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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Magnificent Creatures

Picture 19

Wave Power Delivers Electricity to US Grid For First Time by Matthew McDermot



Science & Technology (alternative energy)
power buoy oahu photo
photo: Ocean Power Technologies
While wave power often seems like the poor cousin of the renewable energy world, and frankly doesn't have the practical potential of wind or solar power, tapping the power of the sea does have its place and this next one is worth a bit of hand clapping: One of Ocean Power Technologies' PowerBuoys can claim to be the first wave power device to deliver electricity to the US grid.
As Renewable Energy World reports:

OPT's PB40 PowerBuoy was hooked up to the grid at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii as part of the firm's program with the US Navy to test wave energy technology. The connection demonstrates the device's ability to produce utility-grade renewable energy that can be transmitted to the grid according to international and national standards, says the firm.
The PowerBuoy was deployed three-quarters of a mile off the coast of Oahu last year and has produced power for more than 4,400 hours of operation. As for environmental impact, independent evaluation has found the PowerBuoy to have no significant impact. All good news, if a small step forward.
power buoy size comparison chart
Comparison of various sized PowerBuoys next to a wind turbine via OPT.
If you're unfamiliar with how the OPT's PowerBuoy's work, this passage from 2008 here on TreeHugger will fill in some of the knowledge gap:

While most tidal power uses a underwater mounted turbine of some sort the Power Buoy relies instead on the rising and falling of the waves to generate power. Power is transmitted to the shore via underwater cable. OPT says that the a 10 MW power station using this technology would occupy 12.5 hectares of ocean. Theoretically the technology is scalable to 100 MW power stations, according to OPT's website.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/09/wave-power-delivers-electricity-u-s-grid-first-time.php

Friday, October 1, 2010

Genetically altered trees, plants could help counter global warming

http://www.physorg.com/news205130872.html

October 1, 2010
Forests of genetically altered trees and other plants could sequester several billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere each year and so help ameliorate global warming, according to estimates published in the October issue of BioScience.
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New study shows extent of land degradation and recovery on western rangelands

New study shows extent of land degradation and recovery on western rangelands 

http://www.physorg.com/news205150021.html

October 1, 2010
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released a new study by scientists and conservationists showing that non-federal rangelands in the Western United States are productive, but that non-native grasses and shrubs pose a potential threat to the rangelands' productivity.
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Ocean conditions likely to reduce Colorado River flows during this winter's drought

Ocean conditions likely to reduce Colorado River flows during this winter's drought

October 1, 2010 By Meg Sullivan
(PhysOrg.com) -- The convergence in the coming year of three cyclical conditions affecting ocean temperatures and weather is likely to create unprecedented challenges for states that depend on water from the Colorado River, a new UCLA study suggests.
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Scientists: 40 Times More Cancer-Causing Toxics in Gulf than Before Spill ... Dispersants to Blame


http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2010/09/scientists-40-times-more-cancer-causing.html

Scientists: 40 Times More Cancer-Causing Toxics in Gulf than Before Spill ... Dispersants to Blame

Scientists from Oregon State University have found a 40-fold increase in the amount of cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) near Louisiana's Grande Isle between May and June.
The Oregon team is looking at "the fraction of PAHs that are bioavailable – that have the potential to move into the food chain."
As I pointed out last month, PAHs are harmful to both human health and seafood safety:
McClatchy notes today:
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill still poses threats to human health and seafood safety, according to a study published Monday by the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association.

***

In the short term, study co-author Gina Solomon voiced greatest concern for shrimp, oysters, crabs and other invertebrates she says are have difficulty clearing their systems of dangerous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) similar to those found in cigarette smoke and soot. Solomon is an MD and public health expert in the department of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.
The Oregon researchers also believe:
The use of chemical dispersants during the oil spill coupled with the ultraviolet exposure in the Gulf may have increased the formation of OPAHs beyond expected levels.
And one of the researchers explained to the Huffington Post:
Based on the findings of other researchers, [Kim Anderson, an OSU professor of environmental and molecular toxicology] suspects that the abundant use of dispersants by BP increased the bioavailability of the PAHs in this case.
This is not particularly surprising. As I noted earlier this month about another team of scientists studying the effects of dispersant on pollution in the Gulf:
Scientists have found that when Corexit is applied to the actual crude oil from BP's well, it releases 35 times more toxic chemicals into the water column than would be released with crude alone.
As I noted in May, the crude oil released by BP is actually relatively low in PAHs compared to other crudes:
[NOAA says that the Gulf] oil is less toxic than crude oils generally because it is relatively much lower in polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are highly toxic chemicals that tend to persist in the environment for long periods of time, especially if the spilled oil penetrates into the substrate on beaches or shorelines.
Given that the BP crude is much lower in PAHs than most crude oil, for there to be 40 times more PAHs than normal is even more dramatic, again showing how effective dispersants have been in releasing the most toxic elements from the oil into the environment ... in fairly high concentrations and pretty much all at once.

