Posts Tagged ‘research’

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: Sea star die-off, aquaculture safety, forest health and other topics

December 28, 2013
Clover Flats

This outhouse at Clover Flats Campground in the Ahtanum State Forest (Yakima County) was buried under several feet of snow last year. Check to see what’s open before you go, and don’t forget your Discover Pass. 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:

Scientific American: Clues Sought for Sea Star Die-Off
From California to Alaska, researchers are searching for the cause of a mysterious and unprecedented die-off of sea stars along North America’s Pacific shores.

University of Illinois at Chicago: Emerald ash borer may have met its match
Woodpeckers find emerald ash borers a handy food source and may slow the spread of this noxious pest, even ultimately controlling it, suggest researchers.

NOAA: Coastal ocean aquaculture can be environmentally sustainable
Specific types of fish farming can be accomplished with minimal or no harm to the coastal ocean environment as long as proper planning and safeguards are in place, concludes researchers at National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.

Michigan Tech: Why it Snows so Much in the Frozen North
Scientists have long puzzled over the seemingly ceaseless drizzle of snow drifting down from arctic clouds. Now they may have an explanation.

USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station: Study Shows Reforestation along Rivers and Streams in Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley Reduces Sediment Runoff
A modeling study shows that reforesting the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley can significantly reduce runoff from agricultural lands and the amount of sediment entering the area’s rivers and streams — and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.

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DNR weekend reading: Trees that fight crime; better ways to measure wetland health, and other news

April 13, 2013
 Pacific smelt in the Columbia River

A lone Pacific smelt in the Columbia River near Longview takes a ‘break’ during its upstream migration to spawn in the Cowlitz, Kalama or Lewis rivers. Photo: James Huinker/DNR.

Here are links to articles about natural resources, climate, energy and other topics  published recently by universities, scientific journals, organizations, and other sources: Trees Shed Bad Rap as Accessories to Crime
Even when different research methodologies are used, studies find that violent crimes (assaults, robberies, and burglaries) occur less often in greener areas of cities (including Portland, Oregon; Philadelphia; and Baltimore), even when the education, poverty, and population levels of the neighborhoods studied are comparable.

University of Missouri: Measuring Microbes Makes Wetland Health Monitoring More Affordable, Says MU Researcher
Measuring the presence and health the tiny, unseen creatures in wetlands provides crucial indicators of an ecosystem’s microbiological health. The approach is cheaper and faster than the traditional assessment of larger wetland species, such as birds and mammals. It also could lead to improvements in harnessing natural processes of wetlands to filter wastewater.

NOAA: New study: A warming world will further intensify extreme precipitation events
A newly published National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration- (NOAA) led study suggests that as the globe warms from rising atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, the additional moisture held in a warmer atmosphere will lead to notable increases in extreme precipitation events in the Northern Hemisphere.

Science Daily: Carbon Dioxide Released from Burning Fuel Today Could Go Back Into New Fuels Tomorrow
At the recent National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, researchers discussed ways to find a use for the megatons of carbon dioxide that may be removed from industrial smokestacks during efforts to curb global warming. The goal is to create an efficient process for converting carbon dioxide back into the fuel that released it in the first place.

Stanford University: Biodiversity does not reduce transmission of disease from animals to humans, Stanford researchers find
A new meta-analysis of published studies pokes holes in widely accepted theory that connects biodiversity abundance with a reduced disease risk for humans. the researchers found that the links between biodiversity and disease prevalence are variable and dependent on the disease system, local ecology and probably human social context.

DNR and WDFW team up to explore large dome-shaped mounds on floor of Hood Canal

November 28, 2012
ROV cable operations

DNR Aquatic Invasive Species Program Manager Todd Palzer (left) and Geologist Chris Johnson handled ROV cable operations from the deck. Photo: DNR.

