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Study: Toxic stream pollution from road salt doubles

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Pollution from road salt is increasing quickly, a new USGS study found.

EPA standards for chloride exceeded at one in three sampling sites

Staff Report

FRISCO — Many streams in the northern U.S. are polluted to toxic levels by salt deicers, the U.S. Geological Survey said in a new study that found the frequency of these occurrences nearly doubling in two decades.

Chloride levels increased substantially in 84 percent of the urban streams analyzed, the researchers said, using data going back to 1960 and ending as recently as 2011. Continue reading

Environment: Tuesday roundup

Independent journalism in western Colorado

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Big issues at the climate talks in Lima, Peru.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — If you primarily read this Summit Voice feed, which has been climate focused recently, you may have missed a few other recent stories I’ve done for the Colorado Independent. The past couple of weeks I’ve  covered issues in western Colorado, including fossil fuel development, public lands protection and even the ski industry from time to time, including this week’s story about a Colorado Supreme Court case. Continue reading

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Climate: Will 2014 end up as the warmest year ever for planet Earth?

Hot all over …

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A few cool spots, but plenty of global warmth in November.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Average November global temperatures eased slightly from the record pace of the previous two months, but still ended up as the seventh-warmest on record, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. Continue reading

Study: Global warming likely to help invasive species gain the upper hand in wetlands

Colorado wetlands

 Meadow Creek wetlands, Frisco, Colorado.

‘Death by a thousand cuts’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Invasive wetlands species are likely to get a boost from climate change, resulting in long-term threats to key native ecosystems, according to new research from Duke University.

“Changing surface-water temperatures, rainfall patterns and river flows will likely give Japanese knotweed, hydrilla, honeysuckle, privet and other noxious invasive species an edge over less adaptable native species,” said Neal E. Flanagan, visiting assistant professor at the Duke Wetland Center, who led the research. Continue reading

Humble fungi may aid whitebark pine recovery

PHOTO COURTESY USFS/RICHARD SNIEZKO

Can mushrooms help save whitebark pines? Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

Scientists report success in treating seedlings with mushroom spores

Staff Report

FRISCO — High-elevation whitebark pines are under the gun in the northern Rockies. White pine blister rust, an invasive fungus, and pine beetles have combined to drive the species toward extinction.

But scientists trying to recover the species say that a humble mushroom could help their efforts. A three-year experiment shows a 10 to 15 percent increase in the survival rate of whitebark pine seedlings when Siberian slippery jack spores are injected into the soil around them. The injection takes place in nurseries before the seedlings are transplanted in the mountains. Continue reading

Study pinpoints threats to Mediterranean dolphins

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Can Mediterranean dolphins survive the rising tide of tourism? bberwyn photo.

Pollution, boat strikes contribute to decline of Balearic population

Staff Report

FRISCO — Growing tourism, fishing, pollution and general marine traffic is threatening a small population of bottlenose dolphins living in coastal waters off the Pityusic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, according to a study led by University of Barcelona researchers.

The biologists said they were able for the first time to get an accurate population count of the dolphins during spring and summer, crucial seasons for the marine mammals. Continue reading

Environment: “Microplastics are everywhere’

The five major ocean gyres.

The five major ocean gyres.

Plastic waste infiltrating many ocean ecosystems

Staff Report

FRISCO — Plastic pollution is far more widespread and prevalent in all the world’s oceans than more previously believed.  Far from being contained in several well-known ocean garbage patches, those “gyres” are acting like shredders, breaking the pollution in smaller bits that are subsequently transported far and wide.

“When the 5 Gyres Institute formed in 2008, we set out to answer a basic question: how much plastic is out there?” said the group’s research director, Dr. Marcus Eriksen. “There was no data from the Southern Hemisphere, Western Pacific or Eastern Atlantic. We’ve found microplastic ocean pollution, in varying concentrations, everywhere in the world.” Continue reading

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