Ecosystems

Snowshoe hare range moving northward following retreating snow cover
March 31, 2016 07:52 AM - University of Wisconsin-Madison via ScienceDaily

If there is an animal emblematic of the northern winter, it is the snowshoe hare.

A forest dweller, the snowshoe hare is named for its big feet, which allow it to skitter over deep snow to escape lynx, coyotes and other predators. It changes color with the seasons, assuming a snow-white fur coat for winter camouflage.

But a changing climate and reduced snow cover across the north is squeezing the animal out of its historic range, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Writing in the current (March 30, 2016) Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the Wisconsin researchers report that the range of the hare in Wisconsin is creeping north by about five and a half miles per decade, closely tracking the diminishing snow cover the animal requires to be successful.

 

Severe water stress likely in Asia by 2050
March 30, 2016 05:51 PM - MIT News

Economic and population growth on top of climate change could lead to serious water shortages across a broad swath of Asia by the year 2050, a newly published study by MIT scientists has found.

The study deploys detailed modeling to produce what the researchers believe is a full range of scenarios involving water availability and use in the future. In the paper, the scientists conclude there is a “high risk of severe water stress” in much of an area that is home to roughly half the world’s population.

Ocean temperatures predict U.S. heat waves
March 29, 2016 07:19 AM - National Science Foundation

The formation of a distinct pattern of sea surface temperatures in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean can predict an increased chance of summer heat waves in the eastern half of the U.S. up to 50 days in advance.

The pattern is a contrast of warmer-than-average water coming up against cooler-than-average seas. When it appears, the odds that extreme heat will strike during a particular week -- or even on a particular day -- can more than triple, depending on how well-formed the pattern is.

The past, present and future of African dust
March 28, 2016 07:19 AM - National Center for Scientific Research

So much dust is scattered across the planet by the winds of the Sahara that it alters the climate. However, the emission and transport of this dust, which can reach the poles, fluctuate considerably. Although many hypotheses have been put forward to explain this phenomenon, no unambiguous relationship between this dust and the climate had been established until now. According to research carried out by a French-US team of researchers from LATMOS(CNRS/UVSQ/UPMC), CNRM(CNRS/Météo-France) and SIO3, meteorological events such as El Niño and rainfall in the Sahel have an impact on dust emission, by accelerating a Saharan wind downstream of the main mountain massifs of Northwest Africa. The scientists have also developed a new predictive model showing that emissions of Saharan dust will decline over the next hundred years. Their work is published in the 24 March 2016 issue of the journal Nature.

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.

 

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.

Desert cactus purifies contaminated water for aquaculture, drinking and more
March 14, 2016 07:27 AM - American Chemical Society via EurekAlert!

Farm-grown fish are an important source of food with significant and worldwide societal and economic benefits, but the fish that come from these recirculating systems can have unpleasant tastes and odors. To clean contaminated water for farmed fish, drinking and other uses, scientists are now turning to an unlikely source -- the mucilage or inner "guts" of cacti.

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.

Oregon Kicks Dirty Coal Habit
March 7, 2016 07:41 PM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

Oregon is ready to kick its filthy coal habit, and now it has passed a law to hold itself to this pledge. The Clean Energy and Coal Transition Act blocks the state’s largest power companies from purchasing coal-based electricity by 2030. By taking this important step, the state will effectively double its reliance on renewable energy in the upcoming decades. Moreover, Oregon’s energy should be approximately 80% carbon-free by the year 2040.

The legislation makes Oregon the first state to commit to ditching coal completely. As such, it is easily one of the most progressive energy policies in the United States. Hawaii’s goal to go 100% renewable by 2045 and California’s ambitious 2020 wind and solar goals deserve some credit, too, though.

Oregon’s coal plan is not only exciting because of its unprecedented nature, but because it was a genuinely collaborative effort from all sorts of people in the state. Legislators, citizens, environmental groups, Governor Kate Brown and even the state’s two largest utility companies (Portland General Election and Pacific Power) teamed together to work out new energy goals.

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