Ecosystems

Ignored warnings 'worsened' Myanmar cyclone disaster
May 12, 2008 09:02 AM - , SciDevNet

Experts say the inadequate response of the government of Myanmar (formerly Burma) to scientists' warnings, coupled with large-scale destruction of protective mangroves along its coasts, aggravated the devastation wreaked by tropical cyclone Nargis. The cyclone has killed an estimated 22,980 people so far, with millions rendered homeless by the disaster, which struck the Irrawaddy Delta region of Myanmar last week (3 May).

Japan scientists warn Arctic ice melting fast
May 12, 2008 08:45 AM - Reuters

Arctic ice is melting fast and the area covered by ice sheets in ocean could shrink this summer to the smallest since 1978 when satellite observation first started, Japanese scientists warned in a report. Ice sheets in the Arctic Ocean shrank to the smallest area on record in late summer in 2007, researchers at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said in a report on the website

Afghan northwest hit by plague of locusts
May 10, 2008 01:15 PM - Reuters

Some 300 tons of locusts have been killed by people in the northwestern province of Badghis alone in recent weeks, Abdul Ghafar Ahmadi, a senior official from the agriculture ministry, said on Saturday, citing provincial officials.

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.

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