Ecosystems

Lawrence Livermore finds ocean warming underestimated by past analyses
October 6, 2014 07:32 AM - Anne M Stark, LLNL

Using satellite observations and a large suite of climate models, Lawrence Livermore scientists have found that long-term ocean warming in the upper 700 meters of Southern Hemisphere oceans has likely been underestimated. "This underestimation is a result of poor sampling prior to the last decade and limitations of the analysis methods that conservatively estimated temperature changes in data-€sparse regions," said LLNL oceanographer Paul Durack, lead author of a paper appearing in the October 5 issue of the journal Nature Climate Change.

Sediment from melting Greenland glaciers visible in satellite images
October 3, 2014 08:52 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The glaciers on Greenland are melting, and this is releasing visible plumes of sediments to surrounding waters. NASA has released some new images showing these plumes. Toward the end of the 21st century, melting from the Greenland Ice Sheet could result in global sea level rise of 4-21 centimeters (2-8 inches), according to the Fifth Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Toward refining that estimate, some scientists are taking a close look at the colorful plumes that pepper the ocean around Greenland's perimeter. About half of the mass lost from the Greenland Ice Sheet is from icebergs calving from glaciers; the other half is lost via meltwater runoff either from the top of the ice or from below (subglacial). According to Vena Chu of University of California, Los Angeles, one of the biggest science questions relating to the ice sheet is: what is the contribution to sea level rise from meltwater?

No longer able to find sea ice, walruses turn to land
October 2, 2014 09:24 AM - Morgan Erickson-Davis, MONGABAY.COM

A mass of thousands of walruses were spotted hauled up on land in northwest Alaska during NOAA aerial surveys earlier this week. An estimated 35,000 occupied a single beach — a record number illustrating a trend in an unnatural behavior scientists say is due to global warming. Walruses (Odobenus rosmarus)—iconic arctic mammals that are only distantly related to seals—traditionally use sea ice to rest, breed, and give birth, and as a vantage from which to spot mollusks and other food sources. However, as their habitat warms and sea ice melts, walruses are forced to come to land more often and in greater numbers.

Dog waste contaminates our waterways
October 1, 2014 10:50 AM - American Chemical Society

Americans love their dogs, but they don't always love to pick up after them. And that's a problem. Dog feces left on the ground wash into waterways, sometimes carrying bacteria — including antibiotic-resistant strains — that can make people sick. Now scientists have developed a new genetic test to figure out how much dogs are contributing to this health concern, according to a report in the ACS journal Environmental Science & Technology.

Yellowstone Aspen recovering thanks to the Wolves
October 1, 2014 08:47 AM - Oregon State University

Wildlife in Yellowstone National Park is undergoing dramatic shifts with consequences that are beginning to return the landscape to conditions not seen in nearly a century, according to a series of new studies. In the park's northeast section, elk have decreased in number in their historic winter range in the Lamar Valley and are now more numerous outside the park. This change in elk numbers and distribution can be traced back to the reintroduction of wolves in 1995-96. Scientists have hypothesized that wolves affect both the numbers and the behavior of elk, thereby reducing the impact of browsing on vegetation, a concept known as a "trophic cascade."

Climate Change and Food Security
October 1, 2014 08:47 AM - Bill DiBenedetto, Triple Pundit

If coping with climate change is central to achieving a sustainable future for the global population, then food security lies at the heart of this effort, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said last week in a speech at the United Nations Climate Summit last week. "We cannot call development sustainable while hunger still robs over 800 million people of the opportunity to lead a decent life," he said in a reference to the latest U.N. report on world hunger, The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014.

New research in Thailand finds birds and bats key to reforestation efforts
September 30, 2014 08:37 AM - Heather D'Angelo, MONGABAY.COM

Tropical forest restoration projects are exciting research sites for scientists studying factors that affect ecosystem recovery. Here, scientists are trying to understand plant community succession, i.e. the process of recovery after cleared lands are abandoned and allowed to regrow naturally. One of the most important components of this recovery process is seed dispersal, since seeds from nearby forests allow a deforested habitat to become populated again by native plants and trees.

Causes of California drought linked to climate change, Stanford scientists say
September 29, 2014 03:34 PM - Ker Than, Stanford University

The atmospheric conditions associated with the unprecedented drought currently afflicting California are "very likely" linked to human-caused climate change, Stanford scientists write in a new research paper. In a new study, a team led by Stanford climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh used a novel combination of computer simulations and statistical techniques to show that a persistent region of high atmospheric pressure hovering over the Pacific Ocean that diverted storms away from California was much more likely to form in the presence of modern greenhouse gas concentrations.

Some good news for the oceans!
September 28, 2014 08:04 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

Good news for aquatic life: the oceans just got a little bit safer. Okay, so most of the ocean remains vulnerable to human devastation, but on Thursday, President Barack Obama used his authority to create the most massive ocean reserve in the world. In a single day, the amount of the world’s ocean protected from commercial interests has effectively doubled. Originally, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument was something that George W. Bush established during his last weeks in office. However, Obama has taken the symbolic ocean protection and turned it into something useful by growing the area to six times its original size.

'Transponders' from Japan was ashore along US West Coast
September 26, 2014 06:37 AM - Oregon State University

Northwest anglers venturing out into the Pacific Ocean in pursuit of salmon and other fish this fall may scoop up something unusual into their nets — instruments released from Japan called "transponders." These floating instruments are about the size of a 2-liter soda bottle and were set in the ocean from different ports off Japan in 2011-12 after the massive Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Researchers from Tattori University for Environmental Studies in Japan have been collaborating with Oregon State University, Oregon Sea Grant, and the NOAA Marine Debris Program on the project.

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