Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Archive: May 2017

  1. Smoke from wildfires- “brown carbon”- can have lasting climate impact

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    • High-altitude brown carbon from biomass burning is an unappreciated component of climate forcing.

    May 23, 2017 Georgia Institute of Technology  full article here at ScienceDaily

    …Researchers have found that carbon particles released into the air from burning trees and other organic matter are much more likely than previously thought to travel to the upper levels of the atmosphere, where they can interfere with rays from the sun — sometimes cooling the air and at other times warming it.

    Most of the brown carbon released into the air stays in the lower atmosphere, but a fraction of it does get up into the upper atmosphere, where it has a disproportionately large effect on the planetary radiation balance — much stronger than if it was all at the surface,” said Rodney Weber, a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences.

    …The climate is more sensitive to those particulates as their altitude increases. The researchers found that brown carbon appears much more likely than black carbon to travel through the air to the higher levels of the atmosphere where it can have a greater impact on climate….

    Yuzhong Zhang, Haviland Forrister, Jiumeng Liu, Jack Dibb, Bruce Anderson, Joshua P. Schwarz, Anne E. Perring, Jose L. Jimenez, Pedro Campuzano-Jost, Yuhang Wang, Athanasios Nenes, Rodney J. Weber. Top-of-atmosphere radiative forcing affected by brown carbon in the upper troposphere. Nature Geoscience, 2017; DOI: 10.1038/NGEO2960

  2. Increasing climate and land use change overlap in arid lands– potential to affect 36% of world’s population

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    • Increasing aridity and land-use overlap have potential to cause social and economic conflict in dryland areas
    • scenario framework used to estimate how climate and land uses influence ecosystems and landscapes

    May 23, 2017 Northern Arizona University  see here for ScienceDaily article

    Drylands are of environmental concern because broad-scale changes in these systems have the potential to affect 36 percent of the world’s human population, suggests new research.

    Climate change combined with overlapping high-intensity land uses are likely to create conditions detrimental to the recreation economy, wildlife habitat, water availability and other resources in hyper-arid landscapes, or drylands, in the future, according to a paper published recently in Ecosphere. Drylands are of concern because broad-scale changes in these systems have the potential to affect 36 percent of the world’s human population…..

    …The research team examined the combined effects of climate change and human land use — agriculture, recreation, energy development, mining and population growth — on a range of ecosystem functions and landscape attributes. “Our approach offers a relatively simple method for scenario development that could be applied to a wide range of change agents, ecosystem services and regions,” said lead author Stella Copeland, NAU Merriam-Powell Center post-doctoral scholar. “Tools such as these can be used to inform natural resource planning and management efforts in the United States and elsewhere.”

    The study examined four scenarios to estimate how climate change and overlapping land uses may influence ecosystem functions and landscape attributes. Although outcomes varied by scenario and characteristic, the recreation economy had the highest impacts for all scenarios; followed by vegetation and wildlife habitat and cultural and spiritual values; water availability; soil productivity; and cropland productivity….

    Stella M. Copeland, John B. Bradford, Michael C. Duniway, Rudy M. Schuster. Potential impacts of overlapping land-use and climate in a sensitive dryland: a case study of the Colorado Plateau, USA. Ecosphere, 2017; 8 (5): e01823 DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.1823

    Abstract: The combination of co-occurring climate change and increasing land-use is likely to affect future environmental and socioeconomic conditions in drylands; these hyper-arid to sub-humid landscapes are limited by water resources and prone to land degradation. We characterized the potential for geographic overlap among land-use practices and between land-use and climate change on the Colorado Plateau—a dryland region experiencing rapid changes in land-use and facing aridification. We characterized spatial patterns and temporal trends in aridification, land-use, and recreation at the county and 10-km2 grid scales. Increasing trends and overlapping areas of high intensity for use, including oil and gas development and recreation, and climate drying, suggest areas with high potential to experience detrimental effects to the recreation economy, water availability, vegetation and wildlife habitat, and spiritual and cultural resources. Patterns of overlap in high-intensity land-use and climate drying differ from the past, indicating the potential for novel impacts and suggesting that land managers and planners may require new strategies to adapt to changing conditions. This analytical framework for assessing the potential impacts of overlapping land-use and climate change could be applied with other drivers of change or to other regions to create scenarios at various spatial scales in support of natural resource planning efforts.

