Conservation Science News October 16, 2015

Focus of the Week El Niño in; ridiculously resilient ridge out










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– El Niño in; ridiculously resilient ridge out


acquired October 5, 1997 – October 4, 2015

El Nino: NASA Observatory October 13, 2015

The latest analyses from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and from NASA confirm that El Niño is strengthening and it looks a lot like the strong event that occurred in 1997–98. Observations of sea surface heights and temperatures, as well as wind patterns, show surface waters cooling off in the Western Pacific and warming significantly in the tropical Eastern Pacific. “Whether El Niño gets slightly stronger or a little weaker is not statistically significant now. This baby is too big to fail,” said Bill Patzert, a climatologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. October sea level height anomalies show that 2015 is as big or bigger in heat content than 1997. “Over North America, this winter will definitely not be normal. However, the climatic events of the past decade make ‘normal’ difficult to define.” The maps above show a comparison of sea surface heights in the Pacific Ocean as observed at the beginning of October in 1997 and 2015. The measurements come from altimeters on the TOPEX/Poseidon mission (left) and Jason-2 (right); both show averaged sea surface height anomalies. Shades of red indicate where the ocean stood higher (in tens of millimeters) than the normal sea level because warmer water expands to fill more volume. Shades of blue show where sea level and temperatures were lower than average (contraction). Normal sea-level conditions appear in white. “The trade winds have been weakening again,” Patzert said. “This should strengthen this El Niño.” Weaker trade winds out of the eastern Pacific allow west wind bursts to push warm surface waters from the central and western Pacific toward the Americas. Click here to watch a video of Kelvin waves propagating across the ocean in the first seven months of 2015 In its October monthly update, scientists at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center stated: “All multi-model averages predict a peak in late fall/early winter. The forecaster consensus unanimously favors a strong El Niño…Overall, there is an approximately 95 percent chance that El Niño will continue through Northern Hemisphere winter 2015–16.”


El Niño looking like a rainy winner for state’s watersheds

By Kurtis Alexander SF Chronicle Updated 10:49 am, Thursday, October 15, 2015

The areas that need strong El Niño storms the most are likely to get them, forecasters said Thursday. The U.S. Climate Prediction Center, in its monthly long-term weather outlook, boosted the odds of precipitation for California this winter and spring — including, crucially, the areas in the North State and Sierra that supply the bulk of the state’s water supply. Forecasters have long pegged Southern and Central California for rain in coming months, but with El Niño in the tropical Pacific gaining strength and warm pockets of ocean water expected to add moisture to the atmosphere, federal forecasters have broadened their bullishness. The updated outlook calls for at least 40 percent above-average chances of wet weather between January and March for nearly the entire state, including all of the Sierra Nevada. San Francisco stands a more than 40 percent above-average chance of seeing a rainy winter, according to the federal forecasters, while the South Bay has 50 percent greater odds. “Well north of the Bay Area, we do have a slight tilt toward above-average precipitation,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration. “Only in the very north do we have equal chances” of a dry or wet winter. This El Niño, defined by warm equatorial waters that drive moisture into the atmosphere, is one of the strongest that forecasters have observed. Temperatures in the tropics are much greater than normal, and trade winds that typically push warm currents away from the Americas have died. While El Niños have historically meant above-average rain in Southern California, only the strongest have correlated with wet weather farther north….


US Seasonal Drought Outlook

October 15, 2015

…Strong El Niño conditions are ongoing across the equatorial Pacific, with robust atmospheric coupling. The latest CPC ENSO advisory indicates a 95 percent chance that El Niño conditions will persist through the winter months. Therefore, climate anomalies associated with El Niño events, which become increasingly prominent over the U.S. during the Fall and Winter months, played a significant role in this outlook….For the Southwest, El Niño associated climate anomalies favor an enhancement of the early wet season. Therefore, drought improvement is favored across central and southern California. There is greater confidence for improvement across the coastal regions and valleys, whereas significant improvement across the Sierras relies on colder temperatures to support substantial snowfall. Further east, drought removal or improvement is forecast across the southern Great Basin and interior deserts.



El Niño is expected to bring a low-pressure system, which will replace the high-pressure system that’s exacerbated California’s drought.

‘Ridiculously Resilient Ridge’ retires [off CA], making room for rain

by Jed Kim October 12, 04:42 PM Audio from this story 1:00 Listen

The high pressure system that has shunted storms away from California for much of the past four years has dissipated, possibly for a long time. The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge — as meteorologists and forecasters have dubbed the system because of its unusual persistence — has been absent for more than a month, according to a forecaster with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “It hasn’t been like that since August really, and instead we’ve had sort of more variable weather patterns,” said Nate Mantua, a research scientist with NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in Santa Cruz. Mantua said the ridge will likely stay away, because it will have been replaced by a low-pressure trough. “The expectations are as we get into Fall and Winter seasons more deeply, we’re going to see a lot more low pressure there, and that will be the more sort of dominant story,” Mantua said. Eric Boldt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard, said low-pressure systems typically accompany El Niño events. “Lower pressure in the Eastern Pacific is a classic pattern you’d see with an El Niño setting up with the jet stream a little more to the south, and that’s were we get into our storm track coming up from the southwest across California,” Boldt said. The high-pressure ridge has created a large swath of unusually warm water off the coast. Boldt said the warm water would take months to dissipate and that its interaction with El Niño isn’t well understood. However, he said storms from strong El Niño events, which can bring heavy rains to California, could be bolstered by the warm water. “That’s the part that is a little bit unprecedented. We don’t really have a good idea about how that might impact us, but warmer ocean temperatures typically lead to fueling the atmosphere and kind of energizing those storms. So I don’t think it’s going to be a negative for us,” Boldt said.

Mantua said the disappearance of the ridge and the presence of a strong El Niño is likely to produce a lot of rain in Southern California. “[The low-pressure system is] just another factor that sort of favors a more normal winter, although I don’t think it’s going to be normal. I think it’s going to be probably an exciting winter, especially for Southern California,” Mantua said.






Illustration beetle by Edmund Reitter 1908.Credit: Image courtesy of Wageningen University and Research Centre

Evidence for functional redundancy in nature

Posted: 08 Oct 2015 11:26 AM PDT

One of biology’s long-standing puzzles is how so many similar species can co-exist in nature. Do they really all fulfill a different role? Massive data on beetles now provide strong evidence for the idea that evolution can drive species into groups of look-a-likes that are functionally similar,
according to a study by an international consortium of scientists led by Wageningen University. While it is clear that species fulfill many different roles in ecosystems, it has also been suggested that numerous species might actually share the same function in a near neutral way. So-far, however, it was unclear whether such functional redundancy really exists. The new study addresses this question using extensive data on the world’s 4168 species of diving beetles. It shows that across the globe these animals have evolved towards a small number of regularly-spaced body sizes, and that locally co-existing species are either very similar in size or differ by at least 35%. Surprisingly, intermediate size differences (10-20%) are rare. As body-size reflects functional aspects such as the food that these generalist predators can eat, these beetles thus form relatively distinct groups of functional look-a-likes. The striking global regularity of these patterns support the idea that a self-organizing process drives such species-rich groups to self-organize evolutionary into clusters.

This finding has important implications for how we look at the risks of losing species,” says Marten Scheffer of Wageningen University and lead author on the paper. “Our work suggests that evolution is a generator not only of functional complementarity but also of functional redundancy. However, such redundancy does not mean that these species are not needed for the functioning of nature.” Scheffer stresses that while functional complementarity promotes the magnitude of ecosystem processes, redundancy promotes resilience of such ecosystem processes through the insurance effect of biodiversity. This insurance effect is due to the fact that species that are near-neutral when it comes to their functional role (e.g. their niche in terms of the food they eat), will typically still differ in their response to various stressors. Such response diversity may include sensitivity to specific parasites and diseases. As a result the resilience of a functional role should be expected to increase with the number of species in a near-neutral group….


Marten Scheffer, Remi Vergnon, Egbert H. van Nes, Jan G. M. Cuppen, Edwin T. H. M. Peeters, Remko Leijs, Anders N. Nilsson. The Evolution of Functionally Redundant Species; Evidence from Beetles. PLOS ONE, 2015; 10 (10): e0137974 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137974


Many-objective robust decision making for managing an ecosystem with a deeply uncertain threshold response


Managing ecosystems with deeply uncertain threshold responses and multiple decision makers poses nontrivial decision analytical challenges. The problem is imbued with deep uncertainties because decision makers do not know or cannot converge on a single probability density function for each key parameter, a perfect model structure, or a single adequate objective. The existing literature on managing multistate ecosystems has generally followed a normative decision-making approach based on expected utility maximization (MEU). This approach has simple and intuitive axiomatic foundations, but faces at least two limitations. First, a pre-specified utility function is often unable to capture the preferences of diverse decision makers. Second, decision makers’ preferences depart from MEU in the presence of deep uncertainty. Here, we introduce a framework that allows decision makers to pose multiple objectives, explore the trade-offs between potentially conflicting preferences of diverse decision makers, and to identify strategies that are robust to deep uncertainties. The framework, referred to as many-objective robust decision making (MORDM), employs multi-objective evolutionary search to identify trade-offs between strategies, re-evaluates their performance under deep uncertainty, and uses interactive visual analytics to support the selection of robust management strategies. We demonstrate MORDM on a stylized decision problem posed by the management of a lake in which surpassing a pollution threshold causes eutrophication. Our results illustrate how framing the lake problem in terms of MEU can fail to represent key trade-offs between phosphorus levels in the lake and expected economic benefits. Moreover, the MEU strategy deteriorates severely in performance for all objectives under deep uncertainties. Alternatively, the MORDM framework enables the discovery of strategies that balance multiple preferences and perform well under deep uncertainty. This decision analytic framework allows the decision makers to select strategies with a better understanding of their expected trade-offs (traditional uncertainty) as well as their robustness (deep uncertainty).


