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Conservation Science News April 5, 2013

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Highlight of the Week









Highlight of the Week

Climate Change Winners: Adélie Penguin Population Expands as Ice Fields Recede

Apr. 3, 2013Adélie penguins may actually benefit from warmer global temperatures, the opposite of other polar species, according to a breakthrough study by an international team led by University of Minnesota Polar Geospatial Center researchers. The study provides key information affirming hypothetical projections about the continuing impact of environmental change.

Researchers from the United States and New Zealand used a mix of old and new technology studying a combination of aerial photography beginning in 1958 and modern satellite imagery from the 2000s. They found that the population size of an Adélie penguin colony on Antarctica’s Beaufort Island near the southern Ross Sea increased 84 percent (from 35,000 breeding pairs to 64,000 breeding pairs) as the ice fields retreated between 1958-2010, with the biggest change in the last three decades. The average summer temperature in that area increased about a half a degree Celsius per decade since the mid-1980s.

The first-of-its-kind study was published today in PLOS ONE, a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal. The research affirms models published in 2010 projecting how south polar penguins will respond to changed habitat as Earth’s atmosphere reaches 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a point that is rapidly approaching. The study showed that available habitat for Adélie penguins on the main portion of the Beaufort colony, on the south coast, increased 71 percent since 1958, with a 20 percent increase from 1983-2010. The extent of the snow and ice field to the north of the main colony did not change from 1958-1983, but then retreated 543 meters from 1983-2010. In addition to the overall population growth, researchers saw an increase in population density within the colony as it filled in what used to be unsuitable habitat covered in snow and ice. They also found that the emigration rates of birds banded as chicks on Beaufort Island to colonies on nearby Ross Island decreased after 2005 as available habitat on Beaufort increased, leading to altered dynamics of the population studied.

…..Penguin expert and study co-author David Ainley, a lead author of an earlier study, agreed that this study gives researchers important new information.

“We learned in previous research from 2001-2005 that it is a myth that penguins never move to a new colony in large numbers. When conditions are tough, they do,” said Ainley, a senior marine wildlife ecologist with H.T. Harvey and Associates, an environmental consulting company in California. “This study at Beaufort and Ross Islands provides empirical evidence about how this penguin attribute will contribute to their response to climate change.”….. In addition to LaRue and Ainley, other researchers involved in the study included Matt Swanson, a graduate student researcher at the University of Minnesota Polar Geospatial Center; Katie M. Dugger from Oregon State University; Phil O’B. Lyver from Landcare Research in New Zealand; Kerry Barton from Bartonk Solutions in New Zealand; and Grant Ballard from PRBO Conservation Science in California.

The study was primarily funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

  1. Michelle A. LaRue, David G. Ainley, Matt Swanson, Katie M. Dugger, Phil O′B. Lyver, Kerry Barton, Grant Ballard. Climate Change Winners: Receding Ice Fields Facilitate Colony Expansion and Altered Dynamics in an Adélie Penguin Metapopulation. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (4): e60568 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0060568







State flood
risk high, coordination low

April 3 2013 –California may be known for its vulnerability to earthquakes and wildfires, but the state also faces the risk of devastating floods, according to a report being released Wednesday by the state Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The report blames much of the danger on the state’s fragmented efforts at flood management, the lack of stable funding, and an absence of cooperation and focus in attempting to manage and prevent floods. It calls on the state to coordinate, streamline or even consolidate the 1,343 agencies that deal with flood management and to set priorities for future investments. “The stakes are tremendous,” said Terri Wegener, manager for the Department of Water Resources statewide flood management-planning program. “Millions of lives are exposed to flooding and billions of dollars worth of structures.” The report, the most comprehensive statewide study of flooding ever conducted, found that 7.3 million Californians – 19 percent of the state’s population – including more than 1 million in the Bay Area, are exposed to significant risk of being affected by floods. Damage to structures and farmland could be as high as $575 billion statewide with $130 billion in the Bay Area. More than $7 billion in crops are endangered by flooding, including $20 million in the Bay Area. ….

CA DWR and the Army Corps of Engineers new draft report:

California’s Flood Future: Recommendations for Managing the State’s Flood Risk. (pdf)


Farmers, researchers fatten fish in rice fields

TRACIE CONE, April 4, 2013

(AP) — Alongside a flooded field of rice stubble, Jacob Katz dipped a fish net into turbid water and came up with a half dozen or so silvery juvenile salmon. After a century of watching rivers held back by levees and California wetlands… more »




Charles Hueth, right, and Shaun Root, center, arrange a net used to trap chinook salmon that will then be released in an upper portion of the river as part of a restoration program. (Bethany Mollenkof/Los Angeles Times) More photos

Salmon are a sign of hope in a long-dry stretch of the San Joaquin

Agriculture and the Friant Dam, built in the 1940s, dried up a 60-mile stretch of the river. After a long, tortuous effort, a chinook spawns 10 miles downstream from the dam.

By Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times March 29, 2013

About 10 miles downstream from Friant Dam, two men gently guided their drift boat toward a spot where the riverbed gravel looked as if it had been swept clean. There, in about a foot of water, they spied something that had vanished from the San Joaquin River more than 60 years ago: a spawning chinook salmon. “How sweet,” said Matt Bigelow, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “I put in a lot of work to get to this point.”

It was a small victory in a tortuous effort: to revive one of California’s most abused rivers by restoring a portion of its long-lost water and salmon runs. The San Joaquin’s spring-run chinook once numbered in the hundreds of thousands. The salmon were so plentiful that farmers fed them to hogs. Settlers were kept awake at night by splashing fish as they struggled upstream to their spawning grounds. The run dwindled as San Joaquin Valley agriculture sucked more and more water from the river system and hydropower dams blocked salmon from upstream passage. Then, in the 1940s, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation erected Friant Dam as part of the Central Valley Project, a massive irrigation system.

Most of the upper river flow was sent into two giant canals that fed irrigation ditches up and down the east side of the San Joaquin Valley. Sixty miles of the San Joaquin — the state’s second-biggest river — died, its bed turning to a ribbon of dry sand. The spring-run chinook disappeared. Hatchery releases sustained a small population of fall-run chinook that spawn in the San Joaquin’s major tributaries. In the late 1980s, environmentalists went to court to get back some of the San Joaquin’s water — and its salmon. Their legal arguments focused on an old provision of the state Fish and Game Code that required dam owners to release enough water downstream to sustain healthy fish populations. After a nearly two-decade fight, environmental groups reached a settlement with the federal government and farmers supplied by the Friant operation. The 2006 pact called for irrigators to give up some of their supplies to restore year-round flows, and with them, part of the river’s historic salmon runs. But no one thought that reviving a river as degraded as the San Joaquin would be a matter only of adding water and fish and stirring…..


