatively high numbers of several bird species, including those not affected by seasonal changes and found year-round at the field station…..

     

    USA Rice Honors Former USDA Official for Conservation Work

    Posted by Dave Sanden, Natural Resources Conservation Service, on December 27, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    Rice producers recently honored Dave White, former chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, for his innovative conservation achievements. White was presented with the fourth annual USA Rice Federations’ Distinguished Conservation Achievement Award at the 2013 USA Rice Outlook Conference held in Saint Louis, Mo. “Dave worked very closely with the rice industry during his tenure as NRCS chief,” said Leo LaGrande, a California rice producer and chairman of the USA Rice Producers’ Group conservation committee. “His vision and foresight led to the development and implementation of the Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative (MBHI) in several mid-South and Gulf of Mexico coastal states, including the five rice-producing states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas.” White helped develop the program in response to the oil spill in the Gulf to provide habitat for millions of migratory birds whose annual habitat sites in the Gulf region had been damaged by the spill. Most of the program’s enrolled acres were rice fields. White also worked closely with the California rice industry to develop and implement the Waterbird Habitat Enhancement Program, or WHEP, based on the efforts in the Gulf region. The University of Delaware also conducted a study to evaluate the effectiveness of the MBHI implemented in response to the Gulf oil spill. That report was issued earlier this year. NRCS is also working with the Migratory Bird Conservation Partnership, composed of Point Blue Conservation Science, Audubon California and The Nature Conservancy, to monitor bird response to the new conservation activities undertaken by California farmers.

    Rice fields in California provide year-round habitat for more than 200 different species of wildlife, including about 10 million migratory birds that travel the Pacific Flyway twice a year. Photo: NRCS

     

     

     

    Weird animals drawn to California in 2013

    Peter Fimrite

    Published 4:13 pm, Saturday, December 28, 2013

    Strange birds, exotic animals, bugs and sea creatures showed up in California this year in unprecedented numbers after getting hopelessly lost, lured by abundant prey, blown off course or simply carried in by unsuspecting humans. A lot of the vagabonds are staying put in the Golden State, apparently happy with their newfound time zone, according to wildlife biologists and researchers. Diving gulls, tropical boobies, ducks, owls and other birds from far-off lands were spotted at various times of the year, creating a ruckus among avian aficionados. The alien invasion also came via the sea, with orcas moving in, tuna showing up off the north coast and reports of rare sea turtles far north of where they normally go. Add to that California’s first wolf in decades, albeit off and on, a wolverine that moved to the Sierra from God-knows-where, infestations of stinging wasps and never-been-seen-before lice and mites savaging the deer and eagle populations and one might think something is out of whack. Should we prepare for doomsday or read up on Dr. Doolittle? While California is a magnet for extraordinary birds during the fall migration, the sheer number of those and other exotic breeds gallivanting around the state this year is unusually large. “California is a great place to see vagrants because it is right on the coast and you get a lot of birds stacking up here,” said Jim Tietz, the Farallon Islands program biologist for Point Blue Conservation Science, formerly the Point Reyes Bird Observatory. “They stop over to feed before continuing their migration.“….

     

     

     

     

    Solution to cloud riddle reveals hotter future: Global temperatures to rise at least 4 degrees C by 2100
    (December 31, 2013)Global average temperatures will rise at least 4 degrees Celsius by 2100 and potentially more than 8 degrees C by 2200 if carbon dioxide emissions are not reduced, according to new research that shows our climate is more sensitive to carbon dioxide than most previous estimates.
    The research also appears to solve one of the great unknowns of climate sensitivity, the role of cloud formation and whether this will have a positive or negative effect on global warming. “Our research has shown climate models indicating a low temperature response to a doubling of carbon dioxide from preindustrial times are not reproducing the correct processes that lead to cloud formation,” said lead author from the University of New South Wales’ Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science Prof Steven Sherwood. “When the processes are correct in the climate models the level of climate sensitivity is far higher. Previously, estimates of the sensitivity of global temperature to a doubling of carbon dioxide ranged from 1.5°C to 5°C. This new research takes away the lower end of climate sensitivity estimates, meaning that global average temperatures will increase by 3°C to 5°C with a doubling of carbon dioxide.” … > full story

     

    Steven C. Sherwood, Sandrine Bony, Jean-Louis Dufresne. Spread in model climate sensitivity traced to atmospheric convective mixing. Nature, 2014; 505 (7481): 37 DOI: 10.1038/nature12829

     

    Climate Change Vastly Worse Than Previously Thought

    Slate Magazine (blog)

     - ‎Jan 1, 2014‎

           

    A new study published in Nature suggests that climate change is even worse than scientists had previously anticipated, upgrading the forecast from “dangerous” to “catastrophic. Damage from Typhoon Haiyan. Expect more and more of this. Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

    A new study published in Nature suggests that climate change is even worse than scientists had previously anticipated, upgrading the forecast from “dangerous” to “catastrophic.” According to the study’s authors, temperatures are currently snared in an upward spiral: As earth gets hotter, the heat prevents sunlight-reflecting clouds from forming, trapping more heat and further exacerbating the problem. The result could be a temperature climb of 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. The alarming report follows yet another confirmation, this time by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that humans are almost indubitably the drivers of climate change. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed concern, stating that “if this isn’t an alarm bell, then I don’t know what one is. If ever there were an issue that demanded greater cooperation, partnership, and committed diplomacy, this is it.”…

