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.
Frackable rock under groundwater aquifers raise water contamination fears
July 3, 2014 02:20 PM - Editor, The Ecologist
A study by the British Geological Survey and the Environment Agency reveals that almost all the the oil and gas bearing shales in England and Wales underlie drinking water aquifers, raising fears that widespread water contamination could occur. The British Geological Survey (BGS) in partnership with The Environment Agency (EA) have published a map which show the depth to each shale gas and oil source rock below principal groundwater aquifers in England and Wales.
Where's the Plastic?
July 3, 2014 08:49 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2
According to a new study, 99% of plastic waste that enters the ocean cannot be located. While initially hearing that there's less plastic in the ocean than we believed sounds like great news, it's actually a frightening prospect. After all, if the plastic isn't in the ocean ... where is it going?! A team from the University of Western Australia spent a couple of years sailing around the world in five vessels hoping to accurately record just how much plastic is actually in the ocean. Although researchers expected to discover millions of tons, they were surprised to calculate that they only calculated about 40,000 tons of plastic floating on the surface.
EPA Proposes New Standards for Landfills, Hopes to Reduce Methane Emissions
July 2, 2014 08:49 AM - US EPA Newsroom
As part of the President's Climate Action Plan — Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing updates to its air standards for new municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills. These updates would require certain landfills to capture additional landfill gas, which would reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and help further reduce pollution that harms public health.
Is Oceanic Plastic being eaten by fish?
July 1, 2014 07:38 AM - ANGUS CHEN, ScienceNOW
Millions of tons. That's how much plastic should be floating in the world's oceans, given our ubiquitous use of the stuff. But a new study finds that 99% of this plastic is missing. One disturbing possibility: Fish are eating it. If that’s the case, "there is potential for this plastic to enter the global ocean food web," says Carlos Duarte, an oceanographer at the University of Western Australia, Crawley. "And we are part of this food web."
EPA Proposes Approval of New Climate-Friendly Refrigerants
June 27, 2014 03:56 PM - USEPA Newsroom
In support of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to increase the options for refrigerants in the United States that offer better climate protection without harming the ozone layer. This is the agency's first action that addresses refrigerants under the Climate Action Plan, which calls on EPA's Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program to identify and approve additional climate-friendly chemicals.
Choosing the Right Path: How Air Travel Affects Climate Change
June 26, 2014 10:40 AM - Winfield Winter, ENN
It has been well documented that one negative of air travel — besides the food — is the emission of CO2 from jet engines. But what about contrails? Dr. Emma Irvine, Professor Keith Shine, and Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, at the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading have linked contrails to global climate change in a study published in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters. According to their report, contrails may have a greater radiative forcing (the capacity for an agent to enact climate change via warming) than CO2.