As nations across the globe negotiate how to reduce their contributions to climate change, researchers at Penn are investigating just how the coming changes will impact the planet. What's clear is that the effect extends beyond simple warming. Indeed, the very physics and chemistry of the oceans are also shifting, and are forecast to change even more in the coming decades.
These changes have implications for, among other things, the single-celled organisms that comprise the base of the ocean's food web and are responsible for half of the world's photosynthetic activity: phytoplankton. Not only are phytoplankton sensitive to changes in climate, they also contribute to those changes, as they can remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it deep in the ocean when they die.
A micrograph of phytoplankton. Like plants on land, phytoplankton growth is controlled by environmental factors such as light, nutrients, and temperature.
The JRC has been looking into the risks of space weather impact on critical infrastructures. A new report explores the rail sector's vulnerability and the potential impacts, in particular through interdependencies with other infrastructures. Awareness among operators and regulators worldwide is currently limited and vulnerabilities across the rail sector need to be identified, authors say.
Solar activity affects the space environment surrounding the Earth. This so-called space weather can disrupt and damage critical infrastructure in space and on the ground, including satellites, aviation, road and marine transport, banking and power grids. Society relies on these infrastructures and services, which have become inter- dependent and are therefore more vulnerable to space weather.
Climate change is rapidly warming lakes around the world, threatening freshwater supplies and ecosystems, according to a new NASA and National Science Foundation-funded study of more than half of the world's freshwater supply.
Using more than 25 years of satellite temperature data and ground measurements of 235 lakes on six continents, this study -- the largest of its kind -- found lakes are warming an average of 0.61 degrees Fahrenheit (0.34 degrees Celsius) each decade. The scientists say this is greater than the warming rate of either the ocean or the atmosphere, and it can have profound effects.
The research, published in Geophysical Research Letters, was announced Wednesday at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.
Fuel economy is at record highs and carmakers have surpassed strict greenhouse gas emissions standards for the third straight year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, which released a pair of annual reports about the U.S. fleet of cars and trucks Wednesday.
Overall, fuel economy for vehicles in the U.S. did not budge from last year's record high of 24.3 miles per gallon, the EPA says. The figure includes a new high of 20.4 mpg for trucks, vans and SUVs from model year 2014.
Do not underestimate the babbling brook. When it comes to greenhouse gases, these bucolic water bodies have the potential to create a lot of hot air. According to a new analysis in the journal Ecological Monographs, by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and colleagues, the world’s rivers and streams pump about 10 times more methane into our atmosphere than scientists estimated in previous studies.
Drivers are seeing more hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) on the road, but refueling stations for those vehicles are still few and far between. This is about to change, and one reason is a new testing device being validated at California refueling stations that will greatly accelerate station commissioning.
Developed by U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Sandia National Laboratories and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Hydrogen Station Equipment Performance device, or HyStEP, could reduce the time to commission new stations from months to just one week. HyStEP is funded by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Fuel Cell Technologies Office as part of the Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure Research and Station Technology (H2FIRST) project.
As the Arctic warms, Greenland’s fringe of glaciers is thinning and melting—but the future of the Greenland ice sheet remains a giant question mark. Until recently, that was also true of the ice sheet’s past: Scientists have long debated whether it might have shrunk away to nothing during Earth’s warmest periods. Now, a new study suggests that Greenland was entirely ice free at some point in the last 1.25 million years.
“We should be worried about the Greenland Ice Sheet,” says Joerg Schaefer, a geochemist from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, and lead author of the findings, presented yesterday at the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting here.
African countries have agreed to cooperate in setting limits for use of lead in paints with a view to phasing it out by 2020. This is because of its dangers to human beings, especially to children, and the environment.
2015 has marked the International Year of Soils, an event that many members of the public missed — but they shouldn’t have, because soil is vitally important for human survival. Ominously, a study from the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures indicates that in the last 40 years, humans have chewed through 33 percent of the Earth’s topsoil, thanks to development and harmful farming practices. The grim findings are a bad sign for the future, as we rely on soil not just for sustenance, but also as a carbon trap, key component of nearly every ecosystem on Earth, and breeding ground for organisms with tremendous commercial and humanitarian applications, such as bacteria that could contribute to the development of cutting edge pharmaceuticals. We should be worshiping the ground we walk on, and this study indicates that we’ve been doing just the opposite.
Contrary to recent headlines — and a talk by actor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the United Nations Paris Climate Change Conference — eating a vegetarian diet could contribute to climate change. In fact, according to new research from Carnegie Mellon University, following the USDA recommendations to consume more fruits, vegetables, dairy and seafood is more harmful to the environment because those foods have relatively high resource uses and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per calorie.
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