Top Stories

Melting Greenland

The Greenland ice sheet is a vast body of ice covering 660,235 square miles, roughly 80% of the surface of Greenland. It is the second largest ice body in the world, after the Antarctic Ice Sheet. The ice sheet is almost 1,500 miles long in a north-south direction, and its greatest width is 680 miles. The mean altitude of the ice is 7,005 feet. And it is all melting. Freshwater losses in Greenland have accelerated since the early 1990s, with the south-east of the island seeing losses rise by 50 per cent in less than 20 years, according to new research from the University of Bristol. >> Read the Full Article

Rice and Global Warming

Rice is the most important grain with regard to human nutrition and caloric intake in the world, providing more than one fifth of the calories consumed worldwide by the human species. Without rice and the world will be a much different place. More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, coupled with rising temperatures, is making rice agriculture a larger source of the potent greenhouse gas methane, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change by a research team that includes a University of California, Davis, plant scientist. The authors note that relatively simple changes in rice cultivation could help reduce methane emissions. >> Read the Full Article

Fern Genus Named for Music Genius Lady Gaga

When you discover a new species, you get to name it. Whether you name it after yourself or dedicate it to an idol, recent discoveries have led to some interesting and creative species names. From a California lichen named Caloplaca obamae for President Barack Obama to an Australian horse fly donned Scaptia beyonceae for singer Beyoncé, to beetle species named for George Bush and Kate Winslet, many celebrity namesakes are chosen for these newly discovered species. And now we have a whole genus of 19 fern species dedicated to Lady Gaga. >> Read the Full Article

Puerto Rican Manatees Suffering from Lack of Genetic Diversity

There are multiple manatee populations in the Caribbean, but new evidence shows that they are isolated with no cross-breeding going on. The endangered marine mammal, known as the sea cow, is a species protected by law and is listed by the World Conservation Union as vulnerable to extinction. A new study conducted by the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the Puerto Rico Manatee Conservation Center (PRMCC) focusing on the West Indian manatees came to the conclusion that manatee preservation is being hampered by their lack of genetic diversity. Their findings will hopefully aid resource managers to make more informed decisions on how to protect the manatees. >> Read the Full Article

Pesticides Threaten Bumblebee Colonies

Pesticides used in farming are killing bumblebees and affecting their ability to forage, putting colonies at risk of failure, according to a new study. An estimated one-third of all plant-based foods eaten by humans rely on bees for pollination, and bees and other pollinators have been estimated to be worth around $200 billion a year to the global economy. However, bee numbers have been plummeting in recent years, particularly in North America and Europe. >> Read the Full Article

Extent of Range is a Key Factor in Extinction Risk for Ocean Animals

What makes some ocean animals more prone to extinction than others? A new study of marine fossils provides a clue. An analysis of roughly 500 million years of fossil data for marine invertebrates reveals that ocean animals with small geographic ranges have been consistently hard hit -- even when populations are large, the authors report. The oceans represent more than 70% of Earth's surface. But because monitoring data are harder to collect at sea than on land, we know surprisingly little about the conservation status of most marine animals. By using the fossil record to study how ocean extinctions occurred in the past, we may be better able to predict species' vulnerability in the future. >> Read the Full Article

MIT Researchers look for Beta Testers for Revolutionary Fast Footprint Tool

On September 26th at the LCA XII Conference, MIT graduate and co-founder of a start-up in the promising new field of "big data," publicly unveiled an innovative approach at product sustainability analysis, saying that it will "literally turn the current approach upside down." The innovation and its algorithms were developed by a team of MIT researchers looking for a way to put environmental impact data into the hands of companies large and small, so that they can obtain rapid and accurate guidance for dramatically reducing energy costs and simultaneously become more sustainable. "I heard Alex speak and I thought to myself, the next wave of innovation in this field is coming," said Yann Risz, the Vice President of Strategy and Environmental Finance of leading corporate energy management company Enviance. This year's theme for the conference was "Life Cycle Thinking, Life Cycle Living," making the perfect venue for the product's launch, because of the focus on being a practical and more rapid solution to product footprinting. The primary focus of their "Footprinter" product is overcoming a barrier that has frustrated sustainability analysts and made the cost prohibitively high for most companies: large amounts of detailed data collection. >> Read the Full Article