NOTE: Please feel free to pass on my weekly news update that has been prepared for
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staff. The information contained in this update was drawn from www.sciencedaily.com, SER The Society for Ecological Restoration, http://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 articles and other information available on line, which were not verified and are not endorsed by PRBO Conservation Science. Please email me directly at Ellie Cohen, ecohen at prbo .org if you want your name added to or dropped from this list.
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Highlight of the Week-
Posted: 11 Oct 2012 09:29 AM PDT Joe Romm
Two new studies make a strong case that global warming is driving an intensification of high-pressure anomalies that in turn make North American weather more extreme. They add to a growing body of scientific observation and analysis on the connection between man-made climate change and extreme weather — and disasters. So I can say, not coincidentally, Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance company is releasing a report next week based on its natural catastrophe database — the most comprehensive of its kind in the world — that concludes:
- Global warming is driving an increase in weather-related disasters
- “North America is the continent with the largest increases in disasters.”
And so I can also say, not coincidentally, NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) reported Tuesday in its “State of the Climate” for September that the Climate Extremes Index for the period January-through-September was over the highest ever — and over twice the average value — since record-keeping began in 1910.We appear to have a perfect storm: Detailed observations of more extreme weather in North America in recent years are now coming at the same time as new scientific analyses that can explain why manmade climate change is boosting extreme weather in our continent.The two new studies are “The recent shift in early summer Arctic atmospheric circulation” (subs. req’d, news release here) and “Intensification of Northern Hemisphere subtropical highs in a warming climate“ (subs. req’d, news release here). The latter Nature Geoscience study is closely related to a 2010 Journal of Climate study that found “global warming is the main cause of a significant intensification in the North Atlantic Subtropical High (NASH) that in recent decades has more than doubled the frequency of abnormally wet or dry summer weather in the southeastern United States.”…
What’s fascinating about Hanna’s statement that ”higher pressure over the North American continent and Greenland is driving these changes in the early summer wind patterns,” is how it might connect to the second study.
As the news release for that study — “Weather-Making High-Pressure Systems Predicted to Intensify” — explains:
High-pressure systems over oceans, which largely determine the tracks of tropical cyclones and hydrological extremes in much of the northern hemisphere, are likely to intensify this century, according to a Duke University-led study published online this week in Nature Geoscience.
The study’s findings suggest that as summertime near-surface high-pressure systems over the northern Pacific and Atlantic oceans strengthen, they could play an increasingly important role in shaping regional climate, particularly the occurrence of drought and extreme summer rainfall, in coming years…. According to the simulations, these high-pressure systems will intensify over the 21st century as a result of increasing greenhouse-gas concentrations. The simulations suggest that an increase in the land-sea thermal contrast – the difference between ocean and land heating, as Earth’s climate warms – will fuel the systems’ intensification.
For more on this study, see Climate Central’s piece, “Global Warming May Shift Summer Weather Patterns.” They quote study coauthor Mingfang Ting of Columbia University, ”The intensification and westward movement of the subtropical highs may cause more landfalling hurricanes/typhoons and cause more intense Southeast U.S. rainfall variability, leading to more extreme events in the[se] regions.” They also noted, “Recent summers have seen dramatic flips between punishing droughts and severe flooding in states such as Georgia, for example.”
THE BOTTOM LINE: We are playing with the climate system in ways that are already starting to bite us and may until consume us — our at least our food supply — whole (see “Climate Story of the Year: Warming-Driven Drought and Extreme Weather Emerge as Key Threat to Global Food Security“).
Overland et al GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 39, L19804, 6 PP., 2012 doi:10.1029/2012GL053268
- There is an apparent sustained shift in early summer Arctic winds since 2007
- Such Arctic changes are linked to increased North American atmospheric blocking
- Highlights potential connectivity of Arctic climate and mid-latitude weather
The last six years (2007–2012) show a persistent change in early summer Arctic wind patterns relative to previous decades. The persistent pattern, which has been previously recognized as the Arctic Dipole (AD), is characterized by relatively low sea-level pressure over the Siberian Arctic with high pressure over the Beaufort Sea, extending across northern North America and over Greenland. Pressure differences peak in June. In a search for a proximate cause for the newly persistent AD pattern, we note that the composite 700 hPa geopotential height field during June 2007–2012 exhibits a positive anomaly only on the North American side of the Arctic, thus creating the enhanced mean meridional flow across the Arctic. Coupled impacts of the new persistent pattern are increased sea ice loss in summer, long-lived positive temperature anomalies and ice sheet loss in west Greenland, and a possible increase in Arctic-subarctic weather linkages through higher-amplitude upper-level flow.
The North American location of increased 700 hPa positive anomalies suggests that a regional atmospheric blocking mechanism is responsible for the presence of the AD pattern, consistent with observations of unprecedented high pressure anomalies over Greenland since 2007.
Wenhong Li, et al Nature Geoscience Sept 30 2012 doi:10.1038/ngeo1590
Semi-permanent high-pressure systems over the subtropical oceans, known as subtropical highs, influence atmospheric circulation, as well as global climate. For instance, subtropical highs largely determine the location of the world’s subtropical deserts, the zones of Mediterranean climate and the tracks of tropical cyclones. The intensity of two such high-pressure systems, present over the Northern Hemisphere oceans during the summer, has changed in recent years. However, whether such changes are related to climate warming remains unclear. Here, we use climate model simulations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fourth Assessment Report, reanalysis data from the 40-year European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, and an idealized general circulation model, to assess future changes in the intensity of summertime subtropical highs over the Northern Hemisphere oceans. The simulations suggest that these summertime highs will intensify in the twenty-first century as a result of an increase in atmospheric greenhouse-gas concentrations. We further show that the intensification of subtropical highs is predominantly caused by an increase in thermal contrast between the land and ocean. We suggest that summertime near-surface subtropical highs could play an increasingly important role in regional climate and hydrological extremes in the future.
Scientists have established a clear link between shrinking Arctic ice and extreme weather in lower latitudes
A repeat of this year’s washout summer is the last thing most people want from the English weather – but more of the same could be on the way, and could become the norm, a new study has warned, thanks to human activities warming the climate.
Ice melting in the Arctic has been linked to duller, wetter English summers in a much-anticipated study published online on Wednesday in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
Satellite pictures of Greenland, where the ice sheet rests on land, showed more widespread melting than ever recorded.
Scientists from the Universities of Sheffield in the UK and Rutgers and Washington in the US, with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, have established what they say is a clear link between the shrinking ice and more extreme weather in lower latitudes, through weather effects such as the “Arctic amplification” and shifting wind patterns. Edward Hanna, co-author of the study at Sheffield University, said the research should alert people in the UK to the reality of global warming: “It really puts global warming in the public eye. It’s virtually impossible to predict the weather for any particular summer but we could have cooler, wetter summers on average in the UK because of this effect. That’s not to say we won’t get hot, dry summers but just that these might not be as frequent as you might expect from a straightforward global warming effect. There seems to have been a new regime in summer 2007 that has more or less stayed in place since.” This year’s weather broke records in England, for a dry spring followed by the wettest ever April to June, and June had the second lowest sunshine on record. For most people, the weather was a disappointment as one dull and rainy day followed another. But for others, the pain was even greater – farmers suffered the worst weather combination, with drought followed by a disastrously damp spell that first withered and then waterlogged crops. Retailers and the leisure industries were also hurt, with people eschewing barbecue food and tourists and holidaymakers avoiding attractions.
