Feed aggregator

Soil Amendment Workshop

Small Farms Events - Sat, 05/28/2016 - 2:55pm
Saturday, May 28, 2016 12:30 PM - 3:00 PM

instructor: Kyle Krenzer; Elevation Organics

Don’t just add products to your soil, come learn what to add and when to maximize soil tilth and your harvest

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

NWREC Public Farm Tours

Small Farms Events - Fri, 05/27/2016 - 2:39pm
Friday, May 27, 2016 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Every last Friday of the month, from May through October, North Willamette Research and Extension Center (NWREC)
will provide two-hour afternoon farm tours. Anyone interested in seeing the latest research and education activities taking place at the farm are encouraged to attend.
  •  Tours begin at 2:00pm and conclude by 4:00pm. Bring friends, family or neighbors.
  • Call 503-678-1264 or stop by the Main office from 8:00am until 4:30pm daily to reserve your spot.
  • Alltours are provided free of charge as a public service.

Larger groups (up to 24) can be accommodated, too. Call ahead to schedule a convenient time.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Corvallis Forest Tour - Corvallis Watershed

Forestry Events - Thu, 05/26/2016 - 2:34pm
Thursday, May 26, 2016 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Focus on forest management practices and objectives in the watershed. Visit recent thinning and variable retention harvests that demonstrate the City’s approach to balancing resource protection, habitat enhancement, and long-term sustainable management goals. Includes root rot infected areas management. Speakers include Mark Miller of Trout Mountain Forestry, and Jennifer Ward, City of Corvallis Watershed Specialist. Sponsored by Benton County Small Woodlands Association.

Location: carpool from the Benton Co Extension office 4077 SW Research Way, Corvallis OR 97333. Please park to the side, or in back of the building.

RSVP by email  (include name, contact phone, and number attending) or call OSU Extension Benton County

Hay Assessment - Buying Quality Hay

Small Farms Events - Thu, 05/26/2016 - 2:34pm
Thursday, May 26, 2016 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Know your hay and save some green! Learn to perform a sensory analysis, read a forage (nutritional) analysis and match it to your animal's needs. Don't buy your hay based on color alone - come learn how to buy based on nutritional quality. Instructor: Angie Boudro.

Register on line-Jo County:  https://secure.oregonstate.edu/osuext/register/1016

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Evaluation Pioneers

Evaluation is an Everyday Activity - Thu, 05/26/2016 - 12:17pm

Having written about evaluation history previously, I identified  those who contributed, not those who could be called evaluation pioneers; rather those who had influenced my thinking.  I think it is noteworthy to mention those evaluation pioneers who set the field on the path we see today, those whom I didn’t mention and need to be. As a memorial (it is Memorial Day weekend , after all), Michael Patton (whom I’ve mentioned previously) is coordinating an AEA365 to identify and honor those evaluation pioneers who are no longer with us. (Thank you, Michael). The AEA365 link above will give you more details.  I’ve also linked the mentioned evaluation pioneers that have been remembered. Some of these pioneers I’ve mentioned before; all are giants in the field; some are dearly loved as well. All those listed below have died. Patton talks about the recent-dead, the sasha, and the long-dead, the zamani. He cites the Historian James W. Loewen when he makes this distinction. Some of the listed are definitely the sasha (for me); some are zamani (for me). Perhaps photos will help (for whom photos could be found) and dates. There are other pioneers that are not mentioned here. Who was instrumental in your development? (They can still be alive. Or not.)

Patton starts by remembering Brenda Zimmerman (1956-2014), .

 Marcia Guttentag (1933-1977) by Sara Miller McCune;

Donald Campbell (1916-1996) by Mel Mark; 

Asa Hilliard III (1933-2007)  by Rodney Hopson; 

Egon Guba (1924-2008) by Jennifer Greene;

Peter H. Rossi (1921-2006) by Mark Lipsey;

Barry MacDonald (1933-2013) by Ernie House;

Kathy Bolland (1950-2015) by Sharon Rallis;

Robert Ingle (1926-1998) by Jean King;

Carol Weiss (1927-2013) by Sharon Rallis; 

Will Shadish (1949-2016) by Laura Leviton; 

Lee Sechrest  (1929-2015) by Eleanor Chelimsky; and

Paul Lazarsfeld (1901-1976) , and

Alva (1902-1986) and Gunnar (1898-1987)  Myrdal by Charmagne Campbell-Patton.

My sasha; my zamani.

I  knew Bob Ingle, Will Shadish, Kathy Bolland, Lee Sechrest, and Egon Guba. Bob (and his wife, Maria), Will, and Kathy were friends of mine as well as colleagues. I miss them. A lot. Egon and Lee were colleagues; I miss them as well.  They are sasha to me; they added much to the field. As did those who are zamani to me, even though they may have died within the last few years (Brenda Zimmerman, Don Campbell, Marcia Guttentag, Asa Hillard, Peter Rossi, Carol Weiss, Barry MacDonald, Paul Lazarsfeld, Alva Myrdal, and Gunnar Myrdal). I only knew Don Campbell, Carol Weiss, and Peter Rossi through their writings; there are books by them on my shelf. Although all these folks made their mark in other fields as well as evaluation, evaluation wouldn’t be where it is today without their conscientious application of what they knew (from their original fields) to what could be and made their contribution. They are remembered.

my .


