Studying Soil to Predict the Future of Earth's Atmosphere
June 18, 2012 08:20 AM - Editor, Science Daily

When it comes to understanding climate change, it's all about the dirt. A new study by researchers at BYU, Duke and the USDA finds that soil plays an important role in controlling the planet's atmospheric future.

Indonesia aims to lead in Sustainable Forestry
June 18, 2012 07:12 AM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM

Indonesia "has reversed course" from a forest policy that drove deforestation in previous decades and is poised to become a leader in "sustainable forestry", asserted Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during a speech on Wednesday at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) in Bogor. "Our forestry policy [in the 1970s and 1980s] was to allow anyone to cut our forests so long as it gave benefits to development," he said. "It seemed the logical thing to do back then. We had lots of forests; we had to reduce poverty; we needed to grow our economy. As a result, there was a time when we experienced very serious deforestation." "Today, such a policy is no longer tenable. Losing our tropical rain forests would constitute the ultimate national, global and planetary disaster. That’s why Indonesia has reversed course by committing to sustainable forestry."

Arctic Vegetation Changing in response to warming
June 17, 2012 08:03 AM - ScienceDaily

Recent years' warming in the Arctic has caused local changes in vegetation, reveals new research by biologists from the University of Gothenburg and elsewhere published in the journals Nature Climate Change and Ecology Letters. The results show that most plants in the Arctic have grown taller, and the proportion of bare ground has decreased. Above all, there has been an increase in evergreen shrubs. "We've managed to link the vegetation changes observed at the different sites to the degree of local warming," explains researcher and biologist Robert Björk from the University of Gothenburg. Shrubs and plants more widespread Comparisons show that the prevalence of vascular species, such as shrubs and plants, is increasing as temperatures rise. The degree of change depends on climate zone, soil moisture and the presence of permafrost. Researchers working on the International Tundra Experiment (ITEX) have been gathering data for almost 30 years.

A New Global Architecture for Sustainability Governance
June 15, 2012 02:34 PM - Editor, Worldwatch Institute

At the upcoming Rio+20 summit from June 20 to 22, political leaders will embark on new measures to achieve sustainability by enhancing institutional capacity. In particular, the summit will seek to improve the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other institutions in order to enhance the global community's ability to achieve sustainable development. In "A New Global Architecture for Sustainability Governance," Chapter 8 in the Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity, author and assistant professor of global governance at the University of Massachusetts Boston, Maria Ivanova, examines steps that can be taken to improve UNEP's effectiveness as an environmental institution.

Hot Streak Continues: May 2012 Second Warmest on Record
June 15, 2012 11:06 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, has released its State of the Climate Global Analysis for May 2012. This analysis looks at weather recordings from monitoring points all around the world. Temperatures from the last month were compared to baseline levels which is the average taken from 1961-1990. For most of the planet, both over land and over sea, southern and northern hemisphere, temperatures were higher. In fact, they were the 2nd highest of all time, just below the all-time record set in 2010.

Warmer forests expel carbon from soils creating "vicious cycle"
June 15, 2012 09:59 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

As the world warms, temperate forests could become a source of carbon dioxide emission rather than a sink according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Scientists found that two forest sites in the U.S. (Wisconsin and North Carolina) emitted long-stored carbon from their soils when confronted with temperatures 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit (5.5-11.1 degrees Celsius) higher than average.

Did CO2 Cause Mass Extinction 252 Million Years Ago?
June 15, 2012 07:20 AM - Devin Powell, Science News

New clues in a mass murder that took place 252 million years ago points to a suspect: Ocean acidification may have driven the largest extinction of animals the world has ever seen. Carbon dioxide belched out by volcanic eruptions during the Permian period could have caused the oceans’ chemistry to change. That’s worrisome because CO2 levels are rising today — thanks to the burning of fossil fuels — and pushing down seawater pH, researchers report online June 8 in Geology.

Space Dust
June 14, 2012 10:15 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Stuff is constantly falling down on the Earth from outside its atmosphere. This might be very large rocks that we will notice to specks of dust that fall and float down. Currently, estimates of the Earth's intake of space dust vary from around five tons to as much as 300 tons every day. The Cosmic Dust in the Terrestrial Atmosphere (CODITA) project will investigate what happens to the dust from its origin in the outer solar system all the way to the earth's surface. The work, funded by the European Research Council, will also explore whether cosmic dust has a role in the Earth's climate and how it interacts with the ozone layer in the stratosphere.

The End of the Woolly Mammoth
June 13, 2012 09:59 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Most populations of the woolly mammoth in North America and Eurasia, as well all the Columbian mammoths in North America, died out around the time of the last glacial retreat, as part of a mass extinction of megafauna in northern Eurasia and the Americas. Until recently, the last woolly mammoths were generally assumed to have vanished from Europe and southern Siberia about 12,000 years ago, but new findings show some were still present there about 10,000 years ago. In a paper published June 12 in the journal Nature Communications, UCLA researchers and colleagues reveal that not long after the last ice age, the last woolly mammoths succumbed to a lethal combination of climate warming, encroaching humans and habitat change — the same threats facing many species today.

Fire, Fire Everywhere
June 12, 2012 03:39 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

How far can the effects of a fire be felt? There are some noteworthy fires in New Mexico right now for example. However, the ones that are lesser known are equally interesting. Fires burning in Siberia recently sent smoke across the Pacific Ocean and into the U.S. and Canada. Images of data taken by the nation’s newest Earth-observing satellite tracked aerosols from the fires taking six days to reach America's shores. Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite’s Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite tracks aerosols, like this smoke, that are transported by winds across the globe. The Voice of Russia reported that 11,000 hectares (about 42.4 square miles) of forests in Siberia were on fire in May and that the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations says roughly 80 percent of these fires are intentionally set to clear land for farming. The one in New Mexico covers about 14,000 hectares.

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