Singh, R., P. M. Reed, and K. Keller. 2015. Many-objective robust decision making for managing an ecosystem with a deeply uncertain threshold response. Ecology and Society
20(3): 12.


Hare and Ritchie, 1972 The boreal forest extends around the earth at the top of the Northern Hemisphere.

The Rapid and Startling Decline Of World’s Vast Boreal Forests

Scientists are becoming increasingly concerned about the fate of the huge boreal forest that spans from Scandinavia to northern Canada. Unprecedented warming in the region is jeopardizing the future of a critical ecosystem that makes up nearly a third of the earth’s forest cover.

by jim robbins 12 Oct 2015: Report

The boreal forest wraps around the globe at the top of the Northern Hemisphere in North America and Eurasia. Also known as taiga or snow forest, this landscape is characterized by its long, cold and snowy winters. In North America it extends from the Arctic Circle of northern Canada and Alaska down into the very northern tip of the United States in Idaho, Washington, Montana, and Minnesota. It’s the planet’s single largest biome and makes up 30 percent of the globe’s forest cover.
Moose are the largest ungulate in the boreal, adapted with their long legs to wade in its abundant marshes, lakes and rivers eating willows, aspen and other plants. In the southern boreal forest of northern Minnesota, moose were once plentiful, but their population has plummeted. Thirty years ago, in the northwest part of the state, there were some 4,000; they now number about a hundred. In the northeast part, they have dropped from almost 9,000 to 4,300. They’ve fallen so far, so fast that some groups want them listed as endangered in the Midwest. Moose carcasses deteriorate rapidly before they are found, and so forensics has not been able to determine why they are dying. Some experts surmise it could be that tens of thousands of ticks that mob an animal and weaken it. Others think it’s a parasite called liver flukes, or the fact that winters have gotten so warm the animals can’t regulate their body temperature and die from heat stress. But Dennis Murray, a professor of ecology at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, thinks the dying moose of Minnesota and New Hampshire and elsewhere are one symptom of something far bigger – a giant forest ecosystem that is rapidly shrinking, dying, and otherwise changing. “The boreal forest is breaking apart,” he says. “The question is what will replace it?” Many scientists, in fact, are deeply concerned about the state of the world’s largest forest. The Arctic and the boreal region are warming twice as fast as other parts of the world. Permafrost is thawing and even burning, fires are burning unprecedented acres of forest, and insect outbreaks have gobbled up increasing numbers of trees. Climate zones are moving north ten times faster than forests can migrate. And this comes on top of increased industrial development of the boreal, from logging to oil and gas. The same phenomena are seen in Russia, Scandanavia, and Finland. These disturbing signals of a forest in steep decline are why NASA just launched a large-scale research project called ABoVE — Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment, a “major field campaign” with 21 field projects…..


Is the eco-tourism boom putting wildlife in a new kind of danger?

Posted: 09 Oct 2015 12:52 PM PDT

Many tourists today are drawn to the idea of vacationing in far-flung places around the globe where their dollars can make a positive impact on local people and local wildlife. But researchers writing in Trends in Ecology & Evolution on Oct. 9 say that all of those interactions between wild animals and friendly ecotourists eager to snap their pictures may inadvertently put animals at greater risk of being eaten.


Protected and intact forests lost at an alarming rate around the world

Posted: 15 Oct 2015 05:43 AM PDT

Protected and intact forests have been lost at a rapid rate during the first 12 years of this century. According to researchers, 3% of the protected forest, 2.5% of the intact forest, and 1.5% of the protected intact forest in the world were lost during 2000 – 2012. These rates of forest loss are high compared to the total global forest loss of 5% for the same time period.



New potential indirect effects of humans on water quality

Posted: 15 Oct 2015 09:01 AM PDT

A newly studied class of water contaminants that is known to be toxic and hormone disrupting to marine animals is present, researchers say, likely due in part to indirect effects of human activity.



Hummingbird. Credit: © Mariusz Blach / Fotolia

From hummingbird to owl: New research decodes bird family tree

Posted: 12 Oct 2015 03:10 PM PDT

The rapid extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago gave rise to a stunning variety of bird species over the next few million years, according to new research.


Shhh … To make ocean conservation work we should keep the noise down

Posted: 08 Oct 2015 07:14 AM PDT

Quiet areas should be sectioned off in the oceans to give us a better picture of the impact human generated noise is having on marine animals, according to a new study.


This image shows plastic debris on a marine turtle nesting beach. Credit: Annette Broderick

Sea turtles face plastic pollution peril

Posted: 09 Oct 2015 05:30 AM PDT

A new global review that set out to investigate the hazards of marine plastic pollution has warned that all seven species of marine turtles can ingest or become entangled in the discarded debris that currently litters the oceans.


Urban runoff killing coho salmon, but simple solution within reach

Posted: 08 Oct 2015 12:22 PM PDT

Toxic runoff from highways, parking lots and other developed surfaces is killing many of the adult coho salmon in urban streams along the West Coast, according to a new study that for the first time documents the fatal connection between urban stormwater and salmon survival. The good news is that the same study also found that inexpensive filtration of urban runoff through simple columns of sand and soil can completely prevent the toxic effects on fish.


Cones, squirrels, and rusty blackbird nests

Posted: 07 Oct 2015 03:50 PM PDT

The bird that’s experienced the steepest population declines in North America in recent decades is also one that few people have heard of: the rusty blackbird. Rusty blackbird populations have decreased by about 95 percent in the last 50 years, but the reasons are not well understood. New research aims to disentangle some of the interacting factors that may be responsible for the decline.



Sandhill cranes, like these seen Thursday along Nelson Road, are among the winter visitors to the Sacramento Valley. They prefer very shallow water and are known to feast on leftover grain, such as rice, from farming. Bill Husa — Enterprise-Record

Wildlife managers use careful management to prepare for winter bird migration

By Heather Hacking, Chico Enterprise-Record Posted: 10/15/15, 10:23 PM PDT | Updated: 8 hrs ago

Wildlife managers are worried again this year: Will there be enough wet habitat for millions of birds in the Sacramento Valley? Before the drought, 250,000-300,000 acres of California rice lands was flooded each winter. However, this year the estimate is that only 100,000 acres will be wet, said Paul Buttner, manager of environmental affairs for the California Rice Commission. That’s about 25,000 acres less than was flooded last year. Weather watchers have been predicting Southern California will receive help from El Niño, a warm weather pattern that brings more rain. The latest news Thursday is that Northern California is also likely to receive better than average amounts of rain. Yet, those storms might not arrive until after the first of the year. In the meantime, the first flights of those birds are beginning to arrive now in the Sacramento Valley.

Meanwhile, growers knew that the limited amount of water they received was all that would be coming. Farmers of rice put the boards up in their fields to hold any water that fell from the sky. The water helps the bird populations, and also helps rice straw to decompose in the fields. When farmers receive less surface water, wildlife areas including the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge also receive less water. Last year, refuge managers tried to put water where it would go to the best use, said Dan Frisk, project manager for the Sacramento Refuge complex. For example, if one chunk of land was known to be popular with migrating waterfowl, habitat managers tried to put water on that land. Other areas received water if it looked like plants would grow and provide food for birds.

Last year the big saving grace for the bird population was rains in December. The storms were not enough to make a dent on the drought. Yet, they did flood fields and provide more areas for birds to feed, Buttner said. This year, many of the same factors exist going into the rainy season. A large number of birds were born in good breeding conditions in Alaska and Canada. Those numerous birds are looking for winter feeding grounds in the Sacramento Valley.

Again, wildlife managers are trying to be strategic about where water is placed this winter.

If this was a normal year, farmers would want to put water on their land when its still warm. This helps the rice straw decompose more quickly.

However, they’re holding back because warm water will evaporate more quickly…..Last year, and again this year, The Nature Conservancy has reached out to rice farmers to get more land under water, and for longer periods of time.

The BirdReturns program asks growers to flood up early or leave water on longer to extend the wet season for migrating birds, offering financial incentives to landowners.
Growers place a bid for how much funding they would expect. The Nature Conservancy then chooses from those applications. Working with data from recent years, experts choose land that is both affordable to flood and that will provide strategic winter feeding for birds. The results so far have been good, focusing on habitat for shorebirds. Those lands that remained flooded in February and March had dramatically larger numbers of birds, explained Greg Gollet, senior ecologist for The Nature Conservancy. Normally, farmers would let their field dry out during this time in preparation of the next crop. Birds are mobile and will migrate en masse if the food or water runs out on a piece of land. Typically, the flock flies over and checks out land that looks good from the air. Later in the season, Llano Seco Wildlife Refuge along 7-Mile Lane will be flooded. However, there’s neither water, nor very many birds there now. Scott Huber, a bird expert in Chico, said he was driving near Highways 70 and 20 this week, near Ramirez Road, and some of those fields had been flooded. He said tens of thousands, and perhaps hundreds of thousands, of ducks and geese had already spotted this area and were on the ground. “They had just been flooded a few days ago,” Huber said.


