• Smartphones could provide weather data in poor nations

    Smartphones can now be used to collect weather data such as air temperatures through WeatherSignal, a crowdsourcing app developed by UK start-up OpenSignal. This helps crowdsource real-time weather forecasts and could one day help collect climate data in areas without weather stations, its developers say. Once installed, the app automatically collects data and periodically uploads them to a server. >> Read the Full Article
  • 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
  • Old Concrete can have Second Life Protecting Nature

    Usually we think of demolished concrete walls and floors as environmental contaminants, but in fact this material may turn out to be a valuable resource in nature protection work. This is the conclusion from researchers from University of Southern Denmark after studying the ability of crushed concrete to bind phosphorus. "We have shown that crushed concrete can bind up to 90 per cent of phosphorus, "says PhD student and environmental engineer, Melanie Sønderup, Department of Biology at the University of Southern Denmark. >> 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
  • Pesticide Problems in the Amazon

    As the world’s population increases and agricultural frontiers expand into native tropical habitats, researchers are working furiously to understand the impacts on tropical forests and global biodiversity. But one obvious impact has been little studied in these agricultural frontiers: pesticides. However a new study in the journal Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B seeks to shine a light on the problem. >> 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
  • What is the coldest temperature that life can exist?

    Life has been found in some very unexpected places on Earth. In deep caves, in ice cores, and at the deepest depths of the oceans. An interesting question; is there a temperature below which life cannot exist? A new study, published in PLoS One, reveals that below -20 °C, single-celled organisms dehydrate, sending them into a vitrified – glass-like – state during which they are unable to complete their life cycle. The researchers propose that, since the organisms cannot reproduce below this temperature, -20 °C is the lowest temperature limit for life on Earth. >> 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
  • 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