The post Evaluation Pioneers appeared first on Evaluation is an Everyday Activity.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Effects of drought continue in Valley

Tree Topics - Thu, 05/26/2016 - 11:30am

Brad Withrow-Robinson, Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Agent, Benton, Linn and Polk Counties.

Conifer trees around the Valley continue to show signs of severe drought and heat stress this year. This should not be news to many readers:  young dead trees are now a common sight throughout the Valley.  Also, I wrote about this problem in past Tree Topics blogs (See stories from  May and September 2015 for background) but have new updates for this season.

I think you can expect to continue seeing similar damage to Douglas-fir this year and that symptoms will continue to unfold as the season progresses. Some of the trees damaged late last year did not show that damage immediately. The damage did not become evident until the trees came out of dormancy and began to grow this spring.  Also, the various insect and disease organisms that take advantage of       weak and damaged trees are likely to continue with their business this year, causing new signs of drought damage to show up during the season.  Happily, those players like Douglas-fir cankers and twig weevils do not typically blow up and kill healthy trees.  This suggests things will look much like what we saw and described last year and is likely to continue to unfold this season and maybe longer, whatever weather we get.  “It is important to understand that the effects of drought damage do not go away suddenly when the rain starts again” cautions Christine Buhl, ODF Forest Entomologist “drought can impact the tree’s whole plumbing structure, and affect the growth and vigor of the tree for years.”

What we are beginning to see and anticipate may be different this year is more damage to stands rather than just individual trees, and damage to older and larger Douglas-fir trees than was typical last year. The drought is likely adding to and exacerbating other problems lurking out of view, so crowded stands, existing root disease and marginal sites (wet or shallow soils, southern aspects) can all be expected to contribute to the problem.

Unfortunately, this implies potential economic or forest health issues. Any merchantable tree lost to drought represents an economic loss if not salvaged.  But larger (>8” dbh) drought-damaged Doug-fir trees can also support growing populations of bark beetles, such as the Douglas-fir beetle.  Under the right conditions Doug-fir beetles’ numbers can increase to the point where they can overcome the defenses of healthier trees in the stand.  Drought stressed trees are not generally considered as good a nursery material as winter storm damaged trees  but can support a damaging increase of beetles if conditions are right.  I may need to write more on that later in the season.

We will also likely see drought stress issues in other conifer species. In our local Valley ponderosa pine, it is already causing some limited outbreaks of the California five-spine Ips, a tiny but destructive beetle.  With several generations a year, Ips can rapidly increase in numbers when trees are stressed and conditions favor the insect.  Also, the Ips is able to use much smaller wood (just three inches or more in diameter) than the Douglas-fir bark beetle mentioned above, so even a young planation can provide brood material for the beetle.  Sanitation of dead and dying trees as well as slash materials >3” is a very important control measure for Ips.  For more information on the Ips life cycle and management, see this 2014 article about Ips  or follow links to other resources provided below.

The Oregon Department of Forestry has a series of fact sheets on insects, disease, drought and slash management.  Several are currently being revised, so be sure to check back in July to see the updated versions.




The post Effects of drought continue in Valley appeared first on TreeTopics.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Shrubs for wildlife: Cascara

Tree Topics - Tue, 05/24/2016 - 4:06pm

By Brandy Saffell and Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension

If one of your land management goals is to provide wildlife habitat, you’ll want to consider keeping a mix of native shrub species on your property. Shrubs provide a host of services to wildlife, including shelter or cover, nesting space, and food from their twigs, leaves, flowers, and fruit. With thought given to species selection and location, retaining existing shrubs or planting them can benefit wildlife without compromising timber growth or forest operations. This is the first article in a series intended to help you recognize some of the “brush” species that may exist on your property, and understand how they may fit with your management goals. Each article will highlight one species that benefits wildlife in northwest Oregon forests.

Species Name: Cascara (or cascara buckthorn, chittam) – Rhamnus purshiana

Description: Growing up to about 30 feet, cascara could be considered a small tree or a large shrub. Its leaves are deciduous, simple, and alternating on the stem. They are oblong (2 – 6” long) and prominently penniveined (having a single central leaf vein with singular veins branching to either side). The leaf edges are very finely serrated or wavy. The small, green-white flower clusters are inconspicuous. The cherry-like fruits are round, 1/3” diameter, and purple to black with a yellow pulp. In winter, look for smooth, gray-brown bark with a patchy appearance. Winter buds are naked, meaning they appear to be small clusters of tiny overlapping leaves.

You may have mistaken cascara for red alder, which has similar looking oblong, serrated, prominently-veined leaves, smooth bark and also grows on moist sites.  You wouldn’t be the first to confuse these two hardwoods.  You can tell cascara and alder apart primarily by the fruits; cascara has a dark purple to black cherry-like fruit while alder has a one-inch woody cone-like fruit (called a strobile). Cascara’s leaves are smoother and glossier than alder’s.

Ideal habitat: West of Cascades in low to mid elevation coniferous forests; Grows on moist, well-drained sites, especially along streams; tolerant of shade.

Wildlife Value: This plant is particularly attractive to birds. For example, the band-tailed pigeon feeds on cascara fruits from July through autumn, often congregating in cascara patches well into the migration season. Band-tailed pigeons are found along the west coast and prefer nesting habitat less than 1000 feet in elevation, putting them in private forestland throughout much of western Oregon. Cascara is also a preferred forage for elk and valuable for pollinators.

