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Friday, February 11, 2011

Climate Change – it’s complicated, but it’s real

Climate Change – it’s complicated, but it’s real

NOAA releases aquaculture draft policy

NOAA releases aquaculture draft policy
Washington (UPI) Feb 9, 2011 - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released a draft policy on aquaculture in U.S. waters, saying it balances economics and the environment. After crude oil and natural gas, seafood is the third-largest contributor to the U.S. trade deficit as the country imports about $9 billion worth each year, AAAS ScienceMag.org reported Wednesday. Hoping to foster the gro ... more
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Water shortages to force Mideast cooperation: study

Water shortages to force Mideast cooperation: study
Geneva (AFP) Feb 10, 2011 - A report for the Swiss and Swedish governments warned on Thursday that water shortages in the Middle East were so alarming that opposing camps in the region would have little choice but to cooperate. Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey called for closer cooperation between Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the Palestinians and Israel on managing increasingly scarce water resources ... more

US trade chief urges Europe to open market to GM foods

US trade chief urges Europe to open market to GM foods
Brussels (AFP) Feb 10, 2011 - A top US trade official said she will bang down the door of the European Commission Thursday in a bid to break a longstanding impasse blocking the march of genetically-modified foods. "When Europeans come to the United States, they come and enjoy our cuisine with no concerns whatsoever," Deputy US Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro said ahead of talks with European Union trade commissioner K ... more
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Chile drought looms as La Nina takes toll

Chile drought looms as La Nina takes toll
Santiago, Chile (UPI) Feb 10, 2011 - Chile has ordered nationwide contingency planning to prepare for damaging effects of a drought triggered by La Nina weather phenomenon, already seen behind low rainfall and poor agricultural harvests in Argentina. A succession of natural disasters has put unexpected financial pressures on President Sebastian Pinera's announced plans to catapult Chile into the 21st century. Major parts o ... more
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A La Nina Like No Other Or Just A Big One



December 2010 - A classic La Nina forms across the Pacific Ocean - as observed by NASA satellites.
by Amber Jenkins
for NASA Global Climate Change Team
Pasadena CA (JPL) Feb 11, 2011 1. What is La Nina and why does it matter? La Nina, "little girl" in Spanish, is the cool part of a naturally-occurring climate cycle called the El Nino/Southern Oscillation. El Nino is the warm part at the other end of that cycle. These shifts are governed, like much of the climate on the planet, by the relationship between winds and ocean surface temperatures. When trade winds, blowing from east to west across the Pacific, are strong, equatorial waters are very cool, signaling the arrival of La Nina.
When these winds falter, ocean surface temperatures rise and signal the arrival of the warm sibling, El Nino ("Christ Child" in Spanish). These warm and cool pools expand and linger across much of the tropics for many months, causing dramatic shifts in worldwide temperature and rainfall patterns over both the oceans and continents. These shifts happen every five to seven years and have been around for centuries.
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ESA Has Sharp Eyes On Coastal Waters

ESA Has Sharp Eyes On Coastal Waters

Backscatter coefficient of suspended matter - Gulf Of Mexico, Sept 30 2008 - orbit: 34434. More at ESA's CoastColour project.

Drilling may kill Mediterranean ecosystem: WWFRome (AFP) Feb 9, 2011 - A rush to drill in the gas-rich Mediterranean may do permanent damage to the sea's wildlife as it takes at least a millennium for an ecosystem to grow, the World Wildlife Fund warned Wednesday. Drilling in the Mediterranean's eastern region shared by Turkey, Israel and Egypt, "could cause irreversible damage" to its biodiversity, said Sergi Tudela, head of WWF's Mediterranean Fisheries Programme. The area hosts rare and millennia-old species such as deep-sea sponges, worms, mollusks and cold water corals, and therefore are "particularly fragile and vulnerable to external interference," he added in a statement. Once a deep-sea floor has been drilled, "it can take a millennium or more before the unique micro-ecosystem grows again, so the most fragile and valuable species and under-sea areas must be left untouched by gas development."

