Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

Climate change and the Northwest’s trees

June 9, 2014

Can we predict how future climatic changes will affect the growth of important Northwest tree species?

Parts of a Douglas fir

Photo: Nancy Charbonneau/DNR

Mathematical models developed by area researchers show great promise in predicting how future climate changes will affect the timing of the budding and flowering of coniferous trees here. That’s important knowledge because conifers, such as Douglas fir, are important to Washington State’s economy and environment.

DNR’s Meridian Seed Orchard, southeast of Olympia, is a major source of tree seeds for state forestlands and small family forestland owners. Owned and operated by DNR, the orchard produces seed for western red cedar, noble fir, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, western larch, western white pine, and other coniferous tree species used to replant after timber harvests around the state.

Meridian Seed Orchard also is an efficient and reliable resource for collecting data to develop climate models because the seeds it gathers and grows come from many different areas and elevations in Washington. DNR’s self-funded Webster Forest Nursery uses seed from Meridian to produce between 8 million and 10 million seedlings annually to plant after timber harvests on state trust lands and small, privately-owned woodlands. The secret to successful planting is matching tree seedlings to meet the many different weather and soil zones around the state.    (more…)

DNR weekend reading: Frequency and size of wildfires in western US growing

April 19, 2014
Trees in this patch of old-growth forest in southwest Washington State survived the Yacolt Burn of 1902.

Trees in this patch of old-growth forest in southwest Washington State survived the Yacolt Burn of 1902. Timber harvests are restricted in this area because it is habitat for the northern spotted owl, a federally listed species. Photo: DNR

Here are links to articles about recent research, discoveries and other news about forests, climate, energy and other science topics gathered by DNR for your weekend reading:

American Geophysical Union: More, bigger wildfires burning western U.S., study shows
Wildfires across the western United States have been getting bigger and more frequent over the last 30 years – a trend that could continue as climate change causes temperatures to rise and drought to become more severe in the coming decades, according to new research.

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA): Nutrient-rich forests absorb more carbon
The ability of forests to sequester carbon from the atmosphere depends on nutrients available in the forest soils, shows new research from an international team of researchers. “This paper produces the first evidence that to really understand the carbon cycle, you have to look into issues of nutrient cycling within the soil,” said one of the researchers.

University of Utah: Warm U.S. West, Cold East: A 4,000-Year Pattern: Global Warming May Bring More Curvy Jet Streams during Winter
Last winter’s curvy jet stream pattern that brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, and may become more extreme as Earth’s climate warms. By examining oxygen isotope ratios in lake and cave sediments, University of Utah researchers were able to determine several thousand years of past jet stream patterns.

Environment360: UN Panel Looks to Renewables as the Key to Stabilizing Climate
In its latest report, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change makes a strong case for a sharp increase in low-carbon energy production, especially solar and wind, and provides hope that this transformation can occur in time to hold off the worst impacts of global warming.

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DNR weekend reading: Earthquake lights, tallest trees, and more

March 1, 2014
hoarfrost

Hoarfrost in Capitol State Forest near Fall Creek campground. Photo: Bryan Hamlin/DNR

Here are links to articles about recent research, discoveries and other news about forests, climate, energy and other science topics gathered by DNR for your weekend reading:

Nature: Earthquake lights linked to rift zones
A new catalogue of earthquake lights — mysterious glows sometimes reported before or during seismic shaking — finds that they happen most often in geological rift environments, where the ground is pulling apart. The work is the latest to tackle the enigmatic lights, which have been described by eyewitnesses for centuries but are yet to be fully explained by scientists.

Science Daily: Temperature Most Significant Driver of World’s Tallest Trees
The tallest specimens of the world’s nine tallest tree species grow in climates with an unusually small seasonal temperature variation. Understanding the role of temperature in driving tree height, may help scientists forecast how forests adapt to climate change.

