Ecology, climate change and related news Jan 8 2016Leave a Comment
Focus of the Week – Global Warming Spurt; 15 numbers for 2015
2–CLIMATE CHANGE AND EXTREME EVENTS with special DROUGHT section
3– ADAPTATION and HOPE
The items contained in this update were drawn from www.dailyclimate.org, www.sciencedaily.com, http://news.google.com, www.climateprogress.org, www.sfgate.com, and many other online sources. This is a compilation of information available on-line, not verified and not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science. You can receive this news compilation by signing up for the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative Newsletter or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium listserve. You can also email me directly at ecohen at pointblue.org with questions or suggestions.
For more information on Point Blue, please see www.pointblue.org.
Focus of the Week– Global Warming Spurt; 15 numbers for 2015
High temperatures are bleaching corals, such as this bent sea rod off Florida.
Credit: U.S. Geological Survey/Flickr
Published: January 5th, 2016 By John Upton climatecentral.org
Cyclical changes in the Pacific Ocean have thrown earth’s surface into what may be an unprecedented warming spurt, following a global warming slowdown that lasted about 15 years. While El Niño is being blamed for an outbreak of floods, storms and unseasonable temperatures across the planet, a much slower-moving cycle of the Pacific Ocean has also been playing a role in record-breaking warmth. The recent effects of both ocean cycles are being amplified by climate change.
A 2014 flip was detected in the sluggish and elusive ocean cycle known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO, which also goes by other names, including the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation. Despite uncertainty about the fundamental nature of the PDO, leading scientists link its 2014 phase change to a rapid rise in global surface temperatures. The effects of the PDO on global warming can be likened to a staircase, with warming leveling off for periods, typically of more than a decade, and then bursting upward.
“It seems to me quite likely that we have taken the next step up to a new level,” said Kevin Trenberth, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.
The 2014 flip from the cool PDO phase to the warm phase, which vaguely resembles a long and drawn out El Niño event, contributed to record-breaking surface temperatures across the planet in 2014. The record warmth set in 2014 was surpassed again in 2015, when global temperatures surged to 1°C (1.8°F) above pre-industrial averages, worsening flooding, heatwaves and storms.
Trenberth is among an informal squadron of scientists that in recent years has toiled to understand the slowdown in surface warming rates that began in the late 1990s, which some nicknamed a global warming “pause” or “hiatus.” A flurry of recent research papers has indicated that the slowdown was less pronounced than previously thought, leading some scientists to renew claims that those nicknames are inaccurate and should be abandoned. “The slowdown was not statistically significant, I suppose, if you properly take into account natural variability, which includes the PDO,” Trenberth said. “That’s sort of the argument that people have been making; that even if it was a little bit of a slowdown, or pause, or call it what you will, it’s not out of bounds, and as a result we shouldn’t really put a label on it.”
The approximately 15-year warming slowdown was linked to the negative phase of the PDO, which is also called its cool phase. That phase whips up strong trade winds that bury more heat beneath sea surfaces, contributing to extraordinary levels of warming recorded in the oceans. A similar phase led to a slight cooling of the planet from the 1940s to the 1970s.
Cold PDO phases have a blue background; warm phases are red. Credit: Essay by Kevin Trenburth, “Has there been a hiatus?,” which was published in Science in August.
“Last time we went from a negative to a positive was in the mid-’70s,” said Gerald Meehl, a National Center for Atmospheric Research scientist. “Then we had larger rates of global warming from the ’70s to the late ’90s, compared to the previous 30 years.” “It’s not just an upward sloping line,” Meehl said. “Sometimes it’s steeper, sometimes it’s slower.”
The effects of the warm phase of the PDO and the current El Niño may be cumulative in terms of warming the planet. It also seems likely that changes in the ocean cycles are linked, with changes between El Niño and La Niña driving changes in the PDO cycle. Or, perhaps the PDO doesn’t exist at all, other than as a tidy pile of data points, and it’s simply a manifestation of changes in the shorter-running cycle between El Niño and La Niña.
“There’s some debate about whether there is a low frequency oscillation — is there a distinct interdecadal oscillation?” said Penn State meteorology professor Michael Mann. “Or is what we call a low frequency oscillation just a change over time in the frequency and magnitude of individual El Niño and La Niña events?” Regardless, “it seems pretty clear that we’ve transitioned from a time period where there was a prevalence for La Niña conditions,” Mann said. “Over the past several years we’ve been in the multi-year El Niño state, and it has culminated with an extremely large El Niño event.”
The future of PDO phases will not slow down or speed up the overall long-term rate of global warming. That will continue to rise with pollution levels. But scientists are expecting more intense heat during the months ahead, which should bring with it more wild weather. “There are a lot of things in place that have locked us on course to have a really warm start to 2016,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist Nate Mantua. “I have a hard time seeing how we’re not going to be looking at either record level or near-record level global mean surface temperatures for at least the first half of 2016.”
December 22, 2105
As the year draws to a close, Carbon Brief takes a look at 2015’s top climate stories through the medium of numbers. Here are our top 15. [excerpts below—go here to see all the graphics with it]
Over the last 12 months, after years of taking the back seat, the idea of a 1.5C limit to global temperatures made steps into the limelight. The UN concluded its review of the 2C vs 1.5C debate, suggesting that the lower limit would be “preferable”. A study found that the 1.5C target was still technically possible, though difficult. A guest post by Prof Myles Allen looks at the chances and the challenge ahead, while Carbon Brief also captured the views of a broad range of scientists.
The mounting pressure paid off, with the 1.5C goal recognised in the final UN climate deal. So unexpected was its inclusion that climate scientists were “caught napping”, says Prof Piers Forster, in another guest post which surveys the task ahead of finding pathways towards the lower limit, and the specific benefits of this long sought-after goal.
Over the course of the year, 188 countries submitted their “intended nationally determined contributions”, or INDCs, to the UN….
The release of Pope Francis’ 184-page encyclical in June brought with it a heightened interest in the subject of climate change, and not just among the world’s 1.2bn Catholics. The document, called Laudato Si’, contained strong words from the Pontiff on issues including urbanisation, the destruction of nature and carbon markets.
<$50 a barrel
Oil prices have continued to surprise in 2015. After starting around $50 a barrel, prices rose slowly before plumbing new depths as the year end approaches. The International Energy Agency said fuel efficient vehicles and reduced oil subsidies were helping create a “new normal” of sluggish demand despite low prices. Carbon Brief took an early look at what $50 oil might mean for the global energy mix, as well as climate and energy policy back in the UK, where cheaper gas has also played a part in coal use reaching historic lows.
In Indonesia, 2015 will be remembered as the year that their forests went up in flame with even more ferocity than usual. Peat fires, resulting largely from illegal “slash and burn” clearance techniques, spread rapidly in dry conditions related to 2015’s strong El Niño, and released 1.6bn tonnes of greenhouse gases. In just six weeks, this bumped Indonesia up from sixth to fourth place in terms of largest emitting countries, putting it ahead of Russia [#1 China, #2 US, #3 India, #4 Indonesia, #5 Russia]…..
1 in 6 species
Climate change will accelerate the speed at which species become extinct, according to a review of scientific papers released in April. Scientists found that as many as 16%, or one in six, of plants and animals would be under threat of dying out if global temperatures should rise by 4C. The risks increase exponentially as the planet warms. The study found that South American species have the highest extinction risk at 23%, followed by Australia and New Zealand’s at 14%.
Predicted extinction rates from climate change by region and group. Credit: Rosamund Pearce, Carbon Brief, based on data from Urban (2015).
Consumption of meat in Europe is twice as high as healthy levels, and this is bad for the climate, according to a Chatham House study released in November. Global demand for meat is predicted to rise by 76% by the middle of the century, which could put upward pressure on greenhouse gas emissions. But it wasn’t all bad news, with the study’s authors suggesting that government action to nudge people towards sustainable diets would not be as politically toxic as is often assumed.
This year, the nations of the world collectively agreed to aim for zero, or more precisely net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is firmly based in climate science, but its adoption was still unexpected. Over the course of the year, the aim has been expressed in different ways. The G7 called for complete decarbonisation. The Vatican wanted zero carbon. COP21 briefly flirted with emissions neutrality. In the end though, the long-term goal of the final Paris climate deal is a “balance” between greenhouse gas emissions and sinks. That’s zero to you and me.
1C of warming
Scientists have said they expect 2015 to be the first year where the global annual average temperature surpasses 1C above pre-industrial levels. As the halfway point of the 2C limit embedded in international climate policy, this is a significant milestone for the planet. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says we’ve just had the hottest five-year period on record. While this year’s El Niño was responsible for boosting 2015 temperatures higher than usual, scientists told Carbon Brief that it’s only a matter of time until temperatures rise beyond 1C more permanently. Indeed, the Met Office has already forecast that 2016 will surpass previous records to become the hottest ever year.
0.6% fall in emissions
During the second week of COP21 [UN Climate talks] in Paris, scientists announced that global emissions look set to fall by 0.6% this year on the back of reductions in Chinese coal use. After a decade of rapid increases, there’s now growing evidence that emissions have stalled worldwide, while UK emissions are falling through the floor. However, this is unlikely to signal a peak in global emissions just yet, the researchers caution. The shift could mark a turning point for climate efforts, though even if the stalling of emissions is maintained, the world would remain a long way from its zero-emissions goal.
9 lowest ice extents
The nine lowest September ice extents in the Arctic have all occurred in the last nine years — a sign of the impact that climate change is having on the northernmost part of the planet.
This summer, the Arctic saw its fourth lowest summer minimum on record, with ice shrinking to 4.41m square kilometers on the 11 September, according to the US-based National Snow and Ice Data Center….
341.4mm of rain
Storm Desmond swept across the UK in early December, bringing a 24-hour record 341.4mm of rain in Cumbria, flooded homes and a renewed debate over the role of climate change in UK flooding. Carbon Brief wrapped up the media response and scientists’ views. The year also brought record-breaking winds in the form of October’s 200mph Hurricane Patricia, though this caused less damage than March’s 190mph Hurricane Pam. Are these powerful storms linked to global warming? August’s 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina offered a chance for Carbon Brief to reflect on the latest science.
In this Dec. 16, 2009, photo, steam and smoke rise from a coal burning power plant in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Martin Meissner/AP)
By Chris Mooney January 7 at 2:36 PM
A group of 24 geoscientists on Thursday released a bracing assessment, suggesting that humans have altered the Earth so extensively that the consequences will be detectable in current and future geological records. They therefore suggest that we should consider the Earth to have moved into a new geologic epoch, the “Anthropocene,” sometime circa 1945-1964. The current era (at least under present definitions), known as the Holocene, began about 11,700 years ago, and was marked by warming and large sea level rise coming out of a major cool period, the Younger Dryas. However, the researchers suggest, changes ranging from growing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to infusions of plastics into marine sediments suggest that we’ve now left the Holocene decisively behind — and that the proof is already being laid down in polar ice cores, deep ocean sediments, and future rocks themselves. “In a way it’s a thought experiment,” said Naomi Oreskes, a geologically trained Harvard historian of science and one of the study’s authors. “We’re imagining what a future geologist will see when he or she looks at the rock record. But it’s not that difficult a thought experiment to do, because so many of these signals are already present.” The paper was published Thursday in the journal Science and was led by Colin Waters, a geologist with the British Geological Survey. “Quite unlike other subdivisions of geological time, the implication of formalizing the Anthropocene reach well beyond the geological community,” the authors conclude. “Not only would this represent the first instance of a new epoch having been witnessed firsthand by advanced human societies, it would be one stemming from the consequences of their own doing.”…
Posted: 07 Jan 2016 12:17 PM PST
Evidence for a new geological epoch which marks the impact of human activity on the Earth is now overwhelming, according to a recent paper by an international group of geoscientists.
