Tags >> weather
Oct 12
2009

Protecting Oaks

Posted by Bruce Robinson in weather , trees , timber , research , environment , coast , chemicals , California , agriculture

Bruce Robinson

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The pathogen that causes sudden oak death tends to spread during rainstorms, so with forecasts of a wet winter ahead, now is the time to apply a protective treatment to trees in high-risk areas.

According to Katie Palmieri, the public information officer for the California Oak Mortality Task Force at UC Berkeley, spraying the protective substance directly onto the trunk of vulnerable oaks is the easier method.

Injecting the spore-fighting material directly into the oaks is more complicated, in no small part because the process is a little different for each tree.

The California oak Mortality Task Force has developed guidelines and an instructional video to aid homeowners in the proper application of Agri-Fos as part of the resources available at their website. Below is an illustrated explanation of the pathogen that causes the disease, how it spreads, and the way it affects the trees that get infected.

Oct 05
2009

Jellyfish

Posted by Bruce Robinson in weather , ocean , fish , environment , California , animals

Bruce Robinson

There may be a lot of beached jellyfish on the sand along the coast these days, but that’s primarily  an indicator of a productive year for the strange and ancient creatures.

 

 

Jellyfish occur in many parts of the world, from the tropics to much cooler northern waters, but there are specific types that frequent the northern California coast, such as the "sea nettles" pictured here.

Carl Menard, Director of Aquatic Resources at the U.C.Davis Bodega Bay Marine Laboratory,  says the rich upwelling of nutrients the jellies have been feeding on is not indicative of a possible El Nino in the coming winter, but because of other factors, that can’t be ruled out altogether.

Two other common types of jellyfish often found along the North Coast are the Moon jellies (below left) and the valella valella, which has a sort of "sail" that can catch the breeze on the surface of the sea to propel it. But if it happens to catch on onshore wind, it may end up stranded on a beach.

Oct 01
2009

The Greening of Greensburg

Posted by Bruce Robinson in weather , teens , speaker , solar , planning , housing , government , farms , families , environment , design , construction , community , climate change , carbon , business , alternative energy , activism

Bruce Robinson

Just two years after being leveled by a tornado, Greensburg, a tiny town in the middle of Kansas has become a model for green rebuilding.

Nearly 95% of the town's homes and other buildings were destroyed by the storm, as seen in this photo, taken a week after the tornado hit.

The green rebuilding of Greensburg, Kansas cannot be attributed to an unlikely enclave of progressive thinkers in the American heartland. Rather, says Daniel Wallach, (right) founder and Executive Director of Greensburg GreenTown, the fact this has happened in a small, deeply conservative town makes it even more significant.

FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) was quick to respond to the Kansas tornado that flattened Greensburg, in part to improve their public profile after the Gulf Coast hurricanes. But Wallach says the agency had to be persuaded at length to buy into the green vision that the community shared.

There's an extensive photo gallery of the damange caused by the tornado and the new buildings that have emerged in its wake on one page of the Greensberg GreenTown website. Another page hosts their design competition for eco-friendly homes. "The Chain of Eco-Homes"  has attracted 150 entries, which can be viewed and voted for online. The winnign design will be built as part of the town's ongoing effort to promote itself as "a living science museum" on green consrtruction and muncipal planning.

Sep 15
2009

Sonoma Coast Wave Power

Posted by Bruce Robinson in West County , weather , water , technology , Sonoma County , resources , planning , ocean , fish , environment , design , conservation , community , coast , climate change , California , alternative energy

Bruce Robinson

Wave power off the Sonoma County coast is a potentially carbon-free source of electricity, but it faces big questions about environmental impacts and economic viability.

You can read more about the project on the Water Agency's website.The image at right shows one prototype of a low-profile generator which could be deployed in an array of dozens of individual units, as illustrated below, to power a sizable area.

The Sonoma County Water Agency's first informational meeting about the wave power studies was held in Gualala on September 9th. Most of the people there, reports Richard Charter, knew nothing about the project before that meeting.


Two other study projects on the Northern California coast have received permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), both issued before the Sonoma County Water Agency's application was approved. Cordell Stillman (left with Water Agency boss Randy Poole) says both sites were sought by PG&E, but other than that, they are quite different in status and approach.

While the entire concept of wave-generated electricity is in its very earliest stages, Richard Charter  (left) observes that it holds some benefits from an environmental perspective, but it is hardly a clear or easy solution to meeting future power needs.

 

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