Uncertain Future for Joshua Trees in US Southwest Projected With Climate Change
March 28, 2011 08:59 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2011) — Temperature increases resulting from climate change in the Southwest will likely eliminate Joshua trees from 90 percent of their current range in 60 to 90 years, according to a new study led by U.S. Geological Survey ecologist Ken Cole.

"Use 60 minutes of darkness to help the world see the light," urges Ban Ki-moon
March 25, 2011 08:31 AM - Editor, World Wildlife Fund

New York: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon leads a host of world and civic leaders supporting Earth Hour 2011 as a powerful symbol of a shared wish for a sustainable and secure future. "All over the world individuals, communities, businesses and governments are creating new examples for our common future – new visions for sustainable living and new technologies to realize it," Ban Ki-moon said. "Tomorrow, let us join together to celebrate this shared quest to protect the planet and ensure human well-being. Let us use 60 minutes of darkness to help the world see the light."

Arctic sea ice ties for smallest ever
March 25, 2011 06:51 AM - Reuters

Even at its biggest, Arctic sea ice extent this winter was among the smallest ever seen, apparently tying with 2006 for the least amount of ice covering the region around the North Pole, U.S. researchers reported. Sea ice on the Arctic Ocean usually starts growing in September and hits its maximum area in February or March; this year, the maximum appeared to occur on March 7, when ice stretched over 5.65 million square miles (14.64 million square km), according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. That area of ice-covered water is 471,000 square miles (1.2 million square km) below the average maximum ice extent observed by satellites from 1979 to 2000, the center said in a statement.

Expanding Forests in the Northern Latitudes
March 23, 2011 12:52 PM - David A Gabel, ENN

According to a recent United Nations report, forested areas in Europe, North America, the Caucasus, and Central Asia have grown steadily over the past two decades. While tropical areas have steadily lost their forests to excessive logging and increased agriculture, northern areas have seen increases caused by conservation efforts. However, the long-term health and stability of northern forest lands may be imperiled by the effects of climate change.

The Coral Pulse of Life
March 21, 2011 07:30 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Corals are marine organisms living in compact colonies of many identical individual polyps. The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans, which secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton. Coral reefs form some of the most diverse ecosystems on Earth. They occupy less than one tenth of one percent of the world ocean surface, yet they provide a home for about twenty-five percent of all marine species, including fish, molluscs, worms, and crustaceans. Paradoxically, coral reefs flourish even though they are often surrounded by ocean waters that provide few nutrients. University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science scientist Chris Langdon and colleagues have developed a new tool to monitor coral reef vital signs. By accurately measuring their biological pulse, scientists can better assess how climate change and other ecological threats impact coral reef health worldwide.

News at the North Pole Ozone Layer
March 16, 2011 04:59 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Unusually low temperatures in the Arctic ozone layer have recently initiated massive ozone depletion. The Arctic appears to be heading for a record loss of this trace gas that protects the Earth's surface against ultraviolet radiation from the sun. This result has been found by measurements carried out by an international network of over 30 ozone sounding stations spread all over the Arctic and Subarctic and coordinated by the Potsdam Research Unit of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in the Helmholtz Association in Germany. In the Arctic the amount lost is more variable year-to-year than in the Antarctic. The greatest declines, up to 30%, are in the winter and spring, when the stratosphere is colder.

Earthquakes Change the Earth
March 15, 2011 01:57 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The March 11, magnitude 9.0 earthquake in Japan may have shortened the length of each Earth day and shifted its axis. Using a United States Geological Survey estimate for how the fault responsible for the earthquake slipped, research scientist Richard Gross of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., applied a complex model to perform a preliminary theoretical calculation of how the Japan earthquake-the fifth largest since 1900-affected Earth's rotation. His calculations indicate that by changing the distribution of Earth's mass, the Japanese earthquake should have caused Earth to rotate a bit faster, shortening the length of the day by about 1.8 microseconds (a microsecond is one millionth of a second). There are about 86,400 seconds (86 billion microseconds) in a day, so the impact of the earthquake is quite small. The calculations also show the Japan quake should have shifted the position of Earth's figure axis (the axis about which Earth's mass is balanced) by about 6.5 inches, towards 133 degrees east longitude. The Earth's figure axis is not the same as its north-south axis in space, which it spins around once every day at a speed of about 1,000 mph. The figure axis is the axis around which the Earth's mass is balanced.

Study of spiders shows species may be able to adapt to global warming
March 15, 2011 08:49 AM - William McLennan, Ecologist

Species may be able to adapt to gradual increases in temperature preventing the collapse of biological communities in the face of global climate change. The predatory behaviour of spiders is unaffected by increased temperatures, according to research by Yale University, suggesting some species can adapt to global warming.

In the North Atlantic, Oceanic Currents Play a Greater Role in the Absorption of Carbon Than Previously Thought
March 14, 2011 09:12 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Mar. 9, 2011) — The ocean traps carbon through two principal mechanisms: a biological pump and a physical pump linked to oceanic currents. A team of researchers from CNRS, IRD, the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, UPMC and UBO (1) have managed to quantify the role of these two pumps in an area of the North Atlantic. Contrary to expectations, the physical pump in this region could be nearly 100 times more powerful on average than the biological pump. By pulling down masses of water cooled and enriched with carbon, ocean circulation thus plays a crucial role in deep carbon sequestration in the North Atlantic.

USGS launches Butterfly and Moth Website
March 13, 2011 08:07 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The United States Geologic Survey, and partners including Montana State University Big Sky Institute, National Biological Information Infrastructure, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, has launched a new website to help us understand, identify, and appreciate the rich diversity of butterflies and moths of North America. The heart of the web site is the Butterflies and Moths of North America database Why should we care about butterflies and moths? Thanks to butterflies, bees, birds, and other animal pollinators, the world's flowering plants are able to reproduce and bear fruit. That very basic capability is at the root of many of the foods we eat. And, not least, pollination adds to the beauty we see around us. Yet today, there is evidence of alarming pollinator population declines worldwide. Fortunately, science investigators of this crucial issue can use data collected and organized in the BAMONA database to monitor the health of our butterfly and moth population.

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