Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Ellie Cohen, President and CEO, Point Blue Conservation Science

Conservation Science News February 14, 2014

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Focus of the WeekGreen Valentine’s Day; Using Water Wisely

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
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. 

Founded as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, 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- Green Valentine’s Day; Using Water Wisely

 

Sharing a green Valentine’s Day

Jared Blumenfeld Opinion SF Chronicle February 14, 2014

 

Jared Blumenfeld is the regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest Region.

 

Valentine’s Day has always been about sharing – with your partner, parents, children, community or even a total stranger. Sharing is a big part of what love is all about. My neighbor Henry has nearly every power tool that a grown man could want, and he generously shares them with me and others on our block, which means we don’t need to buy tools and let them sit idle in our garages.

 

By connecting with people, we are entering an era in which everything from a bicycle to a car to a power tool can be fully used by a network of users rather than just one owner. And that’s good news for our environment and our economy.

Bicycle- and car-sharing can happen informally between family and friends, but collaborative websites and organized programs now help us do the sharing. Last year, Bay Area Bike Share put 700 bicycles into curbside stations in five cities. The 350 bikes within San Francisco – half the fleet – are used 900 to 1,000 times per day. That translates into a significant decrease in traffic and tailpipe emissions.

 

Our cars sit idle 90 percent of the time, so sharing them can have a huge effect. For example, when miles driven in the United States dropped just 3 percent in 2008, road congestion declined 30 percent. Every shared ride is a win for our environment and our health, because less traffic means less stress.

 

When we no longer need items, instead of throwing them into the trash, it’s easy to sell or donate them. Online sales of used goods reached at least $16 billion last year, and more than 25,000 consignment and resale stores across the country generated an additional $13 billion. When Macklemore’s song about shopping for bargains at thrift shops hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts, I knew this “sharing economy” must be gaining steam.

 

Not only does donating your used clothes help the needy (and the trendy!), but every pound in the drop-off bin saves about 3.6 pounds of carbon dioxide and 725 gallons of water that would have been used to grow fibers and manufacture clothing. We can do a lot more – only about 15 percent of clothes in the United States are being recycled.

 

San Francisco, however, is doing something about it. Thanks to a partnership with Goodwill, the city is placing high-tech recycle bins in 100 condominiums and apartment buildings, with the goal of equipping all its high-rises by 2019. Built from recycled materials, each bin is equipped with devices that notify Goodwill when it’s full. Donated clothes will be resold, used in other textiles, or broken into fibers for use in products like insulation.

 

Did you realize that 15 percent of American households don’t know where their next meal is coming from? You can share food with those in need through donation programs, and you can encourage your local restaurants and businesses to donate canned goods to local food banks. More than 40 percent of

 

America’s food is wasted. When food ends up in a landfill, it generates methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases in the world.

 

By recycling and composting biodegradables, Americans cut more than 183 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year. This is equal to taking 34 million passenger cars off the road for a year – more than all the cars registered in California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii combined. And sharing doesn’t have to be limited to consumer goods.

 

The possibilities for sharing are limitless and sustainable, bringing environmental as well as social benefits. Through sharing, trusting relationships are formed. In the new sharing economy, nearly three-quarters of startup businesses rely on social networking features to find trusted contacts to share goods and services. Join me in sharing and reducing waste today and every day. Happy Green Valentine’s Day!

 

 

Using Water Wisely

California’s dry conditions renew the need to save water. Californians should pitch in and cut back on lawn watering, keep showers short, run only full loads in washing machines and dishwashers, fix leaks, and consider water-wise landscaping. For more tips on saving water, go to http://www.saveourh2o.org/ or view “Real People Real Savings” videos at http://www.saveourh2o.org/real-stories.

 

 

 

 

Relocating ‘nuisance’ animals often unhealthy for wildlife
(February 12, 2014) — The long-distance relocation of nuisance animals may appear to benefit both people and wildlife, but often the animals end up dead. Research suggests such human/animal conflicts are best solved with short-distance relocations instead. … > full story

Cities support more native biodiversity than previously thought
(February 12, 2014) — The rapid conversion of natural lands to cement-dominated urban centers is causing great losses in biodiversity. Yet, according to a new study involving 147 cities worldwide, surprisingly high numbers of plant and animal species persist and even flourish in urban environments — to the tune of hundreds of bird species and thousands of plant species in a single city. … > full story

Whales viewed from space: Satellite technology can be used to count whales
(February 12, 2014) — Scientists have demonstrated how new satellite technology can be used to count whales, and ultimately estimate their population size. Using Very High Resolution satellite imagery, alongside image processing software, they were able to automatically detect and count whales breeding in part of the Golfo Nuevo, Peninsula Valdes in Argentina. … > full story

 

Orcas of the California Coast: Deciphering the Culture of Killer Whales

by Sarah Allen
on January 13, 2014 Bay Nature Magazine California Academy of Sciences curator Moe Flannery also contributed to this article.

Photo by Tory Kallman

On a cold, blustery day in late February, a group of killer whales known as “K Pod” was detected swimming down the coast of Northern California from an area around Fort Bragg….But while killer whales are found in all of the world’s oceans, their lives in the wild are poorly understood, in part because there are tremendous differences between different groups of orcas….. Many orca researchers believe that there may be two new ecotypes in the eastern Pacific. An “L.A. Pod” was identified in the 1980 and ’90s near Los Angeles with individuals that are much smaller and display more superficial gashes compared to the other three ecotypes. (Members of this pod were filmed in 1997 just off the Farallon Islands attacking and killing a great white shark, a behavior not observed before or since in orcas.) And a research group led by Jaime Jahncke, a marine biologist with Point Blue Conservation Science, observed another previously unidentified pod of five killer whales during a research cruise in July 2013, directly west of the continental shelf near the Farallon Islands. The whales looked similar to Transients but members of the pod did not fit any of the photo-IDs for California. With the continued discovery and potential identification of new ecotypes, efforts to protect and restore these populations become both more illuminating and more challenging….

 

Delist gray wolf from threatened and endangered list? Panel issues report on science
(February 7, 2014) — As the Endangered Species Act celebrated its 40th anniversary at the end of 2013, its administrative agency, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, was mired in controversy. At issue was a proposal to remove the gray wolf (Canis lupus) from the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and add the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi). … > full story

New plant species a microcosm of biodiversity
(February 7, 2014) — Biologists working in the Andes mountains of Ecuador have described a new plant species, a wild relative of black pepper, that is the sole home of an estimated 40-50 insect species, most of which are entirely dependent on this plant species for survival. This discovery is part of a larger project which focuses on the influence of plant-produced chemical compounds on biodiversity. … > full story

 

Poaching threatens savannah ecosystems

EurekAlert (press release)

 - ‎February 12, 2014‎

       

White rhinoceros may be extinct in twenty years with the current poaching rates. The loss of this megaherbivore is in itself a tragedy, but it may also have tremendous effects on the ecosystems they now live in. The white rhino (Ceratotherium simum

 

Continued decline of African forest elephants, study shows
(February 12, 2014) — New data from the field in Central Africa shows that between 2002 and 2013, 65 percent of forest elephants were killed. They are being poached, for their ivory, at a shocking 9 percent per year. … > full story

 

Great tit can remember other birds’ food hideaways for up to 24 hours
(February 12, 2014) — Birds that hoard food for a rainy day better be sure that there are no great tits around to spy on where they hide their reserve of seeds and nuts. Biologists found that great tits can remember the position of such hideaways up to 24 hours after seeing it cached. Interestingly, even though great tits share this mental ability with well-known hoarders such as crows and jays, they do not store up food themselves. … > full story

 

