Conservation Science News May 10, 2013Leave a Comment
Highlight of the Week — We surpassed 400 ppm CO2 daily avg. yesterday (May 9)–first time in human history … and 2/3 of common plants and animals will suffer major declines from climate change without action now- Nature Climatte Change
5- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED
6-OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST
7-IMAGES OF THE WEEK
Highlight of the Week- We surpassed 400 ppm CO2 daily avg. yesterday (May 9)–first time in human history … and 2/3 of common plants and animals will suffer major declines from climate change without action now- Nature Climatte Change
The Huffington Post | By James Gerken Posted: 05/10/2013 2:21 pm EDT | Updated: 05/10/2013 2:32 pm EDT
Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide surpassed a notable milestone this week.
- They reached a daily average above 400 parts per million, reported NOAA, for the first time in human history.
- The milestone, hit on May 9, may be symbolic, notes Climate Central, but manmade CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels continue to rise, bringing greater atmospheric warming and exacerbating the effects of climate change.
- Scientists argue we’ve loaded the “climate dice” in favor of more weather anomalies and extreme heat waves.
Special note on May 9, 2013 reading
May 10, 2013 Comment:
NOAA has reported 400.03 for May 9, 2013, while Scripps has reported 399.73. The difference partly reflects different reporting periods. NOAA uses UTC, whereas Scripps uses local time in Hawaii to define the 24-hr reporting period. If Scripps were to use same reporting period as NOAA, we would report 400.08 for May 9.
The Keeling Curve
Latest reading: 399.73 ppm CO2 concentration on May 9, 2013 A daily record of atmospheric carbon dioxide from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego
Bottom of Form
- What Does This Number Mean?
- How are CO2 Data Processed?
- Support the Keeling Curve
- The State of Climate: Other Indicators
Climate change will cause widespread global-scale loss of common plants and animals
EMBARGO: 18.00 BST (London Time) on SUNDAY MAY 12, 2013 (13.00 US EST on SUNDAY MAY 12, 2013)
‘Quantifying the benefit of early climate change mitigation in avoiding biodiversity loss‘ will be published by the journal Nature Climate Change
on Sunday May 12, 2013.
Almost two thirds of common plants and half the animals could see a dramatic decline this century due to climate change – according to research from the University of East Anglia. Research published today in the journal Nature Climate Change looked at 50,000 globally widespread and common species and found that two thirds of the plants and half of the animals will lose more than half of their climatic range by 2080 if nothing is done to reduce the amount of global warming and slow it down. This means that geographic ranges of common plants and animals will shrink globally and biodiversity will decline almost everywhere.
Plants, reptiles and particularly amphibians are expected to be at highest risk. Sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, Amazonia and Australia would lose the most species of plants and animals. And a major loss of plant species is projected for North Africa, Central Asia and South-eastern Europe. But acting quickly to mitigate climate change could reduce losses by 60 per cent and buy an additional 40 years for species to adapt. This is because this mitigation would slow and then stop global temperatures from rising by more than two degrees Celsius relative to pre-industrial times (1765). Without this mitigation, global temperatures could rise by 4 degrees Celsius by 2100.
The study was led by Dr Rachel Warren from UEA’s school of Environmental Sciences and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. Collaborators include Dr.Jeremy VanDerWal at James Cook University in Australia and Dr Jeff Price, also at UEA’s school of Environmental Sciences and the Tyndall Centre. The research was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Dr Warren said: “While there has been much research on the effect of climate change on rare and endangered species, little has been known about how an increase in global temperature will affect more common species. “This broader issue of potential range loss in widespread species is a serious concern as even small declines in these species can significantly disrupt ecosystems.
“Our research predicts that climate change will greatly reduce the diversity of even very common species found in most parts of the world. This loss of global-scale biodiversity would significantly impoverish the biosphere and the ecosystem services it provides.
“We looked at the effect of rising global temperatures, but other symptoms of climate change such as extreme weather events, pests, and diseases mean that our estimates are probably conservative. Animals in particular may decline more as our predictions will be compounded by a loss of food from plants.
“There will also be a knock-on effect for humans because these species are important for things like water and air purification, flood control, nutrient cycling, and eco-tourism. “The good news is that our research provides crucial new evidence of how swift action to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gases can prevent the biodiversity loss by reducing the amount of global warming to 2 degrees Celsius rather than 4 degrees. This would also buy time – up to four decades – for plants and animals to adapt to the remaining 2 degrees of climate change.”
The research team quantified the benefits of acting now to mitigate climate change and found that up to 60 per cent of the projected climatic range loss for biodiversity can be avoided. Dr Warren said: “Prompt and stringent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions globally would reduce these biodiversity losses by 60 per cent if global emissions peak in 2016, or by 40 per cent if emissions peak in 2030, showing that early action is very beneficial. This will both reduce the amount of climate change and also slow climate change down, making it easier for species and humans to adapt.” Information on the current distributions of the species used in this research came from the datasets shared online by hundreds of volunteers, scientists and natural history collections through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).
Co-author Dr Jeff Price, also from UEA’s school of Environmental Studies, said: “Without free and open access to massive amounts of data such as those made available online through GBIF, no individual researcher is able to contact every country, every museum, every scientist holding the data and pull it all together. So this research would not be possible without GBIF and its global community of researchers and volunteers who make their data freely available.”
