Tina Geiger 27, Sep 6 mins
6 mins
The Ritz Herald
© Noble Research Institute
The new study from Oregon State and Agricultural Research Service scientists, published in Rangeland Ecology & Management, looked at whether cattle grazing and virtual fencing could be an effective tool to create those fuel breaks by eating the grass that fuels fires

The use of virtual fencing to manage cattle grazing on sagebrush rangelands has the potential to create fuel breaks needed to help fight wildfires, a recent Oregon State University and U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service study found.

Virtual fencing involves placing collars on livestock. The collars communicate with GPS and reception towers to form a virtual fence set by the rancher. Auditory stimuli emit from the collar when the livestock reach the limit of the virtual fence and they receive a benign shock if they pass the fence limit.

“We’re seeing the challenge related to wildfires that land managers, particularly on public lands, are facing in the western U.S.,” said David Bohnert, director of Oregon State’s Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center in Burns. “They just don’t have the tools to manage those public lands in a way that is timely, particularly related to wildfire. This new study should help begin to change that.”

Wildfires on sagebrush landscapes, which cover much of the interior landscape of the western U.S., have increased dramatically in recent years, with more acres burning, the size of fires increasing and more federal dollars being spent to fight fires, USDA statistics show.

These changes are in part due to the expansion of nonnative annual grasses on the sagebrush landscape, the researchers note. The increased prevalence of these nonnative grasses, which dry out earlier in the growing season and grow faster than native perennial bunchgrass, leads to an increase in fuel for wildfires.

Most methods to reduce fuel for wildfires have focused on cutting or burning shrubs or trees. Recently there have been efforts to strategically place a network of fuel breaks across sagebrush landscapes to provide…




First Solar U.S. Expansion Likely to Nudge Other Producers Stateside
The Ritz Herald

First Solar, the world’s largest producer of thin-film material solar panels, announced it would invest up to $1.2 billion to build a new factory in the U.S. This follows the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which offers renewable energy incentives.

Fengqi You is a professor of energy systems engineering…

Federal Working Group Announces Establishment of Rapid Response Team to Support Energy Communities in the Four Corners
The Ritz Herald

The Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization announced the creation of a new Four Corners Rapid Response Team (RRT), bringing together…

Climate Change Likely to Raise Wheat Prices in Food-Insecure Regions and Exacerbate Economic Inequality
The Ritz Herald

Wheat is a key source of nutrition for people across the globe, providing 20% of calories and protein for 3.4 billion people worldwide. Even if we meet climate mitigation targets and stay under 2°C of warming, climate change is projected to significantly alter the yield and price of wheat…

Fish ‘Chock-Full’ of Antifreeze Protein Found in Iceberg Habitats Off Greenland
The Ritz Herald

New research based on an expedition to the icy waters off Greenland reveals soaring levels of antifreeze proteins in a species of tiny snailfish, underlying the importance of this unique adaptation to life in sub-zero temperatures. The study, led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History and…

33 secs
The Ritz Herald
The new Climate Action Plan will boost the Fund’s support for sustainable, low-carbon, inclusive and climate resilient investments in partner countries

The OPEC Fund for International Development has adopted its first Climate Action Plan, which commits the organization to increase its climate financing to 25 percent by 2025 and 40 percent by 2030 with a cross-cutting approach to all its projects. The current share of climate finance in approved projects is 20 percent.

The new Climate Action Plan will boost the Fund’s support for sustainable, low-carbon, inclusive and climate resilient investments in partner countries. The OPEC Fund will promote transformative climate investments in energy, transport, agriculture, food, water and smart cities, support climate diagnostics, planning and policies, and drive innovative climate finance solutions for the private sector.

OPEC Fund Director-General Dr. Abdulhamid Alkhalifa said: “This is a historic moment as it commits the OPEC Fund to significantly increase its climate finance. Our new strategy is ambitious in its target numbers, but also in its approach to cover a variety of sectors where we invest. We are inspired by the conviction that climate goals and development objectives complement each other.”

