Ecosystems

Amazon inhales more carbon than it emits
March 18, 2014 09:24 AM - University of Leeds

A new study led by NASA and the University of Leeds has confirmed that natural forests in the Amazon remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they emit. This finding resolves a long-standing debate about a key component of the overall carbon balance of the Amazon basin.

Mountain Thermostats
March 17, 2014 08:10 AM - Dominic Rowland, MONGABAY.COM

What do mountains have to do with climate change? More than you'd expect: new research shows that the weathering rates of mountains caused by vegetation growth plays a major role in controlling global temperatures. Scientists from the University of Oxford and the University of Sheffield have shown how tree roots in certain mountains "acted like a thermostat" for the global climate. In warmer climates, tree roots grow faster and deeper (aided by the decomposition of leaf litter), breaking up rock that combines with carbon dioxide. This weathering process removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, lowering the global temperature and decreasing the growth rate of vegetation.

A global climate change directive?
March 14, 2014 04:11 PM - Editor, ENN

Could another climate change deal be in the works? World leaders are meeting in Brussels this month to discuss climate change. While environmentalists are calling for urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions, diplomatic language presented in the introductory document is most likely not ambitious enough.

Can Penguins Cope with Climate Change?
March 14, 2014 08:01 AM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM

Human-caused climate change is altering the habitat of Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae). In an article recently published in PLOS ONE, a team of researchers led by Amélie LescroĆ«l from the Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CNRS) in France, found that changes in sea-ice content and newly formed icebergs significantly impacted Adélie penguin communities in the Ross Sea.

Antarctic ecosystem due to change radically with climate change
March 13, 2014 02:07 PM - Staff, ENN

According to researchers the Ross Sea will "be extensively modified by future climate change" in the coming decades creating longer periods of ice-free open water and affecting life cycles of all components of the ecosystem in a paper published and funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The researchers have drawn their information from the Regional Ocean Modeling System, a computer model that evaluates sea-ice, ocean, atmosphere and sea-shelf.

Rooftop considerations amidst climate change
March 13, 2014 11:54 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

As the realities of climate change set in, so too are realizations that building technologies impact both internal and external environments. The percentage increase of asphalt and blacktopped roofs create urban heat islands. Resultantly cities have become earth's newest desserts exhibiting high temperatures and arid conditions with little vegetation. Urban expansion as a stand-alone factor (omitting greenhouse gas-induced climate change considerations) is expected to raise temperatures by roughly six degrees. Because of this, scientists are now exploring new technologies to cope with the new reality.

Sustainable urban lawns
March 12, 2014 01:16 PM - robin Blackstone, ENN

Concern for the homogenization of America's urban landscape prompted a recent research study into the care and maintenance of residential landscapes. The study demonstrated fewer similarities than expected but the concern, according to researchers is that "Lawns not only cover a larger extent [of land] than any other irrigated 'crop' in the U.S., but are expected to expand in coming decades. The researchers go on to point out that the potential homogenization of residential lawn care has emerged as a major concern for carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus and water flows."

Is There a Sustainable Big Mac in Your Future?
March 12, 2014 07:58 AM - RP Siegel, Triple Pundit

Giant corporations like McDonald's and Walmart cast a long shadow across the planet with the enormous amount of resources that they use, process, consume and sell. McDonald's flips and bags 70 million hamburgers every day and is responsible for a full 2 percent of the world's beef consumption. So when you consider the impact that beef production has on the environment, particularly with regard to climate change, a move by them to sustainable beef could be a really big deal.

Feral cats a growing health concern
March 11, 2014 04:17 PM - Editor, ENN

A coalition of more than 200 groups which include various bird and wildlife conservation organizations and animal rights groups are calling on Secretary Sally Jewell of the Department of Interior to take action to reduce mortality to wildlife populations on public lands stemming from the nation's ever-increasing population of feral cats. The group brings evidence from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that feral cats pose a threat to human health as a result of an exposure to rabies and toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease affecting the human brain when exposed to cat feces.

Supergene defines butterfly patterns
March 11, 2014 10:58 AM - Aathira Perinchery, MONGABAY.COM

Scientists have discovered the gene enabling multiple female morphs that give the Common Mormon butterfly its very tongue-in-cheek name. Doublesex, the gene that controls gender in insects, is also a mimicry supergene that determines diverse wing patterns in this butterfly, according to a recent study published in Nature. The study also shows that the supergene is not a cluster of closely linked genes as postulated for nearly half a century, but a single gene controlling all the variations exhibited by the butterfly's wings.

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