Conservation Science News January 11 , 2013

Highlight of the Week2012 Hottest Year – and New Energy ‘Wedges’









Highlight of the Week2012 Hottest Year – and New Energy ‘Wedges’



By The Numbers: Breaking Down America’s Hottest Year On Record

Posted: 11 Jan 2013 05:54 AM PST

by James Bradbury and Sarah Parsons, via the World Resources Institute According to new data, 2012 was a chart-topping year for the United States – but not in a good way.


Difference from average annual temperature in 2012 compared to the 1981-2010 average. Map by NOAA team. Large versions of annual and monthly maps are available for re-use. (Credit: NOAA

NOAA: 2012 was warmest and second most extreme year on record for the contiguous U.S.

2012 was a historic year for extreme weather that included drought, wildfires, hurricanes and storms; however, tornado activity was below average 

According to NOAA scientists, 2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States with the year consisting of a record warm spring, second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter and a warmer-than-average autumn. The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3°F, 3.2°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year…..



Not Even Close: 2012 Was Hottest Ever in U.S.


Published: January 8, 2013 837 Comments

How hot was it? The temperature differences between years are usually measured in fractions of a degree, but last year’s 55.3 degree average demolished the previous record, set in 1998, by a full degree Fahrenheit. If that does not sound sufficiently impressive, consider that 34,008 daily high records were set at weather stations across the country, compared with only 6,664 record lows, according to a count maintained by the Weather Channel meteorologist Guy Walton, using federal temperature records. That ratio, which was roughly in balance as recently as the 1970s, has been out of whack for decades as the country has warmed, but never by as much as it was last year. “The heat was remarkable,” said Jake Crouch, a scientist with the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., which released the official climate compilation on Tuesday. “It was prolonged. That we beat the record by one degree is quite a big deal.” ….


Major cuts to surging carbon dioxide emissions are needed now, not down the road, study finds
(January 7, 2013)
Halting climate change will require “a fundamental and disruptive overhaul of the global energy system” to eradicate harmful carbon dioxide emissions, not just stabilize them, according to new findings by UC Irvine and oth
er scientists. In a Jan. 9 paper in Environmental Research Letters, UC Irvine Earth system scientist Steve Davis and others take a fresh look at the popular “wedge” approach to tackling climate change outlined in a 2004 study by Princeton scientists Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow. They had argued that the rise of dangerous CO2 could be stopped — using existing technologies — by dividing the task into seven huge but manageable “slices.” Davis and his co-authors conclude that while the approach has great merit, it’s not working, and it’s not enough. “We have enormous respect for that earlier work,” he said. “But almost a decade after ‘wedges’ made a solution to climate change seem doable, we now know that holding emissions steady, difficult as it would be, is literally a half-measure — and one that we have yet to take. Our emissions are not being held constant or even slowing; they’re growing faster than ever.” …However, Davis and fellow authors of the new paper calculated that as many as 31 wedges could be required to stabilize Earth’s climate at safe CO2 levels and that sharp reductions in total emissions would have to begin much sooner than half a century from now. “We need new ways to generate the vast quantities of power that we now use worldwide,” he said. “Current technologies and systems cannot provide this much carbon-free power quickly enough or affordably enough. We urgently need policies and programs that support the research, development, demonstration and commercialization of new energy.” full story



Rethinking Wedges: We Need A Lot of Clean Energy To Stabilize Near 2°C Warming So We Better Start Deployment ASAP

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 05:49 PM PST Joe Romm

A new study underscores the point that we need to start deploying every last bit of carbon-free energy starting ASAP to have a reasonable chance of avoiding catastrophic levels of carbon pollution. But the paper, “Rethinking wedges,” suffers from two flaws.

First while it asserts “Current climate targets of 500 ppm and  2°C of warming” require “deploying tens of terawatts of carbon-free energy in the next few decades,” it seems to use this to argue for more research and development, rather than massive deployment. In fact, while everyone agrees we need to spend more on R&D, it’s our much vaster underspending on deployment that is launching us headlong toward catastrophe. And, of course, deployment is the best driver of innovation (as I discuss here).

Second, the paper appears to confuse what a wedge is and then compounds that confusion by introducing the concept of “hidden wedges,” which I don’t believe is a meaningful concept (if you understand what a wedge really is). The fact is that we probably need 1o to 20 terawatts of carbon-free energy over the next 50 years to have a shot at 450 ppm or lower — but a fair chunk of that can be efficiency and conservation (as I discuss here).

In any case, the need for massive deployment of carbon-free energy starting now is one that has been made by countless independent analyses. Even the traditionally staid and conservative the International Energy Agency explained three years ago that “The world will have to spend an extra $500 billion to cut carbon emissions for each year it delays implementing a major assault on global warming.” A 2011 report found that “California can achieve emissions roughly 60% below 1990 levels with technology we largely know about today if such technology is rapidly deployed at rates that are aggressive but feasible.” A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers finds we’re headed to 11°F warming and even 7°F requires “Nearly Quadrupling The Current Rate Of Decarbonisation.”

The abstract of this new study by Davis, Cao, Caldeira, and Hoffert, to be published Wednesday in Environmental Research Letters asserts:….. ….This notion of needing 19 wedges to go to zero emissions in 50 years is very compatible with my analysis a few years ago that we need 12-14 wedges squeezed into four decades to take emissions down some 50% by 2050. But of course I conclude, as do the original inventers of the wedge concept, that any hope for deploying so many wedges so rapidly depends crucially upon … rapid deployment, rather than R&D! See also “The breakthrough technology illusion.”….






Drainage ditches can help clean up field runoff
(January 4, 2013)
Vegetated drainage ditches can help capture pesticide and nutrient loads in field runoff, U.S. Departmen
t of Agriculture (USDA) scientists report. These ditches — as common in the country as the fields they drain — give farmers a low-cost alternative for managing agricultural pollutants and protecting natural resources.
….. Many farmers controlled ditch vegetation with trimming or dredging to eliminate plant barriers that could impede the flow of runoff. But in one of Moore’s first studies, he evaluated the transport and capture of the herbicide atrazine and the insecticide lambda-cyhalothrin for 28 days in a 160-foot section of a vegetated agricultural drainage ditch in Mississippi. One hour after he started a simulated runoff event, 61 percent of the atrazine and 87 percent of the lambda-cyhalothrin had transferred from the water to the ditch vegetation. At the end of the ditch, runoff pesticide concentrations had decreased to levels that were generally non-toxic to downstream aquatic fauna. Moore also conducted work in California and determined that vegetated drainage ditches helped mitigate pesticide runoff from tomato and alfalfa fields. As a result, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) state office in California included vegetated agricultural drainage in their Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). This meant farmers who installed the ditches could be reimbursed for up to 50 percent of the cost. Moore’s research also contributed to the decision by NRCS managers in Mississippi to include vegetated agricultural drainage ditches in the state’s EQIP.… > full story


Robert Kröger, Matthew T. Moore. Phosphorus dynamics within agricultural drainage ditches in the lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Ecological Engineering, 2011; 37 (11): 1905 DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoleng.2011.06.042


Invading species can extinguish native plants despite recent reports to the contrary
(January 9, 2013) — Evolutionary biologists have found that, given time, invading exotic plants will likely eliminate native plants growing in the wild despite recent reports to the contrary. A new study reports that recent statements that invasive plants are not problematic are often based on incomplete info
rmation, with insufficient time having passed to observe the full effect of invasions on native biodiversity. …
“The impacts of exotic plant invasions often take much longer to become evident than previously thought,” says Benjamin Gilbert of U of T’s Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB) and lead author of the study. “This delay can create an ‘extinction debt‘ in native plant species, meaning that these species are slowly going extinct but the actual extinction event occurs hundreds of years after the initial invasion.” Much of the debate surrounding the threat posed to biodiversity by the invasions of non-native species is fueled by recent findings that competition from introduced plants has driven remarkably few plant species to extinction. Instead, native plant species in invaded ecosystems are often relegated to patchy, marginal habitats unsuitable to their nonnative competitors. “Our research also allows us to identify how new habitats for native flora could be created that would prevent extinction from happening. These habitats would still be too marginal for invaders, but placed in such a way as to create ‘bridges’ to other habitat patches,” says Gilbert….full story

B. Gilbert, J. M. Levine. Plant invasions and extinction debts. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1212375110


Global Mercury Pollution In Oceans Top Layer Doubled In Last Century, Says U.N. Environment Agency

AP  |  By By JOHN HEILPRIN Posted: 01/10/2013 6:25 am EST  |  Updated: 01/10/2013 9:19 am EST

GENEVA (AP) — Mercury pollution in the top layer of the world’s oceans has doubled in the past century, part of a man-made problem that will require international cooperation to fix, the U.N.’s environment agency said Thursday.

