Conservation Science News January 30, 2014


Focus of the WeekNation’s largest ocean desalination plant goes up near San Diego; Future of CA coast?










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The items contained in this update were drawn from,, SER The Society for Ecological Restoration,,,, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, CA BLM NewsBytes and other sources as indicated.  This is a compilation of information available on-line, not verified and not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  
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Focus of the Week– Nation’s largest ocean desalination plant goes up near San Diego; Future of CA coast?






Nation’s largest ocean desalination plant goes up near San Diego; Future of the California coast?

Paul Rogers San Jose Mercury News CARLSBAD – January 24, 2015

On sunny afternoons, this stretch of beach 35 miles north of San Diego presents a classic Southern California backdrop: joggers, palm trees and surfers, flanked by waves rolling in and pelicans soaring overhead. But just across the road, one more scene, unlike any other in the state’s history, is playing out: Much more than 300 construction workers are digging trenches and assembling a vast network of pipes, tanks and higher-tech gear as three massive yellow cranes labor nearby. The crews are constructing what boosters say represents California’s most effective hope for a drought-proof water supply: the biggest ocean desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere. The $1 billion project will present 50 million gallons of drinking water a day for San Diego County when it opens in 2016. Because the 1970s, California has dipped its toe into ocean desalination –speaking, organizing, debating. But for a assortment of reasons — mostly cost and environmental issues– the state has never taken the plunge. Until now.


Fifteen desalination projects are proposed along the coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco Bay. Desalination technologies is becoming a lot more effective. And the state is mired in its third year of drought. Critics and backers alike are wondering irrespective of whether this project in a town far better known as the household of Legoland and skateboard icon Tony Hawk is ushering in a new era. Will California — like Israel, Saudi Arabia and other arid coastal regions of the globe — ultimately turn to the ocean to quench its thirst? Or will the project ultimately prove that drinking Pacific seawater is too pricey, too environmentally harmful and too impractical for the Golden State?

“Everyone is watching Carlsbad to see what is going to occur,” mentioned Peter MacLaggan, vice president of Poseidon Water, the Boston firm developing the plant. “I think it will be a growing trend along the coast,” he mentioned. “The ocean is the one particular supply of water that is genuinely drought-proof. And it will generally be there….


….Practically each discussion about desalination begins and ends with cost. Desalinated water usually fees about $2,000 an acre foot — roughly the quantity of water a family of 5 makes use of in a year. The expense is about double that of water obtained from creating a new reservoir or recycling wastewater, according to a 2013 study from the state Department of Water Resources. And its price tag is at least 4 instances the expense of obtaining “new water” from conservation methods — such as paying farmers to set up drip irrigation, or giving rebates for property owners to rip out lawns or acquire water-effective toilets. “We look out and see a vast ocean. It appears obvious,” said Heather Cooley, water director for the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit research organization in Oakland. “But it really is cost prohibitive for most places in California.” In Carlsbad, two gallons of seawater will be needed to produce every gallon of drinking water. And to eliminate the salt, the plant will use an massive amount of energy — about 38 megawatts, enough to energy 28,500 houses — to force one hundred million gallons of seawater a day through a series of filters. The process, known as reverse osmosis, removes salt and other impurities by blasting the water at six times the pressure of a fire hose by way of membranes with microscopic holes….


…Right after enduring extreme water shortages through a drought in the late 1980s, Santa Barbara voters agreed to invest $34 million to create a desalination plant. It opened in 1991 and offered water for four months. When the drought ended, the city shut it down. Water from reservoirs and other sources was significantly cheaper. Similarly, Australia spent additional than $ten billion constructing six massive seawater desalination plants for the duration of a extreme drought from 1997 to 2009. Currently, Cooley noted, 4 are shut down due to the fact when rains finally came, the expense of the water became noncompetitive. “We run the threat of building facilities that we don’t use,” Cooley mentioned. “And that is a waste of money.”…


…. Santa Cruz city officials in August shelved plans for a desal plant following environmental activists raised fears that the new water may trigger additional growth. Marin County studied a desal project, then dropped it when water use declined. Lengthy-running plans to develop a desal plant in San Francisco Bay close to Concord have been shelved this year when the region’s biggest water districts decided they could obtain water additional cheaply through recycling and other signifies. A different essential concern looming huge is how to get the seawater devoid of hurting the marine environment. The Coastal Commission authorized the Carlsbad plant and its open-ocean intake system. But new scientific studies and changing laws imply that most future plants most likely will be necessary to bury intake pipes and pump water at a reduced price to lower impacts on fish and the millions of larvae, eggs and other sea life that can be killed.

“These organisms grow to be factors — like fish — and we normally have to be cautious of the perspective that ‘Oh, this is just one tiny piece,'” stated Charles Lester, executive director of the Coastal Commission. “It all adds up.”….


For the Carlsbad plant Poseidon was necessary to make 66 acres of wetlands in San Diego Bay to offset the plant’s environmental harm. It also have to blend its brine at a 5:1 ratio with other seawater ahead of flushing it back into the ocean so it will not harm marine life. Other projects will have to do all these factors to get state permits. But some specialists say the plants are coming anyway. “In the subsequent ten years you are almost certainly going to have three massive plants constructed in Southern California and yet another plant or two in Northern California,” Pankratz stated. “The trend is toward far more desal. They are the most reasonable insurance coverage policy against a extended, protracted drought.”






Lost California rangeland is said to pose greenhouse gas risk

By Edward Ortiz Sacramento Bee 12/28/2014 8:49 AM

A comprehensive inventory of Central Valley, Sierra foothills and Central Coast rangelands between 1984 and 2008 found that almost half a million acres of rangeland has vanished from California’s landscape. The disappearance of rangelands – the large and open lands synonymous with the West – will make it harder for the state to reach its greenhouse gas emissions goals and may imperil endangered species, scientists say. State pollution regulators are now looking at whether rangelands should be included in California’s cap-and-trade program, which allows businesses to offset their carbon emissions by investing in natural landscapes that trap carbon – such as forests. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced that General Motors Co. had purchased 40,000 tons of carbon credits from a North Dakota grassland owner. In essence, General Motors will pay the landowner to keep carbon in the ground by not plowing up the grass. State pollution regulators are now looking at whether rangelands should be included in California’s cap-and-trade program, which allows businesses to offset their carbon emissions by investing in natural landscapes that trap carbon – such as forests. Rangelands include prairies, grasslands and ranch land, and were once the dominant landscape feature in the Central Valley. The conversion of rangeland to crops and development was measured in the Central Valley, the Sierra foothills and the Central Coast.

“Those areas cover 80 percent of all the open rangeland in the state,” said Dick Cameron, a conservation scientist with The Nature Conservancy, and author of the inventory. The inventory established that 20,000 acres of rangeland were lost each year between 1984 and 2008. Half of the rangeland acreage was changed to residential or commercial uses. Another 40 percent was lost to agricultural use – most of it as orchards and vineyards. Cameron said that the survey identified land-use changes and matched those to aerial imagery to determine what happened after rangeland was converted. In the Sacramento Valley, the largest rangeland conversions were for commercial uses or housing development, Cameron said. In the San Joaquin Valley, the largest conversions were to crops. When rangeland is converted to cropland, the soil becomes exposed and the carbon is released as carbon dioxide. “As much as half of the carbon in the soil is lost to the atmosphere when grasslands and oak woodlands are converted to things like vineyards,” Cameron said. He said growing crops as opposed to cattle ranching or other rangeland uses leads to even more emissions because farming demands the use of fertilizer and tractor equipment, both greenhouse gas contributors. “You’re getting conversions to things that have little habitat value and that are also net consumers of water,” he said. Under Assembly Bill 32, California’s climate change law, the state has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Carbon dioxide is one of the major greenhouse gases. “Avoiding (rangeland) conversion is going to have an important impact,” said Valerie Eviner, a population biology professor at UC Davis….


Homogenized bare soil surrounds a wellhead on a typical natural gas well pad that has been prepared for interim reclamation. Credit: Tamera Minnick.

Sagebrush ecosystem recovery hobbled by loss of soil complexity at development sites

Posted: 26 Jan 2015 02:10 PM PST

In big sagebrush country, re-establishing the ecosystem’s namesake shrub may jump-start the recovery process more successfully after oil and gas development than sowing grass-dominated reclamation seed mixes typically used to quickly re-vegetate bare soil on well pads, report two Colorado scientists in the January 2015 issue of Ecological Applications, released today.
Big sagebrush is often conspicuously absent at restoration sites decades after disturbance. Historically, grasses have dominated the vegetation recovery following development, offering limited diversity and poor quality habitat for the 350 wildlife species harbored by what was once the most widespread ecosystem in the western United States.
“Successful restoration is more than establishing vegetation. To restore wildlife habitat so that it is self-renewing, it is critical that soils are returned to a healthy status as quickly as possible,” said the study’s lead scientist, Tamera Minnick, Professor of Environmental Science at Colorado Mesa University. The authors sampled two undisturbed reference sites and eight reclaimed or abandoned natural gas well pads in Rio Blanco County, Colorado. They found that none of the oil and gas well pads included in the study had returned to a reference, or pre-drilling, condition, even those that had had 20 to 50 years to recover……

There can be a conflict between short- and long-term restoration goals, for example, between immediate erosion control versus restoring wildlife habitat,” said Minnick. “For the long-term stability of these ecosystems, it is critical to establish the natural feedbacks between plants and soil. And in this ecosystem, that means establishing big sagebrush. Wildlife habitat goals cannot be realized by merely establishing grasses.” Semi-arid and arid ecosystems are notoriously difficult to restore after heavy disturbance. Researchers from Idaho to Nevada, from Australia to Israel, have been identifying techniques that improve the chances of restoration success in these dry areas. These techniques work to promote soil patchiness, and positive feedbacks between plants and soils, in a process termed “autogenic” restoration. The region where this study was conducted is considered “semi-arid” since it typically records less than 11 inches of rain per year. The researchers studied 10 sites on public lands managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Rio Blanco County, western Colorado, approximately 55 miles north of Grand Junction. This area has seen periodic, and sometimes very intense, oil and gas exploration over the last several decades. The soils of eight well pads that had been completed at various times since the 1960s were compared to soils at two nearby undisturbed sagebrush sites. Successful restoration of oil and gas disturbances generates many benefits — to hunters and conservationists concerned with wildlife habitat, to oil and gas operators who desire continued access to these resources, to the public who reap benefits such as clean water and recreation opportunities, and to land managers who are responsible for maintaining the land for multiple uses. Sagebrush ecosystems provide important habitat for many wildlife species in the western United States, including mule deer, pronghorn, elk, pygmy rabbits, golden eagles, and greater sage-grouse (the latter is a species being considered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for protection under the Endangered Species Act). Improved habitat restoration may decrease pressure for federal intervention to protect this iconic bird.