     

    Sunny Sierra raises chilling drought fears. On the shoreline at Lake Tahoe, where snow should be piled high by now, Valerie Chown and her family this week stumbled across a most unusual winter phenomenon. There, on the beach, was a nude sunbather. “It was crazy,” said Chownst. Overall, the snowpack is down 81 percent. San Francisco Chronicle

     

    California drought deepens as another year’s rains stay away

    By Lisa M. Krieger lkrieger@mercurynews.com Posted:   12/29/2013 03:59:58 PM PST | Updated:   about 3 hours ago


    A lone cow looks out over a parched hillside on Jim Warren’s Gilroy ranch Friday, Dec. 27, 2013. As the statewide drought drags on into a new year with no rain in sight, the water shortage tightens its grip on people who most depend on annual rainfall, rural residents whose water comes from springs and wells and ranchers who have to pay increasingly more for feed and hay to keep their cattle and horses that ordinarily might be munching their way through freshly greened winter pastures. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)


    Jerry Richeson, 73, of Clayton, stands next to his 5,000 gallon water tank at his home in Clayton, Calif., on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. Richeson lives on 2.5 acres on Marsh Creek Road and like many rural residents his water comes from a well deep under ground. The recent water shortage forced many ranchers to pay increasingly more for feed and hay to keep their cattle and horses. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)


    Jim Warren feeds his cattle hay on his Gilroy ranch Friday, Dec. 27, 2013. As the statewide drought drags on into a new year with no rain in sight, the water shortage tightens its grip on people who most depend on annual rainfall, rural residents whose water comes from springs and wells and ranchers who have to pay increasingly more for feed and hay to keep their cattle and horses that ordinarily might be munching their way through freshly greened winter pastures. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Grou)

    The driest year on record is turning the golden hills of California to dust, drying up wells, pastures and cash reserves in a season that is traditionally lush and generous. “It’s about the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Gilroy’s Jim Warren, 72, as a hungry herd of Angus cattle jostled toward his truck, piled high with $6,000 worth of imported alfalfa hay. “But you can’t starve a cow into profit.” In Clayton, Jerry Richeson’s well went dry, so he buys water by the gallon for his home and horses. Sebastopol sheep rancher Rex Williams has sold off one-third of his flock rather than borrow money to support them. In the vast artichoke fields of Castroville’s SeaMist Farms, irrigation has started even before planting, so tiny seedlings won’t perish. The official drought map of California looks as if it has been set on fire and scorched in the center. The Bay Area has pulled out its umbrellas only few times this year. Normally, December offers a reprieve, delivering at least a storm or two. But the jet stream that usually pushes rains across our landscape remains up in the Pacific Northwest, allowing a warm and dry high pressure system to linger overhead.

    Records are being broken all over the state, according to the National Weather Service. San Jose has only received 3.8 inches since January, well short of its 14-inch average. Oakland is even drier — 3.39 inches this year, compared with its 22.8-inch average. The last time it was this dry in San Francisco was in 1917, with 9 inches. This year, the city has had less than 6 inches. The state’s official rain year will end on June 30 and a good storm or two in January or February could bring back a touch of winter green.

    But while water managers and urban gardeners are nervously watching the sky, the impact of the growing drought is especially troubling for farmers. A parched landscape, unlike a hurricane or tornado, is a slow-moving disaster with indirect effects.

    Droughts are measured in dollars, not just inches. Small water systems and private well owners lose precious drinking water supplies stored in unreliable fractured rock, said Jeanine Jones of the California Department of Water Resources. Rangelands are shrinking and the San Joaquin Valley is continuing to subside as its groundwater levels fall. And drought can contribute to catastrophic wildfires. On Dec. 17, the governor set up a Drought Task Force to review expected water allocations and the state’s level of preparedness. The first snow survey of the winter season will take place near the first of the year, with the Sierra snowmelt runoff forecasts following about a week later. This is the third dry year in a row, accelerating the fall of water tables, cracking of fields and shrinking of water holes. “We have five different ponds, and four are completely dry,” said rancher Dave Duarte of the Santa Clara County Cattleman’s Association and who runs 300 cows and calves in San Jose’s eastern foothills. “One water tank, which is fed by a natural spring, is only half full.” …..

     

     


    http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cdecapp/resapp/getResGraphsMain.action

     

    Still uncertain: Climate change’s role in drought. A new analysis led by scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research says there are still many uncertainties about how climate change is affecting drought globally.Climate Central 

     


     

     

    Global warming will intensify drought, says new study

    The Guardian

    December 23, 2013

           

    A very recent study by Trenberth et al., “Global warming and changes in drought” published in Natural Climate Change has investigated the way droughts are measured.

     

     

    Is the West’s dry spell really a megadrought?