University of California-BerkeleySuburban Sprawl Cancels Carbon Footprint Savings of Dense Urban Cores
According to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, population-dense cities contribute less greenhouse gas emissions per person than other areas of the country, but these cities’ extensive suburbs essentially wipe out the climate benefits.

University of California-Santa Barbara: Cities Support More Native Biodiversity Than Previously Thought
Rapid conversion of natural lands to cement-dominated urban centers is causing great losses in biodiversity. Yet, according to a new study involving 147 cities worldwide, surprisingly high numbers of plant and animal species persist and even flourish in urban environment.

environment360: Urban Nature: How to Foster Biodiversity in World’s Cities
As the world becomes more urbanized, researchers and city managers from Baltimore to Britain are recognizing the importance of providing urban habitat that can support biodiversity.

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Highest tides coming this weekend. Grab your cameras!

December 30, 2013
King Tide Birch Bay

King tide effects seen at Birch Bay, Washington, on February 22, 2011. Photo: dbeel17

Ever notice how tides are so much higher in the winter than any other time of year? There’s a reason—and a name—for this phenomenon.

“King Tides” are an annual event that occur when the sun and moon align, causing an increased gravitational pull on the Earth’s oceans. And for people who study weather and climate change, these super high tides, combined with the right kind of weather conditions, give a picture of what sea-level rise might look like in the future.

Starting today, December 30, the King Tides will be at their highest. In Puget Sound, the highest tides will be this coming Sunday and Monday, January 5 and 6.

The Washington King Tides Initiative—a collaborative effort between the Washington Department of Ecology and Washington Sea Grant—needs your help documenting King Tides along Washington’s shores.

Share your King Tide photos

The Initiative is looking for photos, specifically of the higher-than-usual tides, around western Washington. The project to gather photos is aimed at documenting how very high tides affect the natural environment and our coastal infrastructure.

For information about King Tides, how to submit your photos and to see a really cool graphic explaining King Tides, visit Ecology’s Ecoconnect blog.

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DNR weekend reading: Elwha restoration update, CO2 trends and sleepy trees

November 2, 2013
Abercrombie Mountain

Fall scenery near Abercrombie Mountain (elev. 7308) in northeast Washington State. Photo: Dale Danell/DNR.

Here are links to articles about recent research, discoveries and other news about forests, climate, energy and other science topics gathered by DNR for your weekend reading:

environment360: The Ambitious Restoration of An Undammed Western River
With the dismantling of two dams on Washington state’s Elwha River, the world’s largest dam removal project is almost complete. Now, in one of the most extensive U.S. ecological restorations ever attempted, efforts are underway to revive one of the Pacific Northwest’s great salmon rivers.

Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency: Trends in global CO2 emissions: 2013 report
the increase in global CO2 emissions in that year slowed down to 1.1% (or 1.4%, not accounting the extra day in the leap year), which was less than half the average annual increase of 2.9% over the last decade. This development signals a shift towards less fossil-fuel-intensive activities, more use of renewable energy and increased energy saving

Technische Universitaet Muenchen: Warm Winters Let Trees Sleep Longer
Since warmer winters can be expected as the climate changes, the spring development phase for many typical forest trees might start later and later – giving an advantage to shrubs and invasive trees from warmer climates that don’t depend on the cold as factor to time their spring regrowth.

North Carolina State University: Listen Up: Oysters May Use Sound to Select a Home
Oysters begin their lives as tiny drifters, but when they mature they settle on reefs. New research from North Carolina State University shows that the sounds of the reef may attract the young oysters, helping them locate their permanent home.

 

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DNR weekend reading: Plants keeping us cooler but watch out for tundra

October 19, 2013
Starvation Lake Campground

Starvation Lake Campground is located just 15 miles from Colville in Stevens County and is managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Photo: DNR

Here are links to articles about recent research, discoveries and other news about forests, climate, energy and other science topics gathered by DNR for your weekend reading:

Princeton University: Without plants, Earth would cook under billions of tons of additional carbon

Researchers based at Princeton University found that land ecosystems have kept the planet cooler by absorbing billions of tons of carbon, especially during the past 60 years. The study is the first to specify the extent to which plants have prevented climate change since pre-industrial times.

