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Conservation Science News January 11 , 2013

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Highlight of the Week2012 Hottest Year – and New Energy ‘Wedges’









Highlight of the Week2012 Hottest Year – and New Energy ‘Wedges’



By The Numbers: Breaking Down America’s Hottest Year On Record

Posted: 11 Jan 2013 05:54 AM PST

by James Bradbury and Sarah Parsons, via the World Resources Institute According to new data, 2012 was a chart-topping year for the United States – but not in a good way.


Difference from average annual temperature in 2012 compared to the 1981-2010 average. Map by NOAA team. Large versions of annual and monthly maps are available for re-use. (Credit: NOAA

NOAA: 2012 was warmest and second most extreme year on record for the contiguous U.S.

2012 was a historic year for extreme weather that included drought, wildfires, hurricanes and storms; however, tornado activity was below average 

According to NOAA scientists, 2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States with the year consisting of a record warm spring, second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter and a warmer-than-average autumn. The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3°F, 3.2°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year…..



Not Even Close: 2012 Was Hottest Ever in U.S.


Published: January 8, 2013 837 Comments

How hot was it? The temperature differences between years are usually measured in fractions of a degree, but last year’s 55.3 degree average demolished the previous record, set in 1998, by a full degree Fahrenheit. If that does not sound sufficiently impressive, consider that 34,008 daily high records were set at weather stations across the country, compared with only 6,664 record lows, according to a count maintained by the Weather Channel meteorologist Guy Walton, using federal temperature records. That ratio, which was roughly in balance as recently as the 1970s, has been out of whack for decades as the country has warmed, but never by as much as it was last year. “The heat was remarkable,” said Jake Crouch, a scientist with the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., which released the official climate compilation on Tuesday. “It was prolonged. That we beat the record by one degree is quite a big deal.” ….


Major cuts to surging carbon dioxide emissions are needed now, not down the road, study finds
(January 7, 2013)
Halting climate change will require “a fundamental and disruptive overhaul of the global energy system” to eradicate harmful carbon dioxide emissions, not just stabilize them, according to new findings by UC Irvine and oth
er scientists. In a Jan. 9 paper in Environmental Research Letters, UC Irvine Earth system scientist Steve Davis and others take a fresh look at the popular “wedge” approach to tackling climate change outlined in a 2004 study by Princeton scientists Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow. They had argued that the rise of dangerous CO2 could be stopped — using existing technologies — by dividing the task into seven huge but manageable “slices.” Davis and his co-authors conclude that while the approach has great merit, it’s not working, and it’s not enough. “We have enormous respect for that earlier work,” he said. “But almost a decade after ‘wedges’ made a solution to climate change seem doable, we now know that holding emissions steady, difficult as it would be, is literally a half-measure — and one that we have yet to take. Our emissions are not being held constant or even slowing; they’re growing faster than ever.” …However, Davis and fellow authors of the new paper calculated that as many as 31 wedges could be required to stabilize Earth’s climate at safe CO2 levels and that sharp reductions in total emissions would have to begin much sooner than half a century from now. “We need new ways to generate the vast quantities of power that we now use worldwide,” he said. “Current technologies and systems cannot provide this much carbon-free power quickly enough or affordably enough. We urgently need policies and programs that support the research, development, demonstration and commercialization of new energy.” full story



Rethinking Wedges: We Need A Lot of Clean Energy To Stabilize Near 2°C Warming So We Better Start Deployment ASAP

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 05:49 PM PST Joe Romm

A new study underscores the point that we need to start deploying every last bit of carbon-free energy starting ASAP to have a reasonable chance of avoiding catastrophic levels of carbon pollution. But the paper, “Rethinking wedges,” suffers from two flaws.

First while it asserts “Current climate targets of 500 ppm and  2°C of warming” require “deploying tens of terawatts of carbon-free energy in the next few decades,” it seems to use this to argue for more research and development, rather than massive deployment. In fact, while everyone agrees we need to spend more on R&D, it’s our much vaster underspending on deployment that is launching us headlong toward catastrophe. And, of course, deployment is the best driver of innovation (as I discuss here).

Second, the paper appears to confuse what a wedge is and then compounds that confusion by introducing the concept of “hidden wedges,” which I don’t believe is a meaningful concept (if you understand what a wedge really is). The fact is that we probably need 1o to 20 terawatts of carbon-free energy over the next 50 years to have a shot at 450 ppm or lower — but a fair chunk of that can be efficiency and conservation (as I discuss here).