    The Associated Press Published: Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013 – 9:41 pm Last Modified: Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013 – 10:11 pm

    SAN FRANCISCO — The drought that has been afflicting most of the Western states for 13 years may be a “megadrought,” and the likelihood is high that this century could see a multidecade dry spell like nothing else seen for 1,000 years, according to research presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting last week. 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. Drought conditions nationwide are down this year, but they remain entrenched in the West. 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 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 drought the West is undergoing might 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 droughts 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 and the Atlantic Ocean is unusually mild, as has been the case for several years, there is a higher risk of drought in parts of the West and Central U.S. An area of the West was affected by severe drought in the Medieval period that was 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, 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 a magnitude similar to 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 decadelong drought in the U.S. this century would be about 45 percent, and a multidecade 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 multidecade 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 multidecadal 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 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, and 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.”

     

    Greenland ice stores liquid water year-round
    (December 22, 2013) — Researchers have found an extensive reservoir in the Greenland Ice Sheet that holds water year round. A surprising discovery, the existence of the 27,000 square mile aquifer adds important information to sea level rise calculations. … > full story

    La Ninã Cuts 50 Percent of Oceanic Melt in Antarctica

    Headlines & Global News

     - ‎January 3 2014‎

           

    A new study found that La Niña has cut the oceanic melt in West Antarctica by 50 percent during a three-year observation. (Photo : Reuters).

     

    Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier sensitive to climatic variability
    (January 2, 2014) — The thinning of Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica is much more susceptible to climatic and ocean variability than at first thought, according to new research. … > full story

    Methane hydrates and global warming
    (January 2, 2014) — Off the coast of Svalbard methane gas flares originating from gas hydrate deposits at depth of several hundred meters have been observed regularly. A new study shows that the observed outgassing is most likely caused by natural processes and can not be attributed to global warming. … > full story

     

    2013 review: The year in environment. New Scientist  Don’t stop at the bad news. Behind the usual headlines about rising greenhouse gas emissions and mostly stalled United Nations negotiations, this was a remarkable year. 

     

    Daunting calculus for Maine shrimpers as entire season is lost. NY Times Shrimping in the Gulf of Maine was so bad last season that Randy Cushman, a longtime fisherman, wondered if there was any point in going out at all. Regulators recently closed the 2014 Gulf of Maine shrimping season — which, in a normal year, might have run from December through the spring. New York Times

     

     

    America burning – The Yarnell Hill fire tragedy and the nation’s wildfire crisis. The Weather Channel Given the explosive and powerful nature of fires, fighting them could never be entirely free of risks. But one of the biggest threats firefighters face today are not from the truly wildfires, burning far from civilization, but instead come from places where homes and entire neighborhoods are constructed in the midst of forests and grasslands.

     

    Revealed: how global warming is changing Scotland’s marine life

    By Rob Edwards Environment Editor Sunday 29 December 2013

    Global warming could cut commercial fish catches around Scotland by 20% while they increase by 10% around the south of England, according to a new study by more than 150 Government and university scientists. Gradually rising temperatures caused by climate pollution could drive porpoises, whales and dolphins away from Scotland’s shores. The sea will also become increasingly acidic, which could harm some marine wildlife, the study says. The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership has released its report card for 2013. It summarises the latest research from 55 UK science organisations including Scottish Natural Heritage, Marine Scotland and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. The report points out that over the last 30 years landings of cold-water fish like cod, haddock and whiting from the north-east Atlantic have halved. This trend is predicted to continue in the coming decades. Northern UK seas like the central and northern North Sea will become “up to 20% less productive, with clear implications for fisheries”, it says. But at the same time southern seas like the English Channel and the Celtic Sea will become up to 10% more productive. Although fish that prefer warmer water like hake and anchovy might increase, the cold-water species that have traditionally been a mainstay of the Scottish fishing industry will decline. Climate projections suggest fish will move northwards faster than in the past…..

     

    Ocean acidification: A climate change issue. VOXXI Ocean acidification has become a problem. And it holds severe ramifications for the future of both the oceans and their vibrant, yet fragile residents.

     

     

    Major reductions in seafloor marine life from climate change by 2100
    (December 31, 2013) — A new study quantifies for the first time future losses in deep-sea marine life, using advanced climate models. Results show that even the most remote deep-sea ecosystems are not safe from the impacts of climate change. … > full story

     

    2013 Australia’s hottest year on record. Sydney Morning Herald

    2013 is the year Australia marked its hottest day, month, season, 12-month period and, by December 31, hottest calendar year. “We’re smashing the records,” said Andy Pitman, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of NSW.

     

    Dramatic decline in industrial agriculture could herald ‘peak food’. The Guardian 

     Industrial agriculture could be hitting fundamental limits in its capacity to produce sufficient crops to feed an expanding global population according to new research published in Nature Communications. 

     

    2014 preview: The key to surviving climate change. Be prepared – for anything. That will be the message of the next report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, its first attempt in seven years to forecast the impact of climate change on specific geographical regions. Due out in March, it will emphasise versatility over any fine-tuned mitigation measures. New Scientist 

     

    Florida’s Mangrove Forests Expand with Climate Change

    LiveScience.com

    December 30, 201

     


     

    Written by

    3 Tia Ghose

     
           

    Fewer deep freezes, attributable to Earth’s warming climate, have caused mangrove forests to expand northward in Florida over the past three decades, new research suggests.

