Human Induced Climate Change Experiment

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2012 Toyota Prius c 1.5 L, 4 cyl, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular Gasoline
2012 Toyota Prius c 53City


46Highway 51.0Show Details $1,100per year
MSRP: $18,950 – $23,230
2013 Toyota Prius c 1.5 L, 4 cyl, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular Gasoline
2013 Toyota Prius c 53City


46Highway 50.1Show Details $1,100per year
MSRP: $19,080 – $23,360 Safety Ratings
2012 Toyota Prius 1.8 L, 4 cyl, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular Gasoline
2012 Toyota Prius 51City


48Highway 49.2Show Details $1,100per year
MSRP: $23,015 – $29,805 Safety Ratings
2013 Toyota Prius 1.8 L, 4 cyl, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular Gasoline
2013 Toyota Prius 51City


48Highway 47.1Show Details $1,100per year
MSRP: $24,200 – $30,005 Safety Ratings
2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid FWD 2.0 L, 4 cyl, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular Gasoline
2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid FWD 47City


47Highway 38.8Show Details $1,150per year
MSRP: $25,200 – $28,365 Safety Ratings
2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid FWD 2.0 L, 4 cyl, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular Gasoline
2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid FWD 47City


47Highway 39.6Show Details $1,150per year
MSRP: $23,700 – $32,100 Safety Ratings
2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid FWD 2.0 L, 4 cyl, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular Gasoline
2013 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid FWD 45City


45Highway Not Available $1,200per year
MSRP: $35,925 Safety Ratings
2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid 1.4 L, 4 cyl, Auto(AM-S7), Premium Gasoline
2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid 42City


48Highway 39.3Show Details $1,300per year
MSRP: $24,995 – $31,180 Safety Ratings
2012 Honda Civic Hybrid 1.5 L, 4 cyl, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular Gasoline
2012 Honda Civic Hybrid 44City


44Highway 47.5Show Details $1,250per year
MSRP: $24,050 Safety Ratings
2013 Honda Civic Hybrid 1.5 L, 4 cyl, Automatic (variable gear ratios), Regular Gasoline
2013 Honda Civic Hybrid 44City


44Highway 43.9Show Details $1,250per year
MSRP: $24,360 – $27,060 Safety Ratings
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$50 Billion Environmental Business Initiative

Bank of America today announced a new 10-year, $50 billion environmental business goal to help address climate change, reduce demands on natural resources and advance lower-carbon economic solutions. The company also introduced significant new goals to reduce the environmental impact of its own operations.

The new goal, effective Jan. 1, 2013, follows the anticipated completion of the company’s current 10-year, $20 billion environmental business initiative – a program that is more than four years ahead of schedule.

“Environmental business delivers value to our clients, return for our shareholders, and helps strengthen the economy,” said Bank of America Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan. “We met our prior goal in about half the time we set for ourselves, so more than doubling our target is ambitious but achievable.”

The new environmental business initiative will consist primarily of lending, equipment finance, capital markets and advisory activity, carbon finance, and advice and investment solutions for clients. The areas of focus include:

Energy efficiency – in residential, commercial, and public properties, as well as supporting the full supply chain that drives energy efficiency.
Renewable energy and energy infrastructure – including wind, solar, hydro, biomass and waste-to-energy solutions and their upstream and downstream supply chains, as well as smart grid, large-scale energy storage and other important infrastructures.
Transportation – including certain lower carbon forms of transport such as electric and hybrid electric vehicles, batteries/fuel cells and sustainable bio-fuels, as well as developing local and regional charging infrastructure to support the growth of new hybrid vehicle technologies.
Water and waste – focusing on innovative new technologies and infrastructure development, including water purification and waste disposal and recycling.

The bank also announced a goal to provide $100 million in grants and program-related investments to nonprofit organizations, community development financial institutions and other non-governmental organizations promoting low-carbon and resource conservation solutions.

Bank of America will meet its new $50 billion goal by continuing to develop low-carbon business across its global platform. The company expects to grow its business activities around the world as governments, companies and individuals worldwide shift spending and investing patterns in response to energy security, resource efficiency and broader environmental awareness. The company also will work with traditional businesses such as agriculture, forestry, transportation, technology, retail and healthcare to help advance their low-carbon activities.

“Many of our clients are transitioning to more environmentally conscious business practices, products and services,” said Cathy Bessant, Global Technology and Operations executive and chair of Bank of America’s Environmental Council. “We can continue to grow our business, promote a greener global economy and address climate change by helping our clients meet their own sustainability objectives.”

