Conservation Science News June 5, 2015

Focus of the Week New Far-reaching CA Bills Passed on Climate Change










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Focus of the Week– New Far-reaching CA Bills Passed on Climate Change



State lawmakers pass bills combatting climate change

By Melody Gutierrez

June 3, 2015 Updated: June 3, 2015 4:11pm

SACRAMENTO — California lawmakers passed ambitious proposals Wednesday aimed at reaffirming California’s commitment to combatting global warming.

The bills, which still need to be voted on by the full Legislature, would translate into law the framework set by Gov. Jerry Brown in his inaugural speech in January and in an executive order in April that called for lowering the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

The 2030 target expands on the landmark AB32 California Global Warming Solutions Act adopted by the Legislature in 2006, which made the state a world leader in fighting climate change by calling for carbon emissions to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020. The state is on track to meet the goals set in that law.

Both houses of the Legislature approved a handful of climate-change bills Wednesday. One bill approved by the Senate was B350, by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, and Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, that sets 2030 as the deadline for three big environmental feats: cutting petroleum use in half by reducing driving and increasing the use of fuel-efficient cars; boosting energy efficiency in buildings by 50 percent; and requiring the state to get half of its electricity from renewable sources.

The Senate approved SB350 in a 24-14 vote Wednesday. The bill now heads to the state Assembly.

De Leon said the bill would ensure that California continues to build “the new economy of tomorrow.”

“Let’s get it done. Let’s continue to lead the world,” de Leon said.

The Senate also approved SB185 by de Leon, which calls for the nation’s two largest state pension systems — California’s public employee and teacher retirement systems — to divest from thermal coal. The bill passed 22-14 and heads to the Assembly.

“We’ve already proven we can lower utility bills and rebuild our energy infrastructure, all the while cleaning up the air we breathe into our lungs and reducing our contribution to climate change,” de Leon said.

Many Republicans spoke against the climate-change bills, saying they will increase utility bills for consumers and businesses, and cost working-class jobs.

“We have a very lofty and noble goal, but other than feeling good about it, what has it actually accomplished?” asked Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar (Los Angeles County).



CA State Senate advances sweeping climate change legislation

By Chris Megerian
contact the reporter LA Times June 3, 2015

California state senators approved legislation Wednesday intended to help the state tackle climate change by setting new targets for generating renewable energy, reducing gasoline use and increasing energy efficiency in buildings.
The bill, which now goes to the Assembly, advances goals outlined by Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year. Although Republicans opposed the measure, which they said would raise costs and stifle business with new regulations, it passed easily in the Democratic-controlled chamber. “These standards are reasonable, achievable and consistent,” said Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). At a press conference after the vote, he described the legislation as the “most far reaching not just in California history, but in U.S. history.” If approved by the Assembly and signed into law, the bill would require California to meet several objectives by 2030 — generating 50% of electricity from renewable sources, doubling energy efficiencies in older buildings and reducing by half the amount of gasoline used on state roads. Democrats tried to rebut concerns about the bill’s potential impact on the economy, saying it would lead to new investment in cleaner technologies. “This bill is not a job killer,” said Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). “It is a major job creator.” De León also said it would lead to cleaner air in areas like the Central Valley, which has some of the state’s most polluted areas. Nonetheless, Republicans called the legislation an example of “coastal elitism,” and questioned whether the targets are achievable. “We have a very lofty and noble goal,” said Senate Republican leader Bob Huff (R-San Dimas). But other than feeling good about it, what does it accomplish?” Senators also approved two other climate bills on Wednesday morning. One of them, SB 32, codifies executive orders issued by Brown and his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The bill would require the state to reduce its emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, and then to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. The other bill would require the state’s pension funds, the two largest public funds in the country, to divest from coal.






POINT BLUE’s Palomarin Field Station BLOG:


These South Dakota pastures show the difference between rotational grazing on the left and continuous grazing on the right.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Barry Berg, South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts

Preventing soil erosion, surface runoff

May 20, 2015 South Dakota State University

The same spring rains that lessen producers’ concerns about drought can also lead to soil erosion and nutrient runoff. Keeping soil and fertilizers where they belong — in the field — benefits producers and the environment. No-till farming, cover crops and rotational grazing will help producers reduce surface runoff to improve soil and water quality, according to South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station researcher Sandeep Kumar, an assistant professor in the SDSU plant science department. He and graduate student Sagar Gautam used computer modeling to determine which farm management methods will produce the best reduction in surface runoff through a $60,000 subcontract from a U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant. Their work is part of a three-year, $482,000 research project led by Distinguished Professor Rattan Lal of the Ohio State School of Environment and Natural Resources. The goal is to determine which farm-management practices will improve soil and water quality on sloped land… Kumar and Gautam used the Agricultural Policy/Environmental eXtender (APEX) computational model developed using 40 years of data from the North Appalachian Experimental Watershed near Coshocton, Ohio. The rolling Ohio landscape provides an ideal platform to study the long-term impact of crops and farm management techniques on the water quality of streams and rivers, according to Kumar, who contributed to the USDA proposal as a postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State. In 1935, the USDA established the 1,050-acre watershed to determine which farming methods are appropriate for sloped lands. USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists have conducted soil water conservation studies on the watersheds since 1937. Kumar and Gautam customized the model for South Dakota with soil conditions, management information and weather data from the last 10 years. South Dakota gets half the amount of precipitation that Ohio does, according to Kumar. However, he noted, “this model is universal — it works everywhere.” Gautam said, “Once the model is ready, you can use different crops and then compare which one gives you more reduction in runoff.” The researchers looked at small plots of approximately 2.5 acres, a nearly 20-acre field and even a large-scale model of approximately 27 sections of land to determine the impact of management practices up to 50 years from now.

Recommending management techniques

The computational model confirmed the value of using no-till in the Midwest to retain water and limit nutrient run-off, explained Kumar. “It improves water infiltration.” In a soybean-corn rotation, the use of cover crops, such as winter wheat or oats that can be harvested early, will reduce erosion, Kumar noted. “If there is more cover on the ground, this will minimize water losses.” The researchers also looked at management of orchard grass pastures on a 10 percent slope. Rotational grazing is beneficial, Kumar explained, pointing out the soil must be properly managed. “When there is a lot of compaction, we are getting more runoff,” Gautam noted. Kumar recommended using perennial grasses, such as switch grass and big blue stem, to reduce runoff. In particular, strips of perennial grasses left ungrazed on the borders between pastureland and waterways provide a buffer to help control runoff and subsequently improve the water quality of streams and rivers. These findings agree with other studies, Kumar pointed out. However, the next step will be to determine the size and number of strips that are needed based on the slope and size of the grazing lands.


How did the chicken cross the road…safely?

Posted: 03 Jun 2015 09:44 AM PDT

Protecting animals from speeding vehicles doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, a more detailed understanding of preventive measures should be gained through scientific experiments, experts say. For many, summer holidays mean hitting the highway — but nothing puts a damper on a road trip like an accidental collision with a deer. For Jochen Jaeger, a professor in Concordia University’s Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, improving roadkill prevention is best approached through experimentation. In a study recently published in the Journal of Environmental Management, Jaeger and a group of co-authors from international universities show that protecting animals from speeding vehicles doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, more detailed understanding of preventive measures should be gained through scientific experiments. The study looks at the key questions asked by road planners, and uses case studies ranging from examples in the Greater Toronto Area to the wilds of Western Australia to illustrate how best to study the question how well mitigation measures for reducing wildlife-vehicle collisions work. The first questions are the most fundamental: Does a certain type of crossing structure work better than another? What type and size of crossing structures should we use? How many crossing structures are needed on a certain stretch of road? “Now that preventing roadkill has become a concern for both protecting biodiversity and increasing driver safety, planners want to know what types of preventative constructions will result in the least collisions possible — ideally, none at all,” says Jaeger. “It’s also important to see we can learn more effectively about the features that can improve their performance.” But with animals ranging from mice to moose, these mitigation measures can’t be the same in all situations. Indeed, they should include a range of options, such as:

  • Animal detection systems
  • Wildlife warning signs
  • Measures to reduce traffic volume, speed and/or noise
  • Temporary road closures
  • Wildlife crossing structures
  • Wildlife fences
  • Modified road designs…

“Many new roads are being constructed around the world right now. Ultimately, we want to be confident that the predicted impact of a road on a wildlife population will be at least partially lessened by the proposed road design, and that the investment in a particular type or combination of crossing structures and fencing is justified by evidence,” says Jaeger


Not all national parks are created equal

Posted: 03 Jun 2015 11:36 AM PDT

In an effort to shape policy, new research goes into finer detail to see whether or not national parks are really effective in preventing deforestation. For the study, the researchers focused on the conservation efforts in Indonesia, where there is widespread concern regarding the impact of ongoing deforestation on increasing carbon emissions and loss of habitat for biodiversity. The forest cover on earth is shrinking at an alarming rate of around 50,000 square miles annually, roughly six times the size of Okinawa every month. To counter the loss of forests, policy makers often resort to designating certain ecologically sensitive areas as protected. New research published in the journal PLOS ONE by Dr. Payal Shah of the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) and Dr. Kathy Baylis of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign aims to better understand the effectiveness of protected areas in stemming the tide of deforestation. Using statistical tools from econometrics, this research provides a detailed look at how the effectiveness of such protected areas can vary significantly between different parks and even in different regions of the same park.
Such studies can help policy makers understand where and whether or not protection has been successful, enabling them to more effectively design future conservation efforts.