Meanwhile, Greenlanders and inhabitants of some of the most northern isles of the UK enjoyed glorious sunshine.
This weather pattern was linked to the position of the jet stream, which normally brings settled weather to the UK in the summer but has been shifting in position for the past several years. The past six summers have been duller and wetter than the long-term average, according to the Met Office.
For the new study, researchers examined data from the past six summers. They found west- to east-flowing winds in high latitudes have been replaced by a wavier pattern in those years, which contributed to the dull weather further south.
Many people in the UK assume that global warming would bring them hotter and drier weather – a “Mediterranean climate”, according to common predictions. This study shows that the reality may be much less pleasant.
Hanna said: “While global warming itself may pass unnoticed by many, its complex interactions with ice and snow in high latitudes are expected to alter atmospheric circulations that contribute to enhanced Arctic warming, further melt, and an increased probability of extreme weather events both in the Arctic and in mid-latitudes.”
One of the factors behind this year’s record ice melt was stronger winds flowing from the Bering Straits in the Arctic, across the north pole and over the Atlantic, transferring heat from the south to further north and pushing sea ice further north across the Arctic, according to the research. Over Greenland, unusually high pressure led to the record melting across nearly the whole of the land ice sheet.
If Arctic ice continues at low levels in future summers, more extreme weather is likely in future, the study found.
et al Ibis Volume 154, Issue 4, pages 663–679, October 2012 Article first published online: 20 AUG 2012
Abstract….Maintaining and restoring biodiversity requires targeted responses to major threats. A recurring problem is failing to foresee and address forthcoming issues. …..A sensible starting exercise can be to list all known threats for a particular topic. An inclusive review of threats provides the basis for a comprehensive assessment of possible responses and effective horizon scanning (Sutherland & Woodroof 2009, Sutherland et al. 2012c). In particular, listing currently known issues alongside summaries of forthcoming issues can help to prioritize actions and may highlight the need to develop tools to address future threats. Here we illustrate horizon scanning by examining the natural, anthropogenic and potential future issues facing migratory shorebirds …..
Eliminating sagebrush may hurt rather than help wildlife
(October 10, 2012) — Efforts to enhance wildlife habitat by controlling vegetation could actually cause more harm than good. Wyoming big sagebrush is often manipulated to decrease its density and encourage the growth of herbaceous plants. However, this may bring about declines in the population of birds, elk, and other animals. … > full story
Jeffrey L. Beck, John W. Connelly, Carl L. Wambolt. Consequences of Treating Wyoming Big Sagebrush to Enhance Wildlife Habitats. Rangeland Ecology & Management, 2012; 65 (5): 444 DOI: 10.2111/REM-D-10-00123.1
Developmental biologist proposes new theory of early animal evolution that challenges basic assumption of evolution
(October 11, 2012) — A developmental biologist whose life’s work has supported the theory of evolution has developed a concept that dramatically alters one of its basic assumptions — that survival is based on a change’s functional advantage if it is to persist. tuart A. Newman, Ph.D., professor of cell biology and anatomy, offers an alternative model in proposing that the origination of the structural motifs of animal form were actually predictable and relatively sudden, with abrupt morphological transformations favored during the early period of animal evolution. Newman’s long view of evolution is fully explained in his perspective article, “Physico-Genetic Determinants in the Evolution of Development,” which is to be published in the October 12 issue of the journal Science, in a special section called Forces in Development. Evolution is commonly thought to take place opportunistically, by small steps, with each change persisting, or not, based on its functional advantage. Newman’s alternative model is based on recent inferences about the genetics of the single-celled ancestors of the animals and, more surprisingly, the physics of “middle-scale” materials.… > full story
Salmon make a comeback in California NBC Nightly News | Aired on October 09, 2012
A resurgence of fish in the Klamath River has some locals hoping that the Chinook salmon may be back for good. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.
San Francisco Chronicle October 8, 2012
In the worst wildfire season on record, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service ran out of money to pay for firefighters, fire trucks and aircraft that dump retardant on monstrous flames. So officials did about the only thing they could: take money from other forest-management programs. But many of the programs were geared toward preventing giant fires in the first place, and raiding their budgets meant putting off the removal of dried brush and dead wood over vast stretches of land – the things that fuel eye-popping blazes, threatening property and lives. Recently, Congress stepped in and reimbursed the Forest Service and the Interior Department, which plays a much lesser role in fighting fires, with $400 million from the 2013 continuing resolution, allowing fire-prevention work to continue. Forestry experts at state agencies and environmental groups greeted it as good news.
But they also faulted Congress for providing at the start of the fiscal year only about half of the $1 billion it actually cost to fight this year’s fires. They argued that the traditional method that members of an appropriations conference committee use to fund wildfire suppression – averaging the cost of fighting wildfires over the previous 10 years – is inadequate at a time when climate change is causing longer periods of dryness and drought, giving fires more fuel to burn and resulting in longer wildfire seasons. Once running from June to September, the season has expanded over the past 10 years to include May and October. It was once rare to see 5 million cumulative acres burn, agriculture officials said. But some recent seasons have recorded millions more…..
Lauren Sommer October 7, 2012 NPR Listen to this story
In California, state officials are planning a multibillion-dollar environmental restoration of the inland delta near San Francisco Bay. There’s only one problem: No one knows what the landscape used to look like. Ninety-seven percent of the original wetlands are gone, so the state is turning to historians for help. This detective story begins on a sunny day in a dry field of corn, about an hour east of San Francisco. Alison Whipple and Robin Grossinger are looking through a pile of maps, trying to piece together the path of William Wright, a man who got hopelessly lost somewhere nearby.
This happened 160 years ago. Whipple and Grossinger are historians — historical ecologists, more precisely — with the San Francisco Estuary Institute. They dig up old photos and hand-drawn maps that provide clues about what this landscape once looked like….
Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle Published 11:22 p.m., Tuesday, October 9, 2012
The number of oak trees in California that died from the virulent forest disease known as sudden oak death has increased tenfold in just a year’s time as the pathogen spread into several new parts of the Bay Area, including San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, biologists revealed this week. Aerial and ground surveys conducted by the U.S. Forest Service documented 375,700 new cases of dead live oak and tan oak trees over 54,400 acres of California where the pathogen is known to exist. That’s compared to 38,000 dead trees covering 8,000 acres a year ago. The sudden increase in deaths is believed to have been caused by two years of abnormally high rainfall followed by this year’s dry weather. The pattern is one that scientists at the UC Berkeley Forest Pathology and Mycology Laboratory foresaw last year when the deadly microbe was detected in woodlands and residential areas throughout the Bay Area. The area of infection expanded even more this year, said Matteo Garbelotto, the forest pathologist who heads the lab. Sudden oak death, discovered in Mill Valley in 1995, exists in forests and wildlands in 14 California counties and in Curry County, Ore. It kills big oak trees and the smaller understory tan oaks, which have been ravaged in portions of Big Sur, Jack London State Park in Sonoma County, China Camp State Park in Marin County and the Marin Municipal Water District watershed lands near Mount Tamalpais. Scientists fear the pathogen could one day wipe out all of the state’s live and tan oaks…..The disease, known scientifically as Phytophthora ramorum, has 107 susceptible host plants. Infected California bay laurels are the most effective spreaders of the deadly microbe, but such common garden ornamentals as camellias and rhododendrons can also spread the pathogen to oaks….