In any case, the need for massive deployment of carbon-free energy starting now is one that has been made by countless independent analyses. Even the traditionally staid and conservative the International Energy Agency explained three years ago that “The world will have to spend an extra $500 billion to cut carbon emissions for each year it delays implementing a major assault on global warming.” A 2011 report found that “California can achieve emissions roughly 60% below 1990 levels with technology we largely know about today if such technology is rapidly deployed at rates that are aggressive but feasible.” A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers finds we’re headed to 11°F warming and even 7°F requires “Nearly Quadrupling The Current Rate Of Decarbonisation.”

The abstract of this new study by Davis, Cao, Caldeira, and Hoffert, to be published Wednesday in Environmental Research Letters asserts:….. ….This notion of needing 19 wedges to go to zero emissions in 50 years is very compatible with my analysis a few years ago that we need 12-14 wedges squeezed into four decades to take emissions down some 50% by 2050. But of course I conclude, as do the original inventers of the wedge concept, that any hope for deploying so many wedges so rapidly depends crucially upon … rapid deployment, rather than R&D! See also “The breakthrough technology illusion.”….





Drainage ditches can help clean up field runoff
(January 4, 2013)
Vegetated drainage ditches can help capture pesticide and nutrient loads in field runoff, U.S. Departmen
t of Agriculture (USDA) scientists report. These ditches — as common in the country as the fields they drain — give farmers a low-cost alternative for managing agricultural pollutants and protecting natural resources.
….. Many farmers controlled ditch vegetation with trimming or dredging to eliminate plant barriers that could impede the flow of runoff. But in one of Moore’s first studies, he evaluated the transport and capture of the herbicide atrazine and the insecticide lambda-cyhalothrin for 28 days in a 160-foot section of a vegetated agricultural drainage ditch in Mississippi. One hour after he started a simulated runoff event, 61 percent of the atrazine and 87 percent of the lambda-cyhalothrin had transferred from the water to the ditch vegetation. At the end of the ditch, runoff pesticide concentrations had decreased to levels that were generally non-toxic to downstream aquatic fauna. Moore also conducted work in California and determined that vegetated drainage ditches helped mitigate pesticide runoff from tomato and alfalfa fields. As a result, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) state office in California included vegetated agricultural drainage in their Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). This meant farmers who installed the ditches could be reimbursed for up to 50 percent of the cost. Moore’s research also contributed to the decision by NRCS managers in Mississippi to include vegetated agricultural drainage ditches in the state’s EQIP.… > full story


Robert Kröger, Matthew T. Moore. Phosphorus dynamics within agricultural drainage ditches in the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Ecological Engineering, 2011; 37 (11): 1905 DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2011.06.042


Invading species can extinguish native plants despite recent reports to the contrary
(January 9, 2013) — Evolutionary biologists have found that, given time, invading exotic plants will likely eliminate native plants growing in the wild despite recent reports to the contrary. A new study reports that recent statements that invasive plants are not problematic are often based on incomplete info
rmation, with insufficient time having passed to observe the full effect of invasions on native biodiversity. …
“The impacts of exotic plant invasions often take much longer to become evident than previously thought,” says Benjamin Gilbert of U of T’s Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB) and lead author of the study. “This delay can create an ‘extinction debt‘ in native plant species, meaning that these species are slowly going extinct but the actual extinction event occurs hundreds of years after the initial invasion.” Much of the debate surrounding the threat posed to biodiversity by the invasions of non-native species is fueled by recent findings that competition from introduced plants has driven remarkably few plant species to extinction. Instead, native plant species in invaded ecosystems are often relegated to patchy, marginal habitats unsuitable to their nonnative competitors. “Our research also allows us to identify how new habitats for native flora could be created that would prevent extinction from happening. These habitats would still be too marginal for invaders, but placed in such a way as to create ‘bridges’ to other habitat patches,” says Gilbert….full story

B. Gilbert, J. M. Levine. Plant invasions and extinction debts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1212375110


Global Mercury Pollution In Oceans Top Layer Doubled In Last Century, Says U.N. Environment Agency

AP  |  By By JOHN HEILPRIN Posted: 01/10/2013 6:25 am EST  |  Updated: 01/10/2013 9:19 am EST

GENEVA (AP) — Mercury pollution in the top layer of the world’s oceans has doubled in the past century, part of a man-made problem that will require international cooperation to fix, the U.N.’s environment agency said Thursday.

