Conservation Science News January 24, 2014Leave a Comment
Focus of the Week – Climate Scientists as Advocates
NOTE: Please pass on my weekly news update that has been prepared for
Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO) staff. You can find these weekly compilations posted on line by clicking here. For more information please see www.pointblue.org.
The items contained in this update were drawn from www.dailyclimate.org, www.sciencedaily.com, SER The Society for Ecological Restoration, http://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.slate.com, www.sfgate.com, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, www.blm.gov/ca/news/newsbytes/2012/529.html and other sources as indicated. This is a compilation of information available on-line, not verified and not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.
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Focus of the Week– Climate Scientists as Advocates
By MICHAEL E. MANN NY TIMES OPINION JAN. 17, 2014
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — THE overwhelming consensus among climate scientists is that human-caused climate change is happening. Yet a fringe minority of our populace clings to an irrational rejection of well-established science. This virulent strain of anti-science infects the halls of Congress, the pages of leading newspapers and what we see on TV, leading to the appearance of a debate where none should exist.
In fact, there is broad agreement among climate scientists not only that climate change is real (a survey and a review of the scientific literature published say about 97 percent agree), but that we must respond to the dangers of a warming planet. If one is looking for real differences among mainstream scientists, they can be found on two fronts: the precise implications of those higher temperatures, and which technologies and policies offer the best solution to reducing, on a global scale, the emission of greenhouse gases.
For example, should we go full-bore on nuclear power? Invest in and deploy renewable energy — wind, solar and geothermal — on a huge scale? Price carbon emissions through cap-and-trade legislation or by imposing a carbon tax? Until the public fully understands the danger of our present trajectory, those debates are likely to continue to founder.
This is where scientists come in. In my view, it is no longer acceptable for scientists to remain on the sidelines. I should know. I had no choice but to enter the fray. I was hounded by elected officials, threatened with violence and more — after a single study I co-wrote a decade and a half ago found that the Northern Hemisphere’s average warmth had no precedent in at least the past 1,000 years. Our “hockey stick” graph became a vivid centerpiece of the climate wars, and to this day, it continues to win me the enmity of those who have conflated a problem of science and society with partisan politics.
So what should scientists do? At one end of the spectrum, you have the distinguished former director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, James Hansen, who has turned to civil disobedience to underscore the dangers he sees. He was arrested in 2009 protesting mountaintop removal coal mining, then again in 2011 and 2013 in Washington protesting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the Texas Gulf. He has warned that the pipeline, which awaits approval by the State Department, would open the floodgates to dirty tar sands oil from Canada, something he says would be “game over for the climate.”
Dr. Hansen recently published an article in the journal PLoS One with the economist Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia’s Earth Institute, and other scientists, making a compelling case that emissions from fossil fuel burning must be reduced rapidly if we are to avert catastrophic climate change. They called for the immediate introduction of a price on carbon emissions, arguing that it is our moral obligation to not leave a degraded planet behind for our children and grandchildren.
This activist approach has concerned some scientists, even those who have been outspoken on climate change. One of them, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science, who has argued that “the only ethical path is to stop using the atmosphere as a waste dump for greenhouse gas pollution,” expressed concern about the “presentation of such a prescriptive and value-laden work” in a paper not labeled opinion.
Are Dr. Hansen and his colleagues going too far? Should we resist commenting on the implications of our science? There was a time when I would, without hesitation, have answered “yes” to this question. In 2003, when asked in a Senate hearing to comment on a matter of policy, I readily responded that “I am not a specialist in public policy” and it would not “be useful for me to testify on that.”
It is not an uncommon view among scientists that we potentially compromise our objectivity if we choose to wade into policy matters or the societal implications of our work. And it would be problematic if our views on policy somehow influenced the way we went about doing our science. But there is nothing inappropriate at all about drawing on our scientific knowledge to speak out about the very real implications of our research.
My colleague Stephen Schneider of Stanford University, who died in 2010, used to say that being a scientist-advocate is not an oxymoron. Just because we are scientists does not mean that we should check our citizenship at the door of a public meeting, he would explain. The New Republic once called him a “scientific pugilist” for advocating a forceful approach to global warming. But fighting for scientific truth and an informed debate is nothing to apologize for.
If scientists choose not to engage in the public debate, we leave a vacuum that will be filled by those whose agenda is one of short-term self-interest. There is a great cost to society if scientists fail to participate in the larger conversation — if we do not do all we can to ensure that the policy debate is informed by an honest assessment of the risks. In fact, it would be an abrogation of our responsibility to society if we remained quiet in the face of such a grave threat.
This is hardly a radical position. Our Department of Homeland Security has urged citizens to report anything dangerous they witness: “If you see something, say something.” We scientists are citizens, too, and, in climate change, we see a clear and present danger. The public is beginning to see the danger, too — Midwestern farmers struggling with drought, more damaging wildfires out West, and withering record summer heat across the country — while wondering about possible linkages between rapid Arctic warming and strange weather patterns, like the recent outbreak of Arctic air across much of the United States.
The urgency for action was underscored this past week by a draft United Nations report warning that another 15 years of failure to cut heat-trapping emissions would make the problem virtually impossible to solve with known technologies and thus impose enormous costs on future generations. It confirmed that the sooner we act, the less it will cost.
How will history judge us if we watch the threat unfold before our eyes, but fail to communicate the urgency of acting to avert potential disaster? How would I explain to the future children of my 8-year-old daughter that their grandfather saw the threat, but didn’t speak up in time?
Those are the stakes.
Michael E. Mann is the director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University and the author of “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines.”
Back in 2010, the great cryo-scientist Lonnie Thompson wrote a terrific paper explaining why more and more climate scientists were speaking out:
“Virtually all of us are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization.”
Contrast that to President Obama as quoted in the current New Yorker, “I think we are fortunate at the moment that we do not face a crisis of the scale and scope that Lincoln or F.D.R. faced.” In fact, World War II (and the Civil War) are good analogies for the scale and scope of the crisis we face (as I argued 5 years ago). Climatologists have their work cut out for them getting this message out. On Sunday leading climatologist Michael Mann had a must-read New York Times op-ed [see above] elaborating on the moral necessity of speaking up, “If You See Something, Say Something.” ….
Well, for an individual, attempts to avoid the severe health consequences of cigarette smoking by smoking less may turn out to be futile — and yet it is the smart thing to do. And it is the moral responsibility of their doctor to tell them so — particularly since we know that, overall, the population benefits from a large-scale reduction in smoking. And so it is with carbon pollution.
Scientists can change their minds, of course, but that typically happens on the basis of evidence. And the evidence for dangerous climate change has gotten stronger over time. Indeed, recent research underscores the fact that the uncertainties still remaining in climate science are primarily about whether things will be even worse than most of the models have been projecting — see “Nature Bombshell: Observations Point To 10°F Warming by 2100.” As the lead author, Prof Steven Sherwood, said of his findings this month:
“Climate sceptics like to criticize climate models for getting things wrong, and we are the first to admit they are not perfect, but what we are finding is that the mistakes are being made by those models which predict less warming, not those that predict more.”….
Kirsten Luce for The New York Times New York City’s slogan for watchfulness against potential terrorists was appropriated by a tattoo artist in 2007.
Updated, 4:54 p.m. | “If You See Something, Say Something,” is the headline on a Sunday Op-Ed article by Michael E. Mann, the Penn State climate scientist who, after years of attacks from groups fighting restrictions on greenhouse gases, has become a prominent climate and political campaigner, as well. The piece appropriately defends the right of scientists to be citizens, fighting disinformation and pressing for action — a theme explored here starting with a 2008 contribution from Richard Somerville, a longtime climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
….There’s a troubling section, however, in which Mann creates a flawed dichotomy, hailing a paper by James Hansen and Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University (and others) pressing for deep carbon cuts and criticizing a peer,* Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution, for complaining that the paper failed the Stephen Schneider / Gavin Schmidt test for distinguishing between the “is” of science and the “ought” determined by individual feelings about the state of the world and how to shape it…
…..Climate scientists, like all of us, come in all shapes and sizes and demeanors. I agree with Mann that it’s unwise for scientists to avoid the public debate over drivers of climate risk and options for reducing it. But I agree with Caldeira (and Gavin Schmidt and the departed Steve Schneider) that it’s counterproductive to blur lines between observations based on science and values-based views on solutions. Here’s Caldeira’s note:
“The issue of going beyond expertise is an important one. There is a disease wherein one develops expertise in one area and then feels free to pontificate on other areas about which one knows nothing. This is an affliction of many senior scientists, common even among Nobel Prize winners, and an affliction to which I have not been immune. If someone is speaking with great confidence while uttering pure hogwash, this does tend to reduce confidence in the utterances of the scientist. So, there is a cost to science and to our personal credibility when scientists make poorly supported assertions in areas outside of their expertise. In any case, scientists should be clear when they are making an assertion that is an empirical fact and when they are simply expressing their values and political opinions. Human beings do have a responsibility to speak out on issues that we feel strongly about.
One way to thread the needle is for climate scientists to speak out loudly and in detail about the areas we know something about — climate change and its consequences — but then speak with a greater degree of generality when coming to prescriptions about what exactly we should do. In other words, it is one thing to say (as a human being who happens to be a scientist) that we need to stop using the sky as a waste dump for our greenhouse gas pollution. It is another thing entirely to wegh in on specific policy instruments (taxes versus cap-and-trade versus regulations), specific energy technologies, and so on. It is fine for climate scientists to say (as human beings) that we need policies to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, that to do this we will need energy technologies with near-zero emissions, etc, and that we need to do all of this very soon.
It disturbs me when anyone, including climate scientists, (1) fails to distinguish between matters of empirical fact and matters of values and political opinion, and (2) speaks with an air of authority on topics about which they are largely ignorant.I do not claim to be entirely innocent of either of these transgressions. Although I work to try to keep myself on the straight and narrow, I do sometimes succumb to temptation.”
