Ecosystems

Lake Tahoe's deep blue color explained
July 24, 2015 07:10 AM - UC Davis via NASA

Lake Tahoe's iconic blueness is more strongly related to the lake's algal concentration than to its clarity, according to research in "Tahoe: State of the Lake Report 2015," released today by the Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC) of the University of California, Davis. The lower the algal concentration, the bluer the lake. 

Data from a research buoy in the lake, owned and operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, enabled Shohei Watanabe, a postdoctoral researcher at TERC, to create a Blueness Index that quantified Lake Tahoe's color for the first time.

The assumption that lake clarity is tied to blueness has driven advocacy and management efforts in the Lake Tahoe Basin for decades. But Watanabe's research showed that at times of the year when the lake's clarity increases, its blueness decreases, and vice versa. 

Mangroves help protect against sea level rise
July 23, 2015 02:28 PM - University of Southampton

Mangrove forests could play a crucial role in protecting coastal areas from sea level rise caused by climate change, according to new research involving the University of Southampton.

Seed study reveals future risks to nature
July 23, 2015 09:00 AM - ClickGreen Staff

The first worldwide study of animals and the seeds they eat has overturned a long-held assumption - that large animals mainly eat large seeds. The finding by UNSW Australia scientists has implications for conservation showing that a wider variety of plants than is often thought could be at risk if large animals go extinct and do not disperse their seeds.

Disaster displacement on the rise
July 22, 2015 08:54 AM - ClickGreen Staff

In the last seven years, an estimated one person every second has been forced to flee their home by a natural disaster, with 19.3 million people forced to flee their homes in 2014 alone, according to a new report. The research suggests disaster displacement is on the rise, and as policy leaders worldwide advance towards the adoption of a post-2015 global agenda, the time has never been better to address it.

Controlled burns and invasive grass
July 21, 2015 12:54 PM - College of ACES, University of Illinois

Controlled burning is widely used to maintain biodiversity and enhance regeneration of important deciduous tree species such as oak and hickory, but a recent University of Illinois study found that this practice also increases the growth of an aggressive species of invasive grass.

Where does water from rain and snow melt actually go?
July 20, 2015 09:00 AM - University of Utah

More than a quarter of the rain and snow that falls on continents reaches the oceans as runoff. Now a new study helps show where the rest goes: two-thirds of the remaining water is released by plants, more than a quarter lands on leaves and evaporates and what’s left evaporates from soil and from lakes, rivers and streams.

Warming impacting bird populations in Hawai'i
July 20, 2015 07:07 AM - USGS Newsroom

Hawai‘i, the name alone elicits images of rhythmic traditional dancing, breathtaking azure sea coasts and scenes of vibrant birds flitting through lush jungle canopy. Unfortunately, the future of many native Hawaiian birds looks grim as diseases carried by mosquitoes are due to expand into higher elevation safe zones.

A new study published in Global Change Biology, by researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, assesses how global climate change will affect future malaria risk to native Hawaiian bird populations in the coming century.

The role of oceanic plankton in cloud formation
July 18, 2015 06:40 AM - Universtity of Washington

Nobody knows what our skies looked like before fossil fuel burning began; today, about half the cloud droplets in Northern Hemisphere skies formed around particles of pollution. Cloudy skies help regulate our planet’s climate and yet the answers to many fundamental questions about cloud formation remain hazy.

Satellites use chlorophyll’s green color to detect biological activity in the oceans. The lighter-green swirls are a massive December 2010 plankton bloom following ocean currents off Patagonia, at the southern tip of South America.NASA

How clouds get their brightness
July 17, 2015 02:34 PM - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

How clouds form and how they help set the temperature of the earth are two of the big remaining questions in climate research. Now, a study of clouds over the world's remotest ocean shows that ocean life is responsible for up to half the cloud droplets that pop in and out of existence during summer.

Oceans slowed global temperature rise
July 17, 2015 09:16 AM - UCLA Newsroom

A new study of ocean temperature measurements shows that in recent years, extra heat from greenhouse gases has been trapped in the subsurface waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans, thus accounting for the slowdown in the global surface temperature increase observed during the past decade, researchers say.

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