Category: Nature


WOOD PILE

Nutrient-rich forests absorb more carbon


by Staff Writers
Laxenburg, Austria (SPX) Apr 17, 2014


File image.

The ability of forests to sequester carbon from the atmosphere depends on nutrients available in the forest soils, shows new research from an international team of researchers, including IIASA.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, showed that forests growing in fertile soils with ample nutrients are able to sequester about 30% of the carbon that they take up during photosynthesis. In contrast, forests growing in nutrient-poor soils may retain only 6% of that carbon. The rest is returned to the atmosphere as respiration.

“This paper produces the first evidence that to really understand the carbon cycle, you have to look into issues of nutrient cycling within the soil,” says IIASA Ecosystems Services and Management Program Director Michael Obersteiner, who worked on the study as part of a new international research project sponsored by the European Research Council.

Marcos Fernandez-Martinez, first author of the paper and researcher at the Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) says, “In general, nutrient-poor forests spend a lot of energy-carbon-through mechanisms to acquire nutrients from the soil, whereas nutrient-rich forests can use that carbon to enhance biomass production.”

 

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Research: Arid areas absorb unexpected amounts of carbon

By Eric Sorensen, WSU science writer

PULLMAN, Wash. – Researchers led by a Washington State University biologist have found that arid areas, among the biggest ecosystems on the planet, take up an unexpectedly large amount of carbon as levels of carbon dioxide increase in the atmosphere. The findings give scientists a better handle on the earth’s carbon budget – how much carbon remains in the atmosphere as CO2, contributing to global warming, and how much gets stored in the land or ocean in other carbon-containing forms.


“It has pointed out the importance of these arid ecosystems,” said R. Dave Evans, a WSU professor of biological sciences specializing in ecology and global change. “They are a major sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide, so as CO2 levels go up, they’ll increase their uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere. They’ll help take up some of that excess CO2 going into the atmosphere. They can’t take it all up, but they’ll help.”

Published in Nature Climate Change

The findings, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, come after a novel 10-year experiment in which researchers exposed plots in the Mojave Desert to elevated carbon-dioxide levels similar to those expected in 2050. The researchers then removed soil and plants down to a meter deep and measured how much carbon was absorbed.

“We just dug up the whole site and measured everything,” said Evans.

The idea for the experiment originated with scientists at Nevada’s universities in Reno and Las Vegas and the Desert Research Institute. Evans was brought in for his expertise in nutrient cycling and deserts, while researchers at the University of Idaho, Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University and Colorado State University also contributed.

Funding came from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Terrestrial Carbon Processes Program and the National Science Foundation’s Ecosystem Studies Program.

Vast lands play significant role

The work addresses one of the big unknowns of global warming: the degree to which land-based ecosystems absorb or release carbon dioxide as it increases in the atmosphere.

Receiving less than 10 inches of rain a year, arid areas run in a wide band at 30 degrees north and south latitude. Along with semi-arid areas, which receive less than 20 inches of rain a year, they account for nearly half the earth’s land surface.

 

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Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

 

04 Mar 2014: Analysis

Soil as Carbon Storehouse:
New Weapon in Climate Fight?

The degradation of soils from unsustainable agriculture and other development has released billions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere. But new research shows how effective land restoration could play a major role in sequestering CO2 and slowing climate change.

by judith d. schwartz

In the 19th century, as land-hungry pioneers steered their wagon trains westward across the United States, they encountered a vast landscape of towering grasses that nurtured deep, fertile soils.

Today, just three percent of North America’s tallgrass prairie remains. Its disappearance has had a dramatic impact on the landscape and ecology of

The world’s cultivated soils have lost 50 to 70 percent of their original carbon stock.

the U.S., but a key consequence of that transformation has largely been overlooked: a massive loss of soil carbon into the atmosphere. The importance of soil carbon — how it is leached from the earth and how that process can be reversed — is the subject of intensifying scientific investigation, with important implications for the effort to slow the rapid rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

According to Rattan Lal, director of Ohio State University’s Carbon Management and Sequestration Center, the world’s cultivated soils have lost between 50 and 70 percent of their original carbon stock, much of which has oxidized upon exposure to air to become CO2. Now, armed with rapidly expanding knowledge about carbon sequestration in soils, researchers are studying how land restoration programs in places like the

polar jet stream

Rattan Lal
Soil in a long-term experiment appears red when depleted of carbon (left) and dark brown when carbon content is high (right).

former North American prairie, the North China Plain, and even the parched interior of Australia might help put carbon back into the soil.