BCDC and the next 50 years on San Francisco Bay

October 8, 2015 SF Chronicle Opinion By Zack Wasserman and Barry Nelson Zack Wasserman is chairman of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and a real estate/land use attorney. Barry Nelson is a BCDC commissioner and the former executive director of Save The Bay.

The San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission is the world’s first coastal protection agency. It was created thanks to the efforts of three remarkable women who started a movement that swept across the nation and the world. This year marks the BCDC’s 50th year protecting the bay. The state commission is now taking on one of the biggest challenges the bay has ever faced — rising sea levels as a result of a changing climate. In the early 1960s, Kay Kerr, Sylvia McLaughlin and Esther Gulick looked west from their East Bay homes and saw a shoreline and wetlands being defiled by garbage dumps and development. Together they founded Save the Bay and the successful public campaign to stop bay fill by creating the commission. On this anniversary, it is appropriate to reflect on the remarkable legacy of those founders and to consider the new challenges that lie ahead. Today, around the bay, we can see the commission’s accomplishments. Before BCDC was created, families didn’t stroll on bayside trails because none existed. The bay was shrinking by an astonishing 2,000 acres annually. The bay’s wetlands and wildlife were vanishing.

After 50 years of groundbreaking stewardship, the size of the bay has increased significantly. We have the nation’s largest urban wildlife refuge and thousands of acres of permanently protected diked former baylands. The bay shoreline is now fringed by hundreds of miles of trails, parks, beaches, promenades and restoration projects. In addition, BCDC has approved billions of dollars of urban shoreline development. Restaurants, hotels and housing have been approved where appropriate. Fishing piers, kayak-launching facilities, marinas, a baseball park, museums and interpretive centers allow the public to enjoy the bay to an extent that was unthinkable 50 years ago. The bay has been woven into our families’ lives and our region’s economy in a manner that is envied globally.

Today we face a new challenge because of the rising sea levels that are resulting from our warming climate. State agencies such as BCDC expect no less than 3 feet and perhaps as much as 10 feet of sea-level rise by 2100. Absent regional planning, collaboration and action, those rising waters will inundate low-lying communities, businesses and natural habitats. While we still need to minimize bay fill of wetlands and maximize public access to the bay shore and waters, our charge now includes protecting our natural and built environments from rising tides. Rising sea levels threaten our roads and highways, airports, transit systems, water treatment plants and power plants. Rising sea levels also threaten the wetlands and wildlife BCDC has worked so hard to protect and expand.

Meeting this challenge may seem as daunting a task as stopping bay fill in 1965. Inspired by the Save the Bay founders, we must begin with a shared vision for a healthy and accessible bay that is treasured by the communities that surround it. We must tap into the creative spirit for which our region is world-renowned. And, finally, we must work together — public agencies and communities of all types and located all around the bay — to ensure that all of us are protected from rising tides. We can also work as individuals to protect ourselves and our neighbors from rising waters due to a likely El Niño, which could cause significant Bay Area flooding. Close to home, we can organize or volunteer for creek cleanups so our waterways can better direct water away from our homes.

On a larger scale, we can encourage our cities and counties to participate in BCDC’s groundbreaking community-based Adapting to Rising Tides program and to authorize new Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts to fund local climate change adaptation efforts. The districts, new community mechanisms that replace old redevelopment agencies, can fund local climate change adaptation efforts.

The three women who founded Save the Bay launched a movement that resonated across the nation and the globe. We have a new opportunity today. If we meet today’s challenge with a shared vision, the creativity that befits our region, and a spirit of public, private, and nonprofit sector collaboration, our children and grandchildren will be able to look out and see a vibrant bay transformed once again, thriving communities surrounding it, and a Bay Area that remains a global leader in meeting the challenges that face us all.



Great white shark caught hunting, killing in the bay for the first time (See Video)

By Kale Williams

Updated 8:40 am, Monday, October 12, 2015

A group of tourists got to witness the savagery of nature up close and personal over the weekend as a great white shark munched on a seal just a few feet off a dock on Alcatraz Island. The Saturday afternoon predation event, as experts call it, or lunch, to us common folks, is the first of its kind caught on video inside the confines of the Bay, said David McGuire, Director of the San Francisco-based shark conservation group Shark Stewards and Research Associate at the California Academy of Sciences. “This is the first recorded predation event I know in the San Francisco Bay,” he said in a statement. “It definitely looks like a white shark, about 8-10 feet from the phone video sent to us. The tourists were pretty excited.”

Excited may have been an understatement for at least one young observer who, upon seeing the great fish’s telltale dorsal fin skimming through the water, breaks into his own rendition of the theme from Jaws. “That’s a great white! Holy crud!” the young boy exclaimed. “That’s the best thing I’ve ever seen in my life!” While there are no records of attacks on hmumans in the Bay, McGuire said, sharks have been recorded swimming inside the Golden Gate. In 2009, a group of researchers from Stanford tagged several great whites coming in and out of the Bay over a period of two years, with one shark entering the Bay four separate times over that period. The only reported fatal human shark encounter off San Francisco shores occurred back in May 1959, when 18-year-old Albert Kogler Jr. died after he was attacked in roughly 15 feet of water while swimming off Baker Beach. Despite the imagery of ferocious water beasts wreaking havoc on unsuspecting swimmers, the odds of encountering a shark in Bay waters are extremely low, McGuire said. The spotting of a great white shark so close to Alcatraz is sign that the biodiversity of the Bay is doing well, he said….










Global average surface temperature anomalies during the month of September. Image: Japan Meteorological Agency

Earth just had its warmest September on record — by a long shot

By Andrew Freedman October 16, 2015

It’s virtually certain that in January 2016, the planet will set a new record for the warmest calendar year on record. A key data set that tracks global average surface temperatures, which comes from the Japan Meteorological Agency, shows a huge jump in temperatures in September as compared to average. Related data compiled by NASA and analyzed using different methods shows that September was most likely the second warmest such month on record, and that there is at least a 93% likelihood of setting the record for the warmest year this year. The data from the Japan Meteorological Agency is striking, since it shows that September 2015 blew the previous record for the warmest such month out of the water by 0.15 degrees Celsius (0.27 degrees Fahrenheit). September had a temperature anomaly of 0.50 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit), compared to the 1981-2010 average. The previous record-holder for the warmest September since such data began in 1891 was last year, September 2014. This may seem like quibbling over very small differences, but consider that the discrepancy between the planet we know today and a planet with virtually zero ice cover in Greenland and Antarctica is about 10 degrees Fahrenheit, for a global average.
In short, big changes can occur as a result of relatively small differences in global average temperatures. Typically, global average temperature records — whether they’re months or years — are exceeded by far smaller margins. For example, the difference between the third warmest September and the fourth warmest September in the data set was just 0.1 degree Celsius (0.18 degrees Fahrenheit)….




Scientists identify climate ‘tipping points’

October 15 2015

An international team of scientists have identified potential ‘tipping points’ where abrupt regional climate shifts could occur due to global warming. In the new study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the scientists analysed the climate model simulations on which the recent 5th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports are based. They found evidence of 41 cases of regional abrupt changes in the ocean, sea ice, snow cover, permafrost and terrestrial biosphere. Many of these events occur for global warming levels of less than two degrees, a threshold sometimes presented as a safe limit. However, although most models predict one or more abrupt regional shifts, any specific occurrence typically appears in only a few models. “This illustrates the high uncertainty in predicting tipping points,” says lead author Professor Sybren Drijfhout from Ocean and Earth Science at the University of Southampton. “More precisely, our results show that the different state-of-the-art models agree that abrupt changes are likely, but that predicting when and where they will occur remains very difficult. Also, our results show that no safe limit exists and that many abrupt shifts already occur for global warming levels much lower than two degrees,” he adds. Examples of detected climate tipping include abrupt shifts in sea ice and ocean circulation patterns, as well as abrupt shifts in vegetation and marine productivity. Sea ice abrupt changes were particularly common in the climate simulations. However, various models also predict abrupt changes in Earth system elements such as the Amazon forest, tundra permafrost and snow on the Tibetan plateau. “Interestingly, abrupt events could come out as a cascade of different phenomena,”
adds Victor Brovkin, a co-author from Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M). “For example, a collapse of permafrost in Arctic is followed by a rapid increase in forest area there. This kind of domino effect should have implications not only for natural systems, but also for society. The majority of the detected abrupt shifts are distant from the major population centres of the planet, but their occurrence could have implications over large distances.” says Martin Claussen, director of the MPI-M and one of the co-authors. “Our work is only a starting point. Now we need to look deeper into mechanisms of tipping points and design an approach to diagnose them during the next round of climate model simulations for IPCC.”


