Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Tag Archive: climate change

  1. Declining baby songbirds need forests to survive drought

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    • Birds in larger mature forest areas, on the other hand, were better able to withstand the dry conditions since these areas offer more shade and resources. Forest cover helps maintain climatic conditions, including moist soil, which is an important factor for wood thrush food availability

    October 19, 2017 Virginia Tech  read full ScienceDaily article here

    According to a new study by biologists at Virginia Tech and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, the offspring of a certain songbird, the wood thrush, are more likely to survive drought in larger forest plots that offer plenty of shade and resources…

    Wood thrush are common to the United States, but populations have declined by more than 60 percent since the 1960s. In addition, many species of songbirds, such as blue jays, robins, and cardinals, as well as wood thrush, face the highest risk of dying within the first five days of leaving their nests.

    …Birds in larger mature forest areas, on the other hand, were better able to withstand the dry conditions since these areas offer more shade and resources. Forest cover helps maintain climatic conditions, including moist soil, which is an important factor for wood thrush food availability. These conditions ultimately make areas more resilient to drought.

    The research highlights the role that forest cover can play in buffering animals from stressful environmental conditions — in this case, promoting survival of young birds during drought conditions,” said Amanda Rodewald, professor and director of conservation science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, who was not involved with the research. “This finding is yet another that underscores the importance of maintaining forested landscape mosaics in strategies to conserve biodiversity.”….

    For ideal survival, then, Vernasco says fledglings do well with a “mosaic” of habitats made up of forests that differ in age and thus vegetation structure.

    Ben J. Vernasco, T. Scott Sillett, Peter P. Marra, T. Brandt Ryder. Environmental predictors of nestling condition, postfledging movement, and postfledging survival in a migratory songbird, the Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina). The Auk, 2017; 135 (1): 15 DOI: 10.1642/AUK-17-105.1

  2. Climate change and biodiversity – recent reports and books

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    • Information on 11 reports released by NGOs, international agencies, and research centers.

    Yale Climate Connections Oct. 19 2017 read full article here

    This post highlights reports on climate change and biodiversity released by environmental organizations, international agencies, and research centers. We present these reports in chronological order; as always, the descriptions are drawn from copy provided by the publishers.

    The October 12 companion post highlighted 12 books that provide overviews of likely impacts of climate change on biodiversity, historical and species-specific case studies, surveys of habitats and ecosystems, and reflections on places, policies, and practices.

    • Species and Climate Change: More Than Just the Polar Bear, edited by Sarah Horsely (IUCN 2009, 46 pages, free download)is likely to have on land and in our oceans and rivers.
    • Arctic Biodiversity Assessment: Scientific Synthesis (Arctic Council 2013, 132 pages, free download)
    • Vital But Vulnerable: Climate Change Vulnerability and Human Use of Wildlife in Africa’s Albertine Rift, by Jamie Carr, Wendy B. Foden, Gemma Goodman, Thomasina Oldfield, Thomasina, and Willow Outhwaite (IUCN 2013, 240 pages, free download).
    • Integrating Biodiversity and Climate Change Adaptation in Activity Design, edited by Jonathan Cook and Diane Adams (US AID 2015, 60 pages, free download)
    • IUCN SSC Guidelines for Assessing Species Vulnerability to Climate Change, edited by Wendy B. Foden and Bruce E. Young (IUCN 2016, 127 pages, free download)
    • Changing Tides: How Sea-Level Rise Harms Wildlife and Recreation Economies Along the U.S. Eastern Seaboard, by Lauren Anderson, Patty Glick, Shannon Heyck-Williams, and Jim Murphy (National Wildlife Federation 2016, 40 pages, free download)
    • Adapting to Climate Change: Guidance for Protected Area Planners and Managers, edited by John E. Gross, Steven Woodley, Leigh Welling, and James E.M. Watson (IUCN 2016, 129 pages, free download)
    • Options for Ecosystem-Based Adaptation in Coastal Environments: A Guide for Environmental Managers and Planners, edited by Rebecca Mant, Will Simonson, Matea Osti, Xavier de Lamo and Nanna Vansteelant. (UNEP 2016, 110 pages, free download)
    • Protected Planet Report 2016: How Protected Areas Contribute to the Goals of Biodiversity, edited by Nina Bhola, Diego Juffe-Bignolia, Neil Burgess, Trevor Sandwith, and Naomi Kingston (Protected Planet 2016, 84 pages, free download
    • State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report, by the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna group (Arctic Council 2017, 200 pages, free download)
    • SOS II: Fish in Hot Water: Status, Threats, and Solutions for California Salmon, Steelhead, and Trout, based on a report by Dr. Peter B. Moyle, Dr. Rob Lusardi and Patrick Samuel (California Trout 2017, 40 pages, free download).
  3. Natural climate solutions can provide up to 37% of emissions reductions needed by 2030