The OPEC Fund will continue to work in partnership with other partner institutions and prioritize projects that seek to crowd-in the private sector.

4 mins
UCSD coastal ecologist Matthew Costa entering mangrove forest in Mexico. © Ramiro Arcos Aguilar / UCSD
The Ritz Herald
Unusual forests on stilts mitigate climate change

Researchers have identified a new reason to protect mangrove forests: they’ve been quietly keeping carbon out of Earth’s atmosphere for the past 5,000 years.

Mangroves thrive in conditions most plants cannot tolerate, like salty coastal waters. Some species have air-conducting, vertical roots that act like snorkels when tides are high, giving the appearance of trees floating on stilts.

A UC Riverside and UC San Diego-led research team set out to understand how marine mangroves off the coast of La Paz, Mexico, absorb and release elements like nitrogen and carbon, processes called biogeochemical cycling.

As these processes are largely driven by microbes, the team also wanted to learn which bacteria and fungi are thriving there.

The team expected that carbon would be found in the layer of peat beneath the forest, but they did not expect that carbon to be 5,000 years old. This result, along with a description of the microbes they identified, is now published in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.

“What’s special about these mangrove sites isn’t that they’re the fastest at carbon storage, but that they have kept the carbon for so long,” said Emma Aronson, UCR environmental microbiologist and senior co-author of the study. “It is orders…

Dry Lightning Sparks Some of the Most Destructive and Costly Wildfires in California, Study Finds
The Ritz Herald

A new study has found dry lightning outbreaks are the leading cause of some of the largest wildfire outbreaks in modern California history. Despite this, dry lightning has remained largely understudied across this region – until now.

Researchers from the School of the Environment at Washington…

Worrying Finding in California’s Multi-Billion-Dollar Climate Initiative Reveals Problem With Using Forests to Offset CO2 Emissions
The Ritz Herald

Researchers have found that California’s forest carbon buffer pool, designed to ensure the durability of the state’s multi-billion-dollar carbon offset program, is severely undercapitalized. The results show that, within the offset program’s first 10 years, estimated carbon losses from wildfires have depleted at least 95% of the contributions set…

Climate-Induced Changes Endanger Future of North American Coastal Ecosystems
The Ritz Herald

For the generations who grew up watching Finding Nemo, it might not come as a surprise that the North American West Coast has its own version of the underwater ocean highway – the California Current marine ecosystem (CCME). The CCME extends from the southernmost tip of California up through Washington….

U.S. Department of Energy to Invest Up to $165 Million to Advance Domestic Geothermal Energy Deployment
The Ritz Herald

The U.S. Department of Energy announced up to $165 million to expand U.S. geothermal energy deployment. The Geothermal Energy from Oil and Gas Demonstrated Engineering (GEODE) initiative will provide $10 million to form a consortium of experts to develop a roadmap for addressing technology and knowledge gaps in geothermal…

8 mins
The Ritz Herald
Halting deforestation will require a step-change in approach, and to be effective measures must address underlying and indirect roles of agriculture, says study
By / Newsroom Editor

A new study published in leading journal, Science, finds that between 90 and 99 percent of all deforestation in the tropics is driven directly or indirectly by agriculture. Yet only half to two-thirds of this results in the expansion of active agricultural production on the deforested land.

The study is a collaboration between many of the world’s leading deforestation experts and provides a new synthesis of the complex connections between deforestation and agriculture, and what this means for current efforts to drive down forest loss.
Following a review of the best available data, the new study shows that the amount of tropical deforestation driven by agriculture is higher than 80 percent, the most commonly cited number for the past decade.

This comes at a crucial time following the Glasgow Declaration on Forests at COP26 and ahead of the Biodiversity Conference (COP15) later this year and can help ensure that urgent efforts to tackle deforestation are guided and evaluated by an evidence base fit for purpose.