Sybren Drijfhout, Sebastian Bathiany, Claudie Beaulieu, Victor Brovkin, Martin Claussen, Chris Huntingford, Marten Scheffer, Giovanni Sgubin, Didier Swingedouw. Catalogue of abrupt shifts in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate models. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015; 201511451 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1511451112



The study’s lead author, Luke Trusel, standing in front of sea ice covered in melt ponds in December 2010 outside of McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Credit: Photo courtesy of Luke Trusel

Melting of Antarctic ice shelves set to intensify

Posted: 12 Oct 2015 08:57 AM PDT

New research published today projects a doubling of surface melting of Antarctic ice shelves by 2050 and that by 2100 melting may surpass intensities associated with ice shelf collapse, if greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel consumption continue at the present rate. Ice shelves are the floating extensions of the continent’s massive land-based ice sheets.
While the melting or breakup of floating ice shelves does not directly raise sea level, ice shelves do have a “door stop” effect: They slow the flow of ice from glaciers and ice sheets into the ocean, where it melts and raises sea levels. “Our results illustrate just how rapidly melting in Antarctica can intensify in a warming climate,” said Luke Trusel, lead author and postdoctoral scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). “This has already occurred in places like the Antarctic Peninsula where we’ve observed warming and abrupt ice shelf collapses in the last few decades. Our model projections show that similar levels of melt may occur across coastal Antarctica near the end of this century, raising concerns about future ice shelf stability.”…


Luke D. Trusel, Karen E. Frey, Sarah B. Das, Kristopher B. Karnauskas, Peter Kuipers Munneke, Erik van Meijgaard & Michiel R. van den Broeke. Divergent trajectories of Antarctic surface melt under two twenty-first-century climate scenarios. Nature Geoscience, 2015 DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2563




Bleached coral colony, no fish.

Credit: © ead72 / Fotolia

Global marine analysis suggests food chain collapse

Posted: 12 Oct 2015 03:10 PM PDT

A world-first global analysis of marine responses to climbing human carbon dioxide emissions has painted a grim picture of future fisheries and ocean ecosystems. Published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), marine ecologists from the University of Adelaide say the expected ocean acidification and warming is likely to produce a reduction in diversity and numbers of various key species that underpin marine ecosystems around the world. “This ‘simplification’ of our oceans will have profound consequences for our current way of life, particularly for coastal populations and those that rely on oceans for food and trade,” says Associate Professor Ivan Nagelkerken, Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow with the University’s Environment Institute. Associate Professor Nagelkerken and fellow University of Adelaide marine ecologist Professor Sean Connell have conducted a ‘meta-analysis’ of the data from 632 published experiments covering tropical to artic waters, and a range of ecosystems from coral reefs, through kelp forests to open oceans. “We know relatively little about how climate change will affect the marine environment,” says Professor Connell. “Until now, there has been almost total reliance on qualitative reviews and perspectives of potential global change. Where quantitative assessments exist, they typically focus on single stressors, single ecosystems or single species.

“This analysis combines the results of all these experiments to study the combined effects of multiple stressors on whole communities, including species interactions and different measures of responses to climate change.” The researchers found that there would be “limited scope” for acclimation to warmer waters and acidification. Very few species will escape the negative effects of increasing CO2, with an expected large reduction in species diversity and abundance across the globe. One exception will be microorganisms, which are expected to increase in number and diversity. From a total food web point of view, primary production from the smallest plankton is expected to increase in the warmer waters but this often doesn’t translate into secondary production (the zooplankton and smaller fish) which shows decreased productivity under ocean acidification. “With higher metabolic rates in the warmer water, and therefore a greater demand for food, there is a mismatch with less food available for carnivores ─ the bigger fish that fisheries industries are based around,” says Associate Professor Nagelkerken. “There will be a species collapse from the top of the food chain down.”…


Ivan Nagelkerken and Sean D. Connell. Global alteration of ocean ecosystem functioning due to increasing human CO2 emissions. PNAS, October 12, 2015 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1510856112



Quantifying the impact of climate on ecosystems worldwide

Posted: 08 Oct 2015 11:25 AM PDT

Record-breaking temperatures and droughts are directly affecting ecosystems worldwide, an international research team of life scientists reports. An international research team led by UCLA life scientists has, for the first time, quantified the direct influence of climate on the growth of ecosystems around the globe. The paper also restores scientific consensus to the fact that record-breaking temperatures and droughts directly affect ecosystems — which was called into question by a 2014 University of Arizona paper in the journal Nature. …The new study, which was funded by the National Science Foundation, was published this week in the journal Global Change Biology. The growth of whole ecosystems — the accumulation of new growth in a forest, shrub land or grass land — is referred to by scientists as net primary productivity. NPP is greater in the tropics than in the arctic because productivity responds directly to climate in much the same way that individual plants do. This means that the growth of ecosystems would respond rapidly to climate change. And because forests take up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, even as their growth responds to climate, they play a role in determining ongoing climate change. In challenging that point of view, the Arizona researchers found no correlation between NPP and climate, after accounting for the influence of forest mass and age. They concluded that the correlation of NPP with climate was a coincidence or an illusion that arose simply because larger forests tend to be located in warmer, moister climates, and because larger forests have faster growth. But the UCLA-led study found definitively that NPP responds strongly and directly to climate. The implication of the new research is that climate change will have strong and immediate effects on forest productivity because climate strongly affects NPP, independent of the mass of the forest and its age. “Our analysis shows that the direct influence of climate on NPP globally is undeniable and enormous,” said Lawren Sack, a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology in the UCLA College and senior author of the research. “Our models can explain at least half of the global variation in NPP, with a major proportion attributable to climate, independently of biomass.”…


Chengjin Chu, Megan Bartlett, Youshi Wang, Fangliang He, Jacob Weiner, Jérôme Chave, Lawren Sack. Does climate directly influence NPP globally?
Global Change Biology, 2015; DOI:



Climate change requires new conservation models

Posted: 15 Oct 2015 05:33 AM PDT

In a world transformed by climate change and human activity, conserving biodiversity and protecting species will require an interdisciplinary combination of ecological and social research methods, say experts.



Climate change could benefit northern lizards

Posted: 07 Oct 2015 07:53 PM PDT

Higher temperatures result in Swedish sand lizards laying their eggs earlier, which leads to better fitness and survival in their offspring, according to new research.


Gabriella Ljungström, Erik Wapstra, Mats Olsson. Sand lizard (Lacerta agilis) phenology in a warming world. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 2015; 15 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12862-015-0476-0



Sex and sea turtles: New study reveals impact of climate change, sea level rise

Posted: 15 Oct 2015 08:10 AM PDT

Because sea turtles don’t have an X or Y chromosome, their sex is defined during development by the incubation environment. Warmer conditions produce females and cooler conditions produce males. The shift in climate is shifting turtles as well, because as the temperature of their nests change so do their reproduction patterns.



Ornithologist Michal Redlisiak checks the belly of a goldcrest at a remote camp run by bird experts and volunteers near Krynica Morska, northern Poland, on October 3, 2015

Climate change clips wings of migratory birds in Poland

October 12, 2015 by Maja Czarnecka

….Polish ornithologist Jaroslaw Nowakowski delicately unravels the goldcrest, among Europe’s smallest bird species, placing it inside a muslin bag before moving it to a make-shift laboratory in a tent for measuring and tagging with rings.

The hulking professor says studies by the University of Gdansk over the last 55 years show a disturbing trend in the wings of certain species. “Pointed wings better adapted to travelling long distances are giving way to more rounded ones that work better on shorter trips,” Nowakowski told AFP, blaming “global warming, urbanisation and deforestation” for the change. “Thanks to our extensive records, we have solid proof of the change and have raised the alarm, but generally to no avail.

“Climate change is nothing new, but today humans are triggering very rapid changes and certain species aren’t able to adapt—that’s the greatest risk.” Migratory birds face a myriad of other man-made threats. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, end up on dinner plates around the Mediterranean basin. Snipes, with their long, slender bill, are considered a delicacy from Cyprus to France, even though they provide precious little meat. “Sometimes our bird rings return to us, as it’s a rule to return them to the country of origin. I’m sure more than one Frenchman has cracked a tooth eating pate made using our birds,” he told AFP. He explains that rings often return with documents marked “pate” as the location they were found.


Horn of Africa drying ever faster as climate warms

Posted: 09 Oct 2015 12:52 PM PDT

The Horn of Africa has become increasingly arid in sync with the global and regional warming of the last century and at a rate unprecedented in the last 2,000 years, according to new research. The scientists suggest that as global and regional warming continues, the eastern Horn of Africa — which includes Somalia, Djibouti and Ethiopia — will receive progressively less rain during the crucial ‘long rains’ season of March, April and May.



Credit: © Stillfx / Fotolia

Vines strangle carbon storage in tropical forests

Posted: 12 Oct 2015 02:45 PM PDT

Although useful to Tarzan, vines endanger tropical forests’ capacity to store carbon. In a major experimental study in Panama, researchers showed that woody vines, or lianas, slow tropical forest tree growth and may even cause premature tree death. Lianas reduced aboveground carbon uptake by more than three-quarters, threatening the forests’ ability to buffer climate change. These results have dramatic implications for the capacity of tropical forests to serve as a sink for carbon in the future. Simulating the change of biomass stocks over the next 50 years in forests with lianas and without them, the authors found lianas could reduce long-term storage of carbon by 35 percent. Even greater reductions could take place if liana-tree competition intensifies due to the spread of lianas, or causes an increase in the fast-growing tree species with low wood density. While lianas clearly reduce the capacity for tropical forests to store carbon, Schnitzer emphasizes that lianas are an important and valuable component of tropical forests: “In terms of carbon, lianas may be detrimental; however, lianas provide a wide range of resources for wildlife, such as fruits, seeds and fresh leaves, and by connecting trees together lianas provide aerial pathways that are used by the vast majority of arboreal animals to move through the forest.”


