• Meet the fastest land animal, the magnificent Cheetah

    It is well documented who are the speed demons of the Animal Kingdom. We all know that a cheetah can reach speeds of up to 60 mph in a mere three seconds and that the Atlantic sailfish leaps to the top of the podium as the fastest creature in the ocean. Yet it is rarely asked why. What parts of their body have evolved to make them so fast, and for what purpose? In this series, BBC Earth peels back the fur and the scales of these incredible creatures to reveal what it is that makes them so fast. As the world's fastest land mammal, the cheetah's ability for acceleration starts on the inside. The spotted cat mobilizes glycogen molecules that are stored in its large liver to provide huge bursts of energy. However these surges are short lived because they produce an unwelcome by-product, lactic acid, which builds up and causes painful cramps. Which means that cheetahs can only run at full speed for up to 30 seconds. Cheetah's are not just one-trick cats, they have other adaptations up their sleeves, or rather within its hair. Their distinctive spotted coat makes them almost invisible when creeping slowly through the African grasslands. The longer that they can stay camouflaged and the closer they get to their target, the more likely they are to catch their prey before they run out of steam. >> Read the Full Article
  • Rising Carbon Dioxide Could Reverse Drying Effects of Higher Temperatures On Rangelands

    Rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels can reverse the drying effects of predicted higher temperatures on semi-arid rangelands, according to a study published in the journal Nature by a team of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and university scientists. Warmer temperatures increase water loss to the atmosphere, leading to drier soils. In contrast, higher CO2 levels cause leaf stomatal pores to partly close, lessening the amount of water vapor that escapes and the amount of water plants draw from soil. This new study finds that CO2 does more to counterbalance warming-induced water loss than previously expected. In fact, simulations of levels of warming and CO2 predicted for later this century demonstrated no net change in soil water, and actually increased levels of plant growth for warm-season grasses. >> Read the Full Article
  • Study: Antarctica, not Greenland, Will Contribute More to Sea Level Rise

    As the planet has gotten warmer, sea levels have been slowly rising at an average rate of 1.8 mm per year since 1961. The higher levels are caused by thermal expansion as well as from melting land-based ice. Most eyes have been on Greenland, the large arctic island covered with an immense ice sheet, as the critical source of melting ice. However, a new study has recently been published which suggests that Greenland is not as big a concern as the continent of Antarctica, and in particular, the West Antarctic ice sheet. >> Read the Full Article
  • Himalaya glaciers shrinking, some may disappear

    Three Himalaya glaciers have been shrinking over the last 40 years due to global warming and two of them, located in humid regions and on lower altitudes in central and east Nepal, may disappear in time to come, researchers in Japan said on Tuesday. Using global positioning system and simulation models, they found that the shrinkage of two of the glaciers -- Yala in central and AX010 in eastern Nepal -- had accelerated in the past 10 years compared with the 1970s and 1980s. Yala's mass shrank by 0.8 (2.6 feet) and AX010 by 0.81 meters respectively per year in the 2000s, up from 0.68 and 0.72 meters per year between 1970 and 1990, said Koji Fujita at the Graduate School of Environmental Studies in Nagoya University in Japan. >> Read the Full Article
  • Still baking in the Midwest and South

    Sticky heat was expected to smother much of the country's midsection in the coming days as hotter-than-usual temperatures continued to roast parts of the Midwest and South, forecasters said on Sunday. Areas of Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma were under excessive heat warnings with heat advisories issued for a large swath of the central United States, according to the National Weather Service. The unrelenting heat in central and eastern states has led to a slew of "Heat Superlatives" in 2011, according to weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce. More than a dozen U.S. cities from Tallahassee to Minneapolis have seen all-time highs exceeding any temperature on record for any month, Dolce reported Sunday. High heat put Reading, Pennsylvania, on the map for 106 degrees Fahrenheit -- its hottest day since at least 1869 -- and Childress in thirsty Texas hit the highest mark at 117, a temperature not seen since 1893. >> Read the Full Article
  • Scientists Report Dramatic Carbon Loss from Massive Arctic Wildfire

    ScienceDaily (July 28, 2011) — In a study published in this week's issue of Nature, Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) senior scientist Gauis Shaver and his colleagues, including lead author Michelle Mack of the University of Florida, describe the dramatic impacts of a massive Arctic wildfire on carbon releases to the atmosphere. The 2007 blaze on the North Slope of the Alaska's Brooks Mountain Range released 20 times more carbon to the atmosphere than what is annually lost from undisturbed tundra. >> Read the Full Article
  • How to avoid being eaten by lions

    Being eaten by lions is probably something we’d all like to avoid. Deadly 60 presenter Steve Backshall shares his top tips to help us steer clear of the killer jaws of big cats. 1. Stay in the car. "Lions don't see a car as prey, so you're safer inside', our director Giles insists, if you're in a vehicle, stay in it. 2. If you go tracking on foot be extra vigilant. 3. Always travel with a local guide. (Our team had two local guides with them at all times.) 4. Carry a big stick and a firearm. (But use them as a deterrent, never intending to inflict harm on the animal. A hurt lion is a very angry lion.) 5. Keep your eyes open: You'd be amazed how close a 500lb lion can get without you noticing. 6. Always have a 'spotter'. Just because you’re filming one lion, doesn't mean there isn't another behind you. >> Read the Full Article
  • 1993 US Northwest Forest Plan Turns Public Forests into Carbon Sink

    Enacted in 1993, before climate change was so prominent in the public media eye, the US Northwest Forest Plan's primary goal was the conservation of old growth forests on public land, and thereby also protecting threatened and endangered species, such as the northern spotted owl. Forest harvests in those public forests dropped precipitously, by 82%, the next year. Nearly two decades later, it turns out that the Plan has yielded unintended, though no less favorable results in terms of mitigating the effect of increasing carbon dioxide emissions. >> Read the Full Article
  • Deadly animals drive BBC Earth to walk on the wild side

    Bringing the best of natural history filmmaking to a large audience has never been easy. But what happens when you get the taste for something a little darker? Something a little more sinister, a little harder to find, something that’s intentionally keeping itself far from your reach. This month at BBC Earth we are hunting down all that is Deadly! Gathering together the incredible knowledge of the BBC Earth natural history teams, with the most interesting and thrilling nature photography and film from the BBC. July on Life Is is set to be a truly captivating month! Deadly fact: The Panther Chameleon has a wicked tongue, coated with mucus and tipped with a vacuum, absolutely perfect for picking up prey! >> Read the Full Article
  • Fungi could protect rice against climate change

    [CEBU, PHILIPPINES] Inoculating rice seeds with fungi makes the plants more tolerant of salt, drought and cold — all of which may become more common as the climate changes, according to researchers. >> Read the Full Article