Posted on May 21, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Decision will trigger new reviews of forest plans and projects in northern Rockies
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service has once again been called out for failing to live up to its legal obligations to protect endangered species, this time by a federal judge in Montana, who ruled last week that the agency violated the Endangered Species Act when it failed to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a regional forest plan amendment.
Dana L. Christensen, chief judge for the U.S. District Court for the State of Montana, ordered the Forest Service to re-initiate consultation, but did not block any specific projects on the affected forests, saying that plaintiffs couldn’t show any “irreparable harm.” (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, public lands, Uncategorized, US Forest Service | Tagged: biodiversity, endangered species, endangered species act, lynx, U.S. Forest Service, United States Fish & Wildlife Service, wildlife conservation | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 17, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Wet, cool spring brings relief to Midwest
The most severe areas of drought encompass parts of the central-southern plains, spreading southwest into parts of Colorado and New Mexico.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Drought woes have eased in the Midwest after a wet spring, but the far West, California in particular, are facing continued dry conditions. California has reported its driest year to-date on record, with only 27 percent of normal precipitation for January through April. That doesn’t bode well for the state’s water supplies, although at least reservoir storage is close to normal in California.
New Mexico and Nevada are in bad shape when it comes to reservoir storage and there’s little relief in sight at the end of the snow season. Forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said dry soil conditions in the southwest could contribute to higher than average temperatures this summer. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, La Niña, Uncategorized | Tagged: California, climate, drought, ENSO, La Niña, National Climatic Data Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, New Mexico | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 8, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Declining spring snowcover will impact plants and animals use deep snow cover as a refuge from winter cold
Spring snow cover in the northern hemisphere is in decline. Graphic courtesy Rutgers Global Snow Lab.
Melting snow reveals the subniveal world.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Beneath winter’s deep snows there is a secret world of frozen insects and amphibians in quasi-hibernation, where small mammals scoot about eating bugs and fungi. It’s an ecoogical world that’s mostly invisible but functions as a critical part of larger ecosystems. The subnivium, as scientists have dubbed it, is now at risk from global warming.
Since 1970, snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has declined by as much as 3.2 million square kilometers during the critical spring months of March and April. Maximum snow cover has shifted from February to January and spring melt has accelerated by almost two weeks, according to a team of university researchers who set out to discover some of the ecological impacts of the loss of snow cover. Visit the Rutgers Global Snow Lab for more details on snow cover. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, global warming, Snow and weather, Uncategorized | Tagged: ecology, Environment, global warming, Northern Hemisphere, spring snow cover, subnivium, University of Wisconsin–Madison, University of Wyoming | 3 Comments »
Posted on April 20, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Springtime in the Rockies
Morning light highlights the texture of fresh spring snow on the frozen surface of Dillon Reservoir in Summit County, Colorado.
FRISCO —It’s not unusual to get April snows in the high country. After all, when you live at 9,000 feet you have to willing to accept the fact that there are really only two seasons — snow and non-snow. But this year seems a little unusual, especially compared with last year, when spring weather went to the other extreme, with a March heatwave that broke records. The cool and showery weather this month won’t break any records, but it’s been fun going out to capture the late winter scenes around Summit County. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Morning photo, photography, seasons, Snow and weather, Summit County snow and weather, Uncategorized | Tagged: April weather, Colorado, photography, snow, Spring snow, Summit County photography | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 18, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A mushroom and spruce seedling grow intertwined in a Colorado forest. Bob Berwyn photo.
In some forests, up to 70 percent of carbon sequestration happens deep underground
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Humble mushrooms may play a much greater role in regulating forest carbon cycles than previously understood, according to new research from Sweden.
Most scientific literature suggests that the plant matter in northern forests is responsible for sequestering atmospheric carbon, but after carefully analyzing numerous soil samples, the Swedish scientists concluded that mycorrhizal fungi, which live in association with plant roots, are trapping the carbon deep in the ground as part of the process of nutrient exchange between the fungi and plant species. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, forests, global warming, Uncategorized | Tagged: carbon cycle, carbon sequestration, climate, forests, fungi, global warming | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 12, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Natural climate variability the biggest player, scientists say
Drought conditions persist across the central part of the country.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Last summer’s crippling Great Plains drought can’t definitively be linked with global warming, according to a team of federal scientists from various agencies. In a new report issued this week, the researchers said the drought was probably caused by a confluence of natural climate variations that might only come together in a similar constellation once a century.
