Pollution

How noise pollution impacts marine ecology
December 13, 2016 07:14 AM - Laura Briggs, The Ecologist

Marine ecologists have shown how noise pollution is changing the behaviour of marine animals - and how its elimination will significantly help build their resilience. Laura Briggs reports.

Building up a library of sound from marine creatures including cod, whelks and sea slugs is important to helping build resilience in species affected by noise pollution, according to Exeter University's Associate Professor in Marine Biology and Global Change Dr Steve Simpson.

Human noise factors including busy shipping lanes, wind farms and water tourism can all impact on the calls of various species - including cod which relies on sound for finding a mate with their "song".

Surge in methane emissions threatens efforts to slow climate change
December 13, 2016 07:08 AM - Future Earth

Global concentrations of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas and cause of climate change, are now growing faster in the atmosphere than at any other time in the past two decades.

That is the message of a team of international scientists in an editorial published 12 December in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The group reports that methane concentrations in the air began to surge around 2007 and grew precipitously in 2014 and 2015.

Flame Retardant Pollution in Great Lakes Is a Serious Matter, Commission Says
December 12, 2016 12:18 PM - Treehugger

The International Joint Commission has developed a strategy for how U.S. and Canadian governments can address this toxic problem.

EPA's National Lakes Assessment Finds Nutrient Pollution is Widespread in Lakes
December 9, 2016 08:30 AM -

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released the results of a national assessment showing that nutrient pollution is widespread in the nation’s lakes, with 4 in 10 lakes suffering from too much nitrogen and phosphorus.

Against the Tide: A Fish Adapts Quickly to Lethal Levels of Pollution
December 9, 2016 07:24 AM - Kat Kerlin, UC Davis

Evolution is working hard to rescue some urban fish from a lethal, human-altered environment, according to a study led by the University of California, Davis, and published Dec. 9 in the journal Science. 

While environmental change is outpacing the rate of evolution for many other species, Atlantic killifish living in four polluted East Coast estuaries turn out to be remarkably resilient. These fish have adapted to levels of highly toxic industrial pollutants that would normally kill them.

First Detection of Ammonia in the Upper Troposphere
December 5, 2016 01:59 PM - Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Population is growing, climate is warming – hence, emission of ammonia (NH3) trace gas from e.g. agriculture will increase worldwide. Recently, scientists of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) for the first time detected NH3 in the upper troposphere. Together with researchers from Colorado/USA and Mexico, they analyzed satellite measurements by the MIPAS infrared spectrometer and found increased amounts of NH3 between 12 and 15 km height in the area of the Asian monsoon. This suggests that the gas is responsible for the formation of aerosols, smallest particles that might contribute to cloud formation. The researchers present their work in the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics journal. (DOI: 10.5194/acp-16-14357-2016)

Cement made from steel production by-product can lead to a huge CO2 reduction
December 5, 2016 11:53 AM - Eindhoven University of Technology

Steel production generates some hundred million tons of steel slag worldwide each year. This giant mountain of leftovers is largely dumped. TU/e professor of building materials, Jos Brouwers, will be working with industrial partners to investigate whether he can make cement out of it. If he succeeds, more CO2 emissions can be cut than is produced yearly by all the traffic in the Netherlands.

Steel slag is produced by the conversion of raw iron into steel – around 125 million tons of it per year. Much of that is dumped and only a small portion used, in embankments. That’s a shame, professor Jos Brouwers says, because the mineralogical composition very closely resembles that of cement. It contains the same components, but in different ratios. And it is public knowledge that the cement industry emits a very high amount of CO2: five percent of the global total. A cement substitute with no extra CO2 emissions would, therefore, be most welcome.

The Paris Climate Deal Is Now in Force. What Comes Next?
December 4, 2016 09:07 PM - Steve Williams, Care2

The Paris Agreement was hailed as a turning point for world governments tackling climate change, and it has now come into effect. What does this mean for the world — and where do we go from here?

On Friday, November 4, the Paris Agreement went into effect, meaning that the agreement made last year by nearly 200 international delegates must now be honored. To recognize the consensus coming into force, the United Nations stated that it is a moment to celebrate – and to take concerted action.

“We remain in a race against time,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon emphasized. ”Now is the time to strengthen global resolve, do what science demands and seize the opportunity to build a safer, more sustainable world for all.”

To Fight Air Pollution, Four Cities Announce Ban on Diesel Cars By 2025
December 2, 2016 04:15 PM - Yale Environment 360

Four of the world’s largest cities announced Friday that they will ban diesel cars by 2025 in an effort to cut air pollution. Leaders from Paris, Madrid, Athens, and Mexico City made the declaration at the C40 Mayors Summit, a biennial meeting of civic leaders concerned about climate change. 

Climate models may be overestimating the cooling effect of wildfire aerosols
November 29, 2016 04:32 PM - Mark Dwortzan via Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Whether intentionally set to consume agricultural waste or naturally ignited in forests or peatlands, open-burning fires impact the global climate system in two ways which, to some extent, cancel each other out. On one hand, they generate a significant fraction of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, which drive up the average global surface temperature. On the other hand, they produce atmospheric aerosols, organic carbon, black carbon, and sulfate-bearing particulates that can lower that temperature either directly, by reflecting sunlight skyward, or indirectly, by increasing the reflectivity of clouds. Because wildfire aerosols play a key role in determining the future of the planet’s temperature and precipitation patterns, it’s crucial that today’s climate models — upon which energy and climate policymaking depend — accurately represent their impact on the climate system.

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