Ecosystems

NOAA: 2007 a Top Ten Warm Year for U.S. and Globe
December 30, 2007 11:52 AM - NOAA

The year 2007 is on pace to become one of the 10 warmest years for the contiguous U.S., since national records began in 1895, according to preliminary data from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The year was marked by exceptional drought in the U.S. Southeast and the West, which helped fuel another extremely active wildfire season. The year also brought outbreaks of cold air, and killer heat waves and floods. Meanwhile, the global surface temperature for 2007 is expected to be fifth warmest since records began in 1880. Preliminary data will be updated in early January to reflect the final three weeks of December and is not considered final until a full analysis is complete next spring.

Study maps life in extreme environments
December 29, 2007 11:13 AM - New York University

A team of biologists have developed a model mapping the control circuit governing a whole free living organism. This is an important milestone for the new field of systems biology and will allow the researchers to model how the organism adapts over time in response to its environment. This study marks the first time researchers have accurately predicted a cell’s dynamics at the genome scale (for most of the thousands of components in the cell). The findings, which are based on a study of Halobacterium salinarum, a free-living microbe that lives in hyper-extreme environments, appear in the latest issue of the journal Cell.

Deep-sea Species "Loss Could Lead To Oceans" Collapse
December 29, 2007 11:02 AM - Cell Press

"For the first time, we have demonstrated that deep-sea ecosystem functioning is closely dependent upon the number of species inhabiting the ocean floor," said Roberto Danovaro of the Polytechnic University of Marche, in Italy. "This shows that we need to preserve biodiversity, and especially deep-sea biodiversity, because otherwise the negative consequences could be unprecedented. We must care about species that are far from us and [essentially] invisible." Ecosystem functioning involves several processes, which can be summarized as the production, consumption, and transfer of organic matter to higher levels of the food chain, the decomposition of organic matter, and the regeneration of nutrients, he explained.

Thailand could support as many as 2,000 wild tigers, 3 times current level
December 28, 2007 12:07 PM - , Wildlife Alliance

BANGKOK, Thailand -- Thailand's parks and wildlife reserves could hold up to 2,000 wild tigers, about three times their current level, but only if the government steps up efforts to control poaching, researchers said Monday. The country's Western Forest Complex, 6,900 square miles (18,000 square kilometers) of protected jungle habitat, currently holds 720 tigers, according to a study by Thailand's Department of National Park, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation and the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society.

Unethical Ethanol Tariff
December 28, 2007 12:00 PM - Adam Dean, Global Policy Innovations Program

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and U.S. President Bush met last week at Camp David to discuss the future of ethanol. As the world's largest producer of sugar and a pioneer in the production of ethanol, Brazil is a key ally in Bush's plan to reduce America's foreign oil dependence and environmental footprint. Imports of Brazilian ethanol could be a major step toward achieving Bush's goal of reducing American gasoline consumption by 20 percent over the next ten years. As ethanol can be produced from sugar, increased consumption of the fuel in the United States could also lead to a higher commodity price for sugar producers in Brazil, with the potential to lift thousands out of poverty.

Netherlands has another record warm year
December 28, 2007 09:52 AM - Reuters

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The average temperature in the Netherlands in 2007 matched 2006, the warmest year in 300 years, and the Dutch meteorological institute said it was a sign of global warming. The average temperature in 2007 was 11.2 degrees Celsius (52.16F) which, along with 2006, is highest average since Dutch temperatures were first measured in 1706, the KNMI institute said on Friday. The normal annual average is 9.8 degrees.

First West Australia cyclone forms
December 28, 2007 03:47 AM - Reuters

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The first cyclone of the West Australia storm season formed offshore on Friday, the government weather service said, serving a reminder to oil firms and miners of the potential for disruptions over the next four months. Tropical cyclone Melanie developed in the ocean about 600 km (370 miles) north-west of the seaside community of Broome, according to Australia's Bureau of Meteorology.

Barcoding An Entire Ecosystem
December 27, 2007 03:33 PM - Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley Newswire

BERKELEY – In the middle of the South Pacific, about 12 miles west of Tahiti, is a tropical island that soon will emerge as a model ecosystem, thanks to the efforts of a U.S.-French research team led by University of California, Berkeley, biologists.

Traditional medicine plants disappearing as demand rises
December 27, 2007 03:22 PM - Carol Campbell, SciDevNet

Johannesburg - A dwindling supply of wild medicinal plants is threatening South Africa's traditional medicine industry, according to new research. In a paper published by the nongovernmental organisation Health Systems Trust this month, researchers found that the demand for traditional medicine is higher than ever — stimulated by HIV/AIDS, unemployment and rapid urbanisation.

EPA, Dow Chemical Negotiate River Cleanups
December 27, 2007 03:06 PM - Paul Schaefer, ENN

CHICAGO - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 today extended a deadline with Dow Chemical to negotiate a settlement to conduct and finance an investigation, a study and interim cleanup actions for dioxin contamination in the Tittabawassee River system. In October the EPA called for negotiations under provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or Superfund.

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