Climate

China's take on the current issues in climate talks
March 1, 2011 06:41 AM - Retuers, BEIJING

China, the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitter, wants rich nations to vow bigger cuts to emissions as part of a new international deal on fighting global warming, Beijing's top climate negotiator said on Tuesday. The negotiator, Xie Zhenhua, said he expects "arduous" wrangling about that and other issues facing governments seeking to settle on the key parts of a comprehensive climate change pact at talks in Durban, South Africa, in late 2011. Above all, Xie said in a policy-setting essay in China's official People's Daily, Beijing will not budge from demanding a second lease of life for the Kyoto Protocol, the greenhouse gas emissions pact which Japan, Russia, Canada and other critics have said does too little to curb the fast-growing emissions of China and other big developing countries.

Arctic Sea Ice Extent in January is Lowest in Recorded History
February 27, 2011 10:08 AM - Yale Environment 360

While extreme weather conditions and unusually cold temperatures have gripped much of North America and Europe this winter, unusually warm temperatures farther north produced the lowest Arctic sea ice extent ever recorded for the month of January, according to NASA. Areas such as Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, and Davis Strait — which typically freeze over by late November — did not completely freeze until mid-January, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). And the Labrador Sea was also unusually ice-free. In this NASA graphic, based on satellite data, blue indicates open water, white illustrates high sea ice concentrations, and turquoise indicates loosely packed ice.

The Gerat Northern Lights
February 25, 2011 11:43 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

An aurora is a natural light display in the sky, particularly in the polar regions, caused by the collision of charged particles directed by the Earth's magnetic field. An aurora is usually observed at night and typically occurs in the ionosphere. It is also referred to as a polar aurora or, collectively, as polar lights. These phenomena are commonly visible between 60 and 72 degrees north and south latitudes, which place them in a ring just within the Arctic and Antarctic polar circles. Recent increases in solar activity, including the largest solar flare in four years, may lead to hopes of seeing the aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, in the United Kingdom and other relatively more southern locales. In the United Kingdom, for example, the chances of seeing the aurora increase the further north you go – ranging from one or two displays every 10 years in the south of England to one or two displays a week in the far northern Shetland Islands. Solar variation is the change in the amount of radiation emitted by the Sun and in its spectral distribution over years to millennia. These variations have periodic components, the main one being the approximately 11-year solar cycle (or sunspot cycle). This variation causes the northern lights to vary in location and magnitude.

New Zealand quake sends 30 million tons of ice loose from glacier
February 25, 2011 06:33 AM -

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake that struck New Zealand on Tuesday, killing at least 75 people in Christchurch, also shook loose 30 million tons of ice from the nation's longest glacier, sending boulders of ice into a nearby lake. Tour boat operators in the area said parts of the Tasman Glacier calved into the Tasman Lake immediately after the quake, breaking into smaller icebergs and causing 3.5 meter-high (11-foot) waves. "It was approximately 30 million tons of ice, it's just a massive, massive, massive scale," said Denis Callesen, the General Manager of Tourism at Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Village.

New England Beaches Erosion
February 24, 2011 03:16 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Beach erosion is a chronic problem along many open ocean shores of the United States. As coastal populations continue to grow and community infrastructures are threatened by erosion, there is an increased demand for accurate information regarding past and present trends and rates of shoreline movement. There is also a need for a comprehensive analysis of shoreline movement that is consistent from one coastal region to another. An assessment of coastal change over the past 150 years has found 68 percent of beaches in the New England and Mid-Atlantic region are eroding, according to a U.S. Geological Survey report just released. Scientists studied more than 650 miles of the New England and Mid-Atlantic coasts and found the average rate of coastal change – taking into account beaches that are both eroding and prograding -- was a negative 1.6 feet per year. Of those beaches eroding, the most extreme case exceeded 60 feet per year. The past 25 to 30 years saw a small reduction in the percentage of beaches eroding – dropping to 60 percent, possibly as a result of beach restoration activities such as adding sand to beaches.

ENN Community Launches
February 23, 2011 03:50 PM - Editor, ENN

Great news today! We've launched a brand new community for ENN! This feature brings a whole new dimension to our site by creating a vibrant space for our readers and environmental enthusiasts to interact with each other and weigh in with YOUR opinions about topics related to our news articles. That's right, it's your turn at the mic! Time to jump in and start sharing. We are really excited to have you all begin posting your thoughts and tips -- you can start by rating your favorite environment topics, and then begin to share tips and reviews as well. You can also check out the latest reviews from fellow readers to share your comments and compliments. There are lots of ways to get the most out of our new community -- take a few polls and see some of the badges that you can unlock, too. Have fun checking out the newest part of ENN and thanks for helping us kick off a thriving reader community!

How Rising Sea Levels Will Affect the US Coastline
February 18, 2011 09:08 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Thankfully, no major US city has gone underwater due to rising sea levels caused from global climate change. What happened in New Orleans was an effect of Hurricane Katrina, a failure of the levees, and the fact that part of the city was built below the water level. However, climate experts predict that sea levels will rise as ocean temperatures increase and the polar ice caps melt. Contingency plans are already being formulated by vulnerable US coastal cities. According to a new study led by scientists at the University of Arizona (UA), rising sea levels could cover up to nine percent of the land area in 180 US cities by 2100.

Lake Baikal Climate History
February 17, 2011 01:49 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in the world, with an average depth of over 5000 feet down and is 25 million years old so is therefore not only the deepest lake but oldest. Lake Baikal contains roughly 20% of the world's surface fresh water that is unfrozen and is located in the south of the Russian region of Siberia near the city of Irkutsk). has provided scientists with insight into the ways that climate change affects water temperature, which in turn affects life in the lake. The study is published in the journal PLoS ONE today. The research team discovered many climate variability signals, called teleconnections, in the data. For example, changes in Lake Baikal water temperature correlate with monthly variability in El Niño indices, reflecting sea surface temperatures over the Pacific Ocean tens of thousands of kilometers away. At the same time, Lake Baikal's temperatures are influenced by strong interactions with Pacific Ocean pressure fields described by the Pacific Decadal Oscillation.

Sulfur Emissions on the Rise
February 15, 2011 04:56 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Sulfur dioxide is a major air pollutant and has significant impacts upon human health. In addition the concentration of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere can influence ecosytems. Sulfur dioxide emissions are a precursor to acid rain and atmospheric particulates. A new analysis of sulfur emissions appearing in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics shows that after declining for a decade, worldwide emissions rose again in 2000 due largely to international shipping and a growing Chinese economy. An accurate read on sulfur emissions will help researchers predict future changes in climate and determine present day effects on the atmosphere, health and the environment.

Arizona Haze and NOx
February 14, 2011 12:19 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Four Corners Power Plant is one of the largest coal-fired generating stations in the United States. The plant is located on Navajo land in Fruitland, New Mexico, about 25 miles west of Farmington. It is located to the west of the Grand Canyon and many other national parks. It was the first mine-mouth generation station to take advantage of the large deposits of sub-bituminous coal in the Four Corners region. The plant’s five units currently generate 2,040 megawatts. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a supplemental proposal to reduce emissions from the Four Corners Power Plant. The new proposal will reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from approximately 45,000 tons per year to 5,800 tons per year, 3,200 tons less than EPA’s initial proposal. The proposal will also work to protect public health in the area by ensuring residents have cleaner air with fewer harmful pollutants. It will also reduce atmospheric haze and promote viability.

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