See this for more information on the harmful effects of dispersants, and their ongoing use in the Gulf.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2010/09/scientists-40-times-more-cancer-causing.html


Thursday, September 30, 2010

Acidification of oceans may contribute to global declines of shellfish

The acidification of the Earth's oceans due to rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) may be contributing to a global decline of clams, scallops and other shellfish by interfering with the development of shellfish larvae, according to two Stony Brook University scientists, whose findings are published online and in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Professor Christopher J. Gobler, Ph.D., and Ph.D. candidate Stephanie C. Talmage of the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook conducted experiments to evaluate the impacts of past, present and future ocean acidification on the larvae of two commercially valuable shellfish: the Northern quahog, or hard clam, and the Atlantic bay scallop. The ability of both to produce shells partly depends on ocean water pH. Previous studies have shown that increases in atmospheric CO2 levels can lower the ocean's pH level, causing it to become more acidic.http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100928154754.htm
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Global Study Finds Widespread Threats To Global Rivers

Global Study Finds Widespread Threats To Global Rivers

Many stressors threaten human water security and biodiversity through similar pathways, but influence water systems in distinct ways.
by Staff Writers New York NY (SPX) Oct 01, 2010http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Global_Study_Finds_Widespread_Threats_To_Global_Rivers_999.html Multiple environmental stressors, such as agricultural runoff, pollution and invasive species, threaten rivers that serve 80 percent of the world's population, around 5 billion people, according to researchers from The City College (CCNY) of The City University of New York (CUNY), University of Wisconsin and seven other institutions. These same stressors endanger the biodiversity of 65 percent of the world's river habitats and put thousands of aquatic wildlife species at risk. The findings, reported in the September 30 issue of Nature, come from the first global-scale initiative to quantify the impact of these stressors on humans and riverine biodiversity. The research team produced a series of maps documenting the impact using a computer-based framework they developed.
"We can no longer look at human water security and biodiversity threats independently," said the corresponding author, Dr. Charles J. Vorosmarty, director of the CUNY Environmental CrossRoads Initiative and professor of civil engineering in The Grove School of Engineering at CCNY. "We need to link the two. The systematic framework we've created allows us to look at the human and biodiversity domains on an equal playing field." The framework offers a tool for prioritizing policy and management responses to a global water crisis.
Many stressors threaten human water security and biodiversity through similar pathways, but influence water systems in distinct ways. For example, reservoirs convey few negative effects on human water supply but they significantly challenge aquatic biodiversity by impeding migration routes and changing water flow regimes.
Understanding and responding to the myriad threats to water security requires new methods to make diagnoses and to act on these findings. "As is the case with preventive medicine, our study demonstrates that diagnosing and then limiting threats at their local source, rather than through costly remedies and rehabilitation, is a more effective and sensible approach to assure global water security for both humans and aquatic biodiversity, " notes Professor Vorosmarty.
"We've integrated maps of 23 different stressors and merged them into a single index," said study co-leader Dr. Peter McIntyre, assistant professor of zoology, University of Wisconsin. "In the past, policymakers and researchers have been plagued by dealing with one problem at a time. A richer and more meaningful picture emerges when all threats are considered simultaneously."
Among the stressors analyzed were the effects of pollution, dams and reservoirs, water overuse, agricultural runoff, loss of wetlands and introduction of invasive species. The authors said their findings are "conservative," since there is insufficient information to account for additional stressors like pharmaceutical compounds and mining wastes.
High incident threat levels to human water security were found in developed and developing nations around the world. Affected areas include much of the United States, virtually all of Europe and large portions of Central Asia, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and eastern China.
"We uncovered a broad management principal operating at the global scale," Professor Vorosmarty said. "In the industrialized world, we tend to compromise our surface waters and then try to fix problems by throwing trillions of dollars at the issues. We can afford to do that in rich countries, but poor countries can't afford to do it."
The researchers noted that causes of degradation of many of the developing world's most threatened rivers bear striking similarities to those of rivers in similar condition in wealthy countries. However, going down the path of instituting highly engineered solutions practiced traditionally by industrialized nations, which emphasize treatment of the symptoms rather than protection of resources, may prove too costly for poorer countries.
There are many more cost-effective solutions, they point out. For example, engineers, can re-work dam operating rules to achieve economic benefits while simultaneously providing water releases downstream that preserve habitat and biodiversity.
With the high price tag for bringing water quality and supply in the developing countries to levels found in industrialized economies, Professor Vorosmarty argues that a more economical approach is called for. A strategy called integrated water resource management, which balances the needs of humans and nature, would best meet the dual challenge of establishing human water security and preserving biodiversity in the developing world.
It would be more cost effective, he contends, to ensure that river systems are not impaired in the first place. This could be accomplished through better land use management, better irrigation techniques and emphasis on protecting ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems provide many valuable, and free, services to society by providing clean water, flood control, and food supplies. The value of such freshwater services is in the trillions of dollars per year.
One of the project's goals is to support international protocols to be used for water system protection since rivers maintain unique biotic resources and provide critical water supplies to people. An international approach is critical since more than 250 river basins cross international borders.
"It is absolutely essential to have information and tools that can be shared across nations," Professor Vorosmarty stressed. "Our knowledge of these systems is progressively worsening as nations fail to invest in basic monitoring, true for both water quantity and quality. How can we craft protocols on biodiversity protection and human water security without good information?
"Monitoring the world's fresh water would yield huge returns in terms of avoiding costly conflicts, providing food security, preserving unique life forms and a host of other valuable benefits. These benefits would cost pennies on the dollar."
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Scientists to map offshore San Andreas Fault and associated ecosystems


