A Medium Solar Flare
June 8, 2011 04:25 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Sun unleashed an M-2 (medium-sized) solar flare, an S1-class (minor) radiation storm and a spectacular coronal mass ejection on June 7, 2011. The large cloud of particles mushroomed up and fell back down looking as if it covered an area of almost half the solar surface. A solar flare is a sudden brightening observed over the Sun surface or the solar limb, which is interpreted as a large energy release of up a sixth of the total energy output of the Sun each second. Solar flares strongly influence the local space weather in the vicinity of the Earth. They can produce streams of highly energetic particles in the solar wind, known as a solar proton event, or coronal mass ejection. These particles can impact the Earth's magnetosphere and cause a geomagnetic storm. A geomagnetic storm is a temporary disturbance of the Earth's magnetosphere caused by a disturbance in the interplanetary medium. A geomagnetic storm is a major component of space weather and provides the input for many other components of space weather, and present radiation hazards to spacecraft, astronauts and cosmonauts. The current flare event is moving at 1400 km/s according to NASA models. The flare event should deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field during the late hours of June 8th or June 9th. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras when the it arrives.

Air Quality Worsened by Paved Surfaces: Widespread Urban Development Alters Weather Patterns
June 8, 2011 08:46 AM - Editor, Science Daily

ScienceDaily (June 7, 2011) — New research focusing on the Houston area suggests that widespread urban development alters weather patterns in a way that can make it easier for pollutants to accumulate during warm summer weather instead of being blown out to sea.

MIT Study calculates cost of lax air pollution regulations in China
June 6, 2011 03:58 PM - Roger Greenway, ENN, based on materials provided by MIT

A new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change looks at the cost to the Chinese economy of lax air quality regulations between 1975 and 2005. The MIT researchers found that air pollutants produced a substantial socio-economic cost to China over the past three decades. China has experienced unprecedented development over the past three decades, but this growth has come at a substantial cost to the country's environment and public health. China is notorious for extremely high levels of air pollution. As the country faces continuous environmental challenges that mirror its continuing development, there is a need to measure the health impacts of air pollution. What makes this study unique is that researchers looked at long-term economic impacts that arise from health damages, and how pollution-induced morbidity and mortality cases may have had ripple effects on the Chinese economy beyond the time period when those cases actually occurred. This method creates a comprehensive picture of the cumulative impacts of air pollution on a dynamic, fast-developing country.

Carbon Release to Atmosphere 10 Times Faster Than in the Past
June 6, 2011 08:50 AM - ScienceDaily

The rate of release of carbon into the atmosphere today is nearly 10 times as fast as during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), 55.9 million years ago, the best analog we have for current global warming, according to an international team of geologists. Rate matters and this current rapid change may not allow sufficient time for the biological environment to adjust. "We looked at the PETM because it is thought to be the best ancient analog for future climate change caused by fossil fuel burning," said Lee R. Kump, professor of geosciences, Penn State. However, the researchers note in the current issue of Nature Geoscience, that the source of the carbon, the rate of emission and the total amount of carbon involved in this event during the PETM are poorly characterized.

Rising forest density offsets climate change
June 6, 2011 07:12 AM - Alister Doyle, Reuters Environment Correspondent, OSLO

Rising forest density in many countries is helping to offset climate change caused by deforestation from the Amazon basin to Indonesia, a study showed on Sunday. The report indicated that the size of trees in a forest -- rather than just the area covered -- needed to be taken into account more in U.N.-led efforts to put a price on forests as part of a nascent market to slow global warming. "Higher density means world forests are capturing more carbon," experts in Finland and the United States said of the study in the online journal PLoS One, issued on June 5 which is World Environment Day in the U.N. calendar. Trees soak up carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, as they grow and release it when they burn or rot. Deforestation in places from the Congo basin to Papua New Guinea is blamed for perhaps 12 to 20 percent of all emissions by human activities. The report, based on a survey of 68 nations, found that the amount of carbon stored in forests increased in Europe and North America from 2000-10 despite little change in forest area.

Rains come to China drought stricken provinces
June 4, 2011 08:25 AM - Reuters

China warned several central and southern provinces hit by a months-long dry spell on Saturday to prepare for heavy rain and even floods, though Premier Wen Jiabao said it was too early to call an end to the critical water shortage. Officials have said parts of China are enduring their worst drought in 50 years, with rainfall 40 to 60 percent less than normal, damaging crops and cutting power from hydroelectric dams. State television and the official Xinhua news agency said that the provinces of Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei, Anhui, Jiangxi and Zhejiang would experience rain, thunderstorms and strong winds. "Rain in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River will be beneficial to replenishing water in reservoirs and lakes and to ameliorating the drought," Xinhua citied the China Meteorological Administration as saying. Provinces must be on alert for heavy rains and for possible landslides and other disasters, it said.

New Jersey to Withdraw from Climate Change Initiative
June 3, 2011 09:04 AM - Jessica Albin, Sive Paget & Riesel, P.C.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced Thursday, May 26 that New Jersey would withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative ("RGG"), a cap-and-trade initiative of 10 northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector. New Jersey is the first state to withdraw from RGGI.

Climate Projections Don't Accurately Reflect Soil Carbon Release
June 3, 2011 08:38 AM - Editor, Science Daily

A new study concludes that models may be predicting releases of atmospheric carbon dioxide that are either too high or too low, depending on the region, because they don't adequately reflect variable temperatures that can affect the amount of carbon released from soil.

Iceberg Fertilizer
June 3, 2011 08:15 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

Iceberg are just frozen water. Water picks up other stuff when it freezes whether as dissolved or scraped up. Icebergs calving off of Antarctica are shedding substantial iron — the equivalent of a growth-boosting vitamin — into waters starved of the mineral, a new set of studies demonstrates. This iron is fertilizing the growth of microscopic plants and algae, transforming the waters adjacent to ice floes into teeming communities of everything from tiny shrimplike krill to fish, birds and sometimes mammals. Iron is a trace element necessary for photosynthesis in all plants. It is highly insoluble in sea water and is often the limiting nutrient for phytoplankton growth. Large phytoplankton blooms can be created by supplying iron to iron-deficient ocean waters.

Tornadoes Strike Massachusetts
June 2, 2011 09:54 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

In one of the state's most bizarre weather events, Massachusetts was hit by several tornadoes yesterday, causing destruction, injuries, and the deaths of at least four people. The tornadoes occurred in several towns in the Springfield area including Westfield, West Springfield, Wilbraham, Sturbridge, Monson, Oxford, Charlton, Agawam, Brimfield, and Douglas. Massachusetts residents have been shocked by the extensive damage left in their wake.

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