• Europe moves ahead on Cap & Trade, Japan seen shelving carbon emission trading scheme

    Japan is likely to shelve a plan to introduce carbon emissions trading as the troubled ruling Democratic Party bows to powerful business groups still recovering from a costly downturn. If confirmed, it would be a massive reversal by the party, which has backed one of the toughest emissions reduction targets of any major economy and said emissions trading was a key way to achieve that goal and drive greater energy efficiency at home. It would also be a blow to hopes more top greenhouse gas polluting nations outside the European Union would usher in emissions trading, after efforts in the United States and Australia were shelved. >> Read the Full Article
  • River Sources of Green House Gases

    Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, is a chemical compound with the formula N2O. At room temperature, it is a colorless non-flammable gas, with a slightly sweet odor and taste. Nitrous oxide is a greenhouse gas, accounting for around 6% of the estimated heating effect of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. According to 2006 data from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, industrial sources make up only about 20% of human caused industrial sources. Other human activity may account for 30%; tropical soils and oceanic release account for 70%. Human-caused nitrogen loading to river networks is a potentially important source of nitrous oxide emission to the atmosphere which may have been severely underestimated. It happens via a microbial process called denitrification, which converts nitrates to nitrous oxide and other gases. >> Read the Full Article
  • Summary of the 2010 North Atlantic Hurricane Season

    The 2010 hurricane season in the north Atlantic has come and gone. Although, the US was hardly touched by this year's storms, it turns out that 2010 was one of the busiest hurricane seasons on record. There were 19 named storms, tied for the third highest on record (1887 and 1995). Of these, 12 became hurricanes, and five reached major hurricane status of Category 3 or higher. >> Read the Full Article
  • Heading Towards a World without Corals

    Every year brings new accounts of coral bleaching in the tropical oceans. Even the largest living structure on Earth, the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, is under threat. According to marine scientist, J.E.N.Veron, in a couple generations coral reefs will no longer exist. Unless of course, humans find a different way to live that will not pollute the waters. >> Read the Full Article
  • Decline of West Coast Fog Brought Higher Coastal Temperatures Last 60 Years

    Fog is a common feature along the West Coast during the summer, but a University of Washington scientist has found that summertime coastal fog has declined since 1950 while coastal temperatures have increased slightly. >> Read the Full Article
  • Cap & trade, European style

    A new regulatory regime for dispensing around 100 billion euros of carbon permits has been approved by EU regulators, granting steelmakers and oil refineries free emission allowances in an effort to shield them from international competition after 2012. Fears that tighter controls on CO2 emissions in Europe will drive factories to relocate abroad has led the EU to grant sweeping exemptions for industries deemed to be at risk. Existing proposals for the permits to be allocated according to carbon intensity "benchmarks" were approved with only slight modifications by the European Commission on 15 December. >> Read the Full Article
  • Arctic 'Ice Refuge' Envisioned As Region Warms Rapidly in 21st Century

    As the Arctic rapidly warms in the 21st century and Arctic sea ice largely disappears in summer, a strip of year-round ice is likely to remain to the north of Greenland and the Canadian Arctic archipelago, providing a refuge for some sea-ice dependent wildlife, such as polar bears and ringed seals, according to researchers. A panel of scientists at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco said the remaining band of ice could provide a haven for some iconic Arctic creatures, although the disappearance of the vast majority of summer sea ice, probably by mid-century, will undoubtedly be bad news for polar bears, which use the ice as a feeding platform to hunt ringed seals. The remnant strip of summer sea ice will likely exist because prevailing winds blow sea ice away from the shores of Russia and toward Canada, according to Stephanie Pfirman of Barnard College. She and colleagues from Columbia University, McGill University, and the U.S. government said it is important to protect this ice refuge from the oil drilling and mineral exploration that is likely to spread through other parts of the Arctic as summer sea ice disappears and the Arctic Ocean becomes navigable for part of the year. >> Read the Full Article
  • Foggy California

    Traditionally one thinks of San Francisco as having quaint foggy mornings. Things change. Fog is a collection of water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth's surface. While fog is a type of a cloud, the term fog is typically distinguished from the more generic term cloud in that fog is low-lying, and the moisture in the fog is often generated locally (such as from a nearby body of water, like a lake or the ocean, or from nearby moist ground or marshes). Fog is a common feature along the West Coast during the summer, but a University of Washington scientist has found that summertime coastal fog has declined since 1950 while coastal temperatures have increased slightly. Fog formation appears to be controlled by a high-pressure system normally present off the West Coast throughout the summer, said James Johnstone, a postdoctoral researcher with the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean at the UW. >> Read the Full Article
  • Ancient Arctic Forests

    In the Arctic, trees and forests just do not happen. However, long ago they did when the area was warmer and then turned cooler. As it turns out there are many such northern forests that have been preserved by mineralization and similar processes. The northernmost mummified forest ever found in Canada is revealing how plants struggled to endure a long-ago global cooling. Researchers believe the trees -- buried by a landslide and exquisitely preserved 2 to 8 million years ago -- will help them predict how today’s Arctic will respond to global warming. >> Read the Full Article
  • Polar Bears Have a Fighting Chance of Survival

    The plight of polar bears continues as the climate gradually becomes warmer in the Arctic. Warmer temperatures cause the melting of sea ice, which is essential for polar bears to reach their prey, primarily seals. However, according to a recent study published in the journal, Nature, polar bears have a good chance at survival if humans significantly reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. >> Read the Full Article