September 30, 2010
For the first time, scientists are using advanced technology and an innovative vessel to study, image, and map the unexplored offshore Northern San Andreas Fault from north of San Francisco to its termination at the junction of three tectonic plates off Mendocino, Calif.
The team includes scientists from NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, Oregon State University, the California Seafloor Mapping Program, the U.S. Geological Survey and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The expedition which concludes Sunday is sponsored by NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research.
While the fault on land is obscured by erosion, vegetation and urbanization in many places, scientists expect the subsea portion of the fault to include deep rifts and high walls, along with areas supporting animal life. The expedition team is using high-resolution sonar mapping, subsurface seismic data and imaging with digital cameras for the first-ever three-dimensional bathymetric-structural map that will model the undersea Northern and its structure. Little is known about the offshore fault due to perennial bad weather that has limited scientific investigations.
"By relating this 3-D model with ongoing studies of the ancient record of seismic activity in this volatile area, scientists may better understand past earthquakes — in part because fault exposure on land is poor, and the sedimentary record of the northern California offshore fault indicates a rich history of past earthquakes," said Chris Goldfinger, co-principal investigator and marine geologist and geophysicist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore. "The model will also benefit geodetic studies of the buildup of energy to help better understand the potential for earthquakes."
More than a century after the 1906 Great San Francisco Earthquake, the science team is also exploring the fault for lessons associated with the intertwined relationships between major earthquakes and biological diversity. Evidence shows that active fluid and gas venting along fast-moving tectonic systems, such as the San Andreas Fault, create and recreate productive, unique and unexplored ecosystems.
"This is a tectonically and chemically active area," said Waldo Wakefield, co-principal investigator and a research fisheries biologist at NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Newport, Ore. "I am looking for abrupt topographic features as well as vents or seeps that support chemosynthetic life — life that extracts its energy needs from dissolved gasses in the water. I'm also looking at sonar maps of the water column and images of the seafloor for communities of life." http://www.physorg.com/news205083719.html
 
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Don't Miss the Largest Celebration of Science in the U.S. on Oct. 23-24!

Don't Miss the Largest Celebration of Science in the U.S. on Oct. 23-24!
What is the universe made of? Why did dinosaurs go extinct? What do magic tricks and hip-hop have to do with math? What can amphibians and reptiles tell us about the environment? What do engineers have to do with baseball?