Avian ecologists combine bird survey data to ID vulnerable boreal species

Posted: 03 Jun 2015 03:20 PM PDT

Continent-wide bird surveys play an important role in conservation, says avian ecologist Joel Ralston at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, but they can miss rare or isolated species whose habitat is off the beaten path, such as at high elevation or in a dense bog. Now Ralston and colleagues report for the first time how combining data from several local point counts offers a new picture of how birds in hard-to-reach habitats are faring. Their analyses of data from 16 point count programs conducted in spruce-fir forests in the Northeast and Midwest show that populations of four species considered ecological indicators for the boreal forest, Bicknell’s thrush, yellow-bellied flycatcher, magnolia warbler and blackpoll warbler, are in significant decline. Two other species, the gray jay and evening grosbeak, previously believed not to be of conservation concern, also showed significant declines with this method. Ralston says, ‘This is the first time anyone has combined local point count data from several different sources to estimate population trends at a larger spatial scale for these spruce-fir forest-dependent species. This is the first time we have a regional look at trends in this group of birds.’ Details appear in the current issue of Biological Conservation.

Habitat-specialist species do not show up well in national-level survey programs like the Breeding Bird Survey and National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count because they live where most observers don’t go. For example, the Breeding Bird Survey is a roadside survey, Ralston says, ‘but the birds we wanted to study don’t usually live by roads. They live in remote bogs, in thick, hard-to-penetrate spruce forests and on tops of mountains.’

Local point counts have been conducted for decades in these areas, but observers usually report their data only to a small group of interested colleagues and the information has never been compared across surveys or regions….


Joel Ralston, David I. King, William V. DeLuca, Gerald J. Niemi, Michale J. Glennon, Judith C. Scarl, J. Daniel Lambert. Analysis of combined data sets yields trend estimates for vulnerable spruce-fir birds in northern United States. Biological Conservation, 2015; 187: 270 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2015.04.029



Some near-extinct species should be encouraged to breed in the wild rather than in captivity – according to new research from the University of East Anglia. Captive breeding programs offer a last resort to guard against extinction of critically endangered species such as Sumatran tigers and Arabian oryx. But a new study published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology shows more should be done to prevent extinction in the wild. Credit: University of East Anglia

Critically endangered species should be left to breed in the wild

Posted: 04 Jun 2015 05:34 PM PDT

Some near-extinct species should be encouraged to breed in the wild rather than in captivity, according to new research. The study looks at the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps).



Global marine data to become unified, accessible

Posted: 04 Jun 2015 11:16 AM PDT

An international project aims to enable the next great scientific advances in global marine research by making marine data sets more easily accessible to researchers worldwide. This project, called ODIP II, aims to solve this problem using NERC’s world-class vocabulary server to ‘translate’ between these different data semantics. The vocabulary server, which is effectively now an international standard for a service of this kind, was developed by the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC); a national facility operated as part of the National Oceanography Centre (NOC).


Changes in forest structure affect bees, other pollinators

Posted: 26 May 2015 09:49 AM PDT

Over the past century, many forests have shifted from open to closed canopies. The change in forest structure could be contributing to declines in pollinator species, especially native bees, according to a new study.

Bee on apple blossom. Credit: © zest_marina / Fotolia

Bee warned: Study finds pesticides threaten native pollinators

Posted: 04 Jun 2015 07:41 AM PDT

A new study of New York state apple orchards finds that pesticides harm wild bees, and fungicides labeled ‘safe for bees’ also indirectly may threaten native pollinators. The research, published June 3 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, finds the negative effects of pesticides on wild bees lessens in proportion to the amount of natural areas near orchards. Thirty-five percent of global food production benefits from insect pollinators, and U.S. farmers have relied exclusively on European honeybees, whose populations have been in decline for decades due to colony collapse disorder. “Because production of our most nutritious foods, including many fruits, vegetables and even oils, rely on animal pollination, there is an intimate tie between pollinator and human well-being,” said Mia Park, an assistant professor at the University of North Dakota and the paper’s first author, who worked on the study as a Cornell entomology graduate student. Co-authors include professor Bryan Danforth and associate professor John Losey, both in entomology. “With honeybee numbers in decline, relying on wild pollinators and encouraging the services they provide seem very important,” Park said….



Starved for fire, Wisconsin’s pine barrens disappear

Posted: 26 May 2015 09:38 AM PDT

A century spent treating wildfires as emergencies to be stamped out may have cost Central Wisconsin a natural setting that was common and thriving before the state was settled.


US Forest Service publishes plan for North American Bat Monitoring Program

Posted: 01 Jun 2015 10:49 AM PDT

A new report provides detailed guidelines for participating in the North American Bat Monitoring Program, an international multiagency program created to provide the data needed to make effective decisions about bat populations across the North American continent.


A red-tailed hawk lands on a transmission tower. Raptors posed a threat to the power grid in Southern California in the 1920s because their excrement caused short circuits on the electrical lines.

Historian discusses the threat birds posed to the power grid in 1920s California

Posted: 04 Jun 2015 01:26 PM PDT

In 1913 in Southern California, two 241-mile-long electric lines began carrying power from hydroelectric dams in the Sierra Nevada to customers in Los Angeles–a massive feat of infrastructure. In 1923, power company Southern California Edison upgraded the line to carry 220,000 volts, among the highest voltage lines in the world at the time. Now a new paper examines a threat to that power grid: voluminous streams of bird excrement.


Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes’ quest for fire

Posted: 21 May 2015 07:49 AM PDT

The eastern diamondback rattlesnake has lost 97 percent of its habitat since Europeans first arrived in America. New research demonstrates the critical nature of one element of the diamondback’s home range, pine savanna. For conservationists seeking surrogate habitats for the now-rare species’ dwindling population, the results underscore the need for prescribed fire management to maintain the open-canopy forest and its ecosystem.


Birds ‘weigh’ peanuts and choose heavier ones

Posted: 22 May 2015 02:47 PM PDT

Mexican Jays (Aphelocoma wollweberi) distinguish between heavier and lighter peanuts without opening the nuts. The birds do it by shaking the nuts in their beaks, which allows them to ‘feel’ nut heaviness and to listen to sounds produced by peanuts during handling.


Go fish! Ancient birds evolved specialist diving adaptations

Posted: 22 May 2015 07:52 AM PDT

A new study of some primitive birds from the Cretaceous shows how several separate lineages evolved adaptations for diving. Living at the same time as the dinosaurs, Hesperornithiform bird fossils have been found in North America, Europe and Asia in rocks 65-95 million years old. This research shows that separate lineages became progressively more adept at diving into water to catch fishes, like modern day loons and grebes.



Dead whale washes up at Portuguese Beach in Sonoma County


A dead, juvenile gray whale washed up on the Sonoma Coast this weekend at Portuguese Beach. The 28-foot whale appeared to have been dead for some time and was in a state of obvious decomposition, according to California State Parks Ranger Damien Jones. He said the carcass came ashore Friday night or Saturday morning. The Marine Mammal Center took a tissue sample in an attempt to determine cause of death, but it did not to appear to be from trauma, he said, such as being struck by a ship. Jones said State Parks did not plan to remove the whale from the beach, which is about halfway between Jenner and Bodega Bay. He said the tide could carry it out to sea again. “Generally we leave dead and sick animals where they are and let nature take its course,” he said. May is the tail end of the gray whale northern migration from their breeding and birthing lagoons in Mexico back to their feeding grounds in Alaska. Although thousands of whales make the approximate 5,000-mile journey, including the newborn calves and their mothers, some of the cetaceans, especially juveniles, are believed to stay closer year-round to a more confined area. There has been a series of dead whales washing up on Northern California beaches over the past five weeks. A 40-foot dead gray whale was found Monday near Half Moon Bay. On May 4, a 42-foot female humpback whale was found near Pacifica. A 48-foot sperm whale was found April 14 in the same general vicinity. On April 24, two gray whale carcasses washed up on a Santa Cruz County beach, including a 40-foot adult gray whale. The other, a 23-foot yearling, had killer whale teeth marks on its body and other evidence of an Orca attack. A killer whale carcass was found near Fort Bragg on April 18, and the Noyo Center for Marine Science in Fort Bragg said Saturday another gray whale had washed up in Mendocino this week.



Health Advisory for Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties

Due to elevated levels of domoic acid. This advisory warns consumers not to eat recreationally harvested mussels and clams, commercially or recreationally caught anchovy and sardines, or the internal organs of commercially or recreationally caught crab taken from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.   Dangerous levels of domoic acid have been detected in some of these species and are also likely to be present in the other species. Molluscan bivalve shellfish, anchovy and sardines are especially of concern because the toxin resides in their digestive tract and these seafood products are normally not eviscerated prior to consumption. CDPH is continuing to collect a variety of molluscan bivalve shellfish, fin fish and crab samples from the area to monitor the level of domoic acid.


Don Brubaker, manager of the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge, stands next to a gulch that will be restored with plants and shrubs to create a wildlife corridor. The gulch is located on land owned by the Sonoma Land Trust. Photo taken south of Petaluma, on Thursday, May 21, 2015. (BETH SCHLANKER / The Press Democrat)

Highway 37 crossing for wildlife in the works



A busy stretch of road that runs along San Pablo Bay just south of Sonoma Raceway is considered a hot spot for roadkill. Highway 37, which connects Novato to Vallejo, slices right through major habitat for jackrabbits, deer, coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions. The high speed limit and heavy congestion makes the four-lane highway an extreme peril for animals wanting to cross. “For animals, it’s bad news,” said Fraser Shilling, co-director of the UC Davis Road Ecology Center.