Bank of America also will work with third parties to explore how best to quantify the impact of its capital commitment on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and promoting energy conservation, renewable energy generation and other tangible environmental and societal benefits.

Today’s announcement builds on Bank of America’s legacy of leadership in the environmental arena. The company was one of the first financial institutions to launch a substantial, formal environmental business initiative, and as of March 31, 2012, it has delivered $17.9 billion toward that initiative, including:

* $8.4 billion, or 47 percent, for energy efficiency activities ranging from its $55 million Energy Efficiency Finance Program to provide low-cost loans and grants to support energy efficiency retrofits in low-income neighborhoods, to financing lighting, heating and cooling equipment upgrades in public housing developments, commercial and government buildings.
* $5 billion, or 28 percent, for renewable energy projects as diverse as helping the San Jose Unified School District in California become one of the largest solar powered systems in the world, and working with integrated food-energy business CleanStar Mozambique to replace thousands of charcoal-burning cook stoves with cleaner bio-ethanol fueled stoves. In 2011, the company helped arrange and finance the world’s two largest rooftop solar projects – with clients Prologis and NRG Energy, and SolarCity respectively – supporting the potential creation of more than a thousand megawatts of solar energy capacity and thousands of jobs across the U.S.
* Nearly $1 billion for consumer financing of hybrid vehicle purchases.

In 2004, Bank of America was the first financial institution to publicly commit to GHG reduction targets through the former EPA Climate Leaders program. In 2009, it was the first financial institution to exceed its targets: reducing emissions by 18 percent from 2004 to 2009 – twice its original 9 percent reduction goal. As part of the company’s commitment to LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building, it partnered with The Durst Organization to build the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, the world’s first Platinum-certified high-rise office building under the LEED Core and Shell rating system.
New internal environmental goals

Today, Bank of America also announced new operational goals it plans to achieve by 2015:

* 25 percent reduction in energy consumption from 2004 – equal to eliminating 1.2 million megawatt hours of annual energy use from our portfolio.
* 20 percent reduction in paper consumption (2010 baseline); paper used will:
* Contain 20 percent post-consumer recycled content.
* Be sourced entirely from certified forests.
* 20 percent reduction in global water consumption (2010 baseline).
* 70 percent diversion of global waste from landfill.
* All electronic waste streams to be disposed of using certified, responsible vendors.

These new goals build on the May 2011 announcement that by 2015, Bank of America plans to achieve:

* More than 30 percent aggregate reduction in global GHG emissions (2004 baseline).
* 20 percent LEED certification within its corporate workplace portfolio.

“Meeting these aggressive, industry-leading goals requires new ways of working across our company,” said Bessant. “We have a strong culture of environmental sustainability. Our work is even stronger due to important collaboration with a number of leaders in this space like Ceres, Carbon Disclosure Project and the U.S. Green Building Council, who have helped us define and shape our focus as we continue to deliver impressive results.”

This year, the United Nations launched the Sustainable Energy for All initiative, a public-private partnership that highlights the important link between energy – in particular, energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy – and broader development issues. Bank of America will further discuss its renewed external and internal goals with global leaders of governmental, private sector and non-governmental organizations at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development’s Rio+20 Conference in June, where the UN will lay out an ambitious range of energy targets.

Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world’s largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 57 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 5,700 retail banking offices and approximately 17,250 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 30 million active users. Bank of America is among the world’s leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 4 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Smoke from California’s Springs Fire

NASA — The GOES infrared and visible imagery were combined to create an animation that showed the plume of smoke from the fire. The smoke plume is seen blowing west and out over the eastern Pacific Ocean. The animation runs 17 seconds and shows the smoke plume from May 3 at 1415 to 2000 UTC (10:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT) was created by the NASA GOES Project, located at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. Credit: NASA GOES Project/NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Dennis Chesters

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National Water Program Strategy: Response to Climate Change

The 2012 Highlights of Progress report provides a summary of the major climate change-related accomplishments of EPA’s national and regional water programs in 2012. This is the fourth climate change progress report for the National Water Program and the first progress report organized around the five long-term programmatic vision areas described in the National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change.