Cyclical variations in ocean temperatures — especially the combination of a cooler-than-average Pacific Ocean and a warm phase of the North Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation may have nudged the region toward drought conditions, but those factors tend to be more of a factor in suppressing winter precipitation. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, El Niño, global warming, La Niña, Uncategorized | Tagged: 2012 drought, Dust Bowl, El Nino, global warming, Great Plains, La Niña, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | 2 Comments »
Posted on April 6, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Chinese fleet takes 12 times more fish than it reports
A new analysis shows where China catches its fish.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Illegal fishing is a persistent problem, but it appears that China has elevated it to a new level, catching about 12 times more fish than it formally reports to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, an international agency that keeps track of global fisheries catches.
Overall, Chinese fishing boats catch about US$11.5 billion worth of fish from beyond their country’s own waters each year according to a new study led by fisheries scientists at the University of British Columbia.
“China hasn’t been forthcoming about its fisheries catches,” said Dirk Zeller, a senior research fellow with UBC’s Sea Around Us Project and the study’s co-author. “While not reporting catches doesn’t necessarily mean the fishing is illegal … we simply don’t know for sure as this information just isn’t available,” Zeller said, explaining that there could be agreements between China and other countries that allow unreported fishing. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation, Uncategorized | Tagged: China, fish, Food and Agriculture Organization, illegal fishing, ocean conservation, University of British Columbia | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 28, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Study says mid-Atlantic region most affected
A spruce beetle infestation is thinning forests in southwestern Colorado, and in some cases, wiping out huge stands of mature trees. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Between mountain pine beetles, sudden aspen decline, spruce beetles and ips beetles that attacked southwest Colorado piñon pines in early 2000s, a significant chunk of the state’s forests have changed significantly in the past decade.
But climate change is also driving more subtle changes in forests around the country, and on the ground, those changes may not be as easy to see as a stand of dead lodgepoles.
Using satellite images, to track vegetation patterns, NASA scientists say warmer temperatures and changes in precipitation have resulted in a significant decline in forest canopy cover.The changes were most striking in the mid-Atlantic region, where the researchers estimate that 40 percent forests have been affected. (more…)
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: climate change, forest decline, forests, NASA | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 26, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Top officials warn of negative impacts to gateway communities
Colorado National Monument could be hit by federal budget cuts under the sequester.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Visits to national parks in the U.S. climbed to 282 million in 2012, up 3.8 million from the previous year, top federal officials said this week, highlighting the role of parks tourism as an economic engine as they released the results of an annual analysis that details the financial contribution of parks to local communities.
According to the report, most visitor spending supports jobs in lodging, food, and beverage service (63 percent) followed by recreation and entertainment (17 percent), other retail (11 percent), transportation and fuel (7 percent), and wholesale and manufacturing (2 percent).
But Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and NPS director Jon Jarvis said that role is threatened by looming budget cuts that would delay openings at some parks and possible even curtail access based on concerns about public safety. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, economy, national parks, public lands, Uncategorized | Tagged: federal budget, Ken Salazar, national park budget cuts, National Park Service, sequester | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 21, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Seeing in black and white
Lone tree on Ute Pass.
FRISCO — As always, to honor Ansel Adams’ birthday, I tried to find a few shots in the archives that say something in black and white in homage to a man who not only made beautiful pictures, he also gave photography a social and environmental context.
It’s easy to get caught up in flashy colors, but a little harder for me to create an image by seeing lines, textures, balance, and most of all just pure light, and that’s what processing into black and white makes me do. It also helps me understand if an image was exposed properly to begin with.
For example, the top shot in this series was very early in the morning and the overall light was a bit washed out. I’m not completely happy with the shot, but the striking tree silhouette was strong enough to overcome some of the other weaknesses in the frame (for my taste). But the next shot (the seascape image below) has that full range of tonalities that I want when I render an image in black and white, including the almost luminous foam.
Feel free to share some of your own favorite black and white shots on the Summit Voice Facebook page. I’d love to feature some of them in a guest post.
The golden hour is the golden hour for black and white, too. This image was taken just a minute before the sun set at Pt. Montara, California.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: Ansel Adams, art, Black-and-white, Happy Birthday Ansel Adams, photography | 2 Comments »