Environmental Policy

Fishing in the Arctic
September 11, 2017 08:14 AM - NOAA

As the Arctic warms twice as fast as the rest of the planet, the range and distribution of at least some fish stocks found in places like the Bering Sea will likely extend northward. That could bring some big changes to the region. More than 60 percent of all seafood caught in the United States comes from the waters off Alaska and generates billions of dollars in revenue each year.

As previously ice-covered areas of the Arctic become seasonally ice-free, there will be pressure to expand US fishing north of the Bering Strait. That can’t happen under the Arctic Management Plan, established in 2009, which prohibits commercial fishing until scientists and fisheries managers understand what’s going on with the ecosystem.

Fishing in the Arctic
September 11, 2017 08:14 AM - NOAA

As the Arctic warms twice as fast as the rest of the planet, the range and distribution of at least some fish stocks found in places like the Bering Sea will likely extend northward. That could bring some big changes to the region. More than 60 percent of all seafood caught in the United States comes from the waters off Alaska and generates billions of dollars in revenue each year.

As previously ice-covered areas of the Arctic become seasonally ice-free, there will be pressure to expand US fishing north of the Bering Strait. That can’t happen under the Arctic Management Plan, established in 2009, which prohibits commercial fishing until scientists and fisheries managers understand what’s going on with the ecosystem.

Your Tap Water Probably Contains Plastic Fibers
September 8, 2017 02:26 PM - Steve Williams, Care2

Plastic pollution remains a major issue around the world, and now a new study suggests that microplastics have invaded our drinking water.

An investigation conducted by Orb Media and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health examined over 150 water samples from 14 countries across five continents — all in search of microfibers.

Mercury convention raises heat on producers
September 8, 2017 10:05 AM - MarĂ­a Elena Hurtado, SciDevNet

A global commitment to reduce health risks and environmental damage from mercury pollution came into effect last month (16 August), when the so-called Minamata Convention on Mercuryentered into force.

Monarch butterflies disappearing from western North America
September 7, 2017 03:15 PM - Washington State University

Monarch butterfly populations from western North America have declined far more dramatically than was previously known and face a greater risk of extinction than eastern monarchs, according to a new study in the journal Biological Conservation.

“Western monarchs are faring worse than their eastern counterparts,” said Cheryl Schultz, an associate professor at Washington State University Vancouver and lead author of the study. “In the 1980s, 10 million monarchs spent the winter in coastal California. Today there are barely 300,000.”

Unnatural Surveillance: How Online Data Is Putting Species at Risk
September 6, 2017 10:59 AM - Yale Environment 360

In the arid far-western region of South Africa is a vast flatland covered with white quartzite gravel known as the Knersvlakte – Afrikaans for “Gnashing Plain” – because it sounds like grinding teeth when you walk across it. It’s a good place to watch unpeopled horizons vanish into ripples of heat haze, but to appreciate its real value you must get down on your knees. The Knersvlakte holds about 1,500 species of plants, including 190 species found nowhere else on earth and 155 that are Red-Listed by conservation biologists as threatened with extinction. To protect them, 211,000 acres have been set aside as the Knersvlakte Nature Reserve.

No ice to break
September 6, 2017 08:08 AM - NOAA

Our research cruise is being conducted this year from the Coast Guard Cutter Healy, the newest and most technologically advanced icebreaker in the U.S. fleet.  The Healy was built down around the humid bayous of New Orleans, but was designed to conquer Arctic sea ice.  The boat is a behemoth at 420 feet long and has made its way to the North Pole on several occasions, taking thousands of scientists into the Arctic to collect data that has transformed our understanding of the region.

URI researcher says invasive plants change ecosystems from the bottom up
September 5, 2017 02:00 PM - University of Rhode Island

In a common garden at the University of Rhode Island, Laura Meyerson has been growing specimens of Phragmites – also known as the common reed – that she has collected from around the world. And while they are all the same species, each plant lineage exhibits unique traits.

Now Meyerson, a professor of natural resources sciences, and Northeastern University Professor Jennifer Bowen have revealed that even when two different lineages grow side-by-side in the same ecosystem, the bacterial communities in the soil differ dramatically. It’s a discovery that will aid in understanding how plant invasions succeed and the conditions necessary for their success.

Could switchgrass help China's air quality?
September 5, 2017 12:08 PM - UIUC College of Agriculture, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences

Researchers from the United States and China have proposed an idea that could improve China’s air quality, but they’re not atmospheric scientists. They’re agronomists.

“China’s poor air quality is caused by a combination of coal burning and particulates from soil erosion. The Loess Plateau is the major source of erosion in China, and air quality there is just terrible. If erosion in the Loess Plateau can be improved, air quality will improve,” says D.K. Lee, an agronomist in the Department of Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois.

Study negates concerns regarding radioactivity in migratory seafood
August 30, 2017 04:23 PM - Virginia Institute of Marine Science

When the Fukushima power plant released large quantities of radioactive materials into nearby coastal waters following Japan’s massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami, it raised concerns as to whether eating contaminated seafood might impair human health—not just locally but across the Pacific.

A new study by an international research team shows that those concerns can now be laid to rest, at least for consumption of meat from migratory marine predators such as tuna, swordfish, and sharks.

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