Conservation Science News Sept 12 2015


Focus of the Week Burn it All, Lose it All; CA climate legislation setback….










NOTE: Please share this news update that has been prepared for
Point Blue Conservation Science
staff.  You can find these news compilations posted on line by clicking here.  For more information please see The items contained in this update were drawn from,,,,, and many other online sources. This is a compilation of information available on-line, not verified and not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  You can receive this news compilation by signing up for the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative  Newsletter or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium listserve.  You can also email me directly at ecohen at with questions or suggestions. 


Founded as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, Point Blue’s 140 scientists advance nature-based solutions to climate change, habitat loss and other environmental threats to benefit wildlife and people, through science, partnerships and outreach.  We work collaboratively to guide and inspire positive conservation outcomes today for a healthy, blue planet teeming with life in the future.  Read more about our 5-year strategic approach here.



Focus of the Week– Burn it All, Lose it All; CA climate legislation….


This chart from a paper in Science Advances shows how burning different amounts of the world’s remaining fossil fuel reserves could affect Antarctic ice. The abbreviation GtC stands for gigatons (billions of tons) of carbon. Credit Ken Caldeira and Ricarda Winkelmann

Burning remaining fossil fuel could cause 60-meter sea level rise

Posted: 11 Sep 2015 01:41 PM PDT

New work demonstrates that the planet’s remaining fossil fuel resources would be sufficient to melt nearly all of Antarctica if burned, leading to a 50- or 60-meter (160 to 200 foot) rise in sea level. Because so many major cities are at or near sea level, this would put many highly populated areas where more than a billion people live under water, including New York City and Washington, D.C…..


Ricarda Winkelmann, Anders Levermann, Andy Ridgwell, and Ken Caldeira. Combustion of available fossil fuel resources sufficient to eliminate the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Science Advances, 2015 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1500589


Calving ice near Paradise Harbor in Antarctica in Jan. 2015. The continent’s ice sheet and the rest of the world’s land ice would melt if all the world’s fossil fuels were burned, a new climate study found. Credit Ralph Lee Hopkins/National Geographic Creative

Study Predicts Antarctica Ice Melt if All Fossil Fuels Are Burned

By JUSTIN GILLIS SEPT. 11, 2015 NY Times

Burning all the world’s deposits of coal, oil and natural gas would raise the temperature enough to melt the entire ice sheet covering Antarctica, driving the level of the sea up by more than 160 feet, scientists reported Friday. In a major surprise to the scientists, they found that half the melting could occur in as little as a thousand years, causing the ocean to rise by something on the order of a foot per decade, roughly 10 times the rate at which it is rising now.
Such a pace would almost certainly throw human society into chaos, forcing a rapid retreat from the world’s coastal cities. The rest of the earth’s land ice would melt along with Antarctica, and warming ocean waters would expand, so that the total rise of the sea would likely exceed 200 feet, the scientists said. “To be blunt: If we burn it all, we melt it all,” said Ricarda Winkelmann, a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and the lead author of a paper published Friday in the journal Science Advances.


A sea level rise of 200 feet would put almost all of Florida, much of Louisiana and Texas, the entire East Coast of the United States, large parts of Britain, much of the European Plain, and huge parts of coastal Asia under water. The cities lost would include Miami, New Orleans, Houston, Washington, New York, Amsterdam, Stockholm, London, Paris, Berlin, Venice, Buenos Aires, Beijing, Shanghai, Sydney, Rome and Tokyo. Nobody alive today, nor even their grandchildren, would live to see such a calamity unfold, given the time the melting would take. Yet the new study gives a sense of the risks that future generations face if emissions of greenhouse gases are not brought under control.


“This is humanity as a geologic force,” said Ken Caldeira, a researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, Calif., and another author of the paper. “We’re not a subtle influence on the climate system – we are really hitting it with a hammer.” Climate scientists have long assumed that countries would recognize the dangers of continuing to dig up and burn the world’s fossil fuels. Yet they have been saying that for 30 years, and political efforts in that time to limit the burning have been ineffectual. With a major push from President Obama, the nations of the world will convene in Paris in December in another attempt to reach an ambitious deal for reducing emissions. Yet Mr. Obama faces fierce opposition from the Republican Party in putting limits into effect in the United States, which uses more fossil fuels per person than any other large country. The long-running political gridlock has prompted scientists to start thinking about worst-case scenarios. And recently, major advances have been made in the computerized analysis of the huge ice sheets covering Antarctica and Greenland. The researchers involved in Friday’s paper decided to use one of these ice-sheet models to attempt the most detailed analysis yet of the potential consequences of burning all fossil fuels.


As the first of its kind, the paper is likely to undergo intense scientific scrutiny. In certain ways, the findings are reassuring. They offer no reason, for instance, to revise the sea-level forecast for the coming century. A United Nations panel has said that the rise of the sea would not likely exceed three feet in that period, and would probably be less. While some island nations may be wiped out by a rise of that magnitude, experts believe most major cities could be protected from it, though at a likely cost in the trillions of dollars. The ice sheets respond slowly enough to changes in the climate that it simply takes longer than a century for large-scale melting to begin. But from that point, the paper found, about half the Antarctic ice sheet would melt or fall into the sea in the first thousand years. “I didn’t expect it would go so fast,” Dr. Caldeira said. “To melt all of Antarctica, I thought it would take something like 10,000 years.”




Ricarda Winkelmann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Antarctica. “If we burn it all, we melt it all,” she said. Credit Maria Martin/Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

New Study: Burn it All (Fossil Fuel), Lose it All (Antarctic Ice and Today’s Coasts)

Andrew C. Revkin September 11, 2015 2:53 pm September 11, 2015 2:53 pm

| A new analysis of Antarctica’s vast ice sheet in a world heated by unabated greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning comes to a stark, if unsurprising, conclusion: Burn it all, lose it all.

The paper, published online this afternoon in the journal Science Advances, is titled, “Combustion of available fossil fuel resources sufficient to eliminate the Antarctic Ice Sheet.” The modeling study is far more a thought experiment than a prediction, given that, even in China, there is every indication that the world’s coal, particularly, will not all be exploited. But it is another reminder that energy choices made today will have repercussions for thousands of years to come, as David Archer laid out so well in “The Long Thaw” and as earlier research on Antarctic ice sheets has concluded. The authors of the study — Ricarda Winkelmann and Anders Levermann from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution for Science and Andy Ridgwell of the University of Bristol — find that the loss of the entire Antarctic ice sheet would take millenniums, but up to 100 feet of sea level rise could result within 1,000 years, with the rate of the rise beginning to increase a century or two from now. That finding meshes with the 2014 paper on the “collapse” of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. Earlier today, I had a video chat about the study and its implications with three of the authors — Winkelmann, Levermann and Caldeira. You can watch it or read a few excerpts below: Justin Gillis has written a news article putting the paper in context with other recent research on Antarctic dynamics and sea level, as well as with policy debates about the current value of fossil fuels against the momentous costs that could attend greatly expanded use:

In interviews, scientists said that such long-term risks raise profound moral questions for people of today.

“What right do we have to do things that, even if they don’t affect us, are going to be someone else’s problem a thousand years from now?” asked Ian Joughin, an ice sheet expert at the University of Washington who was not involved in the new research. “Is it fair to do that so we can go on burning fuel as fast as we can?” Caldeira told me recently that he considered this study his most important work and hopes it will help convince world leaders and the public of the scope of what’s being sacrificed for the sake of cheap fossil energy now. In our video chat, he and the other authors acknowledged the challenge in gaining traction, even with such findings, given the deep-rooted human bias toward immediate gratification and the development and energy gaps that mean today’s poorer nations have few affordable choices other than fossil fuels. See my recent look at India’s argument for expanded coal use.) Here are a few snippets from our chat, but I encourage you to listen to the full exchange (and post other excerpts you find noteworthy):

Ken Caldeira on our bias to the immediate:

Last night, at dinner I ate more than I should have, maximizing my pleasure at the expense of my long-term wellbeing. So I have trouble with my own life, optimizing future value and present value. It’s that much more difficult when we talk about doing things for the benefit of people all around the world and for generations far into the future. So this question of how do we motivate people to sacrifice a tiny little bit in the here and now to help everybody for the long term it’s a really tough problem. I don’t have any quick answers but just because it’s tough doesn’t mean it’s not important.

Ricarda Winkelmann on the planet-scale consequences of energy choices made in the next few decades:

It’s real important to think about these long time scales. Essentially, what our study shows is that the changes that we bring upon within the next decades can really change the face of the Earth for thousands of years to come.