The report by the U.N. Environment Program showed for the first time that hundreds of tons of mercury have leaked from the soil into rivers and lakes around the world.

As a result of rising emissions, communities in developing countries face increasing health and environmental risks linked to exposure to mercury, the U.N. agency says.

Mercury, a toxic metal, is widely used in chemical production and small-scale mining, particularly gold. It is a naturally occurring element that is found in air, water and soil, and it cannot be created or destroyed.


STATE: Thousands of dead birds are showing up on northern Michigan’s shorelines

Published: Friday, January 11, 2013 By Don Gardner @skeeoos Journal Register News Service

A common loon travelling with a juvenile on its back.

The rapidly changing ecology of the Great Lakes Basin, brought on in large part by non-native, invasive species, is causing devastation among Michigan’s waterfowl, especially common loons. The common loon, a beloved, iconic bird known for its eerily lonely, two-note call and its beautiful markings, suffered devastating losses along Lake Michigan’s northern shoreline this fall. Thousands of dead birds, mainly loons, washed ashore — from the Upper Peninsula, down to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. A large percentage of the dead loons had just entered their first year of breeding maturity.
The reason for the die-off, which follows similar incidents in 2006 and 2007, isn’t fully understood. But it is suspected that it is driven by the food chain linking the loon to invasive species, specifically, the quagga mussel, the zebra mussel and the round goby. Since 1988, when the first zebra mussels in Michigan were found in Lake St. Clair, the invasive mussels have been clearing and “cleaning” Great Lakes water columns by consuming plankton. While the end result is a more aesthetically pleasing water column, the clearer water has allowed the sun’s rays to penetrate deeper, causing larger and larger algae mats to flourish on the bottom. As the algae mat builds upon itself and dies, it becomes anaerobic — depleted of oxygen — and type-E botulism bacteria develops. Gobies living in that environment at the bottom of the lake pick up the toxin produced by the bacteria. The gobies are then preyed upon by the loons and other fish-eating waterfowl, which become infected by the botulism. The toxin affects the bird’s nervous system and musculature, leaving it unable to fly. Soon, it can no longer keep its head aloft, and it drowns…..



Scientists use marine robots to detect endangered whales
(January 9, 2013) — Two robots equipped with instruments designed to “listen” for the calls of baleen whales detected nine endangered North Atlantic right whales in the Gulf of Maine last month. The robots reported the detections to shore-based researchers within hours of hearing the whales, demonstrating a new and powerful tool for managing interactions between whales and human activities. … > full story

Whales’ foraging strategies revealed by new technology
(January 9, 2013) — Despite the many logistical difficulties of studying large whales, multisensor tags attached to the animals with suction cups are revealing their varied foraging techniques in unprecedented detail. These can be related to the animals’ anatomy and to the distribution and behavior of their prey. … > full story


Baby sharks stay still to avoid being detected by predators
(January 9, 2013) — Baby sharks still developing in their egg cases can sense when predators are near, and keep very still to avoid being detected, according to new research. … > full story

Genetic matchmaking saves endangered frogs
January 8, 2013) — What if Noah got it wrong? What if he paired a male and a female animal thinking they were the same species, and then discovered they were not the same and could not produce offspring? As researchers from the Smithsonian’s Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project race to save frogs from a devastating disease by breeding them in captivity, a genetic test averts mating mix-ups. … > full story



Impact of Land-Use Activity in the Amazon Basin
January 19, 2012 (Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– A … paper published … in the journal Nature reveals that human land-use activity has begun to change the regional water and energy cycles –– the interplay of air coming in from the Atlantic Ocean, water transpiration by the forest, and solar radiation –– of parts of the Amazon basin. In addition, it shows that ongoing interactions of deforestation, fire, and climate change have the potential to alter carbon storage, rainfall patterns and river discharge on an even larger basinwide scale.

…… Humans have been part of the Amazon basin forest-river system for thousands of years, but the expansion and intensification of agriculture, logging, and urban development –– and their synergistic impacts –– are beginning to stress the natural integrity of the ecosystem. Since the Amazon River produces about 20 percent of the world’s fresh water discharge, and the Amazon forest holds about 100 billion metric tons of carbon (10 years’ worth of global fossil fuel emissions), it is important that economic development in the region proceed along sustainable paths that do not degrade the ecosystem services provided to local, regional and global communities by the forests and rivers of the region.


From the Amazon rainforest to human body cells: Quantifying stability
(January 6, 2013) — The Amazon rainforest, energy grids, and cells in the human body share a troublesome property: They possess multiple stable states. When the world’s largest tropical forest suddenly starts retreating in a warming climate, energy supply blacks out, or cells turn carcinogenic, complex-systems science understands this as a transition between two such states. These transitions are obviously unwanted. … > full story

Dinosaur shook tail feathers for mating show
(January 4, 2013) — A researcher’s examination of fossilized dinosaur tail bones has led to a breakthrough finding: some feathered dinosaurs used tail plumage to attract mates, much like modern-day peacocks and turkeys. … > full story


Live giant squid! Discovery Channel says it’s got first videos 
The famed and often maligned giant squid has for millennia kept its quiet life in the depths of the ocean private, but now the Discovery Channel and Japan’s national museum say they’ve Paparazzied the sucker.

The duo is claiming to have the “very first ever footage of a live giant squid in its natural habitat,” according to its joint press release. The squid, said to have razor-toothed suckers and eyes the size of dinner plates, was encountered in the “abyss” after more than 285 hours and 55 submarine dives, some as deep as 3,000 feet below the surface, the team said.


Waterfall-climbing fish use same mechanism to climb waterfalls and eat algae
(January 4, 2013) — Going against the flow is always a challenge, but some waterfall-climbing fish have adapted to their extreme lifestyle by using the same set of muscles for both climbing and eating, according to new research. … > full story

Giant fossil predator provides insights into the rise of modern marine ecosystem structures
(January 7, 2013) — An international team of scientists has described a fossil marine predator measuring 8.6 meters in length (about 28 feet) recovered from the Nevada desert in 2010 as representing the first top predator in marine food chains feeding on prey similar to its own size. … > full story


How do songbirds sing? In 3-D!
(January 7, 2013) — Like humans, songbirds learn their vocalizations by imitation. Since their songs are used for finding a mate and retaining territories, birdsong is very important for reproductive success. High-field magnetic resonance imaging and micro-computed tomography have been used to construct stunning high resolution, 3-D, images, as well as a data set “morphome” of the zebra finch (Taeniopygia guttata) vocal organ, the syrinx. … > full story







Heat, Flood or Icy Cold, Extreme Weather Rages Worldwide

Snow blanketed Jerusalem on Thursday, an example of weather extremes that are growing more frequent and intense.
More Photos » Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

By SARAH LYALL Published: January 10, 2013 138 Comments WORCESTER, England — Britons may remember 2012 as the year the weather spun off its rails in a chaotic concoction of drought, deluge and flooding, but the unpredictability of it all turns out to have been all too predictable: Around the world, extreme has become the new commonplace. Especially lately. China is enduring its coldest winter in nearly 30 years. Brazil is in the grip of a dreadful heat spell. Eastern Russia is so freezing — minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and counting — that the traffic lights recently stopped working in the city of Yakutsk. Bush fires are raging across Australia, fueled by a record-shattering heat wave. Pakistan was inundated by unexpected flooding in September. A vicious storm bringing rain, snow and floods just struck the Middle East. And in the United States, scientists confirmed this week what people could have figured out simply by going outside: last year was the hottest since records began.


