NCEAS News and Announcements

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December 8, 2016

The SNAPP Amazon Waters Working Group has produced a geographic information system (GIS) “roadmap” to help guide conservation efforts in the Amazon River basin, a region roughly the size of the United States. Rivers, lakes, flooded forests, and wetlands cover 14 percent of the basin, making them the greatest freshwater system in the world. The roadmap applies spatial analysis tools to a new hydrological and river basin classification that together provide a dynamic way to map natural resources and possible infrastructure impacts on them at various scalable levels in the Amazon. More>


December 7, 2016

The Ocean Health Index (OHI) today announced its 5th annual global ocean health assessment score, 71 out of a possible 100. While the 2016 global score remains the same as the past three years, results across individual elements and regions have shifted. With five years of global assessments, the OHI scientists at NCEAS and Conservation International have begun to identify potential trends in ocean health. In the last year, the team has also launched, which provides tools and instruction to any academic or government group interested in conducting their own, more localized OHI+ assessment. More>


December 2, 2016

The world has committed to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the next 15 years. Success will require strengthening the link between protecting ecosystems and biodiversity with achieving the SDGs for ending poverty and increasing equality and justice. At the IUCN World Conservation Congress 8,000 conservationists from over 180 countries gathered to discuss the theme “Planet at the Crossroads.” Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP) leaders, along with other experts around the world, contributed to this narrative by sharing their experiences and speaking about the role conservation can play in achieving many of the SDGs. Craig Groves (SNAPP) and LeeAnne French (NCEAS/SNAPP) highlighted the importance of creating partnerships and employing nature-based solutions to address critical global problems and turn the SDGs into reality. More>


December 1, 2016

The Arctic Data Center, a long-term repository that allows for the preservation and sharing of data spanning many disciplines from the Arctic, has become DataONE's 36th Member Node. By joining the DataONE federation, Arctic Data Center content is now more widely exposed and allows for great preservation options, taking advantage of DataONE’s replication policies to ensure preservation and access to Arctic Data Center content for decades to come. The Arctic Data Center is one of the largest Member Nodes so far, bringing over 500,000 data objects to the DataONE federation and bringing the total count of publicly readable data objects to over 900,000. More>


November 29, 2016

To better understand and respond to the pressures on Alaska’s salmon and salmon communities, the State of Alaska’s Salmon and People (SASAP) program has selected five new cross-cutting synthesis working groups from the Round 2 Call for Proposals. Led by NCEAS and Nautilus Impact Investing, SASAP’s mission is to create an equitable decision-making platform for all stakeholders by addressing the information gaps in Alaska’s salmon system through information synthesis, collaboration and stakeholder engagement. More>


November 17, 2016

Open Science for Synthesis (OSS 2014) was a bi-coastal data science training program hosted by NCEAS in partnership with University of North Carolina’s Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI). During the training, one of the small synthesis breakout groups used the software and data skills they acquired during the training to examine the issue of California drought as it relates to ecosystem resistance. In a recent journal article in Ecosphere, eight OSS participants use predictions of water-use efficiency based on satellite data to make determinations about drought resistance across varying types of ecosystems. Matt Jones, NCEAS Director of Research and Development, is spearheading the next collaborative data science seminar for summer 2017. More>


November 14, 2016

How are the underwater rainforests of the world faring in the face of global change? The NCEAS Global Impacts of Climate Change on Kelp Forest Ecosystems Working Group sought to answer this question by collecting and analyzing kelp forest data sets from around the world and spanning the past half-century to determine long term trends of kelp populations. The working group results identified that kelp in 38% of the regions analyzed are in decline but in other regions, kelp has increased (27%) or shown no detectable change (35%). More>


November 7, 2016

In 2014, the amount of fish consumed from aquaculture surpassed fish consumed from wild capture fisheries for the first time in history. This paradigm shift in global fish consumption has sparked increased dialog regarding the merits and repercussions of “ocean farming,” or mariculture, around the world. In a head-to-head style article for The Marine Biologist magazine, NCEAS Director Ben Halpern and postdoctoral researcher Halley Froehlich argue in favor of the case for offshore aquaculture, citing its efficiency and conservation potential. More>


October 28, 2016

Quickly and easily processed images are important vehicles for the dissemination of information. Even as images help an audience absorb and retain information, they can also influence the way that audience interprets the information – sometimes in unintended ways. In a recent study in The International Journal of Communication, NCEAS Fellow and co-author Stacy Rebich-Hespanha examines the importance of evaluating visual frames in the context of designing a climate change campaign. More>


October 25, 2016

Over the course of a decade, Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, and most recently, Matthew illustrated the incredibly destructive power of storm surge and floods even against extensive defensive infrastructure. In collaboration with insurers, engineers and conservationists, SNAPP Coastal Defenses Working Group has now released a pioneering study, Coastal Wetlands and Flood Damage Reduction, that quantifies how much protection natural coastal habitats provide during hurricanes. The study found that, where wetlands remain, they reduced the average damage from Hurricane Sandy by more than 10%: in total, Northeastern coastal wetlands prevented US$625 million in property damages. More>


