Environment: Oxygen-depleted dead zones caused by reservoirs killing endangered fish embryos

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Pallid sturgeon embryos are dying in the dead zones of the Missouri River. Photo via Nebraska Games and Parks Commission.

‘We’re basically talking about a living dinosaur that takes 20 years to reach sexual maturity and can live as long as the average human in the U.S.’

Staff Report

FRISCO — A river fish whose genetic lineage goes back ten of million years has survived dramatic climate shifts and other earth-changing events, but may not be able to persist through the age of dam-building.

Oxygen-depleted dead zones between dams in the upper Missouri River Missouri River are preventing pallid sturgeon from reproducing, and there’s no sign things will get better, at least not without a little help from humans. Continue reading

Study eyes ‘pond scum’ environmental feedback loop

‘This is important because cyanobacteria are on the increase in response to global change …’

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Blue-green algae blooms can feed themselves by unlocking nutrients. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Fish-killing bacterial blooms are becoming more common in lakes around the world as the climate warms, and new research shows that aquatic microbes themselves can drive nitrogen and phosphorus cycling, resulting in a on-two environmental punch.

The findings of the study suggest cyanobacteria — sometimes known as pond scum or blue-green algae — that get a toe-hold in low-to-moderate nutrient lakes can set up positive feedback loops that amplify the effects of pollutants and climate change and make conditions even more favorable for blooms, which already pose a threat to water resources and public health worldwide. Continue reading

Colorado toughens fracking penalties

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Frackers in Colorado will face stiffer penalties for spills and other dangerous incidents. bberwyn photo.

New rules eliminate penalty cap

Staff Report

FRISCO — Daily penalties for fracking leaks and spills, or other environmentally dangerous accidents associated with fossil fuel development will go up to as much as $15,000 per day in Colorado, under new rules adopted this week by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.The beefed-up penalty structure also does away with a $10,000 penalty cap for each violation. Continue reading

XTO Energy to pay $5 million for fracking violations

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USA – fracking nation.

Clean Water Act penalties, cleanup costs assessed for West Virginia operations

Staff Report

FRISCO — ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy, Inc. will pony up about $3 million to restore eight West Virginia sites where the company illegally filled wetlands and polluted the water during fracking operations. The company will also pay a civil penalty of $2.3 million for violating the Clean Water Act, with impacts along more than a mile of stream and 3.38 acres of wetlands. Continue reading

Climate: USGS study tracks Chesapeake Bay warming

Chesapeake Bay in a Landsat photo.

Chesapeake Bay in a Landsat photo.

Water temps up 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit in 50 years

Staff Report

FRISCO— The huge Chesapeake Bay watershed — the country’s largest estuary — is warming steadily, USGS scientists say, warning that increase in temperatures is likely to have big consequences for the region’s ecosystems. Continue reading

The ‘greening’ of the Colorado River Delta

The Colorado River Delta in May, 2014. Photo courtesy NASA.

The Colorado River Delta in May, 2014. Photo courtesy NASA.

Science team tracks effects of historic pulse flow

Staff Report

FRISCO — Last May’s pulse flow in the Colorado River helped revive vegetation along a huge swath of the river’s edge, triggering new plant growth and raising the water table in the delta. After comparing satellite images taken August 2013 with new images from this year, scientists calculated a 23 percent increase in the greenness of riparian zone vegetation. Continue reading

Study: Toxic stream pollution from road salt doubles

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Pollution from road salt is increasing quickly, a new USGS study found.

EPA standards for chloride exceeded at one in three sampling sites

Staff Report

FRISCO — Many streams in the northern U.S. are polluted to toxic levels by salt deicers, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a new study that found the frequency of these occurrences nearly doubling in two decades.

Chloride levels increased substantially in 84 percent of the urban streams analyzed, the researchers said, using data going back to 1960 and ending as recently as 2011. Continue reading

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