Sustainability

Longest record of continuous carbon flux data is now publicly available
September 28, 2016 10:04 AM - Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory via ScienceDaily

Around the world -- from tundra to tropical forests, and a variety of ecosystems in between -- environmental researchers have set up micrometeorological towers to monitor carbon, water, and energy fluxes, which are measurements of how carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapor and energy (heat) circulate between the soil, plants and atmosphere. Most of these sites have been continuously collecting data, some for nearly 25 years, monitoring ecosystem-level changes through periods of extreme droughts and rising global temperatures. Each of these sites contributes to a regional network -- i.e. the European Network (Euroflux) or the Americas Network (AmeriFlux) -- and the regional networks together comprise a global network called FLUXNET.

It May Not Cost You More To Drive Home In A Climate-Friendly Car
September 27, 2016 02:34 PM - NPR

It has been a common belief that low-emissions vehicles, like hybrids and electric cars, are more expensive than other choices. But a new study finds that when operating and maintenance costs are included in a vehicle's price, cleaner cars may actually be a better bet.

Millions of Trees are Dying Across the US
September 26, 2016 06:53 AM - Julie Rodriguez, Care2

Throughout the U.S., trees are dying at an astonishing rate. The reasons for the die-off vary from location to location — drought, disease, insects and wildfires – but the root cause in many of these cases is the same: climate change.

The epidemic is even threatening the oldest white oak tree in America, a 600-year-old giant in New Jersey that predates Columbus’ visit to the Americas.

Inexpensive semiconducting organic polymers can harvest sunlight to split carbon dioxide into alcohol fuels
September 23, 2016 09:33 AM - University of Texas, Arlington via ScienceDaily

Chemists at The University of Texas at Arlington have been the first to demonstrate that an organic semiconductor polymer called polyaniline is a promising photocathode material for the conversion of carbon dioxide into alcohol fuels without the need for a co-catalyst.

"This opens up a new field of research into new applications for inexpensive, readily available organic semiconducting polymers within solar fuel cells," said principal researcher Krishnan Rajeshwar, UTA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry and co-Director of UTA's Center for Renewable Energy, Science & Technology.

Soil will absorb less atmospheric carbon than expected this century, study finds
September 22, 2016 05:23 PM - University of California, Irvine via ScienceDaily

By adding highly accurate radiocarbon dating of soil to standard Earth system models, environmental scientists from the University of California, Irvine and other institutions have learned a dirty little secret: The ground will absorb far less atmospheric carbon dioxide this century than previously thought.

Researchers used carbon-14 data from 157 sample sites around the world to determine that current soil carbon is about 3,100 years old -- rather than the 450 years stipulated by many Earth system models.

"This work indicates that soils have a weaker capacity to soak up carbon than we have been assuming over the past few decades," said UCI Chancellor's Professor of Earth system science James Randerson, senior author of a new study on the subject to be published in the journal Science. "It means we have to be even more proactive in finding ways to cut emissions of fossil fuels to limit the magnitude and impacts of climate warming."

Where and how climate change is altering species
September 21, 2016 05:20 PM - University of Wisconsin-Madison via ScienceDaily

New research published Monday (Sept. 19) in the journal Nature Climate Change by researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark and the University of Wisconsin-Madison illuminates where and why novel species combinations are likely to emerge due to recent changes in temperature and precipitation. The study includes global maps of novelty that offer testable predictions and carry important implications for conservation and land management planning.

Soil management may help stabilize maize yield in the face of climate change
September 20, 2016 04:42 PM - University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences via ScienceDaily

How will we feed our growing population in the face of an increasingly extreme climate? Many experts suggest the answer lies in breeding novel crop varieties that can withstand the increases in drought, heat, and extreme rainfall events predicted in the not-too-distant future. But breeding is only part of the equation, according to new research from the University of Illinois and several collaborating institutions across the Midwestern U.S.

"It might not be necessary to put all the stress of climate adaptation and mitigation on new varieties. Instead, if we can manage agroecosystems more appropriately, we can buffer some of the effects of climate instability," says U of I and USDA Agricultural Research Service ecologist Adam Davis.

Heatwaves in the ocean: Risk to ecosystems?
September 19, 2016 04:12 PM - ETH Zurich via ScienceDaily

Marine ecosystems are responsible for about half of global annual primary production and more than one billion people rely on fish as their primary protein source. Latest studies show that enormous warm water bubbles in the ocean are having a noticeable impact on ecosystems. How should we interpret these changes?

World deforestation: we're losing a forest the size of NYC every 2 days!
September 19, 2016 10:26 AM - Karin Kloosterman via Green Prophet

This is an issue of global concern. Climate change, urbanization, and resource depletion (more mouths to feed, burn wood in stoves for, graze more cattle for) is still happening at a fast an alarming clip, influencing our planet’s ability to store CO2 emissions, and protect diversity. 

Virgin Atlantic: Emissions from Steel Mills Could Fuel Airplanes
September 16, 2016 01:32 PM - by Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

After five years of research and development, Virgin Atlantic and one of its clean-technology partners, Illinois-based LanzaTech, developed a source of jet fuel made of waste gases from steel mills. According to the companies, this new source of jet fuel passed extensive tests that both delivered on performance and promise to result in carbon emissions savings of 65 percent compared to conventional jet fuel.

This discovery comes at a time when airlines, seeking to mitigate what is a carbon-intensive business, have long dabbled with jet fuel blended with algae and other biofuels. The Dutch carrier KLM experimented with algae fuel blends, has flown transatlantic flights using blends of kerosene and cooking oil, and is still apparently committed to sourcing these fuels when available. Alaska Airlines also considered using recycled cooking oil to reduce its carbon emissions. Earlier this year, United kicked off flights between San Francisco and Los Angeles using a biofuel-conventional blend. Aviation fuel using feedstock from Brazilian sugarcane is also touted as an option.

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