Watch the slow creep of spring as it pushes the cold hand of winter back to the frigid north … only to succumb again next year, of course.
NASA’s MODIS imager senses Earth’s reflection of both visible and longer wavelength near-infrared light. Plants, full of chlorophyll, absorb most visible light (except for green, of course) and reflect near-infrared. By combining this with the reflection of snow, NASA can watch the yearly cycle of vegetation springing back and falling away.
NYC GOV: First-Ever Large-Scale Urban Farm on NYCHA Property
Today the Red Hook Urban Farm was launched which is a 1-acre agriculture installation and the first-ever large-scale community farm on NYCHA property. The farm will serve as a source of fresh produce for the community while providing a center for education, job training and community…
As Beijing air pollution worsens, some American expats clear out
BEIJING — After nearly two decades in Beijing, David Wolf knew it was time for a change when his 11-year-old son, Aaron, somberly asked him, “Dad, when you were growing up, did you ever have PE outdoors?”
17 years of data and study of coral off the coast of South America which suffered badly in the 1997-98 El Nino has been analysed by revealing that the system took a long 13 years to recover. This news is startling but at the same time relieving as the recovery time although long on our terms, is very short on the terms of ecological systems around the world. This means that they will likely be able to adapt quite well to the changing climate as the years progress.
This is an important finding as coral reefs are thought to be home to 25% of the known marine species and thus are the foundation for marine life. If the reefs were slow to adapt then the entire marine ecosystem would suffer terribly with the predicted rises in temperatures across the world; and the knock on effect to the rest of the ecosystem would be devastating. The comparatively short temperature change registered around the time of the El Nino disturbance had a very large effect and thus suggests that the reefs are very susceptible to local changes, and while they can recover, we have to take great care to not push them so far that they cannot recover. This research and analysis has very important effects on how we consider our effect on the marine environment as we work towards fixing and mitigating the damage of climate change in the years to come.
Obama administration plans to end gray wolf protections across most of Lower 48
The Obama administration on Friday will propose lifting most of the remaining federal protections for gray wolves across the Lower 48 states, a move that would end four decades of recovery efforts but has been criticized by some scientists as premature.Under the administration’s plan, federal protections would remain only for a fledgling population of Mexican gray wolves in the desert Southwest. The proposal will be subject to a public comment period and a final decision made within a year.
Note this is in addition to previous efforts by Obama that allowed hunting of wolves for the first time in decades. Over 1,600 have been killed. See my wolf tag for additional background.
So long, San Onofre nuclear plant
One of the two nuclear power plants in California, the San Onofre plant near San Clemente will be shut down for financial reasons, with an intimidating series of hearings looming ahead should owner Edison International have decided to re-open the plant.
So what happened to cause the plant’s closure for good?
The coastal plant near San Clemente once supplied power to about 1.4 million homes in Southern California but has been shuttered since January 2012 when a tube in its newly replaced steam generators leaked a small amount of radioactive steam, leading to the discovery that the tubes were wearing down at an unusual rate.
The plant has been in limbo since that discovery. And while environmental advocates are cheering the closure, more than 1,100 will still be losing their jobs as a result of the permanent shut-down.
Read more over at L.A. Now
Photos: Mike Nelson / EPA, Gregory Bull / Associated Press
At last, Los Angeles River opens to public recreation after 80 years
Anthea Raymond no longer has to break the law to kayak on the Los Angeles River.
The California Floristic Province (byflora-file)
Being a California native myself I have a fascination with California’s native flora. There are about 6300 native taxa of plants found in California, and a third are found nowhere else but the limited area that comprises the California floristic province. It has the highest diversity of plant species in North America, north of tropical Mexico.
The plants of California are specially adapted for the Mediterranean climate here. Mediterranean climates have long, dry summers and cool, moist winters. In Mediterranean climates the majority of the precipitation occurs during the moist winter months, and summer months receive almost no rainfall, which often means 6-8 months of no rains. For this reason many plants here have switched around the normal seasonal growing patterns. Spring is triggered by the autumn rains, and during the dry summer months plants enter their dormancy.