U.S. Effort on Ocean Acidification Needs Focus on Human Impacts

A new report urges that federal efforts to combat rising ocean acidity must focus on effects on people and the economy

By Brian Bienkowski and Scientific American Jan 1 2013

A federal plan to tackle ocean acidification must focus more on how the changes will affect people and the economy, according to a review of the effort by a panel of the National Research Council.

“Social issues clearly can’t drive everything but when it’s possible they should,” said George Somero, chair of the committee that wrote the report and associate director at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station. “If you’re setting up a monitoring station, it should be where there’s a shellfish industry, for example.” Acidification is one of the larger problems associated with greenhouse gas emissions, as oceans serve as a giant sponge for carbon dioxide. When carbon dioxide is dissolved in seawater, water chemistry changes and acidity increases. More acidic seawater can hurt ocean creatures, especially corals and shellfish, because it prevents them from properly developing their skeletons and shells. Shrinking coral reefs could dent eco-tourism revenue in some coastal areas. It also could trigger a decline in fish populations dependent on those reefs.

Decreasing shellfish populations would harm the entire ocean food chain, researchers say, particularly affecting people who get their protein or paycheck from the sea. Globally, fish represent about 6 percent of the protein people eat.

The acidification blueprint was drafted by nine federal agencies in March 2012. It establishes guidelines for federal research, monitoring and mitigation of ocean acidification. In reviewing the plan, the research council, which advises the government on science policy, recommended that federal rese


Climate change looms large as Australia swelters

New Scientist  – ‎Jan 7 2013‎

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in the fourth and most recent of its assessments of the effects of climate change, predicted that in south-eastern Australia, the frequency of days when extreme fire danger threatens will increase by up to …


The Australian government’s new forecasting map now has colors that go up to 54°C [129°F].

Off-The-Charts Heat Wave Brings Australia Its Hottest Average Temperature And New Map Colors For Temps Above 122°F!

Posted: 08 Jan 2013 08:44 AM PST

Global warming has given new meaning to “off-the-charts” heat wave in Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald
reports: The Bureau of Meteorology’s interactive weather forecasting chart has added new colours – deep purple and pink – to extend its previous temperature range that had been capped at 50 degrees [122°F]. Many parts of the country have already set local records with temperatures as high as 118°F. It remains to be seen whether temperatures blow past 122°F [50C] – or already have (“large parts of central Australia have limited monitoring”).

How unprecedented is the Australian heat wave? As meteorologist Jeff Masters explains, it is both deep and widespread:

It’s been a summer like no other in the history of Australia, where a sprawling heat wave of historical proportions is entering its second week. Monday, January 7, was the hottest day in Australian history, averaged over the entire country, according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. The high temperature averaged over Australia was 105°F (40.3°C), eclipsing the previous record of 104°F (40.2°C) set on 21 December 1972. Never before in 103 years of record keeping has a heat wave this intense, wide-spread, and long-lasting affected Australia. The nation’s average high temperature exceeded 102°F (39°C) for five consecutive days January 2 – 6, 2013–the first time that has happened since record keeping began in 1910. Monday’s temperatures extended that string by another day, to six. To put this remarkable streak in perspective, the previous record of four consecutive days with a national average high temperature in excess of 102°F (39°C) has occurred once only (1973), and only two other years have had three such days in a row–1972 and 2002 (thanks go to climate blogger Greg Laden for these stats.) Another brutally hot day is in store for Wednesday, as the high pressure region responsible for the heat wave, centered just south of the coast, will bring clear skies and a northerly flow of air over most of the country.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology doesn’t pull punches on what is driving this astounding heat:

The current heatwave – in terms of its duration, its intensity and its extent – is now unprecedented in our records,”  the Bureau of Meteorology’s manager of climate monitoring and prediction, David Jones, said.

Clearly, the climate system is responding to the background warming trend. Everything that happens in the climate system now is taking place on a planet which is a degree hotter than it used to be.”

As the warming trend increases over coming years, record-breaking heat will become more and more common, Dr Jones said.

”We know that global climate doesn’t respond monotonically – it does go up and down with natural variation. That’s why some years are hotter than others because of a range of factors. But we’re getting many more hot records than we’re getting cold records. That’s not an issue that is explained away by natural variation.”….


Bushfires in Tasmania – in pictures Saturday January 5, 2013

More than 100 homes destroyed and thousands of people displaced on Australian island state of Tasmania due to dozens of wildfires sparked by record high temperatures

Global warming to shift timing of North American monsoon

The North American monsoon will dry up in June and July and become wetter in September and October.

Posted on January 6, 2013 by Bob Berwyn SUMMIT COUNTY —Global warming result in a significant shift of the North American monsoon, with less rain during the early part of the season, in June and July, and more rain later in the summer and early autumn. The trend toward a later start to summer precipitation has already started, but will become more pronounced — and easier to distinguish from the background “noise” of natural variability — during the next few decades, according to researchers with NASA and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

“We expect that increased greenhouse gases will make the atmosphere more stable and more difficult for precipitation to occur … When the warming is strong enough, it effectively delays the start of the monsoon,” said NASA researcher Benjamin Cook. “One way to overcome that is when the air near the surface is really moist. That’s what happens at the end of the monsoon season. At that point, it leads to an increase in rainfall,” Cook said, explaining that the study points to big change in the total amount of monsoon precipitation, but that the change in timing is still likely to have significant ecological societal impacts. A second factor driving the change in timing is less surface moisture at the local level resulting from reduced evapotranspiration. The North American monsoon may not be as pronounced as its famed Asian cousin, but it still dominates the seasonal cycle of precipitation over northwestern Mexico, southern Arizona and large parts of New Mexico and Texas, accounting for up to 70 percent of the annual precipitation in the core of the region.


