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Do you want the most current climate change projections and recommendations for future actions? If so, then check out USGS Science Picks! You can also gain insight on the Arctic’s energy assets, how a tribal canoe journey is helping improve water resources in the Salish Sea, efforts to weed out alien invaders, and the need to save declining coral ecosystems. As you enjoy the July 4 fireworks, you may wonder how those beautiful colors are created. Well, wonder no more with this edition of Science Picks! If you would like to receive Science Picks via e-mail, would like to change the recipient or no longer want to receive it, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- New Climate Change Forecasts for the Nation
- Energy in the Arctic: Quantities, Ownership and New Insight
- Paddling for a Purpose: Tribal Journey in the Salish Sea
- What Makes Fireworks Colorful?
- Weeding Out Alien Invaders
- Corals in Decline — USGS to the Rescue
- Pinpointing Drought Coast to Coast
- How a Major Piece of the Rockies Took Shape
- Pesticides Found in Florida Lakes
- What Can You Make With 80 Tons of Copper?
- Want Information About Protected U.S. Lands?
- Protecting Tortoises by Understanding Their Habitat
- Climate Change in the Rocky Mountains
- USGS in NEON: Illuminating Environmental Trends Nationwide
New Climate Change Forecasts for the Nation
The most current projections of climate change and its impacts, as well as recommendations for future actions, are available in a new U.S. Global Change Research Program report. Climate change is currently happening at an unprecedentedly rapid rate, and there is substantial confidence that human activities are the primary cause. Climate changes and impacts include a mean global temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit over the past 50 years, frequent downpours and flooding, less winter precipitation and snowpack in the mountains, sea level rise along our coastlines, and glacier melt and permafrost thaw. Conclusions are broken down for every region of the country, so you can see how climate is changing in your own area. For a podcast interview about this report with Virginia Burkett, USGS Chief Scientist for Global Change Research, listen to USGS CoreCast episode 99. For more information, visit the United States Global Change Research Program Web site or contact Jessica Robertson at email@example.com or (703) 648-6624.
Energy in the Arctic: Quantities, Ownership and New Insight
Do you want new insight on the future of petroleum? How about geographic details of the Arctic’s energy assets or insight on potential environmental impacts in this area? New maps and interpretations, detailed statistical results and descriptions of the research methodology are now available regarding the Arctic’s energy resources. This research builds upon the initial results of the USGS Circum-Arctic Resource Appraisal that were released last summer, estimating that 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of undiscovered gas may be north of the Arctic Circle. Interest in the Arctic is growing due to the recent retreat of polar ice and the rising global demand for energy, so check out the new research published in the journal Science at. For more information, please contact Jessica Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 648-6624.
Paddling for a Purpose: Tribal Journey in the Salish Sea
The Coast Salish Nation and the USGS will embark on their second Tribal Journey together from July 21-August 3 to study and improve water resources in the Salish Sea. The media are invited to attend a celebration of blending traditional knowledge with USGS science as canoes land on Lummi Shores, WA on July 26. Water quality has deteriorated significantly across the Puget Sound and the Strait of Georgia in recent decades. Last year, water quality probes towed behind canoes identified areas with unexpected water quality patterns, which may threaten many habitats and ecosystem functions. This year, the project will study even more features and will collect information critical for identifying causes of water quality impacts and detecting trends during changes in land use and climate. Check out last year’s maps, videos and photos by visiting the 2008 Coast Salish Water Quality Project Web site. Journalists are welcome to set up interviews with USGS scientists throughout the journey by contacting Jennifer LaVista at email@example.com or (703) 648-4432.
What Makes Fireworks Colorful?
Every Independence Day, Americans celebrate by gazing into the night sky to watch spectacular fireworks displays. But what makes the colors in fireworks so vivid? It’s minerals — each color is produced by a specific mineral compound. Bright greens are from barium, blues come from copper and yellows require sodium. More colors are made by mixing compounds. The role of minerals in fireworks is just one example of our society’s reliance on minerals for making products ranging from automobiles to toothpaste. Want to know more? Visit the Minerals Information Web site for statistics on production, trade and resources for about 90 mineral commodities from around the world. Also, enjoy fun mineral facts at the Mineral Facts and FAQ's Web site. For more information, contact Jessica Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 648-6624.
