Current Acres News and Events

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Corn belt farmland has lost a third of its carbon-rich soil
More than one-third of the Corn Belt in the Midwest - nearly 100 million acres - has completely lost its carbon-rich topsoil, according to University of Massachusetts Amherst research that indicates the U.S. Department of Agricultural has significantly underestimated the true magnitude of farmland erosion. (2021-02-15)

Community helps scientists evaluate smoke forecasts
Across the Wasatch Front, both researchers and community members maintain enough air quality sensors to provide a high-resolution picture of how the smoke moved through the valley--perfect for testing and refining smoke forecast models. (2020-11-17)

Researchers quantify carbon changes in Sierra Nevada meadow soils
Meadows in the Sierra Nevada mountains are critical components of watersheds. In addition to supplying water to over 25 million people in California and Nevada, meadows contain large quantities of carbon belowground. While it has been known for some time that meadows have large quantities of soil carbon, whether meadow soils are gaining or losing carbon has remained unclear. (2020-11-16)

Thinning and prescribed fire treatments reduce tree mortality
Frequent fire once kept forests of California and throughout the western US relatively open but with a diversity of habitats preferred by a wide array of plant and animal species. After over a century of fire suppression, many such forests are now considerably denser, more homogeneous, and prone to disturbances such as stand-replacing wildfire and drought. (2020-10-14)

California's August Complex largest fire in state's history
NOAA/NASA's Suomi NPP satellite captured another startling image of the August Complex of fires that has grown to over 1,000,000 acres burned (1,006,140 acres total) and because of that grim milestone the complex has been dubbed a ''gigafire.'' The August Complex is only 58% contained. (2020-10-06)

Winds of change move western smoke into the Pacific
NOAA/NASA's Suomi NPP satellite captured these series of images (made into an animated GIF) showing the winds changing direction on Sep. 06, 2020 when choking clouds of brown smoke began to billow and cascade into the Pacific Ocean. (Dates displayed in lower left hand corner.) By Sep. 10, the smoke cloud had traveled over 1,300 miles. (2020-09-11)

NASA's Terra highlights aerosols from western fires in danger zone
The year 2020 will be remembered for being a very trying year and western wildfires have just added to the year's woes. (2020-09-10)

Land development in New Jersey continues to slow
Land development in New Jersey has slowed dramatically since the 2008 Great Recession, but it's unclear how the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to fight societal and housing inequality will affect future trends, according to a Rutgers co-authored report. (2020-09-09)

NASA's Terra Satellite reveals burn scars from California's two largest fires
On Aug. 26, 2020, NASA's Terra satellite was able to image the two areas in California where the fires have been most active and using the false color reflectance bands on the MODIS (Moderate Resolution Infrared Spectroradiometer) instrument aboard. Using these bands, the burned areas or fire-affected areas are characterized by deposits of charcoal and ash, removal of vegetation and/or the alteration of vegetation structure. (2020-08-27)

NASA's Terra Satellite shows smoky pall over most of California
More than 650 wildfires are blazing in California after unprecedented lightning strikes, storms, and a heatwave that has set new records in the state and NASA's Terra satellite captured the smoke-engulfed state on Aug. 24, 2020. (2020-08-24)

NASA's Suomi NPP satellite highlights California wildfires at night
Striking images of the California wildfires are seen in these nighttime satellite images taken by the NOAA-NASA Suomi NPP satellite on Aug. 20, 2020. At approximately 3:01 am PDT, NOAA-NASA's Suomi NPP was almost directly overhead and imaged the regionusing different bands on its VIIRS (Visible infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) instrument. (2020-08-21)

NASA's Aqua Satellite shows extent of Apple Fire's burn scar
On Aug. 9, 2020 NASA's Aqua satellite imaged the Apple Fire near Big Bear Lake in California using its false-color bands in order to be able to distinguish burn scars from the surrounding area more easily. (2020-08-10)

NASA satellites show two views of California's Apple Fire
NASA's satellites were working overtime as they snapped pictures of the large Apple Fire in Banning Canyon near San Bernardino, California on Aug. 02, 2020. This fire began on July 31, 2020 and the cause of the fire is still under investigation. To date the fire has consumed 20,516 acres and is 5% contained. (2020-08-03)