  3. Ocean currents alter climate change impacts on marine species

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    • Species expanded their range faster and kept track of climate better when ocean currents matched the direction of warming
    • Matching ocean currents and warming unexpectedly slowed down range contractions, or the speed of withdrawal at the “warm” edges.

    May 24, 2017 Hokkaido University  full article here at ScienceDaily

    Ocean currents affect how climate change impacts movements of species to cooler regions. A new study provides novel insight into how species’ distributions change from the interaction between climate change and ocean currents….

    They found that species expanded their range faster and kept track of climate better when ocean currents matched the direction of warming. “We were expecting ocean currents to be most influential at the leading ‘cold’ edge of a species’ range, where warming represents an opportunity for the expansion of its range,” comments García Molinos. “In those situations it’s a little bit like a conveyor belt at an airport terminal. If you want to get to your boarding gate and you walk with the belt, you approach the gate faster than if you just stand on it passively. If you take the belt that goes in the opposite direction you will need to walk fast or even run to make progress.”

    However, matching ocean currents and warming unexpectedly slowed down range contractions, or the speed of withdrawal at the “warm” edges. “This was somehow a surprise because we were expecting contraction rates to be mainly driven by the rate of warming,” says co-author Prof. Michael T. Burrows. ….”Our study suggests how directional forces such as ocean or air currents can influence the coupling between climate change and biogeographical shifts. Our simple metric can be used to improve predictions of distribution shifts and help explain differences in expansion and contraction rates among species,” concludes García Molinos.

    J. García Molinos, M. T. Burrows, E. S. Poloczanska. Ocean currents modify the coupling between climate change and biogeographical shifts. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-01309-y

  4. California’s Healthy Soils Incentive Program- CalCAN update

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    CA Department of Food & Agriculture Finalizing Healthy Soils Program

    Posted by Brian Shobe, California Agriculture and Climate Network (CalCAN) May 22 2017

    As farmers and ranchers in the U.S. and abroad experience the reality of more extreme and unpredictable weather, soil carbon sequestration is catching national and international attention as a means of climate change mitigation and adaptation. California is poised to lead the way with its soon-to-be-launched Healthy Soils Incentives Program, the nation’s first program to directly incentivize farmers for adopting practices that improve soil health, sequester carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions overall.

    According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) most recent proposed Healthy Soils program framework, farmers and ranchers will be eligible to apply for up to $50,000 to defray the costs of adopting healthy soils practices (pictured below) over the course of three years...

    …some proposed program details raised significant concerns … CDFA agreed to release the program’s draft request for proposal (RFP) for public comment and subsequent revision before officially launching the program….Below, we outline our recommendations for the proposed program framework.

    -Allow on-farm compost to be eligible for compost application…

    -Clarify how payments and payment timelines will work for different practices, as well as how that will affect the 3rd year matching fund requirement…

    -Simplify the application for applicant feasibility…

    -Require soil tests from award recipients, not applicants…

    -Reward applicants for conservation plans and matching funds, but not so much that it creates a structural disadvantage to limited-resource and small-scale farmers…

    -Shift the demonstration program back to its intended goal of expanding the impact and adoption of Healthy Soils practices

  5. Better out than in – US and the Paris Climate Agreement

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    Continued US membership in the Paris Agreement on climate would be symbolic and have no effect on US emissions. Instead, it would reveal the weaknesses of the agreement, prevent new opportunities from emerging, and gift greater leverage to a recalcitrant administration.

    Luke Kemp Nature Climate Change (2017) doi:10.1038/nclimate3309 Published online 22 May 2017  See publication here

    After the election of President Trump and a two-house Republican majority, many fear for the future of US climate policy. The new administration has indicated that they will abolish Obama’s climate legacy through executive orders1. The repeal of domestic measures will likely result in the US missing its first nationally determined contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement, which is an inadequate target of reducing emissions by 26–28% compared to 2005 levels by 2025. If other countries adopted comparable targets, global warming would likely exceed 2 °C (ref. 2). The US would need to implement the Clean Power Plan and additional measures to reach its NDC3. Preliminary research suggests that the policies of the Trump administration would instead lead to emissions increasing through to 20253….