Colin N. Waters, et al. The Anthropocene is functionally and stratigraphically distinct from the Holocene.
Science, 2016: 351 (6269) DOI: 10.1126/science.aad2622
American dipper alongside mountain stream. Credit: Ohio State University
Posted: 28 Dec 2015 09:46 AM PST
A songbird species that flourishes on the salmon-rich side of dams in the western United States struggles when it tries to nest on the side closed off from the fish and the nutrients they leave behind. But the songbird and the rest of the divided ecosystem rebounds, faster than some experts expected, when dams come down and rivers are allowed to resume their natural flow….In one study, the researchers documented that American dippers with access to salmon were in better physical condition and more likely to attempt multiple broods of offspring in a season. They also produced larger female offspring and were more likely to stay in breeding territories year-round. The research, published early online, will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Ecography….Tonra and his colleagues spent four years in Washington’s Olympic National Park and surrounding tribal, federal and private lands. The Elwha River winds through the park and is the site of the largest dam removal in history. Crews started tearing down the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams in 2011 and concluded in 2014, freeing the path for migratory fish for the first time in a century. Salmon, which do most of their growing in the ocean, carry marine-derived nitrogen and carbon back into freshwater systems when they return to spawn and die. They benefit animals and plants, whether through direct consumption or because nutrients find their way into plants and other food, including larval mayflies and other insects for which the dipper dives.
“They’re truly fertilizing the river and so that makes its way all the way up through the food chain,” Tonra said….
Christopher M. Tonra, Kimberly Sager-Fradkin, Sarah A. Morley, Jeffrey J. Duda, Peter P. Marra. The rapid return of marine-derived nutrients to a freshwater food web following dam removal. Biological Conservation, 2015; 192: 130 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2015.09.009
This is an underwater photo of gravel bottom of Yellowstone Lake and varved sediment core. Credit: J. Schmidt, 1977
Posted: 06 Jan 2016 08:47 AM PST
An increase in human activities and nutrient release have led to the current rise in the number of hypoxic lakes worldwide, new research shows. The international research team has found out that the onset of lacustrine hypoxia is mainly due to direct and local anthropogenic impacts rather than to recent climate change… These hypoxic lakes are in general located in areas with higher human population density and more nutrient emissions (related to a greater coverage of urban and cultivated areas) than naturally hypoxic sites (those with hypoxia going back more than 300 years). No correlations were found with changes in precipitation or temperature.
Also, even though aquatic rehabilitation programs established since the 1980s in European and North-American countries have succeeded in reducing the influx of nutrients to lakes and subsequent eutrophication, the persistence of hypoxia over the last decades in lakes indicates a weak resilience of freshwater ecosystems which could be worsened by current climate warming.
J-P. Jenny, P. Francus, A. Normandeau, F. Lapointe, M-E. Perga, A.E.K. Ojala, A. Schimmelmann, B. Zolitschka. Global spread of hypoxia in freshwater ecosystems during the last three centuries is caused by rising local human pressure. Global Change Biology, 2015; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13193
Posted: 06 Jan 2016 06:37 PM PST
Salmon are the primary summer food source for an endangered population of killer whales in the Pacific Northwest, according to an analysis of fish DNA in killer whale feces.…
Posted: 06 Jan 2016 11:30 AM PST
The Endangered Species Act (ESA), which quietly passed its 42nd birthday last week, has shielded hundreds of species in the United States from extinction and dramatically achieved full recovery for a celebrated few. Flexibility of implementation is one of the ESA’s great strengths, allowing for adaptation in response to new knowledge and changing social and environmental conditions. In a report released by the Ecological Society of America today, 18 conservation researchers and practitioners propose six broad strategies to raise the effectiveness of the ESA for endangered species recovery, based on a thorough review of the scientific literature on the status and performance of the law. ….In “Species recovery in the United States: increasing the effectiveness of the Endangered Species Act,” the 20th report in the Ecological Society’s peer-reviewed series Issues in Ecology, Evans and colleagues recommend that the administering federal agencies, state natural resource management agencies, Native American tribes, and their conservation partners:
- Establish and consistently apply a system for prioritizing recovery funding to maximize strategic outcomes for listed species
- Strengthen partnerships for species recovery
- Promote more monitoring and consistently implement and refine approaches for adaptive management
- Refine methods to develop recovery criteria based on the best available science
- Use climate-smart conservation strategies
- Evaluate and develop ecosystem-based approaches that can increase the efficiency of managing for recovery
“By adopting these strategies, conservation managers, policymakers, scientists, and the public can use the ESA more effectively and efficiently to save species at risk,” said Evans.
The report can be found at: http://www.esa.org/esa/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Issue20.pdf
Posted: 07 Jan 2016 03:49 PM PST
Private landowners and managers tend to shy away from the use of prescribed fire for maintaining rangeland and forest ecosystems in spite of the known benefits due to the potential liability factor, according to a study. This is a concern, reports a new article, as fire has historically played an important role in achieving land management objectives, and eliminating its use could have detrimental effects…. Prescribed burning is regulated by state law and states apply one of three liability standards to lawsuits involving prescribed burns: strict liability, simple negligence and gross negligence….She said ecologists and land managers could better prepare and motivate stakeholder groups who influence prescribed fire policies with this understanding of how policy regulations and liability concerns create legal barriers inhibiting the implementation of effective ecosystem management strategies. “Our results show that private landowners are more likely to use prescribed fire for managing their properties and burn a greater proportion of private land in counties where their state has adopted gross negligence liability standards, compared with landowners in counties who are subjected to state-mandated simple negligence legal standards,” Wonkka said. Regulatory requirements, such as adequate firebreaks, personnel, equipment, written burn plans and certified prescribed burn managers on-site do not decrease the amount of burning on private land, Wonkka said. “In fact, these types of regulations, in conjunction with lower liability, will make prescribed fire more available to landowners and managers while providing some safety assurances for neighbors,” she said.///
- Carissa L. Wonkka, William E. Rogers, Urs P. Kreuter. Legal barriers to effective ecosystem management: exploring linkages between liability, regulations, and prescribed fire. Ecological Applications, 2015; 25 (8): 2382 DOI: 10.1890/14-1791.1
Posted: 06 Jan 2016 06:15 AM PST
New research has revealed how the heart is one of the major factors which determine whether a fish lives or dies in oceanic Dead Zones. Researchers say the findings may explain why some fish are able to survive harsh environmental conditions better than others.The research may help in the battle to understand why fish stocks dwindle in polluted marine environments with low oxygen levels – known as hypoxia.
This barn swallow has been fitted with a geolocator, a device that will record its movements as it migrates to South America. Credit: Woodland Park Zoo
Posted: 04 Jan 2016 05:05 AM PST
Two complementary methods work together in a study producing more refined estimates of where individual barn swallows spend the winter. Using the methods separately comes with tradeoffs — one lets researchers precisely track a handful of birds, while the other provides data for larger numbers but with less detail — but together, they provide a fuller picture of an intercontinental migration.…
Their solution was to combine isotope analysis, which involves sampling the isotopes of elements in birds’ feathers for clues about where the birds were when those feathers grew, with a geolocator study, where birds are fitted with small devices that calculate and record their location based on daylight–the catch being that the birds have to be recaptured when they return in order to download the data….
Keith A. Hobson, Kevin J. Kardynal. An isotope (δ34S) filter and geolocator results constrain a dual feather isoscape (δ2H, δ13C) to identify the wintering grounds of North American Barn Swallows. The Auk, 2015; 133 (1): 86 DOI: 10.1642/AUK-15-149.1
An example of Arctic zooplankton – a planktonic copepod
Posted: 07 Jan 2016 11:04 AM PST
A few months ago, researchers reported the surprising discovery that marine creatures living in one Arctic fjord keep busy through the permanently dark and frigid winter months. Now, a report extends this activity to the whole of the Arctic. They also find that, in the absence of any sunlight, it’s the moon that drives the vertical migrations of tiny marine animals.… In winter, zooplankton’s vertical migrations take place when the moon rises above the horizon, the researchers report. In addition to this daily cycle, they also discovered a mass sinking of zooplankton from the surface waters to a depth of about 50 meters every 29.5 days in the winter, coinciding with the full moon.
“The most surprising finding is that these migrations are not rare or isolated to just a few places,” Last says. “The acoustic database used for our analysis cumulatively spans 50 years of data from moorings that cover much of the Arctic Ocean. The occurrences of lunar migrations happen every winter at all sites, even under sea ice with snow cover on top.” The findings have implications for the carbon cycle, which is particularly important in light of climate change. “The daily vertical migration of zooplankton contributes significantly to the carbon pump by moving fixed carbon from the surface into the deep ocean,” Last explains. “Since there is no photosynthesis during the polar night, carbon is only moved into the deep by predators feeding on prey.“…
Kim S. Last, Laura Hobbs, Jørgen Berge, Andrew S. Brierley, Finlo Cottier. Moonlight Drives Ocean-Scale Mass Vertical Migration of Zooplankton during the Arctic Winter. Current Biology, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.11.038
NOAA is building out a network of sound-gathering stations along both U.S. coasts. (David Pierce/KQED)
January 4, 2016 KQED
When one of the world’s largest container ships passed under the Golden Gate Bridge on New Year’s Eve, it raised the curtain on a new era for West Coast container ports — and raised new anxiety for marine biologists.
