“Beach renourishment may have its dark side for coastal marine life”

A really interesting read. I’m left wondering if we know anything about the ecological impacts of nourishment projects on the Cape and Islands.

Coquina clams, mole crabs and worms naturally live in the sand where water meets land. But beach nourishment projects bury the sand-dwelling creatures alive and can harden the beach, making it more difficult for new clams and other species – and the birds that rely on them – to take up residence long-term.

Read more at: www.heraldtribune.com

Natural high-CO2 areas offer preview of ocean’s future

The more we learn about ocean acidification, the scarier it gets. Even plants and fish appear to be subtly – but significantly – affected.

If carbon dioxide emissions don’t begin to decline soon, the complex fabric of marine ecosystems will begin fraying — and eventually unravel completely, two new studies conclude.

The diversity of ocean species thins and any survivors’ health declines as the pH of ocean water falls in response to rising carbon dioxide levels, scientists from England and Florida reported February 18 at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. What’s more, affected species aren’t restricted to those with shells and calcified support structures — features particularly vulnerable to erosion by corrosive seawater.

Read more at: www.sciencenews.org

“Much data, few answers in Cape Cod dolphin strandings”

This is as close as I’ve seen to the story I would like to do on the record-setting mass stranding of dolphins, if only I had the time – about all the science that gets done, and the mixed blessing that such events are for marine mammal researchers.

Over the past five weeks, 178 dolphins have stranded on Cape Cod. Most have been dead, but the painstaking process of tending, hauling, and releasing the live ones is exacting a physical and emotional toll that grows greater every day. It is a toll made all the heavier because the reasons for the strandings remain a mystery.

Read more at: www.bostonglobe.com

“Why farms want cold winters”

A great explanation of why this winter may not have been the lovely respite some New Englanders have been thinking.

There’s an old Bob Dylan line: “He not busy being born is busy dying.” It’s one to keep in mind when looking at farms in winter, at the brown fields, skeletal orchards, and vineyards waiting for a shot of green. Despite appearances, winter is a surprisingly important time on a farm.

Read more at: grist.org

In the news: wind energy

There’s been a lot of wind energy news – both onshore and off – this week. Here’s a quick tour of the latest headlines.

Cape Wind progress buoys South Terminal project | New Bedford Standard Times: One of the indirect benefits of the Cape Wind project would be a whole new industry for New Bedford – offshore wind turbine installation. So this week’s news about NStar was heartily welcomed there.

Residents debate wind turbine health study | Cape Cod Times: Debate about the state-commissioned report on wind turbines and human health went public this week, literally. A public meeting near Boston on Tuesday drew both supporters and detractors – all vehement.

Turbine critics rip state report | Cape Cod Times: Not surprisingly, Thursday’s meeting in Bourne was a different story – dominated by frustrated Falmouth residents and wind opponents they’ve helped catalyze.

Second Falmouth turbine gets green light | Cape Cod Times: Meanwhile, Falmouth’s Wind 2 finally underwent the necessary testing and is ready to begin a two-month trial run.

Turbine opponents file Open Meeting Law complaint | New Bedford Standard Times: In Fairhaven, residents continue to try to block the construction of a wind turbine at their wastewater treatment plant.

Bourne wind project voted down | Cape Cod Times: And finally, the Next Gen Wind project in Bourne appears to be dead. Cape Cod Commission said they see concrete benefits and “nebulous of iffy” drawbacks, but decided to err on the side of caution.

“U.S. Launches Effort to Cut Short-Lived Pollutants”

Looks like the official announcement of this initiative will take place tomorrow, so look for more news. But one important point that jumped out for me was: “The new initiative does not set targets for pollution reductions.”

The U.S. launched an international initiative aimed at reducing emissions of so-called short-lived global warming agents, such as soot and methane, in order to make near-term gains in fighting global warming and improving public health.

Read more at: www.climatecentral.org

“Cape dolphin rescues face budget ax”

Another example of the impacts of NOAA budget cuts.

Even as dolphin strandings continue at an unprecedented rate along Cape Cod, a grant program that has been a major source of funding for marine mammal rescues nationwide may fall victim to the federal budget ax – to be replaced with a network of private donations.

Read more at: m.capecodonline.com

Cape Wind sells more of its power, but still not all

After months of staunch resistance, it appears that NStar has been persuaded to buy power from Cape Wind after all. Cape Cod Times reports on yesterday’s announcement:

Under the deal, NStar will enter a 15-year contract to buy 27.5 percent of the power generated by 130 wind turbines that Cape Wind Associates LLC plans to build in Nantucket Sound. If Cape Wind is not in operation by 2016, NStar will buy an equal amount of energy from another new, renewable energy source, Patrick said.

National Grid has already agreed to be buy half of Cape Wind’s power for 18.7 cents per kilowatt-hour.

While the exact details of the deal between Cape Wind and NStar have yet to be ironed out, it is expected to be almost identical to the pact with National Grid.

The deal was negotiated as part of the merger – now conditionally accepted by Massachusetts officials – between NStar and Northeast Utilities. Continue reading

Hurricanes threaten offshore wind turbines even without climate change

Massachusetts was one of the four areas included in the study, and Andrew Freedman includes a more detailed analysis of Cape Wind‘s vulnerability in this article. Freedman also makes the salient point that the study didn’t account for any possible changes in storm strength, frequency, or location due to climate change.

A new study contains some unsettling news for the nascent offshore wind energy industry in the United States, finding that wind turbines are substantially vulnerable to being damaged or destroyed by hurricanes. Additionally, the study, published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, does not even include the effects of global warming on tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

Read more at: www.climatecentral.org