Ecology, Climate Change and Related News August 17, 2012


Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Related News Updates

August 17, 2012


News of the Week–   Hundred Year Forecast: Drought

























Highlight of the Week…. 





Chronic 2000-04 drought, worst in 800 years, may be the ‘new normal’

ScienceDaily (July 29, 2012) — The chronic drought that hit western North America warming, a group of 10 researchers reported July 29 in Nature Geoscience. The lead author was Christopher Schwalm at Northern Arizona University.


Hundred-Year Forecast: Drought


[about their NATURE publication:]


BY many measurements, this summer’s drought is one for the record books. But so was last year’s drought in the South Central states. And it has been only a decade since an extreme five-year drought hit the American West. Widespread annual droughts, once a rare calamity, have become more frequent and are set to become the “new normal.”


Until recently, many scientists spoke of climate change mainly as a “threat,” sometime in the future. But it is increasingly clear that we already live in the era of human-induced climate change, with a growing frequency of weather and climate extremes like heat waves, droughts, floods and fires.


Future precipitation trends, based on climate model projections for the coming fifth assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, indicate that droughts of this length and severity will be commonplace through the end of the century unless human-induced carbon emissions are significantly reduced. Indeed, assuming business as usual, each of the next 80 years in the American West is expected to see less rainfall than the average of the five years of the drought that hit the region from 2000 to 2004.


That extreme drought (which we have analyzed in a new study in the journal Nature-Geoscience) had profound consequences for carbon sequestration, agricultural productivity and water resources: plants, for example, took in only half the carbon dioxide they do normally, thanks to a drought-induced drop in photosynthesis.


In the drought’s worst year, Western crop yields were down by 13 percent, with many local cases of complete crop failure. Major river basins showed 5 percent to 50 percent reductions in flow. These reductions persisted up to three years after the drought ended, because the lakes and reservoirs that feed them needed several years of average rainfall to return to predrought levels.


In terms of severity and geographic extent, the 2000-4 drought in the West exceeded such legendary events as the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. While that drought saw intervening years of normal rainfall, the years of the turn-of-the-century drought were consecutive. More seriously still, long-term climate records from tree-ring chronologies show that this drought was the most severe event of its kind in the western United States in the past 800 years. Though there have been many extreme droughts over the last 1,200 years, only three other events have been of similar magnitude, all during periods of “megadroughts.”


Most frightening is that this extreme event could become the new normal: climate models point to a warmer planet, largely because of greenhouse gas emissions. Planetary warming, in turn, is expected to create drier conditions across western North America, because of the way global-wind and atmospheric-pressure patterns shift in response.


Indeed, scientists see signs of the relationship between warming and drought in western North America by analyzing trends over the last 100 years; evidence suggests that the more frequent drought and low precipitation events observed for the West during the 20th century are associated with increasing temperatures across the Northern Hemisphere……


NY Times Multimedia

Drought and Deluge in the Lower 48

Map  The Current Disaster  Graphic





  1. 1.     ECOLOGY



PRBO in the news:

Birds: Time to accept conservation triage (NATURE – subs. required-contact jwiens@prbo.orgJohn A. Wiens, Dale D. Goble & J. Michael Scott  Nature 488, 281 (16 August 2012) doi:10.1038/488281c Published online 15 August 2012

Like the troubled California condors Gymnogyps californianus (Nature 486, 451; 2012), more than 80% of endangered US species are imperilled by threats that cannot be eliminated, only managed. These species are “conservation reliant” (J.M. Scott et al. Conserv. Lett. 3, 91–97; 2010). For example, the endangered Kirtland’s warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii) has exceeded…



New breed of ranchers shapes a sustainable West –

These green cowboys try to marry good stewardship of the land with making money. 

By Todd Wilkinson, Correspondent / July 29, 2012  ….”Being a smart rancher – one who’s still going to be here in another 50 years – isn’t based on how you dress,” says Jones. “It comes down to how you treat the land and build resilience over time that matters. In particular, it’s about how well you manage grass and water.”  Normally, listening to a cattleman talk with reverence about managing grass and water, using terms like “holistic” and “sustainable,” would be akin to hearing an environmentalist marvel about the horsepower in an all-terrain vehicle. It seldom happens.  But a new breed of cowboy, like Jones, is changing how ranching is being done in the American West and might – just might – alter the dynamic in the “range wars” that have engulfed the region for more than a half century. Make no mistake: These are not new arrivals carrying out green techniques for the feel-good sake of being green. They are ranchers managing the land in benevolent and environmentally sensitive ways because they think it will help them survive – and make money….

…. intensive management of a ranch’s grasslands. Traditionally, cows are turned out to graze largely unattended on vast open expanses, where they eat the vegetation until it is virtually denuded. This, in turn, can lead to greater dependence on costly hay, as well as antibiotics and pesticides. The Joneses herd cows into more confined areas cordoned off by portable electric fences. Once the grass is chewed down to a certain height, they shift the cattle to another area. The consumed acreage is allowed to rest and replenish, sometimes for a year or more. On a sun-kissed day, Jones pulls out a flowchart showing exactly where Twodot cattle will be grazing over the next seven months….

….Today, after employing Savory’s and other land-management techniques, the Twodot has tripled the abundance of its grasses. The healthier brome has helped the ranch better cope with a chronic lack of rainfall. Plant diversity has flourished, wetlands have improved, and wildlife is thriving. As if on cue, an eagle settles into a nest on a nearby marsh, and two fawns bound through underbrush by a river once trammeled by cattle. “In essence, it’s like having three ranches available to us of comparable size to what we had raising our cows the old way,” says Jones….

Not everyone is so enamored with sustainable ranching. Many old-guard cattlemen believe that worrying about things like wildlife preservation and reviving grasslands detracts from the main objective – to raise cattle in a way that turns a profit. They see the movement as too touchy-feely in philosophy and too dogmatic in practice. They’ll take their risks with controlling predators, raising hay, and using antibiotics and feedlots. Many of them also remain dubious that in the end holistic management can work – that consistent money can be made raising cattle while playing groundskeeper to rangeland. Much of the skepticism may be cultural – a deep-seated resistance to throwing off the way things have been done, and often successfully done, for generations.

Some environmentalists balk at sustainable ranching, too, even though, in theory, it would seem to dovetail with their interests. Part of it is an almost visceral rejection of anything practiced by cattle ranchers. They have spent decades trying to remove cows from public lands because of the harm they believe that private livestock do to the environment. They don’t see a few holistic management techniques reversing years of deleterious practices…..