EDITOR’S NOTES 1/ For more information, a copy of the paper, images or to arrange an interview with Dr Rachel Warren, please contact the UEA Press Office on +44 (0)1603 592764 or email email@example.com . 2/ The University of East Anglia (UEA) was founded in 1963 and this year celebrates its 50th anniversary. It has played a significant role in advancing human understanding and in 2012
Wetlands are disappearing rapidly worldwide in spite of performing vital functions including flood defence, removal of nutrients and toxicants, and providing humans with essential services such as drinking water, fish stocks and water for agriculture. Credit: Tamas Szekely
May 01, 2013 (Phys.org) —Researchers from our Biodiversity Lab have identified specific areas around the world where conservation efforts could best be targeted to safeguard inland-breeding waterbirds. In their new report, the first ever global study of its kind, Laura Williamson and Professor Tamás Székely, analysed data from 471 species of birds, focusing on waterbird species which breed in inland wetlands. These inland wetland habitats are important breeding grounds for birds and are strongly affected by human activities. Waterbirds make up around 10 per cent of all bird species and are an important indicator for the health of a wetland ecosystem, including lakes, streams and rivers. The main threats to waterbirds are from habitat loss, primarily caused by human activities such as land reclamation and development, agriculture, pollution, transportation and energy production…..
Posted: 05/09/2013 11:50 am EDT
The natural gas extraction technique known as fracking uses so much water that it could threaten groundwater resources, especially in the Western U.S., two new reports conclude. The first report (pdf), from the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), found that hydraulic fracking removes 7 billion gallons of water every year in just four states: North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Colorado. The organization blames inadequate federal and state-level protections for the use and/or contamination of fresh water. “Fracking’s growing demand for water can threaten availability of water for agriculture and Western rural communities,” WORC board member Bob LeResche said in a prepared release. He also told The Dickinson Press that “Unless our states take real action soon, we stand to watch our agricultural economies, and even our human habitation of some places, disappear. Ninety-nine percent of rural Americans rely on groundwater for their domestic needs, as do 51 percent of all Americans.” WORC is calling on states to improve the way they monitor and regulate oil and gas drilling, especially where it affects water — and in many states, water issues are handled by multiple agencies, none of which take full responsibility for water usage. The second report, from the sustainable business organization Ceres, said fracking is affecting water-stressed regions throughout the country, with Texas and Colorado being two of the most heavily affected states. The Ceres report used data on more than 25,000 wells collected by FracFocus.org and compared it with water stress indicator maps. Their research concluded that 47 percent of wells are being developed in areas where the water basins are currently suffering from either high or extremely high water stress. “These findings highlight emerging tensions in many U.S. regions between growing hydraulic fracturing activity and localized water supply needs,” Ceres President Mindy Lubber said in a prepared statement…..
Zeal to ensure clean leafy greens takes bite out of riverside habitat in California
(May 6, 2013) — As consumers, we like to hear that produce growers and distributors go above and beyond food safety mandates to ensure that healthy fresh fruits and vegetables do not carry bacteria or viruses that can make us sick. But in California’s Salinas Valley, some more vigorous interventions are cutting into the last corners of wildlife habitat, without evidence of food safety benefits, creating tensions between wildlife preservation and food safety where none need exist. … > full story
Loss of eastern hemlock will affect forest water use
(May 9, 2013) — The loss of eastern hemlock from forests in the Southern Appalachian region of the United States could permanently change the area’s hydrologic cycle, reports a new study. … > full story
Human impacts on natural world underestimated
(May 8, 2013) — A comprehensive five-year study by ecologists — which included monitoring the activity of wolves, elks, cattle and humans — indicates that two accepted principles of how ecosystems naturally operate could be overshadowed by the importance of human activity. … > full story
Monarch Population Status
May 9, 2013
Measures of the areas occupied by each of the nine monarch colonies in the states of Michoacan and Mexico totaled 1.19 hectares this winter. This number represents a decline of almost 59% from the area occupied the previous winter and the smallest recorded since the monarch colonies came to the attention of scientists in 1975….Monarch Watch (http://monarchwatch.org) is a nonprofit education, conservation, and research program based at the University of Kansas that focuses on the monarch butterfly, its habitat, and its spectacular fall migration.
|Yahoo! News||– May 9 2013||
With many of the world’s ecosystems threatened or endangered by human activities like logging and urbanization, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published its criteria for a new “Red List” of endangered ecosystems today (May 8 …
Posted: 03 May 2013 08:03 PM PDT
Researchers are using satellites, acoustic transmitters, an underwater robot and historical records to pinpoint the ocean conditions that the fish prefer during migrations — and potentially help fishermen avoid spots where they might unintentionally catch this endangered species.
|Christian Science Monitor||– May 5, 2013||
Colossal numbers of cicadas, unhurriedly growing underground since 1996, are about to emerge along much of the US East Coast to begin passionately singing and mating as their remarkable life cycle restarts…..
Posted: 07 May 2013 03:08 AM PDT
A new study has found that female sparrows will invest more energy into laying eggs according to the male’s ability to fill the nest with feathers which serve to insulate the chicks from the cold and keep them alive.
Lola García-López de Hierro, Marcos Moleón, Peter G. Ryan. Is Carrying Feathers a Sexually Selected Trait in House Sparrows?
Ethology, 2013; 119 (3): 199 DOI: 10.1111/eth.12053
Bird fossil sheds light on how swift and hummingbird flight came to be
(May 1, 2013) — A tiny bird fossil discovered in Wyoming offers clues to the precursors of swift and hummingbird wings. The fossil is unusual in having exceptionally well-preserved feathers, which allowed the researchers to reconstruct the size and shape of the bird’s wings in ways not possible with bones alone. … > full story
Do bats know voices of friends they hang out with? Bats may recognize voices of other bats
(May 7, 2013) — Is it possible that mammals have the ability to recognize individuals of the same species, whom they know well, by their voice? A new study has found that even in nocturnal, fast-moving animals such as bats, there is an ability to recognize certain vocal aspects of other bats from their social groups. … > full story
Balancing nutrient diets determines how ecosystems age
PLoS Blogs – May 7 2013
From rainforests to rocky glaciers, the life of an ecosystem is rooted in the balance of nutrients in its soil. Shifting levels of soil nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) define how ecosystems evolve, and understanding the dynamics of these key nutrients …
|National Geographic||– May 7 2013||
This was strong progress. Unfortunately, domestic overfishing soon replaced the overexploitation by foreign vessels. Along with this came damage to ocean ecosystems from indiscriminate industrial fishing practices. So Congress strengthened the law in ..
