Posted on November 30, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A diverse coral reef in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Photo by Caroline Rogers/USGS.
‘We’re desperately trying to save what’s left, and cleaning up the water may be one mechanism that has the most promise …’
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — By setting up a long-term, controlled exposure experiment in Florida, researchers were able to pin down the impact of nutrient overloads and separate them from other possible causes of coral reef decline.
The three-year study, confirmed what scientists have long suspected — pollution from sewage, agricultural runoff and other land-based sources can lead to coral disease and bleaching.
The results showed that the prevalence of disease doubled and the amount of coral bleaching, an early sign of stress, more than tripled. However, the study also found that once the injection of pollutants was stopped, the corals were able to recover in a surprisingly short time. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment | Tagged: coral reefs, Environment, Florida Keys, nutrient pollution, oceans, Oregon State University | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 26, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Columbia River study shows potential benefits of stored water
This image from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) shows snowcover for the Columbia River Basin in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, taken on February 24, 2003 (250 meter resolution). Credit: Jeff Schmaltz MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — For all the environmental mayhem they’ve caused in the past, dams may help buffer some aquatic ecosystems from future global warming impacts, according to a new study from Oregon State University.
Specifically, the researchers said dams could provide “ecological and engineering resilience” to climate change in the Columbia River basin.
“The dams are doing what they are supposed to do, which is to use engineering – and management – to buffer us from climate variability and climate warming,” said Julia Jones, an Oregon State University hydrologist and co-author on the study. “The climate change signals that people have expected in stream flow haven’t been evident in the Columbia River basin because of the dams and reservoir management. That may not be the case elsewhere, however.” Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming, rivers, water | Tagged: aquatic ecosystems, Columbia River, dams, global warming, Oregon State University | 1 Comment »
Posted on August 28, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
More proof that apex predators are critical to their ecosystems
Grizzly bears in the Yellowstone ecosystem may be benefiting from the presence of wolves, according to a new study. Photo courtesy ChrisServheen/USFWS.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — There’s no question that top predators have profound impacts on their ecosystems, but sometimes those relationships play out in unexpected ways. New research by scientists from Oregon State University and Washington State University has documented how the return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park is helping grizzly bears.
By studying what bears eat, and how wolves affect the behavior of other animals, the biologists found that the return of the wolves is helping to restore a key part of the diet of grizzly bears that has been missing for much of the past century — berries that help bears put on fat before going into hibernation. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: apex predators, grizzly bears, Oregon State University, Washington State University, wild berries, wolves, Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 9, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Warming climate increases moisture stress, making it tougher for seedlings to take hold and grow
Global warming is likely to be a factor in forest regeneration after wildfires. This is the East Peak Fire, burning in June, 2013, on the east slopes of the Spanish Peaks above Walsenburg, Colorado. Photo courtesy Don Degman/Inciweb.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A warming climate in the West may slow or, or even stop, conifer forest regeneration in drier, low-elevation areas after big forest fires. In some cases, they may never grow back, instead converting to shrub and grasslands, according a new Oregon State University study.
The researchers concluded that moisture stress is a key limitation for conifer regeneration following stand-replacing wildfire. Both wildfires and more dryness are projected for big parts of the West by most climate models. This will make post-fire recovery on dry sites slow and uncertain. If forests are desired in these locations, more aggressive attempts at reforestation may be needed, they said. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, global warming | Tagged: climate, Forest Ecology and Management, Forest health, forests, global warming, Oregon State University, Western United States | 1 Comment »
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Filed under: world news | Tagged: Cascadia subduction zone, earthquakes, Oregon, Oregon State University, Pacific Northwest | Leave a comment »