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Conservation Science News July 12, 2013

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Highlight of the WeekBirds Outpace Climate Change to Avoid Extinction









Highlight of the Week– Birds Outpace Climate Change to Avoid Extinction



Three great tits on a branch. (Credit: © Per Tillmann / Fotolia)

Birds Outpace Climate Change to Avoid Extinction

July 10, 2013 ScienceDaily— A new study has shed light on the potential of birds to survive in the face of climate change. In the analysis, based on more than fifty years’ detailed study of a population of great tits near Oxford, UK, a team of scientists were able to make predictions about how the birds could cope with a changing climate in the future. They found that for small, short-lived birds like the great tit, evolution can work fast enough for genetic adaptation to keep pace with a changing environment. However, even for such fast-evolving species, evolution on its own is not enough. By studying individual birds over multiple years, the team were able to show that individual birds have a built-in flexibility that enables them to adjust their behaviour rapidly in response to short-term changes in the environment. This flexibility — known as phenotypic plasticity — greatly increases the chances that a population can survive in spite of short-term changes, but that possibility depends on how closely they can track the key aspects of their environment, such as the availability of food. As species become longer-lived, and thus slower to reproduce, evolutionary adaptation is far slower and can’t on its own save such species from climate change-induced extinction….


Oscar Vedder, Sandra Bouwhuis, Ben C. Sheldon. Quantitative Assessment of the Importance of Phenotypic Plasticity in Adaptation to Climate Change in Wild Bird Populations. PLoS Biology, 2013; 11 (7): e1001605 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001605


One Little Bird That Might Adapt To A Changing Climate

Posted: 10 Jul 2013 11:24 AM PDT

(Credit: Shutterstock) Joe Romm July 11, 2013

Little birds might look incredibly fragile, with their tiny wings and minuscule beaks. But according to a new study by a University of Oxford ornithologist, those little winged creatures actually stand big chances of surviving the effects of a changing climate. Ornithologist Ben Sheldon took an innovative approach to studying the effects of climate change on one little bird species, the great tit. Instead of assuming that the bird could only survive under its current environmental conditions, he looked at its ability to adapt over time. Using 50 years of data on when the great tit laid its eggs, Sheldon first looked for established patterns of egg-laying in relation to the climate. The LA Times explains, “on average, the birds had shifted their egg-laying time two weeks earlier in the year since the study began in 1960,” and that “Females that had multiple clutches were able to adjust their egg-laying time year by year as temperatures varied.” But the study gets even more interesting with what the researchers did next: They ran a simulation to test how the great tits would respond to low, medium, or high levels of carbon emissions in the future. And the outlook looks great for the great tit:

[T]he Wytham great tit population is predicted to be able to adapt to a maximum long-term rate of increase in spring temperature of 0.47°C y−1, i.e. >15 times the rate of temperature change of 0.030°C y−1 predicted under a high emissions scenario for this location and time in the annual cycle…. we ran 100,000 simulations, with each simulation randomly sampling from a normal error distribution of parameters σ2h2, γ, T, B, and b. This resulted in an estimated probability of 0.001 that ηc falls below 0.030°C y−1 (Figure 2a), and hence again very little likelihood of extinction due to predicted temperature change

In layman’s terms, this means that great tits will be able to adjust to our changing global temperatures, even under the worst-case scenario predictions. The researchers predict that, even if the great tit couldn’t change when it lays its eggs, they’d have a 40 percent chance of surviving through evolution.

Other woodland creatures have had much worse fates befall them thanks to climate change. Take for example the mountain-dwelling pika, a furry little mammal called the “mountain bunny of the Rockies.” Pika are so sensitive to changing temperatures that the recent heat and drought in the American west is driving them quickly to extinction. The pika aren’t alone; the painted turtle is losing all of its men thanks to climate change, and many species of marmots, including groundhogs, are on the decline. Sadly, it’s just the beginning; models project that between 40 and 70 percent of species could go extinct if global temperatures rise by more than 3.5°C.







Link between beetle kill and forest fires draws closer look

Once affected trees’ needles drop, so does flammability

By Kevin Vaughan and Burt Hubbard I-News at Rocky Mountain PBS Posted:   07/07/2013 02:00:00 PM MDT

The fire risk caused by damage from mountain pine beetles, such as that seen in these lodgepole pines on the eastern side of Rocky Mountain National Park, is complex and debated by some. Colorado’s 4.3 million acres of beetle-decimated forests represent a catastrophe in the making during another devastating wildfire season.

Or do they? That is the conventional wisdom as another summer unfolds with destructive blazes that have left skies along the Front Range choked with smoke, but the reality is not so simple.

“The issue is not will beetle-kill forests burn — they certainly will,” said Monica Turner, a University of Wisconsin professor who has done extensive research of wildfires in the West. “The question is, are they burning worse — more severely — than if the forest was green?” And the answer to that question is a matter of ongoing scientific debate, wrapped in factors that include the amount of time that has passed since the beetles did their damage, the number of trees that survived the infestation, other species of plants in the area and weather patterns. “This is a field of study that we just don’t have all the answers for,” said Matt Jolly, a researcher at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory in Montana whose work has looked extensively at the way plants burn in wildfires. …





Sweeping Parts of Southern Seas Could Become a Nature Preserve- ROSS SEA

NPR July 12, 2013

The “Giant Tabular Iceberg” floats in Antarctica’s Ross Sea in December 2011. Under a proposed new international agreement, large sections of the oceans around Antarctica would become protected as a marine preserve.

The area of ocean set aside as a nature preserve could double or triple in the coming days, depending on the outcome of a meeting in Germany. Representatives from 24 countries and the European Union are considering setting aside large portions of ocean around Antarctica as a protected area. And the deal may hinge on preserving some fishing rights. There are two proposals on the table: One would set aside huge parts of the Southern Ocean around East Antarctica; the other would focus on the Ross Sea, south of New Zealand.
“The total size of the marine protected area we are proposing is roughly 3 1/2 times the size of Texas,” says Ambassador Mike Moore, the former prime minister of New Zealand, who was talking up the joint U.S.-New Zealand proposal in Washington this spring. “So to misquote the vice president of the United States, ‘this is a big deal.’ ” Jim Barnes, who heads a conservation group called the Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition , says the Ross Sea area is one of the few relatively untouched regions left in the world’s oceans. And it’s rich in wildlife — including the great whales, penguins, seals and albatrosses, he says. “Similarly, along the east Antarctic coast, [there’s] another really great concentration of wildlife — charismatic wildlife, as well as all the smaller [animals] that the food chain depends on.”…. But because these two areas are in international waters, creating marine preserves will require consensus from all of the nations in the pact known as CCAMLR , or the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources…. When the group met to discuss the issue last fall, it couldn’t reach agreement. Russia, China and Ukraine were concerned about losing fishing rights in these seas. But they agreed to the upcoming meeting in Germany to try again….Already the original proposal for the Ross Sea area has been revised to allow fishing in one part of the protected area, to satisfy nations that currently catch Antarctic toothfish. But Karen Sack at the Pew Charitable Trusts says that’s also a poor compromise because it would be very difficult to know whether fishing vessels are obeying the proposed fishing rules in this remote region. “So we would hope that these countries would work together to recognize that for enforcement and for the integrity of the ecosystem it’s important to close the entire area completely,” Sack says…..



