Posted on June 4, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Rapid deglaciation has the potential to affect fundamental ocean chemistry, with as-yet unknown impacts to marine ecosystems.
Paleoclimate study shows similar changes at the end of the last ice age
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with ocean acidification, research is also showing that global warming may affect fundamental ocean chemistry by disrupting the nitrogen cycle and creating oxygen-poor marine regions. The impacts could reach to base of the food chain, by starving nitrogen-hungry algae and phytoplankton.
As ice sheets melted at the end of the last ice age and global oceans warmed, oceanic oxygen levels decreased and “denitrification” accelerated by 30 to 120 percent. Eventually, oceans had adjusted to their new warmer state and the nitrogen cycle stabilized — though it took several millennia. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Denitrification, Nature Geoscience, nitrogen cycle, Oregon State University | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 21, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Even some ‘pristine’ streams show signs of human impacts
New research helps shed light on long-term nutrient level changes. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Nitrates are increasing even in some pristine forest streams in the mountain West and the South, while declining in the Pacific Northwest, in the Northeast, and in Puerto Rico, according to a new study led by Oregon State University researchers.
The long-term data from the Forest Service Experimental Forest and Range network, a system of 80 locations across the country. Many of the sites have long-term monitoring programs and data sets spanning decades and so provide unique opportunities to evaluate long-term trends. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Environment, nitrates, nutrients, Oregon State University, rivers, United States Forest Service, water, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 1, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Snow-fed rivers likely to see biggest impacts
The mouth of the Klamath River in northern California. Photo courtesy Corps of Engineers.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — As regional climate models improve, scientists in various disciplines have been able to fine-tune their projections of impacts to various ecosystems, including rivers. The Southwest is likely to get especially hard, with some studies showing a steep drop in Colorado River flows.
In other parts of the country, including the Pacific Northwest, the impacts will probably be more nuanced, with the biggest impacts on summer stream flows in basins fed by melting snow and ice in the high Cascades, according to study by scientists at Oregon State University.
Though these iconic rivers – including the Willamette, McKenzie, Deschutes, Klamath and Rogue – appear to have plenty of water, they also may be among the most sensitive to climate change, the study concludes. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming, rivers, water | Tagged: climate change, Environment, global warming, Oregon State University, Pacific Northwest, rivers, water | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 3, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Longer growing seasons enabling seedlings to take hold
Some mountain meadows in the American West may disappear, as trees start to take root due to shorter winters and warmer temperatures. Bob Berwyn photo.
FRISCO — As the Earth steadily warms, snowpacks are dwindling, especially in spring, leading to a longer growing season that enables trees to replace grasses and wildflowers by taking root in high mountain meadows.
A new study by Oregon State University researchers suggests the tree invasion has been accelerating the past few decades, at least in the Pacific Northwest, where the scientists reported the results of a long-term monitoring project in Jefferson Park, a subalpine meadow complex in the central Oregon Cascade Range, where tree occupation rose from 8 percent in 1950 to 35 percent in 2007.
“We worry a lot about the loss of old-growth forests, but have overlooked declines in our meadows, which are also areas of conservation concern,” said Harold Zald, a research associate in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University and lead author of this study. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming, seasons, Snow and weather | Tagged: climate, climate change, Environment, forests, global warming, Landscape Ecology, Mount Jefferson, Oregon State University, subalpine meadows | 1 Comment »
Posted on September 2, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
New facility may help establish baseline tech and environmental data
Wave energy may be coming into its own.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The unrelenting energy of ocean waves has the potential to generate large and sustainable amounts of electricity, but the technology to harness that energy is still in its infancy.
But researchers hope to get a better handle on how to convert the motion of waves into usable power after studying the The Ocean Sentinel, a $1.5 million device developed by the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center at Oregon State University.
The Ocean Sentinel, which started operating in late August off the coast of Newport, Oregon, is one of the first public wave energy testing systems in the United State. It will enable industry and academic researchers to test new technology that may help advance this promising form of sustainable energy. (more…)
Filed under: energy, Environment, renewable energy | Tagged: Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center, Oregon State University, renewable energy, wave energy, Wave power | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 4, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Parts of the Cascadia subduction zone may be overdue for a large earthquake. Map courtesy USGS.
