ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE
Yves Ducrot 18, Jul 6 mins
6 mins
The Ritz Herald
Antarctic Peninsula. © John Weller
Antarctic Peninsula at risk: global leaders urged to designate marine protections and update krill fishery

The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition (ASOC) is urging governments at a key meeting this week to bolster political will and make urgently needed progress towards protecting the Antarctic Peninsula and strengthening management of the krill fishery, which threatens this keystone species relied on by iconic predators, from emperor penguins to blue whales.

The Antarctic Peninsula is one of our planet’s most rapidly warming places. It is also a globally important biodiversity hotspot being targeted by industrial fishing.

Representatives of the Member States of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) are meeting in South Korea from July 16-20 for a ‘Harmonization Symposium’ to discuss how to move forward with a proposed marine protected area (MPA) in the Antarctic Peninsula in combination with updated ecosystem-based krill fishery management. The symposium provides an opportunity to break out of the stalemate that has hampered CCAMLR from honoring its 2009 commitment to establish a representative system of large MPAs in the Southern Ocean. Just two MPAs have been created since then, with no further protection agreed since the Ross Sea MPA designation in 2016.

“The Harmonization Symposium should be a turning point for Southern Ocean protection. With this fragile and hugely important region under threat, we can’t afford to miss this chance for real progress. Leaders need to end the political deadlock that’s been crippling CCAMLR for too many years. Opportunities for serious discussions like this don’t come around very often: countries need to make the most of it!”, said Claire Christian, ASOC’s Executive Director.

ASOC is urging CCAMLR Members to seize the opportunity to set a clear pathway towards designating the Antarctic Peninsula MPA,…

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Navy Conducts Climate Action Exercise With Caribbean Partners
The Ritz Herald

The Navy conducted a tabletop exercise alongside Caribbean partner nations to explore ways to enhance climate readiness and resilience throughout the region.

The two-day event in San Juan, Puerto Rico, marked the third in a series of exercises held in recent years designed to validate the Navy’s Climate Action 2030…

U.S. Department of Agriculture Scientists Introduce an Online Tool for Water Managers
The Ritz Herald

Scientists at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Southwest Climate Hub and California Climate Hub have developed a browsable map-based tool that addresses water scarcity in the U.S. Southwest.

The Water Adaptation Techniques Atlas (WATA) consolidates over 200 case studies on research and practices that water managers and producers can use to…

Corps of Engineers Updated on Hawaii Wildfire Recovery
The Ritz Herald

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commanding General and 55th Chief of Engineers Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, accompanied by Command Sgt. Maj. Douglas Galick, recently visited the Hawaii Wildfires Recovery Field office team on the island of Maui. The visit, which took place on June 12, aimed to assess…

Biden-Harris Administration Announces More Than 9,000 American Climate Corps Members in Positions by End of June, Hosts Inaugural Swearing-in Ceremony
The Ritz Herald

The Biden-Harris Administration hosted the first swearing-in ceremony for members of President Biden’s landmark American Climate Corps – a groundbreaking initiative modeled after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps that will put a new, diverse generation of young Americans to work fighting the impacts of climate change today while…

2 mins
United States Department of State, Washington, DC. © Alex Wong
The Ritz Herald
Successful launch of fourth cohort of Fulbright Arctic Initiative

Furthering the U.S. government’s efforts to address security and sustainability in the Arctic, the U.S. Department of State announced 20 scholars selected as the fourth cohort for the Fulbright Arctic Initiative. Part of the larger Fulbright Program, the initiative explores topics including climate change and Arctic resources, Arctic security and governance, and mental health and well-being, and furthers the Fulbright Program’s mission to connect the people of the United States and other countries.

The new group of scholars from seven countries will spend 18 months building on the success of the first three cohorts of the Fulbright Arctic Initiative since 2015. The scholar participants in those cohorts collaborated to produce a significant number of publications, reports, and policy recommendations that contributed to long-term Arctic security and sustainability. Countries represented include the United States, Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and the Kingdom of Sweden.

In addition to the Department of State, the governments of Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, and Iceland have provided additional funding for the fourth cohort of Fulbright Arctic Scholars.

The cohort will be co-led by Dr. Elizabeth Rink, Professor of Community Health in the Department of Health and Human Development at Montana State University, and Dr….

