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Welcome the birth of two Giant Pandas at the Atlanta Zoo!
July 17, 2013 06:01 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Giant Pandas rarely give birth to young in captivity. When they do it is cause for celebration! Lun Lun, a 15-year-old giant panda, gave birth to twins on July 15, 2013 at the Atlanta Fulton County Zoo. The first of the tiny duo arrived at 6:21 p.m., and its twin followed at 6:23 p.m. The cubs are the first giant pandas to be born in the U.S. in 2013 and the first twins to be born in the U.S. since 1987. The Animal Management and Veterinary Teams are currently caring for one of the cubs in the nursery unit in the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Giant Panda Center; Lun Lun is currently caring for the other. Assisting Zoo Atlanta staff is an animal care colleague from the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding where Lun Lun and Yang Yang were born. Lun Lun is an experienced and capable mother, but she has never before given birth to twins, which are not unusual in her species.
Oil Sheens in Gulf of Mexico Traced Back to Deepwater Horizon Site
July 16, 2013 03:03 PM - Allison Winter, ENN
When the US Coast Guard was informed of oil sheens in the Gulf of Mexico in July 2012, there was concern over where this oil was coming from. In order to determine the source of the sheen, a research team assembled to use recently patented technology in order to fingerprint the chemical makeup of the sheens, compare them to potential sources, and estimate the location of the source based on the extend the gasoline-like compounds evaporated from the sheens. "The results demonstrate a recently developed geochemical analytical method and may have real-world implications in environmental management strategies for future contamination incidents," says Deborah Aruguete, program director in NSF's Division of Earth Sciences, which co-funded the research. Because every oil sample contains chemical clues pointing to the reservoir it came from, scientists can compare it to other samples to determine if they share a common source. After analyzing 14 sheen samples skimmed from the Gulf of Mexico, the researchers confirmed that the sheens contained oil from the Macondo well. However, the samples also contained trace amounts of olefins, industrial chemicals used in drilling operations.
Green Buildings Will Sustain the Future Health of Billions
July 16, 2013 01:46 PM - Amber Arneson, Guest Author, Clean Techies
By 2050, the world's population is expected to hit nine billion. And, by that year, scientists have projected that 80 percent of the world's population will live in urban environments. In the United States alone, research indicates that people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, as noted in a TriplePundit article. Unfortunately, buildings can have concentrations of some pollutants that are two to five times higher than typical outdoor concentrations, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These pollutants can come in the form of aging infrastructure, portable air conditioners, poor ventilation or other forms.
Sea level rise may be underestimated by models
July 16, 2013 07:25 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Think sea levels will rise only a bit in response to an increase in global temperature of one degree? Think again! A new study estimates that global sea levels will rise about 2.3 meters, or more than seven feet, over the next several thousand years for every degree (Celsius) the planet warms. This international study is one of the first to combine analyses of four major contributors to potential sea level rise into a collective estimate, and compare it with evidence of past sea-level responses to global temperature changes. Results of the study, funded primarily by the National Science Foundation and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, are being published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
What is causing drop in Monarch Butterfly population?
July 16, 2013 06:06 AM - Lacey Avery , MONGABAY.COM
In the next few months, the beating of fragile fiery orange and black wings will transport the monarch butterfly south. But the number of monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) reaching their final destination has steadily declined, dropping to its lowest level in two decades last winter, according to a recent survey. The insect's journey begins in late summer and August, when monarchs fly from Canada and the Northeastern U.S. to highly selective overwintering sites in Mexico. Individually weighing less than a paperclip, monarch butterflies employ an inherited compass to make the longest insect migration in the world, flying up to 4000 kilometers (2,485 miles) to reach their final destination by November.
Drought seriously impacting rangeland, cattle
July 15, 2013 06:14 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
The Bureau of Land Management has been tracking range conditions as the current drought lingers on. Drought conditions across the West have impacted rangelands, leaving little water and forage for animals and livestock, prompting the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to undertake targeted actions, such as providing supplemental water and food for wild horses; reducing grazing; and enacting fire restrictions. Hot, dry conditions continue to persist west of the Mississippi River, with at least 15 states experiencing drought. For example, 93 percent of rangeland and pastures are rated poor or very poor in New Mexico; 59 percent in Colorado; 35 percent in Wyoming; and 17 percent in Utah. Similar conditions exist in Nevada, where more than 60 percent of the state has been in severe or extreme drought conditions since the beginning of 2013.
Satellite monitoring of ice sheets
July 15, 2013 06:02 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Data from satellites have been used a lot recently to monitor the loss of ice from ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland. Having these data is relatively recent, however. It would be better if the data existed for a longer period so more accurate predictions of future rates of ice loss or accretion could be made. The length of the satellite record for the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets is currently too short to tell if the recently reported speed-up of ice loss will be sustained in the future or if it results from natural processes, according to a new study led by Dr Bert Wouters from the University of Bristol. The findings, published in Nature Geoscience, underscore the need for continuous satellite monitoring of the ice sheets to better identify and predict melting and the corresponding sea-level rise.
The Penobscot River will flow to the sea once more!
July 14, 2013 07:29 AM - Editor, Justmeans
On Monday, July 22, contractors will begin to remove the Veazie Dam from Maine’s Penobscot River, reconnecting the river with the Gulf of Maine for the first time in nearly two centuries. The 830-foot long, buttress-style Veazie Dam spans the Penobscot River at a maximum height of approximately 30 feet, with an impoundment stretching 3.8 miles. Breaching the Veazie Dam—the dam closest to the sea— marks a monumental step in the Penobscot River Restoration Project, among the largest river restoration projects in our nation’s history. Combined with Great Works Dam removal in 2012 and additional fish passage improvements at dams in the upper watershed, the Veazie Dam removal is a key component of the historic effort to greatly improve access to 1000 miles of spawning, rearing, and nursery habitat for endangered Atlantic salmon, American shad and river herring, and benefits the entire suite of native sea-run fish. Once removed, endangered shortnose sturgeon, threatened Atlantic sturgeon, striped bass, rainbow smelt and tomcod will be able to access 100% of their historic habitat.
Global Population Keeps on Increasing
July 13, 2013 07:47 AM - Population Matters from Portland Press Herald
The African population could increase fourfold by 2100, making poverty and hunger issues more severe. In advance of World Population Day, United Nations demographers have once again revised official projections — upward. This meticulous band of number crunchers doesn’t mean to be alarmist, but its statistics can be startling: ”¢ Nigeria, the West African nation slightly larger than Texas, is on track to surpass the United States as the world’s third-most populous country by 2050. The size of its population may rival that of China by the end of the century, unless something dramatic happens.
MLB and Forest Service Team Up to Reduce Frequency of Shattered Bats
July 12, 2013 02:15 PM - Editor, ENN
According to Louisville Slugger, one of the nation's oldest and most well known producer of wood baseball bats, it takes nearly 40,000 trees to produce one season's worth of baseball bats and the company alone produces 1.6 million wood bats each year! So it's no surprise that the US Forest Service has decided to team up with Major League Baseball in order to ensure that we preserve as many bats as possible.