Geertje M. F. van der Heijden, Jennifer S. Powers, and Stefan A. Schnitzer. Lianas reduce carbon accumulation and storage in tropical forests. PNAS, October 12, 2015 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1504869112



Study Quantifies Liana Vines’ Threat to Forests

By SINDYA N. BHANOO NY Times October 12, 2015

Researchers in Panama reported that after three years, forest areas with lianas had 76 percent less biomass than plots that had been cleared of vines.



Mysterious disease may be tied to climate change, says researcher

Posted: 08 Oct 2015 11:24 AM PDT

A mysterious kidney disease that has killed over 20,000 people in Central America, most of them sugar cane workers, may be caused by chronic, severe dehydration linked to global climate change, according to a new study by Richard J. Johnson, MD, of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. “This could be the first epidemic directly caused by global warming,” said Johnson, professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and an expert on the underlying causes of obesity, kidney disease, diabetes and hypertension. “Some districts of Nicaragua have been called the `land of widows’ due to the high mortality rates occurring among the male workers from chronic kidney disease.”

The epidemic was first described in 2002 and has been dubbed Mesoamerican Nephropathy. It’s most prevalent among manual laborers on sugar cane plantations in the hotter, lower altitudes of Central America’s Pacific coast. The disease has also been reported among farmworkers, miners, fishermen and construction and transportation workers in the region. Theories abound about what may be causing it, including exposure to heavy metals, pesticides and other toxic chemicals. But Johnson believes the actual culprit is chronic recurrent dehydration… The study suggests that this epidemic may be gaining momentum now because global warming is increasing the risk of dehydration.

“Temperatures have been progressively increasing in El Salvador over the last century, with an average increase of 0.5 degrees Celsius since 1980,” the study said. “While the overall increase in temperature may appear small, it has been shown that the small average temperature change associated with global warming are responsible for 75 percent of the moderately daily severe temperature extremes over land. ” At the same time, sugarcane cutters are working harder than ever as the worldwide demand for the product has risen….





Students at a high school in Worcester, Mass., studied environmental science in 2013. Credit Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times

Teaching the Truth About Climate Change

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD NY Times Editorial OCT. 10, 2015

Misinformation about climate change is distressingly common in the United States — a 2014 Yale study found that 35 percent of Americans believe that global warming is caused mostly by natural phenomena rather than human activity, and 34 percent think there is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether global warming is even happening. (In fact, an overwhelming majority of scientists agree that climate change is here and that it is caused by humans.) One way to stop the spread of this misinformation is to teach children about climate change. The Next Generation Science Standards offer one guide for doing so. Developed by a committee of scientists and education experts and honed by teams in 26 states before their release in 2013, the standards set forth a variety of scientific practices and concepts for students from kindergarten through 12th grade to master.

Middle school students should understand that “human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature.” In high school, students should learn that human-caused environmental changes, including climate change, “can disrupt an ecosystem and threaten the survival of some species,” and they should be able to use climate models to determine the rate of climate change and its possible effects. Fifteen states, including New Jersey, California and Kentucky, have adopted the standards, as have about 40 school districts in other states. Some states that have yet to adopt them, including New York, already have standards that incorporate climate change. In September, Alabama adopted standards that differ from the Next Generation Science Standards but still require students to understand how humans contribute to changes in climate.

Other states continue to debate the issue. In Tennessee, for example, new science standards now under review call for high school students to “analyze data linking human activity to climate change” and to “design solutions to address human impacts on climate change.” At the seventh-grade level, however, they require students to use data “to engage in argument the role that human activities play in global climate change.” That standard appears to be in line with Tennessee’s 2012 law allowing teachers to help students “review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories.” That law was widely seen as supporting the teaching of evolution and climate change as controversies rather than as settled science. Children today stand to inherit a climate severely changed by the actions of previous generations. They need to understand how those changes came about, how to mitigate them and how to prevent more damage to the planet. Schools can start by adopting science standards that deal extensively with human-caused climate change and that accurately reflect the scientific consensus.




In this photo provided by Caltrans, vehicles are stopped in mud on California’s Interstate-5 after flooding Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. AP

Drivers flee as mudslides engulf nearly 200 vehicles near Tehachapi; more rain coming

Veronica Rocha October 16, 2015 LATIMES

Nearly 200 vehicles, including 75 tractor-trailers, are trapped on California 58 east of Tehachapi in up to 20 feet of mud and debris after torrential rains pummeled the area and forced drivers to flee. Interstate 5 through the Grapevine also remained closed due to mudslides. Multiple mudslides hammered the highway just east of Sand Canyon between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. as commuters traveled on Tehachapi Pass, a rural two-lane crossing in the Tehachapi Mountains in Kern County, said Ray Pruitt, spokesman of the Kern County Sheriff’s Department. Authorities said 115 vehicles and 75 tractors-trailers were swallowed by several feet of mud. “I have never seen slides like this,” Pruitt said. Trapped in the mud as high as 20 feet, drivers were forced to abandon their vehicles or had to be rescued as mud swept over the highway. The drivers were moved to three shelters in Mojave and Tehachapi….



Homes and other structures are seen below the remains of a landslide in 1998 during that year’s El Nino in Fremont. Photo: Lea Suzuki, The Chronicle

1998 El Niño pounded an unready Bay Area: Are we prepared now?

By Kevin Fagan October 10, 2015 Updated: October 10, 2015 8:14pm

The last time a major El Niño stomped into California, it went down a bit like this, to paraphrase a line from “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”: First there was the wonder at how nice things were. Then the ignored fears. Then the panic and the running and the dying. The storms in the winter of 1997-98 sneaked in late, but when they finally hit they were merciless, relentless, and drenching up and down the state. They left 17 people dead, caused half a billion dollars in property loss with more than 2,000 dwellings destroyed or damaged, and forced thousands to evacuate their homes for weeks. It was a historic monster. And now scientists say this winter is almost certain to deliver an El Niño at least as strong as that one. They also say it could be a delayed punch. Just like last time. “This El Niño is not supposed to peak until the spring, which leads me to believe we will have a normal weather pattern in November and December,” said Mike Pechner, who runs Golden West Meteorology. “The likelihood is the heaviest stuff will come in January, February and March.”…








The industrious rodents can offer a range of benefits for California water supplies and habitats. But they’re still officially considered a pest

Beavers: A Potential Missing Link in California’s Water Future

October 16th, 2015 by Alastair Bland  · 

On California’s central coast, a region that usually receives drenching rainfall or fog for most of the year, some forests are now as arid as a desert. Streams that once ran at least at a trickle through summer have vanished in the ongoing drought, and environmentalists and fishermen fear that local salmon will disappear if climate conditions don’t improve. The landscape desperately needs rain. It could also use beavers, according to ecologists who say the near eradication of Castor canadensis from parts of the West in the 19th century has magnified the effects of California’s worst dry spell in history. “Beavers create shock absorption against drought,” says Brock Dolman, a scientist in Sonoma County who wants to repopulate coastal California with the big lumberjacking rodents. Beavers are a hated pest and a nuisance in the eyes of many landowners and developers, and the animals are regularly killed with depredation permits and by fur trappers. However, they are also a keystone species whose participation in the ecosystem creates benefits for almost all other flora and fauna, Dolman says. This is because of the way beavers’ hydro-engineering work affects the movement of water. “Beavers aren’t actually creating more water, but they are altering how it flows, which creates benefits through the ecosystem,” says Michael Pollock, an ecosystems analyst and beaver specialist at the National Marine Fisheries Service Northwest Science Center. By gnawing down trees and building dams, beavers create small reservoirs. What follows, scientists say, is a series of trickle-down benefits: The water that might otherwise have raced downstream to the sea, tearing apart creek gullies and washing away fish, instead gets holed up for months behind the jumbles of twigs and branches. In this cool, calm water, fish — like juvenile salmon — thrive. Meanwhile, the water percolates slowly into the ground, recharging near-surface aquifers and keeping soils hydrated through the dry season. Entire streamside meadows, Dolman says, may remain green all summer if beavers are at work nearby. Downstream of a beaver pond, some of the percolated water may eventually resurface, helping keep small streams flowing and fish alive. Dolman, co-founder of the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center in Sonoma County, says this water banking process could even, in theory, partially offset the worrying shrinkage of mountain snowpack, historically California’s most important water source. Dolman and his colleague Kate Lundquist, who are leading their organization’s “Bring Back the Beaver Campaign,” would like reintroduction of beavers from other regions to begin now as a measure for restoring salmon populations and building general drought resilience into the landscape.



9 Simple Steps to Sheet Mulching – Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Publishing Mar 31, 2014 – Sheet mulching is an easy way to start. You start with a biodegradable weed barrier like cardboard, and from there build a thick, layered substrate for your garden with compost and mulch.