Natural playgrounds more beneficial to children, inspire more play, study finds
(October 11, 2012) — Children who play on playgrounds that incorporate natural elements like logs and flowers tend to be more active than those who play on traditional playgrounds with metal and brightly colored equipment, according to a recent UT study. They also appear to use their imagination more, according to the report. The study, which examined changes in physical activity levels and patterns in young children exposed to both traditional and natural playgrounds, is among the first of its kind in the United States, according to Dawn Coe, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation, and Sport Studies. “Natural playgrounds have been popping up around the country but there was nothing conclusive on if they work,” she said. “Now, we know.” For the study, Coe observed children at UT’s Early Learning Center. She began in June 2011 by observing the children while the center still had traditional wood and plastic equipment. She logged how often they used the slides and other apparatus, studied the intensity of their activity, and how much time they spent in a porch area to get shade from the sun. The Early Learning Center staff then began renovations of the playground and over several months added a gazebo and slides that were built into a hill. They planted dwarf trees, built a creek, and landscaped it with rocks and flowers. They also added logs and tree stumps. They turned it into what Coe called a “natural playscape.” Coe, working with Cary Springer, a statistician with the Office of Information Technology, returned for follow-up observations this year and found significant differences between usage of the traditional and natural playground.
The children more than doubled the time they spent playing, from jumping off the logs to watering the plants around the creek. They were engaging in more aerobic and bone- and muscle-strengthening activities. “This utilized motor skills, too,” Coe said. She also found that the children were less sedentary and used the porch area less after the renovation. Coe is preparing a manuscript of the study to submit for publication. “Natural playscapes appear to be a viable alternative to traditional playgrounds for school and community settings,” Coe said. “Future studies should look at these changes long-term as well as the nature of the children’s play.”
Choreography of submerged whale lunges revealed
(October 11, 2012) — Submerged for tens of minutes at a time, no one knew exactly how foraging whales execute foraging lunges through shoals of krill until a band of pioneers began attaching tags to whales. Now, researchers report how humpback whales throw their jaws wide and continue gliding as they lunge, before filtering away the water and swallowing their prey in one mighty gulp. … > full story
Arctic and Southern Oceans appear to determine the composition of microbial populations
(October 11, 2012) — Differing contributions of freshwater from glaciers and streams to the Arctic and Southern oceans appear to be responsible for the fact that the majority of microbial communities that thrive near the surface at the Poles share few common members, according to an international team of researchers. … > full story
New website on implementing criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management in Europe
(October 8, 2012) — Criteria and indicators have emerged as a powerful tool in promoting sustainable forest management. Since Rio 1992, several international processes and initiatives have developed criteria and indicators as a policy instrument to evaluate and report progress towards sustainable forest management. … > full story
Fisheries benefit from 400-year-old tradition
(October 11, 2012) — Coral reefs in Aceh, Indonesia are benefiting from a decidedly low-tech, traditional management system that dates back to the 17th century, new research shows. Known as “Panglima Laot” — the customary system focuses on social harmony and reducing conflict among communities over marine resources. According to the study, reefs benefitting from Panglima Laot contain as much eight time more fish and hard-coral cover due to mutually agreed upon gear restrictions especially prohibiting the use of nets.
The study, which appears in the October issue of the journal Oryx, is by Stuart Campbell, Rizya Ardiwijaya, Shinta Pardede, Tasrif Kartawijaya, Ahmad Mukmunin, Yudi Herdiana of the Wildlife Conservation Society; and Josh Cinner, Andrew Hoey, Morgan Pratchett, and Andrew Baird of James Cook University.
The authors say Panglima Laot has a number of design principles associated with successful fisheries management institutions. These include clearly defined membership rights, rules that limit resource use, the right of resource users to make, enforce and change the rules, and graduated sanctions and mechanisms for conflict resolution. These principles are the key to the ability of the institution to reduce conflict among communities, provide sustainable access to marine resources, and limit the destruction of marine habitats. “No-take fishing areas can be impractical in regions where people rely heavily on reef fish for food,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Stuart Campbell of the Wildlife Conservation Society. “The guiding principle of Panglima Laot was successful in minimizing habitat degradation and maintaining fish biomass despite ongoing access to the fishery. Such mechanisms to reduce conflict are the key to success of marine resource management, particularly in settings which lack resources for enforcement.” However, the institution has not been uniformly successful.… > full story
Yellowstone wolf study reveals how to raise successful offspring
(October 11, 2012) — What are the key ingredients to raising successful, self-sufficient offspring? A new life sciences study using 14 years of data of wolves in Yellowstone indicates cooperative group behavior is key. … > full story
Oil palm plantations are clearing carbon-rich tropical forests in Borneo, researchers show
(October 7, 2012) — Demand for palm oil is driving deforestation in Borneo, as trees are cleared to make way for the planting of oil farm plantations, which will send carbon dioxide, a global-warming gas, into the atmosphere, new research shows. … > full story
Urban coyotes could be setting the stage for larger carnivores — wolves, bears and mountain lions — to move into cities
(October 5, 2012) — Coyotes are the largest of the mammalian carnivores to have made their way to, and thrived in, urban settings. A researcher estimates that about 2,000 coyotes live in the Chicago metro area. The coyote is “the test case for other animals,” he says, such as wolves, bears and mountain lions. … > full story
Go west, young lion: New study shows mountain lions dispersing from Nevada to California
(October 9, 2012) — A new study has identified two genetically distinct populations of mountain lions in California and Nevada and discovered — to the surprise of scientists — that portions of Nevada’s Great Basin Desert are serving as a “source” for animals moving west to the Sierra Nevada mountains shared with California. … > full story
Vast differences in polar ocean microbial communities
(October 9, 2012) — An international team of scientists has found that a clear difference exists between the marine microbial communities in the Southern and Arctic oceans. Their report contributes to a better understanding of the biodiverisity of marine life at the poles and its biogeography. … > full story
Associated Press October 12, 2012
The six cranes are the 12th group to take part in a project led by the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership. The leader of the ultralight team, Joe Duff, says he hopes to arrive in St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge by Christmas. more »
PRBO in the News:
Climate Change and the Farallones - Bay Nature Magazine, Oct-Dec 2012
New Zealand Herald Thursday October 11, 2012—see The Last Ocean
video trailer here—Advocates pushing to protect the pristine Ross Sea from commercial fishing hope to drive home their message with a screening of a Kiwi-made documentary for delegates attending an international Antarctic summit this month. A theatre in Hobart is being booked to show The Last Ocean, chronicling the race to stop commercial fishing in the Ross Sea, during a conference of the 25-nation Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. Those seeking an end to fishing in the sea – where the toothfish fishery last year had a $20 million export value to New Zealand companies – see the meeting as a crucial opportunity to preserve the sea’s delicate ecology for future generations. It comes as the New Zealand Government horrified conservation groups – and the descendant of the British polar explorer who discovered the sea – by pulling out of a joint proposal with the United States to create a marine reserve that would have offered greater protection than New Zealand wanted for the Antarctic toothfish…..