Management Considerations: Cascara is not a very fast or aggressively growing species, so it does little to compete with the growth of timber species such as Douglas-fir. Consider retaining existing cascara trees when selectively harvesting in mixed forests. You could also try underplanting cascara in small openings after a thinning. For pollinator or mammal forage, plant in clumps along stand edges to promote flowering and a more thicket-like habit.

If you are interested in learning more about creating wildlife habitat on your property, check out the Woodland Fish and Wildlife website.

Photo credits: Pat Breen, Oregon State University

The post Shrubs for wildlife: Cascara appeared first on TreeTopics.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Public Health and Human Sciences Virtual Mixer

Health & Wellness Events - Tue, 05/24/2016 - 2:35pm
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM

Connect virtually with fellow College of Public Health and Human Sciences (CPHHS) alumni and current students at the comfort of your desk. Free and open to all CPHHS alumni and friends.

Details and registration.

Summer hours start at HMSC Visitor Center

Breaking Waves - Tue, 05/24/2016 - 10:58am

NEWPORT – Summer hours start Tuesday, May 31 at our Visitor Center at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center.

From then until Labor Day, the Visitor Center will be open from 10 am to 5 pm seven days a week, with new exhibits, trained interpreters, animal feedings and programs designed to engage people of all ages in exploring and learning about Oregon’s dynamic coast and ocean.

To find out about upcoming activities, events and special programs, bookmark the Visitor Center’s home page.

The Center is operated by Oregon Sea Grant, and also houses our Marine Education program, which sponsors many summer day camps, classes and special activities for K-12 learners and families.

The post Summer hours start at HMSC Visitor Center appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Summer hours start at HMSC Visitor Center

Sea Grant - Tue, 05/24/2016 - 10:58am

NEWPORT – Summer hours start Tuesday, May 31 at our Visitor Center at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center.

From then until Labor Day, the Visitor Center will be open from 10 am to 5 pm seven days a week, with new exhibits, trained interpreters, animal feedings and programs designed to engage people of all ages in exploring and learning about Oregon’s dynamic coast and ocean.

To find out about upcoming activities, events and special programs, bookmark the Visitor Center’s home page.

The Center is operated by Oregon Sea Grant, and also houses our Marine Education program, which sponsors many summer day camps, classes and special activities for K-12 learners and families.

The post Summer hours start at HMSC Visitor Center appeared first on Breaking Waves.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

National Get Outdoors Day

Forestry Events - Sat, 05/21/2016 - 2:34pm
Saturday, May 21, 2016 (all day event)

The fourth annual National Get Outdoors Day event will be held on Saturday May 21st, 2016 from 10am-3pm at Peavy Arboretum. This free event is hosted by OSU College of Forestry and OSU Benton County Extension, and will feature a variety of hands-on activities to connect youth and families with the great outdoors. Spanish speaking volunteers will provide bilingual assistance. 

Join us and discover the forest in your backyard. For more information visit the website at: http://cf.forestry.oregonstate.edu/get-outdoors-day

National Get Outdoors Day

4-H Events - Sat, 05/21/2016 - 2:34pm
Saturday, May 21, 2016 (all day event)

The fourth annual National Get Outdoors Day event will be held on Saturday May 21st, 2016 from 10am-3pm at Peavy Arboretum. This free event is hosted by OSU College of Forestry and OSU Benton County Extension, and will feature a variety of hands-on activities to connect youth and families with the great outdoors. Spanish speaking volunteers will provide bilingual assistance. 

Join us and discover the forest in your backyard. For more information visit the website at: http://cf.forestry.oregonstate.edu/get-outdoors-day

National Get Outdoors Day

Food Events - Sat, 05/21/2016 - 2:33pm
Saturday, May 21, 2016 (all day event)

The fourth annual National Get Outdoors Day event will be held on Saturday May 21st, 2016 from 10am-3pm at Peavy Arboretum. This free event is hosted by OSU College of Forestry and OSU Benton County Extension, and will feature a variety of hands-on activities to connect youth and families with the great outdoors. Spanish speaking volunteers will provide bilingual assistance. 

Join us and discover the forest in your backyard. For more information visit the website at: http://cf.forestry.oregonstate.edu/get-outdoors-day

NW Regional Learning Assistants Workshop

Environment Events - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 2:34pm
Thursday, May 19, 2016 - Friday, May 20, 2016 (all day event)

NW Regional Learning Assistants Workshop

Thursday, May 19th- Friday, May 20th, 2016 
Oregon State University Campus

Read more here: http://stem.oregonstate.edu/2016-LA-Alliance-Workshop

Oregon State University's Department of Integrative Biology and the ESTEME@OSU Project invite you to attend a two-day interactive workshop on the implementation of undergraduate learning assistants in undergraduate classrooms. Held May 19th-20th on the OSU Campus, participants will gain insight and practical knowledge regarding program creation, mentoring, and support of LAs. Registration cost includes meals, handouts, and supplies. 

In addition to the regular program, the workshop will include opportunities to attend: 

-A meet-and-greet with workshop facilitators and other LA implementers,

-A panel with learning assistants from Oregon State University,

-And a panel with faculty members about on-the-ground challenges and opportunities. 


