About these ads

Environment: New mapping project traces global forest degradation

Spruce beetle populations are surging in the southern Rocky Mountains.

Spruce beetle populations are surging in the southern Rocky Mountains.

Conservation advocates say more protection needed to protect critical ecosystem services

Staff Report

FRISCO — Forest degradation continues unchecked in many parts of the world and especially in the northern hemisphere boreal forest belt in Canada, Russia and Alaska, conservation advocates said this week, unveiling new maps showing forest impacts across more than 100 million hectares — an are three times the size of Germany.

Just since 2000, about 8 percent of the world’s remaining intact forest landscapes have been subject to some type of degradation from human activities, including logging and energy development.

The Greenpeace GIS Laboratory, the University of Maryland and Transparent World, in collaboration with the World Resources Institute and WWF-Russia, used satellite technology to determine the location and extent of the world’s last remaining large undisturbed forests, important harbors for biodiversity that are still unaffected by logging and infrastructure such as roads, mining and oil or gas development. Continue reading

About these ads

New mapping traces origins of ocean debris

Ocean boundaries redefined

Patches of plastic debris accumulate where they are concentrated by ocean currents.

Patches of plastic debris accumulate where they are concentrated by ocean currents.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Shredded bits of plastic now outweigh plankton in parts of the Pacific Ocean, posing a growing risk to to fish, turtles and birds that eat the trash. Efforts to limit the debris haven’t progressed much in the past few years, but new modeling of ocean currents may help researchers determine exactly where the waste is coming from.

“In some cases, you can have a country far away from a garbage patch that’s unexpectedly contributing directly to the patch,” said Gary Froyland, a mathematician at Australia’s University of New South Wales.

For example, the ocean debris from Madagascar and Mozambique would most likely flow into the south Atlantic, even though the two countries’ coastlines border the Indian Ocean. Continue reading

Loss of northern hemisphere spring snow cover likely to amplifiy overall global warming signal

fgdh

More midwinter snow, but faster spring meltout seems to be the new climate norm in the northern hemisphere.

‘As shifts in the timing of meltout occur, we lose an important and relatively stable snowpack reservoir …’

FRISCO —Dwindling spring snow cover in the northern hemisphere could accelerate the pace of global warming, as darker-colored ground emerges earlier in the year, absorbing more of the sun’s heat and intensifying atmospheric warming.

The spring decline is evident despite a trend toward more snow in mid-winter — but June snowcover in the northern hemisphere has been below average 10 years in a row. The downward trend is mainly due to warmer temperatures, not to any big changes in overall precipitation totals, according to the most recent IPCC climate assessment. Continue reading

Are New Mexico forests holding steady in the face of climate change, drought and wildfires?

New inventory assesses state’s woodland resources
f

STAFF REPORT

FRISCO — Mortality is increasing and growth is slowing down in New Mexico’s forest lands, according to a new forest inventory released in late August. The only species showing overall growth are ponderosa and piñon pines, as well as junipers, as insects, wildfires drought and disease take an increasing toll on the state’s woodlands.

Forests grow on about 25 million acres in New Mexico, with 44 percent on private lands and 31 percent on national forest lands. About 40 percent (10.8 million acres) of the forests are piñon-juniper woodlands, by far the state’s most extensive forest type. Gambel oak is the most abundant tree species by number of trees, and ponderosa pine is the most abundant by volume or biomass. Overall, researchers estimate there are more than 6 billion live trees growing in the state.

The inventory documented the drought-induced piñon pine die-off in the early 2000s, estimating that about 8 percent the species died, but noted that the mortality rate has tapered off.New Mexico’s aspen forests, covering about 380,000 acres, held steady in the past decade. Continue reading

Greenhouse gases from food production threaten climate targets

Taking a lunch break during a search for orchids in the Austrian countryside.

Taking a lunch break during a search for orchids in the Austrian countryside.

‘Agricultural practices are not necessarily at fault here – but our choice of food is’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Forget about greenhouse gas pollution from factories and transportation — by 2050 emissions of carbon dioxide and methane from food production alone could exceed targets set to prevent catastrophic global warming, University of Cambridge scientists warn in a new paper.

A major shift in food consumption norms has to be a big part of an overall plan to cut atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping air pollution, especially given the current trend toward meat-heavy Western diets, the authors wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change. Continue reading

Climate study shows how melting ice is raising sea level around Antarctica

‘The interaction between air, sea and ice in these seas is central to the stability of the Antarctic Ice Sheet and global sea levels’

kjh

A new study tracks global warming impacts around Antarctica. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Global warming is upsetting the delicate balance between Antarctic ice, air and sea, University of Southampton scientists said this week, releasing results of a study showing a rapid rise in sea level around the frozen continent.

Based on an analysis of 19 years worth of satellite data, the researcher said sea level around the coast of Antarctica has climbed 2 centimeters more than the global average, driven almost entirely by an increase in freshwater, which is less dense than saltwater. That can cause localized increases in sea level, said Craig Rye, lead author of the paper published in the journal Nature Geoscience. Continue reading

Environment: New California fracking report leads to more questions than answers

jh

A fracking operation in Colorado. bberwyn photo.

Some conclusions flawed by lack of adequate data, environmental advocates say,

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The battle over fracking probably won’t die down until humankind slurps up the last of the planet’s fossil fuel resources, and a new report by a California agency probably will intensify the debate.

The short-term study shows that fracking could threaten California ground water and pose human health risks, but was characterized as incomplete by environmental groups, who said it’s based on just a few months of data with big information gaps resulting from lack of complete reporting by state regulators. Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,477 other followers