Coral reefs suffering, but collapse not inevitable
(May 9, 2013) — Coral reefs are in decline, but their collapse can still be avoided with local and global action. That’s according to findings based on an analysis that combines the latest science on reef dynamics with the latest climate models. … > full story
‘Dark oxidants’ form away from sunlight in lake and ocean depths, underground soils
(May 3, 2013) — All forms of life that breathe oxygen — even ones that can’t be seen with the naked eye, such as bacteria — must fight oxidants to live. But neutralizing environmental oxidants such as superoxide was a worry only for organisms that dwell in sunlight — in habitats that cover a mere 5 percent of the planet. That was the only place where such environmental oxidants were thought to exist. Now researchers have discovered the first light-independent source of superoxide. The key is bacteria common in the depths of the oceans and other dark places. … > full story
Posted: 05 May 2013 04:37 AM PDT
New research has mapped the most detailed forecast to date for importing potentially harmful invasive species with the ballast water of cargo ships.
You are what (and where) you eat: Mercury pollution threatens Arctic foxes
(May 6, 2013) — New scientific results show that arctic foxes accumulate dangerous levels of mercury if they live in coastal habitats and feed on prey which lives in the ocean. … > full story
David Cruz, Natures Lantern–Killer whales hunt gray whale calves as they migrate across a canyon in Monterey Bay.
By Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle May 6, 2013
Scores of killer whales are patrolling Monterey Bay, ambushing gray whales and picking off their young as the leviathans attempt to cross a deepwater canyon that bisects their annual migration route. It is a desperate situation for the migrating mother whales, which are trying to lead their calves through a gauntlet of hungry orcas to reach their feeding grounds in Alaska. Whale watchers and scientists, who are crowding onto boats to witness the action, have described it as the “Serengeti of the Sea.” …Scientists say the violent drama, involving fleeing whales and pursuing packs of orcas, is an annual extravaganza of death off the coast of Monterey that is growing in intensity as the number of whales and orcas increase.The mother gray whales and their calves leave their breeding grounds in Baja, Mexico, in April and travel north along the Northern California coast this time each year. As many as 35 whales and calves a day are swimming by right now, hugging the shore trying to elude predators, Black said. The problem for the mothers and calves is that they must navigate around a deepwater depression, called the Monterey Submarine Canyon, at Point Pinos…..Transient killer whales, which at 22 to 26 feet long are the ocean’s apex predators, congregate along the edges of the canyon, which starts a quarter mile from shore and is 6,000 feet deep in the middle. They wait for the big beasts – which are about 45 feet long – to attempt the crossing, kind of like crocodiles waiting for migrating wildebeests to swim across the Nile.
The more stealthy grays take the long way around, sticking close to shore and swimming through the kelp beds, but some of the more bold or hurried whales cut across the canyon, using sonar to follow the contour lines at the bottom.
Courtesy Jodi Frediani Female Orca CA138 tosses the common dolphin she is hunting into the air in Monterey Bay. Dozens of orcas are patrolling the bay as gray whales pass through it on their way to Alaska.
“It is one of the few places on the gray whale migration where they have to leave the protection of the shore,” said Black, who has been studying killer whales since 1992 and is considered the Bay Area’s foremost expert. “The killer whales come in the area and patrol the canyon, searching for calves.” Most of the attacks occur along the edge of the drop-off, where packs of between four and seven mostly female orcas use the cover of deep water to approach from underneath, said Black and other researchers. It is not an easy kill. The calves are 18 to 20 feet long, weighing many tons. ….
May 4, 2013 Reno
Wildlife officials and conservationists in Nevada said they’re making progress knocking down the white plastic pipes that miners traditionally have used to stake their claims, because such markers can become death traps for hundreds of thousands of small birds that get stuck inside. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management estimated there are more than 3.4 million of the white polyvinyl chloride pipes sticking out of the ground across the West — more than 1 million in Nevada alone in a 2011 survey. The American Bird Conservancy, Nevada Department of Wildlife, BLM and several mining companies have been tracking and removing the pipes, which have been required since 2009 to be replaced by solid posts under state law in Nevada, the biggest producer of gold in the nation and sixth-largest in the world. Darin Schroeder of the American Bird Conservancy estimates the PVC markers cause the death of more than a million birds a year nationally. He said small cavity-nesting birds mistake the openings for an ideal home, but once inside are doomed by the smooth sides of the pipe with a narrow diameter that keeps them from climbing or flying out…
Over the past 500 years, human activity is known to have decimated 869 species. Habitat destruction, hunting, alien species, disease and climate change are among the forces responsible for the vulnerability and loss of the 12,000 species on the IUCN’s red list of endangered species. With a total of 16,928 plant and animal species at risk, life on Earth is populated by creatures poised at the brink of extinction. Today, one in eight birds, one in four mammals, one in five invertebrates, one in three amphibians, and half of all turtles face extinction….
|Phys.Org||May 6 2013||
Migrant egrits fly around a rice field looking for food in Pampanga province, the Philippines on January 23, 2011.