     

  6. California engages world, fights Washington, on climate change

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    California is emerging as the nation’s de facto negotiator with the world on the environment

    By CORAL DAVENPORT and ADAM NAGOURNEY MAY 23, 2017  NY Times

    LOS ANGELES — The environmental ministers of Canada and Mexico went to San Francisco last month to sign a global pact — drafted largely by California — to lower planet-warming greenhouse pollution. Gov. Jerry Brown flies to China next month to meet with climate leaders there on a campaign to curb global warming. And a battery of state lawyers is preparing to battle any attempt by Washington to weaken California’s automobile pollution emission standards.

    As President Trump moves to reverse the Obama administration’s policies on climate change, California is emerging as the nation’s de facto negotiator with the world on the environment. The state is pushing back on everything from White House efforts to roll back pollution rules on tailpipes and smokestacks, to plans to withdraw or weaken the United States’ commitments under the Paris climate change accord.

    In the process, California is not only fighting to protect its legacy of sweeping environmental protection, but also holding itself out as a model to other states — and to nations — on how to fight climate change.

    “I want to do everything we can to keep America on track, keep the world on track, and lead in all the ways California has,” said Mr. Brown, who has embraced this fight as he enters what is likely to be the final stretch of a 40-year career in California government. “We’re looking to do everything we can to advance our program, regardless of whatever happens in Washington.”…

     

  7. Massive tree plantations to pull CO2 out of air unlikely to work- not enough land

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    • biomass plantations with subsequent carbon immobilization are likely unable to “repair” insufficient emission reduction policies without compromising food production and biosphere functioning due to its space-consuming properties.
    • staying below the 2°C target would require a combination of high irrigation water input and development of highly effective carbon process chains- not a viable alternative to aggressive emission reductions, it could still support mitigation efforts if sustainably managed.

    …Boysen and her colleagues find the land space that would be required for the amount of trees necessary to keep temperatures within a 2-degree threshold under our current climate trajectory could have “dire consequences for food production or the biosphere.” And even under more optimistic scenarios, where future carbon emissions are lower and fewer trees would be necessary, they conclude that “high inputs of managed water and fertilizers would be needed in order to avoid fierce competition for land — with potentially negative side-effects for climate and society.”

    …The solution that’s been proposed in numerous reports and climate models… is a technology known as bioenergy and carbon capture and storage, or BECCS. This strategy involves establishing large plantations of fast-growing trees, capable of storing large quantities of carbon, which can then be harvested and used for fuel. Biomass burning facilities would need to be outfitted with a special carbon-capturing technology, which would capture the carbon dioxide produced and store it safely away, potentially in geological formations deep underground. It’s an ambitious proposal, and one that many scientists have pointed out is nowhere near the point of becoming feasible, even from a technological perspective….

    Lena Boyson et al The limits to global-warming mitigation by terrestrial carbon removal Earth’s Future (AGU) May 17 2017 DOI: 10.1002/2016EF0004

    • Plain Language Summary: In 2015, parties agreed to limit global warming to “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels. However, this requires not only massive near-term greenhouse gas emissions reductions but also the application of “negative emission” techniques that extract already emitted carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Specifically, this could refer to the establishment of extensive plantations of fast-growing tree and grass species in combination with biomass conversion to carbon-saving products. Although such deployment is seen as promising, its carbon sequestration potentials and possible side-effects still remain to be studied in depth. In this study, we analyzed two feasibility aspects of such a negative emissions approach using biomass plantations and carbon utilization pathways. First, we show that biomass plantations with subsequent carbon immobilization are likely unable to “repair” insufficient emission reduction policies without compromising food production and biosphere functioning due to its space-consuming properties. Second, the requirements for a strong mitigation scenario staying below the 2°C target would require a combination of high irrigation water input and development of highly effective carbon process chains. Although we find that this strategy of sequestering carbon is not a viable alternative to aggressive emission reductions, it could still support mitigation efforts if sustainably managed.
  8. Pace of sea level rise has nearly tripled since 1990

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    May 22 at 3:01 P M

    Their paper, just out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, isn’t the first to find that the rate of rising seas is itself increasing — but it finds a bigger rate of increase than in past studies. The new paper concludes that before 1990, oceans were rising at about 1.1 millimeters per year, or just 0.43 inches per decade. From 1993 through 2012, though, it finds that they rose at 3.1 millimeters per year, or 1.22 inches per decade.