Postscript, 5:00 p.m. *| At the asterisk above, my characterization of Mann’s positions, as Mann and others have said on Twitter, was indeed too caricatured — although I maintain that his piece could easily be interpreted as very sympathetic to one approach and critical of the other. Ken Caldeira offered this note in the comment thread:
Michael Mann and I largely agree on what needs to be done, and our primary differences relate to what we do in the role of ‘informed citizen’ and what we do in the role of ‘scientist’. I was thankful that he quoted me, airing alternate views in his Op-Ed piece. Michael Mann may or may not be critical of my viewpoint, but I see no evidence that he is critical of me as a person. Some of my best friends are people I strongly disagree with. A more difficult question is what a scientist should do when we feel strongly about something but have no special relevant expertise. For example, if I feel strongly that Obama should pardon Edward Snowden, should I make public statements on this matter? Would I be using my standing as a climate scientist to communicate about civil liberties and national security issues about which I am not expert? Is this bad? Is keeping quiet about injustice that I perceive a greater evil? In any case, it seems important for scientists to make clear that our political statements are in our roles as ordinary people, not in our role as climate scientists…..
Gross domestic product is a misleading measure of national success. Countries should act now to embrace new metrics, urge Robert Costanza and colleagues.
Robert Costanza, et al NATURE COMMENT 15 January 2014 Nature 505, 283–285 (16 January 2014) doi:10.1038/505283a
….Meanwhile, researchers have become much better at measuring what actually does make life worthwhile. The environmental and social effects of GDP growth can be estimated, as can the effects of income inequality2. The psychology of human well-being can now be surveyed comprehensively and quantitatively3,4. A plethora of experiments has produced alternative measures of progress (see Supplementary Information; go.nature.com/bnquxn)…..The chance to dethrone GDP is now in sight. By 2015, the UN is scheduled to announce the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of international objectives to improve global well-being. Developing integrated measures of progress attached to these goals offers the global community the opportunity to define what sustainable well-being means, how to measure it and how to achieve it. Missing this opportunity would condone growing inequality and the continued destruction of the natural capital on which all life on the planet depends.
WHY ARE WE STUCK? There is broad agreement that global society should strive for a high quality of life that is equitably shared and sustainable. Several groups and reports have concluded that GDP is dangerously inadequate as a measure of quality of life — including those published by the French government’s 2008 Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress10, the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future11 and the European Commission’s ongoing Beyond GDP initiative…..Any ‘top-down’ process must be supplemented with a ‘bottom-up’ engagement of civil society that includes city and regional governments, non-governmental organizations, business and other parties. We recently formed the Alliance for Sustainability and Prosperity (www.asap4all.com) to do just that. This web-based ‘network of networks’ can communicate research about sustainable quality of life and the elements that contribute to it (see Supplementary Information), and so help to build consensus among the thousands of groups now concerned with these issues. The successor to GDP should be a new set of metrics that integrates current knowledge of how ecology, economics, psychology and sociology collectively contribute to establishing and measuring sustainable well-being. The new metrics must garner broad support from stakeholders in the coming conclaves. It is often said that what you measure is what you get. Building the future we desire requires that we measure what we want, remembering that it is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong.
No-till soybean fields give (even some rare) birds foothold in Illinois (January 22, 2014) — Researchers report in a new study that several bird species — some of them relatively rare — are making extensive use of soybean fields in Illinois. The team found significantly more birds and a greater diversity of bird species nesting, roosting and feeding in no-till soybean fields than in tilled fields. … > full story
Changing landscapes not global warming to blame for increased flood risk
(January 21, 2014) — A timely article considers the findings of an international report on flood risk, and the possible linkage with climate change/global warming and an increase in global and regional flooding. Major flood events occur around the world every year, but with international loss databases documenting increased incidents of flooding, more material loss and greater fatality rates, are these events on the increase, and are they getting worse? A new study published in Hydrological Sciences Journal examines the key reasons for increasing frequency and severity of floods; considering whether this is due to improved reporting by the media, an increasing and expanding global population, or whether climate change is the crucial factor. The authors combine the outcomes of the IPCC Special Report on “Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation” (SREX report) with more recent research to give a rounded view of the cost of flooding (both human and material), the causes of increased flood risk and predictions of future global flooding patterns. Studies have shown that there is a clear link between population density and flooding. Currently 800 million humans are living in areas vulnerable to flooding. This is predicted to rise by a further 140 million during 21st Century as we see continued economic and population growth. At the same time reduction of woodland, changing river flow and the urbanisation of flood plains will increase flood risk in many regions. .. Whilst scientists recognise that climatic factors such as atmospheric water vapour, evapotranspiration, snowmelt, temperature sequences, ground water and soil moisture content can all contribute to flooding; further long term study of regional flood patterns is needed to fully understand how a change in the climate could alter these climatic factors and impact on future flood risk. Furthermore, whilst climate change and greenhouse gas emissions are strongly linked to flooding, the relationship is very complex, and to date neither empirical analysis nor data modelling has been able to accurately describe the connections. The key message of this research is that: “The scientific community needs to emphasize that the problem of flood losses is mostly about what we do on or to the landscape and that will be the case for decades to come.“….> full story
Zbigniew W. Kundzewicz, et al. Flood risk and climate change: global and regional perspectives. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 2013; : 1 DOI: 10.1080/02626667.2013.857411
by Chris Clarke KCET on January 16, 2014 5:09 PM
California’s transportation agency has agreed to stop using bird netting at its construction sites that ended up killing what may be hundreds of protected cliff swallows at a bridge construction project site in Sonoma County, and the agreement will influence how it conducts its projects elsewhere in the state. According to an announcement released Thursday, Caltrans will remove netting that was intended to keep swallows from nesting on the Petaluma River Bridge and Lakeville Highway Overpass as the two adjacent Route 101 viaducts are being upgraded. According to the group Native Songbird Care and Conservation, one of five groups that filed a federal lawsuit in May 2013 to make Caltrans get rid of the netting, more than a hundred cliff swallows had become fatally entangled in the netting by the previous month. With Thursday’s settlement, the agency is agreeing to use safer measures to keep nesting birds away from its projects, including scheduling those projects to avoid nesting season…..
Jan. 21, 2014 — Science News Daily
Over the last few decades, several thousands of wetlands have been constructed in Sweden in agricultural landscapes. The primary reason is that the wetlands prevent a surfeit of nutrients from reaching our oceans and lakes. A study from Halmstad University shows, in addition, that wetlands have contributed to saving several frog and bird species from the “Red List” — a list that shows which species are at risk of dying out in Sweden. In the latest update, five of the nine red-listed bird species that breed in wetlands-including the little grebe and the little ringed plover-could be taken off the list. Yet another bird species was moved to a lower threat category. As regards batrachians, four species-among them the European tree frog-have been taken off the list, and two species have been moved to a lower threat category….
Captive breeding no help to endangered woodrat
(January 23, 2014) — Captive breeading and release program does not help save the federally endangered Key Largo woodrat, a new study shows. … > full story
January 16, 2014 — A US Geological Survey study quantifies change in fish diversity in response to streamflow alteration in the Tennessee River basin. The study highlights the importance of the timing, magnitude, and … > full story
One quarter of the world’s cartilaginous fish, namely sharks and rays, face imminent extinction
(January 22, 2014) — One quarter of the world’s cartilaginous fish, namely sharks and rays, face extinction within the next few decades, according to the first study to systematically and globally assess their fate. … > full story
Jan. 22, 2014 — Woodland salamanders are small, lungless amphibians that live in moist, forest habitats throughout the U.S. and the world. Salamanders often serve as vital links in forest food chains; their population size and recovery from major disturbances can help predict the health of forest ecosystems. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have determined that salamander population size reflects forest habitat quality and can predict how ecosystems recover from forest logging activity. MU researchers believe these findings can be translated to other species within forest ecosystems throughout the world
By Tanya Lewis, Staff Writer | January 16, 2014 12:15pm ET
Since the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami crippled Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011, concerns have spread among the public that water with traces of radioactive material might be traveling in a plume across the Pacific Ocean toward the west coast of North America.
Experts say the radiation levels reaching the U.S. coast and Hawaiian Islands will be too low to threaten human health or marine life, but no U.S. government or international agency is actually monitoring radiation in these places.Now, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts is launching a new citizen science project to measure levels of radioactive cesium in water washing up along the West Coast. [Fukushima Radiation Leak: 5 Things You Should Know] “The levels of cesium in the ocean we expect of the west coast of North America are not of concern for our own exposure or fisheries,” said WHOI marine chemist Ken Buesseler, who is leading the project. But whether people agree with these predictions or not, radiation levels should be monitored to confirm them, Buesseler told LiveScience. A recent study suggests the radioactive plume from Fukushima will reach U.S. coastal waters this year, peaking in 2016. But ocean currents off Japan’s eastern coast have most likely diluted the radioactivity to well within safe levels set by the World Health Organization, said study leader Vincent Rossi, an oceanographer and postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute for Cross-Disciplinary Physics and Complex Systems in Spain…..
For the past 10 years, hundreds of seals equipped with special headgear have collected crucial data on ocean temperature and salinity for scientists
In recruiting a research team, some scientists would do well to include a few seals. Over the past ten years, around 350 of these blubbery mammals—mostly elephant seals, but also Weddell and crabeater seals—have been outfitted as data-collecting helpers in the Southern Ocean. …. According to new research published in Geophysical Research Letters, including seal data in an ocean model paints a significantly more accurate picture of the local environment than relying on buoy-derived information alone.
Over the past decade, a small army of sensor-equipped seals has produced more than 150,000 environmental profiles. ….Originally, these sensors were invented to gain insight into seal foraging and behavior patterns. … … A seal-sharing program called “Marine Mammals Exploring the Oceans Pole to Pole” was created to facilitate mutual collaboration, and the authors of this new paper just published the calibrated data collected from 2004 to 2010 in the program’s joint database….
– Jan 18, 2014
Now postdoc Steven Biller and researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have learned that all sorts of marine bacteria produce extracellular vesicles containing carbon, nutrients, chemicals and genetic material, which other oceanic organisms …
Wikimedia Commons/Alena Houšková
By Kelly Dickerson January 20, 2014 Business Insider Its been almost 30 years since the rare jaguarundi was last spotted in Texas, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has plans to change that. They hope to reintroduce the endangered feline to its native land: the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. The ultimate goal is to establish a jaguarundi population of 500 by 2050 and get the species safely taken off the endangered list.
