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Messages - jmshelton

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That's so cool is got me to log on and post!

Consequences / Re: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD
« on: June 11, 2018, 07:57:01 PM »
I believe it's the other way around - jellyfish blooms are an indication of poor conditions.  Some of the write-ups I've read hypothesize that if the oceans get acidic enough, jellyfish blooms will be very common.

Consequences / Re: California weather extremes and climate
« on: April 05, 2018, 09:02:27 PM »
The California Department of Water Resources release a statement that they may use the main spillway at Oroville

"Forecasted storms expected in the Feather River basin this weekend may require using Lake Oroville’s flood control outlet spillway (also known as the main spillway) this week or next.

After last year’s spillway incident, the Department created the 2017/18 Lake Oroville Winter Operations Plan to ensure public safety in the event of major storm events. This plan triggers more aggressive outflow from Hyatt Powerplant and potential use of the main spillway should the reservoir’s elevation reach 830 feet during the month of April. The current forecasts show the potential for inflows to raise the reservoir to near the 830-foot trigger elevation by the middle of next week. Currently, the lake elevation is 794 feet.

In anticipation of the incoming weather, DWR is increasing outflows from Hyatt Powerplant. Outflows were increased from 9,500 cfs to 11,500 cfs at noon, and will be increased to 13,000 cfs at 1PM. Feather River flows are expected to increase as outflows increase. These numbers are approximations."

They are not expecting problems though.  Also, this is not their emergency spillway that is earthlined.  It is the one they had to repair the concrete lining.

Here in Central California, we're expecting an atmospheric river to hit Friday, with snow levels starting at 9,000ft.  We've had a dry year, though March was decent.  Our snow pact at mid-latitudes is really lacking, but at the highest Sierra Nevada locations, the snow is a better.

We had some record highs this last week, but not over the whole state.  We have run quite a bit warmer than usual at times, (great web and data tools for California at: and

Antarctica / Re: EAIS Contributions to SLR by 2100
« on: March 21, 2018, 07:59:13 PM »
Was looking for a little more on the Totten Glacier and found another article:

So, I'm sitting here in Central California enjoying our first real winter storm of the year!  Our day time temps a little below average, but just a few weeks ago we were at record highs.  This current storm may keep us from having a record low snow pack, which in many areas around here were set only a couple of years ago.

Consequences / Re: Near Term Human Extinction
« on: February 21, 2018, 06:51:37 PM »
Not to be too technical, but the idea of "extinction" is pretty strong.  I agree with the worries that a large human population contraction is a likely outcome of our messing with climate, but full extinction is not likely for a long time.  I do not wish the life of the remaining survivors on anyone, except those that didn't make it.  In other words, we shouldn't use extinction in a scientific sense if we want to be accurate, but the future will be very bleak for those humans trying to avoid it.

Consequences / Re: Wildfires
« on: January 12, 2018, 08:30:21 PM »
I know, it’s not all bad.  ;)
Yup, sounds like trivializing Global Warming ;) Pleading guilty.

Anyhow, one of my more radical plans to save the carbon cycle involves managed forest fires. Of eucalypt no less. Coppiced eucalypt, however, not the huge firebombs that ravaged Australia and Portugal.

I've been telling for almost a decade now that what is happening in California looks like a highway to desertification: Burn and flush, burn and flush, ... until all soil is gone and forests can no longer regrow.

But I'm not so sure about this theory. Any observations?

California has a very rich diversity of habitats.  In the Thomas fire area, much of that is chaparral that has burned on a pretty regular basis.  The soils are not usually very high in organic matter, except in the lower parts of the canyon where a more mesic micro-habitat can develop.  Big/hot catastrophic fires can change the landscape in this area, but over time, the chaparral has a pretty good chance of re-establishing.  The more mesic canyons, with some riparian vegetation, usually don't lose as much vegetation in the fires, nor lose all their organic content in the soils.  The fires don't usually burn down hill as hot as the do up-hill,  but this is a great simplification.  in any case, those canyons can also recover, even if there are some pretty good debris flow floods.  The debris flows are messy, and leave quite a bit of organic material along the channel, so the ability to recover is still there, albeit from the bottom up.

I spend a lot of time in the Sierras, and in the chaparral belt I expect over time, some of this to turn into blue oak-woodland due to climate change... But the big worry is that the yellow pine forest and black oak woodland (above the chaparral), with a decent organic content soils, will have much of its lower areas turn into chaparral, and lose its organic soils.  The community above is red fir, and those soils are low in organic material, so the ability of black oaks to move up maybe limited - low water retention and low nutrients.  If this is the scenario that climate change causes, then a loss of soil carbon in the Sierras would be positive feedback. 

Fire looks to be the tipping point, with a plant community hanging on until a fire comes through.  If we have a hot fire, the soils lose much of their organic matter, seed base, and seed donors. At that point, a new community type, if it is more in attuned to climate conditions, will be generated.  Established communities can hang on in adverse climate conditions, at least for a while.

My two cents - from a systems ecologist that is making a SWAG!

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