Anders Levermann on the significance of carbon dioxide’s long lifetime once emitted:

Another aspect to it that really pushes it into our century, or even our decade, is that we are emitting the carbon now and it stays in the atmosphere for a long time and the temperature remains high even longer than the carbon remains high.




Photo: Melody Gutierrez Gov. Jerry Brown and Senate President Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, discuss changes to SB350 that reduce the reach of the climate change legislation.


California Legislature fails us on climate change

San Francisco Chronicle EDITORIAL September 11, 2015 [see more related news in policy section below]


California just suffered a big setback in its fight against climate change. This week, two closely watched bills failed to earn enough support in the now-finished legislative session. A key portion of SB350, touted by Gov. Jerry Brown and state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, was gutted after weeks of intense opposition from the petroleum industry. SB350 would have required a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use by 2030.


While the rest of the bill’s regulations will remain intact — the state will still be required to increase the proportion of electricity derived from renewable resources and increase energy efficiency in buildings — the gasoline regulations were both controversial and critical. Though Brown insisted that “California is not going to miss a beat” in a press conference following the setback, this was by far the best year to get the petroleum reduction enshrined in law. This is Brown’s final term as governor, and next year, state legislators who are facing election battles will be even less likely to take tough votes.


Another bill, SB32, also failed to muster enough support for passage through the Assembly this week. SB32 would have made the state’s long-term targets for carbon emissions reductions, currently set by executive order, a matter of law.

Its targets included a 40 percent emissions reduction rate (below 1990 levels) by 2030 and an 80 percent emissions reduction rate by 2050. The bill was rejected by the Assembly, 30-32. SB32’s author, Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills (Los Angeles County), said that the bill will return next year. “Unfortunately, the state Assembly and the administration were not supportive, for now, and we could not pass this important proposal.” said Pavley in a statement. When the bill returns, it won’t include the 2050 target.


It’s a rare setback for Brown, who’s been a master at getting legislative approval for his most important priorities during his second go-round in the governor’s chair. Even though California has been a global leader in the fight against climate change, there are still enough legislators who are worried about whether doing the right thing will cost the state too much in the long run. If they need more convincing, they don’t need to look any further than California’s own data on jobs and economic growth. When state legislators were considering AB32, they were lobbied incessantly by those who claimed that California couldn’t combat climate change and roll back fossil fuel use without incurring drastic economic results. In the years since then, California’s economy has expanded, its private sector job market has gone from strength to strength, and its dependence on fossil fuels has declined. The Legislature had a chance to continue that progress, and it punted. It needs to do better next year.






Brewer’s sparrow and green-tailed towhee are both sagebrush-dependent birds and considered species of conservation concern. Photo courtesy of Jacob Spendelow.

New Data Show Efforts to Restore Habitat for Sage Grouse Benefits Songbirds, Too

Posted by Tim Griffiths, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, on September 9, 2015 at 2:30 PM See report here:

By David Naugle, Science Advisor, Sage Grouse Initiative

Restoring sagebrush ecosystems not only benefits ranching and sage grouse but other wildlife, too. New data show that populations of Brewer’s sparrow and green-tailed towhee, two sagebrush-dependent songbirds, climbed significantly in places where invading conifer trees were removed. Three years after removing trees, Brewer’s sparrow numbers increased by 55 percent and green-tailed towhee numbers by 81 percent relative to areas not restored, according to a new report released by the Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI). These two songbirds, both identified as species of conservation concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), serve as early indicators of the effectiveness of restoration work. Aaron Holmes, Director of Northwest Wildlife Science and a Research Associate with Point Blue Conservation Science, led the research, assessing the biological outcome of songbirds after habitat restoration in the Warner Mountains near Adel, Oregon. Population increases each year after trees were removed suggest that growth in the populations of these two species may increase even more with time as more displaced birds increase their use of restored habitat. “The number of these songbirds using the restored shrublands was more than double that of adjacent areas that had not yet been cut, telling us that Brewer’s sparrow and green-tailed towhee preferred the open shrublands created through conifer removal,” Holmes said…..


Illegal logging in Peru

Study: deforestation halved over past decades

Deutsche Welle, Germany

Deforestation worldwide has more than halved since 1990, according to a new UN report. This is due in part to planting of new forests – yet some point out that these don’t have the same biodiversity as old forests. Forests throughout the world are disappearing more slowly than they used to – but, they are still disappearing. That is according to a new report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Since 1990, the rate of deforestation worldwide has slowed down more than 50 percent, from an annual net loss of 0.18 percent in the 1990s, to 0.08 percent over the past five years. While this trend is encouraging, it cannot hide the fact that deforestation continues. The FAO report estimates that 129 million hectares of forest have been lost since 1990 – that amounts to an area roughly equivalent to the size of Peru. “Forests play a fundamental role in combating rural poverty, ensuring food security and providing people with livelihoods,” said FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva upon presentation of the report. “They deliver vital environmental services such as clean air and water, the conservation of biodiversity and combating climate change.”….


Legal and illegal logging increased more than 600 percent in Ghana during a 15-year period. Credit: Nicole Arcilla

As demand for African timber soars, birds pay the ultimate price

Posted: 08 Sep 2015 11:11 AM PDT

The devastating impact has been revealed of illegal logging on bird communities in the understory layer of Ghana’s Upper Guinea rain forests, one of the world’s 25 “biodiversity hotspots” where the most biologically rich ecosystems are most threatened…. Researchers found that the level of legal and illegal logging increased more than 600 percent between 1995 and 2010 — six times greater than the maximum sustainable rate. They also discovered that the abundance of forest understory bird species declined more than 50 percent during the same period. Species richness, or the number of different understory bird species represented, also showed declining trends. The bird communities showed no evidence of post-logging recovery. “The numbers don’t lie and they don’t have a political agenda. These numbers are shocking,” said lead author Nicole Arcilla, PhD, postdoctoral research associate in the Biodiversity, Earth & Environmental Sciences (BEES) Department in Drexel’s College of Arts and Sciences. “Our most disturbing finding was that more than half of all understory birds had vanished in only 15 years. If things continue as they are, in a few decades, these incredibly beautiful forests and their unique wildlife will be largely depleted, which would be a huge loss to Ghana, Africa and the world.”… The researchers sampled bird communities in logged and unlogged forests in Ghana from 2008-2010, and compared their data with findings from fieldwork in the same study area in Ghana from 1993-1995, when illegal logging was not as prevalent. The evidence revealed severe declines in Ghana’s Upper Guinea forest understory bird communities during the 15-year period between the two datasets. Abundance declines appear to be pervasive across the understory bird community and to be driving declines in species richness over time. Species such as the yellow-whiskered greenbul declined by 73 percent, and the icterine greenbul declined by 90 percent.

Results further indicate that Ghana’s forestry management system has seriously deteriorated due to widespread increases in logging intensity coupled with extensive illegal logging, which has decreased or eliminated post-logging forest recovery. The absence of many conservation priority species from 2008 to 2010 field data suggests continuing population declines and increasing rarity of species at risk of extinction…. “Illegal logging is having serious impacts — not just on the forests themselves — but on the animals,” said Arcilla. “It’s reasonable to assume that if the birds are being this powerfully impacted, it’s impacting other groups, such as mammals, reptiles, amphibians and arthropods. Birds — like the ‘canary in a coal mine’ — are a great indicator of what’s happening to other animals, and eventually, what will happen to us.

The situation, though dire, is not hopeless, according to the researchers. “There is enormous potential for regenerating logged forests for bird conservation,” the report states. For this conservation potential to be realized, according to the researchers, urgent measures must be taken to protect these surviving forest fragments and prevent further forest bird declines. Such actions would ideally include increasing forest ranger patrols, increasing forest law enforcement and increasing implementation of measures to prevent illegal logging, such as making roadblocks in logging roads following legal logging operations to prevent incursion by illegal logging operations. “Solutions are complex and socially complicated, but the problem is solvable if there is motivation and interest,” said Arcilla…..


Nicola Arcilla, Lars H. Holbech, Sean O’Donnell. Severe declines of understory birds follow illegal logging in Upper Guinea forests of Ghana, West Africa. Biological Conservation, 2015; 188: 41 DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2015.02.010



Poison in the Arctic and the human cost of ‘clean’ energy

Posted: 07 Sep 2015 04:06 PM PDT

High levels of methylmercury, a potent neurotoxin, in Arctic life are a byproduct of global warming and the melting of sea-ice in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, research concludes. To mitigate global warming, many governments are turning to hydroelectric power but this research also suggests that flooding for hydroelectric development will put even more methylmercury into ecosystems than climate change.