CREDIT: AP Photo/Al Behrman

Bee Decline Could Cause Malnutrition In Developing Countries

by Katie Valentine Posted on January 28, 2015 at 4:15 pm

Many people in developing nations already face a range of challenges, including poverty, pollution, and climate change that’s helping make droughts longer and storms more intense. But according to a new study, residents of developing nations could also soon be struggling with something else: malnutrition fueled by the decline of pollinators around the world. The study, published this month in the journal PLOS ONE, looked at dietary surveys from women and children in parts of Zambia, Uganda, Mozambique, and Bangladesh. The University of Vermont and Harvard University researchers calculated what percentage of five nutrients — vitamin A, zinc, iron, folate, and calcium — in the women and children’s diets came from foods that are heavily dependent on pollinators (crops such as cocoa and Brazil nuts, for example, rely on bees for pollination). The researchers found that, under a scenario in which all pollinators were removed, up to 56 percent of the people in the areas looked at would be at risk of nutritional deficiencies. Those deficiencies can go far beyond simply not getting proper nutrition, the report notes: vitamin A deficiency causes 800,000 women and children to die every year, and has been found to roughly double the risk of death from measles, diarrhea, and malaria. “The take-home is: pollinator declines can really matter to human health, with quite scary numbers for vitamin A deficiencies, for example, which can lead to blindness and increase death rates for some diseases, including malaria,” Taylor Ricketts, a UVM scientists who co-authored the study, said in a statement. …


Got bees? Got vitamin A? Got malaria? Loss of pollinators increases risk of malnutrition, disease

Posted: 26 Jan 2015 09:44 AM PST

More than half the people in some developing countries could become newly at risk for malnutrition if crop-pollinating animals — like bees — continue to decline, experts say. Despite popular reports that pollinators are crucial for human nutritional health, no scientific studies have actually tested this claim — until now.….


The secrets of the shelf seas – one of Earth’s most important ecosystems

The sea off our coasts teems with microscopic life that breaks down the carbon dioxide we pump into the air. Now a series of expeditions aims to find out more

Shelf life: phytoplankton in our oceans, which take up CO2 and convert it into organic carbon and oxygen, are responsible for creating around half of the oxygen we breathe. Photograph: Alamy

Rebecca Bell Sunday 25 January 2015 02.30 EST the Guardian UK

Our coastal seas play a much bigger role in our lives than simply providing a nice backdrop to a fish and chip supper on the beach and the occasional paddle when the weather allows. The sea close to the coastline is known as the shelf sea and it extends out until the seabed reaches a depth of 200 metres. In the UK our widest shelf sea reaches 300km from the mainland. These shallow shelf seas make up only 5% of the world’s oceans but 15-20% of all life in the ocean lives here. They remain mysterious. “We are not entirely sure how the shelf seas can sustain quite so much biological growth,” says Professor Jonathan Sharples from the University of Liverpool. “They must receive nutrients from the deep ocean to fuel this growth, but we don’t know how this happens.” Whatever the reason, these shallow seas sustain 90% of the world’s fisheries and are one of the most important ecosystems on Earth. … “First, CO2 dissolves in the surface of the ocean if the concentration of CO2 in the sea is less than in the atmosphere,” says Dr Joanne Hopkins from the National Oceanography Centre. “You could think of this as the reverse of bubbles escaping when you open a fizzy drinks bottle – because the concentration of CO2 in the air is less than in the bottle.” The other important part of the system is the micro-organisms themselves, which the shelf seas are teeming with. If you were to take a swim in the sea and accidentally gulp some water you would swallow thousands of micro-organisms called plankton, which amazingly, given their minute size, are a crucial food source for whales. There are two types of plankton: phytoplankton (tiny marine plants) and zooplankton (tiny marine animals). One thousand of the smallest phytoplankton would measure 1mm, while typical zooplankton are 1-5mm in length. Plankton make sea water look murky and this biological material is rather romantically known as “marine snow”. As phytoplankton grow they take up CO2 and convert it to organic carbon and oxygen, in the same way as a leaf does by photosynthesis. “Half of the oxygen we breathe comes from forests, the other half from these tiny marine plants,” says Sharples. “The zooplankton then eat the organic carbon that the phytoplankton are made of.” “The oceans remove about one-third of the total carbon we put into the atmosphere each year by burning fossil fuels, and shelf seas play a disproportionately high role because of their high biological activity,” says Dr Louise Darroch from the British Oceanographic Data Centre. “We want to understand how plankton extract CO2 from the atmosphere and how their ability to remove CO2 may be sensitive to changes in our climate.” In order to tackle this important question, the Natural Environment Research Council and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs have funded a project called Shelf Sea Biogeochemistry which will take measurements throughout shelf seas in a number of expeditions over the next year. …



How do small birds survive cold winters?

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 07:01 AM PST

Norway’s small birds face many challenges during the winter, including short days and long energy-intensive nights, tough weather conditions and food shortages, along with the risk of becoming a meal for hungry predators. Many at a tiny size, how do they survive?


Baleen whales hear through their bones

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:30 AM PST

Understanding how baleen whales hear has posed a great mystery to marine mammal researchers. Biologists reveal that the skulls of at least some baleen whales, specifically fin whales in their study, have acoustic properties that capture the energy of low frequencies and direct it to their ear bones.



Bird watchers help federal agencies pinpoint conservation priorities

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:11 AM PST

Migratory birds are a little like college students moving from home to school and back over the year. With each move they switch landlords, encountering new rules and different living conditions. That’s the finding of one of the most detailed assessments of bird ranges ever conducted, work begun as part of the State of the Birds 2011 report….For example, birds like the Black-headed Grosbeak move from wintering grounds in Central America to forests in the western U.S. They migrate along river and stream corridors–largely BLM-managed–and then move upslope to Forest Service-managed habitats to breed. The Mountain Bluebird, on the other hand, is a short-distance migrant that breeds in high-elevation forests managed by the Forest Service. In the fall they move downhill to spend the winter in open country under the BLM’s jurisdiction. Some 19 other species follow a similar pattern. Another 66 species don’t switch agencies during the year, but live primarily on public land throughout the year. The Le Conte’s Thrasher, a scimitar-beaked desert songbird that’s on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, is an example. Some 85 percent of its entire range lies on public lands, according to the analysis done for the State of the Birds report. More than 40 percent is made up of BLM lands, but the National Park Service and Department of Defense each manage another 20 percent of the species’ range. The analysis in this new study goes further–itemizing which individual BLM units support the most habitat for this species (and does the same for hundreds of other species). These detailed breakdowns–first envisioned in the State of the Birds reports of 2011 and 2013–give land managers the power to zero in on species they can have the most effect on. Until now, they’ve had to identify important species from a list of hundreds using only large-scale range maps, seasonal checklists, and hard-to-access data from formal surveys.

It can get overwhelming thinking you need to do everything for every bird,” said Ken Rosenberg, a conservation scientist at the Cornell Lab and coauthor of the study. “This can really help hone in on what’s important for your piece of land–so you know what are the main species you can concentrate on.” The study’s focus on so-called multiple-use lands (places that are neither set aside as wilderness nor completely open to development) highlights a strategic opportunity for conservation, Rosenberg said. It’s difficult to set aside new parcels of land, but adjusting priorities on existing lands can have a huge positive effect. “Just a slight shift in, for example, grazing requirements on a million acres of multiple-use lands would have a huge effect on birds,” Rosenberg said. “That’s where all the potential for conservation is. The whole idea is to shift the arrow and make it easier for land managers to fit birds into their planning alongside all the other uses.” In the near future, La Sorte said, the same kinds of models will be available for private lands and for other countries. This should make it possible for land managers to cooperate across the entire region where long-distance migrants live–even species like the Barn Swallow and Swainson’s Hawk, which fly almost the full length of North and South America each year. The models are made possible by millions of volunteer reports from thousands of bird watchers who participate in eBird. It’s an example of the very real connection the eBird program makes between skilled hobbyists and formal science and conservation. “It’s an amazing thing and one that birders can be proud of,” Rosenberg said, “How does my little old eBird checklist inform national conservation policy? This is how.”


Frank A. La Sorte, Daniel Fink, Wesley M. Hochachka, Jocelyn L. Aycrigg, Kenneth V. Rosenberg, Amanda D. Rodewald, Nicholas E. Bruns, Andrew Farnsworth, Brian L. Sullivan, Chris Wood, Steve Kelling. Documenting stewardship responsibilities across the annual cycle for birds on U.S. public lands. Ecological Applications, 2015; 25 (1): 39 DOI: 10.1890/14-0702.1


‘Citizen science’ reveals positive news for Puget Sound seabirds

Posted: 20 Jan 2015 11:28 AM PST

Many seabird species are thought to have declined around Puget Sound since the 1960s and 1970s but the new results indicate the trends have turned up for many species. The Puget Sound Partnership lists some of the species as barometers of the health of Puget Sound.



Cause for decline of Missouri River pallid sturgeon identified

Posted: 26 Jan 2015 06:59 AM PST

Oxygen-depleted dead zones between dams in the upper Missouri River have been directly linked with the failure of endangered pallid sturgeon embryos to survive, according to a study. The study is the first to make a direct link among dam-induced changes in riverine sediment transport, the subsequent effects of those changes on reduced oxygen levels and the survival of an endangered species, the pallid sturgeon.



No state or federal aid for handling bird-killing goo emergency

Peter Fimrite | on January 24, 2015 SF Chron

Photo: Santiago Mejia / The Chronicle State wildlife workers Kevin Aceituno (left) and Beckye Stanton investigate a dead bird found in San Leandro.

The deaths of birds from a sticky goo on San Francisco Bay this past week signaled an environmental emergency, but the network of skilled government agencies trained to swiftly respond to bay disasters was nowhere to be found.

That’s because the multiagency response that would have immediately mobilized containment and cleanup to prevent further damage is usually triggered only if the substance on bay waters is petroleum-based and reported by a company or ship. What happened instead was a tepid reaction that was nothing close to the coordinated effort that happens when, say, a tanker ship sideswipes the Bay Bridge and spews fuel oil. The result was that wildlife agencies were on their own to cope with the crisis as the number of injured and dying birds soared. More than a week has passed since the first birds covered in the gray goo turned up on the bay shoreline, but the substance has yet to be identified. More than 150 birds have died and more than 300 have been undergoing cleaning and treatment by a nonprofit wildlife rescue group. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is investigating, putting a collection of gunk samples through a battery of tests at the department’s Sacramento laboratory. Results of necropsies on the dead birds have not been released. Meanwhile, no state money has been made available for cleanup, rescue work, feeding or rehabilitation. “We are bearing the entire cost of the animal care from the time they get to the center to the time they are hopefully released,” said Barbara Callahan, interim director of the nonprofit International Bird Rescue center in Fairfield, which is spending an estimated $9,500 a day rescuing and rehabilitating the gummed-up waterfowl brought to the facility. “I would love to see some agency say, ‘Yes, we’ll help you with the cost of this,’ but it seems to be outside of everybody’s department.” The problem is that the comprehensive nationwide law designed to minimize the impact of oil spills does not include other pollutants in the carefully laid out protocols that govern disaster response. Oil spills in California generally involve the establishment of a cleanup command structure involving the U.S. Coast Guard and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife‘s Office of Spill Prevention and Response. The Coast Guard did a flyover of the bay after the first birds were discovered, but spotters did not locate a slick or plume in the water. A Coast Guard spokesman said the agency does not get involved in such incidents unless petroleum or a polluting vessel is identified….



