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Renewable Natural Resources Foundation


RNRF CONDUCTS NATIONAL CONGRESS ON CONTEMPORARY ISSUES IN FOREST AND WILDLAND MANAGEMENT

David                    ConradForests and wildlands in the U.S. are under unprecedented pressures from climate change,   budget constraints, and human development. These challenging new conditions are changing the way that citizens, land-management professionals and policymakers think about forest and wildland management practices.

Delegates representing state, federal and international agencies, the private sector, academia, and the NGO community convened at the National Union Building in Washington, D.C. on December 13, 2017 to examine the most critical issues faced by forest and wildland managers today. Presentation topics focused on the future of decision-making and key strategies for developing practical solutions.

Leading forest and wildland management experts described how:

• funding continuity for conservation programs and the USDA Forest Service can be improved;

• science and collaborative processes can be harnessed to improve climate-change adaptation decisions;

• new, multimedia technology can foster support for natural resources, and increase visitation and enjoyment of national forests, parks and resource lands;

• land-use planning methods that balance environmental, social, economic and multiple-use factors can be more effectively deployed;

• responsibilities among federal, state and local governments can be clarified to better manage the risks of catastrophic fires in the Wildland-Urban Interface; and

• creative policies can promote the reconciliation of conflicts between energy development and multiple uses on federal and private land.

Download RNRF's 2017 congress report on Contemporary Issues in Forest and Wildland Management here.

American Geophysical Union

American Geophysical Union urges research programs on climate intervention to better understand the risks and opportunities


On January 18, 2018 the American Geophysical Union (AGU) announced a revision and reaffirmation of its position statement, “Climate Intervention Requires Enhanced Research, Consideration of Societal and Environmental Impacts, and Policy Development.”

The statement was updated to reflect changes in the current understanding of climate intervention approaches, notably updating “geoengineering solutions” to “climate intervention” and discussing the two distinct categories of climate intervention: carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and albedo modification (AM). Further, AGU affirms its endorsement of more substantial CDR and AM research programs to examine these strategies in more detail, including programs outlined by the U.S. National Academies.

“We know the climate is changing, humans are responsible for most of the increase in temperature over the past half century, and that emissions reductions must play a key role in policy moving forward.” said David Victor, Ph.D., chair of the Climate Intervention Position Statement Task Force for AGU. “Climate intervention could play a key role in managing the effects of climate change but our scientific understanding of its impacts remains poor. More research to understand it’s full risks and opportunities will be vital to a more informed public policy.”

The nine-person panel that reviewed and revised the position statement included:
  • -David Victor, University of California San Diego and Brookings Institution (chair)
  • -Ken Caldeira, Carnegie Institution for Science Piers Forster, University of Leeds
  • -Ben Kravitz, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • -Marcia McNutt, National Academies of Sciences
  • -Joyce Penner, University of Michigan
  • -Alan Robock, Rutgers University Naomi Vaughan, University of East Anglia
  • -Jennifer Wilcox, Colorado School of Mines
AGU maintains position statements to provide scientific expertise on significant policy issues related to the understanding and application of their members’ scientific disciplines.

The revised position statement was adopted by AGU’s Board of Directors on 12 January 2018. The statement is based on AGU’s previous geoengineering statement adopted on 13 December 2009 in collaboration with the American Meteorological Society (AMS) statement which was adopted by AMS Council on 20 July 2009. AGU revised and reaffirmed that original statement in February 2012.

Read the press release here.
Read the position statement here.


AGU Coalition Receives Grant to Advance Open and Fair Data Standards in the Earth and Space Sciences


Open, accessible, and high-quality data and related data products and software are critical to the integrity of published research. They ensure transparency and support reproducibility and are necessary for accelerating the advancement of science. In many cases, the data are one-time observations that cannot be repeated. Unfortunately, not all key data are saved and even when they are, their curation is uneven and discovery is difficult, thus making it difficult for other researchers to understand and use the data sets.

To address this critical need, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation has awarded a grant to a coalition of groups representing the international Earth and space science community, convened by the American Geophysical Union (AGU), to develop standards that will connect researchers, publishers, and data repositories in the Earth and space sciences to enable FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, and resuable) data— a concept first developed by Force11.org— on a large scale. This will accelerate scientific discovery and enhance the integrity, transparency, and reproducibility of this data. The resulting set of best practices will include: metadata and identifier standards; data services; common taxonomies; landing pages at repositories to expose the metadata and standard repository information; standard data citation; and standard integration into editorial peer review work-flows.