New technologies combat invasive species
(March 29, 2013) — A new research paper by a team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame’s Environmental Change Initiative demonstrates how two cutting-edge technologies can provide a sensitive and real-time solution to screening real-world water samples for invasive species before they get into our country or before they cause significant damage. … > full story


Satellite tagging maps the secret migration of white sharks
(April 3, 2013) — Long-life batt
eries and satellite tagging have been used to fill in the blanks of female white sharks’ (Carcharodon carcharias) lifestyles. New research defines a two year migratory pattern in the Pacific Ocean. Pregnant females travel between the mating area at Guadalupe Island and nursery in Baja California, putting them and their young at risk from commercial fishing. …
White sharks are pelagic much of their time, living in the open ocean. However they are also philopatric, in that they return to the same place to find a mate. This commute can be far-ranging, including the Hawaiian Islands, California, and Mexico but while males have been reported returning yearly to mating sites, the behavior of females has before now been more secretive. Dr Michael Domeier and Nicole Nasby-Lucas from the California based Marine Conservation Science Institute mapped the migration patterns of female white sharks using satellite-linked radio-telemetry tags. Female white sharks were found to follow a two-year migration pattern with four distinct phases. Firstly the pregnant females left Guadalupe Island, Mexico and remained offshore for most of their 18 month gestation (on average 465 days). This pelagic area was much larger than the foraging area used by males and in fact the females tended to avoid the male’s foraging area while the males were present. The second phase was a two month sojourn in the coastal waters of Baja California where the sharks gave birth. After leaving the nurseries the female sharks began a migratory path back to Guadalupe Island in such a way as to avoid males until ready to reproduce. Finally the mating n phase at Guadalupe Island lasted up to four and a half months before the two year cycle began again. Females that skipped a year of reproduction returned to the breeding site after only a single year migration…..full story

Shark tooth weapons reveal missing shark species in Central Pacific islands
(April 3, 2013) — The Gilbert Island reefs in the Central Pacific were once home to two species of sharks not previously reported in historic records or contemporary studies. The species were discovered in a new analysis of weapons made from shark teeth and used by 19th century islanders. … > full story



What role do small dams play in pollution control?
(March 29, 2013) — There is a crucial need to gain a better understanding of what small dams mean for our water quality before they crumble and disappear. … > full story

Decimation of critically endangered forest elephant detailed
(March 29, 2013) — African forest elephants are being poached out of existence. A new study shows that a staggering 62 percent of all forest elephants have been killed across their range in central Africa, for their ivory over the past decade. … > full story

Extreme algal blooms: The new normal?
(April 1, 2013) — A research team has determined that the 2011 record-breaking algal bloom in Lake Erie was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake circulation and warm temperatures. The team also predicts that, unless agricultural policies change, the lake will continue to experience extreme blooms. … > full story

By keeping the beat, sea lion sheds new light on animals’ movements to sound
(April 1, 2013) — Move over dancing bears, Ronan the sea lion really does know how to boogie to the beat. A California sea lion who bobs her head in time with music has given scientists the first empirical evidence of an animal that is not capable of vocal mimicry but can keep the beat, according to new research. … > full story


Trade Emerging as a Key Driver of Brazilian Deforestation



April 4, 2013 — A new study found that trade and global consumption of Brazilian beef and soybeans is increasingly driving Brazilian deforestation. Consequently, current international efforts to protect rainforests … > full story


Chinese foreign fisheries catch 12 times more than reported, study shows
(April 3, 2013)
Chinese fishing boats catch about US.5 billion worth of fish from beyond their country’s own waters each year — and most of it goes unreported, according to a new study. …
“We need to know how many fish have been taken from the ocean in order to figure out what we can catch in the future,” says Daniel Pauly, principal investigator of UBC’s Sea Around Us Project and the study’s lead author. “Countries need to realize the importance of accurately recording and reporting their catches and step up to the plate, or there will be no fish left for our children.”full story



Stephen Crowe

China’s Massive Water Problem

By SCOTT MOORE NY Times Op-Ed Published: March 28, 2013

This month, a hundred years after the completion of the Panama Canal, China is expected to finish the first phase of its gigantic South-North Water Transfer Project, known in Chinese as Nanshui beidiao gongcheng — literally, “to divert southern water north.” The phrase evokes the suggestion, attributed to Mao, that “since the south has a great deal of water, and the north very little, we should borrow some of it.” In realizing Mao’s dream of moving huge quantities of water from areas of plenty to those of want, Beijing is building a modern marvel, this century’s equivalent of the Panama Canal. But whereas the canal inaugurated a century of faith in the ability of human ingenuity to reshape the natural world, the South-North Water Transfer Project is a testament to the limits of engineering solutions to problems of basic environmental scarcity.

China is one of the most water-rich countries in the world. But as Mao observed, its water resources are unevenly distributed and overwhelmingly concentrated in the south and far west. Water scarcity has always been a problem for northern China, but shortages have reached crisis levels as a result of rapid economic development.

For most of the 1990s, northern China’s major river, the Yellow, failed to reach the sea, and the water tables around Beijing and other major northern cities have dropped so low that existing wells cannot tap them. In response, the government has tried to promote water conservation and limit water use. But these measures have had little impact, and there simply isn’t enough water to satisfy growing demands for drinking water, irrigation, energy production and other uses.

Rather than face the political challenge of allocating water resources among these competing interests, Beijing has placed its faith in monumental feats of engineering to slake the north’s growing thirst. The South-North Water Transfer eventually aims to pipe 45 cubic kilometers of water annually northward along three routes in eastern, central and western China. All three pose enormous technical challenges: The eastern and central routes will be channeled under the Yellow River, while the western route entails pumping water over part of the Himalayan mountain range.

The estimated cost of $65 billion is almost certainly too low, and doesn’t include social and ecological impacts. …



Rare Birds’ Nest Destroyed at San Francisco Port

SAN FRANCISCO April 4, 2013 (AP)

The Port of San Francisco is under federal investigation after workers apparently destroyed a rare birds’ nest on a crane near Pier 80. KPIX-TV reports ( ) federal fish and wildlife authorities are trying to determine whether the workers violated the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a federal law that makes it illegal to destroy an “active” raptor’s nest during mating season. The nest was home to a pair of rare ospreys, which were once near extinction. The port agreed last year to shut down the crane to allow the ospreys to nest. After about six months, port workers put reflectors and wires on the crane and took other steps to keep the birds from returning. Potrero Hill naturalist Eddie Bartley says he spotted workers destroying the nest last week.




Figure 1 – mean sea level (in centimetres) since 1993 obtained by satellite altimetry observations. Annual and semi-annual signals have been removed to reveal the long-term trend. The glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) of 0.3mm per year is added to account for the slumping of ocean basins. Image from the AVISO website.

Earth Encounters Giant Speed Bump on the Road to Higher Sea Level

Posted on 29 March 2013 by Rob Painting

The Earth is warming which is driving the ongoing thermal expansion of sea water and the melt of land-based ice. Both processes are raising sea level, but superimposed upon this long-term sea level rise are what scientists at  NASA JPL (Jet Propulsion Lab) have coined, “potholes and speed bumps on the road to higher seas“. (See their follow-up paper – The 2011 La Niña: So strong, the oceans fell, Boening [2012]). Since mid-2011 a giant “speed bump” has been encountered. In roughly the last two years the global oceans have risen approximately 20 millimetres (mm), or  10 mm per year. This is over three times the rate of sea level rise during the time of satellite-based observations (currently 3.18 mm per year), from 1993 to the present.   So does this mean land-based ice is undergoing a remarkably abrupt period of disintegration? While possible, it’s probably not the reason for the giant speed bump.