Study reveals need for better understanding of water use

Posted: 09 Sep 2015 10:04 AM PDT

A new study reveals a pressing need to better understand water use in America’s rivers, with implications for drought-stricken regions of the country. Findings from the study showed that virtually all of the water entering the Wabash River in Indiana during summer months is withdrawn and then returned to the waterway….



Young Elephant Seal Molting . 7d16118 Wingsdomain Art and Photography

Molting elephant seals add mercury to coastal seawater

Posted: 07 Sep 2015 04:06 PM PDT

As fish-eating predators at the top of the marine food chain, elephant seals accumulate high concentrations of mercury in their bodies. A new study shows that elephant seals shed significant amounts of mercury during molting, resulting in elevated concentrations of the toxic metal in coastal waters near the elephant seal rookery at Año Nuevo State Reserve.


  1. Jennifer M. Cossaboon, Priya M. Ganguli, and A. Russell Flegal. Mercury offloaded in Northern elephant seal hair affects coastal seawater surrounding rookery. PNAS, September 2015 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1506520112
  2. Sarah H. Peterson, Elizabeth A. McHuron, Stephanie N. Kennedy, Joshua T. Ackerman, Lorrie D. Rea, J. Margaret Castellini, Todd M. O’Hara, Daniel P. Costa. Evaluating Hair as a Predictor of Blood Mercury: The Influence of Ontogenetic Phase and Life History in Pinnipeds. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 2015; DOI: 10.1007/s00244-015-0174-3




In May, nearly half of all the saigas, a critically endangered antelope that roams the steppe of Kazakhstan, died off. Exactly why is still a mystery.

Scientists hunt for clues in mysterious deaths of 60,000 antelopes in four days

Researchers have clues that might explain why thousands of saiga, an endangered antelope, died suddenly.

By Tia Ghose, / September 4, 2015

It started in late May. When geoecologist Steffen Zuther and his colleagues arrived in central Kazakhstan to monitor the calving of one herd of saigas, a critically endangered, steppe-dwelling antelope, veterinarians in the area had already reported dead animals on the ground. “But since there happened to be die-offs of limited extent during the last years, at first we were not really alarmed,” Zuther, the international coordinator of the Altyn Dala Conservation Initiative, told Live Science. But within four days, the entire herd — 60,000 saiga — had died. As veterinarians and conservationists tried to stem the die-off, they also got word of similar population crashes in other herds across Kazakhstan. By early June, the mass dying was over. [See Images of the Saiga Mass Die-Off]Now, the researchers have found clues as to how more than half of the country’s herd, counted at 257,000 as of 2014, died so rapidly. Bacteria clearly played a role in the saigas’ demise. But exactly how these normally harmless microbes could take such a toll is still a mystery, Zuther said. “The extent of this die-off, and the speed it had, by spreading throughout the whole calving herd and killing all the animals, this has not been observed for any other species,” Zuther said. “It’s really unheard of.” Saigas play a critical role in the ecosystem of the arid grassland steppe, where the cold winters prevent fallen plant material from decomposing; the grazing of the dog-size, Gonzo-nosed antelopes helps to break down that organic matter, recycling nutrients in the ecosystem and preventing wildfires fueled by too much leaf litter on the ground. The animals also provide tasty meals for the predators of the steppe, Zuther said. “Where you find saiga, we recognize also that the other species are much more abundant,” Zuther told Live Science…..

….A similar mass die-off of 400,000 saigas occurred in 1988, and veterinarians reported similar symptoms. But because that die-off occurred during Soviet times, researchers simply listed Pasteurellosis, the disease caused by Pasteurella, as the cause and performed no other investigation, Zuther added. So far, the only possible environmental cause was that there was a cold, hard winter followed by a wet spring, with lots of lush vegetation and standing water on the ground that could enable bacteria to spread more easily, Zuther said. That by itself doesn’t seem so unusual, though, he said. Another possibility is that such flash crashes are inevitable responses to some natural variations in the environment, he said. Zuther said he and his colleagues plan to continue their search for a cause of the die-off.



Researchers observed the results when female cowbirds, left, laid their eggs in the nests of prothonotary warblers, right. Credit: Photos by Chris Young (cowbird) and Michael Jeffords (warbler)

Female cowbirds pay attention to cowbird nestling survival, study finds

Posted: 09 Sep 2015 09:51 AM PDT

Brown-headed cowbirds have a reputation for being deadbeat parents: They lay their eggs in other birds’ nests and then disappear, the story goes, leaving the care and feeding of their offspring to an unwitting foster family. A new study suggests, however, that cowbird moms pay close attention to how well their offspring do, returning to lay their eggs in the most successful host nests, and avoiding those that have failed…


Understanding the world’s oceans more essential than ever to secure the future of our planet

Posted: 07 Sep 2015 07:11 AM PDT

A greater understanding and appreciation of our oceans is essential for the wellbeing of the world’s population, according to a new report. The report looks at the future for: commercial shipping — without which world trade would cease; for navies – so vital for security; and the health of the oceans – addressing the challenges of pollution, climate change and exploitation of resources…


Global Marine Technology Trends 2030 is the culmination of a collaborative project between Lloyd’s Register, QinetiQ and the University of Southampton. 

The report examines the transformative impact of 18 technologies on ship design, on naval power and on the use of ocean space in 2030.



Zeke Grader, champion of fishermen, dies at 68


Zeke Grader, a champion for West Coast commercial fishermen over four decades, pursued his goals in public protests, courts of law and legislative corridors, never losing sight of his early years on the seafood docks in Fort Bragg. A lawyer, lobbyist and a former Marine Corps reservist, Grader got major laws enacted to protect California’s salmon, waged water battles with powerful interests and risked condemnation by some fisherman for supporting catch limits. Grader, a Marin County resident for more than 40 years, died Monday of pancreatic cancer at a San Francisco hospice. He was 68. “Zeke was single-minded,” said his wife, Sausalito attorney Lois A. Prentice. “He had a vision and, no matter what, he never deviated from his vision. I called him a soldier; he had so much passion for what he was doing.” Accolades came from congressmen, federal officials and colleagues who worked with Grader over his 39-year tenure as the founding executive director of the San Francisco-based Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.

“Zeke was for decades a tireless fish warrior,” said William Stelle Jr., West Coast regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service. “Tough as nails, blunt spoken and full of life, he leaves us better, stronger and in a changed place because of his accomplishments.” Grader received an environmental hero award from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association in 1998, when Rep. Nancy Pelosi said in a speech on the House floor that Grader is “one of those rare leaders who we will look to for guidance on our troubled waters in the next century.” “He was one of a kind,” said Chuck Wise, a retired Bodega Bay fisherman and former president of the federation, an umbrella group for commercial fishermen’s associations from San Diego to Alaska. Without the environmental protections Grader fought to secure, the fishing industry “would probably be kaput,” Wise said. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, marveled at Grader’s work ethic, recalling that he would answer calls in his office at 5 a.m. and if fishing families needed help in Eureka, Grader would hit the road at 2 a.m. and be back in his office later the same day. “He knew the science, he knew the politics and he knew the personal side as well,” Thompson said in an email. “To me, he was a loyal friend with a wealth of knowledge and a big heart.”….






ENSO Alert System Status: El Niño Advisory
10 September 2015 NOAA


Synopsis: There is an approximately 95% chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015-16, gradually weakening through spring 2016. During August, sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies were near or greater than +2.0oC across the eastern half of the tropical Pacific (Fig. 1). SST anomalies increased in the Niño-3.4 and Niño 3-regions, were approximately unchanged in the Niño-4 region, and decreased in the Niño-1+2 region (Fig. 2). Large positive subsurface temperature anomalies persisted in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific during the month (Fig. 3), with the largest departures exceeding 6oC (Fig. 4). The atmosphere remained coupled to the anomalous oceanic warmth, with significant low-level westerly wind anomalies and upper-level easterly wind anomalies persisting from the western to east-central tropical Pacific. Also, the traditional and equatorial Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) were again negative, consistent with enhanced convection over the central and eastern equatorial Pacific and suppressed convection over Indonesia (Fig. 5). Collectively, these atmospheric and oceanic anomalies reflect a strong El Niño….


