Climate

Rainforest greener during 'dry' season
July 26, 2016 04:28 PM - University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) via ScienceDaily

Although the Amazon Jungle may appear to be perpetually green, a University of Illinois researcher believes there are actually seasonal differences of photosynthesis, with more occurring during the dry season and less during the wet season. Understanding how a rainforest that occupies 2.7 million square miles of South America functions is crucial to the future health of the entire planet.

"With the potential negative effects of climate change, one key question we are trying to answer in the study of tropical ecology is how a tropical forest responds during a long-term drought," says Kaiyu Guan, an environmental scientist at the University of Illinois. "If we don't know their daily performance or their seasonal performance, what confidence can we have to predict the forests' future 20 years, 30 years, or longer?"

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The Antarctic Ozone Hole May Be Closing
July 7, 2016 07:21 AM - s.e. smith

There’s good news from Antarctica, where researchers with tools like ozonesondes — pictured above — have been following the infamous ozone hole as it waxes and wanes over the seasons. The ozone hole has shrunk by 1.5 million square miles – around 4 million square kilometers — and this “healing” trend appears to be continuing.

A major ecological catastrophe has been averted, and we can cite human intervention as the reason. When the globe swept into action with 1987′s Montreal Protocol, which banned a number of substances known to contribute to ozone depletion, it apparently worked.

When scientists first began to observe a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica, it was a cause for grave concern. Though ozone levels actually fluctuate throughout the year, they perform an important function by blocking the sun’s harmful UV radiation.

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SPOTLIGHT

California Condor Population Reaches New Heights

Karen Klein, Yale Environment 360

After years of intense — and often controversial — restoration efforts, biologists are finally reporting some good news for the beleaguered California condor: More chicks are surviving in the wild, and the birds are becoming increasingly independent and expanding their range.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced what it called a milestone for the California condor: More chicks had hatched and fledged in the wild during 2015 than the number of condors that had died. In late March, Steve Kirkland, the agency’s condor field coordinator, reported that two more chicks had fledged in 2015 in Baja California, but had only just been discovered, bringing the total in the wild to 270.

It was perhaps the most promising news about the condor in decades.

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