EPA National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change (Full Report) (PDF) (132pp, 2.9MB)

Foreword (PDF) (2 pp, 353K)

National Water Program 2012 Strategy: Response to Climate Change Cover

I. Executive Summary (PDF) (12 pp, 600K)
II. Introduction: The Evolving Context (PDF) (11 pp, 410K)
III. Framework for a Climate Ready National Water Program (PDF) (5 pp, 211K)
IV. Programmatic Visions, Goals, and Strategic Actions (PDF) (41 pp, 691K)
A. Infrastructure (PDF)

      (9 pp, 264K)

B. Watersheds and Wetlands (PDF)

      (9 pp, 145K)

C. Coastal and Ocean Waters (PDF)

      (3 pp, 84K)

D. Water Quality (PDF)

      (9 pp, 105K)

E. Working with Tribes (PDF)

      (3 pp, 84K)

V. Geographic Climate Regions (PDF) (25 pp, 446K)
VI. Cross-Cutting Program Support (PDF)
(13 pp, 343K)
VII. Appendices (PDF) (23 pp, 272K)

Additional Supporting Documents

To order copies of the 2012 Strategy, please visit:
Ordering can be done online, by phone, or by mail. The document number is: 850-K-12-004.

Supporting Documents

Cover of EPA's FY 2011 - 2015 Strategic Plan document

Policy Memorandum from Former EPA Administrator Establishing the EPA Climate Work Group (PDF) (3 pp, 594K)
This memorandum calls for measures to anticipate and adapt to the effects climate change will have on the EPA’s core mission as well as actions to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. It also includes helping the most vulnerable people and places reduce their exposure and sensitivity to climate change and improving their capacity to predict, prepare for and avoid adverse impacts. This priority is reflected in the EPA’s FY 2011-2015 Strategic Plan which includes a heightened focus on cross-program activities addressing climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Charter for EPA State-Tribal Climate Change Council of the National Water Program (PDF) (5 pp, 821K)
A key goal of the EPA National Water Program Strategy: Response to Climate Change is to engage States, Tribes, and others in addressing the complex issues posed for water quality program managers by a changing climate. In an effort to strengthen cooperation amongst these groups, a State-Tribal Climate Council of the EPA National Water Program has been formed. The charter outlines the Council’s purpose, membership, and operation.

Cover of EPA’s Coming Together For Clean Water Strategy document

Coming Together for Clean Water: EPA’s Strategy to Protect America’s Waters (PDF) (14 pp, 1.7MB)
On April 15, 2010, former EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson convened a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss opportunities to reinvigorate EPA’s strategy for achieving clean water. This strategy outlines the challenges that were highlighted at the ‘Coming Together for Clean Water’ forum, describes the public participation process, and highlights the EPA’s priorities for achieving clean water goals.

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Climate Adaptation Strategy

Part of the Human Induced Climate Change Experiment

In partnership with State and Tribal agencies, the Obama Administration released the first nationwide strategy to help public and private decision makers address the impacts that climate change is having on natural resources and the people and economies that depend on them. Developed in response to a request by Congress, the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy is the product of extensive national dialogue that spanned nearly two years and was shaped by comments from more than 55,000 Americans.

Fish, wildlife, and plant resources provide important benefits and services to Americans every day, including jobs, income, food, clean water and air, building materials, storm protection, tourism and recreation. For example, hunting, fishing and other wildlife-related recreation contribute an estimated $120 billion to our nation’s economy every year, and marine ecosystems sustain a U.S. seafood industry that supports approximately 1 million jobs and $116 billion in economic activity annually.

The Climate Adaptation Strategy provides a roadmap of key steps needed over the next five years to reduce the current and expected impacts of climate change on our natural resources, which include: changing species distributions and migration patterns, the spread of wildlife diseases and invasive species, the inundation of coastal habitats with rising sea levels, changing productivity of our coastal oceans, and changes in freshwater availability.

The Climate Adaptation Strategy builds upon efforts already underway by federal, state, tribal governments and other organizations to safeguard fish, wildlife and plants and the communities that depend on them, and provides specific voluntary steps that agencies and partners can take in the coming years to reduce costly damages and protect the health of our communities and economy. The strategy does not prescribe any mandatory activities for government or nongovernmental entities, nor suggest any regulatory actions.

“Rising sea levels, warmer temperatures, loss of sea ice and changing precipitation patterns – trends scientists have connected to climate change – are already affecting the species that we care about, the services we value, and the places we call home,” said Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes. “The Strategy is a comprehensive, multi-partner response that takes a 21st-century approach developed by the American public for sustaining fish, wildlife, and plant resources and the services they provide – now and into the future.”

“The health and vitality of our nation’s natural resources are important components of our overall social and economic welfare,” said Eric Schwaab, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “As resource trustees, we have an obligation to understand, consider and minimize all the potential impacts, including those from climate change. This new strategy will help us meet those challenges and empower current and future generations to be better stewards of our priceless resources and cherished landscapes amidst a rapidly changing world.”

