Ecosystems

How is a warming climate impacting coral reefs?
September 10, 2014 07:34 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

How is a warming climate impacting life in the oceans? Fish can move to cooler areas, but coral reefs are anchored in place. Late-summer water temperatures near the Florida Keys were warmer by nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit in the last several decades compared to a century earlier, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey. Researchers indicate that the warmer water temperatures are stressing corals and increasing the number of bleaching events, where corals become white resulting from a loss of their symbiotic algae. The corals can starve to death if the condition is prolonged.

Greenhouse gases hit new record
September 9, 2014 11:07 AM - Alex Kirby, The Ecologist

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has reported that the amounts of atmospheric greenhouse gases reached a new high in 2013, driven by rapidly rising levels of carbon dioxide. The news is consistent with trends in fossil fuel consumption. But what comes as more of a surprise is the WMO's revelation that the current rate of ocean acidification, which greenhouse gases (GHGs) help to cause, appears unprecedented in at least the last 300 million years.

Monarch Butterflies losing critical habitat
September 7, 2014 09:57 AM - KEVIN PROFT/ecoRI News staff

Sandy Oliviera has raised monarch butterflies in her East Providence backyard for 25 years. In 1998, she helped 125 monarch caterpillars transform into butterflies, and then released them to the wind. "I began to feel like a butterfly factory that year," Oliviera said. Each time her husband or daughter collected milkweed to feed their captive caterpillars, they returned with more eggs or caterpillars to raise. Some days, Oliviera released a dozen newly emerged butterflies, to the pleasure of her 8-year-old grandson who let them rest on his head before they flew away. This summer, for the first time, Oliviera hasn't found a single monarch egg or caterpillar, and hasn't seen any monarch butterflies.

UN licenses kick off search for underwater minerals
September 5, 2014 08:07 AM - Rodrigo de Oliveira Andrade, SciDevNet

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) has begun issuing exploration licenses for mining the yet untouched floor of international waters raising concerns about potential environmental impacts. The licenses, issued on 21 July, grant prospecting rights for underwater minerals to private and state-owned companies from Brazil, Cook Islands, Germany, India, Russia, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

Ozone pollution in India kills crops that could feed starving population
September 4, 2014 03:23 PM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

In one year, India's ozone pollution damaged millions of tons of the country's major crops, causing losses of more than a billion dollars and destroying enough food to feed tens of millions of people living below the poverty line. These are findings of a new study that looked at the agricultural effects in 2005 of high concentrations of ground-level ozone, a plant-damaging pollutant formed by emissions from vehicles, cooking stoves and other sources. Able to acquire accurate crop production data for 2005, the study's authors chose it as a year representative of the effects of ozone damage over the first decade of the 21st century.

How Farm Pests Can Threaten Food Security
September 2, 2014 12:49 PM - Tim Radford, The Ecologist

Agricultural pests - viruses, bacteria, fungi, blights, mildews, rusts, beetles, nematodes, flies, mites, spiders and caterpillars - are spreading thanks to trade, travel and global warming, writes Tim Radford. The world faces a dire future of increased crop losses and growing insecurity. Coming soon to a farm near you: just about every possible type of pest that could take advantage of the ripening harvest in the nearby fields.

Puffins in New England
August 29, 2014 03:36 PM - PETER BAKER/ecoRI News contributor

I can't help but smile when I see a puffin, and I know I'm not alone. Thousands of people board tour boats each summer in Maine to get a glimpse of these charming seabirds with their tuxedo plumage and rainbow beaks. But what's in those beaks is serious business. The forage fish that puffin parents bring back to their island nests mean the difference between life and death for the chicks, and the past few years offer stark evidence of what happens when those fish become scarce.

Reducing Water Scarcity
August 29, 2014 02:53 PM - McGill University

Water scarcity is not a problem just for the developing world. In California, legislators are currently proposing a $7.5 billion emergency water plan to their voters; and U.S. federal officials last year warned residents of Arizona and Nevada that they could face cuts in Colorado River water deliveries in 2016. Irrigation techniques, industrial and residential habits combined with climate change lie at the root of the problem. But despite what appears to be an insurmountable problem, according to researchers from McGill and Utrecht University it is possible to turn the situation around and significantly reduce water scarcity in just over 35 years.

Study Suggests More Research before Fracking Continues
August 29, 2014 07:22 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

An independent report on fracking has recommended a temporary moratorium on the controversial process and says that communities should give permission before it can proceed. The interdisciplinary expert panel set up by the Nova Scotia regional government says the science of fracking is relatively unknown and therefore its introduction should be delayed in the Province until the science and its environmental effects are better understood.

"Global Roadmap" Created to Balance Development with Environmental Protection
August 28, 2014 11:49 AM - Morgan Erickson-Davis, MONGABAY.COM

Roads make it possible to bring goods to market, to get to the office, to log a forest, to hunt its wildlife. Without roads, human society as we know it could not exist. However, to build roads, trees must be cleared and swamps drained, shrinking valuable wildlife habitat and fragmenting populations in the process. A new study, published today in Nature, unveils an innovative map that defines which areas of the world would best be used to build roads — and which should be left alone. Scientists estimate more than 25 million kilometers of new roads will be built worldwide by 2050, representing a 60 percent increase over 2010 numbers. Many of these are slated for environmentally valuable places with high numbers of unique species and pristine forest, such as the Amazon Basin.

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