Media Advisory: Congressional Briefing on Nutrients and Pesticides in the Nation's Rivers and Streams
Ethan Alpern ( Phone: 703-648-4406 );
The Water Environment Federation (WEF) and the Northeast Midwest Institute invite you to a briefing by the USGS National Water-Quality Assessment Program (NAWQA) on findings of trends in nutrients and pesticides in the Nation's streams and rivers. The briefing will primarily focus on the Mississippi River Basin, which covers about 40% of the nation and represents a wide range of important climatic, agricultural, and urban influences that are present throughout the country.
As Congress debates federal activities and funding for water-quality protection and restoration efforts, it is critical to know how conditions are actually changing over time and to understand why changes have occurred. From NAWQA monitoring, we now know that nitrate loadings from the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico increased 14 percent from 1980 to 2010 despite extensive efforts to improve and expand the use of urban and agricultural management practices during the period. Have governmental actions been effective or are other influences causing the changes?
The briefing will also include findings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) efforts to assess the health of the Nation’s estuaries and will explain how information and findings from NAWQA’s monitoring and assessments contribute to their assessments and the protection of our estuaries.Who: Alan Vicory, Principal – Stantec Consulting & Chair – WEF Government Affairs Committee, Moderator
Lori Sprague, Coordinator – NAWQA Surface-Water Trends, U.S. Geological Survey
Suzanne Bricker, NOAA National Center for Coastal Ocean Science
When: Friday, April 11, 2014
10:00AM – 11:30AM
Where: Congressional Room South, CVC 217
Following presentations by the two speakers, there will be time for questions and discussion from the audience. This briefing is free and open to the public. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you did not respond, you must show a picture ID. For more information, contact Ethan Alpern.
Local, State and Federal Partners Working Closely, Individually With SR 530 Slide Survivors as Recovery Continues in Washington
BOTHELL, Wash. – Local, State, and Federal partners continue working one-on-one with survivors of the State Route 530 Slide in Washington to ensure they receive all of the disaster assistance for which they may qualify.
To that end, Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – including bereavement and program area specialists – are meeting in person with survivors to learn more about their short-term and long-term needs due to the slide.Language English
Catherine Puckett ( Phone: 352-377-2469 );
Dramatic distribution losses and a few major distribution gains are forecasted for southwestern bird and reptile species as the climate changes, according to just-published research by scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of New Mexico, and Northern Arizona University.
Overall, the study forecasted species distribution losses – that is, where species are able to live – of nearly half for all but one of the 5 reptile species they examined, including for the iconic chuckwalla. The threatened Sonoran (Morafka’s) desert tortoise, however, is projected to experience little to no habitat losses from climate change.
Breeding bird ranges exhibited greater expansions and contractions than did reptile species. For example, black-throated sparrows and gray vireos are projected to experience major gains in breeding habitat, but pygmy nuthatches, sage thrashers and Williamson sapsuckers are forecasted to experience large losses in breeding habitat, in some cases by as much as 80 percent. Thus, these three species might be expected to experience large future population declines.
The iconic pinyon jay is expected to experience from one-fourth to one-third loss in breeding habitat in the future, as its welfare is tied to declining pinyon pine habitat.
“Not surprisingly, whether a species is projected to be a winner or a loser depends primarily on its natural history and habitat needs and requirements,” said USGS scientist Charles van Riper III, the lead author on the study. “Land managers should be aware of these potential changes so that they can adjust their management practices accordingly.”
To conduct the study, scientists coupled existing global climate change models with newly developed species distribution models to estimate future losses and gains of 7 southwestern upland bird species and 5 reptile species. The study area focused on the Sonoran Desert and Colorado Plateau ecosystems within Arizona, western New Mexico, Utah, southwestern Colorado and southeastern California, but also included the rest of the Western United States. Focal wildlife species included resident and migratory birds and reptiles, which make up most of the vertebrate biodiversity in the region.
Temperatures in this region are projected to increase 6.3-7.2 F (3.5–4°C) within the next 60–90 years while precipitation is projected to decline by 5–20 percent.
“Changes of this magnitude may have profound effects on distribution and viability of many species,” noted Stephen T. Jackson, director of the Interior Department’s Southwest Climate Science Center. “Temperature matters a lot, biologically, in arid and semi-arid regions."
One very practical result of the project is a website with a series of range maps projecting the potential effects of climate change on bird and reptile distributions in the Western United States for three different time periods in the next 90 years. These predictions can help managers and policy makers better prioritize conservation effects, van Riper said.
“Wildlife resource managers need regionally specific information about climate change consequences so they better identify tools and strategies to conserve and sustain habitats in their region,” said Doug Beard, director of the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center that supported the project. “Managers can use these results to help plan for ways to offset projected effects of climate change on these species.”
