• Climate Change Slowdown Is Due To Warming Of Deep Oceans, Say Scientists

    Climate skeptics have seized on a pause in warming over the past five years, but the long-term trend is still upwards. A recent slowdown in the upward march of global temperatures is likely to be the result of the slow warming of the deep oceans, British scientists said on Monday. Oceans are some of the Earth's biggest absorbers of heat, which can be seen in effects such as sea level rises, caused by the expansion of large bodies of water as they warm. The absorption goes on over long periods, as heat from the surface is gradually circulated to the lower reaches of the seas. Temperatures around the world have been broadly static over the past five years, though they were still significantly above historic norms, and the years from 2000 to 2012 comprise most of the 14 hottest years ever recorded. The scientists said the evidence still clearly pointed to a continuation of global warming in the coming decades as greenhouse gases in the atmosphere contribute to climate change. >> Read the Full Article
  • Coastal Antarctic permafrost melting

    For the first time, scientists have documented an acceleration in the melt rate of permafrost, or ground ice, in a section of Antarctica where the ice had been considered stable. The melt rates are comparable with the Arctic, where accelerated melting of permafrost has become a regularly recurring phenomenon, and the change could offer a preview of melting permafrost in other parts of a warming Antarctic continent. Tracking data from Garwood Valley in the McMurdo Dry Valleys region of Antarctica, Joseph Levy, a research associate at The University of Texas at Austin's Institute for Geophysics, shows that melt rates accelerated consistently from 2001 to 2012, rising to about 10 times the valley's historical average for the present geologic epoch, as documented in the July 24 edition of Scientific Reports. >> Read the Full Article
  • Electric Vehicles outpacing hybrids

    The US Department of Energy has this week released a very interesting graph which shows the early-stage development of the hybrid market compared to the electric plug-in market. Many people have been of the opinion that hybrids offer an interesting steppingstone for the electric vehicle market but if sales forecasts are anything to go by the electric vehicle market is likely to outperform its hybrid counterpart. The graph took into account sales of electric vehicles and hybrids over the first three years of the technology. The start date for hybrids was 2000 and the start date for electric vehicles was 2011 – while some will point at an earlier Tesla Roadster Model made available before 2011 this was not designed for the main market. >> Read the Full Article
  • Long-term health of Congo forests threatened by human activity

    Unsustainable hunting of forest elephants, gorillas, forest antelopes, and other seed-dispersers could have long-term impacts on the health and resilience of Congo Basin rainforests, warns a study published today in a special issue of the journal Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B. Conducting a review of more than 160 papers and reports on trends in wildlife populations, hunting, and land use in the Congo Basin, a team of researchers from Oxford University, the University of Queensland, the University of Stirling, and the Wildlife Conservation Society conclude that unless effective management plans are put into place, hunting pressure in the region is likely to increase, with knock-on ecological effects. >> Read the Full Article
  • Antarctica Ice Sheet less stable than previously thought

    Earth continues to hit temperature and greenhouse gas milestones—just a couple of months ago, multiple stations measured carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere of 400 parts per million, the highest in several million years. Many studies have tried to estimate how much and how rapidly the two great ice sheets covering Greenland and Antarctica might melt—and the one reassuring point has been the apparent relative stability of the eastern (and, by far, larger) half of the Antarctic Ice Sheet. Now, a new study of past melting in East Antarctica suggests that over the long haul, the "stable" ice sheet may be more vulnerable to warming than thought. To study possible future melting of the ice sheets, many scientists look to the past. Current warm temperatures and high greenhouse gas conditions are reminiscent of the warm Pliocene Epoch that lasted from 5.3 million to 2.6 million years ago. "Early and middle Pliocene global temperatures and greenhouse gas concentrations are probably the closest analog in Earth's history to the present climate on this planet and the climate conditions we will encounter before the end of this century," says Claus-Dieter Hillenbrand, a sedimentologist at the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, U.K., who was not involved in the study. >> Read the Full Article
  • World Population Growing Fast & Unevenly

    It's no secret that the world's population growth is heavily skewed by region — so much so that the changes expected for the next century will radically change the world as we know it. But according to projections recently revised by the United Nations Population Program, those changes will come even faster than we thought. The UN has dispensed with the old estimate that Africa's population will triple within 90 years — instead, it could very well quadruple. >> Read the Full Article
  • Volta River and Climate Change

    A new study released today finds that so much water may be lost in the Volta River Basin due to climate change that planned hydroelectric projects to boost energy and food production may only tread water in keeping up with actual demand. Some 24 million people in Ghana, Burkina Faso and four other neighboring countries depend on the Volta River and its tributaries as their principal source of water. Specifically, the researchers with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and their partners concluded that the combined effects of higher temperatures and diminished rain could mean that by the year 2100, all of the current and planned hydroelectric projects in the basin would not even generate as much power as existing facilities do now. Meanwhile, there would only be enough water to meet about a third of irrigation demand. >> Read the Full Article
  • Oceanic Iron content more variable than thought

    The supply of dissolved iron to oceans around continental shelves has been found to be more variable by region than previously believed – with implications for future climate prediction. Iron is key to the removal of carbon dioxide from the Earth's atmosphere as it promotes the growth of microscopic marine plants (phytoplankton), which mop up the greenhouse gas and lock it away in the ocean. A new study, led by researchers based at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton, has found that the amount of dissolved iron released into the ocean from continental margins displays variability not currently captured by ocean-climate prediction models. This could alter predictions of future climate change because iron, a key micronutrient, plays an important role in the global carbon cycle. >> Read the Full Article
  • Renewable Energy Sources On the Rise

    Each year the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) releases energy flow charts in an effort to track the United States' consumption of energy resources. So what seems to be the trend from the past couple of years? Well, renewable energy is on the upswing. Compared to 2011, Americans used more natural gas, solar panels and wind turbines and less coal to generate electricity in 2012, according to the LLNL charts. >> Read the Full Article
  • Love Longhorn Cattle? How about a longhorn dinosaur?

    Rodeo riders love longhorn cattle. What would they think about a longhorn dinosaur? A remarkable new species of horned dinosaur has been unearthed in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, southern Utah. The huge plant-eater inhabited Laramidia, a landmass formed when a shallow sea flooded the central region of North America, isolating western and eastern portions for millions of years during the Late Cretaceous Period. The newly discovered dinosaur, belonging to the same family as the famous Triceratops, was announced today in the British scientific journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B. The study, funded in large part by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Science Foundation, was led by Scott Sampson, when he was the Chief Curator at the Natural History Museum of Utah at the University of Utah. Sampson is now the Vice President of Research and Collections at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Additional authors include Eric Lund (Ohio University; previously a University of Utah graduate student), Mark Loewen (Natural History Museum of Utah and Dept. of Geology and Geophysics, University of Utah), Andrew Farke (Raymond Alf Museum), and Katherine Clayton (Natural History Museum of Utah). >> Read the Full Article