Ecosystems

Consumers have huge environmental impact
February 25, 2016 07:46 AM - Norwegian University of Science and Technology via EurekAlert!

The world's workshop -- China -- surpassed the United States as the largest emitter of greenhouse gases on Earth in 2007. But if you consider that nearly all of the products that China produces, from iPhones to tee-shirts, are exported to the rest of the world, the picture looks very different.

Urban soils release surprising amounts of carbon dioxide
February 24, 2016 07:04 AM - Boston University via EurekAlert!

In the concrete jungle at the core of a city, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are dominated by the fossil fuels burned by the dense concentrations of cars and buildings. Boston University researchers now have shown, however, that in metropolitan areas surrounding the city core, plant roots and decomposing organic material in soil give off enough CO2 , in a process termed "soil respiration", to make an unexpectedly great contribution to total emissions.

Swimming pig colony is site to see in Bahamas
February 22, 2016 07:13 AM - Tex Dworkin, Care2

In the Bahamas, there is an uninhabited island called Big Major Cay, located in the Exuma district.

Actually, that’s not exactly true. The island is uninhabited by humans, but considered the ‘Official Home of the Swimming Pigs.’

Visitors to the island’s “Pig Beach,” as it is commonly called, get to feed and sometimes swim with the pig residents.

Can ecotourism save threatened species?
February 19, 2016 06:09 AM - Griffith University

Ecotourism can provide the critical difference between survival and extinction for endangered animals, according to new research from Griffith University.

Using population viability modelling, the Griffith team of Professor Ralf Buckley, Dr Guy Castley and Dr Clare Morrison has developed a method that for the first time quantifies the impact of ecotourism on threatened species.

Giant Iceberg Causes Penguin Deaths
February 18, 2016 10:41 PM - Laura Goldman, Care2

For the past six years, an iceberg the size of Rome has blocked the access of Adélie penguins to the sea in Antarctica. To find food, they must walk a detour of nearly 40 miles to the coast.

The impact on the colony has been devastating: More than 150,000 penguins have died.

The approximately 1,800-square-mile iceberg (referred to as B09B) struck a glacier and became stuck in Commonwealth Bay back in 2010, essentially land-locking 160,000 penguins. Before then, the colony was thriving, thanks to strong winds that blew ice from the shore, making it easy to hunt for fish.

“The Cape Denison population could be extirpated within 20 years unless B09B relocates or the now perennial fast ice within the bay breaks out,” wrote scientists from the Climate Change Research Centre at Australia’s University of New South Wales (UNSW) in a study published this month in Antarctic Science.

Algal Toxins Detected in One-Third of Streams Assessed in Southeastern United States
February 18, 2016 07:12 AM - USGS Newsroom

USGS scientists have detected toxins known as microcystins produced by various forms of algae in 39 percent of the small streams assessed throughout the southeastern United States. Their recent study looked at 75 streams in portions of Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

New Report Ties "Hottest Year on Record" to Human Toll of Disasters
February 17, 2016 07:05 AM - Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

Natural disasters made 2015 a miserable year for many people around the world. According to the United Nations’ Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the statistics were brutal. At least 98.6 million people were affected by natural disasters ranging from droughts to floods, and the economic damage could have been as high as $66.5 billion. Using the data available from the Belgian non-profit Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), the UN reports that almost 23,000 people died from the 346 natural disasters reported across the world.

Land surfaces are storing more water slowing sea level rise
February 12, 2016 08:07 AM - University of California, Irvine via ScienceDaily.

New measurements from a NASA satellite have allowed researchers to identify and quantify, for the first time, how climate-driven increases of liquid water storage on land have affected the rate of sea level rise.

A new study by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, and the University of California, Irvine, shows that while ice sheets and glaciers continue to melt, changes in weather and climate over the past decade have caused Earth's continents to soak up and store an extra 3.2 trillion tons of water in soils, lakes and underground aquifers, temporarily slowing the rate of sea level rise by about 20 percent.

The water gains over land were spread globally, but taken together they equal the volume of Lake Huron, the world's seventh largest lake. The study is published in the Feb. 12 issue of the journal Science.

Carbon dioxide stored underground can find multiple ways to escape
February 12, 2016 06:57 AM - Liam Jackson, Penn State University

When carbon dioxide is stored underground in a process known as geological sequestration, it can find multiple escape pathways due to chemical reactions between carbon dioxide, water, rocks and cement from abandoned wells, according to Penn State researchers.

Climate change will delay transatlantic flights
February 10, 2016 07:21 AM - Pete Castle, Reading University.

Planes flying between Europe and North America will be spending more time in the air due to the effects of climate change, a new study has shown.

By accelerating the jet stream – a high-altitude wind blowing from west to east across the Atlantic – climate change will speed up eastbound flights but slow down westbound flights, the study found.  The findings could have implications for airlines, passengers, and airports.

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