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Conservation Science News- Sept. 28, 2012

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Highlight of the Week– New Reports: (1) Carbon Pollution Creating a “Cocktail of Heat and Extreme Weather”; (2) Climate Change Kills 400,000/year; Already Damaging Economy











Highlight of the Week– New Reports: (1) Carbon Pollution Creating a “Cocktail of Heat and Extreme Weather”; (2) Climate Change Kills 400,000/year; Already Damaging Economy


Markey/Waxman Report: Carbon Pollution Creating A ‘Cocktail Of Heat And Extreme Weather’

By Climate Guest Blogger and Stephen Lacey on Sep 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm by Katie Valentine and Stephen Lacey


Two House Democrats have released a report that aims to connect the dots on climate change and extreme weather events.


The staff report, issued by Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), outlines the past year’s record-setting temperatures, storms, droughts, water levels and wildfires, and is being circulated in an attempt to rebuild congressional momentum to address climate change.


“The evidence is overwhelming — climate change is occurring and it is occurring now,” said Rep. Waxman, a Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, in a statement. The report outlines the stunning array of record-breaking extreme weather events throughout 2012 within five categories:





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Extreme water levels and water temperatures

According to the report, 2012 natural disasters (not including wildfires or drought) have caused $22 billion in insured losses and more than 220 deaths as of August. The full cost of 2012’s extreme weather events isn’t yet known, but it’s expected to rival 2011’s record-breaking $55 billion…..



Climate Change Kills 400000 a Year, New Report Reveals

The Earth’s changing climate is costing the global economy $1.2 trillion a year and killing 1,000 children a day, according to a new study—and the U.N. warns the summer’s record heat and drought could trigger a catastrophe. Daily Beast September 27, 2012 Nearly 1,000 children a day are now dying because of climate change, according to a path-breaking study published Wednesday (PDF), and the annual death toll stands at 400,000 people worldwide. Climate change also is costing the world economy $1.2 trillion a year, the equivalent of 1.6 percent of economic output, reports the Climate Vulnerability Monitor, a study commissioned by 20 of the world’s governments whose nations are most threatened by climate change and released on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York. Most of the 400,000 annual deaths are “due to hunger and communicable diseases that affect above all children in developing countries,” concludes the study, written by 50 scientists and policy experts from around the world…..

Climate change is already damaging global economy, report finds

Economic impact of global warming is costing the world more than $1.2 trillion a year, wiping 1.6% annually from global GDP

Fiona Harvey,, Tuesday 25 September 2012 23.00 EDT

Climate change is already contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people a year and costing the world more than $1.2 trillion, wiping 1.6% annually from global GDP, according to a new study.

The impacts are being felt most keenly in developing countries, according to the research, where damage to agricultural production from extreme weather linked to climate change is contributing to deaths from malnutrition, poverty and their associated diseases.

Air pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels is also separately contributing to the deaths of at least 4.5m people a year, the report found.

The 331-page study, entitled Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of A Hot Planet and published on Wednesday, was carried out by the DARA group, a non-governmental organisation based in Europe, and the Climate Vulnerable Forum. It was written by more than 50 scientists, economists and policy experts, and commissioned by 20 governments.

By 2030, the researchers estimate, the cost of climate change and air pollution combined will rise to 3.2% of global GDP, with the world’s least developed countries forecast to bear the brunt, suffering losses of up to 11% of their GDP.

Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh, said: “A 1C rise in temperature [temperatures have already risen by 0.7C globally since the end of the 19th century] is associated with 10% productivity loss in farming. For us, it means losing about 4m tonnes of food grain, amounting to about $2.5bn. That is about 2% of our GDP. Adding up the damages to property and other losses, we are faced with a total loss of about 3-4% of GDP. Without these losses, we could have easily secured much higher growth.”

But major economies will also take a hit, as extremes of weather and the associated damage – droughts, floods and more severe storms – could wipe 2% of the GDP of the US by 2030, while similar effects could cost China $1.2tr by the same date.

While many governments have taken the view that climate change is a long-term problem, there is a growing body of opinion that the effects are already being felt. Scientists have been alarmed by the increasingly rapid melting of Arctic sea ice, which reached a new record minimum this year and, if melting continues at similar rates, could be ice free in summer by the end of the decade. Some research suggests that this melting could be linked to cold, dull and rainy summers in parts of Europe – such as has been the predominant summer weather in the UK for the last six years. In the US, this year’s severe drought has raised food prices and in India the disruption to the monsoon has caused widespread damage to farmers.

Connie Hedegaard, the European Union’s climate chief, warned that extreme weather was becoming more common, as the effects of climate change take hold. “Climate change and weather extremes are not about a distant future,” she wrote in a comment for the Guardian last week. “Formerly one-off extreme weather episodes seem to be becoming the new normal.”

Michael Zammit Cutajar, former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said: “Climate change is not just a distant threat but a present danger – its economic impact is already with us.”….



Climate change is already with us. It kills.

It steals livelihoods. And it takes the most

from those who have the least. But the costs

are largely hidden from our understanding.

Inaction on climate change actually takes from

us all. Only together can we plot a different

course: one of greater prosperity and well-being.

Technical barriers no longer hold back our transition to

a low-carbon world, and technological solutions exist to

manage risks. We struggle instead with other barriers.

There are political barriers: while some countries are

committed to change and making progress, there is

still a lack of conviction among the governments of too

many industrialized and developing nations.

Social and cultural barriers also exist: lack of

understanding causes popular indifference or even

hostility to sensible change.





Backpack-toting birds help researchers reveal migratory divide, conservation hotspots
(September 26, 2012) — By outfitting two British Columbia subspecies of Swainson’s thrushes with penny-sized, state-of-the-art geolocators, researchers have been able to map their wildly divergent migration routes and pinpoint conservation hotspots. … > full story

Species richness and genetic diversity do not go hand in hand in alpine plants
(September 25, 2012) — Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that a high level of species diversity in alpine plants does not necessarily go hand in hand with a high level of genetic diversity. This finding suggests that new future strategies are needed to protect biodiversity in the Alpine region. … > full story

The Computerized Birder: Can Software Stop Bird Strikes on Wind Farms?

The Atlantic – September 23, 2012‎

There’s a common association in many people’s minds between wind turbines and dead birds. Opposition to new wind farms often centers on their hazards to raptors and other winged creatures, and yet for as advanced as wind energy technology itself has …


Wildfires in Washington State
(September 21, 2012) — The summer of 2012 will unfortunately be known as the “Summer of Devastating Western Wildfires” and practically not one state out west was spared. Washington State has been hardest hit of late. This satellite image shows a rash of wildfires currently burning in the middle of the state. … > full story



Desalination no panacea for Calif. water woes



ALICIA CHANG, Associated Press, JASON DEAREN, Associated Press Saturday, September 22, 2012

…in many cases, desalinated water is pricier than importing water the old-fashioned way — through pipes and tunnels. And it is cheaper to focus on conservation when possible: new technologies like low-flow toilets and stricter zoning laws that require less water-intensive landscaping have helped curb demand in communities throughout the state. Desalination has been around for years in Saudi Arabia, other Arab Gulf states and Israel, which last year approved the construction of a fifth desalination plant. The hope is that the five plants together will supply 75 percent of the country’s drinking water by 2013. The process also has helped ease thirst in places such as Australia, Spain and Singapore. Experts say it has been slower to catch on in the United States, mainly because companies face tougher rules on where they can build plants and must endure longer environmental reviews….Earlier this year, state utilities regulators rejected Monterey County’s desalination plan, citing problems with environmental review. The plan was also mired in alleged corruption by a county water official, who now faces criminal charges. Still, desalination will be an important part of the Central Coast’s future: the state ordered water suppliers to stop drawing from the Carmel River, its main source of the precious resource, starting in 2017. Even officials in Marina, with its shuttered plant, see a future in which demand will require their current desalination plant to resume operation and are planning another, larger plant to help make up for the expected water loss. “Water politics in Monterey County is a blood sport,” said Jim Heitzman, general manager of the Marina Coast Water District.


