Conservation Science News- Sept. 28, 2012

Highlight of the Week– New Reports: (1) Carbon Pollution Creating a “Cocktail of Heat and Extreme Weather”; (2) Climate Change Kills 400,000/year; Already Damaging Economy











Highlight of the Week– New Reports: (1) Carbon Pollution Creating a “Cocktail of Heat and Extreme Weather”; (2) Climate Change Kills 400,000/year; Already Damaging Economy


Markey/Waxman Report: Carbon Pollution Creating A ‘Cocktail Of Heat And Extreme Weather’

By Climate Guest Blogger and Stephen Lacey on Sep 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm by Katie Valentine and Stephen Lacey


Two House Democrats have released a report that aims to connect the dots on climate change and extreme weather events.


The staff report, issued by Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), outlines the past year’s record-setting temperatures, storms, droughts, water levels and wildfires, and is being circulated in an attempt to rebuild congressional momentum to address climate change.


“The evidence is overwhelming — climate change is occurring and it is occurring now,” said Rep. Waxman, a Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, in a statement. The report outlines the stunning array of record-breaking extreme weather events throughout 2012 within five categories:



  • July was the hottest month ever recorded in the continental U.S.  Some areas were 8 degrees warmer than average, with the average temperature in the lower 48 states at 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.3 degrees above the 20th century average.
  • Spring 2012 saw the warmest march, third-warmest April and second-warmest May in history, and was approximately 5.2 degrees Fahrenheit above average overall.
  • Through late June 2011, daily record highs were outnumbering daily record lows by 9-to-1.


  • As of September, 64 percent of the continental U.S. is experiencing drought, with August and September 2012 comparable to the worst months of the 1930s Dust Bowl.
  • By the beginning of August, more than half the counties in the U.S. had been designated disaster zones because of drought.
  • As of August, 51 percent of corn and 38 percent of soybeans grown in the U.S. were rated as poor or very poor by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some states’ corn fared worse – Indiana had 70 percent of its corn rated as poor or very poor, and Missouri had 84 percent.


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  • This fire season 8.6 million acres – roughly the size of Connecticut and New Jersey combined – have burned in the U.S., with fires still burning in parts of the West.
  • Wildfires in Colorado have killed six people, destroyed 600 homes and caused about $500 million in property damage.
  • There has been nearly a four-fold increase in large wildfires in the West in recent decades, with fires burning longer and more intensely and wildfire seasons lasting longer.


  • Tropical Storm Debby caused Florida to have its wettest June on record. The storm killed at least seven people and also damaged more than 7,500 homes and businesses.
  • In July, the “derecho” storm system killed at least 23 people and left more than 3.7 million people without power.
  • In August, Hurricane Isaac caused storm surges of up to 15 feet in some places and contributed to Louisiana and Mississippi experiencing their second-wettest August on record and to Florida experiencing its wettest summer on record.

Extreme water levels and water temperatures

  • In July, water in the Great Lakes reached temperatures of 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit – more than 10 degrees warmer than the same time last year.
  • In August, water temperatures of up to 97 degrees and low water levels caused tens of thousands of fish to die in Midwestern lakes and rivers.
  • Low water levels in the Mississippi watershed have caused some barge companies to reduce their loads by 25 percent and have caused harbor closures in Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi.

According to the report, 2012 natural disasters (not including wildfires or drought) have caused $22 billion in insured losses and more than 220 deaths as of August. The full cost of 2012’s extreme weather events isn’t yet known, but it’s expected to rival 2011’s record-breaking $55 billion…..



Climate Change Kills 400000 a Year, New Report Reveals

The Earth’s changing climate is costing the global economy $1.2 trillion a year and killing 1,000 children a day, according to a new study—and the U.N. warns the summer’s record heat and drought could trigger a catastrophe. Daily Beast September 27, 2012 Nearly 1,000 children a day are now dying because of climate change, according to a path-breaking study published Wednesday (PDF), and the annual death toll stands at 400,000 people worldwide. Climate change also is costing the world economy $1.2 trillion a year, the equivalent of 1.6 percent of economic output, reports the Climate Vulnerability Monitor, a study commissioned by 20 of the world’s governments whose nations are most threatened by climate change and released on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York. Most of the 400,000 annual deaths are “due to hunger and communicable diseases that affect above all children in developing countries,” concludes the study, written by 50 scientists and policy experts from around the world…..

Climate change is already damaging global economy, report finds

Economic impact of global warming is costing the world more than $1.2 trillion a year, wiping 1.6% annually from global GDP

Fiona Harvey,, Tuesday 25 September 2012 23.00 EDT

Climate change is already contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people a year and costing the world more than $1.2 trillion, wiping 1.6% annually from global GDP, according to a new study.

The impacts are being felt most keenly in developing countries, according to the research, where damage to agricultural production from extreme weather linked to climate change is contributing to deaths from malnutrition, poverty and their associated diseases.

Air pollution caused by the use of fossil fuels is also separately contributing to the deaths of at least 4.5m people a year, the report found.

The 331-page study, entitled Climate Vulnerability Monitor: A Guide to the Cold Calculus of A Hot Planet and published on Wednesday, was carried out by the DARA group, a non-governmental organisation based in Europe, and the Climate Vulnerable Forum. It was written by more than 50 scientists, economists and policy experts, and commissioned by 20 governments.

By 2030, the researchers estimate, the cost of climate change and air pollution combined will rise to 3.2% of global GDP, with the world’s least developed countries forecast to bear the brunt, suffering losses of up to 11% of their GDP.

Sheikh Hasina, prime minister of Bangladesh, said: “A 1C rise in temperature [temperatures have already risen by 0.7C globally since the end of the 19th century] is associated with 10% productivity loss in farming. For us, it means losing about 4m tonnes of food grain, amounting to about $2.5bn. That is about 2% of our GDP. Adding up the damages to property and other losses, we are faced with a total loss of about 3-4% of GDP. Without these losses, we could have easily secured much higher growth.”

But major economies will also take a hit, as extremes of weather and the associated damage – droughts, floods and more severe storms – could wipe 2% of the GDP of the US by 2030, while similar effects could cost China $1.2tr by the same date.

While many governments have taken the view that climate change is a long-term problem, there is a growing body of opinion that the effects are already being felt. Scientists have been alarmed by the increasingly rapid melting of Arctic sea ice, which reached a new record minimum this year and, if melting continues at similar rates, could be ice free in summer by the end of the decade. Some research suggests that this melting could be linked to cold, dull and rainy summers in parts of Europe – such as has been the predominant summer weather in the UK for the last six years. In the US, this year’s severe drought has raised food prices and in India the disruption to the monsoon has caused widespread damage to farmers.

Connie Hedegaard, the European Union’s climate chief, warned that extreme weather was becoming more common, as the effects of climate change take hold. “Climate change and weather extremes are not about a distant future,” she wrote in a comment for the Guardian last week. “Formerly one-off extreme weather episodes seem to be becoming the new normal.”

Michael Zammit Cutajar, former executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, said: “Climate change is not just a distant threat but a present danger – its economic impact is already with us.”….



Climate change is already with us. It kills.

It steals livelihoods. And it takes the most

from those who have the least. But the costs

are largely hidden from our understanding.

Inaction on climate change actually takes from

us all. Only together can we plot a different

course: one of greater prosperity and well-being.

Technical barriers no longer hold back our transition to

a low-carbon world, and technological solutions exist to

manage risks. We struggle instead with other barriers.

There are political barriers: while some countries are

committed to change and making progress, there is

still a lack of conviction among the governments of too

many industrialized and developing nations.

Social and cultural barriers also exist: lack of

understanding causes popular indifference or even

hostility to sensible change.






Backpack-toting birds help researchers reveal migratory divide, conservation hotspots
(September 26, 2012) — By outfitting two British Columbia subspecies of Swainson’s thrushes with penny-sized, state-of-the-art geolocators, researchers have been able to map their wildly divergent migration routes and pinpoint conservation hotspots. … > full story

Species richness and genetic diversity do not go hand in hand in alpine plants
(September 25, 2012) — Researchers have demonstrated for the first time that a high level of species diversity in alpine plants does not necessarily go hand in hand with a high level of genetic diversity. This finding suggests that new future strategies are needed to protect biodiversity in the Alpine region. … > full story

The Computerized Birder: Can Software Stop Bird Strikes on Wind Farms?

The Atlantic – September 23, 2012‎

There’s a common association in many people’s minds between wind turbines and dead birds. Opposition to new wind farms often centers on their hazards to raptors and other winged creatures, and yet for as advanced as wind energy technology itself has …


Wildfires in Washington State
(September 21, 2012) — The summer of 2012 will unfortunately be known as the “Summer of Devastating Western Wildfires” and practically not one state out west was spared. Washington State has been hardest hit of late. This satellite image shows a rash of wildfires currently burning in the middle of the state. … > full story



Desalination no panacea for Calif. water woes



ALICIA CHANG, Associated Press, JASON DEAREN, Associated Press Saturday, September 22, 2012

…in many cases, desalinated water is pricier than importing water the old-fashioned way — through pipes and tunnels. And it is cheaper to focus on conservation when possible: new technologies like low-flow toilets and stricter zoning laws that require less water-intensive landscaping have helped curb demand in communities throughout the state. Desalination has been around for years in Saudi Arabia, other Arab Gulf states and Israel, which last year approved the construction of a fifth desalination plant. The hope is that the five plants together will supply 75 percent of the country’s drinking water by 2013. The process also has helped ease thirst in places such as Australia, Spain and Singapore. Experts say it has been slower to catch on in the United States, mainly because companies face tougher rules on where they can build plants and must endure longer environmental reviews….Earlier this year, state utilities regulators rejected Monterey County’s desalination plan, citing problems with environmental review. The plan was also mired in alleged corruption by a county water official, who now faces criminal charges. Still, desalination will be an important part of the Central Coast’s future: the state ordered water suppliers to stop drawing from the Carmel River, its main source of the precious resource, starting in 2017. Even officials in Marina, with its shuttered plant, see a future in which demand will require their current desalination plant to resume operation and are planning another, larger plant to help make up for the expected water loss. “Water politics in Monterey County is a blood sport,” said Jim Heitzman, general manager of the Marina Coast Water District.


UC Merced study: Wildfire risk to homes will double over 40 years ……/uc-merced-study-wildfire-risk.html

Aug 2, 2012 – In the paper, released Wednesday, Westerling and co-author Ben Bryant looked at the impacts of climate change, the state’s projected


As population, interest in outdoor recreation grow, more pressure likely for northern forests
(September 26, 2012) — Despite just modest gains in population and participation in outdoor recreation compared to the rest of the nation, there is a strong likelihood of increasing pressure on forest and other undeveloped lands in northern states as the population grows and recreation demands shift. … > full story


Preserving large females could prevent overfishing of Atlantic cod, Swedish study finds
(September 26, 2012) — Cod are among Sweden’s most common and most popular edible fish and have been fished hard for many years. One consequence is the risk of serious changes in cod stocks, reveals new research. … > full story


Evan McGlinn for The New York Times

Building a Bat Cave to Battle a Plague

By JAMES GORMAN NYTIMES September 24, 2012 3:11 PM ET

Scientists hope that luring bats to an artificial bunker near Clarksville, Tenn., will help them find a cure for white nose syndrome, which has killed five million bats. …



Great white sharks back

SF Chronicle September 24, 2012

Scientists are all but running giddily into the surf with fancy new gadgetry as the annual migration of great white sharks hits full swing along the Pacific coast and reports flood in about finned beasts lurking in shallow waters. The ferocious predators have returned to their feeding grounds in the so-called Red Triangle, an area roughly between Monterey Bay, the Farallon Islands and Bodega Head, but sharks have been spotted all along the coast, including a 20-footer seen last weekend next to Moss Landing Harbor. The appearance of the great whites could not come at a better time for researchers, who recently deployed a new robotic device that can identify and track the movements of “What we are trying to build right now is a wired ocean with a network of interactive devices that will tell us where the animals are,” said Barbara Block, a professor with the department of biological sciences at Stanford University’s
Hopkins Marine Station. The new robot, called the Wave Glider, is a solar-powered device with a satellite hookup developed by Sunnyvale’s Liquid Robotics. The mobile surfboard-like gadget propels itself using wave energy and carries receivers and a global positioning system. The remote-controlled device, which is just now returning to San Francisco area waters after a trip up the coast to Oregon, is the latest addition to a growing arsenal of technology that is being used to study sharks. Transmitters have been attached to 100 sharks, and the acoustic pings of predators passing within 1,000 feet are being picked up by receivers affixed to buoys in known shark hangouts….


What Do Sharks Do in the Deep? Device May Tell

Gretchen Ertl for The New York Times A great white shark being corralled off the coast of Chatham, Mass. Known as Genie, she had a GPS tag attached to her dorsal fin for tracking before being released back into the water. More Photos »

By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE New York Times : September 24, 2012 ….Nine days passed. Then, on Sept. 13, a giant shark that would become known as Genie reared her head, or rather her fin, and burst into oceanographic history. Hooked in the corner of her mouth, she became what Mr. Fischer said was the first great white — all 2,292 pounds of her — to be captured live off Cape Cod, the home waters of “Jaws.” The Ocearch crew held her for 15 minutes in a cradle off the side of the boat. A team of scientists attached a GPS tag to her dorsal fin and took blood and tissue samples before releasing her back into the deep. Now the researchers, and anyone with an Internet connection, can follow her movements in real time online on the “shark tracker” on ….Catching sharks is something that Mr. Fischer, the founding chairman of Ocearch, a nonprofit organization that facilitates research on oceans and fish, and his crew have done scores of times. Before arriving here, they completed a similar expedition off South Africa, where they tagged dozens of great whites whose travel patterns can also be followed online. The purpose of their mission, said Mr. Fischer, 44, is to crack the code of these fascinating and mysterious animals. He and the scientists traveling with him hope to understand their migratory patterns and breeding habits, with the goal of providing policy makers with the necessary data to protect them. The online tracker can also alert coastal residents and tourists when sharks are in the vicinity. For some environmentalists, the mission is not so benign, or even necessary. They see the live capture of sharks as more invasive than other methods of tagging, like using a harpoon to implant a tracking device. The great whites are already a protected species in the United States, they argue, and the use of hooks and a method that exhausts them before pulling them out of the water subjects them to unnecessary trauma. During the South African expedition, one shark died. …


Scientists capture clues to sustainability of fish populations
(September 27, 2012) — Thanks to studies of a fish that gives birth to live young and is not fished commercially, scientists have discovered that food availability is a critical limiting factor in the health of fish populations. … > full story

It’s not too late for troubled fisheries, experts say
(September 27, 2012) — New research confirms suspicions that thousands of “data-poor” fisheries, representing some 80 percent of the world’s fisheries, are in decline but could recover with proper management. … > full story


True love between grass and clover leads to richer harvest
September 27, 2012) — Clover fixes atmospheric nitrogen, and plants growing nearby benefit. But does clover gain anything from its neighbors in return? Recent research reveals that, in mixed cropping, both nitrogen-fixing plants and their neighbors improve in weight and quality. The research revealed that levels of both carbon and especially nitrogen, a measure of food value, were higher in plant mixtures. … > full story


Agriculture Is the Direct Driver for Worldwide Deforestation



September 25, 2012 — A new synthesis on drivers of deforestation and forest degradation was published during the Bangkok climate change negotiations in September by researchers from Canada and from Wageningen University, Netherlands. The report stresses the importance of knowing what drives deforestation and forest degradation, in order to be able to design and monitor effective REDD+ policies to halt it…. Countries largely define REDD+ strategies and interventions to deal with national and local scale drivers, but face problems addressing international drivers and acknowledge that international pressure will increase. The report offers solutions for how countries can decouple economic growth from deforestation, investigating the range of options countries have to address drivers at various scales. The report, was supported by the UK and Norwegian governments, is available at story



Christian Ziegler FILCHER: On one island, spotted antbirds are evolving into polished parasites.

Feathered Freeloaders at the Ant Parade



By NATALIE ANGIER Published: September 24, 2012

BARRO COLORADO ISLAND, Panama — Here in the exuberantly dour understory of the Panamanian rain forest, the best way to find the elusive and evolutionarily revealing spotted antbird is to stare at your boots. For one thing, if you don’t tuck in your pant legs to protect against chiggers and ticks, you will end up a color plate in “Rook’s Textbook of Dermatology.” For another, sooner or later — O.K., much later, many, many hiking hours later — you will finally step into a swarm of army ants boiling out across the forest floor.


In birds’ development, researchers find diversity by the peck
(September 24, 2012) — It has long been known that diversity of form and function in birds’ specialized beaks is abundant. Charles Darwin famously studied the finches on the Galapagos Islands, tying the morphology (shape) of various species’ beaks to the types of seeds they ate. In 2010, biologists and applied mathematicians showed that Darwin’s finches all actually shared the same developmental pathways, using the same gene products, controlling just size and curvature, to create 14 very different beaks.


New turtle tracking technique may aid efforts to save loggerhead
(September 21, 2012) — The old adage “you are what you eat” is helping scientists better understand the threatened loggerhead turtle, which is the primary nester on Central Florida’s beaches. … > full story


Diversity, distribution of cutthroat trout in Colorado clarified
(September 24, 2012) — A novel genetic study has helped to clarify the native diversity and distribution of cutthroat trout in Colorado, including the past and present haunts of the federally endangered greenback cutthroat trout. … > full story


Global economic pressures trickle down to local landscape change, altering disease risk
(September 20, 2012) — The pressures of global trade may heighten disease incidence by dictating changes in land use. A boom in disease-carrying ticks and chiggers has followed the abandonment of rice cultivation in Taiwanese paddies, say ecologists, demonstrating the potential for global commodities pricing to drive the spread of infections. … > full story

Horticultural hijacking: The dark side of beneficial soil bacteria
(September 21, 2012) — It’s a battleground down there — in the soil where plants and bacteria dwell. Even though beneficial root bacteria come to the rescue when a plant is being attacked by pathogens, there’s a “dark side” to the relationship between the plant and its white knight, according to new research. … > full story


‘Semi-dwarf’ trees may enable a green revolution for some forest crops
(September 27, 2012) — The same “green revolution” concepts that have revolutionized crop agriculture and helped to feed billions of people around the world may now offer similar potential in forestry, scientists say, with benefits for wood, biomass production, drought stress and even greenhouse gas mitigation. … > full story







Loss of species makes nature more sensitive to climate change, study finds
(September 26, 2012) — When we wipe out the most sensitive species, human beings reduce the resilience of ecosystems to climate change, reveals a new study from biologists in Sweden. High biodiversity acts as an insurance policy for nature and society alike as it increases the likelihood that at least some species will be sufficiently resilient to sustain important functions such as water purification and crop pollination in a changing environment. … > full story

After Warmest 12-Months On Record, U.S. Poised To See Warmest Year Ever In 2012

Posted: 26 Sep 2012 02:49 PM PDT

NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center reports today that this January to August is the warmest year-to-date on record for the contiguous United States. As Climate Central shows in this chart, the U.S. will easily beat the previous record warm year, 1998 — unless the rest of the year is unusually cold….


