• England is losing its meadows and marshes, impacting Long-eared bats

    Experts are warning that Britain's gray long-eared bats are facing extinction because of the loss of the UK’s marshlands. What’s more, this may be just one casualty of increasing habitat loss. Britain's Bat Conservation Trust, in a new publication called Conserving Grey Long-Eared Bats in our Landscape, has warned that there may be as few as 1,000 gray long-eared bats left in the UK because of the "dramatic decline" of their habitats. The gray long-eared bats, already considered one of Britain's rarest of species, are generally to be found hunting for food, usually moths, in lowland meadows and marshlands. Their distribution is primarily confined along the south of the British Isles in places like Sussex, Devon, Somerset, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands. >> Read the Full Article
  • 2012 was a bad year for the Arctic

    During 2012, the Arctic broke several climate records, including a level of unprecedented warmth that created rapid ice loss. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is warning in its "The State of the Climate in 2012" report that last year was one of the 10 hottest since the beginning of recording global average temperatures. In addition to this, Arctic sea ice melted to reach record lows during the annual summer thaw. To illustrate this, the report points out that in Greenland, around 97% of the region’s ice sheet melted: this a figure that is four times the expected figure based on the melt in previous years. We're still feeling the effects of this and continued warming today, with the North Pole Environmental Agency issuing a warning that the summer ice has melted so fast and by so much that a shallow lake has formed. >> Read the Full Article
  • Old-growth trees store half rainforest carbon

    Large trees store up to half the above-ground biomass in tropical forests, reiterating their importance in buffering against climate change, finds a study published in Global Ecology and Biogeography. The research, which involved dozens of scientists from more than 40 institutions, is based on data from nearly 200,000 individual trees across 120 lowland rainforest sites in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. It found that carbon storage by big trees varies across tropical forest regions, but is substantial in all natural forests. >> Read the Full Article
  • The Controversy Surrounding Fracking

    The father of fracking, George Mitchell, passed away July 26, leaving many to think about the legacy he leaves behind. Though he didn't exactly invent fracking, the Houston native revolutionized the process by introducing horizontal drilling in the 1990s. Even more than two decades later, Mitchell's process of fracking is still a touchy subject. Though many are thrilled by the natural gas goldmine his drilling taps into, a lot of controversy surrounds the process, especially where the environment is concerned. What is fracking? For millions of years, organisms found in rock formations buried deep under the ground have decomposed, creating natural gases. However, because the formations are so deep under Earth's surface, the gas deposits were trapped in pockets and not easily accessible. It didn't take long to discover that drilling into rock formations could break them, making it easy to extract the resources inside... >> Read the Full Article
  • Saudi Arabia to Launch Online Atlas of Renewable Resources

    Saudi Arabia is launching an online atlas of renewable resources as part of a wider project to identify the potential renewable energy sources and where best to deploy technology to tap into those resources. The atlas data will be available in late 2013, published online through the Renewable Resource Monitoring and Mapping programme. >> Read the Full Article
  • Monarch Butterfly migration study tracks generations

    Everyone knows all about the epic breeding journey taken each year by generations of monarch butterflies between Mexico and Canada, right? Not so fast, say researchers including University of Guelph biologists. Until now, linking adult butterflies and their birthplaces during a complicated annual migration spanning all of eastern North America and involving up to five generations of the iconic insects had eluded scientists. Now for the first time, researchers have mapped that migration pattern across the continent over an entire breeding season. That information might help conserve a creature increasingly threatened by loss of habitat and food sources, says Tyler Flockhart, a PhD student in U of G's Department of Integrative Biology. >> Read the Full Article
  • Evidence of Global Climate Change Found in Marine Breeding and Habitat Shifts

    While global climate change is still widely disputed, indications of warming oceans are evident as major shifts in marine life are being reported off the coasts of Australia. In turn, major ecosystems, including cold-water marine habitats, as well as human recreational and commercial activities are at risk. >> Read the Full Article
  • Marine ecosystems shifting in response to warming climate

    The climate is getting warmer, and terrestrial ecosystems are responding. Species move up mountain slopes to remain in the temperature regimes they prefer (if there is a mountain slope to move up!). What is happening in the oceans? The warming climate is affecting ocean temperatures too, thought the oceans have vast thermal mass, so changes might be expected to be occurring more slowly than on land. Oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth's surface, yet our knowledge of the impact of climate change on marine habitats is a mere drop in the proverbial ocean compared to terrestrial systems. An international team of scientists set out to change that by conducting a global meta-analysis of climate change impacts on marine systems. Counter to previous thinking, marine species are shifting their geographic distribution toward the poles and doing so much faster than their land-based counterparts. The findings were published in Nature Climate Change. >> Read the Full Article
  • EPA looking at contaminated sites for renewable energy

    There are a lot of contaminated sites in the US. Many are former landfills that are urban mounds of varying size, and they are often devoid of trees. This makes them good candidate sites for solar power or other forms of renewable energy. This is a win-win opportunity in many instances! The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently updated its RE-Powering Mapping and Screening Tool, which will now provide preliminary screening results for renewable energy potential at 66,000, up from 24,000, contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites across the country. The RE-Powering America's Land Initiative, started by EPA in 2008, encourages development of renewable energy on potentially contaminated land, landfills and mine sites when it is aligned with the community’s vision for the site. "We see responsible renewable energy development on contaminated lands and landfills as a win-win-win for the nation, local communities, and the environment," said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "In President Obama's Climate Action Plan, the administration set a goal to double renewable electricity generation by 2020. By identifying the renewable energy potential of contaminated sites across the country, these screening results are a good step toward meeting national renewable energy goals in order to address climate change, while also cleaning up and revitalizing contaminated lands in our communities." >> Read the Full Article
  • Rice gene digs deep to triple yields in drought

    A gene that gives rice plants deeper roots can triple yields during droughts, according to Japanese researchers writing in Nature Genetics this week (4 August). Rice is a staple food for nearly half of the world's population, but is also particularly susceptible to drought owing to its shallow roots, researchers say. The new study shows that by pointing roots down instead of sideways, the Deeper Rooting 1 (DRO1) gene results in roots that are nearly twice as deep as those of standard rice varieties. >> Read the Full Article