“Our review makes clear that between 90 and 99 percent of all deforestation in the tropics is driven directly or indirectly by agriculture. But what surprised us was that a comparatively smaller share of the deforestation – between 45 and 65 percent – results in the expansion of actual agricultural production on the deforested land. This finding is of profound importance for designing effective measures to reduce deforestation and promote sustainable rural development”, says Florence Pendrill, lead author of the study at Chalmers University of…


Climate Models Unreliable in Predicting Wave Damage to Coral Reefs, Say Scientists
Climate models are unreliable when it comes to predicting the
Lasers Save California Farms Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars on Bird Damage Annually
The state of California is responsible for producing ⅓ of
Wildfire-Smoke Observations Fill Gap in Estimating Soot’s Role in Climate Change
The Ritz Herald

New research refining the amount of sunlight absorbed by black carbon in smoke from wildfires will help clear up a long-time weak spot in earth system models, enabling more accurate forecasting of global climate change.

“Black carbon or soot is the next most potent climate-warming agent after CO2 and methane,…

Air Pollution Caused 2,780 Deaths, Illnesses, and IQ Loss in Children in Massachusetts in 2019, Researchers Report
The Ritz Herald

Air pollution remains a silent killer in Massachusetts, responsible for an estimated 2,780 deaths a year and for measurable cognitive loss in Bay State children exposed to fine particulate pollutants in the air they breathe, according to a new study by researchers at Boston College’s Global Observatory on Planetary…

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $56 Million to Advance U.S. Solar Manufacturing and Lower Energy Costs
The Ritz Herald

The Biden-Harris Administration, through the U.S. Department of Energy, announced a slate of new initiatives and $56 million in funding, including $10 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to spur innovation in solar manufacturing and recycling. Together, the funding will help make clean energy more affordable and reliable,…

4 mins
The image shows Feather Reef which is in the central part of the Great Barrier Reef that is frequently exposed to damaging waves from cyclones – with a 10% chance of exposure in any given year under the current climate. © Dr. Marji Puotinen
The Ritz Herald
To test the accuracy of the climate models, the research team looked at how well they simulated recent extreme weather events

Climate models are unreliable when it comes to predicting the damage that tropical cyclones will do to sensitive coral reefs, according to a study published in the journal Earth’s Future.

With the expectation that tropical cyclones will increase in intensity with climate change, there has been interest among conservationists to use the models to identify the vulnerability of reef communities to storm damage, and to target conservation and protection efforts at those coral reefs that are less likely to be impacted by climate change.

But a team of researchers from the University of Leeds in the UK, the Australian Institute for Marine Science and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CISRO) is urging caution when using the climate models, arguing they are not yet reliable enough to determine which reefs will be most at risk from cyclone damage.

Cyclones are a moving weather system that create storm conditions including heavy rainfall, waves and powerful circular winds. The most damaging weather is found close to the eye of a cyclone, an area with a typical diameter of about 50 km.

Heavy waves can break apart the coral reefs – and the most destructive impact is seen when cyclones that are intense move or track…



Lasers Save California Farms Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars on Bird Damage Annually

Offman / RH
The state of California is responsible for producing ⅓ of vegetables and ⅔ of fruits and nuts for the United States, providing food to tens of millions of people in
How Environmentally Responsible Is Lithium Brine Mining? It Depends on How Old the Water Is
The Ritz Herald

A groundbreaking new study recently published in the journal Earth’s Future and led by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in collaboration with the University of Alaska Anchorage is the first to comprehensively account for the hydrological impact of lithium mining. Since lithium is the…

Climate Change in Oceanwater May Impact Mangrove Dispersal
The Ritz Herald

International research led by Dr. Tom Van der Stocken of the VUB Biology Department examined 21st century changes in ocean-surface temperature, salinity, and density, across mangrove forests worldwide. The study suggests that changes in surface-ocean density may impact the dispersal patterns of widely distributed mangroves species, and more likely…

Supreme Court’s EPA Ruling Puts Human Health and Ecology at Risk
The Ritz Herald

The Supreme Court has curtailed the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce carbon emissions from power plants in a decision that could limit other federal agencies’ regulatory powers.

Catherine Kling is an environmental economist and an expert in water quality modeling who served for 10 years on the…