Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

DNR weekend reading: More nighttime heat waves in the Pacific Northwest and other news

August 3, 2013
Lupine in SW Washington

Lupine blooms on a two-year-old replanting of red alder on state trust land in southwest Washington. Photo:
Florian Deisenhofer/DNR.

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

University of Washington: Nighttime heat waves quadruple in Pacific Northwest

Although it is unlikely to draw much sympathy from people who live in warmer regions of the country, the Pacific Northwest is seeing an increase in the number of nighttime heat waves.

Science DailyExtreme Wildfires in Western U.S. Likely Fueled by Climate Change
Climate change is likely fueling the larger and more destructive wildfires that are scorching vast areas of the American West, according to new research led by Michigan State University scientists.

Oregon State University: Global Warming to Cut Snow Water Storage 56 Percent in Oregon Watershed

By the middle of this century, the amount of water stored in peak snowpack in the McKenzie River watershed of the Oregon Cascade Range may be 56 percent lower on average. Other low-elevation maritime snow packs around the world may experience similar declines if projected temperature increases occur.

University of Illinois – Urbana/Champagne: Most Flammable Boreal Forests in North America Become More So

A 2,000-square-kilometer zone in the Yukon Flats of interior Alaska — one of the most flammable high-latitude regions of the world, according to scientists — has seen a dramatic increase in both the frequency and severity of fires in recent decades.

NatureWarming climate drives human conflict
A growing body of research suggests that small changes in temperature and rainfall substantially increase the risk of many types of conflict, from interpersonal spats to full-blown civil war and societal collapses.

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DNR weekend reading: Wildfire, climate change and those mysterious whale calls

May 25, 2013
Swakane Canyon Fire-2010

Smoke billows over the Swakane Canyon Fire near Wenatchee in 2010. Photo Danielle Munzing/DNR

Here are links to articles about natural resources, climate, energy and other topics published recently by universities, scientific journals, organizations, and other sources:

US Forest ServiceWildfire, Wildlands, and People: Understanding and Preparing for Wildfire in the Wildland-Urban Interface
People who live in the wildland-urban interface — areas near forests, grasslands and other areas exposed to wildfire — may face increasing risk and property damage from wildfires of all sizes in coming decades. Planners, developers, and others can help these communities adapt to wildfire through education, planning, and mitigation.

US Forest Service: Climate Change and Wildfire
Some studies predict that wildfires will increase by 50 percent across the United States under a changing climate, and over 100 percent in areas of the West by 2050. Of equal concern to scientists and policymakers alike are the atmospheric effects of wildfire emissions–gases, particles, water, and heat–and the affect they may have on climate.

Science DailyOrigins of Human Culture Linked to Rapid Climate Change
Rapid climate change during the Middle Stone Age, between 80,000 and 40,000 years ago, during the Middle Stone Age, sparked surges in cultural innovation in early modern human populations, according to new research.

Earthfix/KUOW: Underwater Earthquake Recordings Reveal Mysterious Whale Calls
Researchers from the University of Washington have discovered that earthquake-detecting sensors off Vancouver Island also can monitor the swimming patterns of fin whales, the second-largest animal, after the blue whale but still a mystery to many.

Scientific American: Why Manhattan’s Green Roofs Don’t Work–and How to Fix Them
City rooftops covered with vegetation are seen as a way to reduce the urban heat-island effect and cut energy usage–but so far, the results have been unimpressive. With some simple, lost-cost modifications, many rooftop forests can do a better job.

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DNR weekend reading: Economic value of urban trees, forests shifting northward and other stories

May 11, 2013
Capitol State Forest snag

A snag like this one in Capitol State Forest can provide shelter and forage to birds, small mammals, and other wildlife. Photo: Jessica Payne/DNR.

Here are links to articles about natural resources, climate, energy and other topics published recently by universities, scientific journals, organizations, and other sources:

US Forest Service: US urban trees store carbon, provide billions in economic value
America’s urban forests store an estimated 708 million tons of carbon, an environmental service with an estimated value of $50 billion, according to a recent U.S. Forest Service study. The annual net carbon uptake by these trees is estimated at 21 million tons and their economic benefit at $1.5 billion.