Bighorn sheep live in herds or bands of about 5 to 15 ewes, lambs, yearlings, and two-year olds. Groups of males are much smaller, usually numbering two to five. In the winter, the ewe herds join to create bands of as many as 100 animals. Did you know that in the fall, the rams compete for ewes by having butting contests. They charge each other at speeds of more than 20 mph, their foreheads crashing with a crack that can be heard more than a mile away. These battles may last as long as 24 hours

SOURCE: Basic Facts About Bighorn Sheep (









Arctic ice cap slides into the ocean

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 05:17 AM PST

Satellite images have revealed that a remote Arctic ice cap has thinned by more than 50 metres since 2012 — about one sixth of its original thickness — and that it is now flowing 25 times faster. The findings show that over the last two decades, ice loss from the south-east region of Austfonna, located in the Svalbard archipelago, has increased significantly. In this time, ice flow has accelerated to speeds of several kilometres per year, and ice thinning has spread more than 50km inland — to within 10km of the summit.


Iceland rises as its glaciers melt from climate change

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 08:37 AM PST

Earth’s crust under Iceland is rebounding as global warming melts the island’s great ice caps. In south-central Iceland some sites are moving upward as much as 1.4 inches (35 mm) per year. A new paper is the first to show the current fast uplift of the Icelandic crust is a result of accelerated melting of the island’s glaciers and coincides with the onset of warming that began about 30 years ago, the researchers said.


Global warming doubles risk of extreme La Niña event, research shows

Posted: 26 Jan 2015 09:47 AM PST

The risk of extreme La Niña events in the Pacific Ocean could double due to global warming, new research has shown. El Niño and La Niña events are opposite phases of the natural climate phenomenon, the El Niño/Southern Oscillation. Extreme La Niña events occur when cold sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean contrast with the warming land areas of Maritime Southeast Asia in the west and create a strong temperature gradient….



Extreme weather in 1998 was linked with La Nina

Study: Global warming ‘doubles risk’ of extreme weather

26 January 2015 Last updated at 12:11 ET By Helen Briggs Environment correspondent, BBC News

Extreme weather arising from a climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean will get much worse as the world warms, according to climate modelling. Parts of the world will have weather patterns that switch between extremes of wet and dry, say scientists. The US will see more droughts while flooding will become more common in the western Pacific, research suggests. The study, in Nature Climate Change, adds to a growing body of evidence over climate change and extreme weather.
The latest data – based on detailed climate modelling work – suggests extreme La Nina events in the Pacific Ocean will almost double with global warming, from one in 23 years to one in 13 years. Most will follow extreme El Nino events, meaning frequent swings between opposite extremes from one year to the next. Lead researcher Dr Wenju Cai from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia, said this would mean an increase in the occurrence of “devastating weather events with profound socio-economic consequences”. “El Nino and La Nina can be a major driver of extreme weather,” he said. “We are going to see these extreme weather [events] become more frequent.” El Nino and La Nina are complex weather patterns arising from variations in ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific. They can have large-scale impacts on global weather and climate. La Niña is sometimes referred to as the cold phase and El Niño as the warm phase of this natural climate phenomenon. Prof Mat Collins, Joint Met Office Chair in Climate Change at Exeter University, UK, is a co-researcher on the study, which involved teams in Australia, China, the US, UK and Peru. He said scientists were getting a better idea of how El Nino and La Nina are affected by global warming. “Our previous research showed a doubling in frequency of extreme El Nino events, and this new study shows a similar fate for the cold phase of the cycle,” he said. “It shows again how we are just beginning to understand the consequences of global warming.”…



Global warming won’t mean more storms: Big storms to get bigger, small storms to shrink, experts predict

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 11:30 AM PST

Atmospheric physicists predict that global warming will not lead to an overall increasingly stormy atmosphere, a topic debated by scientists for decades. Instead, strong storms will become stronger while weak storms become weaker, and the cumulative result of the number of storms will remain unchanged.



The Role of Saturation in Seashell Formation

From the corals of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to the shellfish hatcheries of the Pacific Northwest, ocean acidification’s effects on shell-forming organisms are now well documented. However, ocean acidification research has tended to focus on just one aspect of the phenomenon’s chemistry: pH.
Now, a new study suggests pH alone isn’t telling the whole story. The study by Oregon State University researchers George Waldbusser, Burke Hales, Chris Langdon, and Brian Haley looks at the responses of Pacific oysters and Mediterranean mussel larvae under varying conditions of acidification. The team’s results suggest that past researchers’ penchant for pH has led to another important chemical measure being ignored: the saturation state. Essentially, the saturation state is a way to quantify how much material — various forms of calcium carbonate ions — is available in seawater for organisms to build shells. The saturation state is closely linked to pH and alkalinity. (Low pH generally spells a lower saturation state with less calcium carbonate.) And both pH and the saturation state are closely linked to how much carbon dioxide has dissolved in the water. This close link, or coupling, could be why past research had ascribed so much importance to low pH. Perhaps, the OSU researchers conjecture, previous investigations might have attributed to low pH the effects of the saturation state? If this error has been made, it’s easy enough to see why. In the real world, ocean acidification occurs when carbon dioxide from fossil fuels dissolves in seawater. This lowers the water’s pH levels, rendering the water less basic and more “acidic.” Consequently, shell-forming creatures — be they mollusks or corals — have trouble forming their shells. The reason for the organisms’ difficulties has long been blamed on dropping pH, with past research concluding that low pH waters make it difficult for some organisms to regulate their internal chemistry. (Effectively, the organisms themselves were becoming less basic and more acidic.) But the new study says that’s only a piece of it. To discover what roles pH, the saturation state, and dissolved CO2 each play, the researchers set about decoupling the three factors experimentally. They did this by fiddling with the alkalinity of their seawater. Once decoupled, the researchers then subjected their larvae to differing levels of the three factors. Their data suggest that the saturation state was a significantly larger determinant of health and mortality for their larvae than pH or CO2. (Low pH was still a factor, but only at extremely low levels.) The reason, the researchers conjecture, is that the tiny shell-makers were basically scrambling to build their shells before they ran out of energy. (Pacific oyster larvae, for instance, have a mere 48-hour window to form their initial shells — essential for growing swimming and feeding appendages — before the energy stored in the eggs runs out.) Consequently, if the saturation state is low enough, the energy needed to build shells before it’s too late becomes very high, and the larvae either fail to develop or become stunted. Iria Gimenez, a student of Waldbusser and Hales, is now in the process of expanding this research into a working stress model of how oyster larvae are impacted by the variable conditions in coastal waters throughout the larval period in response to dissolved CO2, pH, and the saturation state.

Waldbusser, G.G., B. Hales, C.J. Langdon, B.A. Haley, P. Schrader, E.L. Brunner, M.W. Gray, C.A. Miller & I. Gimenez (2014). Saturation-state sensitivity of marine bivalve larvae to ocean acidification,
Nature Climate Change,


Ocean acidification changes balance of biofouling communities

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 05:22 AM PST

A new study of marine organisms that make up the ‘biofouling community’ — tiny creatures that attach themselves to ships’ hulls and rocks in the ocean around the world — shows how they adapt to changing ocean acidification. Authors examine how these communities may respond to future change….


This map of the California Current shows the extent of the low-oxygen seafloor. Yellow indicates intermediate hypoxia, while red zones are areas of severe oxygen loss. Credit: UC Davis

Smothered oceans: Extreme oxygen loss in oceans accompanied past global climate change

January 28, 2015
University of California – Davis

From the subarctic Pacific to the Chilean margins, extreme oxygen loss is stretching from the upper ocean to about 3,000 meters deep. In some oceanic regions, such loss occurred within 100 years or less, according to a new study. Seafloor sediment cores reveal abrupt, extensive loss of oxygen in the ocean when ice sheets melted roughly 10,000-17,000 years ago, according to a study from the University of California, Davis. The findings provide insight into similar changes observed in the ocean today. In the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers analyzed marine sediment cores from different world regions to document the extent to which low oxygen zones in the ocean have expanded in the past, due to climate change. From the subarctic Pacific to the Chilean margins, they found evidence of extreme oxygen loss stretching from the upper ocean to about 3,000 meters deep. In some oceanic regions, such loss took place over a time period of 100 years or less. “This is a global story that knits these regions together and shows that when you warm the planet rapidly, whole ocean basins can lose oxygen very abruptly and very extensively,” said lead author Sarah Moffitt, a postdoctoral scholar with the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory and formerly a Ph.D. student with the Graduate Group in Ecology. Marine organisms, from salmon and sardines to crab and oysters, depend on oxygen to exist. Adapting to an ocean environment with rapidly dropping oxygen levels would require a major reorganization of living things and their habitats, much as today polar species on land are retreating to higher, cooler latitudes. The researchers chose the deglaciation period because it was a time of rising global temperatures, atmospheric carbon dioxide and sea levels — many of the global climate change signs the Earth is experiencing now. “Our modern ocean is moving into a state that has no precedent in human history,” Moffitt said. “The potential for our oceans to look very, very different in 100-150 years is real. How do you use the best available science to care for these critical resources in the future? Resource managers and conservationists can use science like this to guide a thoughtful, precautionary approach to environmental management.” The study’s co-authors include: Russell Moffitt with the Marine Conservation Institute; Tessa Hill, professor in the UC Davis Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and at the Bodega Marine Laboratory; Wilson Sauthoff and Catherine Davis of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences; and Kathryn Hewett, UC Davis Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. The study arose from a graduate level course that was taught at UC Davis in winter 2013 by Hill. The research was supported by the National Science Foundation.

  1. Sarah E. Moffitt, Russell A. Moffitt, Wilson Sauthoff, Catherine V. Davis, Kathryn Hewett, Tessa M. Hill. Paleoceanographic Insights on Recent Oxygen Minimum Zone Expansion: Lessons for Modern Oceanography. PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (1): e0115246 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0115246

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The Weather Channel         @weatherchannel

#Juno RT@karenwbzradio: #Flooding in Scituate, these are always the areas that seem to get hit hard #blizzardof2015
5:41 AM – 27 Jan 2015

Global warming could make blizzards worse

January 27, 2015 Washington Post

Even in a warming world, our hemisphere will still spend part of the year tilted away from the sun, with shorter days and colder temperatures – and winter storms. The question scientifically, then, is what happens to those storms in a warmer world.



Is Climate Change To Blame For The Northeast Snow Storm?

Posted: 01/26/2015 5:38 pm EST Updated: 01/26/2015 5:59 pm EST

Some forecasters have projected a record snowstorm for the Northeast in the coming hours, which isn’t exactly the sort of thing that makes people think about global warming. But in declaring a state of emergency on Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) noted that this type of monster storm is “part of the changing climate.” “I’ve only been governor four years. I believe I’ve gone through more emergency disasters in four years than any governor in history has gone through,” said Cuomo. “There is a pattern of extreme weather that we have never seen before.” Cuomo cited Superstorm Sandy in 2012, which hit New York and New Jersey particularly hard, as well as the 7 feet of snow that fell on Buffalo this past November. “It’s something we have to adjust to, it’s something that’s very costly, and it’s also something that’s very dangerous,” said the governor. Climate change deniers are gonna deny, but there is increasing evidence that ties atmospheric warming trends to heavier snowfall events.

