• West Antarctica Vulnerability

    Radiocarbon dates of tiny fossilized marine animals found in Antarctica’s seabed sediments offer new clues about the recent rapid ice loss from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and help scientists make better future predictions about sea-level rise. This region of the icy continent is thought to be vulnerable to regional climate warming and changes in ocean circulation. Reporting this month in the journal Geology a team of researchers from British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) and the University of Tromsø presents a timeline for ice loss and glacier retreat in the Amundsen Sea region of West Antarctica. The team concludes that the rapid changes observed by satellites over the last 20 years at Pine Island and Thwaites glaciers may well be exceptional and are unlikely to have happened more than three or four times in the last 10,000 years. >> Read the Full Article
  • Hope for the Wild Yak

    Unlike Asia's largest animal (the elephant) and its second largest (the rhino), the wild yak—the third largest animal on the world's biggest continent—rarely makes headlines and is never paraded by conservation groups to garner donations. Surviving on the top of the world, in the Tibetan-Qinghai Plateau, the wild yak (Bos mutus) lives it's life out in such obscurity that even scientists know almost nothing about it. However, a recent count by American and Chinese conservations with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the University of Montana implies that the wild yak may be recovering after a close brush with extinction. >> Read the Full Article
  • Aerosols vs GreenHouse Gases

    There’s a tricky chemical trade-off at work in our skies. As greenhouse gases provide their famous warming effect to Earth’s surface, aerosol pollution in the atmosphere actually partly counteracts it. Aerosols are tiny particles suspended in the air, both natural and industrial, including sea salt, mineral dust, ash, soot, sulphates, nitrates, and black carbon. They hang around in the air for around 10 days, scattering and absorbing radiation from the sun. Aerosols also provide nuclei for water droplets, boosting cloud formation, thus decreasing the amount of energy reaching the ground and providing a net cooling force. In short, greenhouse gases warm the surface; aerosols cool the surface. >> Read the Full Article
  • NASA Satellite Images Reveal Dramatic Increase in Air Pollution Over China

    NASA's Terra satellite acquired natural-color images of northeastern China on January 3 and January 14, highlighting a drastic shift in air quality for the region. According to the images, the opaque, gray areas tend to be clouds or fog, which are saturated with a gray or yellow tint as a result from the air pollution. Areas that are cloud-free appear gray and brown as a result from the smog that hides the cities below. Residual snow is also noted in the images. >> Read the Full Article
  • Desertification solution? Olive Trees.

    The planting of ten of thousands of olive trees in arid areas in Israel have proved highly beneficial, according to a study which said the trees provide shade for animals, purge the air and even produce excellent olive oil. The study was conducted by the Faculty of Agriculture at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, with the help of the Agricultural Research Organization. Dr. Zohar Kerem, head of the olive oil research lab in the faculty's biochemistry institute, who participated in the study, explained that they followed tree-plantings in Israel's desert areas. >> Read the Full Article
  • Global Warming and the Rare Haleakala Silverswords

    One of the most spectacular sights in the Hawaiian Islands is the Haleakalā Volcano. This amazing volcano rises more than 10,000 feet from near sea level at its base. The ecosystems change dramatically as you drive up the twisting road that takes you to the summit. Near the top, you start to see the Silverswords. They are not numerous, but stand out sharply from the dark red rocky soil they grow on. In the early 20th century, the Silverswords suffered, but they have made a strong recovery from early 20th-century threats. The Silverswords have now entered a period of substantial climate-related decline. New research published this week warns that global warming may have severe consequences for the silversword in its native habitat. Known for its striking rosette, the silversword grows for 20-90 years before the single reproductive event at the end of its life, at which time it produces a large (up to six feet tall) inflorescence with as many as 600 flower heads. The plant was in jeopardy in the early 1900s due to animals eating the plants and visitors gathering them. With successful management, including legal protection and the physical exclusion of hoofed animals, the species made a strong recovery, but since the mid-1990s it has entered a period of substantial decline. A strong association of annual population growth rates with patterns of precipitation suggests the plants are undergoing increasingly frequent and lethal water stress. Local climate data confirm trends towards warmer and drier conditions on the mountain, which the researchers warn will create a bleak outlook for the threatened silverswords if climate trends continue. >> Read the Full Article
  • Organic Farming Expands, Contributes to Sustainable Food Security

    Despite a slight decline between 2009 and 2010, since 1999 the global land area farmed organically has expanded more than threefold to 37 million hectares, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute for its Vital Signs Online service. Regions with the largest certified organic agricultural land in 2010 were Oceania, including Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Island nations (12.1 million hectares); Europe (10 million hectares); and Latin America (8.4 million hectares), write report authors Catherine Ward and Laura Reynolds. >> Read the Full Article
  • Arctic Sea Ice Decline and Ice Export Between Greenland and Svalbard

    The Arctic sea ice is shrinking, both in extent and thickness. In addition to the humanmade contribution to the sea ice loss, there are also natural factors contributing to this loss. In a new study from the Bjerknes Centre we focus on one of these factors: the ice export through the large gateway between Greenland and Svalbard -- the Fram Strait. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Rise of Mammals in a Warming Land

    If it gets warmer what animals may benefit? The climate changes depicted by climatologists up to the year 2080 will benefit most mammals that live in northern Europe’s Arctic and sub-Arctic land areas today if they are able to reach their new climatic ranges. This is the conclusion drawn by ecologists at Umeå University in a recently published article in the journal Plos ONE. >> Read the Full Article
  • Ozone Destruction New Cause

    Large amounts of ozone – around 50% more than predicted by the world’s state-of-the-art climate models – are being destroyed in the lower atmosphere over the tropical Atlantic Ocean. A team of scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Science and the Universities of York and Leeds made the discovery, which is significant because ozone in the lower atmosphere acts as a greenhouse gas and its destruction also leads to the removal of the third most abundant greenhouse gas; methane. >> Read the Full Article