Rising oceans may pose a bigger threat than previously assumed
April 9, 2016 09:34 AM - Pete Dolack, The Ecologist
Of all the impacts of climate change, one stands out for its inexorable menace, writes Pete Dolack: rising oceans. And it's not just for distant future generations to deal with: new scientific studies show that people alive today may face 6-9 metres of sea level rise flooding well over a million sq.km including many of the world's biggest cities. So where's the emergency response?
There is a possibility, a real danger, that we will hand young people and future generations a climate system that is practically out of their control. We have a global emergency.
When it comes to global warming, what else don't we know?
The North Pole had ice-free summers millions of years ago
April 8, 2016 07:22 AM - Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research via ScienceDaily.
An international team of scientists led by the Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have managed to open a new window into the climate history of the Arctic Ocean. Using unique sediment samples from the Lomonosov Ridge, the researchers found that six to ten million years ago the central Arctic was completely ice-free during summer and sea-surface temperature reached values of 4 to 9 degrees Celsius. In spring, autumn and winter, however, the ocean was covered by sea ice of variable extent, the scientists explain in the current issue of the journal Nature Communications. These new findings from the Arctic region provide new benchmarks for groundtruthing global climate reconstructions and modelling.
The researchers had recovered these unique sediment samples during an expedition with Germany's research icebreaker RV Polarstern in summer of 2014. "The Arctic sea ice is a very critical and sensitive component in the global climate system. It is therefore important to better understand the processes controlling present and past changes in sea ice. In this context, one of our expedition's aims was to recover long sediment cores from the central Arctic, that can be used to reconstruct the history of the ocean's sea ice cover throughout the past 50 million years. Until recently, only a very few cores representing such old sediments were available, and, thus, our knowledge of the Arctic climate and sea ice cover several millions of year ago is still very limited," Prof. Dr. Ruediger Stein, AWI geologist, expedition leader and lead author of the study, explains.
Using moss as a bioindicator of air pollution
April 8, 2016 07:16 AM - USDA Forest Service via EurekAlert!
Moss growing on urban trees is a useful bio-indicator of cadmium air pollution in Portland, Oregon, a U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station-led study has found. The work--the first to use moss to generate a rigorous and detailed map of air pollution in a U.S. city--is published online in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
Supernova explosion impacted Earth within the last 9 million years
April 7, 2016 08:47 AM - Universe of Kansas via EurekAlert
Two new papers appearing in the journal Nature this week are "slam-dunk" evidence that energies from supernovae have buffeted our planet, according to astrophysicist Adrian Melott of the University of Kansas.
Melott offers his judgment of these studies in an associated letter, entitled "Supernovae in the neighborhood," also appearing this week in Nature.
One paper, authored by Anton Wallner and colleagues, proves the existence of ancient seabed deposits of iron-60 isotopes, tracing their source to supernovae occurring about 325 light years from Earth. The second paper, by a team headed by Deiter Breitschwerdt, estimates explosion times of these supernovae, isolating two events: one 1.7 to 3.2 million years ago, and the other 6.5 to 8.7 million years ago.
Earth's soils could play key role in locking away greenhouse gases
April 7, 2016 06:51 AM - University of Edinburgh via EurekAlert!
The world's soils could store an extra 8 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases, helping to limit the impacts of climate change, research suggests.
Adopting the latest technologies and sustainable land use practices on a global scale could allow more emissions to be stored in farmland and natural wild spaces, the study shows.
Good news for the Iberian lynx!
April 6, 2016 09:04 AM - World Wildlife Federation
WWF welcomes the 2015 Iberian lynx census released today by the government of Andalusia. The survey shows a significant increase in population with the Iberian lynx reaching the highest number since the species was found to be the most endangered cat in the world in 2002.
The latest population figure of 404 individuals is up from the 327 recorded in 2014. The survey identified 120 breeding females divided into five areas of the Iberian Peninsula including four in Spain – Doñana, Sierra Morena, Montes de Toledo, Valley Matachel – as well as Portugal’s Vale do Guadiana.
Can urban gardeners benefit ecosystems while keeping food traditions alive?
April 6, 2016 06:51 AM - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
When conjuring up an image of a healthy ecosystem, few of us would think of a modern city. But scientists are increasingly recognizing that the majority of ecosystems are now influenced by humans, and even home gardens in urban landscapes can contribute important ecosystem services.
Good news for the world's tiger populations!
April 5, 2016 06:34 PM - Steve Williams, Care2
It’s estimated that there are as few as 3,200 tigers left in the wild — that’s nearly a 97 percent loss in wild tigers over just a century. However, scientists are now saying that the world’s tiger population can double by 2022.
Illegal gold mining in Brazil exposing indigenous peoples to high levels of mercury
April 5, 2016 11:52 AM - Sarina Kidd / Survival International, The Ecologist
Illegal gold mining in the Amazon has a devastating effect on indigenous peoples, writes Sarina Kidd. First the miners bring disease, deforestation and even murder. Then long after they have gone, communities are left to suffer deadly mercury poisoning. Now the UN has been called on to intervene.
In Brazil, new statistics reveal alarming rates of mercury poisoning amongst the Yanomami and Yekuana. 90% of Indians in one community are severely affected, with levels far above that recommended by the WHO.
Mercury poisoning is devastating tribal peoples across Amazonia, Survival International has warned.
NASA examines El Nino's impact on ocean's food source
April 4, 2016 07:46 PM - NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
El Niño years can have a big impact on the littlest plants in the ocean, and NASA scientists are studying the relationship between the two. In El Niño years, huge masses of warm water – equivalent to about half of the volume of the Mediterranean Sea – slosh east across the Pacific Ocean towards South America. While this warm water changes storm systems in the atmosphere, it also has an impact below the ocean’s surface. These impacts, which researchers can visualize with satellite data, can ripple up the food chain to fisheries and the livelihoods of fishermen.