- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
In order to slow global climate change and achieve greater energy independence, Americans are showing an increasing interest in switching over to clean, renewable fuels made from home-grown crops. In fact, Congress has mandated that at least 16 billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol be added to the U.S. fuel supply by 2022.
However, estimates suggest that growing crops to produce that much biofuel would require 40 to 50 million acres of land, an area roughly equivalent in size to the entire state of Nebraska.
“If we convert cropland that now produces food into fuel production, what will that do to our food supply?” asks Maggi Kelly, UC Cooperative Extension...
- Author: Ann King Filmer
Saving the declining populations of Mojave desert tortoise is a big challenge. But scientists think that raising newborn “hatchling” tortoises in a controlled environment in the Mojave National Preserve for a year, then releasing the juvenile tortoises into the wild, may help save this threatened species.
The protected tortoises — which live up to 80 years and can go without water for a year — have existed for eons, but are now being decimated by habitat loss and predation. Professor
- Author: Brad Hooker
Longer summers, less moisture and warmer climates are predicted for California's Sierra Nevada mountains. These changing patterns bring frequent droughts and extended wildfire seasons — as seen from the current extreme drought. The question no longer is whether wildfires will be more common or more intense — they already are — but how forest managers want these fires to burn.
Jens Stevens, a postdoctoral researcher in disturbance ecology at the University of California, Davis, has tracked how forests thinned for wildfire react to high-intensity burns. The answers he found touch on growing concerns over how the state can protect its forests.
Under the context of...
- Author: Robert Sanders
UC Berkeley scientists will receive $4.9 million over the next five years to study the nearly 10,000 square kilometer Eel River watershed in Northern California and how its vegetation, geology and topography affect water flow all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
What the researchers uncover will help improve global climate models and modeling tools that can be used by state or regional decision makers to guide planning. Their discoveries may eventually allow scientists to predict the impact of changing climate and land use on future droughts, floods and supplies of water for drinking and agriculture.
Funded by the National Science Foundation, the Eel River Observatory is...
- Author: Suanne Klahorst
In a 1,000 year old village in Germany (Juehnde), methane is not a dirty word. The recovered methane from a manure-fueled bioreactor feeds the burners that heat water for every household in the village. The same hot water provides heating. These households benefit from living adjacent to a livestock economy whose manure was once just a smelly nuisance. The manure is transported by truck to an enclosed bioreactor, thereby reducing odor and feeding a system that powers an entire community. Frank Mitloehner once called this village home. Now a professor and air quality UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis, Mitloehner thinks that if this village...