October 13, 2016

In 2001-2002, warm weather and strong winds descended on Antarctica, producing a single season of unusual and intense melting. For researchers at the two Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites on the continent, the anomaly provided a natural experiment in how these ecosystems will respond to climate change. Today, the LTER Network Communications Office (NCO), operated by NCEAS, announced the publication of four papers in a special section of October’s BioScience, all of which address the ecosystem responses observed at the sites in the months – and years – since that warm season. The long-term data collected at Palmer and McMurdo LTERs have enabled scientists to track the cascading effects of climate variability through both marine and terrestrial Antarctic ecosystems. More>


October 12, 2016

Climate change is likely to alter the hydrological processes of the Amazon River basin, according to the authors of a recently published study by the SNAPP Amazon Waters Working Group in the journal Climatic Change. The study predicts that future trends could result in wetter conditions in the western Amazon and drier ones in the east. More>


September 29, 2016

Decision makers increasingly turn to ecosystem services (ES) decision frameworks to identify which environmental management solutions will produce “win-win” solutions. Most of these assessments, however, have ignored uncertainty. In Conservation Letters, Ben Halpern, NCEAS Director, and his coauthors argue that the reality of uncertainty and imperfect information–and the ways people respond to these risks–must be incorporated into models in order to produce real-world scenarios. More>


September 28, 2016

NCEAS is launching an innovative “Data Task Force” approach to support synthesis research with a new a $2.1 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. In contrast to mining Big Data, synthesis research recognizes the value of small, information rich datasets generated by scientists all over the world. However, collecting, combining, and “wrangling” these many discrete data sets for synthesis presents a daunting challenge. The first Data Task Force will support data collection and management for the newly launched State of Alaskan Salmon and People (SASAP) synthesis project, and in the process, will assess the efficacy of this approach for synthesis research in general. More>


September 27, 2016

A recent article in the Journal of Applied Ecology acknowledges the widening gap between ecological theory and conservation choices in the field. Based on the most recent work in ecology focusing on the functional roles of organisms, NCEAS Postdoctoral Associate Colette Ward and her coauthors suggest that using ecological networks as the basis for conservation targets would improve outcomes –most importantly, preservation of ecosystem integrity. Ecological networks examine the interactions between species and how these interactions impact the overall health of the ecosystem. More>


September 1, 2016

The A.G. Huntsman Foundation today announced that NCEAS Director, Ben Halpern, will receive the the 2016 A.G. Huntsman Award, presented by the Royal Society of Canada. The annual Huntsman award recognizes excellence in research and outstanding contributions to marine sciences by men and women of any nationality. The Foundation lauded Halpern’s work on marine protected areas as having “transformed our understanding of where, why, and how protected areas affect marine species and systems." More>


August 29, 2016

People and goods now move regularly across borders and over oceans. Unfortunately, globalization has also expedited the transfer of plants and animals into new ecosystems where they act as invasive alien species (IAS). These foreign creatures not only wreak havoc on biodiversity, they also threaten individual livelihoods, national economies, and human health. In Nature Communications, the NCEAS Climate Change & Invasive Species Working Group projects that areas with high poverty, high biodiversity, and low historical levels of invasion will be hardest hit by IAS impacts over the next century. More>


August 24, 2016

Twenty years and a host of advancements in DNA sequencing and genetic engineering have moved de-extinction from the fantasy realm of Jurassic Park towards an increasingly feasible conservation tool that could be used to fill functional holes in ecosystems. A new paper in Functional Ecology co-authored by NCEAS director Ben Halpern questions whether de-extinction science will be able to successfully resurrect the ecological functions of extinct species. More>


August 17, 2016

Researchers at the Ocean Health Index distill massive amounts of data into scores evaluating marine health for 220 countries and territorial jurisdictions -- and ultimately, for the globe as a whole. These scores, also called environmental indicators, help scientists clearly and simply communicate information about issues like overfishing and water quality to broad audiences. This simplicity, however, comes at a cost: indicators do not reflect uncertainty. In a recent PLOS ONE paper, NCEAS’ Ocean Health Index team evaluated potential influence of missing data on the uncertainty around the scores from the latest global ocean health assessment. Only 18.5% of the overall global Ocean Health Index score was based on gapfilled data, whereas gapfilling was much more common for territories and smaller regions. More>


August 15, 2016

With over 300 million acres of conservation areas, the U.S. has successfully conserved huge swaths of natural spaces. In the face of rapid biodiversity loss, decline of ecosystem processes function, climate change, and changes in land and water use however, these efforts are simply inadequate. Ultimately, the United States is in need of a comprehensive vision and conservation strategy. Recently published in Bioscience, Jocelyn Aycrigg (University of Idaho), Craig Groves (TNC) and a team of researchers assessed the viability of a creating a national habitat conservation system that is as coordinated, efficient and synergistic as possible. Craig, executive director of the SNAPP program, sees this initiative as the key to meeting the challenges of conserving habitats and biodiversity in the United States.




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