The Proposals

The Australia-France-EU Proposal. This proposal for new marine protected areas “would conserve representative areas of biodiversity in the high latitudes of the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean,” according to the Australian Antarctic Division.

The New Zealand-United States Proposal. This plan would establish an 888,000-square-mile marine protected area in Antarctica’s Ross Sea.




How nature maintains diversity: Temporal niches are important, study finds
(July 9, 2013) — By studying rapidly evolving bacteria as they diversify and compete under varying environmental conditions, researchers have shown that temporal niches are important to maintaining biodiversity in natural systems.
The temporal niches — changes in environmental conditions that occur during specific periods of time — promoted frequency-dependent selection within the bacterial communities and positive growth of new mutants. They played a vital role in allowing divers
ity among bacterial phenotypes to persist.

The research provides new insights into the factors that promote species coexistence and diversity in natural systems. Understanding the mechanisms governing the origin and maintenance of biodiversity is important to scientists studying the roles of both ecology and evolution in natural systems.

This study provides the first experimental evidence showing the impact of temporal niche dynamics on biodiversity evolution,” said Lin Jiang, co-author of the paper and an associate professor in the School of Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “Our laboratory results in bacteria can potentially explain the diversity dynamics that have been observed for other organisms over evolutionary time.”… > full story


Bat that sings like a bird is highly tuned to social circumstance
(July 10, 2013) — New research shows that Brazilian free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis) vary the way elements are combined in their songs (i.e. syntax) in response to different social contexts, which is exceedingly rare among non-human mammals. … > full story


Dinosaurs, diets and ecological niches: Study shows recipe for success
(July 10, 2013) — A new scientific study answers a long-standing question in palaeontology — how numerous species of large, plant-eating dinosaurs could co-exist successfully over geological time. Results from the largest study of dinosaurs recovered from Alberta’s Dinosaur Park Formation suggest that niche partitioning was at play: adaptations in skulls and jaws allowed for distinct groups of herbivores to specialize in eating specific types of vegetation, thereby avoiding competition for valuable food sources. … > full story


Mammals can ‘choose’ sex of offspring, study finds
(July 10, 2013) — A new study shows that mammalian species can “choose” the sex of their offspring in order to beat the odds and produce extra grandchildren. In analyzing 90 years of breeding records from the San Diego Zoo, researchers were able to prove for the first time what has been a fundamental theory of evolutionary biology: that mammals rely on some unknown physiologic mechanism to manipulate the sex ratios of their offspring as part of a highly adaptive evolutionary strategy. … > full story


Night Parrot, Nocturnal Bird In Australia, Seen Alive For First Time In Over A Century

An illustration of the Night Parrot



Oakland adopts building rules to save birds

By Carolyn Jones SF Chronicle July 8, 2013

Oakland’s feathered friends have a new reason to sing. The city has become one of the most bird-friendly places in North America. Oakland joined San Francisco and Toronto in adopting strict building regulations to deter birds from fatally smacking into windows… In Toronto, the first major city to adopt bird-friendly development standards, the program has been a success, according to Kelly Snow, an environmental policy planner for that city and the author of its regulations. …No one knows how many birds have been saved in Toronto since it adopted the regulations in 2010, but – in combination with other environmentally friendly standards the city has adopted – the overall impact has been significant, Snow said. Bird-safe buildings are a great step, but cities, and the public, should take further steps to help birds, said Mike Lynes, director of Golden Gate Audubon. Residents and businesses should shut off lights at night during migration season, he said, and parks and yards should have plenty of shrubbery and a variety of native and fruit trees. Cats are probably the biggest problem, though. The wily felines kill three times the number of birds that buildings do, according to the experts. Lynes and other bird lovers would like residents to keep their cats inside and bring strays to a local animal shelter.



Roddy Ranch deal means regional park, not development

Ian C. Bates, The Chronicle Jack Roddy rides through the cattle fields he will still own after he sells nearby land to the East Bay Regional Park District in Antioch.

By Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle July 8, 2013

The bucolic oak- and chaparral-covered ridges and valleys on the old Roddy Ranch were all set to be paved over for luxury homes, forever cutting off a wildlife corridor at the foot of Mount Diablo.

The envisioned neighborhood in Contra Costa County was going to replace habitat for threatened and endangered species with swimming pools, manicured lawns and all the Rockwellian comforts that meet the criteria of wealthy suburbanites and their requisite homeowners associations. So it was a happy surprise for conservationists this past week when they learned that the East Bay Regional Park District was instead buying the 1,885 acres of ranchland and turning it into a regional park, forever ending the concrete and cul-de-sac dreams of developers who hoped to incorporate the new subdivision into the city of Antioch. “It’s an incredible acquisition, and we are incredibly happy about it,” said Seth Adams, the land programs director for Save Mount Diablo, which has been fighting for two decades to save Roddy Ranch from development. “This is one of the most important acquisitions in the Bay Area.” The district signed an option last month to buy the land partly owned by champion rodeo cowboy Jack Roddy in Deer Valley and Horse Valley. The district and its partner, the East Contra Costa County Habitat Conservancy, now have a year to come up with the $14.2 million it will cost to complete what will be one of the largest and most expensive land purchases in East Bay Regional Park history. The plan is to protect and restore wildlife habitat and create a vast recreational area called Deer Valley Regional Park. New and expanded trails will connect the park with the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, Marsh Creek State Park and other protected open space on the north side of Mount Diablo, said Robert Doyle, the East Bay Regional Park general manager. The blue oak woodlands, rocky hillsides, seasonal wetlands and grassy plains will forever be preserved as a wildlife corridor, he said, providing critical habitat for, among other rare species, the California tiger salamander, California red-legged frog, San Joaquin kit fox, American badger and burrowing owl….



It smells fishy: Copper prevents fish from avoiding danger
(July 5, 2013) — Fish fail to detect danger in copper-polluted water. A new study shows that fish cannot smell a danger odor signal emitted by other fish in waters contaminated with copper. … > full story

Mesoscale ocean eddies impact weather
(July 7, 2013) — Not only large-scale ocean currents impact weather but also relatively small eddies, as a new study reveals. The researchers therefore recommend to account for these eddies in weather prediction models. … > full story


Researchers warn of legacy mercury in the environment
(July 8, 2013) — Environmental researchers have published evidence that significant reductions in mercury emissions will be necessary just to stabilize current levels of the toxic element in the environment. So much mercury persists in surface reservoirs (soil, air, and water) from past pollution, going back thousands of years, that it will continue to persist in the ocean and accumulate in fish for decades to centuries, they report. … > full story





Climate change: The forecast for 2018 is cloudy with record heat

Efforts to predict the near-term climate are taking off, but their record so far has been patchy.