Scientists have long been concerned about the impacts of noise pollution on undersea ecosystems. A wide variety of marine animals, from whales to snapping shrimp, depend on sound to navigate, communicate, and even survive. “At a very basic level, we know that these animals use sound as we use light,” says Brandon Southall, a marine consultant and research associate at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “It’s their fundamental essential mode of communication.”…
Posted: 07 Jan 2016 06:41 AM PST
Dinosaurs engaged in mating behavior similar to modern birds, leaving the fossil evidence behind in 100 million year old rocks, according to new research. Ancient fossilized scrapes recently discovered are similar to a behavior known as ‘nest scrape display’ or ‘scrape ceremonies’ among modern birds, where males show off their ability to provide by excavating pseudo nests for potential mates. This new fossil evidence supports theories about the nature of dinosaur mating displays and the evolutionary driver known as ‘sexual selection.’…
Posted: 05 Jan 2016 07:35 PM PST
The Large Hadron Collider found success in a simple idea: invest in a laboratory that no one institution could sustain on their own and then make it accessible for physicists around the world. Astronomers have done the same with telescopes, while neuroscientists are collaborating to build brain imaging observatories. Now, agricultural researchers present their vision for how a similar idea could work for them. Rather than a single laboratory, the authors want to open a network of research stations across Europe–from a field in Scotland to an outpost in Sicily. Not only would this provide investigators with easy access to a range of different soil properties, temperatures, and atmospheric conditions to study plant/crop growth, it would allow more expensive equipment (for example, open-field installations to create artificial levels of carbon dioxide) to be a shared resource. “Present field research facilities are aimed at making regional agriculture prosperous,” says co-author Hartmut Stützel of Leibniz Universität Hannover in Germany. “To us, it is obvious that the ‘challenges’ of the 21st century–productivity increase, climate change, and environmental sustainability–will require more advanced research infrastructures covering a wider range of environments.”…
Hartmut Stützel, Nicolas Brüggemann, Dirk Inzé. The Future of Field Trials in Europe: Establishing a Network Beyond Boundaries. Trends in Plant Science, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2015.12.003
Researchers in China studied the co-application of manures and chemical nitrogen fertilizers in high-input greenhouses. They said the environmental risks may outweigh the benefits. Credit: Photo courtesy of Zhi Quan.
Posted: 04 Jan 2016 01:37 PM PST
Scientists investigated the impact of co-application of manures with chemical N fertilizer on N accumulation and loss in a greenhouse rotationally planted with cucumber or tomato and lettuce. Application of manures slowed acidification but accelerated salinization of fertile greenhouse soil, and did not significantly enhance aboveground fresh biomass and biomass N in most vegetable seasons. High-rate application of manures resulted in high accumulation of nonextractable N and leachable N, consequently intensifying leaching-dominated N loss.
Researchers have discovered 20 new species of freshwater fish during field work in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia. Credit: The University of Melbourne
Posted: 06 Jan 2016 08:07 AM PST
Researchers have discovered a record 20 new fish species while conducting fieldwork in the remote Kimberley, unveiling it as Australia’s most biodiverse region for freshwater fish.
Posted: 06 Jan 2016 08:07 AM PST
In October, an interdisciplinary group of scientists proposed forming a Unified Microbiome Initiative (UMI) to explore the world of microorganisms that are central to life on Earth and yet largely remain a mystery. A new article describes the tools scientists will need to understand how microbes interact with each other and with us.
Posted: 05 Jan 2016 12:09 PM PST
Certain mosquitoes are more likely to lay eggs in water sources near flowers than in water sources without flowers, according to a new article.
Posted: 05 Jan 2016 07:17 AM PST
Consumer food waste carries the highest environmental impact compared to losses earlier in the food chain, and it is no longer a problem concentrated only in higher income countries. How can household food waste be reduced? The proper answer might come from more research to identify which communication and marketing initiatives work better to decrease waste….He concluded that additional studies aimed at testing the impact of communication initiatives on behavioral change are needed. Also, a standardized methodology to measure consumer food waste is necessary. These paths for further research would benefit public policies aimed at increasing the awareness of food waste, and would contribute to more effective nutritional education initiatives since messages could be framed based on insights tested in scientific studies. “If we consider that wasting edible food might contribute to infringing on opportunities for others to feed themselves, then there is a link between this phenomena and hunger relief programs,” says Porpino.
Gustavo Porpino. Household food waste behavior: avenues for future research. Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, Volume 1, Issue 1 (January 2016)
POINT BLUE and PARTNERS in the NEWS:
An evening scene looking west across a flooded section of Cullinan Ranch soon after the levee had been breached. (Photo by Beth Huning, SF Bay Joint Venture)
Paddlers and Ducks Return to Cullinan Ranch
by Paul McHugh on January 04, 2016 Bay Nature Magazine
A restored tidal marsh might be described as a primal mud pie, rich and fertile enough to sprout a meringue of fresh toppings. An array of native critters is then lured to the meal, where they proceed to feed, nest, roost, and breed as in ages past. The shoreline of San Francisco Bay’s northernmost lobe—called San Pablo Bay—has begun to dish out an ample buffet of such sites. The result is a swath of refreshed habitat that forms a major way station for waterfowl on the Pacific Flyway in the near term and will provide the Bay Area with one of its last, best chances for helping wildlife adapt to climate change and sea level rise over the long term. Cullinan Ranch, recently opened for public visitation as part of the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, is a crucial link in the midst of this lush, gold-green arc of pickleweed, cordgrass, brush, and brackish water stretching from the broad estuary of the Petaluma River to the Napa River’s eastern bank. On a bright, clear Saturday morning in late September, three people drove out to Cullinan to savor the result of a decades-long effort to escort nature back onto tidelands where it had once reigned supreme. “Soon, this whole region will be a birding mecca,” predicted Megan Elrod, a field biologist with Point Blue Conservation Science, one of the groups that advised the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) on the Cullinan restoration. “This site is already on people’s radar. We just need the plants to take hold, the sloughs to form, and more public access points like this one.”…..
Wildlife Question of the Week– CA BLM
When garter snakes are threatened, they:
(a.) Roll up in a ball and play dead, somewhat like an opossum
(b.) Drop part of their tails as a decoy, somewhat like certain lizards
(c.) Spit a caustic substance from its mouth, that can burn skin
(d.) Release a foul-smelling musk, somewhat like a skunk
(e.) Watch their lives flash before their eyes, and regret all the times they didn’t listen to their mothers
Keep reading for answer below
2015 (Jan. – Dec.) Divisional Average Temperature Ranks (Credit: NOAA/NCDC)
2015 (Jan. – Dec.) Divisional Precipitation Ranks (Credit: NOAA/NCDC)
Nation experienced 10 weather, climate disasters each exceeding $1 billion
January 7, 2016
The 2015 annual average U.S. temperature was 54.4°F, 2.4°F above the 20th century average, the second warmest year on record. Only 2012 was warmer for the U.S. with an average temperature of 55.3°F. This is the 19th consecutive year the annual average temperature exceeded the 20th century average. The first part of the year was marked by extreme warmth in the West and cold in the East, but by the end of 2015, record warmth spanned the East with near-average temperatures across the West. This temperature pattern resulted in every state having an above-average annual temperature.
The average contiguous U.S. precipitation was 34.47 inches, 4.53 inches above average, and ranked as the third wettest year in the 121-year period of record. Only 1973 and 1983 were wetter. The central and southeastern U.S. was much wetter than average, while parts of the West and Northeast were drier than average. The national drought footprint shrank about 10 percent during the course of the year.
In 2015, there were 10 weather and climate disaster events in the U.S. each with losses exceeding $1 billion. These events included a drought, two floods, five severe storms, a wildfire event and a winter storm. Overall, these resulted in the deaths of 155 people and had significant economic effects. Further cost figures on individual events in 2015 will be updated when data are finalized later this year….
by Kiley Kroh Dec 26, 2015
…At least 2,693 record daily highs were tied or broken across the U.S. during the first 23 days of December… There was no white Christmas for the eastern half of the U.S. this year, far from it in fact. Record high holiday temperatures in several states — 86 degrees in Tampa, Florida, 83 degrees in Houston, Texas, 67 degrees in Boston, Massachusetts, 68 degrees in Burlington, Vermont and 66 degrees in New York City, just to name a few — are an exclamation point on the end of what will be the globe’s hottest year to date. The heat is adding fuel to severe weather in several states, storms that turned deadly across the South. …
These are rivers of meltwater forming on the Greenland ice sheet and flowing toward the sea.
Credit: Dirk van As, Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), Copenhagen, Denmark.
What scientists just discovered in Greenland could be making sea-level rise even worse
By Chelsea Harvey January 4 2016 Washington Post
Rising global temperatures may be affecting the Greenland ice sheet — and its contribution to sea-level rise — in more serious ways that scientists imagined, a new study finds. Recent changes to the island’s snow and ice cover appear to have affected its ability to store excess water, meaning more melting ice may be running off into the ocean than previously thought.
That’s worrying news for the precarious Greenland ice sheet, which scientists say has already lost more than 9 trillions tons of ice in the past century — and whose melting rate only continues to increase as temperatures keep warming. NASA estimates that the Greenland ice sheet is losing about 287 billion tons of ice every year, partly due to surface melting and partly due to the calving of large chunks of ice. Because of the ice sheet’s potential to significantly raise sea levels as it runs into the ocean, scientists have been keeping a close eye on it — and anything that might affect how fast it’s melting. The new study, published Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, focuses on a part of the ice sheet known as “firn” — a porous layer of built-up snow that slowly freezes into ice over time. It’s considered an important part of the ice sheet because of its ability to trap and store excess water before it’s able to run off the surface of the glacier, an essential service that helps mitigate the sea-level rise that would otherwise be caused by the runoff water.
Horst Machguth, Mike MacFerrin, Dirk van As, Jason E. Box, Charalampos Charalampidis, William Colgan, Robert S. Fausto, Harro A. J. Meijer, Ellen Mosley-Thompson, Roderik S. W. van de Wal. Greenland meltwater storage in firn limited by near-surface ice formation. Nature Climate Change, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2899
Maximum sea ice extent on 25 February was 15 days earlier than average and the lowest value on record (1979-present). Minimum ice extent in September was the 4th lowest on record. Sea ice continues to be younger and thinner: in February and March 2015 there was twice as much first-year ice as there was 30 years ago. Changes in sea ice alone are having profound effects on the marine ecosystem (fishes, walruses, primary production) and sea surface temperatures.
Posted: 04 Jan 2016 01:32 PM PST
A new study of how the structure of the ocean has changed since the end of the last ice age suggest that the melting of a vast ‘lid’ of sea ice caused the release of huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
By Jon Erdman January 3 2016 weather.com
What effect will a disappearing El Niño have on the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season? Wait, you may rightly ask. Isn’t the current El Niño one of the strongest on record? Indeed it is. But, as expected, this one appears to have reached its peak in late 2015, and is expected to weaken substantially or disappear altogether by the start of the hurricane season. El Niño likely played a significant suppressing role in the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season. Dr. Phil Klotzbach, tropical scientist at Colorado State University, found June through October Caribbean wind shear was the highest on record dating to 1979. Klotzbach also said the magnitude of dry air over the Caribbean Sea in the peak season month of August and September also set a record. These two factors contributed to the demise of five named storms tracking near the Caribbean Sea from mid-August through September: Hurricane Danny, Tropical Storm Erika, Hurricane Fred, Tropical Storm Grace and Tropical Storm Ida. Despite that, Hurricane Joaquin was the first Category 4 or stronger hurricane to make an October strike on the Bahamas since 1866. With only 11 named storms in the 2015 Atlantic season, it marked the first time in 21 years to have two consecutive below-average named storm seasons, according to Klotzbach. So, let’s take a look at past hurricane seasons following strong El Niños to see if we can gain any insight….
