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Environment: Invasive Asian tiger shrimp may pose threat to coastal ecosystems, shrimp fisheries

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Shrimp boats moored in Apalachicola, Florida. Will the industry take a hit from invasive Asian tiger shrimp?

Researchers say sightings of the non-native shrimp have jumped tenfold

Staff Report

FRISCO — Ocean scientists say they’ve recently documented a tenfold increase in the number of invasive Asian tiger shrimp in U.S. coastal waters, with as-yet unknown consequences for native ecosystems and the shrimping industry.

Female Asian tiger shrimp can grow to 12 inches in size and have voracious appetites, feeding on native shrimp, bivalves, crustaceans, and fish. It’s not clear exactly how they arrived in the area, but researchers suspect several pathways, including escape from aquaculture during tropical storms and hurricanes. They may also have been released from ballast water in ship, or simply migrated from wild populations in the Atlantic and Caribbean. Continue reading

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Morning photo: Take 2!

Mountain view

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Mount if the Holy Cross from near Shrine Pass.

FRISCO — This set is a grab-bag of images from the past week or so, including a very early morning trek up to the Vail Pass area. Right now, we’re definitely in high summer in terms of light. The rest of the year, details of the mountain faces are often hidden by long shadows, but the high summer sun angle reveals details that you can’t see the rest of the year.

Summit Voice readers, if you enjoy our daily photo posts, please have a look at the Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger Project. We are trying to fund a two month reporting trek to do some some in-depth reporting on how global warming is changing the Rockies. Along with the stories, we’ll have live social media chats and we will be doing plenty of photography to be featured in our morning photo series.

It’s a crowdfunded project and we need your help to make it happen. Every little bit helps, and if you’re feeling generous, you can earn a free dinner at the Sunshine Cafe in Dillon, along with framed fine art prints from the Summit Voice gallery. Please visit the Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger project pledge page and share the link with your friends! Continue reading

Climate: Study links greenhouse gas emission levels with economic development

Rapid growth in sunbelt driving part of the increase of greenhoue gases

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Much of the world was warm to record-warm in May.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A Georgia State University researcher taking a close look at the nexus of economics, housing development and climate change says that land use policies and preferential tax treatment for housing — in the form of federal income tax deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes — have increased carbon emissions in the United States by about 2.7 percent, almost 6 percent annually in new home construction, according to a new Georgia State University study. Continue reading

Plankton to take big global warming hit

Scientists working in the Gulf of Mexico are tracking BP's spilled oil as it works its way up the food web, from bacteria to plankton. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

Global warming projected to cut plankton production. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

Ripple effect expected all along the ocean food web

Staff Report

FRISCO — Given the complex dynamics of ocean circulation, it’s tough to predict how global warming will play out, but a European research project has been able estimate that phytoplankton biomass could be reduced by 6 percent, while zooplankton biomass may decline by as much as 11 percent.

Those changes could have big impacts on important fish species, researchers said after publishing their findings in Global Change Biology.

Warming ocean temperatures will alter circulation patterns and water column stratification, which affects the transport and availability of nutrients for marine plankton growth. This process will take place mainly in tropical oceans, which cover 47 percent of the global ocean surface. Globally, sea surface temperature is expected to increase 2 degrees Celsius by 2080-2100. Continue reading

Morning photo: Plus-X

Contrasts …

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Blue River, February 1, 2014.

FRISCO — As I edited this batch of digital files, I couldn’t help but think about the old non-digital darkroom days, and Kodak Plus-X black and white film, which, of course, was the standard for getting the most of an exposure under good light conditions. Nowadays, there’s no need to carefully check the temperature of the developer, or to push the development process to get that extra iota of depth — it’s all done with a few sliders and buttons. But the end result — a fully saturated B&W image covering the entire gray scale — is still the same. An image that, even in the absence of color, tells the story of light. Continue reading

Scientist find source of mysterious Southern Ocean sound

New data could help minke whale conservation efforts

A group of Antarctic minke whales. Photo courtesy Ari S. Friedlaender, Oregon State University

A group of Antarctic minke whales, which have been identified as the source of a mysterious sound in the Southern Ocean. Photo courtesy Ari S. Friedlaender, Oregon State University.