"AGU's commitment to open data and data stewardship started in 1997 when we developed one of the first society position statements on open data. We developed that position statement because we recognized properly documented, credited, and preserved, data would help future scientists understand the Earth, planetary, and heliophysics systems, and that is an integral responsibility of scientists, data stewards, and sponsoring institutions to ensure the preservation of that data," said Chris McEntee, AGU's executive director/CEO. "Today, with the generous support of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, our community is working together to ensure that the Earth and space sciences, including more than 50,000 publications, will then be the first scientific field to have open and well-described data as a default, making that data discoverable and freely accessible across our sciences, as well as other scientific disciplines and the public."

Scientific results are increasingly dependent on large complex data sets and models that transform these data. This is particularly true in the Earth and space sciences, where critical data increasingly provide diverse and important societal benefits and are used in critical real-time decisions.  The partners will work with major Earth and space science data repositories, publishers, editorial work-flow vendors, researchers, and allied stakeholders to develop common standards and work-flows for submission of data, connect repositories and publishers, develop and implement tools needed for search and discovery, and enhance quality peer review. This process will help: 1) researchers understand and follow expectations regarding data curation; 2) publishers adopt and implement standard and best practices around data citation; and 3) make data discoverable and accessible, including to the public.

Read AGU's position statement on data here: https://news.agu.org/press-release/agu-coalition-receives-grant-to-advance-open-and-fair-data-standards/


American Meteorological Society

AMS Announces New Program to Nurture Early Career Science Leaders


The American Meteorological Society (AMS) announced the launch of a new program, Early Career Leadership Academy (ECLA), which seeks to build and sustain a diverse network of early careers leaders across the weather, water, and climate (WWC) science community. Each year, this program will bring together a select cohort of early career professionals to help them enhance their leadership skills and share valuable experience with one another. The program is specifically geared toward women and underrepresented minorities working in atmospheric, oceanic, and hydrologic sciences, including education and policy. ECLA participants will explore critical issues in the context of WWC. The program will feature speakers who will share their expertise on topics such as adaptive learning and leadership, strategic doing, building trust, and fostering diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is hoped that ECLA alumni will bring their experiences back to their professional environments to drive change in their respective organizations as well as more broadly across the community. “Science is the one of the most international enterprise where people from different disciplines, nationalities, and cultures work together toward a shared goal,” says Donna Charlevoix, chair of ECLA Advisory Board. “It is exciting to launch a professional development opportunity that will help early career scientists capture opportunities related to the plurality of the scientific enterprise, be more effective in their leadership roles, and empower each other.” The 2018 ECLA class was selected after a thoughtful and rigorous evaluation process. Over the period of three months, 34 early career professionals will participate in two remote sessions on February 23 and March 30, 2018, as well as an in-person meeting on April 26–27, 2018 in Washington, D.C. The ECLA participants will also be engaged in facilitated conference calls for small group peer mentoring. The ECLA is made possible by the generous support of IBM.

Read more here.




99th Annual American Meteorological Society Meeting

The American Meteorological Society has announced the 2019 annual meeting, "Understanding and Building Resilience to Extreme Events by Being Interdisciplinary, International, and Inclusive (III)."

Analyses by reinsurance companies have clearly shown the monotonically increasing cost of extreme events. There are a number of interrelated factors that have contributed to this increased vulnerability. For example, sea level rise combined with the migration of people to coastal regions exacerbates the impacts of hurricane/typhoon landfall and tsunamis, the interdependent nature of the energy grid with other infrastructure and our increasing reliance on technology would lead to a cascading negative effect if a major space weather event or other natural hazard were to occur, changes in climate have led to more frequent water extremes from flooding to drought conditions that significantly impact energy and food production, and the increasing number of wildfires has destroyed large regions of forests and buildings while also enhancing the risk of landslides and contributing to extreme air pollution events. Finally, urban-to-regional-scale air pollution episodes can be particularly hazardous under severe meteorological stagnation events.

Read more here.





AMS Releases First-Ever Report Stating Anthropogenic Climate Change Caused Major Weather Extremes


Last year's record global heat, extreme heat over Asia, and unusually warm waters in the Bering Sea would not have been possible without human-caused climate change, according to new research in Explaining Extreme Events in 2016 from a Climate Perspective, a report published as a special supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS).

In the six years scientists have been producing this annual report, this is the first time they have found that extreme events could not have happened without human-caused warming of the climate through increases in greenhouse gases.

Human influence was found to have increased the intensity and likelihood of terrestrial heat events around the world, in addition to affecting the severity of the El Niño, the severity of coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef, and the warmth of the North Pacific Ocean that impacted fisheries and other resources in the Pacific.

The new report presents 27 peer-reviewed analyses of extreme weather across five continents and two oceans during 2016. It features the research of 116 scientists from 18 countries looking at both historical observations and model simulations to determine whether and by how much climate change may have influenced particular extreme events.