Millions of birds that stop at coastal wetlands during annual migrations could die as rising sea levels and land reclamation wipe out their feeding grounds, researchers warned Monday. The study into the migratory habits of shorebirds predicted that a loss of 23 to 40 percent of their main feeding areas could lead to a 70 percent decline in their population. Led by a team of scientists from Australia’s government-backed National Environmental Research Programme, the study said some areas have already reported alarming population losses of 30-80 percent. “Each year, millions of shorebirds stop at coastal wetlands to rest and feed as they migrate from Russia and Alaska to the coasts of Southeast Asia and Australasia,” said researcher Richard Fuller. “We’ve discovered that some of these wetlands are highly vulnerable to sea level rise and might be lost in the next few decades. “If the birds can no longer stop at these areas to ‘refuel’, they may not be able to complete the journey to their breeding grounds.” The researchers studied wetlands along migration routes across Alaska, Russia, China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand.
Graphic showing the bird migration zone that links Siberia with tropical Asia and southern New Zealand for some 50 million waterbirds. Researchers warned Monday that rising sea levels could lead to devastating losses for shorebirds reliant on coastal wetlands.
In many cases rapid coastal development and reclamation for agriculture were already chewing into tidal wetlands the birds use as feeding grounds on their long journeys, which sometimes extend half way around the world. Species showing signs of being in trouble include the bar-tailed godwit, curlew sandpiper, great knot, grey-tailed tattler, lesser sand plover, and red knot, said the study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B journal. The scientists used “graph theory“, a mathematical approach, to estimate the impact of the loss of these wetlands on shorebirds. It found that if a tidal wetland habitat served as an important “stepping stone” for the shorebirds, a small amount of habitat loss could trigger disproportionately large declines in bird populations. “This is because some of these tidal wetlands are ‘bottleneck’ sites where the majority of the birds stop to refuel,” said Takuya Iwamura, of Stanford University. “For example, we discovered that a sea level rise of 150 centimetres (59 inches) may result in the loss of 35 percent of coastal wetlands, but it could lead to a 60 percent decline in curlew sandpipers, eastern curlews and great knots.”
|eNCA||– May 6, 2013||
Oslo – The Arctic ecosystem, already under pressure from record ice melts, faces another potential threat in the form of rapid acidification of the ocean, according to an international study published on Monday….
Posted: 08 May 2013 07:59 AM PDT
The Arctic is the fastest changing place on earth. The most obvious and important change is the staggering loss of sea ice (see “CryoSat-2 Confirms Sea Ice Volume Has Collapsed“). In addition, “the Arctic marine waters are experiencing widespread and rapid ocean acidification,” a new study finds. This first-ever Arctic Ocean Acidification Assessment, commissioned by the Arctic Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), explains that the “primary driver of ocean acidification is uptake of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere by human activities.” We knew from a 2010 Nature Geoscience study that the oceans are now acidifying 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred. We are risking a marine biological meltdown “by end of century” as a 2010 Geological Society study put it. As the lead author of a 2012 study on acidification in Science explained, “if industrial carbon emissions continue at the current pace, we may lose organisms we care about—coral reefs, oysters, salmon.”
Here is a video from AMAP on Arctic Ocean acidification:
The Key Findings of the AMAP study are here.
- Bad Acid Trip: USGS Study Finds Humans Are Acidifying ‘The Air, Oceans, Freshwaters And Soils’
- The Great Oyster Crash and Why Ocean Acidification Is “A Ticking Time Bomb” for Both Marine Life and Humanity
Ice-free Arctic may be in our future, international researchers say
(May 9, 2013) — Analyses of the longest continental sediment core ever collected in the Arctic provide “absolutely new knowledge” of Arctic climate from 2.2 to 3.6 million years ago. The research has major implications for understanding how the Arctic transitioned from a forested landscape without ice sheets to the ice- and snow-covered land we know today. … > full story
Posted: 06 May 2013 03:17 PM PDT
Most species of gigantic animals that once roamed Australia had disappeared by the time people arrived, a major review of the available evidence has concluded. The research challenges the claim that humans were primarily responsible for the demise of the megafauna in a proposed “extinction window” between 40,000 and 50,000 years ago, and points the finger instead at climate change.
As you may know, we’ve restarted our climate crisis writing here at La Maison, beginning with this piece, a global warming picture “from 10,000 feet”:
There we took the long view and noticed that the big temperature spike in the early days of the Cambrian, some 540 million years ago when life on earth was exploding in number and diversity of species, is a match for the temperature spike we could very well see in 2100 under the “do nothing” carbon scenario. The Cambrian temperature spikes reached 7°C (12.5°F) above pre-industrial (pre-1800) norms, which is also where we could be headed if we don’t stop.
We also saw that the entire period of time from the Cambrian (again, about 540 million years ago) until now is divided into just three geologic eras, or major divisions …
- The Paleozoic Era — the era of life before the Age of Dinosaurs, 540–250 million years ago
The Mesozoic Era — the Age of Dinosaurs, 250–65 million years ago
The Cenozoic Era — the Age of Mammals, which we’re now in
… and that each of the first two eras ended in a major mass extinction event. Will a mass extinction end the Cenozoic Era, the Age of Mammals? If we hit a warm enough temperature, yes. This piece explains why and looks at the broad consequences for man under a couple of warming scenarios.
What does “major mass extinction” mean?
In order to discuss global warming and mass extinction, we need to look at mass extinctions in general to get a sense of the scale of these events and their effect.