Detailed Bird Species Projections:
Overall: Black-throated sparrow and gray vireo are projected to experience major gains in breeding habitat. In contrast, pygmy nuthatches, sage thrashers and Williamson sapsuckers are projected to experience large losses in breeding habitat. Thus, these three species might be expected to experience large future population declines. (Note: species are linked to their in-depth report summaries.)
- Black-throated sparrow: breeding range projected to increase by 34-47 percent between 2010 and 2099.
- Gray vireo: breeding range projected to increase from 58-71 percent between 2010 and 2099.
- Virginia’s warbler: breeding range projected to decrease slightly, by 1.5-7 percent between 2010 and 2099.
- Sage thrasher: breeding range projected to decrease by 78 percent between 2010 and 2099.
- Pinyon jay: breeding range projected to decrease by 25-31 percent between 2010 and 2099.
- Pygmy nuthatch: breeding range projected to decrease by 75-81 percent between 2010 and 2099.
- Williamson’s sapsucker: breeding range projected to decrease by 73-78 percent between 2010-2099.
Overall: Future climate change will negatively affect the distributions of reptiles in the Western and Southwestern U.S. The one exception is the Sonoran desert tortoise, which is forecasted to expand, and, if a decrease happens, only by about one percent.
Reptiles can’t move as easily as birds nor can they regulate their body temperature, so they can only move minimally in response to changing climates. The authors found that the greater the projected distributional gain or loss in a reptile species was directly tied to the warmth of its current range. Thus, the less mobile reptiles will be more greatly affected by increasing temperatures.
- Plateau striped whiptail: range projected to decrease by 42 percent, assuming no dispersal, or by 17 percent, with unlimited dispersal, between 2010 and 2099.
- Arizona black rattlesnake: range projected to decrease between 32 and 46 percent between 2010 and 2099.
- Sonoran desert tortoise: The Sonoran (Morafka’s) desert tortoise is the only species of reptile for which projections do not include a decrease in suitable habitat by 2099 but only when unlimited dispersal is assumed. When assuming no dispersal, a slight one percent decrease is forecasted in the extent of suitable habitat.
- Common lesser earless lizard: ranged projected to decrease by 22-49 percent from 2010 to 2099.
- Common chuckwalla: projected ranges are likely to decrease by between 13 and 23 percent between 2010 and 2099.
The report, Projecting climate effects on birds and reptiles of the southwestern United States, is authored by Charles van Riper III, USGS; James Hatten, USGS; J. Tom Giermakowski, University of New Mexico; Jennifer A. Holmes and Matthew J. Johnson, Northern Arizona University; and others.
For more information about the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, please visit its website.
A Triptych of Urban Growth, NLCD 2001-2011
These three panels of cyclical data (2001, 2006, 2011) from the National Land Cover Database depict intervals of land cover change in the vicinity of Spring Valley, a suburb of Las Vegas, NV. NLCD 2011 (right panel) shows the expanding intensity of the developed impervious surface area (shades of red) during the 10-year period. Las Vegas continues to be one of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation. (High resolution image 3.4 MB)
Just released, the latest edition of the nation’s most comprehensive look at land-surface conditions from coast to coast shows the extent of land cover types from forests to urban areas. The National Land Cover Database (NLCD 2011) is made available to the public by the U.S. Geological Survey and partners.
Dividing the lower 48 states into 9 billion geographic cells, the massive database provides consistent information about land conditions at regional to nationwide scales. Collected in repeated five-year cycles, NLCD data is used by resource managers and decision-makers to conduct ecosystem studies, determine spatial patterns of biodiversity, trace indications of climate change, and develop best practices in land management.
“America’s land and waters face unprecedented challenges from natural disasters, climate change, development pressures, and population growth,” said Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science. “Prudently using our public lands and developing our energy potential, while protecting our natural resources at the same time, requires a keen appreciation of how the landscape is changing over time and the causes of those changes. The digital view that the National Land Cover Dataset affords us is sweeping, yet amazingly precise. It is one of the most important tools, for the Department of the Interior or any other land or water manager, in fostering an impartial perspective of landscape dynamics.”
Based on Landsat satellite imagery taken in 2011, NLCD 2011 describes the land cover of each 30-meter cell of land in the conterminous United States and identifies which ones have changed since the year 2006. Nearly six such cells — each 98 feet long and wide — would fit on a football field. Land cover is broadly defined as the biophysical pattern of natural vegetation, agriculture, and urban areas. It is shaped by both natural processes and human influences.
NLCD 2011 updates the previous database version, NLCD 2006. The NLCD program is designed to provide five-year cyclical updating of our nation's land cover, similar to the cyclical population updating done by the U.S. Census.