UC Merced study: Wildfire risk to homes will double over 40 years ……/uc-merced-study-wildfire-risk.html

Aug 2, 2012 – In the paper, released Wednesday, Westerling and co-author Ben Bryant looked at the impacts of climate change, the state’s projected


As population, interest in outdoor recreation grow, more pressure likely for northern forests
(September 26, 2012) — Despite just modest gains in population and participation in outdoor recreation compared to the rest of the nation, there is a strong likelihood of increasing pressure on forest and other undeveloped lands in northern states as the population grows and recreation demands shift. … > full story


Preserving large females could prevent overfishing of Atlantic cod, Swedish study finds
(September 26, 2012) — Cod are among Sweden’s most common and most popular edible fish and have been fished hard for many years. One consequence is the risk of serious changes in cod stocks, reveals new research. … > full story


Evan McGlinn for The New York Times

Building a Bat Cave to Battle a Plague

By JAMES GORMAN NYTIMES September 24, 2012 3:11 PM ET

Scientists hope that luring bats to an artificial bunker near Clarksville, Tenn., will help them find a cure for white nose syndrome, which has killed five million bats. …



Great white sharks back

SF Chronicle September 24, 2012

Scientists are all but running giddily into the surf with fancy new gadgetry as the annual migration of great white sharks hits full swing along the Pacific coast and reports flood in about finned beasts lurking in shallow waters. The ferocious predators have returned to their feeding grounds in the so-called Red Triangle, an area roughly between Monterey Bay, the Farallon Islands and Bodega Head, but sharks have been spotted all along the coast, including a 20-footer seen last weekend next to Moss Landing Harbor. The appearance of the great whites could not come at a better time for researchers, who recently deployed a new robotic device that can identify and track the movements of “What we are trying to build right now is a wired ocean with a network of interactive devices that will tell us where the animals are,” said Barbara Block, a professor with the department of biological sciences at Stanford University’s
Hopkins Marine Station. The new robot, called the Wave Glider, is a solar-powered device with a satellite hookup developed by Sunnyvale’s Liquid Robotics. The mobile surfboard-like gadget propels itself using wave energy and carries receivers and a global positioning system. The remote-controlled device, which is just now returning to San Francisco area waters after a trip up the coast to Oregon, is the latest addition to a growing arsenal of technology that is being used to study sharks. Transmitters have been attached to 100 sharks, and the acoustic pings of predators passing within 1,000 feet are being picked up by receivers affixed to buoys in known shark hangouts….


What Do Sharks Do in the Deep? Device May Tell

Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times A great white shark being corralled off the coast of Chatham, Mass. Known as Genie, she had a GPS tag attached to her dorsal fin for tracking before being released back into the water. More Photos »

By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE New York Times : September 24, 2012 ….Nine days passed. Then, on Sept. 13, a giant shark that would become known as Genie reared her head, or rather her fin, and burst into oceanographic history. Hooked in the corner of her mouth, she became what Mr. Fischer said was the first great white — all 2,292 pounds of her — to be captured live off Cape Cod, the home waters of “Jaws.” The Ocearch crew held her for 15 minutes in a cradle off the side of the boat. A team of scientists attached a GPS tag to her dorsal fin and took blood and tissue samples before releasing her back into the deep. Now the researchers, and anyone with an Internet connection, can follow her movements in real time online on the “shark tracker” on ….Catching sharks is something that Mr. Fischer, the founding chairman of Ocearch, a nonprofit organization that facilitates research on oceans and fish, and his crew have done scores of times. Before arriving here, they completed a similar expedition off South Africa, where they tagged dozens of great whites whose travel patterns can also be followed online. The purpose of their mission, said Mr. Fischer, 44, is to crack the code of these fascinating and mysterious animals. He and the scientists traveling with him hope to understand their migratory patterns and breeding habits, with the goal of providing policy makers with the necessary data to protect them. The online tracker can also alert coastal residents and tourists when sharks are in the vicinity. For some environmentalists, the mission is not so benign, or even necessary. They see the live capture of sharks as more invasive than other methods of tagging, like using a harpoon to implant a tracking device. The great whites are already a protected species in the United States, they argue, and the use of hooks and a method that exhausts them before pulling them out of the water subjects them to unnecessary trauma. During the South African expedition, one shark died. …


Scientists capture clues to sustainability of fish populations
(September 27, 2012) — Thanks to studies of a fish that gives birth to live young and is not fished commercially, scientists have discovered that food availability is a critical limiting factor in the health of fish populations. … > full story

It’s not too late for troubled fisheries, experts say
(September 27, 2012) — New research confirms suspicions that thousands of “data-poor” fisheries, representing some 80 percent of the world’s fisheries, are in decline but could recover with proper management. … > full story


True love between grass and clover leads to richer harvest
September 27, 2012) — Clover fixes atmospheric nitrogen, and plants growing nearby benefit. But does clover gain anything from its neighbors in return? Recent research reveals that, in mixed cropping, both nitrogen-fixing plants and their neighbors improve in weight and quality. The research revealed that levels of both carbon and especially nitrogen, a measure of food value, were higher in plant mixtures. … > full story


Agriculture Is the Direct Driver for Worldwide Deforestation



September 25, 2012 — A new synthesis on drivers of deforestation and forest degradation was published during the Bangkok climate change negotiations in September by researchers from Canada and from Wageningen University, Netherlands. The report stresses the importance of knowing what drives deforestation and forest degradation, in order to be able to design and monitor effective REDD+ policies to halt it…. Countries largely define REDD+ strategies and interventions to deal with national and local scale drivers, but face problems addressing international drivers and acknowledge that international pressure will increase. The report offers solutions for how countries can decouple economic growth from deforestation, investigating the range of options countries have to address drivers at various scales. The report, was supported by the UK and Norwegian governments, is available at story



Christian Ziegler FILCHER: On one island, spotted antbirds are evolving into polished parasites.

Feathered Freeloaders at the Ant Parade



By NATALIE ANGIER Published: September 24, 2012

BARRO COLORADO ISLAND, Panama — Here in the exuberantly dour understory of the Panamanian rain forest, the best way to find the elusive and evolutionarily revealing spotted antbird is to stare at your boots. For one thing, if you don’t tuck in your pant legs to protect against chiggers and ticks, you will end up a color plate in “Rook’s Textbook of Dermatology.” For another, sooner or later — O.K., much later, many, many hiking hours later — you will finally step into a swarm of army ants boiling out across the forest floor.


In birds’ development, researchers find diversity by the peck
(September 24, 2012) — It has long been known that diversity of form and function in birds’ specialized beaks is abundant. Charles Darwin famously studied the finches on the Galapagos Islands, tying the morphology (shape) of various species’ beaks to the types of seeds they ate. In 2010, biologists and applied mathematicians showed that Darwin’s finches all actually shared the same developmental pathways, using the same gene products, controlling just size and curvature, to create 14 very different beaks.


