Ecosystems

Claimants tiptoe around lucrative Antarctic rights
January 30, 2008 05:31 AM - Reuters

TROLL STATION, Antarctica (Reuters) - Nations claiming parts of Antarctica are quietly staking out rights to the seabed, in stark contrast to the North Pole where Russia ostentatiously planted a flag to back its claim. "We have a vessel making seismic surveys of the continental shelf," Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg told Reuters at the Troll research station, 155 miles inland in a part of Antarctica claimed by Oslo.

U.N. aid chief worried by food inflation, weather
January 29, 2008 12:41 PM - Reuters

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Rising food prices and extreme weather are sparking more humanitarian disasters around the world, the United Nations' top official for emergency relief warned on Tuesday. Fourteen out of 15 U.N. "flash appeals" for help last year were a response to devastation caused by droughts, floods and hurricanes, U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator John Holmes said.

Antarctica on alert for alien invaders
January 28, 2008 08:28 AM - Reuters

Aliens are landing in Antarctica. Seeds, spores, mites, lichens and mosses alien to the continent have been brought unwittingly by scientists and tourists, and could disrupt life in the icy wilderness. Antarctica is best known for penguins as well as seals and whales, but scientists are finding a host of other tiny organisms from springtails -- closely related to insects -- to mosses.

As Supplies Dry Up, Growers Pass on Farming and Sell Water
January 25, 2008 09:43 AM - , Organic Consumers Association

The shortages this season among the most intense of the last decade are already shooting water prices skyward in many areas, and Los Angeles-area cities are begging for water and coaxing farmers to let their fields go to dust. "It just makes dollars and sense right now," said Bruce Rolen, a third-generation farmer in Northern California's lush Sacramento Valley. "There's more economic advantage to fallowing than raising a crop."

Lofty Himalaya magnify global warming impact
January 25, 2008 04:53 AM - Reuters

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - The Himalayas are suffering the effects of global warming more acutely because of their height and melting glaciers could flood local settlements, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) said on Thursday. "The Himalaya, that's really moving very fast. They're being hit very hard," IUCN Director General Julia Marton-Lefevre told Reuters at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.

Bondi Beach placed on protected heritage list
January 25, 2008 03:48 AM - Reuters

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's Bondi Beach, the country's most famous strip of sand, was placed on the National Heritage List on Friday to protect its sand, cliffs, waves, parks and surf lifesaving clubs. Sydney's Bondi is Australia's third most visited landmark and local officials say it is being loved to death, with traffic gridlock on summer days and massive amounts of day-tripper rubbish.

New Zealand PM warns off Japanese whalers
January 25, 2008 02:52 AM - Reuters

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark warned Japanese whaling ships on Friday that surveillance photos of the fleet revealing their location would be published if they entered New Zealand's Antarctic waters. Japan's six-ship whaling fleet has been trying to avoid anti-whaling protest ships in the Southern Ocean after protesters stopped whaling operations when two activists boarded a whaling ship and another group stopped a whaling ship refueling.

Why Diatoms could help stop global warming
January 24, 2008 10:57 AM - University of Washington

The shells of diatoms are so heavy that when they die in the oceans they typically sink to watery graves on the seafloor, taking carbon out of the surface waters and locking it into sediments below. Scientists have reported the discovery of whole subsets of genes and proteins that govern how one species of diatom builds its shell. For oceanographers, the work might one day help them understand how thousands of different kinds of diatoms -- and their ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere -- might be affected by something like global climate change. Material scientists involved in the work are interested in the possibilities of manipulating the genes responsible for silica production as a way of fabricating more efficient computer chips.

Antarctic Ice Loss Dangerously Fast
January 24, 2008 09:53 AM - ENN

New studies show that the Antarctic ice sheet is melting faster than previously anticipated. If this jump is indicative of a trend due to global warming the entire antarctic ecology could be threatened much sooner than expected.
In a first-of-its-kind study, an international team led by Eric Rignot of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and the University of California, Irvine, estimated changes in Antarctica's ice mass between 1996 and 2006 and mapped patterns of ice loss on a glacier-by-glacier basis.

China sees little optimism in anti-desert fight
January 24, 2008 02:33 AM - Reuters

There is little cause for optimism in China's fight to turn back the spreading deserts, with efforts so far failing to live up to expectations, a senior government official said on Thursday. Deserts, which cover a fifth of China, are spreading on the upper reaches of the Yellow River, on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau and parts of Inner Mongolia and Gansu, driven by decades of overgrazing and deforestation.

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