As revealed in this year's report, the influence of human-caused climate change has become strong enough to push some heat events beyond the bounds of natural variability alone. In addition, scientists are reporting increasing confidence in their findings that human-caused climate change is impacting temperature-related events on land and in the oceans.

Major findings of the report can be broken into three categories:

Global heat: The record mean surface temperature for the world in 2016 was found to be "only possible due to substantial centennial-scale anthropogenic warming."

Asia heat: "The 2016 extreme warmth across Asia would not have been possible without climate change." Although El Niño (warming tropical Pacific waters) was expected to warm Southeast Asia in 2016, the heat in the region was unusually widespread. Another study produced evidence suggesting that a deadly April heat in Thailand, which devastated crops and broke records for energy usage, "would not have occurred in the natural climate" unwarmed by human influences, "even under the influence of a strong El Niño."

Marine hot spots: Ocean temperatures in the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, and off northern Australia were the most elevated in 35 years of satellite records, leading to massive bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef and one of the largest harmful algal blooms ever off the Alaska shore. Natural climate variations played a part, but one study finds "it was extremely unlikely that natural variability alone led to the observed anomalies," and another study finds the blob of sub-Arctic 2016 warmth “cannot be explained without anthropogenic climate warming."

Read the full report here.

American Society of Civil Engineers

ASCE Conducts International Conference on Sustainable Infrastructure


ASCE’s International Conference on Sustainable Infrastructure (ICSI 2017) took place in New York City from October 26-28, 2017. The Department of Design and Construction of New York served as the lead organizer of the conference together with ASCE. This gathering of civil engineers, urban architects, policy makers, technology experts, and related professionals provided a showcase for the latest developments and advancements in design, construction, technology, policy and education related to sustainable infrastructure.

Conference topics focused on sustainable cities for an uncertain world, covering relevant engineering research and applications that contribute to competitiveness and well-being. ISCI 2017 also devoted time to address the UN Sustainability Goals of developing sustainable cities and building resilient infrastructure, while supporting ASCE’s Grand Challenge of how “we can work towards the shared goal of reducing infrastructure life cycle costs by 50% by 2025 and foster the optimization of infrastructure for society.”

Conference topics of particular interest included:
- Sustainable urban transport planning and infrastructure construction.
- Emission reduction and environmental remediation.
- Big-data analysis for urban science and engineering.
- Climate change effects on urbanization and governance.
- Financing large projects: domestic and global.
- Policy issues in environmental development.
- Sustainability in engineering education.

Read more about the conference here.

For highlights of conference research, visit here.


American Society of Landscape Architects Fund

ASLA Releases Statement on Clean Power Plan Repeal

In response to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s recent announcement to repeal the Clean Power Plan, Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, executive vice president and CEO of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), released the following statement:

"ASLA is extremely disappointed in Pruitt’s decision to repeal the Clean Power Plan, which was projected to cut U.S. carbon emissions 32 percent by 2030. It comes at a time when American communities are bearing the destructive effects of climate change, with ravaging wildfires in the West, disastrous hurricanes in Florida, Texas, other Gulf Coast states, and in the U.S. territories of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

"These catastrophic events are costing our nation billions of dollars in property and infrastructure damage, imperiling human health and well-being, and destroying fragile ecosystems.

"While Pruitt's announcement is devastating, it is not surprising. Since taking office in January, this administration has taken several steps to roll back critical environmental and climate change policies. However, ASLA continues to fight for federal, state, and local programs and policies that allow landscape architects to use sustainable design techniques to help communities become healthy, resilient, and climate smart.

"Recently, ASLA convened a Blue Ribbon Panel of planning and design experts to develop a set of policy recommendations for mitigating and adapting to climate change through resilient design. The panel will publicly present its findings and policy recommendations in the form of a report in January 2018.

"With the repeal of the Clean Power Plan, the EPA must soon go through a full notice and comment period on the plan—I hope that all landscape architects and others interested in protecting our communities from the damaging impacts of climate change will join ASLA in weighing in on this critical issue."

Read more here.

For more information contact ASLA, 636 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001; (202) 898-244, www.asla.org.


American Water Resources Association

AWRA'S Spring Specialty Conference

AWRA’s spring specialty conference Analysis of Watersheds: Ecological, Hydrological, and Societal Responses, will be held in Orlando, Florida on April 22-25, 2018.

This is the 10th in a series of conferences designed around geospatial solutions to water resources related problems. Innovative water resources scientists, engineers, modelers, software designers from the public/government agencies, academic and private sectors convene to exchange ideas, compare challenges and solutions. Professionals working in aquatic research, management, and conservation involving process models, geo-referenced field data, remote sensing, or geo-statistical models are encouraged to attend and show their work.

