Conservation Science News June 28, 2013Leave a Comment
Highlight of the Week– New Scenario Planning Guide, Groundwater Depletion, and Carbon Visuals
5- RENEWABLES, ENERGY AND RELATED
6–OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST
7–IMAGES OF THE WEEK
PRBO is now Point Blue Conservation Science: We have changed our name to Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO) reflecting the expanded depth and reach of our work, building on our long-term bird ecology expertise. Our 140 Point Blue
scientists and educators work with hundreds of partners, pointing the way forward to secure a healthy, blue planet well into the future. We have changed our name to Point Blue
to more directly address climate change, together with other environmental threats, through nature-based solutions that benefit wildlife and people. For more information please see From Point Reyes to Point Blue as well as our first Point Blue Quarterly. You might also enjoy viewing our inspiring ~6 minute video introducing Point Blue that includes partner and staff highlights as well as a brief congratulatory video from Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-2). Our new website, www.pointblue.org, is under construction through the summer. Until then, our existing website, www.prbo.org, will remain active.
New Point Blue/CA Coastal Conservancy Publication:
Moore, S.S., N.E. Seavy, and M. Gerhart. 2013.
Point Blue Conservation Science and California Coastal Conservancy. Available on-line at: http://www.prbo.org/refs/files/12263_Moore2013.pdf
This document is a step-by-step guide to develop scenarios and use them to plan for climate change adaptation. The intended audience includes natural resource managers, planners, landowners, scientists and other stakeholders working at a local or regional scale to develop resource management approaches that take climate change impacts and other important uncertainties into account. Scenario planning is a tool that embraces uncertainty rather than trying to reduce or eliminate it. It can help resource managers generate creative approaches to climate change adaptation by thinking outside the historical or most obvious trends to incorporate uncertainty as a factor in prioritizing and taking climate-smart management actions today. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Satellites reveal depth of water depletion in California’s Great Central Valley
By David Perlman June 21 2013 10:28 AM
Satellites peering down on California’s great Central Valley have discovered evidence that the nation’s prime food source is fast losing precious reserves of water from the valley’s underground aquifers. Loss of water from beneath the surface, combined with increasing shortages of surface irrigation caused by climate change, is quietly adding up to a crisis that threatens one of the state’s major industries, scientists say. “We don’t recognize the dire water situation we face,” said Jay Famiglietti, a UC Irvine hydrologist who has monitored those stored water levels every month since the spacecraft began measuring the sources 11 years ago. Even as those reserves are being depleted, diminished surface water sources are forcing many farm districts in the region to pump their water from ever deeper levels of the underground aquifers, farm experts say. Pumps that once brought water from 500 feet deep are now reaching as deep as 900 or even 1,500 feet, said Chase Hurley, general manager of the San Luis Canal Co., a 100-year-old water agency in Los Banos (Merced County) that represents more than 300 landowners farming 45,000 acres of irrigated crops – mostly with water from the San Joaquin River. “As you suck that water out of deep clay layers,” Hurley said, “you not only get subsidence but changes in water quality. It’s salty, and acidic, and that’s not good for crops.” Additionally, groundwater pumping is creating difficult subsidence problems as the land surface in many areas is sinking – by 4 or 5 feet or even more.
Chronic water shortages
Irrigation districts serving Central Valley farmers obtain most of their water from the Central Valley Project, whose dams and reservoirs release the water from the annual thaw of the Sierra snowpack.
But those farmers have long faced chronic water shortages, and this year the mountain snowpack has been at barely half its normal water yield. Managers of the project have warned that the irrigation districts south of the delta will be allocated only 20 percent of the water they have contracted for. That could force farmers to pump more water out of the aquifers, which are filled by long, sustained drainage from above. “We’re losing those groundwater reserves every month, and with climate change affecting snowmelt, the risks and uncertainties are changing faster than ever,” Famiglietti said. “We don’t see that there’ll be any replenishment in the future, so there’s a critical need to improve the way we monitor and regulate groundwater systems now.” Famiglietti, who directs UC Irvine’s Center for Hydrologic Monitoring, and Matthew Rodell, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., reported on the spacecraft’s underground water findings in this week’s issue of the journal Science….
UC Irvine, NASA researchers demonstrate need for national water management policy with map of U.S. ‘hotspots’
Irvine, Calif., June 13, 2013 – New satellite imagery reveals that several areas across the United States are all but certain to suffer water-related catastrophes, including extreme flooding, drought and groundwater depletion.
The paper, to be published in Science this Friday, June 14, underscores the urgent need to address these current and rapidly emerging water issues at the national scale.
“We don’t recognize the dire water situation that we face here in the United States,” said lead author Jay Famiglietti, a professor of Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine, and Director of the UC Center for Hydrologic Modeling (UCCHM). Since its launch in 2002, Famiglietti and co-author Matt Rodell, Chief of the Hydrological Sciences Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, have been using data from the NASA Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission to track changing freshwater availability all over the world. “Worldwide, groundwater supplies about half of all drinking water, and it is also hugely important for agriculture, yet without GRACE we would have no routine, global measurements of changes in groundwater availability,” said Rodell. “Other satellites can’t do it, and ground-based monitoring is inadequate.” The report, entitled Water in the Balance, draws attention to water management as a national, rather than just a regional or statewide problem. The GRACE mission is able to monitor monthly water storage changes within river basins and aquifers that are 200,000 km2 or larger in area, and, according to Famiglietti and Rodell, can contribute to water management at regional and national scales, and to international policy discussions as well.
Using GRACE data, the researchers were able to identify several water ‘hotspots’ in the United States, including its key food producing regions in 1) California’s Central Valley, and 2) the southern High Plains aquifer; a broad swath of the southeastern U. S. that has been plagued by persistent drought, including 3) Houston, Texas, 4) Alabama, and 5) the Mid-Atlantic region; and 6) the flood-prone upper Missouri River basin. They also noted that since 2003, the wetter, northern half of the U.S. has become wetter, while the drier, southern half has become drier. ….
Water in the Balance Science June 14, 2013
Earth’s climate is changing, and so is its hydrologic cycle. Recent decades have witnessed rising rates of global precipitation, evaporation, and freshwater discharge (1). Extreme flooding is occurring with greater intensity and frequency in some regions; in others, extreme drought is becoming more common (2). Most climate models indicate that by the end of this century, the dry regions of the world will become drier, whereas the wet areas will become wetter (3). Meanwhile, groundwater reserves, the traditional backup for water supplies during extended periods of drought, are in decline globally (4–6). GRACE (the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, a joint U.S.-German satellite mission) monitors these variations on monthly to decadal time scales, providing detailed data on the water cycle that are an essential prerequisite for contemporary water management.
- AND CARBON VISUALS:
Carbon Visuals, supported by Environmental Defense Fund, have created a film that makes those emissions feel more real – the total emissions and the rate of emission. Designed to engage the ‘person on the street’, this version is exploratory and still work in progress….
