Thursday, February 16, 2017

Heavy Winter precipitation in the Western United States is apparently meaningless

Is the California drought finally over ??? Incessant rainfall and snowfall leads to terrific flooding in the Golden State as thousands of homes are evacuated 
Image from The Daily Mail
But officials also warned that though the rain has eased conditions, the drought isn't completely over

The average person falls for the big Media bluff that all is well when weather conditions take an apparent turn about from the long hard drought. Especially when it's an extreme turn of events like the massive snowfalls and rain flooding events presently hitting California and other western regions. In the back of people's minds they are telling themselves things are back to the good ol'days. But now after Californian's have been praying for rain for five years, now they are praying for a break in the rainfall. Perhaps they may believe what the UC Merced Hydrologist Roger C. Bales theorized was correct after all. Get rid of all those greedy water sucking trees and streamflows will rise. Less trees gulping water means fuller streams. Not so fast. Most of that so-called science about removal and thinning of Sierra Nevada Forest trees was more of a public relations stunt funded and backed by the giant Timber Industry and down stream Industrial Agriculture business interests which has a love affair with massive flood irrigation methodology. The imaginary myth was theorized that less forest trees gulping down water would translate more water in streams and rivers filling up reservoirs. While I looked for research on any type of documentation of millions of dead trees actually proving this reverse phenomena to be true a couple years ago, I hadn't found any until now. Apparently the research had been there a little over a year ago, but got very little success in attracting Media attention. Not as sexy as Roger Bales and Michael Goulden's theories I guess.
Recent tree die-offs have had little effect on streamflow in contrast to expected increases from hydrological studies
Images from

Clockwise from top left the photos are Spain, Colorado, New Mexico and Argentina.

We've all read the stories and seen all the horrific  photographs of what Mountain pine beetles have done to the western forests over the past decade due to hotter temperatures and drier summers. These bark beetles have infested and killed  thousands of acres of not only western pine forests, but other forests around the globe are now also in trouble as well. Researchers like Roger C. Bales (UC Merced) and Michael L. Merced (UC Irvine) have previously predicted that as trees died or were mechanically removed by logging and thinning, streamflows would increase because fewer trees would be greedily gulping up water through their roots and transpiring it up into the atmosphere. In the imaginations of the Hydrology boys, less trees equate more water runoff for agriculture down in California's Central & San Joaquin Valleys. Back in December 2015, a study by  the University of Utah geology and geophysics professor Paul Brooks and his colleagues in Arizona, Colorado and Idaho, found that if too many trees die, then compensatory processes would kick in and might actually reduce water availability. This is the exact opposite of what Bales and Goulden speculated would happen. But what Brooks and others discovered is that when large areas of trees dieoff, the forest floor becomes sunnier, warmer and windier, which causes winter snow and summer rain to evaporate rather than slowly recharging groundwater. In fact in describing what happens with the snow which usually melts and slowly percolates into the ground, what actually happened was a phenomena called "sublimation." This process of sublimation is where snow and ice change into water vapor in the air without first melting into water. The opposite of sublimation would be "deposition", where water vapor changes directly into ice (such a snowflakes and frost). So what happens with much of that heavy snow we've seen in recent photos does not all melt and infiltrate into the subsoil layers, but rather a good percentage of the snow evaporates up into the drier warmer atmosphere. What is interesting is that the regions studied were much of the high elevation headwaters areas for the Colorado River which fill down stream reservoirs like Lake Powell and Lake Mead which have been experiencing rapidly falling water levels. This effects water potential for Arizona and Southern California.
"Recent bark beetle epidemics have caused regional-scale tree mortality in many snowmelt-dominated headwater catchments of western North America. Initial expectations of increased streamflow have not been supported by observations, and the basin-scale response of annual streamflow is largely unknown. Here we quantified annual streamflow responses during the decade following tree die-off in eight infested catchments in the Colorado River headwaters and one nearby control catchment. We employed three alternative empirical methods: (i) double-mass comparison between impacted and control catchments, (ii) runoff ratio comparison before and after die-off, and (iii) time-trend analysis using climate-driven linear models. In contrast to streamflow increases predicted by historical paired catchment studies and recent modeling, we did not detect streamflow changes in most basins following die-off, while one basin consistently showed decreased streamflow. The three analysis methods produced generally consistent results, with time-trend analysis showing precipitation was the strongest predictor of streamflow variability (R2 = 74–96%). Time-trend analysis revealed post-die-off streamflow decreased in three catchments by 11–29%, with no change in the other five catchments. Although counter to initial expectations, these results are consistent with increased transpiration by surviving vegetation and the growing body of literature documenting increased snow sublimation and evaporation from the subcanopy following die-off in water-limited, snow-dominated forests. The observations presented here challenge the widespread expectation that streamflow will increase following beetle-induced forest die-off and highlight the need to better understand the processes driving hydrologic response to forest disturbance."
Tree mortality is increasing worldwide which also includes Canada
Image - Natural Resources Canada
Tree mortality is increasing worldwide including Canada
"Tree mortality will likely increase in areas where extreme weather events become more frequent. Climate change projections indicate that in some parts of Canada, droughts and other extreme events are expected to become more frequent in the future. These changes could trigger increases in tree mortality and episodes of forest decline in affected areas, posing challenges for forest management and the long-term supply of forest resources and services, including carbon balance."
So just how well are all these forests regenerating on their own without mankind's help and interference ??? Despite Environmental Activist insistence that this is the only way Nature can heal, in almost all cases the natural world is failing!
Image - University of Colorado Boulder