Examiner.com - October 11, 2012
Penguins are very territorial and can be aggressive if you get too close,” explains Dr. David Ainley, Ph.D. Animal Behavior/Ecology Senior Marine Wildlife Ecologist at H.T. Harvey & Associates Ecological Consultants. “Sitting quietly away from their territories, penguins will come to you. They are very curious.” “Antarctic ecosystems are telling humans that life as we know it, in the face of dramatic climate change, is going to require moving and changes in other sorts of behavior in order to cope.” .. “Antarctic ecosystems are telling humans that life as we know it, in the face of dramatic climate change, is going to require moving and changes in other sorts of behavior in order to cope,” Dr. Ainley states. “Major climate change is underway and very real. This is not debatable.”
- The October 2011-September 2012 period was the warmest such 12-month period on record for the contiguous U.S., and was the 3rd warmest 12-month period on record.
- The six warmest 12-month periods since record keeping began in 1895 have all ended during 2012.
- The contiguous U.S. warm season, defined as the six-month period from April-September, had temperatures that were the warmest ever.
- As many as 33 states had six-month temperatures among their ten warmest.
By Climate Guest Blogger on Sep 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm by Richard Sommerville and Jeff Masters, via Climate Communication
With oppressive heat waves, devastating droughts, ravaging wildfires, and hard-hitting rainstorms, the summer of 2012 has been one for the record books. Thousands of precipitation and temperature records were broken, plaguing almost all of the contiguous United States this season and underscoring the connection between climate change and increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather. With climate change, we’ve set the stage for precisely this kind of extreme weather, and unfortunately, our changing climate threatens to alter summers to come.
—By Julia Whitty Mother Jones
Tue Aug. 21, 2012 3:00 AM PDT The National Interagency Fire Center reports that 2012 just broke the record for most acreage burned by wildfires as of this date (see chart below). The previous record was set in 2006, another mega-drought year…..
A repeat of this year’s washout summer is the last thing most people want from the English weather – but more of the same could be on the way, and could become the norm, a new study has warned, thanks to human activities warming the climate. [Guardian]
Glaciers cracking in the presence of carbon dioxide
(October 10, 2012) — The well-documented presence of excessive levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is causing global temperatures to rise and glaciers and ice caps to melt. New research has shown that carbon dioxide molecules may be also having a more direct impact on the ice that covers our planet. … Ice caps and glaciers cover seven per cent of Earth — more than Europe and North America combined — and are responsible for reflecting 80-90 per cent of the Sun’s light rays that enter our atmosphere and maintain Earth’s temperature. They are also a natural carbon sink, capturing a large amount of CO2.”If ice caps and glaciers were to continue to crack and break into pieces, their surface area that is exposed to air would be significantly increased, which could lead to accelerated melting and much reduced coverage area on the Earth. The consequences of these changes remain to be explored by the experts, but they might contribute to changes of the global climate,” said lead author of the study Professor Markus Buehler….> full story
By Associated Press, Published: October 10 2012
WASHINGTON — The ice goes on seemingly forever in a white pancake-flat landscape, stretching farther than ever before. And yet in this confounding region of the world, that spreading ice may be a cockeyed signal of man-made climate change, scientists say.
This is Antarctica, the polar opposite of the Arctic.
While the North Pole has been losing sea ice over the years, the water nearest the South Pole has been gaining it. Antarctic sea ice hit a record 7.51 million square miles in September. That happened just days after reports of the biggest loss of Arctic sea ice on record.
Climate change skeptics have seized on the Antarctic ice to argue that the globe isn’t warming and that scientists are ignoring the southern continent because it’s not convenient. But scientists say the skeptics are misinterpreting what’s happening and why.
Shifts in wind patterns and the giant ozone hole over the Antarctic this time of year — both related to human activity — are probably behind the increase in ice, experts say. This subtle growth in winter sea ice since scientists began measuring it in 1979 was initially surprising, they say, but makes sense the more it is studied. “A warming world can have complex and sometimes surprising consequences,” researcher Ted Maksym said this week from an Australian research vessel surrounded by Antarctic sea ice. He is with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.
Many experts agree. Ted Scambos of the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado adds: “It sounds counterintuitive, but the Antarctic is part of the warming as well.”
And on a third continent, David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey says that yes, what’s happening in Antarctica bears the fingerprints of man-made climate change.
“Scientifically the change is nowhere near as substantial as what we see in the Arctic,” says NASA chief scientist Waleed Abdalati, an ice expert. “But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be paying attention to it and shouldn’t be talking about it.”…
Small fish can play a big role in coastal carbon cycle
(October 10, 2012) — Research shows that small forage fish like anchovies can transport carbon into the deep sea through their fecal pellets – where it contributes nothing to current global warming. … > full story
Non-native plants show a greater response than native wildflowers to climate change
(October 5, 2012) — Warming temperatures in Ohio are a key driver behind changes in the state’s landscape, and non-native plant species appear to be responding more strongly than native wildflowers to the changing climate, new research suggests. … > full story
Phys.Org - October 8, 2012
Dryland ecosystems cover 41% of the Earth’s land surface. These ecosystems are highly vulnerable to global environmental change and desertification. But climate change seems to have a positive impact on some plants. A study involving the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock has come to this conclusion…..To measure the impact of climate change on the dynamics of plant populations, researchers to date have mostly worked with average values, such as average temperature or average rainfall. “This is a method commonly used, but it cannot be applied to desert plants”, says researcher Roberto Salguero-Gómez of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research. Dryland plants cannot really be compared to plant species growing in other latitudes, where weather conditions are fluctuate less. Dryland plants have adapted to the extreme climatic conditions of arid regions in the course of evolution, even under conditions of no climate change, and they benefit from it. Some plants produce dormant seeds in years of heavy rainfall. The seeds of other plant species have something like a sensor to detect the level of rainfall: not enough rain drops falling to secure their life until they reproduce and they will not germinate. A lot of rain after years of drought, and they start to grow. The advantage is that many other plant species – competitors for space – have a low drought tolerance and this has thinned out the total population, freeing up space where individuals, who have waited for the big rain, can spread.
“Using average precipitation values to predict plant population dynamics does not correspond to the physiology of these plants, a physiology that is unique”, sums up Roberto Salguero-Gómez. It is for this reason that he, together with his colleagues Wolfgang Siewert and Katja Tielbörger (University of Tübingen) and Brenda Casper (University of Pennsylvania) have looked anew at two long-term studies that documented the population size of two desert plant species, one each in the USA and Israel, over a number of years. Based on the data of these studies, a climate model and a demographic calculation method, the researchers have developed a new model that provides insights into the future dynamics of plant populations. The results, recently published in the scientific journal Philosophical Transactions B of the Royal Society of London, are astounding: Changing weather conditions do not seem to harm the population of these plants; quite to the contrary, they seem to benefit from it. “The plants adapt quite well”, says Roberto Salguero-Gómez. They seem to have a sizeable buffer to adapt to climate change….