“We can’t make too big a deal of every single storm and say it is caused by climate change,” climate scientist Don Wuebbles of the University of Illinois in Urbana told National Geographic on Monday. “But what we are seeing today is completely typical of what you would expect to see in a warming climate.” Kevin Trenberth, a senior scientist in the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said that in winter, temperatures are generally colder on land than over the oceans. Climate change is raising ocean temperatures, however, and current sea surface temperatures are more the 2 degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal over much of the area off the East Coast of the United States, he explained to The Huffington Post. Trenberth also said that water vapor in the atmosphere is about 10 percent higher than normal, and about half of this change can be attributed to climate change.Massive storms, like the one hitting the Northeast, happen when the cold land air collides with the warmer, moister off-shore air. The current storm, said Trenberth, “is in just the right position to tap into the high moisture over the ocean and develop as it experiences the sharp contrast between the continent and the relatively warm ocean.”
That fits with trends identified in last year’s National Climate Assessment from the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The report found that from 1958 to 2012, there was a 71 percent increase in “very heavy” storms in the Northeast.
The heavy storm trend is likely to continue, given the projected atmospheric warming. “In mid-winter, it is expected with climate change that snowfalls will increase as long as the temperatures are cold enough, because they are warmer than they would have been and the atmosphere can hold 4 percent more moisture for every 1 [degree Fahrenheit] increase in temperature,” said Trenberth. “So as long as it does not warm above freezing, the result is a greater dump of snow.” Other studies have found evidence that global warming is driving shifts in the jet stream. Those changes may slow storms down, giving them more time to drop rain or snow in one place.
“A storm that might have moved across the Northeast in 24 hours may now take 48 hours,” David Easterling, chief of the Global Climate Applications Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center, told The Huffington Post….



Cold Nights Are Decreasing Across the U.S.

By Climate Central Published: January 23 2015

It’s easy to think of global warming as something that happens at a steady pace everywhere. But that’s not the full story. It’s true that the global average temperature has been rising overall since modern record-keeping began, and it’s true that 2014 was the hottest year on record, but the rise hasn’t been perfectly steady. Each year isn’t always warmer than the one before, and some places — the Arctic, for example — have warmed faster than others. When you zoom in, even regions in the U.S. have warmed at different rates. Some
seasons have warmed faster than others. And the pace of warming can even vary depending on the time of day. For example, Climate Central analysis in 2013 showed that winter nights in the U.S. have warmed about 30 percent faster than nights over the entire year. Now we’ve done a new city-level analysis showing the trend in daily low temperatures below freezing.
That is, for most of the country. In places where the temperature dips below freezing so rarely that it’s hard to establish a trend at that cutoff, we used 40°F or 45°F. You can find your city in the dropdown menu above to see how cold nights have changed since 1970. Of course, daily lows don’t always happen at night but they usually do. And the rise we see in daily lows is consistent with the overall pattern you’d expect in a warming world. Due to regional variability, the lows haven’t been on an upward trend in every city — but that’s just one more example of how global warming can have a distinctly local flavor.


Satellite study identifies water bodies important for biodiversity conservation

Posted: 28 Jan 2015 06:35 AM PST

Using satellite images to study changing patterns of surface water is a powerful tool for identifying conservationally important ‘stepping stone’ water bodies that could help aquatic species survive in a drying climate, a new study shows. The approach has been applied to the Swan Coastal Plain near Perth in Western Australia, which has more than 1,500 water bodies and is one of 25 designated biodiversity hotspots on the globe…..


Carbon accumulation by Southeastern U.S. forests may slow

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:11 AM PST

Carbon accumulation levels in the Southeastern US may be slowing due to forest dynamics and land use changes, according to findings of a new study. The research is the first to isolate the impacts of forest disturbances, such as fire, disease, and cutting, as well as the impacts of land use change using permanent monitoring locations across the Southeast making it one of the most thorough carbon studies completed….Researchers show that future carbon accumulation rates are highly sensitive to future land use changes. Land use choices that either reduce the rate of afforestation or increase the rate of deforestation are key factors in future forest carbon accumulation. “Future land transitions are uncertain but relatively small changes in afforestation from agriculture resulted in substantial decrease in accumulation rates,” said Coulston. “While tree-cutting did cause a decrease, overall forest growth was much greater, partly due to the rapid growth of younger forests.”

The aging of forests in the region was also a significant force behind potential slowing accumulation rates as growth rates are typically lower for older forest. The study found forests to be fairly resilient to natural disturbances caused by weather, insects, diseases and fires. These disturbances reduced carbon accumulation rates but the losses were compensated by subsequent regrowth and storage of dead material on the site.

“These findings highlight the need for careful assessments of policies that affect forest management and land use changes in rural areas of the Southeast,” said Wear, project leader of the Station’s Center for Integrated Forest Science.”Continued forest carbon accumulation in the region is highly sensitive to land use transitions.” The impact of land use transition is especially significant in the Southeast where 89 percent of the forested land is privately owned, underscoring the importance of land use policies that provide incentives for keeping lands in a forested condition.

The study estimated impacts on forest carbon accumulation in the region between 2007 and 2012, and projected potential changes out to 2017 based on forest growth and land use change scenarios.


John W. Coulston, David N. Wear, James M. Vose. Complex forest dynamics indicate potential for slowing carbon accumulation in the southeastern United States. Scientific Reports, 2015; 5: 8002 DOI: 10.1038/srep08002



Bizarre Creatures Found Living Under Half a Mile of Ice

Jack Dickey January 24, 2015 1:51 PM ET

The Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica Getty Images

A National Science Foundation-funded expedition to the Antarctic has unearthed a surprising result: There are fish who live without sunlight under almost half a mile of ice in 28-degree water.Scientists had never before sampled the Whillans Ice Stream, a river of ice between the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the Ross Ice Shelf. The drilling mission, which began on Jan. 8, aimed to better understand climate change by recovering sediment and seawater samples for examination. A small, remotely operated vehicle would peruse the ocean floor and photograph rocks and whatever microbial life might be there. They expected little, because of the water’s extreme distance from sunlight (a major nutrient for underwater environments) and its clarity, which suggests an absence of food sources. But the vehicle wound up attracting 20 to 30 fish, with other crustaceans as well. Researchers don’t yet know how the ecosystem functions, but they’re hopeful that the fish’s survival under such harsh conditions holds broader clues. [Scientific American]


Photo: Gary McDonald / Courtesy Of UC Santa Cruz Scientists have reported densities of up to dozens of inch-long nudibranchs or sea slugs, like this one, per square meter in tide pools from San Luis Obispo to Humboldt counties.

Sea slug masses migrate to Northern California coast

By David Perlman Updated 9:48 pm, Thursday, January 29, 2015

A colorful flood of tiny southern sea slugs rarely seen in the waters off Northern California is puzzling scientists concerned about the warming ocean. The numbers of humpback whales and dolphins, normally more abundant off the Southern California coast, have been increasing in Monterey Bay, and now inch-long sea slugs are suddenly concentrating here in spectacular masses, biologists in San Francisco and Santa Cruz have found. This isn’t El Niño weather, but ocean temperatures along the Northern California coast are higher by several degrees than they have been in decades, and as the warming continues, the immigrant sea slugs are finding it comfortable to thrive farther north. It’s a “population explosion,” said Terry Gosliner, the curator of marine invertebrates at the California Academy of Sciences and a longtime expert on the sea slugs, known to scientists as nudibranchs. One species of the southern nudibranchs, popularly known to biology students and home aquarium collectors as the Hopkins’ Rose, is scientifically called Okenia rosacea. Their bright pink bodies are normally common in tide pool areas near Los Angeles and San Diego but uncommon north of San Luis Obispo. However, they have recently been observed blanketing tide pools as far north as Humboldt County.

Not seen in years

University of California scientists at Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and Davis’ Bodega Marine Laboratory are reporting large populations of the Hopkins’ Rose species, and they say other types of nudibranchs common in southern waters are also showing up in the Bay Area and as far north as Humboldt County. “We haven’t seen anything like it in years,” said John Pearse, an emeritus professor of evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz.

Gosliner, who has been studying the soft-bodied marine mollusks since he was a Marin County high school student, said the warming water off the California coast is causing the nudibranchs’ move northward, and believes it’s all part of the changing climate observed for decades by scientists around the world. Nate Mantua, a climate scientist at the NOAA Southwest Fisheries Research Center in Santa Cruz, said sea surface temperatures this winter are averaging about 57 and 58 degrees from the Farallones to Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay, compared with a normal winter range of 52 to 53 degrees. “It’s the same weather pattern that’s kept the rain from coming and … causing the drought we’re seeing on land,” he said.

Unusual winter

Normally, Mantua explained, the north winds in the winter strengthen the California current and the upwelling water brings cold water to the surface from deep below. But this winter, he said, those winds have weakened, the upwelling has slowed and the water has warmed. “We haven’t seen this much warming along the coast since the last El Niño,” Gosliner said. That event marked by warming waters along the coast five years ago was only a moderate one, he noted.

“While we’re thrilled to see this beautiful bloom of normally rare nudibranchs, we’re concerned about the long-term consequences of our changing coastal environment,” Gosliner said.
Jeffrey Goddard, a project scientist at UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute, recalled that he had observed a similar bloom of southern nudibranchs in the winter of 1997 when the El Niño phenomenon was also weak. But that coincided with a climate shift in the eastern Pacific known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation,
he said, when coastal water temperatures were elevated for two decades. It triggered northward range shifts among species including sea snails and other gastropods, fish, dolphins and barnacles.


Warming seas decrease sea turtle basking

Posted: 23 Jan 2015 07:22 AM PST

Green sea turtles may stop basking on beaches around the world within a century due to rising sea temperatures, a new study suggests. Basking helps the turtles regulate body temperature and may aid their immune system and digestion. By analyzing six years of turtle surveys and 24 years of satellite data, researchers have found the turtles bask more often when sea surface temperatures are lower. This vital behavior may cease globally by 2102 if global warming trends continue.










Photo: Santiago Mejia / The Chronicle
Firefighters battle a 6-alarm brush fire that began on Fassler Avenue and spread to Rockaway Beach Avenue, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, in Pacifica, Calif.

Record-setting rainless January sparks fears, fire

By Kurtis Alexander and Evan Sernoffsky SF Chron Updated 5:05 pm, Monday, January 26, 2015

It was an astonishing scene in the heart of winter — dozens of Pacifica residents rushing to grab whatever household valuables they could as flames raced down a coastal bluff toward their homes.