Organisms cope with environmental uncertainty by guessing the future (August 16, 2012) — In uncertain environments, organisms not only react to signals, but also use molecular processes to make guesses about the future, according to a new study. The authors report that if environmental signals are unreliable, organisms are expected to evolve the ability to take random decisions about adapting to cope with adverse situations. … > full story

Triage for plants: Scientists develop and test rapid species conservation assessment technique (August 16, 2012) — Faced with a host of environmental threats, many of the world’s plant species are believed to be at risk of extinction. But which species? To answer that question, scientists have developed a streamlined method for assessing the conservation status of large numbers of species. Evaluating the flora of Puerto Rico, they found that 459 species — 23 percent of the flora — should be classified as “At Risk.” The process could help focus conservation efforts where they are most needed. … > full story


Detection dogs spot northern spotted owls, even those alarmed by barred owls (August 15, 2012) — A series of forest searches by dogs specially trained to sniff out northern spotted owl pellets — the undigested bones, fur and other bits regurgitated by owls — improved the probability of finding the owls by nearly 30 percent over a series of traditional vocalization surveys. … > full story

Global water sustainability flows through natural and human challenges (August 9, 2012) — Water’s fate in China mirrors problems across the world: fouled, pushed far from its natural origins, squandered and exploited. Scientists look back at lessons learned in China and management strategies that hold solutions for China — and across the world. … > full story

Study demonstrates that one extinction leads to another (August 14, 2012) — When a carnivore becomes extinct, other predatory species could soon follow, according to new research. Scientists have previously put forward this theory, but now biologists have carried out the first experiment to show it. The study shows how the demise of one carnivore species can indirectly cause another to become extinct. The research team believes any extinction can create a ripple effect across a food web, with far-reaching consequences for many other animals. … > full story


Widespread local ‘extinctions’ in tropical forest ‘remnants’ (August 14, 2012) — The small fragments of tropical forests left behind after deforestation are suffering extensive species extinction, according to new research. … > full story


Telling people to save the environment for selfish reasons can backfire

By Brandon Keim WIRED 14 August 12

Earnest, well-meaning environmental messages are supposed to be ineffective relics of a bygone age, when bumper stickers still worked and treehuggers hadn’t realised that self-interest speaks louder than Mother Earth ever could. But don’t put that Save the Whales t-shirt on eBay just yet. In experiments published 12 August in Nature Climate Change, psychologists found that telling people about carpooling’s money-saving benefits seemingly makes them less likely to recycle. In short, appeals to self-interest backfired, accidentally encouraging people to behave selfishly in other areas. …This tension isn’t unique to environmentalism, write Evans and Hahn, but may reflect human nature: Studies show that when people are encouraged to be self-interested, they become less helpful, even if there’s no reason why they can’t be both….


Populations survive despite many deleterious mutations: Evolutionary model of Muller’s ratchet explored (August 10, 2012) — From protozoans to mammals, evolution has created more and more complex structures and better-adapted organisms. This is all the more astonishing as most genetic mutations are deleterious. Especially in small asexual populations that do not recombine their genes, unfavourable mutations can accumulate. This process is known as Muller’s ratchet in evolutionary biology. The ratchet, proposed by the American geneticist Hermann Joseph Muller, predicts that the genome deteriorates irreversibly, leaving populations on a one-way street to extinction. … > full story


‘Crazy’: Dozens of dead birds fall from the sky in New Jersey

By Dan Stamm,

Residents in a Cumberland County, N.J., community were left wondering what caused dozens of birds to drop dead from the sky earlier this week.

Residents along Peach Drive in Millville found at least 80 dead birds — mostly red-winged blackbirds — on the ground, having fallen from trees and the sky.

“Crazy — something out of a movie,” said resident Michelle Cavalieri, who saw the birds fall.

The birds caused a bloody mess on roadways in the residential neighborhood.

“They’d get up and try and fly and they were out of control so they’d crash and fall again,” said resident Jim Sinclair. “It was just strange.”

Animal control, public health officials and other emergency crews were on the scene Tuesday morning collecting dead birds to try and figure out exactly what caused so many of them to die….


Drivers of marine biodiversity: Tiny, freeloading clams find the key to evolutionary success (August 9, 2012) — What mechanisms control the generation and maintenance of biological diversity on the planet? It’s a central question in evolutionary biology. For land-dwelling organisms such as insects and the flowers they pollinate, it’s clear that interactions between species are one of the main drivers of the evolutionary change that leads to biological diversity. … > full story

Ocean health index provides first global assessment combining natural and human dimensions of sustainability (August 15, 2012) — Using a new comprehensive index designed to assess the benefits to people of healthy oceans, scientists have evaluated the ecological, social, economic, and political conditions for every coastal country in the world. Their findings show that the global ocean scores 60 out of 100 overall on the Ocean Health Index. Individual country scores range widely, from 36 to 86. … > full story


Underwater noise decreases whale communications in Stellwagen Bank sanctuary (August 15, 2012) — High levels of background noise, mainly due to ships, have reduced the ability of critically endangered North Atlantic right whales to communicate with each other by about two-thirds. … > full story


Virus confirmed, two BC salmon farms to cull fish
The Vancouver Sun
Two B.C. fish farms will cull their fish after receiving confirmation of a virus that can be deadly to Atlantic salmon. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed that infectious haematopoetic necrosis, or IHN, has been found. Both farms have been in quarantine since preliminary positive tests showed up during routine monitoring. More

For young birds, getting stressed out can be a good thing (August 13, 2012) — Many studies have found that high levels of hormones that are associated with stress are a sign of poor fitness and reduced chance of survival — but recent research on young songbirds found that some elevated hormones can be a good thing, often the difference between life and death. … > full story

Researchers combine remote sensing technologies for highly detailed look at coastal change (August 9, 2012) — Shifting sands and tides make it difficult to measure accurately the amount of beach that’s available for recreation, development and conservation, but researchers have now combined several remote sensing technologies with historical data to create coastal maps with an unsurpassed level of accuracy. … > full story

An index to assess the health and benefits of the global ocean ▶ NATURE
Benjamin S. Halpern, Catherine Longo, Darren Hardy, Karen L. McLeod, Jameal F. Samhouri et al.
This study develops a wide-ranging index to assess the many factors that contribute to the health and benefits of the oceans, and the scores for all costal nations are assessed.
Protecting SharksKQED Thu, Aug 16, 2012 — 9:30 AM Download audio (MP3)

Great white sharks are disappearing from California waters and should be protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, according to a petition filed by environmental groups this week. We discuss the proposal and find out what is threatening the sharks.

