Climate

Water use growing twice as fast as population!
October 26, 2011 07:04 AM - Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters, Environment Correspondent WASHINGTON

Like oil in the 20th century, water could well be the essential commodity on which the 21st century will turn. Human beings have depended on access to water since the earliest days of civilization, but with 7 billion people on the planet as of October 31, exponentially expanding urbanization and development are driving demand like never before. Water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, said Kirsty Jenkinson of the World Resources Institute, a Washington think tank. Water use is predicted to increase by 50 percent between 2007 and 2025 in developing countries and 18 percent in developed ones, with much of the increased use in the poorest countries with more and more people moving from rural areas to cities, Jenkinson said in a telephone interview.

Is the danger of global warming really the heat?
October 24, 2011 06:55 AM - Christine Stebbins, Reuters, CHICAGO

Crop scientists in the United States, the world's largest food exporter, are pondering an odd question: could the danger of global warming really be the heat? For years, as scientists have assembled data on climate change and pointed with concern at melting glaciers and other visible changes in the life-giving water cycle, the impact on seasonal rains and irrigation has worried crop watchers most. What would breadbaskets like the Midwest, the Central Asian steppes, the north China Plain or Argentine and Brazilian crop lands be like without normal rains or water tables? Those were seen as longer-term issues of climate change. But scientists now wonder if a more immediate issue is an unusual rise in day-time and, especially, night-time summer temperatures being seen in crop belts around the world. Interviews with crop researchers at American universities paint the same picture: high temperatures have already shrunken output of many crops and vegetables. "We don't grow tomatoes in the deep South in the summer. Pollination fails," said Ken Boote, a crop scientist with the University of Florida.

EPA delays pollution rule for coal plants, but only until December
October 22, 2011 10:10 AM - Roberta Rampton, Reuters, WASHINGTON

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on Friday it will postpone its final rule aimed at slashing air pollution from coal plants for a month, but made it clear it plans to move forward on the regulations. The EPA said it needs the extra time to review 960,000 comments it received on its draft rule, but plans to finalize it by Dec 16. A group of 25 states has launched a court case over the rule, seeking a delay of at least a year for what they argue is an expensive measure that will shut down old coal-fired power plants. Analysts have said American Electric Power and Duke Energy could see shutdowns because of the rule, which would require many plants to install scrubbers and other anti-pollution technology. But the EPA, which has also been sued by environmental groups to finalize the rule, said the regulation is needed to prevent illnesses and deaths caused by air pollution. "In a court filing today, EPA made clear its opposition to efforts to delay this historic, court ordered standard by a full year," the agency said in a statement.

Simultaneous Warming of Northern and Southern Hemispheres
October 21, 2011 02:36 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

In true global warming, the whole worlds warms up. A common argument against global warming is that the climate has always varied in any particular place or time. For this argument to be true if it warms up one place, some place it cools down on average. However, Svante Björck, a climate researcher at Lund University in Sweden, has now shown that global warming, i.e. simultaneous warming events in the northern and southern hemispheres, have not occurred in the past 20,000 years, which is as far back as it is possible to analyze with sufficient precision to compare with modern developments. Svante Björck’s study thus goes 14,000 years further back in time than previous studies have done. He eventually claims that the current global warming trend is unique in this time frame.

Future Migrations in an Environmentally Uncertain World
October 21, 2011 01:39 PM - David A Gabel, ENN

There are several major forces at play in today's world. Two forces involved with the migrations of people include globalization and mass exodus from the countryside to cities. Another major force, climate change, is playing an ever greater role, affecting societies with extreme droughts, floods, and other dangers. How will future migrations be affected by this force? A new report by a team of experts including Prof. David Thomas and Prof. Stefan Dercon of Oxford University believes that the challenges associated with migrations and environmental change are underestimated. The report concludes that many will emigrate from environmentally vulnerable places, but some may be trapped, and others may actually move closer to the danger.

The Effect of Urban Heat Islands
October 19, 2011 11:30 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Cities are centers of human and industrial activity. They are also considered commonly centers of urban warmth or heat. Jacobson and Ten Hoeve are authors of a paper describing the research that will be published in Journal of Climate. The paper is available online now. The study modeled climate response from 2005 to 2025. Some global warming skeptics have claimed that the urban heat island effect is so strong that it has been skewing temperature measurements that show that global warming is happening. They have argued that urban areas are a larger contributor to global warming than the greenhouse gases produced by human activity, and thus drastic measures to reduce greenhouse gases are not needed. "This study shows that the urban heat island effect is a relatively minor contributor to warming, contrary to what climate skeptics have claimed," Jacobson said. "Greenhouse gases and particulate black carbon cause far more warming." Prior to Jacobson's study, claims about the importance of heat island to global warming could not be addressed directly. The few previous modeling studies by other researchers that had examined the effect of urban heat islands on regional scales did not calculate global impacts.

Sea Rise!
October 17, 2011 02:38 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

It has often and continually debated on how much the level of the sea rise in the next few decades and centuries. Sea level changes is actually old hat and has been happening (up and down) for millenia. New research from several international research groups, including the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen provides independent consensus that IPCC predictions of less than a half a meter rise in sea levels is around 3 times too low. The new estimates show that the sea will rise approximately 1 meter in the next 100 years in agreement with other recent studies. The results have been published in the scientific journal, Geophysical Research Letters.

Plankton's Shifting Role in Deep Sea Carbon Storage Explored
October 17, 2011 09:15 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Oct. 17, 2011) — The tiny phytoplankton Emiliania huxleyi, invisible to the naked eye, plays an outsized role in drawing carbon from the atmosphere and sequestering it deep in the seas. But this role may change as ocean water becomes warmer and more acidic, according to a San Francisco State University research team.

Hesperia Planum Mystery
October 13, 2011 12:04 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

One of the supposedly best understood and least interesting landscapes on Mars is hiding something that could rewrite the planet’s history. Or not. In fact, about all that is certain is that decades of assumptions regarding the wide, flat Hesperia Planum are not holding up very well under renewed scrutiny with higher-resolution, more recent spacecraft data. Hesperia Planum is a broad lava plain in the southern highlands of the planet Mars. The plain is notable for its moderate number of impact craters and abundant wrinkle ridges. It is also the location of the ancient volcano Tyrrhena Mons (Tyrrhena Patera). The Hesperian time period on Mars is named after Hesperia Planum. The cause of of the mystery is whatcaused the numerous rilles: water or lava.

Snowball Earth Cause Debated
October 13, 2011 10:39 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The hypothesis that Earth was completely covered in ice (Snowball Earth) 635 million years may not be so. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide during that period was much lower than previously thought, according to a team of French researchers from the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (CNRS/IPGP/Université Paris Diderot), working in collaboration with scientists from Brazil and the U.S. The Snowball Earth hypothesis posits that the Earth's surface became entirely or nearly entirely frozen at least once. Proponents of the hypothesis argue that it best explains sedimentary deposits generally regarded as of glacial origin at tropical paleolatitudes, and other otherwise enigmatic features in the geological record.

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