Environmental Policy

Study reveals 82% of the core ecological processes that underpin ecosystems and provide services to people are now affected by climate change
November 14, 2016 10:20 AM -

Most studies of global climate change attempt to predict what might happen to the Earth as temperatures rise in future.  A new study representing an international collaboration by ecologists and conservation biologists shows that global changes in climate have already impacted every aspect of life on Earth, from genes to entire ecosystems. It was published in the prestigious journal Science on November 10, 2016. 

The research team, led by the University of Florida and with participation from the University of Hong Kong, showed that of a total of 94 ecological processes evaluated globally, 82% of them showed evidence of impact from climate change.  Land, freshwater and marine ecosystems and species have all been all affected, and consequential impacts on people could range from increased pests and disease outbreaks, to unpredictable changes in fisheries and decreasing agriculture yields. 

Experts call on international climate change panel to better reflect ocean variability in their projections
November 14, 2016 09:48 AM - University of Bristol

A commentary on what should be included in the next IPCC special interdisciplinary report on oceans and the cryosphere has been released today in Nature by Daniela Schmidt, Professor of Palaeobiology from the University of Bristol and Philip Boyd, a professor of marine biogeochemistry from the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania.

The IPCC is an international body which was set up in 1988 to assess the science related to climate change.

Currently on its sixth assessment cycle, the goal of the IPCC is to inform policymakers of the science on climate change, the impacts, future risks and potential options for adaption and mitigation.

The latest IPCC report had for the first time chapters dedicated to the Oceans. This year, the IPCC are going one step further with a special interdisciplinary report on the ocean and the cryosphere which will be published in 2019.

30% of Global Electricity Already Prepping For Rapid Decarbonization
November 14, 2016 09:04 AM - Tina Casey , Triple Pundit

A full 30 percent of the world’s electricity generation comes under the umbrella of just nine energy companies, and they have just joined forces to ramp up technology investments aimed at decarbonization. The global, collaborative effort was announced earlier this week by the companies’ nonprofit organization, the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership.

To be clear, the decarbonization announcement leaves plenty of wiggle room for “clean” coal and natural gas, at least in the near future. However, a look at the group’s sole U.S. member, American Electric Power, demonstrates that a Republican administration cannot stop the global transition to low and zero-carbon electricity.

Just 1 Degree C of Warming Has Altered Nearly Every Aspect of Life on Earth
November 11, 2016 03:19 PM -

Climate change has already impacted nearly every aspect of life on earth, according to a new study in the journal Science. Warming global temperatures have altered everything from entire ecosystems down to the individual genes of species. 

Researchers Develop Novel Approach for Quantifying Nitrate Discharge from Groundwater to Streams
November 11, 2016 01:47 PM - Tracey Peake via North Carolina State University

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new way to determine the rate at which nitrate pollution will make its way from groundwater into streams. The work has implications for predicting long-term pollution in groundwater-fed streams.

Nitrate pollution, primarily from fertilizer runoff, is one of the major freshwater contaminants in the United States. Additionally, the pollution persists in aquifers – and thus in groundwater – which feed into streams over a period of years or decades.

New maps reveal safe locations for wastewater injection
November 11, 2016 11:13 AM - Ker Than via Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences

Stanford geophysicists have compiled the most detailed maps yet of the geologic forces controlling the locations, types and magnitudes of earthquakes in Texas and Oklahoma.

These new “stress maps,” published in the journals Geophysical Research Letters and Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, provide insight into the nature of the faults associated with recent temblors, many of which appear to have been triggered by the injection of wastewater deep underground.

“These maps help explain why injection-induced earthquakes have occurred in some areas, and provide a basis for making quantitative predictions about the potential for seismic activity resulting from fluid injection,” said study co-author Mark Zoback, the Benjamin M. Page Professor of Geophysics in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.

A Major Ocean Current is Widening as Climate Warms
November 10, 2016 09:37 AM - University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

A new study by University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science researchers found that the Indian Ocean’s Agulhas Current is getting wider rather than strengthening. The findings, which have important implications for global climate change, suggest that intensifying winds in the region may be increasing the turbulence of the current, rather than increasing its flow rate.

Rising CO2 Threatens Coral And People Who Use Reefs
November 9, 2016 04:26 PM - Erin Mckenzie via Duke University

As atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels rise, very few coral reef ecosystems will be spared the impacts of ocean acidification or sea surface temperature rise, according to a new analysis. The damage will cause the most immediate and serious threats where human dependence on reefs is highest.

A new analysis in the journal Plos One, led by Duke University and the Université de Bretagne Occidentale, suggests that by 2050, Western Mexico, Micronesia, Indonesia, parts of Australia and Southeast Asia will bear the brunt of rising temperatures. Reef damage will result in lost fish habitats and shoreline protection, jeopardizing the lives and economic prosperity of people who depend on reefs for tourism and food.

A new study concludes warm climate is more sensitive to changes in CO2
November 9, 2016 02:46 PM - Rachel Lentz via University of Hawaii At Manoa

It is well-established in the scientific community that increases in atmospheric CO2 levels result in global warming, but the magnitude of the effect may vary depending on average global temperature. A new study, published this week in Science Advances and led by Tobias Friedrich from the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC) at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, concludes that warm climates are more sensitive to changes in CO2 levels than cold climates.

Human health risks from hydroelectric projects
November 9, 2016 09:25 AM - Leah Burrows via Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

In a new study, Harvard University researchers find over 90 percent of potential new Canadian hydroelectric projects are likely to increase concentrations of the neurotoxin methylmercury in food webs near indigenous communities. 

The research forecasts potential human health impacts of hydroelectric projects and identifies areas where mitigation efforts, such as removing the top layer of soil before flooding, would be most helpful. The works uses factors such as soil carbon and reservoir design to forecast methylmercury increases for 22 hydroelectric reservoirs under consideration or construction in Canada.

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