OSU Staff/Faculty Registration: FREE (email victoria.bonebrake@oregonstate.edu for a fee waiver)

 Early Bird Registration: $75.00

Regular Registration: $85.00

Undergraduate Engineering Expo

Environment Events - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 2:34pm
Friday, May 20, 2016 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM

College of Engineering

Environment Events - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 2:34pm
Friday, May 20, 2016 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
The Undergraduate Engineering Expo is one way we prepare students for responsible citizenship and global competitiveness. Our undergraduate students will share their work through the use of models, demonstrations, and posters with industry partners, alumni, the media, prospective students, their peers, other academic institutions, and the general public. Attendees will have the opportunity to interact directly with individual students, ask questions, and exchange ideas.

CPHHS Research Seminar

Health & Wellness Events - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 2:34pm
Friday, May 20, 2016 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

"Using Policy to End the Tobacco Use" Michael Tynan, Public Health Analyst, Office on Smoking and Health, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

Michael Tynan is a public health analyst at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health. He works with states and communities to identify, enact and evaluate tobacco control interventions, with an emphasis on tobacco taxes, smoke-free policies and retail licensure.   From 2013-2016 Michael was the Policy Officer of the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division, where he was also the deputy incident manager for OHA’s Ebola planning and managed the public health and safety rulemaking process for the adult use marijuana market.  He has testified frequently before Congress and state legislatures, and has published articles about tobacco use and tobacco control policies in the American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Nicotine & Tobacco Research, and other leading journals

Michael Tynan's LinkedIn profile

This college-wide research seminar, is Co-Sponsored by the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs; the Center for Healthy Aging; the Hallie Ford Center; the Moore Family Center for Whole Grain Foods Nutrition and Preventive Health; and the Center for Global Health. The seminar series provides a forum for faculty in the College of Public Health & Human Sciences and other researcher to present and discuss current research in public health and human sciences in an environment conducive to stimulating research collaboration and fostering student learning. Faculty and students from the Division of Health Sciences and other colleges, research centers and institutions are encouraged to participate. 

Public Health and Human Sciences Virtual Mixer

Health & Wellness Events - Fri, 05/20/2016 - 6:11am
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 11:30 AM - 1:30 PM

Connect virtually with fellow College of Public Health and Human Sciences (CPHHS) alumni and current students at the comfort of your desk. Free and open to all CPHHS alumni and friends.

Details and registration.

The Blue Economy

Terra - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 4:46pm

IN THE FALL OF 2002, as the Klamath River dwindled in the wake of a dry summer, dead fish began piling up in eddies and small tributaries. Over a two-month period, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists counted more than 34,000, mostly adult chinook salmon that had died on their way upstream to spawn. The actual number was undoubtedly higher. In most sections of the river, crews were unable to tally all the floating carcasses from day to day.

Commercial salmon landings had been declining in prior years, and on top of a continuing drop in Pacific groundfish (species such as rockfish, cod, whiting and sole), the news from the Klamath seemed like another swipe at a once thriving West Coast industry. Contentious debates erupted among fishermen, farmers, tribal leaders and politicians about water management, fishery stock assessments and emergency relief for coastal communities.

By 2006, as salmon runs in the Klamath continued to plummet, groundfish cutbacks had already hit those communities hard. And when the commercial salmon season was closed in California and most of Oregon in 2008, fishermen in the two states took another $30 million hit.

By then, Oregon State University researchers were working on a long-term approach to a solution. “We had been asked if there was something we could do to address the salmon problem on the Klamath,” says Gil Sylvia, an Oregon State University economist and director of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station in Newport. “This is a fast-growing animal with a lot of uncertainties about it — so many stocks, so much complexity. Why aren’t we using more advanced methods to manage it?

“So one afternoon, a group of us developed a plan that became the basis for a program we call ‘Fish Trax.’ The idea is to enable fishermen to target healthy stocks — fish from rivers with strong runs — and to avoid weak ones, so fishermen can change the way they harvest rather than getting kicked off the water with total area closures. That’s the goal,” he adds.

The traditional maritime economy was clearly struggling, but programs like Fish Trax — which depends on genetics, digital data and collaboration among people who did not always see eye-to-eye — point the way to a new relationship with the ocean. Its proponents in community development and environmental policy are calling it the “blue economy.”

In an Ocean Week speech on Capitol Hill in 2009, Jane Lubchenco laid out the goals: “Americans want clean beaches, healthy seafood, good jobs, abundant wildlife, stable fisheries and vibrant coastal communities … . This collection of services depends on healthy, productive and resilient ocean and coastal ecosystems.”

As the newly appointed administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Oregon State marine biologist went on to define the characteristics of a “blue economy.” In short, fisheries, seafood production, recreation and other uses of the oceans would be joined at the hip with social sciences and ecology. Ecosystem services, climate change and ocean acidification would be factored into decisions about catching fish, allocating water and dedicating the ocean for specific activities. Renewable energy companies and scientists would share the waves with trawlers and crabbers.

Fishing — a legendary mix of grit, skill and luck — would remain a critical component of the “blue economy” but would become more reliable and predictable. A disaster with a salmon run would be mitigated by science-based restoration efforts. And it would all depend on innovative technologies, such as acoustics, digital mapping, ocean-observing systems and data management.

Despite its struggles, the traditional marine economy is a powerhouse. In Lincoln County alone in 2012 (the most recent year for which data are available), fishing and marine science jobs contributed $230 million to personal income, according to the county’s Economic Development office. Tourism added another $135 million.