Host: Michael Krasny Guests:  David McGuire, marine biologist and founder of the nonprofit Sea Stewards, one of the environmental groups which filed the petition; John McCosker, senior scientist and chair of the department of aquatic biology at the California Academy of Sciences


Marine research in the Brazilian rain forest: Slash and burn practice for centuries as source of stable carbon compounds in the oceans (August 13, 2012) — Until recent decades the Atlantic Rainforest covered a large area of today’s Brazil from Amazonas to present-day Argentina. In the 1970s, after years of deforestation, this rain forest was almost completely destroyed, mainly replaced by cattle pastures. This study reveals an unexpected aspect of deforestation. … > full story

Pine trees one of biggest contributors to air pollution: Pine gases chemically transformed by free radicals (August 9, 2012) — Pine trees are one of the biggest contributors to air pollution. They give off gases that react with airborne chemicals creating tiny, invisible particles that muddy the air. Scientists have shown that particles formed by pine trees are much more dynamic than previously thought. The findings can help make climate and air quality prediction models more accurate, and inform regulatory agencies as they consider strategies for improving air quality. … > full story

Democracy works for Endangered Species Act, study finds; Citizen involvement key in protecting and saving threatened species (August 16, 2012) — In protecting endangered species, the power of the people is key, an analysis of listings under the US Endangered Species Act finds. The analysis compares listings of “endangered” and “threatened” species initiated by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency that administers the Endangered Species Act, to those initiated by citizen petition. Researchers found that citizens, on average, do a better job of picking species that are threatened than does the FWS. … > full story

2 Lake County fires threaten 500 homes

Will Kane Updated 9:13 p.m., Monday, August 13, 2012

A small Lake County community was evacuated Monday while firefighters battled two large wildfires threatening almost 500 homes, authorities said Monday.

More than 400 firefighters were fighting the 6,000-acre Wye and Walker fires, which were crackling through dry brush near Spring Valley. The two fires began within 10 miles of one another Sunday afternoon near the intersection of Highways 20 and 53 just east of Clearlake Oaks and on Highway 20 just east of Walker Ridge Road…


KittyCam” Reveals High Levels of Wildlife Being Killed by Outdoor Cats Washington, D.C., August 6, 2012 A new study of house cats allowed to roam outdoors finds that nearly one-third succeeded in capturing and killing animals. The cats, which wore special video cameras around their necks that recorded their outdoor activities, killed an average of 2.1 animals every week they were outside, but brought less than one of every four of their kills home. Of particular interest, bird kills constituted about 13 percent of the total wildlife kills. Based on these results, American Bird Conservancy and The Wildlife Society estimate that house cats kill far more than the previous estimate of a billion birds and other animals each year…. “If we extrapolate the results of this study across the country and include feral cats, we find that cats are likely killing more than 4 billion animals per year, including at least 500 million birds. Cat predation is one of the reasons why one in three American bird species are in decline,” said Dr. George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy, the only organization exclusively conserving birds throughout the Americas….


Potent human toxins prevalent in Canada’s freshwaters (August 14, 2012) — Nutrient pollution, one of the greatest threats to our freshwater resources, is responsible for the algal blooms that blanket our lakes and waterways in summer months. Large blooms of cyanobacteria (‘blue green algae’) can cause fish kills, increase the cost of drinking water treatment, devalue shoreline properties, and pose health risks to people, pets, and wildlife. Microcystin, a toxin produced by cyanobacteria, is present in Canadian lakes in every province, according to new research. … > full story








Adaptation to impacts from climate change on biodiversity, ecosystems, and ecosystem services– 6 mb pdf full report

Michelle D. Staudinger, Nancy B. Grimm, Amanda Staudt, Shawn L. Carter, F. Stuart Chapin

III, Peter Kareiva, Mary Ruckelshaus, Bruce A. Stein. 2012. Impacts of Climate Change on

Biodiversity, Ecosystems, and Ecosystem Services: Technical Input to the 2013 National Climate

Assessment. Cooperative Report to the 2013 National Climate Assessment. 296 p.

Available at:



  1. Biodiversity and ecosystems are already more stressed than at any comparable period of human history. Climate change almost always exacerbates the problems caused by other environmental stressors including: land use change and the consequent habitat fragmentation and degradation; extraction of timber, fish, water, and other resources; biological disturbance such as the introduction of non-native invasive species, disease, and pests; and chemical, heavy metal, and nutrient pollution. As a corollary, one mechanism for reducing the negative impacts of climate change is a reduction in other stressors.
  2. Climate change is causing many species to shift their geographical ranges, distributions, and phenologies at faster rates than previously thought. Changes in terrestrial plant and animal species ranges are shifting the location and extent of biomes, and altering ecosystem structure and functioning. These rates vary considerably among species. Terrestrial species are moving up in elevation at rates 2 to 3 times greater than initial estimates. Despite faster rates of warming in terrestrial systems compared to ocean environments, the velocity of range shifts for marine taxa exceeds those reported for terrestrial species. Species and populations that are unable to shift their geographic distributions or have narrow environmental tolerances are at an increased risk of extinction.
  3. There is increasing evidence of population declines and localized extinctions that can be directly attributed to climate change. Ecological specialists and species that live at high altitudes and latitudes are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Overall, the impacts of climate change are projected to result in a net loss of global biodiversity and major shifts in the provision of ecosystem services. For example, the range and abundance of economically important marine fish are already changing due to climate change and are projected to continue changing such that some local fisheries are very likely to cease to be viable, whereas others may become more valuable if the fishing community can adapt.
  4. Range shifts will result in new community assemblages, new associations among species, and promote interactions among species that have not existed in the past. Changes in the spatial distribution and seasonal timing of flora and fauna within marine, aquatic, and terrestrial environments can result in trophic mismatches and asynchronies. Novel species assemblages can also substantially alter ecosystem structure and function and the distribution of ecosystem services.
  5. Changes in precipitation regimes and extreme events can cause ecosystem transitions, increase transport of nutrients and pollutants to downstream ecosystems, and overwhelm the ability of natural systems to mitigate harm to people from these events. Changes in extreme events affect systems differentially, because different thresholds are crossed. For example, more intense storms and increased drought coupled with warming can shift grasslands into shrublands, or facilitate domination by other grass types (for example, mixed grass to C-4 tallgrass). More heavy rainfall also increases movement of nutrients and pollutants to downstream ecosystems, restructuring processes, biota, and habitats. As a consequence, regulation of drinking water quality is very likely to be strained as high rainfall and river discharge lead to higher levels of nitrogen in rivers and greater risk of waterborne disease outbreaks.
  6. Changes in winter have big and surprising effects on ecosystems and their services. Changes in soil freezing, snow cover, and air temperature have affected carbon sequestration, decomposition, and carbon export, which influence agricultural and forest production. Seasonally snow-covered regions are especially susceptible to climate change as small changes in temperature or precipitation may result in large changes in ecosystem structure and function. Longer growing seasons and warmer winters are enhancing pest outbreaks, leading to tree mortality and more intense and extensive fires. For winter sports and recreation, future economic losses are projected to be high because of decreased or unreliable snowfall.
  7. The ecosystem services provided by coastal habitats are especially vulnerable to sea-level rise and more severe storms. The Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts are most vulnerable to the loss of coastal protection services provided by wetlands and coral reefs. Along the Pacific coast long-term erosion of dunes due to increasing wave heights is projected to be an increasing problem for coastal communities. Beach recreation is also projected to suffer due to coastal erosion. Other forms of recreation are very likely to improve due to better weather, and the net effect is likely a redistribution of the industry and its economic impact, with visitors and tourism dollars shifting away from some communities in favor of others.
  8. Climate adaptation has experienced a dramatic increase in attention since the last National Climate Assessment and become a major emphasis in biodiversity conservation and natural resource policy and management. Federal and State agencies are planning for and integrating climate change research into resource management and actions to address impacts of climate change based on historical impacts, future vulnerabilities, and observations on the ground. Land managers have realized that static protected areas will not be sufficient to conserve biodiversity in a changing climate, requiring an emphasis on landscape-scale conservation, connectivity among protected habitats, and sustaining ecological functioning of working lands and water. Agile and adaptive management approaches are increasingly under development, including monitoring, experimentation, and a capacity to evaluate and modify management actions. Risk-based framing and stakeholder-driven scenario planning will be essential in enhancing our ability to respond to the impacts of climate change.
  9. Climate change responses employed by other sectors (for example, energy, agriculture, transportation) are creating new ecosystem stresses, but also can incorporate ecosystem-based approaches to improve their efficacy. Ecosystem-based adaptation has emerged as a framework for understanding the role of ecosystem services in moderating climate impacts on people, although this concept is currently being used more on an international scale than within the United States.
  10. Ecological monitoring efforts need to be improved and better coordinated among Federal and State agencies to ensure that the impacts of climate change are adequately observed as well as to support ecological research, management, assessment, and policy. As species and ecosystem boundaries shift to keep pace with climate change, improved and better-integrated research, monitoring, and assessment efforts will be needed at national and global scales. Existing monitoring networks in the United States are not well suited for detecting and attributing the impacts of climate change to the wide range of affected species at the appropriate spatio-temporal scales.