Changing Calif. climate a threat to crops
Mark Schapiro, Center for Investigative Reporting Updated 11:10 p.m., Thursday, September 27, 2012

Farmers have always been gamblers, long accustomed to betting on the probabilities of the weather. But for the Napa Valley, where temperatures have been ideal for the wine industry, shifts in the Earth’s climate could be a game-changer. “They’re used to rolling the dice every year,” said Stuart Weiss, a conservation biologist and chief scientist at the Creekside Center for Earth Observation in Menlo Park, which assists growers and municipalities dealing with the disruptions caused by the changing climate. “Now, though, climate change is stacking the dice.” During the next 30 years, Weiss estimates, the temperature in the Napa Valley will rise by 1.8 degrees – a significant shift for a wine industry whose product can be affected by the smallest of temperature changes. Such a warming would be an 80 percent jump over the historical increase of about 1 degree every three decades, the change recorded since weather data in Wine Country were first kept around the turn of the 20th century.

It isn’t just Wine Country that is having to adapt. From the vast fields of fruits and nuts in the Central Valley to wheat farms in the Imperial Valley, changing weather is altering the fundamental conditions for growing food, prompting a reassessment of the way California’s largest industry operates. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, which pays farmers when bad weather ruins their crops, has identified climate change as one of the major risk factors for U.S. agriculture. In a 2010 report, it paid particular attention to the vulnerabilities of California, which produces 95 percent of the country’s apricots, almonds, artichokes, figs, kiwis, raisin grapes, olives, cling peaches, dried plums, persimmons, pistachios and walnuts. “Since the production of these commodities is so concentrated into one geographical area, the climatic impacts in these agricultural markets could be profound,” the report concluded.

The agency suggested an adaptation strategy: more research into “drought-tolerant, heat-tolerant and other crop varieties better suited to the changing conditions.” Those changing conditions include not only the possibility of hotter, drier weather, but also an influx of salt as sea levels rise and ocean water pushes farther into the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Daniel Cozad, executive director of the Central Valley Salinity Coalition, a group of farmers, businessmen and government officials, said some farmers in the western valley are already being forced to adapt by switching from salt-sensitive crops like strawberries and avocados to less sensitive – and less profitable – crops like alfalfa and wheat…..


How The Arctic Death Spiral Fuels A ‘Wicked Backlash On Our Weather’

By Joe Romm on Sep 25, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Videographer Peter Sinclair has another excellent video for The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media featuring leading Arctic experts: One of the featured scientists is Dr. Jennifer Francisof Rutgers’ Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences. We’ve featured discussion of Francis’s important work here. Francis was lead author of a 2012 Geophysical Research Letters study, “Evidence linking Arctic amplification to extreme weather in mid-latitudes,” which found that the loss of Arctic ice favors “extreme weather events that result from prolonged conditions, such as drought, flooding, cold spells, and heat waves.” You can find some good explanations of her findings here.

The Washington Post‘s Capital Weather Gang featured a guest post by Francis last Friday, “Shrinking Arctic ice and the wicked backlash on our weather.” Here are some key excerpts…


Unusual Summer Storm Blasts the Arctic | NewsFeed |

Aug 10, 2012 – A rare summer storm blasted the Arctic this week….. Arctic storms such as this one can have a large impact on the sea ice, causing it to melt rapidly through many mechanisms, such as tearing off large swaths of ice and pushing them to warmer sites, churning the ice and making it slushier, or lifting warmer waters from the depths of the Arctic Ocean. “It seems that this storm has detached a large chunk of ice from the main sea ice pack. This could lead to a more serious decay of the summertime ice cover than would have been the case otherwise, even perhaps leading to a new Arctic sea ice minimum,” said Claire Parkinson, a climate scientist with NASA Goddard. “Decades ago, a storm of the same magnitude would have been less likely to have as large an impact on the sea ice, because at that time the ice cover was thicker and more expansive.”….


Arctic Sea Ice: What, Why, and What Next

By Ramez Naam | September 21, 2012 |  Scientific American

On September 19th, NSIDC, the National Snow and Ice Data Center, announced that Arctic sea ice has shrunk as far as it will shrink this summer, and that the ice is beginning to reform, expanding the floating ice cap that covers the North Pole and the seas around it.   The Arctic Sea Ice extent this September was far smaller than the previous record set in 2007.  At 3.4 million square kilometers of ice coverage, this year’s Arctic minimum was 800,000 square kilometers smaller than the 2007 record.  That difference between the previous record and this year’s is larger than the entire state of Texas.  An ice-free summer in the Arctic, once projected to be more than a century away, now looks possible decades from now. Some say that it looks likely in just the next few years……


Melting Arctic Ice Cap at Record

ScienceDaily (Sep. 24, 2012) — Think of a poor hamster on a spinning wheel, caught up by momentum and unable to stop until it’s overwhelmed, sent tumbling, crashing out of control inside.That’s the analogy John Yackel, head of the department of geography, makes when he considers the annual summer ice melt in the Arctic, which he’s been closely monitoring for the past 15 years — documenting the ice cover as it’s steadily shrunk in the wake of Arctic and global warming. Thoughts of imminent crashes seem particularly ominous this year as last week marked the unofficial peak, or the end of the summer ice melt, with ice levels more dramatically diminished than at any time since satellite monitoring began 33 years ago.The previous record low for Arctic sea ice extent, set on Sept. 18, 2007 with a 4.17-million sq.-km. ice cap, was already shattered by the end of August this year when it had melted to below 4-million sq. km. “This is the smallest minimum ice extent we’ve ever had, and not just in the satellite record, but probably in the last million years,” says Yackel, a sea ice geophysicist and climatologist.

From the patterns he has observed, this year’s extreme melt could be the beginning of a frightening trend. Yackel and the university-based Cryosphere Climate Research Group use satellite technology to research the physical properties of Arctic ice. As recently as the 1980s, most of the ice in the Arctic Ocean was “multi-year ice,” — thick ice that would remain throughout the summer. At that time, the split between multi-year ice and seasonal ice — ice that would melt away in the summer — was about 80 per cent multi-year and 20 per cent seasonal. “In the last 20 years we’ve almost gotten to the point where we’ve reversed that ratio,” Yackel says, predicting the ice extent that covers the Arctic Ocean “is likely to be gone in the summers within the next 20 to 25 years, if not sooner.” The depleting ice cover would have serious ramifications for the planet. Arctic ice acts as a reflector of sunlight, helping regulate Earth’s temperature, cooling the climate. “When there’s no longer that sea ice below the air mass and it’s just open ocean, that’s when more moisture off the ocean’s surface gets into the atmosphere and the water vapor in the atmosphere makes for more violent storms,” says Yackel.

“We can also expect to see an increase in storm frequency and storm intensity for most of the world’s populated places as the Arctic and Earth continues to warm.”


Eco-evolutionary responses of biodiversity to climate change
pp747 – 751

Jon Norberg, Mark C. Urban, Mark Vellend, Christopher A. Klausmeier and Nicolas Loeuille
doi:10.1038/nclimate1588 NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE subs. required
This study describes the development of a multi-species model used to explore the integrated eco-evolutionary responses to climate change. The results should help to understand and predict the responses of biological diversity, ecosystems, and ecological services to changing climate.



Scientists predict major shifts in Pacific ecosystems by 2100
September 24, 2012)
What if you woke up every day to find that the closest grocery store had moved several miles farther away from your home? Over time, you would have to travel hundreds of extra miles to find essential food for yourself and your family. This is potentially a scenario faced by thousands of marine animals affected by climate change. A new study published in Nature Climate Change examines the distribution of various open ocean animals in the North Pacific and explores how that could change over the next century as global ocean temperatures increase and productivity levels shift. The researchers conclude that some critical ocean habitats could undergo significant changes in location, moving more than 600 miles from where they are now, while other habitats could remain relatively unchanged…..

….. …One of these key habitat areas, known as the North Pacific Transition Zone, marks the interface between cold, nutrient-rich polar water to the north and warmer, nutrient-poor water to the south. This region is used by a variety of ocean predators, including marine mammals, tunas and seabirds, as a corridor across the Pacific Ocean basin. The study suggests that this critical region could shift by as much as 600 miles, resulting in a 20 percent loss of species diversity in the region.
The California Current, which runs along the west coast of North America, supports a variety of open ocean predators each year, when cold, nutrient-rich water creates regions of high productivity. This so-called upwelling cycle would likely continue despite ocean warming. “The fact that tagging indicates this is the number one lunch stop in town along the most populous coast in the nation — and stabilizes in a warming world — increases our opportunity to consider how to protect these hot spots,” said Barbara Block, the Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Professor in Marine Sciences at Stanford, who is heavily involved in TOPP.Among the Pacific’s top predators, turtles, sharks and marine mammals such as whales appear to be most at risk from habitat shifts associated with Pacific warming. In some cases, predicted losses in essential habitat ranged as high as 35 percent. But animals such as seabirds and tunas may benefit from climate-change-related shifts that could actually increase their potential habitat for foraging due to their broader tolerances to temperature. “The difference from one species to another is their ability to adapt to temperatures and to use multiple ocean areas,” said Hazen. “Having multiple sources of food, migration corridors and areas to call home provides a buffer against climate variability and change.”…full story

Elliott L. Hazen, Salvador Jorgensen, Ryan R. Rykaczewski, Steven J. Bograd, David G. Foley, Ian D. Jonsen, Scott A. Shaffer, John P. Dunne, Daniel P. Costa, Larry B. Crowder, Barbara A. Block. Predicted habitat shifts of Pacific top predators in a changing climate. Nature Climate Change, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nclimate1686



The need for new ocean conservation strategies in a high-carbon dioxide world
pp720 – 724

Greg H. Rau, Elizabeth L. McLeod and Ove Hoegh-Guldberg
doi:10.1038/nclimate1555 Nature Climate Change subs required
The threats posed to the marine environment by increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide are historically unprecedented, and will probably require the use of unconventional, non-passive methods to conserve marine ecosystems. In this Perspective it is argued that soliciting such approaches and evaluating their cost, safety and effectiveness must be part of a robust ocean conservation and management strategy.

Scientists Focus on Ocean Acidification
Lauren Sommer California Report , KQED Radio September 25, 2012

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Oceans 30% more acidic since start of industrial revolution…impacts seen on oysters today….more acidic waters in spring and summer along CA coast with upwelling…This week, scientists from around the world are meeting in Monterey to discuss what they call the “other” climate change problem–the oceans are becoming more acidic. It happens as oceans absorb the carbon dioxide we add to the air through burning fossil fuels. It can be bad news for oysters, mussels and the marine food web….

Changes in pH at the exterior surface of plankton with ocean acidification

Kevin J. Flynn, Jerry C. Blackford, Mark E. Baird, John A. Raven, Darren R. Clark, John Beardall, Colin Brownlee, Heiner Fabian and Glen L. Wheeler doi:10.1038/nclimate1696 NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE subs. required


Drought Grows, Forecast to Persist Through Early Winter

By Michael D. Lemonick
Published: September 20th, 2012

The massive and widespread 2012 drought that has gripped the nation since the spring refuses to die, according to the latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor — and in fact, it’s expanded a little: as of September 18, 64.82 percent of the contiguous U.S. was suffering from at least moderate drought, slightly more than the 64.16 percent reported a week earlier, enough of a gain to set a new record for this drought category. At the same time, NOAA released its seasonal drought outlook for the period ending December 31, and it offers little prospect for significant improvement. Drought is projected to persist in a huge swath of the country, especially in the West from Southern California to West Texas, north to Wisconsin, and back west to Montana, Idaho, southeastern Oregon and back down to Nevada — and everywhere in between. In addition, drought conditions are projected to develop during the period in the rest of the Pacific Northwest and Upper Midwest. A small swath from south Texas up through Indiana and parts of Ohio may see “some improvement” in drought conditions, as might parts of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. The rest of the East and Southeast are mostly unaffected by drought at this time, and that is projected to continue. The drought forecast for the next few months is being shaped by the expected influence of a developing El Niño event in the equatorial tropical Pacific Ocean. ….



Valley farmers examine climate change issuesSan Joaquin (CA)

By Robert Rodriguez – The Fresno Bee Thursday, Sep. 27, 2012 | 12:01 AM Related Story: Volatile weather creates dramatic changes for California farmers

New science and research has San Joaquin Valley farmers taking a harder look at the effect that climate change may have on their industry.

If researcher’s predictions hold true, the Valley’s multi-billion dollar agriculture industry will be hit with longer stretches of hot temperatures, fewer colder days and shrinking water supplies. What that means for agriculture is potentially lower yields, a loss of revenue and fewer acres being farmed.

Farmers and industry leaders say that while there is still skepticism among their ranks, they are doing what they can to stay ahead of the issue, including educating themselves, testing new fruit varieties or investing in water-saving technologies. ….

Researchers predict that rising temperatures over the next several decades could pinch the yields of some Valley crops, including an 18% drop in citrus, 6% in grapes and 9% among cherries and other orchard crops. Nelsen said he was one of the early naysayers. The early debates about climate change were often mired in politics, or seen by farmers as an agenda pushed by the environmental community. But more credible research has caused many to take the issue more seriously.”I am not completely buying into it,” Nelsen said. “But as an industry, it behooves us to be out in front of an issue that could affect the production of citrus in the state.” Nelsen wants to know how hotter temperatures will affect the flavor of citrus fruit and how oranges will develop their vibrant color with fewer colder days. “And do we take a second look at what possible locations might be available to grow citrus, if the San Joaquin Valley is not amenable to producing citrus anymore?” …..



Craig Miller / KQED

California’s Farm Belt Didn’t Dodge the Summer Heat Wave

By Nicholas Christen and Craig Miller KQED Radio September 24, 2012

Even tomatoes can only take so much heat. A belt from Bakersfield to the northern Sacramento Valley produces a third of the nation’s canning tomatoes. Autumn is here, so says the calendar. Living on the coast, it might be easy to think that California escaped the heat wave suffered by much of the nation this summer. While that may be true for most of the large coastal population centers, it was a different story for much of the state’s interior farm belt… “We had just a couple of weeks on end where we were 109, 110, 111 degrees. Just brutal. The nights don’t cool down, it’s hard on the plants, it’s hard on the people…things heated up quickly — especially in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys — through August and into September.  Valley towns including Redding, Red Bluff, Sacramento, Merced, Madera, Fresno, and Bakersfield, have been on the order of three-to-five degrees above normal for the duration of August and September. Some of the most extreme deviations in August average temperatures: Merced +5.1; Fresno +4.8; Bakersfield +4.6; Sacramento: +4.1; Madera +3.0. Fresno saw 27 days above normal during August and most of those days were at least three degrees above normal, a string one meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Fresno called, “pretty amazing.” There has been a plus side to all this. “I can remember we used to get a lot of real severe frosts during the spring growing season,” recalled Cameron. “I can’t remember the last time we had one that was actually a killing frost during April.” That’s created an opportunity of sorts for growers. “We’ve been able to plant our tomatoes earlier in the year for earlier harvest, which extends the, the season for the cannery.” The roast continued well into September, bringing with it an unusual late-season streak of 90-plus-degree days in downtown Sacramento. This year could eclipse the September record of 20 days, set back in 1899.


Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation Study for California– BARRIERS to ADAPTATION for CALIFORNIA’s WATER SECTOR-
This Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program white paper was released in July of this year and provides a legal analysis of barriers to adaptation for California’s water sector:

This project focused on the legal and institutional framework associated with California’s water rights allocation system, and identifies changes to that framework that would facilitate adaptation to climate change. Since such changes may be difficult to accomplish, the project focused largely, but not exclusively, on changes that may be politically feasible now or in the future. There is already conflict in California over water allocation, and climate change will exacerbate that conflict by increasing demand and decreasing supply. Adaptation will be needed both to address already unavoidable impacts from historical emissions, and to address impacts from future emissions. To identify changes that would facilitate adaptation this study looked at recent legislation, policy proposals, and white papers addressing water reform; and off-the- record interviews were conducted with individuals familiar with California water law. Having an accurate record of who is diverting water in California, and in what quantity, is the single most important step towards preparing for climate change, and the recommendations
reflect that.

For groundwater, the changes identified would

(1) expand groundwater monitoring and reporting requirements,
(2) expand groundwater planning requirements, and
(3) require the State Board to improve groundwater management and to prevent the waste or unreasonable use of groundwater.

For surface water, the changes we identify would
(1) require the State Board to provide information about efficient agricultural water management practices, and streamline State Board procedures for enforcement actions for the waste and unreasonable use of water,
(2) increase the enforcement of and penalties for failing to file a Statement of Water Diversion and Use and for illegal diversions,
(3) require all beneficiaries of the water rights system to bear the cost of activities related to the administration of those rights, and
(4) expand reporting requirements to require diverters to state what they believe their water rights to be.

Keywords: Water rights administration, California, climate change, adaptation, groundwater, surface water, State Water Resources Control Board. Please use the following citation for this paper: Hanemann, M., D. Lambe, and D. Farber (University of California, Berkeley). 2012. Climate Vulnerability and Adaptation Study for California: Legal Analysis of Barriers to Adaptation for California’s Water Sector. California Energy Commission. Publication number: CEC-500-2012-019.


Modeling Sea Level Rise—an overview

By Stefan Rahmsdorf, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research

Nature Education Knowledge, 2012

“physical modeling of sea level rise does not yet provide reliable results…motivation to turn to semi- empirical methods.”



As Temperatures Climb, Salt Marshes Curb Climate Change

RedOrbit – ‎September 27, 2012‎

Image Caption: Salt marsh at Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Credit: Fariss Samarrai Alan McStravick for – Your Universe Online

With only 6 days separating us from the third-hottest summer on record, the warnings of climate scientists are increasingly being taken with more than just a grain of salt. Many climate scientists are of the opinion that if we haven’t passed a tipping point already, then that time is rapidly approaching. Carbon dioxide, one of the most prevalent of our greenhouse gases, acts as a sort of blanket in our atmosphere by trapping in the Earth’s heat. As carbon dioxide accumulates, it has the ability to affect our global climate, increasing temperature that, in turn, melts polar ice caps and causes sea levels to rise. In a study published today in the journal Nature, environmental scientists from the University of Virginia postulate that the warming climate and rising seas will actually enable salt marshes around the globe to capture and remove increasing amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.  Potentially, this could act to slow the rate of global climate change.