Absent carbon and critical microbes, soil becomes mere dirt, a process of deterioration that’s been rampant around the globe. Many scientists say that regenerative agricultural practices can turn back the carbon clock, reducing atmospheric CO2 while also boosting soil productivity and increasing resilience to floods and drought. Such regenerative techniques include planting fields year-round in crops or other cover, and agroforestry that combines crops, trees, and animal husbandry.

Recognition of the vital role played by soil carbon could mark an important if subtle shift in the discussion about global warming, which has been

A look at soil brings a sharper focus on potential carbon sinks.

heavily focused on curbing emissions of fossil fuels. But a look at soil brings a sharper focus on potential carbon sinks. Reducing emissions is crucial, but soil carbon sequestration needs to be part of the picture as well, says Lal. The top priorities, he says, are restoring degraded and eroded lands, as well as avoiding deforestation and the farming of peatlands, which are a major reservoir of carbon and are easily decomposed upon drainage and cultivation.

He adds that bringing carbon back into soils has to be done not only to offset fossil fuels, but also to feed our growing global population. “We cannot feed people if soil is degraded,” he says.

“Supply-side approaches, centered on CO2 sources, amount to reshuffling the Titanic deck chairs if we overlook demand-side solutions: where that carbon can and should go,” says Thomas J. Goreau, a biogeochemist and expert on carbon and nitrogen cycles who now serves as president of the Global Coral Reef Alliance. Goreau says we need to seek opportunities to increase soil carbon in all ecosystems — from tropical forests to pasture to wetlands — by replanting degraded areas, increased mulching of biomass instead of burning, large-scale use of biochar, improved pasture management, effective erosion control, and restoration of mangroves, salt marshes, and sea grasses.

“CO2 cannot be reduced to safe levels in time to avoid serious long-term impacts unless the other side of atmospheric CO2 balance is included,” Goreau says.

Scientists say that more carbon resides in soil than in the atmosphere and all plant life combined; there are 2,500 billion tons of carbon in soil, compared with 800 billion tons in the atmosphere and 560 billion tons in plant and animal life. And compared to many proposed geoengineering fixes, storing carbon in soil is simple: It’s a matter of returning carbon where it belongs.

Through photosynthesis, a plant draws carbon out of the air to form carbon compounds. What the plant doesn’t need for growth is exuded through the roots to feed soil organisms, whereby the carbon is humified, or rendered stable. Carbon is the main component of soil organic matter and helps give soil its water-retention capacity, its structure, and its fertility. According to Lal, some pools of carbon housed in soil aggregates are so stable that they can last thousands of years. This is in contrast to “active” soil carbon,

‘If we treat soil carbon as a renewable resource, we can change the dynamics,’ says an expert.

which resides in topsoil and is in continual flux between microbial hosts and the atmosphere.

“If we treat soil carbon as a renewable resource, we can change the dynamics,” says Goreau. “When we have erosion, we lose soil, which carries with it organic carbon, into waterways. When soil is exposed, it oxidizes, essentially burning the soil carbon. We can take an alternate trajectory.”

 

Read More Here

 

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Published on Dec 21, 2012

Animation created in Flash and After Effects looking at mans relationship with the natural world.

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Left Side Male, Right Side Female: Extremely Strange Creatures

By , Epoch Times | February 23, 2014

 

This lobster is half female, half male—split right down the middle, as seen by the two-toned coloring. It was caught by a fisherman off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, last year and the photo was posted on Reddit by his nephew.

The chances of catching such a two-toned lobster are 1 in 50 million to 100 million, staff at the Mount Desert Oceanarium said when a similar lobster was caught in Bar Harbor, Maine, in 2006.

It may be rare to catch such a lobster, but this phenomenon is found not only in lobsters. It is also found in butterflies and numerous other organisms.

