Climate

Yellowstone Supervolcano Size
April 13, 2011 08:30 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

University of Utah geophysicists made the first large-scale picture of the electrical conductivity of the gigantic underground plume of hot and partly molten rock that feeds the Yellowstone supervolcano. The image suggests the plume is even bigger than it appears in earlier images made with earthquake waves. The Yellowstone Caldera is the volcanic caldera located in Yellowstone National Park in the United States, sometimes referred to as the Yellowstone Supervolcano. The caldera is located in the northwest corner of Wyoming, in which the vast majority of the park is contained. The major features of the caldera measure about 34 miles by 45 miles.

Does shale gas pollute more than coal?
April 13, 2011 07:18 AM - Daniel Trotta, Reuters, NEW YORK

An abundant source of U.S. natural gas widely seen as a cleaner alternative to oil and coal is in reality the fossil fuel that creates the most greenhouse gas emissions, a study concludes. The paper led by Cornell University ecology professor Robert Howarth raised howls of protest from the gas industry, which said the document was political. The study contends that so much methane escapes from the extraction of shale gas over the life of a well that it allows more heat-trapping greenhouse gas into the atmosphere than coal. The report acknowledged that natural gas is cleaner to burn than other fuels but that greater pollution derives from leakage, whether accidental or purposely designed to relieve well pressure. Improved technology could solve the problem but Howarth in an interview doubted whether that was economical considering stubbornly low natural gas prices. A North American boom in the production of shale gas, billed as an alternative to foreign oil, has depressed gas prices even while oil has soared.

Pliocene Hot Age?
April 12, 2011 05:16 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

By studying fossilized mollusks from some 3.5 million years ago, UCLA geoscientists and colleagues have been able to construct an ancient climate record that holds clues about the long-term effects of Earth's current levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a key contributor to global climate change. Two novel geochemical techniques used to determine the temperature at which the mollusk shells were formed suggest that summertime Arctic temperatures during the early Pliocene epoch (3.5 million to 4 million years ago) may have been a staggering 18 to 28 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than today. These ancient fossils, harvested from deep within the Arctic Circle, may have once lived in an environment in which the polar ice cap melted completely during the summer months. The Pliocene Epoch is the period in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.3 million to 2.6 million years before the present time.

Fewer penguins survive warming Antarctic climate
April 12, 2011 07:04 AM - Deborah Zabarenko, Reuters, Environment Correspondent WASHINGTON

Two of the most well-known penguin species in Antarctica -- chinstraps and Adelies -- are under pressure because a warmer climate has cut deeply into their main food source, shrimp-like creatures called krill. Fewer of the juvenile penguins survive what scientists call their "transition to independence" because there isn't enough krill to go around, according to a study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences. The study found only 10 percent of young penguins survive the first independent trip back to their colonies from their winter habitat, said lead author Wayne Trivelpiece, a sea bird expert at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Antarctic Ecosystem Research Division. When the study began, back in the mid-1970s, the chances that a two-to-four-year-old penguin would survive the trip was about 50 percent, Trivelpiece said in a telephone interview.

2011 Toyota Sustainable Mobility Seminar
April 7, 2011 03:48 PM - Kathleen Neil, Contributiing Editor,ENN

What choice will consumers make? After attending the 2011 Toyota Sustainable Mobility Seminar in La Jolla, California (April 4-7, 2011), this is what I walked away thinking. In all respects, Americans are already asking themselves questions like this about the life they live. With regard to the cars we drive it is time to think hard about the way we drive and what we drive. Presenters at the seminar addressed, and in many cases provided the current findings about fuel cells, hydrogen, electricity, the electric grid and electric cars. Economic forces, geopolitical forces and the DOE directed Future Transportation Fuels Study were explored in detail. The choices for a greener driving future are proliferating and each has its advantage and disadvantage. The economic costs to our society in moving toward a greener driving future were reviewed in exploring the many mobility choices we must make as a society and as consumers. Again this year I loved being behind the wheel of the almost to market (Spring 2012?) Plug-in Hybrid Prius and with the announcement during the Seminar of the sale of the one-millionth Prius in the U.S., it’s easy to see that Toyota understands what the hybrid consumer is looking for. Now a more focused approach to the spending of scarcer infrastructure/development dollars is warranted and the key to that approach will be all of us discussing what type of car we as consumers will pay a bit more for and how much it matters to us to be free to ‘put the pedal to the metal’. It’s like turning out the lights when you leave the room, we all know we should do it but don’t always stop to think.

Senate rejects measure to stop EPA on climate
April 7, 2011 06:50 AM - Timothy Gardner, Reuters, WASHINGTON

The Senate rejected a measure on Wednesday to kill the Environmental Protection Agency's regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, handing President Barack Obama a victory in his effort to quicken the move to clean energy. The EPA's rules, which it began rolling out on polluters such as power plants and oil refineries early this year, are one of Obama's top strategies to show the world the United States is fighting climate change. Republicans, who were able to block a climate and energy bill last year, hoped to pick up support from Democrats in energy-dependent states facing tight elections next year on the measure sponsored by Republican leader Mitch McConnell. But it got only 50 votes in the Democratic-led 100-member chamber, short of the 60 votes needed to pass.

Coffee Production and Climate Change
April 6, 2011 09:49 AM - Editor, Global Warming is Real

As if there were a need for even more evidence that global warming is a real, verifiable and evidenced threat, new research is showing Central and South American coffee production is drastically dropping because of higher global temperatures. Add extreme rainfall totals to the mix and the result is rampant insects and damaged plants. If economics won't convince people the earth is warming, perhaps interrupting their coffee supply will.

Mangroves Among the Most Carbon-Rich Forests in the Tropics; Coastal Trees Key to Lowering Greenhouse Gases
April 5, 2011 09:32 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Apr. 4, 2011) — Coastal mangrove forests store more carbon than almost any other forest on Earth, according to a study conducted by a team of U.S. Forest Service and university scientists.

Kilauea Volcano
April 5, 2011 08:11 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Kilauea volcano that recently erupted on the Big Island of Hawaii will be the target for a NASA study to help scientists better understand processes occurring under Earth's surface. Kīlauea is an active volcano in the Hawaiian Islands, one of five shield volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaii. It is the most recent of a series of volcanoes that have created the Hawaiian archipelago, as the Pacific Plate moves over the Hawaii hotspot. Kīlauea is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet and an invaluable resource for volcanologists who are able to study it up close due to its exclusively non-violent effusive activity. Since 2008, rising emissions of sulfur dioxide from the Halemaʻumaʻu crater at Kīlauea's summit have led to increased levels of volcanic smog and local air quality concerns.

Ancient Black Coral in the Gulf of Mexico
April 1, 2011 08:08 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Black corals are a group of deep water, tree-like corals related to sea anemones. Though black coral's living tissue is brilliantly colored, it takes its name from the distinctive black or dark brown color of its skeleton. For the first time, scientists have been able to validate the age of deep-sea black corals in the Gulf of Mexico. They found the Gulf is home to 2,000 year-old deep-sea black corals, many of which are only a few feet tall. These slow-growing, long-living animals thrive in very deep waters—300 meters (984 feet) and deeper—yet scientists say they are sensitive to what is happening in the surface ocean as well as on the sea floor.

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