Ecology, climate change and related news Jan 8 2016


Focus of the Week Global Warming Spurt; 15 numbers for 2015










NOTE: Please feel free to pass along 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.  


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. 


For more information on Point Blue, please see




Focus of the Week– Global Warming Spurt; 15 numbers for 2015


High temperatures are bleaching corals, such as this bent sea rod off Florida.
Credit: U.S. Geological Survey/Flickr

Earth is Experiencing a Global Warming Spurt

Published: January 5th, 2016 By John Upton

Cyclical changes in the Pacific Ocean have thrown earth’s surface into what may be an unprecedented warming spurt, following a global warming slowdown that lasted about 15 years. While El Niño is being blamed for an outbreak of floods, storms and unseasonable temperatures across the planet, a much slower-moving cycle of the Pacific Ocean has also been playing a role in record-breaking warmth. The recent effects of both ocean cycles are being amplified by climate change.

A 2014 flip was detected in the sluggish and elusive ocean cycle known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO, which also goes by other names, including the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation. Despite uncertainty about the fundamental nature of the PDO, leading scientists link its 2014 phase change to a rapid rise in global surface temperatures. The effects of the PDO on global warming can be likened to a staircase, with warming leveling off for periods, typically of more than a decade, and then bursting upward.

It seems to me quite likely that we have taken the next step up to a new level,” said Kevin Trenberth, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

The 2014 flip from the cool PDO phase to the warm phase, which vaguely resembles a long and drawn out El Niño event, contributed to record-breaking surface temperatures across the planet in 2014. The record warmth set in 2014 was surpassed again in 2015, when global temperatures surged to 1°C (1.8°F) above pre-industrial averages, worsening flooding, heatwaves and storms.

Trenberth is among an informal squadron of scientists that in recent years has toiled to understand the slowdown in surface warming rates that began in the late 1990s, which some nicknamed a global warming “pause” or “hiatus.” A flurry of recent research papers has indicated that the slowdown was less pronounced than previously thought, leading some scientists to renew claims that those nicknames are inaccurate and should be abandoned. “The slowdown was not statistically significant, I suppose, if you properly take into account natural variability, which includes the PDO,” Trenberth said. “That’s sort of the argument that people have been making; that even if it was a little bit of a slowdown, or pause, or call it what you will, it’s not out of bounds, and as a result we shouldn’t really put a label on it.”

The approximately 15-year warming slowdown was linked to the negative phase of the PDO, which is also called its cool phase. That phase whips up strong trade winds that bury more heat beneath sea surfaces, contributing to extraordinary levels of warming recorded in the oceans. A similar phase led to a slight cooling of the planet from the 1940s to the 1970s.

Cold PDO phases have a blue background; warm phases are red. Credit: Essay by Kevin Trenburth, “Has there been a hiatus?,” which was published in Science in August. 

Last time we went from a negative to a positive was in the mid-’70s,” said Gerald Meehl, a National Center for Atmospheric Research scientist. “Then we had larger rates of global warming from the ’70s to the late ’90s, compared to the previous 30 years.” “It’s not just an upward sloping line,” Meehl said. “Sometimes it’s steeper, sometimes it’s slower.”

The effects of the warm phase of the PDO and the current El Niño may be cumulative in terms of warming the planet. It also seems likely that changes in the ocean cycles are linked, with changes between El Niño and La Niña driving changes in the PDO cycle. Or, perhaps the PDO doesn’t exist at all, other than as a tidy pile of data points, and it’s simply a manifestation of changes in the shorter-running cycle between El Niño and La Niña.

“There’s some debate about whether there is a low frequency oscillation — is there a distinct interdecadal oscillation?” said Penn State meteorology professor Michael Mann. “Or is what we call a low frequency oscillation just a change over time in the frequency and magnitude of individual El Niño and La Niña events?” Regardless, “it seems pretty clear that we’ve transitioned from a time period where there was a prevalence for La Niña conditions,” Mann said. “Over the past several years we’ve been in the multi-year El Niño state, and it has culminated with an extremely large El Niño event.”

The future of PDO phases will not slow down or speed up the overall long-term rate of global warming. That will continue to rise with pollution levels. But scientists are expecting more intense heat during the months ahead, which should bring with it more wild weather. “There are a lot of things in place that have locked us on course to have a really warm start to 2016,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist Nate Mantua. “I have a hard time seeing how we’re not going to be looking at either record level or near-record level global mean surface temperatures for at least the first half of 2016.”


Observed global annual average surface temperature, relative to 1850-1900 average (in degrees C), according to HadCRUT4. Source: Met Office


Carbon Brief’s 15 numbers for 2015

December 22, 2105


As the year draws to a close, Carbon Brief takes a look at 2015’s top climate stories through the medium of numbers. Here are our top 15. [excerpts below—go here to see all the graphics with it]


1.5C limit

Over the last 12 months, after years of taking the back seat, the idea of a 1.5C limit to global temperatures made steps into the limelight. The UN concluded its review of the 2C vs 1.5C debate, suggesting that the lower limit would be “preferable”. A study found that the 1.5C target was still technically possible, though difficult. A guest post by Prof Myles Allen looks at the chances and the challenge ahead, while Carbon Brief also captured the views of a broad range of scientists.

