Archive for March, 2012

EPA Introduces First Greenhouse-Gas Limits for Power Plants

(March 27, 2012)


A new proposed nationwide standard, the first of its kind issued by the EPA for carbon dioxide, limits greenhouse gas emissions from any new, but not currently existing, US power plants.

Study: Protecting old-growth can stave off global warming

(March 26, 2012)

Southern Oregon Mail Tribune

A recently released peer-reviewed study of the Klamath-Siskiyou region in southwest Oregon and northwestern California by a University of Central Florida scientist and the Ashland-based Geos Institute ” concludes that mature and old-growth trees in the region help stave off rising temperatures near the ground, prevent the rapid loss of the mountain snowpack, retain cool stream temperatures and reduce the loss of fog in the coastal forests.”

USDA publishes final rule to restore the nation’s forests through science and collaboration

(March 23, 2012)

The USDA Forest Service News Release

Replacing the 1982 rule currently in place, on March 23rd, “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s final Planning Rule for America’s 193-million acre National Forest System that includes stronger protections for forests, water, and wildlife while supporting the economic vitality of rural communities.”

Coldest, Deepest Ocean Water Mysteriously Disappears

(March 22, 2012)

MSNBC Science

“The coldest deep ocean water that flows around Antarctica in the Southern Ocean has been mysteriously disappearing at a high rate over the last few decades, scientists have found.”

Dry winter means tough times along the Klamath

(March 21, 2012)

San Francisco Chronicle

Another tough summer is projected for both salmon and farmers in the Klamath basin with drought declarations initiated and record numbers of salmon predicted to return this year.  Below-average snowpack is a concern for biologists who worry that a repeat of 2002 could occur, when, after restoring irrigation to farms that had been shut off to protect salmon, tens of thousands of adult salmon died of gill rot disease spreading in the warm crowded waters before they could spawn.  The Klamath basin regularly has trouble meeting the demands of both farms on the federal irrigation project at the top of the basin as well salmon in the river, resulting in political battles and a federal plan to restore the Trinity River .

Climate study warns of possible changes to Shoshone National Forest

(March 16, 2012)

The Billings Gazette

A new study released by the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station looks at the impacts that climate change would have on the Shoshone and the consequences to the surrounding ecosystem.  “Summer visitors to the Shoshone National Forest and Yellowstone National Park could benefit from a warming climate, though fires would likely increase, water would run short by season’s end, and some species could vanish from the landscape.”

Mountain Pine Beetle Develops an Unprecedented Summer Generation in Response to Climate Warming

(March 16, 2012)

American Society of Naturalists

A new study published in the March issues of The American Naturalist (http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/665007) finds that for the first time, the Mountain Pine Beetle is switching from reproducing once a year to twice a year.  The current beetle epidemic is already ten times larger than the next largest documented epidemic, with further growth projected with further increasing temperatures.  At the 10,000 foot study site, temperatures have been slowly increasing over the last four decades, causing the beetles to start their flight season about a month earlier than historically documented, to fly twice as far, and now, to produce an entire extra generation each season.  This is the first time the summer generation has been documented for the Mountain Pine Beetle.  Another recent report highlights the complex and seemingly contrary effects of mountain pine beetle devastated forests on wildfire size and severity: Report defies conventional wisdom on pine beetles and wildfire  (The Missoulian, March 18, 2012).

Could cherry blossoms one day be blooming in winter?

(March 14, 2012)

Washington Post

Washington’s cherry blossoms are blooming early this year, with uncharacteristically warm temperatures that made for an elusive bloom date that kept moving up in the forecast, and happened 2 days before the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival began.  The flowering times are highly sensitive to temperatures, and scientists are suggesting that the blossom time will occur anywhere from 5 t0 13 days sooner than average by 2050.


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New national forest rule to focus on restoration of damaged ecosystems

(March 9, 2012)

The Denver Post

“Obama administration officials are emphasizing restoration of degraded ecosystems as they roll out a final new rule for managing the nation’s 193 million acres of forests and grasslands.  Thirty years in the making, the rule to be officially issued this month will direct regional foresters to use science and more monitoring to improve conditions, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in an interview Thursday.”

Global warming has chilling effect on forest budgets

(March 8, 2012)

Real Aspen

“The warming climate is breeding more beetle-ravaged forest and prolonged fire seasons, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell testified before a Senate committee” on Tuesday, March 6th.  He noted that in many parts of the country, the first season has recently been 60-70 days longer than in the past.  In addition, while the expansion of bark beetles has started to slow, an additional 600,000 acres are still infested each year.  Tidwell also fielded questions regarding the proposed agency budget for 2013.  “President Obama’s budget requests $4.86 billion for the Forest Service, an increase of less than one-half of one percent over the 2012 appropriated level. The restoration of lands impacted by beetles, disease, fire, urban sprawl and warming temperatures are heavily emphasized.”

Bark beetle outbreaks have mixed impacts on wildlife, researchers say

(March 8, 2012)

Red Lodge Clearinghouse via Greenwire

“While the effects of bark beetle outbreaks on wildlife aren’t well studied yet, Forest Service researchers said yesterday that findings so far suggest that in the short term, species that feed on insects, such as woodpeckers, benefit from bark beetle infestations, while the loss of so many trees over the long term can hurt species such as owls that depend on them for nesting habitat and cover.”  This article examines a collection of research on the possible effects of the beetle outbreak on other species.

