Conservation Science News September 13, 2013











NOTE: Please feel free to pass on my weekly news update that has been prepared for
Point Blue Conservation Science
staff.  The information contained in this update was drawn from, SER The Society for Ecological Restoration,,,, The Wildlife Society NewsBrief, and other sources as indicated.  This is a compilation of articles and other information available on line, which were not verified and are not endorsed by Point Blue Conservation Science.  Please email me directly at Ellie Cohen, ecohen at if you want your name added to or dropped from this list.  You can also receive this through the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative ListServe or the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium list.   Also, we are starting to experiment with blog posting at

We have changed our name to Point Blue Conservation Science (formerly PRBO).  Our 140 Point Blue
scientists and educators work with hundreds of partners, pointing the way forward to secure a healthy, blue planet well into the future.  We work collaboratively to reduce the impacts of climate change, together with other environmental threats, through nature-based solutions that benefit wildlife and people.  For more information please see From Point Reyes to Point Blue as well as our first Point Blue Quarterly.  You might also enjoy viewing our inspiring ~6 minute video introducing Point Blue that includes partner and staff highlights as well as a brief congratulatory video from Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-2).  Our new website,, is under construction through mid-September. Until then, our existing website,, will remain active.






Current pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions put over 600 million people at risk of higher water scarcity
(September 12, 2013) — Our current pledges to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions, which are projected to set the global mean temperature increase at around 3.5°C above pre-industrial levels, will expose 668 million people worldwide to new or aggravated water scarcity.
This is according to a new study published today, 13 September, in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters, which has calculated that a further 11 per cent of the world’s population, taken from the year 2000, will live in water-scarce river basins or, for those already living in water-scarce regions, find that the effects will be aggravated. The results show that people in the Middle East, North Africa, Southern Europe and the Southwest of the USA will experience the most significant changes. The results show that if the global mean temperature increases by 2°C — the internationally agreed target — then eight per cent of the world population (486 million people) will be exposed to new or aggravated water scarcity, specifically in the Near and Middle East. Lead author of the research Dr Dieter Gerten, from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, said: “Our global assessments suggest that many regions will have less water available per person. “Even if the increase is restricted to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, many regions will have to adapt their water management and demand to a lower supply, especially since the population is expected to grow significantly in many of these regions.” “The unequal spatial pattern of exposure to climate change impacts sheds interesting light on the responsibility of high-emission countries and could have a bearing on both mitigation and adaption burden sharing.”…full story

Dieter Gerten, Wolfgang Lucht, Sebastian Ostberg, Jens Heinke, Martin Kowarsch, Holger Kreft, Zbigniew W Kundzewicz, Johann Rastgooy, Rachel Warren, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber. Asynchronous exposure to global warming: freshwater resources and terrestrial ecosystems. Environmental Research Letters, 2013; 8 (3): 034032 DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/034032



Dust Bowl Worries Swirl Up As Shelterbelt Buckles

NPR Joe Wertz September 10, 2013 5:12 PM 4 min 9 sec

A Dust Bowl farmer digs out a fence post to keep it from being buried under drifting sand in Cimarron County, Okla., in 1936. Arthur Rothstein

In the 1930s, the Dust Bowl ravaged crops and helped plunge the U.S. into an environmental and economic depression. Farmland in parts of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas disappeared. After the howling winds passed and the dust settled, federal foresters planted 100 million trees across the Great Plains, forming a giant windbreak — known as a shelterbelt — that stretched from Texas to Canada. Now, those trees are dying from drought, leaving some to worry whether another Dust Bowl might swirl up again. In Western Oklahoma water is scarce, but rains often cause flooding. The ground is baked by searing heat, and raked by blizzards and ice storms. This environment has always been tough for farmers, who struggle to make the soil submit and stay near the ground. Back in the ’30s, a combination of severe drought, overgrazing, and extensive plowing had rendered the ground rootless, loose and bone dry. Without anything to anchor it down, the dirt raged in dust storms dubbed “black blizzards.” Hundreds of thousands of families fled their dust-shrouded farms to more livable lands. In response, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration decided to plant a 1,000-mile line of trees, and the national shelterbelt program was born. The idea was simple: A giant windbreak would shield crops, and prevent erosion. Landowners filled out an application, gave up a few acres of land, and agreed to maintain the trees. The federal government did the rest. State forester Tom Murray says it was an experiment — and it worked. “This used to be a cotton field, if I remember right, looking back at the history,” he says. “And it just blew — it’s sand and it blew. By putting this here, it stopped that south wind from blowing across this field.” Now, drought threatens to sully the experiment’s track record. As Oklahoma weathers a third year of drought, many of the trees that helped save the state decades ago are dying. Husks of trunks line the side of the highway…..


In drought, water war in Calif. fought underground

By GOSIA WOZNIACKA, Associated Press Updated 8:03 am, Sunday, September 8, 2013

In this Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 photo, Micha Berry, with the city of Fresno’s water division, unscrews the motor that sits on top of a groundwater well in order to repair the well’s pump, in Fresno, Calif. Fresno, which has for decades relied exclusively on groundwater as a drinking water source for its residents, is one of many water users throughout central California that have seen a drop in their water table causing some wells to bring up sand, slow to a trickle or go completely dry. Photo: AP

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Bottom of Form

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — For decades, this city in California’s agricultural heartland relied exclusively on cheap, plentiful groundwater and pumped increasingly larger amounts from an aquifer as its population grew. But eventually, the water table dropped by more than 100 feet, causing some of Fresno’s wells to cave in and others to slow to a trickle. The cost of replacing those wells and extracting groundwater ballooned by 400 percent.

We became the largest energy demand in the region — $11 million a year for electricity just to run the pumps,” said Martin Querin, manager of the city’s water division, which supplies 550,000 residents. Fresno is just one player in a water war that’s quietly being fought underground. Throughout the Central Valley — one of the world’s most productive agricultural regions — farmers, residents and cities have seen their wells go dry. Those who can afford it have drilled deeper wells that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Experts say water supplies have been strained by growing city populations and massive tracts of newly planted orchards and vineyards. “Water levels are dropping dramatically in some areas. It’s never been this bad,” said Steve Arthur, vice president of Arthur and Orum Well Drilling. The drops create concerns that groundwater is becoming unaffordable and that overuse could cause serious land subsidence, which can damage infrastructure such as roads. “We can’t keep over-pumping groundwater,” said Peter Gleick, president of Pacific Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Oakland. “It’s simply unsustainable and not economically viable in the long run.

California has few rules governing groundwater. While some basins limit pumping through management plans or court rulings, anyone can build a well and pump unlimited amounts in most of the state. The U.S. Geological Survey has found in much of California — the San Joaquin Valley, the Central Coast and Southern California — more water has historically been pulled out of the ground than was replenished. Climate change and droughts are putting additional pressure on aquifers, said USGS hydrologist Claudia C. Faunt. There also is a recent shift among California farmers to replace row crops such as tomatoes with orchards, which can’t be scaled back in dry times.

On the west side of the Valley, massive farms whose surface water deliveries have been severely curtailed to protect fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are increasingly relying on groundwater and digging deeper wells. Farmers have also seen wells go dry east of Modesto in the Sierra foothills, where they’ve planted hundreds of thousands of acres of new orchards. They’ve been forced to drill new wells as deep as 800 feet. “There are more straws taking water out of the basin,” said Al Rossini, a third generation farmer from Oakdale. And whoever has the longest straw — and the deepest pockets — is winning.

Some small farmers can’t afford to drill deeper. Rural residents who rely on smaller wells for drinking, cooking and bathing are also feeling the brunt. “Our well went dry, and we had to redrill,” said Gerald Vieira, a retired Denair resident. Vieira paid $13,000 this summer for a new well — drilled 200 feet deeper than it had been before. A dozen of his neighbors also bought new wells. Some farmers and urban districts are now trying to find solutions to prevent groundwater overuse.

Fresno plans to use a combination of surface, ground and treated wastewater and to greatly expand the city’s program to replenish groundwater, and farmers in the Sierra foothills also plan to dig recharging ponds. Meanwhile, many farmers and other water users say the state must build more storage, especially groundwater banks, to hold water during wet years. “Water is like blood to the body,” said Rossini. “Without water, California won’t be the same state.”