Implementation of the strategy will provide public and private decision makers with the information and tools they need to consider and respond to climate change as part of their ongoing activities. The Strategy identifies seven key steps to help safeguard the nation’s fish, wildlife and plants in a changing climate:

Conserve habitat to support healthy fish, wildlife, and plant populations and ecosystem functions;
Manage species and habitats to protect ecosystem functions and provide sustainable commercial, subsistence, recreational and cultural use;
Enhance capacity for effective management;
Support adaptive management through integrated observation and monitoring and use of decision support tools;
Increase knowledge and information on impacts and responses of fish, wildlife, and plants;
Increase awareness and motivate action to safeguard fish, wildlife, and plants; and
Reduce non-climate stressors to help fish, wildlife, plants, and ecosystems adapt.

“State fish and wildlife agencies serve as stewards of the nation’s natural resources and we welcome the release of the Strategy to assist us collectively in our efforts to conserve our fish and wildlife and the habitats on which they depend,” said Patricia Riexinger, Director of the Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Marine Resources for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. “The real value of this strategy is that is makes a broad array of recommendations that agencies and our conservation partners can support as our capacity allows, and enables us to understand how each of us can contribute to progress on helping our natural resources adapt to a changing climate.”

Development of the Fish & Wildlife Adaptation Strategy was guided by an innovative partnership of federal, state and tribal fish and wildlife conservation agencies in response to a 2010 call by the U.S. Congress for a national, government-wide climate adaptation strategy to assist fish, wildlife, and plants, and related ecological processes in becoming more resilient, adapting to, and surviving the impacts of climate change. More than 90 researchers and managers from federal, state and tribal natural resource management agencies across the country participated in drafting the strategy.

The draft Strategy received nearly 55,000 comments from 54,847 individuals, 51 non-governmental organizations, 17 governmental entities, and 5 tribes. Input and suggestions provided in the comments were carefully reviewed and incorporated into the final document.

The partnership was co-led by Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (representing state fish and wildlife agencies). An intergovernmental steering committee that included representatives from 15 federal agencies, five state fish and wildlife agencies, and two inter-tribal commissions oversaw development of the strategy with support from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

The National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy can be found on the web at .

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Sea Shephered, Japan And Whales

In response to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in a preliminary injunction hearing against Sea Shepherd Conservation Society U.S. as brought by Japan’s Institute for Cetacean Research (ICR) — a government-subsidized front for commercial whaling — the global marine conservation nonprofit calls the ruling a “bad decision,” but says the gavel hasn’t come down quite yet. A ruling from a pending trial and other legal actions are yet to come. Meanwhile, the group says Japan’s whale-poaching pirates of greed are literally getting away with murder — the murder of whales.

Moreover, Sea Shepherd has called for the case to be reviewed again before an eleven-judge Ninth Circuit Court panel. The Ninth Circuit Court issued a temporary injunction in December in favor of the Japanese whale-poaching fleet and against Sea Shepherd U.S.’s activities in the Southern Ocean, overturning a decision by the Honorable District Court Judge Richard A. Jones in March of last year. At the time, the temporary injunction was issued with no opinion whatsoever. The opinion was finally issued late Monday and ignored the well-reasoned ruling in Sea Shepherd’s favor by Judge Jones.

In this most recent ruling, the Ninth Circuit called Sea Shepherd “pirates,” but it is indeed the whale poachers who are the real pirates in this scenario — pirates of greed and murder. At a press conference at the National Press Club earlier this month, iconic Environmental Attorney Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. echoed that sentiment about the ICR:

“…The Institute for Cetacean Research, which is an arm of the Japanese government, is really a pirate organization masquerading as a scientific research group. … If you are violating international law on the high seas, you are a pirate,” he added.

“And we have in our country a long and proud history of battling piracy on the high seas, beginning in 1805 when Thomas Jefferson sent the marines to Tripoli to subdue the Barbary Pirates. And we ought to be, not trying to impede Paul Watson and Sea Shepherd, but we should be issuing him letters of marque in order to support and recognize the important value of his activities to our country and to the world community in battling a pirate organization that is in violation of international laws. He is performing a profound public service for all of us and instead of recognizing him, the U.S. government, various agencies of the U.S. government, have attempted to impede him,” Kennedy, Jr. said.

Letters of marque were historically used by governments many years ago to seize genuine pirate ships. They were a government license authorizing a person (known as a privateer) to attack and capture enemy vessels and bring them before admiralty courts for condemnation and sale.

