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 26, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Northern spotted owl. Photo courtesy USFS.
Latest critical habitat designation reverses politically tainted Bush-era plan
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Nearly four years after President Barack Obama took office, federal agencies are still trying to undo some of the environmental mischief from the Bush era. Last week, for example, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated more than 9 million acres of critical habitat for threatened northern spotted owls.
The designation, spread across federal lands in Washington, Oregon and Northern California, replaces a 2008 designation by the Bush administration that ignored years of scientific evidence showing that spotted owls in the Pacific Northwest needed more, not less, old-growth forest habitat protection.
The Bush-era critical habitat designation was based on a recovery plan for the owl that was widely criticized by the scientific community. Congressional hearings later showed that the plan was shaped by political interference designed to undermine the protective measures of the Northwest Forest Plan.
Conservation groups, represented by Earthjustice, challenged the 2008 plan, resulting in last week’s designation, which is a substantial increase from both previous designations. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, federal government, forests, public lands | Tagged: biodiversity, Center for Biological Diversity, Earthjustice, endangered species, northern spotted owl, Northwest Forest Plan, Pacific Northwest, United States Fish and Wildlife Service | 2 Comments »
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 June 7, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
New study suggests shipping traffic a smaller factor
A pod of orcas in the Pacific. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —Recovering Chinook salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest is probably the key to killer whale conservation efforts, according to new research based on measurements of hormone levels in the marine mammals.
The southern resident killer whales, living in coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest, have been struggling and some researchers think it’s primarily because of increase ship traffic in the region.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, they are also threatened by pollution and other human activities in many parts of their range.
But new research suggests the marine mammals are struggling mainly because of inadequate prey.The study was led led by Katherine Ayres, who completed the work while at University of Washington in Seattle. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, endangered species, Environment, Marine biology | Tagged: Chinook salmon, Katherine Ayres, killer whales, Orcas, Pacific Northwest, southern resident killer whales | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 9, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Cultural shift needed to ensure safety of coastal residents
Tsunami flooding on the Sendai Airport runway. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. AIR FORCE.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The one-year anniversary of the devastating tsunami in Japan offers some sobering lessons for parts of the U.S. that could one day face a similar disaster.
The fact that 90 percent of the coastal region’s residents and visitors evacuated effectively is a tribute to planning and community drills, said Patrick Corcoran, an Oregon State University education and outreach specialist, who just returned from a disaster symposium at United Nations University in Japan.
If the same magnitude earthquake and tsunami hits the Pacific Northwest, the death toll will be much higher because of the lack of comparable preparation, he said. That 90 percent rate could be the number of victims, not survivors. (more…)
Filed under: world news | Tagged: 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, Japan, Japan tsunami anniversary, Oregon, Oregon State University, Pacific Northwest | 3 Comments »
Posted on March 1, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Changing climate shrinks habitat for iconic western trees
Lodgepole pine may disappear from much of the western landscape within the next 100 years.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Lodgepole pines may not only be down from the pinebeetle epidemic, it may be out, thanks to global warming, which is rapidly shrinking suitable habitat for the iconic Western tree.
The hardy pine, which thrives in harsh mountain climates, may disappear from most of the Pacific Northwest by 2080 and is likely to survive in only 17 percent of it current range in the West, according to new research by scientists from the College of Forestry at Oregon State University and the Department of Forest Resource Management at the University of British Columbia.
The study, just published in the journal Climatic Change, was based on an analysis of 12,600 sites across a broad geographic range, where warming temperatures, less winter precipitation, earlier loss of snowpack and more summer drought already appear to be affecting the range of lodgepole pine, at the same time increasing the infestations of bark beetles that attack this tree species. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, global warming, pine beetles, Summit County news | Tagged: climate change, Environment, global warming, lodgepole pines pine beetles, Oregon State University, Pacific Northwest, Richard Waring, Summit County News, University of British Columbia | 2 Comments »
Posted on February 6, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
healthy steelhead runs in Northwest depend on rainbow trout productivity
New research shows that a steelhead, such as the large fish in this image, is just one of the options for steelhead reproduction, along with other fish such as rainbow trout. (Photo by John McMillan)
By David Stauth
SUMMIT COUNTY — Genetic research is showing that healthy steelhead runs in Pacific Northwest streams can depend heavily on the productivity of their stay-at-home counterparts, rainbow trout.