Hummingbirds, facing drought and food shortage, get some human help

CBS News – ‎Aug 15, 2012‎

  (Thanks to PRBO’s Chris McCreedy for helping with this CBS news story!)

“There is a chance in the future that there will be significant problems with certain species — where the birds find less of the sources of food than they found in years before .


Protected areas allow wildlife to spread in response to climate change, citizen scientists reveal (August 13, 2012) — A new study has shown how birds, butterflies, other insects and spiders have colonized nature reserves and areas protected for wildlife, as they move north in response to climate change and other environmental changes. he study of over 250 species, led by researchers in the Department of Biology at York, is published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The conclusions were based on the analysis of millions of records of wildlife species sent in predominantly by members of the public. The work represents a major new discovery involving collaborators in universities, research institutes, conservation charities, and regional and national government but — crucially –fuelled by ‘citizen science’. Many species need to spread towards the poles where conditions remain cool enough for them to survive climate warming. But doing this is complicated because many landscapes across the world are dominated by human agriculture and development, which form barriers to the movement of species. The mainstay of traditional conservation has been to establish protected areas and nature reserves to provide refuges against the loss of habitats and other threats in the surrounding countryside…. > full story


Thomasa, et al. Protected areas facilitate species’ range expansions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012


Climate change will have profound effects on northeast U.S. forests, report says (August 15, 2012) — A new report by US and Canadian scientists analyzes decades of research and concludes that the climate of the Northeast has changed and is likely to change more. The report outlines the effects of climate change on multiple aspects of forests in the northeastern corner of the United States and eastern Canada and concludes with recommendations on adaptive and mitigating strategies for dealing with future effects. … > full story


July Was Hottest Month Ever Recorded in U.S.

By JOANNA M. FOSTER (NYT)  August 9, 2012

The average temperature in the lower 48 states last month was 77.6 degrees, breaking a record set in July 1936.


Greenland melting breaks record four weeks before season’s end (August 15, 2012) — Melting over the Greenland ice sheet shattered the seasonal record on Aug. 8 — a full four weeks before the close of the melting season, researchers report. … > full story


2012 Has Already Set More Daily Heat Records Than All Of 2011, And More Are On The Way

Posted: 08 Aug 2012 10:35 AM PDT The U.S. has already seen more daily heat records broken or tied than 2011 — and its only August. In 2011, 26,674 daily heat records were broken or tied. As of August 5th, there have already been 27,042 heat records set or matched. Many of those records were set during heat waves in March and July. In March, almost 8,000 heat records were either set or tied, and another 4,420 were either set or tied last month….


NOAA: July global temperatures fourth highest on record

Arctic sea ice is second lowest July extent on record

 According to NOAA scientists, the globally-averaged temperature for July 2012 marked the fourth warmest July since record keeping began in 1880.

July 2012 temperatures compared to the 1981-2010 average. Large image. (Credit: NOAA

Most areas of the world experienced higher-than-average monthly temperatures, including most of the United States and Canada. Meanwhile, Australia, northern and western Europe, eastern Russia, Alaska, and southern South America were notably cooler than average. In the Arctic, sea ice extent averaged 3.1 million square miles, resulting in the second lowest July sea ice extent on record.

The equatorial Pacific Ocean continued to reflect neutral El Niño-Southern Ocean (ENSO) conditions in July. However, according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, the El Niño warm ocean phase will likely develop between now and September. In addition to influencing seasonal climate outcomes in the United States, El Niño is often, but not always, associated with global temperatures that are higher than normal. This monthly analysis (summary, full report) from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides government, business and community leaders so they can make informed decisions.



Long stretch of above-normal ocean temps off NJ

SARAH WATSON, The Press of Atlantic City Associated Press August 12, 2012

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Ocean temperatures along and near the New Jersey coast have averaged between five and 10 degrees above normal since late last year, a phenomenon that has intrigued some scientists and has excited area residents and… more »



Nine Straight Days of 110 or More: That’s Hot, Even for Phoenix

By FERNANDA SANTOS NYTimes Published: August 14, 2012

PHOENIX — Hot is a relative term for people used to the scorching summer weather in this city built on land better suited for cactus than lawns. But nine straight days of excessive heat seem to have stretched even the most elastic tolerance levels to their limits.



