• Scottish badgers highlight the complexity of species responses to environmental change

    In a new study researchers have found that although warmer weather should benefit badger populations, the predicted human population increase in the Scottish highlands is likely to disturb badgers and counteract that effect. These results emphasise the importance of interactive effects and context-dependent responses when planning conservation management under human-induced rapid environmental change.

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  • NASA Spots Powerful Tropical Cyclone Donna Between Vanuatu and New Caledonia

    Tropical Cyclone Donna continues to move through the South Pacific Ocean as a major hurricane. NASA's Aqua satellite passed over the storm and captured an image of a clear eye as the storm was located between the island nations of Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The GPM satellite found that the powerful hurricane was generating very high amounts of rainfall.

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  • Leaf litter has slower decomposition rate in warm temperatures than previously thought

    The time it takes for a leaf to decompose might be the key to understanding how temperature affects ecosystems, according to Kansas State University ecologists. 

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  • Scientists track porpoises to assess impact of offshore wind farms

    A new study by scientists at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory, Cornell University and Duke University is the first in a series to understand how marine mammals like porpoises, whales, and dolphins may be affected by the construction of wind farms off the coast of Maryland. The new research offers insight into previously unknown habits of harbor porpoises in the Maryland Wind Energy Area, a 125-square-mile area off the coast of Ocean City that may be the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind farm.

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  • Is Climate Changing Cloud Heights? Too Soon to Say

    A new analysis of 15 years of NASA satellite cloud measurements finds that clouds worldwide show no definitive trend during this period toward decreasing or increasing in height. The new study updates an earlier analysis of the first 10 years of the same data that suggested cloud heights might be getting lower.

    Clouds are both Earth's cooling sunshade and its insulating blanket. Currently their cooling effect prevails globally. But as Earth warms, the characteristics of clouds over different global regions -- their thickness, brightness and height -- are expected to change in ways that scientists don't fully understand. These changes could either amplify warming or slow it. Pinning down some of the uncertainties around clouds is one of the biggest challenges in determining the future rate of global climate change.

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  • New Tool May Assist US Regional Sea Level Planning

    Thanks in large part to satellite measurements, scientists' skill in measuring how much sea levels are rising on a global scale - currently 0.13 inch (3.4 millimeters) per year - has improved dramatically over the past quarter century. But at the local level, it's been harder to estimate specific regional sea level changes 10 or 20 years away - the critical timeframe for regional planners and decision makers.

    That's because sea level changes for many reasons, on differing timescales, and is not the same from one place to the next. Developing more accurate regional forecasts of sea level rise will therefore have far-reaching benefits for the more than 30 percent of Americans who currently reside along the Pacific, Atlantic or Gulf Coasts of the contiguous United States.

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  • Antarctic study sheds light on central ice sheet

    Central parts of Antarctica’s ice sheet have been stable for millions of years, from a time when conditions were considerably warmer than now, research suggests.

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  • Extinction of Alpine Plants May Remain Undetectable for a Long Time

    How do alpine plants react to warmer climatic conditions? Due to their longevity, the plants may survive longer than expected in their habitats, but produce offspring that are increasingly maladapted. Population size may decrease faster than the contraction of the species range, as UZH researchers show using computer models. Scientists who wish to track the precise extinction risk of plant species must not only measure their dispersal, but also the densities of the local populations.

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  • Snow in Hawaii: What does the future hold?

    Daydreams of the tropical paradise of Hawai?i rarely include snow in the imagery, but nearly every year, a beautiful white blanket covers the highest peaks in the state for at least a few days. However, systematic observations of snowfall and the snow cover dimensions on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa are practically nonexistent. A group of climate modelers led by Chunxi Zhang from the International Pacific Research Center at the University of Hawai?i at M?noa used satellite images to quantify recent snow cover distributions patterns. They developed a regional climate model to simulate the present-day snowfalls and then to project future Hawaiian snowfalls. Their results indicate that the two volcano summits are typically snow-covered at least 20 days each winter, on average, but that the snow cover will nearly disappear by the end of the century.

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  • In India, Bangalore's Water Crisis is an Omen for the Rest of the World

    Bangalore (officially called Bangaluru) has become the enduring symbol of the economic transformation that makes India the envy of much of the developing and developed worlds. Its population and economy accelerated as just about every global information technology has set up operations in this city of 8.4 million people.

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