The report by the U.N. Environment Program showed for the first time that hundreds of tons of mercury have leaked from the soil into rivers and lakes around the world.

As a result of rising emissions, communities in developing countries face increasing health and environmental risks linked to exposure to mercury, the U.N. agency says.

Mercury, a toxic metal, is widely used in chemical production and small-scale mining, particularly gold. It is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and soil, and it cannot be created or destroyed.


STATE: Thousands of dead birds are showing up on northern Michigan’s shorelines

Published: Friday, January 11, 2013 By Don Gardner @skeeoos Journal Register News Service

A common loon travelling with a juvenile on its back.

The rapidly changing ecology of the Great Lakes Basin, brought on in large part by non-native, invasive species, is causing devastation among Michigan’s waterfowl, especially common loons. The common loon, a beloved, iconic bird known for its eerily lonely, two-note call and its beautiful markings, suffered devastating losses along Lake Michigan’s northern shoreline this fall. Thousands of dead birds, mainly loons, washed ashore — from the Upper Peninsula, down to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. A large percentage of the dead loons had just entered their first year of breeding maturity.
The reason for the die-off, which follows similar incidents in 2006 and 2007, isn’t fully understood. But it is suspected that it is driven by the food chain linking the loon to invasive species, specifically, the quagga mussel, the zebra mussel and the round goby. Since 1988, when the first zebra mussels in Michigan were found in Lake St. Clair, the invasive mussels have been clearing and “cleaning” Great Lakes water columns by consuming plankton. While the end result is a more aesthetically pleasing water column, the clearer water has allowed the sun’s rays to penetrate deeper, causing larger and larger algae mats to flourish on the bottom. As the algae mat builds upon itself and dies, it becomes anaerobic — depleted of oxygen — and type-E botulism bacteria develops. Gobies living in that environment at the bottom of the lake pick up the toxin produced by the bacteria. The gobies are then preyed upon by the loons and other fish-eating waterfowl, which become infected by the botulism. The toxin affects the bird’s nervous system and musculature, leaving it unable to fly. Soon, it can no longer keep its head aloft, and it drowns…..



Scientists use marine robots to detect endangered whales
(January 9, 2013) — Two robots equipped with instruments designed to “listen” for the calls of baleen whales detected nine endangered North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of Maine last month. The robots reported the detections to shore-based researchers within hours of hearing the whales, demonstrating a new and powerful tool for managing interactions between whales and human activities. … > full story

Whales’ foraging strategies revealed by new technology
(January 9, 2013) — Despite the many logistical difficulties of studying large whales, multisensor tags attached to the animals with suction cups are revealing their varied foraging techniques in unprecedented detail. These can be related to the animals’ anatomy and to the distribution and behavior of their prey. … > full story


Baby sharks stay still to avoid being detected by predators
(January 9, 2013) — Baby sharks still developing in their egg cases can sense when predators are near, and keep very still to avoid being detected, according to new research. … > full story

Genetic matchmaking saves endangered frogs
January 8, 2013) — What if Noah got it wrong? What if he paired a male and a female animal thinking they were the same species, and then discovered they were not the same and could not produce offspring? As researchers from the Smithsonian’s Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project race to save frogs from a devastating disease by breeding them in captivity, a genetic test averts mating mix-ups. … > full story



Impact of Land-Use Activity in the Amazon Basin
January 19, 2012 (Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– A … paper published … in the journal Nature reveals that human land-use activity has begun to change the regional water and energy cycles –– the interplay of air coming in from the Atlantic Ocean, water transpiration by the forest, and solar radiation –– of parts of the Amazon basin. In addition, it shows that ongoing interactions of deforestation, fire, and climate change have the potential to alter carbon storage, rainfall patterns and river discharge on an even larger basinwide scale.

…… Humans have been part of the Amazon basin forest-river system for thousands of years, but the expansion and intensification of agriculture, logging, and urban development –– and their synergistic impacts –– are beginning to stress the natural integrity of the ecosystem. Since the Amazon River produces about 20 percent of the world’s fresh water discharge, and the Amazon forest holds about 100 billion metric tons of carbon (10 years’ worth of global fossil fuel emissions), it is important that economic development in the region proceed along sustainable paths that do not degrade the ecosystem services provided to local, regional and global communities by the forests and rivers of the region.