New turtle tracking technique may aid efforts to save loggerhead
(September 21, 2012) — The old adage “you are what you eat” is helping scientists better understand the threatened loggerhead turtle, which is the primary nester on Central Florida’s beaches. … > full story


Diversity, distribution of cutthroat trout in Colorado clarified
(September 24, 2012) — A novel genetic study has helped to clarify the native diversity and distribution of cutthroat trout in Colorado, including the past and present haunts of the federally endangered greenback cutthroat trout. … > full story


Global economic pressures trickle down to local landscape change, altering disease risk
(September 20, 2012) — The pressures of global trade may heighten disease incidence by dictating changes in land use. A boom in disease-carrying ticks and chiggers has followed the abandonment of rice cultivation in Taiwanese paddies, say ecologists, demonstrating the potential for global commodities pricing to drive the spread of infections. … > full story

Horticultural hijacking: The dark side of beneficial soil bacteria
(September 21, 2012) — It’s a battleground down there — in the soil where plants and bacteria dwell. Even though beneficial root bacteria come to the rescue when a plant is being attacked by pathogens, there’s a “dark side” to the relationship between the plant and its white knight, according to new research. … > full story


‘Semi-dwarf’ trees may enable a green revolution for some forest crops
(September 27, 2012) — The same “green revolution” concepts that have revolutionized crop agriculture and helped to feed billions of people around the world may now offer similar potential in forestry, scientists say, with benefits for wood, biomass production, drought stress and even greenhouse gas mitigation. … > full story






Loss of species makes nature more sensitive to climate change, study finds
(September 26, 2012) — When we wipe out the most sensitive species, human beings reduce the resilience of ecosystems to climate change, reveals a new study from biologists in Sweden. High biodiversity acts as an insurance policy for nature and society alike as it increases the likelihood that at least some species will be sufficiently resilient to sustain important functions such as water purification and crop pollination in a changing environment. … > full story

After Warmest 12-Months On Record, U.S. Poised To See Warmest Year Ever In 2012

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 02:49 PM PDT

NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center reports today that this January to August is the warmest year-to-date on record for the contiguous United States. As Climate Central shows in this chart, the U.S. will easily beat the previous record warm year, 1998 — unless the rest of the year is unusually cold….


Changing Calif. climate a threat to crops
Mark Schapiro, Center for Investigative Reporting Updated 11:10 p.m., Thursday, September 27, 2012

Farmers have always been gamblers, long accustomed to betting on the probabilities of the weather. But for the Napa Valley, where temperatures have been ideal for the wine industry, shifts in the Earth’s climate could be a game-changer. “They’re used to rolling the dice every year,” said Stuart Weiss, a conservation biologist and chief scientist at the Creekside Center for Earth Observation in Menlo Park, which assists growers and municipalities dealing with the disruptions caused by the changing climate. “Now, though, climate change is stacking the dice.” During the next 30 years, Weiss estimates, the temperature in the Napa Valley will rise by 1.8 degrees – a significant shift for a wine industry whose product can be affected by the smallest of temperature changes. Such a warming would be an 80 percent jump over the historical increase of about 1 degree every three decades, the change recorded since weather data in Wine Country were first kept around the turn of the 20th century.

It isn’t just Wine Country that is having to adapt. From the vast fields of fruits and nuts in the Central Valley to wheat farms in the Imperial Valley, changing weather is altering the fundamental conditions for growing food, prompting a reassessment of the way California’s largest industry operates. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, which pays farmers when bad weather ruins their crops, has identified climate change as one of the major risk factors for U.S. agriculture. In a 2010 report, it paid particular attention to the vulnerabilities of California, which produces 95 percent of the country’s apricots, almonds, artichokes, figs, kiwis, raisin grapes, olives, cling peaches, dried plums, persimmons, pistachios and walnuts. “Since the production of these commodities is so concentrated into one geographical area, the climatic impacts in these agricultural markets could be profound,” the report concluded.

The agency suggested an adaptation strategy: more research into “drought-tolerant, heat-tolerant and other crop varieties better suited to the changing conditions.” Those changing conditions include not only the possibility of hotter, drier weather, but also an influx of salt as sea levels rise and ocean water pushes farther into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Daniel Cozad, executive director of the Central Valley Salinity Coalition, a group of farmers, businessmen and government officials, said some farmers in the western valley are already being forced to adapt by switching from salt-sensitive crops like strawberries and avocados to less sensitive – and less profitable – crops like alfalfa and wheat…..


How The Arctic Death Spiral Fuels A ‘Wicked Backlash On Our Weather’

By Joe Romm on Sep 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Videographer Peter Sinclair has another excellent video for The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media featuring leading Arctic experts: One of the featured scientists is Dr. Jennifer Francisof Rutgers’ Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences. We’ve featured discussion of Francis’s important work here. Francis was lead author of a 2012 Geophysical Research Letters study, “Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes,” which found that the loss of Arctic ice favors “extreme weather events that result from prolonged conditions, such as drought, flooding, cold spells, and heat waves.” You can find some good explanations of her findings here.

The Washington Post‘s Capital Weather Gang featured a guest post by Francis last Friday, “Shrinking Arctic ice and the wicked backlash on our weather.” Here are some key excerpts…


Unusual Summer Storm Blasts the Arctic | NewsFeed |

Aug 10, 2012 – A rare summer storm blasted the Arctic this week….. Arctic storms such as this one can have a large impact on the sea ice, causing it to melt rapidly through many mechanisms, such as tearing off large swaths of ice and pushing them to warmer sites, churning the ice and making it slushier, or lifting warmer waters from the depths of the Arctic Ocean. “It seems that this storm has detached a large chunk of ice from the main sea ice pack. This could lead to a more serious decay of the summertime ice cover than would have been the case otherwise, even perhaps leading to a new Arctic sea ice minimum,” said Claire Parkinson, a climate scientist with NASA Goddard. “Decades ago, a storm of the same magnitude would have been less likely to have as large an impact on the sea ice, because at that time the ice cover was thicker and more expansive.”….


Arctic Sea Ice: What, Why, and What Next

By Ramez Naam | September 21, 2012 |  Scientific American

On September 19th, NSIDC, the National Snow and Ice Data Center, announced that Arctic sea ice has shrunk as far as it will shrink this summer, and that the ice is beginning to reform, expanding the floating ice cap that covers the North Pole and the seas around it.   The Arctic Sea Ice extent this September was far smaller than the previous record set in 2007.  At 3.4 million square kilometers of ice coverage, this year’s Arctic minimum was 800,000 square kilometers smaller than the 2007 record.  That difference between the previous record and this year’s is larger than the entire state of Texas.  An ice-free summer in the Arctic, once projected to be more than a century away, now looks possible decades from now. Some say that it looks likely in just the next few years……


Melting Arctic Ice Cap at Record

ScienceDaily (Sep. 24, 2012) — Think of a poor hamster on a spinning wheel, caught up by momentum and unable to stop until it’s overwhelmed, sent tumbling, crashing out of control inside.That’s the analogy John Yackel, head of the department of geography, makes when he considers the annual summer ice melt in the Arctic, which he’s been closely monitoring for the past 15 years — documenting the ice cover as it’s steadily shrunk in the wake of Arctic and global warming. Thoughts of imminent crashes seem particularly ominous this year as last week marked the unofficial peak, or the end of the summer ice melt, with ice levels more dramatically diminished than at any time since satellite monitoring began 33 years ago.The previous record low for Arctic sea ice extent, set on Sept. 18, 2007 with a 4.17-million sq.-km. ice cap, was already shattered by the end of August this year when it had melted to below 4-million sq. km. “This is the smallest minimum ice extent we’ve ever had, and not just in the satellite record, but probably in the last million years,” says Yackel, a sea ice geophysicist and climatologist.

From the patterns he has observed, this year’s extreme melt could be the beginning of a frightening trend. Yackel and the university-based Cryosphere Climate Research Group use satellite technology to research the physical properties of Arctic ice. As recently as the 1980s, most of the ice in the Arctic Ocean was “multi-year ice,” — thick ice that would remain throughout the summer. At that time, the split between multi-year ice and seasonal ice — ice that would melt away in the summer — was about 80 per cent multi-year and 20 per cent seasonal. “In the last 20 years we’ve almost gotten to the point where we’ve reversed that ratio,” Yackel says, predicting the ice extent that covers the Arctic Ocean “is likely to be gone in the summers within the next 20 to 25 years, if not sooner.” The depleting ice cover would have serious ramifications for the planet. Arctic ice acts as a reflector of sunlight, helping regulate Earth’s temperature, cooling the climate. “When there’s no longer that sea ice below the air mass and it’s just open ocean, that’s when more moisture off the ocean’s surface gets into the atmosphere and the water vapor in the atmosphere makes for more violent storms,” says Yackel.

“We can also expect to see an increase in storm frequency and storm intensity for most of the world’s populated places as the Arctic and Earth continues to warm.”