UMD researcher highlights trends in consolidation of US agriculture with 35 years of data
In a new paper published in Applied Economics Perspectives and Policies, University of Maryland researcher Jim MacDonald presents a detailed history of the consolidation of agriculture in the US based on 35 years of data, with implications for all sectors of agriculture moving forward. Data show a steady shift to fewer and larger farming operations across crops, dairy, and livestock. (2020-07-23)

Small-farm tech reduces deforestation, climate change
Small farms in Zambia that use the latest hybrid seed for maize, help reduce deforestation and tackle climate change in a new Cornell University study. (2020-07-23)

As wildfires flare up across West, research highlights risk of ecological change
Following high-severity fire, scientists have found forest recovery may increasingly be compromised by lack of tree seed sources, warmer and drier post-fire climate and more frequent reburning. (2020-06-30)

Adirondack boreal peatlands near southern range limit likely threatened by warmer climate
A study published in the journal Wetlands documents an invasion happening in the Adirondacks: the black spruce, tamarack, and other boreal species are being overcome by trees normally found in warmer, more temperate forests. Ultimately, researchers from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) predict that these invaders could overtake a variety of northern species, eliminating trees that have long been characteristic of wetlands like Shingle Shanty Preserve in the Adirondacks. (2020-06-24)

NOAA/NASA's Suomi NPP satellite captures 63 mile smoke trail from bush fire
NOAA/NASA's Suomi NPP satellite captured this image of the Bush Fire on June 22, 2020 showing clouds of smoke pouring off the Bush Fire that is plaguing Arizona. (2020-06-23)

An essential sustainable farming practice faces one big limitation: Land to produce seeds
The growth in cover cropping in the United States may soon hit a ceiling: planting millions of acres of cover crops requires huge extensions of land to produce cover crop seed. Between 3 and 6 percent of the 92 million acres of cropping land currently used for corn (maize) in the U.S. may be required to produce cover crop seed for that land area. (2020-06-11)

Bedrock type under forests greatly affects tree growth, species, carbon storage
A forest's ability to store carbon depends significantly on the bedrock beneath, according to Penn State researchers who studied forest productivity, composition and associated physical characteristics of rocks in the Appalachian ridge and Valley Region of Pennsylvania. (2020-06-10)

Pine martens like to have neighbors -- but not too near
Pine martens need neighbors but like to keep their distance, according to new research. (2020-05-15)

Expansion, environmental impacts of irrigation by 2050 greatly underestimated
New research suggests that the amount of farmland that will need to be irrigated to feed the global population by 2050 could be up to several billion acres, far higher than scientists currently project. The result would be a far greater strain on aquifers, an increased expansion of agriculture into natural ecosystems, and an amplification of climate change through the production and operation of irrigation machinery. (2020-05-04)

How atrazine regulations have influenced the environment
Opposing chemical trends linked to atrazine regulations from 1990s. (2020-04-22)

Vermont has conserved one third of the land needed for an ecologically functional future
In a new study, forest conservation experts at the University of Vermont (UVM) confirmed that the state has already protected 33%, or 1.3 million acres, of highest priority targeted lands needed to protect and connect valuable wildlife habitats and corridors. (2020-04-01)

National monuments help more than hurt local economies in US West
National monuments in the US West increase the average number of establishments and jobs near the monument and increase the average establishment growth rate, according to a new study by Margaret Walls and colleagues. At the same time, monument designation has no effect on the number of jobs that existed before the monument, and has no effect on mining, forestry and other traditional industries that use public lands. (2020-03-18)

Pesticide seed coatings are widespread but underreported
Seed-coated pesticides -- such as neonicotinoids, many of which are highly toxic to both pest and beneficial insects -- are increasingly used in the major field crops, but are underreported, in part, because farmers often do not know what pesticides are on their seeds, according to an international team of researchers. The lack of data may complicate efforts to evaluate the value of different pest management strategies, while also protecting human health and the environment. (2020-03-17)

