ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE
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…

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Fengqi You is a professor of energy systems engineering…

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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…

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Worrying Finding in California’s Multi-Billion-Dollar Climate Initiative Reveals Problem With Using Forests to Offset CO2 Emissions
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8 mins
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© WWF
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…

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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
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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…

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