Researcher Monica Rother at the site of the 2000 Walker Ranch fire in Boulder County.
Eighty percent of plots surveyed there contained no new trees.
The studies and observations by the researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder exposes the bleak reality. It makes sense though. Trees under extremely high stress from drought, pine beetle attacks and catastrophic wildfire events will dump most of what's left of their energy resources into defensesive strategies (Survival) and very little towards offensive strategies (seed production). Here are a few excerpts from the report:
“It is alarming, but we were not surprised by the results given what you see when you hike through these areas,” said Rother, who earned her doctorate from CU Boulder in 2015 and works as a fire ecologist at Tall Timbers Research Station in Tallahassee, Florida. 
Among the most barren sites were those of the 2000 Walker Ranch fire in Boulder County and the 2000 Bobcat Gulch fire in Larimer County, where approximately 80 percent of plots surveyed contained no new young trees.  
“This should be a wake-up call, that under the warming trends associated with human-caused climate change, significant shifts in forest extent and vegetation types are already occurring,” said Veblen. “We are seeing the initiation of a retreat of forests to higher elevations.”  
Previous research has suggested that hotter, more severe fires make it harder for the forest to bounce back by killing mature trees and reducing seed stock. But the study found that even after lower-intensity fires, presumed to have had less effect on mature trees and seed stock, seedlings were still scarce. Hotter, drier areas at lower elevations or on south-facing slopes had the fewest seedlings.  
“Fire severity is definitely relevant, but climate appeared to play the greatest role,” in limiting forest recovery, said Rother.  
“I don’t want to present this as being entirely negative,” said Veblen. “For me, the negative aspect is what it indicates about the future.”
So the main thrust of the message from this report is that it now seems that Nature is no longer able to restore itself in many areas. Humans have done so much extensive damage that it is also necessary for them to actually intervene and mechanical help Nature. The protesting and politically motivated wilderness designation or Nation Park status will never work. Unfortunately most people (& this includes Scientists) do not have the full understanding of how the natural world functions and operates. Much of our understanding and progress has been held back and stuck in neutral because of of silly ideologically driven worldview as mandated by this world's Scientific Orthodoxy which controls the prevailing scientific thought which has infected all Academia. Way too much time and energy has been spent by Academia and environmental organizations on religious concepts such as (Argument from Poor Design) to battle against what they call religious fundies. The argument basically trashes numerous components of our planet's natural world as being flawed, imperfect and badly designed. The argument then promotes the lame idea that this is proof there is no creator because an intelligent designer would never have created or engineered things in such & such a way. Hence, instead of creating technological innovations which apply biomimicry or biomimetics (replicating natural designs when it comes to technological innovation by observing designs found in Nature), our world's intellectuals have instead pursued innovation based on flawed human reasoning and understanding. This is what has brought us much of the genetic engineering in agriculture and a plethora of dangerous toxic synthetic chemicals to deal with the imbalance in pest invasion that humans ultimately caused in the first place. Nature have never worked that way and nature has kept balance for countless 1000s of years without human interference. Suddenly now there are some Biomimicry organizations who are on board with replicating natural designs, but they have to first undo deprogram all the people who have been fed the prevailing secular koolaid and then re-educate people as to how nature really works. This is not so much a slam against the worldview obsessed as it is a wake up or shake up call for people everywhere, irrespective of your belief system, that nature no matter how one believes if origined, has never been flawed, imperfect or badly designed. This is where flawed thinking brought California the inept theory of tree removal bringing us more water. Do you see how this has now backfired ??? Here is another example of how Forest ecosystem failure and collapse needs human intervention from India:
In order to restore tropical rainforests, it is not enough to simply set up protected areas and leave them to their own devices. In particular, tree species with large fruit and seeds distributed by birds will have to be actively planted. This is one of the conclusions of a large-scale study by scientists from ETH Zurich in the Western Ghats, the mountain range running along the western coast of India. 
“For rainforest restoration projects to be successful, you have to give special attention to these trees,” says Kettle. “If you want to encourage them to spread, the only option is to collect their seeds, set up tree nurseries and then actively plant out the saplings at a later stage.”