With wetland restoration going on at Sears Point, he said, more animals will be drawn to cross the highway to get to the newly restored marshes to the south for food and habitat. They currently don’t have much of an option except bolting across the road, where an average of 37,000 vehicles travel a day, Caltrans said. “A road like that with that much traffic makes it difficult for animals to move,” said Julian Meisler, baylands program manager with the Sonoma Land Trust.

The Land Trust is working on creating a safer wildlife passage under the highway. It has teamed up with groups such as the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge and Point Blue Conservation Science‘s Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed program, known as STRAW, to restore the creek that flows through a decades-old cattle underpass. They’re planting willows, oaks, coyote brush and other plants to make the culvert more attractive for wildlife to use.

Animals avoided the underpass, about three-quarters of a mile west of the intersection of Highways 37 and 121, because of the lack of trees and shrubs to serve as cover, said Don Brubaker, manager of the wildlife refuge, which owns and manages the land to the south of the highway. “We need to advertise this as a way to go (across) that wildlife understand,” Brubaker said, adding the best way to do so is by creating desirable habitat for animals. “There is the potential for animals to be moving from Tolay Lake Regional Park down to the marsh,” Meisler added. “It’s really a disconnected landscape right now.” He said the project will expand the animals’ range. The Land Trust placed a camera at the underpass a few months ago to see what animals were moving through the area. So far, it captured coyotes and jackrabbits. …








Arctic is warming faster than elsewhere, triggering changes in the jet stream which will create more extreme weather in western Europe and North America, researchers say. Photograph: Alamy

Rapid Arctic ice loss linked to extreme weather changes in Europe and US

Arctic warming appears to be the prime reason behind fluctuations in the polar jet stream that is causing unusual weather, study says

John Vidal climate central Monday 1 June 2015 08.51 EDT

The string of massive snowstorms and bone-chilling cold on the US east coast, as well as flooding in Britain and record temperatures in Europe, are linked to rapid ice loss in the Arctic, new research appears to confirm. While the rapidly-thawing Arctic cannot be held responsible for specific weather events like the “snowmageddon” in 2009, Hurricane Sandy, or European heatwaves, researchers at Rutgers university said it appears to be a prime reason why the polar jet stream – a ribbon of winds that encircles the globe – gets ‘stuck’ with increasing frequency. Western Europe and large parts of North America will experience more extreme weather because of “Arctic amplification” – the enhanced sensitivity of high latitudes to global warming, the team suggested in a paper published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A. “We are seeing these extremes because the Arctic is warming faster than elsewhere. The whole lower atmosphere is heating up but the sea ice is the most observable. This is having this effect on the jet stream, making it extend further south and stay longer,” said co-author Jennifer Francis. “The jet stream creates weather of all sorts and where you are in relation to it dictates wether it is hot or cold. When we have a ridge, or a big bulge, in the the jet stream, it makes it extend further and stay longer. When that ridge is stronger it tends to be more persistent,” she said. Deep troughs in the jet stream have been seen regularly in the past few years affecting the east coast of the US, western Europe and central Asia. These have brought prolonged, unusually hot weather to some places, and extended cold or record snowfall to others…..


Draining lakes unlikely to worsen Greenland’s contribution to sea levels

Posted: 03 Jun 2015 03:20 PM PDT

Each summer, Greenland’s ice sheet — the world’s second-largest expanse of ice, measuring three times the size of Texas — begins to melt. Pockets of melting ice form hundreds of large, ‘supraglacial’ lakes on the surface of the ice. Many of these lakes drain through cracks and crevasses in the ice sheet, creating a liquid layer over which massive chunks of ice can slide. This natural conveyor belt can speed ice toward the coast, where it eventually falls off into the sea. Now researchers have found that while warming temperatures are creating more inland lakes, these lakes cannot drain their water locally, as lakes along the coast do, and are not likely to change the amount of water reaching the ground in inland regions.


Supraglacial lake on the western margin of the Greenland Ice Sheet. (Laura A. Stevens)

Scientists finally have an explanation for why huge lakes atop Greenland are vanishing

By Chris Mooney June 3 2015 Wash Post

Back in the summer of 2006, scientists studying the vast and in some places mile-thick Greenland ice sheet observed something that can only be called breathtaking. Due to meltwater, lakes form atop the ice sheet in the summer – scientists call them “supraglacial lakes” — and they can grow to be quite large. And in July 2006, one large lake, over 2 square miles in area, suddenly vanished. It lost most of its water in under two hours – researchers calculated that the rate of drainage “exceeded the average flow rate over Niagara Falls.” There was only one place all that water could have gone – down into the ice sheet, where researchers feared it could lubricate its base and hasten its slide into the ocean. Little understood phenomena like this, they wrote, could add to the dynamism and rapidity with which Greenland – which contains enough ice to raise sea levels 20 feet – responds to global warming by melting and pouring water into the ocean. Now, many years later, scientists from MIT, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and several other universities – including a number who wrote that original study – think they’ve explained how these great glacial lake vanishings happen. And they’ve done so by studying that same, rapidly vanishing lake from 2006 – North Lake, they call it. The new research, published today in the journal Nature, finds that gigantic cracks open beneath some meltwater lakes precisely because water has already gotten underneath the ice sheet from elsewhere – lubricating it and making it slip. This, in turn, cracks open new pathways that inject still more water below the surface, further helping ice to slide seaward. “We’ve found a mechanism that demystifies what’s happening,” says Laura Stevens of MIT and Woods Hole, the study’s lead author. “We know that the ice sheet will continue to increase its contribution to sea level rise over the coming years. The implications of this study show us more of how these processes will play out.”….



A NOAA analysis using updated global surface temperature data disputes the existence of a 21st century global warming slowdown. The new analysis suggests no discernable decrease in the rate of warming between the second half of the 20th century, a period marked by manmade warming, and the first fifteen years of the 21st century, a period dubbed a global warming Credit: NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information

Evidence against a global warming hiatus?

Posted: 04 Jun 2015 01:25 PM PDT

An analysis using updated global surface temperature data disputes the existence of a 21st century global warming slowdown described in studies including the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment. The new analysis suggests no discernable decrease in the rate of warming between the second half of the 20th century, a period marked by humanmade warming, and the first fifteen years of the 21st century, a period dubbed a global warming “hiatus.” Numerous studies have been done to explain the possible causes of the apparent hiatus. Here, Karl and colleagues focused on aspects of the hiatus influenced by biases from temperature observation networks, which are always changing. Using updated and corrected temperature observations taken at thousands of weather observing stations over land and as many commercial ships and buoys at sea, the researchers show that temperatures in the 21st century did not plateau, as thought. Instead, the rate of warming during the first fifteen years of the 21st century is at least as great as that in the last half of the 20th century, suggesting warming is continuing apace.
According to these and other results, the authors suggest the warming slowdown was an illusion, an artifact of earlier analyses


Researchers solve another piece of the puzzle how forests can effect our climate

Posted: 26 May 2015 08:05 AM PDT

A first global scale study has estimated how forest emitted compounds affecting cloud seeds via formation of low-volatility vapors. According to the latest projections, terrestrial vegetation emits several million tons of extremely low-volatility organic compounds per year to the atmosphere. These oxidation products of compounds such as monoterpenes results in an increase of condensing vapors that can further form cloud condensation nuclei over the continents and thus has an influence on the cloud formation.


Rock crab habitats are predicted to shift away from warm temperatures at the equator and toward shallower, more oxygenated water.

Warmer, lower-oxygen oceans will shift marine habitats

Posted: 04 Jun 2015 01:24 PM PDT

Modern mountain climbers typically carry tanks of oxygen to help them reach the summit. It’s the combination of physical exertion and lack of oxygen at high altitudes that creates one of the biggest challenges for mountaineers.

University of Washington researchers and collaborators have found that the same principle will apply to marine species under global warming. The warmer water temperatures will speed up the animals’ metabolic need for oxygen, as also happens during exercise, but the warmer water will hold less of the oxygen needed to fuel their bodies, similar to what happens at high altitudes. The study, published June 5 in Science, finds that these changes will act together to push marine animals away from the equator. About two thirds of the respiratory stress due to climate change is caused by warmer temperatures, while the rest is because warmer water holds less dissolved gases. “If your metabolism goes up, you need more food and you need more oxygen,” said lead author Curtis Deutsch, a UW associate professor of oceanography. “This means that aquatic animals could become oxygen-starved in the warmer future, even if oxygen doesn’t change. We know that oxygen levels in the ocean are going down now and will decrease more with climate warming.” The study centered on four Atlantic Ocean species whose temperature and oxygen requirements are well known from lab tests: Atlantic cod that live in the open ocean; Atlantic rock crab that live in coastal waters; sharp snout seabream that live in the subtropical Atlantic and Mediterranean; and common eelpout, a bottom-dwelling fish that lives in shallow waters in high northern latitudes….



Climate Model Suggests Everest Glaciers Could Nearly Disappear


A new computer model suggests that without changes to greenhouse gas emissions, the Everest region of Nepal could lose 99 percent of its glaciers by the end of the century.




Current coral bleaching in Fiji. Credit: Professor Peter J Mumby, University of Queensland

Climate engineering may save coral reefs, study shows

Posted: 25 May 2015 09:04 AM PDT

Mass coral bleaching, which can lead to coral mortality, is predicted to occur far more frequently over the coming decades, due to the stress exerted by higher seawater temperatures. Geoengineering of the climate may be the only way to save coral reefs from mass bleaching, according to new research. The collaborative new research, which includes authors from the Carnegie Institution for Science, the University of Exeter, the Met Office Hadley Centre and the University of Queensland, suggest that a geoengineering technique called Solar Radiation Management (SRM) reduces the risk of global severe bleaching. The SRM method involves injecting gas into the stratosphere, forming microscopic particles which reflect some of the sun’s energy and so help limit rising sea surface temperatures.
The study compared a hypothetical SRM geoengineering scenario to the most aggressive future CO2 reduction strategy considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and found that coral reefs fared much better under geoengineering despite increasing ocean acidification. The pioneering international study is published in leading scientific journal, Nature Climate Change.