The recently discovered Leviathan gas field, 135 kilometres off the Israeli coast, is the world's biggest deep-water gas discovery in a decade, with an estimated volume of 16 trillion cubic feet of gas. Earlier this year the West Nile Delta gas field was discovered, lying in Egyptian waters 80 kilometres off Alexandria. The green group called on a handful of Mediterranean countries and the European Union to ban industrial development and drilling in deep-sea areas where the biodiversity is rich.
by Staff Writers Paris, France (ESA) Feb 11, 2011 Our growing reliance on coastal waters for food, trade and tourism means that these delicate ecosystems need to be more closely monitored to guarantee their future sustainability. ESA's CoastColour project is helping scientists develop techniques to take full advantage of the unique capabilities of the Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) sensor on its Envisat satellite.
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Record Low Arctic Sea Ice Extent for January

Record Low Arctic Sea Ice Extent for January

NASA image created by Jesse Allen, using AMSR-E data and sea ice extent contours courtesy of the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Caption by Michon Scott. Instrument: Aqua - AMSR-E. Image reference
by Staff Writers Greenbelt MD (SPX) Feb 11, 2011 During the Northern Hemisphere winter of 2010-2011, unusually cold temperatures and heavy snowstorms plagued North America and Europe, while conditions were unusually warm farther north. Now the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) has reported that Arctic sea ice was at its lowest extent ever recorded for January (since satellite records began). This image shows the average Arctic sea ice concentration for January 2011, based on observations from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for EOS (AMSR-E) aboard NASA's Aqua satellite.
Blue indicates open water; white indicates high sea ice concentrations; and turquoise indicates loosely packed sea ice. The yellow line shows the average sea ice extent for January from 1979 through 2000.
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Antarctic ice sheet melting would affect sea ice margin, marine food chain

Highlights, including authors and their institutions

The following highlights summarize research papers that have been recently published in Geophysical Research Letters (GRL) and Paleoceanography (PA).
In this release:
  1. No tipping point for Arctic Ocean ice, study says
  2. Using microearthquakes to evaluate potential carbon sequestration sites
  3. Observing flares from Jupiter's aurora
  4. Change in atmospheric patterns behind Arctic sea ice summer 2010 low
  5. Antarctic ice sheet melting would affect sea ice margin, marine food chain
  6. Simulating ocean carbon storage during the Last Glacial Maximum
Anyone may read the scientific abstract for any already-published paper by clicking on the link provided at the end of each Highlight. You can also read the abstract by going to Search Options and inserting into the search engine the full doi (digital object identifier), e.g. 10.1029/2010GL045698. The doi is found at the end of each Highlight below.
Journalists and public information officers (PIOs) at educational or scientific institutions who are registered with AGU also may download papers cited in this release by clicking on the links below. Instructions for members of the news media, PIOs, and the public for downloading or ordering the full text of any research paper summarized below are available — see “Access to AGU Papers”.
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Biogeochemistry at the core of global environmental solutions

Biogeochemistry at the core of global environmental solutions

February 9, 2011 Biogeochemistry at the core of global environmental solutionsEnlarge
Many human-caused environmental problems have their origins in the release of waste products. These waste products may not be toxic on their own, but interact with other biogeochemical cycles and cause serious global and regional problems. Credit: Beth Tenser
If society wants to address big picture environmental problems, like global climate change, acid rain, and coastal dead zones, we need to pay closer attention to the Earth's coupled biogeochemical cycles. So reports a special issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, published this month by the Ecological Society of America.
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ESA's sharp eyes on coastal waters

ESA's sharp eyes on coastal waters

February 9, 2011 ESA's sharp eyes on coastal watersEnlarge
This Envisat image features the southern part of the Great Barrier Reef off Australia’s Queensland coast. Sediments are visible flowing into the world’s most protected marine area. This image was acquired by Envisat’s Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) on 8 November 2010 at a resolution of 300 m. Credits: ESA
Our growing reliance on coastal waters for food, trade and tourism means that these delicate ecosystems need to be more closely monitored to guarantee their future sustainability.

