Ocean Acidification, Climate-Impacted Open Space, EPA Rules, and Front Range Floods

Some great new stories for your Tuesday reading!

Craig WelchFirst, an incredible series from Craig Welch and his colleague Steve Ringman at The Seattle Times, about ocean acidification. They traveled to the ends of the earth to create this multimedia piece, and it's not to be missed! Stunning photos, great video, insightful, top-notch reporting.

Sea Change: Ocean Acidification

NORMANBY ISLAND, Papua New Guinea — Katharina Fabricius plunged from a dive boat into the Pacific Ocean of tomorrow.She kicked through blue water until she spotted a ceramic tile attached to the bottom of a reef.

A year earlier, the ecologist from the Australian Institute of Marine Science had placed this small square near a fissure in the sea floor where gas bubbles up from the earth. She hoped the next generation of baby corals would settle on it and take root.

Fabricius yanked a knife from her ankle holster, unscrewed the plate and pulled it close. Even underwater the problem was clear. Tiles from healthy reefs nearby were covered with budding coral colonies in starbursts of red, yellow, pink and blue. This plate was coated with a filthy film of algae and fringed with hairy sprigs of seaweed.

Instead of a brilliant new coral reef, what sprouted here resembled a slimy lake bottom.

Isolating the cause was easy. Only one thing separated this spot from the lush tropical reefs a few hundred yards away... Read and see more.

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lauren sommerNext, from Lauren Sommer with KQED Science in San Francisco, another great multimedia piece investigating how warmer global temperatures will impact that city's landscape. Great interactive maps and charts!

Warming Climate Could Transform Bay Area Parks and Open Space

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Now, with temperatures on the rise, land managers and scientists are beginning to ask how the Bay Area’s landscape will withstand climate change. As plants and animals are forced to shift, some of the Bay Area’s iconic parks and vistas could look dramatically different.

Scientists say signs of those changes may already be appearing in places such as the hills east of downtown San Jose.

“This is a blue oak,” says Nature Conservancy ecologist Sasha Gennet, examining the small, dark leaves of a towering tree on the Blue Oak Ranch Reserve, part of the University of California Natural Reserve System.

She pulls the branch down to eye level. “You can tell because they’re a little bit bluish or grayish,” she says. “They’re probably the hardiest of the oak species in the California. These are the ones that you see in those hottest, driest places, hanging on through the summer.”

“But even these have their limits,” she adds, “and we’re starting to see what those limits are.”...Read more.

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Tiffany SteckerFrom Tiffany Stecker with ClimateWire, writes for Scientific American about some new rules for power plants:

EPA Announces CO2 Rules for New Power Plants

U.S. EPA will unveil a proposal for the first-ever technology standards to rein in power plant emissions of carbon dioxide today.

As rumored, EPA will require that all new natural gas-fired plants emit no more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour, and coal plants no more than 1,100 pounds per megawatt-hour. Although a combined cycle natural gas plant could easily meet the standard, even the most efficient coal plant would have to cut about 40 percent of its CO2 emissions.

To do this, facilities would have to incorporate carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology in their construction, a promising but relatively new method of capturing CO2 and either storing it underground or using the gas for industrial purposes... Read more. 

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Cally CarswellAnd Cally Carswell with High Country News weighs in on the recent disaster in Colorado:

Why flooding on the Front Range is an inevitable disaster

Excuse my language, but: Holy. Shit. That's what all of us natural disaster-curious Internet voyeurs were thinking last week, our jaws giving in to gravity as we clicked through images from Colorado's Front Range of people trudging through baseball fields covered hip-high with waterroads sliced apart by whitewater, and cabins transformed into riverine islandsWeather Channel CEOs were, no doubt, rubbing their hands together and cackling, while the usually staid National Weather Service called the rains "biblical." "There’s no scientific definition of 'biblical,'" reported Climate Progress, "but the flooding has been unlike anything local residents have ever seen before."... Read more.

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