Feast or fancy? Black widows shake for love
(January 17, 2014) — Biologists have found that courting male black widow spiders shake their abdomens to produce carefully pitched vibrations and avoid potential attacks by females — who otherwise may misinterpret the advances as the vibrations of prey. … > full story
POINT BLUE IN THE NEWS:
Scientists in California hope to improve the management tools of salvage logging, replanting, and controlled burns through research.
January 20, 2014 National Geographic
After fiery devastation comes rebirth, but in the case of last summer’s massive Rim Fire in California, just how that regrowth is best accomplished remains a hot topic. Started by a hunter’s illegal fire that got out of control, the Rim Fire burned about 400 square miles (1,000 square kilometers) of forest in the Sierra Nevadas, from August 17 to October 24, 2013. Exacerbated by a heatwave and drought, the fire caused an estimated $54 million in damage and destroyed 11 homes, three commercial buildings, and 98 outbuildings, despite the efforts of 5,000 firefighters. The blaze engulfed the backwoods of Yosemite National Park(threatening ancient sequoias) and large swaths of Stanislaus National Forest, as well as private land in Tuolumne and Mariposa counties. The fire was named for its proximity to the Rim of the World vista point in the national forest.
Ryan Burnett, a bird biologist with the California-based conservation group Point Blue, has been studying forest science in the Sierra Nevada for the past 14 years. He noted that fires tend to be good for some species and bad for others. The black-backed woodpecker, for example, a species that is being considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act, is a “postfire specialist that benefits from really hot fire,” Burnett said. His research has shown that the woodpecker population increases dramatically after fire kills large numbers of trees. “When trees die, wood-boring beetles come in and lay their eggs in them.” Burnett explained. “Their young eat the wood and become these big, delicious grubs, and woodpeckers go crazy eating them.” To prosper, the woodpeckers need a very high density of snags, or standing dead trees, preferably on the order of 200 to 300 snags per acre, said Burnett. “Forest Service guidelines are only four to five snags per acre, so we’ve told them they need to set places aside for this species, and leave some burned areas totally untouched.” Burnett added, “We know trees will grow in those burned areas eventually, but it will be valuable habitat for [the woodpeckers] for 10 to 20 years.” Leaving heavily burned areas to revert back to forest on their own runs counter to traditional management after a blaze, said Burnett. “The public looks at dead trees and thinks managers aren’t being good stewards of the land.” But his research shows that “places where people did not plant lots of trees right away have higher bird diversity.” Given the way restoration is usually handled, some areas damaged by the Rim Fire are likely to be replanted in the near future, Burnett said. He hopes the science he is working on will help inform which tree species are selected for which areas to provide the richest forest habitat. For example, the fire may offer an opportunity to restore aspens to some areas, since the species depends on fire to open up the forest.
Salvage Logging “Very Controversial”
The Forest Service is also likely to contract out some amount of “salvage logging” of trees burned by the blaze. That must be done within about two and a half years or the dead trees will rot. Salvage logging is “very controversial,” Burnett said. Opponents of the practice, including many environmentalists, say the benefits to forest health and reducing future fires have not been proved, and claim that the practice is primarily a financial boon to loggers, allowing them to get at trees in protected areas. Done poorly, salvage logging can damage live trees, can hurt the forest’s ability to naturally regenerate, and may actually increase fire risk if dead kindling is left on the ground, critics say. Branham, of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, agrees that salvage logging is “always controversial,” but he’s hopeful that “we can have a discussion about doing salvage and leaving part of the landscape in a condition that supports species.” That’s because the size of the Rim Fire left a “mosaic” landscape, with a range of damage, that “gives a lot of opportunity,” he said.
Fighting Fire With Fire
The Rim Fire burned so hot because “for the last 75 years, we suppressed fire pretty well,” Burnett said. As a result, a large amount of dead wood built up, so when the forest caught fire in August, it turned into an inferno, spurred by the dry, hot weather. To try to decrease some of that fuel load, the Forest Service has had a policy of doing “mechanical thinning,” or selective logging, particularly around houses and other buildings. “We have to remove some fuel to reduce temperatures of fires, but there’s no way you can thin ten million acres,” Burnett said, referring to the size of forest in the region. Even it that were possible, thinning isn’t a silver bullet. “If fire comes in and it’s hot, it’s going to burn everything—it doesn’t matter if you thin it.” An important management tool is allowing some controlled fires to burn, said Burnett, especially fires sparked by lightning in the spring, when the forest is relatively wet. That way dead wood is naturally pruned. Plus, that opens up more habitat for species of concern, he noted. Branham said consensus has been building among various agencies around more natural fire management. The National Park Service has recently begun experimenting with this approach on its lands, allowing some lightning fires to burn in parts of Yosemite. Such fires are not without risk, however. The Cerro Grande fire in 2000 in Los Alamos, New Mexico, started as a controlled burn, then raged out of control, destroying the homes of 400 families and costing $1 billion. “But we can’t stop fires,” said Burnett. “We can have more fire on our terms or kick the can down the road and have more catastrophic fires. You have to allow fires to burn and recognize the value of fire on the landscape.”
He added that large tracts of public lands may offer the best laboratories to try more natural fire management. The Rim Fire burned only a handful of buildings, in part because so few people live in the national forest, he noted.
AFP | Paris
January 17, 2014 Last Updated at 20:58 IST
The next 15 years will be vital in determining whether global warming can be limited to 2C (3.6F) by 2100, with energy and transport presenting the heftiest challenges, according to a draft UN report. “Delaying mitigation through 2030 will increase the challenges…. And reduce the options,” warns a summary of the report seen by AFP. The draft is the third volume in a long-awaited trilogy by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a Nobel-winning group of scientists. Major efforts are needed to brake the growth in carbon emissions for a good chance to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100, says the summary. “(It) would entail global consumption losses of one to four percent in 2030, two to six per cent in 2050 and two to 12 per cent in 2100,” the 29-page summary says. These costs do not factor in benefits, such as growth in new areas of the economy, or savings from avoiding some of the worst impacts of climate change. The estimates are based on the assumption that “all countries of the world” begin curbing carbon emissions immediately and that there are “well-functioning markets” to establish a single global price for carbon. The report looks at options, but makes no recommendations, for mitigating greenhouse gases that are driving the climate-change crisis by trapping solar heat and warming Earth’s surface. The final version of the document is due to be thrashed out at a meeting in Berlin in April. The trilogy is the IPCC’s long-awaited Fifth Assessment Report, the first great overview of the causes and effects of global warming, and options for dealing with it, since 2007. The draft document notes that global emissions of greenhouse gases surged by an average 2.2 per cent per year between 2000 and 2010, compared to 1.3 per cent per year over the entire 30-year period between 1970 and 2000.
Posted Jan. 21, 2014
NASA scientists say 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the 10 warmest years in the 134-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the warmest years on record. NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which analyzes global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated report Tuesday on temperatures around the globe in 2013. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience temperatures warmer than those measured several decades ago. The average temperature in 2013 was 58.3 degrees Fahrenheit (14.6 degrees Celsius), which is 1.1 °F (0.6 °C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline. The average global temperature has risen about 1.4 °F (0.8 °C) since 1880, according to the new analysis. Exact rankings for individual years are sensitive to data inputs and analysis methods…..
Northern mystery: Why are birds of the Arctic in decline? Yale Environment 360
January 23, 2014
With some species of Arctic birds experiencing steep drops in population and their prey also undergoing marked shifts, scientists are working to understand what role climate change is playing in these unfolding ecological transformations. On Coats Island, in northern Hudson Bay, thick-billed murres — members of the auk family — have been under assault on several fronts in recent years. Polar bears, faced with a sharp decline in the sea ice from which they hunt ringed seals, have retreated to the island and are eating the murres’ eggs. As the sea ice disappears, the murres now have to fly farther and work harder to get food that they normally find along the ice edges. And as temperatures around Hudson Bay rise, mosquitoes are hatching earlier in the season.
So many mosquitoes have swarmed on Coats Island in recent years that some of the nesting murres have perished from blood loss, according to biologist Anthony Gaston of Environment Canada, who has been studying the murre colonies on the island since 1984. Gaston believes that the toll these changes are taking on long-lived murres and their chicks will inevitably lead to a sharp decline and ultimate collapse of the island’s 30,000 breeding pairs. “Maybe not in my lifetime, but it will happen,” says Gaston, who will retire in March. “These and other seabirds are superbly adapted to the sea ice environment. Without that ice, and with polar bears and mosquitoes hitting them hard, the only future in the Arctic for them is to move north.”
Across the Arctic, resident birds such as the murres are experiencing increasing stresses that affect their foraging patterns and reproductive success. Researchers say that the gyrfalcon, the peregrine falcon, the willow and rock ptarmigan, the long-tailed jaeger or skua, and Ross’s and ivory gulls are in decline, as are some other birds that fly north to nest in the Arctic. In many cases, the birds’ prey — from lemmings, to snowshoe hare, to cod in the southern reaches of the Arctic Ocean — are experiencing population declines and shifts in their reproductive cycles….
Polar bear diet changes as sea ice melts
(January 22, 2014) — At least some polar bears in the western Hudson Bay population are using flexible foraging strategies while on land, such as prey-switching and eating a mixed diet of plants and animals, as they survive in their rapidly changing environment, new research suggests. … > full story
Jan. 22, 2014 — If you were a shrew snuffling around a North American forest, you would be 27 times less likely to respond to climate change than if you were a moose grazing nearby.
….The analysis showed only 52 percent of the mammal species responded as expected to climate change, while 7 percent responded the opposite of expectations and the remaining 41 percent had no detectable response. The two main traits tied to climate change responses in the CU-Boulder study were large mammal body size and restricted times during a 24-hour day when particular mammal species are active, she said. A paper on the study by McCain and former CU-Boulder postdoctoral fellow Sarah King was published online Jan. 22 in the journal Global Change Biology.
While body size was by far the best predictor for response to climate change — almost all of the largest mammals responded negatively — the new study also showed that mammals active only during the day or only at night were twice as likely to respond to climate change as mammals that had flexible activity times, she said.”This is the first time anyone has identified specific traits that tell us which mammals are responding to climate change and which are not,” said McCain of CU-Boulder’s ecology and evolutionary biology department. McCain said she and King were surprised by some of the findings. “Overall the study suggests our large, charismatic fauna — animals like foxes, elk, reindeer and bighorn sheep — may be at more risk from climate change,” she said. “The thinking that all animals will respond similarly and uniformly to temperature change is clearly not the case.”….