Pumping draws arsenic toward a big-city aquifer
(September 11, 2013) — Naturally occurring arsenic pollutes wells across the world, especially in south and southeast Asia, where an estimated 100 million people are exposed to dangerous levels. Now, scientists working in Vietnam have shown that massive pumping of groundwater from a clean aquifer is slowly but surely drawing the poison into the water fro a nearby polluted one. The study, done near Hanoi, confirms suspicions that booming water usage could eventually threaten millions more people across Asia. … > full story







The real reason to worry about bees
(September 10, 2013) — Honey bees should be on everyone’s worry list, and not because of the risk of a nasty sting, an expert on the health of those beneficial insects. Despite years of intensive research, scientists do not understand the cause, nor can they provi
de remedies, for what is killing honey bees.
Set aside the fact that the honeybee’s cousins — hornets, wasps and yellow jackets — actually account for most stings, said Richard Fell, Ph.D. Despite years of intensive research, scientists do not understand the cause, nor can they provide remedies, for what is killing honeybees. “Some estimates put the value of honeybees in pollinating fruit, vegetable and other crops at almost $15 billion annually,” Fell said. “Without bees to spread pollen from the male parts of plants to the female parts, fruit may not form. That would severely impact consumers, affecting the price of some of the healthiest and most desirable foods.” Farmers use honeybees to pollinate more than 100 different fruit and vegetable crops around the country in an approach known as “managed pollination.” It involves placing bee hives in fields when crops are ready for pollination. “The biggest impacts from decreased hive numbers will be felt by farmers producing crops with high pollination requirements, such as almonds. Consumers may see a lowered availability of certain fruits and vegetables and some higher costs,” explained Fell. He discussed the ongoing decline in honeybee populations in the U.S. and some other countries — a condition sometimes termed colony collapse disorder (CCD). Although honeybees have been doing better in recent years, something continues to kill about 1 in every 3 honeybees each year. “There is a good bit of misinformation in the popular press about CCD and colony decline, especially with regard to pesticides,” Fell said. He is an emeritus professor of entomology at Virginia Tech, and an authority on colony decline in bees. “I think it is important to emphasize that we do not understand the causes of colony decline and CCD and that there are probably a number of factors involved. Also, the factors that trigger a decline may be different in different areas of the country and at different times of year.” Some of the leading theories about the cause of CCD include the use of certain pesticides, parasites, diseases and overall hive nutrition. Beekeeper and other organizations are pushing to stop the sale of certain neonicotinoids, insecticides that some regard as the main culprit of CCD. However, Fell said that would be premature. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently reviewed the situation and concluded that there is no scientific evidence that the neonicotinoids are causing serious problems with bee colonies. … > full story


Pacific humpback whale abundance higher in British Columbia
(September 11, 2013)Humpback whale populations are on the rise in the coastal fjords of British Columbia, doubling in size from 2004 to 2011. … > full story



Surprising underwater-sounds: Humpback whales also spend their winter in Antarctica
(September 9, 2013) — Biologists and physicists have discovered that not all of the Southern Hemisphere humpback whales migrate towards the equator at the end of the Antarctic summer. … > full story


Genetics of how and why fish swim in schools: Research sheds light on complex social behavior
(September 12, 2013) — How and why fish swim in schools has long fascinated biologists looking for clues to understand the complexities of social behavior. A new study may help provide some insight. … > full story

Darwin’s dilemma resolved: Evolution’s ‘big bang’ explained by five times faster rates of evolution
(September 12, 2013) — Biologists have estimated, for the first time, the rates of evolution during the “Cambrian explosion” when most modern animal groups appeared between 540 and 520 million years ago. … > full story


Biologist tweaks airport ecosystems to manage bird threats

By Sarah Zhang, The Seattle Times Posted:   09/10/2013 10:26:02 AM PDT SEATTLE — Steve Osmek is standing next to a tangle of shrubs and wildflowers, talking about conservation. But every 45 seconds or so, a jet rumbles overhead — drowning out all his words.

He’s used to the planes by now. As the resident wildlife biologist at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Osmek is in charge of making sure animals play nice with the planes. “If it moves, if it has legs, I’m responsible,” he says. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of keeping animals out, like the 12-foot fence that prevents coyotes and deer from wandering onto the runways. But it’s more complicated for the airport’s greatest wildlife hazard: birds. Bird strikes cost the U.S. aviation industry $700 million annually, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, and more than 200 people have died as a result of bird-plane collisions in the past quarter-century worldwide. When a flight taking off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport lost engine power after hitting a flock of geese but landed safely in the river in 2009, it was called “Miracle on the Hudson” for good reason. Sea-Tac had an emergency landing of its own in 2002, when a Boeing 737 struck 26 birds. There’s no barrier to put up against birds. Instead, Osmek is talking about conservation biology in a grassy field next to Sea-Tac. Airports are ecosystems despite all the concrete. They’re home not only to planes and trucks but also pigeons, voles, grasshoppers, blackberry shrubs, and even salmon, in the case of Sea-Tac. Managing bird strikes is about creating environments that discourage the hazardous birds, especially ones that flock, like European starlings, or large birds of prey, like red-tailed hawks. That means Osmek is actually responsible for things that don’t move and don’t have legs, either; he also has to think about plants. Inside the airfield, pavement alternates with patches of grass, kept short to discourage rodents or insects that attract birds looking for food. The topsoil is low in nutrition, to prevent grass from growing tall in the first place. And the grass seeds themselves were chosen because they contain a fungus whose taste drives away waterfowl. Around the airfield is a buffer zone of 2,646 acres. Plants with berries, nuts and seeds that attract birds are kept to a minimum. Instead, Sea-Tac plants shrubs with dense cover that discourages nesting. Goats were brought in to mow down the especially pervasive blackberries in 2008, but they were a little too good at their job; they ate all the desirable plants, too. Now the landscaping is done by humans…..



Monarch Population Status September 12, 2013

So where are the monarchs this year?? As you may know, the overwintering monarch population for the

2012-2013 season was the smallest recorded to date:

To recover from a bad year, the conditions for the development of the population the following year have to be favorable. Unfortunately, the conditions this spring were not favorable for a rapid recovery.

The temperatures in Texas in the spring were colder than normal as were the conditions at the time that the first generation monarchs moved north (May-early June). The result of the combination of a low returning population with the temperatures and weather patterns of the spring was a low early summer monarch population. Is there a chance that the population can rebound as it has before? Yes, but the temperatures in nearly all of the northern breeding range would have to be above normal by 2-3F throughout the summer for the population to increase. None of the observations or data to date suggest either a strong migration or a wintering population that will be larger than the 1.19 hectares measured last year. In fact, the population is likely to be even lower. Please visit the Monarch Watch Blog for a more detailed account of the current monarch population and updates as the season progresses:




Big Brained Birds May Stress Less

By Alex Reis, ScienceNOW 09.11.13

An Australian raven. Image: Daniel Sol

Bird species with larger than average brains have lower levels of a key stress hormone, an analysis of nearly 200 avian studies has concluded. Such birds keep their stress down by anticipating or learning to avoid problems more effectively than smaller-brained counterparts, researchers suggest.

Birds in the wild lead a stressful life. Constantly spotting predators lurking in the trees or sensing dramatic changes in temperature is essential for survival, but can leave birds on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Reading these cues triggers changes in the birds’ metabolism, particularly increases in the stress hormone corticosterone. A sharp release of the hormone within 1 to 2 minutes after a cue triggers an emergency response and prepares birds to react quickly to the threat. However, regular exposure to the dangers of the wild and, hence, to high levels of this hormone, has serious health consequences and shortens life expectancy.

Not all birds respond to stress in the same way, however, notes Daniel Sol an ornithologist at the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications in Cerdanyola del Vallès, Spain. He and colleagues have for years looked at the differences between big-brained birds, such as crows and parrots, and those with smaller brains, such as chickens and quails. The former survive better in nature and are also more successful at establishing a community in a new environment.

In their new work, they connect brain size to handling stress. Sol; Ádám Lendvai, an evolutionary biologist at the College of Nyíregyháza in Hungary; and colleagues scoured the avian research literature to find studies that had measured corticosterone levels in birds in varying situations. They found 189 reports published before 2010 with comparable corticosterone and whole brain mass measurements for 119 bird species. The analysis, reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, revealed that birds with large brains have lower circulating levels of the stress hormone, which rise only slightly in response to challenging situations, whereas these values can skyrocket in birds on the opposite end of the “brainy” scale.


Farmers can now get a birds-eye view of their fields — in full HD — thanks to new drone
(September 10, 2013) — Farmers can now get a birds-eye view of their fields — in full HD — thanks to Michigan State University landing its first drone. … > full story


Butterfly wings inspire new technologies: From fabrics and cosmetics to sensors
(September 9, 2013) — A new study has revealed that the stunning iridescent wings of the tropical blue Morpho butterfly could expand the range of innovative technologies. Scientific lessons learned from these butterflies have already inspired designs of new displays, fabrics and cosmetics. … > full story




Unprecedented Rate and Scale of Ocean Acidification Found in the Arctic
Released: 9/11/2013 5:30:00 PM USGS

St Petersburg, Fla. — Acidification of the Arctic Ocean is occurring faster than projected according to new findings published in the journal PLOS ONE.  The increase in rate is being blamed on rapidly melting sea ice, a process that may have important consequences for health of the Arctic ecosystem.

Ocean acidification is the process by which pH levels of seawater decrease due to greater amounts of carbon dioxide being absorbed by the oceans from the atmosphere.  Currently oceans absorb about one-fourth of the greenhouse gas.  Lower pH levels make water more acidic and lab studies have shown that more acidic water decrease calcification rates in many calcifying organisms, reducing their ability to build shells or skeletons.  These changes, in species ranging from corals to shrimp, have the potential to impact species up and down the food web.