Weeding Out Alien Invaders
It’s the growing season, and it seems as if nothing grows better than invasive plants. But where will they appear, and can they be stopped? The ability to map current species distributions and forecast which habitats are most vulnerable to these alien invasions is now possible. USGS scientists, in collaboration with Colorado State University and NASA, developed a new tool that helps public land managers document, map and predict the spread of harmful invasive species of plants (as well as animals and diseases). This will help decision makers take appropriate preventive measures where possible. Invasive Species Awareness Week, from July 5-11, is the perfect time to learn more about the "Advanced Invasive Species Modeling Room," and you can do so at the Developing Ecological Forecasting Models Web site. You can also contact Tom Stohlgren at email@example.com or (970) 491-1980.
Corals in Decline — USGS to the Rescue
An estimated 20 percent of the world’s coral reefs are damaged, perhaps irreparably. They could be progressively lost over the coming decades as they continue to face harmful fishing practices, disease, coastal developments, pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions, which lead to increased sea level, ocean acidification, and water temperatures. Coral ecosystems are worth hundreds of billions of dollars to the global economy, and millions of people rely on healthy coral ecosystems for food, recreation, storm protection and more. Some 25 percent of all marine life is also linked directly to coral ecosystems. Additional research is needed to more accurately explain natural processes and forecast human-induced change. The USGS provides decision makers with assessments of coral ecosystem history, ecology, vulnerability and resiliency to help them develop mitigation and adaptation strategies. As Coral Reef Awareness Week (July 20-24) approaches, it’s the perfect time to learn more by viewing the USGS Coral Science Plan (PDF) or listening to a podcast interview on coral reefs. You can also contact Gary Brewer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (304) 724-4507.
Pinpointing Drought Coast to Coast
Drought is a devastating natural hazard, affecting more people than any other natural hazard and costing the United States an average of $6 to 8 billion annually. By being able to monitor droughts, society and its decision makers can take action early to mitigate the detrimental affects and thereby minimize costs. For that reason, the Vegetation Drought Response Index, also known as VegDRI, is a valuable addition to the field of drought monitoring. VegDRI combines information from historical and current satellite observations, climate indicators, ecological settings, and soil characteristics to show drought’s effect on vegetation. This system is particularly important to the agricultural community and can provide detailed information over broad regions of land as it reassesses the entire conterminous 48 states every other week. Ultimately, VegDRI promises to make drought response and mitigation more effective. For more information, visit the Vegetation Drought Response Index Web site or contact Jon Campbell at email@example.com or (703) 648-4180.
How a Major Piece of the Rockies Took Shape
The geologic history of Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park turns out to be a bit different than scientists previously thought. A new USGS map and report have updated information, covering over 90 percent of the park and nearby wilderness areas, national recreation areas and national forests. Insight on the area’s history helps in understanding hazards such as landslides and flooding; resources such as metals, oil and gas, coal, construction materials, and water; and land-use considerations including development, dam/reservoir construction, resource extraction, and conservation. The Rocky Mountains’ high, rugged appearance is described as the long-term result of geologic processes such as uplift, faulting, volcanism, weathering, glaciation and erosion. A better understanding of current climate conditions and impacts is also possible with new insight on climate change’s influence on the formation of the Rockies and other landforms. To view the map, visit the Geologic Map of the Estes Park 30’ x 60’ Quadrangle, North-Central Colorado Web site. For more information, contact Heidi Koontz at firstname.lastname@example.org or (303) 202-4763.