Jeff Tollefson NATURE 10 July 2013

Jasiek Krzysztofiak/NATURE

In August 2007, Doug Smith took the biggest gamble of his career. After more than ten years of work with fellow modellers at the Met Office’s Hadley Centre in Exeter, UK, Smith published a detailed prediction of how the climate would change over the better part of a decade1. His team forecasted that global warming would stall briefly and then pick up speed, sending the planet into record-breaking territory within a few years. The Hadley prediction has not fared particularly well. Six years on, global temperatures have yet to shoot up as it projected. Despite this underwhelming result, such near-term forecasts have caught on among many climate modellers, who are now trying to predict how global conditions will evolve over the next several years and beyond. Eventually, they hope to offer forecasts that will enable humanity to prepare for the decade ahead just as meteorologists help people to choose their clothes each morning. These near-term forecasts stand in sharp contrast to the generic projections that climate modellers typically produce, which look many decades ahead and don’t represent the actual climate at any given time. “This is very new to climate science,” says Francisco Doblas-Reyes, a modeller at the Catalan Institute of Climate Sciences in Barcelona, Spain, and a lead author of a chapter that covers climate prediction for a forthcoming report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “We’re developing an additional tool that can tell us a lot more about the near-term future.”

In preparation for the IPCC report, the first part of which is due out in September, some 16 teams ran an intensive series of decadal forecasting experiments with climate models. Over the past two years, a number of papers based on these exercises have been published, and they generally predict less warming than standard models over the near term. For these researchers, decadal forecasting has come of age. But many prominent scientists question both the results and the utility of what is, by all accounts, an expensive and time-consuming exercise.

“Although I have nothing against this endeavour as a research opportunity, the papers so far have mostly served as a ‘disproof of concept’,” says Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeller at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, which declined to participate in the IPCC’s decadal-predictions experiment….



Snakes Devour More Mosquito-Eating Birds as Climate Change Heats Forests

July 11, 2013 — Many birds feed on mosquitoes that spread the West Nile virus, a disease that killed 286 people in the United States in 2012 according to the Centers for Disease Control. Birdsalso eat insects that can be agricultural pests. However, rising temperatures threaten wild birds, including the Missouri-native Acadian flycatcher, by making snakes more active, according to University of Missouri biologist John Faaborg. He noted that farmers, public health officials and wildlife managers should be aware of complex indirect effects of climate change in addition to the more obvious influences of higher temperatures and irregular weather patterns. “A warmer climate may be causing snakes to become more active and seek more baby birds for food,” said Faaborg, professor of biological sciences in MU’s College of Arts and Science. “Although our study used 20 years of data from Missouri, similar threats to bird populations may occur around the world. Increased snake predation on birds is an example of an indirect consequence that forecasts of the effects of climate change often do not take into account.”…. Over the past twenty years, fewer young Acadian flycatchers (Empidonax virescens) survived during hotter years, according to research by Faaborg and his colleagues published in the journal Global Change Biology. Survival of young indigo buntings (Passerina cyanea) also decreased during warmer years. Faaborg suggested that a likely reason for decreased baby bird survival in hot years was an increase in snake activity. Faaborg, his colleagues and his former students, collected the data used in the study during two decades of fieldwork….



Glimpse into the future of acidic oceans shows ecosystems transformed

EurekAlert (press release)  – July 8 2013‎

Ocean acidification may create an impact similar to extinction on marine ecosystems, according to a study released today by the University of California, Davis. The study, published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that ocean acidification can degrade not only individual species, as past studies have shown, but entire ecosystems. This results in a homogenized marine community, dominated by fewer plants and animals. “The background, low-grade stress caused by ocean acidification can cause a whole shift in the ecosystem so that everything is dominated by the same plants, which tend to be turf algae,” said lead author Kristy Kroeker, a postdoctoral researcher at the Bodega Marine Laboratory at UC Davis. “In most ecosystems, there are lots of different colorful patches of plants and animals — of algae, of sponges, of anemones,” Kroeker said. “With ocean acidification, you lose that patchiness. We call it a loss of functional diversity; everything looks the same.”….



Steep drop in coastal fish found in California power plant records

Fish swim in a return system at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in San Clemente (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times / February 17, 2010)

By Tony Barboza LA TIMES July 10, 2013, 7:15 a.m.

Fish populations in Southern California have dropped 78% over the last 40 years, according to a new study. Scientists consulted an unlikely source, sifting through records of fish caught up in the cooling systems of five coastal power plants from northern San Diego County to Ventura County. The analysis confirmed what fishing data and stock assessments had long indicated: That there has been a steep, ongoing drop in a wide variety of fish in the region over several decades.

“The coastal fish community that we have here in Southern California has changed dramatically and we can’t relate it to anything other than a regional oceanographic climate effect,” said Eric Miller, senior scientist at MBC Applied Environmental Sciences, an environmental consulting firm that conducted the research with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

“I knew that there was a decline, but coming so close to 80% was startling to me,” Miller told the Los Angeles Times.

While the researchers don’t fully understand what is behind the large-scale shift in ocean conditions, they said it could be related to changing seawater density and rising ocean temperature from global warming.

The study ruled out overfishing as the main driver of the decline. That’s because the power plant records showed that fish such as salema, which are not harvested by commercial or recreational fishermen, have been declining at about the same rate as commonly fished species such as sardines.

Many of the fish in decline are small, schooling fish such as sardines and anchovies, known as “forage fish” because they feed larger sport fish, seabirds and marine mammals. A downturn in their numbers could be altering the structure of the marine food web and be playing a role in the malnutrition and deaths in predators like California sea lions, the researchers said.

A 2011 study by researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography found that kelp bass and barred sand bass, two of the most-caught saltwater fishes in Southern California, have plummeted 90% since 1980.

Other scientists have come to alarming conclusions about the depletion of fish stocks globally since the 1950s.



Faunal shift in southern California’s coastal fishes: A new assemblage and trophic structure takes hold


Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
Volume 127, 20 July 2013, Pages 29–36

Eric F. Millera, , , , John A. McGowanb,

a MBC Applied Environmental Sciences, 3000 Red Hill Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, USA

b Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA, How to Cite or Link Using DOI
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Trends in coastal fish abundance indices were examined using a novel 39-year (1972–2010) time series recorded at southern California coastal power plants. Since 1972, the annual mean abundance index significantly declined (r2 = 0.45, p < 0.001). The mean annual biomass index likewise declined but with a large interruption in 2005–2006 when an influx of large bodied, southern species increased the annual means. Ensemble mean abundance indices for fished and unfished species declined at similar rates. Two faunal shifts were identified, 1983–1984 and 1989–1990. The ensemble mean, annual entrapment rate abundance index during the current period (1990–2010) represents only 22% of that recorded during the first and most abundant period, 1972–1983. The mean biogeographic distribution of the assemblage was non-linear over time including a shift south during the 1980s through the 1990s before shifting north in recent years. The northern shift in recent years accompanied higher variability than previously recorded and was likely related to the overall low abundance. Since the early 1980s, the mean trophic level derived from abundance declined. The observed patterns were not correlated with commonly employed composite indices such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, but did show some sensitivity to changes in coastal seawater temperature and density over time. Timing of the observed faunal shifts in the fish assemblage was consistent with reported oceanographic shifts. These data suggested factors beyond fishing, such as oceanographic change, have substantially impacted the coastal fishes of southern California.



