Climate

The Edicaran Age
October 19, 2010 01:20 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The discovery of blocks of gravel which sank to the bottom of the sea trapped in ancient icebergs has sparked a new understanding of a bizarre group of creatures. The research, published in the Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, has also forced a rethink of the conditions that existed more than 500 million years ago. 580 million years ago, the ancient oceans were flooded with enough oxygen that the way in which life was constructed was completely changed. This moment was the birth of multi-cellular organisms, and shortly preceded the burst of biological diversification called the Cambrian explosion. Recent evidence indicates that this was the last in a series of similar increases in oxygen availability that changed the world's climate and ecological conditions.

Argentina protects its glaciers by law
October 19, 2010 11:35 AM - Laura García, SciDev.Net

Argentina enacted a new law that protects the country's glaciers, in a global context where climate change threatens the large bodies of ice and there are risks of different polluting activities. The law, enacted on September 30, aims to preserve the glaciers as "strategic reserves of water for human consumption, for agriculture and as suppliers of water to recharge basins, for the protection of biodiversity ; as a source of scientific and tourist attraction." The legislation also establishes the creation of the "National Inventory of Glaciers". It will be updated every five years, and verify the changes on the surfaces of glaciers and periglacial. The "periglacial environment” is the high mountain area, with frozen soil, that acts as regulator of water resources. Researchers at the Argentine Institute of Snow Research, Glaciology and Environmental Sciences will have the task to disclose necessary information to control and monitor all glaciers and periglacial areas that act as water reserves.

Turtles and Dugongs
October 14, 2010 05:02 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The "turtle and dugong capital of the world", the northern Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait region, faces increased pressure under climate change from human actions such as fishing, hunting, onshore development and pollution. The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest reef system composed of over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands stretching for over 1,600 miles over an area of approximately 133,000 square miles. The reef is located in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Queensland in north-east Australia. The Great Barrier Reef can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms.

Tropics in decline - WWF 2010 Living Planet report
October 14, 2010 07:25 AM - WWF

New analysis shows populations of tropical species are plummeting and humanity’s demands on natural resources are sky-rocketing to 50 per cent more than the earth can sustain, reveals the 2010 edition of WWF's Living Planet Report – the leading survey of the planet’s health. The biennial report, produced in collaboration with the Zoological Society of London and the Global Footprint Network, uses the global Living Planet Index as a measure of the health of almost 8,000 populations of more than 2,500 species. The global Index shows a decrease by 30 per cent since 1970, with the tropics hardest hit showing a 60 per cent decline in less than 40 years. "There is an alarming rate of biodiversity loss in low-income, often tropical countries while the developed world is living in a false paradise, fuelled by excessive consumption and high carbon emissions," said Jim Leape, Director General of WWF International.

Growing Population and Climate
October 13, 2010 02:09 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Changes in population growth and composition, including aging and urbanization, could significantly affect global emissions of carbon dioxide over the next 40 years. The research, appearing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), was conducted by an international team of scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. By mid-century it is estimated that global population could rise by more than three billion people, with most of that increase occurring in urban areas. The study showed that a slowing of population growth, following one of the slower growth paths considered plausible by demographers at the United Nations, could contribute to significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The researchers found that such slow growth paths by 2050 could account for 16 to 29 percent of the emissions reductions thought necessary to keep global temperatures from causing serious impacts.

Huge Parts of World Are Drying Up: Land 'Evapotranspiration' Taking Unexpected Turn
October 12, 2010 11:30 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Oct. 11, 2010) — The soils in large areas of the Southern Hemisphere, including major portions of Australia, Africa and South America, have been drying up in the past decade, a group of researchers conclude in the first major study to ever examine "evapotranspiration" on a global basis.

A High-Risk Energy Boom Sweeps Across North America
October 11, 2010 12:19 PM - Keith Schneider, Yale Environment 360

Energy companies are rushing to develop unconventional sources of oil and gas trapped in carbon-rich shales and sands throughout the western United States and Canada. So far, government officials have shown little concern for the environmental consequences of this new fossil-fuel development boom. The most direct path to America's newest big oil and gas fields is U.S. Highway 12, two lanes of blacktop that unfold from Grays Harbor in Washington State and head east across the top of the country to Detroit. The 2,500-mile route has quickly become an essential supply line for the energy industry. With astonishing speed, U.S. oil companies, Canadian pipeline builders, and investors from all over the globe are spending huge sums in an economically promising and ecologically risky race to open the next era of hydrocarbon development. As domestic U.S. pools of conventional oil and gas dwindle, energy companies are increasingly turning to “unconventional” fossil fuel reserves contained in the carbon rich-sands and deep shales of Canada, the Great Plains, and the Rocky Mountain West.

Ring of Fire Cause
October 8, 2010 03:19 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Pacific Ring of Fire is an area where large numbers of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean. In a 25,000 mile horseshoe shape, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and/or plate movements. The Ring of Fire has 452 volcanoes and is home to over 75% of the world's active and dormant volcanoes. Oxford University scientists have potentially discovered the explanation for why the world’s explosive volcanoes are confined to bands only a few tens of miles wide. Most of the molten rock that comes out of these volcanoes is rich in water, but the Oxford team has shown that the volcanoes are aligned above narrow regions in the mantle where water-free melting can take place.

Study Finds More Fresh Water Entering the Earth's Oceans
October 8, 2010 09:41 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

A recent study from researchers at the University of California (UC) Irvine has found that since 1994, the overall amount of fresh water flowing into the world's oceans has increased significantly. They found that 18 percent more fresh water has reached the oceans between 1994 and 2006, an average annual rise of 1.5 percent.

Folklore Confirmed: The Moon's Phase Affects Rainfall
October 7, 2010 08:49 AM - Kristen Minogue, Science AAAS

The Zuni Indians thought a red moon brought water. Seventeenth-century English farmers believed in a "dripping moon," which supplied rain depending on whether its crescent was tilted up or down. Now scientists have found evidence for another adage: Rain follows the full and new phases of the moon.

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