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Bird Wintering: How Citizen Science Supports Climate Science

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By Brittany Whited

This December, tens of thousands of individuals across the Americas will participate in the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count, the longest-running citizen science program in the world.

The first Christmas Bird Count took place in 1900 with just 27 individuals as a conservation-minded alternative to the “Christmas Side Hunt”- a hunt aimed at bagging feathered and furry creatures alike. Conservation was in its beginning stages at the turn of the century and citizens were growing concerned about declining bird populations.

Video still from Christmas Bird Count told by Chan Robbins Photo: Camilla Cerea National Audubon Society

Video still from Christmas Bird Count told by Chan Robbins
Photo: Camilla Cerea
National Audubon Society

Established in 1900 by ornithologist Frank Chapman, the Christmas Bird Count is now organized by the National Audubon Society. Photo: Camilla Cerea National Audubon Society

Established in 1900 by ornithologist Frank Chapman, the Christmas Bird Count is now organized by the National Audubon Society.
Photo: Camilla Cerea National Audubon Society

The new tradition struck a chord. One-hundred and fifteen years later, the Christmas Side Hunt has faded from our nation’s memory and the Christmas Bird Count boasts 70,000+ participants spread over 2,000 locations. At each location, birdwatchers tally the number and type of species they see and hear over a 24-hour period and report their results back to the Audubon Society.

In the 1930s, this act of citizen science helped scientists better understand the decline of wild turkey populations. At that time, the US had only an estimated 30,000 birds. Today, after notable conservation efforts, the US is home to about 7 million of the gobbling creatures.

The Christmas Bird Count continues to produce valuable information. For example, data collected by dedicated individualshas revealed that, among 305 widespread North American bird species, the average winter “center of abundance” moved northward by more than 40 miles between 1966 and 2013. The center of abundance is a point on the map that represents the midpoint of each species’ distribution. If a population of birds were to shift northward, so would the center of abundance.

Trends in the center of abundance moving northward can be closely related to increasing winter temperatures. This indicator is now used as one of the EPA’s Climate Change Indicators in the United States.

Some birds have moved farther than others- a total of 48 species have moved northward by more than 200 miles. For example, the Pine Siskin moved 288 miles north in the last 40 years.

Source: Climate Change Indicators in the United States, 2014 –Third Edition, US EPA
Data source: National Audubon Society, 2014

The Christmas Bird Count is free and open to all regardless of experience. Each group of birdwatchers will have at least one skilled birder to assist in identifying birds. For dates, registration information, and the person of contact in your area, click here.

If birds aren’t your style, or you simply aren’t one to spend a day braving the December cold, there are many other opportunities to be a citizen scientist with your smartphone. There are a multitude of citizen-science apps sure to suit even the choosiest naturalist – mPING, from NOAA, lets you submit reports on the weather in your area to improve weather report predictions. Check your app store for more citizen science opportunities. Anyone with a smartphone can quickly contribute to science through data gathering – making reporting much easier than it was during the first Christmas Bird Count 115 years ago.

About the Author: Brittany Whited is an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) participant hosted by the Climate Science and Impacts Branch in the EPA’s Office of Atmospheric Programs.

Source: EPA Science Water News

Source: Water Industry News

A New Name, Same Important Mission

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By Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator, Office of Land and Emergency Response

Over the last year, my staff and I have been working diligently to identify a new name for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response (OSWER). We wanted a name that reflects the breadth and depth of our programmatic footprint in protecting human health and the environment. We asked for input from our personnel and key regional staff. After compiling and reviewing responses, I am pleased to share that the new name is the Office of Land and Emergency Management (OLEM) with the unchanged mission of restoring land, preventing releases, and conserving resources.

The evolution of the “waste office’s” work has resulted in an office that not only addresses waste issues but one that protects human health and the environment through diverse ways. These are some examples of our work and how we’ve grown:

  • We advance recycling and adopting a sustainable materials management approach. Sustainable materials management (SMM) represents a change in how our society thinks about the use of natural resources and environmental protection. Partnerships with the public and private sector have helped EPA launch innovative recycling initiatives such as the Electronics Challenge, the Food Recovery Challenge, and the Federal Green Challenge. We’ve also gone global and are working with the world’s leading economic countries to advance SMM through the G7 Alliance for Resource Efficiency.
  • We invest in efforts that create sustainable community revitalization. For nearly two decades, we have been on the forefront of transforming communities. We have established critical relationships with local government leaders, local residents, community organizations, and local businesses to convert blighted properties into economic and social opportunities. Additionally, through programs like the Investing in Manufacturing Communities initiative, we are leveraging the financial and technical resources of federal agency partners to breathe new life into growing and thriving American neighborhoods in a way that’s environmentally and economically sustainable. Learn about land revitalizationbrownfields, using cleanups for alternative energy, and other cleanup programs such as SuperfundRCRA Corrective Action, and cleaning up underground storage tank releases.
  • We enhance the agency’s emergency preparedness and response capabilities to better ensure the safety of communities. Most recently, through Executive Order (EO) 13650 “Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security”, we are strengthening the capacity of the emergency response community, enhancing coordination with federal partners, modernizing rules and regulation, and remaining in close dialogue with stakeholders involved in emergency management.

These are, of course, examples: there is so much more we are called to do. I want to reiterate that while our name has changed, our mission has not.

More information about the name change is on our website. In the meantime, be sure to follow us on twitter @EPALand to stay up to date on all the great work we’re doing! You can also learn more about our impact by viewing our interactive FY14 Accomplishments Report.

Source: EPA Science Water News

Source: Water Industry News

The Stream, December 15: U.S. Clean Water Rule Social Media Campaigns Against the Law, Report Says

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The  Global Rundown

The Global Rundown

Social media campaigns used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to garner support for its Clean Water Rule were illegal, according to a government report. Typhoon Melor caused flooding, evacuations, and power outages in the Philippines. Scarce groundwater resources sparked conflicts between communities and agriculture companies in Peru. Toxic algae blooms along North America’s Pacific Coast can cause brain damage in sea lions, scientists found. A U.S. congressman proposed a bill that would eliminate part of the federal Clean Water Act.

“E.P.A. appealed to the public to contact Congress in opposition to pending legislation in violation of the grass-roots lobbying prohibition.”–A report released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which found that social media campaigns by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in defense of its Clean Water Rule amounted to illegal lobbying. (The New York Times)

By the Numbers

By The Numbers

800,000 people Number evacuated in the central Philippines in preparation for Typhoon Melor, which caused flooding and widespread power outages when it made landfall Tuesday. Reuters


Science, Studies, And Reports

Blooms of toxin-producing algae along North America’s Pacific coast can cause brain damage in sea lions, according to a study published in the journal Science. The algae blooms are becoming larger and more frequent, possibly due to warmer ocean temperatures and runoff polluted with fertilizers. Reuters

On the Radar

On The Radar

Conflicts over groundwater are springing up between local farming communities and agribusiness companies in Peru. Lack of monitoring and regulation of groundwater wells in the region also threatens aquifers. The Desert Sun

A bill proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives would eliminate a section from the federal Clean Water Act that is being used to block the development of the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The proposed gold mine has been opposed on grounds that it would destroy wild salmon fisheries in the Bristol Bay watershed. NRDC Switchboard

The post The Stream, December 15: U.S. Clean Water Rule Social Media Campaigns Against the Law, Report Says appeared first on Circle of Blue WaterNews.

Source: Water News

Source: Water Industry News