The team of federal and university researchers found that the decline of sea ice in the Arctic summer has important consequences for the surface layer of the Arctic Ocean.  As sea ice cover recedes to record lows, as it did late in the summer of 2012, the seawater beneath is exposed to carbon dioxide, which is the main driver of ocean acidification. In addition, the freshwater melted from sea ice dilutes the seawater, lowering pH levels and reducing the concentrations of calcium and carbonate, which are the constituents, or building blocks, of the mineral aragonite. Aragonite and other carbonate minerals make up the hard part of many marine micro-organisms’ skeletons and shells. The lowering of calcium and carbonate concentrations may impact the growth of organisms that many species rely on for food.  The new research shows that acidification in surface waters of the Arctic Ocean is rapidly expanding into areas that were previously isolated from contact with the atmosphere due to the former widespread ice cover. “A remarkable 20 percent of the Canadian Basin has become more corrosive to carbonate minerals in an unprecedented short period of time.  Nowhere on Earth have we documented such large scale, rapid ocean acidification” according to lead researcher and ocean acidification project chief, U.S. Geological Survey oceanographer Lisa Robbins. Globally, Earth’s ocean surface is becoming acidified due to absorption of man-made carbon dioxide. Ocean acidification models show that with increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, the Arctic Ocean will have crucially low concentrations of dissolved carbonate minerals, such as aragonite, in the next decade. “In the Arctic, where multi-year sea ice has been receding, we see that the dilution of seawater with melted sea ice adds fuel to the fire of ocean acidification” according to co-author, and co-project chief, Jonathan Wynn, a geologist from the University of the South Florida. “Not only is the ice cover removed leaving the surface water exposed to man-made carbon dioxide, the surface layer of frigid waters is now fresher, and this means less calcium and carbonate ions are available for organisms.” Researchers were able to investigate seawater chemistry at high spatial resolution during three years of research cruises in the Arctic, alongside joint U.S.-Canada research efforts aimed at mapping the seafloor as part of the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf program.  In addition to the NOAA supported ECS ship time, the ocean acidification researchers were funded by the USGS, National Science Foundation, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Compared to other oceans, the Arctic Ocean has been rather lightly sampled. “It’s a beautiful but challenging place to work,” said Robert Byrne, a USF marine chemist. Using new automated instruments, the scientists were able to make 34,000 water-chemistry measurements from the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker. “This unusually large data set, in combination with earlier studies, not only documents remarkable changes in Arctic seawater chemistry but also provides a much-needed baseline against which future measurements can be compared.” Byrne credits scientists and engineers at the USF college of Marine Science with developing much of the new technology. Information on the most recent Arctic research cruise is available on online.



Climate change may speed up forests’ life cycles
(September 11, 2013) — Many climate studies have predicted that tree species will respond to global warming by migrating via seed dispersal to cooler climates. But a study of 65 different species in 31 eastern states finds that nearly 80 percent of the species are staying in place and speeding up their life cycles. The Duke University-led study, published online Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Global Change Biology, is the first to show that a changing climate may have dual impacts on forests. It adds to a growing body of evidence, including a 2011 study by the same Duke team, that climate-driven migration is occurring much more slowly than predicted, and most plant species may not be able to migrate fast enough to stay one step ahead of rising temperatures. ….”Our analysis reveals no consistent, large-scale northward migration is taking place. Instead, most trees are responding through faster turnover — meaning they are staying in place but speeding up their life cycles in response to longer growing seasons and higher temperatures,” said James S. Clark, H.L. Blomquist Professor of Environment at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment….Anticipating the impacts of this unexpected change on U.S. forests is an important issue for forest managers and for the nation as a whole, Clark said. It will have far-reaching consequences for biodiversity and carbon storage. “The patterns we were able to see from this massive study are consistent with forests having faster turnover, where young trees tend to be more abundant than adult trees in warm, wet climates. This pattern is what we would expect to see if populations speed up their life cycle in warming climates,” said lead author Kai Zhu, a doctoral student of Clark’s at Duke. “This is a first sign of climate change impacts, before we see large-scale migrations. It gives a very different picture of how trees are responding to climate change.” The fact that most trees are not yet showing signs of migration “should increase awareness that there is a significant lag time in how tree species are responding to the changing climate,” Zhu said…. > full story


Kai Zhu, Christopher W. Woodall, Souparno Ghosh, Alan E. Gelfand, James S. Clark. Dual impacts of climate change: forest migration and turnover through life history. Global Change Biology, 2013; DOI: 10.1111/gcb.12382



Movement of marine life follows speed and direction of climate change
(September 12, 2013)
Scientists expect climate change and warmer oceans to push the fish that people rely on for food and income into new territory. Predictions of where and when species will relocate, however, are
based on broad expectations about how animals will move and have often not played out in nature. New research shows that the trick to predicting when and where sea animals will relocate due to climate change is to follow the pace and direction of local temperature changes, known as climate velocity. ……
Details of the surveys revealed that sea creatures adhere to a “complex mosaic of local climate velocities,” the researchers reported. On average, changes in temperature for North America moved north a mere 4.5 miles per decade, but in parts of Newfoundland that pace was a speedier 38 miles north per decade. In areas off the U.S. West Coast, temperatures shifted south at 30 miles per decade, while in the Gulf of Mexico velocities varied from 19 miles south to 11 miles north per decade. Animal movements were just as motley. As a whole, species shifted an average of 5 miles north per decade, but 45 percent of animal specific populations swam south. Cod off Newfoundland moved 37 miles north per decade, while lobster in the northeastern United States went the same direction at 43 miles per decade. On the other hand, pink shrimp, a staple of Gulf Coast fisheries, migrated south 41 miles per decade, the researchers found…Daniel Pauly, a professor of fisheries at the University of British Columbia, said that the researchers reveal finer details of marine movements that are crucial for preservation and commercial fishing, yet often get lost in the global-scale models typically used to predict how fish will respond to altered environs. Pauly is familiar with the Princeton research but had no role in it. Regional factors such as wind can actually counteract warmer water and result in cooler seas, as is the case off the coasts of California and Peru, Pauly said. In addition, fish are extremely sensitive to even slight temperature changes and will quickly seek ideal locales, which can appear like erratic shifts in distribution. Large-scale models based on global averages don’t reflect these nuances….

An idea first proposed in 2009, climate velocity explains why as many as 60 percent of land and sea species have deviated from the expectation that rising global temperatures would drive animals toward cooler high latitudes and elevations, or deeper waters, the researchers report. Instead, animals follow local temperatures, which over the next few decades may warm or cool even as global temperatures overall are rising, Pinsky said. In the case of ocean temperatures, the march of balmy tides depends on currents, changes in the atmosphere, and geological features on the shore and in the ocean. The temperatures that species prefer tend to move toward the poles, but not as a single wave. In some cases, local changes in water temperature move away from the poles, or to deep water. As a result, the researchers found that 73 percent of animals that moved south and 75 percent that relocated to shallower waters were following temperature changes….full story

Malin L. Pinsky, Boris Worm, Michael J. Fogarty, Jorge L. Sarmiento, and Simon A. Levin. Marine Taxa Track Local Climate Velocities. Science, 13 September 2013: 1239-1242 DOI: 10.1126/science.1239352


Climate change will upset vital ocean chemical cycles, research shows
(September 8, 2013) — New research shows that rising ocean temperatures will upset natural cycles of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and phosphorus. Plankton plays an important role in the ocean’s carbon cycle by removing half of all CO2 from the atmosphere during photosynthesis and storing it deep under the sea. New findings reveal that water temperature has a direct impact on maintaining the delicate plankton ecosystem of our oceans. … > full story



Skyscraper-sized waves recorded beneath the ocean.
Nature World News by James A. Foley Sep 10, 2013 01:21 PM EDT

For the first time, scientist have recorded an enormous wave the size of a skyscraper breaking at a key location at the bottom of the South Pacific Ocean. (Photo : Tom Peacock, MIT | Wide Eye Productions)

For the first time, scientists have recorded an enormous wave the size of a skyscraper breaking at a key location at the bottom of the South Pacific Ocean.

Researchers from the University of Washington recorded the 800 foot wave breaking at a key bottleneck for ocean circulation where water of different density collides. Such massive underwater waves play a crucial role in long-term climate cycles, transporting heat, carbon, and nutrients around the world. Where and how these waves break is important to global climate as well as ocean circulation, the researchers said.”Climate models are really sensitive not only to how much turbulence there is in the deep ocean, but to where it is,” said lead author Matthew Alford, an oceanographer in the UW Applied Physics Laboratory. “The primary importance of understanding deep-ocean turbulence is to get the climate models right on long timescales.”…


‘Biblical’ Amounts Of Rainfall Slam Colorado, Causing Death, Destruction, And Massive Flooding

By Ryan Koronowski on September 13, 2013 at 11:45 am

Local residents look over a road washed out by a torrent of water following overnight flash flooding near Left Hand Canyon, south of Lyons, Colo., Thursday, Sept 12, 2013. CREDIT: (Credit: AP)

Massive, historic, “biblical” rainfall cascaded through much of Colorado Thursday, leaving three people dead and one missing as of Thursday night as a result of the flooding.