NASA–Jet Propulsion Laboratory: NASA Opens New Era in Measuring Western U.S. Snowpack
A new NASA airborne mission has created the first maps of the entire snowpack of two major mountain watersheds in California and Colorado, producing the most accurate measurements to date of how much water they hold. The agency plans to exand the mapping to other mountain watersheds.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory: New Study: As Climate Changes, Boreal Forests to Shift North and Relinquish More Carbon Than Expected
Boreal forests will likely shift north at a steady clip this century. Along the way, the vegetation will relinquish more trapped carbon than most current climate models predict.

University of Wisconsin: Decline in snow cover spells trouble for many plants, animals
In a warming world, winter and spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere is in decline, putting at risk many plants and animals that depend on the space beneath the snow to survive the blustery chill of winter.

University of Calgary: Human impacts on natural world underestimated
A comprehensive five-year study by University of Calgary ecologists indicates that conservation research may not giving enough consideration to the influence of human activity on natural ecosystems and food chains.

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DNR weekend reading: Lots and lots of sediment yet to flow down Elwha River, and other articles

March 10, 2013
Chuckanut formation

Eocene continental sedimentary deposit of the Chuckanut formation in northwest Washington state. The formation’s deposits—fine-to-medium grained sandstones with lesser amounts of interbedded shale, conglomerate, and coal—and the presence of plant fossils indicate that the area was once a low-lying coastal plain with a subtropical climate. Photo: David Jeschke.

Here are links to articles about natural resources, climate, energy and other topics  published recently by universities, scientific journals, organizations, and other sources:

University of Washington: Tracking sediments’ fate in largest-ever dam removal
Salmon are beginning to swim up the Elwha River for the first time in more than a century. But University of Washington marine geologists are watching what’s beginning to flow downstream—34 million cubic yards of sediments from the largest dam-removal project ever undertaken.

University of California-Santa Cruz: Bats not bothered by forest fires, study finds
A survey of bat activity in burned and unburned areas after a major wildfire in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains found no evidence of detrimental effects on bats one year after the fire. The findings suggest that bats are resilient to high-severity fire, and some species may even benefit from the effects of fire on the landscape.

Scientific American: Clearing Forests May Transform Local—and Global—Climate
In the last 15 years, 200,000 hectares of the Mau Forest in western Kenya have been converted to agricultural land. Previously called a “water tower” because it supplied water to the Rift Valley and Lake Victoria, the forest region has dried up; in 2009 the rainy season—from August to November—saw no rain, and since then precipitation has been modest.

Virginia Tech: Researchers propose innovative solution to ensure biofuel plants don’t become noxious weeds
Some plants that are ideal for bioenergy production can potentially become invasive weeds that can cause billions of dollars in economic damage. A Virginia Tech researcher proposes changes in the regulatory methodology for evaluating the invasive potential of plants that are under consideration for large-scale cultivation as biofuel feedstock.

Stanford University: Stanford scientists calculate the carbon footprint of grid-scale battery technologies
Solar and wind power pose a challenge for the U.S. electrical grid, which lacks the capacity to store surplus clean electricity and deliver it on demand. Researchers are developing grid-scale storage batteries, but the fossil fuel required to build these technologies could negate some of the environmental benefits of new solar and wind farms, say scientists.

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

February 23, 2013
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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DNR weekend reading: Cooling trees, navigating salmon and more

February 9, 2013
North Bay Natural Area Preserve

DNR manages the 1,215-acre North Bay Natural Area Preserve in Grays Harbor County, Washington, to protect its high quality coastal freshwater habitat. Photo: Joe Rocchio/DNR.

Here are links to reading selections about climate, wildlife, the environment and other science news published recently by science journals, universities, websites, and other sources:

NASA: Pacific Locked in ‘La Nada’ Limbo
Sea-surface height data from NASA’s Jason-1 satellite show that the equatorial Pacific Ocean is still locked in what some call a neutral, or ‘La Nada’ state. This condition follows two years of strong, cool-water La Nina events.