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    • Nature-based solutions such as tree planting, protecting peatlands and better land management could account for 37% of all cuts needed by 2030 to keep global temperature increases below 2C, says study (see GuardianUK article about this study here)

    Bronson Griscom et al. Natural Climate Solutions. PNAS (Proceedings of the Ntional Academy of Sciences, US). October 17 2018 doi: 10.1073/pnas.1710465114

    Most nations recently agreed to hold global average temperature rise to well below 2 °C. We examine how much climate mitigation nature can contribute to this goal with a comprehensive analysis of “natural climate solutions” (NCS): 20 conservation, restoration, and/or improved land management actions that increase carbon storage and/or avoid greenhouse gas emissions across global forests, wetlands, grasslands, and agricultural lands. We show that NCS can provide over one-third of the cost-effective climate mitigation needed between now and 2030 to stabilize warming to below 2 °C. Alongside aggressive fossil fuel emissions reductions, NCS offer a powerful set of options for nations to deliver on the Paris Climate Agreement while improving soil productivity, cleaning our air and water, and maintaining biodiversity.

    Abstract: Better stewardship of land is needed to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement goal of holding warming to below 2 °C; however, confusion persists about the specific set of land stewardship options available and their mitigation potential. To address this, we identify and quantify “natural climate solutions” (NCS): 20 conservation, restoration, and improved land management actions that increase carbon storage and/or avoid greenhouse gas emissions across global forests, wetlands, grasslands, and agricultural lands. We find that the maximum potential of NCS—when constrained by food security, fiber security, and biodiversity conservation—is 23.8 petagrams of CO2 equivalent (PgCO2e) y−1 (95% CI 20.3–37.4). This is ≥30% higher than prior estimates, which did not include the full range of options and safeguards considered here. About half of this maximum (11.3 PgCO2e y−1) represents cost-effective climate mitigation, assuming the social cost of CO2 pollution is ≥100 USD MgCO2e−1 by 2030. Natural climate solutions can provide 37% of cost-effective CO2 mitigation needed through 2030 for a >66% chance of holding warming to below 2 °C. One-third of this cost-effective NCS mitigation can be delivered at or below 10 USD MgCO2−1. Most NCS actions—if effectively implemented—also offer water filtration, flood buffering, soil health, biodiversity habitat, and enhanced climate resilience. Work remains to better constrain uncertainty of NCS mitigation estimates. Nevertheless, existing knowledge reported here provides a robust basis for immediate global action to improve ecosystem stewardship as a major solution to climate change.

    From the text:

    Our assessment of the potential contribution of NCS to meeting the Paris Agreement is conservative in three ways. First, payments for ecosystem services other than carbon sequestration are not considered here and could spur cost-effective implementation of NCS beyond the levels we identified. Natural climate solutions enhance biodiversity habitat, water filtration, flood control, air filtration, and soil quality (Fig. 1) among other services, some of which have high monetary values (3436) (see SI Appendix, Table S5 for details). Improved human health from dietary shifts toward plant-based foods reduce healthcare expenses and further offset NCS costs (37).

    Second, our findings are conservative because we only include activities and greenhouse gas fluxes where data were sufficiently robust for global extrapolation. For example, we exclude no-till agriculture (Conservation Agriculture pathway), we exclude improved manure management in concentrated animal feed operations (Nutrient Management pathway), we exclude adaptive multipaddock grazing (Grazing pathways), and we exclude soil carbon emissions that may occur with conversion of forests to pasture (Avoided Forest Conversion pathway). Future research may reveal a robust empirical basis for including such activities and fluxes within these pathways.