Eco-evolutionary responses of biodiversity to climate change
pp747 – 751

Jon Norberg, Mark C. Urban, Mark Vellend, Christopher A. Klausmeier and Nicolas Loeuille
doi:10.1038/nclimate1588 NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE subs. required
This study describes the development of a multi-species model used to explore the integrated eco-evolutionary responses to climate change. The results should help to understand and predict the responses of biological diversity, ecosystems, and ecological services to changing climate.



Scientists predict major shifts in Pacific ecosystems by 2100
September 24, 2012)
What if you woke up every day to find that the closest grocery store had moved several miles farther away from your home? Over time, you would have to travel hundreds of extra miles to find essential food for yourself and your family. This is potentially a scenario faced by thousands of marine animals affected by climate change. A new study published in Nature Climate Change examines the distribution of various open ocean animals in the North Pacific and explores how that could change over the next century as global ocean temperatures increase and productivity levels shift. The researchers conclude that some critical ocean habitats could undergo significant changes in location, moving more than 600 miles from where they are now, while other habitats could remain relatively unchanged…..

….. …One of these key habitat areas, known as the North Pacific Transition Zone, marks the interface between cold, nutrient-rich polar water to the north and warmer, nutrient-poor water to the south. This region is used by a variety of ocean predators, including marine mammals, tunas and seabirds, as a corridor across the Pacific Ocean basin. The study suggests that this critical region could shift by as much as 600 miles, resulting in a 20 percent loss of species diversity in the region.
The California Current, which runs along the west coast of North America, supports a variety of open ocean predators each year, when cold, nutrient-rich water creates regions of high productivity. This so-called upwelling cycle would likely continue despite ocean warming. “The fact that tagging indicates this is the number one lunch stop in town along the most populous coast in the nation — and stabilizes in a warming world — increases our opportunity to consider how to protect these hot spots,” said Barbara Block, the Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Professor in Marine Sciences at Stanford, who is heavily involved in TOPP.Among the Pacific’s top predators, turtles, sharks and marine mammals such as whales appear to be most at risk from habitat shifts associated with Pacific warming. In some cases, predicted losses in essential habitat ranged as high as 35 percent. But animals such as seabirds and tunas may benefit from climate-change-related shifts that could actually increase their potential habitat for foraging due to their broader tolerances to temperature. “The difference from one species to another is their ability to adapt to temperatures and to use multiple ocean areas,” said Hazen. “Having multiple sources of food, migration corridors and areas to call home provides a buffer against climate variability and change.”…full story

Elliott L. Hazen, Salvador Jorgensen, Ryan R. Rykaczewski, Steven J. Bograd, David G. Foley, Ian D. Jonsen, Scott A. Shaffer, John P. Dunne, Daniel P. Costa, Larry B. Crowder, Barbara A. Block. Predicted habitat shifts of Pacific top predators in a changing climate. Nature Climate Change, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1686



The need for new ocean conservation strategies in a high-carbon dioxide world
pp720 – 724

Greg H. Rau, Elizabeth L. McLeod and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg
doi:10.1038/nclimate1555 Nature Climate Change subs required
The threats posed to the marine environment by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide are historically unprecedented, and will probably require the use of unconventional, non-passive methods to conserve marine ecosystems. In this Perspective it is argued that soliciting such approaches and evaluating their cost, safety and effectiveness must be part of a robust ocean conservation and management strategy.

Scientists Focus on Ocean Acidification
Lauren Sommer California Report , KQED Radio September 25, 2012

Download audio (MP3)

Oceans 30% more acidic since start of industrial revolution…impacts seen on oysters today….more acidic waters in spring and summer along CA coast with upwelling…This week, scientists from around the world are meeting in Monterey to discuss what they call the “other” climate change problem–the oceans are becoming more acidic. It happens as oceans absorb the carbon dioxide we add to the air through burning fossil fuels. It can be bad news for oysters, mussels and the marine food web….

Changes in pH at the exterior surface of plankton with ocean acidification

Kevin J. Flynn, Jerry C. Blackford, Mark E. Baird, John A. Raven, Darren R. Clark, John Beardall, Colin Brownlee, Heiner Fabian and Glen L. Wheeler doi:10.1038/nclimate1696 NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE subs. required


Drought Grows, Forecast to Persist Through Early Winter

By Michael D. Lemonick
Published: September 20th, 2012

The massive and widespread 2012 drought that has gripped the nation since the spring refuses to die, according to the latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor — and in fact, it’s expanded a little: as of September 18, 64.82 percent of the contiguous U.S. was suffering from at least moderate drought, slightly more than the 64.16 percent reported a week earlier, enough of a gain to set a new record for this drought category. At the same time, NOAA released its seasonal drought outlook for the period ending December 31, and it offers little prospect for significant improvement. Drought is projected to persist in a huge swath of the country, especially in the West from Southern California to West Texas, north to Wisconsin, and back west to Montana, Idaho, southeastern Oregon and back down to Nevada — and everywhere in between. In addition, drought conditions are projected to develop during the period in the rest of the Pacific Northwest and Upper Midwest. A small swath from south Texas up through Indiana and parts of Ohio may see “some improvement” in drought conditions, as might parts of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. The rest of the East and Southeast are mostly unaffected by drought at this time, and that is projected to continue. The drought forecast for the next few months is being shaped by the expected influence of a developing El Niño event in the equatorial tropical Pacific Ocean. ….



Valley farmers examine climate change issuesSan Joaquin (CA)

By Robert Rodriguez – The Fresno Bee Thursday, Sep. 27, 2012 | 12:01 AM Related Story: Volatile weather creates dramatic changes for California farmers

New science and research has San Joaquin Valley farmers taking a harder look at the effect that climate change may have on their industry.

If researcher’s predictions hold true, the Valley’s multi-billion dollar agriculture industry will be hit with longer stretches of hot temperatures, fewer colder days and shrinking water supplies. What that means for agriculture is potentially lower yields, a loss of revenue and fewer acres being farmed.

Farmers and industry leaders say that while there is still skepticism among their ranks, they are doing what they can to stay ahead of the issue, including educating themselves, testing new fruit varieties or investing in water-saving technologies. ….

Researchers predict that rising temperatures over the next several decades could pinch the yields of some Valley crops, including an 18% drop in citrus, 6% in grapes and 9% among cherries and other orchard crops. Nelsen said he was one of the early naysayers. The early debates about climate change were often mired in politics, or seen by farmers as an agenda pushed by the environmental community. But more credible research has caused many to take the issue more seriously.”I am not completely buying into it,” Nelsen said. “But as an industry, it behooves us to be out in front of an issue that could affect the production of citrus in the state.” Nelsen wants to know how hotter temperatures will affect the flavor of citrus fruit and how oranges will develop their vibrant color with fewer colder days. “And do we take a second look at what possible locations might be available to grow citrus, if the San Joaquin Valley is not amenable to producing citrus anymore?” …..



Craig Miller / KQED

California’s Farm Belt Didn’t Dodge the Summer Heat Wave

By Nicholas Christen and Craig Miller KQED Radio September 24, 2012

Even tomatoes can only take so much heat. A belt from Bakersfield to the northern Sacramento Valley produces a third of the nation’s canning tomatoes. Autumn is here, so says the calendar. Living on the coast, it might be easy to think that California escaped the heat wave suffered by much of the nation this summer. While that may be true for most of the large coastal population centers, it was a different story for much of the state’s interior farm belt… “We had just a couple of weeks on end where we were 109, 110, 111 degrees. Just brutal. The nights don’t cool down, it’s hard on the plants, it’s hard on the people…things heated up quickly — especially in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys — through August and into September.  Valley towns including Redding, Red Bluff, Sacramento, Merced, Madera, Fresno, and Bakersfield, have been on the order of three-to-five degrees above normal for the duration of August and September. Some of the most extreme deviations in August average temperatures: Merced +5.1; Fresno +4.8; Bakersfield +4.6; Sacramento: +4.1; Madera +3.0. Fresno saw 27 days above normal during August and most of those days were at least three degrees above normal, a string one meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Fresno called, “pretty amazing.” There has been a plus side to all this. “I can remember we used to get a lot of real severe frosts during the spring growing season,” recalled Cameron. “I can’t remember the last time we had one that was actually a killing frost during April.” That’s created an opportunity of sorts for growers. “We’ve been able to plant our tomatoes earlier in the year for earlier harvest, which extends the, the season for the cannery.” The roast continued well into September, bringing with it an unusual late-season streak of 90-plus-degree days in downtown Sacramento. This year could eclipse the September record of 20 days, set back in 1899.


Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation Study for California– BARRIERS to ADAPTATION for CALIFORNIA’s WATER SECTOR-
This Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program white paper was released in July of this year and provides a legal analysis of barriers to adaptation for California’s water sector:

This project focused on the legal and institutional framework associated with California’s water rights allocation system, and identifies changes to that framework that would facilitate adaptation to climate change. Since such changes may be difficult to accomplish, the project focused largely, but not exclusively, on changes that may be politically feasible now or in the future. There is already conflict in California over water allocation, and climate change will exacerbate that conflict by increasing demand and decreasing supply. Adaptation will be needed both to address already unavoidable impacts from historical emissions, and to address impacts from future emissions. To identify changes that would facilitate adaptation this study looked at recent legislation, policy proposals, and white papers addressing water reform; and off-the- record interviews were conducted with individuals familiar with California water law. Having an accurate record of who is diverting water in California, and in what quantity, is the single most important step towards preparing for climate change, and the recommendations
reflect that.

For groundwater, the changes identified would

(1) expand groundwater monitoring and reporting requirements,
(2) expand groundwater planning requirements, and
(3) require the State Board to improve groundwater management and to prevent the waste or unreasonable use of groundwater.

For surface water, the changes we identify would
(1) require the State Board to provide information about efficient agricultural water management practices, and streamline State Board procedures for enforcement actions for the waste and unreasonable use of water,
(2) increase the enforcement of and penalties for failing to file a Statement of Water Diversion and Use and for illegal diversions,
(3) require all beneficiaries of the water rights system to bear the cost of activities related to the administration of those rights, and
(4) expand reporting requirements to require diverters to state what they believe their water rights to be.

Keywords: Water rights administration, California, climate change, adaptation, groundwater, surface water, State Water Resources Control Board. Please use the following citation for this paper: Hanemann, M., D. Lambe, and D. Farber (University of California, Berkeley). 2012. Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation Study for California: Legal Analysis of Barriers to Adaptation for California’s Water Sector. California Energy Commission. Publication number: CEC-500-2012-019.


Modeling Sea Level Rise—an overview

By Stefan Rahmsdorf, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research

Nature Education Knowledge, 2012

“physical modeling of sea level rise does not yet provide reliable results…motivation to turn to semi- empirical methods.”



As Temperatures Climb, Salt Marshes Curb Climate Change

RedOrbit – ‎September 27, 2012‎

Image Caption: Salt marsh at Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Credit: Fariss Samarrai Alan McStravick for – Your Universe Online

With only 6 days separating us from the third-hottest summer on record, the warnings of climate scientists are increasingly being taken with more than just a grain of salt. Many climate scientists are of the opinion that if we haven’t passed a tipping point already, then that time is rapidly approaching. Carbon dioxide, one of the most prevalent of our greenhouse gases, acts as a sort of blanket in our atmosphere by trapping in the Earth’s heat. As carbon dioxide accumulates, it has the ability to affect our global climate, increasing temperature that, in turn, melts polar ice caps and causes sea levels to rise. In a study published today in the journal Nature, environmental scientists from the University of Virginia postulate that the warming climate and rising seas will actually enable salt marshes around the globe to capture and remove increasing amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  Potentially, this could act to slow the rate of global climate change.

“We predict that marshes will absorb some of that carbon dioxide, and if other coastal ecosystems – such as seagrasses and mangroves – respond similarly, there might be a little less warming,” said the study’s lead author, Matt Kirwan, a research assistant professor of environmental sciences the University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences. Kirwan and study co-author Simon Mudd, a geosciences researcher at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, used computer models to predict salt marsh growth rates under different climate change and sea-level scenarios. These salt marshes are acting as a sort of fail-safe measure for our environment. Consisting primarily of grasses, the salt marshes are vital to coastal ecosystems as they help to protect shorelines from storms. Additionally, they provide a necessary habitat for a diverse range of wildlife, including birds, mammals, fish and mollusks. Additionally, by trapping sediment during flooding, they act to build up the elevation of coastal areas and produce new soils from decaying organic matter and root structures.

“One of the cool things about salt marshes is that they are perhaps the best example of an ecosystem that actually depends on carbon accumulation to survive climate change: The accumulation of roots in the soil builds their elevation, keeping the plants above the water,” Kirwan explained. Salt marshes are repositories for enormous quantities of carbon. These stores of carbon are essential to plant productivity. The plant life, breathing in the atmospheric carbon, utilizes that transaction to facilitate growth. As plant life flourishes, it aids in increasing the overall height of the soil. Even if the grass were to die, carbon remains trapped in the sediment.
The model proposed in the study explains that even with a rise in sea-level, the marshes could bury up to four times as much carbon as they currently do. “Our work indicates that the value of these ecosystems in capturing atmospheric carbon might become much more important in the future, as the climate warms,” Kirwan said…..


Study: Climate change threatens seafood supply

Report ranks threat to nations, with island nations on top By JASON HOPPIN – Santa Cruz Sentinel Posted:   09/24/2012 10:18:33 AM PDT

SANTA CRUZ – A new study shows that increasingly acidic seawater threatens the food supply in developing countries, particularly island nations dependent on fish for protein. Released today, the report is the first to rank the threat to countries from the phenomenon, which researchers say is related to climate change. Researchers factored in nations’ exposure to acidification, their dependency on seafood as a food source and their ability to adapt. “You’re potentially going to have a lot of people that will lose a significant source of protein, something that they sustainably harvested for thousands of years,” said report author Matthew Huelsenbeck, a marine scientist with the conservation group Oceana. “Their way of life is threatened.” Seafood is an important source of protein, particularly in the developing world, where it supplies 15 percent of the protein for 3 billion people. But oceans are also a key absorbent of carbon dioxide, taking in 300 tons per second – about a quarter of all carbon dioxide produced worldwide. That has taken a toll, with ocean acidity up 30 percent since the mid-18th century. The change recently has led fish populations to seek out cooler, less acidic waters, and the resulting carbonic acid threatens coral reefs and shellfish. Acidification already has had impacts, from contributing to increasing coral reef “bleaching” events – up to 90 percent of coral has been lost in the Maldives, Seychelles, Kenya and more – to a decadelong die-off of oysters off the coast of Oregon….


New clues about ancient water cycles shed light on U.S. deserts
(September 27, 2012)
– The deserts of Utah and Nevada have not always been dry. Now a researcher has found a new water cycle connection between the U.S. southwest and the tropics, and understanding the processes that have brought precipitation to the western US will help scientists better understand how the water cycle might be perturbed in the future. … T
he deserts of Utah and Nevada have not always been dry. Between 14,000 and 20,000 years ago, when large ice caps covered Canada during the last glacial cooling, valleys throughout the desert southwest filled with water to become large lakes, scientists have long surmised. At their maximum size, the desert lakes covered about a quarter of both Nevada and Utah. Now a team led by a Texas A&M University researcher has found a new water cycle connection between the U.S. southwest and the tropics, and understanding the processes that have brought precipitation to the western U.S. will help scientists better understand how the water cycle might be perturbed in the future….”Large ice caps profoundly altered where storms went during glacial periods. Before this study, it was assumed that Pacific winter storms that now track into Washington and Canada were pushed south into central and southern California,” Lyle notes. “However, by comparing timing between wet intervals on the coast, where these storms would first strike, with growth of the inland lakes, we found that they didn’t match.”… Only southern California coastal wet intervals matched with the progression of high lakes inland, pointing to the development of a tropical connection, where storms cycled into the region from the tropical Pacific, west of southern Mexico.”We think that the extra precipitation may have come in summer, enhancing the now weak summer monsoon in the desert southwest. But we need more information about what season the storms arrived to strengthen this speculation,” Lyle says…..What we need to do now is look at all of this on a finer scale,” Lyle points out. “We need to understand better the processes that directed the storms thousands of years ago, and to predict better what changes might occur in the future.”….full story



