Ecosystems

Molecular signature shows plants are adapting to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide
October 26, 2016 09:53 AM - University of Southampton

Plants are adapting to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide according to a new study from the University of Southampton

The research, published in the journal Global Change Biology, provides insight into the long-term impacts of rising CO2 and the implications for global food security and nature conservation.

Lead author Professor Gail Taylor, from Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton, said: “Atmospheric CO2 is rising – emissions grew faster in the 2000s than the 1990s and the concentration of CO2 reached 400 ppm for the first time in recorded history in 2013.

How Pollution Is Devastating an Indonesian Lake
October 26, 2016 08:59 AM - Binsar Bakkara via Yale Environment 360

Uncontrolled fish farming, population growth, and logging have all taken a toll on Indonesia’s Lake Toba. Photographer Binsar Bakkara returns to his home region to chronicle the environmental destruction. 

More than 1,500 tons of fish suddenly turned up dead in Indonesia’s largest lake earlier this year, a mass asphyxiation from a lack of oxygen in the water caused by high pollution levels. The event threatened the livelihoods of hundreds of fish farmers and the drinking water for thousands of people, and it shed light on the rapidly declining conditions in Lake Toba, the largest volcanic lake in the world. 

UCI and NASA document accelerated glacier melting in West Antarctica
October 25, 2016 02:12 PM - University of California - Irvine

Two new studies by researchers at the University of California, Irvine and NASA have found the fastest ongoing rates of glacier retreat ever observed in West Antarctica and offer an unprecedented look at ice melting on the floating undersides of glaciers. The results highlight how the interaction between ocean conditions and the bedrock beneath a glacier can influence the frozen mass, helping scientists better predict future Antarctica ice loss and global sea level rise.

The studies examined three neighboring glaciers that are melting and retreating at different rates. The Smith, Pope and Kohler glaciers flow into the Dotson and Crosson ice shelves in the Amundsen Sea embayment in West Antarctica, the part of the continent with the largest decline in ice.

Climate Change Impairs the Survival Instincts of Fish and Can Make Them Swim Towards Predators
October 24, 2016 09:20 AM - University of Exeter

Climate change is disrupting the sensory systems of fish and can even make them swim towards predators, instead of away from them, a paper by marine biologists at the University of Exeter says.

Research into the impact of rising CO2 has shown it can disrupt the senses of fish including their smell, hearing and vision.

Scientists find link between tropical storms and decline of river deltas
October 20, 2016 04:36 PM - University of Southampton

Research by the University of Southampton shows that a change in the patterns of tropical storms is threatening the future of the Mekong River delta in Vietnam, indicating a similar risk to other deltas around the world.

The study, funded by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and undertaken in collaboration with the universities of Exeter (UK), Hull (UK), Illinois (USA) and Aalto University (Finland), found that changes in the behaviour of cyclones mean less sediment is running into rivers upstream of the Mekong delta, starving it of material vital for guarding against flooding. The findings are published in the journal Nature.

New 13-year Study Tracks Impact of Changing Climate on a Key Marine Food Source
October 20, 2016 03:08 PM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

A new multiyear study from scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has shown for the first time how changes in ocean temperature affect a key species of phytoplankton. The study, published in the October 21 issue of the journal Science, tracked levels of Synechococcus—a tiny bacterium common in marine ecosystems—near the coast of Massachusetts over a 13-year period. As ocean temperatures increased during that time, annual blooms of Synechococcus occurred up to four weeks earlier than usual because cells divided faster in warmer conditions, the study found.

Reducing ammonia pollution from cattle
October 19, 2016 04:13 PM - Luciano Barreto Mendes via International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis

Agriculture is responsible for 90% of all ammonia pollution in Europe, a considerable part of which comes from cattle manure management: a new study shows what steps to take to reduce this pollution.

Improved barn design, cleaning processes, and manure treatment could reduce ammonia emissions from commercial dairy cattle barns by 17 to 50%, according to a new study published in the journal Science of the Total Environment. The study provides a list of techniques and technologies that could provide the greatest reductions in ammonia emissions.

Reforesting Kilimanjaro could ease East Africa's severe water shortages
October 19, 2016 04:09 PM - United Nations News Centre

There is a need to reforest Africa’s highest mountain to help protect vital water supplies that are under threat across large parts of East Africa, a UN Environment report urged today.

The loss of Mount Kilimanjaro’s forests could trigger water crisis as rivers begin to dry up, notes the report, entitled Sustainable Mountain Development in East Africa in a Changing Climate, which was launched at the World Mountain Forum in Uganda today.

Researchers use 'robomussels' to monitor climate change
October 18, 2016 07:07 AM - Northeastern University

Tiny robots have been helping researchers study how cli­mate change affects bio­di­ver­sity. Devel­oped by North­eastern Uni­ver­sity sci­en­tist Brian Hel­muth, the “robo­mus­sels” have the shape, size, and color of actual mus­sels, with minia­ture built-in sen­sors that track tem­per­a­tures inside the mussel beds.

Modeling Floods That Formed Canyons on Earth and Mars
October 17, 2016 07:05 AM - University of Massachusetts Amherst

Geomorphologists who study Earth’s surface features and the processes that formed them have long been interested in how floods, in particular catastrophic outbursts that occur when a glacial lake ice dam bursts, for example, can change a planet’s surface, not only on Earth but on Mars. Now geoscience researchers Isaac Larsen at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Michael Lamb at the California Institute of Technology have proposed and tested a new model of canyon-forming floods which suggests that deep canyons can be formed in bedrock by significantly less water than previously thought.

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