Ecosystems

Chicago waterways — still flowing after over 100 years
March 7, 2017 11:57 AM - University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

As the city of Chicago has grown in population and industry since it was established more than 180 years ago, so has its need for clean water. Meeting that growing need has presented many challenges. Today, the Chicago Area Waterway System is a complicated network of modified rivers and canals which are used for navigation and shipping, residential and industrial wastewater management, recreation, and aesthetics.

Stanford study shows U.S. grasslands affected more by atmospheric dryness than precipitation
March 6, 2017 04:26 PM - Danielle Torrent Tucker via Stanford University

According to 33 years of remote sensing data, productivity of U.S. grasslands is more sensitive to dryness of the atmosphere than precipitation, important information for understanding how ecosystems will respond to climate change.

A new study showing dryness of the atmosphere affects U.S. grassland productivity more than rainfall could have important implications for predicting how plants will respond to warming climate conditions.

Increasing Shrubs Mean Changes for Some but Not All Arctic Birds
March 6, 2017 08:33 AM - United States Geological Survey (USGS)

Scientists can now predict which avian species are most sensitive to the increasingly dominant shrub habitat spreading across Alaska, a capability that will be useful for natural resource agencies in Alaska charged with managing these resources.

Iron dissolved by air pollution may increase ocean potential to trap carbon
March 3, 2017 10:52 AM - University of Birmingham

Iron particles generated by cities and industry are being dissolved by man-made air pollution and washed into the sea – potentially increasing the amount of greenhouse gases that the world’s oceans can absorb, a new study suggests.

Scientists have long believed that acids formed from human-generated pollution and natural emissions dissolve iron in airborne particles - increasing the amount of iron to the ocean – but have lacked direct evidence to prove this theory.

What Global Climate Change May Mean for Leaf Litter in Streams and Rivers
March 3, 2017 10:43 AM - University of Utah

Rate of leaf litter decay — and release of carbon to the atmosphere — may not accelerate as much as previously predicted as temperatures rise

Carbon emissions to the atmosphere from streams and rivers are expected to increase as warmer water temperatures stimulate faster rates of organic matter breakdown.

Human, Cattle Viruses Detected in Some Great Lakes Tributaries
March 3, 2017 08:35 AM - United States Geological Survey (USGS)

Human and bovine, or cattle, viruses were detected in a small percentage of some Great Lakes Basin streams, with human viruses more prevalent in urban streams and bovine viruses more common in streams in agricultural areas, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey-led study.

NASA Study Improves Forecasts of Summer Arctic Sea Ice
March 2, 2017 03:52 PM - NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center

The Arctic has been losing sea ice over the past several decades as Earth warms. However, each year, as the sea ice starts to melt in the spring following its maximum wintertime extent, scientists still struggle to estimate exactly how much ice they expect will disappear through the melt season. Now, a new NASA forecasting model based on satellite measurements is allowing researchers to make better estimates.

Forecasts of how much Arctic sea ice will shrink from spring into fall is valuable information for such communities as shipping companies and native people that depend on sea ice for hunting. Many animal and plant species are impacted directly by changes in the coverage of sea ice across the Arctic. Uncertain weather conditions through spring and summer make the forecasting of Arctic sea ice for a given year extremely challenging.

Ocean Acidification
March 2, 2017 12:09 PM - University of Delaware

International research team reports ocean acidification spreading rapidly in Arctic Ocean in area and depth

Ocean acidification (OA) is spreading rapidly in the western Arctic Ocean in both area and depth, according to new interdisciplinary research reported in Nature Climate Change by a team of international collaborators, including University of Delaware professor Wei-Jun Cai.

The research shows that, between the 1990s and 2010, acidified waters expanded northward approximately 300 nautical miles from the Chukchi slope off the coast of northwestern Alaska to just below the North Pole. Also, the depth of acidified waters was found to have increased, from approximately 325 feet to over 800 feet (or from 100 to 250 meters).

Mollusk graveyards are time machines to oceans' pristine past
March 1, 2017 12:54 PM - Natalie Van Hoose via University of Florida

A University of Florida study shows that mollusk fossils provide a reliable measure of human-driven changes in marine ecosystems and shifts in ocean biodiversity across time and space.

Collecting data from the shells of dead mollusks is a low-cost, low-impact way of glimpsing how oceans looked before pollution, habitat loss, acidification and explosive algae growth threatened marine life worldwide. Mollusk fossils can inform current and future conservation and restoration efforts, said Michal Kowalewski, the Jon L. and Beverly A. Thompson Chair of Invertebrate Paleontology at the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus and the study’s principal investigator.

Using Google to map our ecosystem
March 1, 2017 11:29 AM - Marianne Lucien via ETH Zurich

Researchers in the Singapore-ETH Centre’s Future Cities Laboratory developed a method to quantify ecosystem services of street trees. Using nearly 100,000 images from Google Street View, the study helps further understanding on how green spaces contribute to urban sustainability.

Do you remember the last time you escaped the hot summer sun to enjoy a cool reprieve in the shade beneath a broad-leafed tree? While sizzling summer days may seem far away right now in the northern hemisphere, tropical cities like Singapore deal with solar radiation on a daily basis.

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