Enn Original News
December 14, 2011 11:31 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Today, lungfish live only in Africa, South America and Australia. Lungfish are freshwater fish. Lungfish are best known for their ability to breathe air, and the presence of lobed fins with a well-developed internal skeleton. The eel-like body and scrawny limbs of the African lungfish would appear to make it an unlikely innovator for locomotion. But its improbable walking behavior, newly described by University of Chicago scientists, redraws the evolutionary route of life on Earth from water to land. Extensive video analysis, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveal that the African lungfish can use its thin pelvic limbs to not only lift its body off the bottom surface but also propel itself forward. Both abilities were previously thought to originate in the early tetrapods, the limbed original land-dwellers that appeared later than the lungfish's ancestors.
Vast Stores of Methane Are Released from under the Arctic
December 14, 2011 11:00 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Deep under the icy waters of the Arctic, Russian scientists have discovered the release of vast stores of methane, the potent greenhouse gas, far worse than CO2. The scientists sampled the waters along the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, and discovered that the methane that was once dormant at the sea floor is starting bubble up to the surface in enormous plumes. As the climate warms in the Arctic, the sea ice retreats, the sunlight penetrates the water, and the frozen sea floor thaws, causing the release of methane in a gaseous state. The Russian team found over 100 sites where large quantities of methane were released, indicating accelerated Arctic warming into the future.
International Sustainability Standards: Pros and Cons
December 13, 2011 03:11 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Sustainability is an economic, social, and ecological concept. It is intended to be a means of configuring civilization and human activity so that society and its members are able to meet their needs and express their greatest potential in the present, while preserving biodiversity and natural ecosystems, and planning and acting for the ability to maintain these ideals indefinitely. Sustainability affects every level of organization, from the local neighborhood to the entire globe. With that said how do you specifically define what is sustainable? Economic needs are fairly easy to figure out; ultimately it is do you make a profit or not. Social needs will depend on the society involved and every society is different. There is a difference between urban and rural needs for example much less North Africa, China, and the US. Ecological standards will also vary because it is far from clear how much resilience that an ecosystem has and as a result there will be constant and shifting debate on those standards.
December 13, 2011 02:41 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Over the past 10 years, the death of forest trees due to drought and increased temperatures has been documented on all continents except Antarctica. This can in turn drive global warming by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide removed from the atmosphere by trees and by releasing carbon locked up in their wood. New research led by Carnegie researcher and Stanford University PhD student William Anderegg offers evidence for the physiological mechanism governing tree death in a drought. The work is published the week of December 12 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study concentrated on the aspen die-off, called Sudden Aspen Decline or SAD which began after severe droughts between 2000 and 2004 and affects about 17 percent of aspen forests in Colorado, as well as parts of the western United States and Canada. SAD continued through 2010, when the research was conducted.The aspens are all native to cold regions with cool summers, in the north of the Northern Hemisphere, extending south at high altitudes in the mountains. They are all medium-sized deciduous trees reaching (50—100 feet tall.
Ancient Huron Wood
December 13, 2011 12:30 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Once Lake Huron was above the water level as it is today. Humans tended to live the near the water edge so there may be ancient clues under the lake waters. Under the cold clear waters of Lake Huron, University of Michigan researchers have found a five-and-a-half foot-long, pole-shaped piece of wood that is 8,900 years old. The wood, which is tapered and beveled on one side in a way that looks deliberate, may provide important clues to a mysterious period in North American prehistory. "This was the stage when humans gradually shifted from hunting large mammals like mastodon and caribou to fishing, gathering and agriculture," said anthropologist John O'Shea. "But because most of the places in this area that prehistoric people lived are now under water, we don't have good evidence of this important shift itself— just clues from before and after the change."