Pot Holes and Speed Bumps: The largest contributor to the year-to-year (short-term) fluctuation in sea level is the temporary exchange of water mass between the land and ocean. This land-ocean exchange of water is coupled to the natural Pacific Ocean phenomenon called the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) – which affects weather on a global scale. (See Ngo-Duc [2005], Nerem [2010]Llovel [2011], Cazenave [2012] & Boening [2012] – linked to above)…. Sea level is already committed to rise many metres over the coming centuries because of the concentration of greenhouse gases humans have put into the atmosphere. The warming from this will enforce the continued disintegration of land-based ice, and the thermal expansion of seawater (Meehl 2012, Foster & Rohling 2013). This uphill road to higher sea level is bound to be long and lumpy one – with many potholes and speed bumps along the way…



‘A better path’ toward projecting, planning for rising seas on a warmer Earth
(April 3, 2013) — More useful projections of sea level are possible despite substantial uncertainty about the future behavior of massive ice sheets. In two recent articles, researchers present an approach that provides a consistent means to integrate the potential contribution of continental ice sheets such as Greenland and Antarctica into sea-level rise projections.
During the past 20 years, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have lost an increasing amount of ice and now contribute roughly one-third of the rate of global mean sea-level rise. However, the standard tools used to project these ice sheets’ contribution to future sea levels are limited by inadequate process understanding and sparse data. Ice sheets interact with the ocean on small spatial scales, and their motion is strongly governed by poorly understood properties of the ice as well as the sediment hidden several miles beneath it. Sea-level rise projections should reflect these uncertainties.

“Recently, several groups have used alternative techniques to forecast maximum possible sea levels — known as upper bounds — that do not explicitly model ice dynamics. Upper bound estimates by the year 2100 projected using these techniques are up to 6 feet (three times higher than future sea level estimates from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)). However, the physical basis underlying these projections and their likelihood of occurrence remain unclear.

“In our group, we think we can more consistently assess disparate sources of information. In two recent papers, we introduce a novel framework for projecting the mass balance of the Antarctic ice sheet that allows for the conversion of current and future uncertainties of ice-sheet dynamics into probability distributions that may be supplemented by expert judgments. The power of this framework arises from its ability to improve and compare projections in a transparent manner.

“Like watersheds on land, ice sheets discharge precipitation that falls over a wide drainage basin through relatively narrow outlets. Although ice flow is linked across basins, each basin may remain relatively independent over time periods less than a century. The framework described in these two papers projects mass balance separately for each drainage basin, while allowing for correlated trends driven by underlying physical processes occurring at larger spatial scales…..full story


In two recent papers, Princeton University researchers present a probabilistic assessment of the Antarctic contribution to 21st-century sea-level change. Their methodology provides a consistent means to integrate the potential contribution of continental ice sheets such as Greenland and Antarctica into sea-level rise projections. In existing projections, the contribution of Antarctica to future sea-level rise is almost entirely derived from locations where present-day mass loss is concentrated (area 15, above). This is despite evidence that future discharge in other drainage basins — which comprise more than 96 percent of the ice sheet’s area — remains uncertain. (Credit: Image courtesy of Christopher Little)


  1. C. M. Little, N. M. Urban, M. Oppenheimer. Probabilistic framework for assessing the ice sheet contribution to sea level change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; 110 (9): 3264 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1214457110
  2. Christopher M. Little, Michael Oppenheimer, Nathan M. Urban. Upper bounds on twenty-first-century Antarctic ice loss assessed using a probabilistic framework. Nature Climate Change, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1845


2013 wintertime Arctic sea ice maximum fifth lowest on record
(April 3, 2013) — During the cold and dark of Arctic winter, sea ice refreezes and achieves its maximum extent, usually in late Feb. or early Mar. According to a NASA analysis, this year the annual maximum extent was reached on Feb. 28 and it was the fifth lowest sea ice winter extent in the past 35 years. … said
Joey Comiso, senior scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Ce
nter, Greenbelt, Md., and a principal investigator of NASA’s Cryospheric Sciences Program. “A decline in the sea ice cover in winter is thus a manifestation of the effect of the increasing greenhouse gases on sea ice.”full story



Breeding Birds Vulnerable to Climate Change in Arctic Alaska: A Story of Winners and Losers.

Science Daily (press release)  – April 3, 2013‎

Apr. 2, 2013 – A new report from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) looked at the vulnerability of 54 breeding bird species to climate change impacts occurring by the year 2050 in Arctic Alaska. The assessment found that two species, the gyrfalcon and common eider are likely to be “highly” vulnerable, while seven other species would be “moderately” vulnerable to anticipated impacts. Five species are likely to increase in number and benefit from a warming climate….. Arctic Alaska harbors some of the most important breeding and staging grounds for millions of birds — many from around the world — representing more than 90 species. A rise in mean annual temperatures of at least 3.1 degrees Celsius in northern Alaska is expected by 2050, and will likely impact species in myriad ways.

The report, Assessing Climate Change Vulnerability of Breeding Birds in Arctic Alaska, co-authored by WCS Scientists Joe Liebezeit, Erika Rowland, Molly Cross and Steve Zack, details in-depth vulnerability assessments conducted on 54 species to help guide climate-informed wildlife management in the region. The project was aided by the participation of more than 80 scientists who are experts on the assessed species.

Results showed that along with the highly vulnerable gyrfalcon and common eider, seven other species were moderately vulnerable, including: brandt, Steller’s eider, pomerine jaeger, yellow-billed loon, buff-breasted sandpiper, red phalarope and ruddy turnstone. Five species, including the savannah sparrow, Lapland longspur, white-crowned sparrow, American tree-sparrow and common redpoll are likely to increase in number, according to the assessments…..