Interruption of Gulf Stream may lead to large cooling in Europe

Posted: 04 Jun 2015 05:45 AM PDT

A new record of past climate change shows that a warm climate in northern Europe can be hit by a sudden cooling associated with an interruption of the North Atlantic Ocean circulation and the Gulf Stream. This study investigates the development of northern European climate about 120 thousand years ago.


Across U.S., heaviest downpours on the rise.

Unprecedented rain across Texas and Oklahoma suggest a climate change signal, where a warming atmosphere becomes more saturated with water vapor and capable of previously unimagined downpours. Climate Central


Texas and Oklahoma: 3 dead after record rains unleash dangerous flooding

By Pat St. Claire and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN Updated 10:13 PM ET, Sun May 24, 2015

(CNN)Flooding from record-setting rains in Texas and Oklahoma swept away hundreds of homes and left at least three people dead. “We do have whole streets that have maybe one or two houses left on them, and the rest are just slabs,” said Kharley Smith, emergency management coordinator in Hays County, Texas. Crews are still surveying damage, she told reporters Sunday; between 350 and 400 homes in the Texas County are gone, and more than 1,000 were damaged. Two main bridges washed away, she said, and others sustained major structural damage… “Right now is not the time to return to your homes,” Bell said Sunday after the severe weather forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents. “We have infrastructure damage throughout the entire county (of Hays)” he said. “There are power lines down, debris in the roadways, bridges undermined — this is not the time to start moving.” It was a warning other authorities in the region echoed after rainfall broke records and river banks in northern Texas and Oklahoma overnight. … Despite the heavy rain, western Oklahoma and parts of the Texas Panhandle and central Texas are still facing moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The rainfall should put a dent in it, though. But the current deluge might be a bit much. “I didn’t hesitate telling people… there’s going to come a day when we’re gonna wish the rain would stop,” Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham told CNN affiliate KAUZ. “I think that day is probably here.” In 2011, drought and wildfire brought heavy damage to Texas. The drought caused at least $5 billion in economic damage, and wildfire damage amounted to tens of millions of dollars, authorities said.


In Texas, the Race to Build in Harm’s Way Outpaces Flood-Risk Studies and Warming Impacts

By ANDREW C. REVKIN NY Times May 27, 2015

In Texas’s exurban counties, a population and building boom has outpaced efforts to cut flash-flood risks and dominates any impact so far from climate change.



Women and children stood in the Arabian Sea on a hot summer day in Mumbai, Maharashtra, Friday. The heat wave in India has killed at least 2,000 people this week as temperatures soar above 47 Celsius. Doctors’ leave has been canceled to help cope with the sick. Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

India’s Heat Wave Claims More Than 1,400 Lives

By Vibhuti Agarwal Updated May 28, 2015 10:18 a.m. ET WSJ

NEW DELHI—A severe heat wave hanging over India has claimed more than 1,400 lives so far, and forecasters expect the high temperatures to continue several more days. The states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in south India, where most of the deaths have occurred, got a respite Thursday with some light showers, according to B.P. Yadav, director of the India Meteorological Department in New Delhi. Still, the heat-wave warning has been extended three more days, he said, and high temperatures will “continue for at least one more week.”… Heat waves are on the rise as a result of global climate change, the National Disaster Management Authority says on its website, and India is feeling the effect. They have a “devastating impact on human health,” the site says. In 2003, temperatures as high as 45 degrees Celsius in Ahmedabad killed at least 1,300 people, according to a study titled “Heat-Related Mortality in India” published in 2014 by the Ahmedabad Heat and Climate Study Group, a student group based in Gujarat and formed after the 2003 heat wave. In one of the deadliest recent heat waves in India, more than 3,000 people died due to heat stroke and dehydration over the course of one week in Andhra Pradesh in 2010, according to state officials….






Heat Accelerates Dry in California Drought
Released: 5/28/2015 1:56:43 PM USGS

Although record low precipitation has been the main driver of one of the worst droughts in California history, abnormally high temperatures have also played an important role in amplifying its adverse effects, according to a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey and university partners. Experiments with a hydrologic model for the period Oct. 2013-Sept. 2014 showed that if the air temperatures had been cooler, similar to the 1916-2012 average, there would have been an 86% chance that the winter snowpack would have been greater, the spring-summer runoff higher, and the spring-summer soil moisture deficits smaller. To gauge the effect of high temperatures on drought, lead author Shraddhanand Shukla (University of California – Santa Barbara, UCSB) devised two sets of modeling experiments that compared climate data from water year 2014 (Oct. 2013-Sept. 2014) to similar intervals during 1916-2012.

In the first simulation set, Shukla substituted 2014 temperature values with the historical temperatures for each of the study’s 97 years, while keeping the 2014 precipitation values. In the second simulation set, he combined the observed 2014 temperatures with historical precipitation values for each of the preceding years, 1916-2012.  “This experimental approach allows us to model past situations and tease out the influence of temperature in preceding drought conditions,” said Chris Funk, a USGS scientist and a co-author of the investigation. “By crunching enough data over many, many simulations, the effect of temperature becomes more detectable.  We can’t do the same in reality, the here and now, because then we only have a single sample.” Funk, an adjunct professor at UCSB, helps coordinate research at the university that supports USGS programs.  High heat has multiple damaging effects during drought, according to the study, increasing the vulnerability of California’s water resources and agricultural industry. Not only does high heat intensify evaporative stress on soil, it has a powerful effect in reducing snowpack, a key to reliable water supply for the state. In addition to decreased snowpack, higher temperatures can cause the snowpack to melt earlier, dramatically decreasing the amount of water available for agriculture in summer when it is most needed. Although the study did not directly address the issue of long-term climate change, the implications of higher temperatures are clear. “If average temperatures keep rising, we will be looking at more serious droughts, even if the historical variability of precipitation stays the same,” Shukla said. “The importance of temperature in drought prediction is likely to become only more significant in the future.” The research was published online in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.



The winners and the losers of the California water crisis

Posted: 22 May 2015 05:33 AM PDT

A new article highlights the widening gap of inequality between the wealthy and the poor of California, specifically in relation to the State’s current drought. The problem, it states, is two fold. First, California’s water systems are described as “antiquated and dysfunctional” due to the State’s reluctance to challenge “historic seniority” of water rights where corporate farmers can water thousands of acres of land at a subsidized federal cost without being required to report their groundwater usage, leaving a number of low-income communities with no water what so ever. Secondly, the authors say that those at the top level of society feel less compelled to change their behaviours when it comes to water conservation…With “no specific regulations to groundwater” and over “100 different water delivering entities in Los Angeles alone” the State water companies have little restrictions, with water pumping described as “a free for all — or rather those with the most money to dig the deepest wells get the most water.” Furthermore, those areas that have the most wealth see the most water, with more affluent regions receiving “up to three times more water than less wealthy areas,” increasing the economic inequality gap in California. Pincetl and Hogue’s conclude to clearly express the State’s need for “over a century of water law” to be unravelled under a “leadership that will be backed by legislation and profound regulatory change.” The authors convey throughout their article that the water inequality stemmed from California’s long-established and entrenched State laws and regulations. However, they lean towards a silver lining that could come from California’s current water shortage, ending with the suggestion that a “crisis is always an opportunity for dramatic change.”


Stephanie Pincetl, Terri S. Hogue. California’s New Normal? Recurring Drought: Addressing Winners and Losers. Local Environment, 2015; 1 DOI: 10.1080/13549839.2015.1042778


Texas Storms May Be Precursor Of Drought-Busting El Nino For California

May 25, 2015 11:12 PM

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The torrential rains in Texas have ended the drought there, but also have created devastating floods. Experts say something similar could be coming to California in a few months in the form of El Nino. “We could actually see significant rain like they’re seeing in Texas, here in California,” CBS13 meteorologist Dave Bender said. The nonstop rains pummeling Texas and Oklahoma are probably influenced by a building El Nino in the Pacific Ocean. If a full-blown El Nino develops, that could mean drought-busting conditions in California this fall or winter. “The last time we saw an El Nino set up like this was back in 1997,” Bender said. “If you recall back in ’97, we had some pretty decent amount of rain come in here.” The storm in 1997 spilled into disaster. “There was flooding everywhere here. and we had some issues where you had some levee breaches,” Bender said. National Weather Service senior meteorologist Robert Baruffaldi says he’s not convinced the storms in Texas and Oklahoma are due to El Nino, but he does think there’s a good chance California will experience an El Nino pattern that will bring on the storms….


Darrell Carlis of Fresno hikes past patchy snow at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park on Jan. 23. The arrival of a potentially powerful El Niño this coming winter could rejuvenate the thin Sierra snowpack.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Hopes rise for a strong El Niño to ease California drought

By Rong-Gong Lin II and Rosanna Xia
contact the reporters LA Times May 28, 2015

Floods in Texas and cooler weather in Southern California suggest an El Niño is gaining strength

In Texas, Oklahoma and Mexico, destructive storms flooded communities and unleashed a tornado, leaving more than two dozen dead.