A monster El Niño is likely, but there are ‘no guarantees’

By Rong-Gong Lin II September 10, 2015 LA Times

El Niño is on track to become one of the most powerful on record, strongly suggesting California could face heavy rainfall this winter, climate scientists say. But El Niño still hasn’t sealed the deal, and there still needs to be a dramatic change in the winds in the Pacific Ocean if it is to be as strong as it might be, said Bill Patzert, climatologist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. “It’s still very impressive, but it’s a marathon with an El Niño,” Patzert said. “At 20 miles, do you hit the wall? Or do you pick up the pace?” At this point, El Niño is strong and could be even stronger than the 1997-98 event, which brought heavy rain and deadly flooding and mudslides across California, and gave the south of the state double its rainfall and the mountains double the snowpack. The latest government El Niño forecast, issued by the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center on Thursday morning, said that computer models unanimously favor a strong El Niño, and that there is a 95% chance that El Niño will continue through the winter — essential if California is to benefit from increased rainfall as the state experiences its fourth year of punishing drought. “The present El Niño is already one of the strongest on record and is expected to strengthen further through the late fall or early winter months,” said Daniel Swain, climate scientist with Stanford University. “At this juncture, the likeliest outcome for California is a wetter-than-average winter.” California has already been feeling the effects of El Niño, with an increased number of hurricanes in the eastern Pacific that have sent intense storms over California this summer. El Niño is a factor in the rising humidity and scattered thunderstorms over the Southland this week, which have arrived from the remnants of Hurricane Linda…..


A photo of Acetabularia acetabulum taken in low carbon dioxide conditions. Credit: Jason Hall-Spencer

Ocean acidification weighing heavily upon marine algae

Posted: 08 Sep 2015 06:07 PM PDT

Ocean acidification can weaken algal skeletons, reducing their performance and impacting upon marine biodiversity, say scientists in a new research paper….Even a small loss of skeletal calcification caused by exposure to corrosive waters can have a significant impact and leave algae at risk of losing access to light and nutrients….One of the authors, Professor Jason Hall-Spencer, from Plymouth’s School of Marine Science and Engineering, and its Marine Institute, said: “Based upon current forecasts, many calcified organisms will be corroded by acidified waters by the end of the century. What this study shows is that a dramatic weakening of algal skeletal strength can have implications for performance, which in turn could transform an entire ecosystem.”…


Laura A. Newcomb, Marco Milazzo, Jason M. Hall-Spencer, Emily Carrington. Ocean acidification bends the mermaid’s wineglass. Biology Letters, September 2015 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.1075



Calanus finmarchicus is one of the most abundant copepod species in the North Atlantic and is an extremely important source of food for many commercial fish species such as cod larvae, herring and capelin. Credit: Sigrun Jonasdottir, DTUAqua

Copepod migrations are important for the ocean’s CO2 uptake

Posted: 08 Sep 2015 06:41 AM PDT

Zooplankton no bigger than grains of rice play a much larger role in the transport and storage of CO2 in the ocean than previously thought, scientists report.
In a scientific article recently published in Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences (PNAS), researchers from DTU Aqua, the University of Copenhagen and the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, have shown that the ocean’s tiny copepods actively transport carbon down to the deep water in the North Atlantic during their winter hibernation. The discovery means that our understanding of the planet’s carbon cycle, and the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon needs to be revised. Changes in the carbon cycle are the cause of climate change. “The active transportation of carbon from the atmosphere into the ocean has never been quantified at this scale before, but our calculations indicate that we may be able to double the previous estimate for the North Atlantic carbon capture,” said DTU Aqua’s Senior Researcher Sigrun Jonasdottir, the lead contributor to the article…”Once again we can see here a fantastic example of how important biology — and biological diversity — is for the chemical and physical processes on Earth. The ocean’s carbon cycle is a vital component of climate models. At the moment, only passive biological processes are calculated into these models, for example when dead material sinks down through the water. But our study shows that we also have to include the active biological processes, such as animal migrations, to predict and calculate the ocean’s ability to absorb anthropogenic emissions of CO2,” says Professor Katherine Richardson of the University of Copenhagen, who is also one of the authors behind the study.

Copepods are themselves threatened by climate change

This does not mean, however, that we can just rely on water copepods to soak up the increased human-made emissions of greenhouse gases by dragging additional carbon down into the depths of the ocean. On the contrary, a warmer sea can lead to a reduction in the specie’s ability to go into hibernation and thus lessen the effect, according to Sigrun Jonasdottir from DTU Aqua. “This process has been going on for thousands of years, so it’s not a new mechanism by any means. But changes in the ocean, such as the water getting warmer and ocean currents changing, may have consequences for the copepods and their biology. Therefore, we might be running the risk that climate change will weaken the process and as a result reduce the ocean’s ability to absorb CO2.”….


  1. Sigrún Huld Jónasdóttir, André W. Visser, Katherine Richardson, Michael R. Heath. Seasonal copepod lipid pump promotes carbon sequestration in the deep North Atlantic. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015; 201512110 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1512110112



The ARSV Laurence M. Gould in the Southern Ocean. Credit: Colm Sweeney/ CIRES & NOAA

Southern Ocean removing carbon dioxide from atmosphere more efficiently

Posted: 10 Sep 2015 11:44 AM PDT

Since 2002, the Southern Ocean has been removing more of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to two new studies. These studies make use of millions of ship-based observations and a variety of data analysis techniques to conclude that that the Southern Ocean has increasingly taken up more carbon dioxide during the last 13 years. That follows a decade from the early 1990s to 2000s, where evidence suggested the Southern Ocean carbon dioxide sink was weakening. The new studies appear today in the American Geophysical Union journal Geophysical Research Letters and the AAAS journal Science. The global oceans are an important sink for human-released carbon dioxide, absorbing nearly a quarter of the total carbon dioxide emissions every year. Of all ocean regions, the Southern Ocean below the 35th parallel south plays a particularly vital role. “Although it comprises only 26 percent of the total ocean area, the Southern Ocean has absorbed nearly 40 percent of all anthropogenic carbon dioxide taken up by the global oceans up to the present,”
says David Munro, a scientist at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado Boulder, and an author on the GRL paper….The Science paper, led by Peter Landschützer at the ETH Zurich, takes a more expansive view of the Southern Ocean. This study uses two innovative methods to analyze a dataset of surface water carbon dioxide spanning almost three decades and covering all of the waters below the 35th parallel south. These data–including Sweeney and Munro’s data from the Drake Passage–also show that the surface water carbon dioxide is increasing slower than atmospheric carbon dioxide, a sign that the Southern Ocean as a whole is more efficiently removing carbon from the atmosphere. These results contrast with previous findings that showed that the Southern Ocean carbon dioxide sink was stagnant or weakening from the early 1990s to the early 2000s.


David R. Munro, Nicole S. Lovenduski, Taro Takahashi, Britton B. Stephens, Timothy Newberger, Colm Sweeney. Recent evidence for a strengthening CO2sink in the Southern Ocean from carbonate system measurements in the Drake Passage (2002-2015). Geophysical Research Letters, 2015; DOI: 10.1002/2015GL065194


The Pacific Northwest is home to tens of thousands of seldom-seen mountain wetlands. Credit: Maureen Ryan/University of Washington

Climate change could leave Pacific Northwest amphibians high and dry

Posted: 04 Sep 2015 11:44 AM PDT

A new model for snow-fed mountain wetlands projects that this year’s dry conditions could be common by the 2070s, affecting the Cascades frog and other mountain species…. Far above the wildfires raging in Washington’s forests, a less noticeable consequence of this dry year is taking place in mountain ponds. The minimal snowpack and long summer drought that have left the Pacific Northwest lowlands parched also affect the region’s amphibians due to loss of mountain pond habitat.

According to a new paper published Sept. 2 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, this summer’s severe conditions may be the new normal within just a few decades….


Se-Yeun Lee, Maureen E. Ryan, Alan F. Hamlet, Wendy J. Palen, Joshua J. Lawler, Meghan Halabisky. Projecting the Hydrologic Impacts of Climate Change on Montane Wetlands. PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (9): e0136385 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0136385



Southern California wildfires exhibit split personalities

Posted: 08 Sep 2015 03:04 PM PDT

Wildfires have ravaged both populated and unpopulated regions of Southern California at an increasing rate over the past few decades, and scientists are predicting that by midcentury, as a consequence of climate change causing hotter and drier summers, a lot more will go up in flames. In a paper published today in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the scientists discuss the split-personality nature of Southern California wildfires. They describe two distinct wildfire types — those driven by offshore Santa Ana winds that kick up in the fall and those that result primarily from hot, dry conditions in the summer. In terms of the amount of acreage consumed, the two fire types are roughly equal, but the Santa Ana fires, which tend to hit more developed areas, have been 10 times more costly over the period studied, 1990 to 2009. The researchers relied on NASA satellite data and decades’ worth of fire records from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the U.S. Forest Service….



