Science for a Blue Planet

Featuring cutting-edge work, discoveries, and challenges of our scientists, our partners, and the larger conservation science community.

Science News: Guiding Renewable Energy, Celebrating Climate Legislation, and much more

Earth from space, credit: NOAA.

Biden Signs Landmark Climate Bill

On August 16th, 2022 President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law. Although it’s not perfect, it is the biggest, most important piece of federal climate legislation to date. It encompasses clear and actionable policy to drive the needed investment to decarbonize our economy emissions. Importantly, the bill clearly prioritizes equity and nature-based climate solutions, two of Point Blue’s own priorities. Read more from our CEO, Mani Oliva, here.

Photo: Earth from space. Credit: NOAA.

The Power of Community Scientists

A central goal at Point Blue is to monitor and address the ongoing biodiversity loss crisis, and one project that does just that is Soundscapes to Landscapes (S2L). Citizen scientists are a key component and they help by conducting field work (placing and retrieving sound recorders throughout Sonoma County), and identifying bird calls in the sound recordings to help train automated computer models that predict bird species presence. Private landowners are also considered citizen scientists by allowing the S2L team to access their properties. This project helps to increase the pace and scale of biodiversity monitoring not only by engaging the community, but also by implementing machine learning of audio recordings and integrating satellite data to analyze bird diversity over the landscape at a county-wide scale. In a recent publication in Citizen Science: Theory and Practice, lead project coordinator Rose Snyder and team members share lessons learned on involving the community in this ambitious study. S2L engaged 259 volunteers who contributed 8,390 hours over five years. Read our publication brief here, the full publication here, or a recent article in Fast Company here.

Photo: Audio moth sound recorder being put out at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Sonoma County, CA. Credit: Lishka Arata.

The Winds of Change Guided by Science

Clean energy, such as wind and solar, is key to creating a healthy future and reducing atmospheric carbon levels before major tipping points occur. We are currently providing rigorous science to decision makers to help guide placement of offshore wind turbines and help ensure marine life can thrive. We’ve been working with the Ocean Protection Council to provide in-depth scientific review and new modeling approaches to help guide how, when, and where offshore wind energy is installed so that it is not in significant conflict with marine wildlife. Part of this process has involved our collaboration with the Patrick J McGovern Foundation to improve how to work with large datasets. Read more about that collaboration here. We’ve also produced guiding reports for the Humboldt County and Morro Bay offshore areas as well as an overall assessment of all offshore areas of California.

Photo: Offshore wind energy infrastructure. Credit: Aaron Crowe, Flickr Commons.

Intermountain Shorebirds?

Did you know that the Pacific Flyway, one of the 9 global bird migration routes, includes 11 states in the US? When asked, most might correctly name the coastal states of Washington, Oregon, and California. But  Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada are all part of the flyway as well! A vast network of saline lakes, freshwater wetlands, grasslands, and agricultural areas in these states provide critical stepping stones for migratory shorebirds during the most vulnerable portions of their annual life cycle: migration. With partners at the National Audubon Society, we noticed that the data for how shorebirds are using the intermountain regions of all 11 Pacific Flyway US states has been lacking over the past 30 years. With support from the US Fish and Wildlife Service we are embarking on an epic five-year “road trip” to fill in these data gaps. This work is especially pertinent now with extreme drought conditions persisting across much of the western US. Keep your eye out for snippets from the journey on our social media channels as well as reports and findings along the way.

Photo: Shorebirds along the Salton Sea. Credit: Lishka Arata.

News Bites

New Central Valley Joint Venture Video. A new short film illustrates the Central Valley Joint Venture’s collaborative approach, vital to ensuring resilient bird populations in the Central Valley and the whole Pacific Flyway for future generations. It features some of Point Blue’s shorebird work in action. Take 13 minutes to watch the video and let us know what you think!

Research at Sea. This summer was the 19th year of at-sea research and monitoring through the ACCESS Partnership, a collaboration between NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries and Point Blue. Check out the ACCESS Facebook and Instagram to see amazing photos and videos of sights like whales breaching. Data from this long-term study contribute to saving whales from ship strikes, reducing whale entanglements, protecting wildlife hotspots, tracking ocean acidification, and documenting the effects of climate change.

39th Year at Mono Lake. Check out this new 2-minute field report from our latest drone-based California Gull survey at Mono Lake. Our nearly 40 year long data set has helped to inform lake water management and continues to do so today.

New Resource Alert: Tending the Edges. Our partners at the Marin County Resource Conservation District just released a beautifully illustrated guide to planting hedgerows, landscape features designed specifically to attract pollinators. Point Blue was happy to provide review and input for this useful rangeland tool. It’s available in both English and Spanish.


Find upcoming events and recordings of our past ones on our events page here.