Pollution

Aura's Ten Year Mission Improves our Understanding of Ozone
July 17, 2014 06:57 AM - Allison Winter, ENN

This week, on July 15, NASA's Aura satellite celebrated its 10th anniversary. Happy belated, Aura! The mission of Aura, which is Latin for breeze, centers on obtaining measurements of ozone, aerosols and key gases throughout the atmosphere. And after one decade in space, the satellite has provided vital data about the cause, concentrations and impact of major air pollutants.

Scientists launch campaign to detail front range air pollution
July 17, 2014 06:10 AM - NCAR/UCAR

Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and partner organizations are launching a major field project across the northern Front Range of Colorado this month to track the origins of summertime ozone, an invisible but harmful pollutant. The researchers will use specially equipped aircraft, mobile radars, balloon-mounted sensors, and sophisticated computer simulations to measure local and far-flung pollution sources. Results from the month-long study will provide needed information to officials seeking to ensure that air in the region is healthy to breathe.

Fertilizer Threatens Grasslands Globally
July 15, 2014 05:10 PM - Paul Sutherland, MONGABAY.COM

The world's grasslands are being destabilized by fertilization, according to a paper recently published in the journal Nature. In a study of 41 grassland communities on five continents, researchers found that the presence of fertilizer weakened grassland species diversity. The researchers surveyed grasslands in countries around the world, such as China, the U.S., Switzerland, Tanzania and Germany, and discovered that grassland communities that had not been managed by humans contained more species. They also had greater species asynchrony, which means that different species thrive at different times so that the grassland produces more consistently over time, resulting in more stable biomass production.

Drought Conditions Linked to Human Activity
July 15, 2014 08:52 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

US Government scientists have developed a new high-resolution climate model that shows southwestern Australia's long-term decline in fall and winter rainfall is caused by increases in manmade greenhouse gas emissions and ozone depletion. "This new high-resolution climate model is able to simulate regional-scale precipitation with considerably improved accuracy compared to previous generation models," said Tom Delworth, a research scientist at NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., who helped develop the new model and is co-author of the research.

Is London measuring its urban heat island accurately?
July 14, 2014 09:15 AM - Alex Peel, Planet Earth Online

London's urban heat island effect, which keeps night-time temperatures in the capital warmer than in surrounding rural areas, may have been underestimated by up to 45 per cent. The heat can pose serious health risks, particularly for the elderly and very young.

Pesticide impairs bees' ability to forage
July 14, 2014 09:11 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

A study that involved fitting bumblebees with tiny radio frequency tags found long-term exposure to a neonicotinoid pesticide hampers bees' ability to forage for pollen. The research by Nigel Raine, a professor at the University of Guelph, and Richard Gill of Imperial College, London, shows how long-term pesticide exposure affects individual bees' day-to-day behaviour, including pollen collection and which flowers worker bees chose to visit.

Light rail systems DO improve air pollution in cities
July 13, 2014 08:59 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Have you ever wondered if the cute light rail systems some large cities are installing actually get people out of their cars and have a positive environmental impact? For the first time, researchers have shown that installing light rail on an existing traffic corridor not only gets people out of their cars, but reduces congestion and air pollution. In the study, planners at the University of Utah measured impacts of a new light rail line in Salt Lake City (University Line) on an existing major thoroughfare (400/500 South). Their analysis showed that traffic near the University has fallen to levels not seen since the 1980s, even as the number of students, faculty and staff at the U has increased, and the commercial district along the corridor has expanded.

Record Radiation in South America
July 11, 2014 09:00 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN

Astrobiologists from the United States and Germany recorded the highest known level of solar UV radiation to reach Earth's surface. This was around 10 years ago. On December 29, 2003, the UV Index (UVI) peaked, reaching the blistering number of 43.3 over the Andes Mountains in Bolivia. To put this in context, a beachgoer in the United States would expect a UVI of 8 or 9 on a summer day. Even with an 8 or a 9, one may not escape the day without sunburn. Nonetheless, it has taken scientists 10 years to detail a report of this data while taking into account all of the variables and anomalies monitored from an international network of dosimeters — or Eldonets (European Light Dosimeter Network) — that measure UV radiation worldwide. This system is comprised of more than 100 stations across 5 continents to account for variation in the atmosphere above each station.

Oceanic litter is widespread
July 8, 2014 08:18 AM - Harriet Jarlett, Planet Earth Online

Litter is now found in even the most remote areas of the oceans, say scientists trying to understand how much rubbish is lying at the bottom of Europe's seas. The new study, published in Plos One, shows for the first time that there seems to be no area of the ocean left untouched by human litter. Using 588 video clips collected by unmanned submarine vehicles for geological mapping and marine biology studies, the team found that plastics waste like shopping bags is the most prevalent.

A Fine Line : New Program Predicts When Human Impact Becomes Too Much
July 6, 2014 10:25 AM - Morgan Erickson-Davis, MONGABAY.COM

Scientists at Stanford University recently unveiled a new modeling program that can predict the response of the environment to the land-use changes of human communities. Using their model, they found that natural resources can support humanity — up to a certain point. They recently published their findings in the journal Environmental Modelling & Software.

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