Ecosystems

Overgrazing Accelerating Soil Erosion In Northern Mexico

As part of field studies conducted from 1993 to 2000 on the mountain crests of the western Sierra Madre and in the more arid regions in the south of the Chihuahua Desert, the scientific team established a soil classification according to climatic and topographic characteristics. They used a rainfall index type hydrological model which gives real-time simulation of the humidity state of soil on the basis of a range of parameters including soil humidity, runoff rate, water storage capacity. This measurement method also takes into account the volume of rain collected at a given moment and the time lapsed since it fell.

Illegal logging and road building threatens tigers and tribes of the Heart of Sumatra
January 8, 2008 09:48 AM - World Wildlife Fund

Field investigations in central Sumatra have found that the home of two tribes of indigenous people and endangered elephants, tigers and orang-utans faces “being split in half” by the construction of “a legally questionable highway” for logging trucks servicing one of the world’s largest paper companies. The investigation, by WWF Indonesia and other scientific and conservation groups, also found the crucial Bukit Tigapuluh Forest Landscape threatened by illegal logging, clearing for plantations and other roadbuilding – much of it linked to operations of Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and its partners.

Corn... fuel... fire! U.S. corn subsidies promote Amazon deforestation
January 8, 2008 09:35 AM - Smithsonian Tropial Research Institute

Amazon deforestation and fires are being aggravated by US farm subsidies, claims STRI’s staff scientist William Laurance. According to Laurance, whose findings are reported this week in Science (December 14), a recent spike in Amazonian fires is being promoted by massive US subsidies that promote American corn production for ethanol. The ethanol is being blended with gasoline as an automobile fuel.

Floods cause havoc in southern Africa
January 8, 2008 06:41 AM - Reuters

About 1.5 million Zambians may have to flee their homes because of floods in southern Africa that have cut off vast areas of Zimbabwe and killed six people in Mozambique. Zambian state television showed people carrying beds, chickens and goats above their heads as they moved through surging waters. Half of the country has been put on alert.

Florida manatee deaths decreased in 2007
January 8, 2008 05:42 AM - Reuters

The number of endangered manatees that died in Florida waters last year dropped by 24 percent, according to preliminary report on Monday from the state's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The commission, which in December postponed a decision on whether to remove the manatee from the state's endangered species list, said 317 manatees died in 2007 compared to 417 in 2006, the highest death toll on record.

China ice festival feels heat from climate change
January 8, 2008 05:42 AM -

Chinese scientists have warned that climate change is hurting the most famous draw in the northern city of Harbin -- its annual ice sculpture contest. Average annual temperatures in the city perched on the edge of Siberia hit 6.6 degrees Celsius (44 Fahrenheit) last year, the highest average since records began, and the ice sculptures are feeling the heat.

U.N. climate panel head probably seeking re-election
January 7, 2008 06:10 PM -

India's Rajendra Pachauri said on Monday he will probably seek a new term as head of the U.N. climate panel that shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore. "I think we are riding a crest ... as far as climate change is concerned, particularly spreading the information of climate change," Pachauri, 67, told Reuters in Oslo after making an evening speech about the risks of global warming.

Plate Tectonics May Take a Break
January 7, 2008 10:01 AM - Carnegie Institution of Washington

Plate tectonics, the geologic process responsible for creating the Earth’s continents, mountain ranges, and ocean basins, may be an on-again, off-again affair. Scientists have assumed that the shifting of crustal plates has been slow but continuous over most of the Earth’s history, but a new study from researchers at the Carnegie Institution suggests that plate tectonics may have ground to a halt at least once in our planet’s history—and may do so again.

South Korea to ban single-hulled tankers after spill
January 7, 2008 02:38 AM - Reuters

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea will ban single-hulled tankers from traveling in its waters by 2011, earlier than the international regulation that calls for a ban from 2015, Seoul's maritime ministry said on Monday. A single-hulled tanker was involved in South Korea's worst oil spill in December, leaking around 10,500 tons of crude oil after a seabound crane mounted on a barge punched holes in the tanker's hull.

Heavy rains flood drought-hit Australian farmers
January 7, 2008 01:29 AM - Reuters

Heavy rains and flooding in northeast Australia have been both a blessing and a curse for drought-hit farmers, but more rain is needed to break a seven-year drought. Farm officials say a series of storms have delivered heavy, but sporadic, rain in two of Australia's largest agricultural states, Queensland and New South Wales.

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