Staff Report

FRISCO — If you’ve ever heard mysterious sounds that you can’t identify, you’re not alone. For decades, researchers have tried to trace the source of a unique rhythmic sound in the remote Southern Ocean that’s often been recorded, but never definitively pinpointed — until now.

This week, scientists with NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center said the sound is generated by the Antarctic Minke whale, the smallest of the “great whales” or rorquals, a group that includes the blue whale, Bryde’s whale, and humpback, fin, and sei whales. Rorqual whales are relatively streamlined in appearance, have pointed heads and, with the exception of humpback whales, small pointed fins. Continue reading

New IPCC report details global warming vulnerabilities, adaptation and mitigation

‘We have to transform the risk into a platform for action’

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High temperature records are outpacing record lows by ever-bigger margins.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Along with melting ice caps and rising seas, global warming fundamentally threatens the world’s food security, IPCC scientists said Sunday, describing how climate change is already affecting yields of key crops.

“What we see today is profound. Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by climate change,” said Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“There will be negative impacts on crop yields with serious implications for food security in some of the poorest regions of the world,” Pachauri said during a live-streamed press conference summarizing the findings of the IPCC’s latest report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability.

Continue reading

Is airborne dust a big factor in the global carbon cycle?

The image shows the emission and transport of dust and other important aerosols to the Southern Ocean on Dec. 30, 2006. Dust is represented with orange to red colors, sea salt with blue, organic and black carbon with green to yellow, and sulfates with ash brown to white. In the image, a plume of dust has been emitted from southern South America and is being transported eastward over the Subantarctic Atlantic Ocean. Credit: Image courtesy of William Putman and Arlindo da Silva, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

The image shows the emission and transport of dust and other important aerosols to the Southern Ocean on Dec. 30, 2006. Dust is represented with orange to red colors, sea salt with blue, organic and black carbon with green to yellow, and sulfates with ash brown to white. In the image, a plume of dust has been emitted from southern South America and is being transported eastward over the Subantarctic Atlantic Ocean. Image courtesy of William Putman and Arlindo da Silva, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.

Wind-blown iron deposits spurs plankton growth and regulates carbon-dioxide levels

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wind-transported dust has long been identified as a key ingredient in ocean nutrient cycles, and new research now shows that, during the last ice age, iron fertilization caused plankton to thrive in a region of the Southern Ocean.

The study by researchers with Princeton University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich confirms a longstanding hypothesis that wind-borne dust drove plankton growth around Antarctica eventually leading to the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Plankton remove heat-trapping greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during growth and transfer it to the deep ocean when their remains sink to the bottom.

Iron fertilization has previously been suggested as a possible cause of the lower CO2 levels that occur during ice ages. These decreases in atmospheric CO2 are believed to have “amplified” the ice ages, making them much colder, with some scientists believing that there would have been no ice ages at all without the CO2 depletion.

Continue reading

Water: How long will the Southwest’s acequias survive?

Dartmouth study details threats to historic communal irrigation 

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A patchwork of fields around Taos, New Mexico

Staff Report

FRISCO — The historic communal irrigation systems known as acequias Southwest are in decline as snowmelt dwindles and water priorities shift. Social and economic shifts favoring modernism over tradition, are also factors on the decline, according to a new study from Dartmouth College.

Similar trends have been observed in other parts of the world, where rural communities that once fended for themselves are becoming integrated into larger economies, which provide benefits of modern living but also the uncertainties of larger-scale market fluctuations. The study appears in the journal Global Environmental Change. Continue reading

Morning photo: Rooftops

Up high …

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Salzburg in the sun.

FRISCO — I don’t ever really think consciously about getting a picture of a city’s rooftops, but inevitably on our treks, Leigh and I end up at an overlook somewhere — maybe on a hill or in a church steeple — where the city below unfolds like a street map. In some cases, you can see how a town grew organically, near a shallow river crossing, or from a central market place. Other times, you can sense how man imposed his will on the landscape, imposing a strict grid pattern over the contours of the land. I’m a big fan of getting the view from a good vantage point to help explore a new destination, or rediscover familiar territory, so next time you visit a new city, look for the high ground! Continue reading

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