3.04 Trillion Trees Are Not Enough

  • Global count reaches 3 trillion trees : Nature News & Comment 090215
    Rachel Ehrenberg: “There are roughly 3 trillion trees on Earth — more than seven times the number previously estimated — according to a tally1 by an international team of scientists. The study also finds that human activity is detrimental to tree abundance worldwide. Around 15 billion trees are cut down each year, the researchers estimate; since the onset of agriculture about 12,000 years ago, the number of trees worldwide has dropped by 46%. | “The scale of human impact is astonishing,” says Thomas Crowther, an ecologist now at the Netherlands Institute of Ecology in Wageningen who led the study while at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. “Obviously we expected humans would have a prominent role, but I didn’t expect that it would come out as the strongest control on tree density.” | The previously accepted estimate of the world’s tree population, about 400 billion, was based mostly on satellite imagery. Although remote imaging reveals a lot about where forests are, it does not provide the same level of resolution that a person counting trunks would achieve. | Crowther and his colleagues merged these approaches by first gathering data for every continent except Antarctica from various existing ground-based counts covering about 430,000 hectares. These counts allowed them to improve tree-density estimates from satellite imagery. Then the researchers applied those density estimates to areas that lack good ground inventories. For example, survey data from forests in Canada and northern Europe were used to revise estimates from satellite imagery for similar forests in remote parts of Russia.”
  • Mapping tree density at a global scale : Nature : Nature Publishing Group
    [Crowther et al 2015] Anstract: The global extent and distribution of forest trees is central to our understanding of the terrestrial biosphere. We provide the first spatially continuous map of forest tree density at a global scale. This map reveals that the global number of trees is approximately 3.04 trillion, an order of magnitude higher than the previous estimate. Of these trees, approximately 1.39 trillion exist in tropical and subtropical forests, with 0.74 trillion in boreal regions and 0.61 trillion in temperate regions. Biome-level trends in tree density demonstrate the importance of climate and topography in controlling local tree densities at finer scales, as well as the overwhelming effect of humans across most of the world. Based on our projected tree densities, we estimate that over 15 billion trees are cut down each year, and the global number of trees has fallen by approximately 46% since the start of human civilization. [Nature (2015) doi:10.1038/nature14967]
  • Tree Counter Is Astonished By How Many Trees There Are : Goats and Soda : NPR 090215
    Here is a pop quiz: How many trees are on the planet? | Most people have no idea. | A new study [published this week in Nature] says the answer is more than 3 trillion trees — that’s trillion with a T, and that number is about eight times more than a previous estimate. | Thomas Crowther was inspired to do this tree census a couple of years ago, when he was working at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He had a friend who was working with a group with an ambitious goal: trying to fight global warming by planting a billion trees. A billion trees sounded like a lot. But was it really?

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Link Blog – August 31, 2015

  • Nature Watch: Rattled by the sounds animals make at night | lehighvalley live.com 083015
    Arlene Koch: “One day last week my husband David and I drove to Lansdale to visit a bakery we’d heard about. Normally, buying baked goods in a mall store in the middle of a town would have nothing to do with nature. But as I stood by the store’s front windows, a ruby-throated hummingbird suddenly appeared and hovered for about a minute in front of a flashing red “Bakery” sign. This wasn’t a place where you’d expect to see any birds except for house sparrows or starlings, but when hummingbirds are migrating they can show up anywhere. That little bird could have been making its way as far south as Mexico.”
  • FINGER LAKES BIRDLIFE: Sandhill cranes a surprising success story – Finger Lakes Times: Lifestyle 083015
    Charlie Rouse: “One migrant bird to look for during August is the (quite uncommon) common nighthawk. As a young boy I used to watch their spring aerial courtship displays over downtown Geneva and around the hospital, where they nested on flat, gravel-covered rooftops, but those days are long gone. With the change in commercial roofing design from hot tar and gravel to rubber membrane, so went the nighthawks. These once sprawling gravel rooftops were quite inviting for nighthawks as nesting sites, where they would lay their grayish speckled eggs amongst the stones. | Charlie Rouse, of Geneva, is a past president and secretary of the Eaton Birding Society and his column appears monthly in the Finger Lakes Times. For a free checklist of the birds seen regularly in our four-county area, or to send your comments, questions and unusual sightings, email him at flbirdlife@yahoo.com.
  • Outdoors notebook | Numerous hunting seasons start this week | The Columbus Dispatch 083015
    Those bonded to the hunting cycle can celebrate a new year on Tuesday when open seasons for squirrels, mourning doves, Canada geese, sora and Virginia rails, common moorhen and common snipe commence in Ohio. | Early teal season begins on Saturday
    | Lake Erie Marsh Zone, Oct. 17-Nov. 1 and Nov. 14-Dec. 27. | The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has begun a streamlining process by which the guidelines that states follow for setting their fall/winter duck and goose seasons will be announced in May of each year rather than mid-summer. … USFWS has added 21 national wildlife refuges to those that may be hunted at some time during the year. Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, which sits along Lake Erie between Port Clinton and Toledo, is among the 336 federal refuges where hunting opportunities are available.
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Link Blog – August 29, 2015