Across Southern California, this month has been decidedly cooler and wetter. San Diego had its wettest May in 94 years, and Los Angeles saw nearly four times its average rainfall. This month, the San Diego Padres were forced to call a rain delay — only the fifth time that has happened in Petco Park’s 11-year history. Even the Mojave Desert is running as much as 5 degrees cooler than normal.

To some scientists, these are signs that the elusive, unpredictable El Niño weather phenomenon is gaining strength — and offering a glimmer of hope after more than three years of extreme drought.




 Roughly 75% of the cattle in San Luis Obispo County has been sold or taken out of state over the past four years to escape conditions in the most drought-stricken region in California.

In Central Coast cattle region, drought continues to shrink the herds

By Louis Sahagun
LA Times May 26, 2015

  • Canyon Ranch, started near San Luis Obispo 150 years ago, is withering from lack of rain
  • Roughly 75% of cattle in San Luis Obispo County have been sold or taken out of state over the last four years
  • A huge sell-off of cattle by ranchers thinning their herds last year brought in a record $129 million

From the front porch of the ranch house where Daniel Sinton grew up, the toll of drought is all too plain to see. Grassland is turning into bare ground. Pine trees, some four stories tall, are dead or being eaten alive by fungal pathogens. And Sinton’s cattle herd has shrunk to one-fifth its usual size. Canyon Ranch, started near San Luis Obispo by Sinton’s great-grandfather 150 years ago, is withering from lack of rain, as are most other ranches in this once-thriving cattle region. Roughly 75% of the cattle in San Luis Obispo County have been sold or taken out of state over the last four years to escape conditions in the most drought-stricken region in California. “You’re looking at the whole shebang,” said Sinton, 34, as he looked out over a few dozen head of cattle grazing on dry grass. “That’s all the cattle we’re running right now.”…



FILE – In this March 3, 2015, file photo, a flock of sheep drink from a dam at the edge of dried-up Lake George, about 250 kilometers (155 miles) southwest of Sydney. On the world’s driest inhabited continent, drought is a part of life, with the struggle to survive in a land short on water a constant thread in the country’s history. The U.S. state of California is looking to Australia for advice on surviving its own drought. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, File)

Desperate for solutions, California looks Down Under for advice on surviving the drought

By KRISTEN GELINEAU and ELLEN KNICKMEYER, Associated Press May 25, 2015 | 9:29 p.m. EDT + More SYDNEY (AP) — California has turned to the world’s driest inhabited continent for solutions to its longest and sharpest drought on record.

Australia, the land poet Dorothea Mackellar dubbed “a sunburnt country,” suffered a torturous drought from the late 1990s through 2012. Now Californians are facing their own “Big Dry,” and looking Down Under to see how they coped. Australia also faced tough water restrictions — along with dying cattle, barren fields and monstrous wildfires that killed 173 people. But when the rains finally returned, Australians had fundamentally changed how they handle this precious resource. They treat water as a commodity to be conserved and traded, and carefully measure what’s available and how it’s being used. Efficiency programs cut their average daily use to 55 gallons, compared with 105 gallons per day for each Californian. The lesson: long droughts are here to stay, so societies had better plan ahead, says drought-policy expert Linda Botterill of the University of Canberra.

“We can expect longer, deeper and more severe droughts in Australia, and I believe the same applies in the U.S.,” Botterill says. “As a result, we need to develop strategies that are not knee-jerk responses, but that are planned risk-management strategies.” California water officials now routinely cite Australia’s experience. Felicia Marcus, who runs California’s Water Resources Control Board, can describe the stormwater-capture system watering soccer fields in Perth in minute detail. But Californians may find Australia’s medicine tough to swallow. Australians are accustomed to living in a dry land, expect government intervention in a crisis and largely support making sacrifices for the common good. For much of their history, many Californians have enjoyed abundant water, or were able to divert enough of it to turn deserts green, and lawyers make sure property rights remain paramount. From an Australian perspective, California’s drought response has been “absolutely pathetic,” says Daniel Connell, an environmental policy expert at The Australian National University. Australia’s drought response was hardly perfect, and some of its gains might be slipping away, but Americans suffering their own “Big Dry” may benefit from some comparisons:



  • AUSTRALIA: Overuse and drought had depleted Australia’s main river system, which winds across four states that produce a third of the nation’s food, and ran so low by 2002 that the Murray River had to be dredged to reach the sea. The government capped entitlements, canceled inactive licenses, bought back hundreds of billions of gallons from irrigators and strictly metered usage to make sure license holders use only their allocation. Availability now affects price as shares are traded on an open market worth $1.2 billion a year in U.S. dollars. The water that farms, industries and towns get depends on what’s in the river; in drought, it can dwindle to virtually nothing. But entitlements can be bought and sold, keeping agriculture afloat. A farmer of a thirsty crop like cotton might not profit when both the share of water and the price of cotton are low. But if an orchard grower in desperate need buys that water, the cotton farmer can live off the sale while the orchard owner reaps a profitable harvest.
  • CALIFORNIA: Nearly 4,000 so-called senior water rights holders who staked claims before 1914 or own acreage abutting a river or stream get priority. In drought, authorities must completely deny water to most other claimants before they touch the water of these senior water-rights holders. San Francisco has stronger water rights than many other cities because in 1902, Mayor James Phelan hiked up the Sierra Nevada and tacked a water claim to an oak tree along the bank of the Tuolumne River. Gov. Jerry Brown calls the system “somewhat archaic.”


Blueprint for a thirsty world from Australia

Posted: 26 May 2015 05:55 AM PDT

The Millennium Drought in southeastern Australia forced Greater Melbourne, a city of 4.3 million people, to successfully implement innovations that hold critical lessons for water-stressed regions around the world, according to findings by American and Australian researchers….


Australia’s Water Rights System – A Look of Things to come in the State of California post-Drought?

May 26, 2015

As the drought in California drags on, things that have not happened for decades or ever in some instances are starting to happen. For the first time since the Department of Water Resources (DWR) started conducting the spring snow surveys, the survey found no snow in April. Despite Governor Brown’s presence and a media frenzy surrounding the April survey, DWR cancelled the May survey because “Lack of snow at Phillips Station [the survey site in the Sierra Nevada Mountains] renders survey moot.” In early May, the State Water Resources Control Board warned that senior water rights are “likely to be curtailed later this year due to extreme dry conditions.” On May 20th, State Water Resources Control Board Engineer Kathy Mrowka confirmed at a hearing that the Board will send curtailment notices to senior water rights holders in the San Joaquin River Watershed by the end of the week. The State has not curtailed senior water rights since the 1970s.

Further, the State may curtail riparian rights in the Delta for the first time this summer. This week, Delta Watermaster Michael George outlined a proposal to encourage Delta farmers with riparian rights to cut their water usage by 25%. These farmers face a tough choice- if they voluntarily sign up for the program and fallow 25% of their land (or reduce water consumption by 25%), they will be immune to further cuts this summer. If the farmers do not voluntarily join the program, they still can try to plant 100% of their crops. However, the Delta Watermaster could potentially cut water supplies to those who do not comply well beyond the 25% voluntary reduction level. Either way, farmers have to choose whether to opt into the program by June 1st. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a coalition of farmers in the Delta is working to finalize this deal with State officials.

I bring these cases up because some pundits and lawmakers are looking into the possibility of re-examining the State’s often complex water rights system. Governor Brown alluded to the point that California may review its water rights system when he announced mandatory water restrictions in April. He called the water rights system “archaic” and commented, “Some people have a right to more water than others. That’s historic. That’s built into the legal framework of California. If things continue at this level, that’s probably going to be examined, but as it is, we do live with a somewhat archaic water law situation.” Recent articles have cited the Millennium Drought in Australia and the wholesale changes that the country made to its water rights system in the aftermath of the drought as a roadmap to what changes California may be able to make. However, as Governor Brown mentioned in his quote, California has more than a century of water rights law “built into the legal framework of California.” Are the changes that Australia made to its water rights system applicable to California? From a political and practical standpoint, would the Australian water rights system have a chance of passing through the myriad of California’s government agencies that would have to agree to these changes? I will address both of these issues in this piece…..







Potential of seagrass to combating climate change

Posted: 26 May 2015 05:53 AM PDT

Seagrass ecosystems could play a key role in combating climate change, researchers at the University of York have discovered. The marine flowering plant also helps sustain abundant sea life and protects shorelines around the world from coastal erosion. Yet with seagrass habitats suffering rapid global decline and despite the plant’s huge potential; there are currently no functioning seagrass restoration or conservation projects. Due to their shallow coastal habitat the aquatic plant is particularly prone to human disturbance — globally 24 per cent of seagrass species are now classified as threatened or near threatened. Researchers at the University’s Environment Department say the neglect of seagrass ecosystems represents “both a serious oversight and a major missed opportunity.” Lead author PhD student Adam Hejnowicz said: “Seagrass meadows could play a vital role in combating climate change as they are regarded as a net global sink for carbon.They have the capacity to bury significant deposits of organic carbon beneath the sediment, up to many metres thick in places and over millenary time scales.” However, realizing the “true” potential of seagrass meadows requires international cooperation, he said. The research is published in Frontiers in Marine Science. Seagrass meadows are able to store large amounts of carbon but historically they have been virtually ignored in global carbon budgets. The prospects for developing a pure carbon credit scheme remain slim, especially if targeted at the regulatory carbon market, the researchers argue. However, opportunities exist for voluntary carbon market schemes. Adam Hejnowicz added: “The main problem is that seagrasses are still not properly and adequately accounted for in formal carbon climate policies. “We advocate complementing any carbon-based management approaches with other incentive schemes such as payment for ecosystem service programmes.” He stressed that seagrass ecosystems also play a critical role in protecting coastlines from damaging waves. He added: “The mixed seagrass meadows of tropical waters provide a home for abundant and biodiverse marine communities, acting as fish nurseries and important ecosystems for charismatic and globally threatened species such as turtles and dugongs.”


