Selectively logged Amazon forests play important role in climate
September 21, 2015 02:37 PM - Cell Press via EurekAlert!

With careful management, selectively logged tropical Amazonian forests can recover their carbon stocks within a cutting cycle of 20 to 30 years, according to researchers who report their findings in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on September 21. The findings show that sustainably logged tropical forests continue to play a key role in global carbon sequestration, with important implications for global climate.

Fracking Chemicals can cause Endocrine Disruption
September 21, 2015 08:43 AM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit

There is mounting data to suggest that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) can have adverse affects on the environment. A new study, however, suggests that populations living close to fracking sites also have a higher incidence of health complications.

Alarming report on the health of our oceans
September 20, 2015 06:29 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

The sheer vastness of the oceans on this planet make it seem almost impossible that our actions could bring them to the point of no return, but a new report has found that we are causing an alarming decline of marine ecosystems and the species who rely on them.

According to the World Wildlife Fund‘s (WWF) recently released Living Blue Planet Report, marine populations have declined by an astonishing 49 percent between 1970 and 2012, with with some fish species, including tuna, declining by almost 75 percent.

Birds that flock to feeders are more likely to get sick, spread disease
September 17, 2015 08:56 AM - Virginia Tech

Wild songbirds that prefer to eat at bird feeders have an increased risk of acquiring a common eye disease. In turn, these birds also spread the disease more quickly to their flock mates, according to an international research team led by Virginia Tech scientists.

Are "sustainable" pet foods better?
September 17, 2015 06:43 AM - Leon Kaye , Triple Pundit

Many of its brands — and commercials — may be iconic, from Meow Mix to Alpo, but the fact is that the pet food industry is a relatively new business. For millennia, cats and dogs were simply fed unwanted table scraps. Go to a timeless fish market like the Besiktas in Istanbul, and the chances are high that visitors will see a fishmonger feeding a feline the day’s scraps. Wander through the timeless Central Market in Athens and observers will watch the same thing, only with tidbits of beef and lamb.

Fast forward to the post-World War II era, however, and it was then that many food companies saw the benefits of marketing formulated pet foods to dog and cat owners. Growing affluence and the demand for convenience together inspired companies including General Foods, Nabisco and Purina (now owned by Nestlé) to enter the pet food sector. The profit margins were huge, as food waste that previously would have been discarded was recycled into what quickly became a lucrative new business.

Plants migrate to higher altitudes because of climate change
September 16, 2015 02:46 PM - Aarhus University

Although most of the world’s species diversity is found in tropical areas, there are very few studies that have examined whether tropical mountain species are affected by climate change to the same extent as temperate species. A new study has now determined that major changes have taken place during the last two centuries.

By comparing the migration of plant communities on the Chimborazo volcano in Ecuador with historical data from 1802, Aarhus University researchers found an average upslope shift of more than 500 metres. The entire vegetation boundary has moved upwards from 4,600 metres to almost 5,200 metres. The main explanation for this dramatic shift is climate change over the last 210 years.

New study finds massive eruptions likely triggered mass extinction
September 16, 2015 09:14 AM - Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office

Around 252 million years ago, life on Earth collapsed in spectacular and unprecedented fashion, as more than 96 percent of marine species and 70 percent of land species disappeared in a geological instant. The so-called end-Permian mass extinction ­— or more commonly, the “Great Dying” — remains the most severe extinction event in Earth’s history.

Huge Permafrost study will help improve climate models

This Saturday at a conference in Quebec, Canada an international research team will present the first online data portal on global permafrost. In the Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost researchers first collect all the existing permafrost temperature and active thickness layer data from Arctic, Antarctic and mountain permafrost regions and then make it freely available for download. This new portal can serve as an early warning system for researchers and decision-makers around the globe. A detailed description of the data collection is published today in an open access article on the Earth System Science Data portal.

Although the world's permafrost is one of the most important pieces in Earth's climate-system puzzle, to date it has been missing in most climate models. The reason: data on temperature and the active layer thickness were neither comprehensive nor were they available in a standard format suitable for modelling. With the new Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost (GTN-P), scientists from 25 countries have now filled this gap in the data.

Oceanic Phytoplankton contribute to ice formation in clouds
September 10, 2015 08:49 AM - British Antarctic Survey.

Researchers from the Arctic Research Programme, managed at British Antarctic Survey, have shown for the first time that phytoplankton (plant life) in remote ocean regions can contribute to rare airborne particles that trigger ice formation in clouds.

Results published today in the journal Nature show that the organic waste from life in the oceans, which is ejected into the atmosphere along with sea spray from breaking waves, stimulates cloud droplets to freeze into ice particles. This affects how clouds behave and influence global climate, which is important for improved projections of future climate change.

MIT study shows climate change mitigation potential of geoengineering the oceans
September 9, 2015 07:23 AM - Mark Dwortzan | Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, MIT

Like the leaves of New England maples, phytoplankton, the microalgae at the base of most oceanic food webs, photosynthesize when exposed to sunlight. In the process, they absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, converting it to carbohydrates and oxygen. Many phytoplankton species also release dimethyl sulfide (DMS) into the atmosphere, where it forms sulfate aerosols, which can directly reflect sunlight or increase cloud cover and reflectivity, resulting in a cooling effect. The ability of phytoplankton to draw planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and produce aerosols that promote further cooling has made ocean fertilization — through massive dispersal of iron sulfite and other nutrients that stimulate phytoplankton growth — an attractive geoengineering method to reduce global warming.

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