A single hour’s emissions from New York City: 6,204 one-metric-ton spheres
A single day’s emissions from New York CIty
A year’s carbon dioxide emissions from New York City: 54,349,650 one-metric-ton spheres
- AND CARBON VISUALS:
Point Blue in the news:
Mist nets at a research center in Bolinas catch the Swainson’s thrushes that bird ecologists like Renée Cormier are tracking with geolocator bands on their migration to Mexico. Photo by David Briggs
By Mackenzie Mount 06/27/2013
When avian ecologist Renée Cormier sat down in her Palomarin Field Station office on Monday to talk about the implications of a recently published study she co-authored on Swainson’s thrushes, she didn’t tell a woe-is-the-species story. Swainson’s thrushes aren’t officially endangered or threatened, but they are highly dependent on riparian habitats. The songbirds act as ecological thermometers of their locales, and Ms. Cormier and three Point Blue Conservation Science colleagues found exciting readings. Published in the ornithological journal The Auk, the study determined for the first time where exactly the Marin County population of these songbirds winter—in the western Mexican state of Jalisco, about 1,600 miles south. This corresponding narrowness of breeding and winter locations is called migratory connectivity, making the Swainson’s thrushes more vulnerable to changes in habitat in either region and making Marin and Jalisco kind of ecological pen pals for the songbirds’ corresponding homes. Ms. Cormier explained the significance of the sites’ geographic ties from her field station office—her hair loosely pulled back, her face free of makeup, notes from a 4 a.m. owl survey scrawled on her hand. (“Stopping to pull out the notebook when running toward a calling owl in the dark is not that convenient.”) She radiated satisfaction with her work, as one who considers climate change and the fragility of her subjects but who bookends office hours creeping outside pre-sunrise and post-sunset, playing recorded hoots in hopes that a live owl replies and reveals its location. Monday morning’s dense fog kept Point Blue staff from unfurling the mist nets that catch birds and barred any Swainson’s thrush sightings. The nets work like a spiderweb with pockets: a soft mesh that stretches about as wide as a volleyball net and is undetectable to a bird fixated on a distant oak. Ms. Cormier unwound a corner to demonstrate how birds pop into the net and slip into its fold, but she froze when a nearby Swainson’s began its upward spiraling trill. ….
Uncertainty over the benefits of feeding birds in winter
(June 24, 2013) — Scientists have found that feeding wild blue tits in winter resulted in less successful breeding during the following spring. … The research, published in Scientific Reports, revealed that woodland blue tits that were provided with fat balls as a supplementary food during the winter months went on to produce chicks that were smaller, of lower body weight and which had lower survival than the chicks of birds that did not receive any additional food.
Dr Jon Blount from Biosciences at the University of Exeter who led the research said: “Our research questions the benefits of feeding wild birds over winter. Although the precise reasons why fed populations subsequently have reduced reproductive success are unclear, it would be valuable to assess whether birds would benefit from being fed all year round rather than only in winter. More research is needed to determine exactly what level of additional food provisioning, and at what times of year, would truly benefit wild bird populations.”
Dr Kate Plummer, lead author of the paper, said: “There could be a number of different explanations for our results. One possibility is that winter feeding may help birds in relatively poor condition to survive and breed. Because these individuals are only capable of raising a small number of chicks, they will reduce our estimation of breeding success within the population. But more research is needed to understand whether winter feeding is contributing to an overall change in the size of bird populations.” It is estimated that around half of UK householders feed birds in their gardens. This equates to around 50-60 thousand tonnes of bird food provisioned each year and contributes to a thriving bird food industry…..> full story
Large dead zone forming in the Gulf
(June 27, 2013) — Ocean experts had predicted a large “dead zone” area in the Gulf of Mexico this year, and according to the results from a researcher just back from studying the region, those predictions appear to be right on target. … > full story
Why closely related species do not eat the same things
(June 21, 2013) —— Closely related species consume the same resources less often than more remotely related species. In fact, it is the competition for resources, and not their kinship, which determines the food sources of the species of a community. Under the effect of this competition, closely related species have specialized on different food resources. This is the conclusion of a study carried out by researchers from CNRS, the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle and Exeter University (United Kingdom). These results were obtained by studying trophic interactions between species at an extraordinary level of detail in an English meadow….Published on 20 June 2013 in the journal Current Biology, the work provides important insights into the evolution of ecological communities at a time when certain are being disrupted by climate change and the arrival of invasive species. In ecology, the present paradigm considers that kinship relations between species determine the identity of the partners with which the species interact: the more closely related the species, the more chance they have of interacting with the same partners. Thus, according to this view, two closely related species should share the same predators and the same preys. Recent work carried out by a team of researchers from CNRS, the Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle and Exeter University shows that this is not necessarily the case. For the first time, the scientists have shown that although kinship between species effectively determines what feeds on species, it is competition for resources and not degree of kinship that determines what species feed on…..> full story
Migrating animals add new depth to how the ocean ‘breathes’
(June 24, 2013) — Animals ranging from plankton to small fish consume vast amounts of what little oxygen is available in the deep ocean, and may reveal a crucial and unappreciated role that animals have in ocean chemistry on a global scale. … Research begun at Princeton University and recently reported on in the journal Nature Geoscience found that animals ranging from plankton to small fish consume vast amounts of what little oxygen is available in the ocean’s aptly named “oxygen minimum zone” daily. The sheer number of organisms that seek refuge in water roughly 200- to 650-meters deep (650 to 2,000 feet) every day result in the global consumption of between 10 and 40 percent of the oxygen available at these depths….”You can say that the whole ecosystem does this migration — chances are that if it swims, it does this kind of migration,” Bianchi said. “Before, scientists tended to ignore this big chunk of the ecosystem when thinking of ocean chemistry. We are saying that they are quite important and can’t be ignored.”….> full story
Daniele Bianchi, Eric D. Galbraith, David A. Carozza, K. A. S. Mislan, Charles A. Stock. Intensification of open-ocean oxygen depletion by vertically migrating animals. Nature Geoscience, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1837
Nature swiftly responds when we stop trying to control it. This is our big chance to reverse man’s terrible destructive impact
Forest elephants were exterminated from Europe 40,000 years ago when modern humans arrived. Photograph: Sebastião Salgado/Amazonas Images
Until modern humans arrived, every continent except Antarctica possessed a megafauna. In the Americas, alongside mastodons, mammoths, four-tusked and spiral-tusked elephants, there was a beaver the size of a black bear: eight feet from nose to tail. There were giant bison weighing two tonnes, which carried horns seven feet across….
Researchers unearth data in animal habitat selection that counters current convention
(June 27, 2013) — Scientists have long presumed that animals settle on breeding territories according to the ideal free model. But settlement data often show that, in fact, animals do not select high quality habitat. Indeed, here we report that young common loons have a striking tendency to settle on breeding lakes that resemble their natal lake in terms of both size and pH. … “The basic finding is that young loons chose to settle on territories that are very similar to their natal territories,” noted Dr. Piper, professor in Chapman’s Schmid College of Science and Technology. “This behavioral pattern seems to indicate that loons choose habitat so as to promote their survival, not their breeding success. This is exciting because it flies in the face of current dogma in field of habitat selection.” Here is the abstract from the research: Scientists have long presumed that animals settle on breeding territories according to the ideal free model, which presumes that animals select habitat that maximizes the number of offspring they can produce. But settlement data often show that, in fact, animals do not select high quality habitat. Indeed, here we report that young common loons have a striking tendency to settle on breeding lakes that resemble their natal lake in terms of both size and pH. Preference for natallike rather than high quality habitat, might allow a young animal to feed on familiar prey and, hence, increase its likelihood of surviving its early breeding years. More information on Dr. Piper’s research on loons can be found at The Loon Project website: http://loonproject.org/> full story
W. H. Piper, M. W. Palmer, N. Banfield, M. W. Meyer. Can settlement in natal-like habitat explain maladaptive habitat selection?