According to ancient Taoist beliefs, the human body is divided into two genders corresponding to yin and yang. The left side is male, associated with yang chi, and the right side is female, associated with yin chi.

Not all two-toned lobsters are part male and part female (gynandromorphs).

 

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Mankind  in their journey to  control and  develop as far as  the eye can see have played a  significant  role  in the changes  that  have  taken place in our  environment.  The construction and restructuring  of  forests  and  natural habitats.  The  eradication  of  native wildlife species  in the never  ending  expansion of  commercial food  production and land development.

  These  pursuits have endangered  many  species having been labeled  as  pests in their  eyes.  Some  have  been  eradicated  to the  brink of  extinction.  Others  have  required protection as  endangered.   Others still have had t heir  populations  explode for lack of  natural  predators.  Forcing culls  to  be organized to  keep  their  numbers in  check.

Mankind knew  what they  wanted  to  achieve  However, they  had  no understanding  of  what changes  and  perils  they were manifesting  on the natural balance  of  our world.  One  such  member  of  the  animal  kingdom are  wolves.  Hunted  and  repudiated  as  a dangerous  nuisance.  They  have helped  mankind understand  that they are so much  more  than  that.

                           Joel Sartore/National Geographic     A portrait of the Yellowstone gray wolf.

After  70 years  these  beautiful creatures  were re-introduced  to the  Yellowstone National Park area and the  changes  that  have  taken  place since   then  have been  amazing.  The  wolves have shown their  true  worth as  well as  the  complicated web  of  life  that we  had  not been able to  see in  our  quest to  tame a natural habitat .  They  have  taught  us  that the intricacies of the  natural web of  life  requires a  balance  that  man  should not  tamper with.  We as  human  beings consider  ourselves  superior to the  other  members  of  the  animal  kingdom.  However, we  must  understand  that  we  are  simply a  link in the  chain  of  the  intricate  web  of  life that exists on our  planet.

Providing  balance  where  none  had  been.  Creating  diversity to provide  a balanced habitat  for all  wildlife.  The  wolves  have  proven themselves  to  be the  “Ultimate Eco-Engineers”.

(C)   ~Desert Rose~

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World News How wolves can alter the course of rivers

worldnews422 worldnews422

Published on Feb 20, 2014

When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers. How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of rivers
When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers. How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of rivers
When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers. How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of rivers How wolves can alter the course of riversWhen wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix titled, How Wolves Change Rivers.When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable trophic cascade occurred

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The New York Times

Hunting Habits of Wolves Change Ecological Balance in Yellowstone

Anne Sherwood for The New York Times

CHANGES IN THE WILD Douglas W. Smith using radio tracking equipment, above, to try to find the Leopold Wolf Pack along Blacktail Deer Creek in Yellowstone in September.

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. – Hiking along the small, purling Blacktail Deer Creek, Douglas W. Smith, a wolf biologist, makes his way through a lush curtain of willows.

Forum: Wildlife

Joel Sartore/National Geographic

A portrait of the Yellowstone gray wolf.

Nearly absent for decades, willows have roared back to life in Yellowstone, and the reason, Mr. Smith believes, is that 10 years after wolves were introduced to Yellowstone, the park is full of them, dispersed across 13 packs.

He says the wolves have changed the park’s ecology in many ways; for one, they have scared the elk to high ground and away from browsing on every willow shoot by rivers and streams.

“Wolves have caused a trophic cascade,” he said.

“Wolves are at the top of it all here. They change the conditions for everyone else, including willows.”

The last 10 years in Yellowstone have re-written the book on wolf biology. Wildlife biologists and ecologists are stunned by the changes they have seen.

It is a rare chance to understand in detail how the effects of an “apex predator” ripple through an ecosystem. Much of what has taken place is recounted in the recently released book “Decade of the Wolf: Returning the Wild to Yellowstone,” by Mr. Smith and Gary Ferguson. (Mr. Smith will discuss the effects at 7 tonight in the Linder Theater at the American Museum of Natural History. Admission is $15.)