Europe is parched, in a sign of times to come

9 September 2015 by John Abraham

Europe has undergone a severe drought this summer, the worst in over a decade. Temperatures have been high across the continent, and have combined with low rainfalls. This drought, like the one in 2012 in the United States, are a sign of what our future holds in a warming world. As humans emit greenhouse gases, the world warms. We already know that. But a warming world is also host to other changes. Among the most important changes are those to the water cycle. Scientists refer to this as the hydrological cycle – basically changes to the storage of water in the soil and underground, the evaporation of water into the atmosphere, and the subsequent rainfall and runoff that occurs. A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, as people know through the personal experience of high humidity in warm months. Changes to humidity have been measured over the past decades and confirm our expectations. These changes lead to increased rainfall. At the same time, higher temperatures accelerate evaporation, which dries out the soil and plants and can create drought conditions. We see then that competing factors are in play. On the one hand, we expect there to be more intense rainfall. On the other hand, we expect more drying. Which process wins depends on where you live. The prevailing view is that areas which are currently wet will become wetter. Areas that are currently dry will become drier. Finally, rainfall will occur in heavier doses. A recent report has been released about current conditions in Europe and in particular, on the 2015 heat wave and drought. The organization (European Drought Observatory) has an online report which is easy to obtain and read here. They report that very hot weather in Europe during June and July 2015 affected France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Italy and Spain. High temperatures combined with low rainfall have created very dry conditions. Not only were temperatures high, but they remained high for a long time, particularly in parts of Spain….




Land surface temperature anomalies for Australia from January 1–8, 2013. (NASA)

The simple statistic that perfectly captures what climate change means

By Chris Mooney September 9 2015 Wash Post

There are many ways to measure the world’s changing climate. You can chart rising global temperatures, rising sea levels and melting ice. What’s tougher, though, is to find a measurement that easily relates all of that to what people experience in their daily lives. In a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, however, two Australian researchers do just this by examining a simple but telling meteorological metric — the ratio of new hot temperature records set in the country to new cold temperature records. “In a stationary climate, a climate where we don’t have any trend or long-term change, we expect hot and cold records to be broken at almost the same rate,” explains Sophie Lewis, the lead study author and a researcher at the Australian National University in Canberra. “But in the last 15 years, we see a dramatic increase in the frequency of hot records and the decrease of cold records.” Australia has warmed nearly 1 degree Celsius since 1910, and has experienced  plenty  of extreme heat recently, especially during the famous “angry summer” of 2012-2013. In particular, the year 2013 broke all manner of country-wide temperature records: “hottest day, week, month, and season observed, and it was the warmest year on record,” note Lewis and her co-author, Andrew King of the University of Melbourne. So how unusual was this? And would it be likely to happen in a climate unperturbed by human greenhouse gas emissions? Lewis and King looked at how often Australia set hot and cold temperature records from the year 1910 through 2014. They only considered temperature records across the country as a whole and in each of its states or territories (except Tasmania), and only examined monthly, seasonal and annual records. Thus, the study did not examine daily records or records in individual locations. (This was in part to avoid problems introduced by the fact that over time, the number of individual temperature recording stations changes.)

Sure enough, the study found that from 1910 to 1960, the ratio of hot to cold records was close to 1 to 1. From 1960 to 2014, however, that changed, as hot records started to happen much more frequently than cold records — and from 2000 to 2014, outnumbered them by more than 12 to 1….





 Sep 12 2015



Willows Refuge-White snow geese are in abundance at the Sacramento Valley Wildlife Refuge from November to February, attracting birders by the thousands. Susan Meeker/Glenn County Transcript

As drought persists, habitat questions are back for birds

By Andrew Creasey/ Monday, September 7, 2015 5:00 pm | Updated: 7:56 pm, Mon Sep 7, 2015.

In what has become an annual ritual, conservationists and wildlife refuge managers are looking at this winter with concern, wondering if the millions of migratory birds that fly into the Sacramento Valley will be greeted by cramped, dry and depleted habitat. Going into last year’s winter, there were concerns about the amount of habitat space and the spread of disease. But much of those concerns were alleviated with heavy December rains. But the drought persisted in 2015 and those same concerns are back again. Only this time, the conditions may be even worse, for the expected 39.5 million migratory birds set to enter the valley, due to further reductions in the amount of rice field acres that will be flooded in the fall and winter.
Usually about 300,000 acres of rice fields are flooded to decompose the rice straw left over from harvest. The open pools of water provide vital habitat and food for migratory birds, especially as the food supply on the wildlife refuges wanes, said Dan Frisk, manager of the Sacramento National Wildlife Complex. The California Rice Commission estimated that about 100,000 acres were flooded last year. “It’s safe to say that we are in a slightly worse scenario than we were last winter,” said Paul Buttner, manager of environmental affairs with the Rice Commission.
“We believe the amount of flooded acres will be less than last year.” The wildlife refuge complex will receive 75 percent of its water supply from the Sacramento River – the same as last year. Frisk said that 80 percent of the habitat should be flooded by December. The exception is the Sutter National Wildlife Refuge, which lacks a conveyance system from the Central Valley Project – the source of the refuges’ water supply, Frisk said. As a result, the refuge complex has to use appropriative water rights to flood the refuge, and those rights have been curtailed by the State Water Resources Control Board. Barring any winter storms, the refuge, located along the Sutter Bypass, will be almost completely dry this winter, Frisk said. As the amount of available habitat decreases, the probability of disease outbreaks, such a botulism in the summer and avian cholera in the winter, increases, Frisk said. But for Mark Biddlecomb, executive director of the western region of Ducks Unlimited, a greater concern is the food supply. “Having the food resources available is a key factor for the birds returning to their breeding grounds and continuing their life cycle,” Biddlecomb said. “Without habitat here, it will be hard for them to increase their body fat and go back to their breeding grounds in optimal condition.” Biddlecomb is also concerned that as the drought wears on, rice farmers will find an alternate method to decompose rice straw and move away from the practice of flooding their fields….




The Orange County Water District has operated a potable reuse and groundwater replenishment system since 2008. Treated wastewater is purified using a mix of microfiltration, reverse osmosis, ultraviolet light and hydrogen peroxide. It is then added to a vast underground aquifer. (Carlos Chavez / Los Angeles Times)

Purified wastewater triggers release of arsenic within aquifer, study finds

By Monte Morin
contact the reporter Sept 4 2015

When it comes to the science of transforming sewage into tap water – or potable reuse – engineers say there’s no question the product is clean enough to drink. The trouble is, researchers are now learning that this drinking water may be too clean to store underground without special treatment. A study published this week in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found that when highly purified wastewater was stored in an Orange County aquifer, the water caused arsenic to escape from clay sediments in a way that naturally infiltrating water did not. In some instances, researchers said that arsenic concentrations exceeded the drinking water limit of 10 micrograms per liter, although the increases were only temporary and levels eventually returned to normal. None of the affected water entered the public tap system, officials said. The root of the problem, according to researchers at Stanford University and the Orange County Water District’s Groundwater Replenishment System, was that the purified, recycled water lacked the minerals that native water acquires as it soaks into the earth or flows along rivers. “Basically the water was too pure,” said senior author Scott Fendorf, a Stanford geochemist. “It was devoid of everything other than water molecules.” The solution, according to the researchers, was to add quicklime or another calcium-rich substance to the purified water before adding it to the aquifer – essentially dirtying it up a bit…..

Related story:

Turning sewage into drinking water gains appeal as drought lingers



Len Materman, executive director of the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority, is photographed near the Pope-Chaucer bridge at San Francisquito Creek in Palo Alto, Calif., Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. San Francisquito Creek overflowed its banks during the 1998 flood, and officials and residents are fearful of flooding this winter due to predicted El Nino conditions. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group) ( Patrick Tehan )

With El Niño threatening to turn California’s drought into drenching winter, worries mount

By Bruce Newman Posted:   09/08/2015 03:19:29 PM PD Mercury News

Among all the apocalyptic disasters that Californians routinely prepare for — earthquake, drought, wildfire, carmageddon — the most welcome is rain, even though giant El Niño events like the one currently massing in the Pacific can bring their own set of calamities: flooding, mudslides, carmageddon with hydroplaning. After four years of drought, creeks and rivers flowing through the Bay Area are more trickle than torrent. But weather scientists are recording water temperatures in the Pacific nearing the highest they’ve ever seen, suggesting El Niño will open an atmospheric fire hose in the jet stream this winter. That’s caused a rising tide of anxiety that has left even the highest-and-driest Californians on edge.
Across the Bay Area, roofers and tree-trimmers are so busy preparing for the onslaught that many have stopped accepting new jobs. And public works crews are shoring up creek beds, clearing storm drains and stocking up on sandbags in preparation. As the final nails were being driven into a new roof on Charles Hwuang’s Alamo home this week, he said he would sleep better this winter. “Hearing about El Niño made me more nervous,” Hwuang said, “made me do something about it sooner rather than later. I’ll sleep better tonight.” The last “very strong” El Niño winter of 1997-98 left 17 Californians dead and property damage of $550 million in its wake. It also brought San Francisquito Creek, quite literally, to the Palo Alto doorstep of Kevin Fisher. His was one of 1,700 Peninsula properties damaged when the creek overtopped its banks after a month of steady rains. “It was like being in an aquarium,” Fisher said, recalling the water’s ominous rise outside a picture window facing his backyard….