Firefighters halted the blaze early Monday before it could do serious damage, but the evacuations punctuated a January that is poised to go down as the driest in California history, giving rise to summerlike conditions — including the threat of wildfire — even as the Northeast is hit with a paralyzing blast of snow. The extremes on both sides of the country are connected, weather experts said Monday, by a mass of high pressure over the Pacific Ocean. The wall of air is diverting storms from the West Coast to the north, and eventually to the East Coast, much like what happened over the past three winters, pushing California deep into drought. “It’s like your stomach is cringing and you’re going, ‘Is this really happening?'” said Pacifica resident Gina Cox, who was shocked Monday to find grasslands burning behind her town house well before dawn. “We’re more ready for a tsunami than we are for a wildfire.” She and her husband, Kevin, were alongside nearly 90 other households in the Rockaway Beach area that were evacuated shortly after 3:30 a.m., grabbing their three-legged toy fox terrier, Missy, as well as five days’ worth of clothes and tax statements. Firefighters stamped out the blaze over the next few hours, but officials warned of “tinder-dry” conditions along the coast.

That’s because some communities, including San Francisco, have seen zero rainfall in January. If the dry streak continues, it would be the city’s first completely dry January since record-keeping began in 1849.
San Jose, meanwhile, has seen a scant 0.02 inches of rain this month and Sacramento has gotten 0.01 inches. While forecasters are calling for a 20 to 30 percent chance of light showers Tuesday, odds remain that Northern California’s three biggest cities will set records for the month.
Historically, January is one of the three wettest months, when the state counts on its water supplies to recharge. But after three years of drought, rivers and reservoirs are at historic lows across California.
Gov. Jerry Brown has asked Californians to voluntarily reduce water use by 20 percent, while some communities have mandated cuts.
Stanford University doctoral candidate Daniel Swain, who famously dubbed the drought-inducing high-pressure system off the West Coast the “ridiculously resilient ridge,” said Monday that there’s little sign of the ridge weakening and allowing wet weather to move in soon. …



Are “Dust Bowls” More Likely under Climate Change?

A new paper published in the Journal of Climate suggests that the risk of decade-long droughts, like the Dust Bowl in the 20th century, may be greater than previously estimated. The greatest risk is in the Southwest United States, where the likelihood of these droughts occurring once every 50 years is possibly greater than 80 percent with increasing greenhouse gases. The risk of “megadroughts” — those that last for multiple decades — also increase in the Southwest from nearly zero up to 50 percent by the late 21st century. In this study, records of past drought from instrumental observations and paleoclimate records, such as tree rings that may go back thousands of years, are combined with projections of future precipitation from 27 global climate models from the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (phase 5). This method, the authors argue, provides a more robust estimate of drought by considering both internal drivers of drought, along with influences from future greenhouse gas emissions. The silver lining, at least for the Pacific Northwest, is that megadroughts are much less likely, increasing from nearly zero under present-day conditions to 20 percent by the end of the century under the worst greenhouse gas scenario. The study even suggests that the risk of decadal drought in the Pacific Northwest, with a 50 percent to 60 percent chance of occurring today, actually decreases to 20 percent to 30 percent under increasing greenhouse gases. These findings should be taken with caution, though, since unlike other regions, precipitation in our region is not expected to change markedly. The greater risk for the Northwest is the transition of precipitation from snow to rain in the mountains as temperatures rise. Similar to 2014 (and the way 2015 is shaping up), this change will likely increase our streamflows during winter when less water is needed, at the cost of spring and summer streamflows when demand is greatest.

Ault, T.R., J.E. Cole, J.T. Overpeck, G.T. Pederson, & D.M. Meko (2014) Assessing the Risk of Persistent Drought Using Climate Model Simulations and Paleoclimate Data. J. Climate, 27, 7529–7549.




Brazil’s most populous region facing worst drought in 80 years

January 24, 2015 BBC

The states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais must save water, she said after an emergency meeting in the capital, Brasilia. Ms Teixeira described the water crisis as “delicate” and “worrying”. BBC






A visualization of the center square of St. Kjeld. The section of Copenhagen is the first neighborhood in the world to use vegetation and water to prepare for rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change. Climate change is a huge opportunity to build greener cities. We should stop pushing nature away and stop pretending that we can push the weather away. Tredje Natur

‘Cloudburst boulevards’ and innovative bowl-shaped parks are designed to protect the city from rising sea levels

January 26, 2015 5:00AM ET by Elisabeth Braw

Come hell or high water, the residents of St. Kjeld, a Copenhagen neighborhood, will be ready. Actually, skip the hell part. But when the next megastorm hits the Danish capital, St. Kjeld’s residents will be safe and dry. That’s because as of December, they live in the world’s first climate-change-adapted neighborhood.St. Kjeld’s transformation shows what can be done if you take climate change seriously,” says Morten Kabell, Copenhagen’s deputy mayor in charge of environment and technology. In truth, following a catastrophic cloudburst in 2011 that resulted in damage of about $1 billion, this windy port city had little choice but to find ways of protecting itself. “Climate change is a reality and we have to be prepared for floods, storms and rising sea levels,” says René Sommer Lindsay, the city official in charge of St. Kjeld’s transformation. “The cloudburst was really a wake-up call. We said, ‘Instead of doing pinpoint projects, let’s develop a rainwater master plan.’ Rainwater is only a problem if it goes where you don’t want it to go.” That gave city planners the option of adding “gray infrastructure” — technologies that, in this case, would have included essentially more and bigger sewers — or designing “green,” nature-based structures that collect the water and lead it away.

They went for the green option. “Adding sewers is insanely costly, so a green-and-blue [vegetation and water] approach is more economical,” notes Esben Alslund-Lanthén, an analyst at the Copenhagen-based sustainability think tank Sustainia. There was just one challenge: No city has ever tried climate change-adapting a whole neighborhood using just plants and water. “It’s a huge amount of water that we’ll have to redirect when the next cloudburst hits,” says Flemming Rafn Thomsen of Tredje Natur, the Danish architecture firm chosen for the project. “We looked at St. Kjeld and thought, ‘That’s a lot of asphalt with no function. We can use some of that space for water.’ ” On top of having little function, the asphalt gave St. Kjeld, a somewhat run-down working-class neighborhood, an even more depressing feel.

The answer, Rafn Thomsen and the city decided, was to tear up the neighborhood’s squares and replace their asphalt covering with what’s essentially a hilly, grassy carpet interspersed with walking paths. Should a storm, flood or rising sea levels hit the Danish capital again, the bucolic miniparks will turn into water basins, the hills essentially functioning as the sides of a bowl. Thanks to a new pipe system, the squares will even be able to collect water from surrounding buildings’ roofs. Surrounding streets will, for their part, be turned into “cloudburst boulevards.” Under ordinary circumstances, they’ll just be ordinary streets with raised sidewalks, but during floods and megastorms, they’ll become canals, channeling rainwater away from the squares to the harbor. Millions of gallons of water will be dispatched back to the harbor on such above-ground waterways, St. Kjeld becoming a temporary Venice.

The team got to work, and on Dec. 6, the world’s first climate change-adapted neighborhood was inaugurated. Children grilled hot dogs over fires in the newly green Tåsinge Square, while older residents sat down for a rest on recently installed park benches. St. Kjeld is now officially known as Klimakvarteret, the Climate Quarter. By this summer, the transformation of the neighborhood’s courtyard will be complete, followed next year by another square and St. Kjeld’s streets-turned-cloudburst boulevards. A group of residents have also launched a 718-square-yard rooftop garden that will supply produce for the neighborhood.

To most people, though, reinvented plazas with hills and lush vegetation suggest city beautification, not hard-core climate-disaster preparedness. That’s exactly what the architects and city planners had in mind. “If the rain comes, it will be a spectacle rather than a problem,” says Sommer Lindsay. “And if we never have a flood or cloudburst again, it’s still value for money because we got a more beautiful neighborhood.” And as far as Rafn Thomsen is concerned, far from frightening residents, purposely flooded plazas and streets will bring them closer to nature. “Climate change is a huge opportunity to build greener cities,” he explains. “We should stop pushing nature away and stop pretending that we can push the weather away. It’s a whole new paradigm.” Should a cloudburst of the same size as the one from four years ago hit Copenhagen again, it will only fill Tåsinge Square to 40 percent capacity. During Copenhagen’s expected heat spells, the new vegetation will cool the air, and in order to collect water even faster during storms, Rafn Thomsen’s team is developing mini-water towers for use across the city.
Still, city officials may need to do more to inform residents about the Climate Quarter. …. Copenhagen City Hall is about to embark on an ambitious plan to make the whole city climate-change-resilient. Though there will be individual variations, each neighborhood will feature cloudburst boulevards and beautified squares ready for water-basin duty. One Copenhagen suburb is already building its own climate quarter, and Kabell reports receiving climate-quarter inquiries from mayors around the world. While a city like Mumbai, which the World Bank ranks as the world’s fifth most exposed to floods, may not be able to afford Copenhagen’s climate-change innovation, many others can: Seven of the 10 most exposed cities, including New York and Tampa, are located in developed countries. New York, which has committed $20 billion to climate-change adaptation, is opting for flood walls, while the Dutch delta city of Rotterdam has gone even further, designing a plan for floating neighborhoods. Several others, in turn, are experimenting with Copenhagen-style miniparks, which Kabell accredits to the fact that “people like blue and green, not gray.” “Countries talk,” he adds, “but cities know they have to act.”

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Most Americans Support Government Action on Climate Change, Poll Finds


An overwhelming majority, including nearly half of Republicans, back government steps to curb global warming, according to a poll conducted by The Times and others.


Asia’s Cities Poised to Lead in Climate Change Adaptation

The Asia Foundation – In Asia

January 28, 2015


With support from the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities challenge, a number of cities across Asia are beginning to confront the impacts of climate change. Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, recently selected as one of Resilient Cities’ newest … Low levels of technical, fiscal, and managerial capacity among municipal governments in developing countries, however, make it difficult for cities to effectively manage climate-related risks. Lack of awareness among urban officials regarding both the nature and magnitude of risks, such as flooding or rising temperature, is also an issue. Over the past decade, a number of private, non-state, and intergovernmental actors have begun to fill these capacity and awareness gaps by providing support for climate adaptation planning and implementation processes in cities. The Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) initiative, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, provided support to 10 cities across India, Indonesia, and Vietnam to develop, test, and demonstrate practical climate adaptation strategies….


Simple soil mixture reverses toxic stormwater effects

January 20, 2015 Washington State University

A simple column of common soil can reverse the toxic effects of urban runoff that otherwise quickly kills young coho salmon and their insect prey, according to new research by Washington State University, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The affordable and remarkably effective treatment offers new promise for controlling toxic pollutants that collect on paved surfaces and wash off as stormwater into rivers, streams and the ocean. Polluted stormwater has been identified as a risk factor for many threatened and endangered salmon and steelhead and has caused die-offs of coho salmon in the Pacific Northwest. The research builds on increasingly common building practices that promote natural infiltration of stormwater into the ground. It indicates that a “bioretention” system that first filters runoff through a basic soil mixture removes toxics lethal to aquatic life. Such systems are increasingly found in Washington State’s Puget Sound area as people build “rain gardens” that trap runoff before it gets to a creek or stream. The research published in the journal Chemosphere examined the toxic effects of runoff collected from a major Seattle highway during storms. The untreated runoff killed all juvenile salmon exposed to it within 12 hours. But all fish survived in runoff filtered through the soil column of sand, compost and bark. The soil filtration also prevented reproductive damage to tiny insects salmon eat…


J.K. McIntyre, J.W. Davis, C. Hinman, K.H. Macneale, B.F. Anulacion, N.L. Scholz, J.D. Stark. Soil bioretention protects juvenile salmon and their prey from the toxic impacts of urban stormwater runoff. Chemosphere, 2015; DOI: 10.1016/j.chemosphere.2014.12.052



This 14-year-old will fix the planet before she graduates

By Sara Bernard on 12 Jan 2015 7 comments

In a dream world, every kid’s resume would look a lot like Maya Penn’s. Her dizzying fount of accomplishments by the tender age of 14 puts us all to shame. The multi-talented wunderkind is — so far! — an eco-fashion designer, children’s book author, artist, animator, coder, public speaker, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and environmentalist. She founded her eco-fashion line, Maya’s Ideas, when she was just 8 years old. “I guess I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit,” she says, matter-of-factly.

