Ecosystems

Study Finds New Toxic Contaminants In Oil And Gas Wastewater
January 14, 2015 12:21 PM - Clickgreen Staff, ClickGreen

Scientists have discovered high levels of two potentially hazardous contaminants, ammonium and iodide, in wastewater being discharged or spilled into streams and rivers from oil and gas operations.

Levels of contamination were just as high in wastewater coming from conventional oil and gas wells as from hydraulically fractured shale gas wells.

Salting Roads takes a Toll on the Environment
January 14, 2015 10:49 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

The United States has a salt problem, and it extends well beyond the excessive sodium we consume in our diets. In the winter months, municipalities rely on dumping salt on the roads to minimize the effects of ice. Altogether, the U.S. uses ten times the amount of salt on roadways than it does in the processed foods we consume. While the salt may help to keep drivers safe, it does come at a cost:

1. It Increases Our Own Salt Consumption

You can throw salt down on roads, but you can’t force it to stay there. In due time, salt makes its ways into nearby waterways where it lingers. As a result, a lot of the water we wind up drinking has higher levels of salt than it would otherwise. Vox cites a study that finds 84% of city-adjacent streams have higher levels of chloride thanks specifically to these road-salting techniques. Apparently, during the months following salted roads, 29% of these streams have more salt than the federal “safety limits” for drinking water allow.

Greatest concentrations of world's soil carbon pinpointed in peat bogs
January 12, 2015 01:05 PM - Tim Radford, The Ecologist

The greatest concentrations of the world's soil carbon have been pinpointed by researchers - and much of it is a dangerously flammable addition to climate change concerns. An international scientific survey of peat bogs has calculated that they contain more carbon than all the world's forests, heaths and grasslands together - and perhaps as much as the planet's atmosphere. Since peat can smoulder underground for years, it is another potential factor in global warming calculations.

Corals Threatened by Changing Ocean Conditions
January 12, 2015 09:20 AM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The lowering of the ocean’s pH is making it harder for corals to grow their skeletons and easier for bioeroding organisms to tear them down. Erosion rates increase tenfold in areas where corals are also exposed to high levels of nutrients, according to a study published January 2015 in the journal Geology. As sea level rises, these reefs may have a harder time growing toward the ocean surface, where they get sunlight they need to survive.

Which fossil fuels must remain in the ground to limit global warming?
January 8, 2015 08:58 AM - University College London

A third of oil reserves, half of gas reserves and over 80% of current coal reserves globally should remain in the ground and not be used before 2050 if global warming is to stay below the 2°C target agreed by policy makers, according to new research by the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources. The study funded by the UK Energy Research Centre and published in Nature today, also identifies the geographic location of existing reserves that should remain unused and so sets out the regions that stand to lose most from achieving the 2°C goal.

Study reveals new method to estimate the global impacts of dams
January 7, 2015 04:08 PM - McGill University

When dams are built they have an impact not only on the flow of water in the river, but also on the people who live downstream and on the surrounding ecosystems. By placing data from close to 6,500 existing large dams on a highly precise map of the world’s rivers, an international team led by McGill University researchers has created a new method to estimate the global impacts of dams on river flow and fragmentation.

Global Warming History Repeats Itself
January 5, 2015 02:21 PM - David Bond, The Ecologist

The Earth's current warming is looking similar to what took place 55 million years ago, writes David Bond. And if it works out that way, the news is good: we may avoid a mass extinction. On the other hand, the poles will melt away completely, and it will take hundreds of thousands of years for Earth to get back to 'normal'. It is often said that humans have caused the Earth to warm at an unprecedented rate. However researchers have discovered another period, some 55m years ago, when massive volcanic eruptions pumped so much carbon into the atmosphere that the planet warmed at what geologists would think of as breakneck speed. The good news is that most plants and animals survived the warm spell. The planet has experienced several mass extinctions - and this wasn't one of them. But there's a catch: even after carbon levels returned to their previous levels, the climate took 200,000 years to return to normal.

First 2 Fugitives from Interpol's Most Wanted Environmental List Nabbed
January 5, 2015 01:54 PM - Tex Dworkin, Care2

Launched in October 2014, Infra (which stands for “International Fugitive Round Up and Arrest”) Terra focuses on 139 fugitives altogether wanted by 36 member countries for crimes including illegal fishing, wildlife trafficking, trade and disposal of waste, logging and trading in illicit ivory.
 

California drought hard on Chinook salmon
January 5, 2015 09:14 AM - Alastair Bland, Yale Environment360

Gushing downpours finally arrived in California last month, when December rains brought some relief to a landscape parched after three years of severe drought. 

But the rain came too late for thousands of Chinook salmon that spawned this summer and fall in the northern Central Valley. The Sacramento River, running lower than usual under the scorching sun, warmed into the low 60s — a temperature range that can be lethal to fertilized 

Chinook, the largest species of Pacific salmon, need cool waters to reproduce. 

Tropical forests may reduce global warming rate
December 30, 2014 02:02 PM - UCAR AtmosNews

A new study led by NASA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) shows that tropical forests may be absorbing far more human-emitted carbon dioxide than many scientists thought. The study estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion, in response to rising atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas. This means, if left undisturbed, the tropical trees should be able to continue reducing the rate of global warming.

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