Education and research are adding jobs in Newport, the county seat and home to Oregon State’s Hatfield Marine Science Center, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, NOAA’s Pacific fleet headquarters and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s new Coastal Discovery Center. “When it comes to marine science and education,” says Gil Sylvia, “when you look at what’s been invested along the Oregon coast, there’s been over a $2 billion investment in the last decade. It’s much bigger than people understand.

“And when you talk about the ‘blue economy,’ you have to define what you mean by ‘blue,’” he adds. “A lot of it is traditional maritime, the fishing and seafood industry. For example, Seattle is the largest seafood city in the United States when you’re talking about large fishing vessels and processors, but most of the fish are landed in Alaska.”

The Right to Fish

Migratory fish like salmon, which are subject to a thousand threats in rivers and at sea, pose a daunting challenge to those who aim to align fishing with ecology. But things don’t get much simpler with more sedentary species, such as rockfish. Studies of their reproduction are ongoing.  And then there’s uncertainty about the future of the ocean. How will warmer temperatures and acidic waters affect the coastal food web?

“Over time, we know rockfish recruitment (successful reproduction) can vary widely from year to year,” says Kirsten Grorud-Colvert, assistant professor in integrative biology at Oregon State. She studies rockfish under an annual permit from the National Marine Fisheries Service and must estimate the number of young fish she will catch. In her research along the Oregon coast, she uses devices that look like bags of garden fencing and are known as SMURFs — Standard Monitoring Units for Recruitment of Fish.

“From year to year, it’s tough to predict. Rockfish are so episodic in their recruitment,” she says. “This year we saw a species that we haven’t seen recruit much over the last five years — they have just been trickling in — go off the roof.”

Some species of rockfish can live more than 100 years, and as they grow, so does their reproductive potential. A 15-inch vermilion can produce about 150,000 eggs when it spawns. That might seem like a lot, but the real champions are the big old females. A 25-inch fish can produce more than 1.7 million eggs.

“Incorporating that into management is tricky,” says Grorud-Colvert. “Having areas like marine reserves where these older larger females can live is a powerful complement to other management approaches.”

She and other scientists are documenting the impacts of marine protected areas (MPAs), widespread globally but a relatively recent development along the Oregon coast (see “The Bounty,” Page 28). In Science magazine last fall, Grorud-Colvert and Lubchenco reported that MPAs now cover 3.5 percent of the surface area of the world’s oceans. More than five decades of research, the researchers reported, shows that fully protected MPAs, aka marine reserves, effectively increase the diversity and size of fish populations and enhance some commercial fisheries outside the boundaries.

However, just producing more fish may not be enough. In a paper in the journal Oceanography, Oregon State graduate student Allison Barner joined Lubchenco and other scientists in raising another possibility: Combine marine reserves with rights-based fisheries management, processes for giving individuals or communities exclusive rights to harvest fish in waters adjacent to a reserve. This arrangement even has a name: Territorial User Rights for Fisheries (TURF)-Reserve. The result would be that, in exchange for protecting the reserve, fishing communities would reap the benefits by being able to catch the bounty spilling over into their fishing grounds.

TURFs have not been proposed for the Oregon coast, but the idea is likely to raise hackles in fisheries management circles. Gil Sylvia calls it “politically combustible.” Paul Klarin of the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development says the seas have long been treated as a public commons with open access. He leads planning for Oregon’s coastal waters, efforts captured in a map showing areas dedicated to specific uses: fishing, marine reserves, energy production, navigation and underwater cables (more trans-Pacific cables land in Oregon than in Washington or California).

The rules are different in federal waters, which extend 200 miles off the coast. Starting in 2011, a type of rights-based fisheries management known as individual transferable quotas — rights given to individual fishermen and capped at a total maximum harvest — were allowed under U.S. law.

Since then, the scientists say, the Pacific groundfish industry has shown signs of improvement. Revenues have risen more than 12 percent (not including whiting, Oregon’s largest single fishery). And 21 species have moved from “avoid” to “good alternative” or “best choice” under the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, which advises eco-conscious consumers on fish to buy.

Data in DNA

Data are the currency of the “blue economy.” Satellites scan the sea surface daily, and sensor arrays on buoys and underwater gliders send information continuously to labs on land. The result is an ever-changing picture of temperatures, waves, winds, currents and water chemistry (see “Enduring Vigil”).

“Fishermen need to make decisions every day,” adds Sylvia. “Are we going to fish? Where are we going to fish? How are we going to fish? Data can be invaluable.”

Some of the most powerful clues come from marine organisms themselves. In their DNA are patterns that reveal how whales are related to each other, whether or not corals can adapt to a changing environment and where salmon were born. If you’re a salmon fisherman, being able to distinguish one stock from another — those from the Klamath River, the Sacramento or the Rogue — could make the difference between holds that are empty or full when you return to the dock.

“Fishermen need to make decisions every day,” adds Sylvia. “Are we going to fish? Where are we going to fish? How are we going to fish? Data can be invaluable.”

Through a research program known as CROOS (Collaborative Research on Oregon Ocean Salmon), Sylvia and his colleagues at the Oregon State marine experiment station are developing Fish Trax to provide that information. They aim to enable salmon fishermen to know where and when to target specific runs of fish, in effect to trace fish from rivers of origin to the sea. Salmon from each river tend to follow similar patterns as they move, and by analyzing the genetic fingerprints of captured fish, scientists can see where the animals tend to go.