Future sea level rise from melting ice sheets may be substantially greater than IPCC estimates
(January 6, 2013)
Future sea level rise due to the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets could be substantially larger than estimated in Climate Change 2007, the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC, according to new research from the University of Bristol.
The ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland contain about 99.5 per cent of Earth’s glacier ice which would raise global sea level by some 63m if it were to melt completely. The ice sheets are the largest potential source of future sea level rise — and they also possess the largest uncertainty over their future behaviour. They present some unique challenges for predicting their future response using numerical modelling and, as a consequence, alternative approaches have been explored. The study, published January 6 in Nature Climate Change, is the first of its kind on ice sheet melting to use structured expert elicitation (EE) together with an approach which mathematically pools experts’ opinions. EE is already used in a number of other scientific fields such as forecasting volcanic eruptions. The ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland contain about 99.5 per cent of Earth’s glacier ice which would raise global sea level by some 63m if it were to melt completely. The ice sheets are the largest potential source of future sea level rise — and they also possess the largest uncertainty over their future behaviour. They present some unique challenges for predicting their future response using numerical modelling and, as a consequence, alternative approaches have been explored.full story

J. L. Bamber, W. P. Aspinall. An expert judgement assessment of future sea level rise from the ice sheets. Nature Climate Change, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1778

16  ^  more years of global warming

Posted on 10 January 2013 by Kevin C

Human greenhouse gas emissions have continued to warm the planet over the past 16 years. However, a persistent myth has emerged in the mainstream media challenging this.  Denial of this fact may have been the favorite climate contrarian myth of 2012, first invented by David Rose at The Mail on Sunday with an assist from Georgia Tech’s Judith Curry, both of whom later doubled-down on the myth after we debunked
it.  Despite these repeated debunkings, the myth spread throughout the media in various opinion
editorials and stunts throughout 2012. The latest incarnations include this article at the Daily Mail, and a misleadingly headlined piece at the Telegraph. As a simple illustration of where the myth goes wrong, the following video clarifies how the interplay of natural and human factors have affected the short-term temperature trends, and demonstrates that underneath the short-term noise, the long-term human-caused global warming trend remains as strong as ever.

Read more…

New way to study permafrost soil, above and below ground
(January 4, 2013) — Scientists have developed a new way to explore the little-known world of permafrost soils, which store almost as much carbon as the rest of the world’s soils and about twice as much as is in the atmosphere. The new approach combines several remote-sensing tools to study the Arctic landscape, above and below ground, in high resolution and over large spatial scales. … > full story


Information required for short-term water management decisions outlined
(January 9, 2013) — Adapting to future climate change impacts requires capabilities in hydroclimate monitoring, short-term prediction and application of such information to support contemporary water management decisions.
These needs were identified in a
report, “Short-Term Water Management Decisions: User Needs for Improved Climate, Weather, and Hydrologic Information,” published by the Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report identifies how Federal agencies, along with state, local, tribal and non-governmental organizations and agencies are working together to identify and respond to the needs of water resource managers in the face of a changing climate. The report is broken into four categories: Monitoring Product Needs, Forecasting Product Needs, Understanding and Using Information Products in Water Management, and Information Services Enterprise. “Climate change is adding to the challenges we face in managing a multitude of issues, including water supply, water quality, flood risk, wastewater, aquatic ecosystems, and energy production,” Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor said. “Meeting these challenges requires close collaboration among water resource management agencies, operational information service providers, stakeholders and the scientific community.”. … > full story
Further information:


Drought-damaged states face poor outlook as dry weather persists

Obama administration declares large areas of mid-west a natural disaster area due to long-lasting drought conditions, Thursday 10 January 2013 16.25 EST A persistent drought held its grip on America’s bread basket on Thursday, with no sign of relief for the four main wheat-growing states.

The poor outlook for winter wheat, which accounts for about 70% of the US crop, has raised fears about further food prices shocks, after widespread failure of last year’s corn and soybean crops.


  • GEOENGINEERING: Looking to the sky

    SF Chronicle January 6, 2013 Could the solution to global warming be in the clouds?


    • SF Bay area Impact of Climate Change


    Hacking The Planet: World Economic Forum Raises Concerns About ‘Rogue’ Geoengineering

    Posted: 09 Jan 2013 01:00 PM PST

    A commercial airline? Or a rogue geoengineering experiment? The World Economic Forum has put out a new report on global risks for 2013, and the report’s chapter on “X factors” — concerns more remote than the report’s primary risks, but still worthy of note — includes a section on rogue “geoengineering” experiments…..


    Climate Change Could Destroy San Francisco’s Marshes

    Tim McDonnell January 11, 2013 By now, we’re used to hearing about the threats sea level rise poses to human society: It can wash away urban areas, give a boost to storms, and swallow island nations. But new research from a team at the US Geological Survey shows that rising seas can also devastate fragile ecosystems. Using a custom-built sea level modeling tool, USGS’s Western Ecological Research Center forecast the future for a dozen salt marshes in the San Francisco Bay Area, home to several species of federally protected birds and other animals. The predictions are grim: 95 percent of the marsh area could become mudflats by 2100, the effect of four feet of sea level rise (a level projected by previous studies). That’s a problem for marsh-loving endangered species like the salt marsh harvest mouse (left) and the California black rail bird, both found only in the Bay Area, and for other beach-dwelling birds that count on solid ground to lay their nests.Take a look at the video below, which shows the projection for a marsh in San Pablo Bay; yellow is land, light blue is average sea level, and dark blue is high water level….



    – IIASA News Release

    Nature: Limiting Climate Change Will Become Much Harder ‘And More Expensive If Action Is Not Taken Soon’

    Posted: 06 Jan 2013 07:52 AM PST Limiting climate change to target levels will become much more difficult to achieve, and more expensive, if action is not taken soon, according to a new analysis from IIASA, ETH Zurich, and NCAR.

    The new study, published this week in the journal Nature, examined the probability of keeping average global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above preindustrial levels under varying levels of climate policy stringency, and thus mitigation costs. In addition, the study for the first time quantified and ranked the uncertainties associated with efforts to mitigate climate change, including questions about the climate itself, uncertainties related to future technologies and energy demand, and political uncertainties as to when action will be taken.


    Under the weather, literally: More rainfall and bigger storms may lead to more stomach upsets
    (January 4, 2013) — We can blame all sorts of things on the weather. But a stomach bug? It seems unlikely. Yet, scientists say greater quantities of rainfall and bigger storms will lead to more stomach upsets in parts of Europe. … > full story


    Mountains are only minor contributors to erosion and climate regulation
    (January 7, 2013) — For years, geologists believed that mountains, due to their steep slopes and high rates of erosion, were large contributors to the trapping of carbon in ocean sediment. But a new study suggests that mountains do not play a significant role in this activity, turning a geological paradigm on its head. … > full story


    Who deforested Central Africa: Humans or climate?
    (January 7, 2013) — It is a much debated question: why did Central African forests become partially fragmented between 2,500 and 2,000 years ago, leaving room for more open forest landscapes and savannah? Recently, researchers attempted to explain that it was the farming Bantu peoples who were responsible for this, through the large-scale clearing that they undertook. … > full story



    More Rinks in Far North Find Need for Cooling Systems

    By JEFF Z. KLEIN (NYT) January 5, 2013 Compiled: 12:51 AM

    Climate change has forced arena managers in the northernmost reaches of Canada to forgo relying on natural ice for the entire skating season.



    Video: 2012 Was The Year Climate Change Got Real

    Posted: 08 Jan 2013 06:09 AM PST

    It’s official: 2012 was one of the most extreme year ever recorded for weather in the U.S. As a devastating drought, destructive wildfires, multiple severe heat waves, and destructive storms pounded the country last year, more Americans woke up to the reality of our changing climate.

    You look out the window and you see climate change in action,” said Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research this summer. “This is the way it gets manifested.”

    Indeed, as the ever-talented Peter Sinclair documents in his latest video compilation, 2012 was the “year climate change got real” for Americans and many others around the world:




    • POLICY



    The best solution for climate change is a carbon tax

    By Ralph Nader January 4, 2013

    With Lisa Jackson, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, stepping down, President Barack Obama is losing one of the few people left in Washington who was willing to speak up about global warming and to push for significant measures to curb its impact. During her tenure, Ms. Jackson was frequently denounced by GOP members of Congress and all too often reined in by Obama. Despite his and Congress’ failure to pass legislation addressing global warming, Ms. Jackson advanced a regulatory agenda to pick up some of the slack.