Fernando T. Maestre, Roberto Salguero-Gómez, Impacts of global environmental change on drylands: from ecosystem structure and functioning to poverty alleviation, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/site/2012/drylands.xhtm
Climate change to lengthen growing season
(October 10, 2012) — Across much of Norway, the agricultural growing season could become up to two months longer due to climate change. A research project has been studying the potential and challenges inherent in such a scenario. … > full story
Drought, climate change impact salamander survival rates
(October 10, 2012)
– On the heels of one the worst U.S. droughts in more than half a century, a new study raises questions about the future of one of the most integral members of stream ecosystems throughout the Southeast – the salamander. Research from Wake Forest University shows how salamanders react to drought, shedding light on the impact of climate change and increased urbanization. … > full story
Cold wind makes Norwegian Sea warmer
(October 11, 2012) — The Gulf Stream and the warm waters it brings are one reason the climate is milder along the Norwegian coastline than other places so far north. Researchers now know that the Gulf Stream is not only driven from the south, but also drawn northward by Arctic winds. Norwegian researchers have discovered a previously unknown climate relationship in the seas off Norway: cold wind from the north makes warm waters from the south flow northward along the Norwegian coastline. … >
Issued by Climate Prediction Center/NCEP and Intl Research Inst for Climate and society
Synopsis: Borderline ENSO-neutral/ weak El Niño conditions are expected to continue into Northern Hemisphere winter 2012-13, possibly strengthening during the next few months.
Documented Decrease in Frequency of Hawaii’s Northeast Trade Winds
October 12, 2012 ScienceDaily
Scientists have observed a decrease in the frequency of northeast trade winds and an increase in eastern trade winds over the past nearly four decades, according to a … Persistent northeast trade winds are important to the Hawaiian Islands because they affect wave height, cloud formation, and precipitation over specific areas of the region. When trades fail to develop the air can become dormant and unpleasant weather can develop. Furthermore, Chu explained that the trades are the primary source of moisture for rain, and that a dramatic reduction could fundamentally change Hawai’i's overall climate….. > full story
Posted on 4 October 2012 by Andy S www.skepticalscience.com
A recent modelling experiment shows that climate change feedbacks from thawing permafrost are likely to increase global temperatures by one-quarter to a full degree Celsius by the end of this century. This extra warming will be in addition to the increase in temperature caused directly by emissions from fossil fuels. Even in the unlikely event that we were to stop all emissions in the near future, this permafrost climate feedback would likely continue as a self-sustaining process, cancelling out any future natural draw-down in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels by the oceans or vegetation. Avoiding dangerous climate change by reducing fossil-fuel emissions becomes more difficult once permafrost emissions are properly considered….
Posted: 06 Oct 2012 12:22 PM PDT
- Thawing permafrost will release carbon to the atmosphere that will have an appreciable additional effect on climate change, adding at least one quarter of a degree Celsius by the end of the century and perhaps nearly as much as one degree (about 1.5°F).
- The permafrost feedback response to our historic emissions, even in the absence of future human emissions, is likely to be self-sustaining and will cancel out future natural carbon sinks in the oceans and biosphere over the next two centuries.
- Unfortunately, there are several good reasons to consider the outlook in this study as rosy — as the authors themselves make clear. However, as bad and inevitable as they are, feedbacks from the permafrost are just the (de-)frosting on the fossil fuel cake that we are busy baking. It is still up to us to influence how severe climate change is going to be.
USA Today October 10, 2012
- Reinsurer Munich Re reports climate change behind rise in disasters
- Weather disasters in North America are among the worst
- Other experts take issue with Munich Re’s findings
The number of natural disasters per year has been rising dramatically on all continents since 1980, but the trend is steepest for North America where countries have been battered by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, searing heat and drought, a new report says. The study being released today by Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurance firm, sees climate change driving the increase and predicts those influences will continue in years ahead, though a number of experts question that conclusion. Whatever the causes, the report shows that if you thought the weather has been getting worse, you’re right…..
Business Insider - October 11, 2012
As the climate warms, sea ice and the ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic continue to melt. These and other factors lead to increases in sea level and further warming of the Earth.
Sea-Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington: Past, Present, and Future (2012) – Natl Research Council FINDINGS
Tide gages show that global sea level has risen about 7 inches during the 20th century, and recent satellite data shows that the rate of sea-level rise is accelerating. As Earth warms, sea levels are rising mainly because: (1) ocean water expands as it warms; and (2) water from melting glaciers and ice sheets is flowing into the ocean. Sea-level rise poses enormous risks to the valuable infrastructure, development, and wetlands that line much of the 1,600 mile shoreline of California, Oregon, and Washington. As those states seek to incorporate projections of sea-level rise into coastal planning, they asked the National Research Council to make independent projections of sea-level rise along their coasts for the years 2030, 2050, and 2100, taking into account regional factors that affect sea level.
Sea level along the U.S. west coast is affected by a number of factors, including climate patterns such as the El Niño, effects from the melting of modern and ancient ice sheets, and geologic processes, such as plate tectonics. Regional projections for California, Oregon, and Washington show a sharp distinction at Cape Mendocino in northern California. South of that point, sea-level rise is expected to be very close to global projections. However, projections are lower north of Cape Mendocino because the land is being pushed upward as the ocean plate moves under the continental plate along the Cascadia Subduction Zone. However, an earthquake magnitude 8 or larger, which occurs in the region every few hundred to 1,000 years, would cause the land to drop and sea level to suddenly rise. Key Findings:
- Melting of land ice is now the largest component of global sea-level rise (about 65%), largely because ice loss rates are increasing.
- Global sea level is projected to rise 8-23 cm (3-9 in) by 2030, relative to 2000 levels, 18-48 cm (7-19 in) by 2050, and 50–140 cm (20-55 in) by 2100.
- Vertical land motions caused by plate tectonics and the ongoing response of the Earth to the disappearance of North American ice sheets have a significant impact on sea-level rise along the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts.
- Sea level along the California coast south of Cape Mendocino is projected to rise 4-30 cm (2-12 in) by 2030, relative to 2000 levels, 12-61 cm (5-24 in) by 2050, and 42-167 cm (17-66 in) by 2100. These projections are close to global sea-level rise projections.
- For the Washington, Oregon, and California coasts north of Cape Mendocino, sea level is projected to change between -4 cm (-2 in) (sea-level fall) and +23 cm (9 in) by 2030, -3 cm (-1 in) and +48 cm (19 in) by 2050, and 10-143 cm (4-56 in) by 2100. These values are lower than projections further north.
- An earthquake magnitude 8 or greater along the Cascadia Subduction Zone would suddenly raise sea level along parts of the coast by an additional 1-2 meters (3-7 feet) over projected levels north of Cape Mendocino.
- Uncertainties grow as the projection period lengthens. Confidence in the projections is high for 2030 and perhaps 2050. By 2100, we are confident only that the value will fall within the uncertainty bounds.
- Most coastal damage is caused by the confluence of large waves, storm surges, and high astronomical tides during a strong El Niño.
- Some models predict a northward shift in North Pacific storm tracks, and some observational studies report that largest waves are getting higher and winds are getting stronger. Observational records are not long enough to confirm whether these are long-term trends.
- Even if storminess does not increase in the future, sea-level rise will magnify the adverse impact of storm surges and high waves on the coast.
- Storms and sea-level rise are causing coastal cliffs, beaches, and dunes to retreat at rates from a few cm/yr to several m/yr. Cliffs could retreat more than 30 m (about 100 feet) by 2100.
- Wetlands are likely to keep pace with sea level until 2050. Their survival until 2100 depends on maintaining elevation through high sedimentation, room to move inland, or uplift.