Southern California sagebrush better suited to climate change, study finds
(April 1, 2013)
California sagebrush in the southern part of the state will adjust better to climate change than sagebrush populations in the north, according to
UC Irvine researchers in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology affiliated with the Center for Environmental Biology. .. The results of their study, which appears online in Global Change Biology, will assist land management and policy decisions concerning coastal sage scrub restoration. California sagebrush (Artemisia californica), also known as “cowboy cologne,” is the fragrant gray-green shrub that once filled area ranch land. It’s found on coastal hillsides for more than 400 miles along California’s Pacific coast. Only about 10 percent of its original habitat remains — the rest having been converted to human use — and is home to a number of endangered species, including the California gnatcatcher, which depend on plants like sagebrush….The researchers found that populations from southern sites, with historically variable rainfall amounts, adjusted with greater ease to altered precipitation than did populations from the historically invariant north. Accordingly, they asserted, reaction to climate change will differ across this species’s range, with southern populations adapting more readily to future conditions. “For instance, sagebrush from San Diego stretches, where precipitation varies substantially from year to year, were better able to respond to changes in precipitation than those from the San Francisco area,” said Mooney, an assistant professor of ecology & evolutionary biology…. > full story


Soils in newly forested areas store substantial carbon that could help offset climate change
(April 1, 2013) — Surface appearances can be so misleading: In most forests, the amount of carbon held in soils is substantially greater than the amount contained in the trees themselves, according to new
research. …
Large and rapid increases in soil carbon were observed on forested land that had previously been used for surface mining and related industrial processes. On a post-mining landscape, the amount of soil carbon generally doubled within 20 years of mining termination and continued to double every decade or so after that. The changes after cultivated farm fields were abandoned and trees became established are much subtler, though still significant. This type of tree establishment — which has been widespread in recent decades in the northeastern United States and portions of the Midwest — takes about 40 years to cause a detectable increase in soil carbon. But at the end of a century’s time, the amount of soil carbon averages 15 percent higher than when the land was under cultivation, with the biggest increases (up to 32 percent) in the upper two inches of the soil. In places where trees and shrubs have encroached into native grassland, soil carbon increased 31 percent after several decades, according to the study. That type of incursion is occurring throughout the Great Plains, from the Dakotas all the way to northern Texas, and is largely due to suppression of wildfires….full story


Plant-Pollinator Interactions over 120 Years: Loss of Species, Co-Occurrence and FunctionUsing historic data sets, this study quantifies the degree to which global change over 120 years disrupted plant-pollinator interactions in a temperate forest understory community in Illinois, USA. Researchers found degradation of interaction network structure and function and extirpation of 50% of bee species. Network changes can be attributed to shifts in forb and bee phenologies resulting in temporal mismatches, nonrandom species extinctions, and loss of spatial co-occurrences between extant species in modified landscapes. Quantity and quality of pollination services have declined through time. The historic network showed flexibility in response to disturbance; however, the study’s data suggest that networks will be less resilient to future changes. Burkle et al., published online Feb 28, 2013, Science, DOI: 10.1126/science.1232728


Adapting to climate change

John Maday, Managing Editor, Drovers CattleNetwork  |  Updated: 04/02/2013

Changing climate patterns already affect agriculture in the United States, and the effects will become more pronounced over the next 20 years. To sustain the ability to provide affordable food, feed, fiber and fuel in the future, U.S. agriculture and forestry will need to take a broad, collaborative approach in planning for and adapting to change, according to a new report from the 25x”25 Alliance. The report, “Agriculture and Forestry in a Changing Climate: Adaptation Recommendations” was compiled by the 25x’25 Adaptation Work Group, a collaboration of agriculture, forestry, business, academic, conservation and government leaders who have spent more than 18 months exploring the impacts of a changing climate and other variables on U.S. agriculture and forestry. The group outlined the report in a web-based news conference on April 2. Panelists for the conference included:

A Network for Observing Great Basin Climate Change 
The Nevada Climate-Ecohydrology Assessment Network (NevCAN), a novel system of permanent monitoring stations located across elevational and latitudinal gradients within the Great Basin hydrographic region (Figure 1). NevCAN was designed, first, to quantify the daily, seasonal, and interannual variability in climate that occurs from basin valleys to mountain tops of the Great Basin in the arid southwest of the United States; second, to relate the temporal patterns of ecohydrologic response to climate occurring within each of the major ecosystems that compose the Great Basin; and, last, to monitor changes in climate that modulate water availability, sequestration of carbon, and conservation of biological diversity.  Mensing et al., EoS, March 12, 2013, DOI: 10.1002/2013EO110001

Large-Scale Ecosystem Resilience to Drought:
[Summary Courtesy of the Climate CIRCulator—click here to subscribe] Drought frequency and duration, along with temperature, are predicted to increase during this century in many regions of the world, including most of the Americas. With large regions of the globe, undergoing a decadal-scale drought during the beginning of the 21st century, we already have the opportunity to begin examining the response of biomes to a foreseeable future climate. A team of authors (Ponce Campos et al. 2013) has recently taken advantage of these large-scale droughts to look at the resilience of biomes to drought by examining carbon gain at the expense of water loss or water-use efficiency (WUE). The authors measured WUE as the ratio of above-ground net primary production to evapotranspiration for an ecosystem. Resilience was defined as the capacity for a system to absorb a drought disturbance and still be able to transition to a “common minimum native state” of WUE given subsequent water abundance. The authors separated wet and dry years, and showed that the wet-year WUE was the same irrespective of biome and whether the year was during the recent large-scale drought (2000-2009) or from the wetter preceding years (1975-1999). This implies that biomes exhibit resilience or the capacity to absorb drought disturbance and maintain eco-hydrologic function despite interannual climate variability. Campos et al. 2013. Ecosystem resilience despite large-scale altered hydroclimatic conditions. Nature Vol. 494, 349-352. doi:10.1038/nature11836.


New models predict drastically greener Arctic in coming decades
(March 31, 2013) — New research predicts that rising temperatures will lead to a massive “greening,” or increase in plant cover, in the Arctic. In a new paper, scientists reveal new models projecting that wooded areas in the Arctic could increase by as much as 50 percent over the next few decades. The researchers also show that this dramatic greening will accelerate climate warming at a rate greater than previously expected. …

Plant growth in Arctic ecosystems has increased over the past few decades, a trend that coincides with increases in temperatures, which are rising at about twice the global rate. The research team — which includes scientists from the Museum, AT&T Labs-Research, Woods Hole Research Center, Colgate University, Cornell University, and the University of York — used climate scenarios for the 2050s to explore how this trend is likely to continue in the future. The scientists developed models that statistically predict the types of plants that could grow under certain temperatures and precipitation. Although it comes with some uncertainty, this type of modeling is a robust way to study the Arctic because the harsh climate limits the range of plants that can grow, making this system simpler to model compared to other regions such as the tropics. The models reveal the potential for massive redistribution of vegetation across the Arctic under future climate, with about half of all vegetation switching to a different class and a massive increase in tree cover. What might this look like? In Siberia, for instance, trees could grow hundreds of miles north of the present tree line. …. In addition, the researchers investigated the multiple climate change feedbacks that greening would produce. They found that a phenomenon called the albedo effect, based on the reflectivity of Earth’s surface, would have the greatest impact on the Arctic’s climate. When the sun hits snow, most of the radiation is reflected back to space. But when it hits an area that’s “dark,” or covered in trees or shrubs, more sunlight is absorbed in the area and temperature increases. This has a positive feedback to climate warming: the more vegetation there is, the more warming will occur….> full story

2012-13 U.S. Winter Recap: Mixed messages on drought

March 11, 2013 NOAA

Winter storms in February improved drought in the Southeast and Midwest, but well below average precipitation in parts of the West in recent months has worsened drought in other places.