    Third, the Paris Agreement states goals of limiting warming to “well below 2 °C” and pursuing “efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.” Our analysis specifies a >66% chance of holding warming to just below 2 °C (30). Additional investment in all mitigation efforts (i.e., beyond ∼100 USD MgCO2−1), including NCS, would be warranted to keep warming to well below 2 °C, or to 1.5 °C, particularly if a very likely (90%) chance of success is desired.

    Read TNC’s post on this publication: Nature’s Make or Break Potential for Climate Change

    • New study shows we’ve been underestimating nature’s role in tackling climate change

    …Forest loss accounts for 8 to 10 percent of carbon emissions globally; tropical rainforests ….work as massive carbon sinks and are home to many of the world’s indigenous people and endangered species.  But other global ecosystems and managed lands—from farmlands and peatlands to seagrass and tidal marshes—have garnered less attention from climate regulators, both as a source of emissions and a potential mitigation solution….

     

    https://thought-leadership-production.s3.amazonaws.com/2017/10/16/14/01/00/b0c73b16-d91a-46ec-83b9-a2bdfda9aaba/Infographic%20Natural%20Climate%20Solutions,%2020%20Pathways.png

  4. Electric Vehicles Expected to Push Oil Demand Down

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    • With China now planning to phase out gas-powered cars, automakers are talking about an all-electric future. It could mean a big drop in emissions.
  5. Climate solution in soil? Soil holds potential to slow global warming, researchers find

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    • Stanford scientists call for a renewed push to gather significantly more data on carbon in the soil and learn more about the role it plays in sequestering carbon
    • They call for an open, shared network for use by farmers, ranchers and other land managers as well as policymakers and organizations that need good data to inform land investments and conservation.
    • Improving how the land is managed could increase soil’s carbon storage enough to offset future carbon emissions from thawing permafrost with possible approaches including reduced tillage, year-round livestock forage, and compost application…planting more perennial crops, instead of annuals, could store more carbon and to reduce erosion by allowing roots to reach deeper into the ground.

    October 5, 2017 Stanford University read full ScienceDaily article here

    If you want to do something about global warming, look under your feet. Managed well, soil’s ability to trap carbon dioxide is potentially much greater than previously estimated, according to Stanford researchers who claim the resource could “significantly” offset increasing global emissions. They call for a reversal of federal cutbacks to related research programs to learn more about this valuable resource.

    The work, published in two overlapping studies Oct. 5 in Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics and Global Change Biology, emphasizes the need for more research into how soil — if managed well — could mitigate a rapidly changing climate.

    Organic matter in soil, such as decomposing plant and animal residues, stores more carbon than do plants and the atmosphere combined. Unfortunately, the carbon in soil has been widely lost or degraded through land use changes and unsustainable forest and agricultural practices, fires, nitrogen deposition and other human activities. The greatest near-term threat comes from thawing permafrost in Earth’s northern reaches, which could release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.

    Improving how the land is managed could increase soil’s carbon storage enough to offset future carbon emissions from thawing permafrost, the researchers find. Among the possible approaches: reduced tillage, year-round livestock forage and compost application. Planting more perennial crops, instead of annuals, could store more carbon and to reduce erosion by allowing roots to reach deeper into the ground….

    ….”Dirt is not exciting to most people,” said earth system science professor Rob Jackson, lead author of the Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics article and coauthor of the Global Change Biology paper. “But it is a no-risk climate solution with big cobenefits. Fostering soil health protects food security and builds resilience to droughts, floods and urbanization.”

    ….Jackson, Harden and their colleagues call for a renewed push to gather significantly more data on carbon in the soil and learn more about the role it plays in sequestering carbon. They envision an open, shared network for use by farmers, ranchers and other land managers as well as policymakers and organizations that need good data to inform land investments and conservation.

    If we lose momentum on carbon research, it will stifle our momentum for solving both climate and land sustainability problems,” Harden said.