This year’s conference features two Technical Program Co-Chairs. Dr. Dan Ames of Brigham Young University (BYU) is well-known to regulars of this conference and brings his expertise and interests in GIS-based water resources modeling, open source GIS, and web apps. Dr. Mike McManus of EPA, Office of Research and Development is a fairly new member of our tribe. He organized two very successful topical sessions with an ecological focus for the 2016 AWRA GIS & Water Resources conference that was held in Sacramento, solidifying a place in our community for geospatial water-based analyses involving ecology.

Topical Sessions Chair, Dr. Norm Jones, of BYU, has a long history of GIS-based hydrologic modeling and helped co-author the Arc Hydro Groundwater tools. He is actively fielding topical session ideas ranging from remote sensing application to water resources, Ele-Hydro, drones, watershed conservation, and the National Water Model.

In additional to the specialty topics, the National Hydrography Dataset and NHDPlus, climate change, flood modeling and all the regular topics will be well represented at the conference.

For more information visit here.


Geological Society of America

GSA Issues New Position Statement: Geoscience and Energy Policy


GSA’s governing Council approved a new position statement, Geoscience and Energy Policy, at its October 2017 meeting in Seattle, Washington. "This has been a long time coming," said GSA President Isabel Montañez. "I would like to thank the committee for their thoughtful work and GSA members for their valuable input. We have a document that we can be proud of." The position statement summarizes the importance of the geosciences in developing fundamental data upon which sound energy policy should be based and the contributions geoscientists can make to the framing of energy policy.

Current Chair of GSA's Geology and Public Policy Committee (GPPC), Art Snoke, noted that energy issues in particular have relevance to, and are debated, at many levels of society and government. According to the new statement, "Most energy sources have important and distinct geologic factors that should be considered when analyzing the life-cycle impacts related to exploration, extraction, development, operations, human consumption, waste disposal, decommissioning, and reclamation."

The new position paper states, "Development of a comprehensive energy policy that significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions is essential for the future economic vitality, environmental well-being, and health and security of the citizens of the United States as well as other nations. Geoscientists locate, quantify, and help develop energy resources, and, along with professionals in other disciplines, assess and mitigate the impact of energy-resource development, operations, and use on the environment. Accordingly, input from geoscientists must be an integral part of all energy policy deliberations."

GPPC member G. Warfield "Skip" Hobbs emphasized that publication of the GSA energy statement "aims to inform policy makers in Washington that the geoscience community -- experts in climate change and energy -- agree that for the good of planet earth and humankind, policies must reduce fossil fuel carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, and facilitate the transition to renewable energy resources."

The statement continues, "The challenge for energy policy makers is to develop a plan that will provide cost-effective improvements for the efficient and sustainable use of Earth's energy resources, reduce carbon emissions, and provide secure and affordable energy to the world's developing economies as well as the developed nations of the world. The knowledge and expertise of geoscientists take on added importance as countries and industries worldwide adapt to climate change and work to reduce carbon emissions."

Read the full text of the position statement here.

Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

SETAC Europe  28th Annual Meeting


SETAC Europe 28th Annual Meeting will take place May 13–17, 2018 in Rome, Italy. This 5-day event will feature a variety of training, networking and learning opportunities. This year’s theme, Responsible and Innovative Research for Environmental Quality, will focus on emerging research, regulatory developments and the latest methodologies in environmental toxicology and chemistry. Between 2,000 and 2,500 scientists, assessors, regulators and managers from academia, business and government, representing an average of 60 countries will attend.

For more information visit: https://rome.setac.org/


International News

INSTITUTE OF MARINE ENGINEERING, SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Global Powers Ban Fishing in the Central Arctic Ocean

Nine nations and the European Union have agreed to ban commercial fishing in the central Arctic Ocean (CAO) for a minimum of 16 years.

The moratorium was signed by officials from Norway, Russia, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, the United States, South Korea, China, Japan, and the EU following a sixth negotiating session in Washington DC.

There are currently no fisheries in the CAO, which extends across 2.8 million square kilometers — an area roughly the size of the Mediterranean Sea. However, increased melting of sea ice in recent summers has created open water in up to 40% of the region covered by the moratorium. International law currently permits fishing in these waters in the absence of an agreement. The pact will allow scientists to study the existing marine ecosystem in the Arctic before it is impacted by commercial activity.

“For the first time, nations are committing to scientific research in a high seas area before commercial fishing begins,” says Scott Highleyman, vice-president of conservation policy and programs at Ocean Conservancy who also served on the US delegation negotiating the agreement.

“This precautionary action recognizes both the pace of change in the Arctic due to climate change as well as the tradition of Arctic cooperation across international boundaries.”

While the initial term of the moratorium is 16 years, it will automatically be extended every five years unless a country objects or until research-based fisheries quotas are established.

Read the original report on the IMEST website here.



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