K-12 students and anyone with a curious mind can find out at the first ever USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo on the National Mall! Explore science and engineering with over 1500 free, hands-on activities and over 75 stage shows featuring science celebrities, jugglers, magicians, bands and more. The two day expo is perfect for teens, children and their families, and anyone with a curious mind who is looking for a weekend of fun and discovery. Build an underwater robot, chat with a Nobel Laureate, explore the science behind the magic of Hogwarts Academy and see a car that drives itself. From bugs to birds, kitchen chemistry to computer games, environmental monitoring to electronic music-the Expo has something for everyone and is completely free of charge.

The Expo is the pinnacle event of the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival to be held in the greater Washington D.C. area October 10-24, 2010. The USA Science & Engineering Festival is a collaboration of over 500 of the nation's leading science and engineering organizations including, Case Western Reserve University, Duke University, Harvard University, Howard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Maryland, AAAS, American Chemical Society, American Physical Society, FIRST, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, National Society of Hispanic Engineers, the U.S Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health and many others. The Festival is funded through corporate sponsorships, grants and private donations.

I ask that you learn more and attend the USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo. Please get involved and visit www.usasciencefestival.org. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact Larry Bock at biobock@mac.com.

Southwest In a Water Juggling Act as Supplies Dry Up

Southwest In a Water Juggling Act as Supplies Dry Up

by Jaymi Heimbuch, San Francisco, California http://www.treehugger.com/files/2010/09/southwest-in-a-water-juggling-act-as-supplies-dry-up.php?campaign=daily_nl
Science & Technology
lake mead low water level photo
Photo by Tim Pearce, Los Gatos of Lake Mead's low water levels as of July, 2010.
Lake Mead, one of the major basins along the Colorado river system, is used to supply water to people in the southwest everywhere from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. However, it is at its lowest 11-year average in its 100 year history and is about to cross below a critical mark of 1,075 feet. If it goes below that level -- and all signs point that it will without miraculous rainfall -- it will mean less water making it to Arizona and Nevada as a new distribution plan is enacted, as we pointed out last month as the lake hit the lowest level since 1956. Or instead of redistribution, the low levels could mean launching a plan for sending extra water down river from Lake Powell in Utah to Lake Mead. Either way, the southwest is about to do a water juggling act as supplies dwindle.
It's no surprise that the southwest is in water trouble. The dry area experienced a population boom (there were only 9.5 million people dependent on Lake Mead when the basin reached its all-time low in 1956, and there are about 28 million people dependent on the supplies now), which leans heavily on the already tight supplies. Earlier in the summer, we noted that many areas of the US are in danger of extreme water shortages over the next 40 years -- the bulk of which are in the southwest:
water shortages map image
Image: NRDC
So juggling the resources is no small task, especially with a pressing water crisis. According to the New York Times, it looks as if the Bureau of Reclamation is leaning toward the plan to flow water from Lake Powell, which has 50% more water than Lake Mead, down river to the struggling basin. However, this is a first for the bureau so there is no 100% guarantee the plan will work. Because not only are water supplies threatened but also electricity supplies generated by turbines in the lake, it's worth a try.
READ MORE: Nevada Water Authority Executive Proposes High-Stakes Mississippi River Floodwater Diversion
It's a problem the managers will become more familiar with as population rises and climate change brings on more prolonged droughts. Cities across the southwest, despite all conservation plans, will feel the consequences.
"If the river flow continues downward and we can't build back up supply, Las Vegas is in big trouble," Pat Mulroy, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, said in an interview with the New York Times.
READ MORE: Colorado River Reservoirs Could Have 50-50 Chance of Running Dry Due to Climate Change by 2057 : TreeHugger
It comes down to the fact that we have a limited supply of fresh water which we are notorious for abusing. Without serious changes to how we live, from our consumption of goods to our food choices, from smart metering our water consumption to our water-dependent electricity use, this problem of disappearing supplies will continue.

Follow Jaymi on Twitter for more stories like this
More on Water in the Southwest
Higher Water Shortage Risks in One Third of US Counties Due to Climate Change: NRDC Report
American Southwest: The Dust Bowl & The Burn Belt
What the Water Crisis Really Means for You and the Planet
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Aquatic Dead Zones