“We predict that marshes will absorb some of that carbon dioxide, and if other coastal ecosystems – such as seagrasses and mangroves – respond similarly, there might be a little less warming,” said the study’s lead author, Matt Kirwan, a research assistant professor of environmental sciences the University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences. Kirwan and study co-author Simon Mudd, a geosciences researcher at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, used computer models to predict salt marsh growth rates under different climate change and sea-level scenarios. These salt marshes are acting as a sort of fail-safe measure for our environment. Consisting primarily of grasses, the salt marshes are vital to coastal ecosystems as they help to protect shorelines from storms. Additionally, they provide a necessary habitat for a diverse range of wildlife, including birds, mammals, fish and mollusks. Additionally, by trapping sediment during flooding, they act to build up the elevation of coastal areas and produce new soils from decaying organic matter and root structures.

“One of the cool things about salt marshes is that they are perhaps the best example of an ecosystem that actually depends on carbon accumulation to survive climate change: The accumulation of roots in the soil builds their elevation, keeping the plants above the water,” Kirwan explained. Salt marshes are repositories for enormous quantities of carbon. These stores of carbon are essential to plant productivity. The plant life, breathing in the atmospheric carbon, utilizes that transaction to facilitate growth. As plant life flourishes, it aids in increasing the overall height of the soil. Even if the grass were to die, carbon remains trapped in the sediment.
The model proposed in the study explains that even with a rise in sea-level, the marshes could bury up to four times as much carbon as they currently do. “Our work indicates that the value of these ecosystems in capturing atmospheric carbon might become much more important in the future, as the climate warms,” Kirwan said…..


Study: Climate change threatens seafood supply

Report ranks threat to nations, with island nations on top By JASON HOPPIN – Santa Cruz Sentinel Posted:   09/24/2012 10:18:33 AM PDT

SANTA CRUZ – A new study shows that increasingly acidic seawater threatens the food supply in developing countries, particularly island nations dependent on fish for protein. Released today, the report is the first to rank the threat to countries from the phenomenon, which researchers say is related to climate change. Researchers factored in nations’ exposure to acidification, their dependency on seafood as a food source and their ability to adapt. “You’re potentially going to have a lot of people that will lose a significant source of protein, something that they sustainably harvested for thousands of years,” said report author Matthew Huelsenbeck, a marine scientist with the conservation group Oceana. “Their way of life is threatened.” Seafood is an important source of protein, particularly in the developing world, where it supplies 15 percent of the protein for 3 billion people. But oceans are also a key absorbent of carbon dioxide, taking in 300 tons per second – about a quarter of all carbon dioxide produced worldwide. That has taken a toll, with ocean acidity up 30 percent since the mid-18th century. The change recently has led fish populations to seek out cooler, less acidic waters, and the resulting carbonic acid threatens coral reefs and shellfish. Acidification already has had impacts, from contributing to increasing coral reef “bleaching” events – up to 90 percent of coral has been lost in the Maldives, Seychelles, Kenya and more – to a decadelong die-off of oysters off the coast of Oregon….


New clues about ancient water cycles shed light on U.S. deserts
(September 27, 2012)
– The deserts of Utah and Nevada have not always been dry. Now a researcher has found a new water cycle connection between the U.S. southwest and the tropics, and understanding the processes that have brought precipitation to the western US will help scientists better understand how the water cycle might be perturbed in the future. … T
he deserts of Utah and Nevada have not always been dry. Between 14,000 and 20,000 years ago, when large ice caps covered Canada during the last glacial cooling, valleys throughout the desert southwest filled with water to become large lakes, scientists have long surmised. At their maximum size, the desert lakes covered about a quarter of both Nevada and Utah. Now a team led by a Texas A&M University researcher has found a new water cycle connection between the U.S. southwest and the tropics, and understanding the processes that have brought precipitation to the western U.S. will help scientists better understand how the water cycle might be perturbed in the future….”Large ice caps profoundly altered where storms went during glacial periods. Before this study, it was assumed that Pacific winter storms that now track into Washington and Canada were pushed south into central and southern California,” Lyle notes. “However, by comparing timing between wet intervals on the coast, where these storms would first strike, with growth of the inland lakes, we found that they didn’t match.”… Only southern California coastal wet intervals matched with the progression of high lakes inland, pointing to the development of a tropical connection, where storms cycled into the region from the tropical Pacific, west of southern Mexico.”We think that the extra precipitation may have come in summer, enhancing the now weak summer monsoon in the desert southwest. But we need more information about what season the storms arrived to strengthen this speculation,” Lyle says…..What we need to do now is look at all of this on a finer scale,” Lyle points out. “We need to understand better the processes that directed the storms thousands of years ago, and to predict better what changes might occur in the future.”….full story



Hurricane Irene polluted Catskills watershed
(September 26, 2012) — The water quality of lakes and coastal systems will be altered if hurricanes intensify in a warming world, according to a new study. … > full story


Climate is changing the Great Barrier Reef
(September 24, 2012) — Satellite measurement of sea surface temperatures has yielded clear evidence of major changes taking place in the waters of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef over the past 25 years, marine scientists have found. … > full story


Tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea have intensified due to earlier monsoon onset
(September 24, 2012) — The tropical cyclones during the pre-monsoon season in the Arabian Sea have intensified since 1997 compared to 1979 as a result of decreased vertical wind shear and earlier occurrence of tropical cyclones, according to a new study. … > full story


Stratosphere targets deep sea to shape climate: North Atlantic ‘Achilles heel’ lets upper atmosphere affect the abyss
(September 23, 2012) — A new study suggests something amazing: Periodic changes in winds high in the stratosphere influence the seas by striking a vulnerable “Achilles heel” in the North Atlantic and changing mile-deep ocean circulation patterns, which in turn affect Earth’s climate. … > full story




Study examines forest vulnerability to climate change September 27, 2012 by Alan Buis And Noah Molotch

—Mid-elevation forests – those between approximately 6,500 to 8,000 feet (1,981 to 2,438 meters) in elevation – are the most sensitive to rising temperatures and changes in precipitation and snowmelt associated with climate change, finds a new University of Colorado Boulder-led study co-funded by NASA. The study looked at how the greenness of Western U.S. forests is linked to fluctuations in year-to-year snowpack. A research team led by CU-Boulder researcher Ernesto Trujillo used satellite and ground data to identify the threshold where mid-elevation forests that are sustained primarily by moisture transition into higher-elevation forests that are instead sustained primarily by sunlight and temperature. The team used 26 years of continuous data from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), a spaceborne sensor flying on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite, to measure forest greenness. Forest observations from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument on NASA’s Terra spacecraft were critical for evaluating the longer-term AVHRR data. Being able to identify this “tipping point” is important because many people live and play in these mid-elevation forests in the Western United States, said co-author Noah Molotch, CU-Boulder assistant professor and also a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. These forests are seeing higher levels of wildfires, beetle outbreaks and tree mortality. The researchers found that these mid-elevation forests show a dramatic sensitivity to snow that fell the previous winter, both in terms of accumulation and subsequent melt. About half of the mid-elevation forest greenness measured by satellites was attributed to the snow accumulations from the previous winter, with the other half due to conditions such as soil depth, soil nutrients, temperature and sunlight. “The strength of the relationship between forest greenness and snowpack from the previous year was quite surprising to us,” Molotch said. …


Severe economic loss for European forest land expected by 2100
(September 23, 2012) — By 2100 the climate change is expected to reduce the economic value of forest land by 14 to 50 percent, which equates to a potential damage of several hundred billion Euros unless effective countermeasures are taken. This is the conclusion of the first pan-European study on the economic effects of climate change on forest land. … > full story

Salt cedar beetle damage widespread after warm summer
(September 27, 2012) — Salt cedar along the waterways of the southern and eastern Panhandle is rapidly being defoliated and dying back, and one entomologist believes he knows why. … > full story


Ecology: Soil mediation in grasslands
pp711 – 712

Howard Epstein

The physical composition of the soil can determine grassland plant responses to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide.
See also:
Letter by Philip A. Fay et al. NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE subscription required


Drought Grows, Forecast to Persist Through Early Winter By Michael D. Lemonick
Published: September 20th, 2012

The massive and widespread 2012 drought that has gripped the nation since the spring refuses to die, according to the latest report from the U.S. Drought Monitor — and in fact, it’s expanded a little: as of September 18, 64.82 percent of the contiguous U.S. was suffering from at least moderate drought, slightly more than the 64.16 percent reported a week earlier, enough of a gain to set a new record for this drought category. At the same time, NOAA released its seasonal drought outlook for the period ending December 31, and it offers little prospect for significant improvement. Drought is projected to persist in a huge swath of the country, especially in the West from Southern California to West Texas, north to Wisconsin, and back west to Montana, Idaho, southeastern Oregon and back down to Nevada — and everywhere in between….


Other news from

  • An updated ground and aerial survey indicates about 301 million trees have died in rural Texas because of the 2011 drought. [Associated Press]
  • For good reason, there has been significant media focus on how a warming sea gobbles up the ice that is polar bear habitat and reduces the area’s capacity to reflect the sun’s rays. But far less attention has been placed on what a naked Arctic Ocean means for its closest neighboring ecosystem: the Arctic tundra. [CNN]




The Journey From High Schoolers To Climate Leaders In Two Semesters Or Less

Posted: 22 Sep 2012 07:53 AM PDT by Amanda Peterson, via Climate Access

School is back in session for high schools all across the country and the one thing on every student’s mind is, of course, climate change. OK, maybe in most schools who’s dating whom, getting into college and the elections are getting a bit more play.  But as we, the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), start back up, we’re getting climate change to top of mind, too. Since 2009, we’ve been working with high schoolers – with an assembly, student action programs and leadership trainings – in climate science and solutions. We’ve reached more than a million high schoolers and seen the first of this generation of leaders step up to tackle some issues that people twice their age are intimidated by. But since I’ve started at ACE, I’ve heard the question: “Why high schoolers?” or “Can we really wait for high school students to become tomorrow’s leaders, given the window of opportunity on climate change?” more than I ever would have expected. Sometimes, I cite statistics on how influential high schoolers are on their peers, their family decisions and their schools……










Air resources board may tweak cap and trade



SF Chronicle September 27, 2012 California’s air resources board may adjust the number of carbon permits it plans to give to specific companies before the first auction of allowances in November under the state’s cap-and-trade… more »

US Needs Climate Change Plan, Carbon Tax, Says Sachs

Bloomberg – ‎September 24, 2012‎

The U.S. needs a policy to address climate change and a plan to reduce emissions that may include a carbon tax and bonds, Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs said.


20 Dollar Per Ton Carbon Tax Could Reduce Deficit By $1.2 Trillion In 10 Years



By Stephen Lacey on Sep 25, 2012 at 11:14 am Over the last year, there’s been increasing talk in Washington political circles — including conservative ones — about how to use a carbon tax as a deficit reduction tool. However, with an election season in full swing and a large number of Congressional Republicans campaigning against climate action, the current likelihood of getting a price on carbon is officially zero.



WHY IT MATTERS: Despite the weather, climate change gets little mention in the campaign

By Associated Press, Published: September 23

The issue: People love to talk about the weather, especially when it’s strange like the mercifully ended summer of 2012. This year the nation’s weather has been hotter and more extreme than ever, federal records show. Yet there are two people who aren’t talking about it, and they both happen to be running for president.


The Potential Impact of Global Warming on the 2012 Presidential Election, Yale Project on Climate change and Communication

We report that 7% of likely voters remain undecided about their vote for President. Report Highlights:
Global warming is an important issue for undecided voters and likely Obama voters when voting for President Though few likely voters say global warming is the “single-most important” issue to them in this election, majorities of likely Obama voters (75%) and Undecideds (61%) say it will be one of several important issues determining their vote for President. Only 32% of likely Romney voters say it will be one of the “important issues” determining their vote
Desire for Presidential and Congressional action Undecided voters and likely Obama voters say that President Obama (64% and 61% respectively) and Congress (72% and 78%) should be “doing more” about global warming. By contrast, fewer than half of likely Romney voters think the President or Congress should be doing more (35% and 35% respectively) and, in fact, are more inclined to say they should be doing less to address global warming (47% and 44%).
Bipartisan agreement that the U.S. should use more renewable energy sources There is broad agreement among all likely voters – 85% of likely Obama voters, 83% of undecided voters, and 73% of likely Romney voters – that the U.S. should use more renewable energy sources (e.g., solar, wind, and geothermal) in the future. However, while more than half of Undecideds and likely Obama voters say that in the future the U.S. should use fewer fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas (55% and 65% respectively), fewer than half of likely Romney voters agree (38%).
Is global warming happening? 80% of undecided voters believe that global warming is happening, while only 3% believe it is not happening – which is very similar to likely Obama voters (86% and 4% respectively).  By contrast, 45% of likely Romney voters believe global warming is happening. In fact, one out of three likely Romney voters believes it is not happening.


Constraining world trade is unlikely to help the climate, study finds
September 23, 2012) — From rubber dinghies to television sets: the emissions of greenhouse gases in countries like China are to a significant extent caused by the production of goods that are exported to Germany or the United States. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that Western countries have relocated their emission-intensive industries and hence escape regulation for climate protection, according to a new study. … > full story

Got Science? Not at News Corporation



Union of Concerned Scientists September 21, 2012

Recent coverage of climate science on Fox News Channel and in the Wall Street Journal opinion pages has been overwhelmingly misleading. Our new snapshot analysis details the extent of these misleading references, which include broad dismissals of human-caused climate change, disparaging comments about climate scientists, and rejections of climate science as a body of knowledge…..Read the Press Release | Read the Report | Take Action


Gov. Jerry Brown signs bill putting freeze on state park closures

A bill placing a two-year moratorium on California state park closures is among dozens signed Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

September 25, 2012|By Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Tuesday setting a two-year moratorium on closing state parks in the wake of a scandal in which some parks officials hid surplus funds while facilities were threatened with being shuttered…..Brown also signed another Huffman measure reshaping the state Department of Fish and Game to provide greater emphasis on conservation, including a change in its name to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The bill — which some Republicans opposed as an attempt to de-emphasize hunting — also provides for creating an environmental crimes task force to help prosecute crimes against wildlife, and authorizes the department to partner with nonprofit groups and accept funds for additional conservation programs. Brown signed AB 2402 “to improve the management of state fish and wildlife resources,” according to a statement by his office…..

Here’s the whole bill:

NOTE: The Governor also signed a new bill giving- giving Coastal Conservancy explicit ability to address climate change—including reduce greenhouse gas emissions through natural systems. This is the first time a state agency is explicitly authorized to do that.


The 50th Anniversary Of ‘Silent Spring’ Reminds Us Of The Importance Of Environmental Regulations

Posted: 21 Sep 2012 09:30 AM PDT by Arpita Bhattacharyya

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the release of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a book often credited with launching the modern environmental movement. As we celebrate recent vital regulations, from new fuel economy standards to carbon pollution standard, it’s important to look back on how one book moved the American public to realize the importance of environmental protection and called the government to action. In Silent Spring, Rachel Carson broke down four years of research on the harmful impacts of DDT, a pesticide first used to kill malaria-causing insects for U.S. troops during World War II and later used to kill agricultural pests.  The generous use of DDT on crops killed far more than the targeted insects and remained in the environment even after dilution with water.  The consequence?  DDT entered into the food chain and built up in fatty tissues of animals, leading to cancer and genetic damage.  It was dangerous for birds and animals and threatened the entire globe’s food chain. Silent Spring’s most famous chapter detailed a town in which DDT’s effects had “silenced” all animals and residents.  Importantly , however, Carson did not call for a complete ban of DDT.


AGU Scientists Discuss Value of Research with Congress
On 12 September 2012, scientists from across the country visited Capitol Hill for the 5th Annual Geosciences Congressional Visits Day sponsored by AGU and six other scientific organizations. In 116 meetings, the 55 participants from 17 states engaged in dialogue with their members of Congress, congressional staff, and congressional committee officials about the importance of continued investment in scientific research and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. … the geoscientists spoke with congressional offices about the importance of scientific research in their home states as well as the nationwide implications of investing in scientific investigation and STEM education, including economic competitiveness, job creation, natural disaster preparedness, and effective water and energy resource management. These meetings were especially important given the approaching “fiscal cliff” of sequestration. This 8-12% cut in discretionary funding was not intended to take effect, but was instead designed to incentivize compromise on budgetary matters after the 2011 debt ceiling crisis. Without bipartisan congressional action before January, federal agencies and programs that support scientific research and education, including USGS, NSF, NOAA, NASA, and DOE, will likely face hundreds of millions of dollars of cuts in funding….. Upcoming events include the Science-Engineering-Technology Congressional Visits Day on 12-13 March 2013. If you would like to participate in these or any other congressional events with AGU, please contact Kristan Uhlenbrock for further information.



Experts call on Congress to create first U.S. weather commission
(September 27, 2012) — With the U.S. economy vulnerable to weather events costing billions of dollars, an expert panel has asked Congress to create the first U.S. Weather Commission
. The commission would provide guidance to policymakers on leveraging weather expertise across government and the private sector to better protect lives and businesses. … > full story



Despite Little Mention Of Climate Change From Candidates, Faith Groups Pledge To Make It An Election Issue
Posted: 21 Sep 2012 08:30 AM PDT by Catherine Woodiwiss

This week, the National Climate Summit 2013 Coalition released a petition calling on both Presidential candidates to address rapidly accelerating climate change.

The statement, written and endorsed by over 1300 faith leaders, elected officials, civil rights groups, environmental activists, business representatives, and others, calls on both Presidential candidates to “act in the best interests of this and all future generations of American’s now by publicly acknowledging the climate emergency”; and committing to host a climate summit to craft actions for national solutions within their first 100 days in office.

This is only the latest step in a long, hot summer filled with faith groups demanding that climate change get its place at the table during the last weeks of the election season.









Featured dataset: the California Basin Characterization Model

This month’s feature on the Commons homepage is the dataset that forms the foundation for numerous projects analyzing the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and human-built systems, the Basin Characterization Model. This article gives you a quick overview of the data, a 3-minute video showing how to get it, and information about projects that have put it to use, including an interview with Dr. Lisa Micheli about a study of the North Bay region.

Latest Additions to the Commons library: the 2012 PIER Program research papers 

The results of the Energy Commission funded research have been added to our document catalog. Everything in the Commons is indexed with keywords that help you find documents, data, and web resources related to a topic (for example: species distribution modeling).





Global Warming –Campus Solutions- Dirty Energy Politics—National Wildlife Federation




Climate Smart Actions for Natural Resource Managers

November 29, 2012, 9:30-4
Elihu Harris Building, Oakland, CA

Sponsored by Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium and CA Coastal Conservancy

Are you managing natural resources and interested in learning how to plan for climate change?  This workshop will present case studies AND provide an opportunity for you to request research and tools needed to make informed climate smart decisions.  Please join us on Thursday, November 29, 2012 from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM at the Elihu Harris Building in Oakland.