From the Amazon rainforest to human body cells: Quantifying stability
(January 6, 2013) — The Amazon rainforest, energy grids, and cells in the human body share a troublesome property: They possess multiple stable states. When the world’s largest tropical forest suddenly starts retreating in a warming climate, energy supply blacks out, or cells turn carcinogenic, complex-systems science understands this as a transition between two such states. These transitions are obviously unwanted. … > full story

Dinosaur shook tail feathers for mating show
(January 4, 2013) — A researcher’s examination of fossilized dinosaur tail bones has led to a breakthrough finding: some feathered dinosaurs used tail plumage to attract mates, much like modern-day peacocks and turkeys. … > full story


Live giant squid! Discovery Channel says it’s got first videos 
The famed and often maligned giant squid has for millennia kept its quiet life in the depths of the ocean private, but now the Discovery Channel and Japan’s national museum say they’ve Paparazzied the sucker.

The duo is claiming to have the “very first ever footage of a live giant squid in its natural habitat,” according to its joint press release. The squid, said to have razor-toothed suckers and eyes the size of dinner plates, was encountered in the “abyss” after more than 285 hours and 55 submarine dives, some as deep as 3,000 feet below the surface, the team said.


Waterfall-climbing fish use same mechanism to climb waterfalls and eat algae
(January 4, 2013) — Going against the flow is always a challenge, but some waterfall-climbing fish have adapted to their extreme lifestyle by using the same set of muscles for both climbing and eating, according to new research. … > full story

Giant fossil predator provides insights into the rise of modern marine ecosystem structures
(January 7, 2013) — An international team of scientists has described a fossil marine predator measuring 8.6 meters in length (about 28 feet) recovered from the Nevada desert in 2010 as representing the first top predator in marine food chains feeding on prey similar to its own size. … > full story


How do songbirds sing? In 3-D!
(January 7, 2013) — Like humans, songbirds learn their vocalizations by imitation. Since their songs are used for finding a mate and retaining territories, birdsong is very important for reproductive success. High-field magnetic resonance imaging and micro-computed tomography have been used to construct stunning high resolution, 3-D, images, as well as a data set “morphome” of the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) vocal organ, the syrinx. … > full story






Heat, Flood or Icy Cold, Extreme Weather Rages Worldwide

Snow blanketed Jerusalem on Thursday, an example of weather extremes that are growing more frequent and intense.
More Photos » Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

By SARAH LYALL Published: January 10, 2013 138 Comments WORCESTER, England — Britons may remember 2012 as the year the weather spun off its rails in a chaotic concoction of drought, deluge and flooding, but the unpredictability of it all turns out to have been all too predictable: Around the world, extreme has become the new commonplace. Especially lately. China is enduring its coldest winter in nearly 30 years. Brazil is in the grip of a dreadful heat spell. Eastern Russia is so freezing — minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and counting — that the traffic lights recently stopped working in the city of Yakutsk. Bush fires are raging across Australia, fueled by a record-shattering heat wave. Pakistan was inundated by unexpected flooding in September. A vicious storm bringing rain, snow and floods just struck the Middle East. And in the United States, scientists confirmed this week what people could have figured out simply by going outside: last year was the hottest since records began.


U.S. Effort on Ocean Acidification Needs Focus on Human Impacts

A new report urges that federal efforts to combat rising ocean acidity must focus on effects on people and the economy

By Brian Bienkowski and Scientific American Jan 1 2013

A federal plan to tackle ocean acidification must focus more on how the changes will affect people and the economy, according to a review of the effort by a panel of the National Research Council.

“Social issues clearly can’t drive everything but when it’s possible they should,” said George Somero, chair of the committee that wrote the report and associate director at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station. “If you’re setting up a monitoring station, it should be where there’s a shellfish industry, for example.” Acidification is one of the larger problems associated with greenhouse gas emissions, as oceans serve as a giant sponge for carbon dioxide. When carbon dioxide is dissolved in seawater, water chemistry changes and acidity increases. More acidic seawater can hurt ocean creatures, especially corals and shellfish, because it prevents them from properly developing their skeletons and shells. Shrinking coral reefs could dent eco-tourism revenue in some coastal areas. It also could trigger a decline in fish populations dependent on those reefs.

