Top Stories

Bottom feeding fish helping the fight against Global Warming

Over-fishing is already a concerning problem, but new research indicates that not only could it mean losing fish species, it could also contribute to global warming more than we'd previously thought. That's because researchers from the Marine Institute and the University of Southampton have found that fish that feed on our ocean floor and do not come to the surface actually act as carbon sinks. Other examples of naturally occurring carbon sinks include forests and, indeed, the oceans themselves. What’s more, the UK-based researchers have found that deep-sea fish might be capturing more than a million tons of carbon dioxide from UK and Irish waters. >> Read the Full Article

Good news for rivers in Britain

Scientists from Cardiff University have found that Britain's urban rivers are the cleanest they've been in over two decades. The 21-year study of over 2,300 rivers measured the presence of clean-river invertebrates - a yardstick for river health - which during the days of heavy industry and poor sewage treatment had declined considerably, but now appear to be making a comeback. Although climate change has warmed British rivers by around 1-2 degrees over recent decades, the findings suggest that improved pollution control has managed to offset its damaging effects on river ecosystems. This indicates that society can prevent some undesirable climate change effects on the environment by improving habitat quality. >> Read the Full Article

MERS Virus and Camel milk

The virus that causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) has been found in camel milk. Scientists don’t know whether infected milk can sicken people, but experts say the results are reason enough to warn against drinking raw camel milk, a widespread tradition in the Middle East. The Qatari government has already issued new guidelines recommending that milk be boiled before consumption. The new findings come from a group of researchers at Qatar's Supreme Council of Health; the country's Ministry of Environment; Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands; and the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment. They were announced at a press conference in Doha on Wednesday, and a paper about them was submitted to the journal Eurosurveillance today, says Erasmus MC virologist Chantal Reusken, the first author. >> Read the Full Article

Massive rocky planet challenges traditional views of planet formation

Astronomers have discovered a rocky planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. This discovery has planet formation theorists challenged to explain how such a world could have formed. "We were very surprised when we realized what we had found," said astronomer Xavier Dumusque of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the analysis using data originally collected by NASA's Kepler space telescope. >> Read the Full Article

Archaeological expedition reveals first fossil-record evidence of forest fire ecology

Fossils can reveal an incredible amount of information. From what kind of organisms lived when and where to how they may have evolved over time. And now a new discovery of plant fossils with abundant fossilized charcoal reveals something new about prehistoric forest fires. Forest fires affect ecosystems differently and despite the fact that organisms and plant life have had to adapt to cope with these natural phenomena, new research shows that forests have been recovering from fires in the same manner as they did 66 million years ago. >> Read the Full Article

World Cup mascot helps score for Brazilian three-banded armadillos

A call by Brazilian scientists to protect the endangered mascot of the 2014 World Cup, the Brazilian three-banded armadillo, seems to have been heeded by the Brazilian government. On 22 May, the Brazilian government published an action plan to conserve this armadillo, which is unique to Brazil. The document proposes increasing the protected areas where the armadillo lives, enhancing financial incentives to prevent three-banded armadillo hunting and increasing education about the importance of protecting this species. >> Read the Full Article

China and Coal

Coal consumption in China is likely to dwindle rapidly, writes Alex Kirby, leaving its own mining sector and foreign coal exporters in serious trouble. Australia and Indonesia are at greatest risk as China may soon stop importing any coal at all. Investors need to dispel any belief that Chinese coal demand is insatiable, and integrate this transition into their decision-making. Analysts believe that China - the world's largest producer and consumer of coal, accounting for almost half of global consumption - could be close to making an abrupt, drastic change of track. >> Read the Full Article

CO2 emissions in EU down significantly

The European Union’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 19.2% compared to 1990s levels, according to the European Environment Agency. EU emissions dropped 1.3% in 2012, reaching their lowest level ever recorded, according to data reported to the United Nations by the EEA. The bloc's greenhouse gas output decreased by 1082 megatonnes since 1990, more than the combined emissions of Italy and United Kingdom in 2012. >> Read the Full Article

Boreal forests and Climate Change: Better management practices needed

Greenhouse gas emissions from human activity have caused global air and sea surface temperatures to rise approximately 0.8 Celsius (1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) since the beginning of the 20th century, contributing to a plethora of problems worldwide from rising sea levels to desertification. A new study published in Conversation Letters finds that global temperatures may start to increase even faster if more is not done to protect Earth’s boreal forests. >> Read the Full Article

Milkweed loss to blame for declining Monarch populations

Populations of the popular Monarch butterfly have been declining in recent years and a new study is citing habitat loss on US breeding grounds as the main culprit. The eastern North American monarch population is known not only for its iconic orange and black colors, but also for its late summer migration from the United States to Mexico, a migration covering thousands of miles. And despite the long-held belief that monarch butterflies are most vulnerable to disturbances on wintering grounds in Mexico, new research from the University of Guelph shows lack of milkweed in the US which provides breeding grounds for the species is playing more of a role for species decline. >> Read the Full Article