    Robert B. Jackson, Kate Lajtha, Susan E. Crow, Gustaf Hugelius, Marc G. Kramer, Gervasio Piñeiro. The Ecology of Soil Carbon: Pools, Vulnerabilities, and Biotic and Abiotic Controls. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 2014; 48 (1) DOI: 10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-112414-054234

  6. Finally, a focus on saving the great forests of the Sierra. But is it too late? SacBee Editorial

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    • “There is an urgent need to reform policy and management to ensure that Californians continue to benefit from these forests for generations to come,” a new Public Policy Institute of California report says
    • Reducing forest density could have the side benefit of increasing run-off by as much as 9 percent, filling streams and rivers for the good of fisheries and for residential, agriculture and industrial use, the PPIC report says.

    Sacramento Bee Editorial  September 21, 2017 read full SacBee editorial here

    We Californians take for granted the great forests of the Sierra Nevada. It is where we ski and hike, and breathe fresh air, and it’s the primary source of our water.

    It’s all at risk. Drought and bark beetle infestation are the proximate cause of death of more than 100 million trees in California since 2010. But the forests were weakened by climate change, combined with mismanagement that includes well-intentioned wildfire prevention efforts and logging in past decades of old-growth trees, which are most resistant to fire and disease.

    [Governor] Brown and the Legislature approved another $225 million in cap-and-trade revenue, reserved for the fight against climate change, for forests. That underscored one of California’s inconvenient truths. Like refineries, diesel engines and cars powered by internal combustion, burning and decaying forests spew greenhouse gases.

    In April, the Governor’s Tree Mortality Task Force reported that the 2013 Rim Fire at Yosemite emitted 12.06 million tons of carbon dioxide, three times more than all the greenhouse gas reductions achieved that year in all other sectors in California. Worse, the detritus decomposing in the burn area will unleash four times that amount of greenhouse gas in coming decades.

    In much of the 15 million acres of mountains from Kern to Siskiyou counties, forests are choking with 400 sickly trees per acre, four times the number in healthy forests. Tools to heal the forests are at hand, but forest management is fraught.

    …Some environmentalists oppose logging, while some conservative politicians advocate unraveling environmental restrictions to allow for far more logging. Neither extreme is helpful. Flexibility is needed. The Clean Air Act could, for example, allow for the use of prescribed fires.

    …Reducing forest density could have the side benefit of increasing run-off by as much as 9 percent, filling streams and rivers for the good of fisheries and for residential, agriculture and industrial use, the PPIC report says.

    The report says the cost of wise forest management might not be astronomical. In time, it might pay for itself, assuming mills are retooled or built to accommodate smaller and mid-size timber. Such mills could provide jobs in parts of the state where unemployment is chronically high.

    …Our re-engineered state of 40 million people faces many problems. The water delivery system is oversubscribed and antiquated. Billions of dollars should be spent to reinforce California against floods.

    But there is cause for optimism. Laird last month announced the Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative with other top officials, and some significant environmental groups are joining longtime advocates to focus on Sierra restoration. There is some support in Congress for wiser forest management.

    And now comes an infusion of state money, not to be taken for granted, and none too soon.

  7. We must accelerate decarbonization for sustainability and limiting warming to 2C; 66% chance if emissions peak by 2020 and drop by 70% by 2050

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    • 66% chance of limiting global temperature increases to below 2C if global energy-related carbon emissions peak by 2020 and fall by more than 70% in the next 35 years

    • Necessitates “deep decarbonisation” of electricity, tdransport, heat, industrial, forestry and agricultural systems across the world
    • Rapid changes in electricity, heat, buildings, industry and mobility are needed including tripling of the annual rate of energy efficiency improvement, retrofitting the entire building stock, generating 95% of electricity from low-carbon sources by 2050 and shifting almost entirely towards electric cars.

    September 21, 2017 University of Sussex

    …To provide a reasonable (66%) chance of limiting global temperature increases to below 2oC, the International Energy Agency and International Renewable Energy Agency suggest that global energy-related carbon emissions must peak by 2020 and fall by more than 70% in the next 35 years. This implies a tripling of the annual rate of energy efficiency improvement, retrofitting the entire building stock, generating 95% of electricity from low-carbon sources by 2050 and shifting almost entirely towards electric cars.