University of Delaware researchers are working to better understand foraging competition between Adelie and Gentoo penguins. Credit: Chris Linder
Posted: 07 Jan 2016 06:41 AM PST
Oceanographers consider whether Adelie penguins and gentoo penguins — newcomers to the Palmer Station region over the last two decades — may be competing for the same food resources and whether this might exacerbate the Adelie population decline.
For hundreds of years, Adélie penguins have been breeding in the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP), which has recently become one of the most rapidly warming areas on Earth. At Palmer Station, a U.S. research base located along the WAP, scientists have been monitoring Adélie penguin population declines for decades. There were 15,000 breeding pairs of Adélie penguins in 1975; but today only a few thousand pairs are left. Now, in a study reported in the Nature publication Scientific Reports, University of Delaware oceanographers consider whether Adélie penguins and gentoo penguins — newcomers to the Palmer Station region over the last two decades — may be competing for the same food resources and whether this might exacerbate the Adélie population decline. An ecological theory called the competitive exclusion principle, also known as Gause’s law, states that “two species that compete for the exact same resources cannot stably coexist.”… Both penguin species are capable of foraging as deep as 150 meters below the ocean surface, yet over the study period, the Adélies foraged in the upper 50 meters of the water and they didn’t change their behavior at all when their foraging area overlapped with the gentoos. The gentoos, however, often foraged as deep as 150 meters when in overlapping areas. The researchers theorize this may be a strategy to limit competition….While recent theories have suggested that increased competition for krill is a main driver of Adélie penguin population declines, the oceanographers suspect the Adélie declines along the WAP may be more likely due to direct and indirect climate impacts on their life histories….Adélie penguins are migratory and leave their breeding colony in winter and stay out at sea. Gentoo penguins are non-migratory and remain at the breeding colony all winter. “It is cool to see that two species can exist in very close quarters — less than 20 kilometers apart — and have different foraging habitats. But if their winter habitats are changing as well, for better or worse, it will likely have a direct effect on their population and how many penguins come back to breed each season,” Cimino said.
Posted: 04 Jan 2016 10:04 AM PST
Climate-sensitive regions in the north are home to most of the world’s lakes. New research shows that these northern freshwaters are critical emitters of methane, a more effective greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
A new study by a team researchers including U of T Scarborough Professor Myrna Simpson reveals that as global temperatures rise the organic matter in forests appear to be breaking down more quickly, accelerating the release of carbon into the atmosphere. Credit: U of T Scarborough
Posted: 07 Jan 2016 07:48 AM PST
As global temperatures rise, the organic matter in forests appears to break down more quickly, which is accelerating the release of carbon into the atmosphere, according to new research.
Forests can store as much as 45 percent of the world’s terrestrial carbon, making them a critical part of the process of regulating climate change. As global temperatures rise, though, the organic matter in forests appears to break down more quickly, accelerating the release of carbon into the atmosphere.
This surprising conclusion comes out of a long-term study that was intended to find means to mitigate global warming, not exacerbate it. “Our question was, ‘How much carbon can the soil hold?'” says UTSC professor of environmental chemistry, Myrna Simpson. “But in our experiments, we found that soil was not the limiting factor. We couldn’t even get to the carbon saturation point.”…”The scientific community widely accepts that soil organic matter chemistry is tied to inputs,” she says. “But we were surprised to see that all of our litter manipulation resulted in accelerated breakdown of organic matter.” Climate change could lead to “more productive” forests — bigger trees and more vegetation. This productivity would naturally increase the amount of litter, and therefore the amount of carbon sinking into the soil in the form of organic matter. But in a paper published recently in the journal Biogeochemistry, Simpson and her co-authors describe how they simulated this change by doubling the amount of litter in sections of the forest in the hope that the soil could absorb more carbon. Instead, the increased litter stimulated bacterial and fungal activity. Organic matter broke down more quickly, eliminating any carbon storage benefit and releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere. “Altering the litter did more harm than good,” Simpson says. “Ours was a human manipulation, but it could as easily be altered through climate change.”…
Oliva Pisani, Serita D. Frey, André J. Simpson, Myrna J. Simpson. Soil warming and nitrogen deposition alter soil organic matter composition at the molecular-level. Biogeochemistry, 2015; 123 (3): 391 DOI: 10.1007/s10533-015-0073-8
Posted: 06 Jan 2016 11:30 AM PST
Drought and extreme heat events slashed cereal harvests in recent decades by 9 percent to 10 percent on average in affected countries — and the impact of these weather disasters was greatest in the developed nations of North America, Europe and Australasia, according to a new study.
Xerces. Illustration by Andrew Holder.
Posted: 04 Jan 2016 09:53 AM PST
Study using UK data is first to show raising farm yields and reclaiming ‘spared’ land for woodlands and wetlands could offset greenhouse gas produced by farming to meet national target of 80 percent emissions reduction by 2050. Realizing this potential requires new polices promoting both sustainable increases in farm yields and sparing land for climate mitigation. Reducing meat consumption and food waste while also increasing yields and restoring woodland has even greater potential to reduce emissions….However, it is not all or nothing, say the researchers, who conducted lots of sensitivity analyses around different ways of using spared land, and different levels of yield growth, consumer waste, and meat consumption — which has a disproportionate environmental footprint “Reducing meat consumption appears to offer greater mitigation potential than reducing food waste, but more importantly, our results highlight the benefits of combining measures,” said Balmford.
“For example, coupling even moderate yield growth with land sparing and reductions in meat consumption has the technical potential to surpass an 80% reduction in net emissions,” he said. Added Balmford: “We need to turn our minds to figuring out policy mechanisms that can deliver sustainable high yield farming that doesn’t come at the expense of animal welfare, soil and water quality, as well as safeguarding and restoring habitats….
Anthony Lamb, Rhys Green, Ian Bateman, Mark Broadmeadow, Toby Bruce, Jennifer Burney, Pete Carey, David Chadwick, Ellie Crane, Rob Field, Keith Goulding, Howard Griffiths, Astley Hastings, Tim Kasoar, Daniel Kindred, Ben Phalan, John Pickett, Pete Smith, Eileen Wall, Erasmus K. H. J. zu Ermgassen, Andrew Balmford. The potential for land sparing to offset greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. Nature Climate Change, 2016; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2910
Posted: 07 Jan 2016 07:48 AM PST
Trees worldwide compete in some of the same ways, making simpler models of forest response to climate change possible, say researchers. The study demonstrated how ‘personal’ traits such as wood density and leaf morphology influence a tree species’ ability to compete.…
Latest figures from the Met Office show double the average amount of rain fell last month, with temperatures 4.1C higher than average
Damian Carrington Tuesday 5 January 2016 08.52 EST GuardianUK
December was the wettest month ever recorded in the UK, with almost double the rain falling than average, according to data released by the Met Office on Tuesday. Last month saw widespread flooding which continued into the new year, with 21 flood alerts in England and Wales and four in Scotland in force on Tuesday morning. The record for the warmest December in the UK was also smashed last month, with an average temperature of 7.9C, 4.1C higher than the long-term average. Climate change has fundamentally changed the UK weather, said Prof Myles Allen, at the University of Oxford: “Normal weather, unchanged over generations, is a thing of the past. You are not meant to beat records by those margins and if you do so, just like in athletics, it is a sign something has changed.”…
Posted: 07 Jan 2016 06:50 AM PST
Some corals may cope with climate change by changing markings on their DNA to modify what the DNA produces.
Relatively dry conditions persist in Southern California; Sierra Nevada snowfall best in years
Relatively little has changed since my last update, and so the present post will be a short one. A handful of modest weather systems have brought generally light precipitation and cold temperatures to parts of California over the past week or so, mostly in the north. While these systems did little to alleviate long-term water deficits, they did preferentially add some more water to the already healthy Sierra Nevada snowpack. In fact, statewide snow water equivalent is slightly above average for this calendar date–no small feat in a time of record global warmth and immediately following California’s most abysmal snow conditions in hundreds of years. Clearly, though, there is still a very (very) long way to go if California is going to see substantial drought relief this year. Fortunately, the short-term outlook is quite favorable.
Long-awaited East Pacific pattern change finally at our doorstep
The large-scale atmospheric shift I’ve been referencing in nearly every blog post from the past 6 months has finally materialized, and will make itself known in California as early as this weekend. As I discussed in my last post, tropical ocean/atmosphere phenomena (especially the MJO) were likely interfering with the massive atmospheric signal from the ongoing record El Niño event, largely preventing the typical East Pacific storm track enhancement from occurring. Well, that situation is rapidly changing as ENSO forcing becomes dominant, and the subtropical jet shifts southward and strengthens dramatically. This is the classic El Niño pattern that I have discussed in previous posts, with a powerful Pacific jet aimed either directly at or south of California.
The area along of just north of the jet stream is a favorable position for storm development and intensification. Usually, California is located near the regional minimum of jet stream strength as it veers northward, but the imminent pattern shift will create a situation in which storms are much more likely to maintain their open-ocean strength or even strengthen as the approach California from the west. There is very strong multi-model support for an extended period (of at least 3 weeks, starting on Sunday) of greatly enhanced storminess and widespread precipitation throughout California.
A powerful and likely El Niño-influenced subtropical jet will develop over and south of California, creating a favorable condition for significant precipitation. (NCEP via tropicaltidbits.com)
….Will there be transient ridging in between individual storm systems (I’ve been getting this question a lot lately)? Of course–troughs only exist relative to the ridges that separate them, and even in California’s wettest years short-lived ridges pop up between heavy rain events. But most promising part of the large-scale shift, in my view, is that virtually all model ensemble members keep a strong subtropical jet either over or south of California for the foreseeable future–meaning that the storm door will likely be open for some time to come. And what of El Niño itself? Well, it’s still a top-tier event on par with those which occurred during 1982-1983 and 1997-1998. It is quite clear that a powerful El Niño influence will remain in place for the rest of California’s rainy season.
