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Carbon emissions set to hit new record high in 2013
November 20, 2013 10:21 AM - Jeremey Hance, MONGABAY.COM
The amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere in 2013 is expected to hit a new high of 36 billion tonnes, according to a Carbon Budget released today by the Global Carbon Project (GCP). This is a 2.1 percent rise from 2012 based on data from the same group.
Quick tsunami sensors tested in Mediterranean
November 20, 2013 08:58 AM - Giovanni Sabato, SciDevNet
A new alert system could improve tsunami warnings in the Mediterranean, but most countries bordering the sea still lack evacuation plans, scientists have said ahead of a meeting of 20 countries in Italy this week (19-21 November). The tenth session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the North-Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean and connected seas, Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (NEAMTWS) will discuss establishing new national tsunami warning centres. It will also work towards organising the next tsunami exercise, a simulation of tsunami alerts following several different kinds of earthquakes, to evaluate the communication and response mechanisms throughout the NEATWS network.
650 Years of Sea Ice Change
November 20, 2013 06:46 AM - ScienceDaily
Almost 650 years of annual change in sea-ice cover can been seen in the calcite crust growing among layers of seafloor algae, says a new study from the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM). "This is the first time coralline algae have been used to track changes in Arctic sea ice," said Jochen Halfar, an associate professor in UTM's department of chemical and physical sciences. "We found the algal record shows a dramatic decrease in ice cover over the last 150 years." With colleagues from the Smithsonian Institution, Germany and Newfoundland, Halfar collected and analyzed samples of the alga Clathromorphum compactum. This long-lived plant species forms thick rock-like calcite crusts on the seafloor in shallow waters 15 to 17 metres deep. It is widely distributed in the Arctic and sub-Arctic Oceans. Divers retrieved the specimens from near-freezing seawater during several research cruises led by Walter Adey from the Smithsonian.
Plug up the COAL; keep it in the ground!
November 19, 2013 12:43 PM - reprint from UNEP Climate Change Conference
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary UNFCCC, Speaks to the World Coal Association in Warsaw: invest in renewables and leave most of your coal underground. The path forward begins in the past, recognizing that coal played a key role in the history of our economic development. From heating to transportation to the provision of electricity, coal has undoubtedly enabled much of our progress over the last 200 years.
Study estimates 400,000 seabirds are killed by gillnets
November 19, 2013 08:57 AM - Jordanna Dulaney, MONGABAY.COM
A recent study from the Biological Conservation journal brings shocking news: every year across the globe, an estimated 400,000 seabirds are killed by gillnets. Gillnets, a common term for any net used to entangle and catch fish, are used all over the world, and at any depth. These nets, whether used in subsistence or commercial fishing, trap anything that swims through them. When unintended marine wildlife, or "bycatch," is caught in these nets, the results can be significant.
Does Biodiesel Suffer From Ethanol’s Bad Rap?
November 19, 2013 08:10 AM - CleanTechies Guest Author, Clean Techies
Biodiesel and ethanol both fall under the category of "biofuels," which describes any fuel synthesized from plant or animal matter. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
November 19, 2013 07:08 AM - Chris Busby, The Ecologist
A new study finds that radioactive Iodine from Fukushima has caused a significant increase in hypothyroidism among babies in California, 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean. The Fukushima catastrophe has been dismissed as a potential cause of health effects even in Japan, let alone as far away as California. A new study of the effects of tiny quantities of radioactive fallout from Fukushima on the health of babies born in California shows a significant excess of hypothyroidism caused by the radioactive contamination travelling 5,000 miles across the Pacific. The article will be published next week in the peer-reviewed journal Open Journal of Pediatrics.
Atmosphere locked in time
November 18, 2013 11:23 AM - Robin Blackstone, ENN
Amber has long been appreciated for its ability to preserve a moment in time as it encapsulated plant matter, bugs and other organisms. As a tool for ecosystem reconstruction, scientists have learnt a great deal. But recently researchers led by Ralf Tapper of the University of Innsbruck, have begun using amber and other fossil plant resins to reconstruct the composition of Earth's atmosphere from the last 220 million years. The results suggest that atmospheric oxygen was considerably lower in the Earth's geological past than previously assumed.
Children's Congenital Heart Defects Linked to Environmental Toxins
November 18, 2013 11:06 AM - Editor, ENN
Approximately 8 out of every 1,000 newborns have congenital heart defects — abnormalities in the heart's structure that happen due to incomplete or irregular development of the fetus' heart during the first stages of the mother's pregnancy. While some are known to be associated with genetic disorders, the cause of most of these heart defects is unknown. However, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2013, heart defects in children may be associated with their mothers' exposure to specific mixtures of environmental toxins during pregnancy. Researchers examined patterns of congenital heart defects incidence and presence of environmental toxicants in Alberta, Canada. The ongoing research seeks to determine if pregnant women's proximity to organic compounds and metals emitted in the air impacts the risk of heart defects in their children.
Tiny algae signal big changes for warming Arctic lakes
November 18, 2013 10:05 AM - Molly Sharlach, MONGABAY.COM
The mighty polar bear has long been the poster child for the effects of global warming in the Arctic, but the microscopic diatom tells an equally powerful story. Diatoms are a type of algae that form the base of the food chain in watery habitats the world over. Disturbances among lake diatoms have exposed the impacts of rapid warming in the Hudson Bay Lowlands of eastern Canada, researchers reported Oct. 9 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.