    This elemental challenge necessitates “deep decarbonisation” of electricity, transport, heat, industrial, forestry and agricultural systems across the world. But despite the recent rapid growth in renewable electricity generation, the rate of progress towards this wider goal remains slow…

    The Policy Forum provides four key lessons for how to accelerate sustainability transitions.

    Lesson 1: Focus on socio-technical systems rather than individual elements…Accelerated low-carbon transitions therefore depend on both techno-economic improvements, and social, political and cultural processes…Traditional policy approaches emphasizing a single technology will not be enough…

    Lesson 2: Align multiple innovations and systems…accelerated low-carbon transitions in electricity depend not only on the momentum of renewable energy innovations like wind, solar-PV and bio-energy, but also on complementary innovations including energy storage and demand response. These need aligned and then linked so that innovations are harmonized…

    Lesson 3: Offer societal and business support…Public support is crucial for effective transition policies. Low-carbon transitions in mobility, agro-food, heat and buildings will also involve millions of citizens who need to modify their purchase decisions, user practices, beliefs, cultural conventions and skills. To motivate citizens, financial incentives and information about climate change threats need to be complemented by positive discourses about the economic, social and cultural benefits of low-carbon innovations….

    Lesson 4: Phase out existing systems…Phasing out existing systems accelerates transitions by creating space for niche-innovations and removing barriers to their diffusion. …

    Frank W. Geels, Benjamin K. Sovacool, Tim Schwanen, Steve Sorrell. Sociotechnical transitions for deep decarbonization. Science, 2017; 357 (6357): 1242 DOI: 10.1126/science.aao3760

  8. A better farm future starts with the soil; Opinion on the next Farm Bill

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    • With extreme weather events on the rise and farmers and foresters feeling the effects of a changing climate, however, soil health is now at the forefront of our national conversation.
    • Within the next year, the new 5 year Farm Bill will be reauthorized with implications for every aspect of food and agriculture in the US
    • the next farm bill should ensure an ongoing and growing focus on improving soil health and should make sure that USDA has the authority and funding it needs to measure and report on program outcomes…

    Within the next year Congress will reauthorize the massive amalgamation of legislation we commonly refer to as “the farm bill.” The farm bill, which is reauthorized every five years, has major implications for every part of our food and farm system and covers issues including but certainly not limited to: conservation, nutrition, local food, credit and finance, research and commodity subsidies.

    Although healthy soil is one of the essential building blocks of agriculture, historically the issue has not been a major focus of the farm bill – as some farmers would say, soil has been treated like dirt. With extreme weather events on the rise and farmers and foresters feeling the effects of a changing climate, however, soil health is now at the forefront of our national conversation.

    ….As our most significant package of food and farm legislation approaches expiration on September 30, 2018, many are asking: How can the farm bill support resilient farms, address natural resource concerns and increase productivity? A key part of the answer: promote soil health.….The next farm bill should enhance the long-term funding base for both working lands programs and ensure an ongoing and growing focus on improving soil health. In addition, the farm bill should make sure that USDA has the authority and funding it needs to measure and report on program outcomes….

    ….The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program is one of the only USDA research programs with a clear and consistent focus on farmer-driven research. SARE is the leader in cutting-edge on-farm research to develop and test soil enhancement methods, such as regionally specific cover cropping or grazing management systems. The next farm bill should reauthorize and secure direct farm bill funding for SARE to ensure the program’s continued success.

    ….The farm bill must also underscore the connection between healthy soils and reduced risks for farmers, and ensure that federal crop insurance programs reward producers for advanced conservation activities and provide the appropriate incentives for those who are not currently engaged.

    Collectively, reforms to conservation, research and the farm safety net present an enormous opportunity to improve the health of our soils. …

    Alyssa Charney is a policy specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and staffs the Coalition’s Conservation, Energy, and Environment Committee.

  9. Cartoons– Sept 22 2017

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    These cartoons are the opinions of the artists and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Point Blue Conservation Science or its staff.

    http://www.chappatte.com/en/

    http://www.gocomics.com/tomtoles/2017/09/20

    http://www.gocomics.com/nickanderson/2017/09/18

     : California cartoons : Meyer Cartoons

    http://www.meyertoons.com/gallery.html?gallery=California%20cartoons&folio=Cartoons

     

    http://www.chappatte.com/en/images