National Adaptation Forum–Action today for a better tomorrow

You are invited to be a part of the 1st National Adaptation Forum (NAF): Action today for a better tomorrow. Please join us as we kick-off the inaugural convening of adaptation practitioners and
experts from around the country focused on moving from adaptation planning to adaptation action.

For more information please visit: agenda is coming soon, a call for abstracts (trainings, symposia and working group proposals) open October 15th , and registration will open November 1st. We hope you can make it and look forward to seeing you there.



Facilitation Skills for Scientist and Resource Managers

December 4-6, 2012: 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (each day)

Prunedale Grange Hall 17890 Moro Road, Salinas, California

Registration Fee: $450 Instructor: Jim Nelson

Workshop objectives: Participants will be able to design and facilitate meetings more effectively with lower anxiety and better meeting outcomes. This course is intended to be a practical approach to improving group meetings.  It is oriented specifically to the needs of those working with natural resources.  Participants are presented with a wide array of tools and opportunities to practice new facilitation skills.

To register:




Barbara Kinsolver: “Flight Behavior” takes on one of the most contentious subjects of our time: climate change. With a deft and versatile empathy Kingsolver dissects the motives that drive denial and belief in a precarious world. A short interview:




**Environmental/Climate Change Music & Performance for Kids– Jeff Kagan & Paige Doughty

CDs & Music [my family loves this music!]

** The Charcoal Forest: How Fire Helps Animals & Plants

on the importance of burned forests—by a former PRBO seasonal biologist!





Scientific discovery offers ‘green’ solution in fight against greenhouse gases
(September 24, 2012)
low-cost new material that could lead to innovative technologies to tackle global warming has been discovered by scientists at The University of Nottingham. The porous material, named NOTT-300, has the potential to reduce fossil fuel emissions through the cheaper and more efficient capture of polluting gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). The research, published in the scientific journal Nature Chemistry, demonstrates how the exciting properties of NOTT-300 could provide a greener alternative to existing solutions to adsorb CO2 which are expensive and use large amounts of energy. The new material represents a major step towards addressing the challenges of developing a low carbon economy, which seeks to produce energy using low carbon sources and methods… Professor Schröder said: “It is widely accepted that it is imperative that the CO2 footprint of human activity is reduced in order to limit the negative effects of global climate change. “There are powerful drivers to develop efficient strategies to remove CO2 using alternative materials that simultaneously have high adsorption capacity, high selectivity for CO2 and high rates of regeneration at an economically viable cost.” And NOTT-300 delivers on each of these criteria. Because of this, the new discovery could signal a marked improvement in terms of environmental and chemical sustainability. The material is economically viable to produce because it is synthesized from relatively simple and cheap organic materials with water as the only solvent.full story

Two-thirds of the world’s new solar panels were installed in Europe in 2011
(September 24, 2012) — Europe accounted for two thirds of the world-wide newly installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2011, with 18.5 GW. Its overall PV capacity totalled 52 GW. The yearly electricity produced by PV could power a country with the electricity demand of Austria, which corresponds to 2% of the EU’s electricity needs. … > full story


Adapting to climate change through urban green infrastructure

Stuart R. Gaffin, Cynthia Rosenzweig and Angela Y. Y. Kong
doi:10.1038/nclimate1685 NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE subs required


Study outlines supply chain challenges for lithium future
(September 21, 2012) — As demand increases for lithium, the essential element in batteries for everything from cameras to automobiles, a researcher is studying potential disruptions to the long-term supply chain the world’s lightest metal. … > full story

Twenty-three nuclear power plants found to be in tsunami risk areas
(September 21, 2012) — Tsunamis are synonymous with the destruction of cities, and homes and since the Japanese coast was devastated in March 2011 we now know that they cause nuclear disaster, endanger the safety of the population and pollute the environment. As such phenomena are still difficult to predict, a team of scientists has assessed “potentially dangerous” areas that are home to completed nuclear plants or those under construction. … > full story







Taking the battle against the toxic trio beyond ‘Leaves of three, leave it be’
(September 26, 2012) — With more than half of all adults allergic to poison ivy, oak and sumac, scientists are reporting an advance toward an inexpensive spray that could reveal the presence of the rash-causing toxic oil on the skin, clothing, garden tools, and even the family pet. Using the spray would enable people to wash off the oil, or avoid further contact, in time to sidestep days of misery. … > full story


Fred Bodsworth: Last of his kind by Paul Baicich September 25, 2012

Creative Canadian writer, Fred Bodsworth, passed away on Saturday, September 15.  He was just short of his 94th birthday. Bodsworth, born 1918, started his writing career in journalism, but, beginning in 1955, he found his niche in the field of freelance writing and editing. The first of his four novels was his most successful: Last of the Curlews  (1955, Dodd Mead). This book follows a solitary Eskimo Curlew’s dangerous 9,000-mile journey from nesting grounds inside the Arctic Circle to the end of South America and back again. The narrative serves as symbolic: a mixture of examining the wonders of migration, the threat of extinction, and the excesses of man’s role on the environment. The lone Eskimo Curlew survivor comes to represent the potential for a disappearing species, and for all that is endangered in nature. The book sold over three million copies and has been translated into a dozen languages.

The impact of Bodsworth’s writing was seen by many as equal to the influence of Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac  (1949) and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962).  Appearing in 1955, in a period between these other two books, Last of the Curlews also served to prepare the public for an environmental movement that was yet to arise. The conservation community was given a real boost by Bodsworth’s work, and many a committed environmentalist of a certain age was buoyed by the message of Last of the Curlews. On his purpose for writing, Fred Bodsworth explained: “Out of the blending of human and animal stories comes the theme that I hope is inherent in all my books: that man is an inescapable part of all nature, that its welfare is his welfare, that to survive he cannot continue acting and regarding himself as a spectator looking on from somewhere outside.Last of the Curlews was even made into an animated film by Hanna-Barbera Productions, the same folks who gave us the Flintstones. It was first shown in October 1972, appearing as the very first ABC Afterschool Special. It won an Emmy in 1973. If you have never read the short and wonderful Last of the Curlews, get yourself a copy. I doubt that any bird educator will be disappointed.


The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks
pp732 – 735

Dan M. Kahan, Ellen Peters, Maggie Wittlin, Paul Slovic, Lisa Larrimore Ouellette, Donald Braman and Gregory Mandel
doi:10.1038/nclimate1547 NATURE CLIMATE CHANGE subs required
Public apathy over climate change is often attributed to a deficit in comprehension and to limits on technical reasoning. However, evidence suggests that individuals with the highest degrees of science literacy and technical reasoning capacity are not the most concerned about climate change and are the most culturally polarized.


Regular consumption of sugary beverages linked to increased genetic risk of obesity
(September 21, 2012) — Researchers have found that greater consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) is linked with a greater genetic susceptibility to high body mass index (BMI) and increased risk of obesity. The study reinforces the view that environmental and genetic factors may act together to shape obesity risk. … > full story

Diet high in total antioxidants associated with lower risk of myocardial infarction in women
(September 21, 2012) — Coronary heart disease is a major cause of death in women. A new study has found that a diet rich in antioxidants, mainly from fruits and vegetables, can significantly reduce the risk of myocardial infarction. … > full story

Study Divides Breast Cancer Into Four Distinct Types



By GINA KOLATA NYTimes September 24, 2012

New findings are reshaping the understanding of breast cancer, pointing to the use of drugs approved for other cancers. “This is the road map for how we might cure breast cancer in the future,” a researcher said.

Antibiotics could replace surgery for appendicitis, research suggests
(September 26, 2012) — Although the standard approach to acute appendicitis is to remove the appendix, a study from Sweden reveals that treatment with antibiotics can be just as effective in many cases. … > full story Taps into a New Way to Buy Organic Maple Syrup

Published 7:01 a.m., Friday, September 21, 2012

The site is unlike anything seen in the maple syrup industry in that it offers consumers a unique way to buy organic maple syrup, a rare find in most parts of the world as less than 20% of the worldwide supply is certified organic.

Montreal, Quebec, Canada (PRWEB) September 21, 2012

Rouge Canada has officially launched, its new e-commerce website. The site is unlike anything seen in the maple syrup industry in that it offers consumers a unique way to buy organic maple syrup, a rare find in most parts of the world as less than 20% of the worldwide supply is certified organic. With’s unique “Adopt a Maple Tree” program, customers receive all the organic maple syrup their tree produces over the course of a year, thereby guaranteeing an ample supply. “Our adoptive tree-parents are people who care about the quality of food they serve to their families. They also care about the tree itself, and our adoptions support the longevity of the adopted trees by supporting a producer who maintains the rigorous certified organic standards required. Organic maple syrup is better tasting and healthier but more expensive to produce. It’s a question of quality over quantity but also a question of what is better for the tree,” says a spokesperson for …

Exposure to school-age children ups severity of cold infections
(September 26, 2012) — Exposure to school-age children raises the odds that a person with lung disease who catches a cold will actually suffer symptoms like a runny nose, sore throat and cough. While many studies have found that being around school-age children increases the risk of infection, the new findings go one step further: Of people who come down with colds, the course of the infection is much more likely to be worse in people exposed to children. … > full story









Scientific American Figure 11 – Once frozen solid, permafrost near the Arctic is melting, creating conditions for decomposition of organic matter and the release of carbon as CO2 and methane. Image courtesy of NASA.










September 21, 2012

Highlight of the Week– Arctic Sea Ice Melts to Record Low










Highlight of the WeekArctic Sea Ice Melts to Record Low

Earth’s Attic Is On Fire: Arctic Sea Ice Bottoms Out At New Record Low

By by Jeff Masters, via the Wunderblog
Climate Guest Blogger on Sep 20, 2012 at 6:10 pm


Figure 1. Arctic sea ice reached its minimum on September 16, 2012, and was at its lowest extent since satellite records began in 1979. Image credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC).


The extraordinary decline in Arctic sea ice during 2012 is finally over. Sea ice extent bottomed out on September 16, announced scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) on Wednesday. The sea ice extent fell to 3.41 million square kilometers, breaking the previous all-time low set in 2007 by 18%–despite the fact that this year’s weather was cloudier and cooler than in 2007. Nearly half (49%) of the icecap was gone during this year’s minimum, compared to the average minimum for the years 1979 – 2000.


This is an area approximately 43% of the size of the Contiguous United States. And, for the fifth consecutive year–and fifth time in recorded history — ice-free navigation was possible in the Arctic along the coast of Canada (the Northwest Passage), and along the coast of Russia (the Northeast Passage or Northern Sea Route.)


“We are now in uncharted territory,” said NSIDC Director Mark Serreze. “While we’ve long known that as the planet warms up, changes would be seen first and be most pronounced in the Arctic, few of us were prepared for how rapidly the changes would actually occur. While lots of people talk about opening of the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Arctic islands and the Northern Sea Route along the Russian coast, twenty years from now from now in August you might be able to take a ship right across the Arctic Ocean.”….


Commentary: Earth’s attic is on fire

To me, seeing the record Arctic sea ice loss of 2012 is like discovering a growing fire burning in Earth’s attic. It is an emergency that requires immediate urgent attention. If you remove an area of sea ice 43% the size of the Contiguous U.S. from the ocean, it is guaranteed to have a significant impact on weather and climate. The extra heat and moisture added to the atmosphere as a result of all that open water over the pole may already be altering jet stream patterns in fall and winter, bringing an increase in extreme weather events. This year’s record sea ice loss also contributed to an unprecedented melting event in Greenland. Continued sea ice loss will further increase melting from Greenland, contributing to sea level rise and storm surge damages. Global warming doubters tell us to pay attention to Earth’s basement–the Antarctic–pointing out (incorrectly) that there is no fire burning there. But shouldn’t we be paying attention to the steadily growing fire in our attic? The house all of humanity lives on is on fire. The fire is certain to spread, since we’ve ignored it for too long. It is capable of becoming a raging fire that will burn down our house, crippling civilization, unless we take swift and urgent action to combat it.


AND MORE on the Arctic Sea Ice:


  • As sea ice shrinks to record lows, Prof Peter Wadhams warns a ‘global disaster’ is now unfolding in northern latitudes

    John Vidal, Monday 17 September 2012 06.14 EDT

    One of the world’s leading ice experts has predicted the final collapse of Arctic
    sea ice in summer months within four years. In what he calls a “global disaster” now unfolding in northern latitudes as the sea area that freezes and melts each year shrinks to its lowest extent ever recorded, Prof Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University calls for “urgent” consideration of new ideas to reduce global temperatures. In an email to the Guardian he says: “Climate change is no longer something we can aim to do something about in a few decades’ time, and that we must not only urgently reduce CO2 emissions but must urgently examine other ways of slowing global warming, such as the various geoengineering ideas that have been put forward.” These include reflecting the sun’s rays back into space, making clouds whiter and seeding the ocean with minerals to absorb more CO2. Wadhams has spent many years collecting ice thickness data from submarines passing below the arctic ocean. He predicted the imminent break-up of sea ice in summer months in 2007, when the previous lowest extent of 4.17 million square kilometres was set. This year, it has unexpectedly plunged a further 500,000 sq km to less than 3.5m sq km. “I have been predicting [the collapse of sea ice in summer months] for many years. The main cause is simply global warming: as the climate has warmed there has been less ice growth during the winter and more ice melt during the summer…..”This collapse, I predicted would occur in 2015-16 at which time the summer Arctic (August to September) would become ice-free. The final collapse towards that state is now happening and will probably be complete by those dates“. Wadhams says the implications are “terrible”. “The positives are increased possibility of Arctic transport, increased access to Arctic offshore oil and gas resources. The main negative is an acceleration of global warming.”


  • Arctic sea ice melts to lowest level on record By Deborah Zabarenko Reuters Thu Sep 20, 2012 12:43am IST
    • Faster thaw than expected in scientific models
    • Weather impact expected in U.S. and elsewhere
    • Environmentalists, advocates call for policy change

    WASHINGTON, Sept 19 (Reuters) – Arctic sea ice, a key indicator of climate change, melted to its lowest level on record this year before beginning its autumnal freeze, researchers at the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center said on Wednesday. The extent of ice probably hit its low point on Sept. 16, when it covered 1.32 million square miles (3.42 million square km) of the Arctic Ocean, the smallest amount since satellite records began 33 years ago. Changing weather conditions could further shrink the extent, the center said. A final analysis is expected next month. The record was broken on Aug. 26, when the ice shrank below the record set in 2007. After that, it kept melting for three more weeks, bringing the ice extent – defined by NSIDC as the area covered by at least 15 percent ice – to nearly half of the 1979-2000 average. “We are now in uncharted territory,” Mark Serreze, the center’s director, said in a statement. “While we’ve long known that as the planet warms up, changes would be seen first and be most pronounced in the Arctic, few of us were prepared for how rapidly the changes would actually occur.”… Melting Arctic ice changes the shape and position of the jetstream, allowing tropical air to penetrate further north and Arctic air to penetrate further south, Lashof said in a telephone interview, leading to more extreme weather. “That is a truly staggering rate of melting, far beyond what scientists thought would happen a few years ago,” Bob Ward of the London School of Economics and Political Science said in a statement. “Policy-makers need to wake up to the scale and pace of the impacts from climate change.”

  • By JUSTIN GILLIS New York Times Published: September 19, 2012

    The drastic melting of Arctic sea ice has finally ended for the year, scientists announced Wednesday, but not before demolishing the previous record — and setting off new warnings about the rapid pace of change in the region. The apparent low point for 2012 was reached Sunday, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, which said that sea ice that day covered about 1.32 million square miles, or 24 percent, of the surface of the Arctic Ocean. The previous low, set in 2007, was 29 percent.

    When satellite tracking began in the late 1970s, sea ice at its lowest point in the summer typically covered about half the Arctic Ocean, but it has been declining in fits and starts over the decades.

    “The Arctic is the earth’s air-conditioner,” said Walt Meier, a research scientist at the snow and ice center, an agency sponsored by the government. “We’re losing that. It’s not just that polar bears might go extinct, or that native communities might have to adapt, which we’re already seeing — there are larger climate effects.” ….


  • When Arctic sea ice fell to its lowest level ever recorded this August, the ice covered an area 45 percent smaller than it did in the 1990′s. The amount of ice that melted in the Arctic this year is roughly the size of Canada and Alaska combined. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just released a video illustrating the record melt: NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center also released its latest data on Arctic ice on Monday. The previous record for Arctic ice melt was in 2007; however, as the data show, this year brought an additional loss of ice equivalent to the size of Texas. During August of 2012, Arctic ice disappeared at a rate of 35,400 miles per day. Researchers are calling the melt “astonishing” and  “urgent.” One prominent scientist, Cambridge University’s Peter Wadhams, is now projecting that summer sea ice in the Arctic may entirely disappear in the next four years — calling the implications “terrible.”
    “As the sea ice retreats in summer the ocean warms up (to 7C in 2011) and this warms the seabed too. The continental shelves of the Arctic are composed of offshore permafrost, frozen sediment left over from the last ice age. As the water warms the permafrost melts and releases huge quantities of trapped methane, a very powerful greenhouse gas so this will give a big boost to global warming,”
    he told the Guardian newspaper.

    The National Climatic Data Center also released data showing this summer was the third-warmest ever recorded globally, with August marking the 330th consecutive month when temperatures were above the 20th century average.





Forest Fire Research Questions the Wisdom of Prescribed Burns

By JIM ROBBINS New York Times Published: September 17, 2012

MISSOULA, Mont. — On a forested mountainside that was charred in a wildfire in 2003, Richard Hutto, a University of Montana ornithologist, plays a recording of a black-backed woodpecker drumming on a tree. The distinctive tattoo goes unanswered until Dr. Hutto is ready to leave. Then, at the top of a tree burned to charcoal, a woodpecker with black feathers, a white breast and a yellow slash on its crown hammers a rhythmic response. This forest may have burned,” says Dr. Hutto, smiling, “but that doesn’t mean it’s dead. There’s a lot going on.” The black-backed woodpecker’s drum signals more than the return of life to the forest. It also may be an important clue toward resolving a debate about how much, and even whether, to try to prevent large forest fires. Scientists are at loggerheads over whether there is an ecological advantage to thinning forests and using prescribed fire to reduce fuel for subsequent fires — or whether those methods actually diminish ecological processes and biodiversity. The United States Forest Service, which manages nearly 200 million acres of public land, believes limited thinning and burning will prevent catastrophic wildfires. The agency contracts with logging companies to cut down large and small trees across sweeping landscapes, and uses prescribed fire. Besides protecting homes, experts say, these methods also recreate the natural state of the forest. The approach, developed primarily as a result of tree ring studies, seeks to reconstruct the forests of the West before the 20th century, when the large-scale suppression of wildfire first occurred. Some ecologists and environmentalists, however, are challenging the Forest Service’s model, saying it is based on incomplete science and is causing ecological damage.