DNR and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) joined forces recently to get a close-up look at a pair of large, dome-shaped mounds on the sea floor west of Dewatto Bay and Little Dewatto Bay in southern Hood Canal. Investigators wanted to see if the mounds—each 115 to 130 feet high and 1,150 to 1,475 feet wide—might be formations known as drumlins, deposits left by the glaciers that once covered this area but rarely seen under the waters of Puget Sound.

With seabed depths of 400 feet or more, the only practical way to get direct visual observations of these features was to use a small, submersible  remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that the two agencies own. The ROV is equipped with a high-resolution video camera with locating lasers, and operated from a WDFW-owned boat.

Video observations sent back by the ROV revealed that the dome-shaped features are not likely drumlins (which tend to be ridge-shaped). Because of the coarseness of the deposits, they were definitely not caused by natural gas seeps. Nor were they determined to have been caused by geothermal venting.

The consensus was that the mounds are likely deposits from underwater landslides. (more…)

Natural Heritage Program earns ‘Best in the Americas’ award

May 15, 2012
rare care volunteers

Rare Care volunteers assist the Washington Natural Heritage Program in gathering rare plant information in Klickitat County, Washington. Photo: Joe Arnett/DNR.

John Gamon, Washington Natural Heritage Program manager, accepted the ‘Best in the Americas’ award on behalf of the Program for its outstanding achievements in science and technology during a ceremony at the annual Biodiversity Without Boundaries conference in Portland Oregon last week.

Gamon received the  NatureServe network’s ‘2012 Scientific and Technical Advancement Impact Award’ from Mary Klein, president and CEO of NatureServe. A jury representing the network of public and private biodiversity information centers granted the Natural Heritage Program the commendation for its accomplishments in:

  • Managing and delivering information on Washington’s rare plants
  • Classifying the state’s ecological systems
  • Advancing both approaches and applications of ecological integrity assessments

All of these efforts  increased access to reliable, scientific information for use in natural resource planning, policy, and management.

Projects boost effectiveness
Two recent projects have boosted the Natural Heritage Program’s effectiveness in maintaining and delivering information about Washington’s rare plants. A ten-year partnership with the University of Washington’s Rare Care & Conservation Program used citizen science to update and improve the rare plant records that land managers use to make informed decisions. Working with public land-management agencies, the partners trained volunteers to revisit sites where populations of rare species were observed. Last year, program volunteers updated 186 aging population records for 91 species.   (more…)

Calling all citizen scientists: The Great Bee Count is this Saturday

July 15, 2011

Camas is one of the many types wildflowers found on DNR-managed state trust lands, recreation sites, and natural areas. Photo: DNR.

It’s almost time for the Great Bee Count on July 16. Field Notes, a Seattle Times blog on Northwest nature, reports that more than 2,000 people in Washington have signed on to participate in a nationwide effort to gather information about urban, suburban, and rural bee populations. The idea is to spend 15 minutes counting the bees visiting a flower in your garden, on an open space, or other areas. Reporting your findings to the Great Sunflower Project will add to a database for scientists studying the health and extent of wild bees in our urban, suburban, and rural landscapes.

Instructions are posted on the project’s website. You can do observations all year round, but this Saturday’s event hopes to raise awareness of the decline of wild bees — a major pollinator. About one-third of the human food supply depends on insect pollination.

Consider doing your bee count at a DNR-managed recreation area, Natural Area Preserve or a Natural Resources Conservation Area.

discover pass logoReminder: Discover Pass now in effect!
The Discover Pass is required year round for motor-vehicle access to state parks, boat launches, trails, campgrounds, heritage sites, and wildlife and natural areas managed by DNR, Washington State Parks, and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Learn more at

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DNR weekend reading: Hatching eagles, building greener airports, and more

April 16, 2011
Clover Flats Campground

The restroom is temporarily temporarily closed at Clover Flats Campground, elevation 6,200-feet, a DNR-managed recreation area in Ahtanum State Forest--CLICK photo to see the DNR Flickr gallery. Photo: Mike Williams/DNR.

