Great Lakes evaporation hypothesis up in the air
January 21, 2014 03:24 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
The recent Arctic blast gripping the nation will likely contribute to a rise in Great Lakes water levels in 2014, new research from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University shows. Research conducted by the two schools through the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (GLISA) shows the correlation between periods of high and low evaporation and its effect on ice cover. Years with high ice cover were usually followed by cooler summer water temperatures and lower evaporation rates, but these same high-ice winters were preceded by high evaporation rates during the autumn and early winter indicating a two-way connection between ice cover and evaporation. While ice cover reduces evaporation from what would otherwise be exposed lake surface water, it also reduces lake temperature generating ice cover.
Is plant virus linked to honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)?
January 21, 2014 08:27 AM - Jim Sliwa, American Society for Microbiology
A viral pathogen that typically infects plants has been found in honeybees and could help explain their decline. Researchers working in the U.S. and Beijing, China report their findings in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology. The routine screening of bees for frequent and rare viruses "resulted in the serendipitous detection of Tobacco Ringspot Virus, or TRSV, and prompted an investigation into whether this plant-infecting virus could also cause systemic infection in the bees," says Yan Ping Chen from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, an author on the study.
Beaver, Dam it!
January 20, 2014 09:32 AM - Enn Staff, The Ecologist
As climate change brings more rain, there will be more catastrophic flooding; flooding of crops, homes and businesses, particularly in urban areas where there is simply no place for the water to go. One British writer has identified the beaver as the would-be hero to restore hydrological normalcy. Louise Ramsey writes about the beaver in Britain where reintroductions of the rodent have shown the vital role they once had in reducing flooding and how they could take up that mantle once more.
Scotland's tidal energy potential is greater than a nuclear power plant
January 20, 2014 09:09 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen
Renewable tidal energy harnessed from a single stretch of water off the northern tip of Scotland could produce enough energy to power half of the nation, engineers say.
Finding Arctic Cyclones
January 17, 2014 12:18 PM - Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State University
From 2000 to 2010, about 1,900 cyclones churned across the top of the world each year, leaving warm water and air in their wakes — and melting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. That's about 40 percent more of these Arctic storms than previously thought, according to a new study of vast troves of weather data that previously were synthesized at the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC). A 40 percent difference in the number of cyclones could be important to anyone who lives north of 55 degrees latitude — the area of the study, which includes the northern reaches of Canada, Scandinavia and Russia, along with the state of Alaska.
Washington DC leaking all over
January 17, 2014 09:56 AM - Tim Lucas, Duke University
More than 5,893 leaks from aging natural gas pipelines have been found under the streets of Washington, D.C., by a research team from Duke University and Boston University. A dozen of the leaks could have posed explosion risks, the researchers said. Some manholes had methane concentrations as high as 500,000 parts per million of natural gas -- about 10 times greater than the threshold at which explosions can occur.
Chemicals of Emerging Concern (CECs) identified in sewage sludge
January 16, 2014 04:17 PM - Richard Harth, Arizona State University
Thousands of chemicals serving a variety of human needs flood into sewage treatment plants once their use life has ended. Many belong to a class of chemicals known as CECs (for chemicals of emerging concern), which may pose risks to both human and environmental health. Arjun Venkatesan and Rolf Halden of Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute have been tracking many of these chemicals outlining a new approach to the identification of potentially harmful, mass-produced chemicals, describing the accumulation in sludge of 123 distinct CECs.
Carbon Emissions in U.S. Rise 2 Percent Due to Increase in Coal
January 16, 2014 11:26 AM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM
Carbon dioxide emissions rose two percent in the U.S. last year, according to preliminary data from the Energy Information Administration. Emissions rose largely due to increased coal consumption, the first such rise in U.S. emissions since 2010. Still, the annual emissions remain well below the peak hit in 2007 when emissions hit 6 billion tons.
The girth of a tree
January 15, 2014 04:54 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Thank goodness human growth rates don't match that of trees. For if it did then we would tip the scales of well over a ton by the time we reach retirement! Consider this new research from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) recently published in the journal Nature. According to the new study, trees put on weight faster and faster as they grow older. Because most trees' growth accelerates as they age this suggests that large, old trees may play an unexpectedly dynamic role in removing carbon from the atmosphere.
Economic benefits of reducing nitrogen pollution
January 14, 2014 08:14 AM - Tom Marshall, Planet Earth Online
Falling levels of nitrogen in the atmosphere across Europe may be much more economically beneficial than previously believed, according to a recent study. Indeed, scientists think the UK alone benefits by around £65 million a year. Levels of atmospheric nitrogen have fallen by around a quarter in Europe since 1990, mostly because of tighter rules on emissions from engines and industry. Scientists are still working to understand the consequences. This is difficult, because excess nitrogen affects the benefits that nature gives us (known as 'ecosystem services') in many different ways — some positive and some harmful. For example, nitrogen is an important plant nutrient, which means services that depend on plant growth, such as crops and timber from woodlands, will benefit from more of it in the atmosphere. Conversely, falling nitrogen levels will harm these services - so cutting pollution costs the economy money.