Climate

Fish and Soybean Farmers to Shake Hands?
July 3, 2012 12:10 PM - Samantha Neary, Triple Pundit

The open ocean aquaculture industry may have just made a new friend – the soy industry. The Soy Aquaculture Alliance is ever closer to making an agreement to use soy as feed in open ocean fish farming pens in federal waters, a move that would reportedly impact the marine environment as well as the diets of both fish and consumers – and not necessarily in a good way. According to a new report by Food & Water Watch, an independent public interest organization funded through members, individual donors, and foundation grants, a collaboration between these two industries could be devastating to ocean life and consumer health.

Cloud Condensation Formation
July 3, 2012 11:56 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

A cloud is a visible mass of liquid droplets or frozen crystals made of water or various chemicals suspended in the atmosphere above the surface of a planetary body. These suspended particles are also known as aerosols. So how do they form and how fast? Researchers at the University of Bristol with collaborators from ETH-Zurich have shown that the rate of condensation of water on organic aerosol particles in the atmosphere can be very slow, taking many hours for a particle to change in size. This could have significant consequences for understanding how clouds are formed and how they affect climate.

The Inside Scoop On 5 Kinds Of Crazy Weather
July 3, 2012 09:22 AM - Scott Neuman, NPR Topics: Environment

Most of us had never heard the term "derecho" until Friday, when we learned that's what meteorologists call the kind of massive storm that swept through the Midwest and blitzed the Eastern Seaboard, killing at least 20 people and leaving a 700-mile swath of destruction and downed power lines in its wake.

The real disappointment of the Rio+20 Conference
July 3, 2012 07:12 AM - EurActiv

World leaders attending the recent Rio+20 conference agreed to promote sustainable consumption and production, but analysts say getting businesses and buyers to do just that will require far more than words on paper. To the immense disappointment of environmental groups and even some multinational corporations, Rio+20 failed to produce binding commitments or a plan on how to strike a balance between consumer demand and the availability of natural resource. "The current deal on the Rio table is really scraping the barrel – with woolly definitions, old ideas and missing deadlines," said Craig Bennett, Friends of the Earth's director of policy and campaigns. "It doesn’t come close to solving the planetary emergency we're facing."

'No doubt' that climate change is playing a role in U.S. fires
July 2, 2012 01:21 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

A noted climate scientist says there is "no doubt" that climate change is "playing a role" in this year's series of record fires in the western U.S. A massive wildfire in Colorado has forced the evacuation of 36,000 people, destroyed over 300 homes, and killed two people. The devastation wrought by the Waldo Canyon Fire even prompted a visit form U.S. President Barack Obama. But this is not the only epic fire in the U.S. this year: less than a month before the Colorado disaster, New Mexico experienced its largest fire on record in Gila Nation Forest; the conflagration burned up 247,000 acres (100,000 hectares). Other major wildfires have occurred in Utah and Wyoming, as well as other parts of New Mexico and Colorado.

Biomass Needs
July 2, 2012 10:52 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

One of the possible pillars of renewable energy sources is to increase the use of biofuels; fuels that are grown and processed. A biofuel is a type of fuel whose energy is derived from biological carbon fixation as opposed to a fossil fuel. The green industry is interested in establishing a biorefinery sector in Denmark that can replace oil-based products with biofriendly materials, chemicals, energy and fuel. But this requires a larger biomass production than is currently being achieved. Scientists from University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University have published a new extensive report that shows how an increase of production of biomass by more than 200% can be achieved in an environmentally friendly way.

Sea Turtles don't adapt well to hotter beaches
July 2, 2012 08:11 AM - ScienceDaily

For eastern Pacific populations of leatherback turtles, the 21st century could be the last. New research suggests that climate change could exacerbate existing threats and nearly wipe out the population. Deaths of turtle eggs and hatchlings in nests buried at hotter, drier beaches are the leading projected cause of the potential climate-related decline, according to a new study in the journal Nature Climate Change by a research team from Drexel University, Princeton University, other institutions and government agencies. Leatherbacks, the largest sea turtle species, are among the most critically endangered due to a combination of historical and ongoing threats including egg poaching at nesting beaches and juvenile and adult turtles being caught in fishing operations. The new research on climate dynamics suggests that climate change could impede this population's ability to recover. If actual climate patterns follow projections in the study, the eastern Pacific population of leatherback turtles will decline by 75 percent by the year 2100.

Africa's Savannas May Become Forests
June 29, 2012 06:43 AM - ScienceDaily

A new study published today in Nature by authors from the Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and the Goethe University Frankfurt suggests that large parts of Africa's savannas may well be forests by 2100. The study suggests that fertilization by atmospheric carbon dioxide is forcing increases in tree cover throughout Africa. A switch from savanna to forest occurs once a critical threshold of CO2 concentration is exceeded, yet each site has its own critical threshold. The implication is that each savanna will switch at different points in time, thereby reducing the risk that a synchronous shock to the earth system will emanate from savannas.

The Great Shrew Evolution
June 27, 2012 09:34 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Although its external appearance is generally that of a long-nosed mouse, a shrew is not a rodent and is more closely related to moles. Shrews are distributed almost worldwide: of the major tropical and temperate land masses, only New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand do not have native shrews at all; in South America, shrews are relatively recent immigrants and are present only in the northern Andes Shrews are among a diverse group of small mammals that have rapidly evolved in response to climate change, according to a new study released this month. Using historical climate data and modern molecular evidence from multiple genes, scientists found that some shrew species respond positively to periods of warmer and wetter climate through expanding geographic ranges and increased population sizes, while other shrew species respond the same way during periods of colder and drier climate. The smallest mammals, such as mice and shrews, can reproduce rapidly yielding many generations of offspring in a short period of time. Because of this, they evolve comparatively quickly and as such are useful for studying how species in general respond to quick environmental changes. In addition, unlike many birds and larger mammals, they are non-migratory and thus exhibit both ecological and evolutionary responses to local conditions year-round.

Would more trees in the Arctic absorb carbon, or cause more to be released?
June 27, 2012 05:55 AM - Tom Marshall, Planet Earth Online

Trees colonising formerly open tundra as the climate warms could cause Arctic ecosystems to release vast amounts of stored soil carbon into the atmosphere, a new paper argues. Many climate models have assumed that trees taking over the Arctic, and the enormous increase in plant biomass this would bring, would cause these landscapes to absorb much more carbon than they did before, helping restrain the effects of climate change. But this study suggests that's far from certain. In Scandinavia at least, when tundra heath turns into birch woodland it seems it could release much of the carbon stored in the soil into the air. This will more than counterbalance the fact that a forest holds around twice as much carbon in its biomass. So far from holding climate change in check, accelerated tree growth, and colonisation of treeless landscapes, could speed it up.

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