  • Couple’s journey of love and adventure leads them to dock in Duluth | Duluth News Tribune 082915
    Oney’s boat is registered in Delaware, and other cruisers in New York marvelled at how far they had come.“Ah, no, we came all the way from Turkey,” Oney recalled with a laugh.No doubt they met similar amazement on the Great Lakes.They wince that they have “so many places to go but so little time,” Oney said. They would have loved to have lingered longer on Superior. But they did spend three weeks on the lake after passing through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie.
  • Algae in western Lake Erie eats into fishing business | Detroitr News/AP 082915
    OAK HARBOR, Ohio — Thick mats of algae spreading across western Lake Erie in recent weeks appear to be pushing one of the region’s most-prized sport fish to flee, forcing some charter boat captains to cancel trips. At least one told out-of-state visitors hoping to catch walleye to stay home for now.Fishing guides who make their living on the lake say this year’s algae bloom is quickly rivaling the worst they’ve seen in past years.”There are places out there where it looks like you’re running through green mud,” said Bob Witt, who runs a fleet of charter boats east of Toledo.Scientists tracking the algae said Friday that the heaviest concentration is in the western third of the lake and that there aren’t any blooms in the central or eastern areas near Cleveland or Buffalo, N.Y. The algae forecast in July predicted that this year’s algae could be second only to one in 2011, when the bloom stretched more than 100 miles from Toledo to Cleveland.
  • Ron Simon: Reflections of a merchant sailor | Mansfield Journal 082915
    As a merchant sailor, he served aboard two smaller ore/coal carriers, the Presque Isle and the Angeline. These were 605-foot-long vessels that could get up the rivers on the Canadian shore of Lake Superior to deliver coal. He said each ship carried a crew of about 35 people from the captain down to the coal bunkers, where a man with a shovel could sweat away 10 pounds a day in the summer.
    Ports of call included South Chicago, Port Arthur, Green Bay, Duluth, Superior, Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo.Every port on Lake Erie’s south shore was a coal port where long lines of railroad coal cars had their loads dumped into ships by loaders that rode on rails.Hoffman said the hardest job was cleaning the cargo bays after an ore shipment. Iron ore and coal didn’t mix, and it took fire hoses and hard labor to get the bays clear of the ore.During one summer, Hoffman estimated his freighter would traverse the Sault Ste. Marie Locks once a week.
  • Isle Royale Queen IV runs aground – MiningJournal.net | News, Sports, Jobs, Marquette Information | The Mining Journal 073015
    COPPER HARBOR – The Isle Royale Queen IV, operating out of Copper Harbor, ran aground Tuesday while on an evening cruise. | The U.S. Coast Guard was contacted by the Negaunee dispatch and told that the excursion vessel had run aground inside the harbor. | Lt. J.G. Derek Puzzouli, of the Sault Ste. Marie Coast Guard station, said in response to the call, Guardsmen from Coast Guard Station By the time the crew from Portage reached the scene, the passengers had already been unloaded from the Queen by “Good Samaritans” in the area with boats, Puzzuoli said. | The vessel had run aground on rocks near Porter’s Island, on the north side of the harbor, but its crew was able to get the vessel free without assistance, Puzzuoli said. | The Coast Guard trailered a small boat at the Portage station in Dollar Bay, and launched it from the Copper Harbor marina, Puzzouoli said. | There were no injuries. The Isle Royale Queen suffered no apparent damage in the incident and there was no fuel or oil leakage as a result of the mishap, Puzzuoli said. The Coast Guard remained on the scene to monitor the situation. The incident is under investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Service Unit out of Duluth, which investigates marine accidents.Portage in Dollar Bay were dispatched to the scene.
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Link Blog – August 28, 2015