The mounting pressure paid off, with the 1.5C goal recognised in the final UN climate deal. So unexpected was its inclusion that climate scientists were “caught napping”, says Prof Piers Forster, in another guest post which surveys the task ahead of finding pathways towards the lower limit, and the specific benefits of this long sought-after goal.


188 pledges

Over the course of the year, 188 countries submitted their “intended nationally determined contributions”, or INDCs, to the UN….


184 pages

The release of Pope Francis’ 184-page encyclical in June brought with it a heightened interest in the subject of climate change, and not just among the world’s 1.2bn Catholics. The document, called Laudato Si’, contained strong words from the Pontiff on issues including urbanisation, the destruction of nature and carbon markets.


<$50 a barrel

Oil prices have continued to surprise in 2015. After starting around $50 a barrel, prices rose slowly before plumbing new depths as the year end approaches. The International Energy Agency said fuel efficient vehicles and reduced oil subsidies were helping create a “new normal” of sluggish demand despite low prices. Carbon Brief took an early look at what $50 oil might mean for the global energy mix, as well as climate and energy policy back in the UK, where cheaper gas has also played a part in coal use reaching historic lows.


1,600,000,000 tonnes

In Indonesia, 2015 will be remembered as the year that their forests went up in flame with even more ferocity than usual. Peat fires, resulting largely from illegal “slash and burn” clearance techniques, spread rapidly in dry conditions related to 2015’s strong  El Niño, and released 1.6bn tonnes of greenhouse gases. In just six weeks, this bumped Indonesia up from sixth to fourth place in terms of largest emitting countries, putting it ahead of Russia [#1 China, #2 US, #3 India, #4 Indonesia, #5 Russia]…..


1 in 6 species

Climate change will accelerate the speed at which species become extinct, according to a review of scientific papers released in April. Scientists found that as many as 16%, or one in six, of plants and animals would be under threat of dying out if global temperatures should rise by 4C. The risks increase exponentially as the planet warms. The study found that South American species have the highest extinction risk at 23%, followed by Australia and New Zealand’s at 14%.


Predicted extinction rates from climate change by region and group. Credit: Rosamund Pearce, Carbon Brief, based on data from Urban (2015).

2 times

Consumption of meat in Europe is twice as high as healthy levels, and this is bad for the climate, according to a Chatham House study released in November. Global demand for meat is predicted to rise by 76% by the middle of the century, which could put upward pressure on greenhouse gas emissions. But it wasn’t all bad news, with the study’s authors suggesting that government action to nudge people towards sustainable diets would not be as politically toxic as is often assumed.


Zero emissions

This year, the nations of the world collectively agreed to aim for zero, or more precisely net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The goal is firmly based in climate science, but its adoption was still unexpected. Over the course of the year, the aim has been expressed in different ways. The G7 called for complete decarbonisation. The Vatican wanted zero carbon. COP21 briefly flirted with emissions neutrality. In the end though, the long-term goal of the final Paris climate deal is a “balance” between greenhouse gas emissions and sinks. That’s zero to you and me.


1C of warming

Scientists have said they expect 2015 to be the first year where the global annual average temperature surpasses 1C above pre-industrial levels. As the halfway point of the 2C limit embedded in international climate policy, this is a significant milestone for the planet. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) says we’ve just had the hottest five-year period on record. While this year’s El Niño was responsible for boosting 2015 temperatures higher than usual, scientists told Carbon Brief that it’s only a matter of time until temperatures rise beyond 1C more permanently. Indeed, the Met Office has already forecast that 2016 will surpass previous records to become the hottest ever year.


0.6% fall in emissions

During the second week of COP21 [UN Climate talks] in Paris, scientists announced that global emissions look set to fall by 0.6% this year on the back of reductions in Chinese coal use. After a decade of rapid increases, there’s now growing evidence that emissions have stalled worldwide, while UK emissions are falling through the floor. However, this is unlikely to signal a peak in global emissions just yet, the researchers caution. The shift could mark a turning point for climate efforts, though even if the stalling of emissions is maintained, the world would remain a long way from its zero-emissions goal.


9 lowest ice extents

The nine lowest September ice extents in the Arctic have all occurred in the last nine years — a sign of the impact that climate change is having on the northernmost part of the planet.
This summer, the Arctic saw its fourth lowest summer minimum on record, with ice shrinking to 4.41m square kilometers on the 11 September, according to the US-based National Snow and Ice Data Center….


341.4mm of rain

Storm Desmond swept across the UK in early December, bringing a 24-hour record 341.4mm of rain in Cumbria, flooded homes and a renewed debate over the role of climate change in UK flooding. Carbon Brief wrapped up the media response and scientists’ views. The year also brought record-breaking winds in the form of October’s 200mph Hurricane Patricia, though this caused less damage than March’s 190mph Hurricane Pam. Are these powerful storms linked to global warming? August’s 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina offered a chance for Carbon Brief to reflect on the latest science.