Recent research, they say, shows that nature often caused far more severe fires than tree ring records show. That means the ecology of Western forests depends on fires of varying degrees of severity, including what we think of as catastrophic fires, not just the kinds of low-intensity blazes that current Forest Service policy favors. They say that large fires, far from destroying forests, can be a shot of adrenaline that stimulates biodiversity. ….


New way proposed to save Africa’s beleaguered soils
(September 19, 2012) — Researchers have made a case for a new type of agriculture that could restore the beleaguered soils of Africa and help the continent feed itself in the coming decades. Their system, which they call “perenniation,” mixes food crops with trees and perennial plants, which live for two years or more. … > full story


Jerry D. Glover, John P. Reganold, Cindy M. Cox. Agriculture: Plant perennials to save Africa’s soils. Nature, 2012; 489 (7416): 359 DOI: 10.1038/489359a


Protecting ecosystems brings benefits to society
(September 17, 2012)Ecosystems are essential to our well-being and prosperity as they provide us with food, clean air and fresh water. Ecosystems also represent an exceptional source of outdoor recreation opportunities. The functions performed by ecosystems that increase our well-being are called ecosystem services. The PEER Research on EcoSystem Services (PRESS) initiative describes how different EU policies can help to increase the services and benefits provided by ecosystems, and calls for the inclusion of the ecosystem services approach into European policy measures affecting the use or state of natural resources…

… The first phase of the study, which was concluded in September 2011 with the publication of a first PRESS report, demonstrated methodologies to map the role of ecosystems as providers of clean water and recreation and investigated how ecosystem services can be mainstreamed into agriculture, fisheries or forestry policies. The second and final phase of the study consisted of case studies carried out on pollination, recreation and water purification to explore how assessment methods to measure and map ecosystem services might be developed at multiple spatial scales….Synthesis report is intended to convey four main policy messages:

  • The capacity of wetlands, rivers, streams and lakes to remove or immobilize pollutants is essential to the provision of clean water for multiple uses and decreases costs of wastewater treatment based on technological solutions only. New proposals of the European Commission to green the Common Agricultural Policy and to restore wetland ecosystems are predicted to have positive effects on water purification services, thereby improving water quality and increasing the economic benefits to society.
  • Outdoor recreation services are one of the most immediate perceived benefits of ecosystems to people. The PRESS study presents evidence of high visitation rates to natural areas, in particular forests. Surveys show that citizens are willing to pay for continued access to forest ecosystems for recreation purposes. On a national scale, the value of forests for recreation may be in a range of billions of Euros. This value increases when we consider the avoided cost for health care due to the restorative and stress reduction capacity of recreational activities. Green urban areas such as city parks also have high recreational potential. The PRESS study report describes spatial methods to identify where investments in green urban areas reach their highest potential.
  • Insects such as bees and bumblebees are key actors in providing pollination services to maintain Europe’s crop production, in particular of fruit and vegetables. High resolution data of forests and riparian areas were used to map the ecosystems in which bees and bumblebees build nests and find nectar-carrying flowers. Such information is important to convince farmers to help manage and protect these habitats as they increase their agricultural output.
  • The mapping, assessment and valuation of ecosystem services are necessary but not sufficient steps in achieving the ecosystem services targets of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. We need to develop a thorough understanding of how we determine the levels of the various ecosystem services and the impacts of current policies on ecosystems…..> full story


Scientists study fungus to defeat cheatgrass
September 06, 2012 12:11 am  •  Jeff Delong – Reno Gazette-Journal RENO, Nev. — At Skull Valley, they study the black fingers of death.These scientists aren’t mad, and this isn’t a B-grade horror flick. Rather, researchers with the U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station are closely examining a fungus that has potential to help control the spread of cheatgrass, an invading plant spreading across millions of acres of the Great Basin at alarming cost to its ecology. The fungus’ catchy moniker came from the tiny, hair-like filaments that emerge from cheatgrass seeds after it attacks. “After it kills the seed it sticks these black things out that look like fingers,” Susan Meyer, research ecologist said.”It goes into them and eats them alive, basically,” Meyer said. “It looks like a horror movie. It really does.”It’s the black fingers of death doing their thing.…..Cheatgrass, native to the steppes of Eurasia, was introduced to America through contaminated seed in the 1890s. It was first found in Nevada in 1906 and now dominates roughly 20 million acres of the West, Meyer said. Cheatgrass invades and dominates the landscape, taking over terrain where sagebrush and native grasses thrive naturally. It often dominates land charred by wildfire and, once established, the highly flammable grass is prone to fuel future fires in a damaging cycle….



Invisible Plastic Particles in Seawater Damaging to Sea Animals

September 20, 2012Plastic nanoparticles in seawater can have an adverse effect on sea organisms. Particles measuring about a thirty millionth of a millimetre, and therefore invisible to the naked eye, are responsible. Mussels that have been exposed to such particles eat less, and thus grow less well, according to research carried out by scientists and students at Wageningen University and IMARES, both part of Wageningen UR. They wrote about their research in the most recent issue of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. The presence of ‘plastic soup’ in the oceans is regarded as a big problem. Tiny plastic particles enter the sea when plastic debris decomposes. Such particles are probably also released from cosmetics and from clothes in the wash, subsequently entering the sewage system and surface waters and eventually reaching the sea.


The Original ‘Twitter’? Tiny Electronic Tags Monitor Birds’ Social Networks

A tiny, digital tag provides a first peek at the social lives of small animals. Using the tags to track New Caledonian crows revealed a …  > full story


How birds master courtship songs: Zebra finches shed light on brain circuits and learning
(September 17, 2012) — By studying how birds master songs used in courtship, scientists have found that regions of the brain involved in planning and controlling complex vocal sequences may also be necessary for memorizing sounds that serve as models for vocal imitation. … > full story


Rapid urban expansion threatens biodiversity
(September 17, 2012) — A brief window of opportunity exists to shape the development of cities globally before a boom in infrastructure construction transforms urban land cover, according to a new study. … > full story


Aldo Leopold’s Field Notes Score a Lost ‘Soundscape’

ScienceDaily (Sep. 18, 2012) —Rising before daylight and perched on a bench at his Sauk County shack in Depression-era Wisconsin, Leopold routinely took notes on the dawn chorus of birds. Beginning with the first pre-dawn calls of the indigo bunting or robin, Leopold would jot down in tidy script the bird songs he heard, when he heard them, and details such as the light level when they first sang. He also mapped the territories of the birds near his shack, so he knew where the songs originated. Among his many qualities, the pioneering wildlife ecologist Aldo Leopold was a meticulous taker of field notes. Lacking a tape recorder, the detailed written record was the best the iconic naturalist could do. “Leopold took amazing field notes,” says Stan Temple, a University of Wisconsin-Madison emeritus professor of wildlife ecology and now a senior fellow of the Aldo Leopold Foundation. “He recorded his observations of nature in great detail.” …..”The difference between 1940 and 2012 is overwhelmingly the anthrophony — human-generated noise,” explains Temple. “That’s the big change. In Leopold’s day there was much less of that.”

The resurrected soundscape of 1940s Sauk County is the first to be recreated from actual data rather than someone’s imagination of what the past sounded like, says Temple. The work fits into an emerging field of science known as soundscape ecology, which seeks to explain the role of sound within a landscape and how it influences the animals — birds, insects, amphibians, even fish — that live there.…..Preserving the natural sounds of a place, avers Temple, may be just as challenging as conserving the mosaic of plants and animals that help keep an ecosystem intact. Like smell and sight, “sound can be what you associate with a particular landscape,” something Leopold appreciated and wrote about in several of his well known essays. By noting and studying the role of sound in the natural world, Leopold proved again to be ahead of his time. Science is only now coming to grips with the totality of the sounds of nature (much like the sound of an entire orchestra) rather than the individual components of the soundscape, according to Temple. Understanding how nature’s “music” is changing and how much attention we need to pay to the sounds introduced by people, he says, are challenges for soundscape ecologists. And we have much to learn about what the noise people make does to the environment….


Researchers tag great white sharks off Cape Cod LINDSEY ANDERSON, Associated Press September 18, 2012 (AP) — The scientists and fishermen on board the Ocearch, a repurposed crabbing vessel, received word that their scouting boat had hooked a great white shark, sparking a flurry of activity. Unlike Skomal’s team, which has tagged a dozen great… more »


The ‘slippery slope to slime’: Overgrown algae causing coral reef declines
(September 19, 2012) — Researchers for the first time have confirmed some of the mechanisms by which overfishing and nitrate pollution can help destroy coral reefs — it appears they allow an overgrowth of algae that can bring with it unwanted pathogens, choke off oxygen and disrupt helpful bacteria. … > full story


University students design unique marine-tracking device
(September 18, 2012) — Students from different disciplines came together to design a unique marine-tracking device. The device will collect data by being attached to a fish’s tail. By using this technology, which can track up to 500 tail-movements per second, researchers hope to discover more about how a fish’s movement relates to its behavior and growth rate. … > full story


Surprising demographic shifts in endangered monkey population challenge conservation expectations
(September 18, 2012) — At first glance, the northern muriqui monkey is a prime conservation success story. These Brazilian primates are critically endangered, but in the past 30 years a population on a private reserve has grown from just 60 individuals to some 300, now comprising almost a third of the total remaining animals. A recent analysis of the factors contributing to this population’s tremendous growth reveals surprising trends that raise new questions about conservation, recovery and what constitutes a healthy population. … > full story


Oyster genome uncover the stress adaptation and complexity of shell formation
(September 19, 2012) — An international research team has completed the sequencing, assembly and analysis of Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) genome — the first mollusk genome to be sequenced — that will help to fill a void in our understanding of the species-rich but poorly explored mollusc family. The study reveals the unique adaptations of oysters to highly stressful environment and the complexity mechanism of shell formation. … > full story


Chile’s Pacific paradise endangered by goats, cats

EVA VERGARA, Associated Press Associated Press September 20,2012

Jungles remain, but invasive species are crowding out the unique native plants and birds that evolved during more than a million years of splendid isolation. A handful of biologists, environmentalists, teachers and Chilean government officials… more »


An Amateur Rancher Brings the Wastelands of the Southwest Back to Life
What’s a Manhattan society girl to do when she finds herself living on acres of desiccated, left-for-dead earth in the Southwest? If she’s Valer Austin, she rolls up her sleeves and does the miraculous-bringing it all back to lush life.






Global swelter: World has 3rd-warmest summer on record
by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY September 18, 2012 While the USA sweated through one of its warmest summers on record, so, too, did the rest of the globe, federal scientists from the National Climatic Data Center announced Monday. The average summer temperature over global land and ocean surfaces tied with 2005 as the third-highest on record at 61.25 degrees F, or 1.15 degree F above the 20th century average of 60.1 degrees F. Only the summers of 1998 and 2010 were warmer. Records go back to 1880….


June Through August Was Warmest Period For Global Land Temperature Ever Recorded
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 01:43 PM PDT

The average global land surface temperature between June and August of 2012 was the warmest ever recorded, according to data from the National Climatic Data Center. The three month period saw an average land temperature that was 1.03°C (1.85°F) above the 20th century average.


Shrinking snow depth on Arctic sea ice threatens ringed seal habitat
(September 17, 2012) — University of Washington scientists found that the habitat required for ringed seals — animals under consideration for the threatened species list — to rear their young will drastically shrink this century. … > full story


Arctic sea ice thaw may be accelerated by oil, shipping

By Alister Doyle OSLO | Tue Sep 18, 2012 5:46pm EDT

(Reuters) – Local pollution in the Arctic from shipping and oil and gas industries, which have expanded in the region due to a thawing of sea ice caused by global warming, could further accelerate that thaw, experts say…..


Sea surface temperatures reach record highs on Northeast continental shelf
(September 18, 2012)
— During the first six months of 2012, sea surface temperatures in the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem were the highest ever recorded. The annual 2012 spring plankton bloom was intense, started earlier and lasted longer than average. This has implications for marine life from the smallest creatures to the largest marine mammals like whales. Atlantic cod continued to shift northeastward from its historic distribution center. … > full story





Climate Change Dramatically Increases Rainfall in the Tropics

Laboratory Equipment – September 18, 2012‎

Global warming is expected to intensify extreme precipitation, but the rate at which it does so in the tropics has remained unclear. Now an MIT study has given an estimate based on model simulations and observations: with every 1 C rise in temperature, the study finds, tropical regions will see 10 percent heavier rainfall extremes, with possible impacts for flooding in populous regions…..”Unfortunately, the results of the study suggest a relatively high sensitivity of tropical extreme rainfall to global warming,” O’Gorman says. “But they also provide an estimate of what that sensitivity is, which should be of practical value for planning.” The results of the study are in line with scientists’ current understanding of how global warming affects rainfall, says Richard Allan, an associate professor of climate science at the Univ. of Reading in England. A warming climate, he says, adds more water vapor to the atmosphere, fueling more intense storm systems. “However, it is important to note that computer projections indicate that although the rainfall increases in the wettest regions — or similarly, the wet season — the drier parts of the tropics… will become drier still,” Allan says. “So policymakers may have to plan for more damaging flooding, but also less reliable rains from year to year.”


Warming Ocean Could Start Big Shift of Antarctic Ice

ScienceDaily (Sep. 19, 2012) — Fast-flowing and narrow glaciers have the potential to trigger massive changes in the Antarctic ice sheet and contribute to rapid ice-sheet decay and sea-level rise, a new study has found. Research results published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveal in more detail than ever before how warming waters in the Southern Ocean are connected intimately with the movement of massive ice-sheets deep in the Antarctic interior.

“It has long been known that narrow glaciers on the edge of the Antarctica act as discrete arteries termed ice streams, draining the interior of the ice sheet,” says Dr Chris Fogwill, an author of the study and an ARC Future Fellow with the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre. “However, our results have confirmed recent observations suggesting that ocean warming can trigger increased flow of ice through these narrow corridors. This can cause inland sectors of the ice-sheet — some larger than the state of Victoria — to become thinner and flow faster.”…. The glaciers that responded most rapidly to warming oceans were found in the Weddell Sea, the Admundsen Sea, the central Ross Sea and in the Amery Trough. “To get a sense of the scale, the Antarctic ice sheet is 3km deep … and it extends across an area that is equivalent to the distance between Perth and Sydney. Despite its potential impact, Antarctica’s effect on future sea level was not fully included in the last IPCC report because there was insufficient information about the behavior of the ice sheet. This research changes that. This new, high-resolution modelling approach will be critical to improving future predictions of Antarctica’s contribution to sea level over the coming century and beyond.”


Video: Greenland’s Unfrozen Future

NY Times September 19, 2012

Greenland’s receding ice has exposed vast deposits of valuable minerals and new opportunities for an island in economic decline.


Protecting mangroves is cheaper than building coastal protection, expert says

Christian Science Monitor – ‎September 19, 2012‎

Keeping coastal mangrove forests intact or replanting them is cheaper than building man-made structures to protect coastlines threatened by climate change, according to the head of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Skip to next …


Major Changes Needed to Protect Australia’s Species and Ecosystems

ScienceDaily (Sep. 18, 2012)A landmark study has found that climate change is likely to have a major impact on Australia’s plants, animals and ecosystems that will present significant challenges to the conservation of Australia’s biodiversity. The comprehensive study by CSIRO highlights the sensitivity of Australia’s species and ecosystems to climate change, and the need for new ways of thinking about biodiversity conservation.

“Climate change is likely to start to transform some of Australia’s natural landscapes by 2030,” lead researcher, CSIRO’s Dr Michael Dunlop said.

“By 2070, the ecological impacts are likely to be very significant and widespread. Many of the environments our plants and animals currently exist in will disappear from the continent. Our grandchildren are likely to experience landscapes that are very different to the ones we have known.”

Dr Dunlop said climate change will magnify existing threats to biodiversity, such as habitat clearing, water extraction and invasive species. Future climate-driven changes in other sectors, such as agriculture, water supply and electricity supply, could add yet more pressure on species and ecosystems.

The study suggests the Australian community and scientists need to start a rethink of what it means to conserve biodiversity, as managing threatened species and stopping ecological change becomes increasingly difficult.”We need to give biodiversity the greatest opportunity to adapt naturally in a changing and variable environment rather than trying to prevent ecological change,” Dr Dunlop said.

The study highlights the need to start focusing more on maintaining the health of ecosystems as they change in response to climate change, from one type of ecosystem to another.

‘This could need new expectations from the community, possibly new directions in conservation policy, and new science to guide management,” Dr Dunlop said.

To be effective we also need flexible strategies that can be implemented well ahead of the large-scale ecological change. It will probably be too late to respond once the ecological change is clearly apparent and widespread.” The study found the National Reserve System will continue to be an effective conservation tool under climate change, but conserving habitat on private land will be increasingly important to help species and ecosystems adapt.


Here is a link to the website, report and additional information:


Report: The implications of climate change for biodiversity conservation and the National Reserve System: Final synthesis (pdf – 2.07mb)


From the Report:

–Page 40: In summary, in recognition that some losses of biodiversity values are inevitable, there is potentially merit in reducing the management focus on the most vulnerable parts of biodiversity. Such a move would have technical, administrative and social implications. Attempting to do this species-by-species would require considerable amounts of information. An alternative might be to use management approaches that can be demonstrated to be effective for many species, if not the most vulnerable, without necessarily needing to assess the vulnerability and management needs of individual species. Such approaches might focus on ecological processes, locations, biodiversity patterns, ecosystems and landscapes more than on individual species (Prober and Dunlop 2011).=

–Page 43: Adaptive management is a type of reactive strategy, or if implemented “actively” it has proactive elements (testing different strategies); either way, a primary component is waiting and monitoring ecological change, then altering management in response. Thus, due to the protracted feedback and difficulty of detecting the impacts of management or climate change in a timely manner amid much variability, it is likely that adaptive management may not be effective for directly addressing climate change impacts in many situations. It may be better to think of adaptive management as a framework within which climate adaptation might be implemented (and improved) rather than regarding it as a solution to climate change in itself.

–Page 53: As discussed in Section 4.4, the nature of climate change—its timing, multiple types of change, variation and noise—mean that many important signals of ecological change will be hard to detect, and possibly not until it is too late to adequately respond. One way to increase the effectiveness of monitoring might be to use scenario planning to identify key uncertainties about environmental or ecological change and then develop and explore various management options for each scenario. Where the differences between scenarios are critical for management, hypotheses can be developed that distinguish between the scenarios, and research and monitoring can be designed to test the hypotheses and provide rapid guidance about future change and which management actions to implement.