\A remote motion-triggered camera recorded the hatching and growth of these two Gyrfalcon nestlings. Cameras have been set up in 13 different nests, and have captured more than 750,000 photographs for biologist Bryce Robinson to analyze. Photo: Gerrit Vyn
Robinson extracts an unfledged Gyrfalcon from its nest so it can be banded, weighed, and measured. His Gyr study is the largest ever conducted. Photo: Gerrit Vyn
By T. Edward Nickens Audubon Magazine January – February 2016
There was a slight complication the first time Bryce Robinson rappelled from the lip of a Seward Peninsula tundra cliff onto a ledge occupied by a family of Gyrfalcons. Robinson, a 29-year-old graduate student at Boise State University, sported a magnificent beard that reached to the second button of his flannel shirt….…. Such are the peculiarities of doing research in one of the world’s most extreme environments, on a bird that would just as soon defecate in your face as look at you. The Gyrfalcon is the largest falcon species on Earth, with a four-foot wingspan similar in size to that of a big buteo, like the Red-tailed Hawk. In the air, Gyrfalcons are a predatorial mash-up of Muhammad Ali and Floyd Mayweather, speedy and large enough to kill a fleeing Pin-tailed Duck in midair but agile enough to snatch a Lapland Longspur off a tundra tussock. The top avian predator of the tundra, they are handsome birds as well, typically gray and barred, although lighter-plumaged individuals can range to nearly pure white. Their demeanor and bearing have long made the species a favorite of falconers, so revered in the Middle Ages that only a king could hunt with a Gyr…. As tough as these birds may be, however, they survive at the delicate nexus between the frozen and the unfrozen world. Gyrfalcons range across the entire Arctic, covering North America, Europe, northern Russia, Greenland, and Iceland, and the species’ future is clouded by climate change and a shifting Arctic landscape. Warming temperatures threaten to mix up the timing of prey availability for the raptors, potentially making it harder for the birds to successfully reproduce. As Arctic seas open, shore-based freight facilities could imperil remote habitats, while an increase in high-latitude mining is already bringing more roads and people into the Gyrfalcon’s orbit. To learn how a changing Arctic might affect the nesting success of Gyrfalcons on the Seward Peninsula, Robinson is taking a close look at how the adult birds depend on different prey at various stages of the nesting season, from when they breed to when their grown chicks fledge. He has a critical question: Is a bird that has mastered some of the most challenging conditions on Earth resilient enough to weather a warming Arctic? While current populations are largely stable, many researchers fear a slide toward endangered status. These issues make the Gyrfalcon “the polar bear of the avian world,” says David Anderson, director of The Peregrine Fund‘s Tundra Conservation Network. “It is the top avian predator of this ecosystem, and when you see changes in the populations of the top predator, it’s a reflection of what’s going on at all the lower levels of the system.”
The realm of the Gyrfalcon was once a vast, frozen no-man’s-land cordoned off by a polar ice cap and unfathomable distance. No longer. Today half the world wants a piece of a fast-thawing Arctic….
The entire world population of Spectacled Eiders breeds in the Bering Sea. Photo: Aaron Lang/USFWS
By Scott Weidensaul Audubon Magazine January – February 2016
In 1741 Vitus Bering sailed his 14-gun, 360-ton brig St. Peter along the southern edge of the sea that would later bear his name. After reaching Alaska’s coast earlier that summer, Bering was trying to get back to Russian Kamchatka, from which he had started in June, ahead of winter’s gales…..Today the sea cows are long gone—eaten into extinction by the Russian fur hunters who followed Bering and Steller. But the birds remain, part of an extraordinarily rich pocket of life cradled between Alaska and Russia, rimmed by the Aleutians to the south and all but pinched off to the north by the Bering Strait, where the two landmasses are only about 50 miles apart. Nowhere else in North America, since the demise of the Passenger Pigeon, has it been possible to see so many birds. “Something like 80 or 85 percent of the United States’ seabirds nest in Alaskan waters, and most of those are in the Bering Sea,” said Nils Warnock, executive director of Audubon Alaska. In such a remote place, where researchers must travel thousands of miles by ship through choppy seas, it’s hard to nail down precise numbers. But by even the most conservative estimates, 40 million to 50 million seabirds nest here in more than 1,800 colonies. That total is believed to include 1.4 million Northern Fulmars, 6.7 million Fork-tailed and Leach’s Storm-petrels, 2.2 million Thick-billed Murres, 9 million Least Auklets, and more.
Come spring the volume doubles when an additional 40 million to 45 million seabirds, including Laysan Albatrosses from Hawaii and Short-tailed Shearwaters from Australia, arrive to feed during their non-breeding season. Nourished by the waters’ abundant fish, squid, and other sea creatures, most of the Bering’s seabirds appear to be doing okay—at least for now. But across the world, seabirds are in trouble. One study published last year documented a nearly 70 percent decline in global populations between 1950 and 2010. Scientists worry that seabirds are especially sensitive to the threats of climate change, ocean acidification, commercial fishing, and shifts in marine ecosystems—threats that are only expected to intensify in the coming years.
A Northern Fulmar. Photo: Nick Cobbing
In this gateway to the Arctic, sea ice is already withdrawing north and disappearing more quickly; earlier open water, scientists know, means a reduction in the zooplankton at the base of the Bering Sea’s food chain. What’s more, less ice has allowed a greater volume of shipping traffic through the Bering Strait, increasing the chances that a ship will run aground and spill its load of heavy crude, or bring rats to a pristine island, already a concern in the Aleutians. “So far, at least, the birds have been able to buffer themselves pretty well against changes, and they’ve remained pretty healthy and resilient,” said Heather Renner, supervisory wildlife biologist for the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. “But we’re probably on the threshold of a lot of change.”….
Rupture of Aliso Canyon (Porter Ridge near Northridge) well has released more than 77,000 metric tons of methane and refocused attention on America’s accident-prone infrastructure
Suzanne Goldenberg US environment correspondent Guardian UK Tuesday 5 January 2016
The single biggest contributor to climate change in California is a blown-out natural gas well more than 8,700ft underground, state authorities and campaign groups said Monday. The broken well at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage site has released more than 77,000 metric tons of the powerful climate pollutant methane since the rupture was first detected on 23 October, according to a counter created by the Environmental Defense Fund. Methane is a fast-acting climate pollutant – more than 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame. Experts believe the breach, which has forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents from the town of Porter Ranch, is the largest ever in the US. Locals have complained of headaches, sore throats, nosebleeds and nausea, caused by the rotten-egg smell of the odorant added to the gas to aid leak detection by SoCalGas, the utility that operates the natural gas storage site. About 1,000 people are suing the company. There are also concerns about the leak’s effect on smog and ozone. The company said it was monitoring air quality. The leak is unlikely to be brought under control before late February – and even that timetable depends on work crews’ success in locating and plugging a 7-inch pipe deep underground…
The yellow dots show locations where residents have complained of smells coming from a leaking natural gas well in the Aliso Canyon gas storage field. Southern California Air Quality Management District…
Gov. Jerry Brown declared an emergency Wednesday in Porter Ranch, where thousands of residents have been evacuated due to a massive gas leak. In declaring the emergency, Brown noted the widespread disruption the gas leak has caused and reiterated the state’s efforts to help fix the problem. Under the order, “all state agencies will utilize state personnel, equipment, and facilities to ensure a continuous and thorough state response to this incident,” according to a statement released by the governor….The state will promulgate emergency regulations for gas storage facility operators throughout the state, requiring: at least daily inspection of gas storage well heads using gas leak detection technology such as infrared imaging…..
This image shows mixed levels of drought stress in a forested landscape in California.
Credit: Image courtesy of Greg Asner
Posted: 28 Dec 2015 01:12 PM PST
California’s forests are home to the planet’s oldest, tallest and most-massive trees. New research reveals that up to 58 million large trees in California experienced severe canopy water loss between 2011 and today due to the state’s historic drought. In addition to the persistently low rainfall, high temperatures and outbreaks of the destructive bark beetle increased forest mortality risk. But gaining a large-scale understanding a forest’s responses to the drought, as well as to ongoing changes in climate, required more than just a picture of trees that have already died. A higher-tech approach was necessary; so Asner and his team used the laser-guided imaging spectroscopy tools mounted on the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) to measure the full impact of the drought on California’s forests for the first time. They combined the CAO data with more-traditional satellite data going back to 2011. Their new approach revealed a progressive loss of water in California’s forest canopies over the four-year span. Mapping changes in canopy water content tells scientists when trees are under drought stress and greatly aids in predicting which trees are at greatest death and fire risk. “California relies on its forests for water provisioning and carbon storage, as well as timber products, tourism, and recreation, so they are tremendously important ecologically, economically, and culturally,” Asner explained. “The drought put the forests in tremendous peril, a situation that may cause long-term changes in ecosystems that could impact animal habitats and biodiversity.”…
Gregory P. Asner, Philip G. Brodrick, Christopher B. Anderson, Nicholas Vaughn, David E. Knapp, Roberta E. Martin. Progressive forest canopy water loss during the 2012–2015 California drought. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015; 201523397 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1523397113
By Kurtis Alexander SF Chronicle Updated 6:29 am, Sunday, January 3, 2016
Beyond all the hype over a possible drought-busting El Niño this winter is a much grimmer prospect for California: a dry La Niña come fall. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration joined international forecasters recently in predicting the potential rise of El Niño’s sister phenomenon, La Niña — a similar shift in Pacific Ocean temperatures, but in the opposite direction with far different repercussions for global weather. While no one can be certain what a La Niña might mean for California, especially this early, the pattern has generally correlated with drier conditions, particularly in the southern part of the state. How much this will even matter is also unknown as El Niño is expected to soon ease the state’s water crisis with a blast of wet weather. “It’s still too far out to reach any conclusions about La Niña,” said Dave Rizzardo, who helps track the state’s water supplies as chief of snow surveys for the California Department of Water Resources. “But it would be unfortunate to know that, hey, we had a great year, we bailed ourselves out of the drought, and then we fall right back in.”…
A view of Folsom Lake reservoir on Dec. 31, 2015. California’s ninth-largest reservoir reached its lowest levels in early December 2015. Later that month, it finally started to slowly fill back up and reached 25 percent capacity. Photo: Greg Tuppan
Amy Graff SF Gate Published 5:40 am, Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Water-starved Folsom Lake is beginning to slowly fill up and recover from its lowest water levels ever.
The state’s ninth-largest reservoir, the main water source for the sprawling Sacramento suburbs, shrank to a mere 135,561 acre feet on Dec. 4, 2015. The previous lowest level at Folsom was 140,600 acre feet, recorded during the 1976–77 drought. An acre foot is enough water to flood an acre of land under a foot of water, and roughly the amount required by a family of four over a year. With the recent rains, Folsom’s water level has risen 28.5 feet and the reservoir is now holding 246,497 acre feet of water. “The lake continues to slowly rise,” Karl Swanberg, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Sacramento, said in an interview. “While this current storm isn’t dropping a lot of rain on Folsom, we’re getting runoff from the Sierra from past storms and some snow melt.” The Central Sierra snow pack is at 107 percent of average and the American River, which feeds into Folsom, travels through these mountains. That said, Swanberg adds the lake is still only at 25 percent capacity. “It’s kind of a good news, bad news situation,” he said. “The lake has risen 28.5 feet in the past month. However it’s still at 51 percent of average for this time of year.” Folsom fell to historic lows this year mainly due to the California drought and record-low rainfall over the past four years. But also the state relied more heavily on the reservoir and released additional water, Jay Lund, a University of California at Davis professor in civil and environmental engineering, said, “to help make up for reductions in releases of warm water from Shasta needed to keep winter run salmon safe on the upper Sacramento River.” Californians hope El Niño storms will fill up Folsom and other reservoirs throughout the state, but Swanberg said the future is unknown. Forecasters are already warning that a dryer La Niña pattern may follow on the heels of a wet winter and spring.
“We can be hopeful in the future,” he said. “We have rain in the forecast. Each weather system will add water into the reservoir. But it’s way earlier in the year. We really don’t know how much more rain will fall.”