“Fish Trax created (Internet) portals for fishermen to access their own data. They can ask things like ‘which stocks of fish did I catch at this depth in this location over a two-year period?’ And they can query the database and find out,” he says. However, that is just the beginning.

Fish Trax provides information to others as well: seafood processors, salmon hatchery managers, businesses and the public. “I see traceablity as a way to share information with the marketplace and to improve and standardize quality,” says Sylvia. “And to use that information in selling and marketing the product. It’s a powerful tool for doing that. We can do it today because we have digital information systems, which are part of the ‘blue economy.’ These systems open up immense possibilities.”

When the idea was first proposed, the reception was mixed. “The fishing industry loved it, but they were torn,” says Sylvia. “They worried about how the information would be used by managers. Could new knowledge be used to regulate the industry in unanticipated ways?”

Things came to a head during a meeting at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in 2006. Scott Boley, an Oregon State graduate and respected industry leader who died in 2007 (the Fish Trax website is dedicated to him), let people know that, while he had his doubts, the industry could benefit from it. “‘I’ve lost sleep over this. But things are so bad, I don’t see how it couldn’t but help us in the long term, to change this fishery around,’” Sylvia recalls Boley saying. “That was it. That profound statement got the agencies on board too, even though they had their doubts.” Sylvia and his team are continuing to develop Fish Trax with support from NOAA.

In its land-and-sea-grant mission, Oregon State brings together fishermen, agency managers, elected officials, scientists and engineers to create a “blue economy” for the future. “We get the luxury of looking five or 10 years down the road,” says Sylvia. “Industry doesn’t always have that luxury, but we do. It’s our job to plant and test ideas.”

The post The Blue Economy appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs

Changes in the Wind

Terra - Thu, 05/19/2016 - 4:27pm

When Peter Ruggiero meets with people in coastal communities to discuss climate change, he asks them to consider what they like most about where they live. And then he asks them to imagine the future.

“We get people to think about the positive aspects of the coast, what they like about working and playing along the coast,” says Ruggiero, a geomorphologist (a scientist who studies land forms) at Oregon State University. “And then, in light of problems like sea-level rise and other climate hazards, we start thinking about strategies that can get them to their ideal,” how the community might maintain its cherished values.

Climate change can be a daunting, difficult subject, but the thing is, says Ruggiero, this exercise helps people approach it with a sense of purpose. “We’ve found this actually moves the needle. People become more optimistic and less pessimistic about climate change.”

Signs associated with a changing climate are starting to appear along the West Coast. Salmon struggle in warming waters. The ocean is becoming more acidic. Fisheries have been closed by prolonged algal blooms, aka “red tides.” Rising seas and winter storms increase flooding and erosion.

The science may be complex, but the consequences are straightforward: If we continue to emit greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, these problems are likely to worsen. However, this isn’t just a doom-and-gloom story. Scientists are making strides in understanding the climate system and working with communities to use that knowledge to respond and adapt.

A Breath from the Past

A snowmobile traverses the slick white surface of a vast glacial ice sheet. In the distance, snow-covered peaks rise to a nearly pristine firmament of crisp blue under a sun that never sets. A team of scientists unloads gear at a makeshift camp and starts the arduous task of drilling slowly into the ice.

The lead researcher is Ed Brook. The location is Taylor Glacier in Antarctica. The Oregon State geoscientist specializes in the climate of the distant past and is enamored with very old ice. For him, the key to understanding our future lies preserved in what the ice contains: bubbles of ancient air.

Melting glaciers and crumbling ice sheets are contributing to sea-level rise across the globe, says Oregon State geologist Peter Clark. (Photo: Oregon State University)

Carbon dioxide found in old ice reveals a simple pattern: CO2 concentrations in the air go up during warm periods and down during cold ones. Brook’s research has revealed a serpentine-like exchange of carbon between the atmosphere, ocean and land.

“Studying the past tells us how the world works, but the past isn’t completely prologue to the future,” says Brook. “There just isn’t a recent episode of dumping thousands of gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere in such a short period.”

Air in old ice reveals that in the past 800,000 years, CO2 hasn’t risen above 300 parts per million. Often, as during one of Earth’s many ice ages, it’s been much lower. Current levels are about 400 parts per million and rising. This carbon traps heat and is expected to lead to higher temperatures.

The past may not be a prologue to our future, but work by Brook and other paleoclimatologists tells us a great deal about the climate system and how it occasionally “tips” from one regime to the next. In a paper published last year in the journal Nature, Brook and several OSU colleagues documented 18 such “abrupt” climate changes over the past 68,000 years.

Climate change could be reaching a tipping point, says Oregon State professor Alan Mix. (Photo courtesy of Alan Mix)

Like Brook, Alan Mix has traveled to far-off places to extract cores, but he is devoted to a different material: sediment from the seafloor. In addition, the Oregon State geochemist loves old cartoons, specifically Wile E. Coyote.

The ever-optimistic cartoon character is infamous for pursuing — but never capturing — a certain speedy roadrunner. His predatory pursuits frequently send the carnivore over a cliff where he remains suspended in midair until, noticing his predicament, he promptly plunges to the canyon floor. This, says Mix, is what a climate tipping point looks like.

