Top Stories

Stanford researchers create a better way to predict the environmental impacts of agricultural production
April 21, 2017 05:55 PM - Taylor Kubota via Stanford University

Consumer goods companies often rely on life-cycle assessments (LCA) to figure out the potential consequences of how they design products and source ingredients. This kind of assessment, while sophisticated, often lacks detail about how the products affect natural resources such as land, water and biodiversity.

A team of researchers from Stanford University and the University of Minnesota, in a partnership called the Natural Capital Project, along with researchers from Unilever’s Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre, developed a new kind of assessment to integrate these impacts in a more detailed way. They call it Land Use Change Improved Life Cycle Assessment, or LUCI-LCA. It’s designed to help researchers or companies more accurately predict impacts of new designs and sourcing.

Chesapeake Bay Pollution Extends to Early 19th Century, UA Study Confirms
April 21, 2017 05:46 PM - University of Alabama

Humans began measurably and negatively impacting water quality in the Chesapeake Bay in the first half of the 19th century, according to a study of eastern oysters by researchers at The University of Alabama.

The work, published in Scientific Reports, show pollution’s effect appears a bit earlier than previously thought, but it generally confirms increasing deforestation and industrialization around the Bay led to water quality issues before the Civil War, which has been shown by other studies with different testing methods.

Antarctica's biodiversity is under threat from tourism, transnational pollution and more
April 21, 2017 05:38 PM - Concordia University

A unique international study has debunked the popular view that Antarctica and the Southern Ocean are in much better ecological shape than the rest of the world.

The study, published recently in PLOS Biology and involving an interdisciplinary group of 23 researchers, compared Antarctic biodiversity and its management with that of the rest of the world.

NASA and NOAA Satellites Watch Arlene, First Tropical Storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season
April 21, 2017 05:26 PM - NASA

The first tropical storm of the Atlantic Ocean hurricane season formed 40 days before the official kick off of the season. Tropical Storm Arlene formed in the North Central Atlantic Ocean and NOAA's GOES-East satellite provided forecasters with a look at the storm, swirling far from land areas.

Rising water temperatures endanger health of coastal ecosystems, study finds
April 21, 2017 04:55 PM - University of Georgia

Increasing water temperatures are responsible for the accumulation of a chemical called nitrite in marine environments throughout the world, a symptom of broader changes in normal ocean biochemical pathways that could ultimately disrupt ocean food webs, according to new research from the University of Georgia.

Clean power planning
April 21, 2017 04:47 PM - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

With a single executive order issued at the end of March, the Trump administration launched a robust effort to roll back Obama-era climate policies designed to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Chief among those policies is the Clean Power Plan, which targets coal and natural gas-fired electric power plants that account for about 40 percent of the nation’s CO2 emissions. Private and public-sector investors may see the executive order as a green light to double down on relatively cheap fossil fuels and reduce holdings in more costly, climate-friendly, non-carbon generation technologies such as wind, solar and nuclear. But they may want to think twice before making such transactions.

UW Researcher Helps Quantify Grasslands' Carbon Storage Value
April 21, 2017 03:42 PM - University of Wyoming

When grasslands feature a wide array of plant species, they provide a variety of benefits for humans and animals, including enhanced carbon storage capacity that can be quantified economically, according to a new scientific paper co-written by a University of Wyoming researcher.

A Costa Rican Volcano Sees Its Biggest Blast in Years
April 21, 2017 03:38 PM - Erik Klemetti, Wired

Some updates on current volcanic activity worldwide:

On April 13, Poás in Costa Rica had its largest explosive eruption in years. The explosion was mainly driven by waterheated at the summit crater lake/vent area, generating what is called a “phreatic” eruption. Although water turning to steam is the main player, these explosions can still produce plumes that reach over 1 kilometer (~3200 feet). This eruption at Poás did just that, with plumes 500-1000 meters tall. News reports also mentioned ash fall in the surrounding region, incandescent blocks suggesting magma relatively close to the surface, and boulders two meters wide being thrown from the lake vent. (They broke the floor at the Poas visitor’s center!) Passengers on a flight out of San Jose got quite a view of the eruption. You can watch video of the eruption that was captured by the webcam at Poás. The eruptions have continued, with another blast on April 18.

Application of New Statistical Method Shows Promise in Mitigating Climate Change Effects on Critical Pine Plantations in Southern US
April 21, 2017 03:33 PM - American Statistical Association

Confronting evidence that the global climate is changing rapidly relative to historical trends, researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new statistical model that, when applied to the loblolly pine tree populations in the southeastern United States, will benefit forest landowners and the forest industry in future decades. The research, titled “Optimal Seed Deployment Under Climate Change Using Spatial Models: Application to Loblolly Pine in the Southeastern US” appears in the Journal of The American Statistical Association.

Pollution particles spur more mountain snow
April 21, 2017 03:30 PM - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

High concentrations of tiny pollution particles near the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the western United States invigorate cloud formation and boost snowfall on the mountains, according to a new study by scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and their collaborators at Colorado State University.

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