Aarhus UniversityThe Tundra: A Dark Horse in Planet Earth’s Greenhouse Gas Budget

New research findings indicate that the huge amounts of organic carbon in the soil beneath the tundra that covers the northernmost woodless areas of the planet may become a source of CO2 as the climate becomes warmer.

University of Sussex: Flower Research Shows Gardens Can Be a Feast for the Eyes – And the Bees

Researchers at the University of Sussex have completed one of the first scientific studies to put the business of recommending pollinator-friendly garden flowers on a firmer scientific footing — they were able document clear differences in the mix of bee and insect types attracted by different varieties, indicating that careful plant choice can not only help insects in general, but also help a range of insects.

University of Witwatersrand–Johannesburg: New evidence on lightning strikes

Lightning strikes causing rocks to explode have for the first time been shown to play a huge role in shaping mountain landscapes in southern Africa, debunking previous assumptions that angular rock formations were necessarily caused by cold temperatures, and proving that mountains are a lot less stable than we think.

Ecological Society of America: Consequences of climate change for biotic disturbances in North American forests

A review of nearly 500 scientific papers concludes that although climate change is having negative affects on forests across North America, the warmer temperatures are also making many forests grow faster, and in the process making some less susceptible to pests, which could boost forest health and acreage, timber harvests, carbon storage, water recycling and other forest benefits in some areas.

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DNR weekend reading: Why injured trees don’t ‘bleed’ to death; stressed out salmon; and other stories

September 28, 2013
Willapa Bay sunrise

A late August sunrise over Willapa Bay in western Washington. DNR manages many tideland leases for aquaculture in Willapa Bay — one of the richest shellfish areas in the world. Photo: Craig Zora/DNR.

Here are links to articles about recent research, discoveries and other news about forests, climate, energy and other science topics gathered by DNR for your weekend reading:

Virginia Tech University: Why don’t trees ‘bleed’ to death when they get injured?
Using a powerful new type of microscope, scientists have discovered how “check valves” in wood cells control sap flow and protect trees when they are injured. The knowledge may lead to better ways of extracting natural chemicals from wood to make products ranging from medicinal polymers to sugars that are the basis for bioenergy systems.

Aarhus University (Denmark): Uphill for the trees of the world
You may need to get out your mountain boots to go for a walk in the woods in the future. A new study shows that forests are to an increasing extent growing on steep slopes all over the world.

The Earth Institute/Columbia University: Wind and Rain Belts to Shift North as Planet Warms, Says Study
As human activity continues to heat the planet, a northward shift of Earth’s wind and rain belts could make a broad swath of regions drier, including the Middle East and American West, while making monsoon Asia and equatorial Africa wetter, says a new study

Science Daily: Improving Salmon’s Success in the Wild and Aquaculture
Have you ever been stressed and forgot what you were doing? Chronic mild stress may explain why many wild salmon don´t return to our rivers and why 20% of farmed salmon production is lost every year.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL): NREL Calculates Emissions and Costs of Power Plant Cycling Necessary for Increased Wind and Solar in the West
New research quantifies the potential impacts of increasing wind and solar power generation on the operators of fossil-fueled power plants in the West. To accommodate higher amounts of wind and solar power on the electric grid, utilities must ramp down and ramp up or stop and start conventional generators more frequently to provide reliable power for their customers — a practice called cycling.

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DNR weekend reading: Will climate change put tree species in the ‘fast lane’?

September 14, 2013
eelgrass

Native eel grass, like this clump seen in a Puget Sound tidal pool, is an indicator of the health of aquatic areas. Photo: DNR

Here are links to articles about recent research, discoveries and other news about forests, climate, energy and other science topics:

Duke University: Climate Change May Speed Up Forests’ Life Cycles
Instead of migrating northward via seed dispersal to cooler climates as predicted, trees in most forests are responding to a warming climate by staying in place – but speeding up their life cycles.