Mediterranean climate zones comprise only 3% of the Earth’s landmass, but account for 10% of the known plant species. In addition to California, Mediterranean climates are found in only four other areas of the world: the Mediterranean Basin, the Cape region of South Africa, central Chile, and southwestern Australia. Many of the plants used in ornamental gardens and propagated by the nursery industry have ancestral orgins in the Mediterranean climes of the world. This climate has truly created an amazing diversity of flora.
(California Floristic Province Map and statistics from California Native Plants for the Garden, Bornstein, Fross, & O’Brien, Cochuma Press, 2005.)
(Mediterranean Climate Map via wikipedia.)
Japan and South Korea suspended some imports of American wheat, and the European Union urged its 27 nations to increase testing, after the United States government disclosed this week that a strain of genetically engineered wheat that was never approved for sale was found growing in an Oregon field.
Although none of the wheat, developed by Monsanto Company, was found in any grain shipments — and the Department of Agriculture said there would be no health risk if any was shipped — governments in Asia and Europe acted quickly to limit their risk.
South Korea, which last year purchased roughly half of its total wheat imports of five million tons from the United States, said Friday it would suspend purchases until tests were performed on arriving shipments. Results of the tests, by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, were expected in the first week of June, according to local media.
Seoul also raised quarantine measures on wheat for livestock feed, while Thailand put ports on alert.
The European Union, which has a “zero tolerance” approach to genetically modified crops, said through its consumer protection office Friday that if any shipments tested positive, they would not be sold.
It also said it was seeking “further information and reassurance” from Washington and had asked Monsanto for help in developing a reliable test for the genetically modified strain." -The New York Times, “Japan and South Korea Bar Imports of U.S. Wheat” (via inothernews)
Sequester guts wildfire prevention, sets up bigger blazes
The sequester took a 7.5 percent bite out of the Forest Service’s budget, nearly half of which is spent fighting wildfires.
A Sad Day for the Oceans & Marine Life as California's Marine Plastic Pollution Bill Held in Appropriations Committee | Leila Monroe's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC
This afternoon, members of the California Assembly Appropriations Committee stopped Assembly Bill 521 — a groundbreaking proposal to create a statewide marine plastic pollution producer responsibility program from moving forward in the legislature.
This program would have encouraged industry to reduce the amount of plastic it produces (especially single-use packaging) and share the costs of cleaning up what remains. By doing so, it would protect California’s ocean, beaches and communities from plastic pollution and reduce costly waste management, litter cleanup and recycling. In its 2008 report, CalRecycle estimated that Californians dump 3.8 million tons of plastic into state landfills every year – plastic that could be recycled or avoided all together.
Interesting read from the NRDC staff blog. Strange that I hadn’t heard more about this legislation before the wheels effectively ground to a halt. Usually California’s environmental groups are a bit more vocal about the policies they support.
In the next week or so, billions of red-eyed, black-bodied, orange-legged cicadas will emerge from the ground. The latest generation of cicadas, known as Brood II, have spent 17 years in the dark. They have been down there since Derek Jeter’s rookie season, several feet beneath your feet, sucking on liquids from tree roots, waiting for their moment.
And when they do emerge – one night, likely between May 18 and 24, when the soil reaches the magic temperature of 64 degrees – they will attach to a vertical surface, split open their backs and clamber out of their exoskeleton. They will climb into the tops of trees, start to fly, make an ungodly racket in their search of a mate, lay eggs – and, within weeks, drop dead.
They will be gone before Jeter even gets off the disabled list.
“We should feel lucky and special to witness this – there’s nothing like this anywhere else in the world,” said Andrew Liebhold, a research entomologist with the U.S. Forest Service.
These bugs, known as periodical cicadas, are different from the annual cicadas, which have more of a green body and show up each summer. If you look around the base of trees, you might already be able to spot the holes that periodical cicada nymphs are digging to prepare for their emergence.
The suburbs are generally good habitat for cicadas since they like to lay eggs on young trees and they prefer the edge of forests. How many will emerge “depends on how much development has occurred and how many trees have been cut down since the last emergence,” said George Hamilton, an entomologist at Rutgers University. “They’re stuck in the ground for 17 years, and if they suddenly have no food source, they die.”
Are you ready, Mid-Atantic/Northeast?