Top Stories

Beijing growing explosively, impacting weather and climate
June 26, 2015 05:12 AM - JPL NASA

A new study by scientists using data from NASA's QuikScat satellite has demonstrated a novel technique to quantify urban growth based on observed changes in physical infrastructure. The researchers used the technique to study the rapid urban growth in Beijing, China, finding that its physical area quadrupled between 2000 and 2009. 

A team led by Mark Jacobson of Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, and Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, used data from QuikScat to measure the extent of infrastructure changes, such as new buildings and roads, in China's capital. They then quantified how urban growth has changed Beijing's wind patterns and pollution, using a computer model of climate and air quality developed by Jacobson. 

Nepal deals with climate change
June 25, 2015 02:33 PM - SciDevNet., SciDevNet

On 25 April, Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. But as well as quakes, the country is also vulnerable to climate change, a combination that makes it harder to build resilience and risk preparedness.
 
As mean temperatures rise in South Asia, the monsoon season has changed, leading to more-erratic rainfall and increasing the risk of floods and landslides that can claim lives and wreck food production.
 

Using Invasive Species to Defeat Another Invasive Species
June 25, 2015 10:35 AM - Kevin Mathews, Care2

The forests of Denver, Colo., are currently under attack by an invasive insect species from Asia. So what is the scientists’ plan to stop this assault on trees? They’re going with the controversial move of introducing a second invasive species to destroy the first one. If it sounds like that children’s song about the old lady who swallowed the spider to catch the fly, that’s because it basically is. Unleashing a second non-native species might help to eradicate the first species, but it can also unleash a series of other consequences. Previous experiments in this invasive species vs. invasive species tactic have worked out with various degrees of success, as these four examples will show.

Would you eat Genetically Modified Salmon?
June 24, 2015 12:53 PM - Jessie Rack, NPR

While the debate over whether to label foods containing GMO ingredients plays out across the country, another engineered food has long been waiting to hit grocery stores: genetically modified salmon.

Why do Americans waste so much food?
June 23, 2015 04:11 PM - Judy Molland, Care2

Americans throw away nearly half of their food every year, waste worth roughly $165 billion annually, according to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The report estimates that the average American family of four ends up throwing away an equivalent of up to $2,275 annually in food. Even worse, there is evidence that there has been a 50 percent jump in U.S. food waste since the 1970s.

Measuring Climate Change Action
June 23, 2015 07:29 AM - MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change

Reducing global greenhouse gas emissions could have big benefits in the U.S., according to a report released today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), including thousands of avoided deaths from extreme heat, billions of dollars in saved infrastructure expenses, and prevented destruction of natural resources and ecosystems.

Fracking helping utilities reduce reliance on coal
June 23, 2015 07:15 AM - MARIE CUSICK, NPR

When you flip on a light switch, odds are, you're burning coal. But as the fracking boom continues to unleash huge quantities of natural gas, the nation's electric grid is changing. Power plants are increasingly turning to this low-cost, cleaner-burning fossil fuel.

Bill Pentak stands in the middle of a construction site, looking up at his company's latest project towering overhead — a new natural gas power plant.

"This plant was sited precisely where it is because of its access to the abundant, high-quality natural gas that's found a mile to two miles beneath our feet," he says.

A look at N2O: Nitrous oxide emissions may be higher than previously thought
June 22, 2015 05:01 PM - Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel

In addition to carbon dioxide there are plenty of other greenhouse gases. Nitrous oxide is one of them. However, a global assessment of emissions from the oceans is difficult because the measurement methods used so far have only allowed rough estimates. Using a new technology for continuous measurements, researchers of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and the Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel have now discovered that nitrous oxide emissions from the Southeast Pacific are much higher than previously thought. They publish their data in the international journal Nature Gesoscience.

Aircraft may be lessening their carbon footprint, but what about airports?
June 22, 2015 08:47 AM - Timothy Spence, EurActiv

Today’s passenger aircraft are becoming ever more efficient, driven by regulations like the EU’s emissions trading scheme and airlines looking to squeeze profit out of every drop of fuel saved. Yet on the ground, airports operate in a different class. New findings from a European Union-funded research project show that commercial airports use as much energy as a small city, and up to one-fifth of that may be wasted.

The dangers of indoor air pollution
June 22, 2015 07:47 AM - SciDevNet

Household air pollution may have caused around 4.3 million premature deaths from respiratory diseases in 2012, mainly in developing countries, according to a medical paper.

Such pollution dramatically increases the risk of both children and adults contracting chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), says the paper, published online last month in Seminars in Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

The conclusions are based on an analysis of medical studies about the respiratory effects on people exposed to household air pollution.

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