–Page 59: Key knowledge gaps identified in the project include:

  • a new discipline of climate change biogeography that attempts to integrate the disparate approaches and information about responses of species and ecosystems to climate change
  • debate in science, policy and public domains about suitable objectives for conservation in the face of climate change, informed by an understanding of social values associated with biodiversity
  • regionally specific information about impacts and their implications, combining local ecological expertise with modelling and published information
  • information about landscape processes and features that might give rise to persistence and adaptability of biodiversity
  • a richer body of science-policy knowledge to enable managers to determine and seek the information that will be useful to them, and to help researchers develop analysis tools and monitoring
  • knowledge and tools to help managers balance worthy but competing demands, such as the protection of habitat and management of threats
  • more understanding and better use of tools to deal with uncertainty.

Establishing new alliances between science and conservation agencies would ensure research was focused on priority policy and management knowledge gaps, and help facilitate rapid flow of information into conservation agencies’ decision making.


Protected areas facilitate species’ range expansions

Thomas et al PNAS August 14 2012

Abstract: The benefits of protected areas (PAs) for biodiversity have been questioned in the context of climate change because PAs are static, whereas the distributions of species are dynamic. Current PAs may, however, continue to be important if they provide suitable locations for species to colonize at their leading-edge range boundaries, thereby enabling spread into new regions. Here, we present an empirical assessment of the role of PAs as targets for colonization during recent range expansions. Records from intensive surveys revealed that seven bird and butterfly species have colonized PAs 4.2 (median) times more frequently than expected from the availability of PAs in the landscapes colonized. Records of an additional 256 invertebrate species with less-intensive surveys supported these findings and showed that 98% of species are disproportionately associated with PAs in newly colonized parts of their ranges. Although colonizing species favor PAs in general, species vary greatly in their reliance on PAs, reflecting differences in the dependence of individual species on particular habitats and other conditions that are available only in PAs. These findings highlight the importance of current PAs for facilitating range expansions and show that a small subset of the landscape receives a high proportion of colonizations by range-expanding species.


Carbon dioxide from water pollution, as well as air pollution, may adversely impact oceans
(September 19, 2012) — Carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the oceans as a result of water pollution by nutrients — a major source of this greenhouse gas that gets little public attention — is enhancing the unwanted changes in ocean acidity due to atmospheric increases in CO2. The changes may already be impacting commercial fish and shellfish populations, according to new data and model predictions. … > full story


Climate Scientists Put Predictions to the Test

September 19, 2012 — A study has found that climate-prediction models are good at forecasting long-term climate patterns on a global scale but lose their edge when applied to time frames shorter than three decades and on … > full story


Climate change threat more real to those with perceived personal experience: study By Misty Harris September 17, 2012 Calgary Herald

We have dramatically shrinking glaciers. We have compelling science. We have adorable polar bears treading water. But wouldn’t you know it, what really makes us fret over climate change is making it all about us. A new study has found that a feeling of “personally experiencing” global warming heightens people’s perception of risks related to the environmental phenomenon – and particularly those risks germane to where they live. Changes to the seasons, unusual weather, water levels, snowfall patterns and shifts related to plants and animals were among the most common signs cited by lay people…

Unfortunately for climatologists, the study – to appear in the journal Global Environmental Change – paints a grim picture.  Seventy-three per cent of people either weren’t sure if they had experienced global warming or said they hadn’t, echoing the 2010 survey in which 70 per cent of respondents nationwide claimed no personal experience with the phenomenon (“don’t know” wasn’t an option)….

Carbon dioxide from water pollution, as well as air pollution, may adversely impact oceans
ScienceDaily (Sep. 19, 2012) — Carbon dioxide (CO
2) released into the oceans as a result of water pollution by nutrients — a major source of this greenhouse gas that gets little public attention — is enhancing the unwanted changes in ocean acidity due to atmospheric increases in CO2. The changes may already be impacting commercial fish and shellfish populations, according to new data and model predictions published September 19 in ACS’s journal, Environmental Science & Technology. William G. Sunda and Wei-Jun Cai point out that atmospheric levels of CO2, the main greenhouse gas, have increased by about 40 percent since the Industrial Revolution due to the burning of fossil fuels and land-use changes. The oceans absorb about one-third of that CO2, which results in acidification from the formation of carbonic acid. However, pollution of ocean water with nutrient runoff from fertilizer, human and animal waste, and other sources also is adding CO2 via the biological breakdown of organic matter formed during algal blooms, which also depletes oxygen from the water. …
The model predicted that this process will interact synergistically with the acidification of seawater from rising atmospheric CO2 in seawater at intermediate to higher temperatures. Together, the two ocean processes are predicted to substantially increase the acidity of ocean waters, enough to potentially impact commercial fisheries in coastal regions receiving nutrient inputs, such as the northern Gulf of Mexico and Baltic Sea. Clams, oysters, scallops and mussels could be the most heavily impacted, the report indicates….full story



Climate change to fuel northern spread of avian malaria: Malaria already found in birds in Alaska
September 19, 2012) — Malaria has been found in birds in parts of Alaska, and global climate change will drive it even farther north, according to a new study. The spread could prove devastating to arctic bird species that have no resistance to the disease, and may also help scientists understand the effects of climate change on the spread of human malaria. … > full story



Fall foliage in New England. Click on the image for a larger version.Credit:  BrtinBoston/flickr.

Climate Change and Fall Foliage: Not a Good Match

By Michael D. Lemonick
Published: September 19th, 2012

It’s admittedly not on a par with the direct threats posed by rising seas or melting icecaps or extreme weather, but with autumn now upon us, it’s worth noting that climate change could also affect the brilliant foliage that paints forests from the Ozarks to the Appalachians with vibrant color every fall. The damage isn’t just esthetic, either: national statistics are hard to come by, but officials in New Hampshire estimate that leaf-peeping tourists pump up the state economy by about $1 billion each year. The estimate is about the same for North Carolina, and if you project those revenues onto New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine and other prime fall-foliage destinations, you’re talking about real money. This year, at least in some places, the money may not be flowing in. “I hope I’m wrong,” said Karl Niklas, a professor of plant biology at Cornell, in an interview, “but I just think it’s not going to be a great year in central New York….


Global warming: Evolutionary straitjacket means flies can’t take the heat
(September 18, 2012) — Many species of fruit fly lack the ability to adapt effectively to predicted increases in global temperatures and may face extinction in the near future, according to new research. … > full story


Climate change threatens nature from coffee to Arctic fox-forum

By Alister Doyle

LILLEHAMMER, Norway | Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:45am EDT

(Reuters) – Climate change is a threat to everything from coffee plantations to Arctic foxes and even a moderate rise in world temperatures will be damaging for plants and animals in some regions, experts said on Wednesday.

Habitats such as coral reefs or the Arctic region were among the most vulnerable to global warming, scientists said at a conference in Lillehammer, south Norway, organized by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).

Almost 200 governments agreed in 2010 to a goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times, seen as a threshold for dangerous changes such as droughts, floods, desertification and rising sea levels.

“At 2C you have impacts. The idea that 2C is a safe level doesn’t really hold up,” said Jeff Price, coordinator of the Wallace Initiative, an international group seeking to model the effects of climate change on 50,000 types of plant and animals.

“And when you start moving beyond 2C the impacts on biodiversity start rapidly increasing through much of the world,” he said. Greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels are the main cause of warming, according to a U.N. scientific panel.





Shell scraps Arctic oil plan, not quest

Jennifer A. Dlouhy
San Francisco Chronicle September 18, 2012

Instead of seeking to penetrate underground zones that could contain hydrocarbons, Shell Oil Co. will focus on completing initial “top-hole drilling” in the Arctic, effectively getting a 1,000-foot head start on its Arctic wells so they can be… more »


Obama Signs New E.O. For Gulf Coast Restoration Days after Oil Found on Beaches

On Sept. 10, President Obama signed a new Executive Order (E.O.) into law, which migrates former programs, trusts, and planning council’s regarding Gulf Coast Restoration, into a new bureaucracy just days after new oil and ecological concerns spring up after the effects of hurricane Isaac. The timing of this new E.O. appears to coincide with two new events taking place in the Gulf region. First, after hurricane Isaac crashed onto New Orleans, and other regions of the Gulf Coast, oil balls and other remnants of the BP oil spill surfaced on beaches and coast lines all along the Southeast.






Plans for giant Antarctic marine sanctuary falter

NICK PERRY, Associated Press Associated Press September 14 2012

The United States and New Zealand have spent two years trying to agree on an Alaska-sized marine sanctuary where fishing would be banned and scientists could study climate change. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton took a strong… more »


Putting SF Bay Area’s Water Source to a Vote

In November, San Francisco will vote on a measure that could ultimately lead to the draining and restoration of Hetch Hetchy Valley – and force the city to look elsewhere for most of its water. In 1913, Congress approved the construction of a dam and an eight-mile-long reservoir, called Hetch Hetchy, in the northwest corner of Yosemite National Park to supply cheap water to San Francisco. The Hetch Hetchy Reservoir submerged a valley often likened to Yosemite Valley in its grandeur.


Starting to tackle climate change

The Hill (blog) – ‎September 20, 2012‎

According to a new study from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, 55 percent of registered voters say they will consider candidates’ views on global warming.


Business groups protest Calif. carbon market

JASON DEAREN, Associated Press Associated Press September 20, 2012

(AP) — Dozens of people, some wearing red “Save Our Jobs” T-shirts, packed a public meeting on Thursday to testify that a key component of California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions law will impose enormous costs on them and… more »


Efforts To Save Dying Salton Sea Dry up at State Capitol

The Salton Sea is already slowly dying. An $8.9 billion preferred alternative for sea restoration was chosen by state Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman and submitted to the Legislature in 2007. It would have created miles of barriers to make the sea one-fifth of its current size, as well as creating shallow saline and marsh habitats. That plan, however, went nowhere in the Legislature. With nowhere near the billions of dollars needed for a Salton Sea fix available, and with little political will in Sacramento and Washington for a comprehensive restoration or mitigation project, local officials are left scrambling.



California: Feds Unveil Plan to Save Endangered Coho Salmon

Federal fisheries managers and NOAA on September 5th proposed an ambitious new plan to save an endangered population of coho salmon on California’s central coast. The wide-ranging, more than 2,000-page plan sets forth detailed restoration actions for creeks and estuaries, regulatory and policy changes and many other actions regulators said are needed to restore lost habitat and help the fish rebound.


Groups sue to try to block Minn. wolf seasons

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Two groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday to try to block the opening of Minnesota’s inaugural wolf hunting and trapping seasons this fall, saying the Department of Natural Resources failed to provide a proper opportunity for public… more »


23 Oahu species listed as endangered, threatened

Associated Press September 18, 2012

The Fish and Wildlife Service is starting to take a holistic approach to conservation by restoring ecosystems to protect the species that live in them. Before, the service tried to protect endangered and threatened species by adopting separate… more »



A Crop Dividend: Restored Bird Habitat in New Jersey
Farmers and wildlife advocates don’t often see eye to eye; each can look at a field and see widely divergent possibilities. Yet by encouraging farmers to plant fields of flowers, an innovative program in New Jersey is helping to finance the rehabilitation of wildlife areas for endangered species of birds. The crop is sunflowers, and sales of sunflower seeds, bagged and sold as birdseed by the New Jersey Audubon Society, have financed the conversion of a 70-acre tract of state-owned land into a grassland habitat.



Race Is On as Ice Melt Reveals Arctic Treasures

By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL NY Times September 19, 2012

The jockeying among nations has begun as areas of the Arctic once regarded as barren wastelands now offer an abundance of oil, gas and minerals.



In The ‘Crazy’ World Of Carbon Finance, Coal Now Qualifies For Emission Reduction Credits

Posted: 19 Sep 2012 09:30 AM PDT

A coal train, or a load of CDM carbon credits?

In a decision criticized as “unfortunate” and even “insane” by onlookers, the United Nations has decided that new coal plants are eligible for carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The CDM is a trading platform set up by the UN that allows developed countries to obtain verified emissions reduction credits through renewable energy, energy efficiency, power plant fuel switching, and sustainable transportation projects in developing countries in order to meet Kyoto Protocol targets. Now the UN has added coal to the list of eligible projects. Again.….


Australian ‘mega mine’ plan threatens global emissions target

‘Unprecedented’ increase in the scale of Australian mining would nullify an internationally agreed goal, Greenpeace warns Oliver Milman, Tuesday 18 September 2012 13.17 EDT

Plans to open up a new Australian “coal export rush” would turn a single Queensland region into the seventh largest contributor of carbon dioxide emissions on the planet, undermining international efforts to keep global warming below 2C, a new report has warned….



Mass slaughter of farm animals set to push food prices up 14%

The cost of feed has soared following the worst US drought in living memory. —Farmers who cannot afford feed ‘liquidating’ pig and cattle herds will drive food inflation to record high, says Rabobank report

Rupert Neate and Josephine Moulds
The Guardian, Tuesday 18 September 2012

The mass slaughter of millions of farm animals across the world is expected to push food prices to their highest ever levels. As well as hitting consumers’ pockets, the predicted 14% jump in food prices will also dash the Bank of England’s hopes of pushing inflation down to 2% by next year.

Farmers across the world have begun a mass slaughter of their pig and cattle herds because they cannot afford the cost of feed, which has soared following the worst US drought in living memory, according to a report published on Wednesday.







Climate Smart Actions for Natural Resource Managers

November 29, 2012, 9:30-4
Elihu Harris Building, Oakland, CA

Sponsored by Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium and CA Coastal Conservancy

Are you managing natural resources and interested in learning how to plan for climate change?  This workshop will present case studies AND provide an opportunity for you to request research and tools needed to make informed climate smart decisions.  Please join us on Thursday, November 29, 2012 from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM at the Elihu Harris Building in Oakland.



National Adaptation Forum–Action today for a better tomorrow

You are invited to be a part of the 1st National Adaptation Forum (NAF): Action today for a better tomorrow. Please join us as we kick-off the inaugural convening of adaptation practitioners and
experts from around the country focused on moving from adaptation planning to adaptation action.

For more information please visit: agenda is coming soon, a call for abstracts (trainings, symposia and working group proposals) open October 15th , and registration will open November 1st. We hope you can make it and look forward to seeing you there.



Facilitation Skills for Scientist and Resource Managers

December 4-6, 2012: 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (each day)

Prunedale Grange Hall 17890 Moro Road, Salinas, California

Registration Fee: $450 Instructor: Jim Nelson

Workshop objectives: Participants will be able to design and facilitate meetings more effectively with lower anxiety and better meeting outcomes. This course is intended to be a practical approach to improving group meetings.  It is oriented specifically to the needs of those working with natural resources.  Participants are presented with a wide array of tools and opportunities to practice new facilitation skills.

To register:


SER Announces Release of Protected Area Guidelines on Ecological Restoration
SER is pleased to announce the release of “Ecological Restoration for Protected Areas: Principles, Guidelines and Best Practices.” IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas developed these guidelines in collaboration with Parks Canada, the Society for Ecological Restoration, the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, and many others. This publication provides advice on underlying principles and guidelines, technical best practices, and implementation processes for restoration. Moreover, it presents case studies of on-the-ground restoration experiences in and around protected areas across the globe.


Bat Conservation International – Executive Director
Founded in 1982, Bat Conservation International (BCI) is the only conservation organization dedicated exclusively to global bat conservation. BCI’s mission is to conserve the world’s bats and their ecosystems to ensure a healthy planet. BCI seeks an innovative, experienced, and dedicated Executive Director to lead BCI to its next level of programmatic, financial, and organizational success. The Executive Director will build on BCI’s achievements to date by facilitating expansion of its programs, leveraging and fostering partnerships to achieve measurable results in bat conservation, significantly increasing BCI’s revenue and membership, and providing leadership in developing the organization’s staff and Board of Directors. The Executive Director will report to the Board of Directors and will be based in Washington, DC. For more information or to apply, please visit:



Seeking Innovative Conservation Ideas in Western North America
A private foundation is looking to support projects in western North America that break new ground, foster innovative conservation thinking, or work in areas that have received little attention. Successful projects would have significant potential impact, either directly by demonstrating important ecological benefits, or indirectly by pioneering new strategies that could be widely applicable in the conservation realm. Projects should be ambitious in scope and vision ($2-8 million), produce tangible, measurable, on-the-ground results within 3-5 years, and focus on key conservation issues. If research or planning is a significant component of the project, these must be supported by other funds. Sell them your idea today by submitting a brief description – (no more than 1 page) to:




**Environmental/Climate Change Music & Performance for Kids– Jeff Kagan & Paige Doughty

CDs & Music [my family loves this music!]

** The Charcoal Forest: How Fire Helps Animals & Plants

on the importance of burned forests—by a former PRBO seasonal biologist!





Quantifying the Greenhouse Gas Benefits of Urban Parks


Australia: Regenerative Adelaide
An urbanizing world requires major policy initiatives to make urban resource use compatible with the world’s ecosystems. Metropolitan Adelaide has adopted this agenda and is well on its way to becoming a pioneering regenerative city region. New policies by the government of South Australia on energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable transport, zero waste, organic waste composting, water efficiency, wastewater irrigation of crops, peri-urban agriculture, and reforestation have taken Adelaide to the forefront of eco-friendly urban development.



The Demonization Of Clean Tech: The Five Biggest Myths

Posted: 18 Sep 2012 12:17 PM PDT by Trevor Winnie, via Clean Edge

The case for technologies that harness renewable resources, improve efficiency, and reduce emissions has never been stronger, and the industry known as clean tech continues to grow at a staggering pace – global revenues for the “Big Three” sectors of wind power, solar PV, and biofuels hit $246.1 billion in 2011 after a decade of annual growth averaging more than 30 percent. But such an all-encompassing classification – spanning clean energy, advanced transportation, advanced materials, and clean water technologies – has lately made the industry an easy target for opposition, especially in the U.S., where divisive national politics have made pragmatism a rare commodity. As a longtime analyst at clean-tech research firm Clean Edge and contributor to the recently published book Clean Tech Nation (coauthored by Clean Edge colleagues Ron Pernick and Clint Wilder), I should be on the front lines defending the clean-tech moniker. But given the noticeable intensifying of false debates surrounding clean tech in the last year, it’s worth taking a moment to examine ways in which the industry’s far-reaching identity has opened the door to some misplaced antagonism…..






Court Rules Deniers Have No Right To The Emails Of UVA Climate Scientists
Posted: 17 Sep 2012 03:00 PM PDT Today a Virginia judge ruled that the University of Virginia (UVA) doesn’t have to release the emails of climate scientists like Michael Mann to the anti-science American Tradition Institute (ATI)…..


PBS False Balance Hour – What’s Up With That?