Eight countries to sharpen long-term climate change adaptation strategies

Date:31 Aug 2015 Source(s):Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations – Headquarters (FAO Headquarters)

AO and UNDP join forces under German-funded initiative to raise profile of agriculture in climate change planning
Rome/Bangkok – A new UN programme funded by Germany will help eight developing countries revamp and strengthen their adaptation responses to climate change. Through the Integrating Agriculture in National Adaptation Plans programme, FAO and UNDP will work with ministries of agriculture in Nepal, Kenya, the Philippines, Thailand, Uganda, Uruguay, Viet Nam and Zambia to incorporate agricultural sectors into National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) in order to safeguard livelihoods, raise agricultural production and boost food security. In particular, the initiative aims to help countries make improvements in medium- to long-term planning and budgeting processes. Under the four-year initiative, countries will receive various types of support. FAO will offer policy advice and technical support to ensure that climate change adaptation priorities in the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries sectors are incorporated in this planning process. UNDP will engage with countries in managing climate risk, in planning and budgeting, and help them strengthen information systems, project formulation, and coordination between government institutions….




A bus rapid transit system in Sao Paulo (Flickr/EMBARQ BRASIL)

Green urban infrastructure could save $17trn by 2050

Public transport, efficient buildings and recycling investments pay off in energy savings, New Climate Economy report shows

Building compact, connected and efficient cities could save 3.7 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year by 2030 – more than India’s carbon footprint.

By Megan Darby
Last updated on 8 September 2015, 9:08 am

Avoiding wasteful urban sprawl also brings big energy cost savings, worth US$16.6 trillion worldwide in the period to 2050. Those are the conclusions of the latest New Climate Economy report, part of a series to show the economic benefits of climate action.

It calls for a $1 billion public finance package to green the world’s 500 largest cities, in line with global efforts to decarbonise the economy. The first thing a mayor should think of is public transport, said Nick Godfrey, urban development expert at the NCE. “Getting transport right, particularly in fast-growing cities at an early stage, shapes the entire urban form of a city. That could involve bus rapid transit (BRT) systems – priority bus routes that are relatively cheap to set up. With the urban population growing by 1.4 million a week, mostly in the developing world, such schemes are in urgent demand. A system installed in Johannesburg had net benefits of nearly US$900 million, according to analysis by WRI’s Embarq project. The bulk of that came from shortened travel times and better road safety, with CO2 cuts a bonus. Other low carbon opportunities are in energy efficient buildings and waste disposal…..



Back yard rain garden, NC | Peter Raabe

Green Infrastructure Plan Sprouts in Raleigh, NC

Nicole Duarte September 8th, 2015 | Climate Change, Stormwater & Sewage

Raleigh is plotting an innovative and thoughtful path toward resurrecting its forgotten streams and beginning to heal the Neuse River. Like many other highly urbanized cities, Raleigh was built at a time when there was little understanding of the impacts that poorly treated stormwater would have on the health of local streams.  As a result, its streams currently suffer from the ill effects of “urban stream syndrome,” which encompasses wildly variable flows, very limited wildlife habitat, and terrible water quality. Anyone who has passed one of the area’s trash-strewn creeks or visited a nearly dry stream bed has likely observed this phenomenon. Unfortunately, this damage reaches beyond the shores of Raleigh’s streams. One of North Carolina’s most iconic rivers, the Neuse, is fed by all these damaged waterways. Communities along the length of the river rely on its clean water for agriculture and maritime commerce. To reduce its impact on its local rivers and streams, Raleigh developed and has begun to implement a green infrastructure plan. The City Council unanimously adopted the plan this spring, after stakeholders spent more than two years working to find new ways for the city to address its infrastructure problems. Now, project planners must consider how water will interact with their buildings, roads, or parks. The city will also invest in green infrastructure, such as rain gardens, cisterns, and green streets, on city-owned property. Additionally, city officials will work with private landowners to retrofit their property or install new green infrastructure. The plan was the result of a long collaboration process that built trust and commitment among diverse stakeholders. It will take decades to fully implement the plan, but stakeholders can expect the presence of green infrastructure projects to increase exponentially over that time. At the end of this process, Raleigh residents can expect that the streams and creeks that trickle through their city will be cured of “urban stream syndrome.” Instead, they will become attractions for area families, urban oases for wildlife, and natural sources of clean water for the Neuse.






Should countries honor their climate debts?

Posted: 08 Sep 2015 10:28 AM PDT

All countries have contributed to recent climate change, but some much more so than others. Those that have contributed more than their fair share have accumulated a climate debt, owed to countries that have contributed less to historical warming. This is the implication of a new study in which a researcher shows how national carbon and climate debts could be used to decide who should pay for the global costs of climate mitigation and damages.



Using a fine mesh net, environmental activist and scientist Marcus Eriksen collects dozens of plastic microbeads at the confluence of the Los Angeles River and the Arroyo Seco on Jan. 24, 2014. (Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times)

California Senate acts to ban use of plastic microbeads by 2020

By Patrick McGreevy
contact the reporter

A day after the Senate failed to muster the votes needed, lawmakers on Friday approved an amended bill that would prohibit the sale of personal-care products that contain plastic microbeads, starting in 2020. Lawmakers also gave final legislative approval to bills aimed at improving election turnouts and regulating unmanned aerial drones. Sen. Ben Hueso (D-Logan Heights) said microbeads are a “significant source of pollution in our water bodies, including the Los Angeles River and San Francisco Bay.” The measure was changed to exempt natural exfoliates and eliminate a requirement to have the state Department of Toxic Substances Control to review alternative plastic microbeads. Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) had opposed the bill Thursday but said the new bill allows room and time for the industry to come up with alternatives.”Can we come up with a new technology that biodegrades quicker,” and is less harmful to wildlife, Hertzberg asked before voting for AB 888 by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica)…..



In this photo taken Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D- Los Angeles, seated center, talks with reporters about climate change during a news conference with Bishop Jaime Soto of the Sacramento Catholic Dioceses, seated left and Bishop Stephen Blaire of the Stockton Diocese, seated right in Sacramento, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders are locked in a late-hour battle against oil companies to secure ambitious climate change legislation for California. CREDIT: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

California Is On The Verge Of Making Climate History

by Jess Colarossi Sep 9, 2015 1:21pm

This week, California could make history in its efforts to combat climate change. Members of the state Assembly will vote this week on California’s climate bill package, which breezed through the Senate and three separate Assembly meetings earlier this year. If the package of bills passes this next obstacle, it will be signed in to law by the governor. This bill package, which has been called “historic,” outlines aggressive action to fight climate change.
It is no surprise for California, though, since the state already has one of the highest renewable portfolio standards in the country, which requires 25 percent of electricity to come from renewables by 2016, and 33 percent by 2020. Governor Jerry Brown has made climate and environmental issues the focal point of his fourth term. The climate package is composed of 12 bills which seek to address many environmental and health concerns, such as off-shore drilling, divestment, water quality, energy efficiency in disadvantaged communities, and increased public transportation. One of the bills, Senate Bill (SB) 32, has already failed in the Assembly — lawmakers voted Tuesday against the bill, which would have locked California in to reducing its emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The bill could be brought up again for another vote later this week. The package’s most far-reaching goal, however, is outlined in SB 350. The bill, authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León and Senator Mark Leno, calls for a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in cars and trucks, a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in buildings, and for 50 percent of the state’s utility power derived from renewable energy, all by 2030. The bill’s goals are nearly identical to those called for by Gov. Jerry Brown in his inaugural address in January. The bill has been receiving the largest amount of pushback, mostly from oil companies, agro-businesses and a handful of moderate Democrats. According to the Sacramento Bee, an estimated 20 Assembly Democrats met with Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins in late August to voice their concerns over the legislation, saying SB 350 doesn’t clearly state how it will affect motorists. Democrats control 65 percent of the California Assembly, but if these holdouts combine with Republicans to vote “no” on the legislation, it could mean the end for SB 350 in this legislative session….