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 2013; 280 (1765): 20130979 DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2013.0979
Illegal marijuana grows threaten fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada
(June 27, 2013) — Rat poison used on illegal marijuana grows is killing fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada, according to a recent study conducted by a team of scientists. … > full story
Vegetation on Earth: Stunning satellite imagery depicting vegetation around the world
(June 24, 2013) — Although 75 percent of the planet is an ocean of blue, the remaining 25 percent of Earth’s surface is a dynamic green. Data from the Visible-Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on board the NASA/NOAA Suomi NPP satellite is able to detect these subtle differences in greenness, and is sending extraordinary images back to Earth giving us a clearer picture of vegetation around the world. … > full story
Mapping out how to save species
(June 27, 2013) — Using colorful world maps, a new study maps out priority areas for protection to save species and preserve biodiversity. The scale is 100 times finer than previous assessments. … > full story
Clearing up confusion on future of Colorado River flows
(June 25, 2013) — Leading experts on water issues in the Western U.S. have come together to establish what is known about the future of Colorado River water, and to understand the wide range of estimates for future flows. … The Colorado River provides water for more than 30 million people, including those in the fast-growing cities of Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles. Increasing demand for that water combined with reduced flow and the looming threat of climate change have prompted concern about how to manage the basin’s water in coming decades. In the past five years, scientific studies estimated declines of future flows ranging from 6 percent to 45 percent by 2050. A paper by University of Washington researchers and co-authors at eight institutions across the West aims to explain this wide range, and provide policymakers and the public with a framework for comparison. The study is published this week in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. “The different estimates have led to a lot of frustration,” said lead author Julie Vano, who recently earned a UW doctorate in civil and environmental engineering. “This paper puts all the studies in a single framework and identifies how they are connected.”….
The authors compared the array of flow projections for the Colorado River and came up with four main reasons for the differences. In decreasing order of importance, predictions of future flows vary because of:
- Which climate models and future emissions scenarios were used to generate the estimates.
- The models’ spatial resolution, which is important for capturing topography and its effect on the distribution of snow in the Colorado River’s mountainous headwaters.
- Representation of land surface hydrology, which determines how precipitation and temperature changes will affect the land’s ability to absorb, evaporate or transport water.
- Methods used to downscale from the roughly 200-kilometer resolution used by global climate models to the 10- to 20-kilometer resolution used by regional hydrology models.
While the paper does not determine a new estimate for future flows, it provides context for evaluating the current numbers. The 6 percent reduction estimate, for example, did not include some of the fourth-generation climate model runs that tend to predict a dryer West. And the 45 percent decrease estimate relied on models with a coarse spatial resolution that could not capture the effects of topography in the headwater regions. The analysis thus supports more moderate estimates of changes in future flows. “Drought and climate change are a one-two punch for our water supply,” said Overpeck, a professor of geosciences and of atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona. The new paper is intended to be used by scientists, policymakers and stakeholders to judge future estimates.> full story
Julie A. Vano, Bradley Udall, Daniel R. Cayan, Jonathan T. Overpeck, Levi D. Brekke, Tapash Das, Holly C. Hartmann, Hugo G. Hidalgo, Martin Hoerling, Gregory J. McCabe, Kiyomi Morino, Robert S. Webb, Kevin Werner, Dennis P. Lettenmaier. Understanding Uncertainties in Future Colorado River Streamflow. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 2013; 130625085810007 DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-12-00228.1
Why are gull chicks murdered, especially on Sundays?
(June 20, 2013) — Why are gull chicks murdered especially on Sundays? Are humans somehow to blame? Researchers have discovered much more cannibalism takes place over the weekend than on weekdays (gull chicks were pecked to death by adult gulls and sometimes eaten). It turned out that gulls, especially during chick care, rely heavily on fish waste thrown overboard from fishing boats. Bad luck for these birds: at the weekend, the fishing fleet is largely in the harbor. … > full story
Placing flood mitigation on four pillars: Conclusions from 2013 central European floods
(June 27, 2013) — In future, flood mitigation in Germany should be based on four key pillars: Technical flood protection for larger built-up areas will be required just as much as greater space for rivers by means of dike relocation and integration of the agricultural sector. Furthermore, private mitigation should be supported wherever technical flood protection has so far been unable to provide sufficient protection against damage. To ensure provisions of solidarity in accommodating the residual damage, it would be sensible to introduce mitigation-based, mandatory insurance. This is what scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) write in a position paper on the 2013 flooding, published in June. … >
State’s largest dam removal project groundbreaking– Carmel River
By MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National Writer Updated 12:56 am, Friday, June 21, 2013 SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — A 92-year-old dam that’s been in danger of collapse for decades is slated for demolition this summer, the largest dam to come down in California history.
The $83 million, 28-month tear down is prompting hopes that the 36-mile waterway once listed among “America’s Top Ten Most Endangered Rivers” might someday be restored to the quiet, clear ribbon that flowed from forested mountains to the Monterey Bay. In a rare case of harmony, state and local regulators, lawmakers, environmental advocates and private utility owners scheduled a joint groundbreaking ceremony for Friday morning in Carmel. They say it will be the biggest dam removed in California history.
“This resolves a problem we’ve been dealing with since 1980,” said Robert MacLean, president of dam-owner California American Water. “It’s a very innovative solution that restores the river and eliminates a seismic hazard.” Brian Stranko, who directs California’s office of The Nature Conservancy, said they’re supporting the project in hopes it will be a national model. “We’re going to confront this problem a lot in coming decades as a lot of dams are ending their useful life and creating safety issues,” he said…..
Scientists discover thriving colonies of microbes in ocean ‘plastisphere’
(June 27, 2013) — Scientists have discovered a diverse multitude of microbes colonizing and thriving on flecks of plastic that have polluted the oceans — a vast new human-made flotilla of microbial communities that they have dubbed the “plastisphere.” … > full story
Could removing dead skin cells from your face each night mean doom for perch and other Great Lakes species?
June 25 2013 Scientific American
Three of the five Great Lakes—Huron, Superior and Erie—are awash in plastic. But it’s not the work of a Christo-like landscape artist covering the waterfront. Rather, small plastic beads, known as micro plastic, are the offenders, according to survey results to be published this summer in Marine Pollution Bulletin. “The highest counts were in the micro plastic category, less than a millimeter in diameter,” explained chemist Sherri “Sam” Mason of the State University of New York at Fredonia, who led the Great Lakes plastic pollution survey last July. “Under the scanning electron microscope, many of the particles we found were perfectly spherical plastic balls.”
Cosmetics manufacturers use these micro beads, or micro exfoliates, as abrasives in facial and body scrubs. They are too tiny for water treatment plants to filter, so they wash down the drain and into the Great Lakes. The biggest worry: fish such as yellow perch or turtles and seagulls think of them as dinner. If fish or birds eat the inert beads, the material can deprive them of nutrients from real food or get lodged in their stomachs or intestines, blocking digestive systems.
In early April, at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans, chemist Lorena Rios of the University of Wisconsin–Superior, announced that her team found 1,500 to 1.7 million plastic particles per square mile (2.5 square kilometers) in the lakes, with the highest concentration in Lake Erie. Rios is collaborating on the study with Mason and 5 Gyres Institute, a Los Angeles-based research group studying garbage patches in five subtropical gyres in the Atlantic, Pacific and Southern oceans.