Consider again the chart of extinctions since the Cambrian, 540 million years ago. (This chart was presented in slightly different form here.) The labels across the top — “Cm” and so on — are geologic “periods”. For your convenience I’ve added the larger divisions, the three geologic eras as well, and indicated where the current geologic period, the Quarternary, fits in…..
|Phys.Org||– May 5, 2013||
It’s difficult to imagine how a degree or two of warming will affect a location. Will it rain less? What will happen to the area’s vegetation? New Berkeley Lab research offers a way to envision a warmer future. It maps how Earth’s myriad climates—and the ecosystems that depend on them—will move from one area to another as global temperatures rise. The approach foresees big changes for one of the planet’s great carbon sponges. Boreal forests will likely shift north at a steady clip this century. Along the way, the vegetation will relinquish more trapped carbon than most current climate models predict. The research is published online May 5 in the journal Nature Geoscience. Boreal ecosystems encircle the planet’s high latitudes, covering swaths of Canada, Europe, and Russia in coniferous trees and wetlands. This vegetation stores vast amounts of carbon, keeping it out of the atmosphere where it can contribute to climate change.
Scientists use incredibly complex computer simulations called Earth system models to predict the interactions between climate change and ecosystems such as boreal forests. These models show that boreal habitat will expand poleward in the coming decades as regions to their north become warmer and wetter. This means that boreal ecosystems are expected to store even more carbon than they do today. But the Berkeley Lab research tells a different story. The planet’s boreal forests won’t expand poleward. Instead, they’ll shift poleward. The difference lies in the prediction that as boreal ecosystems follow the warming climate northward, their southern boundaries will be overtaken by even warmer and drier climates better suited for grassland. And that’s a key difference. Grassland stores a lot of carbon in its soil, but it accumulates at a much slower rate than is lost from diminishing forests. “I found that the boreal ecosystems ringing the globe will be pushed north and replaced in their current location by what’s currently to their south. In some places, that will be forest, but in other places it will be grassland,” says Charles Koven, a scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division who conducted the research. “Most Earth system models don’t predict this, which means they overestimate the amount of carbon that high-latitude vegetation will store in the future,” he adds.
|NASA||May 3, 2013||
“In response to carbon dioxide-induced warming, the global water cycle undergoes a gigantic competition for moisture resulting in a global pattern of increased heavy rain, decreased moderate rain, and prolonged droughts in certain regions,” said …
California has experienced record low rainfall since the “rain year” began in July 2012
Posted: 03 May 2013 09:35 AM PDT
A Southern California wildfire that burned through 8,000 acres yesterday has marked an early and ominous start to the state’s fire season. The fire, fueled by unusually dry conditions and 25 to 60 mph winds that usually aren’t seen until late fall, has damaged 15 homes and forced the evacuation of hundreds of Ventura County residents. As of today, the so-called Springs fire spans more than 15 square miles, with weather forecasts predicting temperatures in the 90s and continuing strong winds. California has experienced record low rainfall since the “rain year” began in July 2012, with Los Angeles receiving only about five inches of rain since then. Though the winter and early spring months are typically some of Califorina’s wettest, since 2013 began, downtown L.A. has received less than two inches of rain — a fraction of the 11 inches that’s typical for the region at this time of year. The year’s low rainfall coupled with strong Santa Ana winds have created perfect conditions for wildfires in the region, as climatologist William Patzert told the L.A. Times: It was promising up to December and then all of sudden Mother Nature turned off the spigot,” he said. “It’s remarkable to get Santa Anas in May.… Every way you look at it, it’s been remarkable, unusual and incendiary.” So far, firefighters in California have responded to more than 680 wildfires this year — 200 more the average for this point in the season. In addition to the Springs fire, a wildfire in Riverside County east of L.A. burned through at least 2,950 acres and destroyed two homes before being contained on Thursday, and several fires erupted in Northern California this week as well. The fire risk isn’t expected to let up as the summer goes on — forecasters doubt the Southern California region will receive substantial rain this summer, which has led federal officials to warn of a potentially “devastating” fire season for the state. And California’s isn’t alone. Multiple studies have linked the risk of stronger, more frequent wildfires to the effects of climate change — most recently, a federal report warned that climate change will double the area of the U.S. burned by wildfires by 2050. Thanks to dry, hot conditions in much of the western U.S., the National Interagency Fire Center predicted this week that fire season could begin early in Oregon and Washington this year as well as in California. In addition to California’s low rainfall, the state is experiencing decreased snowpack this year, a problem that, as well as exacerbating the state’s dry conditions, spells trouble for California’s freshwater supply. California’s snowpack levels are only at 17 percent of normal readings for this time of year. Water from snowpack usually accounts for up to 75 percent of western California’s freshwater supply and 30 percent of freshwater to the state as a whole…..
|Los Angeles Times||May 5, 2013||
WASHINGTON – Climate change may increase the risk of extreme rainfall in the tropics and drought in the world’s temperate zones, according to a new study led by NASA….”These results in many ways are the worst of all possible worlds,” said Peter Gleick, a climatologist and water expert who is president of the Pacific Institute, an Oakland research organization. “Wet areas will get wetter and dry areas will get drier.” The regions that could get the heaviest rainfall are along the equator, mainly over the Pacific Ocean and the Asian tropics. Increased aridity and drought could have a greater effect on human life, however, because those conditions are more likely to occur where most of the world’s population lives. In the Northern Hemisphere, drought-prone areas include the Southwestern United States, Mexico, North Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan and northwestern China. In the Southern Hemisphere, drought could become more likely in South Africa, northwestern Australia, coastal Central America and northeastern Brazil. “Large changes in moderate rainfall, as well as prolonged no-rain events, can have the most impact on society because they occur in regions where most people live,” said William Lau, the study’s lead author and a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “The regions of heavier rainfall, except for the Asian monsoon, may have the smallest societal impact because they usually occur over the ocean,” he added. The study is based on the results of 14 models that show agreement on the possible rainfall trends, Gleick said. The study will be published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. ….To prevent the 2 degree Celsius rise and its effects, including extremes in rainfall, the world has to keep emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide below a ratio of 400 parts per million. According to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, there have been isolated measurements of 400 parts per million in the Arctic, and scientists expect readings in Hawaii to exceed 400 parts per million this month.