Adam P. Hejnowicz, Hilary Kennedy, Mark R. Huxham and Murray A. Rudd. Harnessing the climate mitigation, conservation and poverty alleviation potential of seagrasses: prospects for developing blue carbon initiatives and payment for ecosystem service programmes. Frontiers in Marine Science, 2015 DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2015.00032


Catholics organize to promote pope’s climate change message

USA Today Network AP 10:06 a.m. EDT May 25, 2015 NEW YORK (AP) — When Pope Francis releases his much-anticipated teaching document on the environment and climate change in the coming weeks, a network of Roman Catholics will be ready.

There will be prayer vigils and pilgrimages, policy briefings and seminars, and sermons in parishes from the U.S. to the Philippines. These environmental advocates — who work with bishops, religious orders, Catholic universities and lay movements — have been preparing for months to help maximize the effect of the statement, hoping for a transformative impact in the fight against global warming. “This is such a powerful moment,” said Patrick Carolan, executive director of Franciscan Action Network, a Washington-based advocacy group formed by Franciscan religious orders. “We’re asking ourselves, ‘What would be the best way for us to support the faith community in getting this out and using it as a call to action?'” Francis is issuing the encyclical by the end of June with an eye toward the end-of-year U.N. climate change conference in Paris. While previous popes have made strong moral and theological arguments in favor of environmental protection, Francis will be the first to address global warming in such a high-level teaching document. The pope, who will address the U.N. General Assembly Sept. 25 when he visits the U.S., has said he wants the encyclical to be released in time to be read and absorbed before the Paris talks. Advocates are pressing for a binding, comprehensive agreement among nations to curb rising global temperatures, which scientists say are largely driven by carbon emissions….



Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle Frank Ross with Grid Alternatives, (left) works with youth from The Rising Sun Energy Center job training program as they install solar panels on the roof of a home in Richmond, Calif., as seen on Fri. May, 22, 2015.

Low-income homeowners get free solar panels thanks to cap & trade

By David R. Baker Updated 9:40 pm, Friday, May 22, 2015

Despite plunging prices in the last seven years, rooftop solar arrays remain an expensive home improvement, costing $15,000 or more. A 2013 study by the liberal research and advocacy group Center for American Progress found that 67 percent of solar arrays installed in California went to ZIP codes with a median household income between $40,000 and $90,000. Wealthier areas accounted for almost all of the rest. A new California program, however, aims to make solar power available to lower-income families — using money from the state’s fight against global warming. Run by Oakland nonprofit Grid Alternatives, the effort will install home solar arrays in disadvantaged neighborhoods, using $14.7 million raised through California’s cap-and-trade system for reining in greenhouse gas emissions. That system forces factories, power plants, oil refineries and other large businesses to buy credits for every ton of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases they pump into the atmosphere….


New Stanford energy system cuts greenhouse gas emissions 68 percent and fossil fuel 65 percent

By Lisa Lapin and Kate Chesley May 26, 2015

Stanford University has converted to a state-of-the-art energy system that relies on renewable electricity and provides a new transformational energy supply model for large organizations, utilities and governments. The university today announced a new agreement to provide the majority of its campus electricity from renewable sources within California. A Stanford Solar Generating Station, to be designed and built by SunPower, is expected to provide half of all campus electricity. Combined with planned solar power from installations on campus rooftops and the purchase of further renewable power from the grid, renewable energy will supply 65 percent of all campus electricity. The renewable energy is joined by a first-of-its-kind campus heat recovery system, which began operating March 24 to heat and cool campus buildings. The combined new system – Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI) – makes Stanford one of the most energy-efficient research universities in the world. It far exceeds the aggressive goals of California’s AB 32 Global Warming Solutions Act, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. In addition to the deep reduction in reliance on fossil fuels, SESI cuts the university’s greenhouse gas emissions by 68 percent, which represents 150,000 tons of CO2 annually or the amount produced by 32,000 cars. It will save Stanford $420 million over 35 years (as compared to a cogeneration option) and will reduce total campus water use by about 15 percent….



The dynamics of vulnerability: why adapting to climate variability will not always prepare us for climate change

Dilling, et al Article first published online: 23 APR 2015 DOI: 10.1002/wcc.341 Climate Change

Recent reports and scholarship suggest that adapting to current climate variability may represent a ‘no regrets’ strategy for adapting to climate change. Addressing ‘adaptation deficits’ and other approaches that target existing vulnerabilities are helpful for responding to current climate variability, but we argue that they may not be sufficient for adapting to climate change. Through a review and unique synthesis of the natural hazards and climate adaptation literatures, we identify why the dynamics of vulnerability matter for adaptation efforts. We draw on vulnerability theory and the natural hazards and climate adaptation literatures to outline how adaptation to climate variability, combined with the shifting societal landscape can sometimes lead to unintended consequences and increased vulnerability. Moreover, we argue that public perceptions of risk associated with current climate variability do not necessarily position communities to adapt to the impacts from climate change. We suggest that decision makers faced with adapting to climate change must consider the dynamics of vulnerability in a connected system—how choices made in one part of the system might impact other valued outcomes or even create new vulnerabilities. We conclude by suggesting the need for greater engagement with various publics on the tradeoffs involved in adaptation action and for improving communication about the complicated nature of the dynamics of vulnerability.







The controversial proposal would give the EPA jurisdiction over even the smallest waterways and ditches.

Obama expands protections of Clean Water Act

By Katie Shepherd LA Times May 27, 2015

The Obama administration on Wednesday finalized new regulations that it says will protect streams, rivers and wetlands that provide drinking water to more than 117 million Americans. “For the water in the rivers and lakes in our communities that flow to our drinking water to be clean, the streams and wetlands that feed them need to be clean too,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement. Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth, an advocacy group that supports environmental protection efforts, said the group applauded the Obama administration for enacting the new regulations. “President Obama heeded the call of sound science and public input in finalizing this rule,” he said in a statement….



Photo dated 08/04/12 of a man placing his hand on the parched soil in the Greater Upper Nile region of north-eastern South Sudan.

Why the Paris Climate Summit might actually work

Andrew Freeman Mashable June 2 2015

The Paris Climate Summit is approaching more quickly than it might seem. Though it actually takes place in early December, there are fewer than 20 negotiating days left on the diplomatic calendar before the international community gathers in the French capital. Their goal is to construct something that has eluded the world for more than two decades: a meaningful, effective and enforceable global climate change agreement. Based on recent climate science findings, the summit can be viewed as the last chance for the global community to meet the mandate countries agreed to back in 1992 — avoiding “dangerous human interference with the climate system.” Negotiators have defined that danger threshold as global warming greater than 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases would have to plummet in the next decade to avoid overshooting that 2-degree target, according to many studies. Increasingly, it seems that leaders recognize this, as many are publicly talking about including a long-term goal of zero or negative emissions (when more emissions are taken out of the atmosphere than added to it) in the Paris Agreement. Recently, there have been a number of indications that Paris is unlikely to be a repeat of the debacle that occurred in Copenhagen in 2009. That’s when world leaders, including a then-new President Barack Obama, jetted into Denmark expecting to sign a completed treaty text ready for signature — only to be disappointed and embarrassed by the weak “accord” they hastily adopted when negotiations all but collapsed. There were many reasons for Copenhagen’s failure. But perhaps the best explanation is this: the world was not yet ready to undertake the serious actions that solving this issue requires. Oil and coal companies were still fighting the science. China and the U.S. were still at loggerheads over China’s responsibility to cut its rapidly-growing emissions. Leaders were not yet feeling much heat at home for failing to move forward. All that, and more, has changed. A global movement is underway to encourage entities of all sizes, from cities to colleges to entire countries, to divest from fossil fuel companies. The movement has met with growing success. The U.S. and China struck a climate agreement that would bring a massive expansion in China’s renewable energy use, and a peak in its carbon emissions by 2030.

The U.S. has committed to cutting its emissions by up to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Currently, U.N. climate negotiators are meeting in Bonn, Germany, to work on the rough draft of an agreement that will be up for debate in Paris. As it is currently written, the draft is sprawling, with brackets surrounding the most contentious issues. The task before the negotiators is to whittle away at the text and get closer to widespread agreement on some of the major sticking points — such as financial assistance from the industrialized world to pay for the impact of climate change in developing countries, and to assist with their transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Fossil fuel companies are feeling more pressure from governments and their shareholders to consider the possibility that some of their assets may become “stranded” because of the need to cut emissions….


Climate Deal Badly Needs a Big Stick


Fruitless efforts to seriously curb greenhouse gas pollution suggest a new approach is warranted — making it costly not to join an international consortium committed to fighting climate change….