Tipping points happen when the climate moves from one state of equilibrium to another, as it did when the Earth emerged from the last ice age. These changes, says Mix, often happen quickly, geologically speaking, and tipping points may occur before outward signs are noticeable.

“There may be tipping points that are loops, and the climate can get back up,” says Mix. “Or the tipping points may be one-way tickets, and the climate never gets back up. That’s when the coyote gets squished at the bottom. Of course the coyote always gets back up.”

But climate, he adds, is not a cartoon coyote. “If we cross the tipping point and lose the ice sheets, they won’t return, at least for a very long time,” says Mix. “For human purposes, global warming is pretty much permanent.”

In a study published last year in the journal Science, Mix and his former graduate student Summer Praetorius demonstrated what might have triggered a tipping point corresponding to the abrupt end of the last ice age.

Using radiocarbon dating of fossilized microorganisms found in ocean sediment cores, the researchers demonstrated that the warming of the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans some 15,500 to 11,000 years ago occurred in a coordinated, synchronized fashion. As a result, they say, the global climate tipped over an edge. Ice melted and sea levels rose. Both are occurring today as well.

Warming Oceans and Rising Sea Levels

It’s the year 2100. Unchecked carbon emissions have led to a world that’s considerably warmer than it was just a century earlier. Policymakers in 2016 had set their sights on this year when thinking about the future. However, there isn’t anything magical about the date. Climate change isn’t stopping. Carbon in the atmosphere continues to heat things up, and sea levels are still rising.

“One thing that the (paleoclimate) record does inform us about, as far as global warming, is an idea of what we call sensitivity — how sensitive sea level is to a given amount of warming,” says Peter Clark, a paleoclimatologist who holds the title of distinguished professor at Oregon State.

Clark was one of two coordinating authors on a comprehensive analysis of sea-level rise and climate change for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading climate research organization. Last winter, he made headlines with an article in Nature Climate Change.

Using climate models for the next 10,000 years, he and his co-authors, including Mix, outlined a sobering message: Even if humanity meets its goals of lowering carbon emissions, a substantial amount of atmospheric carbon that was already released will hang around, some of it for tens to hundreds of thousands of years. The loitering carbon will continue to trap solar radiation, warming the planet and leading to melting glaciers and ice sheets and to rising sea levels.

Clark offers the analogy of boiling a pot of water on the stove. Turning on the burner applies heat to the water, but the water doesn’t warm right away. It takes time. In a similar fashion, greenhouse gases are warming the atmosphere. The question is how long it will take the oceans to rise and by how much, as air and water temperatures increase.

Melting glaciers and ice sheets and warming ocean waters (water expands as it heats up) all contribute to sea-level rise, but each unfolds at a different pace: glaciers over tens of years; warming water over hundreds to thousands of years; and ice sheets over several thousands of years. All lead to a long period of sustained and accelerating coastal flooding.

“This century we could see sea level rise by 1 meter (3.3 feet),” says Clark. “Over the following 2,000 years, we could see it rise continuously as high as 3 meters (10 feet) per century.”

Warming oceans don’t just affect rising sea levels. Collectively since 1970, our planet’s oceans have absorbed roughly 90 percent of the extra heat produced by human-caused warming. This, however, is a global aggregate. Tying regional warming events to climate change can be trickier.

Citizen Science vs. the “Blob”

Skipjack tuna, normally found in the balmy waters of the tropics, are reeled in by fishermen off the southeast coast of Alaska. Ocean sunfish and a thresher shark — more outsiders — are also hooked. Meanwhile, seabirds on the Pacific Northwest coast, normally chunky Cassin auklets, arrive en masse and emaciated.

Waves threaten a structure in Neskowin during a storm in 2008. (Photo: Armand Thibault). Storms erode shorelines and pose a risk to homes. (Photo: Oregon Sea Grant).

Starting in late 2013, an expanse of exceptionally warm water more than twice the size of Texas and approximately 300 feet deep appeared off the West Coast, stretching from Oregon to Alaska. The “Blob,” as it came to be known, is believed to be the culprit behind a series of peculiar occurrences, including the reeling in of tropical fish off Alaska.

“However you slice it, the ‘Blob’ is extremely unusual,” says Oregon State professor Philip Mote, director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute.

The underlying meteorological cause, he adds, is believed to be a prominent ridge of higher-than-normal pressure that effectively parked itself off the West Coast, keeping the winds modest and the skies clear and giving the ocean ample time to soak up the sun. This ridge has been implicated in the historic drought in the West over the past few years. But while the drought is widely believed to have climate change’s fingerprints all over it, says Mote, the connection between the “Blob” and climate isn’t so clear.

To study that relationship, Mote and his colleagues are doing what most climatologists do: They’re running a series of computer models. Essentially colossal video game simulations of the Earth, these models tend to be bulky — “computationally expensive” — and, therefore, require powerful super computers to run them, or, as Mote and his colleagues would learn, a lot of average computers.

Via a project at Oxford University called ClimatePrediction.net, thousands of citizen-science volunteers have lent Mote and his fellow researchers their computers’ processors to run simulations during their machines’ idle hours. “If you only run a climate model once, you can’t be sure that your answers are repeatable,” says Mote. “For this project, we’ve effectively run our model tens of thousands of times.”