     

     

     

    The Ghost Of Climate Change Yet To Come

    By Joe Romm on December 24, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Unlike Scrooge, we don’t get a spirit to show us what the future holds if we don’t change our ways. In the past few years, though, we have gotten the tiniest glimpse of climate gone wild. As Dr. Jeff Masters stated, “The stunning extremes we witnessed [in 2010] gives me concern that our climate is showing the early signs of instability.” And the price tag for climate-related extreme weather reached $188 billion just in 2011 and 2012. And we did get dozens of scientific papers warning us of what is to come (see “An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts” and “Alarming IPCC Prognosis: 9°F Warming For U.S., Faster Sea Rise, More Extreme Weather, Permafrost Collapse”). The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change laid out the choice in its recent report:

    Humanity’s choice (via IPCC): Aggressive climate action ASAP (left figure) minimizes future warming. Continued inaction (right figure) results in catastrophic levels of warming, 9°F over much of U.S. Yes, it is increasingly unlikely that we will adopt the aggressive but low-net-cost policies needed to stabilize at 450 ppm atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, and then quickly come back to 350, thanks in large part to the deniers, along with their political pals and media enablers. But the question of whether it’s “too late” — as one reporter asked me, “Have we crossed a tipping point?” — doesn’t have a purely scientific answer….

     

     

     

    Halley’s Comet dust caused droughts, famine. International Business Times  Climate change in AD 535-536 was caused by dust spilled into the atmosphere by Halley’s Comet, according to a new study.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Drought brings water rationing orders

    By Matt Weiser
    mweiser@sacbee.com Published: Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013 – 12:00 am Last Modified: Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013 – 11:50 am

    December is usually not the time of year to discuss water rationing. But this holiday month has been so dry that mandatory water conservation orders are beginning to sweep across the Sacramento region. The city of Folsom led the pack on Monday, imposing a mandatory 20 percent water conservation order. On Thursday, Sacramento County asked customers in unincorporated areas to voluntarily reduce water consumption by 20 percent. The cities of Sacramento and Roseville are likely to consider their own measures during the first week of January. In some cases, these will be the strictest water rationing orders the region has seen since the drought of 1976-77, one of the worst in history…

     

    Sierra Club releases white paper on alternatives to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan

    December 30, 2013 by Maven

    The BDCP is not the right plan for the 21st century, says the Sierra Club in a newly released white paper.  It would accelerate the decline of the Delta and do nothing to reverse the damage related to the flow changes and it merely recycles an old idea rejected by voters decades ago that if built, would burden Californians statewide with the financial and environmental impacts of an unnecessary and costly project, the paper says. Instead, the paper says the state can meet its water demand by using a combination of strategies such as improved conservation and water use efficiency in both the urban and agricultural sectors, local groundwater and surface storage, conjunctive management, recycled water, groundwater remediation and groundwater desalination.  Furthermore, the paper recommends that policies that reinforce the use of improved technologies such as graywater re-use or industrial recycling should be employed or expanded; existing regulations that require proof of adequate water supply for new development should be tightened; mandatory groundwater monitoring and reporting plans should be enacted statewide; and existing landscaping programs to reduce outdoor use should be revisited to ensure maximum participation statewide. “California can meet its water demand sustainable and reliably by focusing investment in recycling, conservation, water efficiency, and better groundwater management for both urban and agricultural users,” the paper states.  “The list of alternatives in this document is not exhaustive, but it demonstrates that there are reasonable ways to meet California’s water demand without building the tunnels.” Read the white paper from the Sierra Club by clicking here.

     

    Plastic-Foam Container Ban Approved by New York City Council

    By Esmé E. Deprez Dec 19, 2013 9:00 PM PT

    Plastic-foam food and drink containers in New York are set to go the way of trans fats and smoking in bars as the City Council voted to ban them in the name of environmental responsibility.
    The Democratic-led, 51-member body passed the legislation unanimously yesterday in Manhattan. It prohibits restaurants, food carts and stores in the largest U.S. city from selling or providing single-use cups, clamshells and trays, as well as peanut-shaped packing materials, made from a type of thermoplastic petrochemical called expanded polystyrene.
    An amendment gives officials a year to determine whether the substance can be recycled in an “environmentally effective, economically feasible and safe” way. If not, the ban will take effect as passed July 2015.
    “This is a very important step forward to reduce the city’s solid waste stream, to reduce the amount of products that are out there that are dangerous and literally living on for half a century in our landfills,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said at a City Hall news briefing prior to the vote.
    The foam ban is part of a slew of initiatives to make New York healthier and more environmentally friendly from Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose 12-year tenure ends Dec. 31. Calling for the “environmentally destructive” substance to “go the way of lead paint,” Bloomberg proposed the idea in February alongside initiatives for more electric vehicles and a curbside food-composting pilot program.
    Almost 100 cities and towns, including San Francisco, Seattle and Portland, have banned polystyrene food and beverage containers, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.


    New York’s ban pitted closely held foam-maker Dart Container Corp. and Restaurant Action Alliance, a group backed by the American Chemistry Council, a trade group representing chemicals and plastics manufacturers, against Bloomberg and the 24 council members who co-sponsored the bill.