New research documents timeline of Pacific Northwest fault activity
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Pacific Northwest could be due for a monster earthquake sometime in the next 50 years, with Oregon’s southern coast pinpointed as the most vulnerable area, according to Oregon State University researchers who recently finished studying the pattern of historical quakes in the region.
The comprehensive analysis of the Cascadia Subduction Zone confirms numerous earthquakes during the past 10,000 years and estimates that a new quake could approach the intensity of the Tohoku quake that devastated Japan in March 2011.
“The southern margin of Cascadia has a much higher recurrence level for major earthquakes than the northern end and, frankly, it is overdue for a rupture,” said Chris Goldfinger, a professor in OSU’s College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and lead author of the study. “That doesn’t mean that an earthquake couldn’t strike first along the northern half, from Newport, Ore., to Vancouver Island. (more…)
Filed under: world news | Tagged: Cascadia subduction zone, earthquakes, Oregon, Oregon State University, Pacific Northwest | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 30, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
New study suggests grim changes ahead
Western drought from 2000 to 2004 killed trees and affected net carbon balance, and those conditions could become the new norm during the 21st century.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Long-term climate trends suggest that drought will become much more common across the West in the coming century, potentially redefining our definitions of wet and dry years, according to a recent paper published in Nature Geoscience.
The study started by looking at the chronic drought that hit western North America from 2000 to 2004, which was the most intense dry spell in about 800 years, according to tree-ring records. That multi-year drought helped propel the pine beetle epidemic to epic proportions and left many river basins depleted, but the researcher said those conditions could become the new norm for most of the coming century.
“Climatic extremes such as this will cause more large-scale droughts and forest mortality, and the ability of vegetation to sequester carbon is going to decline,” said Beverly Law, a co-author of the study, professor of global change biology and terrestrial systems science in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, and former science director of AmeriFlux, an ecosystem observation network. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, Environment, global warming | Tagged: carbon sequestration, climate, drought, Environment, global warming, Oregon State University, San Diego State University | 10 Comments »
Posted on June 3, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Study says nurturing healthy forests does more to curb global warming
Healthy, growing forests are good carbon sinks; converting woody biomass to energy results in a carbon debt that takes 100 years to repay.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — While some logging advocates continue to talk up forest biomass as a green energy source, there’s good reason it isn’t happening on a significant scale. Cutting wood and burning live trees, in whatever form, is just not energy efficient, except perhaps on a modest scale with low-frequency harvests every 50 to 100 years — or on a small, local level, where already dead wood is converted fuel on the spot.
In one of the most recent studies, researchers at Duke and Oregon State universities concluded that maintaining intact forests as carbon sinks does more to curb climate change over the next century than cutting and burning their wood as fuel.
After modeling numerous harvesting and conversion scenarios, the study concluded that it takes more 100 years to repay the carbon debt — the net reduction in carbon storage — incurred by cutting, transporting and burning woody forest biomass. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, climate and weather, Colorado, energy, Environment, Forest health, global warming | Tagged: bioenergy, forests, Fossil fuel, Greenhouse gas, Nicholas School of the Environment, Oregon State University, woody biomass | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 2, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
A white peacock butterfly in Florida’s Big Cypress National Preserve. PHOTO COURTESY TRACY ENRIGHT/US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.
Researchers try to pinpoint which species might be better able to adapt to global warming
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Global warming is expected to result in localized extinctions of up to one-third of all butterfly species, but others may be better equipped to adapt to a changing climate.
A recently published study concluded that butterflies which tend to emerge later in the year or fly higher in the mountains are probably more vulnerable becayse they have evolved to deal with a shorter window of opportunity to reproduce.
The findings have implications beyond just the survival of individual butterfly species, since their absence or presence has effects on pollination and other functions of herbaceous ecosystems. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, climate and weather, endangered species, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Butterfly, climate, climate change, global warming, Oregon State University | 5 Comments »