These multiple runs allow Mote to dutifully search for a climate culprit behind the “Blob.” But citizen science has another benefit, says Li Sihan, a graduate student of Mote’s who is using ClimatePredicition.net in her research. “People often put scientists in a bubble or shrine. Or they do the opposite and deny our results without understanding how we came to them. With this project, people can see the models running on their computers, and that’s exciting.”

The effect of the “Blob” on sea life comes as a kind of proof of concept of an idea that fisheries biologists have been concerned about for decades: Warming oceans are expected to impact many species of fish, including salmon.

A recent analysis of juvenile Chinook salmon in the Pacific shows a strong relationship between warmer waters and salmon health. The study’s results, published in the journal PLOS ONE, take issue with a long-held assumption: Juvenile fish will eat less in warmer waters. The researchers found the opposite.

“What we found is that, during warmer periods, there is less food for juvenile salmon,” says Elizabeth Daly, a senior faculty research assistant with the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies, jointly run by OSU and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “With less food, you would expect that we would find less food in the stomachs of salmon, but that wasn’t the case. We found that juvenile salmon are eating substantially more than in colder periods.”

This is counterintuitive, admits Daly and her co-author, Richard Brodeur of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center. Basically, the extra food isn’t doing the fish much good. In warmer temperatures, the metabolism of the fish ramps up, forcing them to consume more calories. This amounts to a metabolic tax on the animals. And because food is scarce in warmer waters, the fish have to burn more calories to get more calories. That amounts to another tax.

“It’s this vicious cycle that leads to animals growing slower,” says Daly. “And the longer they stay at this smaller size, the more at risk they are to predators.”

Daly’s and Brodeur’s work complements that of Bill Peterson, a NOAA fisheries biologist and courtesy professor at OSU. Peterson has shown that copepods, microscopic crustaceans at the bottom of the food chain, have fewer fats and are less nutritious in warm periods. The chain reaction up the food chain could affect juvenile salmon, something Peterson says is happening due to the “Blob.”

Adapting to Higher Seas

Normally prominent at low tide, the beach is nowhere to be seen. There’s only the ocean and the wave, which builds slowly at first and then comes crashing in, whacking the side of the small, three-story seaside hotel, missing by mere inches the white plastic chairs on the first floor balcony. Now it’s a clean run up Hawk Creek to the Salem Avenue bridge, which the wave quickly overwhelms with a tempestuous gush of white water. For the town’s residents, the bridge is the only access to the highway and to safety.

This incident of flooding was caught on video in the coastal community of Neskowin during a recent winter, but it could also be a glimpse into the town’s future.

Since the mid-1960s, Neskowin has been losing roughly two meters (6.5 feet) of its beach a year to the Pacific Ocean, making the town of about 400 one of several erosion “hot spots” along the West Coast. Neskowin’s loss has been pinned on large El Niños and on increasing wave heights, both of which — and there’s disagreement among scientists here — might or might not be connected to climate change. But for the residents of Neskowin, placing blame isn’t as important as better planning.

To ward off the Pacific’s incoming assault, community members armored their homes, placing rock barriers called riprap between their beachfront houses and the waves. But they soon realized these walls weren’t going to be enough. Many were concerned about rising sea levels. To learn more, they reached out in 2009 to the scientific community, starting with Oregon Sea Grant and Peter Ruggiero.

Property owners and local officials formed the Neskowin Coastal Hazards Committee, which was coordinated by Sea Grant specialist Patrick Corcoran (See “Facing Cascadia“). They consulted with Ruggiero and other scientists who presented the latest findings about wave heights, sea levels, erosion and other threats to coastal properties.

After wrestling with the science and accounting for the needs and values of the community, the committee produced a 300-page adaptation plan, which describes Neskowin’s ocean-related vulnerabilities and techniques for addressing them. In 2015, after review and revision by Tillamook County, the state Land Use Board of Appeals upheld the Neskowin plan. The guidelines were set by the science, but community members identified what factors — sea-level rise, population growth, housing, beach access — mattered most to them.

Far from being disheartened by the choices that lay before them, the Neskowin group was surprisingly optimistic. “People realize there are options,” Ruggiero says. “Do you throw more rock out there or do you retreat from the coastline? There are huge decisions that people on the coast are going to have to make, but the decisions they make today will make a real difference in the future.”

In his research, Ruggiero has tracked wave heights and beach erosion, which got him thinking seriously about what the West Coast might look like as climate changes. He realized that those planning for the future would need to account for many uncertainties.

Working with Oregon State bioengineering professor John Bolte and a computer model known as Envision, Ruggiero and teams of students have created multiple scenarios — including lessons learned in Neskowin — for exploring alternative futures in Tillamook County (See “Difficult Choices“). The researchers are conducting a similar project in Grays Harbor, Washington.

It’s impossible, Ruggiero says, to know how much sea-level rise to expect by the end of the century. Projections range from a few inches to several feet. It all depends on how much CO2 and other greenhouse gases will be emitted in the future.

Seawalls may work for a while, but as Peter Clark’s work suggests, they are not a long-term solution in the face of continuous sea-level rise. That’s why the question of climate tipping points is so important. Oregon State research around the world — in Antarctica, Greenland and the deep oceans as well as the Pacific Northwest — will help determine if and when such a point is reached. It is already helping Oregonians on the coast and elsewhere make decisions about the world they leave for future generations.

The post Changes in the Wind appeared first on Terra Magazine.

Categories: OSU Extension Blogs