Ship exhaust creates long streaks of clouds across the ocean’s dark surface, making the sky brighter and reducing the amount of heat trapped in the atmosphere. Some researchers are exploring ways to make clouds brighter to reflect more sunlight back into space. (Credit: Photo courtesy of NASA)
Earth sunblock only needed if planet warms easily
(October 11, 2012) — An increasing number of scientists are studying ways to temporarily reduce the amount of sunlight reaching Earth to potentially stave off some of the worst effects of climate change. Because these sunlight reduction methods would only temporarily reduce temperatures, do nothing for the health of the oceans and affect different regions unevenly, researchers do not see it as a permanent fix. Most theoretical studies have examined this strategy by itself, in the absence of looking at simultaneous attempts to reduce emissions. Now, a new computer analysis of future climate change that considers emissions reductions together with sunlight reduction shows that such drastic steps to cool Earth would only be necessary if the planet heats up easily with added greenhouse gases. The analysis, reported in the journal Climatic Change, might help future policymakers plan for a changing climate. The study by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory explored sunlight reduction methods, or solar radiation management, in a computer model that followed emissions’ effect on climate. The analysis shows there is a fundamental connection between the need for emissions reductions and the potential need for some sort of solar dimming. “Solar radiation management doesn’t eliminate the need to reduce emissions. We do not want to dim sunlight over the long term — that doesn’t address the root cause of the problem and might also have negative regional effects. This study shows that the same conditions that would call for solar radiation management also require substantial emission reductions in order to meet the climate goals set by the world community,” said Smith.
How much sun blocking might be needed depends on an uncertain factor called climate sensitivity. Much like beachgoers in the summer, Earth might be very sensitive to carbon dioxide, like someone who burns easily and constantly slathers on the sunscreen, or not, like someone who can get away with SPF 5 or 10….> full story
Posted on 5 October 2012 by dana1981 skepticalscience.com
In the interest of full disclosure, many Skeptical Science team members are big fans of Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog at The New York Times. Silver runs a model which uses polling results and various other input factors (such as economic indicators) to predict election outcomes in the USA, with an impressive track record of accuracy. Thus we were intrigued to hear that Silver had included a chapter on climate change in his newly-published book The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t, particularly since we at Skeptical Science are often forced to explain the difference between signal and noise. Having great respect for the work and climate-related opinions of Michael Mann (who Silver consulted in writing the book), we were also concerned to see his criticisms of Nate Silver’s climate chapter. Nevertheless, Mann recommended that people read the book for themselves, praising much of the content. So I did just that, and overall I believe that if we take Silver’s analysis a step further, we can learn a lot about the accuracy of climate models. It’s also important to remember that, as Silver himself notes in the chapter, our basic understanding of how the climate works and how much it will warm in response to our greenhouse gas emissions is not just dependent on models…..
Yale Project on Climate Change Communication October 09, 2012
- A large and growing majority of Americans say “global warming is affecting weather in the United States” (74%, up 5 points since our last national survey in March 2012).
- Asked about six recent extreme weather events in the United States, including record high summer temperatures, the Midwest drought, and the unusually warm winter and spring of 2011-12, majorities say global warming made each event “worse.”
- Americans were most likely to connect global warming to the record high temperatures in the summer of 2012 (73%).
- Americans increasingly say weather in the U.S. has been getting worse over the past several years (61%, up 9 percentage points since March).A majority of Americans (58%) say that heat waves have become more common in their local area over the past few decades, up 5 points since March, with especially large increases in the Northeast and Midwest (+12 and +15 points, respectively).
- More than twice as many Midwesterners say they personally experienced an extreme heat wave (83%, up 48 points since March) or drought (81%, up 55 points) in the past year.
- One in five Americans (20%) says they suffered harm to their health, property, and/or finances from an extreme heat wave in the past year, a 6-point increase since March. In addition, 15 percent say they suffered harm from a drought in the past year, up 4 points.
Huffington Post – October 10, 2012
Two studies — one by Lawrence Hamilton of the University of New Hampshire published last week in the journal Weather, Climate and Society and the other by Dan Kahan of Yale University and colleagues published in the journal Nature Climate Change in ..For example, it is well known that the climate-change fault line runs along the political-party divide with Democrats much more likely to accept and Republicans more likely to reject climate science.
- But Hamilton and Kahan both found that there is also an educational divide, actually a double divide. Hamilton found that the probability of a response that human activities are driving climate change increases with Democrats’ educational background: There is a more than 50 percent probability that a high-school-educated (or less) Democrat will respond positively to the climate change/human activities question, and that probability increases to more than 70 percent for a college-educated Democrat and above 80 percent for a Dem with post-graduate education.
- For Republicans, in contrast, increasing education makes virtually no difference in their acceptance of anthropogenic climate change. Roughly 70 percent of Republicans with a high school education (or less) reject climate science, and about the same percentage holds for Republicans with a post-graduate education…..
Forbes October 11, 2012
“Insurance is the first line of defense against extreme weather losses, but climate change is a game-changer for the models that insurers have long relied on,” Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler told an industry blog on risk and …
Supreme Court refuses to block Chevron’s $18.2 billion verdict for pollution in Ecuador
Reuters Posted: 10/09/2012 11:57:40 AM PDT
WASHINGTON — Chevron on Tuesday lost a U.S. Supreme Court bid to block an $18.2 billion judgment against it in Ecuador in a case over pollution in the Amazon jungle. The Supreme Court did not give any explanation for its decision, which rejected Chevron’s appeal of a lower court ruling. The lower court in January had thrown out an injunction blocking enforcement of the Ecuadorean judgment. The decision is the latest in a nearly two-decade conflict between the San Ramon oil company and residents of Ecuador’s Lago Agrio region over claims that Texaco, bought by Chevron in 2001, contaminated the area from 1964 to 1992. The battle has spawned litigation in numerous courts both inside and outside the United States.
Oil companies are watching the case closely because it may affect other cases accusing companies of polluting the areas where they operate…..
Posted: 09 Oct 2012 01:02 PM PDT
DENVER, Colorado — A key western congressman declared late last week that Mitt Romney supports his push to “reverse this trend of public ownership of lands.” In a speech to the Colorado Conservative Political Action Conference, Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) criticized Teddy Roosevelt’s “big ideas of big forests and big national parks,” which primarily exist in the West. Pearce told the audience that, if elected, Mitt Romney will help turn back public lands to the states or private entities…..
MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press October 12, 2012 (AP) — A coalition of groups trying to halt wolverine trapping in Montana filed a lawsuit Thursday that aims to provide new protections for an animal scientists warn will be imperiled by climate change in coming decades. [...] eight wildlife… more »
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 07:00 AM PDT by Jessica Goad
The Department of the Interior announced yesterday that is has approved 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy projects on public lands. This meets a goal expressed by Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and reiterated by President Obama in this year’s State of the Union address of authorizing 10,000 megawatts of non-hydro renewable energy on public lands by 2015.
From the Interior Department’s announcement: “Since 2009, Interior has authorized 33 renewable energy projects, including 18 utility-scale solar facilities, 7 wind farms and 8 geothermal plants, with associated transmission corridors and infrastructure that will enable the projects to connect to established power grids. When built, these projects will provide more than 10,000 megawatts of power, or enough electricity to power more than 3.5 million homes, and would support an estimated 13,000 construction and operations jobs according to project developers”
National Geographic - October 5, 2012
Facing a future as one of the places on Earth most vulnerable to climate change, and one of the nations with the world’s highest per capita carbon emissions, Australia has taken steps to change its fate.
