Posted on February 25, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Dartmouth study details threats to historic communal irrigation
A patchwork of fields around Taos, New Mexico
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
Filed under: Environment, Uncategorized, water | Tagged: acequias, Irrigation, Southwest, Taos Valley, water | 3 Comments »
Posted on January 28, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Up high …
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
Filed under: Morning photo, photography, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged: city views, Corfu, Greece, Naples, photography, rooftops, San Francisco, Travel, Český Krumlov | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 14, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
White pelicans at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, N.D. Photo courtesy USFWS.
Shift in timing puts breeding out of synch with local weather conditions
By Summit Voice
FRISCO —Pelicans are flocking to their North Dakota breeding grounds earlier than ever, but encountering challenging weather conditions once they get there.
Global warming in the pelicans’ winter grounds and along their migration route are likely spurring the earlier northward trip, but the change in timing is leaving chicks susceptible to extreme weather events.
According to a new report from the U.S. Geological Survey, earlier spring nesting g related to climate change could negatively affect the survival of pelican chicks at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, N.D. Continue reading
Filed under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 10, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Worsening coastal water quality seen as factor
Endangered Florida manatees are dying at an alarming rate. bberwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Florida manatee deaths in 2013 spiked to the highest level ever, with the state’s wildlife agency reporting that 829 of the gentle sea cows died during the year. That total is more than double last year’s and exceeds the previous record number of deaths set in 2010, when a severe cold snap contributed to 766 deaths.
If there’s any good news for manatees in this year’s numbers, it’s that the number of deaths attributed to collisions with boats dropped to the lowest level in at least five years, comprising only 9 percent of the total mortality.
On the downside, more frequent episodes of toxic algal blooms may have been a big factor in this year’s mortality toll, according to environmental watchdogs, who chastised state officials for not doing more to protect water quality.
Altogether, the 829 deaths comprise about 17 percent of the state’s total population of the endangered marine mammals. There were 276 red tide-related manatee deaths in 2013, almost as many as for the previous eight years combined and more than 60 percent above the previous record for red tide-related deaths of 151 back in 1996. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Uncategorized | Tagged: biodiversity, endangered species, Florida manatees, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 27, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Wolverine. Photo courtesy Roy Anderson/USFWS.
Not everyone is convinced that the species is threatened by global warming
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Federal biologists last week said they aren’t quite ready to make a final decision about endangered species status for wolverine. The listing deadline has been pushed back by six months for another review of the science — a step that’s taken when there is “substantial scientific disagreement.”
“During the peer review process on our proposed rule to list the wolverine as threatened, we received a variety of opinions from the scientific community concerning the information we used to develop the proposed rules,” the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a statement. Background on wolverine conservation online here. Continue reading
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: biodiversity, endangered species, endangered species act, global warming, Wolverine | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 25, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Peace on Earth …
Goodwill to men!
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: Christmas 2013 | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 1, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Releases of water vapor create convective movements
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — We’ve all heard of microclimates, where topography and other factors can affect weather on a very local level. But new research suggests that mushrooms take that concept to whole new level, creating their own mini-windstorms to help spread spores.
Biologists have long thought that the spores produced by a mushroom’s cap simply drop into the wind and blow away. But observers have noted that spores disperse even when the air is still. It took a detailed study by fluid dynamics researchers find the answer.
Using high-speed videography and mathematical modeling of spore dispersal in commercially grown oyster and Shiitake mushrooms, they found that the fungi created their wind by releasing water vapor. The vapor cools the air locally, and this creates convective cells that move the air around in the mushroom’s vicinity. Continue reading
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: microclimate, mushrooms, spores | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 26, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
U.S. emissions of heat-trapping methane may be much higher than previously thought.
Previous data may have seriously underestimated methane from fossil fuel production
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Colorado regulators preparing to tackle heat-trapping methane have their work cut out — a new landmark study suggests that methane emissions from fossil fuel development in the south-central U.S. may be five times higher than previous estimates, and emissions from livestock operations may be twice as high.
Total methane emissions in the United States appear to be as much as 1.7 times higher than believed, a team of researchers said after analyzing detailed atmospheric measurements.
“This paper provides the most solid and the most detailed estimate to date of total U.S. methane emissions,” said coauthor Anna M. Michalak, a faculty member in the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science. Michalak is also an associate professor of environmental Earth system science at Stanford University. “This was really, from beginning to end, just a very clean analysis.” Continue reading
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: climate, global warming, greenhouse gases, methane | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 20, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Can polar bears survive global warming? Photo courtesy U.S. Geological Survey.
NAFTA body to review listing decision
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A seldom-used environmental provision of the North American Free Trade Agreement may help shed light on the Canadian government’s baffling stance on polar bear conservation.
Despite the growing threat from melting Arctic ice, the polar predators have only been awarded a low level of protection under Canadian environmental laws, triggering a petition process to the Secretariat of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation.
The organization this week recommended a formal investigation into Canada’s refusal to protect polar bears, and also questioned that country’s dismally slow pace in making listing decisions under the Species At Risk Act — an issue that will affect protection for polar bears and any other Canadian species threatened with extinction. Continue reading
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: Canada, climate change, Hudson Bay, North American Free Trade Agreement, Polar bear, Species at Risk Act | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 9, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
When politics trumps science
Pro-development policies in Canada have ‘eviscerated’ habitat protection for many freshwater fish species, according to a new study. bberwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — With political interference in conservation science becoming more common in the U.S. (as in the case of gray wolves), it’s worth looking north to Canada to see the results of such misguided decision-making.
A new study from the University of Calgary and Dalhousie University asserts that federal government changes to Canada’s fisheries legislation “have eviscerated” the ability to protect habitat for most of the country’s fish species.
The changes were “politically motivated” and unsupported by scientific advice — contrary to government policy — and are inconsistent with ecosystem-based management, according to fisheries biologists John Post and Jeffrey Hutchings. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Uncategorized | Tagged: aquatic habitat, Canada, conservation, Environment, fisheries | Leave a comment »