In addition, in a highly questionable and unprofessional move, the three-panel member of the Ninth Circuit Court called into question Judge Jones’ well-articulated ruling in which he said Sea Shepherd was acting in the public interest for the protection of wildlife and the Earth. He also reasoned further that the group’s activities amount to nothing more than low-level harassment. Still, clearly unconcerned with the plight of the planet, the Ninth Circuit made a rare and unwarranted decision that Jones should be removed from the case, with one of the three judges dissenting on that ruling.

“Clearly, this is a bad decision by the Ninth Circuit Court, but not unexpected,” said Scott West, Director of Intelligence & Investigations for Sea Shepherd U.S. “But it’s an opinion; everyone has one. We happen to agree with Judge Jones’ very well articulated and reasoned opinion on the matter,” he stated.

“Beyond that, the vitriolic and grandstanding manner in which the Ninth Circuit rendered its opinion makes us seriously doubt their qualifications for making a just decision. This court is part of the problem, not the solution. Not only is there no room for such a biased and unprofessional legal opinion, they somehow have the audacity to throw a highly respected, honored judge — one of their own — under the bus in order to side with foreign interests. Is this a decision of an American court or have we somehow mistakenly landed in Japan?” West added.

Sea Shepherd U.S. will continue to seek relief with regard to the injunction by going back to the full Ninth Circuit Court (En Banc) and a hand-picked judge of the U.S. Supreme Court. A first foray to the designated Supreme Court Justice was denied.

“We will continue to use the courts and the law to overturn these rulings,” said Charles Moure, Lead Counsel with Harris & Moure, Seattle, Wash. “We have a long, hard fight ahead of us but Judge Jones was correct when he said Sea Shepherd is working in the public interest for the greater good. Sea Shepherd has the court of public opinion on its side, backed by thousands of supporters worldwide, something the Japanese whale poachers will never have. The organization is prepared to take on these challenges, believing that in the end, justice will prevail and Judge Jones’ courageous opinion will become the law of the land,” he concluded.

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Declining Vegetation

Part of the study “Foliage Spoilage and the Trees’ Canopy Collapse”

NASA eyes declining vegetation in the eastern U.S. from 2000 to 2010

February 26, 2013

By Ruth Dasso Marlaire,
Ames Research Center

NASA scientists report that warmer temperatures and changes in precipitation locally and regionally have altered the growth of large forest areas in the eastern United States over the past 10 years. Using NASA’s Terra satellite, scientists examined the relationship between natural plant growth trends, as monitored by NASA satellite images, and variations in climate over the eastern United States from 2000 to 2010.

Monthly satellite images from the MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) showed declining density of the green forest cover during summer in four sub-regions, the Upper Great Lakes, southern Appalachian, mid-Atlantic, and southeastern Coastal Plain. More than 20 percent of the non-agricultural area in the four sub-regions that showed decline during the growing season, were covered by forests. Nearly 40 percent of the forested area within the mid-Atlantic sub-region alone showed a significant decline in forest canopy cover.

“We looked next at the relationships between warmer temperatures, rainfall patterns, and reduced forest greenness across these “We looked next at the relationships between warmer temperatures, rainfall patterns, and reduced forest greenness across these regions,” said Christopher Potter, a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. “This comprehensive data set gave us the evidence to conclude that a series of relatively dry years since 2000 has been unfavorable for vigorous growth of forest cover over much of the Eastern U. S. this past decade.” Potter is the first author of the paper titled “Declining Vegetation Growth Rates in the Eastern United States from 2000 to 2010,” published by Natural Resources, Dec. 2012, (3), 184-190.

In the past, scientists were uncertain about what was causing the changes in the forests in the eastern U. S. Based on small-scale field site measurements since 1970, forest growth was thought to be increasing in regions where soil nutrients and water were in good supply. At the same time, there were fewer wildfires throughout the eastern U.S., which scientists believe contributed to the transformation of more open lands into closed-canopy forests with more shade-tolerant, fire-sensitive plants.

More recent studies indicate that climate change could be having many adverse and interrelated impacts on the region. The warming climate this century has caused new stresses on trees, such as insect pest outbreaks and the introduction of new pathogens. Scientists consider both climate change and disease to be dominant driving forces in the health of forests in this region.