    The foam doesn’t biodegrade and can’t be recycled, according to the mayor’s office. It makes up an estimated 20,000 tons of the city’s annual waste and contaminates the stream of recyclable metal, glass and plastics, the office says. Dart, which is based in Mason, Michigan, dropped its opposition this month, while saying the legislation still “singles out and unfairly maligns a quality, cost effective and safe line of products.” A report funded by the American Chemistry Council valued annual sales of foam containers in New York at $97.1 million. It said the ban would in effect be an “environmental tax,” forcing businesses and consumers to spend almost double on replacements including other plastics, coated paperboard and compostable materials. The Bloomberg administration disagrees, saying “substantial research” it has conducted found the average cost difference per product would be $0.02. Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-independent, is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP. Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, takes office Jan. 1.

     

    Climate change: It’s hot – and not just in the kitchens of bickering politicians. January 3 2013 Sydney Morning Herald
    Record warmth for Australia in 2013 will start to look a lot more ordinary in the future.

     

     

    Tom Steyer may be liberals’ answer to the Koch brothers. December 21 2013 Los Angeles Times by Evan Harper

    California billionaire and former financier Tom Steyer is building a vast political network and inserting himself into elections nationwide, with a focus on fossil fuels and global warming.

     


    Elizabeth Warren Comes Down Hard Against Global Warming, Separates …


    Huffington Post

     - ‎Dec 22, 2013‎

           

    On Friday, December 20th, Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren finally separated herself clearly from former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, regarding the issue of climate change and global warming. Here is the story: TransCanada

     

    SF BAY AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION

    FXUS66 KMTR 010605 AFDMTR
    AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION–NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA– 1005 PM PST TUE DEC 31 2013
    .DISCUSSION…AS OF 9:00 PM PST TUESDAY…ANOTHER ABOVE NORMAL

    TEMPERATURE DAY TODAY FOR MOST SPOTS AS HIGH PRESSURE ALOFT ALONG WITH AN OFFSHORE FLOW AT THE SURFACE PLUS 12-14C AT 850 MB. ALTHOUGH NO RECORD HIGHS WERE REPORTED, MANY SPOTS WERE IN THE 60S TO LOWER 70S. A FEW AREAS AROUND SF BAY DID STAY IN THE UPPER 50S. SATELLITE THIS EVENING SHOWS VERY FEW CLOUDS WITH ONE PATCH NEAR MONTEREY BAY THAT QUICKLY ADVANCED TO THE SOUTH ACROSS THE WATERS. AGREE WITH THE PREVIOUS SHIFT THAT A FEW POCKETS OF PATCHY FOG ARE POSSIBLE TONIGHT, ALTHOUGH IT LOOKS UNLIKELY. PATCHY FROST IS A DEFINITE POSSIBILITY ESPECIALLY FOR SHELTERED NORTH BAY VALLEY SPOTS.

    SIMILAR CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED FOR THE FIRST DAY OF 2014 THROUGH THE START OF NEXT WEEK WITH 850 MB TEMPS, 500 MB HEIGHTS, AND SURFACE GRADIENT SIMILAR. INTERESTING TO NOTE THAT MANY OF RECORD HIGHS FOR TOMORROW WERE SET BACK IN 2012. THEREFORE, AS WE END 2013, THE MAIN STORY HAS TO BE THE LACK OF RAINFALL FOR THE YEAR. LOOKING BACK AT THE CLIMATE RECORDS SHOWS AN EXTREMELY LOW AMOUNT OF RAINFALL FOR OUR ENTIRE AREA. MANY LOCATIONS ENDED UP CLOBBERING THEIR RAINFALL RECORDS, BY RECORDING LESS THAN HALF THE PREVIOUS RECORD. CONSIDERING THAT A FAIR NUMBER OF STATIONS HAVE MORE THAN 75 YEARS WORTH OF DATA (AND SOME MORE THAN 100), THE AMOUNT THE RECORDS WERE ECLIPSED IS REMARKABLE.

    FOR THOSE HOPING FOR RAINFALL, THE OFFICIAL CPC FORECAST OUT TO JANUARY 14TH CONTINUES TO INDICATE DRIER THAN NORMAL CONDITIONS. EVEN THE CFS KEEPS DRY CONDITION GOING UNTIL THE FINAL WEEK IN JANUARY BEFORE INDICATING A SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF RAIN AT THE END OF THE MONTH. WHAT MAY BE MORE TELLING IS THE ECMWF HAS THE LOW THAT HAS BEEN ANCHORED AROUND HUDSON BAY HEADING OFF TO THE EAST WHILE A MORE ZONAL FLOW SETS UP ACROSS THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST/SW CANADA. WHILE THIS WOULD KEEP THE RAIN TO OUR NORTH AT FIRST, IT
    WOULD INCREASE THE ODDS OF THE RIDGE IN THE PACIFIC BREAKING DOWN EVEN MORE AND FINALLY ALLOWING SYSTEMS TO IMPACT THE CALIFORNIA COAST.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    In The Midst Of Record Oil Boom, Obama Administration Seeks More Oil Production

    By Kiley Kroh on December 27, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    CREDIT: Shutterstock

    America produced an average of 7.5 million barrels of crude oil per day in 2013, an increase of one million barrels per day and the biggest one-year jump in the nation’s history, FuelFix reported Thursday. The U.S. Energy Information Association (EIA) estimates production will grow by another one million barrels in 2014 and will peak at a whopping 9.5 million barrels per day in 2016. And the production surge doesn’t stop at the water’s edge. According to FuelFix, “the Gulf of Mexico also is seeing a boost, with oil production expected to grow to 1.4 million barrels per day in 2014, up by 100,000 barrels.” Despite the oil boom already well underway, the Associated Press reported this week that the Obama administration was seeking to ‘clean up’ coal by capturing carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants and using it to force more oil out of the ground.

