• The Regional Centre for Climate Change and Decision-Making

    South America has got its first think-tank aimed at providing climate change knowledge to decision-makers to help them design tools tailored to local needs. The Regional Centre for Climate Change and Decision-Making was launched earlier this year (19 March) in Montevideo, Uruguay, where it will have its headquarters and where it is organising its first training event for policymakers. The centre is a joint initiative by the Panama-based Avina Foundation, which promotes sustainable development in Latin America, and UNESCO (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). >> Read the Full Article
  • Mt. Sharp on Mars

    There is a 3.5-mile high Martian mound that scientists suspect preserves evidence of a massive ancient lake. Well maybe not, May be the wind did it. If correct, the research could dilute expectations that the mound holds evidence of a large body of water, which would have important implications for understanding Mars' ancient habitability. Researchers based at Princeton University and the California Institute of Technology suggest that the mound, known as Mount Sharp, most likely emerged as strong winds carried dust and sand into the 96-mile-wide crater in which the mound sits. They report in the journal Geology that air likely rises out of the massive Gale Crater when the Martian surface warms during the day, then sweeps back down its steep walls at night. Though strong along the Gale Crater walls, these slope winds would have died down at the crater's center where the fine dust in the air settled and accumulated to eventually form Mount Sharp, which is close in size to Alaska's Mt. McKinley. >> Read the Full Article
  • Black Sea Changes and Reponses

    When Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) marine paleoecologist Marco Coolen was mining through vast amounts of genetic data from the Black Sea sediment record, he was amazed about the variety of past plankton species that had left behind their genetic makeup as a sign of their environmental responses. The semi-isolated Black Sea is highly sensitive to climate driven environmental changes, and the underlying sediments represent high-resolution archives of past continental climate and concurrent hydrologic changes in the basin. The brackish Black Sea is currently receiving salty Mediterranean waters via the narrow Strait of Bosphorus as well as freshwater from rivers and via precipitation. In the past the Black Sea was more of a freshwater lake than a salty sea. Over the centuries the Black Sea has changed back and forth due to the ever changing climatic conditions of the world. >> Read the Full Article
  • Verizon Expands Investment in Alternative Energy

    Verizon has announced it will invest $100 million in a solar and fuel cell energy project that will help power 19 of its facilities in seven states across the country. The company estimates the completed project will generate more than 70 million kilowatt of clean energy, which would be enough to power more than 6,000 single-family homes a year. This amount of clean, solar power prevents the emission of more than 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, which is enough to offset the annual CO2 emissions from more than 1 million gallons of gas. >> Read the Full Article
  • Bright Clouds with Added Pollution

    University of Manchester scientists, writing in the journal Nature Geoscience, have shown that some natural emissions and man made pollutants can have an unexpected cooling effect on the world’s climate by making clouds brighter. Clouds are made of water droplets, condensed on to tiny particles suspended in the air. When the air is humid enough, the particles swell into larger cloud droplets. It has been known for some decades that the number of these particles and their size control how bright the clouds appear from the top, which affects the the efficiency with which clouds scatter sunlight back into space. A major challenge for climate science is to understand and quantify these effects which have a major impact in polluted regions of the world. >> Read the Full Article
  • Unconventional swine: how invasive pigs are helping preserve biodiversity in the Pantanal

    Ordinarily, invasive and exotic species are a grave threat to native wildlife: outcompeting local species, introducing parasites and disease, and disturbing local ecological regimes. A unique case in the Brazilian Pantanal, however, has turned the tables; here, an introduced mammal has actually aided the conservation of native wildlife. The impact of feral pigs (Sus scrofa) is a serious threat to biodiversity in many ecosystems around the globe. Their destructive rooting behavior and voracious appetite are often severely damaging to populations of plants and small animals, not to mention they serve as a reservoir for a host of zoonotic diseases. In the Pantanal, however, introduced feral pigs have had a positive impact on wildlife communities and the local culture. The Pantanal region of South America, which extends beyond Brazil into Bolivia and Paraguay, is one of the largest freshwater wetlands on the planet and boasts a diversity of unique wildlife- but this hasn't always been the case. >> Read the Full Article
  • Carbon Dioxide and Rainfall

    Carbon dioxide is the prime culprit in global warming but how twill that affect other aspects of climate such as rainfall? A NASA-led modeling study is providing new evidence that global warming may increase the risk for extreme rainfall and drought. The study shows for the first time how rising carbon dioxide concentrations could affect the entire range of rainfall types on Earth. Analysis of computer simulations from 14 climate models indicates wet regions of the world, such as the equatorial Pacific Ocean and Asian monsoon regions, will see increases in heavy precipitation because of warming resulting from projected increases in carbon dioxide levels. Arid land areas outside the tropics and many regions with moderate rainfall could become drier. >> Read the Full Article
  • The New Normal

    While Webster’s Dictionary has not yet caught up to the term the "new normal", it is more than a television program on NBC. The new normal may refer to the economy, health, or lifestyles, but for government, the new normal primarily refers to how our lives will routinely be affected by the impacts of climate change. The new normal was addressed throughout the day at the recent PlanSmart NJ 2013 Regional Planning Summit, "Investing in the New Normal" held in Trenton, New Jersey, forty miles west of the coastline destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. PlanSmart NJ is an independent, non-profit planning, education, and research organization committed to improving the quality of community life through the advancement of sound land use planning and regional cooperation. >> Read the Full Article
  • Concerns grow over effects of solar geoengineering

    The latest studies on solar geoengineering to tackle climate change are reinforcing the case for a global governance system and further study before deployment, as they show that the approach may have little effect on preventing rainfall changes in the tropics — and may even lead to widespread drought in Africa. Several geoengineering initiatives plan to tackle climate change by cutting incoming sunlight, through methods such as spreading reflective aerosols in the stratosphere. >> Read the Full Article
  • Atlantic Cup Race Now Carbon-Neutral

    The 2013 Atlantic Cup presented by 11th Hour Racing has announced its final plans and competition field for the third annual running of the premier Class 40 sailing event in the country. The event will feature seven boats; six from the USA and one from Great Britain, with race organizers once again making a strong commitment to eco-friendly sailing. Last year, in partnership with 11th Hour Racing and Green Mountain Energy Company, the Atlantic Cup became the first carbon-neutral sailing race in the USA by offsetting an estimated 23,030 pounds (10.45 metric tons) of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Sailors for the Sea (SfS) certified the event Gold in 2012, with SfS unveiling a new Platinum level certification in 2013 that the Atlantic Cup will strive for. Teams will set sail from Charleston, S.C. on Saturday, May 11 at 2 p.m. EDT on a 648 nautical mile race to New York Harbor for the second leg of the competition (May 14-17), before departing on May 18 on a 231 nautical mile final leg of competition. The annual event culminates in Newport, R.I. with two days of Inshore racing (May 25 – 26). The field includes the USA’s Pleiad Racing, Dragon, Gryphon Solo 2, Icarus Racing, Bodacious Dream and Lecoq Cuisine, along with Great Britain’s 40 Degrees. >> Read the Full Article