Science Daily: Animal Magnetism: First Evidence That Magnetism Helps Salmon Find Home
A new study, published in this week’s issue of Current Biology and partly funded by the National Science Foundation, suggests that salmon find their home rivers by sensing the rivers’ unique magnetic signature.

University of Guelph: Biodiversity Helps Protect Nature Against Human Impacts: Study
A study by University of Guelph integrative biologists, published as the cover story in Nature, lends scientific weight to aesthetic and moral arguments for maintaining species biodiversity. It suggests that farmers and resource managers should encourage more kinds of plants in fields and woods as a buffer against sudden ecosystem disturbance.

BioMedCentral: Planting trees may not reverse climate change but it will help locally
Afforestation, planting trees in an area where there have previously been no trees, can reduce the effects of climate change by cooling temperate regions, suggests a study in the open access journal Carbon Balance and Management. Afforestation might  lead to cooler and wetter summers by the end of this century.

University of Washington: Salmon runs boom, go bust over centuries
Scientists have recognized that salmon stocks vary not only year to year, but also on decades-long time cycles. One example is the 30-year to 80-year booms and busts in salmon runs in Alaska and on the West Coast driven by the climate pattern known as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

Goldmark on challenges of climate change to state’s natural resources: ‘Our work is cut out for us’

January 25, 2013

The forest health crisis affecting tree stands in several Eastern Washington counties, and the negative impact of climate change on Washington State aquatic resources, including Puget Sound and other waterways, were among the points raised by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark in his second inaugural remarks last week.

Ocean acidification and Puget Sound: “The marine waters of Puget Sound are becoming more acidic, as are all marine waters around the globe. This acidification is threatening the state’s shellfish industry because more acidic water interferes with normal shellfish growth, particularly at early developmental stages… The effect of acidification on the wild geoduck fishery that we manage is unknown. Many state and tribal and programs depend on the revenue derived from this fishery, so not unlike our forests, careful scientific analysis followed by appropriate management actions must be taken.”

Forest health: ” A changing climate together with insect infestations and overstocked stands have created a forest health crisis that requires swift action…  Forests that have been treated and restored by thinning are more resilient to drought and disease while also being less susceptible to catastrophic fire damage. There is an urgent need to continue this work in the years ahead.”

View video of Commissioner Goldmark’s address to DNR staff on January 16.

Read the full text of Commissioner Goldmark’s address.

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DNR weekend reading: Native plants, diagonal trees make better biofuel

January 20, 2013
Members of the Puget SoundCorps wrestle a creosote-treated log from a lagoon at Neck Point on Shaw Islandon a chilly December day..

Members of the Puget SoundCorps wrestle a creosote-treated log from a lagoon at Neck Point on Shaw Island on a chilly December day. Photo: DNR.

Here are links to reading selections about climate, wildlife, the environment and other science news published recently by science journals, universities, websites, and other sources:

Scientific American: Food versus Fuel: Native Plants Make Better Ethanol
New research indicates that native grasses and flowers grown on land not currently used for crops could make for a sustainable biofuel

Imperial College London: Wind in the Willows Boosts Biofuel Production: Trees Grown Diagonally Produce Five Times More Biofuel
Willow trees cultivated for ‘green energy’ can yield up to five times more biofuel if they grow diagonally, compared with those that are allowed to grow naturally up towards the sky.

Science Daily: Air Pollution and Unhappiness Correlated, Study of Europeans Shows
Researchers in Canada have found a correlation between air pollution and people’s happiness. Their deep analysis, reported in the latest issue of the International Journal of Green Economics, suggests that air pollution may lead to unhappiness while the converse is also true, the less happy the citizens of a country the more air pollution.

Science Daily: Invading Species Can Extinguish Native Plants Despite Recent Reports to the Contrary
Ecologists at the University of Toronto and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich have found that, given time, invading exotic plants will likely eliminate native plants growing in the wild despite recent reports to the contrary.