    “Obama has spent more than $1 billion on carbon-capture projects tied to oil fields and has pledged billions more for clean coal,” according to the AP report. While the administration has touted the environmental benefits of carbon-capture, some are skeptical of a plan that seeks to reduce carbon emissions by increasing the production of another fossil fuel — which will only emit more CO2 when burned. Fueling the criticism, AP notes that “the administration also did not evaluate the global warming emissions associated with the oil production when it proposed requiring power plants to capture carbon.” And the report cites a 2009 peer-reviewed paper which “found that for every ton of carbon dioxide injected underground into an oil field, four times more carbon dioxide is released when the oil produced is burned.” The administration counters that the oil would be extracted regardless and will help bolster U.S. energy security by producing more energy domestically. From a climate perspective, however, that logic is less convincing. As climate change spirals out of control and the need to drastically reduce carbon emissions becomes even more pressing, U.S. production of carbon-emitting fossil fuels is higher than ever. Noting the country’s record high coal exports and the fact that by the time Obama leaves office, the U.S. will be the world’s largest producer of both oil and oil and gas combined, Bill McKibben writes in Rolling Stone that “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.“….

     

    North Dakota train crash prompts call for evacuation. December 30, 2013 Grand Forks Herald
    Officials urged people in Casselton, N.D., and the surrounding area to evacuate their homes as they dealt with the fallout from a massive fire when two trains collided Monday.

     

    Concern over safety grows as more oil rides the rails. January 3 2013 New York Times
    Safety officials have worried for years about hazardous materials carried on trains, but concern has intensified recently as a drilling surge in remote oil fields has generated heavy traffic on North America’s aging rail-freight networks.

     

     

    Rueing the waves

    Britain is a world leader at something rather dubious

    Jan 4th 2014 | From the print edition The Economist [note- no mention of marine wildlife impacts!]

    SINCE October sightseers on the hills above Edinburgh have gawped at a brand new landmark. Across the Firth of Forth, on a test site, stands the biggest wind turbine in Britain. The tips of its blades rise 196m above sea level. Its rotor sweeps an area twice as large as the London Eye. This monster and others like it are bound for the North Sea—part of the biggest and most ambitious offshore wind programme in the world. Britain gets more electricity from offshore wind farms than all other countries combined. In 2012 it added nearly five times more offshore capacity than Belgium, the next keenest nation, and ten times more than Germany. Its waters already contain more than 1,000 turbines, and the government thinks capacity could triple in six years. Boosters think Britain a global pioneer. Critics say ministers are flogging a costly boondoggle.

    Two things explain Britain’s enthusiasm for offshore wind turbines. First, the country is committed by European law to generate about 30% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, up from about 13% now. Nuclear energy does not count and Britain is well behind on solar power, which means lots more wind turbines and biomass plants (mostly wood-burning power stations) will be required.The simplest solution would be to put more wind turbines on land. But they are unpopular with locals: rural voters have harried several Conservative MPs into outright opposition. So Britain is building much of its new capacity at sea. Offshore turbines supply less than 3% of Britain’s juice but about one-fifth of its renewable power (see chart). That share is rising.

    The second reason for ministers’ enthusiasm is that they spy a chance to conquer a growing global market. Miles of shallow sea give Britain an unrivalled opportunity to experiment with technologies it may one day lucratively export, much as North Sea oil has turned Scotland into a hub of hydrocarbon expertise. China and Japan have a growing appetite for offshore generators but little capacity. America has only a single prototype turbine.

    Unfortunately, offshore wind power is staggeringly expensive. Dieter Helm, an economist at Oxford University, describes it as “among the most expensive ways of marginally reducing carbon emissions known to man”. Under a subsidy system unveiled late in 2013, the government guarantees farms at sea £155 ($250) per megawatt hour for their juice. That is three times the current wholesale price of electricity and about 60% more than is promised to onshore turbines. It is also more than the £92.50 which Britain’s new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point will get—though that deal is for 35 years, not 15.

    Ten-metre waves and salty gales are just two of the hazards that keep offshore costs high. Second-world-war bombs on the seabed are slowing new projects in Germany; in December Scottish Power, an energy firm, scrapped plans for 300 turbines on a site filled with basking sharks.

    The government wants offshore generators to slash costs by about one-third by 2020. The price of energy from offshore farms has actually risen since Britain built its first turbines at sea in the early 2000s, in part because developers are putting them in ever deeper waters, farther from land. But costs now appear to be stabilising. Operators claim bigger turbines can bring prices down. Simpler models that break less ought to help matters, too. In some places floating wind farms could prove cheaper than fixed foundations. To cut losses from outages, offshore operators are investing in helicopters to whizz engineers to stricken turbines when seas are too rough for boats.