Up to 8 inches of rain fell across a hundred-mile expanse of Colorado’s Front Range, causing thousands to be evacuated as local streams turned into rampaging torrents. The heavy rains returned to the foothills region Thursday night, with more precipitation forecast for Friday. The National Weather Service issued constantly-updated versions of a local area forecast, and one at 9:41 a.m. MDT reported a dire warning: MAJOR FLOODING/FLASH FLOODING EVENT UNDERWAY AT THIS TIME WITH BIBLICAL RAINFALL AMOUNTS REPORTED IN MANY AREAS IN/NEAR THE FOOTHILLS….



Hottest days in some parts of Europe have warmed four times more than the global average
(September 11, 2013) — Some of the hottest days and coldest nights in parts of Europe have warmed more than four times the global average change since 1950, according to a new article. … > full story


Warming Climate Could Transform SF Bay Area Parks and Open Space

Lauren Sommer, KQED Science | September 9, 2013 |

By the end of the century, the Bay Area’s landscape could look more like Southern California’s, raising tough questions for land managers trying to preserve the region’s protected lands.

It may not be an official record, but by some accounts, more open space has been preserved in the San Francisco Bay Area than in any other major U.S. metropolitan area. More than a million acres are permanently protected from development – that’s almost one-third of the 4.5 million acres that make up the 10-county region. Now, with temperatures on the rise, land managers and scientists are beginning to ask how the Bay Area’s landscape will withstand climate change. As plants and animals are forced to shift, some of the Bay Area’s iconic parks and vistas could look dramatically different.Scientists say signs of those changes may already be appearing in places such as the hills east of downtown San Jose. “This is a blue oak,” says Nature Conservancy
ecologist Sasha Gennet, examining the small, dark leaves of a towering tree on the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve, part of the University of California Natural Reserve System. She pulls the branch down to eye level. “You can tell because they’re a little bit bluish or grayish,” she says. “They’re probably the hardiest of the oak species in the California. These are the ones that you see in those hottest, driest places, hanging on through the summer.” “But even these have their limits,” she adds, “and we’re starting to see what those limits are.”…. About a hundred miles north, UC Berkeley ecologist David Ackerly walks across a wooded hillside, pulling small orange and yellow flags out of the ground. Each marks a young tree….Ackerly and his field team are counting trees and gathering data inside a 60-by-60 foot research plot, one of 50 on the 3,000-acre Pepperwood Preserve in Sonoma County. “If you want to see the forest of the future, you look at the small plants,” he says. The plots will become a baseline for studying climate change, as the study team returns in five and ten years to document changes in the plant community and water availability. Change is what Ackerly expects to see, in the form of warmer temperatures, heat waves and more intense drought. “We know the direction things are moving and what we can expect is that our climate will be more like climates in Southern California,” he says. “So in 30 or 40 years, it might be like San Luis Obispo and in 60 or 70 or 100 years, it may become like Los Angeles.” That could lead to an expansion of plants more commonly found in Southern California, like chaparral, the dense shrubs and bushes that thrive in drier conditions. Ackerly says under some climate scenarios in the Bay Area, there could be twice as much land with conditions that favor chaparral….


UC Berkeley researcher David Ackerly measures a tree’s diameter at the Pepperwood Preserve near Santa Rosa. (Photo: Lauren Sommer/KQED)


Arctic sea ice rebounds, but don’t jump to ‘global cooling’ conclusions

Christian Science Monitor

September 10, 2013


Written by

Peter Spotts


After a record-breaking decline in the extent of summer sea ice on the Arctic Ocean last year, this year’s minimum has returned to levels that more closely track the long-term rate of decline that scientists have measured for at least 34 years….



A century of human impact on Arctic climate indicated by new models, historic aerosol data
(September 12, 2013) — A new study suggests that both anthropogenic and natural factors — specifically sulphate aerosols from industrial activity and volcanic emissions, in addition to greenhouse gas releases from fossil fuel burning — account for Arctic surface temperature variations from 1900 to the present. … > full story



Underlying ocean melts ice shelf, speeds up glacier movement
(September 12, 2013) — Warm ocean water, not warm air, is melting the Pine Island Glacier’s floating ice shelf in Antarctica and may be the culprit for increased melting of other ice shelves, according to an international team of researchers. … > full story


Micro-gels from tiny ice algae play an important role in polar ocean carbon budgets
(September 10, 2013) — Secretion of polysaccharides from the micro community living within the sea ice stick organism together and forms greater particles introducing a rapid transport of carbon to the seafloor. New research now makes it possible to forecast the importance for the global carbon budget of this transport. … > full story


Oil industry and household stoves speed Arctic thaw
(September 10, 2013) — Gas flaring by the oil industry and smoke from residential burning contributes more black carbon pollution to Arctic than previously thought — potentially speeding the melting of Arctic sea ice and contributing to the fast rate of warming in the region. … > full story


Study: cold Pacific keeps global warming at bay

U-T San Diego

September 8, 2013


Cold Pacific waters may be acting as a kind of global air conditioner – dampening the warming effects of greenhouse gases, according to a new study from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla.



A Hurricane Brews After Silent First Half to the Atlantic Storm Season


Forecasters predict that Hurricane Humberto will end the 2013 hurricane drought.



Climate Change Leaves Hares Wearing The Wrong Colors

by Lauren Sommer September 08, 2013 5:32 AM NPR 2 min 57 sec

A white snowshoe hare against a brown background makes the animal easy prey. L.S. Mills Research Photo

The effects of climate change often happen on a large scale, like drought or a rise in sea level. In the hills outside Missoula, Mont., wildlife biologists are looking at a change to something very small: the snowshoe hare. Life as snowshoe hare is pretty stressful. For one, almost everything in the forest wants to eat you. Alex Kumar, a graduate student at the University of Montana, lists the animals that are hungry for hares. “Lynx, foxes, coyotes, raptors, birds of prey. Interestingly enough, young hares, their main predator is actually red squirrels.” Yes, even squirrels. Kumar and field technician Tucker Seitz spend months searching these woods for hares. ….Hares switch color in the spring and fall in response to light, when the days get longer or shorter. But that means they’re at the mercy of the weather. If the snow comes late, you get a white hare on brown ground. “And they really think that they’re camouflaged,” Kumar says. “They act like we can’t see them. And it’s pretty embarrassing for the hare.” Kumar calls this “mismatch,” and it’s becoming more of a concern with climate change. “If the hares are consistently molting at the same time, year after year, and the snowfall comes later and melts earlier, there’s going to be more and more times when hares are mismatched,” he says. Scott Mills of North Carolina State University leads the research. He says they’re finding that mismatched hares die at higher rates. That’s a concern for the threatened Canada lynx, which mainly eats these hares….


A Climate Alarm, Too Muted for Some

By JUSTIN GILLIS NY TIMES Published: September 9, 2013

This month, the world will get a new report from a United Nations panel about the science of climate change. Scientists will soon meet in Stockholm to put the finishing touches on the document, and behind the scenes, two big fights are brewing. In one case, we have a lot of mainstream science that says if human society keeps burning fossil fuels with abandon, considerable land ice could melt and the ocean could rise as much as three feet by the year 2100. We have some outlier science that says the problem could be quite a bit worse than that, with a maximum rise exceeding five feet. The drafters of the report went with the lower numbers, choosing to treat the outlier science as not very credible. In the second case, we have mainstream science that says if the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubles, which is well on its way to happening, the long-term rise in the temperature of the earth will be at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but more likely above 5 degrees. We have outlier science that says the rise could come in well below 3 degrees. In this case, the drafters of the report lowered the bottom end in a range of temperatures for how much the earth could warm, treating the outlier science as credible….




Arctic Death Spiral: CryoSat Reveals Decline In Arctic Sea Ice Volume Continues

By Joe Romm on September 11, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Arctic sea ice volume collapsed from 1979 to 2012, several decades ahead of what the climate models had predicted.

Now new data from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat satellite has revealed that this ice volume trend continued through the spring of 2013:

Recent changes in spring ice thickness as measured by CryoSat.

University of Leeds Prof. Andrew Shepherd explains:

“CryoSat continues to provide clear evidence of diminishing Arctic sea ice…. there has been a decrease in the volume of winter and summer ice over the past three years.

“The volume of the sea ice at the end of last winter was less than 15 000 cubic km, which is lower than any other year going into summer and indicates less winter growth than usual.”