In 1995, 14 wolves from Canada were brought into the park by truck and sleigh in the dead of winter, held in a cage for 10 weeks and released. Seventeen were added in 1996. Now, about 130 wolves in 13 packs roam the park.

Yellowstone, says Mr. Smith, is full.

Over the next 10 years, elk numbers dropped considerably. One of the world’s largest elk herds, which feeds on rich grasses on the northern range of the park, dropped from 19,000 in 1994 to about 11,000. Wolf reintroduction has been cited as the culprit by hunters, but Mr. Smith says the cause is more complex.

Data recently released after three years of study by the Park Service, the United States Geological Survey and the University of Minnesota found that 53 percent of elk deaths were caused by grizzly bears that eat calves. Just 13 percent were linked to wolves and 11 percent to coyotes. Drought also playing a role. The study is continuing.

Scientists do say that wolf predation has been significant enough to redistribute the elk. That has in turn affected vegetation and a variety of wildlife.

The elk had not seen wolves since the 1920′s when they disappeared from the park. Over the last 10 years, as they have been hunted by wolf packs, they have grown more vigilant.

They move more than they used to, and spend most of their time in places that afford a 360-degree view, said Mr. Smith. They do not spend time in places where they do not feel secure – near a rise or a bluff, places that could conceal wolves.

In those places willow thickets, and cottonwoods have bounced back. Aspen stands are also being rejuvenated. Until recently the only cottonwood trees in the park were 70 to 100 years old. Now large numbers of saplings are sprouting.

William Ripple, a professor of botany at Oregon State University, calls the process the “ecology of fear,” which has allowed the vegetation to thrive as a result of behavioral changes in the newly skittish and peripatetic elk.

Though the changes now are on a fairly small scale, the effects of the wolves will spread, and in 30 years, according to Mr. Smith, Yellowstone will look very different.

Not everyone is convinced. “Wolves have a role to play,” said Robert Crabtree, a canid biologist who has researched wolves and coyotes in the park since the late 1980′s. “But the research has ignored climate change and flooding, which have also had an effect on vegetation. Their work isn’t wrong, but it’s incomplete.”

Read More Here

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Minnesota’s wolves needed for ecological balance

  • Article by: MAUREEN HACKETT
  • Updated: September 8, 2013 – 9:27 PM

A recreational hunt doesn’t follow the DNR’s stated management plans.

The recent article, “Despite wins, Minnesota’s endangered species list up by 180” (Aug. 20, 2013) quotes the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) endangered species coordinator as stating, “We’ve got to learn how to manage species on a larger scale.”

The state’s list of species that have gone extinct and of those that are endangered and threatening to go extinct has grown tremendously.

One of the first steps in the large-scale management referred to by the DNR is to keep in place the vital assets already provided by nature. This is particularly relevant to the Minnesota wolf population.

A Romanian proverb says, “Where wolves roam, forests grow.” Having wolves on our landscapes and ecologically active is vital to maintaining the natural balance for all wildlife.

There is ample science and thinking that supports this management strategy, and innovative new ways to reduce wolf conflicts with livestock, including nonlethal methods (only 2 percent of the Minnesota farms in wolf country have experienced wolf problems with livestock).

As far back as the 1920s and ’30s, University of Wisconsin scientist, ecologist, forester and environmentalist Aldo Leopold established visionary wildlife management theories that rightfully viewed wildlife issues within the greater ecological system of nature.

In 1949, he proposed that a natural predator such as the wolf has a major residual impact on plants; river and stream bank erosion; fish and fowl; water quality; and on other animals. In other words, the wolf is a keystone species.

Leopold’s trophic cascade concept articulated emphatically that killing a predator wolf carries serious implications for the rest of the ecosystem. Later, that concept was endorsed by former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt.

The natural benefits of wolves to our complex landscapes is still not fully understood. What is known is that:

• The presence of wolves helps plants and tree growth by affecting the browsing behavior of deer, especially along stream and river banks.

Read More Here

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Bloomberg

Murder of Yellowstone Wolves Threatens Area Renaissance

Photographer: Marc Cooke/Wolves of the Rockies via Bloomberg

Two wolves passing through Lamar Valley at Yellowstone National Park. According to Marc Cooke, president of Wolves in… Read More

By Mike Di Paola Sep 2, 2013 11:01 PM CT

The air in Yellowstone National Park is chilly at the crack of dawn, even in August. If you want to see a wolf, you get up early and shiver.

