Today in WaterWise news:
Greenland just opened up a new floodgate ♦ Dwindling snowpacks will have huge impact on water sources for over 2 billion people ♦ Feds are working on mapping Alaska ♦ Honeybees, the cornerstone of modern agriculture, are declining ♦ Montana and Georgia and the Clean Power Plan ♦ Long beach breakwater study to look at restoring ecosystem ♦ The changing North Carolina coast ♦ Study to revitalize Santa Clara River estuary moves along ♦ Shoreline protection projects in Florida plus $20M in restoration grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Federation.
Washington Post - As the world prepares for the most important global climate summit yet in Paris later this month, news from Greenland could add urgency to the negotiations. For another major glacier appears to have begun a rapid retreat into a deep underwater basin, a troubling sign previously noticed at Greenland's Jakobshavn Glacier and also in the Amundsen Sea region of West Antarctica. An in all of these cases, warm ocean waters reaching the deep bases of marine glaciers appears to be major cause. The new fast-moving glacier is the Zachariae glacier or Zachariæ Isstrøm, located in the far northeastern part of Greenland. In a new paper in Science, Jeremie Mouginot of the University of California-Irvine and his colleagues find that the ocean-based glacier, which contains 0.5 meters or a foot of potential sea level rise, has begun a rapid retreat, especially since 2012. Read more.
ClimateWire - Across the Northern Hemisphere, a warming climate is expected to imperil water supply for nearly 100 areas where melting snow runoff is the primary source of water for the cities downstream, new research finds. Although many researchers have modeled and hypothesized the projected changes to the rate and timing of snowpack melting, the study published yesterday in the journal Environmental Research Letters identifies places where snow was uniquely important as a source of water for people and quantifies how many would be affected. "Snow's utility to people is that is provides its own storage reservoir - releasing water in spring and summer as human and ecosystem water demands incrase," Justin Mankin, a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University's Earth Institute and lead author of the study said in an email. "It [the results] gives us a sense of snow's future potential to supply the water people presently glean from snowpack," he wrote. Read more.
Wall Street Journal - The tallest peak in North America is a bit of an attention hog. It made headlines this summer when its name changed from Mount McKinley to Denali, and it returned to the news in the fall when surveyors shaved 10 feet off its elevation. But those news flashes were a fraction of a much bigger story: For the first time in decades, the federal government is mapping the entire state of Alaska, where Denali is located. It isn't just a vanity project - the aim is to correct errors that have created confusion and cost lives. "There have been a number of accidents and incidents when planes went into mountains or high peaks because maps were inaccurate," said Mark Newell, a spokesman for the U.S. Geological Survey. "Not only do we want better maps, for recreation and business and science but also for aviation safety." Read more.
Washington Post - With the help of 20 years' worth of research and thousands of prehistoric shards of pottery, a large group of scientists have presented evidence that the deep relationship between humans and honeybees is far older than we thought - giving us just one more reason to care about the conservation of a species that we've relied on for thousands of years. Honeybees are a cornerstone of modern agriculture, valued both for their importance as pollinators and for the honey and wax they produce. Today, they're considered a largely domesticated organism, commonly kept by humans in managed lives - but it wasn't always this way. Like all domesticated creatures, honeybees started out as wild animals. Read more.
EnergyWire - While Montana's Democratic governor called U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan "unfair to Montanans," he signed an executive order yesterday to create an advisory council to form a state plan to lower emissions. The council's 20 to 26 members will be sifting through data to recommend a plan to meet the EPA rule's emissions target, even as the state's attorney general is fighting the plan alongside 26 other states. Gov. Steve Bullock said if Montana doesn't make its own plan to meet the emissions standards, the federal government will impose its own that wouldn't be best for the state. "Even though I do not believe that the final EPA rules are fair for our state," he said," I do believe that there are many choices that Montanans may make to keep our state's energy destiny in our own hands." Bullock joins West Virginia, Michigan and a number of other states suing EPA to halt the Clean Power Plan. Read more.
EnergyWire - Members of the Georgia Public Service Commission pressed U.S. EPA for details on how much of the state's rich timber resources it can use to help meet emission-reduction targets under the agency's Clean Power Plan. More than two-thirds of Georgia is covered in forests. Regulators - and the state's forest industry - want to use these trees to comply with the rule's mandate to cut the state's power-sector emissions rate 34 percent by 2030. The commission invited EPA officials to a routine Energy Committee meeting here to review how Goergia could use biomass to meet its compliance targets. Besides those in person, EPA officials in Raleigh and Washington, D.C., participated by phone. Georgia Environmental Protection Division officials, including the air branch chief, attended as well. Read more.