Aquatic Dead Zones

For a larger version of this image please go here.
by Staff Writers Washington DC (SPX) Jul 20, 2010 The size and number of marine dead zones-areas where the deep water is so low in dissolved oxygen that sea creatures can't survive-have grown explosively in the past half-century. Red circles on this map show the location and size of many of our planet's dead zones. Black dots show where dead zones have been observed, but their size is unknown. It's no coincidence that dead zones occur downriver of places where human population density is high (darkest brown). Some of the fertilizer we apply to crops is washed into streams and rivers. Fertilizer-laden runoff triggers explosive planktonic algae growth in coastal areas.
The algae die and rain down into deep waters, where their remains are like fertilizer for microbes. The microbes decompose the organic matter, using up the oxygen. Mass killing of fish and other sea life often results.
Satellites can observe changes in the way the ocean surface reflects and absorbs sunlight when the water holds a lot of particles of organic matter. Darker blues in this image show higher concentrations of particulate organic matter, an indication of the overly fertile waters that can culminate in dead zones.
Naturally occurring low-oxygen zones are regular features in some parts of the ocean. These coastal upwelling areas, which include the Bay of Bengal and the Atlantic west of southern Africa, are not the same as dead zones because their bottom-dwelling marine life is adapted to the recurring low-oxygen conditions. However, these zones may grow larger with the additional nutrient inputs from agricultural runoff.http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Aquatic_Dead_Zones_999.html
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Stormwater Model To Inform Regulators On Future Development Projects

Stormwater Model To Inform Regulators On Future Development Projects

The new model is designed to evaluate the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus found in stormwater runoff from residential and commercial developments.
by Staff Writers Raleigh NC (SPX) Jul 20, 2010 North Carolina State University researchers have developed a computer model that will accurately predict stormwater pollution impacts from proposed real-estate developments - allowing regulators to make informed decisions about which development projects can be approved without endangering water quality. The model could serve as a blueprint for similar efforts across the country. "The model is designed to evaluate the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus found in stormwater runoff from residential and commercial developments - particularly runoff from a completed project, not a site that is under construction," says Dr. Bill Hunt, an associate professor and extension specialist of biological and agricultural engineering at NC State who helped develop the model.
"To comply with regional water-quality regulations, cities and counties have to account for nutrient loads," Hunt says, "but the existing tools are antiquated and aren't giving us sufficiently accurate data."http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Stormwater_Model_To_Inform_Regulators_On_Future_Development_Projects_999.html
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Explaining Why Tectonic Plates Move The Way They Do

Explaining Why Tectonic Plates Move The Way They Do

Schellart and his team, including Stegman and Rebecca Farrington, Justin Freeman and Louis Moresi from Monash University, used observational data and advanced computer models to develop a new mathematical scaling theory, which demonstrates that the velocities of the plates and the plate boundaries depend on the size of subduction zones and the presence of subduction zone edges.
by Staff Writers San Diego CA (SPX) Jul 20, 2010 A team of researchers including Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego geophysicist Dave Stegman has developed a new theory to explain the global motions of tectonic plates on the earth's surface. The new theory extends the theory of plate tectonics - a kinematic description of plate motion without reference to the forces behind it - with a dynamical theory that provides a physical explanation for both the motions of tectonic plates as well as motion of plate boundaries.
The new findings have implications for how scientists understand the geological evolution of Earth, and in particular, the tectonic evolution of western North America, in the past 50 million years.http://www.terradaily.com/reports/Explaining_Why_Tectonic_Plates_Move_The_Way_They_Do_999.html
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New View Of Tectonic Plates

New View Of Tectonic Plates

Plate boundaries, which can be seen as narrow red lines are resolved using an adaptively refined mesh with 1km local resolution. Shown are the Pacific and the Australian tectonic plates and the New Hebrides and Tonga microplates. Credit: Georg Stadler, Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, UT Austin
by Staff Writers Pasadena CA (SPX) Sep 02, 2010 Computational scientists and geophysicists at the University of Texas at Austin and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed new computer algorithms that for the first time allow for the simultaneous modeling of the earth's Earth's mantle flow, large-scale tectonic plate motions, and the behavior of individual fault zones, to produce an unprecedented view of plate tectonics and the forces that drive it. A paper describing the whole-earth model and its underlying algorithms will be published in the August 27 issue of the journal Science and also featured on the cover.http://www.terradaily.com/reports/New_View_Of_Tectonic_Plates_999.html
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Geologists Find Parts Of Northwest Houston Sinking Rapidly

Geologists Find Parts Of Northwest Houston Sinking Rapidly Houston TX (SPX) Sep 30, 2010 A large section of northwestern Harris County - particularly the Jersey Village area - is sinking rapidly, according to a University of Houston (UH) geologist who has analyzed GPS data measuring ground elevation in the Houston area. Some points in Jersey Village are subsiding by up to 5.5 centimeters (about 2 inches) a year, said Shuhab Khan, an associate professor of geology at UH. Khan, ... read morehttp://www.terradaily.com/Tectonics.html
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Climate Change = War?