This image shows mixed levels of drought stress in a forested landscape in California.
Credit: Image courtesy of Greg Asner

Tens of millions of trees in danger from California drought

Posted: 28 Dec 2015 01:12 PM PST

California’s forests are home to the planet’s oldest, tallest and most-massive trees. New research reveals that up to 58 million large trees in California experienced severe canopy water loss between 2011 and today due to the state’s historic drought. In addition to the persistently low rainfall, high temperatures and outbreaks of the destructive bark beetle increased forest mortality risk. But gaining a large-scale understanding a forest’s responses to the drought, as well as to ongoing changes in climate, required more than just a picture of trees that have already died. A higher-tech approach was necessary; so Asner and his team used the laser-guided imaging spectroscopy tools mounted on the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO) to measure the full impact of the drought on California’s forests for the first time. They combined the CAO data with more-traditional satellite data going back to 2011. Their new approach revealed a progressive loss of water in California’s forest canopies over the four-year span. Mapping changes in canopy water content tells scientists when trees are under drought stress and greatly aids in predicting which trees are at greatest death and fire risk. “California relies on its forests for water provisioning and carbon storage, as well as timber products, tourism, and recreation, so they are tremendously important ecologically, economically, and culturally,” Asner explained. “The drought put the forests in tremendous peril, a situation that may cause long-term changes in ecosystems that could impact animal habitats and biodiversity.”…


Gregory P. Asner, Philip G. Brodrick, Christopher B. Anderson, Nicholas Vaughn, David E. Knapp, Roberta E. Martin. Progressive forest canopy water loss during the 2012–2015 California drought. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015; 201523397 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1523397113


Dry La Niña might follow soggy El Niño

By Kurtis Alexander SF Chronicle Updated 6:29 am, Sunday, January 3, 2016

Beyond all the hype over a possible drought-busting El Niño this winter is a much grimmer prospect for California: a dry La Niña come fall. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration joined international forecasters recently in predicting the potential rise of El Niño’s sister phenomenon, La Niña — a similar shift in Pacific Ocean temperatures, but in the opposite direction with far different repercussions for global weather. While no one can be certain what a La Niña might mean for California, especially this early, the pattern has generally correlated with drier conditions, particularly in the southern part of the state. How much this will even matter is also unknown as El Niño is expected to soon ease the state’s water crisis with a blast of wet weather. “It’s still too far out to reach any conclusions about La Niña,” said Dave Rizzardo, who helps track the state’s water supplies as chief of snow surveys for the California Department of Water Resources. “But it would be unfortunate to know that, hey, we had a great year, we bailed ourselves out of the drought, and then we fall right back in.”…



A view of Folsom Lake reservoir on Dec. 31, 2015. California’s ninth-largest reservoir reached its lowest levels in early December 2015. Later that month, it finally started to slowly fill back up and reached 25 percent capacity. Photo: Greg Tuppan

Drought-ravaged Folsom Lake rises 28.5 feet in just one month

Amy Graff SF Gate Published 5:40 am, Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Water-starved Folsom Lake is beginning to slowly fill up and recover from its lowest water levels ever. 

The state’s ninth-largest reservoir, the main water source for the sprawling Sacramento suburbs, shrank to a mere 135,561 acre feet on Dec. 4, 2015. The previous lowest level at Folsom was 140,600 acre feet, recorded during the 1976–77 drought. An acre foot is enough water to flood an acre of land under a foot of water, and roughly the amount required by a family of four over a year. With the recent rains, Folsom’s water level has risen 28.5 feet and the reservoir is now holding 246,497 acre feet of water. “The lake continues to slowly rise,” Karl Swanberg, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Sacramento, said in an interview. “While this current storm isn’t dropping a lot of rain on Folsom, we’re getting runoff from the Sierra from past storms and some snow melt.” The Central Sierra snow pack is at 107 percent of average and the American River, which feeds into Folsom, travels through these mountains. That said, Swanberg adds the lake is still only at 25 percent capacity. “It’s kind of a good news, bad news situation,” he said. “The lake has risen 28.5 feet in the past month. However it’s still at 51 percent of average for this time of year.” Folsom fell to historic lows this year mainly due to the California drought and record-low rainfall over the past four years. But also the state relied more heavily on the reservoir and released additional water, Jay Lund, a University of California at Davis professor in civil and environmental engineering, said, “to help make up for reductions in releases of warm water from Shasta needed to keep winter run salmon safe on the upper Sacramento River.” Californians hope El Niño storms will fill up Folsom and other reservoirs throughout the state, but Swanberg said the future is unknown. Forecasters are already warning that a dryer La Niña pattern may follow on the heels of a wet winter and spring.

“We can be hopeful in the future,” he said. “We have rain in the forecast. Each weather system will add water into the reservoir. But it’s way earlier in the year. We really don’t know how much more rain will fall.”


Leaf-mimicking device harnesses light to purify water

Posted: 06 Jan 2016 08:07 AM PST

For years, scientists have been pursuing ways to imitate a leaf’s photosynthetic power to make hydrogen fuel from water and sunlight. In a new twist, a team has come up with another kind of device that mimics two of a leaf’s processes — photosynthesis and transpiration — to harness solar energy to purify water. Their development could help address issues of water scarcity


Aussies inspire drought tactics

State lawmakers turn up fresh ideas Down Under

By Kevin Fagan SF Chronicle December 2015

Don’t be surprised to see a flurry of new legislative proposals in 2016 that push toilet water recycling, rooftop water tanks and underground systems to filter sewer sludge for field irrigation in California. Call it the Australian plan. Nearly three dozen California lawmakers and nonprofit and business leaders flew across the Pacific recently to see how the Aussies slashed their water use in half during a catastrophic 13-year drought that ended in 2010, and they came away so impressed that they want to adopt some of the innovations. Those mostly involve recycling every drop possible from toilets, fields, roofs, gutters and sewer pipes. The visiting team also thought the Golden State could learn something from Australia’s robust water-sales market, which allows farmers to sell water to the government in exchange for help upgrading their irrigation systems. Those systems, in turn, use far less water than the old methods. Australia did away with an ironclad water-rights market similar to California’s, and forced farmers, environmentalists and cities to share supplies from reservoirs equally. The new market allows rights holders to trade water like a commodity, depending on rural and urban needs…..








