Regulatory

NASA science flights target melting Arctic Sea ice
July 19, 2016 05:22 PM - NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center via ScienceDaily

This summer, with sea ice across the Arctic Ocean shrinking to below-average levels, a NASA airborne survey of polar ice just completed its first flights. Its target: aquamarine pools of melt water on the ice surface that may be accelerating the overall sea ice retreat.

NASA's Operation IceBridge completed the first research flight of its new 2016 Arctic summer campaign on July 13. The science flights, which continue through July 25, are collecting data on sea ice in a year following a record-warm winter in the Arctic.

The summer flights will map the extent, frequency and depth of melt ponds, the pools of melt water that form on sea ice during spring and summer. Recent studies have found that the formation of melt ponds early in the summer is a good predictor of the sea ice yearly minimum extent in September: if there are more ponds on the ice earlier in the melt season, they reduce the ability of sea ice to reflect solar radiation, which leads to more melt.

2016 climate trends continue to break records
July 19, 2016 04:44 PM - NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center via ScienceDaily

Two key climate change indicators -- global surface temperatures and Arctic sea ice extent -- have broken numerous records through the first half of 2016, according to NASA analyses of ground-based observations and satellite data.

Each of the first six months of 2016 set a record as the warmest respective month globally in the modern temperature record, which dates to 1880, according to scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. The six-month period from January to June was also the planet's warmest half-year on record, with an average temperature 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.4 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than the late nineteenth century.

Five of the first six months of 2016 also set records for the smallest respective monthly Arctic sea ice extent since consistent satellite records began in 1979, according to analyses developed by scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland. The one exception, March, recorded the second smallest extent for that month.

Using urban pigeons to monitor lead pollution
July 19, 2016 02:02 PM - University of California – Davis via EurekAlert!

Tom Lehrer sang about poisoning them, but those pigeons in the park might be a good way to detect lead and other toxic compounds in cities. A new study of pigeons in New York City shows that levels of lead in the birds track with neighborhoods where children show high levels of lead exposure.

"Pigeons breathe the same air, walk the same sidewalks, and often eat the same food as we do. What if we could use them to monitor possible dangers to our health in the environment, like lead pollution?" said Rebecca Calisi, now an assistant professor in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior at the University of California, Davis, who conducted the study with undergraduate student Fayme Cai while at Barnard College, Columbia University. The work is published July 18 in the journal Chemosphere.

Decades after it was banned from paint and gasoline, lead pollution remains a significant concern. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene carries out routine screening of children in areas of the city identified as hot spots for lead contamination.

Offshore wind powers ahead as prices drop 30% below nuclear
July 19, 2016 09:30 AM - Kieran Cooke, The Ecologist

The cost of offshore wind power in the North Sea is 30% lower than that of new nuclear, writes Kieran Cooke - helped along by low oil and steel prices, reduced maintenance and mass production. By 2030 the sector is expected to supply 7% of Europe's electricity. Output from the Dogger Bank project will be 1.2 GW (gigawatts) - enough to power more than a million homes. Next year, a 150-turbine wind farm off the coast of the Netherlands is due to start operating, and other schemes along the Dutch coast are in the works. Denmark, Sweden and Portugal are major investors in offshore wind, and China has ambitious plans for the sector. Wind farms - both onshore and offshore - are a key ingredient in renewable energy policy, and an important element in the battle against climate change. WindEurope, an offshore wind industry group, says that at the present rate of installations it's likely Europe will be producing about 7% of its electricity from offshore wind by 2030.

Offshore wind developers benefit from falling costs

By some calculations, all this building work would seem to make little economic sense. Fossil fuel prices are low on the world market, and constructing offshore wind farms several kilometres out at sea, in often treacherous conditions, has traditionally been an expensive business.

Regulating particulate pollution
July 12, 2016 07:16 AM - Nancy W. Stauffer, MIT Energy Initiative

An MIT analysis of how best to reduce fine particulate matter in the atmosphere has brought some surprising results. Due to past regulations, levels of key emissions that form those harmful particles are now lower than they were a decade ago, causing some experts to suggest that cutting them further might have little effect. Not true, concludes the MIT study. Using an atmospheric model, the researchers found that new policies to restrict the same emissions would be even more effective now than they were in the past. Further analysis elucidated the chemical processes — some unexpected — that explain their findings. Their results demonstrate the importance of tailoring air pollution policies to specific situations and of addressing a variety of emissions in a coordinated way.

Vermont will be the first US State to Label GMOs
June 30, 2016 06:40 AM - Gina-Marie Cheeseman , Triple Pundit

Vermont will soon be the first state in the nation to require labels on genetically modified (GMO) foods. Its GMO-labeling law, the first passed in the nation, goes into effect on July 1. Maine and Connecticut have since passed their own GMO-labeling laws. But they won’t go into effect until neighboring states pass similar legislation.

Judge rules: no right to know hazardous pesticide ingredients
June 16, 2016 07:45 AM - Oliver Tickell, The Ecologist

A federal judge has ruled that the US Environmental Protection Agency is under no obligation to force pesticide makers to disclose supposedly 'inert' ingredients in their products - even where those ingredients are seriously hazardous to health or environment.

The role of dam removal in river management in New England
June 9, 2016 01:48 PM - Dartmouth College via ScienceDaily.

Dam removal in New England is not only an important aspect of river restoration but it also provides an opportunity to enhance the magnitude and rate of river re-connection, and improve watershed resilience in response to human impact on the environment, if a broader strategic removal approach is implemented throughout the region, according to a new Dartmouth-led study published in Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene.

The study is the first interdisciplinary, region-wide assessment of the social and biophysical impacts of dam removal and was conducted by researchers at Dartmouth, American Rivers and the USDA Forest Service.

 

Raid uncovers truth behind Thailand's Tiger Temple
June 7, 2016 07:32 AM - Simon Evans, Anglia Ruskin University, The Ecologist

Thailand's 'tiger temple' was a front for the commercial exploitation of tiger bones, skins and other parts for the lucrative international trade, writes Simon Evans. It made no contribution to conservation and the animals were subject to extreme cruelty. But while the temple's closure is good news, there are hundreds of similar tiger farms across the region that are no better - or even worse.

San Francisco mandates solar on all new buildings 10 stories or less
May 31, 2016 08:59 AM - Contributor, Triple Pundit

Although those who reside outside of San Francisco may not be aware of the fact, mid-April 2016 marked a huge milestone in the advancement of green technology in the city and its mandated usage in all newly-constructed buildings.

The new legislation, unanimously approved by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on April 19, states that all new buildings with 10 stories or fewer, including all residential and commercial projects, must include a photovoltaic solar panel installation that encompasses 15 percent of the building’s total rooftop. Moreover, the area that is dedicated to the installation must be positioned in full sunlight and free of any shade or obstructions.

 

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