Evolution too slow to keep up with climate change
(July 9, 2013)Many vertebrate species would have to evolve about 10,000 times faster than they have in the past to adapt to the rapid climate change expected in the next 100 years, a new study has found. ..

Scientists analyzed how quickly species adapted to different climates in the past, using data from 540 living species from all major groups of terrestrial vertebrates, including amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. They then compared their rates of evolution to rates of climate change projected for the end of this century. This is the first study to compare past rates of adaption to future rates of climate change. The results, published online in the journal Ecology Letters, show that terrestrial vertebrate species appear to evolve too slowly to be able to adapt to the dramatically warmer climate expected by 2100. The researchers suggested that many species may face extinction if they are unable to move or acclimate. “Every species has a climatic niche which is the set of temperature and precipitation conditions in the area where it lives and where it can survive,” explained John J. Wiens, a professor in UA’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology in the College of Science. “For example, some species are found only in tropical areas, some only in cooler temperate areas, some live high in the mountains, and some live in the deserts.”….. > full story


Deserts ‘greening’ from rising carbon dioxide: Green foliage boosted across the world’s arid regions
(July 8, 2013) — Increased levels of carbon dioxide have helped boost green foliage across the world’s arid regions over the past 30 years through a process called carbon dioxide fertilization, according to new research. … > full story



Even slight temperature increases causing tropical forests to blossom
(July 8, 2013) — A new study shows that tropical forests are producing more flowers in response to only slight increases in temperature. … > full story



Trees use water more efficiently as atmospheric carbon dioxide rises
(July 10, 2013) — Though studies have long predicted that more efficient forest water use would result from increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, biologists, using data collected in the northeastern US, and elsewhere around the world, showed that forests were responding much more than the predictions of even the most state-of-the-art computer models. … > full story


Some Trees Use Less Water Amid Rising Carbon Dioxide, Paper Says

By JUSTIN GILLIS NY Times July 11, 2013

New research suggests that trees in at least some parts of the world are having to pull less water out of the ground to achieve a given amount of growth.

Insect discovery sheds light on climate change
(July 11, 2013) — Biologists have discovered a new, extinct family of insects that will help scientists better understand how some animals responded to global climate change and the evolution of communities. … > full story


What the West Coast Could Look Like if Climate Change Continues

By: Eric Zerkel Published: July 11, 2013

Whether you’re rollerblading along Venice Beach, downing a prawn or 12 at San Francisco’s Pier 33, or shagging foul balls at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, the West Coast of the United States offers up thousands of miles of coastline and hundreds of iconic locales to match. More importantly, 39 percent of America’s population, some 123 million people, call America’s coastline home, a number that’s expected to rise 20 million by 2020, according to NOAA. But the West Coast we all know and love may be under as much as 25 feet of water in the years to come. National Geographic reports that Global Mean Sea Levels have risen 4 to 8 inches over the past century, and more alarmingly, the rate at which the sea-level rises has doubled over the past 20 years.  And while you may not catch a glimpse of an inundated Venice Beach in your lifetime, the generations that follow very well could.

Artist Nickolay Lamm gives us a glimpse into that grim future with a series of illustrations showing what famous sea-side locales would look like under forecasted sea-level changes. Lamm’s West Coast series builds upon his previous work, which visualized iconic East Coast sites like the Jefferson Memorial flooded by seas. Using stock photos and data from Climate Central, Lamm mashes together illustrations that show the photographer’s prospective in 100 to 300 years (5 feet), the year 2300 (12 feet), and the centuries to come (15 feet). The end result is an eerie glimpse into a future drastically altered by climate change.  Checkout Lamm’s illustrations in the slideshow below…..



EPA: Climate Change Impact on Health and the Environment in Your Region

What does climate change mean for health and the environment in your region? Click below to find out:  



Wildfires may contribute more to global warming than previously predicted
(July 9, 2013) — Wildfires produce a witch’s brew of carbon-containing particles, as anyone downwind of a forest fire can attest. But measurements taken during the 2011 Las Conchas fire near Los Alamos National Laboratory show that the actual carbon-containing particles emitted by fires are very different than those used in current computer models, providing the potential for inaccuracy in current climate-modeling results. … > full story


Climate, fishing, and fluctuations of sardine and anchovy in the California Current

Martin Lindegrena,1, David M. Checkley, Jr.a, Tristan Rouyerb, Alec D. MacCallc, and Nils Chr. Stensethd, Author Affiliations PNAS July 8, 2013

Edited by Bonnie J. McCay, Rutgers, State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ, and approved June 10, 2013 (received for review March 25, 2013)


Since the days of Elton, population cycles have challenged ecologists and resource managers. Although the underlying mechanisms remain debated, theory holds that both density-dependent and density-independent processes shape the dynamics. One striking example is the large-scale fluctuations of sardine and anchovy observed across the major upwelling areas of the world. Despite a long history of research, the causes of these fluctuations remain unresolved and heavily debated, with significant implications for fisheries management. We here model the underlying causes of these fluctuations, using the California Current Ecosystem as a case study, and show that the dynamics, accurately reproduced since A.D. 1661 onward, are explained by interacting density-dependent processes (i.e., through species-specific life-history traits) and climate forcing. Furthermore, we demonstrate how fishing modifies the dynamics and show that the sardine collapse of the 1950s was largely unavoidable given poor recruitment conditions. Our approach provides unique insight into the origin of sardine–anchovy fluctuations and a knowledge base for sustainable fisheries management in the California Current Ecosystem and beyond.


The Southwest’s Forests May Never Recover from Megafires

“Abnormal” fire risks have become the new normal.

Richard Schiffman
Jul 5 2013, 11:16 AM ET

Burnt-out terrain off of Forest Rd. 141 in the Gila National Forest, New Mexico, on May 30, 2012. New Mexico’s Whitewater-Baldy Complex fire ravaged more than 170,000 acres, becoming the largest wildfire in the state’s history. (Reuters)

If you doubt that climate change is transforming the American landscape, go to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Sweltering temperatures there have broken records this summer, and a seemingly permanent orange haze of smoke hangs in the air from multiple wildfires. Take a ride into the mountains and you’ll see one blackened ridge after another where burns in the past few years have ravaged the national forest. Again, this year, fires in New Mexico and neighboring states of Colorado and Arizona are destroying wilderness areas. Fire danger is expected to remain abnormally high for the rest of the summer throughout much of the Intermountain West. But “abnormal” fire risks have become the new normal. The tragic death of 19 firefighters in the Yarnell fire near Prescott, Arizona last Sunday shows just how dangerous these highly unpredictable wind-driven wildfires can be. The last 10 years have seen more than 60 mega-fires over 100,000 acres in size in the West. When they get that big, firefighters often let them burn themselves out, over a period of weeks, or even months. These fires typically leave a scorched earth behind that researchers are beginning to fear may never come back as forest again.


