Study predicts $100 trillion a year in damage due to storm surges

New research predicts that coastal regions face massive increases in damages from storm surge flooding over the 21st century - to $100 trillion annually, more than the world's entire economic product today. According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, global average storm surge damages could increase from about $10-$40 billion per year today to up to $100,000 billion per year by the end of century, if no adaptation action is taken.

Brazil Deforestation Up 28%

After a significant drop in the last several years, the annual deforestation rates in Brazil raised 28% for the period August 2012-July 2013, according to INPE, the Brazilian Spatial Institute. The total area deforested in 2012-2013 is 5,843 km2 - a trend led by the states of Mato Grosso, Roraima, Maranhão, and Pará. The area cleared in Mato Grosso rose 52% from 757 km2 in 2012 to 1,149. The area cleared in Pará rose 37% from 1,741 km2 to 2,379 km. For Roraima deforestation increased 49% from 124 km2 to 185 km2. Maranhão registered 269 km2 cleared in 2012 and 382 km2 in 2013, an increase of 42%...

Bolivia, Madagascar, China see jump in forest loss

Loss of forest cover increased sharply in Bolivia, Madagascar, and Ecuador during the third quarter of 2013, according to an update from NASA scientists. NASA's Quarterly Indicator of Cover Change (QUICC), a MODIS satellite-based product that underpins Mongabay.com's Global Forest Disturbance Alert System (GloF-DAS), picked up strong deforestation signals in the three tropical countries between July 1 and September 30, 2013: Bolivia (167 percent increase in deforestation relative to the year-earlier period), Madagascar (126 percent), and Ecuador (38 percent). Outside the tropics, Pakistan, China, the United States, and Argentina appeared to experience an increase in forest and woodland disturbance.

Shark overfishing hurts coral reefs

Overfishing for sharks is having detrimental effects on coral reefs, finds a new study published in the journal PLOS One. The research is based on long-term monitoring reefs off northwestern Australia. The authors, led by Jonathan Ruppert, formerly of the University of Toronto and now with York University, compared community structure between several atoll-like reefs. Some of the reefs were protected, while some were open to exploitation by Indonesian fishermen using traditional fishing techniques. Indonesian fishermen tend to target high value species like sharks.

Studies Show Green Housing is a Solid Investment

Along with the stock market achieving record highs earlier this year, the housing market is showing its strongest performance in the past seven years. In New Hampshire, single family home sales have increased almost 8.5 percent, and condos 18 percent, when compared to the same time last year. As properties switch to new owners and people prepare their homes for sale, the value of sustainable building, technology, and labeling is an important consideration for everyone in the market.

Global warming may ‘flatten’ rainforests

Climate change may push canopy-dwelling plants and animals out of the tree-tops due to rising temperatures and drier conditions, argues a new study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The development may be akin to "flattening" the tiered vegetation structure that characterizes the rainforest ecosystem. The conclusion is based on surveys of frogs and other canopy-dwelling animals in Singapore and the mountains of the Philippines. Brett Scheffers of James Cook University and colleagues found that the "rainforest's vertical strata provide climatic gradients much steeper than those offered by elevation and latitude, and biodiversity of arboreal species is organized along this gradient."

85% of Brazilian leather goes to markets sensitive to environmental concerns

Around 40% of beef and 85% of leather production serve markets that are potentially sensitive to environmental concerns, providing a partial explanation as to why Brazilian producers have made recent commitments to reducing deforestation for cattle production, finds a new study published in Tropical Conservation Science. The research, conducted by Nathalie Walker and Sabrina Patel of the National Wildlife Federation and Kemel Kalif of Amigos da Terra - Amazônia Brasileira, used government data to estimate the proportion of beef and leather production that ends up in environmentally-sensitive markets. They find that the vast majority of leather exports "could be considered to be susceptible to demand for deforestation-free products."

The Penobscot River will flow to the sea once more!

On Monday, July 22, contractors will begin to remove the Veazie Dam from Maine’s Penobscot River, reconnecting the river with the Gulf of Maine for the first time in nearly two centuries. The 830-foot long, buttress-style Veazie Dam spans the Penobscot River at a maximum height of approximately 30 feet, with an impoundment stretching 3.8 miles. Breaching the Veazie Dam—the dam closest to the sea— marks a monumental step in the Penobscot River Restoration Project, among the largest river restoration projects in our nation’s history. Combined with Great Works Dam removal in 2012 and additional fish passage improvements at dams in the upper watershed, the Veazie Dam removal is a key component of the historic effort to greatly improve access to 1000 miles of spawning, rearing, and nursery habitat for endangered Atlantic salmon, American shad and river herring, and benefits the entire suite of native sea-run fish. Once removed, endangered shortnose sturgeon, threatened Atlantic sturgeon, striped bass, rainbow smelt and tomcod will be able to access 100% of their historic habitat.

Forests may be using less water as CO2 rises

Forests may be becoming more efficient in their use of water as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rise, reports a new study in Nature. The findings are based on data from 300 canopy towers that measure carbon dioxide and water flux above forests at sites around the world, including temperate, tropical, and boreal regions. The researchers found that plants are becoming more water efficient as CO2 levels rise. While the findings are consistent with forecasts using models, the rate of efficiency gain is higher than expected.

Rising temperatures are triggering rainforest trees to produce more flowers

Slight rises in temperatures are triggering rainforest trees to produce more flowers, reports a new study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The research is based on observations collected in two tropical forests: a seasonally dry forest on Panama's Barro Colorado Island and a "rainforest" with year-around precipitation in Luquillo, Puerto Rico. The authors, led by Stephanie Pau, currently at Florida State University but formerly from UC Santa Barbara, analyzed the impact of changes in temperature, clouds and rainfall on flower production. They found an annual 3 percent increase in flower production at the seasonally dry site, which they attributed to warmer temperatures.