The contiguous United States experienced a warmer- and wetter-than-average 2012–13 winter according to the latest statistics from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. The December 2012–February 2013 total precipitation of 7.10 inches and this was 0.63 inches above the long-term average. Several winter storms passed through the country in February, improving drought conditions across the Southeast and Midwest, but lighter precipitation totals across the Central Plains and Mountain West provided little drought relief in those locations



Must Read: Arctic Sea Ice Death Spiral And Cold Weather

Posted: 31 Mar 2013 07:55 AM PDT

The media are debating if the decrease in  Arctic ice  is related to this winter’s cold weather in Germany. This post discusses the most recent current research about this including the most important figures from relevant studies.

Translated from an article by Stefan Rahmstorf [] are translation notes via Rabett Run

First, what does the unusual temperature distribution observed this March actually look like? Here is a map showing the data (up to and including March 25, NCEP / NCAR data plotted with KNMI Climate Explorer):

Freezing cold in Siberia, reaching across northwestern Europe, unusually mild temperatures over the Labrador Sea and parts of Greenland and a cold band diagonally across North America, from Alaska to Florida. Averaged over the northern hemisphere the anomaly disappears – the average is close to the long-term average. Of course, the distribution of hot and cold is related to atmospheric circulation, and thus the air pressure distribution….There was unusually high air pressure between Scandinavia and Greenland. Since circulation around a high is clockwise [anticyclone], this explains the influx of arctic cold air in Europe and the warm Labrador Sea.

Arctic sea ice

Let us now discuss the Arctic sea ice.  The summer minimum in September set a new record low, but also at the recent winter maximum there was unusually little ice (ranking 6th lowest – the ten years with the lowest ice extent were all in the last decade). The ice cover in the Barents sea was particularly low this winter.  All in all until March the deficit was  about the size of Germany compared  to the long-term average. Is there a connection with the winter weather?  Does the shrinking ice cover influence the atmospheric circulation, because the open ocean strongly heats the Arctic atmosphere from below?  (The water is much warmer than the overlying cold polar air.) Did the resulting evaporation of sea water moisten the air and thus lead to more snow? These questions have been investigated by several studies in recent years….

In my view, the above studies provide strong evidence for a link between Arctic ice loss due to global warming, more frequent winter high pressure, especially over the Atlantic-European part of the Arctic, and an associated influx of cold air to Europe. As we have often seen in recent winters – for example in a spectacular way in the first half of February 2012.

Still this is still not settled science – the studies are relatively new and need to be discussed intensively in the professional community and confirmed by further research, or perhaps called into question. This is the normal process of scientific debate, through which at the end findings are distilled which are robust and widely accepted, such as the fact that our emissions of greenhouse gases warm the climate.


Ancient pool of warm water questions current climate models
(April 3, 2013) — A huge pool of warm water that stretched out from Indonesia over to Africa and South America four million years ago suggests climate models might be too conservative in forecasting tropical changes. Present in the Pliocene era, this giant mass of water would have dramatically altered rainfall in the tropics, possibly even removing the monsoon. Its decay and the consequential drying of East Africa may have been a factor in Hominid evolution. The missing data for this phenomenon could have significant implications when predicting the future climate. … > full story

Thin clouds drove Greenland’s record-breaking 2012 ice melt
April 3, 2013) — If the sheet of ice covering Greenland were to melt in its entirety tomorrow, global sea levels would rise by 24 feet. Three million cubic kilometers of ice won’t wash into the ocean overnight, but researchers have been tracking increasing melt rates since at least 1979. Last summer, however, the melt was so large that similar events show up in ice core records only once every 150 years or so over the last four millennia. Three million cubic kilometers of ice won’t wash into the ocean overnight, but researchers have been tracking increasing melt rates since at least 1979. Last summer, however, the melt was so large that similar events show up in ice core records only once every 150 years or so over the last four millennia. “In July 2012, a historically rare period of extended surface melting raised questions about the frequency and extent of such events,” says Ralf Bennartz, professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences and scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Space Science and Engineering Center. “Of course, there is more than one cause for such widespread change. We focused our study on certain kinds of low-level clouds.

In a study to be published in the April 4 issue of the journal Nature, Bennartz and collaborators describe the moving parts that led to the melt, which was observed from the ICECAPS experiment funded by the National Science Foundation and run by UW-Madison and several partners atop the Greenland ice sheet.

“The July 2012 event was triggered by an influx of unusually warm air, but that was only one factor,” says Dave Turner, physical scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Severe Storms Laboratory. “In our paper we show that low-level clouds were instrumental in pushing temperatures up above freezing.”

Low-level clouds typically reflect solar energy back into space, and snow cover also tends to bounce energy from the sun back from Earth’s surface.

Under particular temperature conditions, however, clouds can be both thin enough to allow solar energy to pass through to the surface and thick enough to “trap” some of that heat even if it is turned back by snow and ice on the ground….full story



Bushfires at Grampians national park, Victoria, Australia. Extreme weather can lead to more severe and frequent disasters. Photograph: Jason Edwards/Newspix / Rex Feat

Climate change making extreme events worse in Australia – report

Country faces more frequent and more severe weather events if it fails to make deep and swift cuts to carbon emissions

By Damian Carrington, Tuesday 2 April 2013 11.50 EDT

The extreme heatwaves, flooding and bush fires striking Australia have already been intensified by climate change and are set to get even worse in future, according to a new report. Only fast and deep cuts to carbon emissions can start to reverse the trend, say scientists from the Climate Commission, an independent advisory group set up by the Australian government. “Climate change is making many extreme events worse in terms of their impacts on people, property, communities and the environment,” said climate commissioner professor Will Steffen. “We are very concerned that the risk of more frequent and more severe extreme weather events is increasing as we continue to emit more and more greenhouse gases.” Chief commissioner, Tim Flannery, said: “Records are broken from time to time, but record-breaking weather is becoming more common as the climate shifts. Only strong preventative action, with deep and swift cuts in emissions this decade, can stabilise the climate and halt the trend towards more intense extreme weather.”…


Spring Delayed, Europe Shivers

By HARVEY MORRIS March 28 2013 LONDON — “When will this winter ever end?” Thursday’s plaintive headline in Britain’s Daily Telegraph was prompted by forecasts that the big freeze gripping much of Europe is likely to last well into April.

From Ireland to Romania, unseasonable snowfalls have caused travel chaos, power outages and serious losses to livestock farmers during the coldest March in almost half a century.

Sun-starved Germans have endured their gloomiest winter in at least 43 years, while northern France is shivering in near-freezing temperatures more than a week after the official arrival of spring.

The cold weather phenomenon, which has also affected the parts of the United States, is being blamed on a slowing of the Atlantic jet stream that scientists say is paradoxically linked to global warming.

This time last year, northern Europe and the eastern United States were basking in a mini-heat wave that brought the warmest March on record in some areas.

It was one of the many examples of climate phenomena that made 2012 a record year for extreme weather events in some regions, as my colleague Christopher F. Schuetze reported in January.

Last year saw the start of an unusually harsh winter in China, record-breaking temperatures in Australia, summer floods in Britain, drought in the American Midwest, and a storm that devastated parts of New Jersey and New York in late October.

