Ecosystems

Are Myanmar’s Storm Victims Suffering Needlessly?
May 9, 2008 09:02 AM - , Worldwatch Institute

As the floodwaters of Cyclone Nargis began to recede from Myanmar's low-lying Irrawaddy Delta this week, at least one regional leader was quick to note that this devastating disaster could have been partially prevented through coastal preservation. Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), mentioned in an address in Singapore that expanding coastal populations and widespread mangrove degradation played key roles in worsening the cyclone's impact.

Climate models overheat Antarctica, new study finds
May 8, 2008 08:51 AM - National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

BOULDER--Computer analyses of global climate have consistently overstated warming in Antarctica, concludes new research by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Ohio State University. The study can help scientists improve computer models and determine if Earth's southernmost continent will warm significantly this century, a major research question because of Antarctica's potential impact on global sea-level rise. "We can now compare computer simulations with observations of actual climate trends in Antarctica," says NCAR scientist Andrew Monaghan, the lead author of the study. "This is showing us that, over the past century, most of Antarctica has not undergone the fairly dramatic warming that has affected the rest of the globe. The challenges of studying climate in this remote environment make it difficult to say what the future holds for Antarctica's climate."

Clean air could kill the Amazon, researchers say
May 8, 2008 08:01 AM - Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - Cleaner air due to reduced coal burning could help destroy the Amazon this century, according to a finding published on Wednesday that highlights the complex challenges of global climate change. The study in the journal Nature identified a link between reduced sulphur dioxide emissions from coal burning and increased sea surface temperatures in the tropical North Atlantic that boosts the drought risk in the Amazon rainforest.

Seed dispersal in mauritius: dead as a dodo?
May 7, 2008 09:31 AM - Public Library of Science

Walking through the last rainforests on the volcanic island of Mauritius, located some 800 km east of Madagascar, one is surrounded by ghosts. Since human colonisation in the 17th century, the island has lost most of its unique animals. The litany includes the famous flightless dodo, giant tortoises, parrots, pigeons, fruitbats, and giant lizards. It is comparatively easy to notice the los­­s of a species, but much more difficult to realise how many interactions have been lost as a result.

Unmanned Aircraft to Study Southern California Smog and its Consequences
May 6, 2008 09:41 AM - Scripps Institution of Oceanography

"These monthly UAV flights will provide unprecedented data for evaluating how long range transport of pollutants including ozone, soot and other particulates from the northwest United States, Canada, east Asia and Mexico mix with local pollution and influence our air quality and regional climate including the early melting of snow packs," said Ramanathan.

Climate change could hit tropical wildlife hardest
May 6, 2008 09:16 AM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Polar bears may have it relatively easy. It's the tropical creatures that could really struggle if the climate warms even a few degrees in places that are already hot, scientists reported on Monday. That doesn't mean polar bears and other wildlife in the polar regions won't feel the impact of climate change. They probably will, because that is where the warming is expected to be most extreme, as much as 18 degrees F (10 degrees C) by the end of this century.

Water looms as “The Next Oil,” warns MIT Sloan professor
May 5, 2008 08:29 AM - MIT Sloan School of Management

With U.S. gasoline prices edging toward the recently unimaginable price of $4 a gallon, consumers are beginning to drive less and energy efficiency is again a hot topic. But the pain caused by high oil prices is nothing like what looms as an even more basic and essential natural commodity – water -- faces dwindling supplies and growing demand. As essential as it is taken for granted, water is The Next Oil.

Australia seen needing years of rain to end drought
May 5, 2008 08:22 AM - Reuters

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia needs several years of above average rain to end a drought that has devastated crops in three of the last six years, according to the latest report by the Bureau of Meterology. The bureau said in its monthly drought statement on Monday that despite recent heavy rains over eastern Australia's main cropping lands, the drought was far from over, and had intensified in the outback.

Global warming could starve oceans of oxygen: study
May 2, 2008 08:42 AM - Reuters

Global warming could gradually starve parts of the tropical oceans of oxygen, damaging fisheries and coastal economies, a study showed on Thursday. Areas of the eastern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans with low amounts of dissolved oxygen have expanded in the past 50 years, apparently in line with rising temperatures, according to the scientists based in Germany and the United States.

A hard look at hardwood consumption

Many people enjoy using tropical hardwoods as garden furniture and parquet floors, but few consumers make the link with global warming. But the link is there, because some products are made from timber from areas like the Amazon and Southeast Asia that contain vast quantities of trees that absorb carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, but where the overall number of trees is diminishing under pressure from unscrupulous loggers.

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