USDA: Ongoing drought causes significant crop yield declines (August 10, 2012) — Corn production will drop 13 percent to a six-year low, the U.S. Agriculture Department said Aug. 10, confirming what many farmers already knew — they are having a very bad year. … > full story

Urban Sun Corridor 4 degrees warmer? (August 12, 2012) — In the first study to attempt to quantify the impact of rapidly expanding megapolitan areas on regional climate, a team of researchers has established that local maximum summertime warming resulting from projected expansion of the urban Sun Corridor could approach 4 degrees Celsius. … > full story

Study Finds More of Earth Is Hotter and Says Global Warming Is at Work

By JUSTIN GILLIS  NYTimes Published: August 6, 2012

The percentage of the earth’s land surface covered by extreme heat in the summer has soared in recent decades, from less than 1 percent in the years before 1980 to as much as 13 percent in recent years, according to a new scientific paper.  The change is so drastic, the paper says, that scientists can claim with near certainty that events like the Texas heat wave last year, the Russian heat wave of 2010 and the European heat wave of 2003 would not have happened without the planetary warming caused by the human release of greenhouse gases.  Those claims, which go beyond the established scientific consensus about the role of climate change in causing weather extremes, were advanced by James E. Hansen, a prominent NASA climate scientist, and two co-authors in a scientific paper published online on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  “The main thing is just to look at the statistics and see that the change is too large to be natural,” Dr. Hansen said in an interview. The findings provoked an immediate split among his scientific colleagues, however.  Some experts said he had come up with a smart new way of understanding the magnitude of the heat extremes that people around the world are noticing. Others suggested that he had presented a weak statistical case for his boldest claims and that the rest of the paper contained little that had not been observed in the scientific literature for years. The divide is characteristic of the strong reactions that Dr. Hansen has elicited playing dual roles in the debate over climate change and how to combat it…


NASA visualizations and press release:


Climate change is driving British wildlife northwards, scientists claim – ‎August 13, 2012‎

Birds, butterflies, other insects and spiders have colonised nature reserves and areas protected for wildlife, as they move north in response to climate change and other environmental change. The study of more than 250 species was led by researchers in

New atmospheric compound tied to climate change, human health (August 8, 2012) — Scientists have discovered a surprising new chemical compound in Earth’s atmosphere that reacts with sulfur dioxide to form sulfuric acid, which is known to have significant impacts on climate and health. The new compound, a type of carbonyl oxide, is formed from the reaction of ozone with alkenes, which are a family of hydrocarbons with both natural and human-made sources. … > full story

Hibernation altered by climate change takes a toll on Rocky Mountain animal species (August 8, 2012) — Climate change is causing a late wake-up call from hibernation for a species of Rocky Mountain ground squirrel and the effect is deadly. Biologists have examined data on a population of Columbian ground squirrels and found a trend of late spring snow falls has delayed the animals’ emergence from hibernation by 10 days over the last 20 years. … > full story


More extreme swings of the South Pacific convergence zone due to greenhouse warming 
NATURE  Wenju Cai, Matthieu Lengaigne, Simon Borlace, Matthew Collins, Tim Cowan et al.
The South Pacific convergence zone is a region of high precipitation spanning a vast swath of the Pacific Ocean that can shift northwards and become longitudinally oriented; such extreme zonal events have severe weather and climatic impacts and are predicted to become more frequent under greenhouse warming conditions.


Incentive to Slow Climate Change Drives Output of Harmful Gases


Manufacturers have ramped up production of a common air-conditioning coolant, counting on a windfall for destroying a byproduct under a United Nations program.

Researchers improve soil carbon cycling models (August 16, 2012) — A new carbon cycling model better accounts for the carbon dioxide-releasing activity of microbes in the ground, improving scientists’ understanding of the role soil will play in future climate change. … > full story

Summer storm spins over Arctic (August 10, 2012) — An unusually strong storm formed off the coast of Alaska on August 5 and tracked into the center of the Arctic Ocean, where it slowly dissipated over the next several days. Arctic storms such as this one can have a large impact on the sea ice, causing it to melt rapidly through many mechanisms, such as tearing off large swaths of ice and pushing them to warmer sites, churning the ice and making it slushier, or lifting warmer waters from the depths of the Arctic Ocean. … > full story

How much nitrogen is fixed in the ocean? (August 10, 2012) — In order to predict how the Earth’s climate develops scientists have to know which gases and trace elements are naturally bound and released by the ocean and in which quantities. For nitrogen, an essential element for the production of biomass, there are many unanswered questions. Scientists have now published a research study showing that widely applied methods are part of the problem. … > full story

Fish are warmer, faster, stronger: Unexpected benefits of living in a changing climate, biologists find (August 14, 2012) — Biologists suggest that growing up at warmer temperatures helps some aquatic animals cope with climate change, raising questions about the limits of adaptation. They found that when embryos raised in warm water experienced temperature variation as adults, they could swim faster and their muscle was better suited for aerobic exercise. … > full story

Tanzania: Deforestation Fuels Temperature Hikes Around Mt. Kilimanjaro

A logging boom has hit Tanzania’s tourist-drawing Kilimanjaro region, reducing the region’s native forests, hitting rainfall and leading to unusually high temperatures. Forests play an in important role in maintaining natural water cycles around Mt. Kilimanjaro, but the region’s forests are disappearing. Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner Leonidas Gama said the government was embarking on a reforestation drive which aims to plant one million trees in two years in collaboration with governmental and private institutions.


How do they do it? Predictions are in for Arctic sea ice low point (August 14, 2012) — Each year scientists predict the low point of Arctic Sea ice. The final predictions were released Aug. 13. But how do they do it? Researchers used some new techniques this year in hopes of improving the accuracy of their prediction. … > full story

Climate change forces South Pacific rain band movement – ‎August 16, 2012‎

CSIRO oceanographer Dr. Wenju Cai led an international group of researchers in the first definition of the impact of greenhouse gases and resultant climate change on weather patterns produced by the South Pacific rain band. The research was reported in the journal Nature and reviewed at the Eureka Alert web site on August 16, 2012. Cai and colleagues predict more extreme floods and droughts in South Pacific countries as climate change produces more frequent and more severe fluctuations in the South Pacific rain band. The South Pacific rain band is largest and most persistent rain pattern marker in the region, stretching from the equator to Polynesia. The Pacific rain band has been documented to move northward toward the equator as much as 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) producing extreme weather events. The scientists based their predictions on an extensive analysis of the archives of data from the general circulation models submitted for the fourth and fifth IPCC Assessments.

El Nino events have been documented to shift the South Pacific rain band northward producing drought and forest fires in areas of Polynesia and the South Pacific that have never experienced such events before….



Climate and Culture: Abrupt Change and Rapid Response
Continuous, modern day observations of change suggest the Earth System may already be edging towards abrupt climate change, demanding thorough revisions to climate science, models, and action. The global nature of climate change requires that adaptive measures be pursued and shared throughout all world cultures. Although the task of managing the Earth System’s carbon balance appears unapproachable through conventional politics, a wide range of scientific collaborations and community-level ecological restoration efforts are already well underway. In many instances localized environmental renewal initiatives may provide immediate benefits to impoverished regions as well as provide long-term frameworks for climate change adaptation and mitigation.