Christy M. McCain, Sarah R. B. King. Body size and activity times mediate mammalian responses to climate change. Global Change Biology, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12499
Kurtis Alexander SF Chronicle published 6:08 pm, Monday, January 20, 2014
A bear and a cub cross a road in Yosemite National Park in August, a sight being repeated during the warm winter. Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images
The black bears of the high Sierra are normally curled up in caves in January, enjoying long winter naps. But with winter conditions hardly wintry this year, some bears are finding little reason to hibernate and are instead traipsing around like it’s the middle of August. Mountain residents and visitors have been startled by unexpected encounters with the giants, and wildlife managers from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite National Park are cautioning folks about bear activity. Increased interaction between man and beast can lead to problems. This month, skiers at Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe were stopped in their tracks by a bear scampering across a ski slope, a scene that was caught on video and spread across the Internet. Fortunately, the bear scurried off without incident. On the north side of the lake, a 260-pound male bear broke into several cars last month and at least one home. He was deemed a threat to public safety, prompting wildlife managers to put the animal down. An Incline Village woman was given Nevada’s first written warning for feeding the bear, authorities said. The effects of the mild winter go further than bears, biologists say. All kinds of critters act differently during drought times, particularly if the dry weather extends through spring and causes food and water shortages, which can push animals beyond their normal range in search of sustenance….This winter ranks among California’s driest, and the parched spell follows two low-precipitation winters. As of last week, snowpack in the Sierra measured just 17 percent of normal.The mild conditions mean more bears are awake than usual, and wildlife managers worry the problem is just beginning. Should the dry weather continue, it could upset the Sierra food chain – for example, limiting the amount of berries or insects for bears to feed on – and force the hungry animals into town. “A drought basically dries up the natural food availability and dries up the water sources, and you get them not only wandering farther, but often coming to urban areas to fulfill their daily needs,” explained Jason Holley, wildlife biologist supervisor for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We’ve seen upticks in drought years. We could be looking at that in the spring.” The same can be said of other critters: deer, coyotes, bobcats. “A drought will affect basically all wildlife,” Holley said. “They’ll either walk or fly far enough to find what they need.”
Time to invest in some weatherproofing. Photo: Getty Images
Jan. 19, 2014 ScienceDaily— Extreme weather events fueled by unusually strong El Ninos, such as the 1983 heatwave that led to the Ash Wednesday bushfires in Australia, are likely to double in number as our planet warms. An international team of scientists from organizations including the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science (CoECSS), the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and CSIRO, published their findings in the journal Nature Climate Change. “We currently experience an unusually strong El Niño event every 20 years. Our research shows this will double to one event every 10 years,” said co-author, Dr Agus Santoso of CoECSS. “El Nino events are a multi-dimensional problem, and only now are we starting to understand better how they respond to global warming,” said Dr Santoso. Extreme El Niño events develop differently from standard El Ninos, which first appear in the western Pacific. Extreme El Nino’s occur when sea surface temperatures exceeding 28°C develop in the normally cold and dry eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. This different location for the origin of the temperature increase causes massive changes in global rainfall patterns. “The question of how global warming will change the frequency of extreme El Niño events has challenged scientists for more than 20 years,” said co-author Dr Mike McPhaden of US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “This research is the first comprehensive examination of the issue to produce robust and convincing results,” said Dr McPhaden. The impacts of extreme El Niño events extend to every continent across the globe. The 1997-98 event alone caused $35-45 US billion in damage and claimed an estimated 23,000 human lives worldwide. “During an extreme El Niño event countries in the western Pacific, such as Australia and Indonesia, experienced devastating droughts and wild fires, while catastrophic floods occurred in the eastern equatorial region of Ecuador and northern Peru,” said lead author, CSIRO’s Dr Wenju Cai
In Australia, the drought and dry conditions induced by the 1982-83 extreme El Niño preconditioned the Ash Wednesday Bushfire in southeast Australia, leading to 75 fatalities…..
Wenju Cai, Simon Borlace, Matthieu Lengaigne, Peter van Rensch, Mat Collins, Gabriel Vecchi, Axel Timmermann, Agus Santoso, Michael J. McPhaden, Lixin Wu, Matthew H. England, Guojian Wang, Eric Guilyardi, Fei-Fei Jin. Increasing frequency of extreme El Niño events due to greenhouse warming. Nature Climate Change, 2014; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2100
Water cycle amplifies abrupt climate change
(January 19, 2014) — During the abrupt cooling at the onset of the so-called Younger Dryas period 12680 years ago, changes in the water cycle were the main drivers of widespread environmental change in western Europe. Thus, the regional impacts of future climate changes can be largely driven by hydrological changes, not only in the monsoonal areas of the world, but also in temperate areas. … > full story
Published: January 18th, 2014 By Alex Kirby, Climate News Network
LONDON – Creatures which live deep beneath the ocean surface are likely to be badly hit by climate change over the next century, a new study says.
The study, by an international research team from the UK, Canada, Australia and France, is the first to quantify future losses in deep-sea marine life, using advanced climate models.
The researchers say their results show that even the most remote deep-sea ecosystems are not safe from the impacts of a warming world. They say the weight of the marine creatures that will be lost is greater than the combined weight of every person on Earth.
The scientists predict that seafloor-dwelling organisms will decline by over 5 percent globally and by 38 percent in the North Atlantic over the next century. This is because there will be a reduction in their food source, the plants and animals living at the ocean surface which nourish deep-sea communities when they die and sink to the depths.
The team has found a direct link between climate change and the loss of life on the sea floor. The surface-dwellers will themselves be threatened by a dwindling nutrient supply, triggered by climate impacts such as the slowing of the circulation of the world’s oceans and increased separation between layers of water – known as stratification – as a result of warmer and rainier weather….
Carolyn Lochhead SF Chronicle Updated 8:31 am, Wednesday, January 22, 2014
This image compares January 13, 2013 and January 13, 2014 snow cover as seen by the Suomi NPP satellite’s VIIRS instrument. The Snow Water Equivalents in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California are abnormally low for this time of year, as can be seen in this image comparing 2013 to 2014. Photo: NASA
Washington — California’s drought will be one of the extreme weather events that the American Meteorological Society will examine later this year to determine whether the cause is natural variability or human-caused climate change, a federal official said Tuesday. The American Meteorological Society’s study will be similar to one the group undertook of extreme weather events of 2012. In September, the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society released a report finding that a 2012 Midwestern drought was mainly due to natural variation in weather, but that climate change was a factor in U.S. heat waves that spring and summer. Scientists have not yet linked the California drought directly to climate change, Thomas Karl, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s National Climatic Data Center, said Tuesday in announcing the latest study. “I’m sure there’s a way, but we haven’t done it yet,” he said. Last year’s peer-reviewed study was conducted by 18 research teams from around the world, and examined the causes of a dozen extreme events that occurred on five continents and in the Arctic during 2012. Three of the four lead editors on the report were NOAA scientists. The next report is due in September. Karl made his comments during a conference call on new findings by NOAA and NASA that last year was tied with 2003 as the fourth-warmest year globally since record-keeping began in 1880.
Gavin Schmidt, deputy director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, noted that the rate of warming has slowed in the past decade. He said that may be due to poorly understood effects of air pollution, chiefly from burning coal.
Such so-called aerosols, which are also produced by volcanoes, may help reflect solar radiation and prevent some warming, Schmidt said. However, the long-term warming trend is “extremely robust,” Schmidt said. It may be snowing on the East Coast, he said, but “the long-term trends are very clear.” The new report from NOAA and NASA said ice continues to decrease in the Arctic but increase in Antarctica. Schmidt said the increase in Antarctica varies considerably by region and may be affected by the ozone hole over the South Pole, which in turn could be affecting wind currents.
Asked about charges by climate-change skeptics that scientists are attributing a loss of Arctic ice to global warming and an increase in Antarctic ice to natural variability, Schmidt said, “All of us are skeptics because we are scientists.”
The report found that the 2013 global average land surface temperature was 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. “Including 2013, nine of the 10 warmest years in the 134-year period of record have occurred in the 21st century,” the report said. “Only one year during the 20th century – 1998 – was warmer than 2013.” Precipitation changes are particularly difficult to predict, Karl said. While California is experiencing a record drought, he said, “that’s juxtaposed in just the U.S. with some of wettest weather we’ve seen,” with North Dakota setting an all-time record for precipitation.
Stacy Finz SF Chronicle Published 5:16 pm, Saturday, January 18, 2014
Frank Imhof, a Sunol cattleman is checking the weather constantly. If he doesn’t get rain soon, “lots of people are going to be out of a job,” he says.
He’s considering culling nearly 40 percent of his breeding herd and selling calves that are four to five months short of their market weight, because he doesn’t have enough grass in his pastures to feed them. On Friday, amid California’s driest year on record, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in the state. As days pass without snow or rain, dairymen, farmers and other livestock producers are finding themselves in the same predicament as Imhof. Without water to irrigate, produce growers fear they will have to leave some fields fallow. Ranchers and farmers say that as long as the drought continues, the nation’s largest agricultural state will remain in turmoil, with repercussions stretching to consumer pocketbooks in the form of higher prices for such basic staples as meat, milk, fruit and vegetables.”If it doesn’t rain in another month there will be ranchers and farmers going out of business,” Imhof said. For most, there is little to no financial relief or government aid to bail them out. Only 35 of California’s 400 crops are eligible for farm insurance, said Karen Ross, secretary of the state Department of Food and Agriculture. Almonds, corn, cotton, citrus and avocados are a few of those crops. Livestock operations are not…..