Nature is becoming less resilient and no longer able to sustain itself as it has done for countless 1000s of years. One disappointing thing about the study of dead trees not increasing stream flows was the silence on the phenomena known as "hydrological descent" in which living trees (also shrubs), even when dormant, which pump excess surface water during the rainy season down into deeper layers of the subsoil layers helping to recharge the water table aquafirs. That should have been included in this study and it wasn't. Can you imagine what low percentage of this California rainy season's (2016-2017) precipitation has actually percolated into the California landscape and how much has blown out back into the Pacific Ocean through massive flooding runoff ? After years of drought a lot of bare ground will almost fossilize to where the soils pores will close up tightly and the phenomena of capiliraary action needs time to heal properly. The state of California has no infrastructure in place to funnel massive amounts of this excess freshwater back towards the interior desert riparian habitats. Think of aquatic environments like Mono Lake, Owens Lake and further south the Salton Sea which already has a major ecological water problem. Or how about any of the other maze of dry lake beds throughout the Mojave Desert. Could such filling of these large natural basins have a moderating effect on the state's regional, if not statewide climate and weather ? Not to mention benefits to wildlife ? According to all of the above studies we just briefly touched on, humans are going to have to actually intervene now and make the necessary corrections. Instead of dumping money and manpower into ineffective angry protest and destructive civil disobedience, people need to go beyomd clicking "LIKE" on a Facebook page article about environment and physically get out doors and start restoring ecosystems based on natural design which was never ever flawed. However, how well historically has that been working out for us ??? 
Can collective groups among mankind  really work together to reverse these trends we've just read about ???

We all know how well it turned out for Humpty Dumpty. All the King's horses and all the King's men were unqualified and ill equipped to fix anything back together again. Governments, Business Leaders, Scientists & Religious leaders likewise do not have the answers nor the management skills we need for a real world viable solution either. The common people around the world are taking to the streets in a last desperate resort in protest and they too are likewise ill equipped to put anything back together again. The people protesting are often not exactly sure of what they are protesting about when interviewed by some in the media. It doesn't matter what they are protesting, or what message is on their signs because they are usually are nothing more than hollow slogans. And this is taking place most everywhere globally. Fixing and correcting things takes real cooperation and working peacefully together. That's not how this world we're all forced to live in works presently. Even today's angry environmental movements seem to have no answers other than protesting something or someone they hate. They never really offer any viable alternatives other than kicking other people off a piece of some sacred real estate and saying, "Nature will just find a way" to heal itself. In the studies above that will not happen. Each and every day, Salman Rushdie's word in that CNN interview ring true:

"Classically, we have defined ourselves by the things we love. By the place which is our home, by our family, by our friends. But in this age we're asked to define ourselves by hate. That what defines you is what pisses you off. And if nothing pisses you off, who are you?" 
Salman Rushdie
There really are some decent organizations out there that actually go beyond hate motivated protesting. They also demonstrate how energy is better spent educating the public in following natural design and in participating in hands on habitat restoration work. One of the main organizations that comes to my mind is the group, (Back to Natives Restoration) who actually provide a valuable service to local urban communities and in education work to the public. Same can be said for other native plant nurseries like (Las Pilitas Native Plant Nursery) and (Tree of Life Native Plant Nursery) who offer not only healthy viable native plants, but also extensive educational programs to help enlighten their customers and general public as to how nature really works and replicating installation and care with less water and no industrially manufactured science-based synthetic (fertilizers & pesticides) chemicals. All these organizations are strictly founded and identify themselves based on something they truly love, not something they hate or what pisses them off.
In Conclussion
At the very least we know where things really stand concerning our Earth's environment when the media attempts to paint a rosy picture of things not being all that bad as we first thought. It's worse folks. We also now know for a certainty that all those Politically motivated and Industrial Business interest funded hydrological studies conducted at several California Universities were dead wrong from the start. In fact their flawed schemes were never close to the truth, but many of us already knew that.


  1. Replies
    1. Yeah, but it's amazing how finally some scientists are pointing this out. I'm hearing more and more the expression, "Point of no return."


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