For plants and animals forced to tough out harsh winter weather, the coverlet of snow that blankets the north country is a refuge, a stable beneath-the-snow habitat that gives essential respite from biting winds and subzero temperatures.
May 7, 2013 — For plants and animals forced to tough out harsh winter weather, the coverlet of snow that blankets the north country is a refuge, a stable beneath-the-snow habitat that gives essential respite from biting winds and subzero temperatures. But in a warming world, winter and spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere is in decline, putting at risk many plants and animals that depend on the space beneath the snow to survive the blustery chill of winter. In a report published May 2 in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, a team of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison describes the gradual decay of the Northern Hemisphere’s “subnivium,” the term scientists use to describe the seasonal microenvironment beneath the snow, a habitat where life from microbes to bears take full advantage of warmer temperatures, near constant humidity and the absence of wind. “Underneath that homogenous blanket of snow is an incredibly stable refuge where the vast majority of organisms persist through the winter,” explains Jonathan Pauli, a UW-Madison professor of forest and wildlife ecology and a co-author of the new report. “The snow holds in heat radiating from the ground, plants photosynthesize, and it’s a haven for insects, reptiles, amphibians and many other organisms.”….
Posted: 07 May 2013 04:58 PM PDT
America’s urban forests store an estimated 708 million tons of carbon, an environmental service with an estimated value of $50 billion, according to a recent study.
May 5, 2013
Tropical cyclones of the future may have the Hawaiian islands in their cross hairs, according to a new study of how climate change will alter eastern Pacific Ocean storms near the end of the 21st century. In the middle of Earth’s largest ocean and …
|The Guardian||– May 7 2013||
With islands and atolls scattered across the ocean, the small Pacific island states are among those most exposed to the effects of global warming: increasing acidity and rising sea level, more frequent natural disasters and damage to coral reefs.
Posted: 05 May 2013 09:34 AM PDT Joe Romm www.climateprogress.org
“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d ?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do & die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
– “The Charge Of The Light Brigade,” Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1854
How will poets memorialize us? How will we be remembered if, like the British light cavalry charging a well-prepared Russian artillery battery in the Crimean War in 1854, we don’t reason why, we just keep on our current path even though it is eself-evidently suicidal.
“It may seem impossible to imagine that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we are now in the process of doing.” So ends Field Notes from a Catastrophe, the terrific 2006 book by Elizabeth Kolbert, one of the country’s most thoughtful climate journalists. Certainly as we hit 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in human existence, with not even a plan to avoid 600 ppm, 800 ppm, and then 1000 — not even a national discussion or an outcry by the so-called intelligentsia – it is worth asking, why? Is there something inherent in homo “sapiens” that makes us oblivious to the obvious? In his latest analysis, uber-hedge fund manager Jeremy Grantham points us in the direction of a new book, Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail, by William Ophuls. Grantham, a self-described “die hard contrarian,” is one of the few leading financial figures who gets both global warming and growing food insecurity (see “Welcome to Dystopia”: We Are “Entering A Long-Term And Politically Dangerous Food Crisis“). Ophuls’ treatise, a synthesis of various analyses for civilizations fail, is well worth reading, though it isn’t a sunny book. Grantham’s analysis is a short, marginally-more optimistic version of the book, augmented with his own thinking. Grantham begins…
NPR May 07, 2013 4:35 PM
The auditorium at James Blake High School in Silver Spring, Md., is packed when Cy Maramangalam strolls onstage, sporting jeans and a shaved head. “All right, how’s everyone doing today?” he says to rousing cheers. It feels as if he’s about to introduce a hot new band, but Maramangalam is with the , or ACE, and he’s here to talk climate change. In the past few years, the nonprofit has put on multimedia presentations for more than 1 million students across the country. Think of it as Al Gore for Gen Y. “Check this out,” Maramangalam tells the students, as cartoon characters and graphs dance on a giant screen behind him. He explains that carbon dioxide levels are higher than they’ve ever been in 800,000 years, and that this is driving up the globe’s thermostat.
“Jacking up the temperature toward this point should be freaking people out,” he says. “But it’s happening quietly.” ACE aims to fill a big gap. Polls show most U.S. students learn little about climate change at school, and even many adults have a fuzzy notion of what causes it.
For the first time, new issued in April include climate change. But the standards, written by a consortium of science and education groups in consultation with 26 states, are only voluntary and could take years to roll out. So Maramangalam hopes to bring kids up to speed fast on a topic that scientists say must be urgently addressed…..
