Global warming could starve oceans of oxygen

‘Our modern ocean is moving into a state that has no precedent in human history’

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A melting glacier on Deception Island, just off the Antarctic Peninsula, discharges sediments into the Southern Ocean. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — If climate clues from ages gone by are any indication, then the world’s oceans could see an abrupt, extensive loss of oxygen as the atmosphere warms and ice sheets melt.

That’s exactly what happened about 10,000 to 17,000 years ago, according to new research by scientists with the University of California, Davis, who analyzed marine sediment cores from different world regions to document the extent to which low oxygen zones in the ocean have expanded in the past, due to climate change. Continue reading

Feds reject Oregon’s coastal pollution control plan

Coho salmon (by Timothy Knepp USFWS).

Coho salmon (by Timothy Knepp USFWS).

Logging, erosion from forest roads still seen as threat to salmon

Staff Report

FRISCO — Oregon still isn’t doing enough to protect salmon streams from forest runoff, the EPA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said last, explaining their decision to reject a state water quality program.

At issue is Oregon’s coastal nonpoint pollution control program, required of all coastal states. The federal agencies say Oregon’s version doesn’t do enough to reduce impacts from logging and runoff from forest roads built before 1971. Nonpoint source pollution refers to pollution from diffuse sources including natural runoff that picks up and carries pollution into rivers, wetlands and coastal waters. Continue reading

Climate: Rapid Iceland uplift linked with ice cap meltdown

Some research suggests vanishing ice could trigger volcanoes

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Could the meltdown of Iceland’s glaciers result in more volcanic activity? bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Like a baking cake, Iceland is rising up as global warming melts the island’s ice caps and glaciers.

Using detailed data from a network of 62 GPS monitoring sites, scientists showed, for example, that parts of south-central Iceland are moving upward as much as 1.4 inches (35 mm) per year — a speed that surprised the researchers, who linked the changes with global warming.

“What we’re observing is a climatically induced change in the Earth’s surface,” said University of Arizona geosciences professor Richard Bennett. “Iceland is the first place we can say accelerated uplift means accelerated ice mass loss,” Bennett said. Continue reading

USGS report shows how global warming will shift Pacific wind and wave patterns

Study pinpoints impacts to island communities & ecosystems

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How will islands in the Pacific Ocean be affected by global warming?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey have developed climate models that help show how global warming will change wind and wave patterns, potentially affecting island communities, especially as sea level rises.

The new USGS report looked at U.S. and U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands, including Hawaii, where climate change is expected to alter the highest waves and strongest winds. The detailed data should help communities develop coastal resilience plans and ecosystem restoration efforts, and to design future coastal infrastructure. Continue reading

Study finds massive amounts of oil from Deepwater Horizon disaster buried in Gulf of Mexico sediments

Oil spreading across the Gulf of Mexico in July, 2009. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

A NASA satellite image shows oil spreading across the Gulf of Mexico.

‘It’s a conduit for contamination into the food web …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Five years after BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drill rig spewed 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, a significant amount of that oil remains buried in seafloor sediments.

A new study by a Florida State University researcher estimates that about 6 to 10 million gallons of oil are still there, perhaps decomposing slowly, but probably affecting Gulf ecosystems.

“This is going to affect the Gulf for years to come,” said researcher Jeff Chanton. “Fish will likely ingest contaminants because worms ingest the sediment, and fish eat the worms. It’s a conduit for contamination into the food web,” he said. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Monarchs bounce back, still need help

Population still near historic lows

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Can monarch butterflies survive massive habitat loss? bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Monarch butterfly populations may have rebounded a bit this year, according to the annual overwintering count, but the species is still going to need help to recover, conservation advocates say, urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to give the colorful insects Endangered Species Act protection.

This year’s count estimated that 56.5 million monarchs are currently gathered in Mexico for the winter, up from last year’s lowest ever total of 34 million. But that’s still more than 80 percent below the 20-year average and down 95 percent from numbers tallied in the mid-1990s. Near-perfect conditions during breeding season helped bolster the numbers this year. Continue reading

Wildlife advocates seek national wolf recovery plan

Activists again decry hunting, trapping in Northern Rockies

Wolves surrounding a bison in Yellowstone National Park. PHOTO COURTESY DOUG SMITH/NPS.

Wolves surrounding a bison in Yellowstone National Park. Photo by Doug Smith/NPS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wildlife conservation advocates want the federal government to rethink its wolf recovery efforts. Instead of relying on a piecemeal, state-by-state approach, the species needs a national recovery plan to help restore populations in places like the southern Rockies and the Adirondacks, according to Kierán Suckling, director of the Center for Biological Diversity

“A congressional end run around science and the Endangered Species Act will create more controversy and put wolves and the law itself in jeopardy,” said Suckling, explaining why a coalition of conservation groups this week petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reclassify gray wolves as threatened, rather than endangered, under the Endangered Species Act. Continue reading

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