    She managed to see that fuel efficiency standards will increase by 2025, enact stricter pollution controls that must be met before any construction of new coal-fired power plants, and established EPA’s “endangerment finding,” bringing carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases (GHGs) under the Clean Air Act. Her departure, however, highlights the failings of the Obama administration to address global warming in a significant way. In his second term, the president can change that by pushing to enact a carbon tax…..



    The Market and Mother Nature

    By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN (NYT) January 9, 2013 Why the United States needs to cut both debt and carbon emissions.



    How American Cities Are Adapting To Climate Change

    By Jeff Spross on Jan 11, 2013 at 10:12 am A new report by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives highlights twenty local government across the country that are taking the initiative to combat global warming. The report follows up an earlier survey ICLEI did of 298 American cities, which found that 74 percent had perceived changes in the climate — including increased storm intensity, higher temperatures, and more precipitation. Almost two-thirds are pursuing adaptation planning for climate change, compared to 68 percent globally, and virtually all U.S. cities report difficulties acquiring funding for adaptation efforts. (Only Latin American cities reported similar levels of difficulty.) And over one-third of U.S. cities said the federal government does not understand the realities of climate change adaptation.

    Several examples from ICLEI’s new report on local adaptation efforts include….



    Sen. Boxer adds climate change post to environment committee staff

    The Hill (blog) January 10, 2013

    Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has added a climate change counsel to her committee staff.



    World Bank Focuses on Climate Change in Hunt For Fresh Strategy

    By Sandrine Rastello – Jan 9, 2013 9:00 PM PT

    The bank is already helping countries assess and manage risks from climate change.

    The World Bank can make a difference in areas such as climate change, education and health, President Jim Yong Kim said, as he crafts a strategy for the poverty- fighting lender.

    Having spent his first six months in the job listening to the staff and board of directors, Kim said he is taking steps to make the bank less bureaucratic. Asked by the organization‘s 188-member countries to be more selective on the projects it undertakes, Kim now has to prioritize its efforts and make “tough choices,” he said. “We can’t be all things to all people,” Kim, 53, said in an interview at the bank’s headquarters in Washington yesterday. “The questions we have to ask are ‘where are the areas in which we can add the most value, where are the areas in which we can’t add value.'”

    A physician by training and the former president of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, Kim in July took over an institution created at the end of World War II to help rebuild ravaged Europe. Now focused on developing countries, it committed $53 billion last year on projects from building roads to supporting education policies, and has expanded its scope to taking equity stakes in companies and guaranteeing investments.




    Andrew Burton/Getty Images–State panels were asked to determine how to prevent damage like that at the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel in Manhattan after Hurricane Sandy.

    Storm Panel Recommends Major Changes in New York

    By MATTHEW L. WALD and DANNY HAKIM NY Times Published: January 6, 2013

    A new commission formed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, charged with figuring out how New York should adapt in the long term to cope with worsening storms amid climate change and population growth, has recommended an extensive menu of programs: it includes turning some of the state’s industrial shoreline back into oyster beds, hardening the electric and natural gas systems, and improving the scope and availability of insurance coverage, according to a draft version obtained by The New York Times.



    [69 Signatory Groups] Tell President Obama To Back Away From The Climate Cliff

    Posted: 07 Jan 2013 11:00 AM PST by Dan Lashof, via NRDC’s Switchboard

    ….today, NRDC and a broad coalition of environmental, civic, labor and healthcare groups urged the president to take bold and decisive action to help protect the nation against climate change’s ravages. “Dear Mr. President,” we wrote in a letter, representing the millions of Americans who are members of the 69 signatory groups. “Thank you for repeatedly raising the threat of climate change as you have outlined your priorities for your second term…. It is the great challenge of our time and our response will leave an historic legacy.”…..

    1. Raise your voice. Elevate the issue of climate disruption and climate solutions in the public discourse. Connect the dots between carbon pollution and extreme weather, and lead the public discussion of what we need to do as a nation to both prepare for the changes in climate that are no longer avoidable and avoid changes in climate that are unacceptable.

    2. Use your executive authority. You have the authority under existing law to achieve urgently needed reductions in the carbon pollution that is disrupting our climate and damaging our health. Most significantly, you can set standards that cut carbon pollution from America’s aging power plant fleet at least 25 percent by 2020 while boosting energy efficiency and shifting to clean energy sources. Power plants are our largest source of carbon pollution and you have the authority and responsibility to clean them up under the Clean Air Act. This will create tens of thousands of clean energy jobs, meet the pollution targets you set for the country, and restore U.S. international leadership.

    3. Reject dirty fuels. We should not pursue dirty fuels like tar sands when climate science tells us that 80 percent of existing fossil fuel reserves need to be kept in the ground. More specifically, the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in our national interest because it would unlock vast amounts of additional carbon that we can’t afford to burn, extend our dangerous addiction to fossil fuels, endanger health and safety, and put critical water resources at risk. ….


    Lubchenco Has Championed Science and Ocean Restoration at NOAA

    Frances Beinecke’s Blog NRDC Posted January 7, 2013

    The United States used to be a laggard in managing ocean fisheries. Popular and valuable fish got pushed to the brink of collapse and others seemed poised to follow. But this year, the US established itself as a global leader in the effort to restore healthy fish populations: It became the first nation in the world to set annual catch limits for every federally managed fish species—more than 500 kinds of fish. Now many of our nation’s ocean fish are on a path to recovery. After decades of dire reports and downward trends, America finally has a good fish tale to tell. NOAA Administrator Dr Jane Lubchenco is one of the driving forces behind this turnaround. Throughout her time at NOAA, she has emphasized that fisheries management must be based on the best available science. Lubchenco has announced that she will soon be leaving her post as head of NOAA after four years of commendable service.  I hope her tenure will remind our leaders that science can help tackle some of our toughest challenges. Surely in 21st Century America we deserve nothing less….


    Chart: Obama Has Protected Fewer Public Lands Than Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, And George W. Bush

    Posted: 10 Jan 2013 08:30 AM PST



    Montana Judge Orders Wolf Killing to Resume Near Yellowstone

    Judge sides with handful of trophy hunting groups despite a heavy hunting season and repeated killing of research animals

    Jan 3, 2013- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

    Wolf hunting and trapping will resume near Yellowstone National Park after a Montana judge blocked the state from shutting down the practice after a brutal hunting season that saw the death of several wolves collared for research.

    Wildlife advocates are decrying Wednesday’s move by Judge Swandal, calling uproar by anti-wolf groups “vindictive.” (Photo: Fremlin via Flickr) State officials closed the gray wolf season on Dec. 10 after wildlife advocates raised alarm in response to the killing of at least eight wolves being tracked for scientific research, including the well known alpha wolf 832F (known as ’06 by her admirers).

    Wednesday’s restraining order from (the soon to be retired) Judge Nels Swandal allows hunting and trapping to resume immediately in areas on either side of Gardiner, Mt., which sits right on the boundary of the national park. According to Wildlife News, the majority of the park’s rapidly shrinking wolf population lives in the northern section, only a few miles from the boundary….


    A sparrow perches across the street from the Metrodome at the intersection of Fifth Street and Kirby Puckett Place. (Staff photo: Bill Klotz)

    DNR hopes new Vikings stadium is for the birds

    Posted: 2:42 pm Tue, December 11, 2012
    The new Minnesota Vikings stadium may be a hostile environment for visiting teams like the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals, but Minnesota Department of Natural Resources officials hope the stadium will take it easy on real feathered creatures. In an email to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority, a state DNR official urged project designers to consider “bird-friendly designs that would help reduce the potential for a bird collision to occur.”….










    Sacramento River Watershed Program Watershed Management Technical Assistance– WORKSHOPS

    Workshop Series May, 2012 — August, 2013 Held in seven regions across California Register Here!
    for all Workshops

    The Sacramento River Watershed Program seeks applications to attend the Workshops. Regional registrations are due 7 days before the first scheduled Workshop in each region.


