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Manuel Valdes / Associated Press

Want to fight climate change and drought at the same time? Bring back beavers

This nature-based restoration effort can help stave off the worst effects of climate change that are warming streams, deepening droughts, and fueling wildfires.

There’s a strong consensus among scientists and environmental managers on the benefits of working with beavers to protect our natural environments. Beavers can help us continue to live on, work with, and enjoy our Western landscape. As ecosystem engineers, they build dams and dig canals to escape predators. Their manipulation of plants for food and building materials produces wide-ranging environmental gains…

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Riverscapes as natural infrastructure: Meeting challenges of climate adaptation and ecosystem restoration

This nature-based restoration effort can help stave off the worst effects of climate change that are warming streams, deepening droughts, and fueling wildfires.

Rivers have been diminished, simplified, and degraded globally by the concentration of agriculture, transportation, and development in valley bottoms over decades and centuries, substantially limiting their ecological health and value. More recently, climate change is steadily increasing stress on aging traditional, gray infrastructure. Recent trends in river management present an opportunity to address both the ecological degradation and climate stress.

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Hot In The South
Vincent D. Johnson/Xinhua via Getty Images

Mississippi river basin could be in an ‘extreme heat belt’ in 30 years

Extreme heat, and drought, are changing our country's landscape (to say nothing about the catastrophic flooding). Yet the press rarely talks about what this means for wildlife and farm animals. You can help connect the dots — and the solutions — to proactively approach climate action.

The study finds that, on average, the number of extremely hot days will more than double in that same period.

In Kansas, for example, the temperature soared above 98 degrees for seven days this year. By 2053, Kansans can expect 20 days at that temperature.

“We need to be prepared for the inevitable,” said Matthew Eby, founder and CEO of First Street Foundation. “A quarter of the country will soon fall inside the extreme heat belt, with temperatures exceeding 125 degrees Fahrenheit, and the results will be dire.”

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Night Boat
Salwan Georges/The Washington Post

Gulf of Maine waters spiked to record warm levels in fall 2021

I'm looking out the window, watching the tide go out from Swan's Island, Maine. It's hard to know, sitting here, that Maine is experiencing some of the fastest warming from climate change in the world. Yet there are signs for those who look around.

Water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine this fall felt more like summer. A little too much.

The Gulf of Maine Research Institute announced the warmth of inlet waters adjacent to Maine and northern Massachusetts was the highest on record between September and November — by a lot. Last year was nearly 0.5 degrees warmer than 2012, which previously held the title for warmest fall. Sea surface temperatures during the season hovered above 60 degrees through almost the end of October, about 6 degrees above normal.

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Judy Anderson

Protect your woodlands

Woodland conservation can be part of the climate solution. Yet how do you talk to landowners about it? Vermont Land Trust does a nice job.

“Over 75% of Vermont’s land is forested, and much of that land is privately owned, often by families and individuals. Conserving these forests matters a great deal for our climate, our economy, and our communities. If you own woodland and want it to remain forested, conservation is one option you could consider. We can help you explore your options and guide you through the process…”

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Judy Anderson

Coastal marsh migration may further fuel climate change

A new study predicts habitat changes along the Atlantic coast will have a marked increase in climate emissions.

As rising sea levels cause marshes to move inland in six mid-Atlantic states, the coastal zone will not continue to serve as a carbon sink but release more carbon into the atmosphere, a new modeling study led by researchers at Duke University finds.

Earlier estimates focused on the potential for an expanded area of coastal marshes to capture more carbon, removing it from the atmosphere where it acts as a greenhouse gas in the form of carbon dioxide. But as coastal marshes invade low-lying forests and freshwater wetlands, the loss of trees and decomposition will release more carbon into the air than can be captured by the marshes, further contributing to global climate change…

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Black And White Bird

2021 Plowprint Report

Certain landscapes, like the Great Plains are being torn up at a ferocious rate — with grave implications for biodiversity and carbon storage.

In a concerning trend, WWF’s 2021 Plowprint Report has revealed that, for the second year in a row, grassland plow-up across the Great Plains has continued to accelerate. The 2021 report, which utilizes the USDA’s annual Cropland Data Layer and the Canadian Annual Crop Inventory from two years prior to its release date, finds that from 2018-2019 an estimated 2.6 million acres of grassland were plowed-up, primarily to make way for row crop agriculture. This is an area larger than Yellowstone National Park. Within the Northern Great Plains (NGP), the Great Plains’ most intact region, nearly 600 thousand acres were plowed up during this same period.

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Sunlit Field
Tetra Images/Getty Images/Tetra images RF

America’s native grasslands are disappearing

The Great Plains are being torn up at a ferocious rate — with grave implications for biodiversity and carbon storage.

Lendrum led a research team that released a report in September showing that from 2018 to 2019 an estimated 2.6 million acres of grassland were plowed up, primarily to make way for row crop agriculture — an area larger than Yellowstone national park.

For a few years, the rate of grassland loss was decreasing. But then in 2018 and 2019, the number started to increase again, Lendrum says. “That’s an alarming trend.” It’s also a huge blow for efforts to fight the climate crisis and represents a little reported unfolding environmental disaster in the US…

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Nature’s make or break potential for climate change

This study shows we’ve been underestimating nature’s role in tackling climate change. See what you think.

Though his business card says Director of Forest Carbon Science at The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Bronson Griscom introduces himself as an ecological accountant. Griscom radiates an optimism somewhat rare in seasoned environmentalists, especially when he discusses the “carbon economy” of nature: the everyday role that trees, grasslands and coastal habitats play in the carbon cycle. Griscom can measure the carbon impact of logging in old growth forests, or how well different forest ecosystems work as sinks for absorbing and storing carbon from the atmosphere. He helps link our economy with the economy of the biosphere.

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Judy Anderson

Large influence of soil moisture on long-term terrestrial carbon uptake

This is a scientific article, that might be of interest to you on the topics of soil and soil moisture.

The impact of climate change on soil moisture could push land past a “tipping point” — turning it from a net carbon “sink” to a source of CO2.

This research shows that levels of soil moisture — which are impacted by rising temperatures and extreme events such as droughts — can have a “large negative influence” on the land’s ability to store carbon…

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