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Western Region
November 22, 2013
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Welcome to the Animal Agriculture in a Changing Climate Western Region Web Letter. Scroll down for current news and relevant information regarding agriculture and climate change that you might have missed. 


Do you have or know of any regional efforts that should be highlight and shared? Please inform Liz Whitefield at [email protected] 

Amazon Deforestation Could Mean Droughts for the Western US

Deforestation of the Amazon would reduce water availability in the Western US (TG Daily, Nov 8, 2013) In research meant to highlight how the destruction of the Amazon rainforest could affect climate elsewhere, Princeton University-led researchers report that the total deforestation of the Amazon may significantly reduce rain and snowfall in the western United States, resulting in water and food shortages, and a greater risk of forest fires. The researchers report in the Journal of Climate that an Amazon stripped bare could mean 20 percent less rain for the coastal Northwest and a 50 percent reduction in the Sierra Nevada snowpack, a crucial source of water for cities and farms in California. 
Climate Change in the News
Introducing the National Drought Resilience Partnership
(The White House, Nov 15)

The Obama Administration is excited to announce a new partnership between seven Federal agencies that will help communities better prepare for droughts and reduce the impact of drought events on families and businesses. The interagency National Drought Resilience Partnership is part of the President's Climate Action Plan. Federal agencies are already working with communities, businesses and farmers and ranchers to build resilience to drought on the ground, and this Partnership will enhance those efforts.



Of Interest

Farmers need their water. Bad news is they haven't had as much of it in recent years. But in good news, they're learning to get by with less of it. For example, the percentage of irrigated cotton in the area has decreased from 50 percent of the total acreage to 37 percent, said Mary Jane Buerkle, communications director for Plains Cotton Growers. "That to me says our producers are saying, 'We've got to conserve our water any way we can,'" she said. "We've seen a shift that most likely can be attributable to water availability." And in fields that remain irrigated, recent innovations have helped that supplemental water go further. Many producers have converted pivot systems to low-energy precision application, or LEPA; and low-elevation spray application, or LESA, said Dana Porter, an irrigation specialist with Texas AgriLife. 


Public television show 'This American Land' features NRCS in its episode on the Ogallala Aquifer.



The Global Carbon Atlas 

The Global Carbon Atlas is a platform to explore and visualize the most up-to-date data on carbon fluxes resulting from human activities and natural processes. Human impacts on the carbon cycle are the most important cause of climate change.


Only 1/5 of monarchs moving through Texas (Victoria Advocate, Nov 11) 

Two years of drought and habitat destruction in the Midwest have drastically limited the number of butterflies returning to Mexico to overwinter this year. A master naturalist and entomology specialist in Victoria, Texas said that of the 300 million monarch butterflies that left Mexico this spring, just 60 million of the butterflies' progeny, or 20 percent of the original number of monarchs, will return to Mexico in the fall.




An Accidental Cattle Ranch Points the Way in Sustainable Farming  (New York Times, Nov 11) Excerpt: A couple did not set out to raise prime grass-fed beef at TomKat Ranch, which sprawls across some 1,800 acres in this rural community of Pescadero, California. The plan was to create a model conservation project, demonstrating ways to improve soil health, use solar energy and conserve water. But once cows became part of the plan to restore the land, it was not too long before TomKat also became an agricultural project, one that the couple hope will help develop sustainable farming practices that can be put to use far beyond Pescadero


Cloud seeding, no longer magical thinking, is poised for use this winter (The Sacramento Bee, Nov 11) Cloud seeding will continue to be used in California during the 2013-14 winter to boost snowfall and increase water supplies in a state that has endured two years of drought. Cloud-seeding efforts in California began more than 60 years ago and involve the spraying of silver iodide into clouds with a temperature of -4 to 19 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the temperature range most effective for the silver iodide. Fifteen California watersheds from Lake Almanor in northern California to the San Gabriel River in southern California use cloud-seeding to enhance natural precipitation. The California Department of Water Resources put the amount of water generated by these efforts at about 400,000 acre-feet of water per year at an estimated cost of $2.27 per acre-foot, which is very inexpensive.  The Desert Research Institute found that cloud seeding increased snowpack from 8 to 15 percent, often for a cost of $10 to $13 per acre-foot. The California Department of Water Resources estimated the snowpack to increase by an average of about 4 percent.

Register and find out more information at: www.AnimalAgClimateChange.org
Know of anyone who should receive this email? Please contact:

Liz Whitefield
Washington State University
Livestock Nutrient Management Program
[email protected]