Posted: 06 Jan 2016 08:07 AM PST
For years, scientists have been pursuing ways to imitate a leaf’s photosynthetic power to make hydrogen fuel from water and sunlight. In a new twist, a team has come up with another kind of device that mimics two of a leaf’s processes — photosynthesis and transpiration — to harness solar energy to purify water. Their development could help address issues of water scarcity…
State lawmakers turn up fresh ideas Down Under
By Kevin Fagan SF Chronicle December 2015
Don’t be surprised to see a flurry of new legislative proposals in 2016 that push toilet water recycling, rooftop water tanks and underground systems to filter sewer sludge for field irrigation in California. Call it the Australian plan. Nearly three dozen California lawmakers and nonprofit and business leaders flew across the Pacific recently to see how the Aussies slashed their water use in half during a catastrophic 13-year drought that ended in 2010, and they came away so impressed that they want to adopt some of the innovations. Those mostly involve recycling every drop possible from toilets, fields, roofs, gutters and sewer pipes. The visiting team also thought the Golden State could learn something from Australia’s robust water-sales market, which allows farmers to sell water to the government in exchange for help upgrading their irrigation systems. Those systems, in turn, use far less water than the old methods. Australia did away with an ironclad water-rights market similar to California’s, and forced farmers, environmentalists and cities to share supplies from reservoirs equally. The new market allows rights holders to trade water like a commodity, depending on rural and urban needs…..
Kelli Barrett ecosystem marketplace 30 December 2015
Climate change has disrupted the world’s water systems, and a handful of governments and companies have responded with funding for nature-based solutions that support healthy watersheds and good water management. We’ll need a lot more than a handful to get the job done, but 2015 offered some promising potential.
For those managing Lima, Peru’s water lows and highs, 2015 is a year to remember. It’s the year regional and national officials formally embraced green solutions to control the desert city’s alternating bouts of droughts, floods, landslides and pollution. One of these solutions is restoring the pre-Incan stone canals carved into the Andes Mountains so they once again absorb the five-month wet season’s downpour, channeling the water into the mountain so it trickles out over a period of months rather than hours.
The structures are called amunas, and they made headlines in 2015 as Peru’s national water regulator sought to utilize them and other “new” green solutions that in fact date back more than one thousand years. The restoration of these pre-Incan structures is just one part of Peru’s larger investment plan to help its watersheds adapt to climate change while sustainably manage urban water supplies using green infrastructure programs. The decision to go big came after a 2015 cost-curve analysis determined green interventions made the most sense – economically and ecologically. The data suggests green interventions are one part of a city’s water infrastructure, and should be blended with typical grey solutions.
Like Peru, other parts of the world utilized nature in 2015 to solve pressing water challenges. All across Colorado, for instance, water utilities and federal agencies are investing in watersheds to reduce the risk of wildfire, among other threats. Denver Water’s successful partnership with the US Forest Service to manage upstream watersheds with such activities as fuel treatment, erosion control and prescribed burning influenced four similar projects in other parts of the state.
…. Conservation Finance Inches Along
Water quality trading programs continue to emerge, and the Electric Power Research Institute’s water quality trading project in the Ohio River Basin is one example. It encourages Midwestern farmers to reduce runoff in exchange for conservation credits, and project developers had planned to hold the first stewardship credit auction this year. That ended up on hold, but the project is still moving forward, and EPRI is hosting a project update in January 2016.
Payments for ecosystem services practitioners explored microfinance as another method to finance conservation long-term. The concept is playing out though the marriage between PES and credit is a new one and its success remains an open question. In Ecuador, the NGO Nature and Culture International spearheaded a water fund model that might be successful in securing clean water for several municipalities of varying sizes in the country’s southern region. The fund, Regional Water Fund of Southern Ecuador (FORAGUA), pools resources from 11 municipalities to manage shared water resources through ecosystem restoration and conservation.
Weather Woes and Water
The water-related calamities that either began or continued in 2015 were many, spurring increased conversations about water stress and its issues. And because climate change has a knack for making these disasters worse, leaders from the water space pushed for water to hold a more prominent role in the Paris Climate Accord. Though water wasn’t mentioned in the final agreement, it was included in 75% of the country climate action plans and many in the space felt the resource gained stature.
2015 was a good year for America’s wilderness.
by Jenny Rowland — Guest Contributor Dec 28, 2015
The creation of six new national monuments
In 2015, President Obama protected more land as national monuments than any year in his presidency -– more than 1 million acres….
An international climate agreement in Paris
The December 12th international climate agreement in Paris is a clear win for the climate, the clean energy industry, and the President’s Clean Power Plan. But it is also a win for America’s public lands, which are affected by both the impacts of climate change and the sprawling footprint of fossil fuel development. The agreement in Paris will help the United States and the rest of the world cut pollution and spur a transition to more renewable fuels.
Saving America’s best parks program and other conservation laws from congressional attack
During their frenetic December negotiations over the year’s must-pass omnibus spending bill, lawmakers were able to reach an agreement that kept dozens of anti-conservation and public lands riders out of the final legislation. As part of this agreement, Congress also managed to prevent America’s best parks program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), from disappearing. Though many would have liked to see the LWCF, which is the country’s largest funding source for land, water, and wildlife conservation, fully funded and permanently extended, the bill was given a three-year extension and firm funding for 2016.
Conservation measures for the greater sage grouse
In September, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided that the greater sage grouse — an iconic ground-dwelling bird in the West –- will not need the protection of the Endangered Species Act to survive. The decision to not list the bird as an endangered species reflected the success of partnerships between private landholders and state and federal agencies to implement voluntary conservation measures to protect the species. The federal government, for example, implemented several scientifically-based land use management plans that collectively set aside more than 60 million acres of habitat for the bird….
The protection of the Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness
In August, Congress unanimously passed the “Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act,” which established three new wilderness areas in the Boulder-White Clouds region of Idaho. The new wilderness areas together permanently protect nearly 280,000 acres of public lands.
…The designation — the only major wilderness bill that Congress passed in 2015 — benefits wildlife ranging from bighorn sheep to mule deer and native cutthroat trout by providing undisturbed habitat. The designation also guarantees permanent public access to tens of thousands of acres to hikers, campers, hunters, anglers, and others outdoor enthusiasts.
McGill research shows that it is possible for Arctic communities to adapt to climate change if various hurdles like outdated land management practices are overcome. view more Credit: Joanna Petrasek Macdonald
Arctic peoples inherently able to adapt given changes to various non-climatic factors
7-Jan-2016 McGill University
Outdated land management practices, a dearth of local decision-making bodies with real powers, a lack of long-term planning, along with long-standing educational and financial disempowerment and marginalization are among the hurdles the prevent Arctic communities from adapting to climate change, says a McGill-led research team. But Arctic communities inherently have the capacity to adapt to significant climate change. That’s partly because they are used to accepting a changeable and uncertain climate. What currently limits this ability, however, are a range of non-climatic factors that vary from one society to the next. … despite the scale and speed of climate change in the north, the researchers believe that if policies and practices change in various ways, these communities are inherently well-equipped to adapt to many, if not all, projected changes in climate….The researchers discovered that depending on the region, the situations of northern communities varied significantly, based on the interaction between the speed of climate change and various non-climatic factors such as:
- the range and type of resources on which the community relies — so, for example, the livelihoods of the Viliui Sakha people in Siberia who depend on cattle and horse breeding are being undermined by changing weather and snow patterns as they have few alternative livelihood options — while the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic are altering the timing and location of traditional hunting practices with rapid changes in the sea ice;
- the type and effectiveness of local political leadership and input in larger decision-making questions – northern institutions often lack the time, mandate and funding to address climate change impacts — though emerging leaders in Canada and Alaska are proving to be an exception to this pattern;
- the mismatch between inflexible institutions that have created regulations and quotas for hunting and fishing and the speed of environmental change — so for example, in northern Canada and Alaska, communities are responding rapidly to changes in observed conditions while regulatory regimes have been slow and inflexible in changing regulations to respond to current conditions;
- adaptation is taking place at the household or community level, but this is mainly reactive and doesn’t translate to a larger scale or to longer-term planning; and
- economic, health and educational issues that make members of these communities more vulnerable in general, many linked to legacies of colonisation.
Co-management models and the importance of traditional knowledge
“Not all forms of institutions necessarily inhibit adaptation,” says Ford. “Institutions can act as pathways for knowledge development. In northern Canada and Alaska, for instance, co-management practices integrate science, traditional knowledge and local needs into the management of wildlife stocks such as the beluga in the Beaufort Sea. There is some evidence that this kind of management can help speed up the exchange of information and reduce conflict about resource management, but this success has not been uniformly seen. In some cases the conflict between the role of science and traditional knowledge has been difficult to resolve, and there is a worry that discourse about adaptation may be used selectively by powerful stakeholders to advance particular pathways and political agendas.” The researchers believe that the Arctic is not only a bell-wether of climate change to come at lower latitudes, but can provide us with an understanding of the challenges to come in adapting to climate change. They suggest that further studies are needed to increase the understanding of why some communities have been able to successfully adapt and others have not in order to gain a better sense of the barriers and limits to adaptation.
To read the full paper “The adaptation challenge in the Arctic” by Ford et al in Nature Climate Change: doi:10.1038/nclimate2723
Posted: 04 Jan 2016 05:08 AM PST
A new type of concrete has been developed that is cheaper and much less polluting to the environment. Researchers have swapped in sugar cane straw ash, a crop residue typically discarded as waste, as a substitute for Portland cement.
95% consensus of expert economists: [price carbon] to cut carbon pollution
Posted on 4 January 2016 by dana1981
The Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University (NYU) School of Law recently published a report summarizing a survey of economists with climate expertise. The report was a follow-up and expansion of a similar survey conducted in 2009 by the same institute. The key finding: there’s a strong consensus among climate economics experts that we should put a price on carbon pollution to curb the expensive costs of climate change. The survey participants included economists who have published papers related to climate change “in a highly ranked, peer-reviewed economics or environmental economics journal since 1994.” Overall, 365 participants completed the survey, which established the consensus of expert climate economists on a number of important questions.
Chris White Daily Caller 1:40 PM 01/05/2016
The chief of the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that the Obama administration and regulators will cash in on the regulatory successes in 2015 by doubling down on global warming regulations in 2016. Writing on the environmental group’s website, EPA head administrator Gina McCarthy stated that a whole new set of rules regulating the environment will take place this upcoming year, including regulations limiting methane gas ruptures and rules cutting emissions from large commercial vehicles. “Heading into 2016, EPA is building on a monumental year for climate action—and we’re not slowing down in the year ahead,” McCarthy wrote, adding, “So we’re hitting the ground running.” She went on to lay out a handful of the agency’s lofty goals, most of which will be instituted for the purpose of making sure the U.S. comes in line with the climate agreement hammered out in Paris last year.
A coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, Mont. (James Woodcock/Billings Gazette via Associated Press)
By Christine Emba Wash Post January 5 at 1:29 PM
With a ratcheting up of awareness culminating in the Paris climate change conference, 2015 may have been the year that the threat of climate change was finally taken seriously. But a question remains:
Who, if anyone, is most deserving of blame, and who should be held responsible? Today, six of the top 10 greenhouse gas emitters are developing countries, with China the largest contributor at approximately 28 percent of the global total. Yet on the per capita level, the United States and Canada emit more than double the global average. Pope Francis pointed out in his controversial encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si that, “regarding climate change, there are differentiated responsibilities.” He said greater attention should be given to the needs of the vulnerable in a debate often dominated by more powerful interests, and that in many cases, developed countries have caused harm to less wealthy nations while fueling their own economies. Although developing nations like China and India are catching up in the emissions race, it was countries such as Great Britain and the United States that have led significant global warming over the past century, producing significant economic development that accrued mainly for their own citizens. From 1850 to the year 2011, the United States alone produced 27 percent of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions. The least developed countries, on the other hand, emit the least carbon dioxide. But the effects of climate change — extreme weather, rising seas, higher food costs, increased risk of drought, fire and flood — tend to fall most heavily upon the global poor.
At the United Nations Climate Change conference, held in Paris in December, 196 countries approved a climate accord seeking to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius. This is to be achieved through “nationally determined contributions” of emission reductions, created in the context of each country’s individual circumstances….
by Samantha Page Jan 6, 2016
TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, announced Wednesday it is filing a claim under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying that the project’s permit denial was “arbitrary and unjustified.” TransCanada is seeking $15 billion in costs and damages due to the denial, and has also filed a separate lawsuit against the U.S. in federal court. Under NAFTA, companies can sue governments that put investments at risk through regulation. If it proceeds, the case will go in front of an international tribunal. (A U.S. company sued Montreal in 2013 over a fracking ban, using the same rationale). The tribunal cannot overturn the permit denial, but it can force payment of damages….
by Katie Valentine Jan 4, 2016
“The United States will pursue all appropriate remedies against Volkswagen to redress the violations of our nation’s clean air laws alleged in the complaint.”
Posted: 06 Jan 2016 09:56 AM PST
In the quest for sustainable alternative energy and fuel sources, one viable solution may be the conversion of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into liquid fuels, say scientists.
The strong economics of wind energy
Posted on 28 December 2015 by John Abraham skepticalscience.com
As a follow-up to a recent article I posted on renewable energy, this article discusses the economics of wind in both the developed and developing worlds compared to other renewable energy sources. At the recent climate conference in Paris, 70 countries highlighted wind as a major component for their emissions-reduction schemes. I spoke with Giles Dickson who is CEO of the European Wind Energy Association(EWEA). I asked him economic questions related to the wind industry and I also asked him to look into his crystal ball and describe the future of wind. ….His response was clear: wind is competitive economically. He told me about the SolutionWind campaign which is a platform that gives industry leaders like Unilever, BNP, Aveda, IKEA, LEGO, Google, Microsoft, SAP, and others the chance to tell their customers and the general public why they have chosen wind. …Aside from continued cost decreases and increased market, what else is EWEA looking forward to? Well everyone is watching the Chinese emission trading scheme. That goes into effect in two years. No one knows what the price will be for carbon in that market, but it will be the largest carbon market in the world. If the balance between supply and demand is not correct, then the price on carbon will be too low (as the case with Europe where there is an excess of emissions certificates)…..
Posted: 06 Jan 2016 08:47 AM PST
Billions in dollars in benefits come from reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and from reductions in other air pollution for state renewable portfolio standard policies operating in 2013, a new study estimates. RPS policies require utilities or other electricity providers to meet a minimum portion of their load with eligible forms of renewable electricity.
by Joe Romm Jan 7, 2016 8:00 am
Climatologist James Hansen argued last month, “Nuclear power paves the only viable path forward on climate change.” He is wrong. As the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and International Energy Agency (IEA) explained in a major report last year, in the best-case scenario, nuclear power can play a modest, but important, role in avoiding catastrophic global warming if it can solve its various nagging problems — particularly high construction cost — without sacrificing safety. Hansen and a handful of other climate scientists I also greatly respect — Ken Caldeira, Tom Wigley, and Kerry Emanuel — present a mostly handwaving argument in which new nuclear power achieves and sustains an unprecedented growth rate for decades. The one quantitative “illustrative scenario” they propose — “a total requirement of 115 reactors per year to 2050 to entirely decarbonise the global electricity system” — is far beyond what the world ever sustained during the nuclear heyday of the 1970s, and far beyond what the overwhelming majority of energy experts, including those sympathetic to the industry, think is plausible.
They ignore the core issues: The nuclear power industry has essentially priced itself out of the market for new power plants because of its 1) negative learning curve and 2) inability to avoid massive delays and cost overruns in market economies. This is doubly problematic because the competition — renewable power, electricity storage, and energy efficiency — have seen steady, stunning price drops for a long time….
Cal-NPS just completed a project on invasive plants, climate resilience and Sierra meadows, and produced two short reports that might be interesting to the LCC list. They’re available at http://www.cal-ipc.org/ip/climateadaptation/index.php.
- Impacts of Climate Change and Invasive Plants in Sierra Meadows: Overview and Recommendations.
- Incorporating Climate Resilience into Invasive Plant Management Projects: Guidance for Land Managers.
Getting Started Selling at Farmer’s Markets
What will happen to our coastline with sea level rise, and how will it impact your community? You can help answer these questions through snapping photos during California’s “King Tides”–the highest tides of the year. King Tides dates this season are November 24-26, December 22-24 and January 21-22. Get out during a King Tides event and take pictures of your favorite coastal spots. Make sure to share them with the California King Tides Project! Check out events on http://california.kingtides.net/.
Communicating adaptation – Engaging communities
Wednesday 20 January 2016, 01:00 PM – 02:30 PM ET, 10-11 PT
This webinar will offer insights into effective communication of climate change adaptation, with particular emphasis on the psychological dimensions that underlie people’s responses and that can help or hinder their constructive and sustained engagement.
Speaker: Susanne C. Moser, Ph.D.– Research Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University
Impacts of Future Climates and Fire on Hydrologic Regimes in the Ecosystems of Southern California
January 26, 2016
1:00 – 2:00 PM Pacific – a CA LCC WEBINAR
- Lorrie Flint, Research Hydrologist, USGS Water Science Center,
- Alan Flint, Research Hydrologist, USGS Water Science Center,
- Hugh Safford, Regional Ecologist, US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region, and
- Emma Underwood, Research Scientist, UC Davis Information Center for the Environment.
In Southern California ecosystems, understanding changes in hydrologic regimes under future climate scenarios and the impact of fire is key to developing effective management strategies. This project, supported by the CA LCC, is developing data, projections, and visualization tools to assist in the climate-smart management of water in chaparral dominated ecosystems of Southern California. Click here for more information.
Training for RCD and NRCS staff
Moderated by Pelayo Alvarez, Carbon Cycle Institute
Download a workshop manual: CFP-training
Download a carbon farming brochure: carbon-farming-brochure-CCI
Presentations available on line:
- Introduction – Why Carbon Farming and How Marin RCD Got Started – Nancy Scolari, Marin RCD
- Carbon Farm Planning – How conservation approaches sequester carbon and improve climate change resiliency – Jeff Creque, Carbon Cycle Institute
- How to include Carbon Beneficial Practices into conservation plans – Nancy Scolari & Lynette Niebrugge, Marin RCD
- The COMET-Farm™ tool enables farmers and ranchers to estimate carbon sequestration and GHG emission reductions – Mark Easter, Colorado State University Natural Resource Ecology Lab
- GHG Reduction and Carbon Sequestration Accounting Tools for Forest Practices – Tom Schott, Mendocino County RCD and John Nickerson, Climate Action Reserve
- Local and State Policies and Programs for Carbon Farming and An Outlook on Climate Funding – Torri Estrada, Carbon Cycle Institute
- Next Steps and RCD Carbon Farm Program Development Needs Inventory – Pelayo Alvarez, Carbon Cycle Institute
Rangeland Workshops and Conferences Jan 28 2016
The Open Space Council, in partnership with UC Cooperative Extension, Elkhorn Slough Coastal Training Program, California Rangeland Conservation Coalition, Central Coast Rangeland Coalition, and California Rangeland Trust presents Grazing and Conservation Part II: Cooperating with Ranchers
on January 28 in Berkeley. Hear perspectives on the benefits and challenges of working with ranchers for grazing to benefit conservation on public and/or private conservation lands in the SF Bay Area.
The Future of Water is Now: Innovation, Integration, Adaptation April 22, 2016, Napa, CA
General Information: Registration: http://nbwa2016.brownpapertickets.com/
4th Ocean Climate Summit: Resilience through Climate-Smart Conservation May 17, 2016
Fort Mason, San Francisco
Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and Greater Farallones Association
Expert panels for the 2016 summit will address the common theme of Climate-Smart Conservation, and will specifically include:
- State of the Science;
- Implementing Climate-Smart Conservation;
- Local Government Sea Level Rise Planning; and
- Connecting San Francisco Bay and Outer Coast.
Afternoon focus groups will convene to share lessons learned, encourage collaboration, and advise the sanctuary on climate-smart conservation. A networking poster reception highlighting Bay Area projects and programs focused on coastal climate change and ocean acidification will immediately follow. This year we are also pleased to partner with the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative on a Climate-Smart Conservation training to be held at Fort Mason the following day.
Toward Sustainable Groundwater in Agriculture 2016: 2nd International Conference Linking Science and Policy
June 28-30, 2016 Hyatt Regency by SFO Burlingame, CA
Abstract Submission Deadline: January 15, 2016 UC Davis
….focus on the latest scientific, management, legal and policy advances for sustaining our groundwater resources in agricultural regions around the world. The conference will bring together agricultural water managers, regulatory agency personnel, policy and decision makers, scientists, NGOs, agricultural leaders, and consultants working at the nexus of groundwater and agriculture. The conference integrates across a wide range of topics specifically focused on this nexus: sustainable groundwater management, groundwater quality protection, groundwater-surface water interactions, the groundwater-energy nexus, agricultural BMPs for groundwater management and protection, monitoring, data collection/management/assessment, modeling tools, and agricultural groundwater management, regulation, and economics.
Innovations on the Land: Managing for Change
Sand County Foundation August 9-10 2016 Asilomar, CA
For generations, landowners and land managers have honed the ability to adapt to change. But the changes farmers and ranchers face today are more rapid and wide ranging than ever before. Landowners must adapt to changing regulations, climate, technology and demands of food consumers, all while managing natural resources – the land, water and wildlife in their care. Sand County Foundation is proud to present “Innovations on the Land: Managing for Change.” This national symposium, August 9 & 10, 2016, will bring together the nation’s leading private landowner conservationists and leaders from academia, government and non-government organizations to exchange ideas and learn about the most innovative approaches to responsibly managing agricultural lands in the face of sweeping change. … Topics include environmental changes related to climate, water quality and quantity and soil health; economic and policy changes related to market dynamics and the Endangered Species Act; social changes relating to changing consumer desires and land ownership patterns. Symposium participants will put their learning to work in a half-day, facilitated session to develop a set of recommendations around U.S. agricultural policy. As the nation’s very best farmer and rancher conservationists, these men and women provide an authoritative viewpoint on how America can achieve its conservation objectives in an era of flat or declining funding. Following the symposium, a select subcommittee will develop a paper based on the outcomes of the work.