Hurricane Irene polluted Catskills watershed
(September 26, 2012) — The water quality of lakes and coastal systems will be altered if hurricanes intensify in a warming world, according to a new study. … > full story


Climate is changing the Great Barrier Reef
(September 24, 2012) — Satellite measurement of sea surface temperatures has yielded clear evidence of major changes taking place in the waters of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef over the past 25 years, marine scientists have found. … > full story


Tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea have intensified due to earlier monsoon onset
(September 24, 2012) — The tropical cyclones during the pre-monsoon season in the Arabian Sea have intensified since 1997 compared to 1979 as a result of decreased vertical wind shear and earlier occurrence of tropical cyclones, according to a new study. … > full story


Stratosphere targets deep sea to shape climate: North Atlantic ‘Achilles heel’ lets upper atmosphere affect the abyss
(September 23, 2012) — A new study suggests something amazing: Periodic changes in winds high in the stratosphere influence the seas by striking a vulnerable “Achilles heel” in the North Atlantic and changing mile-deep ocean circulation patterns, which in turn affect Earth’s climate. … > full story




Study examines forest vulnerability to climate change September 27, 2012 by Alan Buis And Noah Molotch

—Mid-elevation forests – those between approximately 6,500 to 8,000 feet (1,981 to 2,438 meters) in elevation – are the most sensitive to rising temperatures and changes in precipitation and snowmelt associated with climate change, finds a new University of Colorado Boulder-led study co-funded by NASA. The study looked at how the greenness of Western U.S. forests is linked to fluctuations in year-to-year snowpack. A research team led by CU-Boulder researcher Ernesto Trujillo used satellite and ground data to identify the threshold where mid-elevation forests that are sustained primarily by moisture transition into higher-elevation forests that are instead sustained primarily by sunlight and temperature. The team used 26 years of continuous data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), a spaceborne sensor flying on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite, to measure forest greenness. Forest observations from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA’s Terra spacecraft were critical for evaluating the longer-term AVHRR data. Being able to identify this “tipping point” is important because many people live and play in these mid-elevation forests in the Western United States, said co-author Noah Molotch, CU-Boulder assistant professor and also a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. These forests are seeing higher levels of wildfires, beetle outbreaks and tree mortality. The researchers found that these mid-elevation forests show a dramatic sensitivity to snow that fell the previous winter, both in terms of accumulation and subsequent melt. About half of the mid-elevation forest greenness measured by satellites was attributed to the snow accumulations from the previous winter, with the other half due to conditions such as soil depth, soil nutrients, temperature and sunlight. “The strength of the relationship between forest greenness and snowpack from the previous year was quite surprising to us,” Molotch said. …


Severe economic loss for European forest land expected by 2100
(September 23, 2012) — By 2100 the climate change is expected to reduce the economic value of forest land by 14 to 50 percent, which equates to a potential damage of several hundred billion Euros unless effective countermeasures are taken. This is the conclusion of the first pan-European study on the economic effects of climate change on forest land. … > full story

Salt cedar beetle damage widespread after warm summer
(September 27, 2012) — Salt cedar along the waterways of the southern and eastern Panhandle is rapidly being defoliated and dying back, and one entomologist believes he knows why. … > full story


Ecology: Soil mediation in grasslands
pp711 – 712

Howard Epstein

The physical composition of the soil can determine grassland plant responses to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide.
See also:
Letter by Philip A. Fay et al. NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE subscription required


Drought Grows, Forecast to Persist Through Early Winter By Michael D. Lemonick
Published: September 20th, 2012

The massive and widespread 2012 drought that has gripped the nation since the spring refuses to die, according to the latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor — and in fact, it’s expanded a little: as of September 18, 64.82 percent of the contiguous U.S. was suffering from at least moderate drought, slightly more than the 64.16 percent reported a week earlier, enough of a gain to set a new record for this drought category. At the same time, NOAA released its seasonal drought outlook for the period ending December 31, and it offers little prospect for significant improvement. Drought is projected to persist in a huge swath of the country, especially in the West from Southern California to West Texas, north to Wisconsin, and back west to Montana, Idaho, southeastern Oregon and back down to Nevada — and everywhere in between….


Other news from




The Journey From High Schoolers To Climate Leaders In Two Semesters Or Less

Posted: 22 Sep 2012 07:53 AM PDT by Amanda Peterson, via Climate Access

School is back in session for high schools all across the country and the one thing on every student’s mind is, of course, climate change. OK, maybe in most schools who’s dating whom, getting into college and the elections are getting a bit more play.  But as we, the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), start back up, we’re getting climate change to top of mind, too. Since 2009, we’ve been working with high schoolers – with an assembly, student action programs and leadership trainings – in climate science and solutions. We’ve reached more than a million high schoolers and seen the first of this generation of leaders step up to tackle some issues that people twice their age are intimidated by. But since I’ve started at ACE, I’ve heard the question: “Why high schoolers?” or “Can we really wait for high school students to become tomorrow’s leaders, given the window of opportunity on climate change?” more than I ever would have expected. Sometimes, I cite statistics on how influential high schoolers are on their peers, their family decisions and their schools……








Air resources board may tweak cap and trade



SF Chronicle September 27, 2012 California’s air resources board may adjust the number of carbon permits it plans to give to specific companies before the first auction of allowances in November under the state’s cap-and-trade… more »

US Needs Climate Change Plan, Carbon Tax, Says Sachs

Bloomberg – ‎September 24, 2012‎

The U.S. needs a policy to address climate change and a plan to reduce emissions that may include a carbon tax and bonds, Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs said.


20 Dollar Per Ton Carbon Tax Could Reduce Deficit By $1.2 Trillion In 10 Years



By Stephen Lacey on Sep 25, 2012 at 11:14 am Over the last year, there’s been increasing talk in Washington political circles — including conservative ones — about how to use a carbon tax as a deficit reduction tool. However, with an election season in full swing and a large number of Congressional Republicans campaigning against climate action, the current likelihood of getting a price on carbon is officially zero.



WHY IT MATTERS: Despite the weather, climate change gets little mention in the campaign

By Associated Press, Published: September 23

The issue: People love to talk about the weather, especially when it’s strange like the mercifully ended summer of 2012. This year the nation’s weather has been hotter and more extreme than ever, federal records show. Yet there are two people who aren’t talking about it, and they both happen to be running for president.


The Potential Impact of Global Warming on the 2012 Presidential Election, Yale Project on Climate change and Communication

We report that 7% of likely voters remain undecided about their vote for President. Report Highlights:
Global warming is an important issue for undecided voters and likely Obama voters when voting for President Though few likely voters say global warming is the “single-most important” issue to them in this election, majorities of likely Obama voters (75%) and Undecideds (61%) say it will be one of several important issues determining their vote for President. Only 32% of likely Romney voters say it will be one of the “important issues” determining their vote
Desire for Presidential and Congressional action Undecided voters and likely Obama voters say that President Obama (64% and 61% respectively) and Congress (72% and 78%) should be “doing more” about global warming. By contrast, fewer than half of likely Romney voters think the President or Congress should be doing more (35% and 35% respectively) and, in fact, are more inclined to say they should be doing less to address global warming (47% and 44%).
Bipartisan agreement that the U.S. should use more renewable energy sources There is broad agreement among all likely voters – 85% of likely Obama voters, 83% of undecided voters, and 73% of likely Romney voters – that the U.S. should use more renewable energy sources (e.g., solar, wind, and geothermal) in the future. However, while more than half of Undecideds and likely Obama voters say that in the future the U.S. should use fewer fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas (55% and 65% respectively), fewer than half of likely Romney voters agree (38%).
Is global warming happening? 80% of undecided voters believe that global warming is happening, while only 3% believe it is not happening – which is very similar to likely Obama voters (86% and 4% respectively).  By contrast, 45% of likely Romney voters believe global warming is happening. In fact, one out of three likely Romney voters believes it is not happening.


