Data from HMS Challenger Expedition Helps Confirm Long Term Ocean Warming
May 25, 2013 07:50 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN
Global warming has been going on for a long time. What were the temperatures like a hundred years ago? Terrestrial records go back that far and farther, but what about ocean temperatures? In the late 1800's the HMS Challenger conducted extensive measurements of ocean temperatures across the globe. Researchers from the University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay, Australia; and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., combined the ship's measurements of ocean temperatures with modern observations from the international Argo array of ocean profiling floats. They used both as inputs to state-of-the-art climate models, to get a picture of how the world's oceans have changed since the Challenger's voyage. The Challenger expedition, from 1872 to 1876, was the world's first global scientific survey of life beneath the ocean surface. Along the way, scientists measured ocean temperatures, lowering thermometers hundreds of meters deep on ropes.
The Bonn Declaration
May 24, 2013 03:27 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Long before nations fought over oil, they fought over water and food. A conference in Bonn Germany of 500 leading water scientists from around the world today issued a stark warning that, without major reforms, "in the short span of one or two generations, the majority of the 9 billion people on Earth will be living under the handicap of severe pressure on fresh water, an absolutely essential natural resource for which there is no substitute. This handicap will be self-inflicted and is, we believe, entirely avoidable."
Memorial Day Travel will Cost Americans over $1 Billion on Gasoline
May 24, 2013 10:48 AM - Allison Winter, ENN
Memorial Day not only marks the day we pay tribute to those who have served in the United States Armed Forces, but it also marks the first unofficial weekend that kicks off the summer. With that said, tens of millions of Americans are expected to get away this weekend and according to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), Americans will spend more than $1.4 billion filling up their tanks! The new analysis utilizes newly released data from the American Automotive Association (AAA), which estimated that 89 percent of Memorial Day weekend travelers (about 31.2 million Americans) will travel by vehicle.
To Walk or to Climb
May 24, 2013 09:21 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
To walk on two or four limbs, that is the question... Jeremy M. DeSilva an anthropologist at Worcester University in Massachusetts has published Functional Morphology of the Ankle and the Likelihood of Climbing in Early Hominins, in the peer-reviewed journal, Proceeding of the National Academies of Sciences of the USA current issue. The study includes data gathered by DeSilva in Uganda's Kibale National Park of modern chimpanzee and comparisons of hominin fossil skeletal remains dating back some 4.12 million to 1.53 million years ago. The findings appear to show that if early hominins depended on tree climbing as part of their survival repertoire, they were performing it decidedly different from modern chimpanzee locomotor activity. The question DeSilva addresses is whether early man's adaptation to full bipedalism involved a swift shedding of the ability to climb and swing from trees. DeSilva compared the great apes and early hominin ankle joint, the tibia and the talus in the foot. He discovered marked differences between the structure and capacity of these two skeletal fossils.
Jaffna aquifer depleting from overuse
May 24, 2013 08:54 AM - Dilrukshi Handunnetti, SciDevNet
The single limestone aquifer, which is the main source of freshwater in Sri Lanka's northern Jaffna peninsula, is gradually depleting through overuse, researchers say. "The area suffers from severe groundwater imbalance which might reach crisis proportions in the future," Shanti de Silva, one of two scientists who carried out the research for the agricultural department of the University of Jaffna, told SciDev.Net.
Free Range Milk?
May 24, 2013 06:17 AM - Lorna Howarth, The Ecologist
Free-Range Dairy is a new initiative that could reverse the trend towards industrialised mega-farms. The Ecologist office is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty within a United Nations Biosphere Reserve. Hartland peninsular is dotted with steep, wooded valleys where bluebells, early purple orchids and woodpeckers abound.The hills afford breathtaking views across the Bristol channel to Lundy Island, itself a nature reserve with a no-fish zone that is having a beneficial effect on marine ecology, and looking south-west down to Cornwall, on a clear day, one can see to Boscastle and Bodmin moor beyond. But something is missing from this bucolic scene - one notices it first whilst walking the country lanes on a warm spring evening. There is no rhythmic munching of grass on the other side of the hedge; no bovine belching or contented sighing as the cows enjoy the sun on their backs after a long winter in the cattle yard. For here in Hartland, as elsewhere in the country, the trend is towards carbon-intensive, 'industrialised' farming where huge herds of 1,000 cows or more are kept indoors all year long, with only a concrete yard for exercise.
Ocean Acidification and Deep-sea Organisms
May 23, 2013 04:17 PM - Allison Winter, ENN
Although the natural absorption of CO2 by the world's oceans help mitigate climate effects, the resulting decrease in pH causes ocean acidification which can have negative consequences for much of the marine life, specifically calcifiers such as corals and mollusks that construct their shells and skeletons from calcium carbonate.
New Anti-Staph Drugs
May 23, 2013 04:08 PM - Andy Soos, ENN
Bugs and infections are growing ever stronger and more resistant to the antibiotics and the like. A team of Wisconsin scientists has synthesized a potent new class of compounds capable of curbing the bacteria that cause staph infections. They describe these new agents as effectively interfering with the quorum sensing behavior of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium at the root of a host of human infections ranging from acne to life-threatening conditions such as pneumonia, toxic shock syndrome and sepsis.
Deforestation Dries Up Dams Threatening Hydropower
May 23, 2013 11:08 AM - María Elena Hurtado, SciDevNet
Deforestation may lead to electricity shortages in tropical rainforest regions that rely heavily on hydropower, as fewer trees mean less rainfall for hydropower generation, a study shows.
May 23, 2013 09:50 AM - Andy Soos, ENN
Most home thermostats contain a few grams of mercury. Although they only contain small quantities of mercury and do not by themselves exceed any regulatory threshold, they contain enough mercury to potentially cause a significant health risk. The state of California has issued new rules that will greatly reduce the amount of dangerous mercury sent to landfills and incinerators each year due to the improper disposal of old mercury-laden thermostats. The new rules will require thermostat manufacturers to collect and recycle the vast majority of discarded mercury thermostats in California. Over the next five years, this will keep nearly 2 tons of the toxin out of garbage trucks, landfills and incinerators where the mercury can be released from crushing or burning, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the California Product Stewardship Council, and the California Sierra Club.