Here are picks by DNR staff for your weekend reading (and viewing and listening) about science and the environment:

Yale e360: Video Feed of Hatching Eagles Attracts Millions of Online Viewers (VIDEO)
A streaming video feed from a webcam mounted inside an eagle’s nest in northeast Iowa last week captured the hatching of three bald eagle chicks.

Urban Green Council: There Are Holes In Our Walls (A Study of the Impact of Building Envelope Penetrations on Thermal Performance)
The average room air conditioner leaks as much air from a building as a six square-inch hole in the wall.

Green (blog): New York Times: If Flying Isn’t Green, Can the Airport Wait Be?
San Francisco International Airport authorities seek LEED gold status for the newly renovated Terminal 2 (T2) because of the reductions in its energy and water consumption. It would become the first airport terminal to achieve that ranking from the Green Building Council.

Scientific American: Munching Microbe Rules Methane Production (PODCAST)
Scientists hope new discoveries about the M. barkeri microbe, which produces methane, will lead to new methods of accelerating the trash-to-methane gas process, allowing to more methane collection and compacting more waste into existing landfills.

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Science behind the choices: Wildlife ‘leave trees’ left during a timber harvest — how much is enough?

November 5, 2010

Aerial view of Capitol State Forest showing 'leave tree' research patches of 15 percent, 40 percent, and 75 percent. DNR photo.

The world of science at DNR is all about asking questions and finding answers. When it comes to timber harvesting, one question that DNR’s scientists have been trying to figure out is: how does retaining ‘leave trees’ after harvest affect the forest’s wildlife habitat and ecological function? That prompted a second question: should the trees that are left be scattered throughout the landscape or clumped into patches?

To find the answers, DNR and its partners are conducting research that helps managers develop new approaches to maintain and grow wildlife habitat and enhance the forest’s functions.

On many sites throughout western Washington, DNR and partners from the US Forest Service and universities are testing different harvest approaches — including examining how the densities of leave trees affect long-term site productivity, forest habitat and growth.

Aerial view of Capitol Forest showing a dispersed 'Leave Tree' research patch of 75 percent. Photo: DNR.

Research in Capitol State Forest

In one experiment that began 15 years ago, DNR is evaluating the effects of leave tree numbers and configurations. Large forest sites with similar age and structure had six different harvests treatments applied. Harvest treatments retained 15 percent, 40 percent, or 75 percent of the trees — one treatment per site — and were divided either into large circular clumps of trees (patches) or evenly dispersed patterns.

Both patches of leave trees and dispersed leave trees provide large trees in the newly planted forest stand. But there are differences:


DNR weekend reading: Italian wind power, world river crisis, sanitation anthropology

October 2, 2010
Old Growth Rainforest

Old growth rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula. Photo: DNR

Here is some weekend reading — and viewing — about science, the environment and world we live in:

New York Times: Ancient Italian Town Has Wind at Its Back
Tocco da Casauria, a small, traditional town in Italy whose four wind turbines, installed over the past four years, produce 30 percent more energy than its residents use. In fact, money made from the production of clean energy has brought the town back from the brink of insolvency and allowed it to renovate its school and perform other much-needed municipal repairs.  (more…)

Science behind the choices: 2010 Science Month at DNR

October 1, 2010
HCP effectiveness monitoring

DNR effectiveness monitoring in forested trust lands is guided by the 1997 Habitat Conservation Plan. Photo: DNR

What kind of habitat does a northern spotted owl need? How much extra wind buffer is needed to protect the trees that protect streams? What changes along Puget Sound shorelines cause harm to eelgrass and kelp that so many small and large critters depend on?

DNR digs into these and many other questions.

Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark made ‘decisions based on sound science’ a key principle of his administration. So where does the agency get the scientific information that helps managers make all those natural resources decisions? (more…)


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