American aircraft are responsible for 3 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to E.P.A. data. Credit Julio Cortez/Associated Press

E.P.A. to Set New Limits on Airplane Emissions


WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is set to announce that it will require new rules to cut emissions from airplanes, expanding a quest to tackle climate change that has included a string of significant regulations on cars, trucks and power plants. The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to report as early as Friday its conclusion that greenhouse gas emissions from airplanes endanger human health because they significantly contribute to global warming, although people familiar with the agency’s plans said the announcement could slip into next week. That announcement, known in legal parlance as an endangerment finding, will prompt a requirement under the Clean Air Act for the agency to issue new regulations to reduce airplane emissions. The agency is expected to limit the rule to commercial aircraft, leaving out small craft and military planes. Under the 1970 Clean Air Act, the federal government is required to regulate all pollutants that are found to endanger human health. The E.P.A. put forth similar endangerment findings on emissions from vehicles and power plants before issuing new regulations on them, and those findings have held up in court. The new rules, which have been furiously opposed by regulated industries and Republicans, have emerged as a hallmark of President Obama‘s environmental legacy. Republicans have called the new rules an example of government overreach that will cost jobs and stifle the economy. But environmentalists have praised Mr. Obama’s aggressive use of the Clean Air Act in the face of resistance by Congress as the strongest actions by any president to fight climate change. “Aircraft are the largest remaining unregulated source of greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector and can only be regulated by the federal government,” said William Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. “This presents President Obama with a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate leadership not only domestically but, indeed, around the world….



From Leslie Friedman-Johnson- June 3 2015:


The Senate and Administration today reached agreement on budget language giving special consideration multiple benefit flood management projects:

Of the funds appropriated in this item, the department shall give special consideration to flood management projects that provide multiple benefits commonly associated with improved flood management, including ecosystem improvements and climate adaptation, consistent with Article 4, Section 5096.820 of the Public Resources Code.

 Article 4. Disaster Preparedness and Flood Prevention Program 5096.820. (a) The sum of four billion ninety million dollars ($4,090,000,000) shall be available, upon appropriation therefor, for disaster preparedness and flood prevention projects pursuant to this article.

(b) In expending funds pursuant to this article, the Governor shall do all of the following:

(1) Secure the maximum feasible amounts of federal and local matching funds to fund disaster preparedness and flood prevention projects in order to ensure prudent and cost-effective use of these funds to the extent that this does not prohibit timely implementation of this article.

(2) Prioritize project selection and project design to achieve maximum public
benefits from the use of these funds.

(3) In connection with the submission of the annual Governor’s Budget, submit an annual Bond Expenditure Disaster Preparedness and Flood Prevention Plan that describes in detail the proposed expenditures of bond funds, the amount of federal appropriations and local funding obtained to fund disaster preparedness and flood prevention projects to match those expenditures, and an investment strategy to meet long-term flood protection needs and minimize state taxpayer liabilities from flooding.




A logging truck loaded with freshly cut hardwoods enters the Enviva wood-pellet plant in Ahoskie, N.C. (Joby Warrick/The Washington Post)

How Europe’s climate policies led to more U.S. trees being cut down

By Joby Warrick June 2 at 10:28 AM Washington Post

OAK CITY, N.C. — For the sake of a greener Europe, thousands of American trees are falling each month in the forests outside this cotton-country town.

Every morning, logging crews go to work in densely wooded bottomlands along the Roanoke River, clearing out every tree and shrub down to the bare dirt. Each day, dozens of trucks haul freshly cut oaks and poplars to a nearby factory where the wood is converted into small pellets, to be used as fuel in European power plants. Soaring demand for this woody fuel has led to the construction of more than two dozen pellet factories in the Southeast in the past decade, along with special port facilities in Virginia and Georgia where mountains of pellets are loaded onto Europe-bound freighters. European officials promote the trade as part of the fight against climate change. Burning “biomass” from trees instead of coal, they say, means fewer greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

But that claim is increasingly coming under challenge. A number of independent experts and scientific studies — including a new analysis released Tuesday — are casting doubt on a key argument used to justify the cutting of Southern forests to make fuel. In reality, these scientists say, Europe’s appetite for wood pellets could lead to more carbon pollution for decades to come, while also putting some of the East Coast’s most productive wildlife habitats at risk. “From the point of view of what’s coming out of the smokestack, wood is worse than coal,” said William H. Schlesinger, the former dean of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences and one of nearly 100 scientists to sign a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency last year asking for stricter guidelines on using biomass to generate electric power. “You release a lot of carbon in a short period of time, and it takes decades to pull that carbon back out of the atmosphere.”…


China prepares to launch cutting-edge national carbon market to fight climate change

Jack Chang, AP, May 24 2015

BEIJING — At first, the numbers and company names flashing on a big board in Beijing’s financial district suggest a booming market. A closer look indicates otherwise: The scrolling list rotates the same dozen or so trades, all from last year. The lights from the Beijing Environment Exchange — one of seven pilot markets in China for trading carbon — raises questions for the country as it prepares for next year’s roll-out of a nationwide system that could help the world’s biggest emitter of heat-trapping carbon dioxide rein in its emissions. A successful carbon offset, or “cap-and-trade,” market could play a big part in cutting China’s emissions — and help the world tackle global warming. Already launched in Europe, California and a few other spots, such carbon offset markets limit how much carbon can be emitted per year by factories and businesses. They then let those businesses that release less carbon than the cap sell to other companies permissions to emit whatever’s left.

So far, the pilots have failed to make a noticeable dent in carbon emissions, with about 978 million yuan, or $158 million, traded since their launch in 2013, compared to the 7.2 billion euros, or about $8 billion, of carbon offsets that were traded in the European market in its first year of operation, 2006. Many companies required to buy carbon credits have waited until the last minute of compliance periods to make their trades, which has raised concerns about low liquidity in the market. Some observers question the reliability of data recording how much companies are emitting. Chinese officials, however, say the pilot markets aren’t meant to significantly cut the country’s carbon profile yet. Instead, they say they are learning important lessons from their experiments and will use them in what will soon become the world’s biggest carbon offset market. “China is taking this step to accept its responsibility in stopping climate change,” said Zhou Cheng, the Beijing exchange’s vice president. “This affects industry in a legal, scientific way, and it lets them form their business plans while looking at carbon emissions too.”…




Climate change could overwhelm California, Obama adviser says

By Carolyn Lochhead SF Chronicle May 24, 2015 Updated: May 24, 2015 8:55pm

WASHINGTON — Climate change is moving faster than anticipated and is intensifying California’s drought, and unless greenhouse gas emissions are slowed, the state’s efforts to adapt will ultimately be overwhelmed, President Obama’s science adviser says. California can do many things to adapt to the challenge of a drier environment, from pricing water more realistically to increasing conservation and efficiency and building more dams, White House science adviser John Holdren said in an interview with The Chronicle. But if greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current course, he said, such efforts are “ultimately going to be swamped by the changes in climate.” “If you don’t also start to address the driving force,” Holdren said, making the state more drought-resilient will become “more expensive, less effective and more difficult.”
Holdren is monitoring California’s drought with the intimate interest of a nearly native Californian who grew up in San Mateo, earned his doctorate in physics from Stanford University and taught at UC Berkeley for more than two decades. He knows the gallon capacity and energy input of a new desalination plant in San Diego County, and the share of fresh water flowing through the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta that it takes to prevent salt water from getting into supplies for people and crops.

Has Obama’s trust

“I lived in California for 30 years as an adult, and I grew up in Northern California,” said Holdren, 71. “So I’m somewhat familiar with the situation.” By many accounts, Holdren is the most influential science adviser to a president since the job was created in 1976. From his office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door to the White House, Holdren has been a key architect of Obama’s second-term agenda on climate change. The president often says that like Republicans, he’s not a scientist, “but I’ve got this guy. John Holdren. He’s a scientist.” As one of the nation’s most influential ones, Holdren combines intellectual energy with an approachable demeanor and a frankness unusual in Washington.

Holdren is careful not to say climate change is the sole explanation for the drought. But the evidence of a connection to the warming climate, he said, is “enough to say very firmly that while you can’t assert that climate change is entirely responsible for the drought, you sure can assert that climate change has made it worse.” He lists four links as firmly established:

As the state warms — last year was the hottest on record — water evaporates faster from soil, reservoirs and rivers. Even if precipitation stays at normal levels, the environment will become drier.

•A larger fraction of precipitation occurs in extreme events. Rather than recharging the soil or underground aquifers, more precipitation is lost as runoff from big storms.

•More precipitation falls as rain and less as snow. The Sierra snowpack is California’s biggest reservoir, carrying the state through its summer dry season. This year the Sierra snowpack all but vanished.

•The spring melt occurs earlier and faster, reducing the amount of runoff later in the year.

Change at poles

A fifth link remains controversial, but Holdren sees “quite powerful evidence” for it:

Changes in the temperature gradient between the poles and the midlatitudes are causing a “wavier” jet stream that has brought colder winters to the East and the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” of high pressure to California, shunting winter storms to the north.

With a smaller snowpack, a faster spring melt and more precipitation occurring in big storms, many in California say the obvious solution is to build more dams and raise existing ones. Holdren said the argument makes some sense in theory, but noted that the state already has many dams — roughly 1,400 — and that their reservoirs are shrunken. “The principal problem is that not enough has been flowing down the rivers,” Holdren said, “not that there aren’t enough dams.”

Desalination costly

Desalination plants may help some coastal cities, he said, but the cost is high — about $2,500 an acre-foot. Urban users now pay between $1,000 and $3,000 an acre-foot, he said. If the San Diego County plant produces its maximum projection of 50 million gallons a day, “you would need some 60 of those to meet half of the urban water needs of the state of California,” Holdren said. “It could be done.” Conservation remains cheap by comparison, he said. Holdren, a longtime expert in energy policy, sees huge potential efficiency gains in water use. Still, he said, “you can’t conserve everything. You’ve got to supply something.” He said one of the many things that worries him is what the drought is saying about the pace and momentum of climate change. “It’s happening faster than we thought, not more slowly,” Holdren said, “and that means we have less time than we thought to respond to it.”