Typically, the oceans contain a higher percentage of debris in the one- to five-millimeter-diameter size, whereas, for unknown reasons, the three Great Lakes the team studied have a higher concentration, approximately 85 percent, of micro plastics measuring less than one millimeter in diameter.
by Edward O. Wilson Jun. 20, 2013 Science Friday June 20, 2013
I believe it will help for me to start with this letter by telling you who I really am. This requires your going back with me to the summer of 1943, in the midst of the Second World War. I had just turned fourteen, and my hometown, the little city of Mobile, Alabama, had been largely taken over by the buildup of a wartime shipbuilding industry and military air base. Although I rode my bicycle around the streets of Mobile a couple of times as a potential emergency messenger, I remained oblivious to the great events occurring in the city and world. Instead, I spent a lot of my spare time—not required to be at school—earning merit badges in my quest to reach the Eagle rank in the Boy Scouts of America. Mostly, however, I explored nearby swamps and forests, collecting ants and butterflies. At home I attended to my menagerie of snakes and black widow spiders…. I’ve told you my Pushmataha-to-Harvard story not to recommend my kind of eccentricity (although in the right circumstances it could be of advantage); and I disavow my casual approach to early formal education. I grew up in a different age. You, in contrast, are well into a different era, where opportunity is broader but more demanding. My confessional instead is intended to illustrate an important principle I’ve seen unfold in the careers of many successful scientists. It is quite simple: put passion ahead of training. Feel out in any way you can what you most want to do in science, or technology, or some other science-related profession. Obey that passion as long as it lasts. Feed it with the knowledge the mind needs to grow. Sample other subjects, acquire a general education in science, and be smart enough to switch to a greater love if one appears. But don’t just drift through courses in science hoping that love will come to you. Maybe it will, but don’t take the chance. As in other big choices in your life, there is too much at stake. Decision and hard work based on enduring passion will never fail you.
June 25, 2013
Scientists from Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, are applying their knowledge in transboundary river basin management to improve the livelihoods of people living in some of the poorest parts of Asia.
CSIRO and its partners have begun work in the Koshi River Basin which stretches from China, across the Himalayas through Nepal and discharges into the Ganges River in India. The Koshi Basin is home to millions of people who rely on its fertile floodplains for their livelihoods. There is growing pressure to address development challenges in the Basin, in particular population growth and an increasing demand for energy, whilst working within constraints of natural hazards exacerbated by a changing climate, such as floods, drought, landslides, sediment movement and debris flow. In a collaborative four-year project, scientists from CSIRO’s Water for a Healthy Country Flagship will provide technical assistance to the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development’s (ICIMOD) Koshi Basin Programme. CSIRO scientists will develop an integrated basin-wide modelling system to improve management of the Koshi River Basin. This system will incorporate information on water availability, freshwater environments and the ecosystem services they provide and social considerations such as the effect of changes in water availability on livelihoods. The system will contribute to development in the Koshi Basin in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner and support national and transboundary water reforms….
Christian Science Monitor June 26, 2013 Written by Elizabeth Barber
Called the Cambodian tailorbird (Orthotomus chaktomuk), the previously undocumented bird was found in Phnom Penh, as well as at several locations, including a construction site, outside the teeming city.
In Pictures New species discovered in the heart of Borneo
Global warming may affect soil microbe survival, with unknown consequences on soil fertility and erosion
(June 27, 2013) — Researchers have discovered for the first time that temperature determines where key soil microbes can thrive — microbes that are critical to forming topsoil crusts in arid lands. And of concern, the scientists predict that in as little as 50 years, global warming may push some of these microbes out of their present stronghold with unknown consequences to soil fertility and erosion. … > full story
Marta Benito-Garzon et al 10 JUN 2013 DOI: 10.1111/rec.12032 © 2013 Society for Ecological Restoration Abstract
Restoration programs need to increasingly address both the restitution of biodiversity and ecosystem services and the preparation of habitats for future climate change. One option to adapt habitats to climate change in the temperate zone is the translocation of southern populations to compensate for climate change effects—an option known as assisted migration (AM). Although AM is widely criticized for endangered species, forest managers are more confident that tree populations can be translocated with success because of previous experiences within native ranges. Here, we contend that translocations of tree populations are also subject to uncertainties, and we extract lessons for future programs of AM within species ranges from a well-documented failed case of population translocation of Pinus pinaster Ait. in Europe. The failure of these translocations originated from the unawareness of several unpredictable ecological and social events: cryptic maladaptation of the introduced populations, underestimation of climate variability differences between the source and target sites, and complexity in the management schemes, postponing decisions that could have been undertaken earlier. Under the no-analog conditions that are expected with climate change, management decisions need to be made with incomplete data, implying that a certain degree of maladaptation should always be expected when restoring plant populations from local or external seed sources.
Salmon Lifecycle Considerations to Guide Stream Management: Examples from California’s Central Valley
Joseph Merz, Michelle Workman, Doug Threloff, and Brad Cavallo June 2013
John M. Marton et al 10 JUN 2013 DOI: 10.1111/rec.12033© 2013 Society for Ecological Restoration Abstract
We compared potential denitrification and phosphorus (P) sorption in restored depressional wetlands, restored riparian buffers, and natural riparian buffers of central Ohio to determine to what extent systems restored under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wetland Reserve Program (WRP) and Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) provide water quality improvement benefits, and to determine which practice is more effective at nutrient retention. We also measured soil nutrient pools (organic C, N, and P) to evaluate the potential for long-term C sequestration and nutrient accumulation. Depressional wetland soils sorbed twice as much P as riparian soils, but had significantly lower denitrification rates. Phosphorus sorption and denitrification were similar between the restored and natural riparian buffers, although all Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) practices had higher denitrification than agricultural soils. Pools of organic C (2570–3320 g/m2), total N (216–243 g/m2), and total P (60–71 g/m2) were comparable among all three NRCS practices but were greater than nearby agricultural fields and less than natural wetlands in the region. Overall, restored wetlands and restored and natural riparian buffers provide ecosystem services to the landscape that were lost during the conversion to agriculture, but the delivery of services differs among conservation practices, with greater N removal by riparian buffers and greater P removal by wetlands, attributed to differences in landscape position and mineral soil composition. At the landscape, and even global level, wetland and riparian restoration in agricultural landscapes will reintroduce multiple ecosystem services (e.g. C sequestration, water quality improvement, and others) and should be considered in management plans.
Posted: 27 Jun 2013 07:04 AM PDT
A brutal and potentially historic heat wave is in store for the West as parts of Nevada, Arizona and California may get dangerously hot temperatures this weekend and into next week. In fact, by the end of the heat wave, we may see a record tied or broken for the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth. The furnace-like heat is coming courtesy of a “stuck” weather pattern that is setting up across the U.S. and Canada. By early next week, the jet stream — a fast-moving river of air at airliner altitudes that is responsible for steering weather systems — will form the shape of a massive, slithering snake with what meteorologists refer to as a deep “ridge” across the Western states, and an equally deep trough seting up across the Central and Eastern states. All-time records are likely to be threatened in normally hot places — including Death Valley, Calif., which holds the record for the highest reliably recorded air temperature on earth at 134°F … set on July 10, 1913.… Heat waves are one of the most well-understood consequences of manmade global warming, since as global average surface temperatures increase, the probability of extreme heat events increases by a greater amount.
One study, published in the Proceedings of the American Academy of Sciences in 2012, found that the odds of extremely hot summers have significantly increased in tandem with global temperatures. Those odds, the study found, were about 1-in-300 during the 1951-1980 timeframe, but that had increased to nearly 1-in-10 by 1981-2010.
San Francisco Chronicle June 26, 2013
Last week, it was responsible for downpours that led to historic floods in Alberta, as well as record-breaking heat in parts of Alaska, experts say. “While it’s not unusual to have a heat wave in the East in June, it is part of the anomalous jet… more »
Climate tug of war disrupting Australian atmospheric circulation patterns
(June 26, 2013) — Further evidence of climate change shifting atmospheric circulation in the southern Australian-New Zealand region has been identified in a new study. … > full story
Surprise species at risk from climate change
(June 24, 2013) — Most species at greatest risk from climate change are not currently conservation priorities, according to a new study that has introduced a pioneering method to assess the vulnerability of species to climate change. The paper, published in the journal PLOS ONE, is one of the biggest studies of its kind, assessing all of the world’s birds, amphibians and corals. It draws on the work of more than 100 scientists over a period of five years, including Wits PhD student and leader of the study, Wendy Foden.
