Posted on April 12, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Social scientists to probe homeowner behavior in the red zone
Social scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder want to find the most effective ways to encourage homeowners to reduce wildfire risk on their property. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A pair of University of Colorado Boulder social science researchers will use a $298,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to try and determine what sort of information shapes homeowner behavior in fire-prone areas on Colorado’s Western Slope.
In the past 10 years, the social and economic costs of wildfires have soared across the country, and especially in the West. As wildfire hazards increase, mitigating risks on individual properties is of paramount importance.
Starting with the premise that each household’s actions can affect the choices of neighbors, the researchers want to explore two pathways linking homeowners’ choices as they relate to awareness about risk interdependency and social norms. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, Environment, forests, global warming, wildfires | Tagged: Colorado, CU Boulder, wildfire mitigation, Wildfires | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Biodiverse amphibian communities are more resistant to parasitic infections.
Study shows diverse ecosystems are less susceptible to infectious diseases
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Biodiversity is a big environmental buzzword these days, but healthy ecosystems with a full range of species have value beyond just existing for their own sake. A new CU-Boulder study suggests that a wide range of amphibian species living in a pond helps protect the entire ecological community against a parasitic infection that can cause severe deformities, including the growth of extra legs.
The findings, published Feb. 14 in the journal Nature, support the idea that greater biodiversity in larger-scale ecosystems, such as forests or grasslands, may also provide greater protection against diseases, including those that attack humans. For example, a larger number of mammal species in an area may curb cases of Lyme disease, while a larger number of bird species may slow the spread of West Nile virus.
“How biodiversity affects the risk of infectious diseases, including those of humans and wildlife, has become an increasingly important question,” said Pieter Johnson, an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and lead author of the study. “But as it turns out, solidly testing these linkages with realistic experiments has proven very challenging in most systems.” (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Colorado, Environment, Uncategorized | Tagged: biodiversity, California Tiger Salamander, CU Boulder, Ribeiroia ondatrae, West Nile virus | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Nature mitigates its own impacts
Young trees and brush are increasing their nitrogen uptake in the wake of the pine beetle infestation, helping to minimize impacts to water quality. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Early fears that the bark beetle epidemic could degrade water quality are proving unfounded, according to CU-Boulder scientists, who said smaller trees and undergrowth that survive the epidemic have increased their uptake of nitrogen as the older trees die.
While logging or damaging storms can drive stream nitrate concentrations up by 400 percent for multiple years, the team found no significant increase in the nitrate concentrations following extensive pine beetle tree mortality in a number of Colorado study areas, according to CU-Boulder Professor William Lewis. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles | Tagged: Colorado, CU Boulder, Environment, forests, pine beetles, water quality | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 19, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Research project explores cryptobiotic soil restoration
Cryptobiotic soil in southeastern Utah. Photo courtesy USGS.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Led by University of Colorado researchers, scientists from around the country are teaming up to see if they can help restore damaged desert soils by growing biological soil crusts in a lab, then transplanting them to areas that have been damaged by military exercises and other activities.
The research could provide some clues as to how make desert ecosystems more resilient to climate change, and also has public health implications, since since the disturbance of biocrusts can trigger the release of significant amounts of atmospheric dust, a dominant pollutant in some desert metropolitan areas.
Fragile cryptobiotic soil plays a crucial role crucial in some desert ecosystems by preserving moisture, reducing erosion and fixing nitrogen. The crusts are extremely fragile — even just a footprint can disturb the organisms, and it can decades for the damage to heal. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, BLM, Environment, public lands | Tagged: cryptobiotic soil, CU Boulder, deserts, Environment, Nichole Barger | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 1, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Researchers say they don’t expect the trend shows Earth’s carbon cycle is out of balance
A CU Boulder study offers some surprising conclusions on the global carbon cycle.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A new study by University of Colorado scientists suggests that the world’s oceans and forests have doubled their carbon uptake in the past 50 years, lessening the impact of greenhouse gases on the planet’s climate.
The study was led by CU-Boulder postdoctoral researcher Ashley Ballantyne, who looked at global CO2 emissions reports from the past 50 years and compared them with rising levels of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere during that time, primarily because of fossil fuel burning.
“What we are seeing is that the Earth continues to do the heavy lifting by taking up huge amounts of carbon dioxide, even while humans have done very little to reduce carbon emissions,” said Ballantyne. “How long this will continue, we don’t know.” (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, global warming | Tagged: carbon cycle, carbon sinks, carbon uptake, climate, CU Boulder, global warming | 4 Comments »
Posted on January 26, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
CU Boulder researchers lead effort to study changes in the Arctic sea ice
NASA satellite images show the state of Arctic ice from a distance, but a new two-year research efforts should yield more clues about global warming impacts to the planet's icebox.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A research effort led by the University of Colorado Boulder is launching a two-year study of Arctic sea ice to determine whether areas like the Beaufort Sea and the adjacent Canada Basin have passed a ‘tipping point’ and now are essentially sub-Arctic zones where ice disappears each summer.
Such ice loss could be causing fundamental changes in ocean conditions, including earlier annual blooms of phytoplankton, which are microscopic plant-like organisms that drive the marine food web.
The team will use unmanned aircraft and satellites to ocean buoys in order to understand the characteristics and changes in Arctic sea ice, which was at 1.67 million square miles during September 2011, more than 1 million square miles below the 1979-2000 monthly average sea ice extent for September — an area larger than Texas and California combined. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming, Summit County news | Tagged: Arctic Ocean, Arctic sea ice, climate change, CU Boulder, global warming, NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Polar ice packs | 3 Comments »