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Climate Change Impacts on Mountain Plant Life
October 26, 2010 10:32 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Mountains are great places to go to see nature in its most pristine state. The mountains of the northwestern United States are particularly beautiful because they are home to outstanding trees and vegetation. According to a new study, that mountain vegetation has been significantly impacted by climate change in the past 60 years. Unlike what was previously thought, ecosystems at low elevations were affected more than those at high elevations.
Great Marine Protection Areas
October 25, 2010 01:07 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The Pacific Island nation of Kiribati has established the world's largest marine protected area of coral reefs and fish populations, but both of which are threatened by overfishing and climate change. The Phoenix Islands Protected Area conserves one of the world's last intact coral reef archipelago ecosystems with eight coral reefs, two submerged reef systems and underwater mountains, over 415,000 square kilometers of nearly uninhabited islands with abundant marine and bird life. A Marine Protected Area (MPA) is a protected area whose boundaries include some area of ocean. "MPA" is often used as an umbrella term that describes a wide range of marine areas that restrict human activity to protect living, non-living, cultural, and/or historic resources. Protections in various areas range from limits on development, fishing gear types, fishing seasons, catch limits, moorings, to complete bans on removing marine life of any kind.
Microbes Rapidly Consume Methane from Gulf Oil Disaster
October 25, 2010 10:29 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
The Deepwater Horizon spill was a horrible environmental disaster which caused the release of massive amounts of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Methane, a natural greenhouse gas, was also released during the catastrophe. However, researchers have found that the methane is being consumed by microbes at a rate 10 to 100 times faster than previously believed. These microbes are essential in bringing the Gulf back to a healthier state.
Air Pollution Control by Trees
October 22, 2010 12:29 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Trees and other vegetation must use what is in their environment. So it is not surprising to find that they absorb pollutants (natural or man made) which may be absorbed successfully or may cause the vegetation to die. Vegetation plays an unexpectedly large role in cleansing the atmosphere, a new study finds. The research, led by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., uses observations, gene expression studies, and computer modeling to show that deciduous plants absorb about a third more of a common class of air-polluting chemicals than previously thought.
The Promise of Fusion Power
October 22, 2010 10:53 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
It has been called the holy grail of energy technology; a perfectly clean source with an unlimited supply. Nuclear fusion has been demonstrated to be possible, but converting it to a viable energy source remains technically elusive. However, research on making fusion energy reality is in progress, and there are some who are convinced that there will be a day when this free and abundant source will arrive.
October 21, 2010 02:51 PM - Andy Soos. ENN
Predicting the weather has always been a joyous sport and great conversation. NOAA has made some predictions for the US. The Pacific Northwest should brace for a colder and wetter than average winter, while most of the South and Southeast will be warmer and drier than average through February 2011, according to the annual Winter Outlook released today by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. A moderate to strong La Niña will be the dominant climate factor influencing weather across most of the U.S. this winter. La Niña is associated with cooler than normal water temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean, unlike El Niño which is associated with warmer than normal water temperatures. Both of these climate phenomena, which typically occur every 2-5 years, influence weather patterns throughout the world and often lead to extreme weather events. Last winter’s El Niño contributed to record-breaking rain and snowfall leading to severe flooding in some parts of the country, with record heat and drought in other parts of the country.
Water Scarcity in American Southwest Gets Serious
October 21, 2010 10:18 AM - David A Gabel, ENN
Water scarcity has always been a problem in the southwestern desert, with practically everyone relying on one river, the Colorado, to quench their thirst and the thirst of their crops. Increased water demands coupled with a long protracted drought in the Upper Colorado River Basin has created a potentially dire situation. The effects can be seen in Lake Mead, the giant lake along the border of Arizona and Nevada. Lake Mead has reached its lowest levels since 1937, the year the Hoover Dam was completed.
New Superfund Sites
October 20, 2010 02:34 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 announced today that a contaminated aquifer in Milford, Ohio, is one of nine new hazardous waste sites proposed to be added to the Superfund section of the National Priorities List. Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex, uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country. There are a total of 1,343 final and proposed sites on the NPL at this time. In the case of the Milford site, the source of the contamination has not been tracked down despite years of effort.
The Edicaran Age
October 19, 2010 01:20 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
The discovery of blocks of gravel which sank to the bottom of the sea trapped in ancient icebergs has sparked a new understanding of a bizarre group of creatures. The research, published in the Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, has also forced a rethink of the conditions that existed more than 500 million years ago. 580 million years ago, the ancient oceans were flooded with enough oxygen that the way in which life was constructed was completely changed. This moment was the birth of multi-cellular organisms, and shortly preceded the burst of biological diversification called the Cambrian explosion. Recent evidence indicates that this was the last in a series of similar increases in oxygen availability that changed the world's climate and ecological conditions.
The Dwindling No Fishing Zone
October 18, 2010 12:57 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today reopened to commercial and recreational fishing 6,879 square miles of Gulf waters about 180-200 nautical miles south of the Florida panhandle, between the Florida-Alabama state line and Cape San Blas, Florida. This is the ninth reopening in federal waters since July 22. This is all good news but it does not mean that there was no impact or the impact is over.