• The Rise of Mammals in a Warming Land

    If it gets warmer what animals may benefit? The climate changes depicted by climatologists up to the year 2080 will benefit most mammals that live in northern Europe’s Arctic and sub-Arctic land areas today if they are able to reach their new climatic ranges. This is the conclusion drawn by ecologists at Umeå University in a recently published article in the journal Plos ONE. >> Read the Full Article
  • Terapod Backbone

    Research published today in the journal Nature documents, for the first time, the intricate three-dimensional structure of the backbone in the earliest four-legged animals (tetrapods). The international team of scientists, led by Dr Stephanie Pierce from the University’s Zoology Department and the Royal Veterinary College and her Cambridge colleague Professor Jennifer Clack, bombarded 360 million year old early tetrapod fossils with high energy synchrotron radiation. The resulting high resolution X-ray images allowed the researchers to reconstruct the backbones of the extinct animals in exceptional detail. >> Read the Full Article
  • Tree height and leaf size dependent on internal physics

    The tallest trees in the world can grow up around 100 meters (think of a tree climbing the length of an entire football field!) but if a tree has all the necessary sunlight, water, and space what actually stops a tree from growing even taller? According to researchers at Harvard University and the University of California, Davis, the answers lie in the physics of a tree's internal plumbing. >> Read the Full Article
  • Should deep-sea mining go ahead in Papua New Guinea?

    Financial disagreement has halted a controversial deep-sea mining project but deeper issues lie with the environment. The fate of a currently halted deep-sea mining project in the Pacific is being watched closely by a number of parties. Operations were scheduled to begin in 2014, with a target of producing about 80,000 tonnes of copper and more than four tonnes of gold a year. >> Read the Full Article
  • Eating Sustainable Seafood

    In the sea, almost everything that swims, burrows or crawls can be presented on a plate and eaten. Yet many marine species aren't well known among chefs and diners. The lack of variety on the menu represents not only a loss of culinary opportunity, but also a potential source of ecological imbalance. No one knows this better than sustainable seafood devotee Rizwan Ahmed, chef/owner of the Hourglass Brasserie. "There is an abundant diversity of marine life that can be used and prepared by chefs to put on their menu," Ahmed said. "But nine out of 10 restaurants have species like cod. This puts a heavy load on the cod population. People have now become so accustomed to a limited choice of seafood that they are not willing or are not aware of other species that taste just as good if not better." >> Read the Full Article
  • El Salvador Prioritizes Geothermal Energy Development

    During the last two decades, the global installed capacity for geothermal electricity has nearly doubled. Despite this recent expansion, geothermal energy is not getting the same level of attention as other renewable energy resources, and it remains heavily underutilized. If the world were able to tap just a small portion of the Earth's heat, we could provide everyone with clean and safe energy for centuries. Current estimates of our global potential for geothermal energy range from 35 gigawatts (GW) to 2,000 GW. However, simple technological improvements could greatly increase these projections. >> Read the Full Article
  • 2012 Weather in Review

    From tropical storms and hurricanes like Sandy, to extended heat waves and detrimental summer droughts, to unprecedented wildfire outbreaks in the American West, 2012 marked a historic year for extreme weather events in the United States. In fact, 2012 takes the prize for the warmest and second most extreme year on record for the contiguous US thus allowing the year to break some other climate and weather related records. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center reports the State of the Climate and offers some of last year’s highlights. - 2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States with the year consisting of a record warm spring, second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter and a warmer-than-average autumn. The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3°F, 3.2°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year. Every state in the contiguous U.S. had an above-average annual temperature for 2012. - The average precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. for 2012 was 26.57 inches, 2.57 inches below average, making it the 15th driest year on record for the nation. This was also the driest year for the nation since 1988. - Each season of 2012 had precipitation totals below the 20th century average. >> Read the Full Article
  • Invasive Aquarium Fish

    Home tropical fish aquariums are home to a number of pretty fish and seaweeds. Perfectly harmless right? Not in the wrong environment. It is surprising how hardy some of them can be if let loose in the wild. In a report released today to the California Ocean Protection Council, lead author Susan Williams, an evolution and ecology professor with the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, found that more than 11 million non-native ornamental marine individuals — such as tropical fish, seaweed and snails bound for aquariums — representing at least 102 species are being imported annually through California’s ports of San Francisco and Los Angeles, primarily from Indonesia and the Philippines. And 13 of those species have been introduced to California marine waters — presumably after being released from aquariums. >> Read the Full Article
  • Study suggests magma forms deeper than previously thought

    A group led by Rajdeep Dasgupta, geologist and assistant professor of Earth science at Rice University, put samples of peridotite, a dense igneous rock, under pressure in a Rice University laboratory and found that rock can and will liquefy, as deep as 250 kilometers in the mantle beneath the ocean floor. These recent findings provide new evidence that magma can form at a depth much deeper than scientists once thought. >> Read the Full Article
  • Coral Fighting Back

    Corals are marine animals typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual polyps. The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton. Coral reefs are under stress around the world often due to climate change issues. Researchers have uncovered a pattern of gene activity that enables some corals to survive in higher temperatures. The finding suggests a way to predict how different corals will fare in the warmer waters expected to result from climate change over the coming decades. Such information could help to focus future conservation efforts, the researchers say. >> Read the Full Article