National Geographic: 6 Ways Climate Change Will Affect You
The planet keeps getting hotter, new data showed this week. For example in the United States, 2012 was the warmest year ever recorded. Every few years, the U.S. federal government engages hundreds of experts to assess the impacts of climate change, now and in the future.

environment360: Black Carbon and Warming: It’s Worse than We Thought
A new study indicates that soot, known as black carbon, plays a far greater role in global warming than previously believed and is second only to CO2 in the amount of heat it traps in the atmosphere. Reducing some forms of soot emissions, such as from diesel fuel and coal burning, could prove effective in slowing down the planet’s warming.

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Signs of things to come? King Tides may foretell how sea-level rise will affect coastal areas

December 21, 2012
King Tide at Cama Beach, Camano Island, WA. December 17, 2012. Photo: John Pryor

King Tide at Cama Beach, Camano Island, WA. December 17, 2012. Photo: John Pryor. From WA Dept. of Ecology’s Washington King Tide Photo Initiative

Today is the official first day of winter, but we’ve already experienced a good amount of winter-like weather: rain, wind, storm surges, and snow in the lowlands.

Add in nearly record high tides, and the stage is set for flooding, landslides, and more. The Kitsap Sun’s blog “Watching our Water Ways” featured photographs from residents showing how King Tides inundated areas all over the county earlier this week, with near record-breaking high tides.

King Tides are an annual event that occurs when the sun and moon align, causing an increased gravitational pull  on the Earth’s oceans. For this winter season, the first phase of King Tides in December is just about history. The next (and last) King Tides for winter 2012-2013 will  take place in mid-January.

The January tides won’t be quite as high as this week’s tides, but they could still pack a punch if accompanied by high winds and a lot of rain.

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.

Share your King Tide photos
The Washington Department of Ecology 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. So come January 10, 2013 or so, get out your cameras and share your photos.

More information about King Tides and how to submit your photos.

View photos of King Tide events in Washington

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DNR weekend reading: Wildfire map, pine beetles add to B.C. warming, and higher CO2 downgrading wheat quality

December 15, 2012
Coyote Rocks, Spokane River

The Coyote Rocks section of the Spokane River in October 2012 — a state-owned aquatic land managed by DNR. Photo: Carol Piening/DNR

Here are links to several reading selections about climate, wildlife, the environment and other current science issues published recently by universities, science journals and other sources.

NASA: Visualization Captures Record Year for Wildfires in the U.S.
This year has been an unusually severe one for wildfires in the U.S., with more than 9.1 million acres of land burned through the end of November. The total affected area, which is depicted in a new NASA map, is already the third-largest since records were first kept in 1960. Pine beetle attacks are warming Canada — study
In a study published in Nature Geoscience, scientists at the University of Toronto and the University of California, Berkeley, report that the mountain pine beetle scourge in British Columbia raised surface summer-time temperatures in affected areas by 1 degree Celsius on average. The summer temperature increase was several degrees higher in the worst-hit areas where provincial forests were wiped out.

AlphaGalileo Foundation: Poorer quality wheat when carbon dioxide levels in the air rise
Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide have a negative impact on the protein content of wheat grain and thus its nutritional quality, conclude researchers who examined the results of field experiments with 17 varieties of wheat on four continents.

Science Daily: If You Cut Down a Tree in the Forest, Can Wildlife Hear It?
A new tool developed by the Wildlife Conservation Society and its partners can model how noise related to roads, recreational trails and other human activities travels through landscapes and affects species and ecosystems.

Green (New York Times): An Online Tool for Calculating Flood Risk
An umbrella organization for insurers allows you to calculate the flood risks your home faces and what the ultimate costs might be, depending on the severity of the event.

Institute of Zoology: Disaster map predicts bleak future for mammals
Mammals could be at a greater risk of extinction due to predicted increases in extreme weather conditions, states a paper published by the Zoological Society of London. Scientists mapped out land mammal populations, and overlapped this with information of where droughts and cyclones are most likely to occur to identify species at high risk of exposure to extreme weather.

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