The Canton, Georgia-based artist has spent a huge chunk of the past six years designing and hand-making clothing and accessories out of organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, and vintage silks and wools. She donates 10 to 20 percent of her company’s profits to organizations she admires including Live Thrive Atlanta and the Captain Planet Foundation, and “no matter how big my company gets,” she says, “I will always use eco-friendly materials. No matter what.” (And hey, it’s getting there: Even Samuel L. Jackson has one of her eco-friendly scarves). In 2011, when she was 11 years old and had too many environmental ideas to contain them all in a clothing line, Penn founded her own 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Maya’s Ideas for the Planet. Among other things, she’s sending eco-friendly sanitary pads to girls in developing countries, thanks to a partnership with MedShare, an organization focused on redistributing surplus medical supplies to those in need. She says she’s got 5,000 ready to go for a shipment this year.

Penn isn’t doing all this stuff in a vacuum, though; her sincere hope is to inspire others. As unfalteringly optimistic as only a 14-year-old activist can be, Penn’s ultimate message is that you (yes you!) can make a difference, no matter how small. We don’t all have to start nonprofits and design clothing lines by the time we’re 14 — she swears! Of course, it’s hard not to be in awe of her myriad accolades. She’s already written and illustrated two children’s books with environmental messages — Lucy and Sammy Save the Environment and
Wild Rhymes 
– that are printed on recycled paper. To do so, she secured a grant from The Pollination Project, a foundation that gives $1,000 seed funding to individual change makers. She is now part of The Pollination Project’s Youth Grantmaking Advisory Board, where she works to help develop youth-centered environmental projects. She’s also given three TED Talks and regularly visits schools to talk to students about environmental issues. “I think it’s really cool that I’m able to help other people,” she says. “It’s always been my goal to inspire youth.” …..



Portland’s New Pipes Harvest Power from Drinking Water

Adele Peters January 23, 2015

Turn on the tap and you’re getting water and energy for the price of one. If you live in Portland, your lights may now be partly powered by your drinking water. An ingenious new system captures energy as water flows through the city’s pipes, creating hydropower without the negative environmental effects of something like a dam. Small turbines in the pipes spin in the flowing water, and send that energy into a generator. “It’s pretty rare to find a new source of energy where there’s no environmental impact,” says Gregg Semler, CEO of Lucid Energy, the Portland-based startup that designed the new system. “But this is inside a pipe, so no fish or endangered species are impacted. That’s what’s exciting.” For water utilities, which use massive amounts of electricity, the system can make it cheaper to provide clean drinking water. Utilities can either use the power themselves or sell it to a city as a new source of revenue. “We have a project in Riverside, California, where they’re using it to power streetlights at night,” Semler says. “During the day, when electricity prices are high, they can use it to offset some of their operating costs.” In Portland, one of the city’s main pipelines now uses Lucid’s pipes to make power that’s sent into the grid. Though the system can’t generate enough energy for an entire city, the pipes can power individual buildings like a school or library, or help offset a city’s total energy bill. Unlike wind or solar power, the system can generate electricity at any time of day, regardless of weather, since the pipes always have water flowing through them. The pipes can’t generate power in every location; they only work in places where water is naturally flowing downward with gravity (if water is being pumped, the system would waste energy). But they have another feature that can be used anywhere: The pipes have sensors that can monitor water, something that utilities couldn’t do in the past. “We made electrical infrastructure really smart over the last 20 to 25 years, but the same hasn’t happened in water,” Semler says. He points to the example of a pipe that burst near UCLA last year, wasting a staggering 20 million gallons of water in the middle of California’s crippling drought. “They didn’t really know that the pipe burst until somebody from UCLA called,” Semler explains. “Our pipe can get indicators like pressure, a leading indicator for whether a pipe is leaking or not. So before it bursts and before we waste all the water, there are onboard information systems that water agencies can get to more precisely manage their infrastructure.” Sensors in the pipe can also monitor water quality, making sure it’s safe to drink….The biggest potential for the new system may be in places like California, where 20% of total energy use goes into the water supply—and even more electricity will be used as cities start to install desalination plants. With the pipes, utilities can generate some of their own much-needed power.

“There’s a lot of energy in going into making sure we have safe clean drinking water,” Semler says. “Our focus is really on helping water become more sustainable.”









(Photo: Bo Rader, AP)

Koch brothers set $889 million budget for 2016

Fredreka Schouten, USA TODAY 2:44 a.m. EST January 27, 2015

WASHINGTON — Top officials in the Koch brothers’ political organization Monday released a staggering $889 million budget to fund the activities of the billionaires’ sprawling network ahead of the 2016 presidential contest. The budget, which pays for everything from advertising and data-gathering technology to grass-roots activism, was released to donors attending the annual winter meeting of Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, according to an attendee. Freedom Partners sits at the center of the vast operation, and in 2012 alone, spent nearly $240 million as it funded nearly three dozen organizations, ranging from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to smaller Tea Party groups. The fundraising target is the latest indication that the industrialists at the center of the network, Charles and David Koch, intend to continue building an operation that could exceed the national political parties in size and scope to help advance their libertarian principles. The spending, unrivaled for an outside organization, represents more than double the nearly $400 million the Republican National Committee (RNC) raised and spent during the 2012 presidential election cycle. During remarks Saturday, Charles Koch said the organization would not back down from its ambitions. “Americans have taken an important step in slowing down the march toward collectivism,” Koch said, according to excerpts released over the weekend. “But as many of you know, we don’t rest on our laurels. We are already back at work and hard at it.” Koch said the group’s efforts have been “largely defensive to slow down a government that continues to swell and become more intrusive.”…



Can Koch Brothers Lock In Fatal Climate Delay For $889 Million In 2016 Election?

by Joe Romm Posted on January 27, 2015 at 5:12 pm

The multi-billionaire Koch brothers are planning to spend a staggering $889 million in the 2016 election cycle, more than double what they spent in 2012. Politico called it “a historic sum that in many ways would mark Charles and David Koch and their fellow conservative megadonors as more powerful than the official Republican Party.” Remember, the Koch family put together the Tea Party movement and much of the modern right-wing infrastructure. Koch Industries surpassed Exxon Mobil in funding climate science disinformation and clean energy opposition years ago. They have already become the biggest force for anti-science politicians at every level of government.

This $889 million announcement is a declaration of dependence on fossil fuels, a figurative declaration of war on a livable climate and the health and well-being of countless future generations. As Mayor Michael McGinn put it in 2013, “We’re the first generation to see the effects of climate change, and the last generation who can do anything about it. To refuse to use every tool at our disposal in this fight — to embrace inaction — is to endorse a trajectory that will lead to suffering, privation, and calamity. A quarter century of ignoring the warnings from the world’s top scientists has brought us to the point where we are already seeing dangerous climate impacts on every continent — and brought us perilously close to the first of many serious tipping points (see “New Studies Suggest Many Coastal Cities Eventually To Be Abandoned With Antarctic Ice Collapse”). Another decade of inaction would be fatal to a livable climate. It would essentially rule out stabilizing near 2°C (3.6°F), a temperature target we should beat to have the greatest chance of avoiding multiple catastrophes. Climate action delayed is climate action denied….

….From a climate perspective, the other key difference between fall 2010 and now is that finally, years after the failure of the climate bill, team Obama is putting forward a climate agenda strong enough to enable a major global climate deal in December, one which would dramatically change the trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption (though we would still be headed for warming well past 2°). We have both the fairly strong carbon pollution standards the White House is advancing for existing power plants plus a game-changing climate deal with China that requires faster carbon pollution cuts by the U.S. along with a peak in CO2 emissions by China by 2030 (which in turn drives China to a peak in coal consumption by 2020). That means the 2016 election at the national level — and at the state level — will determine whether the U.S. keeps its CO2 commitment and remains a positive force for international negotiations. And that may well determine whether any global climate deal negotiated in Paris in 2015 succeeds.

Humanity really has only two paths forward at this point. Either we voluntarily and aggressively switch to a low-carbon economy over the next two decades or the post-Ponzi-scheme-collapse forces us to do so circa 2030. The only difference between the two paths is that the first one spares our children and grandchildren and countless future generations misery that is irreversible over a time scale of centuries. The “Après nous le déluge” Koch brothers are placing an $889 million bet they can stop the rational, moral path of climate action in its tracks in 2016 — so they can extract a few more tens of billions of dollars while dooming billions of people to unnecessary suffering. What are you going to do?



Senate passes Keystone XL pipeline bill despite Obama promise to veto

January 30, 2015 Washington Post

In a 62-to-36 vote, 53 Republicans and nine Democrats approved a bill seeking to force completion of the 840-mile pipeline, a measure Obama has vowed to veto….


Obama’s Climate Plan Could Threaten U.S. Forests

By MICHAEL GRUNWALD January 29, 2015 Politico

President Obama’s signature environmental initiative, his Clean Power Plan, is designed to fight climate change and crack down on America’s carbon-emitting power plants. But behind the scenes, a dispute is raging over obscure language that could promote the rapid destruction of America’s carbon-storing forests. This highly technical but consequential fight over the Environmental Protection Agency’s approach to “bioenergy”—energy derived from trees, crops, or other plants—has gotten lost in the larger hubbub over the Obama plan’s impact on coal, and the potential upheaval in an electricity sector that will be forced to rein in its greenhouse-gas emissions for the first time. But while the overall plan was hailed by environmentalists and attacked by industry when it was unveiled in draft form last June, the EPA seems to be taking industry’s side on bioenergy….



It’s Not Too Late To Stop Climate Change, And It’ll Be Super-Cheap

by Joe Romm Posted on January 29, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Humanity’s choice (via IPCC): Aggressive climate action ASAP (left figure) minimizes future warming. Continued inaction (right figure) results in catastrophic levels of warming, 9°F over much of U.S. The 2014 IPCC report finds the annual cost of avoiding that catastrophe is cheap, a mere 0.06% of annual growth (the range is 0.04% to 0.14%). I rarely disagree with Dave Roberts. But he has a column on Grist, “We can solve climate change, but it won’t be cheap or easy,” that is wrong, pure and simple.