As my colleague Sarah Lyall has written, quoting Omar Baddour of the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva, extreme weather events are increasing in intensity as well as frequency.


Americans back preparation for extreme weather and sea-level rise
(March 29, 2013) — The majority of Americans express support for stronger coastal development codes, according to a new survey. … > full story

RISE: Climate Change and Coastal Communities

National Geographic     – ‎March 29, 2013

Most of the great cities, the world over, are built along the water. So are many towns, hamlets, and villages. But sea level rise and extreme weather, both fueled by climate change, threaten to reclaim coastal lands and the communities that are built …


Gene discovery may yield lettuce that will sprout in hot weather
(March 29, 2013) — Plant scientists have identified a lettuce gene and related enzyme that put the brakes on germination during hot weather — a discovery that could lead to lettuces that can sprout year-round, even at high temperatures. … > full story



Greenland reaps benefits of global warming

Climate change is allowing agriculture to boom

Reuters Kangerlussuaq
Sunday 31 March 2013

Inside the Arctic Circle, a chef is growing the kind of vegetables and herbs – potatoes, thyme, tomatoes, green peppers – more fitted for a suburban garden in a temperate zone than a land of northern lights, glaciers and musk oxen. Some Inuit hunters are finding reindeer fatter than ever thanks to more grazing on this frozen tundra, and, for some, there is no longer a need to trek hours to find wild herbs. This is climate change in Greenland, where locals say longer and warmer summers mean the country can grow the kind of crops unheard of years ago. “Things are just growing quicker,” said Kim Ernst, the Danish chef of Roklubben restaurant, nestled by a frozen lake near a former Cold War-era US military base. “Every year we try new things,” added Mr Ernst, who even managed to grow a handful of strawberries that he served to some surprised Scandinavian royals. “I came here in 1999 and no one would have dreamed of doing this. But now the summer days seem warmer, and longer.”

It was -20C in March but the sun was out and the air was still, with an almost spring-like feel. Mr Ernst showed me his greenhouse and an outdoor winter garden which in a few months may sprout again. Hundreds of miles south, some farmers now produce hay, and sheep farms have grown in size. Some supermarkets in the capital, Nuuk, sell locally grown vegetables in the summer…..






Climate Maverick to Quit NASA

James E. Hansen of NASA, retiring this week to pursue political and legal efforts to limit greenhouse gases

By JUSTIN GILLIS Published: April 1, 2013


James E. Hansen, the climate scientist who issued the clearest warning of the 20th century about the dangers of global warming, will retire from NASA this week, giving himself more freedom to pursue political and legal efforts to limit greenhouse gases. His departure, after a 46-year career at the space agency’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan, will deprive federally sponsored climate research of its best-known public figure. At the same time, retirement will allow Dr. Hansen to press his cause in court. He plans to take a more active role in lawsuits challenging the federal and state governments over their failure to limit emissions, for instance, as well as in fighting the development in Canada of a particularly dirty form of oil extracted from tar sands.


“As a government employee, you can’t testify against the government,” he said in an interview. Dr. Hansen had already become an activist in recent years, taking vacation time from NASA to appear at climate protests and allowing himself to be arrested or cited a half-dozen times. But those activities, going well beyond the usual role of government scientists, had raised eyebrows at NASA headquarters in Washington. “It was becoming clear that there were people in NASA who would be much happier if the ‘sideshow’ would exit,” Dr. Hansen said in an e-mail. At 72, he said, he feels a moral obligation to step up his activism in his remaining years. “If we burn even a substantial fraction of the fossil fuels, we guarantee there’s going to be unstoppable changes” in the climate of the earth, he said. “We’re going to leave a situation for young people and future generations that they may have no way to deal with.” His departure, on Wednesday, will end a career of nearly half a century working not just for a single agency but also in a single building, on the edge of the Columbia University campus. From that perch, seven floors above the diner made famous by “Seinfeld,” Dr. Hansen battled the White House, testified dozens of times in Congress, commanded some of the world’s most powerful computers and pleaded with ordinary citizens to grasp the basics of a complex science. His warnings and his scientific papers have drawn frequent attack from climate-change skeptics, to whom he gives no quarter. But Dr. Hansen is a maverick, just as likely to vex his allies in the environmental movement. He supports nuclear power and has taken stands that sometimes undercut their political strategy in Washington.


In the interview and in subsequent e-mails, Dr. Hansen made it clear that his new independence would allow him to take steps he could not have taken as a government employee. He plans to lobby European leaders — who are among the most concerned about climate change — to impose a tax on oil derived from tar sands. Its extraction results in greater greenhouse emissions than conventional oil.

Dr. Hansen’s activism of recent years dismayed some of his scientific colleagues, who felt that it backfired by allowing climate skeptics to question his objectivity. But others expressed admiration for his willingness to risk his career for his convictions.

Initially, Dr. Hansen plans to work out of a converted barn on his farm in Pennsylvania. He has not ruled out setting up a small institute or taking an academic appointment.

He said he would continue publishing scientific papers, but he will no longer command the computer time and other NASA resources that allowed him to track the earth’s rising temperatures and forecast the long-run implications.

Dr. Hansen, raised in small-town Iowa, began his career studying Venus, not the earth. But as concern arose in the 1970s about the effects of human emissions of greenhouse gases, he switched gears, publishing pioneering scientific papers.

His initial estimate of the earth’s sensitivity to greenhouse gases was somewhat on the high side, later work showed. But he was among the first scientists to identify the many ways the planet is likely to respond to rising temperatures and to show how those effects would reinforce one another to produce immense changes in the climate and environment, including a sea level rise that could ultimately flood many of the world’s major cities.


“He’s done the most important science on the most important question that there ever was,” said Bill McKibben, a climate activist who has worked closely with Dr. Hansen.

Around the time Dr. Hansen switched his research focus, in the 1970s, a sharp rise in global temperatures began. He labored in obscurity over the next decade, but on a blistering June day in 1988 he was called before a Congressional committee and testified that human-induced global warming had begun.

Speaking to reporters afterward in his flat Midwestern accent, he uttered a sentence that would appear in news reports across the land: “It is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here.”

Given the natural variability of climate, it was a bold claim to make after only a decade of rising temperatures, and to this day some of his colleagues do not think he had the evidence.

Yet subsequent events bore him out. Since the day he spoke, not a single month’s temperatures have fallen below the 20th-century average for that month. Half the world’s population is now too young to have lived through the last colder-than-average month, February 1985.

In worldwide temperature records going back to 1880, the 19 hottest years have all occurred since his testimony. Again and again, Dr. Hansen made predictions that were ahead of the rest of the scientific community and, arguably, a bit ahead of the evidence. “Jim has a real track record of being right before you can actually prove he’s right with statistics,” said Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, a planetary scientist at the University of Chicago.

