Ecosystems

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.

Forest degradation in the tropics
March 1, 2017 09:36 AM - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

In small village communities, local resources are often not used sustainably

Forest degradation in the tropics
March 1, 2017 09:36 AM - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ

In small village communities, local resources are often not used sustainably

Calculating recharge of groundwater more precisely
February 28, 2017 05:37 PM - University of Freiburg

A team of international researchers led by University of Freiburg hydrologist Dr. Andreas Hartmann suggests that inclusion of currently missing key hydrological processes in large-scale climate change impact models can significantly improve our estimates of water availability. The study shows that groundwater recharge estimates for 560 million people in karst regions in Europe, the Middle East and Northern Africa, are much higher than previously estimated from current large-scale models. The scientists have shown that model estimates based on entire continents up to now have greatly underestimated in places the amount of groundwater that is recharged from fractions of surface runoff. This finding suggests that more work is needed to ensure sufficient realism in large-scale hydrologic models before they can be reliably used for local water management. The team has published their research findings in the scientific journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).”

Road Salt Alternatives Alter Aquatic Ecosystems
February 28, 2017 05:27 PM - Mary L. Martialay via Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Jefferson Project researchers test effects of common road salt, additives, and alternatives

Organic additives found in road salt alternatives — such as those used in the commercial products GeoMelt and Magic Salt — act as a fertilizer to aquatic ecosystems, promoting the growth of algae and organisms that eat algae, according to new research published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology. Low levels of magnesium chloride — an alternative type of salt found in the commercial product Clear Lane – boost populations of amphipods, tiny crustaceans that feed on algae and serve as an important food source for fish.

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