By Steve Hockensmith, NewsCenter | January 21, 2014 BERKELEY —
As 2013 came to a close, the media dutifully reported that the year had been the driest in California since records began to be kept in the 1840s. UC Berkeley paleoclimatologist B. Lynn Ingram didn’t think the news stories captured the seriousness of the situation. “This could potentially be the driest water year in 500 years,” says Ingram, a professor of earth and planetary science and geography. Ingram has an especially long-term perspective. As a paleoclimatologist — a scientist who studies changes in climate by teasing data out of rocks, sediments, shells, microfossils, trees and other sources — she’s accustomed to looking back over eons. And according to the width of old tree rings (which can record the coming and going of wet or waterless stretches), California hasn’t been so parched since 1580.”These extremely dry years are very rare,” she says.
But soon, perhaps, they won’t be as rare as they used to be. The state is facing its third drought year in a row, and Ingram wouldn’t be surprised if that dry stretch continues. Given that possibility, the title of a recent book by Ingram seems grimly apropos. The West Without Water: What Past Floods, Droughts, and Other Climatic Clues Tell Us About Tomorrow, co-written with geographer and environmental biologist (and UC Berkeley visiting scholar) Frances Malamud-Roam, was released by the University of California Press last year. The NewsCenter spoke to Ingram about the lessons to be drawn from her research as California heads into what could be its worst drought in half a millennium.
Q: California is in its third dry year in a row. How long could that continue?
A: If you go back thousands of years, you see that droughts can go on for years if not decades, and there were some dry periods that lasted over a century, like during the Medieval period and the middle Holocene. The 20th century was unusually mild here, in the sense that the droughts weren’t as severe as in the past. It was a wetter century, and a lot of our development has been based on that.
The late 1930s to the early 1950s were when a lot of our dams and aqueducts were built, and those were wetter decades. I think there’s an assumption that we’ll go back to that, and that’s not necessarily the case. We might be heading into a drier period now. It’s hard for us to predict, but that’s a possibility, especially with global warming. When the climate’s warmer, it tends to be drier in the West. The storms tend to hit further into the Pacific Northwest, like they are this year, and we don’t experience as many storms in the winter season. We get only about seven a year, and it can take the deficit of just a few to create a drought.
You mentioned global warming. Is what we’re seeing consistent with the predictions that have been made about how climate change could affect California?
Yes. We’ve already started having a decreased snow pack and increased wild fire frequency. And we’ve been warming, and it’s gotten drier. With Pacific Decadal Oscillation [the ever-changing temperature of surface water in the North Pacific Ocean], every 20 or 30 years we go in and out of these positive and negative shifts that affect precipitation and temperature. But now we’re entering a period where it looks like we’re getting drier even though it doesn’t necessarily correspond to that cycle. It looks like a trend. It’s warming and drying, and that’s definitely a big concern for Western states….
Peter Fimrite SF Chronicle Updated 8:47 am, Sunday, January 19, 2014
The floating fishing pier at Quarry Lakes Regional Park is closed due to low water levels caused by the ongoing drought and construction drainage, in Fremont, CA, Thursday, January 16, 2014. Photo: Michael Short, The Chronicle
Climate change: Promising future for cotton in Cameroon?
(January 20, 2014) — While climate change threatens most crops in Africa, its impact could be less on cotton cultivation in Cameroon. A new study shows that the expected climate change over the coming decades should not have a negative effect on Cameroonian plantations. Against all odds, their productivity should even improve significantly by 2050, thanks in particular to conservation agriculture practices adopted by the country. … Conservation agriculture is essential–This unexpected benefit would result from the combination of several factors. Firstly, how the cotton is grown is crucial. Field productivity is highly dependent on local farming practices. For ten years, Cameroon has adopted measures to restore land with conservation farming techniques, such as sowing under plant cover, tillage or mulching. Many farming practices that would limit the deterioration of cultivated soils are at work in the north of the country and, according to the researchers’ simulations, counteract the effects of climate change on crops…..> full story
Changing climate: How dust changed the face of Earth
(January 23, 2014) — In spring 2010, the research icebreaker Polarstern returned from the South Pacific with a scientific treasure — ocean sediments from a previously almost unexplored part of the South Polar Sea. What looks like an inconspicuous sample of mud to a layman is, to geological history researchers, a valuable archive from which they can reconstruct the climatic history of the polar areas over many years of analysis. This, in turn, is of fundamental importance for understanding global climatic development. … > full story
Air pollution from Asia affecting world’s weather
(January 21, 2014) — Extreme air pollution in Asia is affecting the world’s weather and climate patterns, according to a new study. Using climate models and data collected about aerosols and meteorology over the past 30 years, researchers found that air pollution over Asia — much of it coming from China — is impacting global air circulations. … > full story
Published: 2:43 PM GMT on January 20, 2014
- It was another notable year for all-time heat records in 2013, with six nations and three territories tying or setting records for hottest temperature on record. No nations set an all-time cold record in 2013. For comparison, five countries and two territories set all-time hottest temperature records in 2012, and the most all-time national heat records in a year was twenty nations and one territory in 2010. Since 2010, 45 nations or territories have set or tied all-time heat records, but only one nation has set an all-time cold temperature record. Since each of those years ranked as one of the top eleven warmest years in Earth’s recorded history, and 2010 was the warmest year on record, this sort of disparity in national heat and cold records is to be expected. …….
Figure 1. A moose takes a dip to cool off in a backyard pool in this photo taken in Big Lake, Alaska on June 17, 2013, by Lonea Moore McGowen (Courtesy KTUU-TV.) Bentalit Lodge, Alaska hit 36.7°C (98°F) on June 17, tying the mark set in Richardson on 15 June 1969 for hottest undisputed temperature in Alaska history. The official heat record for Alaska remains the 100°F registered at Fort Yukon on June 27, 1915. However, there are questions concerning this figure as outlined by our weather historian, Christopher C. Burt.
New all-time national heat records set in 2013
….The United States tied its highest undisputed temperature at the Furnace Creek Visitors Center, Death Valley California, with 53.9°C (129°F) on 30 June. The only higher temperatures ever recorded on the planet occurred in Death Valley on July 10, 12, and 13, 1913, when readings of 134°F, 130°F, and 131°F were recorded. These 100-year-old official hottest temperatures in Earth’s history have many doubters, though, including Mr. Burt, who noted in a 2010 blog post that “The record has been scrutinized perhaps more than any other in the United States. I don’t have much more to add to the debate aside from my belief it is most likely not a valid reading when one looks at all the evidence.
Greenland, a territory of Denmark, set a new all time highest temperature with 25.9°C (78.6°F) at Maniitsoq Airport on 30 July. Previous record: 25.5°C at Kangerlussuaq on 27 July 1990. There is a claimed 30.1°C measurement at Ivigtut on 23 June 1915, but this is almost certainly a mistake, since the reading doesn’t fit at all with the hourly data of that day, and the station in over a century has never recorded any temperature above 24°C……
Figure 2. The official Furnace Creek, Death Valley maximum recording thermometer for the maximum temperature measured on June 30th, 2013. The 129.2°F (54.0°C) reading was the highest June temperature ever measured on Earth. Photo courtesy of Death Valley National Park and NWS-Las Vegas. Note, though, since only whole Fahrenheit figures are official in the U.S., the value was registered as 129°F.
By Annie-Rose Strasser on January 9, 2014 at 10:27 am
A mushroom from an ectomycorrhizal fungus CREDIT: Creative Commons
You might be a person who loves to eat a portabello sandwich or one who turns your nose at the sight of a salad bar button mushroom, but no matter your feelings on the gustatory nature of fungal fruit, you’ve got to respect fungi for one thing: Helping to fight climate change in a small but mighty way. In a new study, scientists found that two certain types of fungi, known as ecto- and ericoid mycorrhizal (EEM) fungi, have the ability to drastically alter how much carbon gets sunk into soil or released into the air by as much as 70 percent. Since soil holds massive amounts of carbon — more than air and plants combined — this has a huge impact on the climate. Here’s how it works: Nitrogen in soil is what feeds the little microorganisms that break down dead matter and release its carbon back into the atmosphere. But the EEM fungi (not to be confused with a mushroom — the mushroom is the fruit of a fungus) that live in the roots of plants steal some of that nitrogen out of the soil and turn it into nutrients for plants. In the process of stealing it, they’re ridding the soil of nitrogen. So when that plant eventually dies and returns to the soil to be broken down, in places where EEM fungi are present, it’s less quickly turned into carbon that goes back into the atmosphere. This happens anywhere EEM fungi live — no matter the makeup of the soil, or what the climate of the location is.
The process might sound technical and small-scale, but its implications are significant. No scientist studying carbon cycles has factored in the high carbon capture rates of EEM fungi before. And though it isn’t the most common type of fungus in soil — another type makes up 85 percent of soil — it could still change climate models. “This study is showing that trees and decomposers are really connected via these mycorrhizal fungi, and you can’t make accurate predictions about future carbon cycling without thinking about how the two groups interact. We need to think of these systems holistically,” Colin Averill, the lead author on the study, said. ….
With the support of Lidl and Fairtrade, coffee co-ops are receiving training to prevent deforestation and learn sustainable farming best practice
Challenges to resiliant coffee farming such as leaf rust mean that farmers need support and programming to ensure the longevity of their farms. Photograph: Karen Robinson
January 22, 2014 The Guardian
Climate change is a big risk for small farmers around the world and Peruvian coffee producers are no different. Lower rainfall, higher temperatures, and the rampant spread of disease are becoming the norm rather than the exception.
This year, in particular, has proved challenging as coffee farms throughout Latin America have been devastated by the spread of coffee leaf rust known as “La Roya”. Farmers are looking for technical and financial support to be better prepared to tackle climate change along with all the new challenges it presents. Thanks to the support of Lidl, a German-based chain of grocery stores, farmer members at the Sonomoro Cooperative in Pangoa, Peru, are receiving training to cope with the effects of climate change. In the first phase of this programme, 10 lead farmers – or promoters – were trained by the organisation Twin Trading to conduct risk and opportunity assessments in their communities. A demonstration farm was established where farmers can learn about best practices, including shade and weed management, composting, treatment of waste water and more….
