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Activists seek Aleutian Islands marine sanctuary

Climate change, fossil fuel exploitation seen as key threats

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A satellite view of the Aleutian Islands. Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A marine sanctuary designation could help protect Alaska’s Aleutian Islands from a series of growing threats, including overfishing, oil and gas development and increasing commercial shipping.

Those threats are being aggravated by climate change, rising sea-level and ocean acidification, according to a formal nomination for sanctuary status. The conservation push is being led by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and several other national marine conservation organizations. Continue reading

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Environment: Study finds air pollution-autism links

New environmental justice deal signifies progress, experts say.

Exposure to fine particulate air pollution during late pregnancy increases risk of autism.

Findings could open the door for preventive measures

Staff Report

FRISCO — Harvard public health researchers say evidence is growing that exposure to high levels of air pollution during pregnancy may double the risk of having a child with autism. The study was the first to explore the link between airborne particulate matter and autism. Continue reading

Biodiversity: More California condor chicks take flight

An endangered California condor in flight over Zion National Park. PHOTO FROM THE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

An endangered California condor in flight over Zion National Park. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

73 condors now living in the wild in Utah and Arizona

Staff Report

FRISCO — In another small, encouraging sign that California condors may avoid extinction, biologists said last week that two-wild-fledged chicks have left their nests and taken flight in northern Arizona. A third condor chick — the first wild-fledged in Utah — did not survive.

California condors once soared widely from California to Florida and Western Canada to Northern Mexico but were nearly wiped out by the middle of the 20th century and listed as endangered in 1967. In 1982, only 23 condors survived world-wide, and in 1987, all remaining wild condors were placed into a captive breeding program. Continue reading

Will global temps soar when trade winds weaken?

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Will global temps soar when trade winds weaken?

Coral chemistry shows strong link between winds and temperature regimes

Staff Report

FRISCO — In the complex climate puzzle of the Pacific Ocean, the trade winds may be a key piece regulating the rate of global warming, according to new research that links the intensity of those winds to global temperatures.

The study, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Arizona, tracked chemical changes in coral to show that when when trade winds weakened in the early 20th century, global temperatures warmed rapidly. When the natural pattern shifted and winds began to strengthen after 1940, the warming slowed. Continue reading

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper joins call for Browns Canyon monument designation

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Map of proposed Browns Canyon National Monument.

Letter to President Obama cites strong local support

Staff Report

FRISCO — Just a few weeks after Colorado residents resoundingly sounded off in favor of protection the Arkansas River’s Browns Canyon at a public meeting in Salida, Senator Michael Bennet and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper asked President Barack Obama to designate the canyon as a national monument. Continue reading

Climate: Satellite measurements show how Arctic is absorbing more energy as sea ice dwindles

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Temperatures in the Arctic are rising dramatically.

Data starts to confirm climate feedback loop

Staff Report

FRISCO — NASA scientists say that, during the summer, Arctic is absorbing 5 percent more of the sun’s incoming energy than just 15 years ago. The trend coincides with the steady decrease in Arctic sea ice during the same period.

The extra energy is equal to an additional 10-watt light bulb shining continuously over every 10.76 square feet of Arctic Ocean for the entire summer.

The change in the region’s energy balance is happening because ocean water is darker than sea ice and absorbs the sun’s energy at a higher rate. The decline in the region’s reflectivity has been a key concern among scientists since the summer Arctic sea ice cover began shrinking in recent decades. Continue reading

Morning photo: Solstice!

Winter begins …


FRISCO — Once more, our Blue Marble has slipped into another celestial phase, marking the northern hemisphere’s maximum tilt away from the sun. The low sun angle often helps create dramatic landscapes, as the snow takes on an otherwordly glow, enveloping the mountains with soft light and long shadows. Enjoy the season!

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