Ecosystems

Good news for rivers in Britain
June 8, 2014 11:11 AM - Cardiff University via ScienceDaily

Scientists from Cardiff University have found that Britain's urban rivers are the cleanest they've been in over two decades. The 21-year study of over 2,300 rivers measured the presence of clean-river invertebrates - a yardstick for river health - which during the days of heavy industry and poor sewage treatment had declined considerably, but now appear to be making a comeback. Although climate change has warmed British rivers by around 1-2 degrees over recent decades, the findings suggest that improved pollution control has managed to offset its damaging effects on river ecosystems. This indicates that society can prevent some undesirable climate change effects on the environment by improving habitat quality.

Archaeological expedition reveals first fossil-record evidence of forest fire ecology
June 6, 2014 10:25 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Fossils can reveal an incredible amount of information. From what kind of organisms lived when and where to how they may have evolved over time. And now a new discovery of plant fossils with abundant fossilized charcoal reveals something new about prehistoric forest fires. Forest fires affect ecosystems differently and despite the fact that organisms and plant life have had to adapt to cope with these natural phenomena, new research shows that forests have been recovering from fires in the same manner as they did 66 million years ago.

Boreal forests and Climate Change: Better management practices needed
June 5, 2014 12:28 PM - Paul Sutherland, MONGABAY.COM

Greenhouse gas emissions from human activity have caused global air and sea surface temperatures to rise approximately 0.8 Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) since the beginning of the 20th century, contributing to a plethora of problems worldwide from rising sea levels to desertification. A new study published in Conversation Letters finds that global temperatures may start to increase even faster if more is not done to protect Earth’s boreal forests.

Milkweed loss to blame for declining Monarch populations
June 5, 2014 09:01 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

Populations of the popular Monarch butterfly have been declining in recent years and a new study is citing habitat loss on US breeding grounds as the main culprit. The eastern North American monarch population is known not only for its iconic orange and black colors, but also for its late summer migration from the United States to Mexico, a migration covering thousands of miles. And despite the long-held belief that monarch butterflies are most vulnerable to disturbances on wintering grounds in Mexico, new research from the University of Guelph shows lack of milkweed in the US which provides breeding grounds for the species is playing more of a role for species decline.

UN urges action on World Environment Day
June 5, 2014 08:00 AM - UNEP

Barbados, a small Caribbean island at the cutting edge of the fight against climate change, will be hosting this year's World Environment Day, leading United Nations-wide efforts to draw attention to the plight of the world's small islands potentially in peril of being lost to sea-level rise. "On World Environment Day, millions of individuals, community groups and businesses from around the world take part in local projects —from clean up campaigns to art exhibits to tree-planting drives," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message for the Day, marked every year on 05 June.

Intact Amazon forests show possible signs of global warming impact
June 4, 2014 04:57 PM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM

Climate change may be taking a hidden toll on intact rainforests in the heart of the Amazon, finds a new study based on 35 years of observations. The research, published in the journal Ecology, focused on the ecological impacts of fragmentation but unexpectedly found changes in the control forests. These shifts, which included faster growth and death rates of trees, increased biomass accumulation, and proliferation in vines, may be linked to rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, according to George Mason University's Thomas Lovejoy, who initiated the study in the late 1970's.

New man-made gases discovered in atmosphere
June 4, 2014 08:13 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

Scientists at the University of East Anglia have found two new chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and one new hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) in the atmosphere. The research, published today, comes after another four man-made gases were discovered by the same team in March. Scientists made the discovery by comparing today’s air samples with air collected between 1978 and 2012 in unpolluted Tasmania, and samples taken during aircraft flights.

Goats to the Rescue in Fire-Prone Bay Area
June 3, 2014 02:47 PM - S.E. Smith, Care2

How does the saying go? Only you can prevent forest fires, or only goats can prevent forest fires? You'll understand the confusion when you meet the Bay Area's latest fire prevention crews: goats. California is facing a forecast for what may be the worst fire season ever, thanks to drought conditions and a large buildup of tinder. Fire management professionals are working ahead of time to try to clear brush, high grass and other fire hazards, in the hopes of reducing the spread of the inevitable wildfires that are already streaking across the state. When it comes to brush clearance crews, it can be tough to find someone willing to do the job. It's backbreaking labor conducted in the hot sun, and it takes hours to make a dent in overgrown shrubs and brush, which are often filled with tangles of thorns and other unpleasant surprises. Brush clearance can get extremely expensive, and it requires constant maintenance. That's one reason why people have been turning to rental goats to clear brush and keep areas like road verges, medians and hillsides trimmed.

EU reacts to Obama's Clean Power Plan
June 3, 2014 10:11 AM - Editor, ENN

After the US EPA announced their plan to cut US power plant emissions 30% by 2030, the European Union (EU) reacts, praising the Emission Performance Standard (EPS) for its vision while serving as a "positive signal" to other countries. "This proposed rule is the strongest action ever taken by the U.S. government to fight climate change," the EU's climate action commissioner, Connie Hedegaard said in a reaction statement. "If implemented as planned, this measure will help the country meet its 2020 emissions target."

Hurricanes with female names result in greater death toll
June 3, 2014 07:49 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

Hurricanes with feminine names are likely to cause nearly three times as many deaths than storms with masculine names after new research found girl names are perceived as less threatening. A new University of Illinois study is warning to watch out for hurricanes with benign-sounding names like Dolly, Fay or Hanna because people in the path of these severe storms may take fewer protective measure, leaving them more vulnerable to harm.

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