DNR weekend reading: Warmer waters, less snow may challenge Northwest shellfish and energy industries

Skamania Creek
A unnamed tributary to Deer Creek in the Upper Washougal Northern Spotted Owl Management Area managed by DNR in Skamania County. Photo: Florian Deisenhofer/DNR

Today’s DNR Weekend Reading post begins with three developments that could have a direct impact on the Pacific Northwest: reduced snowmelt for water and power supplies, how warming waters affect shellfish, and another approach to using pine resin to make ‘greener’ plastics.

Princeton Journal WatchForecast Is for More Snow in Polar Regions, Less for the Rest of Us
A new cli­mate model pre­dicts an increase in snow­fall for the Earth’s polar regions and its high­est alti­tudes, but an over­all drop in snow­fall for the globe, as car­bon diox­ide lev­els rise over the next century. The decline in snow­fall could spell trou­ble for regions such as the west­ern United States that rely on snowmelt as a source of fresh water.

Scientific AmericanWarmer Waters Make Weaker Mussels  (PODCAST)
The work of University of Washington research scientist Emily Carrington is discussed. Her findings indicate that mussels’ attachment fibers weaken in warm water. As climate change raises ocean temperatures, these shellfish may be forced to cooler waters.

University of South CarolinaTurning Pine Sap Into “Ever-Green” Plastics
Scientists the University of South Carolina are developing new plastics that are “green” from the cradle to the grave because they are derived from the natural resins found in trees, especially evergreens. The rosin and turpentine derived from conifer wood are rich in hydrocarbons and similar, but not identical, to some components of petroleum.

Stanford University: Going negative: Stanford scientists explore new ways to remove atmospheric CO2
Because reducing CO2 emissions may not be enough to curb the current global warming trend, Stanford scientists suggest developing carbon-negative technologies that remove large amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. One approach they favor is converting plant wastes (that release CO2 into the air) into biochar – a charcoal-like substance that can be used as fertilizer to permanently lock the carbon underground.

Science Daily: Coldness Triggers Northward Flight in Monarch Butterflies: Migration Cycle May Be Vulnerable to Global Climate Change  A new study by scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School published in Current Biology, suggests that it is exposure to coldness in the microenvironment of the monarch butterfly’s  overwintering site that triggers its return north every spring. If a warming  climate reduces this cold exposure, the monarch butterfly might just continue flying south instead of returning to upper latitudes each spring.

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