Missed in the debate over climate change has been the strategic implications, says Rajeev Sharma. In Asia they could be catastrophic.
For all the heat generated by discussions of global warming in recent months, it is an often overlooked fact that climate change has the potential to create border disputes that in some cases could even provoke clashes between states. Throw into the mix three nuclear-armed nations with a history of disagreements, and the stakes of any conflict rise incalculably.
Yet such a scenario is becoming increasingly likely as glaciers around the world melt, blurring international boundaries. The chastened United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for example, still doesn’t dispute that glaciers are melting; the only question is how fast. The phenomenon is already pushing Europeans and Africans to redraw their borders. Switzerland and Italy, for example, were forced to introduce draft resolutions in their respective parliaments for fresh border demarcations after alpine glaciers started melting unusually quickly. And in Africa, meanwhile, climate change has caused rivers to change course over the past few years. Many African nations have rivers marking international boundaries and are understandably worried about these changing course and therefore cutting into their borders. Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan are just some of the African countries that have indicated apprehension about their international boundaries
More at: 
.http://the-diplomat.com/2010/02/25/climate-change-war/

Indonesia’s Climate Experiment

There’s an easy charm to Banda Aceh that belies its tumultuous history—and a ground-breaking climate change experiment.
Apart from the large ship washed kilometres inland that still towers over single-story homes, little evidence remains in the north Sumatran city of Banda Aceh of the devastation wrought by the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004, which claimed more than 230,000 lives.
It’s also hard to find traces of the bitter 30-year conflict between the separatist Free Aceh Movement and the Indonesian state that ended the following year there. Except, maybe, for one thing—an uptick in deforestation.
During decades of strife, Aceh’s forests were virtually no-go areas, meaning the province was spared much of the rampant deforestation that other parts of the country witnessed. But demand for timber soared during the post-tsunami reconstruction and many former combatants—demobilised and with few prospects—turned to illegal logging.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that deforestation is responsible for 17 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions each year, and massive deforestation has helped make Indonesia one of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters.http://the-diplomat.com/2010/09/30/indonesia%27s-climate-experiment/?utm_source=The+Diplomat+List&utm_campaign=680bbb5a27-Diplomat_Brief_2010_vol17&utm_medium=email
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Status and Trends of Wetlands In The Coastal Watersheds of the Eastern United States 1998 to 2004

Status and Trends of Wetlands In The Coastal Watersheds of the Eastern United States 1998 to 2004

This report is the result of a cooperative effort between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In the time period encompassed by this study, trends suggested the country as a whole was gaining wetlands. From 1998 to 2004, wetland gains in the conterminous United States were estimated to have been 32,000 acres (12,960 ha) annually. The fact that coastal watersheds were losing wetlands despite the national trend of net gains points to the need for more research on the natural and human forces behind these trends and to an expanded effort on conservation of wetlands in these coastal areas.
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2010 Dead Zone - One of the Largest Ever

2010 Dead Zone - One of the Largest Everhttp://paceeenvironmentalnotes.blogspot.com/2010/09/2010-dead-zone-one-of-largest-ever.html

This report from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consotium Dated August 2, 2010 finds that the area of hypoxia, or low oxygen, in the northern Gulf of Mexico west of the Mississippi River delta covered 20,000 square kilometers (7,722 square miles) of the bottom and extended far into Texas waters. The relative size is close to New Jersey. The critical value that defines hypoxia is 2 mg/L, or ppm, because trawlers cannot catch fish or shrimp on the bottom when oxygen falls lower. This summer’s hypoxic zone ("dead zone") is one of the largest measured since the team of researchers from Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium and Louisiana State University began routine mapping in 1985.
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Rising Energy Demand Hits Water Scarcity 'Choke Point'

Criticism of the impact that water-cooled solar plants could have on water priorities in the U.S. Southwest even came from within the government. READ MORE
By Peter Boaz, Matthew O. Berger / IPS News

 
http://www.alternet.org/story/148335/rising_energy_demand_hits_water_scarcity_%27choke_point%27
Photo Credit: srv0
 
