Top Stories

Climate change more of a risk to the Greenland Ice Sheet than thought
September 29, 2014 07:56 AM - University of Cambridge

A new model developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge has shown that despite its apparent stability, the massive ice sheet covering most of Greenland is more sensitive to climate change than earlier estimates have suggested, which would accelerate the rising sea levels that threaten coastal communities worldwide. In addition to assessing the impact of the increasing levels of meltwater created and spilled into the ocean each year as the climate continues to warm, the new model also takes into account the role that the soft, spongy ground beneath the ice sheet plays in its changing dynamics. Details are published today (29 September) in the journal Nature Communications.

Some good news for the oceans!
September 28, 2014 08:04 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

Good news for aquatic life: the oceans just got a little bit safer. Okay, so most of the ocean remains vulnerable to human devastation, but on Thursday, President Barack Obama used his authority to create the most massive ocean reserve in the world. In a single day, the amount of the world’s ocean protected from commercial interests has effectively doubled. Originally, the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument was something that George W. Bush established during his last weeks in office. However, Obama has taken the symbolic ocean protection and turned it into something useful by growing the area to six times its original size.

Reducing global trade would cut carbon emissions
September 27, 2014 11:12 AM - John Weeks, The Ecologist

If the world's leaders really cared about climate change, there's one easy way to reduce emissions, writes John Weeks - drop the obsession with increasing trade, and all the pollution that goes with it. A world based on local production, consumption and finance will be a better one for people and the environment. Let us join Keynes to imagine if we can a world in which goods are 'homespun' and finance is 'primarily national'. If we cannot imagine such a world, there is little hope for the planet. The Obama administration has proposed several ad hoc multi-country economic agreements, and in doing so has abandoned de facto the World Trade Organization (WTO) as insufficiently malleable to its interests.

Cornell finds molecule in space that connotes life origins
September 26, 2014 05:36 PM - Cornell University via EurekAlert

Hunting from a distance of 27,000 light years, astronomers have discovered an unusual carbon-based molecule — one with a branched structure — contained within a giant gas cloud in interstellar space. Like finding a molecular needle in a cosmic haystack, astronomers have detected radio waves emitted by isopropyl cyanide. The discovery suggests that the complex molecules needed for life may have their origins in interstellar space.

Study calculates that water on Earth is actually older than our Sun!
September 26, 2014 07:36 AM - Carnegie Institution, via EurekAlert

Water was crucial to the rise of life on Earth and is also important to evaluating the possibility of life on other planets. Identifying the original source of Earth's water is key to understanding how life-fostering environments come into being and how likely they are to be found elsewhere. New work from a team including Carnegie's Conel Alexander found that much of our Solar System's water likely originated as ices that formed in interstellar space. Their work is published in Science. Water is found throughout our Solar System. Not just on Earth, but on icy comets and moons, and in the shadowed basins of Mercury. Water has been found included in mineral samples from meteorites, the Moon, and Mars.

'Transponders' from Japan was ashore along US West Coast
September 26, 2014 06:37 AM - Oregon State University

Northwest anglers venturing out into the Pacific Ocean in pursuit of salmon and other fish this fall may scoop up something unusual into their nets — instruments released from Japan called "transponders." These floating instruments are about the size of a 2-liter soda bottle and were set in the ocean from different ports off Japan in 2011-12 after the massive Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Researchers from Tattori University for Environmental Studies in Japan have been collaborating with Oregon State University, Oregon Sea Grant, and the NOAA Marine Debris Program on the project.

A concrete idea: MIT develops better, greener, concrete
September 25, 2014 01:06 PM - David L. Chandler, MIT News Office

Concrete is the world's most-used construction material, and a leading contributor to global warming, producing as much as one-tenth of industry-generated greenhouse-gas emissions. Now a new study suggests a way in which those emissions could be reduced by more than half - and the result would be a stronger, more durable material. The findings come from the most detailed molecular analysis yet of the complex structure of concrete, which is a mixture of sand, gravel, water, and cement. Cement is made by cooking calcium-rich material, usually limestone, with silica-rich material - typically clay - at temperatures of 1,500 degrees Celsius, yielding a hard mass called "clinker." This is then ground up into a powder. The decarbonation of limestone, and the heating of cement, are responsible for most of the material's greenhouse-gas output.

Goats found to be better than chemicals when it comes to curbing invasive marsh grass
September 25, 2014 01:01 PM - Duke University via EurekAlert!

Herbivores, not herbicides, may be the most effective way to combat the spread of one of the most invasive plants now threatening East Coast salt marshes, a new Duke University-led study finds. Phragmites australis, or the common reed, is a rapid colonizer that has overrun many coastal wetlands from New England to the Southeast. A non-native perennial, it can form dense stands of grass up to 10 feet high that block valuable shoreline views of the water, kill off native grasses, and alter marsh function.

Seattle Assesses Fine for Wasting Food
September 25, 2014 09:01 AM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit

The push for increased sustainable methods can be seen everywhere these days — certainly when it comes to local efforts to pare down on what we toss in the landfill. The city of Seattle has also embraced the composting idea with a bit more of a creative edge: In an effort to encourage residents to stop wasting food, the city council passed an ordinance this last Monday that allows households to be fined $1 each time that garbage collectors find more than 10 percent of organic waste in their garbage bins.

Amazing maps of what Antarctica looks like under all that ice
September 25, 2014 08:01 AM - British Antarctic Survey

New maps of the sub-ice features in Antarctica and the Arctic, featured in the new edition of The Times Comprehensive Atlas of the World published on 25 September 2014, reveal an unseen world of canyons, lakes, trenches and mountains. The 14th edition of the Atlas also includes a new double page map of the Arctic Ocean, which highlights the dramatic long-term decline of Arctic sea ice cover. The sub-ice maps draw on bedrock data, provided by the British Antarctic Survey, to show physical features which are obscured by ice cover. In the Antarctic, one of the most striking features is the Gamburtsev Subglacial Mountains, which are as large as the Alps but are currently completely covered by ice.

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