The deniers and the confusionists generally focus on very short term trends in Arctic sea ice area. Two British tabloids known for climate disinformation have seized upon the supposed “recovery” in Arctic sea ice this summer to argue we are entering a period of global cooling. They have been widely
debunked. And everyone’s favorite short-term, two-dimensional thinker, Judith Curry, tells the Wall Street Journal that the main significance of this year’s rebound in sea ice area is that “the narrative of the ‘spiral of death’ for the sea ice has been broken.” Seriously!….



If All the Ice Melted

National Geographic September 2013

Explore the world’s new coastlines if sea level rises 216 feet.  The maps here show the world as it is now, with only one difference: All the ice on land has melted and drained into the sea, raising it 216 feet and creating new shorelines for our continents and inland seas. 

There are more than five million cubic miles of ice on Earth, and some scientists say it would take more than 5,000 years to melt it all. If we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, we’ll very likely create an ice-free planet, with an average temperature of perhaps 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58.





West Nile virus season to last longer as climate changes. September 9, 2013 Climate Central New research provides doses of good and bad news about how a changing climate will affect the southern house mosquito, the main mosquito transmiting West Nile across the southern tier of the United States.



Warming climate begins to taint Europe’s blood supplies.
Erica Rex, E&E Europe correspondent ClimateWire: Tuesday, September 10, 201

A whole new set of ungovernable pathogens are being loosed on the world’s blood supplies. A warming climate has allowed blood-borne tropical diseases to flourish where once they were unheard of, and they’re getting around.


Louisiana’s Gulf Coast adapts to global warming’s rising seas. by Eve Troeh
Marketplace for Monday, September 9, 2013

In southern Louisiana, the coast is moving. The sea is overtaking the land – pretty fast, too. And while you often hear people invoke the rich cultural heritage as a reason to save the region, there’s a lot of rich oil and gas companies that would like protection, too.


Rainfall in South Pacific was more variable before 20th century
(September 9, 2013) — A new reconstruction of climate in the South Pacific during the past 446 years shows rainfall varied much more dramatically before the start of the 20th century than after. The finding, based on an analysis of a cave formation called a stalagmite from the island nation of Vanuatu, could force climate modelers to adjust their models. … > full story



NOAA: Contiguous U.S. had eighth wettest and 15th warmest summer

Nation had wettest summer since 2004; Warmth dominated West and Northeast; Alaska had its second warmest

The average temperature for the contiguous U.S. during the summer season (June-August) was 72.6°F, 1.2°F above the 20th century average. The average August temperature was 73.1°F, 1.0°F above the 20th century average – the 28th warmest August on record for the Lower 48.

The total summer precipitation averaged across the contiguous U.S. was 9.53 inches, 1.28 inches above average and the wettest summer since 2004. The August national precipitation total was slightly above average at 2.63 inches.

  This monthly summary from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center is part of the suite of climate services NOAA provides to government, the business sector, academia, and the public to support informed decision-making…

Additional information can be found on the following web sites:



Oregon’s Massive Wildfires, As Seen Through Google Glass

Posted: 11 Sep 2013 06:29 AM PDT

Andrew Satter is the Senior Video Producer at the Center for American Progress.

GRANTS PASS, OREGON — Deep in the dense forest of Southwest Oregon, 25 miles from this old logging town, tendrils of smoke billow from a charred valley below. To my left sits a copse of 40-year old Douglas Fir, burned to the crowns. The air smells of day-old campfire. The smoke plume is what remains of a handful of late-July lightning fires that scorched nearly 75,000 acres of this remote forest, sandwiched between I-5 and the Oregon coast.

I went on the ground with Google Glass and Brian Ballou of the Oregon Department of Forestry to scope out the damage. Take a look:

By now, the burning of the American West is familiar news. People frequently associate massive wildfires raging for weeks on end with the more arid and drought-stricken Southwest but in recent years, even the traditionally wetter Pacific Northwest has seen an increase in fire activity.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, a compilation of climate and weather data from the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, all but the Northwest corner of the state is mired in conditions ranging from abnormally dry to severe drought. That has made for a particularly devastating fire season.

While Oregon has seen large fires in the past, the trend toward hotter, drier conditions — and greater risk of wildfires — is clear. As of September 10, Oregon’s state-protected lands have seen a ten-fold increase in acreage burned over the 10-year average. Throughout the entire state, more than 230,000 acres have burned. Last year was even worse — in 2012, nearly 1.3 million acres burned statewide.







City overlooking desolate landscape (artist’s conception). Further delay in the implementation of comprehensive international climate policies could substantially increase the short-term costs of climate change mitigation. (Credit: © f9photos / Fotolia)

Delaying climate policy would triple short-term mitigation costs
(September 12, 2013) — Further delay in the implementation of comprehensive international climate policies could substantially increase the short-term costs of climate change mitigation. Global economic growth would be cut back by up to 7 percent within the first decade after climate policy implementation if the current international stalemate is continued until 2030 — compared to 2 percent if a climate agreement is reached by 2015 already, a new study shows. … > full story


Luderer, G., Pietzcker, R.C., Bertram, C., Kriegler, E., Meinshausen, M., Edenhofer, O. Economic mitigation challenges: how further delay closes the door for achieving climate targets. Environmental Research Letters, 2013



Climate Change’s Silver Bullet? Our Interview With One Of The World’s Top Geoengineering Scholars

By Ari Phillips on September 6, 2013 at 1:10 pm

MELBOURNE, Australia — Since coming to Australia almost two months ago I’ve heard about Clive Hamilton in the process of reporting just about every story I’ve done. Then I picked up his new book Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering and now I see what all the fuss is about. In all of the debates over how to address climate change, climate engineering — or geoengineering — is among the most contentious. It involves large-scale manipulation of the Earth’s climate using grand technological interventions, such as fertilizing the oceans with iron to absorb carbon dioxide or releasing sulfur into the atmosphere to reduce radiation. While its proponents call geoengineering a silver bullet for our climate woes, its skeptics are far more critical. Joe Romm, for one, likens geoengineering to a dangerous course of chemotherapy and radiation to treat a condition curable through diet and exercise — or, in this case, emissions reduction…..



2013 Update to the California Climate Adaptation Strategy

The California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) invites you to participate
in public meetings being held around the state to discuss preparing for
climate risks and the proposed update to the 2009 California Climate
Adaptation Strategy. These meetings are public forums intended to provide
opportunities for input into updating the state’s plan for preparing for
climate risks. The meetings are open to the public and full participation
by all parties is encouraged.

Meeting locations and dates listed below.
For more detailed information please visit


Date:  September 30, 2013 Sacramento, California; Date: October 2, 2013 Klamath, California; Date: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 Los Angeles, California; Date: October 10, 2013 Merced; California; Date: October 11, 2013 Truckee, California




NY Times: Did Denier ‘Intimidation Tactics’ Move IPCC To ‘Lowball’ Sea Level Rise And Climate Sensitivity?

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 02:39 PM PDT

The New York Times has a must-read article on how and why the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “seems to be bending over backward to be scientifically conservative” in its forthcoming assessment.

Climate Progress has explained many times why the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) is “an instantly out-of-date snapshot that lowballs future warming because it continues to ignore large parts of the recent literature and omit what it can’t model.” For instance, we have known for years that perhaps the single most important carbon-cycle feedback is the thawing of the northern permafrost. The AR5′s climate models completely ignore it, thereby lowballing likely warming this century.




Climate change pact wins US support

2013-09-08 12:44 Majuro – A new Pacific regional pact calling for aggressive action to combat climate change has achieved a “major accomplishment” by gaining US support, officials said on Sunday.

The Majuro Declaration, endorsed by the 15-nation Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) at their summit last week, contains specific pledges on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The PIF nations, some of which are barely a metre (three feet) above sea level and risk being swamped by rising waters, have since received wide support led by the United States after presenting the document to more than two dozen countries at a post-forum dialogue. US Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced during the session a new climate change fund for Pacific islands vulnerable to rising sea levels…



Global Warming Is Very Real

Scientists are fighting deniers with irrefutable proof the planet is headed for catastrophe

Melting polar glaciers could raise sea levels by almost three feet by the end of the century. Henrik Egede Lassen/Alpha Film/Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme

By Jeff Goodell Rolling Stone September 12, 2013 7:00 AM ET On September 27th, a group of international scientists associated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will gather in an old brick brewery in Stockholm and proclaim with near certainty that human activity is altering the planet in profound ways. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report offers slam-dunk evidence that burning fossil fuels is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades, and warn that sea levels could rise by almost three feet by the end of the century if we don’t change our ways. The report will underscore that the basic facts about climate change are more established than ever, and that the consequences of escalating carbon pollution are likely to mean that, as The New York Times recently argued, “babies being born now could live to see the early stages of a global calamity.” A leaked draft of the report points out that the link between fossil-fuel burning and climate change is already observable: “It is extremely likely that human influence on climate caused more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010. There is high confidence that this has warmed the ocean, melted snow and ice, raised global mean sea level and changed some climate extremes in the second half of the 20th century.” If you look beyond the tables and charts and graphs that fill the reports, you can see the Arctic vanishing, great cities like Miami and Shanghai drowning, droughts causing famine in Africa, and millions of refugees fleeing climate-related catastrophes. Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC, recently told a group of climate scientists that if we want to avoid this fate, governments must act now to cut carbon pollution: “We have five minutes before midnight.”….



