Top Stories

World's biggest tropical carbon sink found in Congo rainforest
January 16, 2017 02:04 PM - , Ecologist

A 145,000 sq km area of peatland swamp forest has been discovered in the Congo Basin, writes Tim Radford, and it holds a record 30 Gt of carbon, equivalent to 20 years of US fossil fuel emissions. Now the race is on to protect it from damaging development that would emit that carbon over coming decades.

Giant Middle East dust storm caused by a changing climate, not human conflict
January 16, 2017 10:16 AM - Matt Soniak via Princeton University

In August 2015, a dust storm blanketed large areas of seven Middle East nations in a haze of dust and sand thick enough to obscure them from satellite view. The storm led to several deaths, thousands of cases of respiratory ailments and injuries, and canceled airline flights and closed ports. 

At the time, the storm's unusual severity was attributed to the ongoing civil war in Syria by media outlets in the Middle East, Europe and the United States. Reports blamed the conflict for changes in land use and cover — and for activities like increased military traffic over unpaved surfaces and farmers reducing irrigation or abandoning agricultural land — that created extreme amounts of dust to fuel the storm.

E-Waste in East and South-East Asia Jumps 63% in Five Years
January 15, 2017 03:33 PM - United Nations University

The volume of discarded electronics in East and South-East Asia jumped almost two-thirds between 2010 and 2015, and e-waste generation is growing fast in both total volume and per capita measures, new UNU research shows.

Driven by rising incomes and high demand for new gadgets and appliances, the average increase in e-waste across all 12 countries and areas analysed — Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Province of China, Thailand and Vietnam — was 63% in the five years ending in 2015 and totalled 12.3 million tonnes, a weight 2.4 times that of the Great Pyramid of Giza.

NASA Analyzes Heavy Rainfall Over Southern Thailand
January 13, 2017 03:43 PM - NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center

Widespread flooding has recently caused the deaths of dozens of people in southern Thailand. Frequent and persistent downpours have resulted in record rainfall totals and NASA calculated rainfall over the region from January 5 to January 12, 2017.

The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite is part of a constellation of satellites that can measure rainfall from space. GPM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the data is input into NASA's Integrated Multi-satellitE Retrievals for GPM (IMERG) data product.

NASA Spots Short-Lived Tropical Depression 01W
January 13, 2017 03:33 PM - NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center

In just 24 hours after Tropical Depression 01W formed in the Philippine Sea it was already falling apart. NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite passed over the depression and saw the large, weakening depression being affected by wind shear.

Tropical depression 01W, known in the Philippines as Tropical Depression Auring, formed near Mindanao on Jan. 8, 2017 and triggered warnings. On January 9, TD01W continued to move west through Mindanao toward the South China Sea.

Researchers develop environmentally friendly, soy air filter
January 13, 2017 03:32 PM - Washington State University

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University researchers have developed a soy-based air filter that can capture toxic chemicals, such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde, that current air filters can’t.

Northeast US temperatures are decades ahead of global average
January 13, 2017 03:16 PM - University of Massachusetts Amherst

AMHERST, Mass. – Results of a new study by researchers at the Northeast Climate Science Center (NECSC) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggest that temperatures across the northeastern United States will increase much faster than the global average, so that the 2-degrees Celsius warming target adopted in the recent Paris Agreement on climate change will be reached about 20 years earlier for this part of the U.S. compared to the world as a whole.

What makes erionite carcinogenic?
January 13, 2017 09:43 AM - Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet Jena

The mineral erionite is considered to be highly carcinogenic and is on the World Health Organisation's list of substances that cause cancer. A few years ago, an entire village in Turkey actually had to be moved, because the substance was very common in the surrounding area and every second inhabitant died of a particular type of cancer caused by breathing in erionite particles. Up to now it has been thought that iron as a constituent element of the mineral erionite is the reason for the carcinogenic effect. However, mineralogists of Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany), together with colleagues from the University of Modena (Italy), have discovered that this metal does not even appear in the crystal structure of erionite.

Iowa State engineer helps journal highlight how pyrolysis can advance the bioeconomy
January 13, 2017 09:29 AM - Iowa State University

A special issue of the journal Energy Technology details the latest advances in pyrolysis technologies for converting biomass into fuels, chemicals and fertilizers.

Two pyrolysis experts are guest editors of the issue: Robert C. Brown, the director of Iowa State University’s Bioeconomy Institute, an Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering and the Gary and Donna Hoover Chair in Mechanical Engineering; and George Huber, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Harvey D. Spangler Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Measuring the 'true social cost' of carbon dioxide emissions
January 13, 2017 08:32 AM - University of Oxford

The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has proposed a new framework for US agencies to use to estimate the 'social cost of carbon dioxide' emissions. Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science at the Environmental Change Institute, helped compile the report which will strengthen the scientific basis and provide greater transparency for US climate policy. 

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