NLCD is constructed by the 10-member federal interagency Multi‑Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium (MRLC).
“The ongoing 20-year collaboration of the consortium is a model of cooperation among government entities,” said Matt Larsen, USGS associate director for climate and land use change. “Combining resources from MRLC member agencies to provide digital land cover for the Nation is the best kind of teamwork. It not only advances land change science, but it saves taxpayer money.”
The range and the spatial accuracy of NLCD have made it essential to thousands of expert users. The carefully calibrated data enables managers of public and private lands, urban planners, agricultural experts, and scientists with many different interests (for instance, climate, invasive species or hydrogeography) to identify critical characteristics of the land and patterns of land cover change, informing a variety of investigations from monitoring forests to modeling water runoff in urban areas.
NLCD 2011 products depict 16 classes of land cover in the lower 48 states, define the degree of surface imperviousness in urban areas (impervious surface extent — concrete, asphalt, etc. — serves as a marker for urban environmental quality), and quantify the amount of tree canopy cover (essential for applications dealing with wildfire, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, and biodiversity).
Additionally, NLCD editions from 2001 to 2011 have been integrated to provide a 10-year land cover change comparison for our nation at five year intervals. Having a decade of change information readily available for any location enables users to better understand the trajectory of land cover change patterns and provides specialists with critical information to advance the understanding of land cover change processes.
NLCD 2011 products will be also released for Alaska later this year. For more information on NLCD and to download NLCD data free of charge, visit the MLRC website.
A new DNA protocol developed by the U.S. Geological Survey helps biologists distinguish between native and invasive species of aquatic vegetation that have almost identical appearances. Until now, measuring the dispersal of these various invasive plants has been hampered by confusion about where and when the plants arrived.
Invasive aquatic plants from Korea, Brazil, and the Indian subcontinent have been spreading through U.S. waterways for decades. The new DNA protocol will help biologists identify species, track their progress, and provide facts to local managers who can develop appropriate control measures.
“When invasive plants appear in a body of water, local people naturally are alarmed” said Nancy Rybicki, the USGS biologist who teamed up with molecular biologists to develop the new DNA testing technique. “Enormous amounts of money are spent on control. Some species may look very nearly identical, but they have unique reproductive and growth characteristics. Identification, the first step for control or eradication, needs to be precise.”
Co-author and previous USGS employee, Mary Voytek has had extensive experience with the use of molecular tools for microbial identification. In the case of microbes, there are established standards for identification using portions of an organism’s DNA. Not so with plants. It was difficult to know where to start.
The authors were able to develop a simple protocol that was verified on voucher specimens and tested on numerous plant samples. The environmental implications of the results were clear as new information on the range and recent history of these invasive species was revealed.
Using this new protocol, Rybicki determined that hydrilla arrived in both the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay earlier than previously thought, a finding that revises earlier ideas of how it was first introduced into the area.
The authors found that hydrilla was in the Potomac River in 1976. Thus, the original introduction of hydrilla to the Potomac was not from National Park Service experiments conducted in 1980 at Dyke Marsh on the tidal Potomac River as previously thought. It is probable that hydrilla was already present, but was misidentified. It may still be undiscovered in many locations today.
The two biotypes of hydrilla, one first introduced into Florida and the other first introduced into Washington, DC, are both spreading toward Canada, well beyond their predicted range.
“We anticipate that hydrilla will continue to move into colder regions, including, the Great Lakes, where a native plant called elodea is common,” Rybicki explained. “Without DNA verification, misidentification of the two plants is likely.”
DNA analysis to identify underwater grasses, a service provided at the USGS lab in Reston, VA, enables quick identification of these species. Future use of DNA analysis will likely reveal that many more misidentifications have occurred and are waiting to be discovered. Positive identification is the key first step in any discussion of management options to deal with invasive species.
Rybicki, N. B., Kirshtein, J. D., and Voytek, M. A., 2013, Molecular techniques to distinguish morphologically similar Hydrilla verticillata, Egeria densa, Elodea nuttallii, and Elodea canadensis, Journal of Aquatic Plant Management, v. 51, p. 94 -102.
Corresponding author, email@example.com
Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama's disaster declaration issued for the State of Oregon.
Assistance for State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:Language English
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Oregon to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by a severe winter storm during the period of February 6-10, 2014.Language English
To initiate new research projects on mineral resources important to the nation's economy, security, and land-use decisions, the U.S. Geological Survey has awarded $208,000 in research grants.
Recipients of the 2014 USGS Mineral Resources External Research Program grants will study rare earth elements in Colorado; scarce metals in the U.S. and global economies; and nickel, copper and platinum deposits in the Lake Superior region. These and other USGS mineral research projects are intended to provide science that can help the nation to avoid supply disruptions for minerals that are critical for national security and the economy, while reducing the effects of mining and other activities on the environment.