Energy system’s inertia

The huge inertia built into the energy system — a $25 trillion worldwide investment in a mainly fossil-fuel infrastructure — is colliding with enormous momentum in the climate, which responds slowly to the buildup in greenhouse gases. The world is not even yet fully experiencing the results of emissions put into the atmosphere years ago, he said. It will take decades to turn both systems around. “If we stopped emitting today, the temperature would still coast up for decades to come,” Holdren said. He recalled sitting on a presidential science advisory panel during the Clinton administration. “Quite a lot of folks were saying the impacts of climate change are uncertain and far away, the costs of dealing with it are large and close — therefore, we should wait and see what happens,” Holdren said. “Well, like it or not, that’s pretty much what we did.”



Tom Steyer aims to get GOP candidates ‘on the record’ on climate.

Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer said he does not support any of the Republican candidates for president, but said it’s still important to get involved in the primary campaign. The Hill, District of Columbia


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Since February 2015, an electric bus serves a new 20-kilometer route. Credit: © Fraunhofer IVI

Fast charging electric bus does overtime

Posted: 03 Jun 2015 05:32 AM PDT

Electric buses are an eco-friendly alternative to diesel. Researchers have developed a concept to swiftly recharge buses while they operate routes. System testing in Dresden has been underway since November, 2014, with encouraging results.


Wind-farm workers suffer poor sleep, international studies find.

Two international studies have linked sleep disturbance and health effects of wind-farm workers to low-frequency noise and infrasound from wind turbines. The Australian, Australia





Biodiversity and Climate Change

The impact of climate change on biodiversity has engendered much research, both within California and worldwide. The following summarizes much of the research directly concerning California, and identifies a few important resources more global in scope that are especially pertinent to management.


Climate Change Visualization – OWL

Climate Access is launching our climate visualization project aimed at engaging stakeholders in climate adaptation planning in Marin County, California. We have partnered with the technology company Owlized to test the use of first person, virtual reality visualizations to illustrate how climate impacts are currently affecting coastal communities and in the near future; as well as potential responses. The Owl viewer is a modernized version of the coin operated binoculars, but instead of looking in and seeing the view, people will see sea level rise for the specific location they are standing in.   You can check out the visualizations online via



Project Design and Evaluation -June 11 – 12, 2015 9:00-5:00pm both days Bay Conference Center, 3152 Paradise Drive, Tiburon, CA

Taught by NOAA Office for Coastal Management Registration Deadline: May 29, 2015

“How can I be sure that my projects will reach the right audience
and have the right impact?”
“What can I do to make sure that my efforts go beyond ‘preaching to the choir’?”
If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions,
this is the course for you! This two-day interactive workshop provides the knowledge, skills and tools to design and implement projects that have measurable impacts on the intended target.  Participants will learn to increase project effectiveness by applying a systems approach to designing a new project or reassessing an existing one. This approach helps build in accountability, reveal assumptions, create a targeted effort and strategic thinking, and better articulate the impacts on the issue.


First San Joaquin River Restoration Program Science Symposium

June 11-12, 2015, Los Banos Community Center, Los Banos, CA.  More information will follow soon, but save the date!  


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:


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.



2015 Southwest Climate Summit
November 2-3, 2015
Holiday Inn Capital Plaza Sacramento, CA

Join us for the 2015 Southwest Climate Summit when we’ll promote Climate-Smart Conservation by bringing together managers and scientists from across the Southwest to:

  • Discover emerging climate science
  • Explore adaptive management application
  • Share Climate-Smart Conservation results 
  • Discuss management and policy responses

The California LCC, Southwest Climate Science Center, USDA Southwest Climate Hub, Great Basin LCC, and Desert LCC are hosting the Summit to foster sharing of lessons learned and collaboration across the Southwestern landscape.

Click here for more information.



Grand Challenges in Coastal & Estuarine Science: Securing Our Future 8 – 12 November, 2015 Oregon Convention Center | Portland, Oregon
Registration for the CERF 23rd Biennial Conference is now open! The CERF 2015 scientific program offers four days of timely, exciting and diverse information on a vast array of estuarine and coastal subjects. Presentations will examine new findings within CERF’s traditional scientific, education and management disciplines and encourage interaction among coastal and estuarine scientists and managers. Plus, there are plenty of workshops, field trips, and special events to get involved with that will make this conference one you won’t want to miss.


December 13-18, 2015 San Francisco

Abstract Submissions are OPEN for the 21st Biennial. We are currently accepting abstract submissions for workshops, oral, speed and poster presentations for the 21st Biennial Society for Marine Mammalogy Conference, to take place in San Francisco from December 13-18, 2015.  The submission deadline is May 15th, 2015.  Workshops will be held on December 12-13th.



21-26 February 2016 New Orleans

The 2016 Ocean Sciences Meeting will be held 21-26 February 2016 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, located at 900 Convention Center Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70130. Cosponsored by AGU, ASLO, and TOS, the Ocean Sciences Meeting will consist of a diverse program covering topics in all areas of the ocean sciences discipline. The abstract submission site will open 15 July 2015; stay tuned for more details about how to be a part of the scientific program.





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







Point Blue is hiring a Senior Marine Spatial Ecologist to help us drive climate-smart conservation actions off the Sonoma coast and across the entire California Current ecosystem. The Marine Ecologist will play a key role in Point Blue’s strategic initiative to conserve ocean food webs by helping to: 1) identify the effects of climate change on marine wildlife distribution patterns and the location and function of food web hot spots, 2) guide ocean adaptation planning, management, and zoning to improve the conservation of threatened ocean resources within California’s National Marine Sanctuaries, 3) use monitoring and citizen science to inform public outreach and policy recommendations that will reduce human impacts on marine wildlife, and 4) coordinate and support collaborative science and resource management activities with key agencies and stakeholders. The Marine Ecologist will work collaboratively with staff across the California Current Group and Point Blue, as well as externally with public and private partners to carry out research and monitoring, perform analyses, engage in policy and resource management discussions, and disseminate results.  Supervision will be provided by Point Blue’s California Current Group Director. To Apply E-mail: (1) cover letter describing qualifications and reasons for interest in this position and Point Blue, (2) complete CV/resume, and (3) contact information (including phone numbers and e-mail addresses) for 3 references to with “Marine Ecologist” in the subject line. Applicants may be subject to background checks. Application deadline is May 31, 2015; the position will remain open until a successful candidate has been identified.  For more information please follow this link:…/jobs-and-intern…/marine-ecologist.


Avian Research Internships (4): Bird-banding internships at the Palomarin Field Station

Interns needed at Point Blue Conservation Science’s Palomarin Field Station on the Marin County coast, north of San Francisco, in Point Reyes National Seashore.  We have been studying songbirds at the Palomarin Field Station since 1966, with special focus on the demographics of Wrentits and Song Sparrows. Intern positions are primarily for mist-netting and banding in coastal scrub, Douglas-fir forest, and riparian habitats. Interns will become proficient in landbird monitoring techniques and learn about various aspects of avian ecology, conservation science, natural history, and climate-smart conservation (e.g., hands-on and via scientific literature). Interns will hike banding trails to check mist nets, learn safe bird extraction and handling techniques, and learn to band and collect information on species identification, age, sex, and morphometrics for many species of landbirds. Responsibilities may also include habitat assessment, plant phenology monitoring, conducting area search surveys, resighting color banded birds, public outreach, and an independent project. Interns will also participate in the North American Banding Council bander certification process. All internships include data entry. Expect long hours in the field and office. Duration: August 1 or 15 to November 2015. Qualifications: Self-motivation, a sense of humor, and the desire to spend long hours in the field and office are required. Participants must be able to work independently as well as in groups. Exposure to poison oak is unavoidable. A functioning pair of binoculars is required. Some of our internships require the use of a personal vehicle, current proof of insurance, and a driver’s license. Any use of personal vehicles will be reimbursed at a standard per-mile rate. Compensation: This is a voluntary training position that includes a stipend to offset living expenses while on the project ($850 per month, gross).  On-site housing is provided. To Apply: email a letter of interest to Renée Cormier (;  415.868.0655 ext. 316) describing previous experience with field research, specific dates of availability, and whether or not you have a vehicle; a resume; and contact information for three references (please also note if applying to other positions within Point Blue). Applications are accepted until all positions filled.


BirdLife International, Head of Policy; to lead global team based in Cambridge, UK
May 25, 2015

We are seeking to appoint a Head of Policy to lead BirdLife International’s global policy and advocacy team in Cambridge. BirdLife International is the world’s largest nature conservation partnership, comprising a global secretariat, a regional network and 120 BirdLife Partners worldwide – one civil society organisation per country – and growing. It has more than 13 million members and supporters. Through our unique local-to-global approach, we deliver high impact and long-term conservation for the benefit of nature and people. BirdLife’s policy and advocacy work, based on sound science, influences priorities, policies and legislation for the benefit of bird and biodiversity conservation. 







Neurotoxin found in commercial seafood

Posted: 01 Jun 2015 07:44 AM PDT

Popular commercial seafood purchased from Swedish supermarkets at the Stockholm region contains Beta-Methylamino-L-Alanine (BMAA). BMAA is a naturally-occurring amino acid with a possible link to neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is the first screening study to measure BMAA in commercial seafood from metropolitan markets.


Glancing at greenery on a city rooftop can markedly boost concentration levels

Posted: 26 May 2015 06:36 AM PDT

Glancing at a grassy green roof for only 40 seconds markedly boosts concentration, a new study concludes. The green roof provided a restorative experience that boosted those mental resources that control attention, researchers say.

















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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