January 23, 2014 — Streams and lakes of Northern Sweden are hotspots for emissions of carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, according to new … > full story
January 23, 2014 — Researchers have identified a biological mechanism that could explain how the Earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide and climate were stabilized over the past 24 million years. When CO2 levels … > full story
Climate proofing of farms seen too slow as industry faces havoc Bloomberg News January 20, 2014
Adapting agriculture to withstand a world with a changed climate and depleting resources isn’t happening fast enough. Climate change will play havoc with farming, and policy makers and researchers aren’t fully aware of the significance on food supply, according to the World Bank. Earth will warm by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) “in your lifetime,” Rachel Kyte, the World Bank’s vice-president for climate change, said at a meeting of agriculture ministers in Berlin over the weekend. That will make farming untenable in some areas, she said. Extreme weather from China’s coldest winter in at least half a century in 2010 to a July hailstorm in Reutlingen, Germany, already started to affect food prices. In the past three years, orange juice, corn, wheat, soybean meal and sugar were five of the top eight most volatile commodities, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Natural gas was first. “Significant damage and destruction is already happening,” Kyte said. “It isn’t a benign and slightly warmer world. It will be a volatile warming of the planet, with unpredictable impact.” ….The world risks “cataclysmic changes” caused by extreme heat waves, rising sea levels and depleted food stocks, as average temperatures are headed for a 4 degree Celsius jump by 2100, the World Bank reported in November 2012. “It’s all going to take political leadership,” said Gordon Conway, professor of international development at Imperial Colleage London. “We need more ministers of agriculture with self confidence who will stand up and say what they need, who will speak to their president or prime minster.” Long-term climate change may have “potentially catastrophic” effects on food production in the period from 2050 to 2100, the UN’s Food & Agricuture Organization has said. Crop failures such as in Russia in 2010 are likely to become more common as climate change causes more extreme weather with heat and drought stress, according to a study that year led by the U.K.’s University of Leeds. “If we look globally at climate science, we see the warming of temperatures and the resulting impact, for example extreme heat zones in sub-Saharan Africa,” Kyte said. “The agricultural community has still some way to go in realizing the full significance.” …Tackling waste may be crucial to feeding a bigger population in a time of climate change. About a third of food is wasted, according to UNEP’s Steiner. “Some estimates show that if you reduce food waste to zero, we can feed 2 billion people,” FAO deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo said. Policy makers have a task in raising public awareness about the environmental impact of waste, according to Steiner, who mentioned the amount of water needed to produce a hamburger. “One hamburger is six baths of water simply thrown down the drain.”
Arctic Ocean oil drilling opponents win appeal.
January 23, 2014 Los Angeles Times
The U.S. government violated the law when it opened millions of acres of the Arctic Ocean to offshore oil drilling, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday, possibly delaying plans by companies such as Royal Dutch Shell to drill off the northwest coast of Alaska in the near future. ‘
By CHAD BRAY NYTimes January 24, 2014
At the World Economic Forum, Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, said he wanted banks and other financial companies to focus their lending in the future on the development of sustainable energy sources and businesses with low carbon footprints.
EU to cut carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030. The Guardian January 23, 2014
Europe will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, the toughest climate change target of any region in the world, and will produce 27 percent of its energy from renewable sources by the same date.
Latest European climate targets may never be met.
New Scientist January 23, 2014
Europe has proposed fresh targets for cutting its greenhouse gas emissions between now and 2030. But officials baulked at imposing national targets for investment in renewable energy, leaving it unclear how the overall targets will be reached.
Earth’s Record 41 different billion-dollar weather disasters of 2013
Earth set a new record for billion-dollar weather disasters in 2013 with 41, said insurance broker Aon Benfield in their Annual Global Climate and Catastrophe Report issued this week. Despite the record number of billion-dollar disasters, weather-related natural disaster losses (excluding earthquakes) were only slightly above average in 2013, and well below what occurred in 2012….
LATIMES Editorial: Stop the foot-dragging on climate change
A U.N. panel says the world has perhaps just 15 years to make serious inroads on the problem. Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress disagree.
After a cold winter last year, the number of believers in climate change in this country dropped from 70% to 63%, according to the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. Above: A section of Greenland’s thinning ice sheet is seen in 2005. (John McConnico / Associated Press / January 21, 2014)
By The Times editorial board January 21, 2014
The world has very little time — perhaps 15 years — to make serious inroads on climate change, according to a leaked report from a United Nations panel. Current efforts, even among the most committed nations, fall short, and at the current rate of carbon emissions, the problem might grow too large to overcome with existing technology. Yet the recalcitrance and myth-making about global warming continue — and become more prevalent — in the United States. Last week, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell moved to employ a little-known law to try to halt a key portion of the Obama administration’s climate plan. And at a Senate committee hearing on climate change, Republican senators delivered their usual speeches denying that a problem exists. There was recently cold weather in the Northeast, they argued. And New Orleans hasn’t seen particularly bad hurricanes during the last few years. If anything is to be done about climate change, several of them hinted or said outright, it must be accomplished without taking away jobs or driving up electricity bills.
Underlying many of the misperceptions about global warming is the myth that climate — a long-term trend — is the same thing as isolated weather events. After a cold winter last year, the number of believers in climate change in this country dropped from 70% to 63%, according to the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. Its most recent poll results, released last week, found that the number of people who don’t believe that climate change is occurring climbed from 16% to 23% from April to November. And that poll was conducted before the polar vortex descended this winter. Meanwhile, McConnell — a Republican from the coal-mining state of Kentucky — filed a resolution to “disapprove” the Environmental Protection Agency‘s preliminary new limits on carbon emissions from new coal plants. His action invoked the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law that has been used only once or twice. It allows Congress to repeal an executive branch regulation by a simple majority vote. The resolution’s prospects are uncertain, but its political intentions are clear: Democrats would have to vote on this shortly before the November elections, possibly turning off voters who fear the economic impacts.
It would be misleading to suggest that there will be no sacrifice involved in reducing carbon emissions. Yet, according to the leaked report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the cost of waiting will be greater and the options more limited. There can be no more pretending that an Arctic-style winter in Chicago means that climate change is not a problem.
Europe divides over more ambitious pollution limits January 21, 2014 Bloomberg News
The European Union is poised to take its first formal steps to expand the world’s most ambitious limits on fossil fuel pollution, a move that may widen a rift in how it balances green policies with the need for cheaper power…..
Stephanie Pappas LiveScience January 17, 2014
The number of Americans who believe global warming isn’t happening has risen, according to a new survey. The number of Americans who believe global warming isn’t happening has risen to 23 percent, up 7 percentage points since April 2013. The latest survey, taken in November 2013, finds that the majority of Americans — 63 percent — do believe in climate change, and 53 percent are “somewhat” or “very” worried about the consequences. The proportion of people who do believe in climate change has been steady since April 2013, but the proportion of those who say they “don’t know” whether climate change is happening dropped 6 percentage points between April and November 2013, suggesting that many “don’t knows” moved into the “not happening” category. “People who prior said don’t know are increasingly saying they don’t believe it,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, the director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, which released the new results today (Jan. 16). [10 Climate Change Myths, Busted] …..
5:04 PM, Jan 20, 2014 |
SACRAMENTO – Northern Californians who blame the water shortage on their wasteful neighbors to the south as much as they do the lack of rain may be surprised to learn the truth. “The myth that we’d be debunking is that Southern California is wasting water,” said Terry Erlewine, general manager of the State Water Contractors, an association of 27 public water agencies that purchase water from the State Water Project. The agencies include the Metropolitan Water District, which serves 19 million people in six Southern California counties. Southern California water providers have spent more than $12 billion over the past two decades to increase storage capacity while encouraging conservation. Some offer rebates for water-efficient toilets, washing machines and sprinklers. Homeowners in some cities can collect up to $2 per square foot of lawn they replace with drought-tolerant landscaping. “There’s been a huge amount of water conservation implemented in Southern California,” said Erlewine, who pointed out that despite a population increase of 3 million over the past 20 years, water use in Southern California has remained flat. …”People in Sacramento use 279 gallons of water every day, 90 gallons more each than the people of Los Angeles.” See news video here.
David Sedlak OPINION SF GATE Updated 5:03 pm, Monday, January 20, 2014
Most Bay Area residents obtain their drinking water from a system of reservoirs, canals and pipes that was built during the first half of the 20th century. In the near future, it is likely that we’ll pump a lot of money into this aging system to adapt it to rising sea levels and changes in rainfall patterns. These investments are essential to the security of our water supply, but they will not protect us from the effects of a drought. Plans to build advanced water recycling plants, such as the project proposed in the Livermore Valley more than a decade ago, or desalination plants, such as the regional project proposed in Contra Costa County, have languished due to public apathy and concerns about potential risks to public health or the environment. In light of the drought state of emergency the governor declared last week, these approaches deserve close scrutiny with respect to costs and risks….. In Southern California, Australia, Texas and other places that have recently grappled with water shortages, cities are investing in new types of local water supplies that are less susceptible to droughts. For example, building on the success of potable water-recycling projects in Orange County, Los Angeles and the Inland Empire, our neighbors to the south are aggressively pursuing plans to more than double the amount of recycled water entering their drinking water supply. And in Perth, seawater desalination plants now provide about half of the city’s drinking water. Information technology and advanced new materials are starting to make the dream of off-the-water-grid houses a reality. Water conservation is important, but it will not protect us from the most severe droughts. New technologies provide us with many options for decreasing our reliance on imported water. Irrespective of the path that we follow, we have the means to create a drought-proof water supply. But all of these options require years to finance, design and build. We need to get started before it’s too late.
By Chad Bouchard Posted January 2, 2014
A national movement against plastic foam food containers got a boost of momentum as New York moves closer to a citywide ban.
Photo: Courtesy of Cafeteria Culture A child works the arms of a giant puppet made of styrene foam trays during a demonstration calling for a citywide ban in New York City.
New York is the latest and largest U.S. city to pass a ban on single-use polystyrene foam containers for food and drinks. In a unanimous decision, the City Council voted at the end of December to prohibit restaurants, food carts and stores from using styrene cups, clamshell takeout boxes, school lunch trays — and even those ubiquitous packing peanuts.
The decision marks the culmination of a six-year fight that started over styrene use in the city’s public school lunchrooms. Debby Lee Cohen, a public school mom and the director and co-founder of Cafeteria Culture, mustered for action with other environmentally-minded moms and teachers in the spring of 2009 to stop the waste of millions of polystyrene trays per day. Soon after, they launched a kid-driven pilot project to sort waste in lunchrooms, and 15 other groups in the city took up the cause. “This landmark decision puts another nail in the coffin of toxic styrenes. It’s a victory for our health and our future!” Lee Cohen said in a release. “Our children’s children’s children will be thankful!” Cafeteria Culture has pushed for compostable trays to replace polystyrene ones, and spurred collective purchasing to keep costs down.