Up to 83% of birds, 66% of amphibians and 70% of corals that were identified as highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change are not currently considered threatened with extinction on The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They are therefore unlikely to be receiving focused conservation attention, according to the study. “The findings revealed some alarming surprises,” says Foden, who conducted the study while formerly working for the IUCN Global Species’ Programme’s Climate Change Unit, which she founded six years ago. “We hadn’t expected that so many species and areas that were not previously considered to be of concern would emerge as highly vulnerable to climate change. Clearly, if we simply carry on with conservation as usual, without taking climate change into account, we’ll fail to help many of the species and areas that need it most.”The study’s novel approach looks at the unique biological and ecological characteristics that make species more or less sensitive or adaptable to climate change. Conventional methods have focussed largely on measuring the amount of change to which species are likely to be exposed. … > full story
Wendy B. Foden, Stuart H. M. Butchart, Simon N. Stuart, Jean-Christophe Vié, H. Resit Akçakaya, Ariadne Angulo, Lyndon M. DeVantier, Alexander Gutsche, Emre Turak, Long Cao, Simon D. Donner, Vineet Katariya, Rodolphe Bernard, Robert A. Holland, Adrian F. Hughes, Susannah E. O’Hanlon, Stephen T. Garnett, Çagan H. Şekercioğlu, Georgina M. Mace. Identifying the World’s Most Climate Change Vulnerable Species: A Systematic Trait-Based Assessment of all Birds, Amphibians and Corals. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (6): e65427 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065427
Farming carbon: Study reveals potent carbon-storage potential of human-made wetlands
(June 20, 2013) — The goal of restoring or creating wetlands on agricultural lands is almost always to remove nutrients and improve water quality. But new research shows that constructed marshes also excel at pulling carbon dioxide from the air and holding it long-term in soil, suggesting that farmers and landowners may also want to build wetlands to “farm” carbon. … > full story
Changing ocean temperatures, circulation patterns affecting young Atlantic cod food supply
(June 20, 2013) — Changing ocean water temperatures and circulation patterns have profoundly affected key Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf zooplankton species in recent decades, and may be influencing the recovery of Atlantic cod and other fish stocks in the region. Researchers have found that zooplankton species critical for the survival of Atlantic cod larvae have declined in abundance in the same areas where Atlantic cod stocks have struggled to rebuild after an extended period of overfishing. … > full story
Posted: 23 Jun 2013 09:40 AM PDT
Jeff Goodell has a must-read piece in Rolling Stone, “Goodbye, Miami: By century’s end, rising sea levels will turn the nation’s urban fantasyland into an American Atlantis. But long before the city is completely underwater, chaos will begin.” Goodell has talked to many of the leading experts on Miami including Harold Wanless, chair of University of Miami’s geological sciences, department, source of the headline quote. The reason climate change dooms Miami is a combination of sea level rise, the inevitability of ever more severe storms and storm surges — and its fateful, fatal geology and topology, which puts “more than $416 billion in assets at risk to storm-related flooding and sea-level rise”: South Florida has two big problems. The first is its remarkably flat topography. Half the area that surrounds Miami is less than five feet above sea level. Its highest natural elevation, a limestone ridge that runs from Palm Beach to just south of the city, averages a scant 12 feet. With just three feet of sea-level rise, more than a third of southern Florida will vanish; at six feet, more than half will be gone; if the seas rise 12 feet, South Florida will be little more than an isolated archipelago surrounded by abandoned buildings and crumbling overpasses. And the waters won’t just come in from the east – because the region is so flat, rising seas will come in nearly as fast from the west too, through the Everglades. Even worse, South Florida sits above a vast and porous limestone plateau. “Imagine Swiss cheese, and you’ll have a pretty good idea what the rock under southern Florida looks like,” says Glenn Landers, a senior engineer at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This means water moves around easily – it seeps into yards at high tide, bubbles up on golf courses, flows through underground caverns, corrodes building foundations from below. “Conventional sea walls and barriers are not effective here,” says Robert Daoust, an ecologist at ARCADIS, a Dutch firm that specializes in engineering solutions to rising seas.
The latest research “suggests that sea level could rise more than six feet by the end of the century,” as Goodell notes, and “Wanless believes that it could continue rising a foot each decade after that.”
Nature Climate Change | Commentary
Fostering knowledge networks for climate adaptation
We must forge network connections among rapidly changing communities of decision-makers and researchers to foster the social learning necessary for effective adaptation to climate risks.
- Retrospective prediction of the global warming slowdown in the past decade
pp649 – 653 (subs. reqd)
Virginie Guemas, Francisco J. Doblas-Reyes, Isabel Andreu-Burillo and Muhammad Asif
In recent years the global warming trend has plateaued, despite increasing anthropogenic emissions. Now research attributes this plateau to an increase in ocean heat uptake, through retrospective predictions of up to 5 years in length. The ability to hindcast this warming plateau strengthens our confidence in the robustness of climate models.
- Intensification of winter transatlantic aviation turbulence in response to climate change
pp644 – 648 (subs. reqd)
Paul D. Williams and Manoj M. Joshi Nature Climate Change
Most weather-related aircraft incidents are caused by atmospheric turbulence; however, the effects of changing climate are not known. Climate model simulations show that clear-air turbulence, associated with jet streams, changes significantly for the transatlantic flight corridor when atmospheric carbon dioxide is doubled. These results suggest that climate change will lead to bumpier transatlantic flights by the middle of this century.
Climate change to shrink bison, profit
(June 20, 2013) — A researcher finds that during the next 50 years, future generations of bison will be smaller in size and weigh less. Climate is likely to reduce the nutritional quality of grasses, causing the animals to grow more slowly. … > full story
President Obama’s Climate Action Plan: Infographic, Video http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/climate-action-plan
NPR June 28, 2013
Written by David Kestenbaum
Climate change seems like this complicated problem with a million pieces. But Henry Jacoby, an economist at MIT’s business school, says there’s really just one thing you need to do to solve the problem: Tax carbon emissions.
By Joe Romm on Jun 27, 2013 at 6:15 pm
“… remind everyone who represents you at every level of government that sheltering future generations against the ravages of climate change is a prerequisite for your vote” — Obama 6/25/13
“We have a moral obligation to act” — #1 message in post-speech talking points from team Obama
“Republican leaders have a clear strategy for combating President Barack Obama’s climate agenda: Don’t talk about the science” — Politico 6/27/60
“Once third-rail issues transform into moral imperatives, impossibilities sometimes surrender to new realities — Salon 2/13/13”
Wednesday, the Supreme Court sided with marriage equality. The Court struck down the unconstitutional Defense of Marriage Act and re-opened the door for gay marriage in California.
I’m sure you all know the argument that won in the Supreme Court, the argument that has led toward a sharp swing of public support for LGBT rights in the past decade, the one repeated endlessly by advocates for change: Legalizing gay marriage would be a big job creator. Yes, in the face of strong religious and conservative objections, the public and the Court were persuaded by the growing call for a jobs plan from florists, caterers, photographers, wedding planners, DJs, celebrity bookers, gown and tuxedo stores, marriage counselors and even divorce attorneys.
Oh wait, that wasn’t the winning argument. As Salon explained in a late 2011 article, “Gay rights’ surprise weapon: Morality,” what “moved gay marriage into the mainstream in 2011″ was “morality.” ….
JONATHAN FAHEY, AP Energy Writer Associated Press June 26, 2013
The plan aims to reduce power-plant emissions of carbon dioxide, increase America’s reliance on natural gas and renewables and make trucks, homes and businesses more efficient. Obama also seeks to increase funding for clean energy research by 30… more »
On climate change, Obama bypasses Congress with ambitious plan
By Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, Published: June 25 E-mail the writer
President Obama delivered his most forceful push for action on global warming on Tuesday, declaring that his administration would impose tighter pollution controls on coal- and gas-fired utilities and establish strict conditions for approval of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.
