Climate change to disrupt soil nutrients in drylands
October 31, 2013 11:36 AM - Jan Piotrowski, SciDevNet
The increased aridity expected this century as a result of change may disrupt the balance of key soil nutrients with a knock-on effect on soil fertility threatening livelihoods of more than two billion people, a study finds. The drop in nitrogen and carbon concentrations that occurs as soils become dryer could have serious effects on ecosystem services such as food, carbon storage and biodiversity, according to the Nature paper published today.
Lions under pressure in Uganda
October 30, 2013 06:38 AM - Wildlife Conservation Society
Conservationists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of St. Andrews warn that Uganda’s African lions—a mainstay of the country's tourism industry and a symbol of Africa—are on the verge of disappearing from the country's national parks. According to the results of a recent survey, African lions in Uganda have decreased by more than 30 percent over the past 10 years in some areas of the country, mostly the result of poisoning by local cattle herders, retaliations for livestock predation, and other human-related conflicts. The downward trend in lion numbers has conservationists concerned about the species' long-term chances in the country, often described as the "Pearl of Africa" for its natural wonders.
Sandy’s path of destruction felt in the Caribbean too
October 29, 2013 04:17 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Last year at this time much of the United States eastern seaboard was closely monitoring Super Storm Sandy. Hour by hour people watched with horror as she blew across the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and the Bahamas ultimately charging up the Atlantic, swinging west to crash into the Mid-Atlantic states at full force. Damage to New York and New Jersey was extensive to be sure, but the larger populations and greater affluence to the north have largely overshadowed recovery of the Caribbean nations.
Mercury Sediment Carried Forth by California Floods
October 29, 2013 01:59 PM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Mercury contamination in sediment has been a big concern in the Central Valley lowland areas of California. But associate researcher from the University of California, Michael Singer has unearthed new information and considerations utilizing modern topographic datasets and modeling to track mercury-laden sediment. Singer hypothesizes that the progradation process resulting from 10-year flooding events within the valleys below the Sierra Nevada Mountains are the key to understanding and tracking the presence of mercury. Singer has connected the mercury amalgamation process, which was used to extract gold from the mountains during the 19th century with the current high incidence of mercury in regional delta sediment.
School Bus Company Fined $33K for Excessive Idling
October 29, 2013 09:02 AM - Editor, ENN
Watch out idlers — they're coming for you! Anti-idling laws on the federal, state, and local level are rapidly growing across the US in an effort to cut back on the billions of gallons of fuel that are wasted each year by idling vehicles. While it is difficult to patrol these idlers, especially on a local level, most states have laws against idling, with California taking the lead for the most codes and regulations. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is also taking action against companies that violate federally-enforceable motor vehicle idling limits. The latest culprit - North Reading Transportation (NRT), a Methuen company that operates school buses and provides student transportation services in several Massachusetts communities.
The Ozone hole seems to be getting smaller
October 29, 2013 06:48 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Remember the Ozone hole? Decades ago it was a big concern. It was getting bigger and bigger and our emissions of ozone-depleting substances was identified as the main reason. It continues to get smaller as anthropogenic emissions continue to be reduced. It was slightly smaller in 2013 than average in recent decades, according to NASA satellite data. The ozone hole is a seasonal phenomenon that starts to form during the Antarctic spring (August and September). The September-October 2013 average size of the hole was 8.1 million square miles (21 million square kilometers). For comparison, the average size measured since the mid-1990s when the annual maximum size stopped growing is 8.7 million square miles (22.5 million square kilometers). However, the size of the hole in any particular year is not enough information for scientists to determine whether a healing of the hole has begun.
Africa's biggest wind farm opens
October 28, 2013 09:03 AM - Oliver Tickell, The Ecologist
Africa's biggest wind farm, at Ashegoda in Tigray, Ethiopia, is being inaugurated today after a three year construction period. This marks the completion of the last of three construction phases. The 120 MW wind farm has already injected 90 MWh of electricity into Ethiopia's power grid since commissioning began earlier this year, and is expected to produce a total of 400,000 MWh per year hereafter.
Nuclear power gets twice the price of solar!
October 28, 2013 08:31 AM - Oliver Tickell, Ecologist
The UK government's policy to pay for more for nuclear power than for power from solar PV is in direct contradiction of EU rules on state aid. The Hinkley C nuclear power station is to be paid more than twice as much as German solar pv arrays of 10MW or more, energy expert David Toke of Aberdeen University has calculated. And even smaller arrays are being paid considerably less than the price paid to EDF at Hinkley.
Kazakhstan nuclear test site clean up success
October 27, 2013 08:32 AM - Paul Lowe / Panos, SciDevNet
A Soviet-era nuclear test site in Kazakhstan was cleaned up through a collaborative international project that could provide lessons for tackling other dangerous nuclear sites across the globe, a report reveals. The report, entitled 'Plutonium Mountain', documents how international scientific cooperation was important for securing nuclear waste from the site. It was released in August by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, United States. The Semipalatinsk test site, which spans an area about the size of Belgium, lies in a remote part of eastern Kazakhstan. It embodied the post-Cold War risk of 'loose nukes' -- the threat that terrorists or rogue states could obtain nuclear fissile materials — according to the report.
Arctic warming confirmed to be unprecedented
October 26, 2013 09:43 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
The earth's climate is changing. Temperatures are trending higher. Scientists want to know if this trend is part of a natural cycle, augmented by man's use of fossil fuels. The Arctic region is a good place to look for clues. Average summer temperatures in the Eastern Canadian Arctic during the last 100 years are higher now than during any century in the past 44,000 years and perhaps as long ago as 120,000 years, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study. The study is the first direct evidence that the present warmth in the Eastern Canadian Arctic exceeds the peak warmth there in the Early Holocene, when the amount of the sun’s energy reaching the Northern Hemisphere in summer was roughly 9 percent greater than today, said CU-Boulder geological sciences Professor Gifford Miller, study leader. The Holocene is a geological epoch that began after Earth's last glacial period ended roughly 11,700 years ago and which continues today.