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 April 24, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Air pollution is a growing concern at Devils Postpile National Monument, near Mammoth Lakes, California. Photo courtesy National Park Service.
Wildfires, industrial sources contribute to ozone problems in the Eastern Sierra Nevada
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Devils Postpile National Monument in the eastern Sierra Nevada is about as far as you can get from California’s industrial urban centers, yet air quality at the site has suffered in recent years as pollution blows in from other parts of the state, according to a new U.S. Forest Service-led study.
The monument, near the resort town of Mammoth Lakes, features one of the best examples of columnar basalt formations and is also a gateway to High Sierra wilderness areas bordering on Yosemite National Park.
Ozone precursors (nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds) from wildland fires, as well as ozone from the Bay Area and Central Valley resulted in exceedances of federal air quality standards, as well as state air quality standards during the 2007-2008 study period, at levels that pose a risk to sensitive individuals and indicate a need for long-term ozone monitoring. (more…)
Filed under: air quality, Environment, national parks, public lands, US Forest Service | Tagged: air pollution, California, Devils Postpile National Monument, Environment, ozone, U.S. Forest Service | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 19, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A rare sea slug may be poised to return to California coastal waters. Photo courtesy Kenneth Kopp.
Marine researchers in California tracking colorful ocean critter
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Four decades after pollution and over-collecting all but wiped out a colorful sea slug in California coastal water, marine researchers at UC Santa Barbara say the species could be staging a comeback.
The vivid blue and gold nudibranch Felimare californiensis was discovered by UC zoologists in 1901, making it a favorite of of UC marine scientists and students. But while it held a special place in their hearts, it lost its place in local waters, which once included La Jolla, Corona del Mar, Malibu, and Santa Barbara, as well as all but the two westernmost Channel Islands. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology, biodiversity, ocean conservation | Tagged: marine biology, oceans, University of California Santa Barbara, California, Marine Science Institute, sea slug | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 28, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Candidate status under the state’s endangered species act bans any take
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Just a few decades after Jaws, there’s been a sea change in public attitudes about sharks, as people recognize the importance of the ocean’s apex predators.
Along with other recent shark conservation measures, the shift is reflected by the efforts to list great white sharks under the California Endangered Species Act. Starting March 1, great whites will have additional protection as a candidate species under the act.
While there is still some scientific debate about whether California’s great whites need protection, the California Fish and Game Commission has ruled that the sharks may be warranted for listing and will get all the protection of the act until a final listing decision is made. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: California, endangered species, endangered species act, great white sharks, marine conservation, oceans | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 10, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Conservation advocates protest coyote-killing contest
A coyote in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy USGS.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Animal welfare and wildlife conservation advocates have turned their attention to a bloodthirsty coyote-killing contest in northern California, where a local sheriff said he won’t enforce federal laws and apparently even justified the violation of those laws.
At issue is the Coyote Drive 13, an old-school predator slaughter that could potentially endanger other species, including a lone wolf that wandered into California last year.
“The concept of making a contest out of killing wildlife is ethically indefensible and suggests that wildlife have no value other than as live targets in an outdoor shooting gallery,” said Camilla Fox, Project Coyote executive director and a wildlife consultant to the Animal Welfare Institute. “We intend to work with state officials to put an end to such gratuitous slaughter of wildlife as part of a contest to win prizes.” (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, wildlife | Tagged: Animal welfare, California, Coyote Drive 13, coyotes, Modoc County, wildlife | 4 Comments »
Posted on February 6, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
In the land of giants …
FRISCO — Almost within shouting distance of the Bay Area metropolis, an ancient grove of trees stands homage to John Muir, one of the fathers of the American conservation movement. Some of the trees are more than 1,000 years old, which means they were already giants when Sir Francis Drake explored the nearby Pacific coastline. The Muir Woods are a classic story of conservation activism, backed by philanthropy, as a local family bought the land when the forests were threatened by loggers, later conveying it to the National Park Service. On our weekend visit, the grove was bustling with visitors, even on Super Bowl Sunday.