December 13, 2011 10:37 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
An unusually hot melting season in 2010 accelerated ice loss in southern Greenland by 100 billion tons — and large portions of the island’s bedrock rose an additional quarter of an inch in response. That’s the finding from a network of nearly 50 GPS stations planted along the Greenland coast to measure the bedrock’s natural response to the ever-diminishing weight of ice above it. The Greenland ice sheet is a vast body of ice covering 660,235 square miles, roughly 80% of the surface of Greenland. It is the second largest ice body in the world, after the Antarctic Ice Sheet. The ice sheet is almost 1,500 miles long in a north-south direction, and its greatest width is 680 miles at a latitude of 77°N, near its northern margin. The mean altitude of the ice is 7,005 feet.
Northwestern Study Analyzes Artificial Performance Enhancements
December 13, 2011 10:27 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
In high-pressure athletics, competition on a global scale requires every possible edge one can muster. A tenth of a second can make the difference between winning the prize or going home empty-handed. This is why steroids came into use to enhance the human body. However, according to a study from Northwestern University, another enhancement has gone relatively unnoticed while extending a tremendous advantage to the athlete, especially in competitive swimming. In fact, it was the apparel, the high-tech swimsuit that made such a significant contribution to swimming times, that it was banned in 2009.
Green Christmas suggestions from IzzitGreen
December 13, 2011 09:55 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Just in time for our readers' last minute Christmas Shopping, our friends from IzzitGreen have come up with five great eco-friendly Holiday gifts. As an additional eco-incentive 50% of the proceeds earned for any purchase of the Get to Know Nature bag will go directly to the Get to Know organization and help support their mission to keep the National Parks of the U.S. and Canada vibrant. Enjoy! Get to Know NatureBag The NatureBag is packed full of fun activities designed to support Get to Know's main mission to connect kids with the great outdoors. The all-weather activity booklet and other accessories encourage exploration and natural awareness through lead experiential activities. Pack up all the eco-friendly tools made from recycled materials into the unique fair trade, organic cotton shoulder bag and away you go! Last year the Get to Know NatureBag received the Gold Medal Award from Parent’s Choice as an eco-friendly and socially sound choice. http://www.gettoknow.ca/store/naturebagGrowBottles Everything you need to grow fresh herbs and gain the culinary respect (or envy) of your friends is packaged into these beautiful recycled GrowBottles, and they're made completely with sourced and re-purposed materials. With a little water and love the GrowBottles can continue to produce year after year with your own seeds or one of the refill kits. Thanks to brilliant design and the power of hydroponics, growing fresh herbs indoors has never been so easy. Available in Oregano, Chives, Basil, Parsley and Mint certified organic seed varieties.
December 12, 2011 12:44 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
How to get to work and such. Always a perplexing problem. European Union (EU) wide reductions of GHG (greenhouse gas emissions) are under scrutiny by many critics as the progress and actual results seem to fall short of the goals set by the EU this year. Recent reports affirm that the EU will not achieve the reduction of transport emissions by 60% between 1990 and 2050 through technology alone. An interesting take on the subject is revealed by a recent study authored by the European Cyclists' Federation (ECF), which has quantified emissions savings of cycling compared with other modes of transport. Even taking into account the production, maintenance and fuel [food] related to bicycle use, emissions from cycling were over 10 times lower than those stemming from the passenger car.
Dead Trees in the Sahel
December 12, 2011 11:46 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
The Sahel is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition between the Sahara desert in the North and the Sudanian Savannas in the south. It stretches from west to east across the North African continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea. It is a sort of coast line for the arid Sahara desert to the north. There is an on-going long term drought in this region. A new study, which is scheduled for publication Friday, Dec. 16, in the Journal of Arid Environments, was based upon climate change records, aerial photos dating back to 1954, recent satellite images and old-fashioned footwork that included counting and measuring over 1,500 trees in the field. The researchers focused on six countries in the Sahel, from Senegal in West Africa to Chad in Central Africa, at sites where the average temperature warmed up by 0.8 degrees Celsius and rainfall fell as much as 48 percent. They found that one in six trees died between 1954 and 2002. In addition, one in five tree species disappeared locally, and indigenous fruit and timber trees that require more moisture took the biggest hit. Hotter, drier conditions dominated population and soil factors in explaining tree mortality, the authors found. Their results indicate that climate change is shifting vegetation zones south toward moister areas.