4 mins
Members of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters, flew through the eye of Hurricane Beryl, July 2, 2024. Hurricane Beryl reached Category 5, with sustained winds of 165 mile per hour. © U.S. Air Force
The Ritz Herald
Airmen flew into Hurricane Beryl to gather data and help forecasters pinpoint the true center of the developing tropical weather event

The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, a component of the Air Force Reserve’s 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, has been working around-the-clock flying data-gathering missions into Hurricane Beryl, the first major hurricane of what’s predicted to be a very active season.

The National Hurricane Center, with the Chief Aerial Reconnaissance Coordination All Hurricanes, tasked the Hurricane Hunters with flying Beryl June 30 out of St. Croix, Virgin Islands, said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Mitchell, 53rd WRS, assistant director of operations.

“We have flown five missions into Beryl,” Mitchell said. “The latest pass this morning into Beryl put it at a Category 5, with 165 mile per hour sustained winds.”

On Saturday afternoon , Beryl became the strongest hurricane to develop this early in Atlantic with winds of 75 mph just 24 hours after the system was first formed as a tropical depression over the Atlantic Ocean.

The WC-130J Super Hercules aircrews flew the quickly developing system that became Hurricane Beryl, now a Category 5 storm. According to the NHC, the eyewall of Beryl moving through the southern Windward Islands and is expected to remain a powerful hurricane as it moves across the Caribbean Sea later this week.

The NHC also announced that a…

America’s Next Nuclear Power Plant Begins Construction
The Ritz Herald

On Monday, Bechtel celebrated the official groundbreaking of the Natrium Demonstration Project. Bechtel is TerraPower’s engineering, procurement, and construction partner on this first-of-a-kind project in Kemmerer, Wyoming. The project is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program.

Natrium is an advanced nuclear reactor that uses a…

Human Hunting Linked to Woolly Rhinoceros Extinction, New Research Reveals
The Ritz Herald

Researchers have discovered that sustained human hunting prevented the woolly rhinoceros from accessing favorable habitats as Earth warmed following the Last Ice Age.

An international team of researchers, led by scientists from the University of Adelaide and the University of Copenhagen, made the discovery using computer modeling, shedding light on…

University of Idaho Researchers Receive $15 Million Grant to Study Drought and Fire Impact on Forest Ecosystems
The Ritz Herald

A multidisciplinary team led by University of Idaho researchers has received a $15 million grant to study the long-term impact of drought and fire on forest ecosystems.

The six-year award is from the National Science Foundation’s Biology Integration Institutes (BII), which is dedicated to supporting diverse and collaborative…

Rising Threat of Wildfires in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert: Research and Preparations for a Fire-Prone Future
The Ritz Herald

Despite the dry heat of southern Arizona, the Sonoran Desert has long been surprisingly immune to wildfires. No more, say desert researchers—as invasive species increase in the desert, which stretches from north Phoenix south into Mexico, so does the risk of more frequent, destructive wildfires.

This important work was led…

2 mins
The Ritz Herald
U.S. Air National Guard Tech. Sgt. Aaron Jacobson, a 185th Air Refueling Wing Civil Engineering Squadron pavements and construction equipment specialist, picks up debris using a skid steer loader in Sioux Rapids, Iowa, June 29, 2024. © Senior Airman Tylon Chapman
Iowa Air National Guardsmen recently converged on the small town of Sioux Rapids, cleaning up debris to alleviate the effects of historic flooding
By / Associate Writer

Iowa Air National Guard members converged on the small town of Sioux Rapids, cleaning up debris to alleviate the effects of historic flooding.

Eric Boge, a high school teacher, said he was thankful that the Guard came to help.

“That actually brought tears to my eyes,” said Boge, “It’s been helpful and a fast process with all you guys and many hands.”

The Iowa Air Guard members from Sioux City’s 185th Air Refueling Wing and Des Moines’ 132nd Wing sent 30 Airmen to Sioux Rapids.

Iowa ANG Airmen worked in Woodbury, Cherokee, Ida and Buena Vista counties in Western Iowa.

National Guard Airmen worked with local civil authorities to ensure the safety of the public by cordoning off streets as the Airmen operated their vehicles and equipment.

Early on June 22, rainstorms caused widespread flooding in multiple communities throughout Northwest Iowa.

The Little Sioux River overflowed in Sioux Rapids, damaging many residences and businesses.