  • Little Miami Scenic Trail
    The Little Miami Scenic Trail is part of an 80-mile trail network that extends from eastern Cincinnati to Buck Creek State Park near Springfield. | The dream of a hike/bike trail between Xenia and Yellow Springs emerged as rail service faded into memory. Paving the way for the dream to become a reality, the City of Xenia, Village of Yellow Springs and Ohio Department of Natural Resources acquired the right-of-way between 1973 and 1983. | In 1986, the project received a 100% funding grant from the Federal Highway administration as an alternate means of transportation. These funds are administered by Ohio Department of Transportation. | Plans, public hearings, and engineering, were completed, and construction began in July 1990. With the opening of the trail in October 1991, the spirit of the Little Miami Railroad is resurrected.
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Stone Laboratory: Assessing Lake Erie’s Algal Bloom

Aerial view of Gibraltar Island, site of the Stone Laboratory, Put-in-Bay, Lake Erie. [Source: marietta.edu]

Several news stories about Lake Erie’s algal bloom emanated this week from Gibraltar Island. I wasn’t familiar with that dateline. I thought I knew the Lake Erie islands, but it was new to me. Gibraltar Island is the site of the Stone Laboratory, Ohio State’s long-time field station on Lake Erie, the oldest freshwater field station in the United States. OSU owns the entire island – of course, The Ohio State University would own an island – designating it “the Lake Erie campus.”

One of the news stories references “an annual two-day science and environmental writers’ gathering” held this week at the Stone Lab. I’ve searched for more information about this meeting and how to attend it, but haven’t found any ready answers. As my Lake Erie writing project develops, I’d like to plan to attend this meeting in the future. If any reader has details, please let me know.