Report card shows Australia’s oceans are changing (August 16, 2012) — The 2012 Marine Climate Change in Australia Report Card shows climate change is having significant impacts on Australia’s marine ecosystems. … > full story



Restoring Mangroves May Prove Cheap Way to Cool Climate
Found along the edges of much of the world’s tropical coastlines, mangroves are absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at an impressive rate. Protecting them, a recent study says, could yield climate benefits, biodiversity conservation and protection for local economies for a nominal cost — between $4 and $10 per ton of CO2. These environments, along with other forms of coastal ecosystems such as tidal marshes and sea grasses, have been given the name “blue carbon” to differentiate them from the “green” carbon of other forests, where carbon is absorbed above ground in trees.







Environmentalists warn of risks of Arctic drilling

NATALIYA VASILYEVA, Associated Press Associated Press August 14, 2012

MOSCOW (AP) — Environmental activists warned Tuesday that drilling for oil in the Russian Arctic could have disastrous consequences because of a lack of technology and infrastructure to deal with a possible spill in a remote region with massive… more »




  1. 4.     POLICY



4 Natural Disasters Affecting The American Economy

Tim Parker San Francisco Chronicle August 15, 2012 In October 2011, President Obama declared that more than 89 disasters had already occurred in 2011 – a record-breaking amount, according to ABC News. Ski resorts, who hire many seasonal employees and often pay only minimum wage, were forced to… more »


Endangered status considered for Bicknell’s thrush

MARY ESCH, Associated Press Associated Press August 14, 2012

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The Bicknell’s thrush, a rare songbird that breeds atop mountains in the Adirondacks and northern New England and winters in the Caribbean, is being considered for endangered species status, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife… more »


Caution Vs. Recklessness In The Arctic: What We Can Learn From The Fishing Industry

Posted: 13 Aug 2012 11:25 AM PDT by Michael Conathan

Arctic sea ice coverage has been declining for decades, and 2011 set a record for the lowest amount of coverage ever recorded—a record we’re currently threatening to break. Less ice and more open water means the region will soon be available for additional human activity. Shipping companies and cruise lines are already utilizing new routes, taking advantage of the long-sought northwest passage from Europe and North America to Asia. And as soon as next week, Shell Oil could receive the green light to begin drilling up to five new exploratory oil-and-gas wells off the north slope of Alaska. As Big Oil prepares to exploit the emerging resources and access, the fishing industry has chosen to take a very different approach—one the oil companies should heed.

In August 2009 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration formally approved a proposal by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to ban all fishing activity in the U.S. Arctic except subsistence fishing by Alaska Natives. Members of the council—the majority of which is comprised of fishing industry representatives—voted unanimously to recommend the prohibition. In a remarkably forward-looking move, the body also opted to close the nearly 150,000-square-mile Arctic Management Area (see Figure 1) until adequate scientific fish stock assessments and other data could be collected that would ensure this virgin resource could be managed sustainably.

This move gained the support of environmental organizations such as Oceana, The Ocean Conservancy, and the Pew Environment Group, as well as Alaska’s biggest coalition of fishing industry interests—the Marine Conservation Alliance, which represents more than two-thirds of the state’s groundfishermen and crabbers.

The fishing industry’s approach to management stands in direct contrast to that taken by the oil-and-gas industry and its federal regulators. Shell has led Big Oil’s charge into the Arctic Ocean and is on the cusp of receiving final permits that could allow them to begin drilling operations there as soon as next week. Logic would dictate this means we know more about the science of oil in the Arctic than we do about the science of fish. Not so.

The same lack of knowledge about baseline environmental conditions in the region that has caused fishermen and their regulators to hit the pause button have not slowed the oil industry. While Shell and other oil companies have committed resources to research projects such as the Chukchi Sea Environmental Studies Program, they are not waiting to see data from these efforts before plowing forward with drilling operations…..


Shale Gas to the Climate Rescue

Op-Ed Contributor By ALAN RILEY Published: August 13, 2012  NY Times

The battle against runaway climate change is being lost. The green movement and the energy industry — while engaged in a furious debate on issues from nuclear power to oil sands — are missing the bigger picture.  There is little recognition by either side that current policies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions are inadequate for dealing with the threat that they pose. It is the coal-fueled growth of countries like China and India that generates much of these emissions. Unless a cheap, rapidly deployable substitute fuel is found for coal, then it will be next to impossible to safely rein in rising carbon dioxide levels around the world.

Although the green movement might at first see shale gas as an enemy in this fight, it may in fact turn out to be a friend. Broad development of shale gas resources — with proper ecological safeguards — could be the best way to achieve the quick cuts in carbon dioxide emissions that we need to maintain a habitable environment on Earth.  The International Energy Agency has made it clear that, under current energy policies, the door is closing on our attempts to contain the carbon-driven rise in global temperatures to within 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) by the middle of the century. In fact, worldwide carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels reached a record high of 31.6 gigatons in 2011. With emissions rising by one gigaton per year, it appears the temperature-increase target will most likely be missed.  The shale gas revolution could be the means of blunting the rise of carbon dioxide emissions and give new hope for staying within the 2 degrees Celsius scenario….



Jerry Brown launches website to rebut climate change skeptics

Sacramento Bee (blog) – ‎August 13, 2012‎

Jerry Brown said today that “humanity is getting dangerously close to the point of no return” on climate change, and he launched a website criticizing conservatives who dispute its significance. The website “Climate Change: Just the Facts,” is hosted by Brown’s Office of Planning and Research. It devotes one page to “the denialists” and another to rebutting “common denialist arguments….


Just Two Percent Of Canadians Deny Climate Change

ThinkProgress – ‎Aug 16, 2012‎

Almost one-third – 32 per cent – said they believe climate change is happening because of human activity, while 54 per cent said they believe it’s because of human activity and partially due to natural climate variation.
Minnesota wildlife lands won’t be opened to grazing
Minneapolis Star-Tribune    Share
With much of Minnesota withering under drought, some farm groups have suggested opening state wildlife management areas to grazing. That has raised eyebrows among hunters, who covet the 1.3 million acres of public lands, most of which is planted with prairie grasses for wildlife and is open to hunting. More

California fish hatcheries assailed
The Associated Press via San Jose Mercury News    Share
California needs to dramatically reform its fish hatcheries in order to maintain healthy salmon and steelhead populations, according to a major new study. The $2 million study, released by state and federal wildlife agencies, concludes nearly two years of work by a panel of fishery experts. It found, among other things, that the state lacks standard protocols to manage the 40 million salmon it produces each year at eight hatcheries. It also does not do enough field monitoring to fully understand the fate of all those fish. More



Leatherback sea turtle in line for honor

Peter Fimrite San Francisco Chronicle August 14, 2012

The endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle, large numbers of which are currently feeding on jellyfish along the Pacific coast, is in line to be honored just like the now-extinct California grizzly bear – but hopefully, environmentalists say, with different results.The state Senate voted Monday to designate the giant turtle as the official marine reptile of California. Gov. Jerry Brown now has 12 days to sign into law the enabling legislation, AB1776 sponsored by Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, and most believe that is a virtual certainty. The legislation would declare Oct. 15 Leatherback Conservation Day in California and, it is hoped, publicize the plight of the turtles, which swim 6,000 miles every year to eat jellyfish outside the Golden Gate.  “Naming the leatherback sea turtle as our official state marine reptile will demonstrate California’s commitment to protecting leatherback sea turtles, our ocean’s ecosystem, and recognize the education and awareness this official designation… more »








  1. 5.   RESOURCES



CA LCC webinar series

The California Climate Commons

Wed. Aug 29, Noon PT
Deanne DiPietro
, the lead for the CA Climate Commons will provide a tour of this new online resource Wednesday August 29th at noon (PST).  The Climate Commons provides:

  • climate change and related environmental data,
  • helpful information about the data and how it was produced
  • web resources, services, and tools, and
  • the opportunity to communicate with others about applying climate adaptation to conservation practice in California.