 
Meeting the growing demand for energy in the U.S., even through sustainable means, could entail greater threats to the environment, new research shows.
The study was carried out by Circle of Blue, a network of journalists and scientists dedicated to water sustainability, and could have implications not just for the relationship between energy demand and water scarcity in the U.S. but elsewhere in the world, as well. "It is not just that energy production could not occur without using vast amounts of water. It's also that it's occurring in the era of climate change, population growth and steadily increasing demand for energy," explained Circle of Blue's Keith Schneider, who presented the findings in Washington Wednesday.
"The result is that the competition for water at every stage of the mining, processing, production, shipping and use of energy is growing more fierce, more complex and much more difficult to resolve," he said. About half the 410 billion gallons of water the U.S. withdraws daily goes to cooling thermoelectric power plants, and most of that to cooling coal-burning plants, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Meanwhile, climate change is leading to decreased snowmelt, rains and freshwater supplies, says Circle of Blue.
One of the things missing from the discussion, then, is the recognition that saving energy also saves water, the group contends.
The U.S. government has not been blind to the conflict between energy and water needs. The first part of a report commissioned by the U.S. Congress in 2005 laid out the consequences of not paying enough attention to water supply issues in increasing energy production. The second part, which would have laid out a research agenda and begun developing solutions, has yet to be made public, says Schneider.
He says the U.S. Department of Energy has declined repeated requests to explain why the report has not been published.
Energy demand in the U.S. is expected to increase by 40 percent as the U.S. population rises above 440 million by 2050. The water supply will not be able to support that growth, Schneider says.
Renewable sources of energy will certainly be a large part of trying to meet that energy demand, but these, too, come with a hidden water cost.
In 2009, the U.S. dedicated 23 million acres of public lands in six states for new solar electricity-generating plants as part of its economic stimulus package, which apportioned nearly 100 billion dollars for clean energy projects. Though the plan appeared promising, environmentalists soon began to point it could have damaging, unintended consequences. Schneider notes that criticism of the impact the water-cooled solar plants could have on water priorities in the U.S. Southwest even came from within the government.
More a thttp://www.alternet.org/story/148335/rising_energy_demand_hits_water_scarcity_%27choke_point%27

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Water Use in Southwest Heads for a Day of Reckoning

Las Vegas Bay, Lake Mead, southern NevadaImage via Wikipedia


Jim Wilson/The New York Times
The Southern Nevada Water Authority is tunneling under Lake Mead to install an intake valve that could continue operating until water levels dropped below 1,000 feet. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/us/28mead.html?_r=1&emc=eta1
Barring a sudden end to the Southwest’s 11-year drought, the distribution of the river’s dwindling bounty is likely to be reordered as early as next year because the flow of water cannot keep pace with the region’s demands.
For the first time, federal estimates issued in August indicate that Lake Mead, the heart of the lower Colorado basin’s water system — irrigating lettuce, onions and wheat in reclaimed corners of the Sonoran Desert, and lawns and golf courses from Las Vegas to Los Angeles — could drop below a crucial demarcation line of 1,075 feet.
If it does, that will set in motion a temporary distribution plan approved in 2007 by the seven states with claims to the river and by the federal Bureau of Reclamation, and water deliveries to Arizona and Nevada would be reduced.
This could mean more dry lawns, shorter showers and fallow fields in those states, although conservation efforts might help them adjust to the cutbacks. California, which has first call on the Colorado River flows in the lower basin, would not be affected.
But the operating plan also lays out a proposal to prevent Lake Mead from dropping below the trigger point. It allows water managers to send 40 percent more water than usual downstream to Lake Mead from Lake Powell in Utah, the river’s other big reservoir, which now contains about 50 percent more water than Lake Mead.
In that case, the shortage declaration would be avoided and Lake Mead’s levels restored to 1,100 feet or so.
Lake Powell, fed by rain and snowmelt that create the Colorado and tributaries, has risen more than 60 feet from a 2004 low because the upper basin states, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah, do not use their full allocations. The upper basin provides a minimum annual flow of 8.23 million acre feet to Arizona, Nevada and California. (An acre-foot of water is generally considered the amount two families of four use annually.)
In its August report the Bureau of Reclamation said the extra replenishment from Lake Powell was the likeliest outcome. Nonetheless, said Terry Fulp, the bureau’s deputy regional director for the Lower Colorado Region, it is the first time ever that the bureau has judged a critical shortage to be remotely possible in the near future.
More athttp://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/us/28mead.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

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