A Rare Concentration of Rare Earth Elements Near Jamestown, Colorado
Julien Allaz of the University of Colorado, Boulder will investigate an unusual concentration of rare earth elements in veins near Jamestown, Colorado. These veins were first studied more than 70 years ago, but not since. Allaz will investigate the origin of these veins using state-of-the-art methods. Rare earth elements are essential for an expanding array of high-technology applications, for many alternative energy technologies and for a number of key defense systems, but they are rarely concentrated into mineable ore deposits. Understanding the origin of these veins will help us to assess where similar concentrations of rare earth elements occur.
Understanding the Life Cycle of Scarce Metals in the U.S. and Global Economies
Thomas Graedel of Yale University will lead a team of researchers to characterize the materials flow of four scarce metals: gallium, germanium, rhenium, and tungsten. While similar studies have been conducted for major metals such as iron and copper, no such study has been done for these scarce metals, which are used to make aircraft engines, medical equipment, fiber optics, solar technology, consumer electronics, and lighting. This study will help to quantify potential supply strengths and weaknesses, to manage metal use more wisely, and to protect the environment.
How Did Copper Deposits Form in Sedimentary Rocks in Northern Wisconsin and Michigan
John Ridley of Colorado State University will investigate the nature and extent of fluids that transported and deposited copper in the Nonesuch Formation of northern Wisconsin and Michigan. Though two deposits, Copperwood and White Pine, occur in the Nonesuch, the fluid flow associated with these types of copper deposits is typically much more extensive than the deposits themselves. Copper has long been the key to improved living conditions. Today, nearly every building and house in the U.S. contains copper. It is used in plumbing, electrical wiring, cars, cell phones, and in wind turbines. This research will help evaluate the potential for similar copper deposits in the nation’s mid-continent region.
Determining the Source of Nickel, Copper and Platinum in Deposits of the Lake Superior Region
Edward Ripley and Chusi Li of Indiana University will research the source of nickel, copper and platinum group metals in the Lake Superior region of Minnesota and Michigan. They will apply state-of-the-art copper isotope analysis to determine if the metals originated from igneous rock intrusions in which they are now concentrated or from sedimentary rocks that surround the intrusions. Platinum group metals are used to reduce motor vehicle emissions and in technology. Nickel is used to produce strong alloys and stainless steel. This research project will help to assess and explore for deposits in similar geologic environments in the mid-continent region and elsewhere.
The MRERP invited research proposals that addressed the following topics:
- The Mid-continent Rift of the U.S.—Multidisciplinary studies to image and characterize the mineral resource potential of this significant crustal feature.
- Alaska as a mineral resource frontier—Core science investigations as a foundation for documenting mineral resource potential
- Hyperspectral imaging or other geophysical investigations of selected regions of the U.S.—State-of-the-art tools for mineral resource and mineral environmental investigations
- Materials flow studies—Investigations to address supply chain analysis (including risk analysis) and sustainable mineral supplies
- Critical Mineral Resources—Research to better understand the genesis and regional controls on the distribution of critical mineral-bearing systems. For the purpose of this solicitation, critical mineral commodities are defined as follows (in alphabetical order): cobalt, gallium, indium, lithium, niobium, platinum group elements, rare earth elements, rhenium, tantalum, and tellurium.
USGS accepted proposals from academia, State agencies, industry, or other private sector organizations and scientists. Visit the USGS Mineral Resources External Research Program for more information.
The USGS Mineral Resources Program delivers unbiased science and information to understand mineral resource potential, production, consumption, and how minerals interact with the environment.
The U.S. Geological Survey will award up to $5 million in grants for earthquake hazards research in 2015.
“The grants offered through the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program are an established and long-standing effort that have proven to be a success every year, with talented, scientific applicants who significantly contribute to the advancement of earthquake research,” said Bill Leith, USGS Senior Science Advisor for Earthquake and Geologic Hazards. “Every year we are rewarded by innovative proposals from across the country, so we encourage the continued submission of new ideas to help earthquake science evolve and, ultimately, reduce earthquake losses.”
Interested researchers can apply online at GRANTS.GOV under funding opportunity number G14AS00036. Applications are due May 22, 2014.
Each year the USGS awards earthquake hazards research grants to universities, state geological surveys, and private institutions. Past projects included investigating the Central Virginia Seismic Zone to develop a better understanding of this active seismic zone; examining the paleoseismic record in the Prince William Sound area of Alaska to characterize earthquakes prior to the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 to better understand future earthquakes in this hazard-prone area; and using GPS to measure ground deformation in the greater Las Vegas area and provide information on how faults will rupture in large, damaging earthquakes.
A complete list of funded projects and reports can be found on the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program external research support website.