• Inuit Face Tensions with Outside World as their environment melts away

    With Arctic summer sea ice rapidly disappearing, the native Inuit of Canada are encountering not only unsettling changes in their subsistence way of life, but also a growing number of outsiders who will further transform their once-isolated homeland. Sakiasiq Qanaq has seen a lot of changes on the north coast of Baffin Island in recent years as the retreat of summer sea ice has continued unabated. But the Inuit hunter has never seen anything quite like this year, when sea ice loss in the Arctic hit a record low. First, the community's spring narwhal hunt, which usually yields roughly 60 of the tusked whales, produced only three. The sea ice was so thin that the Inuit couldn’t safely stand on it and shoot the narwhal as they migrated into Arctic Bay from Greenland through channels in the ice. Then an unprecedented number of killer whales, or orcas — rarely seen in heavy ice — showed up in the largely ice-free water, with Inuit hunters in nearby Pond Inlet observing three pods of orcas that reportedly killed some of the narwhals and scared off the others. >> Read the Full Article
  • Jatropha can revive degraded land, says study

    Large-scale cultivation of Jatropha – known as a potential source of biofuel – can improve the soil quality of degraded lands and address climate change, says a new study. Jatropha curcas seeds yield oil that can be processed into biodiesel, but scientists at the International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Hyderabad, have found that Jatropha plantations can also sequester carbon in abundant quantities. >> Read the Full Article
  • Southwest US Forests could suffer greatly as climate warms

    Combine the tree-ring growth record with historical information, climate records, and computer-model projections of future climate trends, and you get a grim picture for the future of trees in the southwestern United States. That's the word from a team of scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory, the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Arizona, and other partner organizations. If the Southwest is warmer and drier in the near future, widespread tree death is likely and would cause substantial changes in the distribution of forests and of species, the researchers report this week in the journal Nature Climate Change. >> Read the Full Article
  • Norwegian Arctic Summers Warmest in 1,800 Years

    Summer temperatures on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard in the High Arctic are now higher than during any time over the last 1,800 years, including a period of higher temperatures in the northern hemisphere known as the Medieval Warm Period, according to a new study. In an analysis of algae buried in deep lake sediments, a team of scientists calculated that summer temperatures in Svalbard since 1987 have been 2 to 2.5 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 4.5 degrees F) warmer than during the Medieval Warm Period, which lasted from roughly 950 to 1250 AD. Scientists say this year's record declines in Arctic sea ice extent and volume are powerful evidence that the giant cap of ice at the top of the planet is on a trajectory to largely disappear in summer within a decade or two, with profound global consequences. >> Read the Full Article
  • Penguin Populations Decline, Become Poster Species for Ocean Conservation

    Penguins have spent years fooling us. With their image seemingly every where we turn—entertaining us in animated films, awing us in documentaries, and winking at us in commercials—they have made most of us believe they are doing just fine; the penguin's charming demeanor has lulled us into complacency about their fate. But penguin populations are facing historic declines even as their popularity in human society rises. Overfishing is decimating some of their prey species, climate change is shifting their resources and imperiling their habitat, meanwhile pollution, such as oil spills, are putting even healthy colonies at risk. >> Read the Full Article
  • Experts Hope to Establish Congressional Weather Commission

    From energy freedom to ocean policy focusing on commerce, research, and defense, Congress has appointed a variety of environmental-based commissions in the past two decades. However, one issue that has yet to be addressed is weather—that is until now. Experts are asking Congress to create the first US Weather Commission. This commission would offer guidance of their weather expertise to policy makers who would then be able to make more efficient decisions when it comes to weather-related issues. >> Read the Full Article
  • Mid-Elevation Mountain Forests are Sensitive to Climate Change

    Decreased snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere is one piece of evidence that climate change is occurring. With this decline, how will mountain biomes be affected and which areas will become most vulnerable to these changes? According to researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, mid-elevation mountain ecosystems at altitudes between 6,500 and 8,000 feet are most sensitive to affects associated with climate change. The study team used both satellite images and ground measurements to identify the threshold where forests transition from using moisture as their primary source of sustenance to using sunlight and temperature. About half of the mid-elevation forest greenness measured was attributed to the snow accumulations from the previous winter, with the other half due to conditions such as soil depth, soil nutrients, temperature and sunlight. >> Read the Full Article
  • Ocean Acidification Occurring at Unprecedented Rates

    Ocean acidification is the process of decreasing pH in the Earth’s oceans. This is mainly due to the absorption of carbon dioxide emitted by humans. As CO2 dissolves in seawater, hydrogen ion concentrations increase, thus lowering the ocean pH. Oceans are currently absorbing about a quarter of all CO2 that is released into the air and with the increasing acidity of these marine environments come many concerns about the future of these ecosystems. This week, at the Third International Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World in Monterey, California, Dr. Daniela Schmidt of the University of Bristol’s School of Earth Sciences warns us that the current rates of ocean acidification are unlike any other in the Earth’s history. >> Read the Full Article
  • Food Security, Grain Production, and Climate Change

    Global grain production is expected to reach a record high of 2.4 billion tons in 2012, an increase of 1 percent from 2011 levels, according to new research conducted by the Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet project for the Institute's Vital Signs Online service. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the production of grain for animal feed is growing the fastest—a 2.1 percent increase from 2011. Grain for direct human consumption grew 1.1 percent from 2011, write report authors Danielle Nierenberg and Katie Spoden. >> Read the Full Article
  • NOTT-300

    Removing CO2 from air emissions has been a continual problem for years with many different solutions offered. A new low-cost new material that could lead to innovative technologies to tackle global warming has been discovered by scientists at The University of Nottingham. The porous material, named NOTT-300, has the potential to reduce fossil fuel emissions through the cheaper and more efficient capture of polluting gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). The research, published in the scientific journal Nature Chemistry, demonstrates how the properties of NOTT-300 could provide a greener alternative which is less energy intensive as opposed to several existing solutions to adsorb and remove CO2. >> Read the Full Article