European Geosciences Union: Tiny plankton could have big impact on climate
As the climate changes and oceans’ acidity increases, tiny plankton seem set to succeed. While the smallest plankton groups would thrive under elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, that could cause an imbalance in the food web as well as decrease ocean CO2 uptake, an important regulator of global climate.

University of Maryland: Scientists find “fingers” of heat below Earth’s surface
Scientists have used seismic waves to detect previously unknown “fingers” of heat, some thousands of miles long, in Earth’s upper mantle. This helps explain the “hotspot volcanoes” that give birth to island chains such as Hawaii and Tahiti.

Dept. of Energy/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: Climate benefit for cutting soot, methane smaller than previous estimates
Cutting the amount of short-lived, climate-warming emissions such as soot and methane in our skies won’t limit global warming as much as previous studies have suggested, a new analysis shows.

Scientific American: Crop Pests Spreading North with Global Warming
Crop pests and diseases are moving towards the poles at about the same speed as warmer temperatures. New findings suggest that climate change is driving their relocation, and raises major concerns about food security.

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DNR weekend reading: Evidence that Clean Air Act is helping forests, and other science news

September 8, 2013
wildflowers at Mount St. Helens, 2004

In 2004, years after the eruption of Mount St. Helens, the Pumice Plain located north of the volcano’s crater is covered in wildflowers. Photo: P. Frenzen/USDA Forest Service.

Here are links to articles about recent research, discoveries and other news about forests, climate, energy and other science topics:

Kansas State University: Evidence that Clean Air Act has helped forests
By studying more than 100 years of eastern red cedar tree rings, scientists found that the trees have improved in growth and physiology in the decades since the Clean Air Act was passed in 1970, indicating that the Act has helped forest systems recover from decades of sulfur pollution and acid rain.

National Institute of Standards and Technology: Knowing Exposure Risks Important to Saving Structures from Wildfires
A study of one of California’s most devastating wildland fires — the 2007 Witch Creek/Guejito fire — strongly suggests that measures for reducing structural damage and property loss from wildland fires are most effective when based on accurate assessments of exposure risks both for individual structures and the community as a whole.

Montana State University: MSU research highlights bears’ use of Banff highway crossings
Genetic testing has revealed that many bears in Canada’s Banff National Park routinely use the bridges and underpasses installed for them along the Trans-Canada Highway, evidence that the ecological corridors provide safe transit to maintain a health ecosystem

K-State Research and Extension News: Wheat Research Indicates Rise in Mean Temperature Would Cut Yields
Using simulations, researchers have found that a 1 degree Celsius increase (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in projected mean temperature would decrease wheat yields by 10.64 bushels per acre or nearly 21 percent. The study is the first to quantify the impacts of climate change, disease and genetic improvement for hundreds of dryland wheat varieties grown in North America.

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DNR weekend reading: Oyster killers nabbed; wind power gets local; and more.

August 10, 2013
Moose and calves

Moose with her twin calves in the Little Pend Oreille recreation area managed by DNR. Photo: Recreation/DNR

Here are links to articles about recent research, discoveries and other news about forests, climate, energy and other science topics:

University of British Columbia: Captured: Mysterious oyster killers
Researchers say they have apprehended the tiny, elusive parasites plaguing oysters from British Columbia to California. The parasite causes a disease in oysters that, while not considered a health threat to humans, makes the raw delicacy unappealing.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory: Localized wind power blowing more near homes, farms & factories
When wind energy is mentioned, most people envision wind farms — expanses of wind turbines across the landscape — but a new report finds that Americans are increasingly installing wind turbines near their homes, farms and businesses to generate their own energy.

Scientific American: Why Is the Boreal Forest Breathing CO2 More Deeply?
The flow of CO2 into and out of the vast northern forests has been increasing in recent years, thanks to climate change. All that carbon appears to be enabling growth rates not seen in human history for the northernmost forest, according to a new study.   (more…)


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