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Grassland Carbon Storage

Plants "breathe in" CO2 and create biological mass. This is a form of sequestration. Forests, grasslands and shrublands and other ecosystems in the West sequester nearly 100 million tons of carbon each year, according to a Department of the Interior recent report. Grasslands occur naturally on all continents except Antarctica. In temperate latitudes, such as northwestern Europe and the Great Plains and California in North America, native grasslands are dominated by perennial bunch grass species, whereas in warmer climates annual species form a greater component of the vegetation. Carbon that is absorbed through natural processes reduces the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The 100 million tons sequestered in western ecosystems is an amount equivalent to – and counterbalances the emissions of – more than 83 million passenger cars a year in the United States, or nearly 5 percent of EPA’s 2010 estimate of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions. >> Read the Full Article

Apple Brings Some Manufacturing Jobs Back to US

When President Obama sat down for dinner with Silicon Valley's top executives in February 2011, he asked Steve Jobs what would it take to make iPhones in the U.S. According to reports, Jobs replied, "Those jobs aren't coming back." So, while it looks like Jobs was right, at least for now, about the iPhones, it might be that some jobs do come back to the U.S. as Apple is shifting its assembly of some of the new, ultra-thin iMacs to the U.S. The news came up after a new 21.5-inch iMac owner reported to Fortune that instead of the usual marking “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China,"the iMac was marked "Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in the USA." It's not clear yet why the company decided to take this step and what it means for Apple. The only thing we know for sure right now, is that some jobs did come back to the U.S. >> Read the Full Article

Views from Above: New Night-time NASA-NOAA Satellite Images Released

Today scientists unveiled new night-time satellite images of planet Earth. Using a NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite, the new photographs reveal more detail of our planet and man-made lights from outer space. With a new sensor aboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite, which was launched last year, scientists can better observe the Earth's atmosphere and surface during night-time hours. >> Read the Full Article

The Dark Side Of Vesta

The asteroids such as Vesta are relatively small but active in their own way. They too have a form of long term geologic weather. Data from NASA's Dawn mission show that a form of weathering that occurs on the moon and other airless bodies that have been visited in the inner solar system does not alter Vesta's outermost layer in the same way. Carbon-rich asteroids have also been splattering dark material on Vesta's surface over a long span of the body's history. The results are described in two papers released today in the journal Nature. Vesta's surface is covered by regolith distinct from that found on the Moon or other asteroids such as Itokawa. Regolith evolution is dominated by brecciation and subsequent mixing of bright and dark components. >> Read the Full Article

Hydrogen could help cut emissions and boost wind and solar power

A new report reveals the significant potential for using hydrogen to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and improve the efficiency of renewable technologies, including wind and solar power. >> Read the Full Article

New Concerns Over Lead Exposure

Is Lead exposure limits set low enough? There is strong evidence that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) general industry standards for lead exposure, set more than 30 years ago, are inadequate to protect worker populations. A report by the National academies conducted at the request of the Department of Defense (DOD), whose employees at military firing ranges are exposed to lead recurrently when they handle ammunition, conduct maintenance on ranges, and breathe lead dust released into the air by gunfire. Lead is a highly poisonous metal (regardless if inhaled or swallowed), affecting almost every organ and system in the body. The main target for lead toxicity is the nervous system, both in adults and children. There are other potential body toxic effects too. >> Read the Full Article

Eurasian Jays: Suspicious Stashers or Stealthy Stealers?

In order to prevent other birds from stealing their winter food supply, Eurasian jays, a member of the crow family, try to stealthily hide their collection when a potential thief is near. However they are also minimizing their sounds in an attempt to stay unnoticed and spy on other birds' hoards. Eurasian jays are creative hoarders that bury food like acorns and seeds in thousands of locations over the course of a year so they can retrieve their reserves when food is scarce. However, these hidden reserves do not always remain a secret and the stealing of these hoards is a common practice among species in the animal kingdom. >> Read the Full Article

The Earliest Known Dino?

A team of paleontologists thinks it may have identified the earliest known dinosaur—a creature no bigger than a Labrador retriever that lived about 243 million years ago. That's at least 10 million years earlier than the oldest known dinos and could change researchers' views of how they evolved. But some scientists, including the study's authors, caution that the fossils could instead represent a close dino relative. >> Read the Full Article

Doha Climate talks: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation

Developing and developed countries reached a stalemate over how to verify carbon emissions from forests in Saturday's talks on reducing carbon emissions from deforestation at the annual U.N. climate conference in Doha, Qatar. Represented by Brazil and Norway, respectively, poor and wealthy nations were unable to agree on how high to set the standard to verify emissions reductions at the 37th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), the group that dispenses scientific advice to the delegates to the conference. >> Read the Full Article

Savannah Ecosystems in Danger

Few of the world's ecosystems are more iconic than Africa's sprawling savannahs home to elephants, giraffes, rhinos, and the undisputed king of the animal kingdom: lions. This wild realm, where megafauna still roam in abundance, has inspired everyone from Ernest Hemingway to Karen Blixen, and David Livingstone to Theodore Roosevelt. Today it is the heart of Africa's wildlife tourism and includes staunch defenders such as Richard Leakey, Michael Fay, and the Jouberts. Despite this, the ecosystem has received less media attention than imperiled ecosystems like rainforests. But a ground-breaking study in Biodiversity Conservation finds that 75 percent of these large-scale intact grasslands have been lost, at least from the lion's point of view. >> Read the Full Article