Ecosystems

Turkey might be a better choice than fish in the tropics!
November 27, 2014 07:12 AM - Katie Pitz in Oceanus: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

On a tropical island vacation, one of the last things you want to worry about is food poisoning. Yet for many, a trip to the tropics includes a painful education in a mysterious food-borne illness called Ciguatera Fish Poisoning, or CFP.

Every year, thousands of people suffer from CFP, a poisoning syndrome caused by eating toxic reef fish. CFP symptoms are both gastrointestinal and neurological, bringing on bouts of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, muscle aches, and in some cases, the reversal of hot and cold sensations. Some neurological symptoms can persist for days to months to years after exposure. There is no quick way to test for the toxins, and unless action is taken within hours of the poisoning, no cure once you’re sick.

How the environment can trigger disease
November 25, 2014 03:00 PM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

Using a new imaging technique, National Institutes of Health researchers have found that the biological machinery that builds DNA can insert molecules into the DNA strand that are damaged as a result of environmental exposures. These damaged molecules trigger cell death that produces some human diseases, according to the researchers. The work provides a possible explanation for how one type of DNA damage may lead to cancer, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular and lung disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Establishing marine protected areas to fight illegal fishing
November 25, 2014 09:10 AM - Kerry Klein, MONGABAY.COM

Do you know how that tuna sashimi got to your dinner plate? Probably not—and chances are, the restaurant that served it to you doesn’t know, either. A new policy paper argues that illicit fishing practices are flying under the radar all around the world, and global society must combat them in order to keep seafood on the menu. According to the paper, published in Science, fishing practices that are illegal, unreported and unregulated (collectively referred to as IUU) are ubiquitous. They range from bottom trawlers scouring the seafloor—sometimes catching more illegal species than legal ones—to small boats simply not reporting their catch. 

Can Volcanic Eruptions Slow Global Warming?
November 21, 2014 02:34 PM - American Geophysical Union

Small volcanic eruptions might eject more of an atmosphere-cooling gas into Earth’s upper atmosphere than previously thought, potentially contributing to the recent slowdown in global warming, according to a new study.

Abrupt rise in greenhouse gases at end of last ice age may be because of permafrost
November 20, 2014 12:30 PM - Alfred Wegener Institute

One of the most abrupt rises in the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere at the end of the last ice age took place about 14,600 years ago. Ice core data show that the CO2 concentration at that time increased by more than 10 ppm (parts per million, unit of measure for the composition of gases) within 200 years. This CO2 increase, i.e. approx. 0.05 ppm per year, was significantly less than the current rise in atmospheric CO2 of 2-3 ppm in the last decade caused by fossil fuels. 

Climate history of western US is more complex than previously thought
November 19, 2014 10:54 AM - Southern Methodist University

The climate 150 million years ago of a large swath of the western United States was more complex than previously known, according to new research from Southern Methodist University, Dallas. It’s been held that the climate during the Jurassic was fairly dry in New Mexico, then gradually transitioned to a wetter climate northward to Montana. But based on new evidence, the theory of a gradual transition from a dry climate to a wetter one during the Jurassic doesn’t tell the whole story, says SMU paleontologist Timothy S. Myers, lead author on the study.

Report Estimates 2010 US Water Consumption is Lowest in Decades
November 13, 2014 08:14 AM - Editor, ENN

While it may seem that the US is one of the worst culprits when it comes to wasting resources, according to the US Geological Survey, our water consumption is improving. Water use in the United States in 2010 was estimated to be about 355 billion gallons per day (Bgal/d), which was 13 percent less than in 2005. Better yet, 2010 marks the lowest level of water use in the US since before 1970!

Groundwater affected by Climate Change
November 12, 2014 07:54 AM - Peter Ruegg, ETH Zurich

Global warming stops at nothing – not even the groundwater, as a new study by researchers from ETH Zurich and KIT reveals: the groundwater’s temperature profiles echo those of the atmosphere, albeit damped and delayed.

Fukushima Radioactivity Detected Off West Coast
November 11, 2014 08:32 AM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Monitoring efforts along the Pacific Coast of the U.S. and Canada have detected the presence of small amounts of radioactivity from the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident 100 miles (150 km) due west of Eureka, California. Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found the trace amounts of telltale radioactive compounds as part of their ongoing monitoring of natural and human sources of radioactivity in the ocean.

Study examines the role of the deep ocean in carbon dioxide storage
November 11, 2014 04:15 AM - Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research via ScienceDaily.

The Southern Ocean plays an important role in the exchange of carbon dioxide between the atmosphere and the ocean. One aspect of this is the growth of phytoplankton, which acts as a natural sponge for carbon dioxide, drawing the troublesome greenhouse gas from the atmosphere into the sea. When these plankton die they can sink to the bottom of the ocean and store some of the carbon dioxide they have absorbed, a process scientists call the "biological carbon pump."

Although many areas of the Southern Ocean are rich in nutrients, they often lack iron, which limits phytoplankton growth. An important idea in oceanography is that adding iron to the Southern Ocean could stimulate phytoplankton growth and the biological carbon pump. Some scientists believe that this process can partly explain cycles in atmospheric carbon dioxide over Earth's recent history and it has also been widely debated as a mitigation strategy for climate change.

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