    2015: A Year Of Water Woes And Green Infrastructure Solutions

    Kelli Barrett ecosystem marketplace 30 December 2015

    Climate change has disrupted the world’s water systems, and a handful of governments and companies have responded with funding for nature-based solutions that support healthy watersheds and good water management. We’ll need a lot more than a handful to get the job done, but 2015 offered some promising potential.

    For those managing Lima, Peru’s water lows and highs, 2015 is a year to remember. It’s the year regional and national officials formally embraced green solutions to control the desert city’s alternating bouts of droughts, floods, landslides and pollution. One of these solutions is restoring the pre-Incan stone canals carved into the Andes Mountains so they once again absorb the five-month wet season’s downpour, channeling the water into the mountain so it trickles out over a period of months rather than hours.

    The structures are called amunas, and they made headlines in 2015 as Peru’s national water regulator sought to utilize them and other “new” green solutions that in fact date back more than one thousand years. The restoration of these pre-Incan structures is just one part of Peru’s larger investment plan to help its watersheds adapt to climate change while sustainably manage urban water supplies using green infrastructure programs. The decision to go big came after a 2015 cost-curve analysis determined green interventions made the most sense – economically and ecologically. The data suggests green interventions are one part of a city’s water infrastructure, and should be blended with typical grey solutions.

    Natural Investments

    Like Peru, other parts of the world utilized nature in 2015 to solve pressing water challenges.  All across Colorado, for instance, water utilities and federal agencies are investing in watersheds to reduce the risk of wildfire, among other threats. Denver Water’s successful partnership with the US Forest Service to manage upstream watersheds with such activities as fuel treatment, erosion control and prescribed burning influenced four similar projects in other parts of the state.

    …. Conservation Finance Inches Along

    Water quality trading programs continue to emerge, and the Electric Power Research Institute’s water quality trading project in the Ohio River Basin is one example. It encourages Midwestern farmers to reduce runoff in exchange for conservation credits, and project developers had planned to hold the first stewardship credit auction this year. That ended up on hold, but the project is still moving forward, and EPRI is hosting a project update in January 2016.

    Payments for ecosystem services practitioners explored microfinance as another method to finance conservation long-term.  The concept is playing out though the marriage between PES and credit is a new one and its success remains an open question. In Ecuador, the NGO Nature and Culture International spearheaded a water fund model that might be successful in securing clean water for several municipalities of varying sizes in the country’s southern region. The fund, Regional Water Fund of Southern Ecuador (FORAGUA), pools resources from 11 municipalities to manage shared water resources through ecosystem restoration and conservation.

    Weather Woes and Water

    The water-related calamities that either began or continued in 2015 were many, spurring increased conversations about water stress and its issues. And because climate change has a knack for making these disasters worse, leaders from the water space pushed for water to hold a more prominent role in the Paris Climate Accord. Though water wasn’t mentioned in the final agreement, it was included in 75% of the country climate action plans and many in the space felt the resource gained stature.

    Earlier in the year, lawmakers introduced groundwater legislation in drought-plagued California, for the first time ever, shortly followed by mandatory water restrictions



    The 5 Biggest Wins For America’s Public Lands And Wildlife In 2015

    2015 was a good year for America’s wilderness.

    by Jenny Rowland — Guest Contributor Dec 28, 2015

    The creation of six new national monuments

    In 2015, President Obama protected more land as national monuments than any year in his presidency -– more than 1 million acres….

    An international climate agreement in Paris

    The December 12th international climate agreement in Paris is a clear win for the climate, the clean energy industry, and the President’s Clean Power Plan. But it is also a win for America’s public lands, which are affected by both the impacts of climate change and the sprawling footprint of fossil fuel development. The agreement in Paris will help the United States and the rest of the world cut pollution and spur a transition to more renewable fuels.

    Saving America’s best parks program and other conservation laws from congressional attack

    During their frenetic December negotiations over the year’s must-pass omnibus spending bill, lawmakers were able to reach an agreement that kept dozens of anti-conservation and public lands riders out of the final legislation. As part of this agreement, Congress also managed to prevent America’s best parks program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), from disappearing. Though many would have liked to see the LWCF, which is the country’s largest funding source for land, water, and wildlife conservation, fully funded and permanently extended, the bill was given a three-year extension and firm funding for 2016.

    Conservation measures for the greater sage grouse

    In September, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided that the greater sage grouse — an iconic ground-dwelling bird in the West –- will not need the protection of the Endangered Species Act to survive. The decision to not list the bird as an endangered species reflected the success of partnerships between private landholders and state and federal agencies to implement voluntary conservation measures to protect the species. The federal government, for example, implemented several scientifically-based land use management plans that collectively set aside more than 60 million acres of habitat for the bird….

