March 1: Observing carbon cycle climate feedbacks from space

Carbon cycle climate feedbacks remain one of the most uncertain and complex aspects of the Earth System. Considerable theory exists, but in situ observations are sparse and using them to test alternative hypotheses and to quantify the strength of feedbacks has proved challenging. Satellite observations of XCO2 provide greater coverage spatially, particularly in some crucial but undersampled regions and have the potential to complement more accurate in situ CO2 and more process-relevant local flux observations. We report early analyses of OCO-2 and GOSAT data showing evidence for satellite constraints on both positive and negative feedback mechanisms in the carbon-climate system. Satellite CO2, by providing greater resolution on land in over the oceans, in the tropics, allows linking both growth, and drought-related emissions from ecosystems to be better quantified, allows better linkage of fluxes to mechanisms of disturbance and CO2 fertilization, and provides a new and complementary constraint to others currently used. We show that the tropical continents differ in their responses and explore why they may differ, based on their prior disturbance, soil and functional diversity. Extratropical feedbacks may also now be becoming evident in observations, and we discuss the role of satellite CO2 in constraining positive and negative feedbacks to climate in the extratropics.

Speaker: David Schimel, Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Dr. David Schimel is currently a Senior Research Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Lab, leading research focused on carbon-cycle climate interactions, combining models and observations.  For the previous five years, Schimel led the National Ecological Observatory Network project, was responsible for the top-level science design, site selection and observing system simulations.  From 2001-2007, Schimel was at the National Center for Atmospheric Research as a senior scientist, with research focused on assimilation of carbon cycle data in land and atmospheric models. From 1998-2001, Schimel served as founding Co-Director and Managing Director of the Max Planck Insitute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, Germany.  From 1990-1998, Schimel was at NCAR.  Schimel served as convening Lead Author for the first IPCC assessment of the carbon cycle, and has served as an IPCC CLA four times, and as a Lead Author twice. From 1988-1989, Schimel was an NRC Fellow at NASA Ames. Dr. Schimel obtained his PhD in 1982 from Colorado State University, studying atmosphere-ecosystem exchange of nitrous oxide and ammonia.

Feb 22nd – Biocultural approaches to indicator development and use from local to global

Pacific Island communities are facing unprecedented challenges in conserving natural resources and maintaining human well-being. In these place-based communities, biocultural connections, or the integrated social, economic, cultural and environmental linkages between people and nature are widely believed to play a critical role in improving and maintaining the resilience of both human and ecological communities. However, indicators of human or ecological well-being rarely reflect the integrated nature of these systems.

We synthesized information from visioning exercises across multiple Pacific Island archipelagoes (Hawaiʻi, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Marshall Islands) to better understand the perspectives of Pacific Islanders on characteristics of vibrant biocultural landscapes and seascapes. Based on this and a review of the literature, we identified key elements that describe a resilient biocultural state for Pacific Island communities. We are using these elements to identify if and how international sustainability goals capture local perspectives and values. We are also using these key elements to develop a community self-assessment guide. Finally, we are in the process of comparing indicators of biocultural resilience and their drivers across the Pacific Islands. We expect the results of our work will guide practices on sustainability and well-being that better resonate with communities and better reflect important connections between people and nature.

Eleanor Sterling
Chief Conservation Scientist
Center for Biodiversity and Conservation
American Museum of Natural History
200 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024


Stacy Jupiter
Wildlife Conservation Society
Associate Conservation Scientist
Fiji Country Program Director


Rachel Dacks
University of Hawaii

Feb. 15: Evidence for competition among salmon at sea

Pink salmon

Salmon scientists frequently focus research on the link between salmon production and oceanographic conditions, but there is growing evidence that intraspecific and interspecific competition are also important. Pink salmon represent nearly 70% of all adult salmon returning from the North Pacific Ocean (~670 million fish in 2009) and their abundance has doubled since the mid-1970s ocean regime shift. The fixed two-year life cycle of pink salmon and their strong alternating-year pattern of abundance provides a unique opportunity to test hypotheses about competition at sea. In this presentation, I review evidence for competition, including its effects on salmon growth, age-at- maturation, and survival. Much of the evidence involves sockeye salmon, which typically spend two or three winters at sea and have high diet overlap with pink salmon. There is also evidence that pink salmon impact the growth, age, and survival of other species, such as Chinook salmon. Finally, I conclude that this evidence has important implications for large-scale hatcheries, which may contribute to a Tragedy of the Commons.

Dr. Greg Ruggerone
Natural Resources Consultants, Inc.

Dr. Greg Ruggerone has investigated population dynamics, ecology, and management of Pacific salmon in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest since 1979. Much of his earlier experience stems from activities as Project Leader of the Alaska Salmon Program, University of Washington. His research typically involves factors affecting growth, age at maturation, and survival of salmon in freshwater and marine habitats. Lately, this research has focused on species interactions in the ocean, especially competition between pink salmon and other salmon. He is past Chair of the Columbia River Independent Scientific Advisory Board and past Chair of the Independent Scientific Review Panel, and he currently serves as an independent science reviewer for the California WaterFix Project.

Feb. 8 [Wed] – Obstacles to Groundwater Treatment at Santa Susana Field Laboratory: Assessing Water Management Options and Ecosystem Questions

The RocketOutfall team is working in collaboration with Boeing to advance the groundwater treatment process at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. This project analyzes five methods Boeing could use to discharge this water, and investigates what impacts the most viable option (discharging treated water to a dry streambed) might have on the arid landscape. Boeing has previously pursued this option, but the CA Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has asked them to consider the impacts on the receiving creek’s vegetation before a final permit is granted. Boeing is partnering with the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management to answer CDFW’s questions, and consider alternative discharge options.

Presenters are members of the RocketOutfall team – a group of 4 graduate students from the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management specializing in Pollution Prevention and Remediation and Conservation Planning.