California passes bill to strictly regulate oil well ‘fracking.’ A bill that would give California the nation’s toughest regulation of a controversial oil drilling technique won easy passage Wednesday from the state Assembly. Los Angeles Times


Arab Summer: Warming-Fueled Drought Helped Spark Syria’s Civil War

Posted: 08 Sep 2013 08:54 AM PDT

Warming-worsened drought is causing problems all around the Mediterranean, especially Syria:

NOAA concluded in 2011 that “human-caused climate change [is now] a major factor in more frequent Mediterranean droughts.” Reds and oranges highlight lands around the Mediterranean that experienced significantly drier winters during 1971-2010 than the comparison period of 1902-2010. With our country facing tough choices about Syria, Moyers & Company’s John Light had a great piece on Friday: “Drought Helped Spark Syria’s Civil War — Is it One of Many Climate Wars to Come?” He interviewed one of our favorites, Francesco Femia, co-founder of the Center for Climate and Security, which has an advisory board of retired military commanders and foreign-policy experts…..



Counting the Cost of Fixing the Future

By EDUARDO PORTER NY Times September 10, 2013

Deciding how much should be invested in fighting climate change depends on your investment outlook. In May, to little fanfare, the Obama administration published new estimates of the “social cost of carbon,” a dollars-and-cents measure of the future damage — from floods, pandemics, depressed agricultural productivity — that releasing each additional ton of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere would cost. The new numbers are likely to be more important than the low-key announcement would imply. They suggest climate change could cause substantially more economic harm than the government previously believed. But they also suggest there is a legitimate debate to be had about the cost of preventing it from getting worse. Perhaps the most startling conclusion to be drawn from the new estimates is that the sacrifice demanded of our generation to prevent vast climate change down the road may turn out to be rather small. The typical passenger car emits a ton of CO2 in about two and a half months of driving. Under one set of assumptions, the government’s number-crunchers determined that the damage caused by an additional ton of CO2 spewed into the air in 2015 would amount to $65 in today’s money. That’s 50 percent more than was estimated just three years ago. This could justify fairly aggressive policies to slow emissions of CO2. A tax of $65 per ton of CO2 to force polluters to pay for the damage would add $0.56 to a gallon of gas. Exxon, say, might have to shell out $8.1 billion to cover the 125 million tons of CO2 it spewed last year. Farms might have to pay $35 billio




Farm bill is critical to farmers, ranchers and birds in Colorado

By Tammy VerCauteren and John W. Fitzpatrick

Tammy VerCauteren is the executive director of Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory. John W. Fitzpatrick is director of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Guest Commentary Denver Post Posted:   09/10/2013 02:20:46 PM MDT

There are few aerial acrobatic performers like the McCown’s longspur. A bird of the eastern Colorado prairie, longspurs rise up out of the grass with deep strokes of their wings, elevating higher and higher until they throw their wings back and glide, unleashing a crystal clear warbling song as they float back down to earth. It’s a spectacular sight, and it’s one that’s disappearing. The McCown’s longspur population has plummeted by an estimated 92 percent in the past 45 years. Those longspurs that are left are heavily dependent on farmers and ranchers, according to the recently published State of the Birds 2013 report, co-authored by 15 bird conservation organizations and agencies including Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Almost three-quarters of the remaining McCown’s longspur population resides on private lands. A recurring theme in the report is the important role of America’s private landowners in safeguarding bird habitat. Altogether, more than 100 bird species have more than half of their population distribution on America’s 1.43 billion acres of private land. And there’s no program more critical to preserving bird habitat on private lands than the farm bill…..



Climate Change in the Californian Mind September 2013

The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication has just released a report Climate Change in the Californian Mind. The project, funded by Skoll Global Threats Fund and the Energy Foundation, was based on a survey of 800 adults from late June to early July 2013. Among the highlights:

  • Most Californians (79%) believe global warming is happening, while only 11% believe it is not.  
  • Over half (58%) believe that if global warming is happening, it is mostly due to human activities.
  • A majority (55%) also believes that most scientists think global warming is happening.

Of those who believe global warming is happening, large majorities say that:

  • Global warming is already having an influence on the severity of heat waves (96%), wildfires (91%), and droughts (90%) in California.
  • Over the next 50 years, climate change will cause more heat waves (93%), droughts and water shortages (92%), declining numbers of fish and native wildlife (91%), increased allergies, asthma, infectious diseases, or other health problems (86%), and more power outages (84%) in the state.

The study also found that Californians support more climate action:

  • Six in ten want more action by Governor Brown, the state legislature, and local government officials.
  • Even more say corporations and industry (73%) and citizens themselves (70%) should be doing more to address the issue.













The Leadership Summit is organized annually by the U.S. Water Alliance’s Urban Water Sustainability Council.  Through this Leadership Summit the Council seeks to connect the dots among water, land use, parks, forests, transportation, energy, and other sectors around a goal of revitalizing cities with multi-benefit projects that produce triple bottom-line results.




The San Francisco Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve  is excited to announce this upcoming workshop! 
Project Design and Evaluation
September 23-24, 2013  9:00am – 5:00pm both days

The Project Design and Evaluation course provides coastal resource management extension and education professionals with the knowledge, skills, and tools to design and implement projects that have measurable impacts on the audience they want to reach. This interactive curriculum can help you increase the effectiveness of your projects by applying valid instructional design theory to their design. For more information or to register, click here.  Course Instructed by NOAA Coastal Services Center 



Building Business Resilience to Climate Change: Weyerhaeuser

Join us for a Webinar on September 25.  Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT  Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

This webinar will take a detailed look at resilience planning at one of the world’s leading forestry companies.   Sara Kendall will discuss Weyerhaeuser’s strategic initiatives, opportunities, and challenges for building resilience to the impacts of a changing climate on forestry and land use.



Analytical Frameworks for Wetland and Riparian Buffers in Agricultural Settings

October 4, 2013 8:30 – 5:00

Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve  Including field site training at ALBA’s Triple M Ranch, Las Lomas;  Carlie Henneman- POINT BLUE CONSERVATION SCIENCE, Dale Huss, Marc Los Huertos, and Paul Robins, Instructors

This one-day workshop trains participants in how to improve their analyses in consideration of the use of buffers for wetland and riparian areas in agricultural settings.  During an in-depth field training session , participants will also have opportunities to discuss farming operations and buffers with Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association (ALBA) affiliated Francisco Serrano (Serrano Organic Farm), Hector Mora (Hector’s Organic Farm), and Guilebaldo Nuñez (Nuñez Farms) as well as Kaley Grimland- ALBA’s Triple M Ranch Wetland Restoration Project Manager.  To register and for more information:



Quivira Conference 2013– Inspiring Adaptation  Wednesday, November 13 – Friday, November 15, 2013  Registration Deadlines:  November 5, 2013
“The Westerner is less a person than a continuing adaptation. The West is less a place than a process.” – Wallace Stegner 

From prehistoric times to the present, human societies have successfully adapted to the challenges of a changing West, including periods of severe drought, limitations created by scarce resources and shifting cultural and economic pressures. Now, the American West is entering an era of unprecedented change brought on by new climate realities, which will test our capacity for adaptation as well as challenge the resilience of the region’s native flora and fauna. It is therefore paramount that we find and share inspiring ideas and practical strategies that help all of the region’s inhabitants adapt to a rapidly changing world.  We will hear from scientists, ranchers, farmers, conservationists, urban planners and others who have bright ideas and important tools to share from their adaptation toolbox.



Date CHANGED! : Rangeland Coalition Summit 2014 January 21-22, 2014  Oakdale, CA  Please note that the dates have been changed for the 9th Annual California Rangeland Conservation Coalition Summit to be hosted at the Oakdale Community Center. Mark your calendar for January 21-22, 2014, more details will be coming soon! The planning committee will have a conference call on September 11 at 9:00 AM to start planning for the event. If you are interested in serving on the planning committee or being a sponsor please contact Pelayo Alvarez:



The Ecological Society of America, American Geophysical Union, and US Geological Survey are co-sponsors of the upcoming

Soil Science Society of America ecosystems services conference–abstracts are now being invited and are due by 12/1/2013.

March 6-9, 2014 Sheraton Grand Hotel, Sacramento, CA

Purpose of Conference:  Soils provide provisioning and regulating ecosystem services relevant to grand challenge areas of 1) climate change adaptation and mitigation, 2) food and energy security, 3) water protection, 4) biotechnology for human health, 5) ecological sustainability, and 6) slowing of desertification. The purposes of this conference will be to evaluate knowledge strengths and gaps, encourage cross-disciplinary synergies to accelerate new learning, and prioritize research needs.