Storm warning: Climate change to spawn more hurricanes

USA TODAY July 8, 2013

The world could see as many as 20 additional hurricanes and tropical storms each year by the end of the century because of climate change, says a study out today. The study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences …



Sydney’s urban areas to be hit hardest by global warming
(July 8, 2013) — Green spaces, trees and bodies of water are must-have design features for future development in Sydney’s suburbs after researchers found that by 2050 global warming combined with Sydney’s urban heat island effect could increase temperatures by up to 3.7°C. … > full story


Simultaneous Disasters Batter Pacific Islands– SLR and DROUGHT

Published: July 5th, 2013 By Paul Brown, Climate News Network

LONDON —  High tides have surged over sea walls defending the capital of the Marshall Islands, adding to the crisis situation in this tiny Pacific nation, where a state of emergency was declared only last month because of a devastating drought in the scattered northern atolls. In the last week, what the islanders call “king tides” have repeatedly flooded parts of the capital, Majuro, and its airport, in one of the countries most vulnerable to sea level rise.


Scientists image vast subglacial water system underpinning West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier
(July 9, 2013) — In a development that will help predict sea level rise, scientists have used an innovation in radar analysis to accurately image the vast subglacial water system under West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier, detecting a swamp-like canal system several times as large as Florida’s Everglades. The new observations suggest dynamics of the subglacial water system may be as important as ocean influences in predicting the fate of Thwaites, which holds substantial potential for triggering sea-level rise. … > full story

The sounds of science: Melting of iceberg creates surprising ocean din
(July 10, 2013) — There is growing concern about how much noise humans generate in marine environments through shipping, oil exploration and other developments, but a new study has found that naturally occurring phenomena could potentially affect some ocean dwellers. Nowhere is this concern greater than in the polar regions, where the effects of global warming often first manifest themselves. The breakup of ice sheets and the calving and grounding of icebergs can create enormous sound energy, scientists say. Now a new study has found that the mere drifting of an iceberg from near Antarctica to warmer ocean waters produces startling levels of noise. … > full story


Pine Island Glacier Antarctica 8 July 2013. The newly formed iceberg, on the left side, is approximately 720 square kilometers. (Credit: DLR

Huge iceberg breaks away from the Pine Island glacier in the Antarctic
(July 10, 2013) — On July 8, 2013, a huge area of the ice shelf broke away from the Pine Island glacier, the longest and fastest flowing glacier in the Antarctic, and is now floating in the Amundsen Sea in the form of a very large iceberg. … However, the Pine Island glacier, which flows from the Hudson mountains to the Amundsen Sea, was the fastest flowing glacier in the Western Antarctic with a flow speed of around 4 kilometres per year. This speed is less caused by the rising air temperatures, however, and is more attributable to the fact that the wind directions in the Amundsen Sea have altered. “The wind now brings warm sea water beneath the shelf ice. Over time, this process means that the shelf ice melts from below, primarily at the so-called grounding line, the critical transition to the land ice,” says the scientist.

For the Western Antarctic ice shelf, an even faster flow of the Pine Island glacier would presumably have serious consequences. “The Western Antarctic land ice is on land which is deeper than sea level. Its “bed” tends towards the land. The danger therefore exists that these large ice masses will become unstable and will start to slide,” says Angelika Humbert. If the entire West Antarctic ice shield were to flow into the Ocean, this would lead to a global rise in sea level of around 3.3 metres.

…> full story


Contribution of Greenland ice sheet to sea-level rise will continue to increase
(July 10, 2013) — The contribution of the Greenland ice sheet to sea-level rise will continue to increase, experts say. … > full story


Climate change’s heat intensifies drought in the USA

Shannon Rae Green hosts USA TODAY’s Weathering the Change, covering higher temperatures causing more evaporation leading to drier soil.

Wendy Koch, USA TODAY 7:34 p.m. EDT July 9, 2013

Special report: USA TODAY, in a series of stories this year, is exploring how climate change is affecting Americans. The fifth stop: The parched Austin area, epicenter of Texas’ three-year drought.

Story Highlights

SPICEWOOD, Texas — In this browning patch of land in central Texas, C.J. Teare could be fined for using fresh water to keep her decades-old oak trees alive so she relies on soapy water left over from washing clothes.

“I’ve never seen it like this before,” says Teare, a grandmother who has lived in her modest Lakeside Beach ranch for 20 years. Her community has been under emergency water restrictions since January 2012, when it became the first to run dry during Texas’ ongoing three-year drought. It stays afloat with six daily truckloads of water. Thirty miles southeast near Austin, Pete Clark had to close one restaurant along Lake Travis, and the other has lost 75% of its business since 2011. Water levels are so low that Carlos n’ Charlie’s, once a popular floating Tex-Mex watering hole, is no longer even lakeside.







To feed the future, we must mine the wealth of the world’s seed banks today, experts argue
(July 5, 2013) — With fewer than a dozen flowering plants out of 300,000 species accounting for 80 percent of humanity’s caloric intake, people need to tap unused plants to feed the world in the near future, claims a plant geneticist. … > full story



California regulators look to curb beach bonfires, citing climate change

Fox News July 11, 2013

A tradition dating back to the 1940s — bonfire pits on the beaches of southern California — is being targeted by state officials who say the popular pastime is no longer acceptable because of global warming and negative health consequences. “One fire pit burning one night, a few hours, a couple bundles of wood, emits as much as one average diesel truck on the road today driving over 500 miles,” said Dr. Philip Fine, of the Southern California Air Quality Management District (AQMD).  AQMD staff recommended banning open fires at the beach and removing the hundreds of concrete fire pits that stretch from San Diego to Los Angeles. …Initially, many thought the rules would go through without much opposition. Beachgoers are not an especially vocal or organized lobby. Leaf-blowers and gas-powered weed wackers cause far more air pollution than beach bonfires, but California chose not to regulate them after Hispanic lawmakers protested on behalf of landscapers….



Must-See Gasland Part II on HBO Monday: Natural Gas, Once A Bridge, Now A Gangplank

By Joe Romm on Jul 7, 2013 at 12:25 pm

If you liked the Oscar-nominated fracking exposé “Gasland” by Josh Fox, you’ll love the sequel Gasland, Part II, which is being broadcast on HBO Monday night.

I think it’s a better movie, more entertaining and even more compelling in making a case that we are headed on a bridge to nowhere — a metaphorical gangplank — with our hydraulic fracturing feeding frenzy. Future generations living in a climate-ruined world will be stunned that we drilled hundreds of thousands of fracking and reinjection wells:

Perhaps you have been persuaded fracking is a good idea by the multi-million-dollar industry campaign for fracking and against Fox — which includes backing a counter-documentary by two anti-science filmmaker’s best known for a film smearing Al Gore. If so, I’d urge you to read the Propublica exposé in Scientific American, “Are Fracking Wastewater Wells Poisoning the Ground beneath Our Feet?