Brown, facing opposition, will remove a major part of climate change plan

Los Angeles Times | September 9, 2015 | 5:26 PM

Unable to overcome fierce opposition from the oil industry and resistance from some Democrats, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders announced today that they will remove a major portion of an ambitious proposal to combat climate change, sources say. A provision calling for a 50% cut in petroleum use by 2030 will be dropped. Read more >>



Southern California air board puts new limits on urban oil fields

Los Angeles Times | September 4, 2015 | 2:10 PM

Urban oil fields in Southern California must improve the way they control odors and respond to complaints from nearby residents under new rules adopted today by air quality officials. The regulations approved on an 11-2 vote by the South Coast Air Quality Management District board come after a surge of complaints in recent years over noxious fumes in South Los Angeles, Huntington Beach, Whittier and other communities where oil production facilities operate near homes and schools. Read more >>

Bottom of Form






FILE – In this May 14, 2015, file photo, Tesla Model S cars are shown in the Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif. Tesla’s second-quarter deliveries surged 52 percent to set a company record exceeding 11,000 vehicles, the electric car maker said Thursday, July 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File) The Associated Press

Climate benefits from electric car equals $425, study says

By Morgan Lee | 3:41 p.m. Sept. 9, 2015

A new study places a dollar-based price tag on the environmental benefits of electric vehicles in terms of avoided greenhouse gas pollution, and the answer may surprise both clean-car enthusiasts and skeptics. In the western United States, where electricity is generated from a relatively clean mix of fuels and methods, replacing a mid-sized conventional car with a plug-in electric vehicle can avoid pollution damages equivalent to $425, according to the soon-to-be published study from three researchers at the University of California, Davis. That estimate of pollution benefits is below government subsidies attached to all-electric vehicle sales, including a $7,500 federal tax credit, California’s $2,500 rebate and a variety of state-by-state perks such as reduced vehicle registration fees and unrestricted access to car-pool lanes. “There is still a very widespread common wisdom that electric vehicles are carbon-free or really good for the climate,” said David Rapson, an economic professor at UC Davis and one author of the study. “That is only partially true, and it really depends on where you are.”….Across portions of the Midwest, the move to an electric vehicle results in more carbon pollution — not less. That conclusion is based in large part on performance limitations of electric vehicles during cold weather, when batteries lose efficiency and can’t rely on excess engine heat from fuel combustion to warm the driving cabin. At the same time, increased electricity demands in certain states are likely to be filled by high-polluting sources of electricity, in particular from coal-fired power plants, the study found. Consideration was given to emission during the entire life cycle of vehicles, from “cradle to junkyard,” including the manufacturing process. For internal combustion vehicles, that includes the pollution involved in extracting crude oil from the ground and refining it into gasoline. The study admittedly left out other health and societal benefits linked to electric vehicles, such as protecting certain populations from highway-related soot and smog, or decreasing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. It does not parse the possible benefits of hybrid vehicles. Brett Williams, a senior project manager at the Center for Sustainable Energy that administers California’s clean-vehicle rebates, said subsidies for advanced technologies including electric cars often are designed to overcome difficult initial social and economic barriers. Electric vehicles, he pointed out, are expected to pay increasing environmental dividends as the power grid integrates more renewable energy and phases out dirtier sources of energy. On that point, the UC Davis study provided mixed forecasts. In western states such as California, the greenhouse-gas benefits per electric vehicle are expected to reach $2,380 by 2040.

In cold-weather, coal-reliant states, the benefits of electric vehicles will depend on the evolution of the power grid in terms of renewable energy, fossil fuels and nuclear reactors. Internal combustion vehicles still could hold environmental advantage in 2040, under some scenarios foreseen by the Energy Information Administration. Rapson said the study has undergone anonymous peer review ahead of publication in a special edition of Research and Transportation Economics. It was circulated publicly this month by the Berkeley-based Energy Institute at Haas.


Delayed effects of oil spill compromise long-term fish survival

Posted: 08 Sep 2015 05:28 AM PDT

For 25 years, methodical research by scientists has investigated the effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 on Alaskan communities and ecosystems. A new study on the effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska shows that embryonic salmon and herring exposed to very low levels of crude oil can develop hidden heart defects that compromise their later survival, indicating that the spill may have had much greater impacts on spawning fish than previously recognized.


Artificial ‘plants’ could fuel the future

Posted: 08 Sep 2015 11:43 AM PDT

The developer of a new technology that turns sunlight into liquid fuel, along with two other leading nanoscientists, discuss the remarkable science behind it — and how learning from nature’s genius could transform our energy future.








Drought-caused delay in nesting of Sonoran Desert birds and its facilitation of parasite- and predator-mediated variation in reproductive success

Wednesday, 23 September 2015, 1:00 PM – 02:30 PM ET, 10-11:30 PT
Speaker: Chris McCreedy, Desert Ecologist, Point Blue Conservation Science

For Sonoran Desert bird species, each day of nesting lost to drought increases a pair’s exposure to higher nest depredation and brood parasitism across the remainder of the breeding season. Join us for a webinar with Point Blue Conservation Science.

For more information and to register, go to:



EVALUATING AND MONITORING ADAPTATION Wednesday, September 30, 2015, 10AM PST/ 1PM EST (confirm time)

To learn about climate adaptation evaluation and monitoring examples in the field, click HERE to register.
This webinar will feature: 

  • Rachel M. Gregg, M.M.A., Lead Scientist, EcoAdapt. Is it Doing Any Good?: Monitoring and Evaluating Climate Adaptation Activities
  • Anne Carlson, Ph.D., Climate Associate, The Wilderness Society. Carnivores, water and weeds: Improving the success of climate change response strategies through effective monitoring programs
  • Mallory Morgan, Climate Fellow, San Diego Foundation,  A Qualitative Analysis of the Climate Change Action Plan for the Florida Reef System 2010-2015

For more information on the webinar and other National Adaptation Forum webinars visit the webinar support page. If you are not able to make the webinar we will also be providing a recording at


Climate Change and Organic Agriculture
October 6, 2015 12PM Pacific / 3PM Eastern

Presented by USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service – Science and Technology National Technology Support Centers 

Kris Nichols, Ph.D. Chief Scientist Rodale Institute: Dr. Kris Nichols will discuss the Rodale Institute’s white paper: Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change: A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming. This paper discusses the positive impacts of organically managed soils on climate change. She will present data from farming systems and pasture trials around the world that show the carbon sequestration impact of organic management practices. The presentation will describe the farming practices that can be implemented to meet this objective.





State of the San Francisco Estuary Conference – September 17-18, 2015 Oakland, California

The deadline for the early-bird registration rate is August 20thEvery two years, the Partnership brings a focus on the management and ecological health of the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary.  The State of the Estuary Conference showcases the latest information about the Estuary’s changing watersheds, impacts from major stressors, recovery programs for species and habitats, and emerging challenges.  The early-bird registration deadline in August 20th


Economics of Soil Health Sept. 21-22, Washington DC

Join us Sept. 21-22, 2015 for a workshop exploring the economics of soil health. Farm Foundation, NFP and USDA’s Economic Research Service are collaborating on this workshop, which will be in the First Floor Auditorium of the ERS Building, Patriot’s Plaza 3, 355 E Street SW, Washington, D.C.  The workshop will be a policy-oriented discussion of existing research on the economics of soil health, and will identify and prioritize evolving areas of research. What are the private benefits of soil health, and are incentives aligned for farmers to make rational decisions about their soil in the short and long run? What are the public benefits of soil health? What environmental benefits are likely to result from the adoption of soil health practices, and how can we model or quantify them?  This workshop will be a valuable opportunity to network with other economists and researchers working on the economics of soil health. Program details and registration information are available on the Farm Foundation website:



Mitigating Drought with Holistic Management Workshop Series

TomKat Ranch, Pescadero, CA

Presenter: Richard King, Holistic Management Certified Educator

  • September 24-25, 2015
  • October 8-9, 2015
  • October 22-23, 2015

As a farmer, rancher or land steward, you know that one of your greatest assets is the land you work with and that managing that land can be tough due to weather conditions, environmental pressures and high input costs. Our Whole Farm/Ranch Land Management Program was designed to help you enhance the health, productivity and profitability of your land through the practice of Holistic Management. Due to grant funding, the cost for this program (valued at $800) is $100 per person with advanced online registration. You can register for the series by clicking on the button to the right. Register soon as space is limited! Online registration closes September 16, 2015. Walk-in registration is $150 per person, if available. This course is held over 3 weekends in a 6-week period. While the series is most effective if you attend all the sessions, don’t pass it up if you have to miss a class or two.



