• Phytoplankton Research in Arctic May Help Determine Environmental Accident Impacts

    Today, the 178th annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science is being held in Vancouver. Marcel Babin, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Remote Sensing of Canada's New Arctic Frontier at the Université Laval, is one of the researchers who will be discussing his findings on the effects of environmental changes in the Arctic. The focus of Babin's research is on Arctic micro-organisms and the findings are uncovering how melting sea ice due to environmental changes could be leading to an overall increase in algae levels in Arctic waters. Based on the models that Babin and his team developed, predictions ten years in advance about algae production in the arctic will be possible by the end of this year. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Quiet Clean Mining Revolution

    Few industries have got the black eye, literally and metaphorically, of mining. After centuries of environmental effects ranging from toxic emissions to unsightly tailings ponds, acid mine drainage, massive energy consumption and other impacts, mining is slowly cleaning up its act. Why? Mostly because new clean technologies are increasing industrial efficiencies. They're lowering mining companies' power needs. And they're even helping reduce water requirements, and/or remediating the produced water and mines of years past that are now leaching toxins. And that's translating into cost savings for mining companies, which are being held increasingly accountable for their environmental impacts and are looking for ways to minimize the expenses of both the production phase of their operations, and reclamation. >> Read the Full Article
  • World Meteorological Organization launches new weather data system

    An international information system designed to improve and expand the exchange of data on weather, climate and water will help boost food security around the world, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The UN agency, which launched the system last month (31 January), said it would improve access to meteorological observations and products for stakeholders including the research and disaster risk reduction sectors. >> Read the Full Article
  • Survival of Fish with Antifreeze in Antarctica

    A unique group of fish that has evolved to live in Antarctic waters thanks to anti-freeze proteins in their blood and body fluids is threatened by rising temperatures in the Southern Ocean, according to a new study by Yale. The development of antifreeze glycoproteins by notothenioids, a fish family that adapted to newly formed polar conditions in the Antarctic millions of years ago, is an evolutionary success story. The three species of fish are an example of the diversity this lineage achieved when it expanded into niches left by fish decimated by cold water environment. Now the same fish are endangered by warming of the Antarctic seas. >> Read the Full Article
  • Studies Indicate Increasing Frequency of Intense Storms, Storm Surges

    A new MIT-Princeton University study examining the prospective impacts of extreme storms and storm surges based on a range of climate change scenarios indicates that what were once 100-year and 500-year events would become 3 to 20 and 25 to 240-year events. The study can help coastal planners, who typically design coastal seawalls, buildings and other structures with a 60 to 120-year usable lifespan, according to an MIT News report. >> Read the Full Article
  • Geo-engineering: now Bill Gates is supporting it

    With the help of a group of very wealthy and well known individuals, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Chairman of the Virgin Group, Richard Branson, a group of leading climate scientists are advocating for the use of controversial geoengineering as a way to prevent catastrophic climate change. The scientists are lobbying national governments and international organizations to fund experiments that would involve manipulating the atmosphere on a large scale to counteract high concentrations of greenhouse gases. These might include methods like fertilizing the oceans to create a huge carbon sink or spraying reflective particles or other chemicals into the air to reflect sunlight and prevent it from warming the atmosphere. >> Read the Full Article
  • Ice Caps and Glaciers Contend for Biggest Loser Award

    There are few things on Earth that have undergone a more dramatic weight loss than the world's ice caps and glaciers. According to a recent study, they have lost about 150 billion tons per year from 2003 to 2010. Such a large quantity of ice has translated to a 0.4 millimeter rise in sea levels each year. At this rate, it will take 2,500 years for sea levels to rise one meter. However, indications point towards accelerated ice loss in the future. Plus, if including ice lost from the major land-based ice sheets, sea level rise is much worse. >> Read the Full Article
  • Arctic Warming Continuing, Approaching Tipping Point?

    Last year the Arctic, which is warming faster than anywhere else on Earth due to global climate change, experienced its warmest twelve months yet. According to recent data by NASA, average Arctic temperatures in 2011 were 2.28 degrees Celsius (4.1 degrees Fahrenheit) above those recorded from 1951-1980. As the Arctic warms, imperiling its biodiversity and indigenous people, researchers are increasingly concerned that the region will hit climatic tipping points that could severely impact the rest of the world. A recent commentary in Nature Climate Change highlighted a number of tipping points that keep scientists awake at night. >> Read the Full Article
  • Himalayan Ice melt less than thought

    Estimates from satellite monitoring suggest the melt rate from the Himalayas and other high-altitude Asian mountains in recent years was much less than what scientists on the ground had estimated, but those monitoring the satellite data warn not to jump to the skeptical conclusion. The region's ice melt from 2003-2010 was estimated at 4 billion tons a year, far less than earlier estimates of around 50 billion tons, according to the study published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature. >> Read the Full Article
  • Marguerite Bay Glaciation

    Marguerite Bay or Margaret Bay is an extensive bay on the west side of the Antarctic Peninsula, which is bounded on the north by Adelaide Island and on the south by Wordie Ice Shelf, George VI Sound and Alexander Island. A new paper reports glacial geological data that provide evidence for the timing of ice-sheet retreat and thinning at the end of the last glaciation (~10,000 years ago) in Marguerite Bay. The length of time that rock outcrops have been exposed was dated which allow dating of the thinning of the ice sheet, and the record from seabed sediments. This then allows the determination of how the ice sheet retreated across the continental shelf. The dating shows a surprising pattern. About 9,600 years ago, the ice in Marguerite Bay appears to have thinned very quickly indeed, an observation that turns out to be consistent with several other datasets from the same area (ice-shelf collapse histories, raised beaches and lake sediment cores). >> Read the Full Article