Sustainability

Climate migration in the face of climate change
February 11, 2014 09:41 AM - Julie Cohen, University of California, Santa Barbara

As climate change unfolds over the next century, plants and animals will need to adapt or shift locations to follow their ideal climate. A new study provides an innovative global map of where species are likely to succeed or fail in keeping up with a changing climate. The findings appear in the science journal Nature.

Calculating your water footprint
February 10, 2014 11:01 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Water scarcity affects 2.7 billion people worldwide for at least a month each year and in the same way that each of us has a carbon footprint, Professor Arjen Hoekstra of the University of Twente in the Netherlands posits that every person also has a "water footprint". Our water footprint is calculated by counting the amount of fresh water that we each use daily and the amount of water required to produce the goods and services that we consume. Due in large part to our monthly water bill, we recognize our daily fresh water use more than we do the amount of water that it takes to produce other foods and products that we consume. We more commonly think about water consumption in terms daily showers dishwasher and sprinkler usage or dripping spigots.

Should the Wolf continue to be protected?
February 9, 2014 08:03 AM - VIRGINIA MORELL, SCIENCE

The ongoing battle over a proposal to lift U.S. government protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) across the lower 48 states isn't likely to end quickly. An independent, peer-review panel yesterday gave a thumbs-down to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS's) plan to de-list the wolf. Although not required to reach a consensus, the four researchers on the panel were unanimous in their opinion that the proposal "does not currently represent the 'best available science'" "It's stunning to see a pronouncement like this--that the proposal is not scientifically sound," says Michael Nelson, an ecologist at Oregon State University in Corvallis, who was not one of the reviewers. Many commentators regard it as a major set-back for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which stumbled last year in a previous attempt to get the science behind its proposal reviewed.

Volcano Power
February 8, 2014 07:33 AM - ANGUS CHEN, ScienceNOW

Still searing from the formation of the solar system, the core of Earth is a nuclear reactor generating heat from the breakdown of radioactive elements like uranium, thorium, and potassium. Scientists have been harnessing that heat for decades by drilling deep wells to power turbines. But now researchers have been able to tap into even greater energy by drilling into volcanoes and exploiting the heat of molten rock. If current geothermal wells are replaced with the new technology, it could provide 30% more power than current renewable energy sources. The idea of tapping the energy of magma came from a pair of accidents. In 1985, workers drilling for a geothermal well in Iceland ran into a sudden and uncontrollable blast of high-pressure steam. Scientists think the steam originated from a reservoir of water that’s under such pressure that as it begins to boil, the water cannot expand enough to become vapor and remains in a liquidlike state. Water in such a "supercritical state" contains enormous amounts of energy. Water reaches this state once it reaches 222 bars of pressure and 374°C or above, and flashes into steam when the pressure drops as the water rises to the surface.

A Mexican "bee-rometer"
February 7, 2014 05:17 PM - Beth King, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Mexico is the fourth largest honey producer and fifth largest honey exporter in the world. A Smithsonian researcher and colleagues helped rural farmers in Mexico to quantify the genetically modified organism (GMO) soybean pollen in honey samples rejected for sale in Germany. Their results will appear Feb. 7 in the online journal, Scientific Reports.

The first big bite!
February 7, 2014 11:43 AM - Gareth Trickey, University of Toronto

The first top predators to walk on land were not afraid to bite off more than they could chew, a University of Toronto, Mississauga study has found. Graduate student and lead author Kirstin Brink and U of T Biology Professor Robert Reisz suggest that Dimetrodon, a carnivore that walked on land between 298 million and 272 million years ago, was the first terrestrial vertebrate to develop serrated ziphodont teeth. According to the study published in Nature Communications, ziphodont teeth, with their serrated edges, produced a more-efficient bite and would have allowed Dimetrodon to eat prey much larger than itself. While most meat-eating dinosaurs possessed ziphodont teeth, fossil evidence suggests serrated teeth first evolved in Dimetrodon some 40 million years earlier than theropod dinosaurs.

Submarine melting gives rise to sea levels by chewing away the Greenland Ice Sheet
February 6, 2014 11:22 AM - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Over the past two decades, ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet increased four-fold contributing to one-quarter of global sea level rise. However, the chain of events and physical processes that contributed to it has remained elusive. One likely trigger for the speed up and retreat of glaciers that contributed to this ice loss is ocean warming.

Achoo! Native Echinacea angustifolia plant is blown away
February 5, 2014 08:17 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN

Echinacea, a genus of flower in the daisy family is sold in many over-the-counter cold and flu remedies and sold in pharmacies and health and nutrition stores. Echinacea has nine wild species in eastern and central North America that grow in moist to dry prairies and in open wooded areas. The genus includes the purple coneflower, pale purple coneflower and narrow-leaved purple coneflower. All have large magenta petals that unfurl from early to late summer.

7-Eleven, Avis, Walgreens Reduce Peak Power Demand For Big Energy Savings
February 4, 2014 11:58 AM - Andrew Burger, Triple Pundit

Revenue growth and profits for U.S. power utilities have always been predicated on increasing demand, regulatory framework and relationships with regulators. Though still highly regulated, that business modus operandi is being turned on its head. Rapid growth in distributed solar, wind and other renewable energy resources and the development of smart grid and demand-response systems are two factors driving these changes. The movement to put a price on carbon emissions — based on the polluter pays principle — is another.

24 fewer days of winter ice
February 4, 2014 09:09 AM - ClickGreen Staff, ClickGreen

The winter ice season is now 24 days shorter than it was in 1950 as Arctic lakes are freezing up later in the year and thawing earlier, according to a new study. The University of Waterloo research, sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA), also reveals that climate change has dramatically affected the thickness of lake ice at the coldest point in the season. In 2011, Arctic lake ice was up to 38 centimeters thinner than it was in 1950.

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