    The protection of the Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness

    In August, Congress unanimously passed the “Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act,” which established three new wilderness areas in the Boulder-White Clouds region of Idaho. The new wilderness areas together permanently protect nearly 280,000 acres of public lands.
    …The designation — the only major wilderness bill that Congress passed in 2015 — benefits wildlife ranging from bighorn sheep to mule deer and native cutthroat trout by providing undisturbed habitat. The designation also guarantees permanent public access to tens of thousands of acres to hikers, campers, hunters, anglers, and others outdoor enthusiasts.



    McGill research shows that it is possible for Arctic communities to adapt to climate change if various hurdles like outdated land management practices are overcome. view more Credit: Joanna Petrasek Macdonald

    Overcoming hurdles to climate change adaptation in the Arctic

    Arctic peoples inherently able to adapt given changes to various non-climatic factors

     7-Jan-2016 McGill University

    Outdated land management practices, a dearth of local decision-making bodies with real powers, a lack of long-term planning, along with long-standing educational and financial disempowerment and marginalization are among the hurdles the prevent Arctic communities from adapting to climate change, says a McGill-led research team. But Arctic communities inherently have the capacity to adapt to significant climate change. That’s partly because they are used to accepting a changeable and uncertain climate. What currently limits this ability, however, are a range of non-climatic factors that vary from one society to the next.despite the scale and speed of climate change in the north, the researchers believe that if policies and practices change in various ways, these communities are inherently well-equipped to adapt to many, if not all, projected changes in climate….The researchers discovered that depending on the region, the situations of northern communities varied significantly, based on the interaction between the speed of climate change and various non-climatic factors such as:

    • the range and type of resources on which the community relies — so, for example, the livelihoods of the Viliui Sakha people in Siberia who depend on cattle and horse breeding are being undermined by changing weather and snow patterns as they have few alternative livelihood options — while the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic are altering the timing and location of traditional hunting practices with rapid changes in the sea ice;
    • the type and effectiveness of local political leadership and input in larger decision-making questions – northern institutions often lack the time, mandate and funding to address climate change impacts — though emerging leaders in Canada and Alaska are proving to be an exception to this pattern;
    • the mismatch between inflexible institutions that have created regulations and quotas for hunting and fishing and the speed of environmental change — so for example, in northern Canada and Alaska, communities are responding rapidly to changes in observed conditions while regulatory regimes have been slow and inflexible in changing regulations to respond to current conditions;
    • adaptation is taking place at the household or community level, but this is mainly reactive and doesn’t translate to a larger scale or to longer-term planning; and
    • economic, health and educational issues that make members of these communities more vulnerable in general, many linked to legacies of colonisation.

    Co-management models and the importance of traditional knowledge

    “Not all forms of institutions necessarily inhibit adaptation,” says Ford. “Institutions can act as pathways for knowledge development. In northern Canada and Alaska, for instance, co-management practices integrate science, traditional knowledge and local needs into the management of wildlife stocks such as the beluga in the Beaufort Sea. There is some evidence that this kind of management can help speed up the exchange of information and reduce conflict about resource management, but this success has not been uniformly seen. In some cases the conflict between the role of science and traditional knowledge has been difficult to resolve, and there is a worry that discourse about adaptation may be used selectively by powerful stakeholders to advance particular pathways and political agendas.” The researchers believe that the Arctic is not only a bell-wether of climate change to come at lower latitudes, but can provide us with an understanding of the challenges to come in adapting to climate change. They suggest that further studies are needed to increase the understanding of why some communities have been able to successfully adapt and others have not in order to gain a better sense of the barriers and limits to adaptation.


    To read the full paper “The adaptation challenge in the Arctic” by Ford et al in Nature Climate Change: doi:10.1038/nclimate2723




    More environmentally-friendly concrete made using sugar cane residue

    Posted: 04 Jan 2016 05:08 AM PST

    A new type of concrete has been developed that is cheaper and much less polluting to the environment. Researchers have swapped in sugar cane straw ash, a crop residue typically discarded as waste, as a substitute for Portland cement.






  • 95% consensus of expert economists: [price carbon] to cut carbon pollution

    Posted on 4 January 2016 by dana1981

    The Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University (NYU) School of Law recently published a report summarizing a survey of economists with climate expertise. The report was a follow-up and expansion of a similar survey conducted in 2009 by the same institute. The key finding: there’s a strong consensus among climate economics experts that we should put a price on carbon pollution to curb the expensive costs of climate change. The survey participants included economists who have published papers related to climate change “in a highly ranked, peer-reviewed economics or environmental economics journal since 1994.” Overall, 365 participants completed the survey, which established the consensus of expert climate economists on a number of important questions.


    EPA Chief: Obama Rolling Out New, Aggressive Global Warming Rules In 2016

    Chris White Daily Caller 1:40 PM 01/05/2016

    The chief of the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that the Obama administration and regulators will cash in on the regulatory successes in 2015 by doubling down on global warming regulations in 2016. Writing on the environmental group’s website, EPA head administrator Gina McCarthy stated that a whole new set of rules regulating the environment will take place this upcoming year, including regulations limiting methane gas ruptures and rules cutting emissions from large commercial vehicles. “Heading into 2016, EPA is building on a monumental year for climate action—and we’re not slowing down in the year ahead,” McCarthy wrote, adding, “So we’re hitting the ground running.” She went on to lay out a handful of the agency’s lofty goals, most of which will be instituted for the purpose of making sure the U.S. comes in line with the climate agreement hammered out in Paris last year.