NASA’s technology is revealing an entirely new picture of these complex impacts. The MODIS satellite captures very broad regional patterns of change in forests, wetlands, and grasslands by continuous monitoring of the natural plant cover over extended time periods. Now, with over a decade of “baseline” data to show how trees typically go through a yearly cycle of leaves blooming, summer growth, and leaves falling, scientists are detecting subtle deviations from the average cycle to provide early warning signs of change at the resolution of a few miles for the entire country.

“The next studies at NASA Ames will research areas that appear most affected by drought and warming to map out changes in forest growth at a resolution of several acres,” said Potter.

This research was conducted under the National Climate Assessment as part of the United States Global Change Research Act of 1990.

For more information about NASA Ames, see:

Trends in forest canopy green cover over the eastern U. S. region from 2000 to 2010 derived from NASA MODIS satellite sensor data. Green shades indicate a positive trend of increasing growing season green cover, whereas brown shades indicate a negative trend of decreasing growing season green cover. Four forest sub-regions of interest are outlined in red, north to south as: Great Lakes, Southern Appalachian, Mid-Atlantic, and southeastern Coastal Plain. Image credit: NASA

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The World Bank and UN Security Council on Global Warming Threat

I had the honor of speaking to the UN Security Council about an increasingly dangerous threat facing cities and countries around the world, a threat that, more and more, is influencing everything that they and we do: climate change.

World Bank President Jim Kim is in Russia right now talking with G20 finance ministers about the same thing – the need to combat climate change. Every day, we’re hearing growing concerns from leaders around the world about climate change and its impact.

If we needed any reminder of the immediacy and the urgency of the situation, Australia Foreign Minister Bob Carr and our good friend President Tong of Kiribati spoke by video of the security implication of climate effects on the Pacific region. Perhaps most moving of all, Minister Tony deBrum from the Marshall Islands recounted how, 35 years ago, he had come to New York as part of a Marshall Islands delegation requesting the Security Council’s support for their independence. Now, when not independence but survival is at stake, he is told that this is not the Security Council’s function. He pointed to their ambassador to the UN and noted that her island, part of the Marshall Islands, no longer exists. The room was silent.

It fell to us to point out the security implications of business as usual. If the world does nothing to stop climate change:

  • half the global population will be living in water-scarce countries by the end of the century, compared to 28% today;
  • 35% of sub-Saharan Africa’s cropland will become unsuitable for cultivation, with grave consequences for food security;
  • the breadbaskets of North America and the Mediterranean will see repeats of this past summer’s crop-crumbling heat waves more frequently, to potentially devastating effect.


So what do we do?

First, cities. Developing countries are urbanizing fast – some will be shifting from less than 20% urban today to more than 60% in the next 30 years. The decisions they make today – about transportation infrastructure, water supply, land use rules, building codes and more – will lock in development patterns for decades to come.

They can choose to grow green with careful, integrated urban planning and support – they will need direct finance and assistance. We will need to step up our work here in support of our clients. In China, cities are seizing on low-carbon development options. We’re helping Lagos develop more sustainable transportation.

We will need to change the way we produce our food, as well. The world’s farmers will need to produce 70% more food by 2050 to feed a population expected to pass 9 billion people, and yet climate scientists tell us that for every 1 degree Celsius increase in average temperature around the world, crop yields will decrease by an average of 5%. We can and must farm in ways that increase productivity, build farmers’ ability to cope with erratic weather, and increase carbon storage on land. We are mobilizing global alliances on climate-smart agriculture, and we have no time to lose.

World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Security Council meeting February 15, 2013. Yuvan Beejadhur/World BankWe are also helping countries transition to a cleaner energy mix. We have doubled our investments in renewable energy in the last five years, and the $7.6 billion Climate Investment Funds we administer will support low-carbon, climate-resilient projects in 48 countries. But that $7.6 billion is a drop in the ocean of what is needed to support the transition to green infrastructure and energy systems. The resilient and green infrastructure gap is, after all, calculated at around $1.3 trillion a year – excluding operation and maintenance.

Stopping a 4°C warmer world from becoming reality and staying at a 2°C one still requires huge investments in adaptation – effectively the resilience of countries, cities, communities, especially the poor.

Disaster risk management – putting effort into prevention and preparedness rather than simply reacting after disasters strike – saves lives and property, and it is increasingly at the core of the Bank’s work. Preserving wetlands and mangroves provides protective storm barriers. Avoiding development in vulnerable areas prevents flooding and deaths that often affect a community’s poorest residents. Through the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, the Bank is working with client countries to mainstream disaster risk management into their development planning.