Pesticides Found in Florida Lakes
Pesticide compounds and elevated levels of nitrate have been found in lakes in Florida’s Lake Wales Ridge region. This is a major citrus producing area where pesticides are applied multiple times per year. When that’s combined with a wet climate, soils lacking in materials to filter or break down substances, and porous drinking water aquifers, the water system must be closely watched. Even though none of the pesticide and nitrate concentrations in lake samples exceeded benchmarks for drinking water or aquatic life, the combined effects of these chemicals may be of concern. It is important to continue efforts in early detection, monitoring, and understanding of the chemicals and their impacts. The USGS is helping state agencies develop a sampling network to detect contaminants as they enter the aquifers. A new report was authored by the USGS in cooperation with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Southwest Florida Water Management District. For more information, visit the Monitoring Pesticides in Water: Lake Wales Ridge Web site or contact Anne Choquette at email@example.com or (615) 837-4774.
What Can You Make With 80 Tons of Copper?
Copper is a metal for the ages — it was used for coins and ornaments around 8000 B.C., and 80 tons of copper were hammered to a thickness of two U.S. pennies during the 1880s to create the Statue of Liberty. Copper was one of the first metals ever extracted and used by humans, and today it has a variety of domestic, industrial, and high-technology applications. A new USGS publication highlights how and where copper resources form and concentrate in Earth’s crust; how this mineral interacts with the environment to affect human and ecosystem health; trends in the supply and demand for copper in the domestic and international markets; and where future copper resources might be found. For more information, contact Jessica Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (703) 648-6624.
Want Information About Protected U.S. Lands?
Fifteen percent of the United States’ land area (more than 347 million acres) is highly protected conservation lands, and understanding conservation efforts in these areas just became a lot easier! Information about the more than 22,000 protected areas in this acreage is now available online at the Protected Areas Database of the United States. This comprehensive database is essential for species and habitat conservation decisions and other open space management decisions. It provides the most current information on geographic boundaries, land classification (federal, state, city or private), land owner or manager, management designation and much more. This database is hosted by the USGS National Biological Information Infrastructure. For more information, contact John Mosesso at email@example.com or (703) 648-4079.
Protecting Tortoises by Understanding Their Habitat
The recovery of the threatened desert tortoise population depends on the protection and conservation of the species’ natural habitat. Scientists use habitat modeling as an essential tool to simulate and predict the potential distribution of the desert tortoise and its habitats. This allows land managers to better plan conservation efforts, monitor changes in the quantity and quality of available habitat, and minimize and mitigate disturbances such as urbanization and infrastructure, off-road vehicle use, wildfires and more. For additional information, visit Modeling Potential Habitat of the Desert Tortoise. You can also contact Ken Nussear at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 564-4515, or Todd Esque at email@example.com or (702) 564-4506.
Climate Change in the Rocky Mountains
Summer seems to be coming earlier in the Rocky Mountain West, and climate change may be the culprit. USGS scientists are studying ecosystem responses to climatic variability in the Western United States to understand what’s happening now and what might occur in the future. Research includes climate impacts to native fish, wildlife species and mountain ecosystems; how climate may control burn patterns of forest fires; and how climate change may impact the denning times of grizzly bears. The USGS is also developing a web-based system where federal agencies can share resources and information regarding variability and change throughout the Northern Rockies landscape. To learn more, see NOROCK Climate Change & Ecosystem Science (PDF) or contact Jeff Kershner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 994-5304.
USGS in NEON: Illuminating Environmental Trends Nationwide
Large-scale environmental influences such as climate change, land use, and invasive species are fast becoming top-priority concerns for public land and resource managers. To help prepare for and mitigate adverse impacts to our natural treasures, managers need scientifically sound ecological forecasts of what is likely to happen. The USGS and others are collaborating with NEON Inc. to develop the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), sponsored by the National Science Foundation. NEON calls for 60 observation stations across the continental U.S., Hawaii, and Puerto Rico to identify and track ecological change. USGS involvement includes helping develop protocols for collecting data on long-term, large-scale environmental changes. Standard field procedures improve the quality of data used to forecast ecosystem responses to such changes. For more information visit NEON or contact Tom Stohlgren at email@example.com or (970) 491-1980.
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