Global carbon dioxide levels set to pass 400ppm milestone
The concentration of carbon in the atmosphere over the next few days is expected to hit record levels
John Vidal The Guardian, Monday 29 April 2013 15.32 EDT
The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 399.72 parts per million (ppm) and is likely to pass the symbolically important 400ppm level for the first time in the next few days. Readings at the US government’s Earth Systems Research laboratory in Hawaii, are not expected to reach their 2013 peak until mid May, but were recorded at a daily average of 399.72ppm on 25 April. The weekly average stood at 398.5 on Monday. Hourly readings above 400ppm have been recorded six times in the last week, and on occasion, at observatories in the high Arctic. But the Mauna Loa station, sited at 3,400m and far away from major pollution sources in the Pacific Ocean, has been monitoring levels for more than 50 years and is considered the gold standard. “I wish it weren’t true but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400ppm level without losing a beat. At this pace we’ll hit 450ppm within a few decades,” said Ralph Keeling, a geologist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography which operates the Hawaiian observatory. “Each year, the concentration of CO2 at Mauna Loa rises and falls in a sawtooth fashion, with the next year higher than the year before. The peak of the sawtooth typically comes in May. If CO2 levels don’t top 400ppm in May 2013, they almost certainly will next year,” Keeling said. CO2 atmospheric levels have been steadily rising for 200 years, registering around 280ppm at the start of the industrial revolution and 316ppm in 1958 when the Mauna Loa observatory started measurements. The increase in the global burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause of the increase. The approaching record level comes as countries resumed deadlocked UN climate talks in Bonn. No global agreement to reduce emissions is expected to be reached until 2015. “The 400ppm threshold is a sobering milestone, and should serve as a wake up call for all of us to support clean energy technology and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, before it’s too late for our children and grandchildren,” said Tim Lueker, an oceanographer and carbon cycle researcher with Scripps CO2 Group. The last time CO2 levels were so high was probably in the Pliocene epoch, between 3.2m and 5m years ago, when Earth’s climate was much warmer than today…..
The measure of global warming
May 11th 2013
AT NOON on May 4th the carbon-dioxide concentration in the atmosphere around the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii hit 400 parts per million (ppm). The average for the day was 399.73 and researchers at the observatory expect this figure, too, to exceed 400 in the next few days. The last time such values prevailed on Earth was in the Pliocene epoch, 4m years ago, when jungles covered northern Canada. There have already been a few readings above 400ppm elsewhere—those taken over the Arctic Ocean in May 2012, for example—but they were exceptional. Mauna Loa is the benchmark for CO2 measurement (and has been since 1958, see chart) because Hawaii is so far from large concentrations of humanity. The Arctic, by contrast, gets a lot of polluted air from Europe and North America. The concentration of CO2 peaks in May, falls until October as plant growth in the northern hemisphere’s summer absorbs the gas, and then goes up again during winter and spring. This year the average reading for the whole month will probably also reach 400ppm, according to Pieter Tans, who is in charge of monitoring at Mauna Loa, and the seasonally adjusted annual figure will reach 400ppm in the spring of 2014 or 2015…
Posted: 09 May 2013 08:53 AM PDT
Zero Republicans show up to vote on Gina McCarthy’s nomination to be EPA Administrator.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee was scheduled to vote today at 9:15 on the nomination of Gina McCarthy to be the next EPA Administrator. Despite the fact that she has answered more than a thousand of the committee’s questions, Senate Republicans announced just before the hearing that they would be boycotting the vote, denying the committee quorum and postponing the confirmation hearing.
The committee rules require that at least two members of the minority party be present during a vote. Not a single Republican bothered to show up.
Senator Barbara Boxer, Chair of the committee, still held a meeting, allowing the Democrats in attendance to try to explain to the American people why they still have no EPA Administrator. The ostensible reason that the Republicans boycotted today’s vote was because they said she did not satisfactorily answer their questions. Senator Boxer reminded those present that Gina McCarthy has already answered more than a thousand questions from the committee and moreover is eminently qualified with an excellent track record of working with the business community and and both parties to do her job. Boxer later floated the idea of changing the rules of the committee so that a boycott such as this would not gum up the works. She urged her GOP colleagues to listen to the many “mainstream” Republicans who support Gina McCarthy’s nomination and “get out of the fringe lane.” If senators oppose a nominee, they should show up and vote against the nominee, not hold the process hostage for ideological reasons.
In 2009, the Senate easily confirmed the highly qualified McCarthy by a voice vote to head the Clean Air division of the EPA. With nearly three decades of experience working at the local, state and federal levels, McCarthy has been a champion for clean air and has even won plaudits from Republican leaders. She has received extensive support from business, health officials, environmental organizations and scientists, who have repeatedly suggested she is willing to work with all sides to find the best outcome.
|Los Angeles Times||– May 6 2013||
Jerry Brown put the state’s early wildfire season in global terms Monday, saying the state would have to grow accustomed to more forest fires as a consequence of climate change. Brown’s remarks at the California Department of Forestry and Fire …
|The Guardian||May 9 2013||
Prince Charles has attacked corporate lobbyists and climate change sceptics for turning the Earth into a “dying patient”, making his most outspoken criticism yet of the world’s failure to tackle global warming just when the heir to the throne is …
|Washington Post||May 6, 2013||
LONDON – As the centerpiece of Europe’s pledge to lead the global battle against climate change, the region’s market for carbon emissions effectively turned pollution into a commodity that could be traded like gold or oil.
|Fishermen want humpback whales off endangered list – Newsday
(AP) May 3 2013 — A group of Hawaii fishermen is asking the federal government to remove northern Pacific humpback whales from the endangered species list, saying the population has steadily grown since the international community banned commercial whaling …May
Posted by Juliet Eilperin on May 8, 2013 at 5:53 pm
Environmentalists have seized on a comment Vice President Biden made while working a rope line in Columbia, S.C., on Friday, in which he told an activist he is “in the minority” within the administration when it comes to opposing the Keystone XL pipeline.
Don’t miss the chance to present your work during the 5th World Conference on Ecological Restoration in Madison, WI, USA from October 6-11, 2013. The deadline for oral and poster abstracts is Wednesday, May 15. Visit the Call for Abstracts page on the conference website for complete instructions and a link to the online submission form. We welcome abstracts from restoration researchers, practitioners, government officials, and others on a broad range of topics and themes related to ecological restoration. We also encourage submissions on new and emerging topics in the field, so don’t feel limited to this list!