    A coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, Mont. (James Woodcock/Billings Gazette via Associated Press)

    The ethics of climate change: A primer

    By Christine Emba Wash Post January 5 at 1:29 PM

    With a ratcheting up of awareness culminating in the Paris climate change conference, 2015 may have been the year that the threat of climate change was finally taken seriously. But a question remains:
    Who, if anyone, is most deserving of blame, and who should be held responsible? Today, six of the top 10 greenhouse gas emitters are developing countries, with China the largest contributor at approximately
    28 percent of the global total. Yet on the per capita level, the United States and Canada emit more than double the global average. Pope Francis pointed out in his controversial encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si that, “regarding climate change, there are differentiated responsibilities.” He said greater attention should be given to the needs of the vulnerable in a debate often dominated by more powerful interests, and that in many cases, developed countries have caused harm to less wealthy nations while fueling their own economies. Although developing nations like China and India are catching up in the emissions race, it was countries such as Great Britain and the United States that have led significant global warming over the past century, producing significant economic development that accrued mainly for their own citizens. From 1850 to the year 2011, the United States alone produced 27 percent of the world’s total carbon dioxide emissions. The least developed countries, on the other hand, emit the least carbon dioxide. But the effects of climate change — extreme weather, rising seas, higher food costs, increased risk of drought, fire and flood — tend to fall most heavily upon the global poor.

    At the United Nations Climate Change conference, held in Paris in December, 196 countries approved a climate accord seeking to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius. This is to be achieved through “nationally determined contributions” of emission reductions, created in the context of each country’s individual circumstances….


    TransCanada Announces It Will Sue U.S. Over Keystone XL Denial

    by Samantha Page Jan 6, 2016

    TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, announced Wednesday it is filing a claim under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), saying that the project’s permit denial was “arbitrary and unjustified.” TransCanada is seeking $15 billion in costs and damages due to the denial, and has also filed a separate lawsuit against the U.S. in federal court. Under NAFTA, companies can sue governments that put investments at risk through regulation. If it proceeds, the case will go in front of an international tribunal. (A U.S. company sued Montreal in 2013 over a fracking ban, using the same rationale). The tribunal cannot overturn the permit denial, but it can force payment of damages….



    Volkswagen Cheated On Its Emissions Tests. Now, It’s Getting Sued.

    by Katie Valentine Jan 4, 2016

    “The United States will pursue all appropriate remedies against Volkswagen to redress the violations of our nation’s clean air laws alleged in the complaint.”








    Toward liquid fuels from carbon dioxide

    Posted: 06 Jan 2016 09:56 AM PST

    In the quest for sustainable alternative energy and fuel sources, one viable solution may be the conversion of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide into liquid fuels, say scientists.

    The strong economics of wind energy

    Posted on 28 December 2015 by John Abraham

    As a follow-up to a recent article I posted on renewable energy, this article discusses the economics of wind in both the developed and developing worlds compared to other renewable energy sources. At the recent climate conference in Paris, 70 countries highlighted wind as a major component for their emissions-reduction schemes.  I spoke with Giles Dickson who is CEO of the European Wind Energy Association(EWEA). I asked him economic questions related to the wind industry and I also asked him to look into his crystal ball and describe the future of wind. ….His response was clear: wind is competitive economically. He told me about the SolutionWind campaign which is a platform that gives industry leaders like Unilever, BNP, Aveda, IKEA, LEGO, Google, Microsoft, SAP, and others the chance to tell their customers and the general public why they have chosen wind. …Aside from continued cost decreases and increased market, what else is EWEA looking forward to? Well everyone is watching the Chinese emission trading scheme. That goes into effect in two years. No one knows what the price will be for carbon in that market, but it will be the largest carbon market in the world. If the balance between supply and demand is not correct, then the price on carbon will be too low (as the case with Europe where there is an excess of emissions certificates)…..


    Renewable energy for state renewable portfolio standards yielded sizable benefits

    Posted: 06 Jan 2016 08:47 AM PST

    Billions in dollars in benefits come from reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and from reductions in other air pollution for state renewable portfolio standard policies operating in 2013, a new study estimates. RPS policies require utilities or other electricity providers to meet a minimum portion of their load with eligible forms of renewable electricity.


    CREDIT: shutterstock

    Why James Hansen Is Wrong About Nuclear Power

    by Joe Romm Jan 7, 2016 8:00 am

    Climatologist James Hansen argued last month, “Nuclear power paves the only viable path forward on climate change.” He is wrong. As the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and International Energy Agency (IEA) explained in a major report last year, in the best-case scenario, nuclear power can play a modest, but important, role in avoiding catastrophic global warming if it can solve its various nagging problems — particularly high construction cost — without sacrificing safety. Hansen and a handful of other climate scientists I also greatly respect — Ken Caldeira, Tom Wigley, and Kerry Emanuel — present a mostly handwaving argument in which new nuclear power achieves and sustains an unprecedented growth rate for decades. The one quantitative “illustrative scenario” they propose — “a total requirement of 115 reactors per year to 2050 to entirely decarbonise the global electricity system” — is far beyond what the world ever sustained during the nuclear heyday of the 1970s, and far beyond what the overwhelming majority of energy experts, including those sympathetic to the industry, think is plausible.