Huffington Post - October 8, 2012 Wm. Robert Irvin, American Rivers
A study by NOAA shows habitat restoration creates 17-33 jobs per $1 million invested (as a comparison, the oil and gas sector creates about five jobs per $1 million invested; road infrastructure generates seven jobs per $1 million invested).
Climate sceptics more prominent in UK and US media
(October 4, 2012) — Climate sceptics are being given a more prominent, and sometimes uncontested, voice in UK and US newspapers in contrast to other countries around the world, new research suggests. … > full story
CBS News – October 8, 2012
Nations hoping to curb climate change face a quandary: Economic growth means more planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions. On the flip side, economic decline means a drop in greenhouse gas emissions as consumers tighten their belts, factories slow …
The threats of declining oil production and a changing climate are more serious than we think, Cobb writes.
By Kurt Cobb, Guest blogger / October 8, 2012 Christian Science Monitor
Other news from www.climateprogress.org:
Norway is to double carbon tax on its North Sea oil industry and set up a £1bn fund to help combat the damaging impacts of climate change in the developing world. [Guardian]
- In one of the most radical climate programmes yet by an oil-producing nation, the Norwegian government has proposed increasing its carbon tax on offshore oil companies by £21 to £45 (Nkr410) per tonne of CO2 and a £5.50 (Nkr50) per tonne CO2 tax on its fishing industry.
- Norway will also plough an extra £1bn (Nkr10bn) into its funds for climate change mitigation, renewable energy, food security in developing countries and conversion to low-carbon energy sources, Environmental Finance reported.
China, the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases linked to climate change, may create the impetus for a global carbon market as it begins pilot trading programs, according to the Climate Institute. [Businessweek]
- The world’s second-biggest economy is scheduled to start emissions trading in seven manufacturing regions next year, and it may introduce a national system by 2015. Shanghai and Guangdong plan to require producers of steel, petrochemicals and electricity and others with annual emissions of more than 20,000 metric tons to buy tradable permits. The other regions in China’s pilot program are Beijing, Tianjin, Chongqing, Shenzhen and Hubei….
- “Though covering a fraction of China’s total emissions, these pilots are expected to cover 700 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2014, compared with 382 million tons in Australia, 165 million tons in California and 2.1 billion tons in Europe,” [Climate Institute CEO John] Connor said.
- Drought damage to corn and soybean fields in the U.S., the world’s top grower and exporter, is eroding supplies of the nation’s two largest crops to below year-earlier consumption levels for the first time since 1974. [Businessweek]
- U.S. milk production is headed for the biggest contraction in 12 years as a drought-fueled surge in feed costs drives more cows to slaughter. [Businessweek]
- NOAA’s latest State of the Climate roundup shows that September marked the 16th month in a row with above-average temperatures for the lower 48 states of the U.S. [Climate Central]
- A large and growing majority of Americans say “global warming is affecting weather in the United States” (74%, up 5 points since our last national survey in March 2012). [Yale]
- The number of natural disasters per year has been rising dramatically on all continents since 1980, but the trend is steepest for North America where countries have been battered by hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, searing heat and drought, a new report says. [USA Today]
- Royal Dutch Shell said late Thursday it has applied for a permit from the U.S. Department of Commerce to export crude oil in a sign of how a boom in U.S. oil production from shale rock is reshaping the country’s role in the global energy marketplace. [Wall Street Journal]
- The recent rash of extreme weather and climate events — droughts, heat waves, extreme precipitation — has provided a greater impetus for taking action to reduce planet warming greenhouse gas emissions. But a lack of political will and the complexities of the climate system pose enormous obstacles, according to international development and climate scientists who spoke at a Columbia University forum on Thursday. [Climate Central]
Climate Change, Wildlife and Wildlands
The U.S. Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry (OCB) program, with support from the UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme (UKOA), has updated and expanded a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) developed in 2010 by OCB, the European Project on Ocean Acidification (EPOCA), and UKOA. The FAQ is a concise, readable summary of the state of ocean acidification knowledge. In all, 63 scientists from 47 institutions and 12 countries have participated. But this is to be a “living” resource so anyone may seek clarification or send comments to Sarah Cooley (email@example.com) for inclusion in future revisions. » FAQs about ocean acidification (pdf format)
- Ocean Acidification- A Summary for Policymakers from the Second Symposium on the Ocean in a High Co2 World (excellent 8 page pdf)
- Ocean Acidification Resources for Educators
- Linking introductory chemistry and the geosciences through ocean acidification–Article in The Earth Scientist (the quarterly publication of the National Earth Science Teachers Association) by S. Cooley and H. Benway, OCB. » Visit Website
- State of the Science Fact Sheet: Ocean Acidification –NOAA fact sheet » Visit Website
- Ocean Acidification: The Other Half of the CO2 Problem–EUR-OCEANS fact sheet » Visit Website
- Ocean Acidification: The Other CO2 Problem- National Resources Defense Council fact sheet » Visit Website
- Acid test for the seas- NOVA fact sheet » Visit Website
Www.skepticalscience.com – getting skeptical about global warming skepticism
Greenhouse gas emissions mapped to building, street level for U.S. cities
(October 9, 2012) — Researchers have developed a new software system capable of estimating greenhouse gas emissions across entire urban landscapes, all the way down to roads and individual buildings. Until now, scientists quantified carbon dioxide emissions at a much broader level. “Hestia” combines extensive public database “data-mining” with traffic simulation and building-by-building energy-consumption modeling. … > full story
Bioenergy: The broken promise
(October 9, 2012) — Biofuels are going to save us from climate threats and the oil crisis, while at the same time providing an opportunity to the smallholder farmers of the world. Hopes are high, but completely unrealistic. It is like trying to push a square peg into a round hole, according to new research. … > full story
Will Help Marketers Avoid Making Misleading Environmental Claims Oct 1 2012
The Federal Trade Commission issued revised “Green Guides” that are designed to help marketers ensure that the claims they make about the environmental attributes of their products are truthful and non-deceptive. The revisions to the FTC’s Green Guides reflect a wide range of public input, including hundreds of consumer and industry comments on previously proposed revisions. They include updates to the existing Guides, as well as new sections on the use of carbon offsets, “green” certifications and seals, and renewable energy and renewable materials claims. “The introduction of environmentally friendly products into the marketplace is a win for consumers who want to purchase greener products and producers who want to sell them,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. ”But this win-win can only occur if marketers’ claims are truthful and substantiated. The FTC’s changes to the Green Guides will level the playing field for honest business people and it is one reason why we had such broad support.” In revising the Green Guides, the FTC modified and clarified sections of the previous Guides and provided new guidance
on environmental claims that were not common when the Guides were last reviewed…..
The Guides also:
- advise marketers not to make an unqualified degradable claim for a solid waste product unless they can prove that the entire product or package will completely break down and return to nature within one year after customary disposal;
- caution that items destined for landfills, incinerators, or recycling facilities will not degrade within a year, so marketers should not make unqualified degradable claims for these items; and
- clarify guidance on compostable, ozone, recyclable, recycled content, and source reduction claims.
