• California's Redwoods face new threat

    California is a magnificent state, with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. It is also home to some of the most magnificent trees in the world, the giant Redwoods. These trees have survived for millennia, fending off attacks from diseases and fire. Now they face a new threat, the combined effects of sudden oak death and fire. Usually resistant to the effects of wildfires, California's coast redwoods are now burning as fast as other trees. Why? To find answers, plant pathologist David Rizzo of the University of California at Davis (UC Davis) and colleagues monitored more than 80,000 hectares of forests near Big Sur, Calif. In their plots, tanoaks, California bay laurels and coast redwoods grow. The study began in 2006. "In 2008, almost half our plots were burned by wildfires that lasted the better part of a month," says Rizzo. That was the beginning of the end for many coast redwoods, surprising researchers who expected the trees to be fire-proof. >> Read the Full Article
  • Envisioning Future Sea Level Rise

    In the past one hundred years, the Global Mean Sea Level has risen between 4 and 8 inches, and is currently rising at a rate of approximately 0.13 inches a year. However, the sea level rise "lock-in" – the rise we don't see now, but which, due to emissions and global warming, is being locked in for the future – is increasing 10 times faster. While our current sea level rise is at a modest, but still threatening inch per decade, the future rise is at a foot per decade. >> Read the Full Article
  • Sea Levels dropped in 2010 -2011, why?

    In 2011, scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the University of Colorado at Boulder reported that between early 2010 and summer 2011, global sea level fell sharply, by about a quarter of an inch, or half a centimeter. Using data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) spacecraft, they showed that the drop was caused by the very strong La Nina that began in late 2010. That La Nina changed rainfall patterns all over our planet, moving huge amounts of Earth's water from the ocean to the continents. The phenomenon was short-lived, however. A unique and complex set of circumstances came together over Australia from 2010 to 2011 to cause Earth's smallest continent to be the biggest contributor to the observed drop in global sea level rise during that time, finds a new study co-authored and co-funded by NASA. >> Read the Full Article
  • Plans to Remap Coastal Areas after Hurricane Sandy Announced this week

    Preliminary U.S. damage from Hurricane Sandy that hit the East Coast in October of last year is estimated to be near $50 billion, making Sandy the second-costliest cyclone to hit the United States since 1900. Full recovery from Sandy will take years, but plans for remapping altered seafloors and shorelines were announced yesterday by a joint collaboration between the USGS, NOAA, and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The project includes acquiring data to update East Coast land maps and nautical charts by conducting a new survey of coastal waters and shorelines. >> Read the Full Article
  • Climate change killing harp seal pups

    As sea ice levels continue to decline in the northern hemisphere, scientists are observing an unsettling trend in harp seal young mortalities regardless of juvenile fitness. While a recent study found that in harp seal breeding regions ice cover decreased by up to 6% a decade from 1979 on, a follow-up study in PLoS ONE compared the rate of harp seal strandings to total ice cover from 1992 to 2010. The data showed a direct relationship between the two, with seal pup strandings rising sharply as ice cover was reduced. >> Read the Full Article
  • Warning Labels for Gasoline Pumps?

    Tobacco packaging warning messages have recently been required on cigarettes and other tobacco products in many countries worldwide in an effort to enhance the public's awareness of the harmful effects of smoking. In a similar fashion, a Canadian campaign is calling for all gasoline pumps to have warming labels on nozzles to inform consumers on the effects fuels have on climate change. Michelle Reeves at Our Horizon, the non-profit executing the campaign, states, "It's a cheap, simple idea that has the potential to change the way we think about, and address, climate change. They are modeled after cigarette package warning labels, which have been proven to work. Some people's behavior might change, but our ultimate goal is to create a shift in the political will to demand for alternatives, and create a space in the market for affordable alternative mobility solutions." >> Read the Full Article
  • Reducing Food Waste While Feeding the Hungry

    According to a report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) last year, 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten. Americans throw away about US$165 billion worth of food each year—or about 9 kilograms of food per person each month—which then ends up in landfills, where it accounts for about a quarter of U.S. methane emissions. >> Read the Full Article
  • Shale gas fracking linked to earthquakes in Youngstown, Ohio

    A leading seismologist has linked the process of shale gas fracking with more than 100 earthquakes that blighted a city in the US Midwest within the space of just 12 months. Since records began in 1776, the Ohio city of Youngstown had never experienced a single earthquake, until a deep injection well was built to pump waste-water produced by fracking in neighboring Pennsylvania. The Northstar 1 site started pumping operation in December 2010 and within the following 12 months seismometers in and around Youngstown recorded 109 earthquakes; the strongest being a magnitude 3.9 quake. >> Read the Full Article
  • Deep Ocean plumes of Iron

    Where do the iron and micronutrients in the oceans come from, and what are the factors that marine scientists use to estimate their levels? Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute reports that their scientists have discovered a vast plume of iron and other micronutrients more than 1,000 km long billowing from hydrothermal vents in the South Atlantic Ocean. The finding, soon to be published in the journal Nature Geoscience, calls past estimates of iron abundances into question, and may challenge researchers' assumptions about iron sources in the world's seas. "This study and other studies like it are going to force the scientific community to reevaluate how much iron is really being contributed by hydrothermal vents and to increase those estimates, and that has implications for not only iron geochemistry but a number of other disciplines as well," says Mak Saito, a WHOI associate scientist and lead author of the study. >> Read the Full Article
  • Light Ordinance in France has Benefits for Wildlife

    Last month, France implemented one of the world's most comprehensive "lights out" ordinances. Conditions include turning off shop lights between 1 a.m. to 7 a.m., shutting off lights inside office buildings within an hour of workers leaving the premises, and waiting only until sunset before turning lights on, on building facades. Over the next two years, regulations restricting lighting on billboards will also go into effect. These rules are designed to eventually cut carbon dioxide emissions by 250,000 tons per year, conserve energy consumption, and cut the country's overall energy bill by 200 million Euros ($266 million). >> Read the Full Article