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Ocean acidification changes balance of biofouling communities
January 30, 2015 08:45 AM - British Antarctic Survey
A new study of marine organisms that make up the ‘biofouling community’ — tiny creatures that attach themselves to ships’ hulls and rocks in the ocean around the world — shows how they adapt to changing ocean acidification. Reporting in the journal Global Change Biology, the authors examine how these communities may respond to future change.
Study finds atmosphere will adapt to hotter, wetter climate
January 29, 2015 04:17 PM - University of Toronto via EurekAlert!
A study led by atmospheric physicists at the University of Toronto finds that global warming will not lead to an overall increasingly stormy atmosphere, a topic debated by scientists for decades. Instead, strong storms will become stronger while weak storms become weaker, and the cumulative result of the number of storms will remain unchanged. "We know that with global warming we'll get more evaporation of the oceans," said Frederic Laliberte, a research associate at U of T's physics department and lead author of a study published this week in Science. "But circulation in the atmosphere is like a heat engine that requires fuel to do work, just like any combustion engine or a convection engine."
New analysis explores trends in global plastic consumption and recycling
January 28, 2015 03:35 PM - Gaelle Gourmelon, Worldwatch Institute
For more than 50 years, global production of plastic has continued to rise. Some 299 million tons of plastics were produced in 2013, representing a 4 percent increase over 2012. Recovery and recycling, however, remain insufficient, and millions of tons of plastics end up in landfills and oceans each year, writes Gaelle Gourmelon, Communications and Marketing Manager at the Worldwatch Institute, in the Institute’s latest Vital Signs Online article.
Study Analyzes Variability of Climate Models
January 27, 2015 03:05 PM - Duke University
A new Duke University-led study finds that most climate models likely underestimate the degree of decade-to-decade variability occurring in mean surface temperatures as Earth’s atmosphere warms. The models also provide inconsistent explanations of why this variability occurs in the first place. These discrepancies may undermine the models’ reliability for projecting the short-term pace as well as the extent of future warming, the study’s authors warn. As such, we shouldn’t over-interpret recent temperature trends.
Natural Breakdown of Petroleum May Lace Arsenic into Groundwater
January 26, 2015 04:09 PM - USGS Newsroom
In a long-term field study, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Virginia Tech scientists have found that changes in geochemistry from the natural breakdown of petroleum hydrocarbons underground can promote the chemical release (mobilization) of naturally occurring arsenic into groundwater. This geochemical change can result in potentially significant arsenic groundwater contamination.
Effects of wood fuel burning have less of an impact on CO2 emissions than previously thought
January 26, 2015 08:36 AM - Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
The harvesting of wood to meet the heating and cooking demands for billions of people worldwide has less of an impact on global forest loss and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than previously believed, according to a new Yale-led study. Writing in the journal Nature Climate Change, a team of researchers, including Prof. Robert Bailis of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES), concludes that only about 27 to 34 percent of wood fuel harvested worldwide would be considered “unsustainable.” According to the assessment, “sustainability” is based on whether or not annual harvesting exceeds incremental re-growth.
Warming seas decrease sea turtle basking
January 23, 2015 01:11 PM - Duke University
Green sea turtles may stop basking on beaches around the world within a century due to rising sea temperatures, a new study suggests. Basking on sun-warmed beaches helps the threatened turtles regulate their body temperatures and may aid their immune systems and digestion. By analyzing six years of turtle surveys and 24 years of satellite data, researchers from Duke University, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center and the University of Ioannina in Greece have found the turtles bask more often each year when sea surface temperatures drop.
Arctic Ice Slides into the Ocean
January 23, 2015 08:49 AM - University of Leeds
Satellite images have revealed that a remote Arctic ice cap has thinned by more than 50 metres since 2012 – about one sixth of its original thickness – and that it is now flowing 25 times faster. A team led by scientists from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at the University of Leeds combined observations from eight satellite missions, including Sentinel-1A and CryoSat, with results from regional climate models, to unravel the story of ice decline.
Atmospheric Rivers Add to Antarctica's Ice Sheets
January 22, 2015 08:47 AM - KU Leuven
Extreme weather phenomena called atmospheric rivers were behind intense snowstorms recorded in 2009 and 2011 in East Antarctica. The resulting snow accumulation partly offset recent ice loss from the Antarctic ice sheet, report researchers from KU Leuven. Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow water vapour plumes stretching thousands of kilometres across the sky over vast ocean areas. They are capable of rapidly transporting large amounts of moisture around the globe and can cause devastating precipitation when they hit coastal areas.
What happens with all the organic carbon released from melting glaciers?
January 20, 2015 08:45 AM - Florida State University via EurkeAlert!
As the Earth warms and glaciers all over the world begin to melt, researchers and public policy experts have focused largely on how all of that extra water will contribute to sea level rise. But another impact lurking in that inevitable scenario is carbon. More specifically, what happens to all of the organic carbon found in those glaciers when they melt? That's the focus of a new paper by a research team that includes Florida State University assistant professor Robert Spencer. The study, published in Nature Geoscience, is the first global estimate by scientists at what happens when major ice sheets break down.