• Marshes on U.S. Coast Need More Protection NOW

    A hundred years ago we thought that we had to fill in the marshes near populated areas along the eastern US coastline since they represented prime locations for commercial and residential development. Even after some protections were put in place to reduce the impacts of runaway development, marshes continued to serve are the places we dumped our garbage, and sent the effluents from our wastewater treatment plants. They also receive the nutrient-rich run off from agricultural land use and urban street runoff to our rivers. A major nine-year study led by researcher Linda Deegan points to the damage that human-caused nutrients inflict on salt marshes along the U.S. East Coast. In a Yale Environment 360 interview, she describes what these findings mean for an ecosystem that provides critical services, from nourishing marine life to buffering the coast from storms like Sandy. >> Read the Full Article
  • Sweet Potatoes Unexpected Reaction to Rising CO2 Levels

    Rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere caused by human-driven emissions might lead to larger sweet potatoes, a staple food for many African and Asian countries, research reveals. Sweet potatoes could double in size with the increase in CO2 levels currently forecasted for the end of this century, according to research by a team from the University of Hawaii, United States. The team presented their finding at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, in San Francisco this month (3-7 December). >> Read the Full Article
  • Christmas Trees Absorb Greenhouse Gasses

    Your Christmas tree and its brethren are absorbing methane, a super greenhouse gas that they were previously suspected of emitting. In fact, previous studies put the global methane output by plants at between 62 and 236 teragrams each year. That's not small potatoes (if you will pardon the vegetable pun), but 10 to 30 percent of all methane entering the atmosphere. I refer to methane as a "super" greenhouse gas because it does what carbon dioxide does, but packs about 25 times the punch, which is bad. However, methane does not last very as long in Earth's atmosphere, which is good. Then again, one of the things methane degrades into is carbon dioxide. Bad again. Ugh. >> Read the Full Article
  • Average Temperatures in West Antarctica Show Marked Rise Over 54 Years

    Global average temperatures are rising in most places, but the rise is not uniform. In western Antarctica, temperatures have risen significantly over an extended period. In a finding that raises further concerns about the future contribution of Antarctica to sea level rise, a new study by the University of Colorado University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder finds that the western part of the continent's ice sheet is experiencing nearly twice as much warming as previously thought. The temperature record from Byrd Station, a scientific outpost in the center of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), demonstrates a marked increase of 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit (2.4 degrees Celsius) in average annual temperature since 1958. The rate of increase is three times faster than the average temperature rise around the globe for the same period. The study will be published Sunday in the journal Nature Geoscience. It was conducted by scientists at Ohio State University (OSU), the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with funding coming from the National Science Foundation, which is NCAR's sponsor. >> Read the Full Article
  • University of Hawaii Comes to Aid of Hurricane Sandy Victims

    Hurricane Sandy caused more damage than many people who are not living in the Staten Island and Jersey Shore areas are aware of. It will take a long time to recover and help is still needed. The University of Hawaii may take the title of the helpers who traveled the greatest distance to help. Their mission was two-fold, to help recovery efforts, and to learn what more might be done to reduce damages from future hurricanes and superstorms like Sandy. From November 29 to December 6, 2012, UH Manoa team members from the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center (NDPTC), Sea Grant and the Urban Resilience Lab traveled to the most severely damaged areas in New York City and New Jersey coastal communities to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) efforts in recovery from Hurricane Sandy. Sandy, the most devastating storm to hit the northeastern U.S. coast in decades, struck on November 29. The team assessed and documented damage and met with community leaders, emergency responders, hazard planners and those involved in relief and recovery efforts. Coastal storm surge, flooding and infrastructure failure were the main causes and consequences of Sandy's impact. >> Read the Full Article
  • EPA Finalizes Clean Air Standards for Boilers and Incinerators, Makes Progress in Protecting Public Health

    Today, the U.S. EPA finalized changes to Clean Air Act standards for boilers, incinerators, and cement kilns which are used by industries for everything from power generation, heating, treating waste, and manufacturing. These changes will achieve extensive public health protections by reducing toxic air pollution, while at the same addressing concerns and feedback from industry and labor groups, increasing the rule’s flexibility and dramatically reducing costs. As a result, 99 percent of the approximately 1.5 million boilers in the U.S. are not covered or can meet the new standards by conducting periodic maintenance or regular tune-ups. >> Read the Full Article
  • Ice Sheets at Both Poles are Losing Ice at an Increasing Rate

    The ice loss in the Arctic and and in the Antarctic is accelerating, according to a new study by an international team of experts supported by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). This team has combined data from multiple satellites and aircraft to produce the most comprehensive and accurate assessment to date of ice sheet losses in Greenland and Antarctica and their contributions to sea level rise. In a landmark study published Thursday in the journal Science, 47 researchers from 26 laboratories report the combined rate of melting for the ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica has increased during the last 20 years. Together, these ice sheets are losing more than three times as much ice each year (equivalent to sea level rise of 0.04 inches or 0.95 millimeters) as they were in the 1990s (equivalent to 0.01 inches or 0.27 millimeters). About two-thirds of the loss is coming from Greenland, with the rest from Antarctica. This rate of ice sheet losses falls within the range reported in 2007 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The spread of estimates in the 2007 IPCC report was so broad, however, it was not clear whether Antarctica was growing or shrinking. >> Read the Full Article
  • Which State Leads the the Solar Power Race?

    According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, in the second quarter of 2012, California again led the nation in installed solar capacity, with a total of 217 MW. The state is expected to lead the nation in the solar race again in 2013. According to new research from the California-based NPD Solarbuzz, California is projected to keep its position at number one in 2013, much thanks to its combination of policy initiatives and citizen motivation. >> Read the Full Article
  • Prairie Resurgence in the Midwest

    Suburban sprawl meant the introduction of lawn monoculture: perfectly cut, well-manicured lawns that became a part of pride for many American homeowners. However, in the Midwest, a new lawn resurgence is occurring: restoring yards to the native prairies that existed in pre-settlement days. In an effort to manage yards and fallow farmland succumbing to invasive shrubs, more and more people are spending the time and resources to turn their property into the native ecosystem that once ruled the land. This practice is not only attracting more wildlife to areas, but it is changing the way people maintain their yards, as prairies require less watering and fertilizer, and no mowing! >> Read the Full Article
  • The Salinity Fingerprint

    Salinity is the saltiness or dissolved salt content (such as sodium chloride, magnesium and calcium sulfates, and bicarbonates) of a body of water. Salinity is an ecological factor of considerable importance, influencing the types of organisms that live in a body of water. As well, salinity influences the kinds of plants that will grow either in a water body, or on land fed by a water (or by a groundwater). For ages salinity was mostly affected by slow geologic type processes. The ocean's salinity field is driven primarily by evaporation, precipitation, and river discharge, all key elements of the Earth's hydrological cycle. Observations show the salinity field has been changing in recent decades but more rapidly than expected and by mad made effects. >> Read the Full Article