“It’s more difficult right now to spot a wolf,” says Marc Cooke, president of Wolves of the Rockies. He means both the time of year — wolves are less active in summer — and the recent decline in wolf numbers, which he attributes to “the devastating impact from the needless trapping and hunting season.”

At last count there were 95 wolves in the park, traveling in 11 packs. A few years ago there were almost twice as many. Part of the decline is due to the natural ebb and flow of ecological systems, but hunters can legally shoot wolves when they stray outside the park into Wyoming, Montana or Idaho, even if they’re wearing radio collars.

Just last week, a collar-wearing female wolf that had killed a chicken was shot by a resident of Jardine, Montana.

As tenuous as the population is, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to delist the species, which is currently designated as “endangered” or “threatened” in most of the lower 48 states. The wolf would still be protected in Yellowstone, but would be at the mercy of bloodthirsty types just outside the park when the hunting season opens in September.

After a couple days, I finally catch the briefest glimpse of a pair of black wolves, loping over a rise and out of sight in the park’s stunning Lamar Valley. Though I’m looking through a spotting scope and the wolves are more than a mile off, the scene takes my breath away.

Wolf Renaissance

As an apex predator, wolves are essential to an ecosystem’s health. Soon after reintroduction to Yellowstone in 1995, wolves helped cull the overpopulated elk herds. This led to a rejuvenation of verdant ground cover that the elk had been mowing down, which in turn attracted animals that rely on low foliage for cover and food.

Yellowstone wolves are undoubtedly responsible for a renaissance of songbird and beaver populations and a lot more.

“You could argue that they’ve affected everything through the system,” says wolf biologist Doug Smith, Yellowstone’s longtime wolf project leader. “Wolves have been good for fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.”

Wolves are even good for another top predator, the grizzly bear, which feeds on berries that bounced back with the reappearance of wolves.

“We’ve got the most predators, or carnivores, in Yellowstone in the park’s entire history,” says Smith. “Arguably, Yellowstone is as pristine as it’s been in its entire history.”

Read More Here

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NPR

Wolves At The Door

Can two top predators coexist in the American West?

This is a story about wolves and people

This is a story about wolves and people

It’s a story about what we have in common — we’re social, adaptable and fiercely territorial. It’s also a story about whether we can get along.

It's also a story about whether we can get along

People have been fascinated with wolves for millennia. They show up in our folklore and in our fairy tales. Today, in much of the American West, gray wolves also show up in our politics. I know this because I grew up in Montana, where wolves can be as important and divisive a topic as gun control or health care.

A few decades ago, wolves had been hunted, trapped and poisoned — down to a population of about 50 in the contiguous United States. Then, in the mid-1990s, the federal government decided to bring them back, introducing 66 Canadian gray wolves into Idaho and Yellowstone National Park. They became “the environmental movement poster animal,” says Doug Smith, head of the Yellowstone Wolf Project, a group that monitors and studies wolves in Yellowstone National Park.

See Full Presentation  Here

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Description  :  Boomstronken; foto door Fruggo, juni 2003.

Attribution: Fruggo from nl

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

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New Research Shows Tree Roots Regulate CO2, Keep Climate Stable

Climate News Network | February 19, 2014 8:30 am

The argument, put forward by a team from Oxford and Sheffield Universities in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, begins with temperature. Warmer climates mean more vigorous tree growth and more leaf litter, and more organic content in the soil. So the tree’s roots grow more vigorously, said Dr. Christopher Doughty of Oxford and colleagues.

They get into the bedrock, and break up the rock into its constituent minerals. Once that happens, the rock starts to weather, combining with carbon dioxide. This weathering draws carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, and in the process cools the planet down a little. So mountain ecosystems—mountain forests are usually wet and on conspicuous layers of rock—are in effect part of the global thermostat, preventing catastrophic overheating.

The tree is more than just a sink for carbon, it is an agency for chemical weathering that removes carbon from the air and locks it up in carbonate rock.