After fracking — injecting a generally toxic brew into the earth to release natural gas (or oil) — wastewater wells are used to reinject the resulting brine deep underground. Here’s the bad news:

There are more than 680,000 underground waste and injection wells nationwide, more than 150,000 of which shoot industrial fluids thousands of feet below the surface. Scientists and federal regulators acknowledge they do not know how many of the sites are leaking.… in interviews, several key experts acknowledged that the idea that injection is safe rests on science that has not kept pace with reality, and on oversight that doesn’t always work. “In 10 to 100 years we are going to find out that most of our groundwater is polluted,” said Mario Salazar, an engineer who worked for 25 years as a technical expert with the EPA’s underground injection program in Washington. “A lot of people are going to get sick, and a lot of people may die.”A ProPublica review of well records, case histories and government summaries of more than 220,000 well inspections found that structural failures inside injection wells are routine. From late 2007 to late 2010, one well integrity violation was issued for every six deep injection wells examined — more than 17,000 violations nationally. More than 7,000 wells showed signs that their walls were leaking. Records also show wells are frequently operated in violation of safety regulations and under conditions that greatly increase the risk of fluid leakage and the threat of water contamination.









July 18, 11:30-1p.m. (Pacific Time) Designing Sustainable Landscapes for Avian Conservation
(includes projections for landscape dynamics driven by climate change and urban growth)  Registration Link
Speaker Dr. Jamie Collazo, USGS, North Carolina Cooptive Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, North Carolina State University, will present dynamic spatial models for the potential distribution of bird habitats in concert with niche-space models for focal bird species to prioritize areas for conservation.
To register for thie webinar, click here.

July 23, 2013 12:00-1:00pm (PT)
Effects of Climate Change on Inland Fishes of California

This CA LCC hosted webinar will present status and trends of fishes with different vulnerabilities to climate change and adaptation strategies for the major aquatic zoogeographic regions of California.
To join this webinar:
1. Go to 
2. If a password is required, enter the meeting password: calcc
3. Call-in to: 1-866-737-4154
4. Enter attendee access code: 287 267 0

July 23, 2013, 11:00-noon (Pacific Time) Climate Change and Boreal Forest Fires: What does the future hold?; NOAA Webinar; (Add to Google Calendar)

July 31, 10-11:30a.m. (Pacific Time)
State Wildlife Action Plans: lessons learned in adapting for an era of climate change. FWS and NWF Webinar.  Registration Link

August 29, 11:30a.m.-12:30p.m. (Pacific Time)
Pikas in the Columbia River Gorge FWS/C3 Webinar
WebEx link 
Call in: 877 952-8012  Access code: 274207

August 15-17
ScienceOnline Climate Conference  Explores the intersection of climate science, communication and the web.

Call for Abstracts

September 5-6, Fourth Annual Pacific Northwest Climate Science Conference: Reminder– All abstracts must be submitted by July 12.  Registration and lodging information will be available soon. For more details or to submit an abstract, please go to:

SER2013 Early Registration Closes July 15th!




Early registration for the 5th SER World Conference on Ecological Restoration
closes on July 15, 2013. Registration rates increase on July 16! (Sorry, but we can’t make exceptions to this deadline. We’re managing more than a thousand registrations).

Register now and save up to $125 on the cost of registration. July 15 is also the deadline for presenter registration. If you have submitted an abstract or will speak in a symposium, you MUST register by July 15. If you do not register by this deadline your presentation will not be included in the scientific program. No Exceptions! More Information



Working for Conservation Conference: Active Engagement in Forestland Woodland Sustainability
October 10, 2013 Sacramento CA
This conference will focus on what we can learn from innovative and novel strategies that seek to achieve desired outcome in natural systems that have been historically altered and will continue to be altered. Participants will discuss new policies and management strategies that recognize the realities of these impacts, and encourage active approaches to ensure that these values continue into the future. This one-day conference is intended to engage resource managers, governmental, industry and NGO leaders, the interested general public. Early registration is due October 1, 2013.





Sierra Nevada Conservancy Prop 84 FUNDS – The Sierra Nevada Conservancy (SNC) Proposition 84 Grant Program for the Fiscal Year 2013-14 has been launched.  The funding available for this round of grants is approximately $2.5 million. Eligible projects for this grant round include projects that meet Proposition 84 eligibility criteria and SNC mission and program goals.  Projects must align with one of the two focus areas of this round, Healthy Forests and Abandoned Mine Lands).  Projects that build upon past SNC investment, financial or otherwise, will be given preference.  For more information click here.





Restoration and Education Internship, 2013-14

Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO) is dedicated to conserving birds, other wildlife, and ecosystems through innovative scientific research, restoration, outreach and extensive partnerships.  Our highest priority is to reduce the impacts of habitat alteration, climate change and other threats to wildlife and people, while promoting adaptation to the changes ahead. Our 130+ staff and seasonal biologists and educators work with a wide range of public and private partners to advance effective conservation throughout the west. We are based in Petaluma, CA; visit us online at
Point Blue’s watershed restoration and education program called STRAW (Students & Teachers Restoring A Watershed), facilitates K-12 students in implementation of professionally designed habitat restoration projects on streams and wetlands in Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties October – May. Restoration work typically includes native plant installation, biotechnical erosion control practices and/or invasive plant removal. Restoration sites are maintained for three summers after planting.  Restoration site maintenance work occurs April-August and includes watering, weeding and other plant establishment activities. Maintenance of STRAW restoration sites is an integral part of the project and overall program success. Point Blue is seeking four reliable, respectful, and enthusiastic interns to help with student-implemented restoration workdays and accompanying maintenance and monitoring of sites.

Position duration:  October 1, 2013 – September 1, 2014 (internship end dates may change depending on project needs)

Stipend: Voluntary position with monthly stipend of $850/month to offset living expenses, plus shared housing in an apartment in Petaluma, CA

To apply, please submit your resume, 3 references and a cover letter describing why you would like the internship by August 1, 2013 to Emily Allen (







Male greater prairie chickens make booming calls to attract females for mating. A seven-year study from a Kansas State University research team has found that wind power development has little effect on greater prairie chickens. (Credit: H. Hirt)

Wind power does not strongly affect greater prairie chickens, seven-year study finds
(July 10, 2013) — Wind power development does not ruffle the feathers of greater prairie chicken
populations, according to a seven-year study by ecologists. They found that grassland birds are more affected by rangeland management practices and by the availability of native prairie and vegetation cover at nest sites. …
The researchers studied the birds for seven breeding seasons and captured nearly 1,000 total male and female birds around lek sites, which are communal areas where males gather and make calls to attract females. Females mate with the males and then hide nests in tall prairie grass. The scientists researched many different features of prairie chickens and their biology: patterns of nest site selection; reproductive components, such as clutch size, timing of laying eggs and hatchability of eggs; survival rates; and population viability. “We don’t have evidence for really strong effects of wind power on prairie chickens or their reproduction,” Sandercock said. “We have some evidence for females avoiding the turbines, but the avoidance within the home range doesn’t seem to have an impact on nest site selection or nest survival.” The results are somewhat surprising, especially because similar studies have shown that oil and gas development affect prairie chickens, Sandercock said. With wind power development, the researchers had the unexpected result of female survival rates increasing after wind turbines were installed, potentially because wind turbines may keep predators away from nest sites. Female mortality rates are highest during the breeding season because females are more focused on protecting clutches than avoiding predators, Sandercock said. ….The Grassland Community Collaborative Oversight Committee of the National Wind Coordinating Collaborative oversaw the research project. The project received funding from a variety of sources including the U.S. Department of Energy; the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism; the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; and The Nature Conservancy.full story


Climate change will disrupt energy supplies, DOE warns

Wendy Koch, USA TODAY 8:42 a.m. EDT July 12, 2013

How does climate change affect energy supplies? A new government report says rising temperatures make it more difficult for some power plants to operate and sea level rise threatens others.