October 7, 2015

the memo directs all Federal agencies to incorporate the value of natural, or “green,” infrastructure and ecosystem services into Federal planning and decision making. This builds on previous efforts such as guidance for GHG and climate change impacts when developing NEPA reviews; and Executive Orders governing federal agency actions and obligations to reduce environmental and GHG footprints.  

“We are excited to announce that today President Obama
released new policy guidance
directing Federal agencies to begin incorporating ecosystem services in Federal planning and decision-making.  As mentioned in a
new White House blog piece
posted this afternoon, today’s actions, and future actions and events, will enhance our ability to recognize and leverage the benefits of natural systems, protect against natural hazards, and support social and economic development while keeping our communities and our world healthy and livable. Thank you for your continued support in advancing the field and application of ecosystem services — and please let us know if you have any questions about today’s announcement.”

White House Council on Environmental Quality

Executive Office of the President




The Under 2 MOU brings together states and regions willing to commit to reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and will galvanize action at the Conference of the Parties (COP 21) in Paris this December. The Subnational Global Climate Leadership MOU is nicknamed the Under 2 MOU in reference to: The goal of limiting warming to below 2°c, which Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scientists say is needed to avoid dangerous climate change. The MOU’s shared goal of limiting greenhouse gas emissions to 2 tons per capita, or 80-95% below 1990 level by 2050.



Gov. Jerry Brown of California speaks before signing a bill to combat climate change.Credit Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

California Leads the Way on Climate Change

By Robert B. Semple Jr. October 14, 2015 12:03 pm October 14, 2015 12:03 pm

On the whole, state governments, especially those with Republican-dominated legislatures, have been remarkably passive and uninventive in recent years on the matter of climate change. Indeed, at least a dozen states have challenged the Obama administration’s new rule regulating carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and have vowed to do everything they can to see it overturned in court.

And then there is California, which stands apart in its commitment to a healthier, cleaner and less carbon-intensive energy future. Its demanding effficiency rules for appliances and equipment have become a de facto national standard by driving manufacturers to improve their products. The same is true of the state’s fuel economy standards, which have long been more aggressive than any other state’s and which played a decisive role in establishing the landmark federal fuel economy standards finalized by the Obama administration in 2012.

As for comprehensive climate change legislation, in 2006, while Congress continued to flounder in its ultimately unsuccessful efforts to cap carbon emissions, California passed a landmark bill known as AB 32, committing the state to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, a substantial reduction over business-as-usual trajectories. The California Air Resources Board later put in place a series of regulations and strategies to meet this goal, including mandates for renewable energy and a market-based cap-and-trade program to limit emissions. In 2010, a well-financed coalition of right-wing ideologues and out-of-state oil and gas interests, chiefly Valero and Tesoro and Charles and David Koch, tried to kill the law with an initiative on the state ballot. They failed miserably.

California continues its forward march. Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed a new climate law — SB 350 — that represents the most significant act of energy and climate policy leadership in any state since AB 32. There was much handwringing (some by Mr. Brown) over the legislature’s failure to approve a provision requiring a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use by 2030. But this was essentially a feel-good, aspirational goal that even some moderate Democrats were leery of. What survived was the real stuff: three concrete and legally binding clean-energy initiatives. One provision doubles down on efficiency, mandating a 100 percent increase in energy savings in California’s homes, businesses and factories — an ambitious goal that, by some estimates, could reduce statewide energy needs by nearly a third by 2030. Another requires utilities to purchase half of their power from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2030, with penalties for non-compliance; still another provides new incentives for utilities to install additional charging stations, the shortage of which is a major roadblock to what appears to be a growing appetite for electric vehicles.

One remarkable aspect of the bill was its broad support — the major utilities, labor unions, consumer advocates and the environmental community all wheeled in behind it. The world is in need of hopeful signs as it heads into the global climate summit in Paris in December. California’s continued commitment to a de-carbonized economy is surely one of them.


First steps to create biodegradable displays for electronics

Posted: 15 Oct 2015 10:18 AM PDT

Americans, on average, replace their mobile phones every 22 months, junking more than 150 million phones a year in the process. Now researchers are on the path to creating biodegradable electronics by using organic components in screen displays. The researchers’ advancements could one day help reduce electronic waste in the world’s landfills….




Fact Check: Reign of Recycling

The New York Times (NYT Opinion) printed an opinion piece by John Tierney (@JohnTierneyNYC) that astounded us by the sheer number of inaccurate statements and misrepresentations about the economic and environmental impact of the recycling industry. We thought it would be helpful to point a bunch of them out and share third-party, verifiable sources.




Paris climate summit: UN negotiations ‘need redesign’

By Rebecca Morelle Science Correspondent, BBC News 12 October 2015

The UN climate negotiations are heading for failure and need a major redesign if they are to succeed, scientists say. The pledges that individual countries are offering ahead of the Paris climate summit in December are too entrenched in self interest instead of being focussed on a common goal. The researchers say the science of cooperation is being ignored. Instead, they say the negotiations should focus on a common commitment on the global price of carbon. This means countries would agree on a uniform charge for carbon pollution, a scheme that would encourage polluters to reduce their emissions. The comments from researchers at the University of Cambridge, UK, University of Maryland, US, and University of Cologne, in Germany, are published in the journal Nature.

‘I will, if you will’

Ahead of December’s United Nations climate meeting, individual countries have submitted their plans for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. These are called Intended Nationally Determined Contributions – or INDCs. However, the researchers say that this approach will not work. Prof David MacKay, from the University of Cambridge, who was former chief scientific advisor to Britain’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), said: “The science of cooperation predicts that if all you are doing is naming individual contributions – offers that aren’t coupled to each other – then you’ll end up with a relatively poor outcome. If you know a carbon price will apply to all other countries as well as you, it now comes in your self interest to advocate a high carbon price David MacKay, University of Cambridge. “We have the history of the Kyoto agreement as an example of this. Initially, the approach was to find a common commitment, but eventually it descended into a patchwork of individual commitments… and that led to very weak commitments and several countries leaving the process.” The Paris negotiations, he warned, were heading in the same direction.

Instead, the researchers say, a reciprocal approach could transform the meeting. “If you make a treaty that is based on reciprocity, so ‘I will, if you will’ and ‘I won’t, if you won’t’, then you can end up in a very different position,” explained Prof MacKay.”If people make a common commitment that they will match what others do, then it becomes in your self interest to advocate a high level of action because it will apply not only to you but also to others.”…




50 days before the COP21, Sylvia Earle is new ambassador of the Ocean’s Call for Climate on

On the occasion of “Our Ocean Conference” in Chile, renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle became the new Ambassador of the Ocean’s Call for Climate.

October 13, 2015

As the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) approaches, this is a very strong signal from a wellknown scientist who has devoted her life to oceanographic research for over 40 years. She succeeds Romain Troublé, Secretary General of Tara Expeditions, recently distinguished by the prestigious journal SCIENCE for his research on plankton:

“I used to be a professional sailor. I had incredible experiences at sea and fell in love with the huge spaces, for their beauty, their mystery, their incredible richness. For more than 10 years now I’ve been organizing environmental and scientific expeditions at sea. It’s because I do not understand how the Ocean can have been forgotten for so long that I wish to take action with you today – to give the Ocean a voice during the crucial COP 21 conference. After 3 months of campaigning and nearly 20,000 signatures, I passed the torch to Sylvia Earle because she is an inspiration for us, a highly-respected personality to carry the Ocean’s voice to an international level.”

Sylvia Earle’s commitment to representing the Ocean’s Call for Climate (initiated by the Ocean Climate Platform) reflects the strong mobilization of the international maritime community to push for recognition of the Ocean’s vital role in the fight against global warming: Disregard for the Ocean as the primary driver of climate and weather might be forgiven 50 years ago, but now we know: The living Ocean governs planetary chemistry; regulates temperature; generates most of the oxygen in the sea and atmosphere; powers the water, carbon, and nitrogen cycles; and holds 97% of Earth’s water and 97% of the biosphere. Quite simply, no Ocean, no life. No blue, no green. If not for the Ocean, there would be no climate to discuss, nor anyone around to debate the issues. We have to represent those who are not at the table. We must give the Ocean a voice!”

At the origin of this mobilisation, the Ocean Climate Platform invites all those who wish to join the “Ocean” community to sign the Ocean’s Call for Climate:



A new regulation, temporarily blocked Friday, seeks to bring smaller bodies of water at the outer edges of watersheds under the Clean Water Act. Above, a dry water ditch in Cordova, Md. Photo: Alex Brandon/Associated Press

U.S. Appeals Court Blocks EPA Water Rule Nationwide

Rule seeks to expand federal protection of water and wetlands

By Brent Kendall and Amy Harder Updated Oct. 9, 2015 4:34 p.m. ET

A federal appeals court on Friday temporarily blocked an Environmental Protection Agency regulation that would bring more waterways and wetlands under federal protection, in the latest sign the effort could face an uphill legal battle.
The order, issued on a 2-1 vote from the Cincinnati-based Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, was a preliminary boost for a group of 18 states that challenged the EPA regulation. The rule seeks to bring smaller bodies of water at the outer edges of watersheds under the Clean Water Act and was issued jointly with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “A stay temporarily silences the whirlwind of confusion that springs from uncertainty about the requirements of the new rule and whether they will survive legal testing,” said the majority on a three-judge appeals court panel. The court said the challengers had demonstrated “a substantial possibility of success” in winning the case. Friday’s ruling did not resolve the legal merits of the regulation but put the EPA’s plans on hold while the case continues. “The agencies respect the court’s decision to allow for more deliberate consideration of the issues in the case and we look forward to litigating the merits of the Clean Water Rule,” EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison said. The rule, issued in May, is estimated to put about 3% more waterways throughout the U.S. under federal jurisdiction. That would require a federal permit to pollute those waters and could restrict access altogether. Major waterways, like most rivers and lakes, are already under protection of the Clean Water Act and aren’t affected….