Posted on 20 September 2012 by dana1981

We have previously criticized the mainstream media for favoring false balance over factually accurate scientific reporting when it comes to climate change.  In one of the worst examples of this unfortunate and counter-productive practice, the US Public Boadcasting Service (PBS), which is funded by both taxpayers and private donations, (for example, from the Koch brothers) aired a climate story on the PBS News Hour which began by featuring the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project’s Richard Muller, “balanced” with a subsequent interview of contrarian blogger Anthony Watts.

Ultimately, Watts’ comments suffered from a double standard, dismissing Muller’s comments as not yet being supported by peer-reviewed research, but offering his own opinions despite the fact that they were not only unsupported, but even contradicted by Watts’ own peer-reviewed research.



Bird stamp entries being sought

September 18, 2012–The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is inviting artists to enter their waterfowl artwork in the Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp Art Contest. Entries must be received in person or postmarked on or before March 15, 2013,… more »



Managing for resilience in the face of climate change: a scientific approach to targeted oyster restoration in San Francisco Bay and Elkhorn Slough, California

Our new project website is at   We invite you to take a look at the new website, which provides information on the basic project components, key documents, and collaborative input from key end-users.  We welcome your ongoing questions, feedback and input; and we will be posting updates and new data as it is generated. This project builds upon native oyster restoration research at Elkhorn Slough and recommendations in the San Francisco Bay Subtidal Goals Report, and the new website is tiered from the Subtidal Goals ( This project is characterizing stressor levels at multiple sites at two California estuaries (San Francisco Bay, Elkhorn Slough), assessing native oyster populations at these sites and connectivity between them, and examining impacts of individual and combined stressors in laboratory experiments. The goal is to improve sustainability of Olympia oyster restoration in the face of climate change by providing restoration planning tools. In particular, the tools will identify sites most likely to support sustainable restoration projects, and will indicate whether reduction of some existing stressors will enhance resilience to climate-related stressors.   A more detailed project description can be downloaded from:


Hidden cams reveal Point Reyes’ wildlife haven

SF Chron September 16, 2012

In muted dawn light near Olema Creek at Point Reyes National Seashore, a bobcat slinked along the trail in stealth mode.
But a secret camera caught it in the act.

Later, a buck with 4×3 antlers took a drink from the stream. Then, after that, a coyote. Motion-activated wildlife cameras hidden at Point Reyes have captured more than 20 major species, from mountain lions to badgers, with many surprises along the way. The photos show that the Bay Area’s greatest park is more than a nature sanctuary for humans. It is a vast haven for wildlife. To identify each animal, look for caption just beneath the gallery. The 50-year anniversary of the park, 1962-2012, was Thursday, and most of the ongoing events commemorate the park’s epic status as a national treasure: A diverse landscape that spans from sea to mountaintops, landmarks like the Point Reyes Light and Arch Rock, and when rated against parks across the Bay Area’s nine counties, the most dynamic trail system, best hike-in and boat-in camps, best visitor center and most helpful rangers. And by the way, you can show up for free. Point Reyes also rivals Yosemite National Park and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park as California’s best wildlife preserve. The park’s 71,000 acres spans many habitats, and in turn, that diversity supports an array of wildlife. The full story and the 10 best places to see wildlife at Point Reyes — and what you might see there — was published in  Sunday’s Chronicle at



Google Energy Use: Company Reveals Information To Show That Search Is Green

JONATHAN FAHEY   09/ 8/11 01:44 PM ET  

NEW YORK — Stung by concerns that using Google is bad for the planet, the Internet search giant has revealed exactly how much electricity the company uses and how much greenhouse gases it produces in an effort to show its business model is environmentally friendly.

Experts say it’s true: Watching a video on Google’s Youtube site is indeed more energy-efficient than watching a DVD that had to be manufactured, packaged, shipped and purchased.


Men see cars and women see birds, study says

CBS News – ‎September 19, 2012‎

(LiveScience) Men are better at identifying pictures of vehicles they’ve studied while woman are better at recognizing birds and other objects of the natural world, the results of a visual recognition experiment suggest. In the study, 227 participants









Figure 1: Natural thermometers indicating a warming world.




Ecology, Biodiversity, Climate Change and Related News Updates September 14, 2012

News of the Week– Endangered Species and Conservation Reliance



















Highlight of the Week….

Special Section: Conservation-Reliant Species
Conservation-Reliant Species October 2012 Bioscience

Dale D. Goble, John A. Wiens, J. Michael Scott, Timothy D. Male, and John A. Hall

ABSTRACT: A species is conservation reliant when the threats that it faces cannot be eliminated, but only managed. There are two forms of conservation reliance: population- and threat-management reliance. We provide an overview of the concept and introduce a series of articles that examine it in the context of a range of taxa, threats, and habitats. If sufficient assurances can be provided that successful population and threat management will continue, conservation-reliant species may be either delisted or kept off the endangered species list. This may be advantageous because unlisted species provide more opportunities for a broader spectrum of federal, state, tribal, and private interests to participate in conservation. Even for currently listed species, the number of conservation-reliant species—84% of endangered and threatened species with recovery plans— and the magnitude of management actions needed to sustain the species at recovered levels raise questions about society’s willingness to support necessary action.


FROM THE CONCLUSION of the TEXT:….What is required is demonstrably effective management agreements that include management and funding commitments outside the framework of the ESA. But our focus needs to shift to abating those factors that lead to endangerment, and a conservation-reliant framework may be of assistance in doing so (Averill-Murray et al. 2012 [in this issue]). Given the criticisms of the ESA and the lower potential costs of conserving species before they are listed, understanding the ongoing management requirements of a species and responding before listing is needed has the potential to be a universal societal goal regarding species conservation. The challenge will be in creating reliable alternative funding and management structures….

….Continuing business as usual, in which the majority of recovery funds are used to conserve a few iconic species while others are only monitored or simply ignored, will achieve little of lasting value. Even with increased funding, it is unlikely that we can conserve all species facing extinction, particularly as the queue gets longer. We must either develop sensible ways of assigning conservation priorities in which both the magnitude of management required and the potential benefits of management and conservation actions are considered. Information about the degree of conservation reliance of a species is central to developing sensible conservation priorities.


Continuing management needed for most threatened and endangered species, experts say
(September 10, 2012)ScienceDaily (Sep. 10, 2012) — The Endangered Species Act (ESA) — the key US law protecting species listed as threatened or endangered — focuses on boosting species’ numbers until they reach recovery thresholds and so can be taken off the ESA list. Almost 1400 species are now listed. Yet as many as 84 percent of currently listed species with management plans will face threats to their biological recovery even after they are considered “recovered” under the act, according to an article by Dale D. Goble and his colleagues in the October issue of
BioScience. These species will require continuing management actions. Goble and colleagues argue that individual, formal conservation agreements are the best way to help such “conservation-reliant species.”

The ESA was intended to interact with state and local regulations to prevent extinction. However, say Goble and his coauthors, these regulations are often insufficient to maintain a species’ population, and the ESA itself may hinder the spread of a species — for example, a landowner may not wish to create habitat for a species that will then require monitoring under the ESA. Individual conservation agreements might not only help species’ biological recovery and accelerate their removal from the ESA list, Goble and his colleagues maintain — they might prevent some species from having to be listed in the first place. To be effective, such agreements should be tailored to the species, landscape, landowners, conservation managers, and sources of funding of each situation.


Recognizing that conservation reliance is a deeper and more widespread problem for ESA-listed species than initially thought, Goble and his colleagues distinguish two forms of conservation reliance — population-management reliance and the less direct, threat-management reliance. The former will involve interventions aimed at helping specific populations. The latter is suitable for species that can persist if threats are managed so that an appropriate habitat is maintained.


Both sorts are illustrated in articles in the October BioScience. Goble’s article is part of a special section that includes three case studies of specific conservation-reliant species. Carol I. Bocetti and her colleagues discuss conservation management agreements that will ensure continued availability of habitat for Kirtland’s warbler. J. Michael Reed and his coauthors assess the status of Hawaii’s endangered birds and how continued management is needed to maintain the populations of these species. Finally, the plight of the Mojave desert tortoise and its continuing management needs are addressed by Roy C. Averill-Murray and his colleagues.






First-time analysis of three distinct contributions of forage fish
(September 10, 2012) — A new study provides a first-time analysis of the value of forage fish, which are small, schooling species such as sardines, herring, and anchovies. Three kinds of contributions of forage fish were estimated: as direct catch, as food for other commercially important fish, and as an important link in the food web in marine ecosystems. … > full story


Scrub Jays React to Their Dead, Bird Study Shows: ‘Funerals’ Can Last for Up to Half an Hour

ScienceDaily (Sep. 11, 2012) — Western scrub jays summon others to screech over the body of a dead jay, according to new research from the University of California, Davis. The birds’ cacophonous “funerals” can last for up to half an hour. Anecdotal reports have suggested that other animals, including elephants, chimpanzees and birds in the crow family, react to dead of their species, said Teresa Iglesias, the UC Davis graduate student who carried out the work. But few experimental studies have explored this behavior. The new research by Iglesias and her colleagues appears in the Aug. 27 issue of the journal Animal Behaviour. Western scrub jays live in breeding pairs and are not particularly social birds.

T.L. Iglesias, R. McElreath, G.L. Patricelli. Western scrub-jay funerals: cacophonous aggregations in response to dead conspecifics. Animal Behaviour, 2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.08.007

Food production and wildlife can coexist if land use is planned at a bigger scale
(September 10, 2012) — A larger-scale approach to sustainable farming could be more beneficial for wildlife than our current system of farm-based agri environment payments, say researchers working in the UK. … > full story


Human Activities’ Reduce Desert Environment Diversity

RedOrbit September 9, 2012

Human activities and disturbances can put a significant amount of stress on localenvironments and a new research review has shown that the functional diversity in arid, desert environments can be affected by the hand of man. According the report published in the Journal of Arid Environments, mammalian communities living in dry ecosystems are “drastically changing” as a result of human activities. “We report for the first time that in drylands, the effect of human-induced disturbances on mammal functional diversity is negative,” said study co-author Veronica Chillo, a biologist in the Functional diversity Research Group at the Argentinian Institute of Arid Lands Research.

Lights out? The dangers of exposure to light at night
(September 10, 2012) — A panel of world experts shed light on the extent of the dangers and harm that night-time artificial lighting causes, emphasizing that it could be LED causing most harm, at 21st International Congress of Zoology. … > full story


Bird food maker poisoned product, and birds, to keep insects out – ‎September 7, 2012‎

“Scotts admitted that it used these pesticides contrary to EPA directives and in spite of the warning label appearing on all Storicide II containers stating, ‘Storcide II is extremely toxic to fish and toxic to birds and other wildlife’,” the EPA said



Fresh push to save Central CA Coast coho salmon

San Francisco Chronicle September 7, 2012

The wide-ranging plan sets forth detailed restorations for creeks and estuaries, regulatory and policy changes and many other actions regulators said are needed to restore lost habitat and help the fish rebound. While NOAA’s plan helps provide a roadmap for Central Coast coho, implementation will require cooperation from a wide array of parties, including creekside homeowners and water departments.
more »






NOAA: Contiguous U.S. experiences third hottest summer on record

Warm and dry conditions continue in August with Isaac bringing heavy rain to Gulf Coast and some drought relief to the Midwest

According to NOAA scientists, the average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during August was 74.4°F, 1.6°F above the long-term average, marking the 16th warmest August on record. The warmer-than-average August, in combination with the hottest July and a warmer-than-average June, contributed to the third hottest summer on record since recordkeeping began in 1895…..


U.S. Experiences The Most Extreme Eight-Month Period For Weather Ever Recorded
Posted: 10 Sep 2012 01:09 PM PDT

The period from January to August 2012 saw the most extreme weather in recorded history throughout the contiguous U.S., according to new data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The agency’s Climate Extremes Index, which tracks the top 10 percent extremes in drought, precipitation, and temperature, was more than double the average value since the index was started in 1910…..




Himalayan Glaciers Retreating at Accelerated Rate in Some Regions: Consequences for Water Supply Remain Unclear

ScienceDaily September 12, 2012

Glaciers in the eastern and central regions of the Himalayas appear to be retreating at accelerating rates, similar to those in other areas of the world, while glaciers in the western Himalayas are more stable and could be growing, says a new report from the National Research Council. The report examines how changes to glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region, which covers eight countries across Asia, could affect the area’s river systems, water supplies, and the South Asian population. The mountains in the region form the headwaters of several major river systems — including the Ganges, Mekong, Yangtze, and Yellow rivers — which serve as sources of drinking water and irrigation supplies for roughly 1.5 billion people….> full story



Carbon Sequestration and Sediment Accretion in San Francisco Bay Tidal Wetlands
John C. Callaway, Evyan L. Borgnis, R. Eugene Turner and Charles S. Milan Estuaries and Coasts Vol 35 #5 2012
Abstract: Tidal wetlands play an important role with respect to climate change because of both their sensitivity to sea-level rise and their ability to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Policy-based interest in carbon sequestration has increased recently, and wetland restoration projects have potential for carbon credits through soil carbon sequestration. We measured sediment accretion, mineral and organic matter accumulation, and carbon sequestration rates using 137Cs and 210Pb downcore distributions at six natural tidal wetlands in the San Francisco Bay Estuary. The accretion rates were, in general, 0.2–0.5 cm year−1, indicating that local wetlands are keeping pace with recent rates of sea-level rise. Mineral accumulation rates were higher in salt marshes and at low-marsh stations within individual sites. The average carbon sequestration rate based on 210Pb dating was 79 g C m−2 year−1, with slightly higher rates based on 137Cs dating. There was little difference in the sequestration rates among sites or across stations within sites, indicating that a single carbon sequestration rate could be used for crediting tidal wetland restoration projects within the Estuary.

How sea otters can reduce CO<sub>2</sub> in the atmosphere: Appetite for sea urchins allows kelp to thrive
(September 7, 2012) — A new study suggest that a thriving sea otter population that keeps sea urchins in check will in turn allow kelp forests to prosper and help reverse a principal cause of global warming. … > full story



Increase in metal concentrations in Rocky Mountain watershed tied to warming temperatures
(September 9, 2012)Warmer air temperatures since the 1980s may explain significant increases in zinc and other metal concentrations of ecological concern in a Rocky Mountain watershed, reports a new study led by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Colorado Boulder. Rising concentrations of zinc and other metals in the upper Snake River just west of the Continental Divide near Keystone, Colo.,
may be the result of falling water tables, melting permafrost and accelerating mineral weathering rates, all driven by warmer air temperatures in the watershed. Researchers observed a fourfold increase in dissolved zinc over the last 30 years during the month of September…. “Acid rock drainage is a significant water quality problem facing much of the Western United States,” Todd said. “It is now clear that we need to better understand the relationship between climate and ARD as we consider the management of these watersheds moving forward.”full story


Andrew S. Todd, Andrew H. Manning, Philip L. Verplanck, Caitlin Crouch, Diane M. McKnight, Ryan Dunham. Climate-Change-Driven Deterioration of Water Quality in a Mineralized Watershed. Environmental Science & Technology, 2012; 46 (17): 9324 DOI: 10.1021/es3020056

Mountain forest study shows vulnerability to climate change
(September 9, 2012) — A new study that ties forest “greenness” in the western United States to fluctuating year-to-year snowpack indicates mid-elevation mountain ecosystems are most sensitive to rising temperatures and changes in precipitation and snowmelt. … > full story

Forest mortality and climate change: The big picture
(September 9, 2012) — Over the past two decades, extensive forest death triggered by hot and dry climatic conditions has been documented on every continent except Antarctica. Forest mortality due to drought and heat stress is expected to increase due to climate change. Although research has focused on isolated incidents of forest mortality, little is known about the potential effects of widespread forest die-offs. … > full story

Next Generation of Advanced Climate Models Needed, Says New Report
September 7, 2012 National Academies

Pre-publication copies of A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling
are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at

WASHINGTON — The nation’s collection of climate models should advance substantially to deliver more detailed, smaller scale climate projections, says a new report from the National Research Council.  To meet this need, the report calls for these assorted climate models to take a more integrated path and use a common software infrastructure while adding regional detail, new simulation capabilities, and new approaches for collaborating with their user community.
From farmers deciding which crops to plant next season, to mayors preparing for possible heat waves, to insurance companies assessing future flood risks, an array of stakeholders from the public and private sectors rely on and use climate information.  With changes in climate and weather, however, past weather data are no longer adequate predictors of future extremes.  Advanced modeling capabilities could potentially provide useful predictions and projections of extreme environments, said the committee that wrote the report.  Over the past several decades, enormous advances have been made in developing reliable climate models, but significant progress is still required to deliver climate information at local scales that users desire.


The U.S. climate modeling community is diverse, including several large global efforts and many smaller regional efforts.  This diversity allows multiple research groups to tackle complex modeling problems in parallel, enabling rapid progress, but it also leads to some duplication of efforts.  The committee said that to make more efficient and rapid progress in climate modeling, different groups should continue to pursue their own methodologies while evolving to work within a common nationally adopted modeling framework that shares software, data standards and tools, and model components. ….



Developing Policy on Moving Threatened Species Called “A Grand Challenge for Conservation”

BioScience July 2012 Read the full article (PDF)

Managed relocation—the act of purposely relocating a threatened species, population, or genotype to an area that is foreign to its natural history—is a controversial response to the threat of extinction resulting from climate change. An article in the August 2012 issue of BioScience by Mark W. Schwartz and his colleagues reports on the findings of the Managed Relocation Working Group, an interdisciplinary group of scientists, researchers, and policymakers whose goals were to examine the conditions that might justify the use of managed relocation and to assess the research being conducted on the topic. The authors note that although traditional management strategies are not likely to address the effects of climate change adequately, guidelines and protocols for managed relocation are poorly developed. “Developing a functional policy framework for managed relocation is a grand challenge for conservation,” they assert.

Moving a species to a higher elevation, for instance, may allow it to survive rising temperatures or an elevated sea level, but doing do in an ethically acceptable way is fraught with both legal and political complications. Unforeseen environmental consequences of such an action may be severe—the species might become invasive in its new location, for example. Some question the appropriateness of conserving a single species at the expense of possibly disrupting an entire ecosystem. What is more, lax regulation of managed relocation may open the door to exploitative movement of species. Regulation is often dispersed among states, the federal government, and various agencies, which may have conflicting agendas, and most relevant policies and laws were not written with climate change in mind….

Calif. firefighters battle 9 wildfires

San Francisco Chronicle September 10, 2012

In Northern California, the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for a wide area of the region through Sunday evening, with wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour and humidity levels dropping. There are nine major fires burning in the… more »



The Baffling Nexus of Climate Change and Health

By DYLAN WALSH September 6, 2012, 1:28 pm2 Comments


Associated Press–A plane sprayed insecticide over Dallas last month to kill mosquitoes and limit the spread of West Nile virus.