Steelhead and rainbow trout look different, grow differently, and one heads off to sea while the other never leaves home. But the life histories and reproductive health of wild trout and steelhead are tightly linked and interdependent, more so than has been appreciated, a new Oregon State University study concludes.
The research could raise new challenges for fishery managers to pay equally close attention to the health, stability and habitat of wild rainbow trout, the researchers say, because healthy steelhead populations may require healthy trout populations. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Marine biology, rivers, wildlife | Tagged: Bonneville Power Administration, Environment, fisheries, Oregon State University, Pacific Northwest, rainbow trour, Rainbow Trout, steelhead, Summit County News, Wild fisheries | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 8, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
4 to 8 inches possible on favored north-facing slopes
A cold front associated with a polar low pressure spinning over B.C. is clearly visible as a line of precipitation draped from Montana to northern Califorina in this NOAA satellite image from Sunday morning. Speckled white clouds off the shore of the Pacific Northwest indicate cold air dropping down behind the front.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The local mountains are sitting between a winter weather advisory issued for northwest Colorado and a winter storm watch in effect for the eastern half of the state, but National Weather Service forecaster in Grand Junction say we’re still on track for a blast of snow — along with some chilly temperatures — late in the weekend.
The weather service models have been consistent in forecasting 4 to 8 inches of snow for the area, with the higher amounts possible over the most-favored northwest facing slopes at higher elevations. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center is also calling for 2 to 5 inches of snow for Summit County on Sunday, thanks to a polar low pressure system currently spinning over British Columbia.
That low will slowly dig toward Colorado during the next 48 hours, with an intense band of snow developing along a cold front set to move through Sunday. But until then, look for relatively mild temps Saturday under increasing clouds, with a forecast high of 34 degrees. Sunday’s highs drop back into the low 20s, with single-digit readings Monday and Tuesday, when lows will dip well below 0 degrees, perhaps into the negative teens. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, snow, Snow and weather, Summit County Colorado, Summit County snow and weather | Tagged: Colorado Avalanche Information Center, Colorado snow, Colorado snowstorms, Colorado weather, Low-pressure area, National Weather Service, Pacific Northwest, polar low, snow, Summit County snow and weather, summit county weather, United States, weatherblog | Leave a Comment »
Posted on September 5, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
Cody Beedlow, a graduate student at Oregon State University, drills into Collier Glacier as part of long term research to monitor the increase or decrease in its size. (Photo courtesy of Oregon State University)
Collier Glacier on the Three Sisters has lost half its mass in the last 150 years
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Collier glacier on the flanks of the Three Sisters in Oregon has lost about half its total mass in the last 150 years, researchers said after returning from a detailed survey of the ice field. About 20 percent of that loss has come since the 1980s.
The Collier is one of the largest glaciers in Oregon is in a short list of about 100 glaciers world-wide that’s been extensively studied for extended periods of time. The findings in Oregon are consistent with glacial retreat all over the world and provide some of the critical data needed to help quantify the effects of global change on glacier retreat and associated sea level rise.
A research program that began last year and is continuing this summer is now finding some rocks that are being exposed to daylight for the first time in thousands of years. Some of the locations where researchers now camp would have been several hundred feet deep in ice in the 1800s. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, global warming, rivers, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: climate change, Collier Glacier, Environment, glacial retreat, global warming, Little Ice Age, National Science Foundation, Oregon State University, Pacific Northwest, Peter Clark, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News | Leave a Comment »
Posted on August 30, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
A three-year study in Washington shows that even small areas of well-treated forest can reduce the intensity of fires and the damage to older trees.
Study suggests thinning, combined with fuels removals, could help make forests more resilient to climate change
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Even small fuel treatments of only a few acres can help reduce wildfire severity and protect older trees desirable for timber, wildlife, and carbon-storage values, according to the results of a three-year study recently completed in Washington. Such treatments could also help make forests more resilient in the face of climate change, a team of university and Forest Service researchers concluded.
“If dense forests are thinned and the surface fuels are removed, then ponderosa pine and Douglas-fir trees have a better chance of surviving an intense wildfire,” said Susan Prichard, a University of Washington research scientist and senior author of the study conducted after the 175,000 acre Tripod Fire. (more…)
Filed under: forests | Tagged: climate change, Douglas-fir, Environment, Forest health, forest thinning, Pacific Northwest, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, United States Forest Service, University of Washington, wildfire | Leave a Comment »