  • Lake Erie algal bloom could grow difficult – Toledo Blade 082715
    GIBRALTAR ISLAND, Ohio — It’s huge, and it’s probably getting bigger until the first of October. | But the 2015 western Lake Erie algal bloom has actually been a fairly easy tiger for area water-treatment plant operators to tame so far, according to Kelly Frey, Ottawa County Sanitary Engineer. | The hefty biomass that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects to be the second largest bloom on record is producing the harmful algal toxin microcystin but not in a concentration strong enough yet to push water-treatment plants to their maximum capability, Mr. Frey said. | Experts are still working to determine what that maximum capacity will be, Mr. Frey said Tuesday in a presentation to about 30 journalists, scientists, and outreach specialists at Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory on Gibraltar Island, during the first day of an annual two-day science and environmental writers’ gathering.
  • National Center for Water Quality Research | Heidelberg University
    The National Center for Water Quality Research (NCWQR) is a leader in surface and ground water research and monitoring in the Great Lakes region and beyond. Chemical analysis of freshwater samples, biological assessment of aquatic communities, and watershed modeling are performed at our facilities in Gillmor Hall on the Heidelberg University campus. | The NCWQR staff uses the wealth of water quality data that is generated here concerning Lake Erie and numerous streams and groundwater wells across the nation to understand and interpret the impacts of food production on soil and water resources, the status of water quality, the effects of water quality on aquatic ecosystems, and future implications for the availability of healthy, usable water.
  • About Stone Laboratory (Lake Erie) | OSU
    Established in 1895, Stone Laboratory is the oldest freshwater biological field station in the United States and the center of Ohio State University’s teaching and research on Lake Erie. The lab serves as a base for more than 65 researchers from 12 agencies and academic institutions, all working year-round to solve the most pressing problems facing the Great Lakes. In addition to its role as a research facility, Stone Lab offers 25 college-credit science courses each summer for undergraduate and graduate students, advanced high school students and educators. The hands-on sessions get students out into the field or out on the lake to study courses including biology, geology and natural resources.
  • Stone Laboratory on Twitter (@stonelab)
  • Lake Erie algae bloom spreads to Cleveland, could set record, scientists warn | Cplumbus Dispatch 082715
    GIBRALTAR ISLAND – Scientists who study Lake Erie say this summer’s growing toxic bloom is almost certain to be the worst on record. | The bloom, which started in the western part of the lake in June, has stretched to Cleveland and could still grow. The mass is on pace to peak in September. | Scientists originally thought the bloom would be about average this year, but heavy, sustained rains in June and July washed large amounts of phosphorus into the watersheds that feed the lake. | “All that rain just increased the load,” said Chris Winslow, interim director at Ohio Sea Grant and Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory, which study the lake. | Algae feed, in part, on phosphorus, a key ingredient in manure, farm fertilizers and sewage. When phosphorus levels began to rise, scientists say, it became clear that this year’s algae bloom would be bad. | Still, they originally thought the bloom would be smaller than the record-setting one in 2011. The levels of phosphorus were high this year, but not as high as 2011 levels. | But new data about the amount of phosphorus that ended up in the lake show that this summer’s bloom likely will top 2011’s bloom. The data show that dissolved reactive phosphorus reached the lake in the largest amounts in recent history. | Dissolved phosphorus is blue-green algae’s favorite form of phosphorus to consume, said Laura Johnson, a research scientist at Heidelberg University’s National Center for Water Quality Research, which monitors watersheds around Lake Erie. | The more fuel for algae, the larger the bloom. Large blooms can sicken people and hurt the summer tourism season at the lake, which already suffers from bacterial issues on its beaches. | Blue-green algae produce microcystin, a toxin that makes people sick and can kill pets. Microcystin contaminated Toledo’s drinking water in August 2014, forcing city officials to tell nearly 500,000 people to stop using their taps. | Scientists, including Johnson and former Stone Laboratory director Jeff Reutter, are meeting in Canada today to work on solutions to the lake’s perennial algae problem. | Those scientists have recommended cutting the amount of phosphorus that reaches Lake Erie by 40 percent from 2008 levels in order to reduce algae. | To do that, farmers will have to change the way they operate. Scientists say manure and fertilizers that wash from farm fields are responsible for a large portion of the phosphorus that gets into the lake. | Ohio State and other universities are studying ways farmers can keep phosphorus out of the Lake Erie watershed. | Winslow said soil testing could help. If farmers know how much phosphorus already exists in their soil, he said, they won’t need to add more than the soil needs to grow crops.
  • Algal bloom spreading into Lake Erie’s central basin | Sandusky Register 082415
    The harmful algal bloom in Lake Erie is growing and has spread into the central basin, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says. | People and pets should stay out of the water in places where scum has formed, NOAA says in a bulletin the agency issued Monday. | “The Microcystis cyanobacteria bloom continues across a large part of the western basin along the Michigan and Ohio coasts and into the central basin. The recent southwesterly winds have pushed the bloom northward along the Michigan coast. Moderate to high concentrations extend eastward to midway between Cleveland and Rondeau, Ontario. Scum has been scattered in the last few days,” the bulletin says.

About the images: [Above] Aerial view of Gibraltar Island, site of the Stone Laboratory, Put-in-Bay, Lake Erie. [Source: marietta.edu]; [Below] Map of Lake Erie’s South Bass Island showing Gibraltar Island in Put-In Bay. [Source: [Pinterest]

Map of Lake Erie's South Bass Island showing Gibraltar Island in Put-In Bay. [Source: [Pinterest]

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