Human impact on Earth's global energy
March 26, 2016 08:13 AM - University of Leicester via ScienceDaily
The impact humans have made on Earth in terms of how we produce and consume resources has formed a 'striking new pattern' in the planet's global energy flow, according to researchers from the University of Leicester.
The research suggests that Earth is now characterised by a geologically unprecedented pattern of global energy flow that is pervasively influenced by humans -- and which is necessary for maintaining the complexity of modern human societies.
The new study, published in the journal Earth's Future, is led by Professors Mark Williams and Jan Zalasiewicz of the University of Leicester's Department of Geology working with an international team of scholars.
New research on the Rio Grande and impacts of long drought
March 23, 2016 11:00 AM - USGS Newsroom
New research can help water managers along the Rio Grande make wise decisions about how to best use the flow of a river vital for drinking water, agriculture and aquatic habitat. These studies also show how conditions from the prolonged drought in the West have affected the Rio Grande watershed.
The Rio Grande forms the world’s longest river border between two countries as it flows between Texas and Mexico, where it is known as the Rio Bravo. The river runs through three states in the U.S., beginning in southern Colorado and flowing through New Mexico and Texas before it forms the border with Mexico.
Parts of the Rio Grande are designated as wild and scenic, but most of the river is controlled and passes through several dam and reservoir systems during its 1,896 mile journey to the Gulf of Mexico. The river is managed through a complex system of compacts, treaties, and agreements that determine when and how much water is released along the river’s length.
Australia slashes funding on climate science
March 18, 2016 11:08 AM - Fatima Arkin, SciDevNet., SciDevNet
Scientists around the world have slammed Australia’s decision to slash its climate research programme — raising concerns about knock-on effects on developing countries.
Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is shifting its research focus to efforts to adapt to and mitigate the effects of global warming rather than understanding climate change through fundamental research, CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall announced last month.
“The loss of much of this capability with the impending cuts is a real blow for climate research throughout the region.”
Winter storms strongest to hit western Europe since 1948, study shows
March 17, 2016 08:43 AM - University of Plymouth via ScienceDaily
The repeated storms which battered Europe's Atlantic coastline during the winter of 2013/14 were the most energetic in almost seven decades, new research has shown.
And they were part of a growing trend in stormy conditions which scientists say has the potential to dramatically change the equilibrium state of beaches along the western side of the continent, leading to permanent changes in beach gradient, coastal alignment and nearshore bar position.
In a study accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, researchers compared modelled and measured data from sites across Scotland, Ireland, England, France, Portugal, Spain and Morocco, and showed the extreme weather conditions were the most energetic since at least 1948.
Climate Change Redistributes Global Water Resources
March 17, 2016 07:21 AM - SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
Rising temperatures worldwide are changing not only weather systems, but - just as importantly - the distribution of water around the globe, according to a study published today (March 14, 2016) in the journal, "Scientific Reports."
Analysis of more than 40 years of water samples archived at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest (HBEF) in New Hampshire tells a vivid tale of how the sources of precipitation have changed. Over the years, there has been a dramatic increase, especially during the winter, of the amount of water that originated far to the north.
Supreme Court and the Obama Administration's Climate Plans
March 16, 2016 08:15 AM - michael b. gerrard, Yale Environment360
Two unexpected and shocking events have left heads swimming about the fate of President Obama’s signature initiative on climate change, the Clean Power Plan, which aims to replace many coal-fired power plants — the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States — with cleaner sources of energy.
Last Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on the Clean Power Plan until the litigation against it is finally resolved, suspending implementation of the plan for the foreseeable future. The vote was 5-4, along the customary ideological lines, and it led to great concern, bordering on quiet despair, among proponents of the plan. who now believed that the Supreme Court would ultimately strike it down. Opponents of the plan, including the coal industry, rejoiced.
The court’s order blocking Obama’s Clean Power Plan provides an opportunity for the U.S. to show other nations it has a flexible approach to cutting emissions, David Victor writes.
Time to re-think the diesel
March 11, 2016 08:00 AM - Richard Howard / Policy Exchange, The Ecologist
Low Emissions Zones have their place in cleaning up the UK's worst air pollution hotspots, writes Richard Howard. But we also need to adopt fiscal measures to encourage a shift away from diesel vehicles, at once delivering cleaner air, increased tax revenues, and lower carbon emissions.
If we are to clean up air pollution in London and the rest of the UK, then Government needs to recognise that diesel is the primary cause of the problem, and to promote a shift away from diesel to alternatives.
There is an air pollution crisis taking place in London and many of the UK's other major cities.
Study suggests impact of climate change on agriculture may be underestimated
March 8, 2016 07:10 AM - Brown University
Studies of how climate change might affect agriculture generally look only at crop yields — the amount of product harvested from a given unit of land. But climate change may also influence how much land people choose to farm and the number of crops they plant each growing season. A new study takes all of these variables into account, and suggests researchers may be underestimating the total effect of climate change on the world’s food supply.
Warming Arctic being exploited by trawlers
March 6, 2016 01:29 PM - Joe Sandler Clarke / Greenpeace Energydesk, The Ecologist
Ice melt in the Arctic Ocean is opening up previously untouched areas to industrial fishing fleets using ecologically risky bottom trawling methods, writes Joe Sandler Clarke. Ecosystems supporting walruses, polar bears, puffins and other sea birds could be stripped bare.
Bottom trawling is widely considered to be the among most destructive fishing techniques, with vast nets catching fish as they are dragged along the sea bed.
Using official data and ship tracking systems, researchers found that large numbers of fishing vessels owned by major companies have taken advantage of melting sea ice to fish in previously impossible to reach parts of the Norwegian and Russian Arctic.
Greenland's Ice is Getting Darker, Increasing Risk of Melting
March 4, 2016 07:31 AM - The Earth Institute, Columbia University
Greenland's snowy surface has been getting darker over the past two decades, absorbing more heat from the sun and increasing snow melt, a new study of satellite data shows. That trend is likely to continue, with the surface's reflectivity, or albedo, decreasing by as much as 10 percent by the end of the century, the study says.