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Antarctic ice loss is accelerating
March 27, 2015 07:08 AM - British Antarctic Survey

New research published this week in the journal Science Express describes how the ice shelves around Antarctica are thinning and therefore allowing more of the ice sheet behind them to flow into the sea. 

Using nearly two decades of satellite data, the team of international researchers observed an acceleration of ice loss from the continent’s ice shelves, with an increase in loss of 70% in West Antarctica over the last decade. In the Amundsen and Bellingshausen regions, some ice shelves have lost up to 18% of their thickness in less than two decades. 

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What inspires people to support conservation?
March 10, 2015 09:11 AM - Cornell University via EurekAlert!

What inspires people to support conservation? As concerns grow about the sustainability of our modern society, this question becomes more important. A new study by researchers at Cornell University provides one simple answer: bird watching and hunting.

This survey of conservation activity among rural landowners in Upstate New York considered a range of possible predictors such as gender, age, education, political ideology, and beliefs about the environment. All other factors being equal, bird watchers are about five times as likely, and hunters about four times as likely, as non-recreationists to engage in wildlife and habitat conservation. Both bird watchers and hunters were more likely than non-recreationists to enhance land for wildlife, donate to conservation organizations, and advocate for wildlife-all actions that significantly impact conservation success.

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SPOTLIGHT

The importance of methane seeps in microbial biodiversity of sea floor

University of Delaware

A new study “provides evidence that methane seeps are island-like habitats that harbor distinct microbial communities unique from other seafloor ecosystems." These seeps play an important role in microbial biodiversity of the sea floor.

Methane seeps are natural gas leaks in the sea floor that emit methane into the water. Microorganisms that live on or near these seeps can use the methane as a food source, preventing the gas from collecting in the surrounding hydrosphere or migrating into the atmosphere.

“Marine environments are a potentially huge source for methane outputs to the atmosphere, but the surrounding microbes keep things in check by eating 75 percent of the methane before it gets to the atmosphere. These organisms are an important part of the underwater ecosystem, particularly as it relates to global gas cycles that are climate important in terms of greenhouse gas emissions,” said University of Delaware assistant professor of marine biosciences, Jennifer Biddle.

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