Thinning, prescribed burns protected forests during the massive Carlton Complex wildfire
In the first major study following the devastating 2014 Carlton Complex fire in north central Washington, researchers from the University of Washington and US Forest Service found that previous tree thinning and prescribed burns helped forests survive the fire. (2020-02-27)

Forests bouncing back from beetles, but elk and deer slowing recovery
New research from University of Colorado Boulder reveals that even simultaneous bark beetle outbreaks are not a death sentence to the state's beloved forests. The study, published this month in the journal Ecology, found that high-elevation forests in the southern Rocky Mountains actually have a good chance of recovery, even after overlapping outbreaks with different kinds of beetles. One thing that is slowing their recovery down: Foraging elk and deer. (2020-02-13)

Setting fires to avoid fires
Despite having proven effective at reducing wildfire risks, prescribed burns have been stymied by perceived and real risks, regulations and resource shortages. A new analysis highlights ways of overcoming those barriers, offering solutions for wildfire-ravaged landscapes. (2020-01-20)

Research will help land managers take risk-analysis approach to new wildfire reality
New digital tools will enable land managers to better adapt to the new reality of large wildfires through analytics that guide planning and suppression across jurisdictional boundaries that fires typically don't adhere to. (2020-01-08)

2017 San Diego wildfire increased pediatric ER visits for breathing problems
A small wildfire in San Diego County in 2017 resulted in a big uptick in children visiting the emergency room for breathing problems. (2020-01-06)

Craft-beer boom linked to record-number of US states growing hops
Craft breweries aren't just a fun place to meet up with friends. They may be fueling an unprecedented geographic expansion of hop production across the US, according to researchers at Penn State and The University of Toledo. (2020-01-02)

Reducing wildfire risks for better management and resource allocation
Managing future wildfire risk requires an interface between human decision processes and knowledge about climate trends related to fire, as well as humans' abilities to anticipate wildfire potential and mitigation approaches are critical. Several presentations at the 2019 Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting will explore analyses of past fire seasons, projections for the future and approaches for decision making aimed at mitigating risk. (2019-12-10)

Reduced soil tilling helps both soils and yields
By monitoring crops through machine learning and satellite data, Stanford scientists have found farms that till the soil less can increase yields of corn and soybeans and improve the health of the soil -- a win-win for meeting growing food needs worldwide. (2019-12-06)

Implementing no-till and cover crops in Texas cotton systems
Healthy soil leads to productive and sustainable agriculture. Farmers who work with, not against, the soil can improve the resiliency of their land. Because of this, practices such as no-till and cover crops and topics such as regenerative agriculture and soil biology have become increasingly important in the agricultural conversation. (2019-11-18)

2018 Health of Houston Survey sheds light on residents
A snapshot of health conditions revealing the disparities across 38 neighborhood areas in Harris County has been published in the 2018 Health of Houston Survey by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health. (2019-09-23)

New wildfire models to predict how wildfires will burn in next 20 minutes
While it's impossible to predict just where the next wildfire will start, new Department of Defense-sponsored research from BYU's Fire Research Lab is getting into the microscopic details of how fires initiate to provide more insight into how wildfires burn through wildland fuels. 'We're aiming towards giving answers on how a fire might propagate in the next 20 minutes instead of the next two weeks,' said fire expert Thomas H. Fletcher, BYU professor of chemical engineering. (2019-09-06)

Native approaches to fire management
In collaboration with tribes in Northern California, researchers examined traditional fire management practices and found that these approaches, if expanded, could strengthen cultures and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in Northern California. (2019-08-26)

New mapping reveals lost west coast estuary habitat
An unprecedented survey has revealed the loss of about 85 percent of historical tidal wetlands in California, Oregon, and Washington. The report, published today in PLOS ONE, also highlights forgotten estuary acreage that might now be targeted for restoration. (2019-08-14)

Study bolsters case that climate change is driving many California wildfires
A new study combs through the many factors that can promote wildfire in California, and concludes that in many, though not all, cases, warming climate is the decisive driver. (2019-07-15)

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