Obama also announced that the government would take climate change into consideration in its everyday operations. The shift could affect decisions on a range of issues, including bridge heights, flood insurance rates and how the military gets electricity overseas.
The actions make clear that the president will bypass Congress in seeking to reshape the federal government and the nation’s electricity sector. The aggressive posture also sets up major confrontations with the fossil fuel industry and its Republican allies, who immediately vowed to punish Democrats in elections next year for waging a “war on coal” by setting new limits on carbon emissions. Speaking to college students and environmental activists at Georgetown University, the president mocked those who disclaim any connection between human activity and climate change and suggested that curbing carbon emissions amounted to a moral obligation owed to future Americans. “I refuse to condemn your generation and future generations to a planet that’s beyond fixing,” he told the crowd, adding later, “We don’t have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society.”
In perhaps the most significant policy unveiled Tuesday, Obama ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to propose limits on carbon dioxide emissions from existing coal- and gas-fired utilities by 2015.
The president also surprised supporters and detractors alike by announcing that he would approve the Keystone XL pipeline — which would carry crude oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico — only if “does not significantly exacerbate the climate problem.” It remains to be seen how much practical effect his declaration will have on the final pipeline decision, however. A draft environmental assessment by the State Department found that blocking the project would not translate into fewer greenhouse gas emissions because the crude oil destined for the pipeline would be transported through other means, such as by rail.,,,,
MATTHEW DALY, Associated Press Associated Press June 26, 2013
Obama on Tuesday announced plans to reduce domestic carbon dioxide emissions by 17 percent between 2005 and 2020 and “put an end to the limitless dumping of carbon pollution.” Other aspects of the plan would boost renewable energy production on… more »
10 Essential Measures in President Obama’s Climate Plan June 26, 2013 | View Online
By Richard W. Caperton, Daniel J. Weiss, and Andrew Light
In a speech on climate change at Georgetown University, President Barack Obama announced a comprehensive “Climate Action Plan” to reduce U.S. pollution responsible for climate change, better coordinate international efforts to solve the problem of climate change, and provide additional protection from the effects of climate change that have already begun. The president’s plan rightly includes many additional measures to reduce pollution, invest in energy efficiency and clean renewable sources of energy, and make our cities more resilient to future extreme weather events both at home and abroad. All of these actions can occur under existing law and without additional funds. But congressional support for providing additional revenue for investments in efficiency, renewable energy, and community resilience would yield less pollution, more health protection, and safer communities for all Americans and their children. Here are 10 of the most important aspects of the president’s plan.
By Michael Conathan and Shiva Polefka June 26, 2013
While the president’s newly announced plan to curb energy demand, make power plants cleaner, and support more renewable energy production on public lands isn’t a direct mandate for our oceans, it is a good step toward creating less carbon pollution and emitting less of the other greenhouse gases that result in these enormous ocean problems. There are several additional ocean-focused steps President Obama can take today that will help tackle climate change and better protect marine ecosystems. Oceans have absorbed a tremendous amount of human-generated carbon pollution—between 20 percent and 35 percent of anthropogenic carbon dioxide, according to the most rigorous peer-reviewed estimates. And the results of all that humanity-saving carbon absorption are beginning to show. Our oceans are now more acidic than they have been in 20 million years, and the rate of acidification is still increasing faster than it has in more than 300 million years. While this doesn’t mean your skin will melt off if you dip a toe in the ocean, it does make life increasingly difficult for marine microorganisms at the bottom of the ocean food chain, and it therefore has dire implications for the rest of the world’s food web. Perhaps more acutely, carbon pollution is already creating hardship for the shellfish industry. Oyster growers in Washington state experienced a 60 percent to 80 percent drop in production from 2006 to 2009 as a direct result of acidifying waters in Puget Sound. Climate change’s greenhouse effect is also causing an increase in sea surface temperatures, which has had a dramatic impact on coral species and is leading to displacement of commercial and recreational fish stocks. In addition to being important for coastal economies, fish is the primary source of protein for more than 3 billion people. But as the oceans warm, fish populations are migrating north to find water that meets their biological needs, and fishermen and the people they feed are beginning to lose access to their traditional species.
Read more here.
By JUSTIN GILLIS NYTimes June 26, 2013
President Obama is staking part of his legacy on a big risk: that he can substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions by stretching the intent of a law decades old.
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD NY Times June 26, 2013
President Obama’s proposals to cut greenhouse gas emission will require a personal commitment.
Bittersweet Achievement on Climate – opinion
By JASON BORDOFF and MICHAEL LEVI NY Times June 26, 2013
Obama’s new rules are no replacement for Congressional action.
|CBC.ca||June 28, 2013||
Many Canadian cities and towns are ill-prepared for the rising frequency of catastrophic weather events like the southern Alberta floods, and it’s a problem that taxpayers will ultimately end up paying for, climate change experts say. “There are other …
Coalition Warns that Slashing Funds Will Be Rude Awakening for Americans
Washington, DC – As Congress wrestles with next year’s budget, the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) warns that proposed funding cuts to the nation’s federal conservation lands will have big impacts for more than just wildlife. While the National Wildlife Refuge System is charged with conserving wildlife and providing recreational opportunities to the public, a report released by CARE today describes some of the unlikely benefits that the nation’s 561 wildlife refuges add to the health, safety, and economic well-being of the American people. The broad coalition is urging Congress to provide the Refuge System with sufficient funds to allow these benefits to continue. Among the most surprising benefits described in America’s Wildlife Refuges 2013: Delivering the Unexpected:
- Eighty percent of the nation’s 561 wildlife refuges provide natural buffers against urbanization and other development pressures, thereby preserving undeveloped lands and airspace that enable military units to execute their vital training missions.
- Conservation easements on nearly 3.5 million acres of refuge lands allow many private landowners to keep their ranches and farms in production.
- Henderson Airfield on the remote Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, one of only a handful of emergency landing sites available for transpacific flights, has been estimated to save commercial airlines at least $28 million annually and, in 2012 alone, was used by nearly 50 private and military flights for emergency or refueling purposes.
- Wildlife refuges generate more than $32.3 billion each year in natural goods and services, such as buffering coastal communities from storm surges, filtering pollutants from municipal water supplies, and pollinating food crops.
- Refuge employees often double as first responders to natural disasters and other emergencies in their local communities.
- The more than 47 million hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers, and other recreationists who visit wildlife refuges generate between $2.1 and $4.2 billion in sales to local communities each year.
JOHN FLESHER, Associated Press, MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press Associated Press June 28, 2013
(AP) — Wildlife officials from western states lobbied for strict limits on federal protections for gray wolves before the Obama administration proposed to take the animals off the endangered list across most of the Lower 48 states, documents… more »
June 24, 2013 SF Chronicle Carolyn Lochhead- ….Kathy Webster, program manager at Leftcoast Grassfed, …
Baucus, Whitehouse Act to Protect Tourism, Recreation Jobs from Climate Change
Senators’ Bill Provides Climate Adaptation Tools Called for in GAO Report
Washington, DC – As rising sea levels, more severe storms, raging wildfires and prolonged droughts continue to increase, U.S. Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today introduced legislation to provide local communities with better tools to prepare for extreme weather and require federal agencies to work more efficiently by implementing a single coordinated strategy for protecting, restoring, and conserving the natural resources that American tourism and recreation jobs and local economies depend on. The bill, the Safeguarding America’s Future and the Environment (SAFE) Act (S. 1202), comes on the heels of a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that notes “recreation and tourism generate billions of dollars for regional economies through activities such as fishing, hunting, skiing, hiking, and diving and some of these economic benefits could be reduced or lost as a result of the impacts from climate change.” The report highlights the need for additional tools provided in Baucus’ and Whitehouse’ SAFE Act, including grant funding for local communities and a central clearinghouse for climate science, so communities and agencies don’t have to reinvent the wheel and have access to a single source for good science.