Oceans Acidifying Faster Today Than in Past 300 Million Years

(March 7, 2012)

Science Daily

New research published this week finds that oceans are acidifying faster today than they ever have before in the 300 million year old geologic record.  The ocean absorbs excess carbon dioxide from the air, the gas than reacts with seawater to form carbonic acid.  The fear is that continued high levels of emissions and acidification will lead to mass extinction: “if industrial carbon emissions continue at the current pace, we may lose organisms we care about–coral reefs, oysters, salmon.”

Global warming, spread of infected ticks linked

(March 6, 2012)

Vancouver Sun

Global warming is thought to be a factor behind the rapid growth of ticks that can carry lyme disease into parts of Canada where they have not existed before.  The report did not specifically link global warming with this trend, but warmer areas are experiencing more rapid growth, and the lead researcher stated that “My opinion is that there probably has been an increase in the spread [of ticks] due to the warming climate.”

Mulling possible outcomes in greenhouse gas cases

(March 5, 2012)

Red Lodge Clearinghouse via Greenwire

This article covers two days of court arguments over U.S. EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations, while “close observers agree the agency’s central finding that underpins the rules is likely to survive review.”

Obama promotes conservation, says economy, energy and American heritage at stake

(March 2, 2012)

Washington Post

President Obama calls the choice between clear water or air and a strong economy a “false choice” while drawing attention to the nation’s parks and open spaces.  He stated that the conservation of American attractions and resources creates jobs, assists the recovery and even contributes to less foreign oil dependence.


Increasing the Pace of Restoration and Job Creation on Our National Forests

(February 2012)

USDA Forest Service

This report released last month “outlines a strategy and series of actions for management on 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands managed by the U.S. Forest Service.  As part of the accelerated restoration strategy, $40 million for 20 forest and watershed restoration projects have been announced for the upcoming year. The funding includes ten new projects under the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) program, continued funding for the original 10 projects selected under the CFLR program in 2010, and an additional $4.6 million to support other high priority restoration projects.”  USDA Forest News Release, February 2, 2012.


Greenhouse gas sources, emitters and effects

(February 6, 2012)

High Country News

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More Americans now believe in global warming

(February 29, 2012)

LA Times

Belief in global warming among Americans is now on the rise again, after several years of decline, according to the newest bi-annual survey by the National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change.

Experts: Climate change will force farmers to alter way they do business

(February 29, 2012)

The Daily News

Experts at the USDA’s annual outlook conference stated that agriculture will need to prepare for climate change:  “farmers will have to change the way they do business, from better managing of crops to considering changes in what they grow and even how much fertilizer or pesticide they buy…  While the effects from region to region are not crystal clear, food-producing areas are likely to deal more with the stress brought on by heat and either too much or too little water. More extreme storms will increase the risk of crop losses, they said, and farmers will need to consider financial tools to ride out those years.”

Global warming feeds bark beetles: Are they unstoppable?

(February 27, 2012)

LA Times

A new book by biologist Reese Halter examines the feedback loop that climate change and the widespread mountain pine beetle are creating:  Trees stressed by warming temperatures and a lack of cold spells to kill off the beetles become more susceptible to them, which then cause massive mortality, turning a critical terrestrial carbon sink into a carbon source, and further exacerbating climate change.  The current epidemic is posited as both cause and consequence of global warming.

Communities help pay for ecosystem services provided by forests

(February 20, 2012)

High Country News

A recent agreement between Denver Water and the Forest Service cost-shares watershed restoration in the hopes of preventing future catastrophic fires.  The price is forwarded on to residential water users in an example of ecosystems services: “an emerging financial tool in which a market value is applied to environmental functions that users usually exploit without payment.”  Watershed investment projects have been implemented in several western cities.

Coal-to-gas switch will yield few emission advantages, says study

(February 19, 2012)

Red House Clearing Lodge via Greenwire

“A transition of all existing coal-fired power plants to natural gas would spare the world little warming over the next century, according to a study published yesterday by a prominent climate analyst and a former Microsoft polymath. Despite its reduced greenhouse gas emissions, the fossil fuel energy needed to build out natural gas plants at a massive scale, combined with the long atmospheric life of CO2, means that construction emissions will place a heavy thumb on the climate scale for gas into the next century…”

CSU to study climate change’s effect on grasslands

(February 18, 2012)

Northern Colorado Business Journal

Scientists will study how climate change could affect multiple ecosystems simultaneously in this large-scale study on grasslands across 4 states.  The research will replicate severe drought conditions like those of the dust bowl era, and monitor the effects on vegetation.

Attacks paid for by big business are ‘driving science into a dark era’

(February 18, 2012)

The Guardian

This year’s American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting experienced a new mood of “palpable chill” as president Nina Fedoroff, one of the worlds most distinguished agricultural scientists, “confessed that she was now ‘scared to death’ by the anti-science movement that was spreading, uncontrolled, across the US and the rest of the western world.”

Extreme Summer Temperatures Occur More Frequently in U.S. Now, Analysis Shows

(February 15, 2012)

Science Daily

New research shows that extreme summer temperatures are already occurring more frequently in the United States, and these previously rare extreme temperatures are predicted to become normal by mid-century.

Forests: Tracing the cause of yellow-cedar mortality

(February 7, 2012)

Summit County Citizens Voice

A new paper from the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station that summarizes 30 years worth of research on yellow cedar decline attributes the decline to a changing climate.  Continual cold weather across their range during late winter and early spring, when there’s no snow to protect roots, causes their roots to freeze.  Yellow-cedar decline affects about 60 to 70 percent of trees in forests covering 600,000 acres in Alaska and British Columbia.  The paper offers a framework for a conservation strategy for yellow cedars in Alaska.

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