2nd California Adaptation Forum SEPTEMBER 7-8, 2016
Renaissance Long Beach Hotel and Long Beach Convention Center
The Local Government Commission and the State of California are proud to host the second California Adaptation Forum in the Fall of 2016. The two-day event will be the premiere convening for a multi-disciplinary group of 1,000+ decision-makers, leaders and advocates to discuss, debate and consider how we can most effectively respond to the impacts of climate change.
The 2016 California Adaptation Forum will feature:
- A series of plenaries with high-level government, community and business leaders
- A variety of breakout sessions on essential adaptation topics
- Regional project tours highlighting adaptation efforts in Southern California
- Pre-forum workshops on tools and strategies for implementing adaptation solutions
Bay-Delta Science Conference November 15-17, 2016, Sacramento, CA
More information will be available in 2016, but mark your calendars now. The call for abstracts for presentations and posters will be released in Spring 2016.
JOBS/FELLOWSHIPS (apologies for any duplication; thanks for passing along)
The Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at UCSC exposes early-career college students to the field of environmental conservation through field research, leadership and professional training.
Each year, we select 20 students from around the U.S. and its territories to participate in our two-year conservation leadership program. Our students represent a diverse spectrum of cultures and backgrounds, which helps to cultivate a unique and rewarding experience.
Coastal Management Fellowship Due: January 22, 2016
NMFS-Sea Grant Fellowship in Marine Resource Economics Due: January 29, 2016
NMFS-Sea Grant Fellowship in Population and Ecosystem Dynamics Due: January 29, 2016
Due: February 12, 2016
The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program recognizes and rewards the contributions women make in STEM fields and identifies exceptional women researchers committed to serving as role models for younger generations….The application and more information about the L’Oréal USA For Women in Science program can be found at
www.lorealusa.com/forwomeninscience. Applications are due on Friday, February 5, 2016.
Should you have any questions or require additional information, please e‐mail me at
DAVIS, Dec. 16, 2015 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is making available about $50 million nationwide this year in financial assistance to partner with agricultural producers who want to restore and protect habitat for seven focus species, including two California species: greater sage-grouse and the southwestern willow flycatcher. Conservation efforts for these species are part of Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW),
an innovative partnership that supports struggling landscapes and strengthens agricultural operations. This year in California, according to State Conservationist Carlos Suarez, more than $2 million is available to eligible ranchers and farmers willing to implement habitat restoration for the sage grouse, the umbrella species of the sagebrush landscape. This current funding is in addition to more than $4.5 million available to California farmers and ranchers for sage grouse habitat protection on private lands through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). With the support of conservation partners and ranchers, NRCS launched the Sage Grouse Initiative in 2010. Those efforts became the model for WLFW, which began two years later. Conservation efforts to restore and protect sagebrush habitat led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine in September that protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) were not warranted. NRCS is also investing about $535,000 in California on habitat restoration for the southwestern willow flycatcher, a small Neotropical migratory bird that lives in riparian areas and wetlands in the arid Southwest. The southwestern willow flycatcher is listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the California Endangered Species Act (CESA)….
OTHER NEWS OF INTEREST
Photo by David Marshall, Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
A US national flag covers a sign at the entrance of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters in Burns, Oregon on January 6, 2016. A small group of armed activists remained holed up at a remote US federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, vowing to leave only if asked by local residents. AFP PHOTO/ ROB KERR / AFP / ROB KERR (Photo credit should read ROB KERR/AFP/Getty Images)
By NANCY LANGSTON JAN. 6, 2016 Nancy Langston is a professor of environmental history at Michigan Technological University and author of “Where Land and Water Meet: A Western Landscape Transformed.”
To outsiders, one of the puzzling aspects of the anti-government militia’s takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is its location. Twenty-five million birds a year visit the refuge in the high desert of southeastern Oregon, but few people have heard of it. Yet Malheur is a place of bitterly contested human histories that remain potent today….
Wall Street Journal, 1/5/2016
Behind the armed protest at a national wildlife preserve in Oregon lies a decades long struggle between agencies that manage vast tracts of federal land in the West and the ranchers, loggers and miners who depend on access to them for their livelihoods. The U.S.. government owns roughly 640 million acres of property in the country, much of it in the West—making up the majority of land in some states such as Utah, Oregon and Nevada….
January 5 2015 High Country News
The deep history behind the Bundy brothers’ takeover of a wildlife refuge in Oregon.
January 8, 2016 by National Wildlife Refuge Association
An open letter to the American people:
As I’ve watched the events unfolding at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge over the last several days, the image of an American flag obscuring the welcome sign at the wildlife refuge seems especially ironic. American flags fly proudly at all 564 national wildlife refuges, signaling that these places are owned and managed by and for all Americans. Like all national wildlife refuges, Malheur is public land. The sign that is obscured reads “Welcome to Your National Wildlife Refuge”- it is a place for all of us to enjoy and we all benefit from its many natural resources. Only now, armed occupiers restrict the entrance to this public resource….
By Bob Sallinger Jan 3 2016
Posted: 07 Jan 2016 06:41 AM PST
Reading stories about values you hold sacred activates a part of your brain once thought to be used for zoning out. The researchers suggest that these results were gained not just because the brain is presented with a moral quandary, but rather that the quandary is presented in a narrative format.
4 January 2016 BBC News
Four chemical elements have been formally added to the periodic table, completing the scheme’s seventh row. They are the first to be included in the table since 2011, when elements 114 and 116 were added. The first true iteration of the table was produced in 1869 by the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev. The new additions were formally verified by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) on 30 December 2015. The body announced that a team of Russian and American researchers had provided sufficient evidence to claim the discovery of elements 115, 117 and 118….
Gov. Jerry Brown touring his 2,514-acre family ranch in Colusa County, Calif., last month. CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times
By ADAM NAGOURNEYDEC. 28, 2015
by Joe Romm Jan 5, 2016 12:55 pm
Star Wars is not the only popular 1970s franchise that showed in 2015 it still has muscles to flex. The remarkable reawakening of the environmental movement –- which had also seen its biggest successes in the 1970s — might be the sleeper story of the year. While some had prematurely proclaimed the death of the environmental movement over a decade ago — and the 2010 collapse of the climate bill in the U.S. Senate certainly represented one of its lowest points in recent memory — now we see the movement achieving success after success in the climate and clean energy realm. Perhaps I should say we see the environmental movements achieving success after success, since there are really two different movements now — the insiders (like the Natural Resources Defense Council) and the outsiders (like Bill McKibben’s 350.org) — even if they have very similar goals. The movements’ recent successes include:
- The first ever comprehensive global climate deal in which the overwhelming majority of big emitters — rich and poor — agreed to constrain CO2 emissions.
- The rehabilitation of the Clean Air Act as a central tool for cutting U.S. carbon pollution (and for leveraging a breakthrough climate deal with China).
- A national effort to shut down the most carbon-intensive power plants, which is now spreading globally, driving us faster than anyone expected toward peak coal and a decoupling of economic growth from CO2 emissions.
- The rejection of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
- The rapidly spreading effort to divest from the dirtiest forms of energy.
- The growing acceptance by the U.S. public of both climate science and the need for climate action.
- The end of year U.S. budget deal to extend solar and wind tax credits for several years.
- Global realization that accelerated deployment of clean energy must be the centerpiece of any climate action strategy.
- Broad acceptance that 2°C is not a goal for total planetary warming, but a defense line we must stay as far below as possible, with 1.5°C as a preferred target….
Do you have some great photos of California rangeland landscapes, livestock and ranching, or rangeland wildlife and plants? Would you like to see them shared with the CA Rangeland Conservation Coalition community and beyond? If so, submit them to the CRCC Photo Contest before Monday, January 11th. Cash prizes will be awarded to winners of the judged contest and best photos will be displayed at the upcoming CRCC Annual Summit and in CRCC communications.
Posted: 04 Jan 2016 05:00 AM PST
The high amounts of dietary sugar in the typical western diet may increase the risk of breast cancer and metastasis to the lungs, according to a new study.
Posted: 05 Jan 2016 10:41 AM PST
A diet proven to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously has also been ranked as the easiest diet to follow by U.S. News & World Report. To adhere to and benefit from the MIND diet, a person would need to eat at least three servings of whole grains, a green leafy vegetable and one other vegetable every day — along with a glass of wine — snack most days on nuts, have beans every other day or so, eat poultry and berries at least twice a week and fish at least once a week. In addition, the study found that to have a real shot at avoiding the devastating effects of cognitive decline, he or she must limit intake of the designated unhealthy foods, especially butter (less than 1 tablespoon a day), sweets and pastries, whole fat cheese, and fried or fast food (less than a serving a week for any of the three).
Berries are the only fruit specifically to be included in the MIND diet. “Blueberries are one of the more potent foods in terms of protecting the brain,” Morris says, and strawberries also have performed well in past studies of the effect of food on cognitive function. “The MIND diet is a modification of the Mediterranean and DASH diets that highlights the foods and nutrients shown through the scientific literature to be associated with dementia prevention,” Morris says. “There is still a great deal of study we need to do in this area, and I expect that we’ll make further modifications as the science on diet and the brain advances. We devised a diet and it worked in this Chicago study,” she adds. To establish a cause-and-effect relationship between the MIND diet and reductions in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, “The results need to be confirmed by other investigators in different populations and also through randomized trials.”
Posted: 04 Jan 2016 10:21 AM PST
An NSAID changed the composition and diversity of gut microbes, which in turn shaped how the drug is broken down and ultimately, cut its effectiveness, researchers report at the conclusion of an animal study.
This photo was taken with long exposure along the Yenisei River, outside the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, on Dec. 31, 2015. (Ilya Naymushin/Reuters)
By Elahe Izadi December 31, 2015
Starting the new year on the first of January feels counterintuitive. ….Jan. 1 isn’t the only New Year’s Day; many religious and cultural communities also observe their own calendars. But much of the world abides by the Gregorian calendar’s solar dating system to organize civil life. And its start, on Jan. 1, is the byproduct of a political and religious history that few know much about anymore…..
Hat tip to I Heart Climate Scientists
WILDLIFE QUESTION OF THE WEEK ANSWER
When garter snakes are threatened, they:
Answer is d.) Release a foul-smelling musk, somewhat like a skunk
Like other garter snakes, threatened western terrestrial garter snakes release a foul-smelling musk as a warning to the predator.
SOURCE: “Western terrestrial garter snake – Thamnophis elegans“ (BLM California wildlife database)
Ellie Cohen, President and CEO
Point Blue Conservation Science
3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 11, Petaluma, CA 94954
Point Blue—Conservation science for a healthy planet.