I’ll explain why it will be very cheap in two posts — one focusing on the literature and one focused more on my 15 years of experience working directly with businesses to develop, deploy, and analyze the cost-effectiveness of technologies/strategies to cut carbon pollution, including several years helping to oversee the primary federal office charged with that very mission. The cost of action is perhaps the second most important issue in the entire climate arena. If a climate hawk like Roberts can get it wrong (along with The New York Times climate blog), there is clearly a serious misunderstanding going on. The most important climate issue is the cost and consequences of inaction. The climate science has now reached the point that one can definitively say failure to very aggressively try to “solve” climate change is not either a rational or moral option for a nation or humanity as a whole. As Dave Roberts himself has explained, “The results of inaction are morally unacceptable. They are also economically unacceptable….” To be crystal clear, my position — what the literature and field experience make crystal clear — is that solving climate (stabilizing at 2°C) is cheap, by any plausible definition of the word. Indeed, it is “super-cheap.”…

….The 2014 IEA report, “Energy Technology Perspectives” (ETP 2014), explained that an aggressive effort to deploy renewable energy and energy efficiency (and energy storage) to keep global warming below the dangerous threshold of 2°C — their 2DS scenario — would require investment in clean energy of only about 1% of global GDP per year. But it would still be astoundingly cost-effective:

The $44 trillion additional investment needed to decarbonise the energy system in line with the 2DS by 2050 is more than offset by over $115 trillion in fuel savings – resulting in net savings of $71 trillion.

So yes, solving climate change is “cheap.” It is NOT “easy,” however and I have striven to avoid using that word. When I talk about this I usually say it is “not easy, but straightforward.” And by that I mean “we know precisely what needs to be done and the net cost is quite low,” which is not the case for many other problems facing humanity. I don’t know any experts on climate solutions who assert it would be “easy.” Though I do believe most of them share the view that it would be vastly easier for humanity to do what is needed to stabilize at 2°C (or below) this century than it would be for 9+ billion people to try to live in a 4°C world — let alone the higher temperatures we could easily see next century if we trigger certain very real feedbacks. So it is a straw man to link or conflate the two, which appears to be an attempt to tar and feather the exceedingly defensible “cheap” claim by associating it with the alleged claim it is “easy,” a term in any case that would be difficult to define quantitatively in this context, as it involves politics.




A polar bear is shown in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. (Subhankar Banerjee/AP)

Obama administration to propose new wilderness protections in Arctic refuge — Alaska Republicans declare war

By Juliet Eilperin January 25 2015 Washington Post

President Obama announced that the Interior Department released a revised conservation plan to better sustain and manage Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The Obama administration will propose setting aside more than 12 million acres in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, the White House announced Sunday, halting any chance of oil exploration for now in the refuge’s much-fought-over coastal plain and sparking a fierce battle with Republicans, including the new chair of the Senate Energy Committee.
“Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge is an incredible place — pristine, undisturbed. It supports caribou and polar bears, all manner of marine life, countless species of birds and fish, and for centuries it supported many Alaska Native communities. But it’s very fragile,” President Obama said in a White House video on the move. The announcement, according to individuals briefed on the plan, is just the first in a series of decisions the Interior Department will make in the coming week that will affect the state’s oil and gas production. The department will also put part of the Arctic Ocean off limits to drilling as part of a five-year leasing plan it will issue this week and is considering whether to impose additional limits on oil and gas production in parts of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. The new areas of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) proposed for wilderness designation will comprise 1.52 million acres of the refuge’s coastal plain, 5.85 million acres of the Brooks mountain range and 4.92 million acres of the Porcupine Plateau…..

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California’s policies can significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions through 2030

Posted: 22 Jan 2015 10:28 AM PST

A new model of the impact of California’s existing and proposed policies on its greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals suggests that the state is on track to meet 2020 goals, and could achieve greater emission reductions by 2030, but the state will need to do more to reach its 2050 climate goals, experts say.


The massive scale of California’s drought, and how it informs the climate change debate

By Philip Bump January 23 2015 Washington Post

January is usually San Francisco’s wettest month, averaging four and a half inches of rain since 1850. In January 2015, though, it hasn’t rained at all — and the forecast doesn’t suggest that’s likely to change. Over the past 165 years, that has never happened. Not once. The closest the city came to a rainless month was when it got 0.06 inches — in 2014. The current problem, as you know, is the persistent drought in the state, which, thanks in part to heavy rains in December, has actually eased slightly from its worst point. Slightly. According to data from the National Drought Mitigation Center, the current state of drought in California is still like nothing seen this century. …. Research suggests that the drought is a function of a warm patch in the Pacific Ocean, which has prevented precipitation from reaching the state. Record heat in the state (it and Nevada and Arizona saw their hottest years on record in 2014) has made a bad problem worse. The Senate has been debating a bill aimed at providing assistance to those affected by the drought, so far without result. Of course, the Senate also spent much of the week debating the existence of climate change, which scientists say will likely lead to more expansive, more prolonged droughts in the Southwest. That would mean more droughts like this one, with more future debates over how to help those affected (even as, we would stress, the cause of this drought doesn’t appear to be the warming climate).In opposition to the week’s climate change amendments, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) argued that it was vain for humans to think they can change the weather, referring to the scientific evidence that emission of greenhouse gases is responsible for the warming climate. The California drought offers a good sense of the scale of the problem — and, to rework Inhofe’s idea a little — the challenge that reversing climate change presents.







Where did the missing oil go? New study says some is sitting on the Gulf floor

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 12:15 PM PST

Some 6 million to 10 million gallons of oil from the BP oil spill are buried in the sediment on the Gulf floor, about 62 miles southeast of the Mississippi Delta, researchers have discovered.


Economic trade-offs of owning versus leasing a solar photovoltaic system

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 08:10 AM PST

Two new reports examine the economic options customers face when deciding how to finance commercial or residential solar energy systems. Analysts found that businesses that use low-cost financing to purchase a photovoltaic (PV) system and homeowners who use solar-specific loans can save up to 30 percent compared with consumers who lease a PV system through a conventional third-party owner.


Scotland Just Announced An Indefinite Ban On Fracking

by Emily Atkin Posted on January 28, 2015

The fracking ban is said to allow for time for the government to conduct public opinion polling and conduct a public health assessment on the controversial process.


Do green roofs, solar panels work well together?

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 06:59 AM PST

A new study examines whether solar electricity panels and green roofs can work well in tandem. With ongoing urbanization, which reduces the variety of species found in cities, green roofs can increase biological diversity, and also provide insulation, bringing energy benefits to building owners who will save money on heating and cooling, authors say.


Surprising insights into effects of wood fuel burning

Posted: 22 Jan 2015 12:48 PM PST

The harvesting of wood to meet the heating and cooking demands for billions of people worldwide has less of an impact on global forest loss and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than previously believed, according to a new study.


Cities may be leaking more heat-trapping methane than previously thought

January 25, 2015 Christian Science Monitor

Some of the nation’s metropolitan areas may be losing tens of millions of dollars a year in natural gas leaks, which add a potent greenhouse gas to the atmosphere. That’s one implication from a study offering a new approach to monitoring natural-gas emissions from urban areas….


Converting olive mash into cash

Posted: 26 Jan 2015 05:38 AM PST

An experimental system to create heat and power with waste from olive oil processing is up-and-running in Spain. The system shows a promising way forward for reducing environmental damage and converting organic waste to energy, scientists say.










CA Rangeland Conservation Coalition 10th Annual Summit – Collaborative Conservation for Rangelands

February 3, 2015 Sacramento, CA         
A group of speakers will share their experiences, successes and challenges of collaborative conservation initiatives across the US. Although different in their geographic scope, goals and composition, these partnerships have been able to restore trust and work together to achieve their common goals for the land and for the ranching community. Click here for more information. 





Water 101 Workshop February 5-6, 2015 West Sacramento, CA
The Water Education Foundation is hosting a day-a-half course that offers the opportunity to learn California water basics, hot topics, and water district board member governance. This workshop is open to those interested in learning about the history of and the management structure of water in California, and about the key water issues facing the state – including the ongoing drought, the new groundwater law, and the 2014 water bond.

Click here to learn more.






The Conservation Community’s Response to Hurricane Sandy: Helping Communities and Habitats Achieve Resiliency

When: Wednesday 11 February 2015, 01:00 PM – 02:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada) 10-11:30 PT
Mandy Chesnutt, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; Richard O. Bennett, Ph.D., U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
For more information and to register, go to:






CHARG- Coastal Hazards Adaptation Resiliency Group- SFBay- to Co-host the 2015 BAFPAA Annual Conference

Thursday February 19, 2015 8:00am-5:00pm (Reception to follow) Elihu M. Harris State Building, 1515 Clay St, Oakland

Please join us for an exciting and informative day-long conference co-hosted by CHARG and BAFPAA. The focus will be on:

  • Adapting to Climate Change
  • Visioning Bay Area Resiliency
  • Mapping and Data Tools
  • Permitting Agencies’ Alignment

Cost: Nominal fee for lunch

Online registration will be available soon at  

Questions: Ellen Cross, CHARG Facilitator 510.316.9657



UC Berkeley presents

Science for Parks, Parks for Science, in partnership with National Geographic Society and National Park Service, and with media partnership from KQED

March 25-27, 2015 at UC Berkeley  Take advantage of the early bird discount and register by January 25!

This meeting convenes leaders to launch a Second Century of stewardship for parks, 100 years after the gathering by Stephen Mather and Horace Albright at UC Berkeley that called for creation of the National Park Service. The program 
features a keynote speech on the mission of parks by Edward O. Wilson; plus 16 plenary lectures by leading natural, physical, and social scientists; strategic conversations on:

  • Stewardship in a Changing World (de-extinction, re-wilding, forced migration and genetic engineering, restoration and more)
  • Mission of the NPS and its relevancy today
  • Engaging People in Parks
  • The Future of Science for Parks, Parks for Science

and 100 accepted speakers in concurrent sessions on Friday March 26, with posters presented Thursday March 24 and Friday March 26.  Click here to see the full schedule. 




Revelations: Celebrating Our Local Heroes and the Art of Nature  March22 2015
Join Bay Nature Institute in celebrating Julia Clothier and two other extraordinary Bay Area conservation heroes at its Annual Awards Dinner on March 22, 2015 from 5:30 – 9:00 pm.
Julia is this year’s recipient of the prestigious Local Hero Award for Environmental Education to honor her tremendous achievements educating our communities’ about the natural wonders of the local Bay Area. There will also be a presentation by San Francisco artist Josie Iselin featuring gorgeous images from her book An Ocean Garden: The Secret Life of Seaweed. Enjoy this once-a-year gathering that brings together the Bay Area’s conservation leaders and nature lovers from all points of the nine-county region!


