Ecosystems

Measures of poverty and well-being still ignore the environment - this must change
March 15, 2017 03:21 PM - Judith Schleicher & Bhaskar Vira - University of Cambridge, Ecologist

Orthodox economic measures like Gross Domestic product fail to measure the things that matter most, write Judith Schleicher & Bhaskar Vira: like human wellbeing and ecological health. This creates a systematic bias in 'development' policies that must urgently be addressed if we are to build an inclusive, equitable and sustainable society

Without nature, humans could be neither healthy nor happy.

Study: Cold Climates and Ocean Carbon Sequestration
March 15, 2017 03:12 PM - California Institute of Technology

We know a lot about how carbon dioxide (CO2) levels can drive climate change, but how about the way that climate change can cause fluctuations in CO2 levels? New research from an international team of scientists reveals one of the mechanisms by which a colder climate was accompanied by depleted atmospheric CO2 during past ice ages.

The overall goal of the work is to better understand how and why the earth goes through periodic climate change, which could shed light on how man-made factors could affect the global climate.

When the sea ice melts, juvenile polar cod may go hungry
March 15, 2017 02:39 PM - Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research

Polar cod fulfil a key role in the Arctic food web, as they are a major source of food for seals, whales and seabirds alike. But the polar cod themselves might soon be the hungry ones. Under the ice of the central Arctic, the juvenile fish are indirectly but heavily dependent on ice algae. As a result, retreating sea ice could have far-reaching impacts on the food web. Though researchers have long since suspected this relation existed, an international team of researchers led by the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI), Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, have now successfully confirmed it.

Between a rock and an artistic place
March 15, 2017 11:23 AM - Adela Talbot via University of Western Ontario

Kamilo Beach is, arguably, the world’s dirtiest beach. Located on the southeastern coast on the island of Hawaii, the beach’s sands are littered with marine debris – most of it plastic waste washed up from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Among this garbage, Patricia Corcoran and Kelly Jazvac have discovered something new.

Study quantifies role of legacy phosphorus in reduced water quality
March 15, 2017 08:43 AM - University of Wisconsin - Madison

For decades, phosphorous has accumulated in Wisconsin soils. Though farmers have taken steps to reduce the quantity of the agricultural nutrient applied to and running off their fields, a new study from the University of Wisconsin–Madison reveals that a “legacy” of abundant soil phosphorus in the Yahara watershed of Southern Wisconsin has a large, direct and long-lasting impact on water quality.

Increase of Alaskan Snow Geese OK for Other Species
March 15, 2017 08:39 AM - United States Geological Survey (USGS)

A new report by the USGS finds that although snow geese are increasing rapidly in northern Alaska, they are not having a negative effect on black brant. Brant are a goose species that shares its nesting habitat with snow geese.

Louisiana wetlands struggling with sea-level rise four times the global average
March 14, 2017 05:05 PM - Barri Bronston via Tulane University

Without major efforts to rebuild Louisiana’s wetlands, particularly in the westernmost part of the state, there is little chance that the coast will be able to withstand the accelerating rate of sea-level rise, a new Tulane University study concludes.

The study by researchers in Tulane’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences and published in the open-access journal Nature Communications shows that the rate of sea-level rise in the region over the past six to 10 years amounts to half an inch per year on average.

CO2 Levels Continue to Increase at Record Rate
March 14, 2017 02:02 PM - Yale Environment 360

For the second year in a row, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased at a record rate, jumping 3 parts per million (ppm) in 2016, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. CO2 concentrations rose 3.03 ppm in 2015, making the last two years the first time that the greenhouse gas has risen more than 3 ppm in NOAA’s 59 years of monitoring, Climate Central reported.

Did humans create the Sahara Desert?
March 14, 2017 11:23 AM - Frontiers via EurekAlert!

New research investigating the transition of the Sahara from a lush, green landscape 10,000 years ago to the arid conditions found today, suggests that humans may have played an active role in its desertification. 

The desertification of the Sahara has long been a target for scientists trying to understand climate and ecological tipping points. A new paper published in Frontiers in Earth Science by archeologist Dr. David Wright, from Seoul National University, challenges the conclusions of most studies done to date that point to changes in the Earth's orbit or natural changes in vegetation as the major driving forces.

Spiders Eat 400-800 Million Tons of Prey Every Year
March 14, 2017 11:13 AM - University of Basel

It has long been suspected that spiders are one of the most important groups of predators of insects. Zoologists at the University of Basel and Lund University in Sweden have now shown just how true this is – spiders kill astronomical numbers of insects on a global scale. The scientific journal The Science of Nature has published the results.

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