Decreasing shellfish populations would harm the entire ocean food chain, researchers say, particularly affecting people who get their protein or paycheck from the sea. Globally, fish represent about 6 percent of the protein people eat.

The acidification blueprint was drafted by nine federal agencies in March 2012. It establishes guidelines for federal research, monitoring and mitigation of ocean acidification. In reviewing the plan, the research council, which advises the government on science policy, recommended that federal rese


Climate change looms large as Australia swelters

New Scientist  – ‎Jan 7 2013‎

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in the fourth and most recent of its assessments of the effects of climate change, predicted that in south-eastern Australia, the frequency of days when extreme fire danger threatens will increase by up to …


The Australian government’s new forecasting map now has colors that go up to 54°C [129°F].

Off-The-Charts Heat Wave Brings Australia Its Hottest Average Temperature And New Map Colors For Temps Above 122°F!

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 08:44 AM PST

Global warming has given new meaning to “off-the-charts” heat wave in Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald
reports: The Bureau of Meteorology’s interactive weather forecasting chart has added new colours – deep purple and pink – to extend its previous temperature range that had been capped at 50 degrees [122°F]. Many parts of the country have already set local records with temperatures as high as 118°F. It remains to be seen whether temperatures blow past 122°F [50C] – or already have (“large parts of central Australia have limited monitoring”).

How unprecedented is the Australian heat wave? As meteorologist Jeff Masters explains, it is both deep and widespread:

It’s been a summer like no other in the history of Australia, where a sprawling heat wave of historical proportions is entering its second week. Monday, January 7, was the hottest day in Australian history, averaged over the entire country, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The high temperature averaged over Australia was 105°F (40.3°C), eclipsing the previous record of 104°F (40.2°C) set on 21 December 1972. Never before in 103 years of record keeping has a heat wave this intense, wide-spread, and long-lasting affected Australia. The nation’s average high temperature exceeded 102°F (39°C) for five consecutive days January 2 – 6, 2013–the first time that has happened since record keeping began in 1910. Monday’s temperatures extended that string by another day, to six. To put this remarkable streak in perspective, the previous record of four consecutive days with a national average high temperature in excess of 102°F (39°C) has occurred once only (1973), and only two other years have had three such days in a row–1972 and 2002 (thanks go to climate blogger Greg Laden for these stats.) Another brutally hot day is in store for Wednesday, as the high pressure region responsible for the heat wave, centered just south of the coast, will bring clear skies and a northerly flow of air over most of the country.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology doesn’t pull punches on what is driving this astounding heat:

The current heatwave – in terms of its duration, its intensity and its extent – is now unprecedented in our records,”  the Bureau of Meteorology’s manager of climate monitoring and prediction, David Jones, said.

Clearly, the climate system is responding to the background warming trend. Everything that happens in the climate system now is taking place on a planet which is a degree hotter than it used to be.”

As the warming trend increases over coming years, record-breaking heat will become more and more common, Dr Jones said.

”We know that global climate doesn’t respond monotonically – it does go up and down with natural variation. That’s why some years are hotter than others because of a range of factors. But we’re getting many more hot records than we’re getting cold records. That’s not an issue that is explained away by natural variation.”….


Bushfires in Tasmania – in pictures Saturday January 5, 2013

More than 100 homes destroyed and thousands of people displaced on Australian island state of Tasmania due to dozens of wildfires sparked by record high temperatures

Global warming to shift timing of North American monsoon

The North American monsoon will dry up in June and July and become wetter in September and October.

Posted on January 6, 2013 by Bob Berwyn SUMMIT COUNTY —Global warming result in a significant shift of the North American monsoon, with less rain during the early part of the season, in June and July, and more rain later in the summer and early autumn. The trend toward a later start to summer precipitation has already started, but will become more pronounced — and easier to distinguish from the background “noise” of natural variability — during the next few decades, according to researchers with NASA and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

“We expect that increased greenhouse gases will make the atmosphere more stable and more difficult for precipitation to occur … When the warming is strong enough, it effectively delays the start of the monsoon,” said NASA researcher Benjamin Cook. “One way to overcome that is when the air near the surface is really moist. That’s what happens at the end of the monsoon season. At that point, it leads to an increase in rainfall,” Cook said, explaining that the study points to big change in the total amount of monsoon precipitation, but that the change in timing is still likely to have significant ecological societal impacts. A second factor driving the change in timing is less surface moisture at the local level resulting from reduced evapotranspiration. The North American monsoon may not be as pronounced as its famed Asian cousin, but it still dominates the seasonal cycle of precipitation over northwestern Mexico, southern Arizona and large parts of New Mexico and Texas, accounting for up to 70 percent of the annual precipitation in the core of the region.