    They ignore the core issues: The nuclear power industry has essentially priced itself out of the market for new power plants because of its 1) negative learning curve and 2) inability to avoid massive delays and cost overruns in market economies. This is doubly problematic because the competition — renewable power, electricity storage, and energy efficiency — have seen steady, stunning price drops for a long time….






    California Native Plant Society- Climate Adaptation Index

    Cal-NPS just completed a project on invasive plants, climate resilience and Sierra meadows, and produced two short reports that might be interesting to the LCC list. They’re available at

    • Impacts of Climate Change and Invasive Plants in Sierra Meadows: Overview and Recommendations.
    • Incorporating Climate Resilience into Invasive Plant Management Projects: Guidance for Land Managers.


    Getting Started Selling at Farmer’s Markets
    UCCE Marin



    What will happen to our coastline with sea level rise, and how will it impact your community? You can help answer these questions through snapping photos during California’s “King Tides”–the highest tides of the year. King Tides dates this season are November 24-26, December 22-24 and January 21-22. Get out during a King Tides event and take pictures of your favorite coastal spots. Make sure to share them with the California King Tides Project! Check out events on








Communicating adaptation – Engaging communities
Wednesday 20 January 2016, 01:00 PM – 02:30 PM ET, 10-11 PT

This webinar will offer insights into effective communication of climate change adaptation, with particular emphasis on the psychological dimensions that underlie people’s responses and that can help or hinder their constructive and sustained engagement.

Speaker: Susanne C. Moser, Ph.D.– Research Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University



Impacts of Future Climates and Fire on Hydrologic Regimes in the Ecosystems of Southern California
January 26, 2016

1:00 – 2:00 PM Pacific

  • Lorrie Flint, Research Hydrologist, USGS Water Science Center,
  • Alan Flint, Research Hydrologist, USGS Water Science Center,
  • Hugh Safford, Regional Ecologist, US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region, and
  • Emma Underwood, Research Scientist, UC Davis Information Center for the Environment.

In Southern California ecosystems, understanding changes in hydrologic regimes under future climate scenarios and the impact of fire is key to developing effective management strategies. This project, supported by the CA LCC, is developing data, projections, and visualization tools to assist in the climate-smart management of water in chaparral dominated ecosystems of Southern California.  Click here for more information.


Carbon Farming Workshop
November 18, 2015

Training for RCD and NRCS staff
Moderated by Pelayo Alvarez,
Carbon Cycle Institute

Download a workshop manual: CFP-training

Download a carbon farming brochure: carbon-farming-brochure-CCI

Presentations available on line:

  • Introduction – Why Carbon Farming and How Marin RCD Got Started – Nancy Scolari, Marin RCD
  • Carbon Farm Planning – How conservation approaches sequester carbon and improve climate change resiliency – Jeff Creque, Carbon Cycle Institute
  • How to include Carbon Beneficial Practices into conservation plans – Nancy Scolari & Lynette Niebrugge, Marin RCD
  • The COMET-Farm™ tool enables farmers and ranchers to estimate carbon sequestration and GHG emission reductions – Mark Easter, Colorado State University Natural Resource Ecology Lab
  • GHG Reduction and Carbon Sequestration Accounting Tools for Forest Practices – Tom Schott, Mendocino County RCD and John Nickerson, Climate Action Reserve
  • Local and State Policies and Programs for Carbon Farming and An Outlook on Climate Funding – Torri Estrada, Carbon Cycle Institute
  • Next Steps and RCD Carbon Farm Program Development Needs Inventory – Pelayo Alvarez, Carbon Cycle Institute





Rangeland Workshops and Conferences Jan 28 2016

The Open Space Council, in partnership with UC Cooperative Extension, Elkhorn Slough Coastal Training Program, California Rangeland Conservation Coalition, Central Coast Rangeland Coalition, and California Rangeland Trust presents Grazing and Conservation Part II: Cooperating with Ranchers
on January 28 in Berkeley. Hear perspectives on the benefits and challenges of working with ranchers for grazing to benefit conservation on public and/or private conservation lands in the SF Bay Area.


North Bay Watershed Association Conference

The Future of Water is Now: Innovation, Integration, Adaptation April 22, 2016, Napa, CA

General Information:  Registration:


4th Ocean Climate Summit: Resilience through Climate-Smart Conservation May 17, 2016
Fort Mason, San Francisco

Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and Greater Farallones Association

Expert panels for the 2016 summit will address the common theme of Climate-Smart Conservation, and will specifically include:

  • State of the Science;
  • Implementing Climate-Smart Conservation;
  • Local Government Sea Level Rise Planning; and
  • Connecting San Francisco Bay and Outer Coast.

Afternoon focus groups will convene to share lessons learned, encourage collaboration, and advise the sanctuary on climate-smart conservation. A networking poster reception highlighting Bay Area projects and programs focused on coastal climate change and ocean acidification will immediately follow. This year we are also pleased to partner with the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative on a Climate-Smart Conservation training to be held at Fort Mason the following day.