    NOAA Seeks Public Comment on Expanding Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries Off Northern California

    For more information also see:

    NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries announced today it will begin a public process to review the boundaries for its Gulf of the Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries off northern California. The agency is soliciting public comments on this boundary review through March 1.

    The sanctuaries, established by Congress in the 1980s, together protect nearly 2,000 square miles of ocean near the coast of San Francisco. The proposed expansion area is north of the existing sanctuaries and extends from Bodega Bay in Sonoma County to Alder Creek in Mendocino County. This area encompasses Point Arena-North America’s most intense “upwelling” site-which is home to diverse species and a productive ecosystem.

    NOAA will review these comments to determine if an expansion is beneficial, and if so, will prepare a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) to assess expansion alternatives. Any draft EIS will be subsequently prepared through a public process under the National Environmental Policy Act. Once a draft EIS is completed, it will be opened for public comment again before final action is taken. This process will not revisit or amend the regulations for the current sanctuaries.

    “The waters off the northern California coast are incredibly nutrient-rich and drive the entire natural system and, for almost a decade, local communities have been petitioning their elected officials to expand sanctuary protection to these areas,” said Daniel J. Basta, director of the NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.






    Downscaling Climate Change Models to Local Site Conditions: Effects of Sea-Level Rise and Extreme Events on Coastal Habitats and Their Wildlife

    Wednesday, January 16, 1:00-2:30 PM Eastern

    Dr. John Y. Takekawa
    Research Wildlife Biologist, USGS Western Ecological Research Center

    Description: Coastal land managers are faced with many challenges and uncertainties in planning adaptive strategies for conserving coastal habitats at the land-sea interface under future climate change scenarios. As transitional ecotones between the marine and terrestrial environment, intertidal to shallow subtidal habitats along the Pacific coast are particularly sensitive to change. Projected climate change effects on coastal environments include sea-level rise, increased storm magnitude and frequency, salt water intrusion, accelerated erosion, shifting mud flat profiles, and increased water temperature and acidity. The subtidal and intertidal zones of shallow bays, mud flats, and salt marshes are a linked continuum, and thus, understanding the complex relationships between them is critical to project the effect of climate change stressors. This project takes a detailed bottom-up approach to assess vulnerability of Pacific coast habitats and their dependent wildlife at selected sites along a latitudinal gradient. It examines the potential climate change effects on transitional coastal habitats with high-quality local habitat data, downscaled climate models, and projected storm effects, and links habitat responses to wildlife using vulnerability assessments.

    and register. Once submitted, your name will be added to the registry for the webinar and you will receive an email with instructions on how to join the webinar via WebEx platform.

    THIS WEBINAR WILL BE RECORDED If you cannot attend the webinar it will be posted approximately 1-2 weeks after the presentation is given and posted on our Climate Change website.



    Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options
    (TACCIMO) Tuesday January 22 from 11:00am-12:00pm PST

    TACCIMO is a web-based tool developed by the USDA Forest Service that connects forest planning to current climate change science. TACCIMO delivers access to the most current climate change projections and science, including the likely range of projected future climate for any state, county, or National Forest and dynamically linked peer-reviewed scientific statements describing effects and management adaption options. For Forest Service users, TACCIMO additionally connects climate change science with relevant planning language. This webinar will cover this sythensizing tool with a overview presentation and demo by TACCIMO team members. Information specific to California is currently being developed.
    To join the teleconference only –Provide your phone number when you join the meeting to receive a call back. Alternatively, you can call:  Call-in toll-free number (Verizon): 1-866-737-4154  (US)  Call-in number (Verizon): 1-866-737-4154  (US)
    Show global numbers:
    Attendee access code: 287 267 0




    Climate Science Center Request for Proposals
    …. Funding Opportunity Announcement  for the eight Department of Interior Climate Science Centers (CSC) for Fiscal Years 2013 and 2014. Principal investigators for this proposal call must be from either a USGS entity or a member of a CSC/university consortium. The Announcement calls for statements of interest to be submitted by February 1, and includes separate sections for the science needs and proposal rankings for each CSC.  The document contains contact info, and dates and times for webinars and conference calls for proposers to ask questions.
    Please distribute this announcement to USGS centers, programs, offices, etc. The document is also available via the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center website (Click “Apply For Research Funds”).

    Southwest Climate Assessment– Webinars and Summary for Decision Makers

    Authors of the Southwest Climate Assessment have developed a series of webinars as well as a Summary for Decision Makers (attached), outlining the science, vulnerbilities, impacts, mitigation and adaptation related to climate change in the southwest region. This effort is part of the National Climate Assessment. 
    For more information, visit the Southwest Climate Center website


    Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the UC Davis Policy Institute for Energy, Environment and the Economy

    “US-Australian Dialogue on Carbon Pricing”  (pdf) Tuesday, January 15th, 2013 UC Davis Conference Center, Davis, CA.

    The conference will include a welcome from UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi and many high-level speakers including:

    • The Hon. Kim Beazley, Australian Ambassador to the USA
    • The Hon. Mark Dreyfus, Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change & Energy Efficiency
    • John Pérez, Speaker, California Assembly
    • Fran Pavley, Californian Senator and co-author of AB 32
    • Matthew Rodriquez, Secretary, California Environmental Protection Agency
    • Mary Nichols, Chair, California Air Resources Board
    • James Goldstene, Executive Officer, ARB
    • Karen Lanyon, Australian Consul- General
    • Justin Johnson, Deputy Commissioner, Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation

    And many more… If you would like to view the agenda for this event please, click here.
    Space is limited for this event so please, REGISTER HERE, today! For travel and logistical information please, click here.

    This event is part of Australia’s 10th annual G’Day USA program of events. For more information please, click here.



    Igniting the Green Fire: Finding Hope in Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic

    March, 15, 16 & 17, 2013
    The Father of the Modern Conservation Movement Inspires Weekend Gathering in West Marin

    Point Reyes Books presents the 2013 Geography of Hope Conference, “Igniting the Green Fire: Finding Hope in Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic,” on March 15, 16, and 17, 2013, in Point Reyes Station. It is the first West Coast gathering of the world’s foremost Aldo Leopold experts and the only opportunity to meet and hear from the creators and stars of Green Fire, the 2012 Emmy Award-winning film about Aldo Leopold‘s life and conservation legacy which will be screened at the conference.

    In the tradition of past Geography of Hope conferences, the weekend features spirited conversations and presentations by prominent authors, naturalists, and conservation leaders, including: Aldo Leopold biographer Curt Meine; Aldo Leopold Foundation director Buddy Huffaker; former Natural Resources Conservation Service chief Paul Johnson; Center for Humans and Nature president Brooke Hecht; Quivira Coalition executive director Courtney White; Leopold scholars Susan Flader and J. Baird Callicott; geologist and author Lauret Savoy; U.S. Forest Service Deputy Chief Leslie Weldon; poet Robert Hass; author Gary Nabhan and “Planet Walker” John Francis; and Center for Whole Communities founder Peter Forbes (partial list).

    They’ll examine Leopold’s legacy as a foundation for hope and for future conservation ideas and action. Naturalist-led field trips to Point Reyes National Seashore will allow participants to experience Leopold’s land ethic firsthand on some of the 71,000 acres of wilderness and ranchlands that comprise the park. Additional field trips go to privately owned farms and ranches in West Marin. Meals served during the weekend will feature food from Marin’s farms and ranches.