2015 California Climate & Agriculture Summit  March 24 and 25, 2015
UC Davis Conference CenterCall for Workshop and Poster Presentations   


INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE  Abstract submission deadline is 1 November 2014 


ABSTRACT SUBMISSION (through November 1, 2014) and REGISTRATION (through January 25, 2015) NOW OPEN for Science for Parks, Parks for Science: The Next Century – A 2.5-day Summit at U.C. Berkeley March 25-27, 2015 convening natural and social scientists, managers and practitioners — 100 years after historic meetings at U.C. Berkeley helped launch the National Park Service — to rededicate a second century of science and stewardship for national parks.  This summit will feature visionary plenary lectures, strategic panel discussions on current controversies, and technical sessions of contributed paper and posters.   Keynote Speaker: E. O. Wilson.  Distinguished Plenary Speakers and Panelists include David Ackerly, Jill Baron, Steven Beissinger, Joel Berger, Edward Bernbaum, Ruth DeFries, Thomas Dietz, Josh Donlan, Holly Doremus, Ernesto Enkerlin, John Francis, David Graber, Denis Galvin, Jane Lubchenco, Gary Machlis, George Miller, Hugh Possingham, Jedediah Purdy, Nina Roberts, Mark Schwartz, Daniel Simberloff, Monica Turner, & Jennifer Wolch.


National Adaptation Forum– Call for Proposals
May 12 – 14, 2015 in St. Louis, MO

The National Adaptation Forum is a biennial gathering of the adaptation community to foster information exchange, innovation, and mutual support for a better tomorrow. The Forum will take place from May 12 – 14, 2015 in St. Louis, MO. 
Proposals are being accepted for Symposia, Training Sessions, Working Groups, Poster Presentations, and a Tools Cafe. 

Click here for more information.



22nd annual conference

California Society for Ecological Restoration (SERCAL)

“Restoration for the Next Generation” May 12-14 2015 San Diego

The annual SERCAL conference is attended by a diverse mix of researchers, students, consultants, nonprofit and agency scientists, planners, and landowners/managers, and is a great venue for professional development and for staying current with new advances in ecological restoration.  “Call for Abstracts” document ( The deadline for abstract submission is Feb. 4, 2015. Please note the five additional conference sessions (Wetlands/Water, Urban, Mitigation Banks, Special-status Plant Species, and Using Restoration to Accomplish Non-restoration Goals) – abstracts are being sought for these sessions as well. A poster session will also be held, and abstracts for this event are also welcome. The conference (May 13-14) will be proceeded by a day of field trips related to restoration in Southern California.



American Water Resources Association (AWRA): “Climate Change Adaptation”
June 15 – 17, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana
Abstracts due to AWRA website: 02/13/2015

The focus of the conference is on ACTION – how we more effectively develop and use climate change adaptation information to respond, build resilient systems, and influence decision makers. The conference will bring water professionals from federal, state, local, and private sectors together to focus on the issues that need to be addressed to develop effective strategies for mitigating climate change impacts such as sea-level rise, changes in precipitation patterns, increased severe weather events, and worsening droughts, AND more effectively communicate such information to decision makers. Conference sessions will be devoted to addressing the following questions:

•     How can climate change adaptation be integrated into water, coastline, and riparian resource planning and management?
•     How can data, models and tools aid in adaptive actions?
•     What are social/cultural factors of climate change adaptation?
•     How are businesses and economics impacted by climate change and can they serve as drivers of action?
•     What adaptation actions should be taken to conserve, restore, protect, and enhance water quality and quantity?
•     Moving from planning to action – what steps are needed? What do decision makers need?
•     What engineering and infrastructural approaches are available to address climate change adaptation?


Ninth International Association for Landscape Ecology (IALE) World Congress meeting, July 9th 2015

Coming to Portland, Oregon July 5-10, 2015! The symposium, which is held every four years, brings scientists and practitioners from around the globe together to discuss and share landscape ecology work and information. The theme of the 2015 meeting is Crossing Scales, Crossing Borders: Global Approaches to Complex Challenges.



JOBS  (apologies for any duplication; thanks for passing along)


Climate Adaptation and Resilience Specialist

National Wildlife Federation Washington, DC

Online Application Available at:



Migratory Bird Program Director, The Nature Conservancy (SF or Sacramento)

The Senior Project Director of the Migratory Bird Initiative for The Conservancy’s California Chapter (Senior Project Director) will have primary responsibility for leading a multi-disciplinary team to set and drive The Conservancy’s strategy to advance water for nature when and where it is needed to secure the wintering grounds of the Pacific Flyway in California. An important component of this will be collaborating with Audubon California and Point Blue Conservation Science, through the Migratory Bird Conservation Partnership (Partnership), which seeks to increase the pace and scale of migratory bird conservation, primarily in the Central Valley. The Senior Project Director will lead the Conservancy’s team to refine, advance and implement strategies to secure sufficient water for wildlife refuges, enhance private lands to create bird habitat and protect and restore critical habitat. 

Job description attached. Interested parties should apply online by February 12, 2015.



TomKat Ranch Conservation Ranching Fellowship 2015

Innovations in sustainable animal agriculture, conservation ranching, business, technology, food advocacy, and community organizing are needed to truly make sustainable animal agriculture viable and sustainable.The TomKat Ranch Educational Foundation is committed to producing healthy food on working lands in a way that sustains the planet and inspires others to action. In cooperation with our on-site partners, the ranch is an open-source learning laboratory that supports research and innovation to inform compatible and sustainable strategies for conservation and production. The Conservation Ranching Fellowship is an exciting opportunity for leaders, innovators, and professionals in the field of sustainable ranching to spend a year at TomKat Ranch working closely with TomKat’s world-class staff and on-site partners to care for the ranch’s 2,000+ acres and herd of 100% grass-fed cattle, share his/her knowledge, skills, and ideas and work with the TomKat team to develop innovative solutions to the challenges of sustainable ranching. The Conservation Ranching Fellowship is a one-year paid position that includes a competitive compensation package (including health benefits) to attract the best and brightest in sustainable ranching. The fellow’s principal responsibility is to provide on-the-ground support and knowledge to help TomKat Ranch manage its land and animals using the most ecological, productive, and sustainable methods available. …




Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center


San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust | Executive Director

An excellent opportunity for the right person and we would greatly value your distribution of the announcement to your networks and contacts as you feel appropriate.  The position is also posted on our website. In case you missed it, last November, we announced that [Dave Koehloer] plans to step down in June of 2015.


Executive Director, San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory

The San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory (SFBBO) is seeking a full-time Executive Director. SFBBO is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation located in Milpitas, CA dedicated to the conservation of birds and their habitats through science and outreach. In 2015, SFBBO will have 8 full-time staff, 6 part-time staff, 3 full-time interns, and an annual budget of $750,000.


PROJECT MANAGER for Green Solution – Water Sustainability Program

Community Conservation Solutions (CCS) is seeking an EXPERIENCED PROJECT MANAGER for our Green Solution – Water Sustainability Program, which advances local water sustainability by developing prioritized, metrics-based approaches to capturing, cleaning and re-using of stormwater and dry weather runoff on a watershed scale, and helps develop new funding sources for stormwater projects. See attached PDF for full description.
Learn more about CCS’ Green Solution Program. This position is full-time; salary commensurate with experience.  Benefits include: 403(b) Salary Deferral Plan, medical and dental insurance, vision care, paid vacation.
TO APPLY: Please email resume and cover letter explaining relevant experience and specific interest in this position to: Personnel, Community Conservation Solutions, No phone calls, please.  CCS is an Equal Opportunity Employer.








DamNation Documentary now available online

This powerful film odyssey across America explores the sea change in our national attitude from pride in big dams as engineering wonders to the growing awareness that our own future is bound to the life and health of our rivers. Dam removal has moved beyond the fictional Monkey Wrench Gang to go mainstream. Where obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and other wild fish the right of return to primeval spawning grounds, after decades without access. DamNation‘s majestic cinematography and unexpected discoveries move through rivers and landscapes altered by dams, but also through a metamorphosis in values, from conquest of the natural world to knowing ourselves as part of nature.


Peruvian Seabird Colonies – video from a drone


Early Mesoamericans affected by climate change

Posted: 27 Jan 2015 11:08 AM PST

Scientists have reconstructed the past climate for the region around Cantona, a large fortified city in highland Mexico, and found the population drastically declined in the past, at least in part because of climate change.


Added fructose is a principal driver of type 2 diabetes, experts argue

Posted: 29 Jan 2015 10:29 AM PST

Recent studies have shown that added sugars, particularly those containing fructose, are a principal driver of diabetes and pre-diabetes, even more so than other carbohydrates. Clinical experts challenge current dietary guidelines that allow up to 25 percent of total daily calories as added sugars, and propose drastic reductions in the amount of added sugar, and especially added fructose, people consume.


Common gut microbe might curb MS risk, at least in women

Posted: 20 Jan 2015 06:02 AM PST

A common gut microbe might curb the risk of developing multiple sclerosis — at least in women — suggests the largest study of its kind. If confirmed in other studies, this might prove the hygiene hypothesis, the premise of which is that childhood infections help to prime and regulate the immune system and ward off autoimmune and allergic diseases in later life, say the researchers.


Chemists find a way to unboil egg whites: Ability to quickly restore molecular proteins could slash biotechnology costs

Posted: 26 Jan 2015 06:59 AM PST

Chemists have figured out how to unboil egg whites — an innovation that could dramatically reduce costs for cancer treatments, food production and other segments of the $160 billion global biotechnology industry, according to new findings.



Family voices, stories speed coma recovery

Posted: 22 Jan 2015 10:32 AM PST

‘Can he hear me?’ Family members are desperate to know when a loved one with a traumatic brain injury is in a coma. A new study shows the recorded voices of loved ones telling the patient familiar stories stored in his long-term memory help awaken the unconscious brain and speed recovery from the coma….





Earth in relation to the Universe:

Our Solar System, Galaxy, and Universe

– YouTube


View this image › NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Image / Via


10. Here’s you from the moon:

View this image › NASA

11. Here’s you from Mars:

View this image › NASA

12. Here’s you from just behind Saturn’s rings:

View this image › NASA

13. And here’s you from just beyond Neptune, 4 billion miles away.

View this image › NASA To paraphrase Carl Sagan, everyone and everything you have ever known exists on that little speck.


This is what happens when you zoom out from your home to your solar system.

View this image ›

29. And this is what happens when you zoom out farther…

View this image › By Andrew Z. Colvin (Own work) [ CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( ) or GFDL ( )], via Wikimedia Commons

30. And farther…

View this image ›By Andrew Z. Colvin (Own work) [ CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( ) or GFDL ( )], via Wikimedia Commons

31. Keep going…

View this image › By Andrew Z. Colvin (Own work) [ CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( ) or GFDL ( )], via Wikimedia Commons

32. Just a little bit farther…

View this image › By Andrew Z. Colvin (Own work) [ CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( ) or GFDL ( )], via Wikimedia Commons

33. Almost there…

View this image › By Andrew Z. Colvin (Own work) [ CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( ) or GFDL ( )], via Wikimedia Commons

34. And here it is. Here’s everything in the observable universe, and here’s your place in it. Just a tiny little ant in a giant jar.

View this image › By Andrew Z. Colvin (Own work) [ CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( ) or GFDL ( )], via Wikimedia Commons







Ellie Cohen, President and CEO

Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO)

3820 Cypress Drive, Suite 11, Petaluma, CA 94954

707-781-2555 x318  | Follow Point Blue on Facebook!


Point Blue—Conservation science for a healthy planet.


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