    Another hitch is that much of the money lavished on building offshore wind farms leaves the country. Only about 25% of capital spending flows through British companies, compared with 70% of the cash invested in North Sea oil and gas. Almost all of the country’s existing offshore turbines were produced by two firms, Siemens and Vestas, which manufacture them in Denmark. Fleets from continental ports commonly construct the farms.

     

    Berkeley library branch a ‘zero net energy’ building

    David R. Baker SF Chronicle Updated 4:20 pm, Sunday, December 29, 2013

    Bright light floods the main room of Berkeley’s newest library branch. Cool, comfortable air surrounds the stacks. But listen carefully, and you won’t hear the usual whoosh of an air conditioning system trundling in the background. Look carefully during the daytime, and you won’t see many switched-on lights. The new West Berkeley branch of the city’s public library system was designed to save energy. Its heating, cooling and lighting systems use so little electricity, in fact, that solar panels on the roof generate more than the building needs. The branch is a “zero net energy” building, meaning it produces more electricity over the course of a year than it draws from the state’s power grid. As such, it’s a rarity. While the concept has been around for years, few zero net energy buildings have been built. Berkeley boasts that the $7.5 million branch, which replaced a building dating to 1923, is California’s first zero net energy library….

     

     

    Scientists Find 7,300-Mile Mercury Contamination ‘Bullseye’ Around Canadian Tar Sands

    By Emily Atkin on December 30, 2013

    The contamination was revealed just one week after regulatory responsibility for the controversial tar sands was handed over to a fossil-fuel funded corporation.

     

     

     

    1. RESOURCES and REFERENCES

     
     

     

     

    CA SEAGRANT- Applications Open for Graduate Fellowships in Marine Policy

    APPLICATION DEADLINE Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 at 5 p.m. PST

    The California Sea Grant College Program is now seeking applications for the 2015 NOAA Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. The Knauss Fellowship, established in 1979, provides a unique educational experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean and coastal resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. The program, which is sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Sea Grant College Program, matches highly qualified graduate students with hosts in the legislative or executive branch of the government in the Washington, D.C. area for a one-year paid fellowship to learn about marine policy. California applicants may apply through either the California Sea Grant Program in La Jolla, or through the University of Southern California Sea Grant Program in Los Angeles. Other interested students should discuss this fellowship with their State Sea Grant Program or Project Director. Formal announcement of the fellowship has been published on the Knauss Fellowship website.

     

     

    Rewilding our rivers – cultivating common ground: John Carlon at TEDxChico

    Published on Dec 3, 2013 A social entrepreneur, John has been restoring and protecting California’s rivers and floodplains for almost 16 years. A co-founder of River Partners, he is directly involved in the acquisition and restoration of over 2,000-acres along the Sacramento River. The organization’s disruptive methods of improving Northstate habitats have led them to receive numerous state and federal restoration projects. In addition to land conservation, Carlon promotes responsible outdoor recreation and stewardship of California’s watersheds and river systems through activities like the annual Mudder Nature Challenge wherein racers tackle obstacle courses on open fields and a trail run around an ancient riparian forest. In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations).

     

     

    WEBINARS:

     

    The Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey January 14, 2014 12:00-1:00pm PST

    How do changes in habitat management and climate effect shorebird populations at local, regional and hemispheric scales? The Pacific Flyway Shorebird Survey project, let by Matt Reiter, PhD, of Point Blue Conservation Science, seeks to answer this question. 

     Click here for more information on this CA LCC webinar. To join this webinar:

    1. Click here at the scheduled time.
    2. If a password is required, enter the meeting password: calcc
    3. Call in number: 866-737-4154; passcode: 2872670

     

     

     

    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

     

     

    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™.

     

     
     

    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.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    1. OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

     

    The eight champions of climate change in the US in 2013

    From the CEO of the only channel to run Obama’s climate speech in full to the editor who refused to print climate skeptics’ letters – Anne Kelly picks out climate change champions

    What will future generations will say about 2013, about the year climate change action made a significant mark on college campuses globally, was re-committed to by the president and even prompted a Philippines leader to go without food in order to spur stalled climate negotiations in Warsaw?

    To paraphrase the philosopher Edmund Burke, bad things happen only when not enough of the good people stand up. And this year, some good people really did stand up.

    Here are some of the individuals who stand out for standing up on climate change:

    Mike Robinson and his colleagues at General Motors, which joined 700 other companies and 3,000 individuals in signing Ceres’ Climate Declaration, which calls tackling climate change “one of America’s greatest economic opportunities of the 21st century.”

    David Kenny, Weather Channel CEO, whose TV network covered President Obama’s important 49-minute climate speech last June in its entirety (the only major media outlet to do so.)

    Letitia Webster, director of global corporate sustainability at apparel giant VF Corp, who affirmed the IPCC’s latest climate study and its implications for global cotton suppliers who are already seeing “raw material disruptions caused by prolonged droughts in the western U.S. and more recent flooding in Asia.”

