Enn Original News

Dwindling Rain in the Southern US
January 25, 2011 04:42 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region. Although droughts can persist for several years, even a short, intense drought can cause significant damage and harm the local economy. While wet and snowy weather has dominated the western U.S., persistent drought conditions are likely to linger in the Southern Plains and Southeast through mid to late spring, according to NOAA’s National Weather Service. La Niña has kept storms and most of their precipitation in the north, leaving the South drier than normal.

Meet the new species of "Bearded" Crayfish
January 25, 2011 12:18 PM - Yale Environment 360 & University of Illinois

U.S. biologists have discovered a new and distinct species of crayfish in Tennessee and Alabama that is twice the size of other species, an example of a new species being discovered in a well-explored area. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Eastern Kentucky University found the first specimen under a large rock in the deep waters of a Tennessee creek after hearing reports of similar findings. The new species of crustacean, called Barbicambarus simmonsi, is about five inches long and has an unusual "bearded" antennae as a result of the presence of tiny hair-like bristles called setae.

Permian Extinction
January 24, 2011 04:41 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The Permian–Triassic extinction event, informally known as the Great Dying,was an extinction event that occurred 250 million years ago, forming the boundary between the Permian and Triassic geologic periods. It was the Earth's most severe extinction event, with up to 96% of all marine species and 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species becoming extinct. Researchers at the University of Calgary believe they have discovered evidence to support massive volcanic eruptions that burnt significant volumes of coal, producing ash clouds that had broad impact on global oceans. Interesting enough there is a "coal gap" from this era. Coal deposits dating from this time are few.

Trek North America Along the Great Eastern Wildway
January 24, 2011 10:25 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Starting February 3rd, a group of wilderness enthusiasts are embarking on an epic adventure across the eastern seaboard of North America. The scope of the adventure may even blow away the revered Appalachian Trail. The conservation non-profit group, Wildlands Network is launching writer and explorer John Davis on a 4,500 mile journey from the southern tip of Florida to the Gaspe Peninsula in Canada.

New from From BBC Earth: Challenges at birth
January 21, 2011 05:09 PM - Editor, ENN

Cute, cuddly but immediately plunged into a life and death situation, it’s not easy for the grizzly bear cubs that are born at this time of year. So not so grisly to start with, the cubs have to become hardened to the harsh winter, lack of food and other aggressive bears of Alaska and British Columbia fast. Thousands of bear families emerge from hibernation under the snow in January and February every year. They have had nothing to eat during this time and will initially survive on their mother’s milk. It is this fat-rich milk and the mother’s warm body to snuggle against that helps the cubs grow from their tiny initial weight of one pound. They are also blind for three weeks after being born. There are normally two cubs to every litter, and whether they live or die depends largely on the annual salmon run, which we’ve written about here.

Better Wind Mills
January 21, 2011 08:30 AM - Andy Soos, ENN

A wind turbine is a device that converts kinetic energy from the wind into mechanical energy. If the mechanical energy is used to produce electricity, the device may be called a wind generator or wind charger. If the mechanical energy is used to drive machinery, such as for grinding grain or pumping water, the device is called a windmill or wind pump. Large wind farms are being built around the world as a cleaner way to generate electricity, but operators are still searching for the most efficient way to arrange the massive turbines that turn moving air into power. To help steer wind farm owners in the right direction, Charles Meneveau, a Johns Hopkins fluid mechanics and turbulence expert, working with a colleague in Belgium, has devised a new formula through which the optimal spacing for a large array of turbines can be obtained.

Thatcher Chemical fined for violations of Clean Air Act Risk Management regulations
January 21, 2011 06:54 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The federal Clean Air Act requires facilities that have on site more than specified quantities of chemicals which could be hazardous to offsite communities to develop Risk Management Plans (RMP) to address ways to safely acquire, store, and use these substances in ways that assure that they are safely used, that employees are appropriately trained, and that first responders and nearby residents are informed of the presence of potentially hazardous chemicals which, if released to the environment, could require evacuation or sheltering in place for offsite residents. As part of its compliance enforcement activities, the EPA has an audit program to visit facilities to assess their level of compliance with the RMP program. EPA reported this week that it conducted compliance inspections of Thatcher Chemical's Salt Lake City facility in February and April of 2010 to assess compliance with the RMP regulations.

CO2 Ocean Sequestration
January 20, 2011 04:54 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Carbon sequestration is "The process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and depositing it in a reservoir." When carried out deliberately, this may also be referred to as carbon dioxide removal, which is a form of geoengineering. The term carbon sequestration may also be used to refer to the process of carbon capture and storage, where CO2 is removed from flue gases, such as on power stations, before being stored in underground reservoirs. The term may also refer to natural biogeochemical cycling of carbon between the atmosphere and reservoirs, such as by chemical weathering of rocks. Using seawater and calcium to remove carbon dioxide (CO2) in a natural gas power plant's flue stream, and then pumping the resulting calcium bicarbonate in the sea, could be beneficial to the oceans' marine life or states a new research report.

NOAA Rescues Entangled Whale in the Open Sea
January 20, 2011 11:19 AM - David A Gabel, ENN

Earlier this month, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) managed to save a North Atlantic Right Whale which entangled itself in ropes around its mouth and flippers. They sedated the mighty creature in order to get close enough to cut the ropes. This marks only the second time in which an entangled whale has been sedated in open sea.

Martian Life
January 19, 2011 04:51 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

For a long time there has been speculation of whether there is or was life on Mars. A really good answer would have been to have one of the Mars rover devices to photograph something moving about and obviously alive. Well that did not happen so a search for more subtle clues of smaller life forms or something from the deep past is in progress. The next rover to be delivered to Mars will contain a SAM. The instrument is Sample Analysis at Mars, or SAM, built by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. At the carefully selected landing site for the Mars rover named Curiosity, one of SAM's key jobs will be to check for carbon-containing compounds called organic molecules, which are among the building blocks of life on Earth. The clean-room suits worn by Curiosity's builders at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., are just part of the care being taken to keep biological material from Earth from showing up in results from SAM.

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