CIA ASSESSES FLOODING IN NORTH KOREA

CIA analysts studied data on major floods due to rainfall in North Korea since 1996 in order to devise a framework for evaluating the significance of such floods and their likely consequences for North Korean agriculture.

The analysts identified four principal variables:  the intensity of the rainfall, the location of the rainfall, the time of year, and damage to non-agricultural infrastructure.

"Rainfall intensity and geography of flooding appear to be key variables with the most impact," their report (pdf) said. "Critical periods in the agricultural growth cycle -- for sowing, growing, and harvesting -- and the scope and severity of infrastructure damage are compounding variables that can magnify the impact of major floods in key food producing areas."

All four elements were present in 1996 and 2007, when flooding produced the most severe agricultural impact.  But using the methodology described, analysts judge that the cumulative impact of two instances of heavy rain in 2010 "has been relatively low."

A copy of the CIA report was obtained by Secrecy News.  See "North Korea: Assessing the Impact of Flooding on Agricultural Output," CIA Open Source Works, December 15, 2010.

Bush EPA chief prepped climate plan

Bush EPA chief prepped climate plan

Bush's EPA Chief Urged Regulating Carbon Emissions in 2008, Letter Shows

Bush's EPA Chief Urged Regulating Carbon Emissions in 2008, Letter Shows

House Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton Denies Human Role In Climate Change (VIDEO)

House Energy Committee Chairman Fred Upton Denies Human Role In Climate Change (VIDEO)

Rep. Fred Upton On Global Warming: ‘I Do Not Accept That It Is Man-Made’

Rep. Fred Upton On Global Warming: ‘I Do Not Accept That It Is Man-Made’

23 States Defend Power Companies In US Supreme Court Review Of Greenhouse Gases

23 States Defend Power Companies In US Supreme Court Review Of Greenhouse Gases

Manufacturers Join Brief Against Court Control of Greenhouse Gas EmissionsManufacturers Join Brief Against Court Control of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Manufacturers Join Brief Against Court Control of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

New power balance after Browner?

New power balance after Browner?

States Defend Power Cos. In Supreme Court Review Of Greenhouse Gases

States Defend Power Cos. In Supreme Court Review Of Greenhouse Gases

GOP Lawmakers Take Obama Admin's Side in Supreme Court Greenhouse Gas Case

GOP Lawmakers Take Obama Admin's Side in Supreme Court Greenhouse Gas Case

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U.N. Food Agency Issues Warning on China Drought

U.N. Food Agency Issues Warning on China Drought

Hudson Bay Still Not Frozen Solid… Brad DeLong

Hudson Bay Still Not Frozen Solid… Brad DeLong

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Science, law and climate change

Science, law and climate change

EEI-APPA-NRECA joint Supreme Court brief

Linked below is another amicus brief, this one filed jointly by EEI-APPA-NRECA before the Supreme Court yesterday, in the AEP v. Connecticut case regarding “judicial regulation” of climate issues.

 

EEI-APPA-NRECA joint Supreme Court brief

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=gmail&attid=0.1&thid=12e06b05639f9056&mt=application/pdf&url=https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui%3D2%26ik%3Daf338169f3%26view%3Datt%26th%3D12e06b05639f9056%26attid%3D0.1%26disp%3Dattd%26zw&sig=AHIEtbTzxQOxd0jUpLt1ru_5b5qRYErRKQ

Catastrophic Weather Events Are Becoming the New Normal -- Are You Ready for Life on Our Planet Circa 2011?