The redwoods aren’t exactly easy to photograph. They are tall, to say the least, and even with a wide-angle lens, it’s nearly impossible to capture them from top to bottom. And since they grow in cool, dark places, the light is tricky — deep shadows interspersed with bright patches of sunlight. I’m not totally satisfied with images I came back with, but that’s OK; it gives me a good reason to go back. (more…)
Filed under: California, Environment, forests, Morning photo, photography, Travel | Tagged: California, forests, Muir Woods, photography, Redwoods, Travel | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 5, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
West Coast …
The Pt. Montara Lighthouse and Fog Signal Station, 20 miles south of San Francisco, is now an international youth hostel operated by Hostelling International.
FRISCO —A short weekend trip to the Bay Area yielded a handful of classic West Coast images, with ocean mists softening the light, and a blanket of atmospheric haze and pollution adding color to the sunsets. There’s a reason the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most-photographed scenes in the country. The magnificent span is one of those rare human structures that arguably enhances the surrounding landscape (or seascape). It’s almost hard to imagine what the entrance to San Francisco Bay looked like before the bridge was built 75 years ago, and looking at historical pictures, the inlet looks almost naked without it. (more…)
Filed under: California, Travel | Tagged: Bay Area, California, Golden Gate Bridge, photography, San Francisco, Travel | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 9, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Coastal observatories in California will measure low-level winds and moisture to generate better forecasts
A NOAA weather graphic shows an atmospheric river streaming across the Pacific to the central California coast.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — To get a better handle on the impacts of incoming “atmospheric rivers,” scientists are installing specialized new coastal observatories at Bodega Bay, Eureka, Pt. Sur and Goleta, California.
The coastal weather stations will measure low altitude winds and the amount of moisture moving ashore — key data that will help forecasters pinpoint how much precipitation is likely to fall during an atmospheric river event.
“California needs to know how and where it might rain or snow, when and where to expect flooding,” said Michael Anderson, Ph.D., state climatologist with the California Department of Water Resources. “The observatories will also help state officials and scientists monitor changes in atmospheric rivers associated with climate change.” (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment | Tagged: atmospheric rivers, California, climate, NOAA, Pacific Ocean, Weather forecasting | Leave a Comment »
Posted on December 5, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A layer of marine fog hugs the coastline at San Francisco Bay in this satellite image from the NASA Earth Observatory project. Click on the image to visit the NASA site.
Fog dripping from coastal plants can deposit significant amounts of mercury in the soil
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Toxic heavy metals are known for their persistence in the ecosphere, with substances like mercury accumulating in to sometimes dangerous levels in parts of the food chain.
In a new study, UC Santa Cruz researchers have tried to determine the source of mercury in California’s coastal fog, and say that it may be coming from the upwelling of deep ocean water along the coast.
Lead researcher Peter Weiss-Penzias, an environmental toxicologist, said the elevated levels of mercury are not a human health concern, but the fog does ultimately deposit significant amounts of mercury on land as it condenses and drips off coastal vegetation.
“These are parts-per-trillion levels, so when we say elevated, that’s relative to what was expected in atmospheric water,” Weiss-Penzias said. “The levels measured in rain have always been fairly low, so the results from our first measurements in fog were surprising.” (more…)
Filed under: air quality, Environment | Tagged: California, coastal fog, Environment, Mercury | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 8, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Corals, rockfish and sponges found at unprecedented depths
Black coral (Antipathes species) with a rosy rockfish in it on “Cochrane Bank,” -95 meters depth, 9.5° Celsius. This coral is two meters across and suspected to be at least 100 years old. The coral had many crabs and juvenile fish living in it. The stems/skeletons of black corals are black, but the living tissue is usually orange or white. Photo courtesy NOAA.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The foggy wave-torn coast of northern California may not seem like a haven for coral at first glance, but NOAA researchers say they’ve recently discovered a treasure trove of new deep sea habitats in the Gulf of Farallones Sanctuary, not far from San Francisco.
The area is a melting pot for deep sea corals, sponges, rockfish, and other species.
A partnership of federal and independent scientists found the rocky reef habitats in October in an area at depths of up to 457 meters, where such corals and sponges had not been seen before. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, Marine biology, ocean conservation | Tagged: biodiversity, black coral, California, California Academy of Sciences, Farallon Islands, Farallones Sanctuary, Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, marine biology, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, oceans | Leave a Comment »