Coffee growing: More biodiversity, better harvest
(February 10, 2014)Bees, birds and bats make a huge contribution to the high yields produced by coffee farmers around Mount Kilimanjaro — an example of how biodiversity can pay off. This effect has been described as result of a study now published in the “Proceedings of the Royal Society B”. It has been conducted by tropical ecologists of the University Würzburg Biocenter, jointly with colleagues from the LOEWE Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (BiK-F, Frankfurt/Main) and the Institute for experimental Ecology of the University of Ulm. A large amount of coffee is grown on Kilimanjaro, the East African massif almost 6000 meters high. The most traditional form of cultivation can be found in the gardens of the Chagga people. Hhere the sun-shy coffee trees and many other crop plants thrive in the shade of banana trees and other tall trees. However, the largest part of the coffee is grown on plantations. Usually, the plantations still feature a large number of shade trees. But these are progressively being chopped down because of the increasing replacement of “conventional coffee varieties, which rely on shade, by varieties that tolerate lots of sun and are more resistant to fungi,” explains Professor Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, a tropical ecologist at the University of Würzburg’s Biocenter. This crop intensification is expected to result in higher yields. The plantation harvests might however stagnate: If there are only few shade trees left, the habitat may become unsuitable for the animal species that pollinate the coffee, eat pests, and thereby help to improve the yield.… > full story

 
 
 

Hacking the environment: Bringing biodiversity hardware into the open
(February 11, 2014) — New technologies are changing the way we collect biodiversity data, providing low-cost and customizable alternative to expensive proprietary data loggers and sensors. A new article describes the construction of a data-logger using the Arduino platform in the hope of encouraging the adoption of new data collection technologies by biodiversity scientists and fostering new collaborations with both electronics hobbyists and electronical engineers. … > 
full story

   

Yellowstone Park May Have Bison Slaughtered By The Hundreds

By Laura Zuckerman Feb 11 (Reuters) – Yellowstone National Park managers are considering a plan that would ship hundreds of bison to slaughter if largee.

 
 

 

ABC and 200 Organizations Request Federal Feral Cat Management Policy

February 11, 2014

In a letter to Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, American Bird Conservancy and 200 organizations joined together to request that each agency within the Department develop a formal policy for the removal of feral cat colonies on public lands. Tasked with protecting America’s natural resources, it is incumbent upon the Department to establish a formal policy that recognizes the consequences of feral cats, a non-native invasive species, and imposes an effective management strategy.
The Wildlife Society and Society for Conservation Biology have also petitioned the Secretary for action on this critical conservation issue.

 

The Leopold Legacy

As the National Park Service prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary, the “Leopold Report” of 50 years ago remains influential, but much has also changed.

By Tom Persinger Winter 2014 American Forests


Aldo Leopold’s shack. Credit: Tom Persinger First protected in 1864, Yosemite became one of the first U.S. national parks in 1890. Currently, more than 3.7 million people visit each year. Credit: Arturo Yee

The shack I stand looking at on this cold winter day was once a run-down chicken coop on an abandoned farm on the Wisconsin River. But, in 1935, this place would become Aldo Leopold’s weekend family retreat, living laboratory and the site where he would write one of America’s most enduring environmental masterpieces, “A Sand County Almanac.” It is also the land that would shape each of his children’s lifelong pursuits and passions. Aldo Starker Leopold, Aldo’s oldest son, commonly called Starker, was already a young man by the time the Leopold family began their work to restore the farm to conditions resembling the days before its collapse from over-farming. Even so, his time and effort there would prove foundational. In this place, Starker cleared brush, planted pines, built the outhouse affectionately referred to as ”The Parthenon” and worked in his father’s living laboratory as they experimented with ways to manage wildlife. Starker would use these experiences and others to go on to a distinguished career as professor at University of California, Berkeley, author, forester, zoologist, conservationist and — perhaps most significantly — creator of the document that would shape over 50 years of National Park Service policy. So, my visit this morning to Leopold’s shack and through the Leopold Pines is a visit to hallowed ground. And it is the beginning of my journey to uncover more about how the document this place inspired has shaped the course of land management history.

THE LEOPOLD REPORT: PRESERVING WILDERNESS The report that would become one of the most significant in National Park Service history was born of a public relations disaster. In 1962, Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall tasked Starker Leopold with addressing the issue of wildlife population control in national parks. Udall’s request was formed in response to the public outcry brought upon by park personnel killing over 4,000 elk in Yellowstone National Park in the winter of 1961….. “Revisiting Leopold” offers what it calls the precautionary principle as a tool moving forward in the face of that uncertainty. It “requires that stewardship decisions reflect science-informed prudence and restraint.” Moving forward is never easy, and moving forward into the unknown can be paralyzing without the toolset and method with which to do so. Toward its end, “Revisiting Leopold” offers a few steps toward the effective implementation of its policy recommendations.

Considering the size and scope of NPS operations, it will be interesting to see how these recommendations are utilized to guide and develop future policy decisions. A leaner, more efficient organization is desirable, but could be difficult to achieve considering the current lack of financial support. Equally interesting to see will be if these recommendations prove to have the same staying power and long-term vision as Leopold’s initial report…..

 

 

Point Blue
in the news:

 

Marin Snapshot: STRAW founder Rogers helps connect students with natural world

Marin Independent Journal 

February 9, 2014 

       

Laurette Rogers of Terra Linda is the founder and program director of Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed – STRAW – part of Point Blue Conservation Science (the former Point Reyes Bird Observatory)…. The goal is to connect students with the natural world by helping repair the environment….

 

 

 

El Niño may make 2014 the hottest year on record

20:00 10 February 2014 by Michael Slezak For similar stories, visit the Climate Change Topic Guide

Hold onto your ice lollies. Long-term weather forecasts are suggesting 2014 might be the hottest year since records began. That’s because climate bad-boy El Niño seems to be getting ready to spew heat into the atmosphere. An El Niño occurs when warm water buried below the surface of the Pacific rises up and spreads along the equator towards America. For nine months or more it brings rain and flooding to areas around Peru and Ecuador, and drought and fires to Indonesia and Australia. It is part of a cycle called the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. ….Previous predictions have relied on full climate models. Rather than using this traditional approach, Armin Bunde of Justus Liebig University in Giessen, Germany, and his colleagues looked at the strength of the link between air temperature over the equator and air temperature in the rest of the Pacific. The records showed that, in the year before each El Niño, the two regions became more closely linked, meaning their temperatures became more similar than at other times. The team also found that, once these atmospheric links reached a critical strength, around 75 per cent of the time an El Niño developed within a year (PNAS, doi.org/rdn). “There is certainly a correlation between the cooperative mode in the atmosphere that we measure and the onset of an El Niño event,” says Bunde. Nobody knows why. Now they say the threshold was crossed in September 2013. “Therefore, the probability is 0.76 that El Niño will occur in 2014,” says Bunde. In other words, there is a 76 per cent chance of an El Niño this year. As a result of climate change 2014 is likely to be one of the hottest years on record. If El Niño does develop this year, it will make 2014 even hotter – maybe the hottest ever, says Cai. But since El Niño normally straddles two calendar years, it might give 2015 that title. “It is possible, but not a sure thing. It can be tipped over either way by other variability.”

An increasing number of climate models are now predicting El Niño this year too. It is unclear whether it will be an extreme El Niño like the 1998 event, which is thought to have killed tens of thousands. But Cai thinks an extreme El Niño is unlikely because longer-term variability in the Pacific’s weather is suppressing it.