    The cause, said Dangendorf, is that sea level rise throughout much of the 20th century was driven by the melting of land-based glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms, but sea level rise in the 21st century has now, on top of that, added in major contributions from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.

    “The sea level rise is now three times as fast as before 1990,” Dangendorf said….Kopp added that in the past five years, there is some indication that sea level rise could already be even higher than the 3.1 millimeter annual rate seen from 1993 through 2012. He cautioned, though, that “those higher rates over a short period of time probably include some level of natural variability as well as continued, human-caused acceleration.”…“Sea levels will continue to rise over the coming century, no matter whether we will adapt or not, but I think we can limit at least a part of the sea level rise. It will further accelerate, but how much is related to how we act as humans,” Dangendorf said

    Sönke Dangendorf, Reassessment of 20th century global mean sea level rise. PNAS 2017 doi: 10.1073/pnas.1616007114

  9. Global Landscapes Forum

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    Landscapes for a New Climate and Development Agenda

    The Global Landscapes Forum is the world’s largest and only science-led multi-sectoral platform designed to produce and disseminate knowledge and accelerate action to build more resilient, climate friendly, diverse, equitable and productive landscapes. The GLF platforms connects diverse stakeholders; provides learning opportunities; gathers and shares knowledge; and accelerates action to produce positive, sustainable impact.

    Landscape approaches embrace compromise amongst competing social, environmental, political and economic demands to produce multiple benefits from limited resources. The GLF utilizes this approach around five broad themes; Restoration; Financing; Rights; Measuring Progress; and Food and Livelihoods. The science-led Forum convenes diverse stakeholders—civil society, private sector, policy makers, community members, farmers, indigenous groups, international organizations, and more—to share knowledge and best practice to produce collaborative contributions to achieving the 2030 Agenda.

    Global Landscapes Forum Paris. Photo by CIFOR.

    Global Landscapes Forum Paris. Photo by CIFOR.

    Outcome Statement of the 2016 Global Landscapes Forum: Climate Action for Sustainable Development

    More than 5,500 stakeholders from forestry, agriculture, water, energy, law, finance and more came together for the fourth annual Global Landscapes Forum on 16 November, 2016 in Marrakesh. The thematic event, convened by a cross-sectoral consortium of international organizations, encouraged the exchange of the latest climate and sustainable development knowledge and research that will enable the transition from global commitment to local action. The Outcome Statement (pdf) highlights four cross-cutting key messages that sum up some of the most pressing challenges and opportunities for moving towards sustainable landscapes:

    1. Strengthening cross-sectoral collaboration efforts
    2. Increasing engagement with local stakeholders
    3. Pushing to mobilize the private and finance sectors
    4. Implementing new technology and tools to increase transparency and effectively

    Global Landscapes Forum – Peatlands Matter

    When thinking of forests, don’t forget the value of trees

    By Werner L. Kornexl

    Over the past decade, commitments and support for Forest Landscape Restoration have grown significantly. As part of the Bonn Challenge, for instance, some 40 countries, sub-national jurisdictions, and non-governmental entities have now pledged to restore forest landscapes across 148 million hectares. Although the environmental benefits in terms of ecosystem services, soil restoration, water, biodiversity and climate resilience are evident, the tremendous economic arguments and the value proposition for poor people living in, or nearby, the forests, are not always at the forefront of the efforts to restore landscapes….

  10. Cartoons- EPA

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    http://www.politicalcartoons.com/cartoon/50f1f59c-1b15-4b3c-b83f-4b476f3cc313.html

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    RJ Matson - CagleCartoons.com - EPA Global Warming Alarm Silencer-COLOR - English - EPA Global Warming Alarm Silencer,EPA,Environmental,Protection,Agency,Global,Warming,Alarm,Climate,Change,Science,President,Trump,Administration,Silence,Silencer,Research,Ban,Website,Page,Delete,Erase

     

    EPA Global Warming Alarm Silencer

    Toles Planet Shutdown May 8 2017