That mountain weathering and forest growth are part of the climate system has never been in much doubt: the questions have always been about how big a forest’s role might be, and how to calculate its contribution.

Keeping climate stable

U.S. scientists recently studied the rainy slopes of New Zealand’s Southern Alps to begin to put a value on mountain ecosystem processes. Dr. Doughty and his colleagues measured tree roots at varying altitudes in the tropical rain forests of Peru, from the Amazon lowlands to 3,000 meters of altitude in the higher Andes.

They measured the growth to 30 cm below the surface every three months and did so for a period of years. They recorded the thickness of the soil’s organic layer, and they matched their observations with local temperatures, and began to calculate the rate at which tree roots might turn Andean granite into soil.

Then they scaled up the process, and extended it through long periods of time. Their conclusion: that forests served to moderate temperatures in a much hotter world 65 million years ago.

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Starving hives: Pesticides cause bees to collect 57% less pollen, study says

Published time: February 02, 2014 21:15
Edited time: February 04, 2014 09:23

Reuters / Leonhard Foeger

Reuters / Leonhard Foeger

While some scientists hailed the findings, pesticide makers remained unimpressed

In a spin-off of their earlier study, a team of British scientists have revealed how the neurotoxic chemicals contained in agricultural neonicotinoids affect the very basic function of the honeybees – the gathering of pollen, or flower nectar.

“Pollen is the only source of protein that bees have, and it is vital for rearing their young. Collecting it is fiddly, slow work for the bees and intoxicated bees become much worse at it. Without much pollen, nests will inevitably struggle,” explained University of Sussex professor Dave Goulson, who has led the study. His comments were made in a statement released alongside the research.

Goulson’s latest paper called “Field realistic doses of pesticide imidacloprid reduce bumblebee pollen foraging efficiency” was published at the end of January in peer-reviewed journal Ecotoxicology.

The scientists exposed some of the studied bees to low doses of imidacloprid and tracked their movement with the help of electronic tags. Unexposed bees were also tracked, and each insect flying out and returning to a hive was weighed to find out the amount of pollen it gathered.

It turned out that bees exposed to the neonicotinoid brought back pollen from only 40 percent of their trips asopposed to 63 percent of useful trips which their “healthy” counterparts undertook.
Intoxicated bees cut the amount of pollen gathered by nearly a third – overall, the comparative study showed that the hives exposed to the pesticide received 57 percent less pollen.

“Even near-infinitesimal doses of these neurotoxins seem to be enough to mess up the ability of bees to gather food. Given the vital importance of bumblebees as pollinators, this is surely a cause for concern,” Hannah Feltham of the University of Stirling, another member of the research team, stated.

Read More Here

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- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

(Image: Honor the Earth)Native American communities are promising fierce resistance to stop TransCanada from building, and President Barack Obama from permitting, the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“No Keystone XL pipeline will cross Lakota lands,” declares a joint statement from Honor the Earth, the Oglala Sioux Nation, Owe Aku, and Protect the Sacred. “We stand with the Lakota Nation, we stand on the side of protecting sacred water, we stand for Indigenous land-based lifeways which will NOT be corrupted by a hazardous, toxic pipeline.”

Members of seven Lakota nation tribes, as well as indigenous communities in Idaho, Oklahoma, Montana, Nebraska and Oregon, are preparing to take action to stop Keystone XL.

“It will band all Lakota to live together and you can’t cross a living area if it’s occupied,” said Greg Grey Cloud, of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, in an interview with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. “If it does get approved we aim to stop it.”

The indigenous-led ‘Moccasins on the Ground’ program has been laying the groundwork for this resistance for over two years by giving nonviolent direct action trainings to front-line communities.

“We go up to wherever we’ve been invited, usually along pipeline routes,” said Kent Lebsock, director of the Owe Aku International Justice Project, in an interview with Common Dreams. “We have three-day trainings on nonviolent direct action. This includes blockade tactics, and discipline is a big part of the training as well. We did nine of them last summer and fall, all the way from Montana to South Dakota, as well as teach-ins in Colorado and a training camp in Oklahoma.”

