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Climate Change & Conservation eNews

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Ocean
Phys.org

Scientists sound alarm as ocean temperatures hit new record

This has wide-ranging implications because it affects the exchange of heat, oxygen, and carbon between the ocean and atmosphere, with effects including a loss of oxygen in the ocean. "Deoxygenation itself is a nightmare for not only marine life and ecosystems but also for humans and our terrestrial ecosystems," the researchers said in a statement.

The world’s oceans, which have absorbed most of the excess heat caused by humanity’s carbon pollution, continued to see record-breaking temperatures last year, according to research published Wednesday.

Climate change has increased surface temperatures across the planet, leading to atmospheric instability and amplifying extreme weather events such as storms…

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Agrisolar Clearinghouse

Farmer first solar: Agrivoltaics webinar series

The AgriSolar Clearinghouse is hosting a series of webinars around the ins and outs of agrivoltaics. This might be a good thing to share with community members, your friends and neighbors, and other conservation folks.

The AgriSolar Clearinghouse is an information-sharing, relationship-building public communications hub for all things agrisolar. The AgriSolar Clearinghouse is offering a free series of webinars regarding research on how solar and agriculture can work (and are working) together to enhance farm/ranch viability, soil health, and water management.

Webinar topics include: the cost of agrivoltaics, growing crops under solar panels, taste differences among crops grown under panels, solar and pollinator habitats, and more. You can sign up here, or watch recordings of past webinars.

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Cardinals
Pixabay

Climate change, habitat loss (and, yes, even cats) pose a greater threat to birds than windmills

This piece was written in consultation with Dr. Brian Weeks, Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability. Weeks is an evolutionary ecologist who studies how bird species and communities have responded to environmental change.

Research quantifying the full scale of wind turbine activity’s impact upon birds both through their migratory patterns and killed by collision with wind turbines is a matter of current scientific studies. It is important to quantify these impacts, but it is also important to acknowledge that these impacts are certainly negligible compared to other drivers of bird mortality.

The number of birds killed by wind turbine collisions per year is estimated to be between 150,000 and 500,000, but when you put this number in perspective, it pales in comparison to other causes of bird mortality…

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Grapes
iStock

Solar panels help French winemaker keep climate change at bay

Europe is ahead of the U.S. when it comes to elevated solar and agrivoltaics. It doesn't have to be that way. With funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, communities and states could incentivize Farmer First Solar — which enhances agriculture, like in this story. Check out the images, too.

A roof of solar panels shades Pierre Escudie as he inspects the last plump grapes to be harvested at his vineyard in southwest France, after a year of hard frosts and blistering heat that damaged many of his neighbors’ crops.

The solar panels insulate the grapes during periods of extreme cold and shield them from the sun’s harsh rays during heat waves. The panels also rotate to allow more light to hit the vines on more overcast days…

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Prairie
iStock

Ancient grasslands guide ambitious goals in grassland restoration

Published in the journal Science on August 5, 2022 as part of a special issue on grasslands, this study contradicts years of assumptions that grasslands’ ecological development is quick and their recovery is rapid, posing new challenges to their successful restoration.

Grasslands, which constitute almost 40% of the terrestrial biosphere, provide habitat for a great diversity of animals and plants and contribute to the livelihoods of more than 1 billion people worldwide. Whereas the destruction and degradation of grasslands can occur rapidly, recent work indicates that complete recovery of biodiversity and essential functions occurs slowly or not at all. Grassland restoration—interventions to speed or guide this recovery—has received less attention than restoration of forested ecosystems, often due to the prevailing assumption that grasslands are recently formed habitats that can reassemble quickly. Viewing grassland restoration as long-term assembly toward old-growth endpoints, with appreciation of feedbacks and threshold shifts, will be crucial for recognizing when and how restoration can guide recovery of this globally important ecosystem.

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Western Prairie
Flickr

Oft-overlooked grasslands build biodiversity, resilience over centuries

Grasslands are important for a variety of reasons, including carbon sequestration. As climate change threatens the American West through drought, heat, and wildfire, grasslands are increasingly understood as very important players. Prairies use less water, reduce soil erosion, and keep carbon in the ground over time.

Grasslands’ biodiversity and resilience to disturbances such as fire, heat, and drought is the result of a slow process over hundreds of years, like that of old-growth forests, finds new CU Boulder-led research.

Published in the journal Science on August 5, 2022 as part of a special issue on grasslands, the study contradicts years of assumptions that grasslands’ ecological development is quick and their recovery is rapid, posing new challenges to their successful restoration.

“Old-growth grasslands have a unique suite of characteristics that develop over a really long time…”

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Butterfly On Tree Rings
Tsun Fung Au

Old-growth trees more drought tolerant than younger ones, providing a buffer against climate change

To me, this is not a surprise. Yet, given increasingly erratic weather, it's more important than ever to manage forests with older trees in mind.

A new analysis of more than 20,000 trees on five continents shows that old-growth trees are more drought tolerant than younger trees in the forest canopy and may be better able to withstand future climate extremes.

The findings highlight the importance of preserving the world’s remaining old-growth forests…

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Cattle Agroforestry
NHPR

Mongabay series: Global Agroforestry

Federal funding comes as interest in agroforestry is growing rapidly in the U.S., alongside the need to rapidly adopt more climate-positive types of agriculture...

An ancient agricultural system, agroforestry combines trees with shrubs, crops, and livestock in a system that produces food, supports biodiversity, builds soil horizons and water tables, and sequesters carbon from the atmosphere — this series explores how and where it is being practiced by Indigenous communities, traditional agriculturists, and new farmers.

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Agroforestry Diagram
Interlace Commons

More on agroforestry

Director Meghan Giroux is currently implementing a program to boost regional training capacity toward helping farms implement this sustainable farming technique — which blends annual crops and livestock with perennial shrubs and trees in a carbon-sequestering system that’s also more resilient to droughts and floods — while keeping her eye on the sizable new opportunities coming from the federal government.

Agroforestry developed as a set of indigenous land-use practices over thousands of years across our global community. The interventions utilize trees, crops, and livestock in intimate combinations to produce positive ecological, social, and economic outcomes. In the United States, agroforestry systems are defined in the following ways: alley cropping, forest farming, riparian buffers, silvopasture, and windbreaks.

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Hops
Erik Hoffner for Mongabay

American agroforestry accelerates with new funding announcements

One of 70 projects from the USDA’s Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities (CSC) program is a $60 million project to advance agroforestry. It's administered by The Nature Conservancy, which will distribute funds to local and regional for-profit and nonprofit training and support partners — from Alabama to Maine, Minnesota to Hawaii and Texas (37 states in all).

“There is a windfall of federal money entering the agroforestry sector,” Meghan Giroux told Mongabay. The director of Vermont-based agroforestry consultancy Interlace Commons, she is currently implementing a program to boost regional training capacity toward helping farms implement this sustainable farming technique — which blends annual crops and livestock with perennial shrubs and trees in a carbon-sequestering system that’s also more resilient to droughts and floods — while keeping her eye on the sizable new opportunities coming from the federal government.

That federal funding comes as interest in agroforestry is growing rapidly in the U.S., alongside the need to rapidly adopt more climate-positive types of agriculture…

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