Colorado steps up sage grouse conservation

Habitat exchange scheme eyed as key component in efforts to protect dwindling western birds

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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is ordering state agencies to boost greater sage-grouse conservation efforts. Photo courtesy USFWS.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is calling for an all-out state effort to protect greater sage-grouse by stepping up coordination among state agencies, improving habitat on state-controlled lands, and boosting the role of the state’s oil and gas commission.

The new conservation push, announced in a May 15 executive order, also outlines a market-based habitat exchange program that would let ranchers and other landowners buy and sell conservation credits to developers, including the oil and gas industry with the goal of mitigating “residual impacts” to sage-grouse habitat. Continue reading

NASA study tracks crumbling Antarctic ice shelf

Scientists say disintegration of Larsen B remnant will speed glaciers, raise sea level

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 Icebergs floating along the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — There’s more meltdown news from Antarctica. Despite a trend of expanding sea ice in the past few years, the all-important coastal ice shelves, which regulate the flow of continental ice to the sea, are in trouble.

Last week, researchers with the British Antarctic Survey said they measured incredibly fast thinning of the Larsen C Ice Shelf, warning that the massive sheet of floating ice could crumble suddenly and without much warning. Those findings reflect the more widespread trend of ice shelf thinning around the continent, tracked in another comprehensive NASA-led study.

And in the same region, along the eastern coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, a new NASA study suggests that remnants of the previously collapsed Larsen B Ice Shelf probably won’t last much longer. Continue reading

NOAA pushes recovery of 8 endangered ocean species

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The southern resident population of killer whales is one of eight species targeted for a new federal conservation push. Photo via NOAA.

‘People can help turn around the slide to extinction’

Staff Report

FRISCO — From rare white abalones along the California coast to playful monk seals in Hawaii, federal marine biologists want to make an all-out push to try and protect some of the oceans most endangered species. Continue reading

Study confirms global warming high the atmosphere

‘We should no longer accept the claim that there is warming missing higher in the atmosphere’

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All of South America, nearly all of North America, as well as Eurasia, were much warmer than average in April 2015.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Decades of readings from thousands of measuring stations around the world show in excruciating detail how the Earth is warming under its thickening blanket of greenhouse gases, but tracking the temperature rise in the upper levels of the atmosphere has been more elusive.

But new research by Australian climate scientists,  published in Environmental Research Letters, confirms strong warming in the upper troposphere, crushing yet another argument used by science-denying global warming skeptics who try to cast doubt on the overwhelming evidence of dangerous climate change.

The findings are based on a new analysis of data from the global weather balloon network. The evaluation found “clear indications of warming in the upper troposphere,” according to professor Steve Sherwood, with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science. Continue reading

Still more questions than answers about the ecological effects of oil dispersants used in Gulf of Mexico

Scientists say more study needed before the next big spill

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster approaches the Alabama coastline. Courtesy U.S. Navy.

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster approaches the Alabama coastline. Courtesy U.S. Navy.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Fallout from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster is still rippling through the Gulf of Mexico — and through the scientific community studying the effects of the largest oil spill on record.

Along with 210 million gallons of crude oil that leaked from BP’s failed deep-sea well, cleanup workers applied 1.84 million gallons of chemical dispersant intended to break down the oil and prevent it from reaching the shoreline in massive quantities. Continue reading

Conservation groups seek international help to save the Gulf of California’s vaquita

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Less than 100 vaquitas remain in the northern Gulf of California.

Petition requests ‘in danger’ status for Baja World Heritage area

Staff Report

U.S. conservation groups working to save the world’s most endangered dolphin from going extinct are hoping to get some help from the rest of the world.

At issue is the vaquita dolphin, which lives only at the northern end of the Gulf of California, an area designated as a World Heritage site in 2005. Less than 100 of the marine mammals remain, and conservation advocates fear that they’ll soon be wiped out.

This week, several groups petitioned the World Heritage Committee to declare the World Heritage area as being “in danger,” a status that recognizes threats to the values that earned the designation in the first place. The World Heritage Committee may consider the petition at its annual meeting in Bonn, Germany, this June. Continue reading

Environment: Honeybees take another big hit

A widely used class of pesticides is probably responsible for a massive honeybee die-off.

A widely used class of pesticides is probably responsible for a massive honeybee die-off. @bberwyn photo.

Annual survey shows disturbing rise in summer bee colony losses

Staff Report

FRISCO — Commercial beekeepers took another big hit last summer, reporting that they lost more than 40 percent of their honey bee colonies during the past year. Summer losses were higher than winter losses for the first time in five years, stoking concerns over the long-term trend of poor health in honey bee colonies, according to University of Maryland scientists. Continue reading

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