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Western Region
January 17, 2014
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Happy New Year! 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.  

California's Driest Year on Record

A Grim Map of California's Drought (The Atlantic, 1/9/14) In Nearly 90 percent of the state is suffering from severe or extreme drought. A statewide survey shows the current snowpack hovering below 20 percent of the average for this time of year. The AP is reporting that if the current trend holds, state water managers will only be able to deliver 5 percent of the water needed for more than 25 million Californians and nearly a million acres of farmland. A study published in Nature Climate Change at the end of last year found that droughts will probably set in more quickly and become more intense as climate change takes hold.
Gov. Jerry Brown declares drought emergency in California (Los Angeles Times, 1/17/2014) Amid California's driest year on record, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday officially declared a drought emergency in the state. Speaking at a San Francisco news conference, Brown also called on "all citizens" to cut back "at least 20% of their water use." He was flanked by charts and photos showing the state's anemic precipitation and snowpack."We ought to be ready for a long, continued, persistent effort to restrain our water use," Brown said, adding that conservation efforts would be "voluntary." Brown's announcement, which lawmakers, farmers and activists have been urging for weeks, comes as state reservoirs are critically low and cities across the state have already begun water-rationing measures.
Washington State News

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday that a full 93 percent of the state is now in a moderate drought, while the remainder is still considered abnormally dry. Last week, only about half the state was reported to be in moderate drought. Things are worse in Oregon, where 75 percent of the state is now in severe drought, and California, where more than half the state is in extreme drought and 90 percent is in severe drought. Although the first water supply forecast for the summer irrigation season won't come out until March, the Yakima Basin's snowpack is just two-thirds of normal for this time of year, and a hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Pendleton, Ore., said it's time for some concern."People need to be thinking at the back of their mind that there might be water restrictions if conditions don't improve," hydrologist Marilyn Lohmann said.


University of WA New State of Knowledge Report on Climate Change: Impacts and Adaptation in WA State (UW Climate Impacts Group, 1/17/14)

The Climate Impacts Group (CIG) is pleased to announce the release of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Washington State: Technical Summaries for Decision Makers. This report, prepared for the WA State Dept. of Ecology, summarizes:
* Existing knowledge about the likely effects of climate change on Washington State and the Pacific Northwest, with an emphasis on research since 2007; 
* Climate change adaptation activities underway across the state; and 
* Data resources available to support local adaptation efforts.

The report provides technical summaries detailing observed and projected changes for Washington's climate, water resources, forests, species and ecosystems, coasts and ocean, infrastructure, agriculture, and human health in an easy-to-read summary format designed to complement the foundational literature from which it draws.
"The Polar Vortex" 


U.S Cold Snap Inspires Climate Change Denial, While Scientists See Little Room for Doubt - The real story is that people have forgotten what cold is like, says climate expert. (Nat Geo, 1/8/2014) Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist with NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, tells National Geographic that people are missing the big picture."People should stick to the basics of what we know, the long-term trends, and realize that what we are talking about are global averages," he says.Schmidt, who enjoyed a cold-weather run in Central Park on Wednesday morning, says climate data show that North America has been warming steadily over the past 30 years."The real story is that people have forgotten what cold weather is like," he says. "It was common 20 years ago."


Global Warming 'Pause' Isn't What Climate Change Skeptics Say It Is(wunderground.com, 1/13/14) Scientists who study climate change and skeptics of human-caused global warming can agree on at least this: Global temperatures haven't risen nearly as much this century as model projections say they should have. At least, that's the way it looks today. But according to a recently published study in the scientific journal Earth's Future, the greenhouse gas-fueled heating of the planet hasn't stopped at all during the global warming pause or "hiatus" widely touted in recent years."Global warming is continuing, it just gets manifested in different ways," says Dr. Kevin Trenberth, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research who co-authored the study with NCAR's Dr. John Fasullo.
Climate Change in the News
 The next time you hear someone dispute that human activity is destabilizing our climate, remember this pie chart
It represents geochemist James Lawrence Powell's review of 2,258 peer-reviewed scientific articles about climate change, written by 9,136 authors, published between Nov. 12, 2012 and December 31, 2013. Of all those hundreds of papers and thousands of researchers, Powell found one article, authored by a single scientist, that attributed climate change to something other than human actions: "The Role of Solar Activity in Global Warming," by S.V. Avakyan, appearing in the Herald of the Russian Academy of Science, Vol. 83, No. 3. 
Powell, a past president of Oberlin, Franklin and Marshall, and Reed colleges, invites anyone to reproduce his survey of the science:
Anyone can repeat as much of the new study as they wish--all of it if they like. Download an Excel database of the 2,258 articles here. It includes the title, document number, and Web of Science accession number. Scan the titles to identify articles that might reject man-made global warming. Then use the DOI or WoS accession number to find and read the abstracts of those articles, and where necessary, the entire article. If you find any candidates that I missed, please email me: jpowell@usc.edu


International Weather Extremes


Extreme Weather Wreaking Havoc on Food as Farmers Suffer (Milksources.com, 1/17/2014) Volatile weather around the world is taking farmers on a wild ride. Too much rain in northern China damaged crops in May, three years after too little rain turned the world's second-biggest corn producer into a net importer of the grain. Dry weather in the U.S. will cut beef output from the world's biggest producer to the lowest level since 1994, following 2013's bumper corn crop, which pushed America's inventory up 30 percent. U.K. farmers couldn't plant in muddy fields after the second-wettest year on record in 2012 dented the nation's wheat production.

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Liz Whitefield
Washington State University
Livestock Nutrient Management Program