    Geraldine Link, public policy director at the National Ski Areas Association, who helped organise 100-plus ski areas to speak out on climate change and the threat it poses to winter skiing and the rest of the $12bn winter outdoor industry.

    Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the Rhode Island Democrat, for being the climate champion of the US Senate, delivering more than 50 climate speeches on the floor of the Senate this year.

    Paul Thornton, the Los Angeles Times editor who refused to run letters in the newspaper from climate “skeptics”. “I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page,” Thornton wrote to his readers. “When one does run, a correction is published. Saying, ‘there’s no sign humans have caused climate change” is not stating an opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy.”

    TJ DeCaprio, senior director environmental sustainability at Microsoft, who championed an internal carbon fee at the software giant and recently published a “how to” guide that others can replicate.

    Sam Brownback, Republican Kanas Governor, and lawmakers in a dozen other US states who fought off cynical attacks to repeal state Renewable Portfolio Standards, which have catalysed thousands of wind and solar projects across the country and generated hundreds of thousands of jobs.

    All of these individuals collectively are bringing us closer to a sustainable, low-carbon world. Let’s hope many more good people stand up in 2014 – and that those already standing will stay standing.

    “You can describe the predicament that we’re in as an emergency,” activist Wendell Berry often reminded us. “Your trial is to learn to be patient in an emergency.”

    Anne Kelly is policy director at Ceres, a US-based nonprofit organisation mobilising business leadership on climate change. Follow on Twitter @CeresNews.

     

    Cambridge man sets bird-watching record

    By Bryan Marquard|  Globe Staff   January 02, 2014

    As a year’s final hours slip away, many measure its success in paychecks, vacations, or the simple pleasures of everyday life. But for Neil Hayward of Cambridge, 2013 ticked down to a single bird.

    He was among the select bird-watchers who had attempted what’s known as a “big year” — seeing as many different kinds of birds as possible, traversing the continent to do so. With just days left in 2013, he was tied with the longstanding record of 748 sightings. He kept going.

    And then it happened. Last Saturday, from a boat along the North Carolina coast, he spotted a Great Skua, the winter light catching the gold specks on its back. That made bird 749 — and made Hayward the North American bird spotting champion.

    “Compared to your average bird walk in a local park, this is like climbing Everest,” said Jeffrey Gordon of Colorado Springs, Colo., president of the American Birding Association.

    Cambridge bird-watcher sets new mark

    Having a “big year” is not as simple as some might imagine. And it is certainly not just a matter of luck. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, gosh, if you’ve got the money and the time, you just do it,’ ” said Greg Neise of Chicago, listing moderator for the American Birding Association. “Being able to figure out the logistics is a huge part of it. It’s a lot of flying, it’s a lot of driving, it’s a lot of days away from home. It’s a lot of figuring out your next step, but also being able, at a drop of a hat, to change everything and go someplace else.” On his “Accidental Big Year 2013” blog, Hayward kept updating statistics that would give an ardent traveler pause. He spent 195 nights away from Cambridge, drove 51,758 miles, was at sea for 147 hours over 15 days, and flew 193,758 miles on 177 flights through 56 airports….

     

    Scientists use sound waves to levitate objects in three dimensions

    TechSpot

    Jan 3 2014

     

    Written by

    Shawn Knight

     
           

    Scientists at the University of Tokyo and the Nagoya Institute of Technology were recently able to levitate small items in three dimensions using only sound waves.

     

     

     

    1. IMAGES OF THE WEEK

     

     

    The Entire IPCC Report in 19 Illustrated Haiku

     

     

     

     Top 75 pictures of 2013
    (with a sampling below)

     

    54. EARTH FROM THE DARK SIDE OF SATURN

    Photograph by NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

     

    29. FIRST FLIGHT

    Photograph by naturen-ar-fantastisk.blogspot.com

     

    27. GLACIAL WATERFALLS

    Photograph by KEENPRESS Photography | keenpress.com

     

    19. COOLEST. DUCK. EVER.

    Photograph via ubomw on Reddit

     

    EARTHRISE REVISITED
    DotEarth NYTIMES

    Bill Anders, Apollo 8, 1968

     


    100-Year-Old Box of Negatives Discovered by Conservators in Antarctica



    Almost one hundred years after a group of explorers set out across the frozen landscape of Antarctica to set up supply depots for famed explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, a box of 22 never-before-seen exposed but unprocessed negatives taken by the group’s photographer has been unearthed in one of those shacks, preserved in a block of ice. This incredible discovery was made by the Conservators of the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust who are working to restore an old exploration hut. The 22 cellulose nitrate negatives were, the Trust believes, left there by Shackleton’s Ross Sea Party, which became stranded on Ross Island when their ship blew out to sea during a blizzard. As you can imagine, the negatives weren’t in the best of shape when they were found, but a Wellington photography conservator took the time to painstakingly process and restore them until they revealed their secrets.

    Here are a few more of those photos (you can see them all on the Trust’s website here): ….The Ross Sea Party was eventually rescued, but only after three of their party (including Spencer-Smith) had died. These photographs are the legacy those men left behind, a glimpse back at a long-lost age exploration.

     
     

     

     


     


    ————

    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.