Approval of the ban comes just days before the end of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s 12-year reign. Activists say his successor, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, has supported past efforts to curb waste. The mayor’s office says polystyrene foam can’t be recycled, and currently an estimated 20,000 tons of the stuff contaminates the pool of recyclable materials like glass and plastics.
There are caveats. The ban won’t go into effect until July 2015, giving the industry one more chance to prove that food-smeared foam can feasibly be recycled. Small businesses can also apply for a waiver after the rule goes into effect. Dart Container and the Restaurant Action Alliance have fought fiercely against the ban, saying that polystyrene foam is recyclable and pricier alternatives would put an unfair burden on school districts in poor neighborhoods. Lee Cohen countered that argument by pointing out the health risks posed by food eaten from polystyrene affects poor neighborhoods disproportionately. The National Toxicology Program found in its 12th edition of the Report on Carcinogens that styrene is “reasonably anticipated to be a carcinogen.”….
Etihad Airways’ 45-minute demonstration flight in Abu Dhabi on Saturday was the first ever to be powered with U.A.E.-produced biofuel.
Meet the jet fuels of the future CNN January 23 2014
In little over a week, Boeing has announced three new developments in its quest to produce sustainable aviation biofuel. Last week, the company identified “green diesel” as a new biofuel that would emit at least 50 percent less carbon dioxide than fossil fuel over its lifecycle….While aviation companies such as Boeing and Airbus pour money and manpower into researching aviation biofuels, there are still critics that say it’s not worth the effort, and in fact may be causing more harm. Last year, The New York Times reported that the expansion of the biofuels industry is causing a shortage of land for food crops in the poor regions of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The European Commission proposed amending a policy on biofuels last year, due to concerns that first-generation biofuel production is pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than it saves through use as fuel, but a compromise to restrict EU subsidies for first-generation biofuel was rejected in December. The issue is expected to remain at a standstill until the new parliament takes office later this year. “Boeing’s position, and that of many airlines we work with, is that aviation biofuel must be produced sustainably, meeting criteria for environmental, economic and social benefit,” said Kowal. “We do not pursue development of biofuel using feedstocks that compete for resources (such as land or water) used for food production.”…
More oil spilled from trains in 2013 than in previous 4 decades. January 21, 2014 McClatchy Newspapers
Including major derailments in Alabama and North Dakota, more than 1.15 million gallons of crude oil was spilled from rail cars in 2013.
As uses of biochar expand, climate benefits still uncertain
Mark Hertsgaard January 21, 2014
Yale Environment 360
Research shows that biochar made from plant fodder and even chicken manure can be used to scrub mercury from power plant emissions and clean up polluted soil. The big question is whether biochar can be produced on a sufficiently large scale to slow or reverse global warming.
White roofs beat ‘green’ roofs on climate change, says Berkeley Lab study.
San Francisco Business Times
Though so-called “green” roofs with gardens growing on them are popular today and have some environmental advantages, plain white roofs reflect sunlight and reduce global warming. According to a study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, a simple white roof reflects three times as much sunshine as a green rooftop garden. “By absorbing less sunlight than either green or black roofs, white roofs offset a portion of the warming effect from greenhouse gas emissions,” the lab said. Simple white roofs are cheap compared to green roofs, which cost a lot to install, and so are more cost-effective, too, the study found.
Julian Sproul, Benjamin Mandel and Arthur Rosenfeld of Lawrence Berkeley Lab worked with Man Pun Wan of Nanyang Technological University to analyze the cost of various types of roof over 50 years. Black roofs were the worst and “should be phased out,” said Rosenfeld. The trendy green roofs, even with their benefits from cooling and capture of rainwater, cost so much up front that even over half a century they don’t catch up to white roofs in value….
Jan. 21, 2014 — A new study from North Carolina State University indicates that even a sharp increase in the use of electric drive passenger vehicles (EDVs) by 2050 would not significantly reduce emissions of high-profile air pollutants carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides.”EDVs” is a catch-all term that includes hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles. “We wanted to see how important EDVs may be over the next 40 years in terms of their ability to reduce emissions,” says Dr. Joseph DeCarolis, an assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper on the new model. “We found that increasing the use of EDVs is not an effective way to produce large emissions reductions.” The researchers ran 108 different scenarios in a powerful energy systems model to determine the impact of EDV use on emissions between now and 2050. They found that, even if EDVs made up 42 percent of passenger vehicles in the U.S., there would be little or no reduction in the emission of key air pollutants. “There are a number of reasons for this,” DeCarolis says. “In part, it’s because some of the benefits of EDVs are wiped out by higher emissions from power plants. Another factor is that passenger vehicles make up a relatively small share of total emissions, limiting the potential impact of EDVs in the first place. For example, passenger vehicles make up only 20 percent of carbon dioxide emissions….
Too many electric cars, not enough workplace chargers creating tension on Silicon Valley tech campuses
San Jose Mercury News January 20, 2014
Sixty-one of the roughly 1,800 employees on the SAP campus now drive a plug-in vehicle, overwhelming the 16 available chargers. And as demand for chargers exceeds supply, a host of thorny etiquette issues have arisen, along with some rare but notorious incidents of “charge rage.” …
Solar-power device would use heat to enhance efficiency
(January 19, 2014) — A new approach to harvesting solar energy could improve efficiency by using sunlight to heat a high-temperature material whose infrared radiation would then be collected by a conventional photovoltaic cell. This technique could also make it easier to store the energy for later use, the researchers say. … >
The Biology of Soil Compaction February 11, 2014
2PM Eastern / 11AM Pacific
Jim Hoorman Extension Educator, Cover Crops and Water Quality, The Ohio State University
This webinar is presented by the USDA NRCS National Soil Health and Sustainability Team located at the East National Technology Support Center.
Join the Webinar
Save to Calendar
Related Files AEX-543-09 The Biology of Soil Compaction.pdf (1159Kb)
California Drought Forum, planned for February 19-20, in Sacramento, California
We would like to invite you to the California Drought Forum, planned for February 19-20, in Sacramento, California. The Forum is being co-organized and co-sponsored by the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and California partners.This two-day event will cover a range of critical drought topics, including current drought conditions, the outlook for continued drought, impacts and responses among different sectors, drought forecasting and monitoring, early warning information needs and resources, and opportunities to improve drought preparedness, resilience, and readiness. More details will be coming soon. For now, please hold the dates, and we look forward to seeing you at the Forum.
Anne Steinemann, Scripps Institution of Oceanography; University of California, San Diego; CIRES / NIDIS University of Colorado, Boulder
February 25-27, 2014
This workshop will focus on answering urgent questions such as: How do managers “build resilience” when ecosystems are undergoing rapid change? What are our options when megafires remove huge swaths of forests not well adapted to this disturbance?
Click here for more information or to register.
Climate-Smart Conservation NWF/NCTC ALC3195
March 4-6, 2014 Sacramento State University – Modoc Hall. Sacramento, CA 3 days /no tuition for this class.
The target audience includes conservation practitioners and natural resource managers working at multiple scales to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of their work in an era of climate change. This course is based on a forthcoming guide to the principles and practice of Climate-Smart Conservation. This publication is the product of an expert workgroup on climate change adaptation convened by the National Wildlife Federation in collaboration with the FWS’s National Conservation Training Center and other partners (see sidebar). The course is designed to demystify climate adaptation for application to on-the-ground conservation. It will provide guidance in how to carry out adaptation with intentionality, how to manage for change and not just persistence, how to craft climate-informed conservation goals, and how to integrate adaptation into on-going work. Conservation practitioners and natural resource managers will learn to become savvy consumers of climate information, tools, and models. Register online at http://training.fws.gov . In partnership with staff from National Wildlife Federation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Forest Service, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy, EcoAdapt, Geos Institute, and Point Blue Conservation Science.
Contact for Registration Questions: Jill DelVecchio at 304/876-7424 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact for Content Questions: Christy Coghlan at 304/876-7438 or email@example.com
San Francisco Bay NERR March 4, 2014 Contact: Heidi Nutters, 415-338-3511 -or-
Elkhorn Slough NERR March 6, 2014
Contact: Virginia Guhin, 831-274-8700 Please read the details carefully as this 1-day training is being offered in two locations!
Sponsored by: Elkhorn Slough and San Francisco Bay Coastal Training Programs Instructor: Cara Pike, TRIG’s Social Capital Project/Climate Access
Most Americans accept the reality of climate disruption and climate impacts are beginning to act as a wake-up call for many. Engaging key stakeholders and the public in preparing for and reducing the risks from these impacts is essential. This engagement requires approaches that recognize how people process risk, such as the importance of values, identities, and peer groups. Join environmental communication expert Cara Pike for an in-depth training in public engagement best practices for climate change. Participants will have an opportunity to design strategies for reaching and motivating target audiences, and be part of a unique problem-solving approach where a common public engagement challenge is tackled collaboratively.
Coastal resource managers, government staff, public engagement staff, outreach specialists and environmental interpreters
Workshop Format: This one-day workshop will be held in two locations, the registration fee is $60 for either, and includes your attendance in a follow-up webinar that will take place on March 19, 2014 more details to follow. The fee also includes lunch and materials.
Important Registration and Payment Details Please note, you must pre-register, and we must receive your payment no later than 5 p.m. on February 10, 2013 for us to reserve a spot for you at the workshop. Your registration will not be completed without payment received by this date. Please pay by credit card from this site or, if sending a check, make it payable to Elkhorn Slough Foundation. Mail to: Elkhorn Slough Foundation ATTN: Virginia Guhin 1700 Elkhorn Road Watsonville, CA 95076
Follow-up Webinar – March 19 from 10:00am-11:30am (for all workshop attendees) additional details will be emailed to registered attendees and shared at workshop. This workshop is complementary to the February 4 and February 6 training (Communicating Climate Change: Effective skills for engaging stakeholders, partners and the public.)
