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When Permafrost Melts, What Happens to All That Stored Carbon?
December 6, 2016 08:55 AM - Stacy Morford via The Earth Institute at Columbia University

The Arctic’s frozen ground contains large stores of organic carbon that have been locked in the permafrost for thousands of years. As global temperatures rise, that permafrost is starting to melt, raising concerns about the impact on the climate as organic carbon becomes exposed. A new study is shedding light on what that could mean for the future by providing the first direct physical evidence of a massive release of carbon from permafrost during a warming spike at the end of the last ice age.

The study, published this week in the journal Nature Communications, documents how Siberian soil once locked in permafrost was carried into the Arctic Ocean during that period at a rate about seven times higher than today.

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Biodiversity needs citizen scientists
November 3, 2016 07:49 PM - Linda See, IIASA

Could birdwatching or monitoring tree blossoms in your community make a difference in global environmental research? A new study says yes: citizen scientists have a vital role to play.

Citizen scientists are already providing large amounts of data for monitoring biodiversity, but they could do much more, according to a new study published in the journal Biological Conservation, which suggests that citizen science has the potential to contribute much more to regional and global assessments of biodiversity. Citizen scientists are regular people who provide data or input to science, for example by monitoring species in their community or examining satellite imagery for evidence of deforestation or land use change. 

“Citizen scientists are already contributing enormously to environmental science,” says IIASA researcher Linda See. “For example, a huge amount of species occurrence data is provided by members of the interested public. The question we addressed was, where are citizens contributing and where are they not, and how can we draw on this phenomenon to help fill the gaps in science?”

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SPOTLIGHT

Thanksgiving Dinner's Carbon Footprint: A State-by-State Comparison

Carnegie Mellon University

The environmental impact of your Thanksgiving dinner depends on where the meal is prepared.

Carnegie Mellon University researchers calculated the carbon footprint of a typical Thanksgiving feast – roasted turkey stuffed with sausage and apples, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie – for each state. The team based their calculations on the way the meal is cooked (gas versus electric range), the specific state’s predominant power source and how the food is produced in each area.

They found that dinners cooked in Maine and Vermont, states that rely mostly on renewable energy, emit the lowest amounts of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that is tied to climate change. States that use coal power, such as Wyoming, West Virginia and Kentucky, have the highest carbon dioxide emissions.

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