(Photo: Julie Jacobson AP)

Story Highlights

DOE says climate change is likely to disrupt U.S. energy supplies

Its report says rising temperatures can reduce production at power plants

U.S. energy supplies will likely face more severe disruptions because of climate change and extreme weather, which have already caused blackouts and lowered production at power plants, a government report warned Thursday.

What’s driving these vulnerabilities? Rising temperatures, up 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the last century, and the resulting sea level rise, which are accompanied by drought, heat waves, storms and wildfires, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

“It (climate change) is a very serious problem and it will get worse,” says Jonathan Pershing, who oversaw the report’s development. While impacts will vary by region, “no part of the country is immune,” he says. He adds that climate change is exacerbating extreme events.

“Sea level rise made Sandy worse,” Pershing says, noting that it intensified flooding. When the superstorm slammed the East Coast last year, it took down power lines, damaged power plants and left millions of people in the dark.

The report comes one week after President Obama, describing climate change as a threat to future generations, called for action to address the problem “before it’s too late.” He said he aims to cut heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants.

Echoing other research, the DOE report makes the case for why such reductions are needed. It says coastal power plants are at risk from sea level rise and power lines operate less efficiently in higher temperatures.

“The report accurately outlines the risks to the energy sector in the United States” and should serve as a “wake-up call,” says Jennifer Morgan, deputy director of climate and energy at the World Resources Institute, a non-profit that advocates for sustainability.

The report cites prior climate-related energy disruptions. Last year in Connecticut, the Millstone Nuclear Power Station shut down one reactor because the temperature of water needed to cool the facility — taken from the Long Island Sound — was too high. A similar problem caused power reductions in 2010 at the Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station in New Jersey and the Limerick Generating Station in Pennsylvania.

Reduced snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains last year cut California’s hydroelectric power generation 8%, while drought caused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop the transport of oil and coal along the Mississippi River, where water levels were too low, according to the report. Also, in September 2010, water levels in Nevada’s Lake Mead fell to a 54-year low, prompting a 23% loss in the Hoover Dam’s generation.

While climate change is not the sole cause of drought, climate scientists say rising temperatures can exacerbate it by causing more moisture to evaporate from the soil. They say those temperatures, which the third federal National Climate Assessment says could rise 3 degrees to 10 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, will contribute more to drought in the future.

In Texas, which is suffering a three-year drought that now affects 87% of its land, conflicts are arising over the water-intensive process of extracting oil or natural gas from shale deposits, known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. In 2011, Grand Prairie became the first in the state to ban city water for fracking. Other municipalities have restricted water use for that purpose.

Nationwide, 47% of fracking wells are in water-stressed areas, according to a report in May by Ceres, a Boston-based non-profit that promotes corporate sustainability.

The DOE report cites research indicating that nearly 60% of current thermoelectric power plants, which need water cooling to operate, are located in water-stressed areas.

It says higher temperatures will boost the demand for air conditioning, which could threaten energy security by forcing the nation’s power system to operate beyond ranges for which it was designed. It cites a study by DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory that found such peak demand, given current population levels, will require additional electricity equal to 100 new power plants.

The dire tone of the DOE report, while warranted, can “give a reader a sense of fatigue,” says Joe Casola, a senior scientist at C2ES, formerly the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Yet he says it also points to solutions such as water-efficient technologies and protection for energy infrastructure.

“It’s technologically within our means to address some of these issues now,” Casola says. “There are a lot of things we can do.”

DOE’s Pershing agrees. “It’s a problem we need to work on,” he says. He notes that the billions of dollars in losses already incurred from climate-related disasters show the need for additional measures.


US earthquake increase tied to disposal well boom

Wastewater, increasingly injected into deep disposal wells amid the energy boom, appears to be the culprit in an increase in U.S. quakes.

USA TODAY July 11, 2013 Written by Dan Vergano

A boom in earthquakes seems to have accompanied the U.S. energy boom, geologists reported Thursday. They are finding an increase in temblors that appear tied to wastewater from energy drilling that is injected deep underground, putting pressure on quake faults. In a study out today that provides the strongest link to date between wastewater wells and quakes, seismologists and geologists say U.S. earthquakes have become roughly five times more common in the past three years. They warn about inadequate monitoring of deep wastewater disposal wells that are setting off these small quakes nationwide. There are more than 30,000 such deep disposal wells nationwide. They’re increasingly used as mile-deep dumping grounds for fluids left over from the more shallow hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” wells responsible for surging U.S. natural gas production. The earthquakes have been linked to the wastewater wells but not the fracking drilling wells themselves. Earthquakes near Dallas, Oklahoma City and Youngstown, Ohio, in the past half-decade have been tied to wastewater “injected” at high pressure thousands of feet underground near quake faults. A National Research Council report last year cautioned that such deep disposal wells raise risks for triggering quakes….



“Endangered Bird Found Dead at Desert Solar Power Facility”
(KCET ReWire, 7/10/13)
A bird found dead at a Riverside County solar project in May was a Yuma clapper rail, a Federally listed Endangered species. The rail is one of a number of water birds found dead at the site, according to one of the owners of the project. The fatality marks the first reported death of a Federally Endangered bird at a renewable energy generation site in the mainland U.S.


Assessing impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
(July 10, 2013) — While numerous studies are under way to determine the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico, the extent and severity of these impacts and the value of the resulting losses cannot fully be measured without considering the goods and services provided by the Gulf, says a new report. … > full story


Treating oil spills with chemical dispersants: Is the cure worse than the ailment?
(July 5, 2013) — Treating oil spills at sea with chemical dispersants is detrimental to European sea bass. A new study suggests that although chemical dispersants may reduce problems for surface animals, the increased contamination under the water reduces the ability for fish and other organisms to cope with subsequent environmental challenges. … > full story


Rooftop solar takes off across California as costs come down

By Dana Hull San Jose Mercury News Posted:   07/11/2013 06:10:34 AM PDT Updated:   07/11/2013 06:10:42 AM PDT

California’s groundbreaking efforts to encourage homeowners and businesses to install rooftop solar panels were so successful in 2012 that the program is now effectively winding down, according to a new report. A record 391 megawatts of solar power were installed statewide in 2012, a growth of 26 percent from 2011, according to a report by the California Solar Initiative released Wednesday.

“The program has made solar affordable for ordinary Californians,” said Susannah Churchill of the San Francisco-based solar advocacy group Vote Solar. “Solar is a classic California success story.”…





Radically better smartphones may be possible using system inspired by bird migration: Molecular chains hypersensitive to magnetic fields
(July 5, 2013) — Researchers have for the first time created perfect one-dimensional molecular wires of which the electrical conductivity can almost entirely be suppressed by a weak magnetic field at room temperature. The underlying mechanism is possibly closely related to the biological compass used by some migratory birds. This spectacular discovery may lead to radically new magnetic field sensors, for smartphones for example. … > full story


The hidden force behind Islamic militancy in Nigeria? Climate change

Christian Science Monitor July 8, 2013

Ohio State University professor Geoffrey Parker argues in his new book, Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century, that “the experience of the seventeenth century shows that long-term turbulence and unreliability of …



The Gay-Rights Playbook: How to Fight Climate Change Now

by Lisa Bennett Jul 10, 2013 4:45 AM EDT

How can climate warriors build an unstoppable social movement—and avoid a global catastrophe? Lisa Bennett sees seven lessons from the struggle for marriage equality. There is little question that the gay-rights movement is the most successful social crusade in recent American history. (The Supreme Court rulings sanctioning same-sex marriage only put the icing on that cake.)

In a sense, we are in the the pre-Stonewall age of the climate-change debate, but we don’t need to be. (AP (2))

So how can that success inspire the most essential fight of our time—a climate movement big enough to demand that Congress do what’s needed to avoid catastrophe by leveling the playing field for renewable energy? On the surface, this may seem an odd comparison of very different issues. After all, gay rights is perceived as deeply personal and climate change as inextricably global; gay rights as relevant in the here and now and climate change as a largely future occurrence; and gay rights as having one clear demand—equality—while climate change seems to require that we change everything.

Yet consider the similarities: just two decades ago, when people like me came out as gay, we encountered denial, fear, shaming, stereotyping, silencing, and a cultural debate over whether our experience was natural. Today all the same dynamics are at play around those who “come out” with their concerns about climate change: denial, fear, shaming, and stereotyping that leads, of course, to silencing. And all of this leaves us with little more than a stale debate about whether climate change is natural. We are, in other words, in the pre-Stonewall age on climate change. But we don’t need to be….



Adaptation Or Mitigation? Lessons From Abolition In The Battle Over Climate Policy

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 11:18 AM PDT

By John Sterman

What’s the best way to address the risks of climate change?  Mitigation or Adaptation?  Should the world cut greenhouse gas emissions to lower the risks of harm from climate change (mitigation), or should we just get used to it (adaptation), spending to build seawalls, move populations inland, and figure out how to grow food for more than 9 billion people in a world of higher temperatures, droughts, and extreme weather? Many people, including some I greatly respect, have lately argued that advocacy for mitigation isn’t working, so we should shift to advocacy for adaptation.  They say that’s where the interest is after Superstorm Sandy, that’s how to get people engaged, and that’s where the money is. The frustration of climate activists around mitigation is understandable.  The failure of the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference was deeply discouraging, and since then the international negotiations have stalled.  Total pledges for emissions reductions under the UNFCCC’s voluntary system, even if fully implemented, are nowhere near enough.  With gridlock in the US Congress and the erosion of climate commitments in other nations, more and more people are giving up on mitigation.

Of course, adaptation is necessary.  We’ve already warmed the climate about 1.4 °F (0.8 °C) over preindustrial levels.  Global CO2 emissions have reached new records every year since 2009.  In May, atmospheric CO2 hit 400 ppm for the first time in human history. We are dumping CO2 into the atmosphere about twice as fast as nature can remove it.  Even with the best imaginable policies, the climate will keep changing for decades, and sea level will keep rising for centuries.  Adaptation is necessary.

….However, adaptation without mitigation is futile.  Since Sandy the focus has been on updating flood maps and building sea walls.  But sea walls are the Maginot line of climate change.   Sea walls won’t help with ocean acidification, water shortage, drought, more and more dangerous wildfires, declines in agricultural output, and the many other impacts of climate change, not to mention the climate refugees and risks of war in regions those impacts create.  However, when we point out that there’s no adapting to the changes in the climate we are facing if we don’t cut emissions dramatically, some adaptation advocates say, “yes, but if we can convene people around adaptation, they’ll soon see its limitations and will end up strongly advocating mitigation as part of their local adaptation plan.”

….The road to victory will be long.  It requires that we work to overcome the counter-reaction so that the administration’s forthcoming proposals are implemented.  It requires that we work for adaptation and mitigation, without falling for the lie that adaptation is enough.  It requires that we build on these initial steps to implement even stronger policies, in the United States and around the world.  Victory will come only if we get involved.  Join any of the hundreds of groups, left, right, and center, working for rational policy to cut emissions, create jobs, and build a sustainable economy, from to the Citizens Climate Lobby, to ConservAmerica (formerly Republicans for Environmental Protection), to Environmental Entrepreneurs, to Mothers Out Front, among many others.

We must create the change we need by cutting our personal carbon footprints.  We must create the change we need by demanding that our elected representatives put a price on carbon, so that we pay the true costs of the fossil fuels we use.  If our leaders don’t act, we must create the change we need by electing new leaders who will.  We can do it.  We’ve done harder things before.  But we have to act, now.

MIT’s John Sterman is one of the world’s leading experts on systems thinking.



The dark side of artificial sweeteners: Expert reviews negative imact
(July 10, 2013) — More and more Americans are consuming artificial sweeteners as an alternative to sugar, but whether this translates into better health has been heavily debated. A new opinion article reviews surprising evidence on the negative impact of artificial sweeteners on health, raising red flags about all sweeteners — even those that don’t have any calories. … > full story



The brown pelican’s preferred nesting sites are small coastal islands. What of these is the most important motivation?

(a.) Fish
(b.) Stable temperatures
(c.) Humidity
(d.) Raccoons
(e.) Lizards
(f.) Retaining higher property values





Local Krill Die-Off

Photos by David Anderson, fishery biologist, Redwood National Park

From National Park Service: Monday morning (June 17, 2013), the bio techs doing snowy plover surveys on Mussel Beach (the beach reach north of the mouth of Redwood Creek) in Redwood National Park [California] found the wrack line on the beach covered with fresh krill. They said it went on for about a mile.  Some krill were still alive. The birds were not on them yet. They were identified back in the office as Thysanoessa spinifera.  Another crew surveying the reach from Espa Lagoon to Mussel Point (north of Mussel Beach) reported krill on the beach but not as many.  On Tuesday morning the survey crew found krill on Crescent Beach near Crescent City to the north, and state parks reported krill on the Clam Beach in McKinleyville to the south – a span of about 50 miles of coastline.

People are looking for a cause, and hypoxia was mentioned, but marine scientists contacted in Oregon have discounted that possibility. Local scientists are checking data from the few ocean water quality monitoring stations and there was an already scheduled research cruise this week that will be checking nearshore water quality. At their request, we are sending specimens to the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Oregon for examination.  People communicating with each other are from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, NOAA Fisheries, Humboldt State University, Wyiot Tribe, University of California Sea Grant Extension, Oregon State University, California State Parks, and NPS-REDW.  Right now it is still in the investigative phase. —-from David G. Anderson (










(d.) Raccoons




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