Category: Policy News

A Goose Point Oyster Co. employee harvests fresh oysters at dawn on the Nisbet family's tidelands in Willapa Bay in 2013. (Credit: Steve Ringman / Seattle Times)

From Bivalves To Blue Crabs: Acidification Brings Challenges To New Marine Life

In school, most students learn to measure acidity or pH with a litmus test. Unfortunately, monitoring the acidity of the ocean is not as simple as dunking a small piece of paper in liquid and waiting for the color to change, and the impacts of acidity changes to marine life are more complex than a simple change in color. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean, which makes it difficult for marine calcifiers (a group comprised of many different organisms, such as molluscs, crustaceans, and corals) to make their own shells and skeletons. Ocean acidification doesn’t just harm these creatures. It threatens our nation’s economic stability, from our $7.3 billion seafood industry to our $101.1 billion recreation and tourism sector. But it doesn’t stop there – it also affects our homeland security.

The Chesapeake Bay watershed spans 64,000 miles and is the focus of restoration efforts by several states (Credit: Ben Schumin/Wikipedia).

Working The Right Way To Save The Bay

For residents of Maryland and Virginia, the Chesapeake Bay is a hallmark of family vacations, weekend getaways, adventures in crabbing or clamming, or even part of their backyard. The bay is the largest estuary in the U.S., with a watershed spanning over 64,000 miles into which 150 rivers and streams flow. In the expanse of the bay’s watershed, agriculture reigns dominant with over 80,000 farms bringing in billions of dollars in sales every year. However, the agriculture industry can have a profound impact on the estuary by releasing runoff, sediments, and nutrients into water.

Researchers from multiple agencies developed a report and online database to provide regional sea level and extreme water level scenarios for the future. (Credit: Infrogmation/Wikipedia).

Resiliency Reaches All Corners Of The Coast Thanks To Sea Grant

Students in Alaska take a field trip to a local salmon stream. An artificial reef is built off the coast of Florida. A duck hunter cleans his gear in Wisconsin. A lifeguard in Delaware explains rip currents to a family on their beach vacation. Even though these differing coastal activities take place over the entire continental U.S., they all have the National Sea Grant College Program (Sea Grant), in common. Sea Grant is comprised of a network of 33 programs along the nation’s coasts that support “research, education, outreach, and extension activities that provide communities with the tools to increase their resiliency capacities.” Sea Grant and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a briefing on the necessity of economic resiliency in coastal communities in the U.S. and featured three speakers who attested to the importance of resiliency and of Sea Grant’s support.

2015 was the warmest global year on record since 1880. NASA Administrator said "Climate change is the challenge of our generation," but some Congressmen at this hearing felt differently. (Credit: NASA)

Debate On Climate Change Guidelines Heats Up

When you hear the words ‘climate change,’ images of the proverbial greenhouse, global thermometer, or clouds of air pollution may come to mind, but they may not be accompanied by thoughts of various federal agencies. However, the actions of the federal government can have widespread effects on a host of environmental issues. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 was signed into law to hold federal agencies accountable for those effects by requiring them to assess the environmental impacts their actions may have before they are carried out and to consider alternative options.

National Science Board sets priorities for the National Science Foundation (Credit: NSF)

Merit Review Report Is Now Available

“Merit review is the lifeblood of NSF. It is how we identify the best science to fund. It is the core of promoting the progress of science and the reason taxpayers give the NSF and the research community so much independence,” said John Anderson, Chair of the National Science Board’s Committee on Audit and Oversight.

The Fiscal Year 2017 spending bill was signed into law last week. (Credit: The White House)

Launching New Public-Private Partnership And Announcing Joint Declaration On Leveraging Open Data For Climate Resilience

Even as the United States and the international community act to curb the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, citizens and communities need to prepare for the current and future impacts of a changing climate and work with partners around the world to do the same. That is why, over the last seven and a half years, the Obama Administration has worked to advance the development and provision of data, information, tools, and technical assistance to support climate preparedness and resilience efforts both domestically and internationally.

The National Academy of Sciences recommends a new advisory board be established to "root out bad behavior." (Credit: Penn State/Flickr)

Can Congress Issue Subpoenas To Attorneys General? Depends On Who You Ask.

In 2015, the New York and Massachusetts attorneys general and nine non-profit organizations subpoenaed ExxonMobil for their documents and data about climate change. They were acting on evidence from a report by the Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS) showing that ExxonMobil scientists studied and knew about the negative effects of greenhouse gases since the 1970s. Despite this knowledge, the report showed that the public was provided with disinformation to protect the financial interests of the large oil and gas company.

The U.S. Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia, is one of the many U.S. military bases located on the coast. (Credit: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ernest R. Scott/Wikipedia)

Military Experts Agree: Consequences Of Climate Change Are Clear

Starving polar bears and bleached coral reefs are often the face of climate change today, but what many people do not realize is that climate change also threatens national security. Members of the U.S. national security community have been studying the impacts of climate change, namely sea level rise, and the associated threats to our military installations and missions. The results of their studies were compiled into three reports that were discussed at this week’s first annual Climate and National Security Forum. The forum consisted of three panels with several authors from each report serving on the respective panels.

The U.S. House of Representatives Earth and Space Science Caucus was recently launched. (Credit: NASA)

House Earth And Space Science Caucus Launches Into Orbit

On September 14, Representatives Jared Polis (CO-02) and David Jolly (Fl-13) launched the U.S. House of Representatives Earth and Space Science Caucus. A reception celebrating the caucus’ formation was held in conjunction with the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and was sponsored by the Earth and Space Science Caucus Alliance.

The National Water Model allows for forecasting of 2.7 million river reaches. (Credit: NOAA)

New National Water Model Upgrades Water Flow Forecasts

We could not live without the simple chemical compound H2O. Known as water in layman’s terms, it is a vital part of our bodies, our food, our lives, and our planet. But there are serious, catastrophic problems when water inundates communities as a flood event or disappears during drought conditions. These issues, in addition to increasing resource demand, create challenges for water managers. Water resource experts met this week at a University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) congressional briefing, sponsored by Senator Richard Shelby (AL-7), to discuss the collaboration between government agencies, industry, and academia on the management and development of our nation’s vital water resources. This collaboration is no small feat – Mr. Edward Clark (Director, Geo-Intelligence Division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)) told the audience there are 26 different federal agencies that work on water prediction, science, and data services.