After the rain stopped, residents gathered debris and flood-damaged property at their curbs. Airmen loaded it aboard dump trucks.

“It’s extremely sad seeing all these peoples’ homes and valuables just destroyed,” said Staff Sgt. Seth Stamm, a 185th Air Refueling Wing power production specialist. “But helping clean up is all we can do.”

Most of the Airmen taking part in the mission come from civil engineering squadrons. Their equipment includes chain saws, skid steer loaders, dump trucks and other vehicles.

The volunteer Guard team is expected to assist with recovery efforts.

Maj. Daniel Ress, the 185th Air Refueling Wing’s deputy base civil engineer, said the unit had no issue getting volunteers for…

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A new study of coral reefs in Papua New Guinea
Researchers Advocate for Protecting ‘Nature’s Strongholds’ to Meet Global Biodiversity Targets
The Ritz Herald

To meet the imperative of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework target, which seeks to protect at least 30 percent of the planet by 2030, researchers in an essay in PLOS Biology argue that “conservation areas need to be large enough to encompass functioning ecosystems and their associated biodiversity, and…

Genomic Study Reveals Breakthrough in Enhancing Disease Resistance in Strawberries
The Ritz Herald

Globally, strawberries are gravely affected by Macrophomina phaseolina, a soilborne fungal pathogen that drastically reduces yields. Following the phase-out of conventional soil fumigants like methyl bromide, there is an urgent need to enhance genetic resistance to this pathogen. The resistance mechanism is intricate at the genetic level, presenting considerable obstacles to…

U.S. Department of Energy Selects Principle Power and Aker Solutions to Advance Plans for Serial Manufacturing of WindFloat Foundations
The Ritz Herald

Principle Power and Aker Solutions (“FloatHOME” consortium) have been chosen as a winner for the second phase of the U.S. Floating Offshore Wind Readiness (FLOWIN) Prize by the DOE. The award consists of a $450,000 cash prize and $100,000 in technical assistance from the DOE National Labs. Prize money…

12 mins
U.S. Department of Energy. © Timothy Epple
The Ritz Herald
Funding from the President’s Investing In America agenda will fund energy efficiency improvements and upgrades, save energy, and cut greenhouse gas emissions in communities across the country

As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $18.5 million to four states and 20 local governments for the next round of formula grants through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program. These projects, funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help advance state and local governments efforts to improve energy efficiency, reduce climate pollution, and lower overall energy use.

“No one knows communities’ energy improvement needs better than the state and local governments, and the Biden-Harris Administration is helping support these ongoing efforts for a clean energy future for all,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “These investments from the EECBG Program put state and local governments in the driver’s seat to reduce emissions, increase climate resiliency, and strengthen communities for generations to come.”

This is the seventh tranche of formula awards granted to EECBG Program eligible entities. Since the first awards were announced in October 2023, the program has awarded nearly $150 million to 175 communities. Overall, the program provides more than $430 million in formula grant funding to 2,708 states, territories, local governments, and Tribes. Entities have…

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Ocean Acidification Turns Fish Off Coral Reefs

Ducrot / RH
A new study of coral reefs in Papua New Guinea shows ocean acidification simplifies coral structure, making crucial habitat less appealing to certain fish species. While much media attention has
Clean Power Alliance Launches $10 Million Energized Communities Program to Advance Sustainability Efforts in Southern California
The Ritz Herald

Clean Power Alliance (CPA) has launched its Energized Communities Program to help CPA’s partner communities reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by providing financial and technical support for vehicle and building electrification. The program is designed to promote sustainability in the 35 communities CPA serves.

CPA is making $10 million…

Equity Must Be Considered in Ocean Governance to Achieve Global Targets by 2030
The Ritz Herald

As the world urgently presses forward toward reaching global biodiversity and climate targets by 2030, increased attention must be paid to center equity in dialogue and practice when designing ocean conservation, adaptation, and development interventions.

The world is facing a dual biodiversity and climate crisis. Yet, without focused attention to…

Veterinarians Team Up With Fishers to Evaluate the Health of Accidentally Caught Sea Turtles
The Ritz Herald

Six of seven sea turtle species are endangered, and humans are primarily responsible. Commercial fishing activities, due to accidental capture, are the largest human-caused disturbance to sea turtles.

Fishers are typically unaware if a sea turtle is caught in their net until it’s completely pulled out of the water. However,…