Environment California: Clean Water Act blocked in 50 states

For more than a decade, the courts left thousands of our streams and wetlands in a precarious legal limbo, vulnerable to pollution and development. Now they’ve done it again. Last Friday, a federal appeals court blocked full enforcement of the Clean Water Act in all 50 states – putting on hold the new protections we just won for thousands of waterways and wetlands across the country. [1] ….Here’s what’s going on: Thanks to your action and support, last month, President Obama’s historic Clean Water Rule went into effect, restoring protections for drinking water sources used by 1 in 3 Americans that were rolled back by the Supreme Court in the 2000s. [2] Within hours of the rule coming out, the EPA was hit with a flood of lawsuits from giant corporate polluters like Murray Energy, the largest privately held coal company in America. [3] And there’s more. Within a few weeks more than 20 state Attorneys General filed suit against the new rule as well. One of those lawsuits found a judge in North Dakota who, against all the facts, ruled that the EPA didn’t see enough public input before finalizing the Clean Water Rule. And with the stroke of a pen, he blocked—at least temporarily—the Clean Water Rule in 13 states across the Rocky Mountain West. [4] Now, a U.S. appeals court has suspended the rule nationwide, and may vote to overturn it. [5]
Here’s our strategy for winning:

  • We’re organizing lawyers to speak up about the legal soundness of the Clean Water Rule.
  • We’re organizing grassroots action urging the more than 20 Attorneys General to do the right thing — and drop the cases.
  • We’re keeping the debate focused on what this issue is really about: clean water for our families. The public overwhelmingly supports strong clean water protections, and we’re organizing media events to stop our opposition from muddying the debate with false claims.

The Clean Water Act protected all of America’s waters for more than 30 years. The EPA completed more than 1,200 studies and gave the American people a chance to comment — and 800,000 of us came down strongly in favor of restoring Clean Water Act protections to America’s streams. Given the strong legal and scientific basis for the Clean Water Rule, the courts should ultimately reject all efforts to weaken or dismantle it. But it’s going to be a fight to the end.
…..Environment California Legislative Director

Congress tries to speed up contentious post-fire logging

New legislation comes despite science showing timber salvage harms essential wildlife habitat

Jodi Peterson Oct. 15, 2015 Web Exclusive High Country News

The third-largest wildfire in California history, 2013’s Rim Fire, burned more than 400 square miles, including parts of Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest. A year later, the Forest Service proposed cutting down the dead and damaged trees across about 50 square miles, but environmental groups sued to stop the salvage logging, saying it would harm wildlife and impede forest regeneration. Their appeal was denied and logging began, but the groups’ concerns are increasingly borne out by science: Recently-released studies point to the crucial importance of burned-over habitat for many species, including the Pacific fisher and black-backed woodpecker. Despite this, Congressional Republicans are pushing two bills, supported by the timber industry, that would speed up logging in national forests after wildfires and reduce environmental review…..



Groundwater regulation up for discussion at Sonoma County Board of Supervisors


Sonoma County supervisors on Tuesday are set to establish a framework for developing the local public entities that will oversee implementation of California’s landmark laws regulating groundwater. The new laws, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last year amid the state’s historic drought, could lead to limits on pumping and drilling in depleted underground basins. In Sonoma County, they require the formation of so-called “sustainability agencies” to regulate activity in three basins — which contain most of the county’s underground water supply — by June 30, 2017. The Santa Rosa Plain, Sonoma Valley and Petaluma Valley basins have been singled out by the state as areas at risk of being depleted. Supervisors as well as city officials and Sonoma County Water Agency representatives are considering who should lead oversight of groundwater management. The public hearing Tuesday morning could produce the first set of recommendations on a local structure. City and county officials have voiced preliminary support for creation of three separate agencies — one per groundwater basin. They would have the power to limit pumping, restrict new drilling and impose fees and fines on residents and agricultural operations for their water use.


From Bay Nature. Livermore, CA.

[CA Strategic Growth] Council Considers New Funding, Changes to Farmland Conservation Program

October 16, 2015 by Jeanne Merrill
Leave a Comment

The Strategic Growth Council met this week to review new draft guidelines for California’s groundbreaking Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) program. There was plenty of good news for the farmland conservation program, including a staff recommendation to increase program funding from $5 million to $40 million in SALC’s second round.
However, the draft guidelines also raised some concerns about the future of the planning grants portion of the program.

SALC is the country’s first climate change program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with the conversion of farmland to sprawl development. The program currently funds two types of activities: conservation easements on agricultural lands at risk of development, as well as planning grants for local governments to assess their farmlands and develop policies that protect their agricultural resources. The SALC program comes at a time when California continues to lose, on average, 50,000 acres per year to non-agricultural uses. As noted in a recent op-ed by Yolo County farmer and former California Secretary of Food and Agriculture, Rich Rominger, “Our farmlands are a finite resource; once converted to urban or suburban development, they are lost to agriculture. With that loss, we chip away at our ability to grow food and protect watersheds, open space and wildlife habitat.”….Public comments on the SALC draft guidelines are due on November 4. Public workshops on the draft guidelines will be held in Santa Rosa, Tulare and Camarillo in November. Click here (and scroll to page ten) for details on the workshops dates and locations.



Bringing Republicans to the Climate Change Table

October 13, 2015 NY Times Eduardo Porter

The climate has been changing forever. It will continue to change. Some scientists believe that humans have a direct impact on it. But trying to curb carbon emissions to slow the change could destroy the economy, eliminate millions of jobs, and cast Americans into poverty. This is what’s known today as the moderate Republican position on climate change, held by presidential hopefuls like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Chris Christie.

Then there are Republicans like James Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate committee responsible for the environment, who calls global warming
“the greatest hoax,” and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, another presidential contender, who argues that the scientific case for seeking to curb climate change is nothing more than a liberal plot aimed at “massive government control of the economy, the energy sector, and every aspect of our lives.” It wasn’t always so. These views, in fact, stand in sharp contrast to the mainstream position of the Republican Party less than a decade ago. “We stand warned by serious and credible scientists across the world that time is short and the dangers are great,” John McCain, the Republican candidate for president, said in the spring of 2008. ….

…..Straight denial is getting tougher as the scientific consensus strengthens. And China’s efforts to cut emissions have defanged the argument that it is pointless for the United States to act alone. In this context, the Obama administration’s strategy of using the Clean Air Act to force emissions cuts could help change the politics. “Some Republican governors will start taking action because the alternative is for the federal government to impose something,” Mr. Goldston said. “This will change the politics. Maybe in the next Congress or the one after that, people will think they need to work something out legislatively.” The critical thing to understand is that a Republican-compatible strategy to slow the changing climate does, in fact, exist.

Harvard University’s N. Gregory Mankiw, George W. Bush’s former top economic adviser, argues that putting a price on carbon emissions — the preferred prescription of economists across the political spectrum— could fit well within the Republican canon. “People are afraid this is an excuse to raise taxes and expand government generally,” Professor Mankiw said. “We need to convince them this not a tax increase but a tax shift,” using revenue from a carbon tax to reduce, say, the Social Security
payroll tax, while keeping the overall tax burden roughly the same. This is a message not just for climate deniers on the right but also for environmental activists on the left
. Eli Lehrer, who runs the R Street Institute, a fairly conventional conservative research firm except that it supports a carbon tax to combat climate change, argued that the Republicans’ stance “is a direct reaction to the Democrats’ efforts to use scientific facts to try to dictate public policy.” Sure, climate change is real, Mr. Lehrer acknowledged. Yet “the science doesn’t — and can’t — demand any particular public policy and certainly doesn’t dictate that we do what the left wants.” To break the logjam, not to mention overcome the Koch brothers’ money, liberal advocates might have to temper their ambitions. Pushing for a maximalist strategy could be a prescription for ensuring that no environmental agenda is enacted at all.



Thomas Kienzle / Associated Press Martin Winterkorn resigned as CEO of Volkswagen AG after the company acknowledged that it had evaded emission controls on vehicles.


By Mark DeSaulnier October 11, 2015 SF Chronicle Opinion

….Every day, thousands of Californians consider these and other factors when purchasing a vehicle. Oftentimes, however, we give little consideration to whether the technical specifications provided by the manufacturer are accurate. After all, if a carmaker states that a vehicle meets California’s emission standards, shouldn’t we be able to take them at their word? Apparently not.

Last month, stunning news came out that Volkswagen AG, the world’s largest automaker, broke the public trust by deliberately rigging the system to evade emissions controls on 11 million vehicles worldwide in an effort to increase profit margins. These actions reduce air quality, thereby increasing rates of asthma, cardiovascular disease and cancer, thus impairing and shortening people’s lives. It is almost impossible to describe the outrage when Volkswagen executives informed officials at the California Air Resources Board and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that, since 2008, certain VW vehicles — including several of the company’s best sellers — were manufactured with software technology to “bypass, defeat, or render inoperative elements of the vehicles’ emission control system.”