Soil Science Society of America ecosystems services conference–abstracts are now being invited and are due by 12/1/2013.
March 6-9, 2014 Sheraton Grand Hotel, Sacramento, CA Sponsored by the Ecological Society of America, American Geophysical Union, and US Geological Survey. More info is available here: https://www.soils.org/meetings/specialized/ecosystem-services
WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT 2014 Conference
North Bay Watershed Association Friday, April 11, 2014 NOVATO, CA 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM PDT
The conference will bring together key participants from around the North Bay to focus on how we can work together to manage our water resources.
- Mark Cowin, Director, CA Department of Water Resources
- Jared Huffman, U.S. Congressman, California 2nd District
- Felicia Marcus, Chair, State Water Resources Control Board
For more information or questions contact: Elizabeth Preim-Rohtla North Bay Watershed Association firstname.lastname@example.org 415-945-1475
By now we are all familiar with our collective role in polluting the planet, the ocean included. But we are also critical for the many potential solutions. Please join us for a morning of lively discussions about the many scales of problems and solutions, ranging from the small plastic nurdles to a state-size garbage patch, from the deep sea to the intertidal, from local policies to the international arena. Discussions will occur around plenary sessions featuring internationally-recognized scientists, a research poster session, and exhibitry throughout the day.
Research Posters: Call for abstracts will occur in January. Visit the Sanctuary Currents Symposium website for updates and information: Sanctuary Currents Symposium
99th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America
Sacramento, California August 10-15, 2014 http://www.esa.org/sacramento
California Adaptation Forum
August 18-20, 2014.
This two-day forum will build off a successful National Adaptation Forum held in Colorado in 2013. The attendance of many California leaders there underscored the need for a California-focused event, which will be held every other year to complement the biennial national conference. To register go to: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/886364449
California Sea Grant College Program is now seeking applications for the 2015 NOAA Sea Grant John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. Deadline: February 14, 2014
The Knauss Fellowship, established in 1979, provides a unique educational experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean and coastal resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources.
The Lands Director will manage their land acquisition program, mentor the program team and ensure a robust, high quality pipeline of conservation deals are executed with rigor and creativity. The Lands Director (Director) plays an essential role in WRC’s mission by developing, managing and implementing the organization’s land acquisition program. Reporting to the President, the Director leads WRC’s program staff while managing his/her own portfolio of acquisition projects. The Director develops new opportunities for conservation acquisitions, shapes transactions, and aligns the resources necessary to complete those transactions while mentoring WRC’s program staff in their efforts to do the same. Working closely with the President and the team, the Director will be part of developing the new strategic plan that will guide WRC’s program focus for the next 5 years. Members of the land acquisition team are located in Oregon, California, Washington and Colorado and have portfolios that extend across the West. The Director will be based in Portland, OR. The Director will be expected to draw upon a significant set of experiences with land transactions to serve as a mentor and problem-solver, developing creative responses to both new conservation opportunities and the challenges that can hinder transactions.. Additional information regarding Olive Grove www.theolivegrove.com and Western Rivers Conservancy www.westernrivers.org can be found on our websites.
Point Blue Conservation Science is a renowned, award-winning non-profit working to reduce the impacts of accelerating changes in climate, land-use and the ocean on wildlife and people while promoting climate-smart conservation. At the core of our work is ecosystem science using long-term data to identify and evaluate both natural and human-driven changes over time. We work hand-in-hand with public and private natural resource managers from the Sierra to the sea and Alaska to Antarctica studying birds and ecosystems. Founded in 1965 as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, the organization has tripled in size over the last decade, and currently has a $10M annual budget with significant growth expected to continue. We seek a qualified CFO, who is passionate about our mission and vision, to join a team of 140+ scientists, informatics experts and educators.
The Senior Policy Representative (Climate & Energy) will help define and support efforts to implement National Wildlife Federation’s national climate and energy policy initiatives, including securing carbon controls under existing statutes, and devising strategies to advance new federal policies. This position will require initiating meetings and briefings with decision makers, conducting policy analysis, preparing electronic communications, and developing resource materials, including reports, blogs, fact sheets, and presentations.
California Park & Recreation Society (CPRS) (pdf) Executive Director
CPRS is a nonprofit, professional and public interest organization with more than 3,000 members. CPRS supports its members who provide recreational experiences to individuals, families and communities with the goal of fostering human development, health and wellness, and cultural unity. As the largest state society of park and recreation professionals in the United States, CPRS has the collective strength in numbers to be able to advance the positive impact and value of the profession on society. CPRS is the organization that furthers careers of those who know that Parks Make Life Better™.
Application Due: January 31, 2014 Eligible Entities: Local governments and agencies, recognized tribes, state government agencies, non-profit 501(c) organizations, and academic institutions.
Marking the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, the U.S. Department of the Interior launched the Hurricane Sandy Coastal Resiliency Competitive Grant Program. The program will use competitive grants to award funding for science-based solutions by states, local communities, non-profit organizations, and other partners to help restore key habitats and bolster natural systems, enabling these areas to withstand the impacts and better protect local communities from future storms. For more information, visit the program webpage.
- OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST
Tiny swimming bio-bots boldly go where no bot has swum before
(January 17, 2014) — The alien world of aquatic micro-organisms just got new residents: synthetic self-propelled swimming bio-bots. Engineers have developed a class of tiny bio-hybrid machines that swim like sperm, the first synthetic structures that can traverse the viscous fluids of biological environments on their own. … > full story
Jan 8, 2014 GENEVA—With the implementation of tighter carbon emissions caps and more responsible household energy use, it is not too late to reverse the dire course of global warming, a panel of scientists who know full well that it is far too late and we are all doomed told reporters today. “If we all do our part right now to design and enforce more responsible business and environmental practices, there’s still a good chance we can avoid the calamitous consequences of worldwide climate change,” said climatologist Dr. Kevin Little, a man who, deep in his heart, knows all too acutely that it’s over, there’s not a damned thing we can do, and so we might as well just start preparing now for what is certain to be the unprecedented destruction of human civilization at the hands of a ravaged ecosystem. “It will take massive investment and cooperation on a global scale, but I’m optimistic we can be in good shape by around 2030 or so.” The researchers who awake each morning with the grim realization that they are bearing witness to mankind’s sad, inevitable endgame also suggested there is still very much a chance of stabilizing the rapid loss of Arctic sea ice.
Humanity’s most common male ancestor emerged earlier than thought: 209,000 years ago, study finds
(January 22, 2014) — Our most common male ancestor emerged some 209,000 years ago — earlier than many scientists previously thought, according to new research. … > full story
By JENNA WORTHAMJAN. 19, 2014
The home of the future — complete with helper bots and automated appliances — has long been the stuff of science fiction. The tech world is determined to make it a reality. Soon, the vision goes, everything from garden products to bathroom appliances will be controlled by the touch of a smartphone. Without setting foot in the door, a person headed home could turn off the security system and turn on the shower, and begin preheating the oven. The concept of outfitting everyday objects with sensors and connecting them to the web, often called the Internet of Things, has been brewing for several years. But the announcement last week that Google was paying $3 billion to acquire Nest, a maker of Internet-connected home products, put a sort of Good Housekeeping seal of approval on this nascent market…..
Headlines & Global News
– January 20, 2014
“Stop wasting your money on multivitamins and supplements. They aren’t doing a damn thing!” is the message researchers of a new study send out to all its readers.
Ingredients in chocolate, tea, berries could guard against diabetes
(January 20, 2014) — Eating high levels of flavonoids including anthocyanins and other compounds (found in berries, tea, and chocolate) could offer protection from type 2 diabetes — according to research. The study of almost 2,000 people showed that high intakes of these dietary compounds are associated with lower insulin resistance and better blood glucose regulation. … > full story
Cold air invades the Eastern U.S.
A frigid blast of Arctic air is pouring southeastwards across the eastern U.S. today, and will bring temperatures 15 – 25° below normal Wednesday and Thursday. The cold air brought several record lows for the date on Tuesday (-22°F at Gaylord, MI, and -13° at Flint, MI). At least one record low for the date has been set so far on Wednesday: a low temperature of -30°F in Massena, New York. However, this cold blast isn’t intense enough to set many records, since it is competing with one of the greatest cold waves in North American history: the great January 21, 1985 cold wave, one the two most intense cold waves on record. Wunderground’s weather historian Christopher C. Burt has a fascinating account of the records set in that historic event in his latest post, Anniversary of the Great Cold Wave of January 21, 1985. Chicago (-27°), Norfolk, VA (-3°), Jacksonville, FL (7°), and dozens of other major cities set their all-time cold records during the cold wave.
Figure 2. Departure of temperature from average at 2 meters (6.6′) as diagnosed by the GFS model at 00 UTC January 22, 2014. A strongly negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO) created a sharp kink in the jet stream (Figure 3), which allowed cold air to spill southwards out of the Arctic over the Eastern U.S. and Western Europe. Compensating warm air flowed northwards into the Arctic underneath ridges of high pressure over Alaska and Greenland. Data/image obtained using Climate Reanalyzer™ (http://cci-reanalyzer.org), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, Maine.
Figure 3. Winds at a height where the pressure is 250 mb show the axis of the jet stream, seen here at 00 UTC January 22, 2014. A sharp trough of low pressure was present over the Eastern U.S., and unusually strong ridges of high pressure were over the Western U.S. and the North Atlantic. Data/image obtained using Climate Reanalyzer™ (http://cci-reanalyzer.org), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, Maine.
(Bryan McGannon) – An owl spotted and photographed by Bryan McGannon on the15th street side of Mcpherson Square park. The typical winter migration for the snowy owl is along the southern border of Canada.
By Darryl Fears, Published: January 22 Washington Post
It appeared from seemingly out of nowhere, a great arctic snowy owl on a bitter cold Wednesday in the middle of downtown Washington. Pedestrians at rush hour stopped in their tracks. Was it some kind of omen?
Jan 8, 2014 – Scientists aren’t sure why snowy owls, who spent much of their lives … It’s unclear whether climate change is playing a role in this year’s owl display. …
by Wulff & Morgenthaler January 18, 2014
Ellie Cohen, President and CEO
Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO)
3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 11, Petaluma, CA 94954
Point Blue—Conservation science for a healthy planet.