We recognize that there is much more we can do. President Kim has challenged us to take bold action. We need to get prices right, get finance flowing, and work where it matters most. Our mission, to end poverty and build shared prosperity, will be futile if we don’t.
Rachel Kyte
Vice President for Sustainable Development

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Arctic Sea Ice Volume Losses

By George Hale,
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

New research using combined records of ice measurements from NASA’s Ice, Cloud and Land Elevation Satellite (ICESat), the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 satellite, airborne surveys and ocean-based sensors shows Arctic sea ice volume declined 36 percent in the autumn and nine percent in the winter over the last decade.

The work builds on previous studies using submarine and NASA satellite data, confirms computer model estimates that showed ice volume decreases over the last decade, and builds a foundation for a multi-decadal record of sea ice volume changes.

In a report published online recently in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, a large international collaboration of scientists outlined their work to calculate Arctic sea ice volume. The satellite measurements were verified using data from NASA’s Operation IceBridge, ocean-based sensors and a European airborne science expedition. This was compared with the earlier sea ice volume data record from NASA’s ICESat, which reached the end of its lifespan in 2009.

The researchers found that from 2003 to 2008, autumn volumes of ice averaged 2,855 cubic miles (11,900 cubic kilometers). But from 2010 to 2012, the average volume dropped to 1,823 cubic miles (7,600 cubic kilometers) — a decline of 1,032 cubic miles (4,300 cubic kilometers). The average ice volume in the winter from 2003 to 2008 was 3,911 cubic miles (16,300 cubic kilometers), dropping to 3,551 cubic miles (14,800 cubic kilometers) between 2010 and 2012 — a difference of 360 cubic miles (1,500 cubic kilometers).

The study, funded by the United Kingdom’s National Environmental Research Council, the European Space Agency, the German Aerospace Center, Alberta Ingenuity, NASA, the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation and led by Professor Seymour Laxon of University College London, marks the first ice volume estimates from CryoSat 2, which was launched in 2010. “It’s an important achievement and milestone for CryoSat-2,” said co-author Ron Kwok at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

Combining the ingredients

Although CryoSat-2 data show a decrease in ice volume from 2010 to 2012, two years is not a long enough time span to determine a trend. This is where NASA’s data and scientists come in. Data from ICESat and IceBridge are freely available, but combining measurements from different sources can be challenging. Kwok said researchers spent months working out how to compare the datasets and making sure they were compatible enough to compare trends. “We participated as collaborators to help interpret results from the datasets we’re familiar with,” said scientist Sinead Farrell at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

CryoSat-2 and ICESat both measure sea ice freeboard, which is the amount of ice floating above the ocean’s surface. Researchers use freeboard to calculate ice thickness. This thickness measurement is then combined with ice area to come up with a figure for volume. The two satellites used different methods for measuring freeboard, however. ICESat used a laser altimeter, which bounces a laser off the snow covering the sea ice, while CryoSat-2 uses a radar instrument that measures surface elevation closer to the ice surface. These instruments have a different view of the surface, but researchers found they gave comparable measurements.

Check and double check

Comparing the two datasets and ensuring their quality called for additional data. The two satellites do not cover overlapping time spans, so researchers used measurements from upward-looking sonar (ULS) moorings under the ocean’s surface, located north of Alaska. These instruments, operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project, provide a continuous record of ice draft — thickness of ice below the ocean’s surface — in parts of the Beaufort Sea from 2003 to the present day. Thickness measurements from these ULS moorings were comparable to ICESat and CryoSat-2 data throughout both missions’ time spans. “ULS ice draft since 2003 served as the common data set for cross comparison of the ICESat and CryoSat-2 measurements,” said Kwok.

Researchers took extra care to verify CryoSat-2′s data, as it is a new satellite with a new instrument. In addition to the ULS data, CryoSat-2 measurements were also verified by two airborne science campaigns: flights by an aircraft operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, Germany; and Operation IceBridge, a NASA mission tasked with monitoring changes in polar ice to bridge the gap in measurements between ICESat and its replacement, ICESat-2, scheduled to launch in 2016. During the 2011 and 2012 Arctic campaigns, the IceBridge team coordinated closely with ESA’s CryoVEx program to verify CryoSat-2 data. “IceBridge was used as a validation tool to understand thickness measurements from CryoSat-2,” said scientist Nathan Kurtz at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

The road ahead

After months of work, researchers had assembled a multi-year dataset, which they could compare to sea ice volume predictions from the Pan-Arctic Ice-Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System (PIOMAS). Because of the short time span of previous satellite studies, researchers have used models like PIOMAS to simulate changes in sea ice volume. The study’s observations show a larger autumn ice volume decrease than predicted, while changes in the winter are smaller than in the model simulation. “It’s important to know because changes in volume indicate changes in heat exchange between the ice, ocean and atmosphere,” said Kurtz.

