Ecosystems

Ozone + Rising Temperatures = Problems for Food Security
July 28, 2014 02:37 PM - Editor, ENN

A new study shows that interactions between increasing temperature and air pollution can be quite significant when it comes to addressing food security. Conducted in part by researchers at MIT, a study looked in detail at global production of four leading food crops — rice, wheat, corn, and soy. It predicts that effects will vary considerably from region to region, and that some of the crops are much more strongly affected by one or the other of the factors

Industrial lead pollution beat explorers to the South Pole by 22 years
July 28, 2014 08:58 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole in December of 1911. More than 100 years later, an international team of scientists led by Joe McConnell of Nevada's Desert Research Institute (DRI) have proven that air pollution from industrial activities arrived long before. Using data from 16 ice cores collected from widely spaced locations around the Antarctic continent, including the South Pole, McConnell's team created the most accurate and precise reconstruction to date of lead pollution over the Earth's southernmost continent.

The important role of community forests
July 25, 2014 07:49 AM - Yale Environment360

Expanding and strengthening the community forest rights of indigenous groups and rural residents can make a major contribution to sequestering carbon and reducing CO2 emissions from deforestation, according to a new report. The World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Rights and Resources Initiative said that indigenous people and rural inhabitants in Latin America, Africa, and Asia have government-recognized rights to forests containing nearly 38 billion tons of carbon, equal to 29 times the annual emissions of all the world’s passenger vehicles. By enforcing community rights to those forests, the study said, governments can play a major role in tackling climate change. In the Brazilian Amazon, for example, deforestation rates are 11 times lower in community forests than in forests outside those areas. In areas where community forest rights are ignored, deforestation rates often soar. The report made five major recommendations, from better enforcement of community forest zones to compensating communities for the climate and other benefits their forests provide.

Moose Drool Detoxifies Fungus
July 25, 2014 06:06 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Saliva contains important substances helps us digest food. It also plays a part in keeping our mouths clean and healthy. Another newly discovered use? Making toxic plants less toxic. Not for us of course, but according to new research, moose and reindeer saliva can help can slow the growth of a toxic grass fungus, and subsequently make it less toxic for them, allowing the animals to graze on the grass without negative effects.

Climate warming may not drive net losses of soil carbon from tropical forests
July 23, 2014 12:16 PM - Carnegie Institute for Science

The planet's soil releases about 60 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, which is far more than that released by burning fossil fuels. This happens through a process called soil respiration. This enormous release of carbon is balanced by carbon coming into the soil system from falling leaves and other plant matter, as well as by the underground activities of plant roots.

Size and Age of Plants Impact Their Productivity More Than Climate
July 22, 2014 12:27 PM - University of Arizona

The size and age of plants have more of an impact on their productivity than temperature and precipitation, according to a landmark study by University of Arizona researchers. UA professor Brian Enquist and postdoctoral researcher Sean Michaletz, along with collaborators Dongliang Cheng from Fujian Normal University in China and Drew Kerkhoff from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, have combined a new mathematical theory with data from more than 1,000 forests across the world to show that climate has a relatively minor direct effect on net primary productivity, or the amount of biomass — wood or any other plant materials — that plants produce by harvesting sunlight, water and carbon dioxide.

New research compares environmental costs of livestock-based foods
July 22, 2014 08:00 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Trust me, no one loves a nice, big, juicy steak more than me and while I have no immediate plans of becoming a vegetarian, I am a little concerned about the resources and costs it takes to produce the proteins of our favorite meals. From the land that is used by livestock to the supplies and energy it takes to raise these animals for our consumption, it is evident that environmental resources take a toll. But what is the real cost? New research at the Weizmann Institute of Science, conducted in collaboration with scientists in the US, calculates these environmental costs and compares various animal proteins to give a multi-perspective picture of what resources are really being used.

Obama allocates funds to help communities build climate adaptation
July 21, 2014 08:09 AM - Alexis Petru, Triple Pundit

More extreme droughts, floods and wildfires — these are just some of the impacts of climate change that won't just occur in the distant future to our great-great grandchildren, but are happening now. To address the changing climate's current effects on communities in the U.S., President Barack Obama announced a plan to strengthen national infrastructure and help cities, states and tribal communities better prepare for and recover from natural disasters.

Update: Melting permafrost and Global Warming
July 19, 2014 07:14 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

You have probably heard that melting permafrost is a big contributor to increasing the levels of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, and that melting permafrost may even cause an unstoppable acceleration of global warming. New research, however, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), counters this widely-held scientific view that thawing permafrost uniformly accelerates atmospheric warming, indicating instead that certain arctic lakes store more greenhouse gases than they emit into the atmosphere. The study, published this week in the journal Nature, focuses on thermokarst lakes, which occur as permafrost thaws and creates surface depressions that fill with melted fresh water, converting what was previously frozen land into lakes.

Rainwater discovered below the Earth's fractured upper crust
July 16, 2014 06:40 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

When it rains, where does the water go? Well for one, a lot of rainwater will funnel its way off roads and impermeable surfaces and will make its way into storm sewers. Another path might be directly into rivers and lakes. Or, rainwater might get soaked up by soil where it will then infiltrate into the ground and replenish aquifers. But just how deep does this rainwater infiltrate? According to new research, rainwater can penetrate below the Earth's fractured upper crust - which is at least eight miles below the Earth's surface!

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