Climate

Solar Storm
August 27, 2010 11:36 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

A geomagnetic storm (or solar storm) is a temporary disturbance of the Earth's magnetosphere caused by a massive solar flares or related sun output. A geomagnetic storm is caused by a solar wind shock wave which typically strikes the Earth's magnetic field 3 days after the event on the sun. The effect on the earth can be small or it can be large. Astronomers are predicting that a massive solar storm, much bigger in potential than the one that caused spectacular light shows on Earth earlier this month, will strike our planet in 2012 with a force of 100 million hydrogen bombs. This is far larger than average.

Drought tolerant maize to hugely benefit Africa
August 26, 2010 07:10 AM - Tim Cocks, Reuters

Distributing new varieties of drought tolerant maize to African farmers could save more than $1.5 billion dollars, boost yields by up to a quarter and lift some of the world's poorest out of poverty, a study found. The study published on Thursday by the Mexico-based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), with input from other food research institutes, focused on 13 African countries in which it has been handing out drought tolerant maize to farmers over the past four years. It described maize as "the most important cereal crop in Africa," a lifeline to 300 million vulnerable people. The Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa plan aims to hasten the adoption of maize varieties that withstand dry weather.

Alaskan Volcanic Rebirth
August 25, 2010 04:47 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A secluded island in the Aleutian chain is revealing secrets of how land and marine ecosystems react to and recover from a catastrophic volcanic eruption that at first wiped life off the island. Kasatochi, an island in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge rarely studied by scientists before its Aug. 7, 2008, volcanic eruption, is showing signs of recovery.

Sea level rise looks inevitable, even with intervention
August 25, 2010 07:15 AM - Science Daily, adapted from materials from National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (UK)

New findings by international research group of scientists from England, China and Denmark just published suggest that sea level will likely be 30-70 centimetres higher by 2100 than at the start of the century even if all but the most aggressive geo-engineering schemes are undertaken to mitigate the effects of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions are stringently controlled. "Rising sea levels caused by global warming are likely to affect around 150 million people living in low-lying coastal areas, including some of the world's largest cities," explained Dr Svetlana Jevrejeva of the National Oceanography Centre.

Arctic Alligators
August 24, 2010 04:20 PM - Andy Soos. ENN

Ellesmere Island is in the far north of Canada above the Arctic Circle. This is the land of the midnight sun and a rather brisk cold environment. But fifty million years ago it was warmer though still quirky in its day night cycles. A new study of the High Arctic climate roughly 50 million years ago led by the University of Colorado at Boulder helps to explain how ancient alligators and giant tortoises were able to thrive on Ellesmere Island well above the Arctic Circle, even as they endured six months of darkness each year.

Mauritania plants trees to hold back desert
August 22, 2010 10:23 AM - Reuters

Mauritania has launched a tree-planting program aimed at protecting its capital from the advancing desert and coastal erosion, a project that could eventually extend thousands of kilometers across Africa. President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz on Saturday planted the first of some 2 million trees that are meant to form a "green belt" around the capital, Nouakchott, and curb erosion elsewhere in the desert nation that straddles black and Arab Africa.

Ocean pH
August 20, 2010 11:32 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Ocean acidification is the name given to the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans, caused by their uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Between 1751 and 1994 surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.18 to 8.1. PH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of a solution. It approximates but is not equal to concentration of hydrogen ions expressed on a logarithmic scale. A low pH indicates a high concentration of hydrogen ions, while a high pH indicates a low concentration. A strong acid would be less than 1 on this scale. A recent study indicates the relative impact on future ocean acidification of different aspects of global climate change mitigation policies such as the year that global emissions peak.

Indonesia Coral - Impacts of hotter water temperatures
August 19, 2010 06:15 AM - EurekaAlert, Wildlife Conservation Society, Low Impact Living

The Wildlife Conservation Society today released initial field observations that indicate that a dramatic rise in the surface temperature in Indonesian waters has resulted in a large-scale bleaching event that has devastated coral populations. WCS's Indonesia Program "Rapid Response Unit" of marine biologists was dispatched to investigate coral bleaching reported in May in Aceh–a province of Indonesia–located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. The initial survey carried out by the team revealed that over 60 percent of corals were bleached. "Bleaching"– a whitening of corals that occurs when algae living within coral tissues are expelled – is an indication of stress caused by environmental triggers such as sea surface temperature fluctuations. Depending on many factors, bleached coral may recover over time or die. Subsequent monitoring conducted by marine ecologists from WCS, James Cook University (Australia), and Syiah Kuala University (Indonesia) were completed in early August and revealed one of the most rapid and severe coral mortality events ever recorded. The scientists found that 80 percent of some species have died since the initial assessment and more colonies are expected to die within the next few months.

New Ways to Mass Travel
August 18, 2010 10:50 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Not everyone can drive to work in their own vehicle. Planners must find ways to blend individual vehicles with hte needs of mass transportation. Building train stations or subways is highly capital intensive and involves years of construction and related dealys due ot construction. Adding buses adds to traffic. Furthermore mass transist needs to be safe, clean and inexpensive. The straddling bus, first exhibited on the 13th Beijing International High-tech Expo in May this year, maybe one answer. In the near future, the model is to be put into pilot use in Beijing’s Mentougou District.

Trees May Have Killed Off the Mammoth
August 18, 2010 06:33 AM - Science Daily

A massive reduction in grasslands and the spread of forests may have been the primary cause of the decline of mammals such as the woolly mammoth, woolly rhino and cave lion, according to Durham University scientists. The findings of the new study challenge the theory that human beings were the primary cause of the extinction of mammals through hunting, competition for land and increased pressure on habitats. The research is part of the most comprehensive study to date of Northern Hemisphere climate and vegetation during and after the height of the last Ice Age, 21,000 years ago.

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