Top Stories

Giant landslides identified by seismic fingerprints

A new technique that can identify catastrophic landslides based on their seismic signals could one day lead to a global system for identifying regions at particular risk from this hazard. Giant landslides involve millions of tonnes of rock and debris moving downslope at speeds often above 110 miles per hour. Such events are rare, but, when they occur, the loss of life and damage to property can be enormous. >> Read the Full Article

Ancient Global Firestorm

When a big rock hits the Earth, it will cause a lot of damage. The asteroid sized rock that is believed to have killed off the dinosaurs is one extreme example. A new look at conditions after a Manhattan-sized asteroid slammed into a region of Mexico in the dinosaur days indicates the event could have triggered a global firestorm that would have burned every twig, bush and tree on Earth and led to the extinction of 80 percent of all Earth’s species, says a new University of Colorado Boulder study. Led by Douglas Robertson of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES, the team used models that show the collision would have vaporized huge amounts of rock that were then blown high above Earth’s atmosphere. The re-entering ejected material would have heated the upper atmosphere enough to glow red for several hours at roughly 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit -- about the temperature of an oven broiler element -- killing every living thing not sheltered underground or underwater. >> Read the Full Article

Rising up to prepare for sea level rise

Situated among the trees and mountains along the scenic Hudson River, Kingston, New York seems far away from the salty blue waves of the Atlantic. Yet, just 100 miles inland from the World Trade Center, at the southern tip of Manhattan where New York meets the Atlantic, the Tidal Waterfront Flooding Task Force of the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) has begun to plan a strategy to manage the inevitable effects of a rising sea. This volunteer advisory board, residents, community advocates, city officials, grassroots organizations, and State experts met with Catalysis Adaptation Partners to determine the impacts of storm surges and Sea Level Rise (SRL) on this historic town, the former capital of New York State. >> Read the Full Article

Black Bears return to Reno

A new study from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Nevada Department of Wildlife ( NDOW) has pieced together the last 150 years of history for one of the state's most interesting denizens: the black bear. The study, which looked at everything from historic newspaper articles to more recent scientific studies, indicates that black bears in Nevada were once distributed throughout the state but subsequently vanished in the early 1900s. Today, the bear population is increasing and rapidly reoccupying its former range due in part to the conservation and management efforts of NDOW and WCS. Compelled in part by dramatic increases in human/bear conflicts and a 17-fold increase in bear mortalities due to collisions with vehicles reported between the early 1990s and mid- 2000s, WCS and NDOW began a 15-year study of black bears in Nevada that included a review of the animal’s little-known history in the state. >> Read the Full Article

What You Need To Know About Green Mortgage

Making environmentally friendly choices is more than recycling or turning the lights off. Every decision can actually have a positive impact on the world. What many people don't know is that applying for home loans can lower greenhouse emissions. Thus, improving the energy efficiency of a home and looking for loans to fund such projects can save people on energy costs and lower their carbon footprint. Environmental Impact of Energy Efficiency at Home: Steve Baden, Executive Director for the Residential Energy Services Network, which regulates home energy ratings' standards, says that homes contribute up to 21% of the greenhouse emissions. Thus, the smallest home improvement projects can have a huge impact on a home's energy use. Cut Utility Costs: Green home improvement projects help homeowners cut utility bills in half. This saves hundreds of dollars every year, if not more. An investment today will have a large payoff later on down the line. This is why green home loans are a valuable investment. These funds give people the chance to lower their expenses and do something positive for the environment. >> Read the Full Article

How Bird Flocks Work

Flocks of birds and how they seem to move together have always fascinated any observer of them. New research from the Universities of Exeter and Cambridge reveals for the first time that, contrary to current models used to explain the movement of flocks, the differences between bird species and social relationships between individuals play a critical role in determining the dynamics of mixed-species flocks. The unified behavior of bird flocks has puzzled scientists for hundreds of years. One naturalist from the turn of the century even suggested telepathy may be involved. There have since been less esoteric explanations, including mathematical models that show that repeated interactions among individuals following simple rules can generate coordinated group movements. However, these models usually rely on the assumption that individuals within groups are identical and interact independently, which may not reflect reality. >> Read the Full Article

Lead-Based Paint Still Being Sold in Developing Nations

Lead is added to paint mainly to speed up drying and increase durability, but due to its toxic effects has been banned in many countries. Nonetheless, lead-based paint still poses a problem as older housing stock may contain lead-based painted walls. When this paint chips, inhalation and ingestion (particularly by children) can damage the nervous system and cause a slew of health problems. Despite the uproar of concern for this type of paint in western countries, new reports show that lead paint is still being sold in poor nations. Perry Gottesfeld, lead author for an investigative study, has discovered high levels of the heavy metal in numerous house paints for sale throughout the African nation of Cameroon. Further investigation has led the research team to conclude that there’s still plenty of lead paint for sale in other developing nations. Two years ago Gottesfeld was in Cameroon, where he and collaborators at a local NGO now report they had found nearly a dozen enamel household paints with so much lead in them they exceeded the U.S. standard by 300 times or more. >> Read the Full Article

Scientists link frozen spring to dramatic Arctic sea ice loss

Climate scientists have linked the massive snowstorms and bitter spring weather now being experienced across Britain and large parts of Europe and North America to the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice. Both the extent and the volume of the sea ice that forms and melts each year in the Arctic Ocean fell to an historic low last autumn, and satellite records published on Monday by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, show the ice extent is close to the minimum recorded for this time of year. >> Read the Full Article

Martian Hit! or ?

When Jupiter’s tides ripped Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 to shreds, what remained hit the thick atmosphere and disintegrated. They really did not hit the ground, Occasionally astronomers have caught a glimpse of a rock hitting the moon. How about Mars? Astronomers think there’s a chance of a cosmic ruck hitting Mars in the near term future. This is a comet that is predicted as having a chance of hitting Mars. And Mars is under observation by us humans on the ground and by telescope and camera. >> Read the Full Article

The Future of Chocolate

Back in the Mayan age, around 1100 BCE, cacao was recognized as a "super" food, traded as a precious currency with a value on par with gold and jewels Bythe 17th century the Spanish added sugar (cane) to sweeten it and the rest is history. As other European countries clamored to get in on the action—and started exporting cacao trees to their colonies—Africa soon became the world's most prominent grower of cacao, even though it's not native to that continent. Today, cacao has devolved into a byproduct of itself. Instead of being viewed as the sacred fruit that it is, with all its nutritional benefits, cacao is largely seen as a candy bar, a mid-day fix, loaded with sugar, milk, and other substandard ingredients. >> Read the Full Article