“Outdoor heritage is part of who we are in Montana, and taking smart steps to protect our outdoor way of life from increased wildfires, prolonged drought and reduced snowpack is just plain commonsense,” Baucus said. “Outdoor recreation supports 64,000 Montana jobs each year, one in five Montana jobs is tied to agriculture, and our timber industry is critical to western communities – every single one of those jobs depends on maintaining our healthy wide open spaces, forests and waterways. This bill gives local communities the tools they need to protect Montana’s outdoor jobs and streamlines federal bureaucracy to make sure we have a smart, coordinated plan in place moving forward.”
Posted: 18 Jun 2013 02:27 PM PDTKirsten Gibson is an intern for ThinkProgress.
The ambitious plan, crafted by city officials and community members, provides a long-term vision for reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions while building vibrant, prosperous communities.
The California State Coastal Conservancy has announced the availability of funding for projects through its Climate Ready program. The grants are intended to encourage local governments and non-governmental organizations to act now to prepare for a changing climate by advancing planning and implementation of on-the-ground actions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lessen the impacts of climate change on California’s coastal communities and natural resources.
Applications must be received via email or on a CD by August 28, 2013. The Coastal Conservancy expects to award grants in early 2014. The Climate Ready Grant Announcement can be obtained from the Conservancy’s website.
CA Dept of Water Resources—Regional Flood Atlases
On Wednesday, DWR released “regional flood atlases” detailing flood control facilities, levee conditions, etc. for 6 regions throughout the state.
Background on the development of these documents, as well as links to all six atlases can be found here: http://www.water.ca.gov/cvfmp/regionalplan/regionalatlas.cfm
New Moore Foundation Funding Supports UCSB Ecology Synthesis Center Embarking on a New Era
June 20, 2013 (Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– Whether it’s illuminating the causes of California’s exceptional plant diversity, dispelling the myth that jellyfish blooms are increasing throughout the world’s oceans, or identifying key pathways for introduction of non-native forest pests into the U.S., UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) is always at the expanding frontier of ecology research. And those are only recent examples of the ambitious endeavors undertaken by NCEAS since its 1995 inception. In fact, the center itself was considered an innovative advancement at the time, and has since inspired similar synthesis centers worldwide. All of which makes NCEAS’s latest project perhaps its most intriguing yet: making over its successful model by broadening its reach to directly include the potential users of scientific information –– non-governmental organizations (NGOs), policymakers, and resource managers –– in the process itself. New funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation will enable NCEAS to do just that. A $2.4 million, three-year grant will help cover the center’s operating costs through 2015 –– and see the launch of new initiatives to ensure its viability, and relevance, far into the future…..
Skinks, Wrentits and the Genetics of Adaptation– Framework for maximizing evolutionary potential in the Southern California protected areas
If you map it, you can conserve it, is the mantra for zoologist Tom Smith, Director of UCLA’s Center for Tropical Research, and a team of researchers who worked for the past three years to identify places in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area where birds, lizards, skinks, and bobcats are adapting fastest. The maps that translate their cutting-edge genetic research will help land managers stack the odds in favor of preserving natural processes as temperatures climb. The success of their project, originally funded by the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative, helped convince the National Science Foundation to award them $5 million for similar work in Gabon and Cameroon. These Central African countries are the last refuges of the African forest elephant, and a host of endemic and as-yet-undiscovered species. With the feathers and drops of blood the researchers collect, they’ll be able to map genetic adaptation across the landscape of both countries, an area roughly the size of Colorado and California combined. “The take home message is that this is an expansion, in every way, of the work we did for the LCC in California,” said Ryan Harrigan, a post-doctoral researcher. To learn more about Tom Smith’s framework for maximizing evolutionary potential in the Southern California protected areas, view our recorded webinar by clicking here.
Corte Madera Innovative Wetland Adaptation Techniques Project webpage. BCDC– On the project webpage you will find links to the recently completed technical report, a 4-page project overview, a brief presentation on the project, and the project science reports.
NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries National Condition Report
for the system of sanctuaries. You can compare how well GFNMS resources are doing in comparison with the other national marine sanctuaries throughout the nation. Also added are highlights of findings at each sanctuary and an event time line.
Sustainability for the Nation: Resource Connections and Governance Linkages
July 24, 2013 Event will be webcast.
The National Research Council’s Science and Technology for Sustainability Program (STS) and the University of California, Davis, will be holding a special event related to a new report, Sustainability for the Nation: Resource Connections and Governance Linkages, which provides a decision framework for policymakers to examine the consequences and operational benefits of sustainability-oriented programs.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013 from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM (PDT) Save the Redwoods League
David B Brower Center 2150 Allston Way Berkeley, CA 94704
The science of saving the redwoods – Emily Burns
Decoding millennium-old tree rings – Allyson Carroll
Phenomenal redwood growth – Stephen Sillett
Mighty forest footprints – Bob Van Pelt
Seedling responses to drought – Anthony Ambrose
Chemical signals of climate and physiology in redwoods – Todd Dawson
California climate trends – Healy Hamilton
Why we must study forests – Jerry Franklin
Please RSVP by August 1, 2013 to confirm your seat as Symposium space is limited. Invitations are nontransferable. Click here for transit and parking information.
Questions? Contact Emily Burns, email@example.com
The 4th annual Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference will be held in Portland 5-6 September 2013. The conference provides a forum for researchers and practitioners to convene and exchange scientific results, challenges, and solutions related to the impacts of climate on people, natural resources, and infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest. The conference attracts a wide range of participants including policy- and decision-makers, resource managers, and scientists, from public agencies, sovereign tribal nations, non-governmental organizations, and more. As such, the conference emphasizes oral presentations that are comprehensible to a wide audience and on topics of broad interest. This conference is an opportunity to stimulate and showcase decision-relevant climate science in the Pacific Northwest….We seek presentations, either oral or poster, that describe the region’s climate variability and change over time; connections between climate and forest, water, fish, and wildlife resources; climate-related natural hazards such as wildfire, drought, flooding, invasive species and shoreline change; and the emerging science of ocean acidification. We also seek case studies of efforts to incorporate science into planning, policy, and resource management programs and decisions; new approaches to data mining or data development; decision support tools and services related to climate adaptation; and fresh approaches or new understanding of the challenges of communicating climate science. We invite you to suggest or organize a cluster of abstracts around a theme that might be used to design a special session. Abstract submission is now open. Registration and lodging information will be available soon. See http://pnwclimateconference.org/.
Listservers: NCTC Climate Change Listserver (upcoming webinars and courses): send an email to Danielle Larock at firstname.lastname@example.org LCC listservers (see your LCC’s website) OneNOAA Science Webinars EPA Climate Change and Water E-Newsletter CIRCulator (Oregon Climate Change Research Institute) Climate Impacts Group (Univ. Washington)
NCTC Course Announcements (Registration for these courses is through DOILearn )
July 15-19, 2013 – “Scenario Planing toward Climate Change Adaptation” ALC3194 – development led by the Wildlife Conservation Society
August 27-29, 2013 – “Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment” ALC3184
October 28-November 1, 2013 – “Climate Smart Conservation” ALC3195 – development led by the National Wildlife Federation. This pilot course is based on a forthcoming guide to the principles and practice of Climate-Smart Conservation.
