Ecosystems

Double whammy for important Baltic seaweed
August 9, 2016 12:47 PM - GEOMAR - Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel via EurekAlert!

Wherever ecosystems rich in species develop on the rocky shores of the Baltic Sea, the bladder wrack Fucus vesiculosus has provided perfect groundwork. By colonizing pebbles and rocks, it creates habitats for many other species. Other algae grow on the seaweed to be grazed by snails, isopods and amphipods. Crustaceans, mussels and predatory fish as well as many smaller organisms that are important for the Baltic Sea ecosystem thrive in submarineFucus forests. Fucus vesiculosus is one of the main producers of organic matter in the Baltic and plays a crucial role for its biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles. These functions could be lost due to a series of reactions triggered by climate change.

Melting ice sheet could expose frozen Cold War-era hazardous waste
August 9, 2016 07:18 AM - York University

Climate change is threatening to expose hazardous waste at an abandoned camp thought to be buried forever in the Greenland Ice Sheet, new research out of York University has found.

Camp Century, a United States military base built within the Greenland ice sheet in 1959, doubled as a top-secret site for testing the feasibility of deploying nuclear missiles from the Arctic during the Cold War. When the camp was decommissioned in 1967, its infrastructure and waste were abandoned under the assumption they would be entombed forever by perpetual snowfall.

A Troubling Snag in the Comeback of the California Condor
August 8, 2016 04:40 PM - Matt Simon via Wired.com

IN THE EARLY ’80s, the California condor almost scavenged its way to extinction. The grisly-looking birds survive off the remains of animals, often leftovers shot by hunters. But those hunters often used lead ammunition. Condors were dying of lead poisoning, their numbers dropping as low as 22.

In one of conservation’s greatest success stories, a frantic captive breeding program brought the huge, glorious scavenger roaring back; today, the condors number close to 450, over half of which are wild. While an outright ban on lead ammunition won’t kick in until 2019, aggressive public education has helped safeguard the species—inland at least. But scientists have found a new threat to the reestablished condors: extremely high levels of mercury and the pesticide DDT in the birds’ blood. This time, it’s an appetite for marine mammal flesh that may threaten the condor.

Drought conditions slow the growth of Douglas fir trees across the West
August 8, 2016 04:14 PM - University of California – DAVIS via via EurekAlert!

Whether growing along the rim of the Grand Canyon or living in the mist with California's coastal redwoods, Douglas fir trees are consistently sensitive to drought conditions that occur throughout the species' range in the United States, according to a study led by a researcher at the University of California, Davis.

The study, published Aug. 8 in the journalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides direct evidence of the negative impact of water stress on forest ecosystems. It also pinpointed which conditions are causing low growth among Douglas fir trees.

Lake Tanganyika fisheries declining from global warming
August 8, 2016 03:47 PM - University of Arizona via EurekAlert!

The decrease in fishery productivity in Lake Tanganyika since the 1950s is a consequence of global warming rather than just overfishing, according to a new report from an international team led by a University of Arizona geoscientist.

The lake was becoming warmer at the same time in the 1800s the abundance of fish began declining, the team found. The lake's algae - fish food - also started decreasing at that time.

NASA sees Tropical Storm Javier form in the Eastern Pacific
August 8, 2016 02:06 PM - NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center via EurekAlert!

Tropical Storm Javier formed on Aug. 7, 2016 in the Eastern Pacific Ocean off Mexico's western coast. Javier formed partially from the remnants of Hurricane Earl. NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement core satellite found that Javier contained heavy rain. On Aug. 8, Javier triggered hurricane and tropical storm warnings.

Landslides caused by heavy rainfall from the remnants of Hurricane Earl caused the reported deaths of at least 39 people in eastern Mexico. That kind of rainfall was now seen in Tropical Storm Javier.

Okinawa mozuku: The treasure under the sea
August 8, 2016 01:57 PM - Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology via EurekAlert!

Mozuku is a unique Okinawan seaweed. Scientifically known as Cladosiphon okamuranus, this alga is popular in Japanese cuisine, and it has been farmed for more than 35 years. The cultivation of this seaweed is a key element in the economy of Okinawa: in 2006, the Japanese Cabinet Office estimated a 20,000 ton production, with an economic value of billions of Yen. 99% of this seaweed is produced in Okinawa, almost entirely farmed by humans. When in 2015 the production dropped for causes related with the higher temperature of the ocean, political institutions and research centres started to coordinate in order to develop a strategy to preserve this Okinawan treasure.

Boats Are Killing Manatees in Record Numbers
August 8, 2016 07:04 AM - Alicia Graef, Care2

Manatee advocates are raising concerns about the number of these gentle giants who have been killed in Florida this year. They hope that increased vigilance and other measures will help keep this from being the worst year on record.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has already counted 71 manatees killed by boats as of July 22. The numbers are already higher than they were for the same period in 2009, which was the deadliest year on record with a total of 97 deaths.

Subduction zone earthquakes off Oregon, Washington more frequent than previous estimates
August 5, 2016 05:06 PM - Oregon State University via EurekAlert!

A new analysis suggests that massive earthquakes on northern sections of the Cascadia Subduction Zone, affecting areas of the Pacific Northwest that are more heavily populated, are somewhat more frequent than has been believed in the past.

The chance of one occurring within the next 50 years is also slightly higher than previously estimated.

The findings, published this week in the journal Marine Geology, are based on data that is far more detailed and comprehensive than anything prior to this. It used measurements from 195 core samples containing submarine landslide deposits caused by subduction zone earthquakes, instead of only about a dozen such samples in past research.

NASA Satellite Reveals How Much Saharan Dust Feeds Amazon's Plants
August 5, 2016 04:40 PM - Goddard Space Flight Center

What connects Earth's largest, hottest desert to its largest tropical rain forest?

The Sahara Desert is a near-uninterrupted brown band of sand and scrub across the northern third of Africa. The Amazon rain forest is a dense green mass of humid jungle that covers northeast South America. But after strong winds sweep across the Sahara, a tan cloud rises in the air, stretches between the continents, and ties together the desert and the jungle. It’s dust. And lots of it.

For the first time, a NASA satellite has quantified in three dimensions how much dust makes this trans-Atlantic journey. Scientists have not only measured the volume of dust, they have also calculated how much phosphorus – remnant in Saharan sands from part of the desert’s past as a lake bed – gets carried across the ocean from one of the planet’s most desolate places to one of its most fertile.

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