Toward Sustainable Groundwater in Agriculture 2016: 2nd International Conference Linking Science and Policy
June 28-30, 2016 Hyatt Regency by SFO Burlingame, CA

Abstract Submission Deadline: January 15, 2016 UC Davis

….focus on the latest scientific, management, legal and policy advances for sustaining our groundwater resources in agricultural regions around the world. The conference will bring together agricultural water managers, regulatory agency personnel, policy and decision makers, scientists, NGOs, agricultural leaders, and consultants working at the nexus of groundwater and agriculture. The conference integrates across a wide range of topics specifically focused on this nexus: sustainable groundwater management, groundwater quality protection, groundwater-surface water interactions, the groundwater-energy nexus, agricultural BMPs for groundwater management and protection, monitoring, data collection/management/assessment, modeling tools, and agricultural groundwater management, regulation, and economics.


Innovations on the Land: Managing for Change
 Sand County Foundation August 9-10 2016 Asilomar, CA

For generations, landowners and land managers have honed the ability to adapt to change. But the changes farmers and ranchers face today are more rapid and wide ranging than ever before. Landowners must adapt to changing regulations, climate, technology and demands of food consumers, all while managing natural resources – the land, water and wildlife in their care. Sand County Foundation is proud to present “Innovations on the Land: Managing for Change.” This national symposium, August 9 & 10, 2016, will bring together the nation’s leading private landowner conservationists and leaders from academia, government and non-government organizations to exchange ideas and learn about the most innovative approaches to responsibly managing agricultural lands in the face of sweeping change. … Topics include environmental changes related to climate, water quality and quantity and soil health; economic and policy changes related to market dynamics and the Endangered Species Act; social changes relating to changing consumer desires and land ownership patterns. Symposium participants will put their learning to workin a half-day, facilitated session to develop a set of recommendations around U.S. agricultural policy. As the nation’s very best farmer and rancher conservationists, these men and women provide an authoritative viewpoint on how America can achieve its conservation objectives in an era of flat or declining funding. Following the symposium, a select subcommittee will develop a paper based on the outcomes of the work.



2nd California Adaptation Forum  SEPTEMBER 7-8, 2016
Renaissance Long Beach Hotel and Long Beach Convention Center

The Local Government Commission and the State of California are proud to host the second California Adaptation Forum in the Fall of 2016. The two-day event will be the premiere convening for a multi-disciplinary group of 1,000+ decision-makers, leaders and advocates to discuss, debate and consider how we can most effectively respond to the impacts of climate change.

The 2016 California Adaptation Forum will feature:

  • A series of plenaries with high-level government, community and business leaders
  • A variety of breakout sessions on essential adaptation topics
  • Regional project tours highlighting adaptation efforts in Southern California
  • Pre-forum workshops on tools and strategies for implementing adaptation solutions


Bay-Delta Science Conference  November 15-17, 2016, Sacramento, CA

More information will be available in 2016, but mark your calendars now.  The call for abstracts for presentations and posters will be released in Spring 2016.



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


UC Santa Cruz Conservation Scholars Program

The Doris Duke Conservation Scholars Program at UCSC exposes early-career college students to the field of environmental conservation through field research, leadership and professional training.

Each year, we select 20 students from around the U.S. and its territories to participate in our two-year conservation leadership program. Our students represent a diverse spectrum of cultures and backgrounds, which helps to cultivate a unique and rewarding experience.


California Sea Grant is now accepting applications

Coastal Management Fellowship  Due: January 22, 2016

NMFS-Sea Grant Fellowship in Marine Resource Economics  Due: January 29, 2016

NMFS-Sea Grant Fellowship in Population and Ecosystem Dynamics  Due: January 29, 2016

Knauss Fellowship
Due: February 12, 2016


Applications for the 2016 L’Oréal USA For Women in (post-doc) fellowship program are now open.

The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science program recognizes and rewards the contributions women make in STEM fields and identifies exceptional women researchers committed to serving as role models for younger generations….The application and more information about the L’Oréal USA For Women in Science program can be found at Applications are due on Friday, February 5, 2016.

Should you have any questions or require additional information, please e‐mail me at






Funding Available to Help California Ag Producers Restore Wildlife Habitat

DAVIS, Dec. 16, 2015 – USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is making available about $50 million nationwide this year in financial assistance to partner with agricultural producers who want to restore and protect habitat for seven focus species, including two California species:  greater sage-grouse and the southwestern willow flycatcher. Conservation efforts for these species are part of Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW),
an innovative partnership that supports struggling landscapes and strengthens agricultural operations. This year in California, according to State Conservationist Carlos Suarez, more than $2 million is available to eligible ranchers and farmers willing to implement habitat restoration for the sage grouse, the umbrella species of the sagebrush landscape. This current funding is in addition to more than $4.5 million available to California farmers and ranchers for sage grouse habitat protection on private lands through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).  With the support of conservation partners and ranchers, NRCS launched the Sage Grouse Initiative in 2010. Those efforts became the model for WLFW, which began two years later. Conservation efforts to restore and protect sagebrush habitat led the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine in September that protections under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) were not warranted. NRCS is also investing about $535,000 in California on habitat restoration for the southwestern willow flycatcher, a small Neotropical migratory bird that lives in riparian areas and wetlands in the arid Southwest. The southwestern willow flycatcher is listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the California Endangered Species Act (CESA)….





Leave a Reply

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