Future sea level rise from melting ice sheets may be substantially greater than IPCC estimates
(January 6, 2013)
Future sea level rise due to the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets could be substantially larger than estimated in Climate Change 2007, the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC, according to new research from the University of Bristol.
The ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland contain about 99.5 per cent of Earth’s glacier ice which would raise global sea level by some 63m if it were to melt completely. The ice sheets are the largest potential source of future sea level rise — and they also possess the largest uncertainty over their future behaviour. They present some unique challenges for predicting their future response using numerical modelling and, as a consequence, alternative approaches have been explored. The study, published January 6 in Nature Climate Change, is the first of its kind on ice sheet melting to use structured expert elicitation (EE) together with an approach which mathematically pools experts’ opinions. EE is already used in a number of other scientific fields such as forecasting volcanic eruptions. The ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland contain about 99.5 per cent of Earth’s glacier ice which would raise global sea level by some 63m if it were to melt completely. The ice sheets are the largest potential source of future sea level rise — and they also possess the largest uncertainty over their future behaviour. They present some unique challenges for predicting their future response using numerical modelling and, as a consequence, alternative approaches have been explored.full story

J. L. Bamber, W. P. Aspinall. An expert judgement assessment of future sea level rise from the ice sheets. Nature Climate Change, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1778

16  ^  more years of global warming

Posted on 10 January 2013 by Kevin C

Human greenhouse gas emissions have continued to warm the planet over the past 16 years. However, a persistent myth has emerged in the mainstream media challenging this.  Denial of this fact may have been the favorite climate contrarian myth of 2012, first invented by David Rose at The Mail on Sunday with an assist from Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry, both of whom later doubled-down on the myth after we debunked
it.  Despite these repeated debunkings, the myth spread throughout the media in various opinion
editorials and stunts throughout 2012. The latest incarnations include this article at the Daily Mail, and a misleadingly headlined piece at the Telegraph. As a simple illustration of where the myth goes wrong, the following video clarifies how the interplay of natural and human factors have affected the short-term temperature trends, and demonstrates that underneath the short-term noise, the long-term human-caused global warming trend remains as strong as ever.

Read more…

New way to study permafrost soil, above and below ground
(January 4, 2013) — Scientists have developed a new way to explore the little-known world of permafrost soils, which store almost as much carbon as the rest of the world’s soils and about twice as much as is in the atmosphere. The new approach combines several remote-sensing tools to study the Arctic landscape, above and below ground, in high resolution and over large spatial scales. … > full story


Information required for short-term water management decisions outlined
(January 9, 2013) — Adapting to future climate change impacts requires capabilities in hydroclimate monitoring, short-term prediction and application of such information to support contemporary water management decisions.
These needs were identified in a
report, “Short-Term Water Management Decisions: User Needs for Improved Climate, Weather, and Hydrologic Information,” published by the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report identifies how Federal agencies, along with state, local, tribal and non-governmental organizations and agencies are working together to identify and respond to the needs of water resource managers in the face of a changing climate. The report is broken into four categories: Monitoring Product Needs, Forecasting Product Needs, Understanding and Using Information Products in Water Management, and Information Services Enterprise. “Climate change is adding to the challenges we face in managing a multitude of issues, including water supply, water quality, flood risk, wastewater, aquatic ecosystems, and energy production,” Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor said. “Meeting these challenges requires close collaboration among water resource management agencies, operational information service providers, stakeholders and the scientific community.”. … > full story
Further information:


Drought-damaged states face poor outlook as dry weather persists

Obama administration declares large areas of mid-west a natural disaster area due to long-lasting drought conditions, Thursday 10 January 2013 16.25 EST A persistent drought held its grip on America’s bread basket on Thursday, with no sign of relief for the four main wheat-growing states.

The poor outlook for winter wheat, which accounts for about 70% of the US crop, has raised fears about further food prices shocks, after widespread failure of last year’s corn and soybean crops.


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