This study, and the knowledge that the datasets are compatible, also serves to lay groundwork for ICESat-2. CryoSat-2 gathers data over more of the Arctic than ICESat did by reaching 88 degrees north (ICESat reached 86 degrees). ICESat-2 will orbit Earth at the same angle as CryoSat-2 and will therefore survey the same amount of the Arctic.

CryoSat-2 is funded through 2017 but will likely operate until the end of the decade, giving overlapping coverage with ICESat-2. This potential overlap greatly improves the prospects for better knowledge of Arctic sea ice volume. “The hope is that we’ll be able to create a multi-decadal record using ICESat, CryoSat-2 and ICESat-2,” said Kwok.

For more about ICESat, visit: For more about Operation IceBridge, visit: For more about CryoSat-2, visit: For more about the Beaufort Gyre Exploration Project, visit:

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1/5 Of Reptile Species Endangered

Nineteen percent of the world’s reptiles are estimated to be threatened with extinction, states a paper published today by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in conjunction with experts from the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC).

The study, printed in the journal of Biological Conservation, is the first of its kind summarising the global conservation status of reptiles. More than 200 world renowned experts assessed the extinction risk of 1,500 randomly selected reptiles from across the globe.Out of the estimated 19% of reptiles threatened with extinction, 12% classified as Critically Endangered, 41% Endangered and 47% Vulnerable.

Chamaeleo Hoehneliimichele
©Michele Menegon

Three Critically Endangered species were also highlighted as possibly extinct. One of these, a jungle runner lizard Ameiva vittata, has only ever been recorded in one part of Bolivia. Levels of threat remain particularly high in tropical regions, mainly as a result of habitat conversion for agriculture and logging. With the lizard’s habitat virtually destroyed, two recent searches for the species have been unsuccessful.

Atheris Ceratophoramichele
©Michele Menegon

Dr. Monika Böhm, lead author on the paper: “Reptiles are often associated with extreme habitats and tough environmental conditions, so it is easy to assume that they will be fine in our changing world.

“However, many species are very highly specialised in terms of habitat use and the climatic conditions they require for day to day functioning. This makes them particularly sensitive to environmental changes,” Dr. Böhm added.

Ahaetulla Nasutaruchira
©Ruchira Somaweera

Extinction risk is not evenly spread throughout this highly diverse group: freshwater turtles are at particularly high risk, mirroring greater levels of threat in freshwater biodiversity around the world. Overall, this study estimated 30% of freshwater reptiles to be close to extinction, which rises to 50% when considering freshwater turtles alone, as they are also affected by national and international trade.

Although threat remains lower in terrestrial reptiles, the often restricted ranges, specific biological and environmental requirements, and low mobility make them particularly susceptible to human pressures. In Haiti, six of the nine species of Anolis lizard included in this study have an elevated risk of extinction, due to extensive deforestation affecting the country.

Collectively referred to as ‘reptiles’, snakes, lizards, amphisbaenians (also known as worm lizards), crocodiles, and tuataras have had a long and complex evolutionary history, having first appeared on the planet around 300 million years ago. They play a number of vital roles in the proper functioning of the world’s ecosystems, as predator as well as prey.

Head of ZSL’s Indicators and Assessment Unit, Dr Ben Collen says: “Gaps in knowledge and shortcomings in effective conservation actions need to be addressed to ensure that reptiles continue to thrive around the world. These findings provide a shortcut to allow important conservation decisions to be made as soon as possible and firmly place reptiles on the conservation map,”

“This is a very important step towards assessing the conservation status of reptiles globally,” says Philip Bowles, Coordinator of the Snake and Lizard Red List Authority of the IUCN Species Survival Commission. ”The findings sound alarm bells about the state of these species and the growing threats that they face globally. Tackling the identified threats, which include habitat loss and harvesting, are key conservation priorities in order to reverse the declines in these reptiles.”

The current study provides an indicator to assess conservation success, tracking trends in extinction risk over time and humanity’s performance with regard to global biodiversity targets.

ZSL and IUCN will continue to work with collaborating organisations to ensure reptiles are considered in conservation planning alongside more charismatic mammal species.

Read the paper: The Conservation Status of the World’s Reptiles

Lyriocephalus Scutatusruchira
©Ruchira Somaweera

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