Earth's first ecosystems were more complex than previously thought
November 28, 2015 06:44 AM - Universtity of Bristol

Computer simulations have allowed scientists to work out how a puzzling 555-million-year-old organism with no known modern relatives fed, revealing that some of the first large, complex organisms on Earth formed ecosystems that were much more complex than previously thought.

The international team of researchers from Canada, the UK and the USA, including Dr Imran Rahman from the University of Bristol, studied fossils of an extinct organism called Tribrachidium, which lived in the oceans some 555 million years ago.  Using a computer modelling approach called computational fluid dynamics, they were able to show that Tribrachidium fed by collecting particles suspended in water.  This is called suspension feeding and it had not previously been documented in organisms from this period of time.

Rapid plankton growth seen as indicator of carbon dioxide loading in oceans
November 27, 2015 08:04 AM - Arthur Hirsch, Johns Hopkins

A microscopic marine alga is thriving in the North Atlantic to an extent that defies scientific predictions, suggesting swift environmental change as a result of increased carbon dioxide in the ocean, a study led a by Johns Hopkins University scientist has found.

What these findings mean remains to be seen, as does whether the rapid growth in the tiny plankton's population is good or bad news for the planet.

Published today in the journal Science, the study details a tenfold increase in the abundance of single-cell coccolithophores between 1965 and 2010, and a particularly sharp spike since the late 1990s in the population of these pale-shelled floating phytoplankton.

These 10 Endangered Species are Running Out of Room to Roam
November 25, 2015 06:27 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

It’s never been easier for us to get where we want to go, but our growing transportation systems mixed with development are taking a serious toll on wildlife, from tiny amphibians to large mammals, and pushing some who are already in danger of disappearing even closer to the brink.

A new report from the Endangered Species Coalition, No Room to Roam: 10 American Species in Need of Connectivity and Corridor, focuses on imperiled species who need just what the title says: room to roam.

Tourists may bring more home than just souvenirs
November 23, 2015 07:17 AM - Amy McDermott, MONGABAY.COM

Invasive species are great hitchhikers. They float in the ballast of ships, lurk in luggage, stick to unwashed sports gear, and cling to the soles of hiking boots. Scientists focus on stopping them from spreading because, once a new species gets rooted, it is expensive to manage and nearly impossible to remove.

Shipping and industry are the major pathways for invasive species, but studies have also shown that tourists can spread them into protected wilderness. 

Sea traffic linked to hazardous levels of nanoparticles along coastlines
November 21, 2015 09:20 AM - Staff, ClickGreen

The air along coastlines is being heavily polluted by hazardous levels of nanoparticles from sea traffic, a new study has found. 

Almost half of the measured particles stem from sea traffic emissions, while the rest is deemed to be mainly from cars but also biomass combustion, industries and natural particles from the sea.

"This is the first time an attempt has been made to estimate the proportion of nanoparticles stemming from sea traffic. The different types of nanoparticles have previously not been distinguished, but this new method makes it possible", says Adam Kristensson, researcher in Aerosol Technology at the Lund University Faculty of Engineering in Sweden.

US Forest Service proposes coal mining expansion in Colorado
November 20, 2015 10:08 AM - Center for Biological Diversity

National and local conservation groups today condemned a decision by the U.S. Forest Service to continue pressing to open national forest roadless areas in Colorado to coal mining.

In a notice filed today, the Forest Service announced it would move forward by issuing a draft environmental impact statement on the proposal to pave the way for mining. The proposal would reopen a loophole in the “roadless rule” for national forests in Colorado to enable Arch Coal — the nation’s second largest coal company — to scrape roads and well pads on nearly 20,000 acres of otherwise-protected, publicly owned national forest and wildlife habitat in Colorado’s North Fork Valley.

Snowfall shift threatens water supply
November 18, 2015 07:17 AM - Safya Khan-Ruf, SciDevNet

Climate change-induced changes in snowfall patterns could imperil two billion people who rely on melting snow for their water supply — and developing countries must work to protect citizens from these variations, researchers say.

Climate change is impacting birds more than previously thought
November 16, 2015 01:30 PM - Oxford University Press via ScienceDaily

Scientists have long known that birds are feeling the heat due to climate change. However, a new study of a dozen affected species in the Western Cape suggests their decline is more complex than previously thought -- and in some cases more serious.

According to the study, published in Conservation Physiology, by scientists from the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute at the University of Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, there could be several reasons why birds are being negatively affected by human-made climate change.

What lies beneath Mount St. Helens?
November 10, 2015 07:17 AM - Eric Hand, Science/AAAS

Geoscientists have for the first time revealed the magma plumbing beneath Mount St. Helens, the most active volcano in the Pacific Northwest. The emerging picture includes a giant magma chamber, between 5 and 12 kilometers below the surface, and a second, even larger one, between 12 and 40 kilometers below the surface. The two chambers appear to be connected in a way that could help explain the sequence of events in the 1980 eruption that blew the lid off Mount St. Helens.

Obama Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline
November 9, 2015 06:41 AM - Center for Biological Diversity

In a crucial victory for the climate, wildlife and the millions who spoke against it, President Obama rejected the Keystone XL project today, saying that building the tar sands oil pipeline is not in the national interest.

Over the past four years, scientists, environmentalists, tribes, farmers, celebrities and business people joined forces to fight the pipeline, with more than 2 million comments submitted to the U.S. State Department, tens of thousands participating in rallies against Keystone in all 50 states, and thousands of citizens arrested in peaceful civil disobedience.

“This is a historic moment, not just for what it means about avoiding the impacts of this disastrous pipeline but for all of those who spoke out for a healthy, livable climate and energy policies that put people and wildlife ahead of pollution and profits,” said Valerie Love with the Center for Biological Diversity. “President Obama did the right thing, but he didn’t do it alone: Millions of Americans made their voices heard on this issue, and will continue pressing Obama and other political leaders to do what’s necessary to avoid climate catastrophe.”

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