Category Archives: Impacts & Adaptation

Calculating Climate Benefits for Climate Smart Farms

By Georgine Yorgey

Farmer and long-time CSANR advisory committee member, Dale Gies. Photo: Sylvia Kantor.

What are the climate impacts of a given farm practice?  While we know lots of strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions on farms, quantifying that impact can be difficult.  However, there is at least one farm in our region – one that uses some pretty neat practices – for which scientists have attempted to answer that question.  And the farmer just happens to be a long-time member of the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources’ advisory committee, Dale Gies. Continue reading

Turning Urban Wood Waste into Biochar

By Karen Hills

Biochar as a soil amendment has been the subject of much attention in recent years because of its ability to sequester carbon and to improve aggregation, water holding capacity, and organic matter content of soil amended with it (Lehmann, 2007; Marris, 2006). A recent post discussed what’s needed to economically produce forest to farm biochar. In contrast, researchers at Washington State University are investigating what we could call waste to farm biochar. Waste to farm biochar, if deployed on a larger scale, could offer a two-part benefit – removal of wood from the municipal solid waste stream and creation of a valuable product from this wood. In recent work, researchers are looking at two possible wastes that could be made into biochar: wood-based fractions of municipal solid waste and the large woody material remaining after compost production—referred to as “compost overs.”

Figure 1: Images of the woody biomass sources used to create biochar for this project, including compost overs and wood-based products from municipal solid waste. (source: WTFT 2015-2017 report; photo credit: M. Ayiania)

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OneNOAA CSSR series

Beginning Thursday, July 12 at 9:00 am Pacific Standard Time – and occurring weekly at that time through Tuesday, August 28 – the OneNOAA seminar series will be hosting an 8-part suite of talks on different aspects of the National Climate Assessment 4 Volume I – the Climate Science Special Report.  This is a fantastic opportunity to learn about the latest climate science from some of the nation’s most eminent scientists!

  • Thurs, July 12: Climate Science: What’s New? – Katharine Hayhoe (Texas Tech University)
  • Thurs, July 19: Detection and Attribution of Climate Change from the CSSR – U.S. Perspective – Tom Knutson (NOAA-GFDL)
  • Thurs, July 26: Droughts, Floods, and Wildfire – Michael Wehner (DOE-LBNL)
  • Thurs, Aug 2: Climate Potential Surprises – Compound Extremes and Tipping Elements – Radley Horton (Columbia University / Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory)
  • Thurs, Aug 9: Climate Long-Term Climate Mitigation Perspectives and the 2°C Objective – Ben DeAngelo (NOAA)
  • Thurs, Aug 16: The Causes and Consequences of a Rapidly Changing Arctic – Patrick Taylor (NASA-Langley Research Center)
  • Thurs, Aug 23: Climate Tidings of the Tides – Billy Sweet (NOAA)
  • Tues, Aug 28: The Fourth U.S. National Climate Assessment: An Overview of Volume 1 – Don Wuebbles (University of Illinois)

What the heck is a snow drought?

by Sonia A. Hall

Remember 2015? That was a snow drought. Since then, researchers at CIRC (Climate Impacts Research Consortium) have been delving into snow droughts. They are part of an effort that recently released “a number of snow drought monitoring tools designed for decision makers and resource managers to monitor, plan for, and cope with snow drought and its impacts.”  Get more details through Christina Stone (NIDIS) and Nathan Gilles’s article in the Climate CIRCulator, or check it out for yourself on the Snow Drought website.

CIRC Releases Final Report for Phase One of Research     

by Sonia A. Hall

Interested in better understanding climate change impacts in the Pacific Northwest? Our colleagues at CIRC (Climate Impacts Research Consortium) have recently released a report on their first seven years of research. Check out Nathan Gilles’s article on this report, that walks you through and highlights the key findings. Read Nathan’s article in the Climate CIRCulator.

Biochar: what can it do for your soil?

By Kristin Trippe, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Forage Seed and Cereal Research Unit

Farmers across the globe are grappling with the challenges of a changing climate. In the Pacific Northwest, loss of snow pack has diminished the availability of water resources, causing increased drought stress (see this article, for example). Our program is focused on biochar, a rather non-descript product that can help farmers both sequester carbon and prolong the availability of soil moisture in their agricultural soils to address drought stress.

Biological Science Technicians Sarah Light (left) and Stephanie Chiu (right) collect soil cores from soil amended with biochar to determine if biochar can help prevent drought. Photo: Claire Phillips, USDA ARS FSCRU.

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My Mother’s Forestland

By Renée E. D’Aoust

The author’s parents, Brian and Susan D’Aoust. Photo: Renée E. D’Aoust.

My mom called our forestland in northern Idaho a “spot of paradise.” Mom was the first to point out a grand fir that might fall, to see a moose on the pasture, and to notice Western larch needles changing color. She passed away eight years ago, and we try to honor her by caring for our forestland. Since my brother and I live far away, all of the work falls on Dad.

In my family, we’ve talked about climate change for over thirty years. The issues that arise from climate change—extreme weather events, migration due to drought, conflict caused by land issues, and more—will force all of us to recognize climate change as the most defining issue of our epoch. It will be the issue that unites us—or destroys us. If the latter, one spot of paradise that brings one family joy won’t matter. Or will it?

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Crop Diversity is a Nice Thing if You Can Get It and You Can Get It if You Try

By Gabrielle Roesch-McNally

Diversity is a good thing, right?

Diversity is incredibly important for a productive and resilient agrifood system. Diversity in the form of extended crop rotations can lead to greater “productivity, profitability and environmental health,” and can reduce weed, insect, and disease pressure, helping farmers cut the costs of their inputs. Diversifying the crop rotation provides financial as well as broader environmental benefits that can be experienced at the field (e.g., reduced erosion) and landscape scale (e.g., reduced water quality impairment). Greater crop diversity will also help mitigate risks associated with the impacts of global climate change, including more extreme and variable weather events, and sustained temperature and precipitation changes that will impact agricultural production. Sadly, much of the agricultural production in the U.S, even parts of the Northwest, is lacking in diversity.

Diversity is a key ingredient in building a more resilient agroecosystem, so why are so few farmers implementing diverse crop rotations?

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New perennial crops may be possible in the future

By: Lauren Parker

Could Northwest growers have an opportunity to cultivate potentially displaced California almonds in the future? Photo: Flickr user Nicholas D under CC BY-NC 2.0.

California cultivates roughly two-thirds of the nation’s fruit and nut crops, including virtually 100% of the US almond supply. Growing demand and high profit-per-acre have driven a doubling in almond acreage in the Golden State since 1995, including a nearly 100,000-acre increase in almond plantations between 2011 and 2015, despite that period coinciding with the most severe drought in the state in a millennium.

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