For two decades now we've been ignoring the impassioned pleas of scientists that our burning of fossil fuels was a bad idea. And now we're paying a heavy price. READ MORE
Bill McKibben / AlterNet




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Southern Africa floods threaten more crops





Rome (AFP) Feb 7, 2011 Floods and heavy rain across southern Africa have damaged thousands of hectares (acres) of farmland and more may be hit in coming weeks, raising fears for food supplies, the UN food agency said Monday. With the rainy season still only half way through, and with the cyclone season due to peak in February, agricultural areas along the region's rivers in remain at high risk of flooding, the Food and Africulture Organisation warned.
Most countries in the region, including Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, are affected, it said, quoting quoted Cindy Holleman, FAO regional emergency coordinator.
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Two Severe Amazon Droughts In Five Years Alarms Scientists




In 2005, the region was struck by a rare drought which killed trees within the rainforest. On the ground monitoring showed that these forests stopped absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere, and as the dead trees rotted they released CO2 to the atmosphere.

Leeds, UK (SPX) Feb 08, 2011 New research shows that the 2010 Amazon drought may have been even more devastating to the region's rainforests than the unusual 2005 drought, which was previously billed as a one-in-100 year event. Analyses of rainfall across 5.3 million square kilometres of Amazonia during the 2010 dry season, published tomorrow in Science, shows that the drought was more widespread and severe than in 2005.
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Arctic Fisheries Catches 75 Times Higher Than Previous Reports




Researchers from the Sea Around Us Project have previously shown a trend of fish stocks moving towards polar regions due to the effects of climate change. This, coupled with increased accessibility of the Arctic areas due to melting sea ice, will place immense pressure on the region for future large-scale fisheries.

Vancouver, Canada (SPX) Feb 08, 2011 University of British Columbia researchers estimate that fisheries catches in the Arctic totaled 950,000 tonnes from 1950 to 2006, almost 75 times the amount reported to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) during this period.
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Big Win for Biotech: USDA Deregulates Monsanto Alfalfa

Big Win for Biotech: USDA Deregulates Monsanto Alfalfa
Mike Ludwig, Truthout: "After nearly five years of legal and regulatory battles, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has fully deregulated Monsanto's Roundup Ready alfalfa that is genetically modified (GM) to be resistant to Roundup herbicide. The decision squashed a proposed compromise between the biotech industry and its opponents that would have placed geographic restrictions on Roundup Ready alfalfa to prevent organic and traditional alfalfa from being contaminated by herbicide sprays and transgenes spread by cross-pollination and other factors."
Read the Article

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Climate phenomenon La Nina to blame for global extreme weather events

Climate phenomenon La Nina to blame for global extreme weather events

February 7, 2011 Climate phenomenon La Nina to blame for global extreme weather eventsEnlarge
Cyclone Yasi over Australia in February 2011. Image credit: NASA
(PhysOrg.com) -- Recent extreme weather events as far as Australia and Africa are being fueled by a climate phenomenon known as La Nina -- or "the girl" in Spanish. La Nina has also played a minor role in the recent cold weather in the Northeast U.S.
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Analyzing Long-Term Impacts Of Biofuel On The Land




File image.

Madison WI (SPX) Feb 07, 2011 The growing development and implementation of renewable biofuel energy has considerable advantages over using declining supplies of fossil fuels. However, meeting the demands of a fuel-driven society may require utilizing all biofuel sources including agricultural crop residues. While a useful biofuel source, crop residues also play a crucial role in maintaining soil organic carbon stock. This stock of organic carbon preserves soil functions and our global environment as well ensures the sustainable long-term production of biofuel feedstock.
In a study funded by the USDA Agriculture Research Service, scientists analyzed five classical long term experiments.
Using a process-based carbon balance model, researchers simulated experiments lasting from 79 to 134 years to predict the potential of no tillage management to maintain soil organic carbon.
Analysis of the experiments indicates that predicted potential long-term effects of changes in management from conventional tillage to no tillage practices provided insights on proposed management options that were not feasible either due to cost or other factors.
"Harvesting substantial amounts of crop residue under current cropping systems without exogenous carbon (e.g., manure) addition would deplete soil organic carbon, exacerbate risks of soil erosion, increase non-point source pollution, degrade soil, reduce crop yields per unit input of fertilizer and water, and decrease agricultural sustainability," says Hero Gollany, the author of the study.
Management practices in these experiments ranged from single cropping to two or three year crop rotations; manure, no fertilizer or fertilizer additions; crop residue returned, and crop residue removed. The predictions also factored diverse climates, soil conditions, fertility management, cropping systems, and crop residue removal practices.
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

European Commissioner: Space Is A Must To Tackle Climate Change


Paris, France (ESA) Feb 07, 2011 At a Hearing held this week at the European Parliament, Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for DG Climate Action, stated that observations from space are absolutely essential on the road to monitoring, combating and adapting to climate change. Convened on 2 February by the European Parliament's Sky and Space Intergroup in Brussels, Belgium, the Hearing on Space Systems and Key Assets for Climate Change Monitoring and Adaptation Strategies was attended by Members of the European Parliament, European Commission, European space industry and national governments.
Volker Liebig, ESA's Director of Earth Observation Programmes, Lars Prahm, Director General of Eumetsat, and Evert Dudok, President of ASD-Eurospace, explained how space technology is supporting Europe's climate policies.
As Commissioner for the new DG Climate Action, it is Connie Hedegaard's ambition that, in five years' time, Europe is the most climate-friendly region in the world. With this in mind, she was quick to stress the role that space can play in tackling climate change.
In her opening address, Commissioner Hedegaard said, "Today, we are focusing on the tools needed for the International Climate Change Policy Regime. In that respect, space is not just nice to have; it's a need to have.
"We need science, knowledge and facts to formulate European policies. With those policies in place, we then need the tools to monitor them."
While stressing that Earth observation is essential for monitoring, reporting and verification, Commissioner Hedegaard also pointed to satellite navigation as an important space tool, "The transport sector accounts for 27% of all European emissions. Satellite navigation can help develop intelligent traffic systems to limit those emissions."
With climate change a priority, Commissioner Hedegaard is working with Vice-President Antonio Tajani to develop a joint strategy on space and climate. As part of this, Commissioner Hedegaard invited experts from the space sector to provide inputs for consultation.
ESA's Prof. Volker Liebig described the fundamental role of space technology in addressing climate challenges, now and in the future.
He highlighted the EC-ESA Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme: "With GMES and the Sentinel satellites, we are trying to achieve an environmental and climate monitoring system comparable to what we achieved for meteorology, some 30 years ago.
"The Sentinel satellites ESA is developing for GMES will, for example, provide the data necessary to make annually updated worldwide land-cover maps."
These maps are essential for the UN's Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation programme.
Prof. Liebig also drew attention to ESA's Climate Change Initiative, through which world-leading international science teams are cooperating to provide long-term high-quality datasets on 'Essential Climate Variables'.
He pointed to the first three Earth Explorer missions, all now in orbit. They are using innovative space technologies to address key scientific questions on climate change and Earth science.
He also stressed the relevance of providing free and open access to Earth observation data, which is now the case for data from the Earth Explorers, but should also be the same in the future for the Sentinels.
Looking to the future, Prof. Liebig added, "ESA is preparing no fewer than 20 Earth observation missions for the next decade."
For example, the recently selected FLEX and CarbonSat Explorer concepts both address the global carbon cycle, with CarbonSat aiming to provide 6.5 million daily measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide with an accuracy of 1%.

Asia faces climate-induced migration 'crisis'

Asia faces climate-induced migration 'crisis'

February 6, 2011 by Martin Abbugao Research carried out for the UN showed that 2010 was one of the worst years on record worldwide for natural disastersEnlarge
Pakistanis displaced by floods line up for water at a makeshift tent camp on the outskirts of Karachi, in September 2010. Asia must prepare for millions of people to flee their homes to safer havens within countries and across borders as weather patterns become more extreme, the Asian Development Bank warns.
Asia must prepare for millions of people to flee their homes to safer havens within countries and across borders as weather patterns become more extreme, the Asian Development Bank warns.
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