Fan Video: View stunning changes to the Earth’s landscape
(If clicking on the link doesn’t work, try copying and pasting it into your browser and hit “enter.”)
Tools/resources on dealing with the economic/financial aspects of coastal climate change adaptation from EBM Tools Listserve that might be of interest:
- Neumann, J.E., DE. Hudgens, J. Herter, J. Martinich (2010). The economics of adaptation along developed coastlines. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews (WIREs) Climate Change, 2(1), 89-98. Accessed at: <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/wcc.90/full>.
- Martinich, J., J.E. Neumann, L. Ludwig, L. Jantarasami (2012). Risks of sea level rise to disadvantaged communities in the United States. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. Accessed at: <http://www.springerlink.com/content/x411112212347762/ >.
- Paul Kirshen, Samuel Merrill, Peter Slovinsky, Norman Richardson (2012). Simplified method for scenario-based risk assessment adaptation planning in the coastal zone Climatic Change. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-011-0379-z#page-1
- Economic Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Hazards and Climate Change: Building Resilience in the Barnegat Bay Region (http://bbp.ocean.edu/Reports/Leichenko-March2013_FinalReport%20with%20logos.pdf)
- The Horizontal Levee, The Bay Institute’s groundbreaking study about the economic value of tidal marshes, demonstrates conclusively that nature performs critical functions for society. During the current era of sea level rise, the forgotten marshlands of San Francisco Bay have become a critical adaptation tool.
Natural Resources Defense Council – San Francisco Bay Area
Posted: 01 May 2013 04:29 PM PDT
A new research paper reports that hot water recirculating systems touted as “green” actually use both more energy and water than their standard counterparts.
May 5, 2013 SF Chronicle As Tesla prepares to report its first quarterly profit, Fisker struggles and appears headed for bankruptcy
Tesla Motors posts first quarterly profit in its 10-year history
|Tesla Motors is producing about 400 cars a week at its Fremont, Calif., factory. Above, a Tesla employee works on a Model S, which starts at about $62,000. (David Paul Morris, Bloomberg / April 11, 2012)|
By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times May 9, 2013
For the first time in its 10 year history, electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. turned a quarterly profit, beating analysts expectations for sales of its pricey luxury sedans. The Palo Alto automaker on Wednesday reported net income of $11.2 million, or 12 cents a share, in the three month period that ended March 31. That’s up from a loss of $89.9 million, or 76 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts, on average, had predicted a profit of 4 cents a share. Tesla reported revenue of $561.8 million on record sales of 4,900 of its top-of-the-line Model S sedans. That surpassed the company’s forecast by more than 250 vehicles and prompted the automaker to raise its 2013 forecast. It now expects to sell about 21,000 of its Model S vehicles by the end of this year. “There was a lot of skepticism out there that the company would be able to reach that delivery mark,” said Elaine Kwei, an analyst with Jefferies & Co. “So the fact that they’re raising it — albeit moderately — shows they have visibility to not only hit the mark — but exceeded it. That gives investors additional confidence that the company can hit their targets.” Tesla shares surged in after-hours trading, up nearly $13.91, or 25%, to $69.70. For the quarter, Tesla was the top seller of rechargeable cars in North America, surging past Nissan Motor Co.‘s 3,695 deliveries of the Leaf and General Motors Co.‘s 4,421 sales of the Volt plug-in hybrid. That’s notable considering that Tesla vehicles command premium prices. The Model S starts at about $62,000 and can top $100,000, depending on trim level and options. The car is stylish and fast, boasting a zero-to-60 mph acceleration of less than six seconds. Wealthy, eco-conscious buyers are snapping up the company’s sedans as fast as the company can build them. The company sold 2,650 vehicles in 2012.
- OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST
Flame retardants, used in everyday products, may be toxic to children: Lower intelligence, hyperactivity seen
(May 6, 2013) — Chemicals called polybrominated diphenyl ethers have been used for decades to reduce fires in everyday products such as baby strollers, carpeting and electronics. A new study shows that prenatal exposure to the flame retardants is associated with lower intelligence and hyperactivity in early childhood. … > full story
Tom Steyer, Climate-Change Batman
|Businessweek||– May 7, 2013||
In last week’s issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, I wrote a short profile of Tom Steyer, the billionaire co-founder of Farallon Capital Management who left the hedge fund last year to devote his time and fortune to protecting earth’s climate. Steyer’s …
|Global Conference 2013
A Conversation with Al Gore: Six Drivers of Global Change
Posted: 07 May 2013 04:56 PM PDT
From Ireland to the Balkans, Europeans are basically one big family, closely related to one another for the past thousand years, according to a new study of the DNA of people from across the continent.
Posted: 07 May 2013 12:49 PM PDT
Fact or fiction? Stained glass found in medieval cathedrals becomes thicker at the bottom because glass moves over time. For years researchers have had their doubts, now scientists have further evidence that glass is not going anywhere.
|Do bats know voices of friends they hang out with? Bats may recognize voices of other bats
Posted: 07 May 2013 08:55 AM PDT
Is it possible that mammals have the ability to recognize individuals of the same species, whom they know well, by their voice? A new study has found that even in nocturnal, fast-moving animals such as bats, there is an ability to recognize certain vocal aspects of other bats from their social groups.
Parents who suck on their infants’ pacifiers may protect their children against developing allergy
Posted: 07 May 2013 07:31 AM PDT
Allergies are very common in industrialized countries. It has been suggested that exposure to harmless bacteria during infancy may be protective against the development of allergy. However, it has been difficult to pinpoint which bacteria a baby should be exposed to, and at what time and by which route this exposure should ideally occur.