• 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
  • 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
  • Illegally captured parrots finally free to fly

    In 2010, Bulgarian airport authorities confiscated 108 African grey parrots (Psittacus erithacus) from a smuggler. Last month, the 28 parrots who survived the stress of being stuffed into dog kennels, constantly handled by humans, and the absence of their native habitat, completed their three-year journey to freedom. >> 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
  • Small Fish Develop Disguises for Survival

    A recent study, performed by researchers from Australia’s ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) and James Cook University, reveals that particular tiny fish have developed deceiving behaviors and features to enhance their survival chances against predatory fish. The damsel fish, a tiny yellow fish with an eyespot on its tail, is capable of changing the size of its actual eye and eyespot in order to confuse and distract larger predators. This is the first study to document predator-induced changes in the size of eyes and eyespots in prey fish. >> Read the Full Article