Dr. Hansen’s record has by no means been spotless. Even some of his allies consider him prone to rhetorical excess and to occasional scientific error. He has repeatedly called for trying the most vociferous climate-change deniers for “crimes against humanity.” And in recent years, he stated that excessive carbon dioxide emissions might eventually lead to a runaway greenhouse effect that would boil the oceans and render earth uninhabitable, much like Venus. His colleagues pointed out that this had not happened even during exceedingly warm episodes in the earth’s ancient past. “I have huge respect for Jim, but in this particular case, he overstated the risk,” said Daniel P. Schrag, a geochemist and the head of Harvard’s Center for the Environment, who is nonetheless deeply worried about climate change.

Climate skeptics have routinely accused Dr. Hansen of alarmism. “He consistently exaggerates all the dangers,” Freeman Dyson, the famed physicist and climate contrarian, told The New York Times Magazine in 2009.

Perhaps the biggest fight of Dr. Hansen’s career broke out in late 2005, when a young political appointee in the administration of George W. Bush began exercising control over Dr. Hansen’s statements and his access to journalists. Dr. Hansen took the fight public and the administration backed down.

For all his battles with conservatives, however, he has also been hard on environmentalists. He was a harsh critic of a failed climate bill they supported in 2009, on the grounds that it would have sent billions into the federal government’s coffers without limiting emissions effectively. Dr. Hansen agrees that a price is needed on carbon dioxide emissions, but he wants the money returned to the public in the form of rebates on tax bills. “It needs to be done on the basis of conservative principles — not one dime to make the government bigger,” said Dr. Hansen, who is registered as a political independent.

In the absence of such a broad policy, Dr. Hansen has been lending his support to fights against individual fossil fuel projects. Students lured him to a coal protest in 2009, and he was arrested for the first time. That fall he was cited again after sleeping overnight in a tent on the Boston Common with students trying to pressure Massachusetts into passing climate legislation. “It was just humbling to have that solidarity and support from this leader, this lion among men,” said Craig S. Altemose, an organizer of the Boston protest.

Dr. Hansen says he senses the beginnings of a mass movement on climate change, led by young people. Once he finishes his final papers as a NASA employee, he intends to give it his full support. “At my age,” he said, “I am not worried about having an arrest record.”

Science Times Podcast

Marveling at the efficiency of a killer in the skies and NASA’s household name on climate change takes his fight for the earth’s future into retirement. 0:22


Keystone XL: The pipeline to disaster

If Obama OKs the Keystone XL, it will exacerbate global warming and put the U.S. on the hook for spills and environmental degradation, all in service to one of the planet’s dirtiest fuels.

By James Hansen Op Ed LATimes April 4, 2013

In March, the State Department gave the president cover to open a big spigot that will hitch our country to one of the dirtiest fuels on Earth for 40 years or more. The draft environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline acknowledges tar sands are nasty stuff for the environment, but concludes that the project is OK because this oil will get to market anyway — with or without a pipeline. A public comment period is underway through April 22, after which the department will prepare a final statement to help the administration decide whether the pipeline is in the “national interest.” If the conclusion is yes, a Canadian company, TransCanada, gets a permit to build a pipeline to transport toxic tar sands through our heartland, connecting to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico, for likely export to China. Around the world, emissions of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide continue to soar. Australia is now finishing “the angry summer” — 123 extreme weather records broken in 90 days — which government sources link to climate change. Last year, 2012, was also the hottest year on record in the contiguous United States…..



Top 5 Ocean Priorities for the New Secretary of State

National Geographic  – ‎April 2, 2013‎

When President Barack Obama convenes his cabinet in the White House’s Roosevelt Room, one might be left with the impression that defenders of our oceans are rather pointedly underrepresented. The Department of Commerce, which oversees the …


Conditions align for big salmon season



Tom Stienstra San Francisco Chronicle

The Pacific Fisheries Management Council has forecast 834,208 salmon available for fishermen on the Bay Area and central coast, and more than 1.55 million in all, including salmon from the north state and the Klamath River. According to federal… more »


The Tar Sands Disaster

By THOMAS HOMER-DIXON NY Times OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR Published: March 31, 2013

IF President Obama blocks the Keystone XL pipeline once and for all, he’ll do Canada a favor. Canada’s tar sands formations, landlocked in northern Alberta, are a giant reserve of carbon-saturated energy — a mixture of sand, clay and a viscous low-grade petroleum called bitumen. Pipelines are the best way to get this resource to market, but existing pipelines to the United States are almost full. So tar sands companies, and the Alberta and Canadian governments, are desperately searching for export routes via new pipelines. Canadians don’t universally support construction of the pipeline. A poll by Nanos Research in February 2012 found that nearly 42 percent of Canadians were opposed. Many of us, in fact, want to see the tar sands industry wound down and eventually stopped, even though it pumps tens of billions of dollars annually into our economy.

….Both the cabinet and the Conservative parliamentary caucus are heavily populated by politicians who deny mainstream climate science. The Conservatives have slashed financing for climate science, closed facilities that do research on climate change, told federal government climate scientists not to speak publicly about their work without approval and tried, unsuccessfully, to portray the tar sands industry as environmentally benign. The federal minister of natural resources, Joe Oliver, has attacked “environmental and other radical groups” working to stop tar sands exports. He has focused particular ire on groups getting money from outside Canada, implying that they’re acting as a fifth column for left-wing foreign interests. At a time of widespread federal budget cuts, the Conservatives have given Canada’s tax agency extra resources to audit registered charities. It’s widely assumed that environmental groups opposing the tar sands are a main target.

This coercive climate prevents Canadians from having an open conversation about the tar sands. Instead, our nation behaves like a gambler deep in the hole, repeatedly doubling down on our commitment to the industry….


Obama on climate change at billionaire Tom Steyer’s home: “The politics of this are tough”

Carla Marinucci San Francisco Chronicle April 4, 2013

Here’s the unedited local pool report we’ve filed to the White House immediately after covering the DCCC fundraiser at the Sea Cliff home of billionaire Tom Steyer. We’ll have more blogs, tweets (@cmarinucci) and pool reports. And don’t… more »





South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project’s Science Symposium 2013,

Registration has opened for the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project’s Science Symposium 2013, to be held Tuesday, July 16 at the USGS Menlo Park Science Center.

Our 2011 symposium was at capacity, so we suggest registering early. Registration is also available for participating in the event by webinar.

To register for in-person or webinar attendance, go to



Society For Ecological Restoration—Deadline

The deadline to submit abstracts for oral and poster presentations at the 5th World Conference on Ecological Restoration is May 1, 2013. We welcome submissions from restoration practitioners, researchers, and advocates addressing any aspect of ecological restoration. Visit the Call for Abstracts page on the conference website for complete instructions and a link to the online submission form.
Conservation Hawks is a group working to engage the 37 million sportsmen (hunters and anglers) regarding the vulnerability of the resources they value to climate change. They have just released their first video (2 minutes) that messages to their constituents, and it is worth a view. I think this is a great example of how a diverse array of individuals and organizations are now engaged in educating Americans about the need to take action to address climate change.






Webinar: The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy

April 9, 2013 2:00-4:00 pm

Description: The recently National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy is the first nationwide strategy to help public and private decision makers address the impacts that climate change is having on our natural resources and the people and economies that depend on them.