Date: Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Time: 12:00pm, Pacific Daylight Time
Meeting Number: 746 058 929
Meeting Password: calcc
To join the online meeting (Now from mobile devices!)
1. Go to
2. If requested, enter your name and email address.
3. If a password is required, enter the meeting password: calcc
4. Click “Join”.
To join the teleconference only
Call-in toll-free number (Verizon): 1-866-737-4154  (US)
Attendee access code: 287 267 0
(916) 278-9415



Climate Academy- New Online Course- Announcement, Syllabus, and Registration

This 10-month pilot course will be offered this fall starting early October. This online course is designed to cover the fundamentals of climate science, provide tools and resources for climate adaptation, and increase climate literacy and communication through online lectures, webinars, and discussions. Participants will also have the option to develop a final product (such as a report or presentation) addressing climate change in their management of natural resources. The course is developed in partnership with staff from the USFWS’s NCTC, The Wildlife Society (TWS), the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), AFWA’s Management Assistance Team (MAT), the National Park Service (NPS), and the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG). CEUs are available through TWS. As a pilot offering, there is no tuition or registration fee associated with the course. We will be looking for input from course participants throughout the course on different aspects of the online course process.  For more information, contact Danielle LaRock, NCTC Course Leader at <> Please note: Registration for course participants will officially open on Friday August 17 in DOI Learn. Registration for Drop-In Participants is currently open. There will be a limited number of drop in spaces, so please sign up early.



Climate Smart Communities



Prevention BMPs for Land Managers

Land management activities often involves travel between worksites. Equipment, vehicles, pack animals, clothing, boots, and materials can become vectors for the inadvertent spread of invasive plants.

These Best Management Practices (BMPs) are an important step for land managers to ensure that they are not spreading invasive plants from one work site to another. This manual presents an accessible overview of key prevention measures as well as ready-to-use checklists.

Preventing the Spread of Invasive Plants:
Best Management Practices for Land Managers Second edition  Download manual (4.8 MB pdf)



Grants Available for Central Valley Special Status Species and Their Habitat
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation today announced the availability of over $2.2 million in grants to improve conditions for federally- imperiled species and their habitats impacted by the Central Valley Project (CVP).  This year, four categories of projects will be funded:  land acquisition (fee title and conservation easement); habitat restoration; research; and captive breeding. State or local government agencies, private non-profit or profit organizations, individuals, and educational institutions are eligible to apply for grants.  Deadline for proposals is October 5, 2012. For more information visit and look for Funding Opportunity Application (FOA) number R13FA20001.  Additional information about the CVPCP and HRP can be found at



PaCOOS (Pacific Coast Ocean Observing System)

Climate and Ecological Conditions in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem

Quarter 2, 2012 at



MMWD’s Draft 2012 Vegetation Management Plan is Now Available

The Marin Municipal Water District has been in the process of developing a new Draft Vegetation Management Plan (Draft 2012 VMP) for Watershed Lands. The Draft 2012 VMP identifies the district’s goals for managing its 22,000 acres of watershed land and describes actions to achieve those goals. The main goals are:

  • To protect Marin’s communities, water supply and natural resources from catastrophic wildfire;
  • To preserve habitats, plants and animals into the future;
  • To prepare for and adapt to future changes.

… the draft plan is ready for public review and is now available on MMWD’s website under Watershed > Resource Management. Because of the large size of the full report (8 MB), we’ve also attached a link to the executive summary portion of the report.




EARLY REGISTRATION (REDUCED RATE) DEADLINE HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO AUGUST 19, 2012(Register)The culmination of nearly 5-years of applied research, the Levee Vegetation Research Symposium 2012 will bring together the largest assemblage of international, national and regional experts in the history of the levee vegetation dialogue under one roof.


California: Central Valley Project Improvement Act Habitat Restoration Grants- Oct 5, 2012
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation today announced the availability of over $2.2 million in grants to improve conditions for federally- imperiled species and their habitats impacted by the Central Valley Project (CVP). The 2012 grants continue 18 years of funding projects. This year, four categories of projects will be funded: land acquisition (fee title and conservation easement); habitat restoration; research; and captive breeding.

US: Conservation Reserve Program Initiative to Restore Grasslands, Wetlands and Wildlife
USDA’s CRP has a 25-year legacy of successfully protecting the nation’s natural resources through voluntary participation, while providing significant economic and environmental benefits to rural communities across the United States. Rather than wait for a general sign-up (the process under which most CRP acres are enrolled), producers whose land meet eligibility criteria can enroll directly in this “continuous” category at any time.


EPA***National Smart Growth Conversation: Call for Blog Posts
The Smart Growth Network’s National Conversation blog, devoted to ongoing conversations about the future of America’s communities, invites photos, videos, presentations, and written content for the blog. Submissions may focus on topics such as envisioning future communities; innovative current activities; and new directions for development, transportation, or public health.Please submit blog post(s) to the National Conversations blog by August 29, 2012, to help launch the conversation nationwide. The Smart Growth Network will review and get back to you about your submission. Written blog posts are limited to 500 words, and attachments are limited to 30 MB. If you would like to send a bigger file, please submit it by email. For more information about the National Conversation, please visit the blog.


Language Intelligence: Lessons on Persuasion from Jesus, Shakespeare, Lincoln and Lady Gaga in paperback (click here) or Kindle (click here) by Joe Romm. For the past quarter century — since my first published article on Shakespeare in 1988 — I have studied the secrets of the greatest communicators in history. In this book, I show how you can apply these tools to your writing, speaking, blogging — even your Tweeting. I also discuss the latest social science research on how to be more persuasive and memorable.