    Fifth International Partners in Flight Meeting Set for Utah, August 25 – 28



    American Geophysical Union Chapman Conference

    Communicating Climate Science: A Historic Look to the Future June 8-13, 2013, Snow Mountain Ranch, Granby, CO, USA

    The AGU Chapman Conference (AGUCC) will focus on communication about climate science to all sectors of society. The Climate Change Community must move forward on multiple pathways to convey climate change research, mitigation and adaptation plans and policies and technologies to policy makers, planners, and society at all levels. As climate science has developed over time, there has been a significant shift in relations between the science and political aspects thereof; where previously the development of the science was exclusively prioritized, now the focus lies in communicating the science to society. It is imperative that we determine an appropriate balance between these two elements, ensuring that neither is too shallow or deep.

    ….The abstract submission deadline is February 5, 2013. To submit an abstract and/or register please visit the conference website:



    NEW WEBSITE: Bay Area Watershed Network

    Welcome to the Bay Area Watershed Network

    The Bay Area Watershed Network (BAWN) is a network of natural resource professionals and community members who work locally to protect watersheds, from headlands to the Bay, throughout our region. The BAWN provides opportunities to share information and coordinate ideas, proposals, and activities.

    • The website includes an interactive map of citizen-based watershed groups. See who is doing what where, explore the groups through website links, and help us update the site with more groups!

    • The water cooler of the watershed stewardship world! This is the place where you can share ideas, ask questions, and forge new partnerships! Register, log in and join the conversations!

    • Links to regional efforts, tools for starting a watershed group, information on trainings and workshops.



    Be a Part of Congress: Apply to AGU Congressional Science Fellowship
    Applications are currently open and are due by February 1st, 2013

    to work on problems of public importance while utilizing your science expertise?  It’s not too late; apply for an AGU Congressional Science Fellowship today! The fellowship is an opportunity to directly influence high priority public policy issues such as natural hazards mitigation, mineral and energy resources, air and water quality, and federal support for basic research. Because fellows work on a wide range of issues with people from diverse professional backgrounds, applicants should have a broad scientific background and excellent communication skills. Training or experience in public policy is not necessary, but prospective fellows should have a demonstrated interest in applying science to solve problems confronting the United States. The fellowship has no absolute restriction on age, education or career level, or specific scientific background. Following an intensive two week course on politics and the legislative process run by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Congressional Science Fellows will work as a staff member in the offices of a senator, representative, or congressional committee. As a staff member, a fellow’s duties may include writing legislation, advising on votes, organizing congressional hearings, meeting with lobbyists and constituents, and conducting legislative research, among other tasks.
    Interested or know someone who may be? Visit AGU’s Congressional Science Fellowship page and learn more about the program, previous fellows, and how to apply.


    Photographing Climate Change

    New Yorker (blog)  – ‎Jan 7 2013‎

    Climate change is not only a major issue for scientists and politicians but for artists as well. Here are ten examples of photographers and other visual artists who are challenging viewers to consider the dangers of inaction by capturing the effects of



    The Butterfly Effect‘Flight Behavior,’ by Barbara Kingsolver

    By DOMINIQUE BROWNING Published: November 9, 2012

    Dellarobia Turnbow is about to fling herself into a love affair that will wreak havoc on her placid life, and she’s worried about what she’s wearing. She’s frantic with desire, frantic with passion, also frantic for a cigarette. Her boots, bought secondhand, “so beautiful she’d nearly cried when she found them,” are killing her. It’s the wettest fall on record in southern Appalachia, and she has to be hiking in pointed-toe calfskin on a steep, muddy trail to a deserted cabin for an illicit rendezvous…..


    Youth Winter Bird Count in Marin Saturday, January 12th, 2013 from 8:30am -12:30pm

    With: Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary, WildCare and PRBO Conservation Science

    Families with children of all ages; Groups lead in both English and Spanish; Participants must register but participation is FREE!

    Richardson Bay Audubon Center & Sanctuary, Point Reyes Bird Observatory, and WildCare are co-hosting our third Youth Winter Bird Count (YWBC). This event will give aspiring young birders and outdoor enthusiasts an opportunity to contribute to conservation while they learn in both Spanish and English aided by WildCare’s bilingual naturalists and volunteer birders. Participants will work in small teams with experienced birders. Bird data collected during the YWBC will ultimately be entered into eBird, an international database of bird sightings. Students of all ages and their families are invited to participate in this fun and educational event. Participants will meet at the Albert J. Boro Community Center in Pickleweed Park, San Rafael, CA. Event space has generously been donated by the Community Center to support this program. Participants will learn to use binoculars and scopes, record scientific data and, with the help of expert birders, become familiar with and identify a variety of local birds. Participants will also work with their teams to enter their data into a shared database and present it to the other participating teams as part of a celebration at the end of the event.

    Spread the word! Registration forms are available on our website at or For more information about this event, contact Wendy Dalia at (415) 388-2524 x111 or








    A drilling dilemma on fracking– California

    Updated 12:21 am, Saturday, January 5, 2013 By federal estimate, California may be sitting atop one of the nation’s largest oil deposits, buried in rock formations beneath the Central Valley and elsewhere.
    But tapping this pool will take a largely unregulated and potentially dangerous technique known as fracking that injects chemicals, water and sand to release the oil.
    The known risks of fracking have churned up a cross-coun
    try debate that has arrived in full force here. California may have ambitious clean-energy goals, but it will still need oil and gas for many years, making fracking attractive. Formally known as hydraulic fracturing, it’s credited with creating jobs, low n
    atural gas prices and even future energy independence. An official policy is overdue, and California should be in no mood to unleash fracking without a public examination of the risks and role of public oversight.

    New York Governor Announces $1 Billion Green Bank And $1.5 Billion Solar Program

    Posted: 10 Jan 2013 06:53 AM PST

    New York City officials are thinking more about climate resiliency in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. But adaptation — making the city more resilient to intensifying extreme weather — is only one part of an effective strategy. Mitigating climate change through clean energy and other carbon reduction efforts is just as important. And New York Governor Andrew Cuomo seems to understand that.

    In his State of the State address yesterday, Cuomo outlined plans for a new billion-dollar  “green bank” to leverage private funds for deploying clean energy technologies, announced a 10-year expansion of the state’s solar program by increasing funds $150 million per year, and named a new cleantech czar to oversee the efforts. The cumulative impact could be a massive expansion of renewables and efficiency in New York….


    Coast Guard Conducts Investigation Of Arctic Drilling Ship Contracted By Shell

    Posted: 07 Jan 2013 07:24 AM PST

    The problems continue for Shell’s Arctic offshore drilling operations. After getting its Kulluk drilling rig stranded off the coast of Alaska on New Year’s Eve — capping off a series of operational mishaps throughout 2012 — Shell’s other Arctic drilling ship is being investigated by the Coast Guard for pollution violations. According to CBS, criminal investigators boarded the Noble Discoverer last November to look into safety and pollution problems, eventually grounding the ship for violations. The Noble Discoverer is a 572-foot drilling ship owned by the Noble Corporation and contracted by Shell for Arctic offshore drilling exploration:….


    As Biofuel Demand Grows, So Do Guatemala’s Hunger Pangs

    By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL NY TIMES Published: January 5, 2013

    GUATEMALA CITY — In the tiny tortillerias of this city, people complain ceaselessly about the high price of corn. Just three years ago, one quetzal — about 15 cents — bought eight tortillas; today it buys only four. And eggs have tripled in price because chickens eat corn feed.


    How U.S. Biofuel Policy Is Destroying Guatemala’s Food Supply

    Posted: 07 Jan 2013 01:04 PM PST

    A new report in The New York Times highlights how biofuel policy in the United States and Europe has produced a rolling food catastrophe in Guatemala.