“We are working with nations from Canada and British Columbia, as well as with the people where tar sands are located,” Lebsock added.

“As an example of this nonviolent direct action,” explains Lebsock, in March 2012 people at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota held a blockade to stop trucks from transporting parts of the Keystone XL pipeline through the reservation.

In August 2013, members of the Nez Perce tribe blockaded megaloads traveling Idaho’s Highway 12 to the Alberta tar sands fields.

Descendants of the Ponca Tribe and non-native allies held a Trail of Tears Spiritual Camp in Nebraska in November to prevent the construction of the pipeline.

More spiritual camps along the proposed route of the pipeline are promised, although their date and location are not yet being publicly shared.

The promises of joint action follow the U.S. State Department’s public release on Friday of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). This report has been widely criticized as tainted by the close ties between Transcanada and the Environmental Resource Management contractor hired to do the report.

While the oil industry is largely spinning the report as a green-light for the pipeline, green groups emphasize that it contains stern warnings over the massive carbon pollution that would result if the pipeline is built, including the admission that tar sands oil produces approximately 17 percent more carbon than traditional crude.

The release of the FEIS kicked off a 90-day inter-agency review and 30-day public comment period. The pipeline’s opponents say now is a critical time to prevent Obama from approving the pipeline, which is proposed to stretch 1,179 miles from Alberta, Canada, across the border to Montana, and down to Cushing, Oklahoma where it would link with other pipelines, as part of a plan to drastically increase Canada’s tar sands production.

The southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline — which begins in Cushing, passes through communities in Oklahoma and East Texas, and arrives at coastal refineries and shipping ports — began operations last month after facing fierce opposition and protest from people in its path.

“Let’s honor the trail blazers from the Keystone XL south fight,” said Idle No More campaigner Clayton Thomas-Muller. “Time for some action, and yes, some of us may get arrested!”

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LiveScience

Greenland’s First Coral Reef Found

Greenland coral reef
A piece of the first cold-water coral reef discovered offshore of Greenland.
Credit: Technical University of Denmark

A Canadian research ship sampling water near southwest Greenland’s Cape Desolation discovered the Greenland coral reef in 2012, when its equipment came back to the surface with pieces of coral attached.

“At first, the researchers were swearing and cursing at the smashed equipment, and were just about to throw the pieces of coral back into the sea, when luckily, they realized what they were holding,” Helle Jørgensbye, a doctoral student at the Technical University of Denmark who is studying the reef, said in a statement.

Cold-water corals have been found off of Greenland’s west coast before, but never the stone coral Lophelia pertusa, and never as a reef, according to a report by the researchers published in the journal ICES Insight.

Scientists snapped pictures of the reef and collected coral samples on a return trip, also in 2012, led by the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Nova Scotia.

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Bit chilly for snorkelling! Living coral reef is discovered off the coast of GREENLAND

  • ‘Cold-water’ coral discovered in Cape Desolation, south of Ivittuut
  • It is the first time an entire reef has been discovered in Greenland
  • It was discovered by Canadian researchers purely by accident

By Sam Webb

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Coral reefs are often associated with tropical climates and enjoyed by snorkellers for their multi-coloured beauty.

But it would take a brave holidaymaker indeed to brave the one recently discovered by Canadian researchers – it’s in the freezing waters of southern Greenland.

The reef is comprised of what are called living cold-water corals and while there are several species of coral in Greenland, this is the first time that an actual reef has been found.

Vibrant: Cold water coral from the newly discovered reef off the coast of Greenland

Vibrant: Cold water coral from the newly discovered reef off the coast of Greenland

The beauty of the depths: This picture of the reef almost cost the research team their camera

The beauty of the depths: This picture of the reef almost cost the research team their camera

The newly discovered living reef is located off Cape Desolation, south of Ivittuut, and lies at a depth of 984 yards (900 metres) in a spot with very strong currents, making it difficult to reach.

This also means that so far little is known about the reef itself and what lives on it.

 The reef was discovered by accident when a Canadian research vessel needed to take some water samples. When the ship sent the measuring instruments down to the depths, they came back up completely smashed.