This collaborative effort led by the Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA, and the state agencies is the product of an extensive national dialogue that spanned nearly two years and was shaped by comments from more than 55,000 Americans.

Join us to hear from the partners who developed this effort about how this Strategy provides a unified approach for reducing the negative impacts of climate change on natural systems, and discuss key recommendations for safeguarding the nation’s fish, wildlife and plants in a changing climate.

For more information on the Strategy, visit:


April 10, 11-noon Pacific Time, Distribution Trends for Wintering Raptors in Western North America, GNLCC Webinar



Webinar: Fish Habitat and Climate Change: Implications for the Desert Southwest, Midwestern Smallmouth Bass, and Eastern Brook Trout

Thursday, April 11, 2:30 PM Eastern
Joanna Whittier, Research Assistant Professor, University of Missouri

Craig Paukert, Leader, Missouri Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit

Tyrell Deweber, Ph.D. Student, Penn State University
Description:  The effects of climate change on freshwater fishes and their habitats will likely not be consistent among species or habitats so region or species-specific effects of climate change may help managers focus conservation efforts.  The first webinar (of two) for this nationwide project will show how climate change affects fish distributions in the desert southwest, brook trout distributions in the eastern U.S., and growth and consumption of smallmouth bass in the Midwest U.S.  In the desert southwest, we developed a framework based on the predicted distribution of native species to serve as a surrogate measure of change in stream habitat condition from changes in climate and land use.  Native species showed a general increase in distribution by 2085.  These were primarily warm-water species.  Of the two cold-water natives, we had enough records to model the distribution of the Apache trout which showed a 25% decline in distribution.   In the Midwest, bioenergetics simulations showed that a 1°C stream temperature increase will increase smallmouth bass growth in the Midwest by 7% and consumption by 27%.  For eastern brook trout increasing stream temperatures and urban land use change are predicted to result in 30 to 40% reductions in suitable stream habitat. These results show that climate change may affect fishes at the distributional and population levels, and may vary by species and region.


Once submitted, your name will be added to the registry and you will receive an email with instructions on how to join the webinar via the WebEx platform. For closed captioning during the webinar, at the start time of the event, please login to your event by clicking on the link below:

Webinar: Modeling potential range shifts under a changing climate: A case study

Wednesday, April 17, 1:00-2:30 PM Eastern


Scott D. Klopfer, Director, Conservation Management Institute, Virginia Tech

David Kramar, Conservation Management Institute, Virginia Tech

Chris Burkett, Wildlife Action Plan Coordinator, VA Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries

Austin Kane, Science and Policy Manager, National Wildlife Federation

Description: Climate change, and its potential impact on species distributions, has moved to the forefront of concerns among wildlife managers. Current speculation in Virginia centers on how species will respond to changing climate in the coming century. We used dynamically downscaled climate models to generate change scenarios in the mid and late 21st century. We used that information, along with available species occurrence information, to build predictive spatial models for a select group of species. Our results suggested that the impact of climate change will vary across the landscape. The resulting species distribution models provide information for wildlife managers on how climate changes may result in shifting distributions in Virginia. We also provide some basic suggestions to managers in using the information produced and in incorporating climate change into their decision making.


Once submitted, your name will be added to the registry for the webinar and you will receive an email with instructions on how to join the webinar via WebEx platform.


April 16, 2013; 9:00-10:30 Pacific Time, Communicating Climate in a Time of Rapid Change; NOAA Webinar (Add to Google Calendar)

April 17, 2013; 9:00-10:00 Pacific Time, Is Sea Level Rise Accelerating? Somewhere a Hockey Stick; NOAA presentation and webinar, HQ (Add to Google Calendar)



Tell ABC, NBC and CBS News To Cover Climate Change – Media Matters

Twelve. That’s the combined number of segments that ABC, CBS and NBC’s nightly news programs devoted to climate change throughout the entire year of 2012. This is woefully inadequate. We need coverage that’s consistent with the importance of dealing with this issue. Click here to urge ABC, NBC and CBS’ nightly news programs to do a better job of covering climate change.
Since 2012 was the hottest year on record and we experienced a series of damaging extreme weather events, you’d think that the media would have given climate change more attention. The simple reality is that dealing with climate change is going to take big action. But, that can’t happen unless the American people understand how climate change fuels extreme weather. It’s up to the media to inform people.
That’s why we and the Sierra Club are joining the League of Conservation Voters in asking the three nightly news programs to do a better job of covering climate issues in 2013 than they did in 2012. We almost have 100,000 signatures already and with your participation, we can get over the 100,000 mark. You can help out by signing the letter to the executive producers of ABC World News, CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News asking them to give us more frequent, accurate coverage of climate change this year. Sign here:






As Administration Decides On Keystone, U.S. Experiences Two Tar Sands Spills This Week

Posted: 31 Mar 2013 09:20 AM PDT

One week after the Senate held a symbolic vote in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline, the U.S. saw two different oil spills involving Canadian tar sands crude oil.

An ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured Friday, leaking approximately 10,000 barrels of tar sands crude in an Arkansas town. As a result, 22 homes have been evacuated as officials clean up of the world’s dirtiest oil: Exxon shut the Pegasus pipeline, which can carry more than 90,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil from Pakota, Illinois, to Nederland, Texas, after the leak was discovered on Friday afternoon, the company said in a statement.

The Keystone XL pipeline would carry almost nine times the barrels of oil as the Pegasus pipeline…



A step closer on Keystone
March 29 2013 The Obama Administration is a step closer to a final decision on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada with the State Department’s release of a draft environmental assessment. C2ES examines the Keystone controversy, the greenhouse gas implications of developing Canadian oil sands, and potential long-term solutions.



Buy an Electric Car, Get a Gas-Powered Car Free

By Brad TuttleApril 02, 20131 Comment A buy-one-get-one-free special on cars? Not exactly. To ease consumer concerns about the limited driving range of electric vehicles, two automakers are giving buyers free access to traditional gas-powered rental cars and loaners throughout the year. For many drivers, purely battery-powered electric vehicles remain an impractical choice because the typical EV must be recharged after every 80 or so miles on the road, and because four or more hours are required for a full recharge. Automakers have rolled out offers such as free included auto insurance, cheap lease deals, and simple price cuts and cash rebates to convince consumers they can live with “range anxiety” and the other downsides to EVs. A $7,500 federal tax credit and state incentives of up to $2,500 make the electric car math even more enticing. And of course, owning an electric vehicle comes with the possibility of saving thousands annually on the costs of “fueling” their cars….






Chimps: Ability to ‘think about thinking’ not limited to humans
(April 3, 2013) — Humans’ closest animal relatives, chimpanzees, have the ability to “think about thinking” — what is called “metacognition,” according to new research. … > full story


Breakthrough cancer-killing treatment has no side-effects in mice: New chemistry may cure human cancers
(April 3, 2013) — The scientific crusade against cancer recently achieved a victory. Medical researchers have developed a new form of radiation therapy that successfully put cancer into remission in mice. This innovative treatment produced none of the harmful side-effects of conventional chemo and radiation cancer therapies. … > full story







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