Replacing Lost Environments – A Devil’s Pact?
In a major scientific article, a team including Australian researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) has advised governments worldwide to think twice before assuming an environment lost to development can easily be replaced elsewhere. “There’s been a lot of talk among policy makers about ‘offsets’, meaning that if you damage or lose the environment in one place you compensate by restoring or protecting an equivalent area somewhere else,” explains Professor Richard Hobbs of CEED and The University of Western Australia.






Debunking False Claims About Compact Fluorescents (CFLs)

Posted: 13 Aug 2012 01:04 PM PDT by Matt Kasper

Energy efficient light bulbs continue to be a target of conservatives in Congress. This summer, multiple amendments were approved by House lawmakers trying to prohibit the government from enforcing federal light bulb standards. Republicans falsely claim those standards “ban” incandescent bulbs.

Now, conservative media outlets are seizing on another opportunity to rail on energy efficient bulbs, saying that compact fluorescents are capable of “frying your skin with UVA radiation.” National Public Radio also featured a story last week perpetuating the myth. Where is this claim coming from? A recent study conducted by researchers at Stony Brook University concluded that the response from healthy skin cells to UV emitted from compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) is consistent with damage from ultraviolet radiation. However, the report’s findings are not new – and there is no cause for alarm….




The diversion-toilet — a modern squatting toilet that works neither with water nor sewer connections, in an informal settlement in Kampala as well as in a weekend home in the country. In the foot underneath the toilet bowl the containers for urine and feces and the seal against odors. Behind the water-wall with opportunities for hand-washing, anal-cleansing and cleaning the bowl. On top the transparency indicator for the level of the cleansed water. (Credit: Image courtesy of EAWAG: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology)

New toilet developed: Needs no connection to water supply (August 15, 2012) — There are 2.6 billion people in the world who have no access to a decent toilet. A new toilet model will provide a sanitary solution that ensures human dignity and hygiene, while also being environment-friendly and economically feasible. An interdisciplinary team of Swiss aquatic researchers and designers from Austria won with their invention as part of the ‘Re-invent the Toilet’ competition, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation a special recognition award. The new toilet model will provide a sanitary solution that ensures human dignity and hygiene, while also being environment-friendly and economically feasible. All for less than five cents per day and person.. … The new separation toilet needs no connection to a water supply. Every time a user operates a foot pedal, water flows into the small water reservoir and already used water is pumped upwards behind the toilet. Cleansed by means of a membrane filter, the used water is also guaranteed free of germs, thanks to electrolysis by a solar powered electrode…. > full story


Solar power day and night: New storage systems control fluctuation of renewable energies (August 9, 2012) — Energy storage systems are one of the key technologies for the energy turnaround. With their help, the fluctuating supply of electricity based on photovoltaics and wind power can be stored until the time of consumption. A number of pilot plants of solar cells, small wind power plants, lithium-ion batteries, and power electronics are now under construction to demonstrate how load peaks in the grid can be balanced and what regenerative power supply by an isolated network may look like in the future. … > full story

How Wireless Charging Could Speed Up The Electric Car Market

Posted: 12 Aug 2012 05:26 AM PDT

San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc. recently announced that it has partnered with the automaker Renault for a field trial of its new wireless electric vehicle charging system later this year in London.

According to Forbes: “The California-based company signed a memorandum of understanding with Renault to work on the field trial and to figure out how to integrate the wireless charging technology into Renault’s cars. … The goal of the trial is to test both the commercial and technical viability of wireless electric vehicle charging. Qualcomm would also like to gain an understanding of the potential challenges of deploying and integrating wireless charging on a large scale….


A new energy source: Major advance made in generating electricity from wastewater (August 13, 2012) — Engineers have made a breakthrough in the performance of microbial fuel cells that can produce electricity directly from wastewater, opening the door to a future in which waste treatment plants not only will power themselves while cleaning sewage, but will sell excess electricity. … > full story









Is Climate Change Making Temperatures Too Hot for High School Football?

Scientific American – ‎August 13, 2012‎

“The climate’s getting warmer so players are exposed to higher temperatures,” said Andrew Grundstein, a climatologist at the University of Georgia and a co-author of a 2012 study of heat related deaths in high schools nationwide.



Hyenas that think outside the box solve problems faster (August 8, 2012) — Innovative problem solving requires trying many different solutions. That’s true for humans, and now Michigan State University researchers show that it’s true for hyenas, too. … > full story


Beverage companies pay millions to conserve water  USA Today  Aug 12 2012

“At the heart of it … is their bottom line,” says Thomas Lyon, a professor at the University of Michigan who researches connections between industry and the environment. “Water is a finite resource, and they desperately realize that it could become a


Consuming flavanol-rich cocoa may enhance brain function (August 13, 2012) — Eating cocoa flavanols daily may improve mild cognitive impairment, according to new research. … >


Dark chocolate, cocoa compounds, may reduce blood pressure (August 14, 2012) — Compounds in cocoa may help to reduce blood pressure, according to a new systematic review. The researchers reviewed evidence from short-term trials in which participants were given dark chocolate or cocoa powder daily and found that their blood pressure dropped slightly compared to a control group. … > full story



Bloomberg Posts $5 Million Ideas Prize
Mayors of U.S. municipalities have a chance to win as much as $5 million for their cities from the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge, an initiative begun by New York City’s mayor Michael Bloomberg. Read more…








Egg yolk consumption almost as bad as smoking when it comes to atherosclerosis, study suggests (August 13, 2012) — Newly published research shows that eating egg yolks accelerates atherosclerosis in a manner similar to smoking cigarettes. Surveying more than 1,200 patients, Dr. Spence found regular consumption of egg yolks is about two-thirds as bad as smoking when it comes to increased build-up of carotid plaque, a risk factor for stroke and heart attack. … > full story




Mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil may protect bone (August 15, 2012) — Consumption of a Mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil for two years is associated with increased serum osteocalcin concentrations, suggesting a protective effect on bone. … > full story


Pan-fried meat increases risk of prostate cancer, new study finds (August 16, 2012) — New research indicates that how red meat and chicken are cooked may influence risk of prostate cancer. Men who ate more than 1.5 servings of pan-fried red meat per week increased their risk of advanced prostate cancer by 30 percent. Men who ate more than 2.5 servings of red meat cooked at high temperatures were 40 percent more likely to have advanced prostate cancer. … > full story




Chemical widely used in antibacterial hand soaps may impair muscle function (August 13, 2012) — Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical widely used in hand soaps and other personal-care products, hinders muscle contractions at a cellular level, slows swimming in fish and reduces muscular strength in mice, according to new research. Researchers call for regulatory agencies to reconsider its use. … > full story





  1. 8.     IMAGES OF THE WEEK
















Ellie Cohen, President and CEO

PRBO Conservation Science

3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 11

Petaluma, CA 94954


707-781-2555, ext. 318  |  Please follow PRBO on Facebook!

PRBO conserves birds, other wildlife and ecosystems through innovative scientific research and outreach.


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