More info is available here:



99th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America
Sacramento, California  August 10-15, 2014

Call for Proposals– Symposia, Organized Oral Sessions, and Organized Poster Sessions

Deadline for Submission: September 26, 2013









NOAA Announces Solicitation for the U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observation Network
This funding opportunity invites proposals for projects that demonstrate how an operational Marine Biodiversity Observation Network could be developed for the nation by establishing one or more prototype networks in U.S. coastal waters, the Great Lakes, and the EEZ. Applications are due on December 2, 2013.

For more information, click here.





Rangeland Watershed Initiative (RWI) Coordinator – Point Blue

RWI Coordinator assists the RWI Director by facilitating RWI operations including managing Partner Biologist hiring efforts, assisting in the development and implementation of training curricula and workshops, and managing program reporting, budgeting, scheduling, logistics and communications, among other responsibilities.  The RWI Coordinator will be based out of the Chico office.  This is a unique opportunity for the qualified candidate to play a key role in a significant conservation effort that will be a model for other rangeland management efforts nationally and globally. To apply please email resume with cover letter to by September 16th, 2013.  Please put “Rangeland Watershed Initiative Coordinator” in the subject line. For additional information about Point Blue and highlights of current programs, see



San Joaquin Valley Regional Director for Sustainable Conservation

Sustainable Conservation is seeking an experienced and entrepreneurial Regional Director to oversee our Modesto office and our initiatives in the San Joaquin Valley that seek environmental solutions that make economic sense.  The Regional Director will lead Sustainable Conservation’s new effort to find a regional solution to address the environmental impact of dairies while providing profitable revenue streams and/or avoiding costs for the industry.  In addition, the Regional Director will partner with our team on promoting on-farm practices to reduce dairies’ groundwater contamination and contribution to air pollution and on expanding our groundwater recharge initiative in the San Joaquin Valley.  This is an excellent opportunity for a strategic and collaborative professional committed to healthy environment and healthy economy in the San Joaquin Valley.  The full job description is attached and can be found at


Sierra Wildlife Ecologist (pdf)
Sierra Forest Legacy is seeking a Wildlife Ecologist to provide technical support to our forest conservation and restoration program.  Sierra Forest Legacy engages citizens, communities, and coalition members in the healthy management of Sierra Nevada forest ecosystems to protect and restore the region’s natural values and unparalleled beauty.  We apply the best practices of science, advocacy and grassroots organizing to safeguard national forest lands throughout the Sierra Nevada. The Wildlife Ecologist joins a team of science and policy experts to develop and promote science-based conservation strategies on national forests in the Sierra Nevada. The position is responsible for providing professional wildlife expertise in the protection, management, and improvement of wildlife and wildlife habitat. The position is open until filled. Review of applications begins September 23, 2013. Sierra Forest Legacy, a project of the Tides Center, Thoreau Center for Sustainability, San Francisco, California, is an equal opportunity employer. The full job announcement is available at









Fracking Industry Eyes An Already Water-Starved California

Even as California reels from drought, fracking companies are lusting after the state’s oil-infused shale.

By Trisha Marczak | September 11, 2013

At a time when the fracking industry is eyeing California’s Monterey Shale formation, state residents are already in the midst of a drought and subsequent water war that’s led to water theft between communities, a dilemma that’s gone so far as to shut down a Eureka, Calif. elementary school. The school’s water supply was stolen during the state’s drought, representing a phenomenon common as residents aim to fill their own tanks. “There were tire tracks in the field on the south side of the school,” Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Steve Knight told the Times Standard. “The school staff believes someone climbed the fence, and used a school garden hose to drain the tank.” Without water, the school had to close its doors — and while it’s an unexpected scenario, experts say it’s a trend that’s likely to continue. Residents throughout the state’s Central Valley, home to California’s agricultural industry, have already seen their wells go dry. Cases like that aren’t stopping state legislators from moving ahead with Senate Bill 4, sponsored by Sen. Fran Pavley (D). The bill is portrayed as one intended to regulate the fracking industry, but in reality, it gives the industry a green light to begin the process without environmental review, which would identify threats to local water sources. “Senate Bill 4, already a seriously flawed bill, has been further undermined and does not protect Californians from the threats that fracking poses to our water, air and communities,” Adam Scow, California campaign director for Food and Water Watch, said in a press release. “It’s time for Senator Pavley to drop this bill.” “Water levels are dropping dramatically in some areas,” Steven Arthur, vice president for Arthur and Orum Well Drilling, told the Sacramento Bee. “It’s never been this bad.” According to the U.S. Geological Survey, California’s San Joaquin Valley, along with the Central Coast and Southern California areas are in crisis mode, as more water is being drawn from groundwater supplies than the amount of water entering the system. The desperation expressed in the state’s water wars doesn’t bode well for the oil and gas industry, eager to put down the welcome mat for fracking operations…..


’50 dirtiest’ US power plants emit more greenhouse gases than South Korea

A new study by an environmental group suggests that reining in a handful of America’s coal-fired power plants would have a major impact on greenhouse gas emissions.

By Mark Clayton, Staff writer / September 10, 2013

Fifty US power plants emit more greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels than all but six nations, says a new report. The study by Environment America paints a bulls-eye on the nation’s biggest coal-fired power plants, suggesting that reining in a relatively small share of America’s 6,000 electric generating facilities could have a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions. The report comes as the Obama administration is preparing the nation’s first-ever greenhouse gas emissions regulations for US power plants, which could be released as soon as this month. The administration’s goal is to have power plant emissions regulations in place by 2015, and the new study provides a window into which plants could face steep federal fines unless they slash emissions or close.


Researchers read the coffee grounds and find a promising energy resource for the future
(September 9, 2013) — What’s usually considered old garbage might be a promising asset for our energy supply, according to researchers. … > full story

Tool created to avert future energy crisis
(September 9, 2013) — Scientists have created a new measurement tool that could help avoid an energy crisis like the one California endured during the early 2000s and better prepare the electricity market for the era of the smart grid. … > full story


An Inside Look At Living In One Of The World’s Most Sustainable Cities

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 06:30 AM PDT

The future site of the 5×4 House. CREDIT: Ralph Alphonso

MELBOURNE, Australia — Melbourne is a sprawling network of neighborhoods, trams, trains, bikes, laneways and, around almost every corner, coffee shops — a bit like Portland, Oregon but bigger, more European feeling and with giant bats. There are tall skyscrapers, Robert Moses-era public housing blocks, dense row houses, overgrown bungalows and suburban complexes.

Over 15 years ago, Melbourne mounted a long-term campaign to change the way it uses energy and has attracted international acclaim for its commitment to sustainability. This has included encouraging bike riding and public transport and improving building efficiency. One notable example of this is the Council House 2 building, Australia’s first six-star green star new office design building. Completed in 2006, some of the building’s features include recycled water use, automatic windows, sun-tracking facades for shade and roof-mounted wind turbines to draw out hot air.

While good public transport and efficient office buildings are a big part of being a sustainable city, residences — and the way people live in those residences — are likely just as important. Melbourne is only as sustainable as its Melbournians. A person’s carbon footprint, or energy economy, is some combination where they live and how they live. Two forward-thinking approaches to this idea in Melbourne are the 5×4 House, a soon-to-be-built super energy efficient, zero carbon dwelling on a 5×4-meter plot of land, and the Murundaka Co-housing Community, a new eco-housing complex of 20 residences based on the principles of sustainable and community living. …



Artificial lung to remove carbon dioxide — from smokestacks
(September 9, 2013) — After studying the functioning of the lungs of birds and the swim bladders of fish, scientists described how they created an improved method to capture carbon dioxide that acts like a reverse natural lung, breathing in the polluting gas. Their study details the best way to arrange tubes in a carbon dioxide capture. … > full story


Researchers read the coffee grounds and find a promising energy resource for the future
(September 9, 2013) — What’s usually considered old garbage might be a promising asset for our energy supply, according to researchers. … > full story


Scientists calculate the energy required to store wind and solar power on the grid
(September 9, 2013) — Renewable energy holds the promise of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. But there are times when solar and wind farms generate more electricity than is needed by consumers. Storing that surplus energy in batteries for later use seems like an obvious solution. But a new study finds that when you factor in the energetic costs, grid-scale batteries make sense for storing surplus solar energy, but not for wind. … > full story


Oil industry touts $81B in carbon-cutting efforts. Sept 10 2013 Houston Chronicle The oil and gas industry’s largest trade group touted the sector’s investments in cleaning up greenhouse gas emissions, saying energy companies are doing more than the federal government to rein in the climate pollution.


Solar panel is next granite countertop for homebuilders. Sept 10 2013 Bloomberg News Solar panels are the next granite countertops: an amenity for new homes that’s becoming a standard option for buyers in U.S. markets.