Constraining world trade is unlikely to help the climate, study finds
September 23, 2012) — From rubber dinghies to television sets: the emissions of greenhouse gases in countries like China are to a significant extent caused by the production of goods that are exported to Germany or the United States. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that Western countries have relocated their emission-intensive industries and hence escape regulation for climate protection, according to a new study. … > full story

Got Science? Not at News Corporation



Union of Concerned Scientists September 21, 2012

Recent coverage of climate science on Fox News Channel and in the Wall Street Journal opinion pages has been overwhelmingly misleading. Our new snapshot analysis details the extent of these misleading references, which include broad dismissals of human-caused climate change, disparaging comments about climate scientists, and rejections of climate science as a body of knowledge…..Read the Press Release | Read the Report | Take Action


Gov. Jerry Brown signs bill putting freeze on state park closures

A bill placing a two-year moratorium on California state park closures is among dozens signed Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

September 25, 2012|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday setting a two-year moratorium on closing state parks in the wake of a scandal in which some parks officials hid surplus funds while facilities were threatened with being shuttered…..Brown also signed another Huffman measure reshaping the state Department of Fish and Game to provide greater emphasis on conservation, including a change in its name to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The bill — which some Republicans opposed as an attempt to de-emphasize hunting — also provides for creating an environmental crimes task force to help prosecute crimes against wildlife, and authorizes the department to partner with nonprofit groups and accept funds for additional conservation programs. Brown signed AB 2402 “to improve the management of state fish and wildlife resources,” according to a statement by his office…..

Here’s the whole bill:

NOTE: The Governor also signed a new bill giving- giving Coastal Conservancy explicit ability to address climate change—including reduce greenhouse gas emissions through natural systems. This is the first time a state agency is explicitly authorized to do that.


The 50th Anniversary Of ‘Silent Spring’ Reminds Us Of The Importance Of Environmental Regulations

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 09:30 AM PDT by Arpita Bhattacharyya

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the release of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a book often credited with launching the modern environmental movement. As we celebrate recent vital regulations, from new fuel economy standards to carbon pollution standard, it’s important to look back on how one book moved the American public to realize the importance of environmental protection and called the government to action. In Silent Spring, Rachel Carson broke down four years of research on the harmful impacts of DDT, a pesticide first used to kill malaria-causing insects for U.S. troops during World War II and later used to kill agricultural pests.  The generous use of DDT on crops killed far more than the targeted insects and remained in the environment even after dilution with water.  The consequence?  DDT entered into the food chain and built up in fatty tissues of animals, leading to cancer and genetic damage.  It was dangerous for birds and animals and threatened the entire globe’s food chain. Silent Spring’s most famous chapter detailed a town in which DDT’s effects had “silenced” all animals and residents.  Importantly , however, Carson did not call for a complete ban of DDT.


AGU Scientists Discuss Value of Research with Congress
On 12 September 2012, scientists from across the country visited Capitol Hill for the 5th Annual Geosciences Congressional Visits Day sponsored by AGU and six other scientific organizations. In 116 meetings, the 55 participants from 17 states engaged in dialogue with their members of Congress, congressional staff, and congressional committee officials about the importance of continued investment in scientific research and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. … the geoscientists spoke with congressional offices about the importance of scientific research in their home states as well as the nationwide implications of investing in scientific investigation and STEM education, including economic competitiveness, job creation, natural disaster preparedness, and effective water and energy resource management. These meetings were especially important given the approaching “fiscal cliff” of sequestration. This 8-12% cut in discretionary funding was not intended to take effect, but was instead designed to incentivize compromise on budgetary matters after the 2011 debt ceiling crisis. Without bipartisan congressional action before January, federal agencies and programs that support scientific research and education, including USGS, NSF, NOAA, NASA, and DOE, will likely face hundreds of millions of dollars of cuts in funding….. Upcoming events include the Science-Engineering-Technology Congressional Visits Day on 12-13 March 2013. If you would like to participate in these or any other congressional events with AGU, please contact Kristan Uhlenbrock for further information.



Experts call on Congress to create first U.S. weather commission
(September 27, 2012) — With the U.S. economy vulnerable to weather events costing billions of dollars, an expert panel has asked Congress to create the first U.S. Weather Commission
. The commission would provide guidance to policymakers on leveraging weather expertise across government and the private sector to better protect lives and businesses. … > full story



Despite Little Mention Of Climate Change From Candidates, Faith Groups Pledge To Make It An Election Issue
Posted: 21 Sep 2012 08:30 AM PDT by Catherine Woodiwiss

This week, the National Climate Summit 2013 Coalition released a petition calling on both Presidential candidates to address rapidly accelerating climate change.

The statement, written and endorsed by over 1300 faith leaders, elected officials, civil rights groups, environmental activists, business representatives, and others, calls on both Presidential candidates to “act in the best interests of this and all future generations of American’s now by publicly acknowledging the climate emergency”; and committing to host a climate summit to craft actions for national solutions within their first 100 days in office.

This is only the latest step in a long, hot summer filled with faith groups demanding that climate change get its place at the table during the last weeks of the election season.








Featured dataset: the California Basin Characterization Model

This month’s feature on the Commons homepage is the dataset that forms the foundation for numerous projects analyzing the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and human-built systems, the Basin Characterization Model. This article gives you a quick overview of the data, a 3-minute video showing how to get it, and information about projects that have put it to use, including an interview with Dr. Lisa Micheli about a study of the North Bay region.

Latest Additions to the Commons library: the 2012 PIER Program research papers 

The results of the Energy Commission funded research have been added to our document catalog. Everything in the Commons is indexed with keywords that help you find documents, data, and web resources related to a topic (for example: species distribution modeling).





Global Warming –Campus Solutions- Dirty Energy Politics—National Wildlife Federation




Climate Smart Actions for Natural Resource Managers

November 29, 2012, 9:30-4
Elihu Harris Building, Oakland, CA

Sponsored by Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium and CA Coastal Conservancy

Are you managing natural resources and interested in learning how to plan for climate change?  This workshop will present case studies AND provide an opportunity for you to request research and tools needed to make informed climate smart decisions.  Please join us on Thursday, November 29, 2012 from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM at the Elihu Harris Building in Oakland.



National Adaptation Forum–Action today for a better tomorrow

You are invited to be a part of the 1st National Adaptation Forum (NAF): Action today for a better tomorrow. Please join us as we kick-off the inaugural convening of adaptation practitioners and
experts from around the country focused on moving from adaptation planning to adaptation action.

For more information please visit: agenda is coming soon, a call for abstracts (trainings, symposia and working group proposals) open October 15th , and registration will open November 1st. We hope you can make it and look forward to seeing you there.



Facilitation Skills for Scientist and Resource Managers

December 4-6, 2012: 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (each day)

Prunedale Grange Hall 17890 Moro Road, Salinas, California

Registration Fee: $450 Instructor: Jim Nelson

Workshop objectives: Participants will be able to design and facilitate meetings more effectively with lower anxiety and better meeting outcomes. This course is intended to be a practical approach to improving group meetings.  It is oriented specifically to the needs of those working with natural resources.  Participants are presented with a wide array of tools and opportunities to practice new facilitation skills.

To register:




Barbara Kinsolver: “Flight Behavior” takes on one of the most contentious subjects of our time: climate change. With a deft and versatile empathy Kingsolver dissects the motives that drive denial and belief in a precarious world. A short interview:




**Environmental/Climate Change Music & Performance for Kids– Jeff Kagan & Paige Doughty

CDs & Music [my family loves this music!]