Los Angeles Times - The federal government gave a major boost Thursday to the years-long push to bring back crashing waves and cleaner water to the shores of Long Beach. The city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reached an agreement over the funding of a three-year study on how to restore the ecosystem of East Sand Pedro Bay, including whether the removal of the 2.2-mile breakwater would improve marine life without posing a danger to nearby infrastructure, the city announced in a statement. The launch of the $3-million study is a major victory for city leaders and local environmental and recreation groups who have long said the rocky breakwater hemming in the San Pedro Bay has diminished the water quality, hurt marine life and eliminated a beloved benefit of coastal living: large waves seen elsewhere along California's shore. Read more.
Press Telegram - The Army Corps of Engineers and Long Beach officials are about to take a close look at whether the Long Beach breakwater that prevents big surf from crashing into local beaches should be removed, reconfigured or is still needed to protect marine vessels. Mayor Robert Garcia met with Brig. Gen. Mark Toy of the Army Corps of Engineers on Thursday to finalize details, and in the next few weeks, the city expects to have a formal ceremony to mark progress in the long-delayed effort. The issue of whether the breakwater should remain in Long Beach is but one of several ecological questions intended to be answered by what's called the East San Pedro Bay Ecosystem Restoration Study. Although Long Beach's City Council took action in 2013 to commit $2.25 million in local dollars to the study, the federal government has not yet been able to come up with its share of the costs. Read more.
Topsail Advertiser - It's hard to predict what life will be like n 2050, but chances are locals will still enjoy a walk on the beach. What that beach will look like, though, depends on how recent changes to North Carolina's coastal management policies play out. As oceans rise globally, local shores will likely be thinner. In some places terminal groins may jut from the beach into the sea, while walls of sandbags buttress vulnerable homes. Far offshore, wind turbines could spin and rigs might pump oil from the ocean floor. Since a Republican majority arrived at the General Assembly in 2011, legislators have aimed bills at North Carolina's shoreline. In 2011, the state's longstanding ban on hardened structures to combat beach erosion was lifted, and a bill changing how the state projects sea level rise was passed. This year's budget lifts a cap on some structures such a terminal groins and calls for relaxing sandbag restrictions. Read more.
Fuel Fix - Gov. Andrew Cuomo has rejected a proposal to build a liquefied natural gas terminal in the waters off New York and New Jersey, effectively killing the project amid an outcry from residents of some coastal communities that could endanger the environment and be a target for terrorists. The deep-water docking station known as Port Ambrose was to be built 19 miles off Jones Beach on Long Island and 29 miles off Long Branch, New Jersey. Liberty Natural Gas LLC, the company vying to develop Port Ambrose, said the port would allow it to inject natural gas into the New York-area pipeline, which could lower home heating bills there, among the most expensive in the nation. Read more.
VC Reporter - A year-long study of the Santa Clara River estuary has resulted in a design that may become the future face of the oft-flooded McGrath State Beach park, but for now, there's still a ways to go. The Santa Clara River Estuary Habitat Restoration and Enhancement Feasibility and Design Study includes a preferred restoration design for the 42 acres of the Santa Clara River estuary habitat that once played host to the endangered California steelhead and a plethora of native birds and other species. Included in the design is the relocation of the McGrath State Beach campground (which has been closed, off and on, for several years due to flooding) to an area less likely to become flooded alongside the restoration area. "This design includes improved ecological functions for a wide range of estuary water levels," said Jason Weiner, project manager and Wishtoyo Foundation's Water Initiative director. Read more.
Your Observer - How much sand will upcoming local beach projects bring? Enough to fill the Empire State Building's 1.37 million cubic yards - nearly twice. Read on to learn plans for your favorite beach this season. Siesta Key. With permits in place, Sarasota County expects to select beach project contractors in time for a Jan. 1, 2016 start date. The project will continue through April and renourish approximately 2 miles of shoreline around Turtle Beach at the south end of Siesta Key. The $21 million project will place 700,000 to 800,000 cubic yards of sand, widening the beach by approximately 60 feet. The project would likely have started earlier, accoridng to Laird Wreford, Sarasota County coastal projects manager said, if not for two wildlife-related delays that added 10 months to the permitting process. Read more.
Pensacola News Journal - The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is awarding nearly $20 million from its Gulf Environmental Benefit Fund to six state projects designed to remedy harm and reduce the risk of future harm to natural resources affected by the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Five projects will directly impact the marine life and waterways surrounding Escambia County. Commissioner Grover Robinson IV (District-4) said the projects will benefit the local economy and recreational opportunities for the community by improving the environmental health of the Gulf of Mexico. "It's a great step forward to taking care of our habitat issues," he said. Enhanced assessment of Gulf fisheries tops the projects in the amount of funding at $5.8 million. This will be the third phase of a five-year study to expand collection of data on both catch effort and stock assessment in the northern eastern Gulf. Read more.