Star Tribune – February 3, 2015

President Barack Obama's proposed budget for 2016 seeks what it calls a $50 million "modest reduction" in a multi-year program to clean up the Great Lakes. The president's spending plan released Monday requests $250 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, down from $300 million appropriated for this year. The program focuses on the lakes' most serious long-term ecological challenges such as invasive species, toxic pollution, degraded fish and wildlife habitat and runoff from farms and cities that causes toxic algae blooms. Obama created the program after taking office in 2009. About $1.9 billion has been spent on about 2,000 projects region-wide. For full story, click here.

By Juliet Eilperin – The Washington Post – January 30, 2015

President Obama issued an executive order Friday directing federal agencies to adopt stricter building and siting standards to reflect scientific projections that future flooding will be more frequent and intense due to climate change. The order represents a major shift for the federal government: while the Federal Emergency Management Administration published a memo three years ago saying it would take global warming into account when preparing for more severe storms, most agencies continue to rely on historic data rather than future projections for building projects. For full story, click here.

 

By Barbara Mahler and Jon Campbell – USGS Science Features – January 21, 2015

About 115 million people—more than one-third of the Nation’s population—rely on groundwater for drinking water. As the Nation’s population grows, the need for high-quality drinking-water supplies becomes even more urgent. “Through the WaterSMART initiative and the National Water-Quality Assessment Program, the Department of Interior is working to secure sustainable water supplies of sufficient quantity and quality and to identify measures needed to address climate change and future demands,” said Jennifer Gimbel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. “The integrated work that USGS is doing to map groundwater availability, groundwater quality, and the potential for contamination will give us the information we need to understand natural and human effects on groundwater and to take the actions needed to protect this vital natural resource.”  For full blog post, click here.

By Julie Cohen – UC Santa Barbara The Current – January 22, 2015

Millions of Americans live in flood-prone areas. In 2012 alone, the cost of direct flood damage hit nearly half a billion dollars. However, because the factors contributing to flood risk are not fully understood, river basin management — and even the calculation of flood insurance premiums — may be misguided.  A new study by UC Santa Barbara’s Michael Singer and colleagues presents a paradigm shift in flood hazard analysis that could change the way such risk is assessed in the future. For full story, click here.

By Carl Zimmer – The New York Times – January 15, 2015

A team of scientists, in a groundbreaking analysis of data from hundreds of sources, has concluded that humans are on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them. “We may be sitting on a precipice of a major extinction event,” said Douglas J. McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an author of the new research, which was published on Thursday in the journal Science. But there is still time to avert catastrophe, Dr. McCauley and his colleagues also found. Compared with the continents, the oceans are mostly intact, still wild enough to bounce back to ecological health.For full story, click here.