According to the EPA, these VW vehicles damage public health by releasing nitrous oxide, which has been linked with serious health consequences that can send people to the emergency room. This type of pollution generates dangerous smog and dirty air that makes it more difficult to breathe, leading to up to 50,000 deaths a year in the U.S. For endangering our public health and safety, Volkswagen could face up to $18 billion in fines. The company knew the risk, yet still proceeded to move forward willfully with an action that has affected millions of lives.

I am all too familiar with the effects of damaging pollutants. California already has the worst air quality in the nation, with 7,200 deaths a year associated with air pollution.

Volkswagen’s recent actions are not in isolation. Twice before, in 1973 and 2005, Volkswagen was penalized for trying to skirt U.S. emission requirements. In fact, only after the EPA and CARB refused to approve its 2016 diesel models for sale did Volkswagen acknowledge incorporating stealth software in its vehicles. Unfortunately, this corporate malfeasance is not limited to Volkswagen. Since 1973, there have been more than a dozen similar violations of the Clean Air Act by companies including Caterpillar, Cummins, Mack, Renault, Volvo Truck, Ford, Honda and General Motors with fines totaling more than $1.4 billion. Actions like these amount to a breach in public trust, highlighting a growing culture within the industry that balks at U.S. law and affects public health in search of higher profits and increased market share. That is why I have called on the U.S. Justice Department to actively investigate these matters and hold bad actors accountable by prosecuting individuals rather than merely offering deferred prosecution agreements that do little to discourage corporate wrongdoing…..


Bottom of Form





New study highlights environmental, economic shortcomings of federal biofuel laws

Posted: 15 Oct 2015 11:14 AM PDT

The federal Renewable Fuel Standard and its overreliance on corn ethanol has created additional environmental problems in its 10-year history, resulting in unmet targets for cutting air pollution, water contamination and soil erosion, concludes a new study.


The Exxon Mobil Refinery in Torrance, Calif. Credit Jamie Rector/Bloomberg

Exxon’s Climate Concealment

By NAOMI ORESKESOCT. 9, 2015 OpEd NYT Naomi Oreskes is a professor of the history of science at Harvard and the author, with Erik M. Conway, of “The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View From the Future

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. — MILLIONS of Americans once wanted to smoke. Then they came to understand how deadly tobacco products were. Tragically, that understanding was long delayed because the tobacco industry worked for decades to hide the truth, promoting a message of scientific uncertainty instead. The same thing has happened with climate change, as Inside Climate News, a nonprofit news organization, has been reporting in a series of articles based on internal documents from Exxon Mobil dating from the 1970s and interviews with former company scientists and employees. Had Exxon been upfront at the time about the dangers of the greenhouse gases we were spewing into the atmosphere, we might have begun decades ago to develop a less carbon-intensive energy path to avert the worst impacts of a changing climate. Amazingly, politicians are still debating the reality of this threat, thanks in no small part to industry disinformation. Government and academic scientists alerted policy makers to the potential threat of human-driven climate change in the 1960s and ’70s, but at that time climate change was still a prediction. By the late 1980s it had become an observed fact. But Exxon was sending a different message, even though its own evidence contradicted its public claim that the science was highly uncertain and no one really knew whether the climate was changing or, if it was changing, what was causing it. Exxon (which became Exxon Mobil in 1999) was a leader in these campaigns of confusion. In 1989, the company helped to create the Global Climate Coalition to question the scientific basis for concern about climate change and prevent the United States from signing on to the international Kyoto Protocol to control greenhouse gas emissions. The coalition disbanded in 2002, but the disinformation continued. Journalists and scientists have identified more than 30 different organizations funded by the company that have worked to undermine the scientific message and prevent policy action to control greenhouse gas emissions….

….Instead — like the tobacco industry — Exxon chose the path of disinformation, denial and delay. More damagingly, the company set a model for the rest of the industry. More than 30 years ago, Exxon scientists acknowledged in internal company memos that climate change could be catastrophic. Today, scientists who say the exact same thing are ridiculed in the business community and on the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal. We have lost precious time as a result: decades during which we could have built a smart electricity grid, fostered efficiency and renewables and generated thousands of jobs in a cleaner, greener economy. There is still time to prevent the worst disruptions of human-driven climate change, but the challenge is now much greater than it needed to be, in no small part because of the choices that Exxon Mobil made.






California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment

…The Fourth Climate Change Assessment is the first inter-agency effort to implement a substantial portion of the Climate Change Research Plan. The Resources Agency, in collaboration with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and the Climate Action Team (CAT) Research Working Group, has developed a proposed portfolio of projects for California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment….This document is ultimately intended to serve as the basis for the request for proposal (RFP) to be released by the Natural Resources Agency…..To download the Fourth Climate Change Assessment Scope of Work, click here. To receive status updates on the Fourth Assessment, which will include when the non-energy sector RFP solicitation process begins,  please sign up for the Natural Resources Agency climate list-servs: click here. When energy-sector RFPs are released, they will be distributed through the California Energy Commission’s research list-servs: click here.

The California Energy Commission will hold a workshop on “Selecting Climate Scenarios for the Energy Sector” on February 27, 2015. These scenarios will be used to support the energy-related vulnerability and adaptation studies for the Fourth Assessment. (These scenarios will also be available for non-energy sector research).

To download public workshop presentations for proposed energy sector research click here.

Notice of workshop (Monday December 1, 2014 [9:00 AM to 3:00 PM]), click here.



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

Using the Stream Visual Assessment Protocol 2 – October 20, 2015, 2PM Eastern / 11AM Pacific, 60 Minutes

Jennifer Anderson-Cruz, State Biologist, Georgia State Office, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service  Join the Webinar

NRCS’s Stream Visual Assessment Protocol 2 (SVAP2) is a national protocol that provides an initial evaluation of the overall condition of wadeable streams as well as their riparian zones and instream habitats. This is a simple resource assessment tool with the goal of providing education, problem (resource concern) identification, before / after evaluation, and a sense of ownership by users. Target users include field conservationists, partners/volunteers, landowners, and citizens who may have little training or experience. This presentation will introduce participants to SVAP2, covering the assessment of 16 elements as they relate to potential resource concerns….





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.



An Overview of Climate-Smart Conservation November 6, 2015 at The San Diego Foundation

This one day overview class is being hosted by the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative (CA LCC) and is based on the guide Climate-Smart Conservation: Putting Adaptation Principles into Practice. This publication is the product of an expert workgroup on climate change adaptation convened by the National Wildlife Federation in collaboration with the FWS’s National Conservation Training Center and other partners. The course is designed to provide an introduction to climate adaptation for application to on-the-ground conservation. It will provide an overview of how to craft climate-informed conservation goals, to carry out adaptation with intentionality, and how to manage for change and not just persistence…. The San Diego Foundation, 2508 Historic Decatur Road, San Diego, CA 92106 Register Now– contact Christy Coghlan –


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.


First Western Governor’s Association Species Conservation
and ESA Initiative WorkshopNov. 12-13 in Wyoming

The first workshop of the Western Governors’ Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative will be held Nov. 12-13 at the Buffalo Bill Center for the West in Cody, Wyo. The Chairman’s Initiative of Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead creates a mechanism for states that will: share best practices in species management; promote and elevate the role of states in species conservation efforts; and explore ways to improve the efficacy of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Gov. Mead will speak at the first workshop, which will feature a robust and bipartisan conversation regarding species conservation and the ESA. The Wyoming workshop will be the first in a series of regional workshops. Learn more


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 LeaderHelp save the world!!

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.


PISCES FOUNDATION: Enviro Education Officer

The Pisces Foundation is excited to announce it is seeking a Program Officer to lead its Environmental Education program. Based in our main office in San Francisco, this position will play an important role in a dynamic, growing environmental philanthropy. For more details on the position, please refer to the posting on our website. This fall, the Foundation will also launch a search for a dynamic professional to lead Foundation operations. To receive information about this position when it becomes available, or if you have any questions, please contact us at We welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds and with a variety of skills, experiences, and ideas. We are an equal opportunity employer. Employment selection and related decisions are made without regard to gender, race, ethnicity, age, disability, religion, national origin, color, veteran status, or any other protected class.    


Director of Science, Monterey Bay Aquarium

We are looking for someone with strong experience linking science and conservation, and in communicating science. We are hoping to recruit someone with skills to assess the state of science to inform conservation priorities, provide science services across the aquarium, and create solid collaborations with experts. Applications should be made through our website:







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








Maroon 5 and Whale Alert on youtube:

‘Paleo’ sleep? Sorry, pre-modern people don’t get more Zzzzs than we do

Posted: 15 Oct 2015 10:18 AM PDT

It’s tempting to believe that people these days aren’t getting enough sleep, living as we do in our well-lit houses with TVs blaring, cell phones buzzing, and a well-used coffee maker in every kitchen. But new evidence shows that three ancient groups of hunter-gatherers — living in different parts of the world without any of those trappings of modern life — don’t get any more sleep than we do.











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 *