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Jan 16, 2014 by Sci-News.com

According to an international group of scientists led by Dr Nate Stephenson of the US Geological Survey, most of tropical and temperate tree species grow more quickly and sequester more carbon as they grow older.

Eucalyptus bridgesiana tree.

Eucalyptus bridgesiana tree.

The report, published in the journal Nature, is based on repeated measurements of 673,046 individual trees belonging to 403 species, some going back more than 80 years.

“Rather than slowing down or ceasing growth and carbon uptake, as we previously assumed, most of the oldest trees in forests around the world actually grow faster, taking up more carbon. A large tree may put on weight equivalent to an entire small tree in a year,” said co-author Dr Richard Condit from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

“This report would not have been possible without long-term records of individual tree growth. It was remarkable how we were able to examine this question on a global level, thanks to the sustained efforts of many programs and individuals,” added co-author Dr Mark Harmon of Oregon State University.

“Extraordinary growth of some species, such as Australian mountain ash – also known as eucalyptus – (Eucalyptus regnans), and the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is not limited to a few species,” Dr Stephenson said.

“Rather, rapid growth in giant trees is the global norm and can exceed 600 kg per year in the largest individuals. In human terms, it is as if our growth just keeps accelerating after adolescence, instead of slowing down. By that measure, humans could weigh half a ton by middle age, and well over a ton at retirement.”

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Industry consultants said anti-tar sands push could become ‘the most significant environmental campaign of the decade’ if activists were left unopposed.

Dec 5, 2013

Keystone XL oil pipeline protest

 

Thousands of protesters demonstrate in Washington D.C. against the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline in February 2013. According to a 2010 Power Point presentation prepared by Strafor for industry, “activists lack influence in politics.” But letting the movement grow unopposed may bring about “the most significant environmental campaign of the decade.” Credit: Bora Chung

As environmentalists began ratcheting up pressure against Canada’s tar sands three years ago, one of the world’s biggest strategic consulting firms was tapped to help the North American oil industry figure out how to handle the mounting activism. The resulting document, published online by WikiLeaks, offers another window into how oil and gas companies have been scrambling to deal with unrelenting opposition to their growth plans.

The document identifies nearly two-dozen environmental organizations leading the anti-oil sands movement and puts them into four categories: radicals, idealists, realists and opportunists—with how-to’s for managing each. It also reveals that the worst-case scenario presented to industry about the movement’s growing influence seems to have come to life.

The December 2010 presentation by Strategic Forecasting, or Stratfor, a global intelligence firm based in Texas, mostly advised oil sands companies to ignore or limit reaction to the then-burgeoning tar sands opposition movement because “activists lack influence in politics.” But there was a buried warning for industry under one scenario: Letting the movement grow unopposed may bring about “the most significant environmental campaign of the decade.”

“This worst-case scenario is exactly what has happened,” partly because opposition to tar sands development has expanded beyond nonprofit groups to include individual activists concerned about climate change, said Mark Floegel, a senior investigator for Greenpeace. “The more people in America see Superstorm Sandys or tornadoes in Chicago, the more they are waking up and joining the fight.”

[View the documents at Inside Climate News]

Since the presentation was prepared, civil disobedience and protests against the tar sands have sprung up from coast to coast. The movement has helped delay President Obama’s decision on the Keystone XL pipeline—designed to funnel Canada’s landlocked oil sands crude to refineries on the Gulf Coast—and has held up another contentious pipeline in Canada, the Northern Gateway to the Pacific Coast.

The Power Point document, titled “Oil Sands Market Campaigns,” was recently made public by WikiLeaks, part of a larger release of hacked files from Stratfor, whose clients include the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry lobby. It appears to have been created for Calgary-based petroleum giant Suncor Energy, Canada’s largest oil sands producer.

The company told InsideClimate News that it did not hire Stratfor and never saw such a presentation. Suncor is mentioned 11 times in the document’s 35 pages and all of Stratfor’s advice seems to be directed at the energy company. For example, one slide says, “Campaign ends quickly with a resolution along the lines Suncor had wanted.” In several emails released by WikiLeaks, Stratfor employees discuss a $14,890 payment Suncor owes the company for two completed projects, though no details were provided.

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