Climate

Virus attracts bumblebees to infected plants by changing scent
August 11, 2016 03:18 PM - University of Cambridge via EurekAlert!

Plant scientists at the University of Cambridge have found that the cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) alters gene expression in the tomato plants it infects, causing changes to air-borne chemicals - the scent - emitted by the plants. Bees can smell these subtle changes, and glasshouse experiments have shown that bumblebees prefer infected plants over healthy ones.

Scientists say that by indirectly manipulating bee behaviour to improve pollination of infected plants by changing their scent, the virus is effectively paying its host back. This may also benefit the virus: helping to spread the pollen of plants susceptible to infection and, in doing so, inhibiting the chance of virus-resistant plant strains emerging.

With droughts and downpours, climate change feeds Chesapeake Bay algal blooms
August 11, 2016 10:15 AM - Princeton University via ScienceDaily

A study shows that weather patterns tied to climate change may increase the severity of algal blooms in Chesapeake Bay as extreme rainfall cycles flush larger amounts of nitrogen from fertilizer and other sources into the Susquehanna River. The researchers found that a spike in rainfall can increase nitrogen levels in the bay even if the amount of fertilizer used on land remains the same, leading to explosive algae growth that poisons humans and wildlife, and devastates fisheries.

While efforts to restore the bay have been successful during the past several years, a study led by Princeton University researchers shows that weather patterns tied to climate change may nonetheless increase the severity of algal blooms by changing how soil nutrients leach into the watershed.

New map reveals how little of Antarctica's rock is ice-free
August 11, 2016 10:06 AM - British Antarctic Survey

Until now estimates of how much of ice-free rock is exposed in Antarctica were stated as ‘less than 1%’.

For the first time scientists from British Antarctic Survey (BAS) have been able to produce accurate quantification of how much of the continent isn’t buried under snow.  At a mere 0.18% scientists can now say confidently how much of the frozen continent really is frozen.  This improves the baseline that scientists use to monitor the effects of climate change in the region.

Publishing this month in the journal Cryosphere scientists describe how they used the latest NASA and USGS satellite data to produce an automated map of rock outcrop across the entire Antarctic continent.

Why we need to keep rivers cool with riverside tree planting
August 10, 2016 02:21 PM - Ecologist reporter, Ecologist

With some climate predictions warning that river water temperatures will exceed safe thresholds for river fish, the Keep Rivers Cool (KRC) campaign is calling for more riverside tree planting.

Fish in Britain's rivers are under threat from warmer waters. Cold-water species such as Atlantic salmon and brown trout, are struggling to cope as climate change brings significant increases in temperature.

Today there's a call for urgent action to Keep Rivers Cool by planting broadleaf native trees alongside river banks, creating dappled shading and stopping water from warming up.

Shade can reduce temperatures in small rivers by on average 2- 3C compared to un-shaded streams; and by more on hot summer days.

Warmer climate could lower dengue risk
August 10, 2016 01:48 PM - Australian National University via EurekAlert!

Health researchers predict that the transmission of dengue could decrease in a future warmer climate, countering previous projections that climate change would cause the potentially lethal virus to spread more easily.

Hundreds of millions of people are infected with dengue each year, with some children dying in severe cases, and this research helps to address this significant global health problem.

Co-lead researcher Associate Professor David Harley from The Australian National University (ANU) said that dengue risk might decrease in the wet tropics of northeast Australia under a high-emissions scenario in 2050, due to mosquito breeding sites becoming drier and less favourable to their survival.

California Freeways to Go Greener by Generating Electricity
August 10, 2016 10:32 AM - Laura Goldman, Care2

Energy conservation is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about freeways jammed with idling vehicles.

But in California, which has some of the most congested freeways in the country, that’s about to change. The California Energy Commission (CEC) has approved a pilot program in which piezoelectric crystals will be installed on several freeways.

Double whammy for important Baltic seaweed
August 9, 2016 12:47 PM - GEOMAR - Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel via EurekAlert!

Wherever ecosystems rich in species develop on the rocky shores of the Baltic Sea, the bladder wrack Fucus vesiculosus has provided perfect groundwork. By colonizing pebbles and rocks, it creates habitats for many other species. Other algae grow on the seaweed to be grazed by snails, isopods and amphipods. Crustaceans, mussels and predatory fish as well as many smaller organisms that are important for the Baltic Sea ecosystem thrive in submarineFucus forests. Fucus vesiculosus is one of the main producers of organic matter in the Baltic and plays a crucial role for its biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles. These functions could be lost due to a series of reactions triggered by climate change.

Melting ice sheet could expose frozen Cold War-era hazardous waste
August 9, 2016 07:18 AM - York University

Climate change is threatening to expose hazardous waste at an abandoned camp thought to be buried forever in the Greenland Ice Sheet, new research out of York University has found.

Camp Century, a United States military base built within the Greenland ice sheet in 1959, doubled as a top-secret site for testing the feasibility of deploying nuclear missiles from the Arctic during the Cold War. When the camp was decommissioned in 1967, its infrastructure and waste were abandoned under the assumption they would be entombed forever by perpetual snowfall.

Drought conditions slow the growth of Douglas fir trees across the West
August 8, 2016 04:14 PM - University of California – DAVIS via via EurekAlert!

Whether growing along the rim of the Grand Canyon or living in the mist with California's coastal redwoods, Douglas fir trees are consistently sensitive to drought conditions that occur throughout the species' range in the United States, according to a study led by a researcher at the University of California, Davis.

The study, published Aug. 8 in the journalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides direct evidence of the negative impact of water stress on forest ecosystems. It also pinpointed which conditions are causing low growth among Douglas fir trees.

Lake Tanganyika fisheries declining from global warming
August 8, 2016 03:47 PM - University of Arizona via EurekAlert!

The decrease in fishery productivity in Lake Tanganyika since the 1950s is a consequence of global warming rather than just overfishing, according to a new report from an international team led by a University of Arizona geoscientist.

The lake was becoming warmer at the same time in the 1800s the abundance of fish began declining, the team found. The lake's algae - fish food - also started decreasing at that time.

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