Friday, March 16, 2018

3/16 Cherry blossoms, orcas, BC pipe, climate change, 'The Blob,' green WA lege, BC fish farms, hi-speed rail

UW cherry blossoms 2016 [UW]
UW cherry blossoms to reach full bloom in 5 to 10 days
[March 13] Spring is just around the corner, which means the cherry blossoms at the University of Washington’s Quad are almost in full bloom. Those delicate pink flowers will likely reach full bloom in five to 10 days, and will be in near full bloom by this weekend, according to UW arborist Sara Shores. The timing of full bloom varies year-to-year based on daylight and temperature consistency, Shores said. A stretch of high temperatures over 50 degrees creates favorable conditions for the cherry blossoms. Seattle has gotten over 50 degrees for the last seven days, including a record-setting 73 degrees Monday, according to the National Weather Service. About 1 percent of the blossoms have already emerged on the Quad, but the buds have advanced quickly over the last few days. In 2017, full bloom began the week of March 26. The UW cherry blossom trees, which are over 80 years old, were a gift from then-Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki in 1912 to mark a friendship between the United States and Japan. Thirty-four trees were planted in Seattle's Washington Park Arboretum; later, 31 of the trees were relocated to the UW and are now planted in the Quad. (KING)

Killer whale research gets $12M infusion from Canadian government
The Canadian government has announced more than $12 million in new funding for research aimed at protecting B.C.'s endangered southern resident killer whales. Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc was in Vancouver Thursday to unveil the cash infusion, which includes $9.1 million for developing and testing technology to better detect the orcas and prevent collisions with vessels. Another $3.1 million will go toward research on how the whales react to underwater noise, and how they're affected by the decreasing availability of their prey. Bethany Lindsay reports. (CBC)

Gov. Jay Inslee’s orca protection order not enough, expert says
Governor Jay Inslee issued an executive order Wednesday, March 14, calling for more state action to protect the region’s orca population. “It’s not enough, but I certainly commend him for bringing attention to these whales and the situation they are in,” Ken Balcomb [said]. “But we have to do a lot more. The Salish Sea wasn’t the only place they found food in the ’70s when we began our study. They were also eating the Columbia-Snake River fish, the Sacramento-San Joaquin fish, and all up the coast of Vancouver Island. So we have to do restoration throughout range of these whales.” Balcom has been studying whales since the 1970s. He founded the non-profit Center for Whale Research in 1985. He specializes in the study of the southern resident killer whales. (KIRO Ron and Don Show)

Catherine McKenna says Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will make B.C. coast safer
Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna says marine safety improvements associated with the Trans Mountain expansion project will make B.C.'s coast safer than it was before. Citing new safety efforts like the $1.5-billion Oceans Protection Plan, McKenna said even though the project would lead to more tanker traffic, spill response would be heightened. (CBC) See also: Ottawa 'determined' to see Trans Mountain pipeline expanded: minister anadian Press) And also: Trans Mountain granted indefinite injunction against pipeline protesters at two B.C. sites  (Canadian Press)

When It Comes to Climate Change, the Ocean Never Forgets 
If climate change were just a flirtation with disaster—that is, the world acted decisively and cut emissions, and the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide fell tomorrow to preindustrial levels—the planet would respond quickly. Within decades, land temperatures would return to normal. The ocean, however, would bounce back more slowly. Much more slowly. If greenhouse gas emission plummeted, the surface ocean—the top few hundred meters—would exchange heat with the atmosphere and recover relatively quickly, taking decades or maybe a century. But the deep ocean is like a roast in the oven, remaining hot long after the heat’s been turned off. Ramin Skibba reports. (Hakai Magazine)

FEMA Drops 'Climate Change' From Its Strategic Plan
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the federal government’s first responder to floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters, has eliminated references to climate change from its strategic planning document for the next four years. That document, released by FEMA on Thursday, outlines plans for building preparedness and reducing the complexity of the agency. The document does not say what could be contributing to “rising natural hazard risk,” or what conditions could require the “increased investments in pre-disaster mitigation.” Richard Gonzales reports. (NPR)

The Pacific Ocean Heat Wave Known As 'The Blob' Appears To Be In Retreat
Ocean conditions off the Pacific Northwest seem to be returning to normal after a three-year spike in water temperature. It’s promising long-term news for fishermen who are looking ahead in the short term to yet another year of low salmon returns. A report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) outlined the latest ocean observations for the organization that sets salmon catch limits off the West Coast. The Pacific Fishery Management Council will set those limits in early April. The extended marine heatwave of the past few years has been nicknamed “the Blob.” Jes Burns reports. (OPB/EarthFix)

Environmentalists struggled for success in Olympia in 2018
You won’t pay an extra dime in the name of fighting climate change for every gallon of gasoline you buy. Puget Sound stands to be a tad better protected from oil spills when oil-tanker traffic jumps seven-fold, increasing the risk of a spill. And while your current microwave popcorn bag or burger wrapper likely contains a cancer-causing chemical, your future purchases — starting in 2022, or perhaps later — aren’t supposed to. Those number among the mixed environmental results from this year’s whirlwind 60-day session of the Washington Legislature, marked by a few environmental firsts but also some significant losses for the greens on climate change that go beyond their inability to pass a carbon tax. Environmentalists did succeed in banning fish farms raising Atlantic Ocean salmon, increasing funding to help protect endangered orcas, and closing a tax loophole to capture a whole lot more revenue from oil moved through pipelines to help protect against spills. Sally Deneen reports. (Investigate West)

Review backs B.C.’s fish farm science, dismisses minister’s concerns
VICTORIA — An independent review of a B.C. government scientific laboratory for its work on farmed fish concluded Thursday it was operating at a high standard, without any conflicts of interest among its scientists. The review dismissed concerns raised by Agriculture Minister Lana Popham, who had at first targeted a specific ministry scientist who is disliked by environmental and First Nations activists opposed to open-pen ocean fish farms. The reviews by Premier John Horgan’s deputy minister, Don Wright, and the independent consulting firm Deloitte, failed to back up any of the minister’s concerns and instead gave the Animal Health Centre in Abbotsford a clean bill of health. Rob Shaw reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Vancouver to Seattle ultra-high-speed rail announcement due on Friday
A fast train to Seattle looks to be a step closer to reality. On the heels of the Washington state legislature voting to move forward on further study of high-speed rail in the region, the B.C. government has announced Premier John Horgan will be joined in Downtown Vancouver on Friday by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to make an announcement regarding ultra-high-speed corridor service connecting Vancouver with Seattle and Portland. The legislature voted Monday to approve the study, which will examine ridership, possible alignments and economic benefits of the alignment. Patrick Johnston reports. (Vancouver Sun)

Now, your weekend tug weather--
West Entrance U.S. Waters Strait Of Juan De Fuca-  248 AM PDT Fri Mar 16 2018  
 SE wind to 10 kt in the morning becoming light. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 10 seconds.
 W wind 5 to 15 kt becoming to 10 kt after midnight.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 10 seconds.
 SW wind to 10 kt becoming NW 5 to 15 kt in the afternoon.  Wind waves 2 ft or less. W swell 5 ft at 12 seconds. A slight  chance of showers in the afternoon.
 W wind to 10 kt in the evening becoming light. Wind  waves 1 ft or less. W swell 4 ft at 11 seconds.
 Light wind. Wind waves less than 1 ft. W swell 4 ft at  14 seconds.

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