In 2004, a rare tropical fungus caused a string of respiratory failures and neural disorders along the Pacific Northwest coast, baffling the health community. That same year, Alaskan cruise ship passengers dining on local oysters fell sick with a gastric virus typically found in warm water estuaries. Now Texas, after an unusually wet spring and dry summer, is battling what may become the country’s worst recorded outbreak of West Nile virus.

Meteorological and ecological shifts driven by climate change are creating a slow and often unpredictable bloom of novel public health challenges across the United States. The American Public Health Association has declared climate change “one of the most serious public health threats facing our nation,” although the precise nature of that threat remains uncertain.

“This is a relatively research-poor area,” said John Balbus, a senior adviser on public health at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. In 1999, the nation’s first reported cases of West Nile virus spurred interest in the subject, but this soon faded.

Then in 2007, the release of the Fourth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change laid out the scientific consensus on the foundation and widespread consequences of climate change. That “gave public health more confidence to again move forward,” said George Luber, associate director for climate change at the Centers for Disease Control.The C.D.C. formally established its climate and health program in 2009, and the National Institutes of Health followed suit in 2011.

The short-term challenge, Dr. Balbus said, is making it clear that climate change is not a separate field but rather a background constant with far-reaching health implications. “Just like diet or air pollution, climate influences a whole lot of other factors,” he said…..


Precautions for tick-borne disease extend ‘beyond Lyme’
(September 7, 2012) — This year’s mild winter and early spring were a bonanza for tick populations in the eastern United States. Reports of tick-borne disease rose fast. While Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, new research results emphasize that it is not the greatest cause for concern in most Southeastern states. … > full story


Tracking Viruses from Animals to People

Sep. 07, 2012 Science Friday

Researchers discuss West Nile, hantavirus, and other diseases that cross from animals to people.









U.S. to auction California state shale for drilling

Part of the Monterey Shale, a huge underground formation of minerals, runs beneath Hames Valley in Monterey County. Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle / SF

By Stephanie M. Lee SF Chronicle Published 10:58 p.m., Saturday, September 8, 2012

A nearly 18,000-acre stretch of land extending from California’s Central Coast to the San Joaquin Valley is the setting for a brewing debate over an oil-extraction method that has little governmental oversight.

The land, which spans Monterey, San Benito and Fresno counties, rests on a large chunk of the Monterey Shale, a formation of underground minerals long eyed by the energy industry for its potential to yield billions of barrels of oil.
That potential is expected to come closer to reality in December, when the federal government – which owns below-surface rights to the mostly private land – is scheduled to hold an auction to lease out parcels to oil and gas companies…..


Fracking in California takes less water

David R. Baker SFChronicle Published 11:02 p.m., Saturday, September 8, 2012

In Pennsylvania, the controversial practice of fracking can consume 4.5 million gallons of water per well, the liquid pumped deep underground to crack rocks that contain natural gas. In parts of Texas, fracking a well often takes 6 million gallons. But in California, where fracking is starting to spread, the average amount of water involved is just 164,000 gallons, according to industry data.

Hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, has triggered a boom in energy production across the United States and sparked a fierce public debate that revolves around water. Critics say fracking can ruin drinking water supplies when badly built wells allow chemicals used in the process to seep into aquifers. The disposal wells that take used fracking water and bury it far beneath the earth’s surface can trigger earthquakes.

And in arid Western states, the sheer volume of water that fracking requires alarms farmers and environmentalists alike. “Here in California, as much as people worry about contamination, water supply and induced seismicity are at the front of people’s minds,” said Damon Nagami, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council environmental group. “The lack of data on these issues is freaking people out.”

But so far, fracking in California appears to take far less water than it does elsewhere.

At the request of state regulators, some of the companies fracking here have started posting information about their wells on, a website created by the oil and gas industry to allay public fears about the practice. The site contains information on 364 fracked wells in the Golden State, most of them in the southern San Joaquin Valley. (For comparison, FracFocus lists 1,940 fracked wells in Pennsylvania – ground zero of the fracking boom.)

The average amount of water used in California wells has been 164,000 gallons, according to the Western States Petroleum Association, an oil industry lobbying group that compiled a spreadsheet of the California data. Some fracked wells here require significantly more – 300,000 gallons and up – while others consume substantially less. A cluster of fracked wells near Sutter Buttes in the Sacramento Valley used between 10,000 gallons and 35,000 gallons apiece. An Olympic-size swimming pool contains about 660,000 gallons of water. A golf course typically uses around 300,000 gallons per day…..


Oiled birds found in Louisiana in Isaac’s wake

Houston Chronicle

The U.S. Coast Guard and state officials in Louisiana are evaluating the environmental impact on the area from Hurricane Isaac. On Monday, wildlife management teams recovered three birds that were covered in oil and were continuing to search for any other affected wildlife, officials said. The teams have investigated about 90 reports of pollution directly linked to the hurricane. More


Shell begins drilling well off Alaska

Jennifer A. Dlouhy San Francisco Chronicle September 10, 2012

Shell began boring its first well in the Chukchi Sea in more than two decades on Sunday, kicking off what company executives anticipate will be years of work tapping prospects throughout U.S. Arctic waters. To check for unexpected obstructions… more »







Announcing the New AGU [American Geophysical Union] U.S. Elections Website
The 2012 presidential and congressional elections are quickly approaching. The economy and unemployment may grab most of the headlines, but the Earth and space sciences also play a vital role in our nation’s and states’ prosperity. Scientific and technological innovation, education, and discovery will continue to help provide our nation with growth and security in the future. From satellites that predict severe weather to understanding how ocean acidification affects the shellfish industry, science is at the forefront in providing answers to challenging societal issues. AGU has created a new U.S. Elections website as a tool to assist its members and other scientists in making an impact in the elections by becoming involved and asking the right questions. Resources include a listing of regional Earth and space science issues, tips on attending town halls and writing op-eds, and science questions to ask candidates, just to name a few. When many people ask candidates questions about science policy or publish op-eds about science issues facing their communities, we collectively show the value of science to society and make those issues even more important to legislators. Your voice as a scientist is important to this year’s elections. Visit the website and speak out!


Returning Congress to face angry farmers

San Francisco Chronicle September 10, 2012

While that unfinished bit of business threatens to cut off aid to farmers across the nation, lawmakers, fresh off their parties’ conventions, appear to favor action on other bills that emphasize their political agendas over actual lawmaking. In… more »



Wyoming wolves to lose Endangered Species Act protection
Reuters via Chicago Tribune
Gray wolves in Wyoming, the last still federally protected in the northern Rockies, will lose endangered species status at the end of next month, opening them to unregulated killing in most of the state, the U.S. government said. The planned delisting of Wyoming’s estimated 350 wolves caps a steady progression of diminishing federal safeguards for a predator once hunted, trapped and poisoned to the brink of extinction throughout most of the continental United States. More



Climate change: why it could be a hot topic on the campaign trail
Christian Science MONITOR September 7 2012

Like Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter saga, climate change has been the issue “that shall not be named” – mostly a political no-show in the presidential campaign. But that may be changing thanks to the political heat generated by the two conventions…..



Obama To Nation: ‘Climate Change Is Not A Hoax. More Droughts And Floods And Wildfires Are Not A Joke.’
Posted: 06 Sep 2012 07:41 PM PDT

It looks like Romney’s mockery of Obama’s 2008 pledge of climate action had one positive impact.

At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, President Obama said tonight to a large national TV audience: “And yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet – because climate change is not a hoax.  More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke.  They’re a threat to our children’s future.  And in this election, you can do something about it.”…..


Obama, Romney Present Stark Choice on Environment, Energy

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina, September 7, 2012 (ENS) – Of all the areas of life where the two candidates now running for election to the U.S.



Concerns over bird migration provokes change in Philadelphia light show

Philadelphia Inquirer – ‎ September 8, 2012‎

Researchers have found dead birds around the bases of communications towers, lighthouses, and tall buildings. Birds use stars as navigational tools, and they are attracted to strong light, especially on cloudy nights when the stars are not visible .


Leading Global Companies Say ‘Tangible And Present’ Climate Change Is Already Creating Business Risk
Posted: 12 Sep 2012 09:27 AM PDT

The number of large corporations reporting current risks from climate change has grown substantially over the last two years. According to a survey of 405 of the biggest global companies conducted by the Carbon Disclosure Project, 37 percent say they are already seeing the impact of climate change on their business — up from 10 percent in 2010.

The Carbon Disclosure Project attributes the increase in companies worried about current climate risks to the rise in extreme weather globally: Recent extreme weather and natural events have tested companies’ business resilience and increased their level of understanding of the timeframes of the physical risks they associate with climate change. Physical risks are viewed as tangible and present, impacting companies’ operations, supply chains and business planning. The majority of companies (81%) report physical risks and the percentage of companies that view these risks as current has nearly quadrupled from 10% in 2010 to 37% in 2012. Insurance company Allianz reports that in 2011 it processed $2.2 billion in natural catastrophe (including non-weather related) claims, the largest sum for natural catastrophes in its history. So far this year, America has seen the most extreme period for weather ever recorded. The country is on track to surpass last year, when there were 14 extreme weather events that each caused more than a billion dollars in damage — the most in U.S. history.

In response to these tangible impacts, more large companies are crafting strategies for addressing climate change. According to the survey, 78 percent of responding companies are factoring climate into their business plans, up from 68 percent in 2011…..


Corporations Slow to Act on Climate Change, Report Says



New York Times (blog) – ‎September 12, 2012‎

The group’s 2012 Global 500 Climate Change Report, based on responses from 379 of the world’s 500 largest companies in terms of market capitalization, said that 82 percent of those responding set emission reduction targets of some sort, but that most



As global warming nudges average temperatures upward across the planet and causes tumultuous, grape-damaging weather changes, winemakers in Oregon are wondering just how their superstar grape will fare — if at all. [NPR]

The lack of natural nectar — and the resulting decrease in honey production — has put many beekeepers in a sticky spot going into the winter. [Deseret News]






Adaptation to Drought – Conservation Innovation Grants Available
NRCS has announced the availability of up to $5 million in grants to evaluate and demonstrate agricultural practices that help farmers and ranchers adapt to drought. NRCS is offering the grants to partnering entities to evaluate innovative, field-based conservation technologies and approaches. Private individuals, Tribes, local and state governments, and non-governmental organizations are eligible to apply.
Grant applications are due October 15, 2012.

For more information click here


NRCS Partners Receive $2 Million for Conservation Innovations
 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last Friday that four conservation organizations will receive approximately $2 million to fund five Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG) projects in California.  USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the grants that in California will include developing water quality trading markets in Sonoma County, improving pollinator habitat on farms and ranches and other conservation innovations.  “These grants will help spur creativity and problem-solving on California’s farms and ranches,” said Jeff Burwell, acting state conservationist in California. New this year was a special emphasis on water quality trading markets to demonstrate how farmers and ranchers can help municipalities and other point sources overcome high pollution control costs. The Sotoyome Resource Conservation District (SRCD), based in Santa Rosa, Calif., will receive $570,000 to establish a credit trading market with the City of Santa Rosa. Other CIG grants awarded in California include; Sustainable Conservation, the Regents of the University of California and the Xerces Society. For a complete list of CIG awardees click here.




Interactive Timeline Of 2012 Extreme Weather

Posted: 09 Sep 2012 07:02 AM PDT by Kelly Levin, via WRI’s Insights

Over the past several months, extreme weather and climate events in the form of heat waves, droughts, fires, and flooding have seemed to become the norm rather than the exception. In the past half-year alone, millions of people have been affected across the globe – from Europe suffering from the worst cold snap in a quarter century; to extreme flooding in Australia, Brazil, China, and the Philippines; to drought in the Sahel. Records have been broken monthly in the continental United States, with the warmest spring and 12-month period experienced this year and severe fires and drought affecting large swaths of the country. So how bad has it really been? Below we have put together a timeline of extreme climate and weather events in 2012. We have by no means attempted to be comprehensive in listing events, but have aimed to include some of the most significant occurrences this year. Please let us know through the comment section if we are missing some, as we plan to update the timeline periodically….








Enough wind to power global energy demand: New research examines limits, climate consequences
(September 9, 2012) — There is enough energy available in winds to meet all of the world’s demand. Atmospheric turbines that convert steadier and faster high-altitude winds into energy could generate even more power than ground- and ocean-based units. New research examines the limits of the amount of power that could be harvested from winds, as well as the effects high-altitude wind power could have on the climate as a whole. … > full story

Predicting wave power could double marine-based energy
(September 10, 2012) — A scientist says that his new computer algorithm improves the functioning of Wave Energy Converters used in producing electrical energy from ocean waves. And, with improvements in the converters themselves, it could make marine-based energy more commercially viable. … > full story



Sep. 07, 2012 ScienceFriday

Oregon Power Project Needs the Motion of the Ocean

A generator that makes electricity from wave power is being prepared for installation off the Oregon coast.


Hot Air About ‘Cheap’ Natural Gas

Posted: 07 Sep 2012 11:12 AM PDT by Amory Lovins and Jon Creyts, via Rocky Mountain Institute

Would you build a buy-and-hold financial portfolio from only junk bonds and no Treasuries by considering only price, not also risk? Not for long. Yet those who say cheap natural gas is killing alternatives—solar, wind, nuclear—make the same error. In truth, they’re doing the math wrong: The gas isn’t really that cheap.

“Cheap gas” reflects only the bare spot price of the commodity without adding the value of its price volatility. Yet such competitors as efficiency and renewables have no fuel and hence no fuel-price volatility: Once built, they’re as financially riskless as Treasuries. Of course, much gas is sold not at spot but on long-term contract, especially to its biggest user—electricity generators. But for other players, it’s vital not to become the patsy in the poker game: basic financial economics says asset comparisons must value and equalize risk…..







The Elephant We’re All Inside

Junk Journalism on Climate, or Too Big to Cover?

Bill Blakemore
ABC NEWS September 9, 2012
Nature’s Notebook Column

…As scientific reports about the speedy advance and devastating impacts of man made global warming have grown steadily more alarming, surveys have shown most mainstream American news organizations covering it less and less over the past two years….Why this decline in persistent coverage? It seems unlikely to last; all responsibly sourced reports from around the world — “as solid as science ever gets,” say eminent climate scientists — suggest the increasing impacts will soon force news directors to offer more coverage and explanatory reporting to a public that will appreciate getting it. It may be that many of our mainstream news directors are, in effect, in the final stages of getting their act together as they get ready to cover this unprecedented story….

….Psychologists Charles B. Strozier and Robert J. Lifton report finding what they call a sort of pragmatic “professional numbing” in several professions that deal with traumatic or frightening events or information. One metaphor I came up with when first grappling with this story eight years ago (journalists love to find a good new metaphor) was that “This isn’t the elephant in the room, it’s the elephant we’re all inside of.”Global warming, we’re barely beginning to realize, is actually… global. There may, in a way, be something new under the sun here — a new fourth category of news: “global news”… as something quite different from “foreign news.”….

….And how do professional journalists deal with something so big — once we see the size? Simple. By doing what we’ve been doing.We just keep at it, and start to figure it out. We try to get a fix on whatever new psychological barriers the latest story has presented to us and to our news directors, much less to our readers and viewers. An excellent college professor (Tom T. Tashiro) told this future reporter and his classmates that “All genuine learning is frightening. It’s new, and therefore unknown, at first, and we’re naturally frightened of the unknown.”

It’s much the same with a truly new story — what we mean by real “news.”
Any big new story worth its salt always has new psychological barriers, by definition.

Manmade global warming appears, so far, to have the biggest of all.



Many Shades of Green

Aug. 22, 2012 Science Friday by Annette Heist

The movie ‘Carbon Nation’ bills itself as a “climate change solutions movie that doesn’t even care if you believe in climate change.” …



Training a New Wave of “Digital Ornithologists”

Cornell professor David Winkler got his start in ornithology in the 1970s, when cameras used film, recorders used tape, and computers used punch cards. Today’s ornithologists must be as comfortable with cameras and computers as they are with catbirds and cardinals. So this summer, Winkler helped a group of Cornell undergraduates gain some real-world practice with a project collecting digital recordings of nesting Scarlet Tanagers. Read, listen to, and watch their work.


Scientific publishing

Academic journals face a radical shake-up

Jul 21st 2012 | The Economist

IF THERE is any endeavour whose fruits should be freely available, that endeavour is surely publicly financed science. Morally, taxpayers who wish to should be able to read about it without further expense. And science advances through cross-fertilisation between projects. Barriers to that exchange slow it down. There is a widespread feeling that the journal publishers who have mediated this exchange for the past century or more are becoming an impediment to it. One of the latest converts is the British government. On July 16th it announced that, from 2013, the results of taxpayer-financed research would be available, free and online, for anyone to read and redistribute….


Research Shows Rapid Pace Of Historic Desertification In Dead Sea Region

Posted: 06 Sep 2012 12:27 PM PDT by Bob Berwyn, via Summit County Citizens Voice

Past climate change in the Dead Sea region was sudden and dramatic, with Mediterranean-type vegetation giving way to desert plants within just a few decades as the climate dried out. One of those dry spells may have resulted in the Canaanites’ urban culture collapsing while nomads invaded their area, perhaps establishing a climate link to biblical events described in the Old Testament as the exodus of the Israelites to the Promised Land. The new climate data from the area came from a detailed study by scientists with the Steinmann-Institute for Geology, Mineralogy and Paleontology at the University of Bonn, who tracked distinct dry periods during the pottery Neolithic Age (about 7,500 to 6,500 years ago), as well as at the transition from the late Bronze Age to the early Iron Age (about 3,200 years ago). “Humans were also strongly affected by these climate changes,” said Dr. Thomas Litt, describing how the climate in the region shifted within just a few decades…..


Exclusive Interview With Invisible President Obama On Global Warming

Posted: 06 Sep 2012 03:53 PM PDT


Seeing Through the Smoke — The Secrets in a Cigarette

Sept 72012 ScienceFriday

Many cigarettes are only two-thirds tobacco, and contain hundreds of additives, such as antifreeze, cocoa shells, and liquorice.



Treatment with fungi makes a modern violin sound like a Stradivarius
(September 8, 2012) — A good violin depends on the expertise of the violin maker, but also on the quality of the wood that is used. Professor Francis W. M. R. Schwarze of the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology has succeeded in modifying the wood for a violin through treatment with special fungi, making it sound indistinguishably similar to a Stradivarius. … > full story








Obama On Climate Change: “More Droughts And Floods And Wildfires Are Not A Joke”








SF Bay Area in the Fog- NASA

acquired August 16, 2012
download large image (2 MB, JPEG, 3050×2938)

For some people, the relentless waves of fog that roll off the Pacific Ocean into San Francisco each summer inspire awe. For others, they arouse frustration, even depression. Either way, fog is simply a fact of life for San Franciscans, particularly those who live near the Golden Gate Bridge.