** The Charcoal Forest: How Fire Helps Animals & Plants

on the importance of burned forests—by a former PRBO seasonal biologist!




Scientific discovery offers ‘green’ solution in fight against greenhouse gases
(September 24, 2012)
low-cost new material that could lead to innovative technologies to tackle global warming has been discovered by scientists at The University of Nottingham. The porous material, named NOTT-300, has the potential to reduce fossil fuel emissions through the cheaper and more efficient capture of polluting gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). The research, published in the scientific journal Nature Chemistry, demonstrates how the exciting properties of NOTT-300 could provide a greener alternative to existing solutions to adsorb CO2 which are expensive and use large amounts of energy. The new material represents a major step towards addressing the challenges of developing a low carbon economy, which seeks to produce energy using low carbon sources and methods… Professor Schröder said: “It is widely accepted that it is imperative that the CO2 footprint of human activity is reduced in order to limit the negative effects of global climate change. “There are powerful drivers to develop efficient strategies to remove CO2 using alternative materials that simultaneously have high adsorption capacity, high selectivity for CO2 and high rates of regeneration at an economically viable cost.” And NOTT-300 delivers on each of these criteria. Because of this, the new discovery could signal a marked improvement in terms of environmental and chemical sustainability. The material is economically viable to produce because it is synthesized from relatively simple and cheap organic materials with water as the only solvent.full story

Two-thirds of the world’s new solar panels were installed in Europe in 2011
(September 24, 2012) — Europe accounted for two thirds of the world-wide newly installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2011, with 18.5 GW. Its overall PV capacity totalled 52 GW. The yearly electricity produced by PV could power a country with the electricity demand of Austria, which corresponds to 2% of the EU’s electricity needs. … > full story


Adapting to climate change through urban green infrastructure

Stuart R. Gaffin, Cynthia Rosenzweig and Angela Y. Y. Kong
doi:10.1038/nclimate1685 NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE subs required


Study outlines supply chain challenges for lithium future
(September 21, 2012) — As demand increases for lithium, the essential element in batteries for everything from cameras to automobiles, a researcher is studying potential disruptions to the long-term supply chain the world’s lightest metal. … > full story

Twenty-three nuclear power plants found to be in tsunami risk areas
(September 21, 2012) — Tsunamis are synonymous with the destruction of cities, and homes and since the Japanese coast was devastated in March 2011 we now know that they cause nuclear disaster, endanger the safety of the population and pollute the environment. As such phenomena are still difficult to predict, a team of scientists has assessed “potentially dangerous” areas that are home to completed nuclear plants or those under construction. … > full story






Taking the battle against the toxic trio beyond ‘Leaves of three, leave it be’
(September 26, 2012) — With more than half of all adults allergic to poison ivy, oak and sumac, scientists are reporting an advance toward an inexpensive spray that could reveal the presence of the rash-causing toxic oil on the skin, clothing, garden tools, and even the family pet. Using the spray would enable people to wash off the oil, or avoid further contact, in time to sidestep days of misery. … > full story


Fred Bodsworth: Last of his kind by Paul Baicich September 25, 2012

Creative Canadian writer, Fred Bodsworth, passed away on Saturday, September 15.  He was just short of his 94th birthday. Bodsworth, born 1918, started his writing career in journalism, but, beginning in 1955, he found his niche in the field of freelance writing and editing. The first of his four novels was his most successful: Last of the Curlews  (1955, Dodd Mead). This book follows a solitary Eskimo Curlew’s dangerous 9,000-mile journey from nesting grounds inside the Arctic Circle to the end of South America and back again. The narrative serves as symbolic: a mixture of examining the wonders of migration, the threat of extinction, and the excesses of man’s role on the environment. The lone Eskimo Curlew survivor comes to represent the potential for a disappearing species, and for all that is endangered in nature. The book sold over three million copies and has been translated into a dozen languages.

The impact of Bodsworth’s writing was seen by many as equal to the influence of Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac  (1949) and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962).  Appearing in 1955, in a period between these other two books, Last of the Curlews also served to prepare the public for an environmental movement that was yet to arise. The conservation community was given a real boost by Bodsworth’s work, and many a committed environmentalist of a certain age was buoyed by the message of Last of the Curlews. On his purpose for writing, Fred Bodsworth explained: “Out of the blending of human and animal stories comes the theme that I hope is inherent in all my books: that man is an inescapable part of all nature, that its welfare is his welfare, that to survive he cannot continue acting and regarding himself as a spectator looking on from somewhere outside.Last of the Curlews was even made into an animated film by Hanna-Barbera Productions, the same folks who gave us the Flintstones. It was first shown in October 1972, appearing as the very first ABC Afterschool Special. It won an Emmy in 1973. If you have never read the short and wonderful Last of the Curlews, get yourself a copy. I doubt that any bird educator will be disappointed.


The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks
pp732 – 735

Dan M. Kahan, Ellen Peters, Maggie Wittlin, Paul Slovic, Lisa Larrimore Ouellette, Donald Braman and Gregory Mandel
doi:10.1038/nclimate1547 NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE subs required
Public apathy over climate change is often attributed to a deficit in comprehension and to limits on technical reasoning. However, evidence suggests that individuals with the highest degrees of science literacy and technical reasoning capacity are not the most concerned about climate change and are the most culturally polarized.


Regular consumption of sugary beverages linked to increased genetic risk of obesity
(September 21, 2012) — Researchers have found that greater consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is linked with a greater genetic susceptibility to high body mass index (BMI) and increased risk of obesity. The study reinforces the view that environmental and genetic factors may act together to shape obesity risk. … > full story

Diet high in total antioxidants associated with lower risk of myocardial infarction in women
(September 21, 2012) — Coronary heart disease is a major cause of death in women. A new study has found that a diet rich in antioxidants, mainly from fruits and vegetables, can significantly reduce the risk of myocardial infarction. … > full story

Study Divides Breast Cancer Into Four Distinct Types



By GINA KOLATA NYTimes September 24, 2012

New findings are reshaping the understanding of breast cancer, pointing to the use of drugs approved for other cancers. “This is the road map for how we might cure breast cancer in the future,” a researcher said.

Antibiotics could replace surgery for appendicitis, research suggests
(September 26, 2012) — Although the standard approach to acute appendicitis is to remove the appendix, a study from Sweden reveals that treatment with antibiotics can be just as effective in many cases. … > full story Taps into a New Way to Buy Organic Maple Syrup

Published 7:01 a.m., Friday, September 21, 2012

The site is unlike anything seen in the maple syrup industry in that it offers consumers a unique way to buy organic maple syrup, a rare find in most parts of the world as less than 20% of the worldwide supply is certified organic.

Montreal, Quebec, Canada (PRWEB) September 21, 2012

Rouge Canada has officially launched, its new e-commerce website. The site is unlike anything seen in the maple syrup industry in that it offers consumers a unique way to buy organic maple syrup, a rare find in most parts of the world as less than 20% of the worldwide supply is certified organic. With’s unique “Adopt a Maple Tree” program, customers receive all the organic maple syrup their tree produces over the course of a year, thereby guaranteeing an ample supply. “Our adoptive tree-parents are people who care about the quality of food they serve to their families. They also care about the tree itself, and our adoptions support the longevity of the adopted trees by supporting a producer who maintains the rigorous certified organic standards required. Organic maple syrup is better tasting and healthier but more expensive to produce. It’s a question of quality over quantity but also a question of what is better for the tree,” says a spokesperson for …

Exposure to school-age children ups severity of cold infections
(September 26, 2012) — Exposure to school-age children raises the odds that a person with lung disease who catches a cold will actually suffer symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat and cough. While many studies have found that being around school-age children increases the risk of infection, the new findings go one step further: Of people who come down with colds, the course of the infection is much more likely to be worse in people exposed to children. … > full story








Scientific American Figure 11 – Once frozen solid, permafrost near the Arctic is melting, creating conditions for decomposition of organic matter and the release of carbon as CO2 and methane. Image courtesy of NASA.










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