New Marin County climate action group:
Battery leasing for electric cars is all the rage in Europe, shaving thousands of dollars off of the asking price in exchange for a small monthly lease payment. Smart has deployed this strategy in the U.S. market, and almost 90% of ForTwo Electric Drive buyers opted to lease the battery for $5,000 off the asking price. As the single most expensive (and heavy) component of electric vehicles, battery packs have proven a significant drag on EV sales so far. But rather than selling batteries with EVs, why not drop some money off of the MSRP and lease the battery to buyers instead? I originally railed against this idea, but I’ve since had a change of heart. Seeing EV sales struggle will change a man’s mind.
—By Julia Whitty Mother Jones| Thu Jun. 27, 2013 3:05 AM PDT
Not all homes pollute equally—even in the relatively homogeneous world of a mid-sized town in Switzerland. A study of a village of 3,000 finds that 21 percent of households belched half the town’s greenhouse gases. The biggest factors running up the carbon tabs of the disproportionate polluters: the size of their houses and the length of their commutes. Airline travel wasn’t factored into this research.
The energy people use to power their homes and drive their lives accounts for more than 70 percent of CO2 emissions, write the authors in Environmental Science & Technology. But in addressing that problem policymakers and environmentalists mostly point their fingers at the supply side: power plants, heating and cooling systems, and the fuel efficiency of cars. The Swiss researchers chose to parse it differently and developed a lifecycle assessment model of how energy consumption for housing and car travel, per household and per capita, impacts greenhouse gas emissions.
Their conclusion: energy conservation in a small number of households could go a long way to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If the super polluting homes cut their emissions in half, the authors write, “the total emissions of the community would be reduced by 25 percent.”
By Ehren Goossens
June 26, 2013
Renewable energy may supply more electricity than nuclear reactors or natural gas by 2016, spurred by declining costs and growing demand in emerging markets, the International Energy Agency said.
Wind, solar, bioenergy and geothermal use may grow 40 percent in the next five years, double the 20 percent pace in 2011, the Paris-based organization said today in a report on the industry. Excluding hydropower, cleaner sources of energy may reach 8 percent of total world electricity generation capacity by 2018, compared with 4 percent in 2011, the IEA said. The findings are another indication that renewables increasingly are rivaling fossil fuels on price without subsidy as the cost of wind and solar technologies declines. The report suggests ways that governments can do more to reduce the pollution blamed for global warming. “Renewable power sources are increasingly standing on their own merits versus new fossil-fuel generation,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in New York today. “Many renewables no longer require high economic incentives.”
A cheaper drive to ‘cool’ fuels
(June 21, 2013) — Chemists have developed an inexpensive catalyst that uses the electricity generated from solar energy to convert carbon dioxide into synthetic fuels. … > full story
Higher levels of stray gases found in water wells near shale gas sites
(June 24, 2013) — Homeowners living within one kilometer of shale gas wells appear to be at higher risk of having their drinking water contaminated by stray gases, according to a new study. … > full story
Posted: 17 Jun 2013 12:25 PM PDT
New Yorkers’ food scraps will soon be turned into electricity, thanks to a new initiative announced Sunday by the office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The new “food recycling” program will call for the construction of a composting facility in the New York region to take 100,000 tons of food waste a year — just one tenth of the total one million pounds created by New York residents annually. Compost will be turned into biogas, with the express purpose of helping the city lower its electric bill.
The launch of the program will be voluntary, and city officials estimate that 150,000 homes will take part, along with 600 schools and 100 high-rise buildings, the New York Times reports. By 2015 or 2016, however, officials hope to have the whole city on board.
The program will be hugely beneficial for New Yorkers’ wallets. Just days ago, a report found that Americans throw out 40 percent of their food. That waste amounts to $400 per person annually.
Additionally, in 2012, the New York Citizens Budget Commission estimated that (PDF) New York would spend “$2 billion in tax dollars throwing out its garbage,” and about $300 million of that was on the process of disposing of the waste. Much of New York’s garbage is shipped out-of-state to landfills in Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia. The Commission estimates that it cost taxpayers “$95 per ton for the three million tons the City exports to landfills,” meaning that New Yorkers are not just wasting money on food, they’re also wasting money on throwing it out.
The new program, however, will actually bring down costs of transporting waste by bringing a composting facility to the area. At the same time, by harnessing biofuels, it will introduce more sustainable and cheaper energy: Rotting food at landfills emit 17 percent of the total methane produced by the US. That methane goes up into the atmosphere and acts as one of the most potent greenhouse gases.
NOAA study finds fishing tops U.S. lightning death activities
(June 24, 2013) — NOAA’s National Weather Service has discovered that 64 percent of lightning deaths since 2006 occurred while people were participating in leisure activities, with fishing topping the list at 26 deaths. … > full story
A slimy marine organism fit for biofuel and salmon feed
(June 25, 2013) — It sounds too good to be true: a common marine species that consumes microorganisms and can be converted into much-needed feed for salmon or a combustible biofuel for filling petrol tanks. And it can be cultivated in vast amounts: 200 kg per square metre of ocean surface area. … > full story
- OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST
Resilience in the wake of Superstorm Sandy
(June 24, 2013) — Researchers have released results of a major survey exploring resilience of people and neighborhoods directly affected by Superstorm Sandy. The study reveals the importance of social factors such as neighborhood bonds and social supports in coping with the storm and its aftermath. … > full story
By Julie Steenhuysen. CHICAGO | Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:04pm EDT. CHICAGO (Reuters) – An early stage study suggests an experimental vaccine may be able to tame bits of the immune system that go haywire in people with type 1 diabetes, offering hope for a new way to delay or prevent the autoimmune disease, researchers said on Wednesday. For more than four decades, scientists have tried different ways of manipulating the immune system to stop the destruction of insulin-producing cells that is responsible for type 1 diabetes. The disease affects as many as 3 million Americans…..After 12 weeks of shots given once a week, patients who got the vaccine showed signs that they helped preserve some of the remaining insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas without causing serious side effects.The vaccine also reduced the number of killer immune cells known as T cells. And patients who got the active vaccine had higher levels of C-peptides – a remnant of insulin production in the blood that suggests the presence of more working beta cells. Steinman admits the vaccine is far from commercial use, but the study is promising enough to do a bigger study.”So far, it looks like it is doing what we want,” he said….
Could a diet high in fish and flax help prevent broken hips?
(June 27, 2013) — Higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood may reduce the risk for hip fractures in postmenopausal women, recent research suggests. … > full story
Link shown between Crohn’s disease and virus
(June 27, 2013) — A new study reveals that all children with Crohn’s disease that were examined had a commonly occurring virus — an enterovirus — in their intestines. This link has previously not been shown for this chronic inflammatory intestinal disorder. … > full story
Scientists find neighbor star with 3 planets in life-friendly orbits—we might need it!!
Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:27pm EDT
* Star located 22 light years from Earth
* Planets in star’s ‘habitable zone’ where water can exist
By Irene Klotz
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., June 25 (Reuters) – A neighbor star has at least six planets in orbit, including three circling at the right distance for water to exist, a condition believed to be necessary for life, scientists said on Tuesday.
Previously, the star known as Gliese 667C was found to be hosting three planets, one of which was located in its so-called “habitable zone” where temperatures could support liquid surface water. That planet and two newly found sibling worlds are bigger than Earth, but smaller than Neptune.
“This is the first time that three such planets have been spotted orbiting in this zone in the same system,” astronomer Paul Butler, with the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C., said in a statement.
Scientists say the discovery of three planets in a star’s habitable zone raises the odds of finding Earth-like worlds where conditions might have been suitable for life to evolve.