Top Stories

Fiscal Cliff Deal Extends Biofuel Credits

By now the New Year's fiscal cliff deal has received quite a bit of press. We have already discussed the significance of extending the Wind Production Tax Credit here earlier. Less well known is the inclusion of measures included in the deal to revive tax credits for advanced biofuels. It is well worth a moment to examine these to understand what impact these actions might have on both our future energy and food supply. >> Read the Full Article

Giant Squid Filmed in Pacific Depths

Scientists and broadcasters have captured footage of an elusive giant squid, up to eight meters (26 feet) long that roams the depths of the Pacific Ocean. Japan's National Science Museum succeeded in filming the deep-sea creature in its natural habitat for the first time, working with Japanese public broadcaster NHK and the US Discovery Channel. >> Read the Full Article

Sea Level Rise

How fast will the seas rise due to global warming? We may never know until after the fact for sure. Future sea level rise due to the melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets could be substantially larger than estimated in Climate Change 2007 according to new research from the University of Bristol. The study, published today in Nature Climate Change, is the first of its kind on ice sheet melting to use structured expert elicitation (EE) together with an approach which mathematically pools experts' opinions. EE is already used in a number of other scientific fields such as forecasting volcanic eruptions. >> Read the Full Article

Sea level rise of more than 3 feet plausible by 2100

Melting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland may push up global sea levels more than 3 feet by the end of this century, according to a scientific poll of experts that brings a degree of clarity to a murky and controversial slice of climate science. Such a rise in the seas would displace millions of people from low-lying countries such as Bangladesh, swamp atolls in the Pacific Ocean, cause dikes in Holland to fail, and cost coastal mega-cities from New York to Tokyo billions of dollars for construction of sea walls and other infrastructure to combat the tides. >> Read the Full Article

Carbon Dioxide Concentrations and Sea Level

By comparing reconstructions of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations and sea level over the past 40 million years, researchers based at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton have found that greenhouse gas concentrations similar to the present (almost 400 parts per million) were systematically associated with sea levels at least nine metres above current levels. The study determined the 'natural equilibrium' sea level for CO2 concentrations ranging between ice-age values of 180 parts per million and ice-free values of more than 1,000 parts per million. >> Read the Full Article

Oil is Still World's Largest Energy Source, But Coal and Natural Gas are Gaining

Oil remains the world's leading energy source - for now. In recent years, coal and natural gas have proven themselves increasingly important resources across the globe. Global consumption of coal increased 5.4 percent in 2011, to 3.72 billion tons of oil equivalent, while natural gas use grew 2.2 percent, to 2.91 billion tons of oil equivalent. Both are primary fuels for the world’s electricity market, and because they are often used as substitutes for one other, their trends need to be examined together. The bulk of coal use is for power generation, with smaller amounts being used in steelmaking. Spurred mainly by rising demand in China and India, coal's share in the global primary energy mix reached 28 percent in 2011—its highest point since the International Energy Agency began keeping statistics in 1971. Although the United States remains one of the world's largest coal users, just over 70 percent of global demand in 2011 was in countries outside of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), including China and India. Consumption in non-OECD countries grew 8 percent in 2011 to 2.63 billion tons of oil equivalent. >> Read the Full Article

Martian Crust Rocks

Rocks from Mars are rare. Even rarer is to find one on Earth. After extensive analyses by a team of scientists led by Carl Agee at the University of New Mexico, researchers have identified a new class of Martian meteorite that likely originated from the crust of Mars. It is also the only meteorite sample dated to 2.1 billion years ago, the early era of the most recent geologic epoch on Mars, an epoch called the Amazonian. The meteorite was found to contain an order of magnitude more water than any other Martian meteorite. Researchers from the Carnegie Institution (Andrew Steele, Marilyn Fogel, Roxane Bowden, and Mihaela Glamoclija) studied carbon in the meteorite and have shown that organic carbon (macromolecular) similar to that seen in other Martian meteorites is also found in this meteorite. The research is published in the January 3, 2013, issue of Science Express. >> Read the Full Article

Antarctica Lake Drilling Postponed

It is cold down in Antarctica. And to drill into the ice one needs lot of heat. In December 2012 a team of British scientists, engineers and support staff, led by Professor Martin Siegert of the University of Bristol, planned to drill through 3km of solid ice into subglacial Lake Ellsworth in Antarctica. Their mission is to search for life forms in the water and clues to past climate in the lake-bed sediments. The Bristol-led team attempting to drill 3.5 km beneath the ice of Antarctica in a search for undiscovered life have aborted their mission. Work had to be abandoned on December 15, when the field team encountered a serious problem with the main boiler that is used to generate the hot water required for drilling down to the lake. But after spare parts were flown in before Christmas, drilling seemed to be proceeding well. However the team found they were unable to properly form the water-filled cavity that needed to be created 300 meters beneath the ice. The cavity was to link the main borehole with a secondary borehole used to recirculate drilling water back to the surface. >> Read the Full Article

Long-beaked Echidna may not be extinct after all

With a small and declining population due to forest clearing and overhunting in New Guinea, the western long-beaked echidna (Zaglossus bruijnii) is listed as "Critically Endangered" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. In Australia, the species has been thought to be extinct as fossil remains from the Pleistocene epoch demonstrate that the species lived here tens of thousands of years ago and no modern record of the species has been known. That is until scientists discovered one particular specimen in the overlooked cabinets of the Natural History Museum in London. >> Read the Full Article

New Connection Links Parkinson's Disease with Pesticide Exposure

Scientific evidence already has connected pesticide exposure with an increased risk of Parkinson's disease. Chemicals like paraquat, maneb, and ziram, commonly found in pesticides have been found in farmworkers and others living and working near the fields, and are tied to an increase in the disease. New research has identified another chemical from pesticides, benomyl, that is linked to Parkinson's. The toxic effects of benomyl are still found in the environment, even 10 years after the chemical was banned by the EPA. This chemical triggers a series of cellular events leading to Parkinson's. >> Read the Full Article