    The country once enjoyed a nearly self-sufficient level of corn production, but domestic producers were undercut by American corn exports subsidized by U.S. agricultural policy. Guatemala’s domestic corn supplies dropped nearly 30 percent per capita between 1995 and 2005.

    In 2007, the United States established its expanded biofuel standards, and began relying on corn to meet them. That drove up demand, and the flow of cheap corn into Guatemala dried up. Meanwhile, larger farms and industrial producers took up much of Guatemala’s available cropland and water supplies to produce sugar cane, vegetable oil, and other crops to meet increased global demand for biofuel, due to European as well as U.S. policies.

    The result left subsistence farmers with less and less land to work, and the average Guatemalan — whose diet is heavily corn-based — with no where else to turn for affordable food:



    German solar power installations at record high in 2012

    Times of India  – ‎January 6, 2013‎

    BERLIN: New solar power installations in Germany hit a record high last year but tapered off in the fourth quarter as subsidies were cut to curb costs to consumers, environment ministry data showed on Saturday.



    What Did We Learn About Climate And Energy In 2012?

    Posted: 07 Jan 2013 06:11 AM PST

    by Andrew Steer, via the World Resources Institute

    This year has been one of those worst-of-years and best-of-years. In its failures, there are signs of hope.

    An unprecedented stream of extreme weather events worldwide tragically reminded us that we’re losing the fight against climate change. For the first time since 1988, climate change was totally ignored in the U.S. presidential campaign, even though election month, November, was the 333rd consecutive month with a global temperature higher than the long-term average.

    A WRI report identified 1,200 coal-fired power plants currently proposed for construction worldwide. The Arctic sea ice reached its lowest-ever area in September, down nearly 20 percent from its previous low in 2007. And disappointing international negotiations in June and December warned us not to rely too much on multilateral government-to-government solutions to global problems.

    But 2012 was also a year of potential turning points. A number of new “plurilateral” approaches to problem-solving came to the fore, offering genuine hope. A wave of emerging countries, led by China, embraced market-based green growth strategies. Costs for renewable energy continued their downward path, and are now competitive in a growing number of contexts.

    Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports that global investment in renewable energy was probably around $250 billion in 2012, down by perhaps 10 percent over the previous year, but not bad given the eliminations of many subsidy programs, economic austerity in the West, and the sharp shale-induced declines in natural gas prices. And the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy, coupled with the ongoing drought covering more than half of the United States (which will turn out to be among the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history) may have opened the door to a change of psychology, in turn potentially enabling the Obama Administration to exhibit the international leadership the world so urgently needs, as many of us have advocated…..









    New York Times Dismantles Its Environment Desk

    Times says demise of the nine-person team, created in 2009, won’t affect climate coverage.

    By Katherine Bagley, InsideClimate News Jan 11, 2013

    On Dec. 3, the Times announced that it was offering buyouts to 30 newsroom managers. The decision to dismantle the environment desk wasn’t linked to budgetary concerns and no one is expected to lose his or her job. Credit: Scott Beale, flickr

    The New York Times will close its environment desk in the next few weeks and assign its seven reporters and two editors to other departments. The positions of environment editor and deputy environment editor are being eliminated. No decision has been made about the fate of the Green Blog, which is edited from the environment desk. “It wasn’t a decision we made lightly,” said Dean Baquet, the paper’s managing editor for news operations. “To both me and Jill [Abramson, executive editor], coverage of the environment is what separates the New York Times from other papers. We devote a lot of resources to it, now more than ever. We have not lost any desire for environmental coverage. This is purely a structural matter.”

    On Dec. 3 the Times announced that it was offering buyouts to 30 newsroom managers in an effort to reduce newsroom expenses. But Baquet said the decision to dismantle the environment desk wasn’t linked to budgetary concerns and that no one is expected to lose his or her job.



    JAMES HANSEN: Jan. 7, 2013: Galileo and the Fireflies. What’s happening in the Netherlands.


    Locals say shifting sea ice frees trapped killer whales in northern Canada, but fears continue

    (The Canadian Press, Marina Lacasse/ Associated Press ) – In this Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013 photo provided by Marina Lacasse, killer whales surface through a small hole in the ice near Inukjuak, in Northern Quebec. Mayor Peter Inukpuk urged the Canadian government Wednesday to send an icebreaker as soon as possible to crack open the ice and help the pod of about a dozen orcas find open water. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans said it is sending officials to assess the situation.

    By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, January 10, 6:15 PM

    MONTREAL — About a dozen killer whales trapped under sea ice appeared to be free after the ice shifted, village officials in Canada’s remote north said Thursday, while residents who feared they would get stuck elsewhere hired a plane to track them down.

    The whales’ predicament in the frigid waters of Hudson Bay made international headlines, and locals had been planning a rescue operation with chainsaws and drills before the mammals slipped away



    Time Is Not on Our Side

    Posted by Bill McKibben at 9:15am, January 6, 2013.

    When it came to climate change in 2012, the operative word was “hot” (with “record” a close second).  The continental U.S. broiled.  Drought struck with a passion and, as the year ended, showed no sign of going away any time soon.  Water levels on the Mississippi River fell so perilously low as to threaten traffic and business on one of the nation’s busier arteries.  Meanwhile, it’s estimated that record greenhouse gas emissions were pumped into the atmosphere.  And just in case you were thinking of putting those words “hot” and “record” away for a while, the first predictions for 2013 suggest that, drearily enough, they are once again likely to be much in use.  None of us should really be surprised by any of this, since the ill effects of pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere have for years been outrunning the predictions of sober climate scientists…..


    CNN Veteran Dykstra Slams Network For Climate Special Lacking ‘A Single Mention Of What Causes Climate Change’

    Posted: 07 Jan 2013 09:29 AM PST

    “It was very well done for showing climate impacts, but doing an hour documentary on climate change and not mentioning fossil fuels is like doing an hour on sexually-transmitted diseases and not mentioning sex.” That is Peter Dykstra critiquing CNN’s new one-hour prime-time documentary, “The Coming Storms.” Dykstra — an Emmy and Peabody winner — is one of the best climate journalists around. He is currently Publisher of the Daily Climate (which CP often resposts), and “During a 17-year career at CNN, Peter Dykstra was executive producer for science, environment, weather and technology coverage.”

    The good news is that, as the CNN promo explains, the show discussed how “Global warming continues to wreak havoc on weather systems around the globe.” The bad news is that the show never examines the cause of global warming or how to slow it down (see transcript here).

    Here is more from Dykstra, in an email he sent to CNN staff and several reporters/bloggers….


    New stem cell approach for blindness successful in mice
    (January 7, 2013) — Blind mice can see again, after Oxford University researchers transplanted developing cells into their eyes and found they could re-form the entire light-sensitive layer of the retina. … > full story


    Pesticides and Parkinson’s: Further proof of a link uncovered
    (January 4, 2013) — Researchers have found a link between Parkinson’s disease and the pesticide Benomyl, whose toxicological effects still linger in the environment, 10 years after it was banned by the EPA. More important, the research suggests the way this pesticide does its damage may occur in other people with Parkinson’s, even for those who were not exposed to this pesticide. … > full story

    New Video on Benefits of Probiotics Posted By

    SF Chronicle January 5, 2013 According to the video, these healthy bacterial species named Probiotics can protect the human body from as many as 170 diseases and health conditions. Several clinical studies have established the fact that inadequate level of probiotics can… more »


    How Many People Have Been Killed by Guns Since Newtown?
    Wednesday, January 09, 2013, at 8:30 AM EST
    Slate partners with @GunDeaths for an interactive, crowdsourced tally of the toll firearms have taken since Dec. 14.











    National Geographic 2012 Photography Contest Winners


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