 

Meeting the eye-witnesses of ocean change
(February 12, 2014)Scientists are developing a model that links ecosystem changes triggered by ocean acidification and climate change with their economic and societal
consequences.
Members of the German research network BIOACID (Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification) are developing a model that links ecosystem changes triggered by ocean acidification and climate change with their economic and societal consequences. Workshops and interviews with stakeholders from the Norwegian fishing industry and tourism sector, the government and environmental organisations help them to identify key aspects for their assessment. During the past ten years, scientists have learned a lot about the effects of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems. It has become obvious that with rising carbon dioxide emissions from human activities, oceans absorb larger amounts of this greenhouse gas and become more acidic. The increase of acidity, rising water temperatures and other stressors may alter marine ecosystems dramatically — with consequences for economy and society. Do stakeholders of the economic sectors which depend on the sea already observe signs of ocean change? Which are their most urgent questions towards science? Within the framework of the German research network BIOACID (Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification), scientists from the University of Bremen investigated stakeholders’ state of knowledge and identified focal points for further research. Between March and November 2013, they held workshops and interviewed more than 30 Norwegian fishers, representatives from fishing associations, aquaculture, tourism, environmental organisations and governmental agencies. They aim to develop a model that yields insights into the overall impacts of ocean change for ecosystems and the services they provide to human societies. “Taking a systems view can help to analyse socio-economic impacts of ocean acidification and find ways to mitigate them and adapt to them,” Dr. Stefan Gößling-Reisemann, researcher at the Sustainability Research Center (artec) at the University of Bremen explains. … > full story

 

**Ocean acidification and warming in the Norwegian and Barents Seas: impacts on marine ecosystems and human uses – stakeholder consultation report

 
 
 

Credit: NOAA

Climate models show carbon emission mitigation could slow Arctic temperature increases

Monday, January 27, 2014

NOAA-led research using climate model projections concludes the Arctic climate will continue to show major changes over the next decades, but that carbon emission mitigation could slow temperature changes in the second half of the century, according to a paper published by AGU’s Earth’s Future.

We are already seeing and should expect to see continued dramatic changes in the Arctic, where temperature increases are occurring faster than in the mid-latitudes due to greenhouse gases combined with multiple local physical feedbacks,” said James Overland, Ph.D., the lead author from NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. “But we can potentially slow the rate of climate change in the second half of the century if we mitigate global carbon emissions.”… Climate model projections show an Arctic-wide end-of-century temperature increase of +13 Celsius in late fall and +5 Celsius in late spring if the status quo continues and current emissions increase without a mitigation scenario. In contrast, the mean temperature projection would be +7 Celsius in late fall and +3 Celsius in late spring by the end of the century if a mitigation scenario to reduce emissions is followed, concludes the paper titled, “Future Arctic Climate Changes: Adaptation and Mitigation Timescales.”

fisheries, vegetation and wildlife. Arctic sea ice volume has already While models show that mitigation could slow the changes in temperature, changes that are expected to continue include additional months of open water in the Arctic Ocean, ever earlier snow melt, further loss of permafrost, increased economic access, and dramatic impacts on ecological systems, including decreased by 75 percent since the 1980s. The mean Arctic temperature is 1.5 Celsius higher today than it was for the period from 1971-2000, double the warming that has occurred in the lower latitudes.

 

Arctic Autumns On Track To Warm A Staggering 23°F [by end of century], NOAA Warns

By Joe Romm on February 13, 2014 at 5:02 pm

“Climate models show carbon emission mitigation could slow Arctic temperature increases.” That is NOAA’s glass-is-half-full-of-ice headline for a new study that finds we are on track for mind-boggling Arctic warming this century. Since that “dog bites man” headline is essentially self-evident, the story didn’t get much pick up. NOAA buried the bombshell lede: Climate model projections show an Arctic-wide end-of-century temperature increase of +13° Celsius [23°F!] in late fall and +5° Celsius [9°F] in late spring if the status quo continues and current emissions increase without a mitigation scenario. …

 

 

Arctic marine mammals are ecosystem sentinels
(February 13, 2014) — As the Arctic continues to see dramatic declines in seasonal sea ice, warming temperatures and increased storminess, the responses of marine mammals can provide clues to how the ecosystem is responding to these physical drivers. … > full story

 

Reindeer counteract certain effects of climate change
(February 13, 2014)

One of the consequences of a warmer climate can be that lowland and southern plants migrate higher up in the mountains. Ecologist Elina Kaarlejärvi shows in her thesis that reindeer, voles and hare can prevent these invasions. Elina Kaarljeärvi concludes that climate warming does not always automatically lead to increased plant biomass, invasions of new species and shrubification in tundra, opposite to previous predictions.

 

A colony of thick-billed murres on Kippaku, northwest Greenland. Historically, overharvest has been the largest threat to Arctic biodiversity, but with few exceptions, overharvest is no longer a primary threat to Arctic biodiversity. The marked decrease in populations of Thick-billed murres in Greenland is one of the worst remaining examples. Credit: Knud Falk

Arctic Biodiversity Under Serious Threat from Climate Change

Feb. 14, 2014 — Climate change caused by human activities is by far the worst threat to biodiversity in the Arctic. Some of these changes are already visible. Unique and irreplaceable Arctic wildlife and landscapes are crucially at risk due to global warming caused by human activities according to a new report prepared by 253 scientists from 15 countries. “An entire bio-climatic zone, the high Arctic, may disappear. Polar bears and the other highly adapted organisms cannot move further north, so they may go extinct. We risk losing several species forever,” says Hans Meltofte of Aarhus University, chief scientist of the report. From the iconic polar bear and elusive narwhal to the tiny Arctic flowers and lichens that paint the tundra in the summer months, the Arctic is home to a diversity of highly adapted animal, plant, fungal and microbial species. All told, there are more than 21,000 species. Maintaining biodiversity in the Arctic is important for many reasons. For Arctic peoples, biodiversity is a vital part of their material and spiritual existence. Arctic fisheries and tourism have global importance and represent immense economic value. Millions of Arctic birds and mammals that migrate and connect the Arctic to virtually all parts of the globe are also at risk from climate change in the Arctic as well as from development and hunting in temperate and tropical areas. Marine and terrestrial ecosystems such as vast areas of lowland tundra, wetlands, mountains, extensive shallow ocean shelves, millennia-old ice shelves and huge seabird cliffs are characteristic to the Arctic. These are now at stake, according to the report. “Climate change is by far the worst threat to Arctic biodiversity. Temperatures are expected to increase more in the Arctic compared to the global average, resulting in severe disruptions to Arctic biodiversity some of which are already visible,” warns Meltofte. .. full story

 

Arctic Biodiversity Assessment: http://www.caff.is/publications/doc_download/229-arctic-biodiversity-assessment-2013-policy-summary-english

 

 

New maps reveal locations of species at risk as climate changes
(February 10, 2014)

In research published today in the journal Nature, CSIRO and an international team of scientists revealed global maps showing how fast and in which direction local climates are shifting. This new study points to a simpler way of looking at climatic changes and their likely effects on biodiversity.

 
 
 

As climate change unfolds over the next century, plants and animals will need to adapt or shift locations to track their ideal climate. “The maps show areas where plants and animals may struggle to find a new home in a changing climate and provide crucial information for targeting conservation efforts,” CSIRO’s Dr Elvira Poloczanska said. The study analyzed 50 years of sea surface and land temperature data (1960-2009) and also investigated two future scenarios for marine environments (‘business as usual’ and a 1.75°C temperature increase). The new maps show where new thermal environments are being generated and where existing environments may disappear. “The maps show us how fast and in which direction temperatures are shifting, and where climate migrants following them may hit barriers such as coastlines. Our work shows that climate migration is far more complex than a simple shift towards the poles,” ecological geographer with the project Kristen Williams said. “Across Australia, species are already experiencing warmer temperatures. In terrestrial habitats, species have started to seek relief by moving to higher elevations, or further south. However, some species of animals and plants cannot move large distances, and some not at all.”….

Speed and direction of climate shifts over the past 50 years in Australia.Credit: Image courtesy of CSIRO Australia

 

 

 

Warming pause due ‘to winds’

GRAHAM LLOYD
The Australian
February 10, 2014 12:00AM

THE pause in global warming — in which average global surface temperatures have not increased for more than a decade — is real but can be explained by stronger trade winds in the Pacific Ocean, says a landmark paper published today in Nature Climate Change. The paper claims the strong trade winds that pushed heat deeper into the ocean explained why climate models had not matched the physical observations on global temperatures, a key area of dispute between climate scientists and sceptics….

 

Recent intensification of wind-driven circulation in the Pacific and the ongoing warming hiatus

Matthew H. England, et al, Nature Climate Change(2014) doi:10.1038/nclimate2106 Published online 09 February 2014

Abstract

ReferencesAuthor informationSupplementary information

Despite ongoing increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases, the Earth’s global average surface air temperature has remained more or less steady since 2001. A variety of mechanisms have been proposed to account for this slowdown in surface warming. A key component of the global hiatus that has been identified is cool eastern Pacific sea surface temperature, but it is unclear how the ocean has remained relatively cool there in spite of ongoing increases in radiative forcing. Here we show that a pronounced strengthening in Pacific trade winds over the past two decades—unprecedented in observations/reanalysis data and not captured by climate models—is sufficient to account for the cooling of the tropical Pacific and a substantial slowdown in surface warming through increased subsurface ocean heat uptake. The extra uptake has come about through increased subduction in the Pacific shallow overturning cells, enhancing heat convergence in the equatorial thermocline. At the same time, the accelerated trade winds have increased equatorial upwelling in the central and eastern Pacific, lowering sea surface temperature there, which drives further cooling in other regions. The net effect of these anomalous winds is a cooling in the 2012 global average surface air temperature of 0.1–0.2 °C, which can account for much of the hiatus in surface warming observed since 2001. This hiatus could persist for much of the present decade if the trade wind trends continue, however rapid warming is expected to resume once the anomalous wind trends abate.

 

Eider duck population declining in Arctic as polar bears devour eggs

An Arctic duck is at risk because polar bears have developed a newfound appetite for their eggs, scientists say.

Dreamstime Image –The Eider duck populations in Nunavut and Nunavik, Que., are declining partly because the bears have been eating more of their eggs, which are laid on the southern coasts of Baffin Island and Southampton Island.

By: Anita Li Staff Reporter, Published on Wed Jan 25 2012

An Arctic duck is at risk because polar bears have developed a newfound appetite for their eggs, scientists say. The eider populations in Nunavut and Nunavik, Que., are declining partly because the bears have been eating more of their eggs, which are laid on the southern coasts of Baffin Island and Southampton Island. “The bears were essentially eating every single egg on the island(s),” said Samuel Iverson, a field researcher with Environment Canada. “We are seeing just major nest depredation.” Over the past three decades, climate change has caused sea ice to disappear, making it more difficult for polar bears to hunt for seals, their primary prey. To compensate, the bears have been raiding eider nests for food. “These bears might be energy-deficient and more willing to consume resources, which before, weren’t very important to them, but now are piquing the bears’ interest in a way that they haven’t in the past,” he said. “The number of colonies where we saw this happening was much higher than anybody has ever recorded before.” But eating a diet of eggs isn’t enough to sustain the polar bear population in the long-term, Iverson added…..

 

A female polar bear with two cubs raids an island colony of common eider ducks in Nunavut. Photo by Steve Marson.

Climate change becomes a rapid, unplanned survival experiment for animal species

Elizabeth Harball, E&E reporter ClimateWire: Friday, February 7, 2014

… climate change is like a massive, unplanned experiment, one that may be too fast and strange for some species to survive it. Some animals are already in the middle of it. As Arctic ice shelves melt, polar bears are ransacking seabird nests to sustain themselves. Migrating geese are exploring valuable but previously unseen real estate, due to melting permafrost…. “For most bears, over 95 percent of their energetic needs are met by ringed seals and bearded seals,” polar bear expert Andrew Derocher, of the University of Alberta’s Department of Biological Sciences, said in an email. According to Derocher, hundreds of bears that once spent most of their lives on ice are now confined to land during the summer, forcing them to seek out new food sources. A study published this week found bears have increasingly turned to bird eggs in a last-ditch effort to fatten up.
Since the 1980s, researchers concluded, bear raids on colonies of two different bird species in northern Quebec have increased sevenfold. Unlike foxes, the birds’ usual predators in the region, polar bears swim to islands that host large colonies of nesting birds and proceed to tromp through and eat massive quantities of eggs, said Sam Iverson, lead author of the study and a Ph.D. candidate at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. “When bears came on, we generally saw a total reproductive failure on colonies,” Iverson said. “With less ice, more frequent visits by bears is an increasing problem.” Iverson doubts this shift in bear diets will threaten the species he studied with extinction — other colonies exist in Maine and Europe — but he does expect significant local population declines. However, species with more limited habitat, like some seabirds, may not be so lucky, he said. Even unluckier are the polar bears, as bird eggs are unlikely to make up for the species’s inability to access seals.Our energetics modeling suggest that birds cannot make a meaningful contribution to a polar bear population,” Derocher said. “To the individual bear, the energy return might be meaningful, but you can’t feed [more than] 2,000 bears on bird eggs.”….

 

But there are some winners as the climate shifts — at least for now. In the northern regions of Alaska, a habitat newly created by climate change is driving a game of musical chairs among visiting geese. What is likely a combination of rising temperatures, more powerful storm surges, sea-level rise and land subsidence has transformed portions of Alaska’s Arctic Coastal Plain. Thawing permafrost near the ocean shore has given way to expanses of short-leafed, salt-tolerant plant species. They are forming salt marshes that more closely resemble a golf green than the Arctic tundra — habitat that happens to be perfect for black brant geese.

 


Longer ice-free seasons increase the risk of nest depredation by polar bears for colonial breeding birds in the Canadian Arctic



Samuel A. Iverson et al+ Author Affiliations

Published 5 February 2014 doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.3128 Proceedings of the Royal Society B 22 March 2014 vol. 281 no. 1779 20133128

Abstract: Northern polar regions have warmed more than other parts of the globe potentially amplifying the effects of climate change on biological communities. Ice-free seasons are becoming longer in many areas, which has reduced the time available to polar bears (Ursus maritimus) to hunt for seals and hampered bears’ ability to meet their energetic demands. In this study, we examined polar bears’ use of an ancillary prey resource, eggs of colonial nesting birds, in relation to diminishing sea ice coverage in a low latitude region of the Canadian Arctic. Long-term monitoring reveals that bear incursions onto common eider (Somateria mollissima) and thick-billed murre (Uria lomvia) nesting colonies have increased greater than sevenfold since the 1980s and that there is an inverse correlation between ice season length and bear presence. In surveys encompassing more than 1000 km of coastline during years of record low ice coverage (2010–2012), we encountered bears or bear sign on 34% of eider colonies and estimated greater egg loss as a consequence of depredation by bears than by more customary nest predators, such as foxes and gulls. Our findings demonstrate how changes in abiotic conditions caused by climate change have altered predator–prey dynamics and are leading to cascading ecological impacts in Arctic ecosystems.

 

Missing monsoon lead to ‘years without a summer’
(February 13, 2014) — Why do cold, rainy summers in Europe follow intense volcanic eruptions in the tropics? A research team may have found the answer: volcanic emissions in the atmosphere block sunlight and can thereby affect the amount of precipitation in other parts of the world. … > full story

 

Flood waters ‘could last for months.’ BBC Groundwater levels are so high in some parts of the U.K. that flooding is likely to persist for weeks or even months, experts say. A scientist with the British Geological Survey said levels were likely to keep rising even if there was no more rain as so much water was soaking through the soil.

 

Met Office: Evidence ‘suggests climate change link to storms’

BBC News 

February 8, 2014

       

Climate change is likely to be a factor in the extreme weather that has hit much of the UK in recent months, the Met Office’s chief scientist has said.

 

Lion Tamarins versus climate change Scientific American February 10, 2014

Ecologically speaking, humans maintain a pretty broad niche. We can adapt to live just about anywhere. Most other species aren’t that lucky. Take the four species of lion tamarins, for example. Many tamarin populations are currently stuck in small pockets of forest, surrounded by developed land.

 

ADAPTATION: Israel is creating a water surplus using desalination

Julia Pyper, E&E reporter ClimateWire: Friday, February 7, 2014

Part four of a four-part series. Read parts one,
two and three.

SEDE BOQER, Israel — In the land of milk and honey, water has always been in short supply. Researchers here have linked temperature rise and drought to migration patterns across this arid region dating back to biblical times. Now, for the first time in its history, Israel is on track to experience a water surplus. Israel, a largely arid country with a history of few natural resources, is experiencing a clean technology boom. This series explores how it is becoming a global market leader. The tricky part is scaling up the chemistry and reducing the cost of separating salt from seawater. The first major desalination plant in Israel opened in the southern city of Ashkelon in 2005. Since then, four more large-scale seawater desalination plants have come online, with additional capacity in the pipeline. In the span of a decade, desalination has come to produce about 40 percent of Israel’s water supply. On its current trajectory, Israel will have access to more than 600 million cubic meters of desalinated water per year by 2015, which amounts to more than half the country’s total freshwater needs. Desalination has led to a resource revolution in Israel, said Shlomo Wald, chief scientist at the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources. “Now, Israel isn’t always dependent on the mercy of God to give us rain,” he said…..

 

 

Central Valley farmers face higher costs, tough choices

California drought a ‘train wreck’ for Central Valley farms

By David Perlman SF Chronicle February 8, 2014

California’s great Central Valley aquifer and the rivers that feed it, already losing water in the changing climate, are now being drained because of the drought, leaving water levels at their lowest in nearly a decade.
Water experts say many farmers who depend on the huge water source beneath the valley for irrigation will have to resort to pumping water from ever deeper levels at greater costs, even as they plant crops on fewer and fewer acres as more of their land is gobbled up for development.
The combination of climate change, growth and groundwater depletion spells a train wreck,” said James Famiglietti, a water resource expert and director of the UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling at UC Irvine.
The aquifer holds water that runs into the valley from three great river systems – the Sacramento, the San Joaquin and the Tule Lake basins. It is the state’s major source of stored water and is primarily used for agriculture. But over the past two years, it has lost nearly 8 million acre-feet of the precious resource, Famiglietti’s research center reported last week.
“That’s equivalent to virtually all of California’s urban and household water use each year,” he said…..As water has been sucked more deeply from the aquifer, it has caused severe new land subsidence in many parts of the valley, Famiglietti’s report notes. The shifting land has caused sidewalks in many small valley towns to crack and casings to buckle on the wells that are being dug for more pumping.

The report comes just as the Department of Water Resources announced last week that it will be cutting off all deliveries from the State Water Project to local agencies and contractors serving 25 million people and 750,000 acres of farmland, a decision that is bound to put more pressure on pumping water from the Central Valley aquifer. To estimate the aquifer’s changing water levels, the Irvine center receives monthly gravity maps from a pair of twin orbiting satellites named Grace, for Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment. The satellites carry instruments that can sense minute variations in Earth’s gravitational pull caused by changing features of the land below. They detect – at least roughly – changes in the gravity of the Central Valley aquifer as its water content diminishes – both from pumping and from decreases in water from the great river basins that feed it. Launched in 2002, the satellites are expected to end their working lives within a year or two, and NASA and its international partners are planning a new mission to succeed the Grace spacecraft.

 

Online: More coverage at www.sfgate.com/drought.

 

California drought similar to historic drought in Texas
(February 10, 2014) — The worst drought ever to hit California could rival the historic 2011 drought that devastated Texas, says a Texas A&M University professor. … > full story

 

U.S. Southwest irrigation system facing decline after four centuries
(February 12, 2014)Communal irrigation systems known as acequias that have sustained farming villages in the arid southwestern United States for centuries are struggling because of dwindling snowmelt runoff and social and economic factors that favor modernism over tradition, a new study finds.
The results reflect similar changes around the world, where once isolated communities are becoming integrated into larger economies, which provide benefits of modern living but also the uncertainties of larger-scale market fluctuations. The study appears in the journal Global Environmental Change. Acequias evolved in the Middle East and Roman Empire and were introduced into the Americas by Spanish colonizers in the early 1600s. The term acequia refers to both communities of farmers as well as engineered irrigation canals that carry snowmelt-driven runoff to farm fields as a way for the agricultural communities to share a scarce resource in arid regions. The acequias system, which is common in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, provides a model of communal ownership that governs water rights, distribution, disputes and other issues. … > full story

 

North [SF] Bay wringing out after wet weekend

Kale Williams SF Chronicle Updated 8:16 am, Monday, February 10, 2014

(02-10) 08:15 PST SAN FRANCISCO — The Bay Area is drying out after a powerful weekend storm dropped large amounts of rain, especially in the North Bay. Mount Tamalpais was the big winner, receiving 20.86 inches of rain since Friday. Monte Rio, near Guerneville in Sonoma County, came in a close second with 20.17 inches, said Steve Anderson, a forecaster with the National Weather Service. Santa Rosa received a healthy dousing with 5.48 inches, bringing the total for the season to just over 9 inches, or 40 percent of average for this time of the rain year. The city was at only 12 percent of average as of Thursday. Rainfall totals dropped off sharply south of the Golden Gate, with San Francisco receiving 2.67 inches, Oakland clocking in at 1.27 inches and San Jose receiving only about a quarter of an inch…..

 

Service to Release Endangered Winter Chinook Salmon to the Sacramento River February 10

US Fish and Wildlife Service Sacramento February 7, 2014 – Approximately 193,000 broodyear 2013 winter Chinook salmon reared at Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery (NFH) in Shasta City, Calif., will be released Monday, February 10 into the Sacramento River at the Caldwell Park boat launch (river mile 299) in Redding, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today. Releases generally are timed to coincide with periods of rainfall, which increases flow and turbidity of rivers, enhancing survival of the fish as they make their way to the ocean. Although this is a record dry year in California this release will occur coincident to the storm hitting northern California this weekend to take advantage of the resultant increased flow and turbidity in the river.  Hatchery staff plans to release the fish at dusk at Caldwell Boat Launch. …

 

Sacramento rainfall record for date set; Folsom Lake rises over 2 feet

By Tillie Fong
tfong@sacbee.com Published: Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014 – 1:18 pm

Downtown Sacramento beat the record for the most rain in a 24-hour period for the date on Saturday, posting 1.29 inches.The previous record for Feb. 8 of 1.17 inches was set in 1985.

 

Eight Reasons for Optimism on Climate Change

Truth-Out 

February 9, 2014

       

By Michael Northrop

Climate change could have a crushing effect on the global economy, according to a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Nobel-Prize-winning committee of climate scientists from around the world. But there are reasons for hope, if we act quickly. Here are eight signs that it’s still possible to turn things around and create a low-carbon future.

1. We already know how to engineer zero-carbon buildings.These buildings generate at least as much energy as they consume. Developers like K.B. Homes have been building them in multiple states during the past several years. Experts estimate that more than 200 of these buildings have been built in the United States during the past five years. Within a few more, many thousands of these buildings will come online. California is requiring that all new residential buildings be net-zero in terms of emissions by 2020 and all new commercial buildings be net-zero by 2030. Other states are enacting tax credits to create incentives for similar building techniques.Net-zero buildings are just one example of a much larger trend nationwide toward energy efficiency. The Energy Information Agency, which tracks U.S. emissions, has shrunk its estimates of future energy use by buildings every year since 2005. The EIA’s projections for energy consumed by buildings in 2030 are now 40 percent lower than what they forecasted eight years ago.

2. We are finally entering the age of the electric car. Rules enacted during President Obama’s first term are ramping up the average fuel efficiency of passenger cars—from 30.5 to 54.5 miles per gallon between 2013 and 2025—and boosting the market for electric cars. Eight automobile companies have 14 electric vehicles available in the U.S. market. Sales of these vehicles nearly doubled in 2013.

3. We are using more renewables, and less coal, than ever before. Wind power development reached a new record in 2012: In the United States, we added 13,000 megawatts and invested $25 billion. Solar has also had two breakout years in a row. Installed solar in the United States more than doubled in 2012 to 7,000 megawatts, and grew by its largest margin ever in 2013 to more 10,000 megawatts by end of the third quarter, despite the low cost of natural gas Meanwhile, it’s more affordable than ever to install solar: The cost of panels has declined by 60 percent since the beginning of 2011. We have also finally learned how to finance solar, through mechanisms like solar leases that take away upfront installation costs as well as feed-in tariffs that allow purchasers of renewable energy equipment to receive a set price for the energy they put back into the grid.

4. States are showing that it’s possible to make policies that both cut carbon emissions and create jobs. California has already rolled out its cap-and-trade program to rein in carbon emissions. At the end of June, the governors of California, Oregon, and Washington and the premier of British Columbia announced that they intend to get the ball rolling on a clean energy program that will bring a million new jobs to the region. That program will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 percent or more.

5. Cities are facing the consequences of climate change and taking action. In the months since Superstorm Sandy, a growing chorus of mayors is leading American cities to prepare for climate change and become more resilient in the face of storms and sea-level rise. New York City has helped drive this effort with a plan for protecting its infrastructure and citizens. It has also commissioned a study to examine how best to reduce its carbon emissions by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

6. The president is ready to take action, at home and internationally. Barack Obama’s Treasury Department has announced that it will no longer contribute money coal-fired power plants funded by the World Bank. Meanwhile, Obama has put together a coalition of other nations willing to make the same commitment, including critical funders and board members of the World Bank. The Obama White House and State Department are also actively working with China and India to negotiate an agreement to prevent the use of hydrofluorocarbons, greenhouse gases that are more than 1,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Here in the United States, since President Obama announced his new climate plan last June, the EPA has begun making rules for carbon pollution from power plants. The plan also lays out several other big-ticket actions to increase energy efficiency in large trucks and trailers and reduce emissions of methane, another especially powerful greenhouse gas.

7. China wants clean air and clean energy. Emissions from coal plants kill 1.2 million people per year in China, according to the World Health Organization. Air pollution from coal-fired power plants has become a political liability for the country’s leadership and is driving a widespread call for change. Just five years ago, Chinese officials said the country’s carbon emissions would not begin dropping until 2030. Analysts at Citibank now predict that Chinese coal emissions are likely to peak this decade. This is not soon enough to rescue the climate, and many people are hoping to find ways to cut coal use even faster in China, as the country rapidly develops renewable energy. Not only is China now the largest manufacturer and exporter of solar and wind equipment; it is now installing these technologies at home much faster than anyone else. China built 10,000 megawatts of new solar in 2013, and will add another 12,000 megawatts in 2014, according to projections—much larger amounts than industry insiders anticipated even a year ago.

8. Renewable energy is on the rise around the world. Renewable sources will produce more power than natural gas and twice as much as nuclear by 2016, according to the International Energy Agency. For example, even Saudi Arabia, a nation synonymous with oil, is building 54,000 megawatts of new renewables for domestic energy consumption. Germany aims to get 80 percent of its power from renewables by 2050. Already, 25 percent of its grid is renewable.Germany’s renewable energy legislation has become a model for governments around the world. Nearly 100 governments, including China, India, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, 20 European nations, and a large number of regional and local governments worldwide, have enacted some version of the German feed-in tariffs.

These are major milestones, and this is an important moment. We are a long way from solving the climate problem, but the threads of success are coming together. We need to find a way to seize these opportunities, reduce our emissions, and dramatically expand the low-carbon economy during the next few years.

 

Olympians speak out on climate change as Sochi warms up

USA TODAY

 - ‎February 12, 2014‎

       

More than 100 winter Olympians, led by Americans, have signed a petition urging world leaders to fight climate change as balmy weather creates slushy conditions at the Sochi Games.

 

 

 

 

Why global water shortages pose threat of terror and war
February 9, 2014 London Observer

From California to the Middle East, huge areas of the world are drying up and a billion people have no access to safe drinking water. US intelligence is warning of the dangers of shrinking resources and experts say the world is ‘standing on a precipice’ ….

 

 

Sens. Feinstein, Boxer propose emergency drought legislation
February 12 2014 SF Chronicle

Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer proposed emergency drought legislation Tuesday as Democrats scrambled to counter GOP charges that trying to save rivers and fish during California’s historic drought is destroying the nation’s chief source of fruits and vegetables.

 

Obama to unveil drought aid package to California during trip to Fresno

By Jessica Calefati Posted:   02/14/2014

SACRAMENTO — When President Obama visits Fresno this afternoon to discuss California’s historic drought, he will open the federal government’s checkbook and make tens of millions of dollars in aid available to struggling farmers and communities.

Obama will unveil a $183 million aid package that includes money for ranchers in California who have lost livestock, communities that are running out of water and farmers that need help conserving scarce water resources. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the president aims to deliver a “message of hope” to Californians and assure them that the federal government will do all it can to alleviate stress brought on by the drought. “We’re trying to send a very specific message to producers that we are here to help to the extent that we can,” Vilsack said. Starting in April, Central Valley ranchers will be able to apply for $100 million in livestock disaster assistance funding that was approved by Congress in the 2014 Farm Bill. They can use the money to replace livestock who have died or purchase feed. Normally, it takes more than a year for rachers to get access to those relief funds, Vilsack said.

Ranchers and farmers will both have access to $5 million in U.S. Agriculture Department funds to implement water conservation programs, reduce wind erosion on drought-impacted fields and improve the acess of livestock to water. Another $10 million will go to farmers and ranchers in other drought-impacted states for the same purpose. Projects to stabilize dry stream banks will get $5 million in federal funds, and small community water districts set to run out of water in the next 60 to 120 days will be able to apply for a total of $3 million in grants. Vilsack said Obama is also committed to helping individuals and families feeling the drought’s pain. The president will make $60 million in Agriculture Department funds available to food banks in California’s driest towns, and students who qualify for free and reduced price lunch during the school year will be able to eat meals at 600 locations in drought-stricken areas this summer.

 

States explore green banks to reduce risk of clean energy projects

Daniel Lippman, E&E reporter ClimateWire: Monday, February 10, 2014

After funding fiascos like Solyndra and facing constant political attacks on government clean energy investments, renewable energy advocates are now zeroing in on so-called green banks to finance clean energy projects and to get states to cut fossil fuel use. To that end, the Coalition for Green Capital has launched the Green Bank Academy to begin teaching interested states how to move toward a green bank model pioneered by Connecticut and more recently New York. “There are major financing gaps in almost all clean energy markets, and you know something has to give, since the whole subsidy-based develop-deployment model of the last decade is really probably collapsing, and not only are generous subsidies under widespread threat of attack, but in fact they’ve already been severely downsized,” said Mark Muro, a senior fellow and director of policy for the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. Federal support for clean tech is dropping sharply, declining to a projected $11 billion in 2014 compared with $44 billion in 2009, the year of the stimulus package, according to a Brookings paper. A green bank is essentially a quasi-government agency that uses a small amount of taxpayer or ratepayer dollars and leverages that money to lure in private capital to invest in energy efficiency or clean tech projects; low-cost loans are often used to achieve the banks’ objective. The goal is to reduce the risk of these energy projects to encourage private finance to step in….

 

New Poll: Most Republicans Want To Regulate Carbon Pollution

By Ryan Koronowski on February 12, 2014

And the vast majority of Americans believe the U.S. should take action to reduce global warming, regardless of any perceived cost to the economy.

 

 

 

 

 

Mechanism of crude oil heart toxicity on fish revealed from oil spill research
(February 13, 2014) — While studying the impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on tuna, a research team discovered that crude oil interrupts a molecular pathway that allows fish heart cells to beat effectively. The components of the pathway are present in the hearts of most animals, including humans. … > full story

 

A new way to measure energy efficiency that counts what you use the energy for Fast Company

Instead of grading buildings on how much energy they use, engineering consultancy Buro Happold has come up with a more nuanced measure of energy efficiency: whether every bit of energy consumed is being put to good use. …

 

 

Plastic shopping bags make a fine diesel fuel
(February 12, 2014) — Plastic shopping bags, an abundant source of litter on land and at sea, can be converted into diesel, natural gas and other useful petroleum products, researchers report. The conversion produces significantly more energy than it requires and results in transportation fuels — diesel, for example — that can be blended with existing ultra-low-sulfur diesels and biodiesels. … > full story

 

Drought threatens California’s hydroelectricity supply, but solar makes up the gap. San Jose Mercury News
Despite last week’s showers, the lack of rain in California this winter is having a dire impact on the rivers and reservoirs that power the state’s hydroelectricity plants.

 

 

Are wind farms changing Europe’s climate?
(February 11, 2014) — The development of wind farms in Europe only has an extremely limited impact on the climate at the continental scale, and this will remain true until at least 2020. These are the main conclusions of a new study. … > full story

 

 

  1. RESOURCES and REFERENCES

 
 

American Security Project Takes on the National Security Challenges of Climate change

National Security and Climate Change

February 11, 2014

Today, members of the American Security Project’s Consensus for American Security, Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret.) and Rear Admiral Dr. David Titley, USN (Ret.), are visiting Pittsburgh, PA as part of a nationwide tour with the goal of educating the American public on the risks of climate change in light of national security. BGen Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret.) said, “the debate regarding climate change is no longer one about existence – but one about action. This debate must consider critical areas like national security and foreign relations, in addition to the environment.”
Key factors regarding climate security include:

-        Climate change poses a clear threat to U.S. homeland security

-        Global threats as a result of climate change include climate refugees, resource conflict, and reduced food production

-        Climate change acts as an accelerant of instability and a threat multiplier

-        Current military forces can act as effective risk managers

-        Steps are being put into place in order to mitigate the damage of climate change

ASP Senior Fellow, Andrew Holland, stated, “We are past the time for a false debate about causes. It is now time for a debate about action. We know that the military is planning for climate change – it is time for the rest of the country to do so as well. “In addition to a public event at Washington & Jefferson College, ASP will be conducting meetings at The University of Pittsburgh, in addition to a podcast at the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh and a dinner with the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2754.

Find out more at www.NationalSecurityandClimateChange.org

The events will be broadcasted over social media at: @NatSecClimate #PittClimate –

 

 

WEBINARS:

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….:  http://www.dfg.ca.gov/Climate_and_Energy/Climate_Change/Climate_College/

 

 

Vulnerability Assessment for Focal Resources of the Sierra NevadaFebruary 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.

 

 

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). …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

 

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

 

Cartographic Design for Geographic Information Systems (GIS)March 14-15, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Center for Integrated Spatial Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz– The Elkhorn Slough Coastal Training Program

Registration fee: $500 Teacher: Tim Norris, Cartography Consultant, PhD Candidate

 

WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT  2014 Conference

North (SF) 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

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

 

EARTH DAY 2014

Stanford experts from a range of disciplines will discuss the interconnections and interactions among humanity’s need for and use of climate, energy, food, water, and environmental resources. The day will feature key authors of the new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability to climate change. Professor Chris Field, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II, and members of the Technical Support Group will provide an overview of their major findings. Stanford students and faculty will lead an interactive breakout session on key challenges associated with climate change. A faculty panel—representing WG I, WG II and WG III—will connect the dots by evaluating some of the ways in which decisions in one resource area can lead to tradeoffs or co-benefits in others. Finally a keynote speaker will consider the impacts, adaptation and vulnerability of climate change for the Bay Area, which has billions of dollars invested in shoreline development and infrastructure. Registration is free – required.

Confirmed Speakers

 

Southern Sierra Fire and Hydroclimate Workshop

April 22-24, 2014 Yosemite Valley, CA

This workshop is focused on developing an integrated view of the physical landscape, climate effects, hydrology and fire regimes of the Sierra Nevada.

 

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

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

 

Scenario Planning toward Climate Change Adaptation (pdf) WORKSHOP May 6-8, 2014 NCTC, Shepherdstown, West Virginia

This overview course will introduce the core elements of scenario planning and expose participants to a diversity of approaches and specific scenario development techniques that incorporate both qualitative and quantitative components.

 

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

Western Rivers Conservancy Lands Director

Golden Gate Audubon is looking for a new Executive Director

San Francisco Estuary Institute-ASC Executive Director Filing date: Sunday, February 16, 2014.

Senior Project Manager:  Position open until filled. More information.

Vegetation & Fire Ecologist Marin County- . Closes 2/18/2014

 

 

 

BOOKS:

 


‘The Sixth
Extinction,’ by Elizabeth Kolbert – San Francisco
Chronicle



San Francisco Chronicle Review by Mary Ellen Hannibal Updated 5:03 pm, Friday, February 7, 2014.

“There is grandeur in this view of life,” concludes Charles Darwin in his opus “On the Origin of Species.” “… From so simple a beginning, endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.” Darwin was right about many things, including the mechanism by which the plenitude of life we know as biodiversity came to thrive on this planet. Unfortunately for us, his picture of a continuously rich congregation of interacting species has hit a big roadblock. New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert lays out the situation in “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.” The activities of Homo sapiens – that’s right, us – are reducing the volume and kinds of other life-forms on the planet at a rate and magnitude that earn our moment in time its own epochal designation. By 2016, it is expected that the inherently conservative Geological Society of London will make it official: We’re living in an Anthropocene of our own devising. In her elegant and quickly paced book, Kolbert reviews the history of the very concept of extinction, noting that neither Aristotle nor Pliny nor Linnaeus ever guessed there had been life-forms on Earth that no longer exist….

 

….It is not possible to overstate the importance of Kolbert’s book. Her prose is lucid, accessible and even entertaining as she reveals the dark theater playing out on our globe. It is enough for one book to cover the enormous swaths of scientific territory she does here. Still, I would have liked more reference and explanation of how this accelerated take-down of creatures causes even more negative effects than the immediate one of species loss. For example, here in North America, the loss of top predators (grizzly bears and wolves) exacerbates our current ecological woes. On the East Coast, superabundant deer are decimating forests and in some communities have to be culled by hunters. These deer also bring us proliferating ticks and Lyme disease. In the West, the lack of big teeth on the landscape actually has an impact on the water system, since the over-browsing deer and elk erode the banks of creeks and rivers, and pave the way for invasive plants to further degrade nature’s operations there. Finally, while there is probably no hope for many of the Earth’s creatures no matter what we do right now, we certainly can stem this extinction crisis. With any hope, Kolbert’s readers will not be able to sleep until we all do our part to protect habitat for our co-travelers through what Darwin rightly called Earth’s grandeur. As climate change forces species to adjust how and where they live, we can help them by protecting enough natural places for them to do so.

 

Mary Ellen Hannibal is the author of “The Spine of the Continent: The Race to Save America’s Last, Best Wilderness,” and winner of Stanford’s Knight-Risser Prize in Western Environmental Journalism. E-mail: books@sfchronicle.com

 

 

NY TIMES SUNDAY BOOK REVIEW

Without a Trace –’The Sixth Extinction,’ by Elizabeth Kolbert

By AL GORE FEB. 10, 2014

Over the past decade, Elizabeth Kolbert has established herself as one of our very best science writers. She has developed a distinctive and eloquent voice of conscience on issues arising from the extraordinary assault on the ecosphere, and those who have enjoyed her previous works like “Field Notes From a Catastrophe” will not be disappointed by her powerful new book, “The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.”

Kolbert, a staff writer at The New Yorker, reports from the front lines of the violent collision between civilization and our planet’s ecosystem: the Andes, the Amazon rain forest, the Great Barrier Reef — and her backyard. In lucid prose, she examines the role of man-made climate change in causing what biologists call the sixth mass extinction — the current spasm of plant and animal loss that threatens to eliminate 20 to 50 percent of all living species on earth within this century. Extinction is a relatively new idea in the scientific community. Well into the 18th century, people found it impossible to accept the idea that species had once lived on earth but had been subsequently lost. Scientists simply could not envision a planetary force powerful enough to wipe out forms of life that were common in prior ages.

In the same way, and for many of the same reasons, many today find it inconceivable that we could possibly be responsible for destroying the integrity of our planet’s ecology. There are psychological barriers to even imagining that what we love so much could be lost — could be destroyed forever. As a result, many of us refuse to contemplate it. Like an audience entertained by a magician, we allow ourselves to be deceived by those with a stake in persuading us to ignore reality. For example, we continue to use the world’s atmosphere as an open sewer for the daily dumping of more than 90 million tons of gaseous waste. If trends continue, the global temperature will keep rising, triggering “world-altering events,” Kolbert writes. According to a conservative and unchallenged calculation by the climatologist James Hansen, the man-made pollution already in the atmosphere traps as much extra heat energy every 24 hours as would be released by the explosion of 400,000 Hiroshima-class nuclear bombs. The resulting rapid warming of both the atmosphere and the ocean, which Kolbert notes has absorbed about one-third of the carbon dioxide we have produced, is wreaking havoc on earth’s delicately balanced ecosystems. It threatens both the web of living species with which we share the planet and the future viability of civilization. “By disrupting these systems,” Kolbert writes, “we’re putting our own survival in danger.” The earth’s water cycle is being dangerously disturbed, as warmer oceans evaporate more water vapor into the air. Warmer air holds more moisture (there has been an astonishing 4 percent increase in global humidity in just the last 30 years) and funnels it toward landmasses, where it is released in much larger downpours, causing larger and more frequent floods and mudslides…..

 

“People change the world,” Kolbert writes, and she vividly presents the science and history of the current crisis. Her extensive travels in researching this book, and her insightful treatment of both the history and the science all combine to make “The Sixth Extinction” an invaluable contribution to our understanding of present circumstances, just as the paradigm shift she calls for is sorely needed. Despite the evidence that humanity is driving mass extinctions, we have been woefully slow to adopt the necessary measures to solve this global environmental challenge. Our response to the mass extinction — as well as to the climate crisis — is still controlled by a hopelessly outdated view of our relationship to our environment. Fortunately, history is full of examples of our capacity to overcome even the most difficult challenges whenever a controversy is finally resolved into a choice between what is clearly right and what is clearly wrong. The anomalies Kolbert identifies are too glaring to ignore. She makes an irrefutable case that what we are doing to cause a sixth mass extinction is clearly wrong. And she makes it clear that doing what is right means accelerating our transition to a more sustainable world.

 

 

 

 

Thinking Like a Planet: The Land Ethic and the Earth Ethic

Environmental Philosopher Baird Callicott has recently published a new book entitled Thinking Like a Planet: The Land Ethic and the Earth Ethic, now available from Oxford University Press. In this book, Callicott develops a new moral philosophy that is capable of engaging the most urgent and otherwise intractable ethical concern of the first century of the new millennium: global climate change. He updates and expands Aldo Leopold’s land ethic to make it relevant to contemporary concerns with regard to climate change.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST

 

New York Times Op-Ed ‘The Dustbowl Returns’ Never Mentions Climate Change

By Joe Romm on February 11, 2014 at 5:10 pm

In yet another example of how the New York Times is mis-covering the story of the century, it published an entire op-ed on the return of the Dust Bowl with no mention whatsoever of climate change.

It stands in sharp contrast to the coverage of the connection between climate change and extreme weather other leading news outlets and science journals. Consider the BBC’s Sunday article on the epic deluges hitting the UK, “Met Office: Evidence ‘suggests climate change link to storms’.” Consider the journal Nature, which back in 2011 asked me to write an article on the link between climate change and “Dust-bowlification” (the photo is by Dorothea Lange). As James Hansen told me two weeks ago, “Increasingly intense droughts in California, all of the Southwest, and even into the Midwest have everything to do with human-made climate change.” Climate change’s impact on Western drought has three components:

1) Higher temperatures, which worsen any drought
2) Declining snowpack, which reduces the summer dry season’s key reservoir
3) Reduced precipitation in the region

The first two are clearcut scientifically and the third is a long-standing prediction of climate scientists that appears to be coming true. Bizarrely, the NYT piece doesn’t ignore the fact that the temperatures have been incredibly warm, it just ignores any possible role of global warming in the “anomalous weather”: Normal winters here in Fresno, in the heart of California’s Central Valley, bring average highs in the 50s…. But not this year. Instead, early 2014 gave us cloudless skies and midday temperatures in the 70s. By the end of January, it seemed like April, with spring trees in full bloom. We fretted over the anomalous weather, to be sure. Fretted over the anomalous weather, to be sure sure, but tried to explain it — not so much. As climatologist Kevin Trenberth told me, “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.” Seems worth a mention, no? Even more bizarrely, the NYT piece doesn’t ignore the decline in snowpack, once again it just ignores any role global warming might have played: Most Californians depend on the Sierra Nevada for their water supply, but the snowpack there was just 15 percent of normal in early February. This climate silence is particularly strange and disappointing since two days earlier, the Times posted a big piece on how climate change was warming the West and reducing snowpack. Heck, it was even headlined “The End of Snow?” Do the daily editors at the Times have no idea what the Sunday editors are doing — and no idea what carbon pollution is doing? Here is what the NY Times understood in the snow piece: The planet has warmed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1800s, and as a result, snow is melting. In the last 47 years, a million square miles of spring snow cover has disappeared from the Northern Hemisphere…. The facts are straightforward: The planet is getting hotter. Snow melts above 32 degrees Fahrenheit…. Since 1970, the rate of winter warming per decade in the United States has been triple the rate of the previous 75 years … and this winter is already looking to be one of the driest on record — with California at just 12 percent of its average snowpack in January…..

If this weren’t the story of the century, then this might be an amusing screwup. But, thanks to global warming, California could lose most if not all of its snowpack by century’s end, with temperatures soaring 10°F in the Central Valley. Worse, thanks to climate change, “The U.S. may never again return to the relatively wet conditions experienced from 1977 to 1999,” as a leading drought researcher reiterated last month. You simply can’t ignore those projections, particularly in a piece on Dust-Bowlification in California. Unless you are the New York Times…..

 

We will fight them with mosquitoes: Historical evidence of biological weapons research in Nazi Germany
(February 13, 2014) — Scientist finds historical evidence of biological weapons research in Nazi Germany. Researchers came to the conclusion that, although a major entomological institute was established to combat insect-borne diseases such as typhoid, it also carried out research into whether mosquitoes — which host malaria — could be used in biological warfare. … > full story

 

New live-cell printing technology works like ancient Chinese woodblocking
(February 10, 2014) — With a nod to 3rd century Chinese woodblock printing and children’s rubber stamp toys, researchers have developed a way to print living cells onto any surface, in virtually any shape. Unlike recent, similar work using inkjet printing approaches, almost all cells survive the process. … > full story

San Francisco’s big 1906 earthquake was third of a series on San Andreas Fault
(February 12, 2014) — Geologists have uncovered geologic evidence that supports historical narratives for two earthquakes in the 68 years prior to San Francisco’s devastating 1906 disaster. … > full story

 

 

Valentine’s Day! Chocolate 101
(February 12, 2014) — Here’s a brief look at where chocolate comes from, nutritional information, how it’s made, and the ingredients that make chocolate — whether milk, dark or white — a memorable treat. … > full story


 


Love’s For the Birds: Global Great Backyard Bird Count Begins Today


KQED (blog)

February 14, 2014

       

It’s time for the annual bird-lovers to give a Valentine to their fine-feathered friends: the Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) runs from February 14–17, 2014! You don’t have to leave home and you don’t even have to be an expert bird-watcher to participate.

 

 

 

  1. IMAGES OF THE WEEK

 

Thursday, Feb 6, 2014 re: California Pineapple Express (Atmospheric River):

 

 

 

Ice storm paradox: It’s colder because the Earth is warmer

By David Horsey |  LA Times

 

 

 

 

 

————

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.

 

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