Billionaire investor backs anti-Keystone XL TV ad campaign

Tom Steyer says oil from Alberta will end up exported, travelling ‘through America not to America’

By Mark Drajem, Bloomberg News September 7, 2013

Rail cars arrive in Milton, N.D., loaded with pipes intended for TransCanada’s Keystone Pipeline project in 2008. There is much debate about whether pipelines are the safest technology with which to move oil and gas to market. Photograph by: Eric Hylden, Grand Forks Herald, The Canadian Press, The Associated Press Files , Vancouver Sun

Billionaire U.S. investor Tom Steyer said he is backing a four-part, $1 million advertising campaign aimed at convincing viewers the Keystone XL pipeline will hurt the economy and communities and should be blocked. The first commercial, airing today during the political talk shows, features Steyer in Port Arthur, Texas, saying much of the oil to be shipped from Alberta to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast would end up being exported. “Foreign countries will get more access to more oil to make more products to sell back to us, undercutting our economy,” Steyer, founder of the hedge fund Farallon Capital Management LLC, says in the advertisement. “Here’s the truth: Keystone oil will travel through America not to America.” Steyer’s commercials begin airing two months after the American Petroleum Institute, whose energy-industry members back the pipeline, started TV and online advertising portraying Keystone as a boon to job growth in the U.S….


Steyer preparing for the battles ahead – close to home and from coast to coast.
Elana Schor, E&E reporter E&E Daily: Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The billionaire investor turned climate activist who has mounted a self-funded push to defeat the Keystone XL pipeline is tracking proposed hydraulic fracturing limits in his home state of California and is not ruling out entering the debate, which has opened a rift between Democrats and environmentalists. In an exclusive interview yesterday with E&E Daily, Tom Steyer — set to join outgoing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson on a new climate change campaign next month — struck a self-deprecating note when asked if he would weigh in on regulations for oil companies eager to tap California’s vast Monterey Shale play. Steyer, who built a $20 billion hedge fund from the ground up, compared himself to “a garbage person” who steps in to do the jobs few others would. “It’s a necessary function, but not one everybody chooses,” Steyer said. “And so, in terms of fracking in California, we’re going to watch it for a while and see if there’s something not being said that needs to be said. With that approach, we can generally believe it’s not about us, but it’s about the issue, and respond to what’s really going on.” Some activists who align with Steyer against KXL are urging California state legislators to reject a bill that would impose the state’s first curbs on fracturing and similar acid-based production methods. They are calling the measure too watered down and are pressing for an outright moratorium on the shale oil extraction practice
(Greenwire, Aug. 29). The same California lawmaker sponsoring the fracturing bill, which would come to a pivotal vote as soon as today, crafted the statewide emissions-reduction plan that Steyer spent $5 million to protect from a failed 2010 ballot initiative known as Proposition 23….. The New Yorker magazine first reported yesterday that Steyer will soon be working alongside Bloomberg, his self-professed role model in his efforts to create political consequences for opposing climate action — also an unlikely Wall Street-bred candidate when he ran for office in 2001. Asked for more details on the partnership with Bloomberg and Paulson, Steyer demurred with more self-deprecation, calling himself “certainly the least distinguished” of the trio and declining to “run out ahead of anybody else.”

If Steyer does follow Bloomberg to the campaign trail, he described his ultimate goal as nothing less than the holy grail of the green community. Following an anecdotal template popular in political speeches, the father of four relayed the question a companion asked after their weekend summit of California’s 14,000-foot Mount Tyndall: What would it take for him to climb the mountain again? When offered a chance at “comprehensive climate legislation with the Chinese,” Steyer said he responded, “OK, I’ll do it barefoot.”

Accomplishing that goal is bound to involve close work alongside the pantheon of environmental nonprofits that maintain a presence in Washington, D.C., from old-line players like the League of Conservation Voters to the younger, new-school groups led by Steyer has walked in step with many in both camps from time to time but expressed no interest in remaking other nonprofits to fit the template of political savvy and grass-roots energy that he is working to create. “There are a bunch of people who are incredibly knowledgeable about what goes on inside the Beltway, some of whom I admire a lot and respect a lot,” Steyer said. “I’m not one of those people.” Still, some of his closest advisers have considerable Beltway experience, from former Center for American Progress Vice President Kate Gordon to ex-Clinton administration strategist Chris Lehane. “We believe that coalition is an enormous part of this, that the so-called environmental coalition has been far too small and far too narrow,” Steyer said. “I wouldn’t for a second want to change people, but I certainly want to partner with them, and I certainly want them to help us,” he said.



What is America’s most fuel-efficient airline? The International Council on Clean Transportation ranked 15 major US airlines in order of fuel efficiency, but the group said more work needs to be done to learn why some airlines are more efficient than others. Climate Central








Could life have survived a fall to Earth?
(September 12, 2013) — It sounds like science fiction, but the theory of panspermia, in which life can naturally transfer between planets, is considered a serious hypothesis by planetary scientists. The suggestion that life did not originate on Earth but came from elsewhere in the universe (for instance, Mars), is one possible variant of panspermia. Planets and moons were heavily bombarded by meteorites when the Solar System was young, throwing lots of material back into space. Meteorites made of Mars rock are occasionally found on Earth to this day, so it is quite plausible that simple life forms like yeasts or bacteria could have been carried on them. … > full story


Eating more berries, which are high in nutrients per calorie, can help increase the vitamin content of one’s diet. Photo: Preston Gannaway, Special To The Chronicle

Food best source of vitamins, study finds

San Francisco Chronicle-Sep 10, 2013

About half of all Americans take a daily multivitamin as a way to improve their health and cut their risk of diseases. But experts now say that – in almost all cases – the best way to get a full dose of vitamins is from nutritious foods rather than from pills. There is a lot of scientific evidence showing diets rich in produce, nuts, whole grains and fish promote health and decrease risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer, according to a new “Vitamins and Minerals” report from Harvard Medical School. On the other hand, studies involving vitamin supplements – and there have been many – show mixed results. In fact, after reviewing a large body of research in 2006, the National Institutes of Health decided not to definitively rule for or against multivitamins’ ability to prevent diseases….




Coffee Or Tea? Something Hiding In Your Trash Could Help Save Both From Climate Change

Posted: 10 Sep 2013 07:48 AM PDT

….Liu presents the findings to the American Chemical Society’s 246th National Meeting & Exposition this week. Their results show that oil content in the coffee-derived biodiesel meets official biofuel standards. There is room for improvement in how efficient using the spent grounds to purify the biodiesel actually is, especially compared with commercial products normally used to purify the fuel. The researchers would like to make the process more efficient, but the fact that otherwise-wasted coffee could be used to create biofuel is promising. And compared with fossil fuels, this biofuel seriously cuts the emissions of traditional pollutants. Around 1 million tons of coffee grounds are thrown out in America each year, and most go into landfills.


The Sounds of Nature. How I Hate Them

Wall Street Journal ‎- September 9, 2013 By MIKE GALLAGHER

I used to assume that all greenbelts were peaceful, quiet oases—and they probably are in many parts of the country. Not so in Marin County, Calif. I know because my property abuts such an open space. A year ago, I thought it a brilliant purchase. Especially since a charming, creek-side writer’s cottage was grandfathered into the property. (I’m reluctant to call it an “in-law unit,” since those structures invariably attract in-laws.) I could no longer cope with the cacophony of city living. The idea was to find a solitary setting to (finally) finish my screenplay. Not “Starbucks solitary,” but somewhere truly isolated and quiet. After months of searching, I seemed to have found the serenity I was looking for: Walden with Wi-Fi. Resplendent with trees, meadows and wildflowers. It was like moving into a giant screen saver. It was perfect. Or so I thought….

Woolly mammoths became extinct because of climate change – not hunting

The Independent

 – ‎September 11, 2013‎


DNA research on frozen woolly mammoths has found evidence which suggests climate change had a far more significant impact on the animals’ extinction than previously thought.



Cilantro, that favorite salsa ingredient, purifies drinking water
(September 12, 2013) — New research hints that a favorite ingredient in Mexican, Southeast Asian and other spicy cuisine may be an inexpensive new way of purifying drinking water. … > full story








Voyager will live out its days circling the centre of our Milky Way Galaxy

Voyager probe ‘leaves Solar System’

By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News September 12 2013

The Voyager-1 spacecraft has become the first manmade object to leave the Solar System. Scientists say the probe’s instruments indicate it has moved beyond the bubble of hot gas from our Sun and is now moving in the space between the stars. Launched in 1977, Voyager was sent initially to study the outer planets, but then just kept on going. Today, the veteran Nasa mission is almost 19 billion km (12 billion miles) from home. This distance is so vast that it takes 17 hours now for a radio signal sent from Voyager to reach receivers here on Earth. “This is really a key milestone that we’d been hoping we would reach when we started this project over 40 years ago – that we would get a spacecraft into interstellar space,” said Prof Ed Stone, the chief scientist on the venture. “Scientifically it’s a major milestone, but also historically – this is one of those journeys of exploration like circumnavigating the globe for the first time or having a footprint on the Moon for the first time. This is the first time we’ve begun to explore the space between the stars,” he told BBC News. Sensors on Voyager had been indicating for some time that its local environment had changed.




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