This week on the NewsHour we have been looking at how the urban heat island effect and climate change turn up the thermostat on U.S. cities, and how places like Chicago are trying to cool off with greener infrastructure.
Peter Calthorpe, urban designer and author of “Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change”, has worked on some of the biggest urban design projects in the United States over the last 20 years, in places including Portland, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and post-hurricane southern Louisiana. He said the best thing cities can do to keep cool is plant trees. “It’s that simple.” Calthorpe said. “Yeah, you can do white roofs and green roofs … but believe me, it’s that street canopy that makes all the difference.” Densely vegetated areas of a city can create cool islands within an urban center. Plus, shady sidewalks encourage people to walk rather than drive. And fewer cars means less spent on costly highways and parking lots, which not only absorb heat but also contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, he said. Hari Sreenivasan caught up with Calthorpe at the Aspen Environment Forum. Watch our interview in the video above
Green walls can reduce air pollution better than trees Conservation Magazine Aug 2012
Planting trees isn’t always the best way to reduce air pollution on city streets, a new study says. In some cases, more trees could even make the problem worse. Instead, “green walls”—blanketing sides of buildings with grass, ivy, or other plants—might be the most effective solution. In the U.K., 35,000 to 50,000 people die annually from pollution-related causes. Adding plants to city streets can reduce pollutant levels, but researchers have estimated the effect is small. In a new study, a team took a closer look at a common feature of the urban landscape: the street canyon. Street canyons are roads surrounded by tall buildings, where air tends to linger. The researchers ran computer simulations to determine how green walls and roofs might affect pollutant concentrations at street level. Adding plants to walls would cut nitrogen dioxide levels by 15 percent and small particulate matter by 23 percent, the authors estimate. In areas with little wind, those numbers could reach 40 and 60 percent. Green roofs didn’t perform as well because they don’t directly affect the air near the street. Trees also help clean the air, but they can keep street-level air from mixing with the air above. At low-to-medium pollutant levels, planting trees will still reduce air pollution, the team predicts. If a city is very polluted, however, trees could actually increase nitrogen dioxide levels near the street. “By not considering the adverse effects of tree planting on canyon ventilation, urban greening initiatives that concentrate on increasing the number of urban trees, without consideration of location, risk actively worsening street-level air quality,” the authors warn. ❧
Pugh, T.A.M. et al. 2012. Effectiveness of green infrastructure for improvement of air quality in urban street canyons. Environmental Science & Technology doi:10.1021/es300826w.
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 09:36 AM PDT Industries that support a higher number of “green” workers who are making goods and services more environmentally friendly have experienced a higher rate of growth over the last decade than industries with fewer green jobs.
That’s according to a new study from the Economic Policy Institute, which analyzed data on the green workforce from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS data, which was released in March, documented 3.1 million green jobs nation-wide in renewable energy, water management, recycling, and various positions that help improve the efficiency and environmental footprint of a company or institution.
BLS defined green jobs as: Jobs in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources; or, jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or ensuring that they use fewer natural resources
- OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST
By Daniel Politi Posted Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, at 3:56 PM ET
Rep. Paul Broun, who serves on the House Science Committee, told a church-sponsored banquet in his home state of Georgia that the theories of evolution and the big bang are “lies straight from the pit of hell.” Broun has long been known as one of the most conservative members of Congress, and an outspoken conservative Christian. He wanted to declare 2010 “the year of the Bible,” points out NBC News. Still, the comments from the medical doctor who also has a degree in chemistry are getting lots of attention after the Bridge Project, a progressive political watchdog group, began distributing video of the remarks. (Video is after the jump.)
Broun says “all that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang theory” was part of a ploy to hide how old the Earth really is, “to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”
The House Science Committee had already come under scrutiny recently after Rep. Todd Akin, another one of its members, made the now-infamous remarks about “legitimate rape,” points out Talking Points Memo. Broun plays off on his qualifications and degrees to add credence to his views:
You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I’ve found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don’t believe that the earth’s but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says.
Tom Stienstra, Chronicle Columnist Updated 11:59 p.m., Saturday, October 6, 2012 New laws signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last week show that environmental groups trump hunters and anglers once again. In the process, they created a new landscape – and name – for the Department of Fish and Game. The next test will be whether the department diverts money from trout hatcheries and fishing and hunting licenses and tags – dedicated user fees – and spends that money instead to pay for environmental programs involving endangered species, bio diversity and studies.
Here are key new laws for the DFG, parks and wildlife, which take effect Jan. 1, plus a proposal to improve fishing that the governor vetoed:
A new DFG: AB2402 will change the name of the Department of Fish and Game to the Department of Fish and Wildlife and create an “environmental crime task force.” Many believe the new name and mission will give environmentalists inside the agency the leverage to use money from dedicated fishing and hunting accounts to pay for their jobs and projects.
…..Global warming: SB1066 requires the State Coastal Conservancy to address global warming. I wonder how they are supposed to do that? Or pay for it? With another study?“Not natural”: SB1447 would have made a priority of building artificial reefs to create more habitat for fish and, in the process, increase recreation opportunities. That could have improved fishing in San Francisco Bay and along the coast. Vetoed…..
By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL (NYT) October 7, 2012 Compiled: 1:10 AM
While many gardeners regard the partially decomposed plant matter as an elixir, environmentalists say taking peat from centuries-old bogs disturbs vital ecosystems.
BPA’s real threat may be after it has metabolized: Chemical found in many plastics linked to multiple health threats
(October 4, 2012) — Bisphenol A (BPA) is a synthetic chemical widely used in the making of plastic products ranging from bottles and food can linings to toys and water supply lines. When these plastics degrade, BPA is released into the environment and routinely ingested. New research suggests it’s the metabolic changes that take place once BPA is broken down inside the body that pose the greater health threat. … > full story
Can eating tomatoes lower the risk of stroke?
(October 8, 2012) — Eating tomatoes and tomato-based foods is associated with a lower risk of stroke, according to new research. Tomatoes are high in the antioxidant lycopene. … > full story
Vitamin C prevents bone loss in animal models
(October 9, 2012) — Researchers have shown for the first time in an animal model that vitamin C actively protects against osteoporosis, a disease affecting large numbers of elderly women and men in which bones become brittle and can fracture. … > full story
Extent of surface melt over Greenland’s ice sheet on July 8, 2012 (left) and July 12, 2012 (right). Measurements from three satellites showed that on July 8, about 40 percent of the ice sheet had undergone thawing at or near the surface. In just a few days, the melting had dramatically accelerated and an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface had thawed by July 12. In the image, the areas classified as “probable melt” (light pink) correspond to those sites where at least one satellite detected surface melting. The areas classified as “melt” (dark pink) correspond to sites where two or three satellites detected surface melting. Image credit: Jesse Allen, NASA Earth Observatory and Nicolo E. DiGirolamo, SSAI and Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory › Larger view
July 24, 2012 PASADENA, Calif. – For several days this month, Greenland’s surface ice cover melted over a larger area than at any time in more than 30 years of satellite observations. Nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland, from its thin, low-lying coastal edges to its 2-mile-thick (3.2-kilometer) center, experienced some degree of melting at its surface, according to measurements from three independent satellites analyzed by NASA and university scientists.
SET OF THE SHOW-Grand Palais, October 2nd–Photos by Olivier Saillant