Climate-Smart Conservation – Southern California September 23, 2015

Are you interested in how climate change might impact your work? Interested in integrating climate change into your planning and management activities? Curious to know how others are integrating climate change science into planning and projects? On September 23rd The San Diego Management & Monitoring Program and the San Diego Climate Science Alliance are hosting a symposium of Climate-Smart Conservation case studies from the coast of Southern California. Speakers from across the region will present cutting edge efforts to collaboratively support integration of climate change effects into natural resource management. Presentations will be followed by a roundtable discussion highlighting additional local efforts to integrate climate considerations into management actions. Learn more


The Wildlife Society 22nd Annual Conference
October 17-21, 2015 Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

The Wildlife Society’s Annual Conference is one of the largest gatherings of wildlife professionals, students and supporters in North America.  More than 1,500 attendees gathered to learn, network and engage at our 2014 Annual Conference in Pittsburgh, PA…


Drought Symposium 15- tentatively scheduled for Oct 20-21, So CA

This October, CalCoast™ and its allies in government, academia, and the private sector (including Strategic Advocacy Partners) will hold “Drought Symposium 15,” tentatively scheduled for Oct 20-21. We have been scouting sites in Ontario, CA; San Diego, CA; and Orange County.  A call for presentations will be circulated soon, but if you have an idea for a presentation or (better yet) a whole panel (90 mins), please send a message to Steve Aceti at and John Helmer at If your organization is interested in becoming a sponsor or exhibitor for Drought Symposium 15, please send a message to Gracie Parisi, CalCoast’s COO, at If you know of any conflicts with other events this October 20-21, please let us know. And stay tuned!



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.


California Association of Resource Conservation Districts:

Healthy Forests, Healthy Soils, A Resilient California” 70th Annual Conference November 18—21, 2015 Tenaya Lodge, Yosemite, CA

Don’t miss out on being part of the change. California’s future is the crucial discussion at this year’s CARCD Annual Conference November 18th—21st at the Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite, CA. The Sierra National Forest, backdrop for Yosemite National Park, will provide a perfect classroom and case study of the challenges California will face if we cannot enact effective and efficient management strategies at the local, regional and statewide levels. We will discuss how smart, integrated management projects on a seemingly small-scale are the building blocks that affect water abundance, water quality, soil health, tree/ plant health, forest health, groundwater, and climate change throughout the state. In addition, we will examine innovative developments to solve new world challenges like the latest developments in carbon markets, building partnerships to solve complex, multi-jurisdictional issues, state programs focused on solving California’s problems, capacity building for RCDs and much more.



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.




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


Point Blue: Coastal Adaptation Program Leader

The Coastal Adaptation Program Leader (CAPL) will be responsible for executing the strategy and achieving the outcomes of Point Blue’s Protecting Our Shorelines Initiative. As such, the CAPL will help natural resource managers and policy makers advance their adaptation efforts in the face of accelerating climate change, ocean acidification, increased storm frequency and intensity, habitat loss, and other stressors, leveraging Point Blue and partner scientific, data, and informatics resources. The CAPL will also develop science-based policy and natural resource management recommendations. Learn more and how to apply here.

Point Blue: Institutional Philanthropy Director  The Director of Institutional Philanthropy (Director) will be responsible for securing foundation and agency funding for priority programs, and managing all aspects of Point Blue’s foundation relations to advance our innovative climate-smart conservation science strategies. Reporting to the Chief Advancement Officer, the Director will collaborate with the Chief Science Officer, Group Directors, and other organizational leaders on the development and planning of strategic initiatives, assist staff scientists in the production of technical proposals and reports, write foundation proposals and reports, and support the advancement staff in written communications to major donors…


For other jobs at Point Blue, see here.






The [CA State] Coastal Conservancy
is pleased to announce a new round of competitive grants to fund multi-benefit watershed restoration and ecosystem protection projects. These grants will be funded by the Proposition 1 Water Bond approved by California voters last fall. The proposal solicitation is on our website and applications are due September 30, 2015.


CDFW Now Accepting Proposals for Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting proposals for restoration projects that further the objectives of the California Water Action Plan (CWAP). For Fiscal Year (FY) 2015-2016, a total of $31.4 million in Proposition 1 funds will be made available through CDFW’s two Proposition 1 Restoration Grant Programs. The Watershed Restoration Grant Program will fund up to $24 million in projects of statewide importance outside of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, while the Delta Water Quality and Ecosystem Restoration Grant Program will fund up to $7 million in projects that specifically benefit the Delta….


Breakdown and Tips on Prop 1 Funding and Permits 

Sustainable Conservation September 4, 2015

Many of you are busy with project implementation right now and may not have had the time to evaluate Prop 1 funding sources. Sustainable Conservation has put together a breakdown of top funding sources, application tips, and which simplified permits for restoration you can use to increase your “project readiness” scoring and save time/resources on permitting. Simplified permits will be essential to getting projects implemented quickly and spending more money for on-the-ground work. Note that we are continually working on new permits where coverage doesn’t already exist, so be sure to check our website for updates. The following tables have summary information to guide you:

1.            Summary of 2015-16 Prop 1 Funding Sources and Application Tips

2.            Coastal Areas and Anadromous Fisheries Simplified Permits

3.            Inland Simplified Permits







European migrant crisis is a nightmare. The climate crisis will make it worse.

Huffington Post September 5, 2015

The hundreds of thousands of migrants arriving in Europe or dying on the way to its shores could be a harbinger of things to come, researchers and policymakers warn, because a potentially greater driver of displacement looms on the horizon: climate change.


What is going on in Syria and why? This comic will get you there in 5 minutes.
September 03, 2015….. (part copied below; click here to see entire comic)


That warning has become a global alert. Since the uprising against Assad in March 2011, over 240,000 people have been killed, 4 million Syrians have fled their country, and over 7 million have been displaced. The headlines are full of the heartbreaking stories of these refugees — including young children — who have died trying to reach safety in other countries. The story of these refugees is deeply tied to the effects of climate change….


What Emma Thompson got right and wrong on climate change

By dana1981 & September 8, 2015

Actress and Greenpeace activist Emma Thompson was interviewed on BBC Newsnight about Shell’s drilling in the Arctic and associated climate change threats. In the interview, Thompson made some inaccurate statements about the timescales associated with those climate threats. However, her concerns are generally justified…


African dams linked to over one million malaria cases annually

Posted: 11 Sep 2015 06:49 AM PDT

For the first time, research correlates the location of large dams with the incidence of malaria and quantifies the impacts across sub-Saharan Africa. The study looked at over 1,200 dams and found that the population at risk for malaria around dams is at least four times greater than previously estimated.


Peak diesel train emissions at London station worse than road-side equivalents

Posted: 08 Sep 2015 06:06 PM PDT

Peak-time emissions from diesel trains at London’s Paddington Station exceed the European recommendations for outdoor air quality, and are higher than nearby roadsides on the majority of days, conclude researchers.
You can view two movies by Birding Adventures broadcast in the USA about Israeli birding:
–  Birds of Eilat and south Israel:
– The “Champions of the Flyway” competition in Eilat:

Last week we held a joint German-Israeli seminar on global warming, with the focus on preserving the Dead Sea, bird migration and the DESERVE project. For those interested, a presentation of the seminar can be viewed at: In addition, the seminar lectures held at Tel Aviv University can be viewed at the following link:


Your stomach bacteria determines which diet is best for weight reduction

Posted: 10 Sep 2015 06:14 AM PDT

New research enables “tailored” diet advice — based on our personal gut microbiome — for persons who want to lose weight and reduce the risk of disease. Systems biologists have, for the first time, successfully identified in detail how some of our most common intestinal bacteria interact during metabolism.


Smart cells teach neurons damaged by Parkinson’s to heal themselves

Posted: 11 Sep 2015 08:27 AM PDT

As a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease, scientists have created smarter immune cells that produce and deliver a healing protein to the brain while also teaching neurons to begin making the protein for themselves.



Cancer patient receives 3-D printed ribs

Posted: 11 Sep 2015 08:10 AM PDT

After being diagnosed with a chest wall sarcoma, a 54-year-old Spanish man’s surgical team made the decision to remove his sternum and a portion of his rib cage and replace it with an implant. This cancer patient has now received a 3-D printed titanium sternum and rib implant.


Tutoring relieves math anxiety, changes fear circuits in children

Posted: 08 Sep 2015 03:04 PM PDT

Anxiety about doing math problems can be relieved with a one-on-one math tutoring program, according to a new study. The study showed that tutoring fixed abnormal responses in the brain’s fear circuits….

















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.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *