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News articles on earth science
Mongabay.com news articles on earth science in blog format. Updated regularly.
(04/19/2006) A new study published in Nature says that climate change will be more moderate than some recent projections. Nevertheless, says lead author Gabriele C. Hegerl of Duke University, we can expect significant changes in the future. The study looked to refine climate sensitivity, or the change in global mean surface temperature in response to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
US Greenhouse gas emissions hit record in 2004
(04/19/2006) EPA findings quietly released on Monday following Easter. Figures released Monday show that US greenhouse gas emissions hit a record in 2004, surging 1.7 percent over 2003. The increase, equivalent to a rise of 115 million tons of carbon dioxide, was the largest annual increase since 2000. In total, the United States released the equivalent of nearly 6,300 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. America is the world's largest polluter in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.
Global warming could doom the walrus finds new study
(04/14/2006) Add the walrus to the list of species threatened by climate change. A new study finds unprecedented pup abandonment in the Arctic due to disappearing sea ice. A new study warns that walrus calves are being stranded by melting sea ice in the Arctic Ocean. Researchers aboard the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Healy during a cruise in the Canada Basin in the summer of 2004 found lone walrus calves swimming far from shore--something never before documented. The sightings suggest that increased polar warming may be forcing mothers to abandon their pups as they follow the rapidly retreating ice northwards. If these observations portray a larger trend, a warming Arctic ice may lead to decreases in the walrus population say the scientists whose research was published in the April issue of Aquatic Mammals.
Global warming could dry Caribbean, Central America
(04/14/2006) Parts of the Caribbean and Central America are likely to experience drier summers by 2050 according to research presented by UCLA atmospheric scientists in the April 18 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Analyzing 10 global climate computer simulations from various agencies, the researchers found that the majority of the computer models predict a substantial decrease in tropical rainfall to occur by mid-century. By the end of this century, the models show that summer rainfall could decline by 20 percent or more in parts of the Caribbean and Central America.
Plants may absorb less carbon dioxide than initially believed
(04/12/2006) The world's land plants will probably not be able to absorb as great a share of the rising atmospheric carbon dioxide as some models have predicted, according to a new study led by Peter B. Reich, professor in the department of forest resources at the University of Minnesota. The work showed that limitations on the availability of nitrogen, a necessary nutrient, will likely translate to limitations on the ability of plants to absorb extra carbon dioxide.
Climate change is serious threat to biodiversity
(04/11/2006) The Earth could see massive waves of species extinctions around the world if global warming continues unabated, according to a new study published in the scientific journal conservation Biology.
Long-term cooling driven by Antarctica, not glaciers in Northern Hemisphere
(04/10/2006) Researchers from Brown University have reconstructed 5-million years of climate using tiny marine fossils found in mud off the coast of South America. The climate record unearthed by the Brown team is the longest continuous record of ocean temperatures on Earth.
Report makes case for regulating carbon dioxide emissions
(04/05/2006) A new report evaluating air pollution trends at the nation's 100 largest electric power producers shows that emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) have fallen markedly in recent years, but carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increased and will likely spike in coming years. The report comes amid increasing public concern and intensifying pressure for limits on heat-trapping emissions from U.S. power plants and rising investor concern about companies' long-term financial risk from climate change. In the absence of federal regulations, business uncertainty is growing as more U.S. states and regions move to enact their own limits on CO2 emissions from power plants. The U.S. government has opted for voluntary controls on carbon dioxide, but last year the U.S. Senate adopted a resolution calling for mandatory emission limits.
Recent Coral Bleaching at Great Barrier Reef
(04/05/2006) An international team of scientists are working at a rapid pace to study environmental conditions behind the fast-acting and widespread coral bleaching currently plaguing Australia's Great Barrier Reef. NASA's satellite data supply scientists with near-real-time sea surface temperature and ocean color data to give them faster than ever insight into the impact coral bleaching can have on global ecology. Australia's Great Barrier Reef is a massive marine habitat system made up of 2,900 reefs spanning over 600 continental islands. Though coral reefs exist around the globe, researchers actually consider this network of reefs to be the center of the world's marine biodiversity, playing a critical role in human welfare, climate, and economics. Coral reefs are a multi-million dollar recreational destinations, and the Great Barrier Reef is an important part of Australia's economy.
Climate change threatens coldwater reefs
(04/03/2006) Increasing amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide, driven by the burning of fossil fuels, are dissolving into the oceans, causing them to become slightly more acidic. This change in seawater chemistry could harm deep-sea calcifying animals like corals.
Deep-Sea Fish Populations Boom Over the Last 15 Years, New Scripps Study Shows
(04/03/2006) Scientists make progress toward understanding mysteries surrounding animals that live in the dark recesses of the oceans.
Prairies at risk from climate change, drought, human activities
(04/03/2006) The Canadian prairies are facing an unprecedented water crisis due to a combination of climate warming, increase in human activity and historic drought, says new research by the University of Alberta's Dr. David Schindler, one of the world's leading environmental scientists/
Pacific Ocean getting warmer and more acidic
(03/31/2006) The Pacific Ocean is getting warmer and more acidic, while the amount of oxygen is decreasing, due to increased absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide say scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and the University of Washington.
Lack of oxygen triggers sex imbalance in fish
(03/29/2006) Oceanic oxygen depletion resulting from agricultural run-off and pollution can trigger sex imbalance in fish and pose an extinction risk according to a new study published by researchers in Hong Kong. The finding raises new concerns about "dead zones",expanses of water so devoid of oxygen that most sea life cannot survive.
Past mass extinction events linked to climate change
(03/29/2006) Most mass extinctions were caused by gradual climate change rather than catastrophic asteroid impacts says Peter Ward, a paleontologist at the University of Washington in Seattle, in an upcoming article in New Scientist magazine.
Is climate change worsening malaria?
(03/21/2006) A widely-cited study published a few years ago said global warming was not contributing to the resurgence of malaria in the East African Highlands, but new research by an international team that includes University of Michigan theoretical ecologist Mercedes Pascual finds that, while other factors such as drug and pesticide resistance, changing land use patterns and human migration also may play roles, climate change cannot be ruled out.
Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are melting find new studies
(03/17/2006) Scientists have confirmed that climate warming is changing how much water remains locked in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, according to an article published in the Journal of Glaciology.
Reefs threatened by tsunami reconstruction
(03/16/2006) Indian Ocean coral reefs that escaped serious damage are coming under increasing threat from reconstruction efforts in the region according to a new report from the international environmental groups, World conservation Union and the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.
Global warming causing stronger hurricanes
(03/16/2006) The link between warmer ocean temperatures and increasing intensity of hurricanes has been confirmed by scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Last year, two studies published in the journals Nature and Science found a strong correlation between rising tropical sea surface temperatures and an increase in the strength of hurricanes.
Pollution from smog linked to climate warming in the Arctic
(03/15/2006) In a global assessment of the impact of ozone on climate warming, scientists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies evaluated how ozone in the lowest part of the atmosphere changed surface temperatures over the past 100 years. Using the best available estimates of global emissions of the various gases that produce tropospheric ozone, the GISS computer model study reveals how much this single air pollutant and greenhouse gas has contributed to warming in specific regions of the world.
Record one-year increase in carbon dioxide levels
(03/13/2006) Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels jumped 2.6 parts per million (ppm) in 2005, one of the largest increases on record according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Carbon dioxide levels now stand at 381 ppm, about 36 percent above pre-industrial levels.
Clean coal could fight climate change
(03/13/2006) A new chemical process for removing impurities from coal could lead to significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power stations say researchers sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Britain's main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences.
Climate change due to water vapor from cosmic explosion, not fossil fuels says new theory
(03/13/2006) A controversial new theory attributes climate change not to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels but water vapor. In an unpublished paper, Vladimir Shaidurov of the Russian Academy of Sciences argues that the apparent rise in average global temperature recorded by scientists over the past hundred years could be due to atmospheric changes resulting from the Tunguska Event, a massive explosion over Siberia on the June 30th, 1908 that is thought to have resulted from an asteroid or comet entering the earth's atmosphere and exploding
Warming climate causing biological changes in the Arctic
(03/10/2006) Physical changes--including rising air and seawater temperatures and decreasing seasonal ice cover--appear to be the cause of a series of biological changes in the northern Bering Sea ecosystem that could have long-range and irreversible effects on the animals that live there and on the people who depend on them for their livelihoods. In a paper published March 10 in the journal Science, a team of U.S. and Canadian researchers use data from long-term observations of physical properties and biological communities to conclude that previously documented physical changes in the Arctic in recent years are profoundly affecting Arctic life.
Next sunspot cycle stronger, may be more damaging to satellites and communication networks
(03/06/2006) The next sunspot cycle will be 30 to 50 percent stronger than the last one, and begin as much as a year late, according to a breakthrough forecast using a computer model of solar dynamics developed by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo.
Polar bear may be listed as endangered species
(02/09/2006) The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced that it is considering a petition to list the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Scientists believe polar bear populations are increasingly in danger due to the effects of climate change, specifically receding ice and warming temperatures.
Volcanic eruption cut warming in 20th century
(02/09/2006) Ocean temperatures might have been warmer and sea levels would have risen higher in the 20th century had Krakatoa not erupted in 1883, said a team of scientists. According to the researchers, the release of ashes and aerosols into the upper atmosphere had a significant long-term impact on global climate.
Climate change increases California flood, drought risk
(02/07/2006) Climate change may increase the risk of winter floods and summer water shortages--even within the same year--says new research by scientists Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The study, which appeared in the January 27 edition of the journal Geophysical Research Letters shows that global warming is likely to change river flows in ways that may result in both increased flood risk and water shortages.
Barges could protect Europe from climate change deep freeze
(02/06/2006) It is ironic that one consequence of global warming is that Europe might plunge into a deep freeze. This possibility stimulated an unusual research project at the University of Alberta.
Investors with $31 trillion pressure firms on climate change
(02/01/2006) A group of 211 institutional investors with assets of $31 trillion under management is writing to 1,933 of the world's largest public companies asking for the disclosure of investment-relevant information concerning their greenhouse gas emissions.
World's smallest fish title in dispute
(01/30/2006) Researchers dispute last week's claim of world's smallest fish in Sumatra. Evidence of an even smaller fish--a species of marine anglerfish 20 percent smaller than the carp found in southeast Asia--is presented by a University of Washington professor of aquatic and fisheries sciences. In a release from the University of Washington, professor Pietsch describes the tiny anglerfish, Photocorynus spiniceps, found in the Philippines.
Don't blame plants for global warming
(01/18/2006) A week after announcing their surprising discovery that plants release 10 to 30 percent of the world's methane—a potent greenhouse gas—researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics warn that plants should not be blamed for recent global warming.
Madagascar establishes new park system to protect lemurs, benefit people
(01/17/2006) Madagascar has created a new agency for managing the parks of the Indian Ocean island nation. The System of Protected Areas of Madagascar, or SAPM, simplifies the legal process used to create a protected areas, while providing for flexibility for local people to earn a living from conservation activities.
Private industry will embrace green energy says Australian govt
(01/11/2006) US Energy Secretary, Samuel Bodman, told the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate--a rival to the Kyoto Protocol on limiting greenhouse gas emissions--that the private sector will solve the problem of climate change.
Extinctions linked to climate change
(01/11/2006) A new report that links global warming to the recent extinction of dozens of amphibian species in tropical America is more evidence of a large phenomena that may affect broad regions, many animal species and ultimately humans, according to researchers at Oregon State University.
Climate change is killing frogs finds new research
(01/11/2006) The dramatic global decline of amphibians may be directly connected to global warming warns a new study published in the journal Nature.
Plants release methane, a potent greenhouse gas, finds study
(01/11/2006) In the last few years, more and more research has focused on the biosphere; particularly, on how gases which influence the climate are exchanged between the biosphere and atmosphere. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics have now carefully analysed which organic gases are emitted from plants. They made the surprising discovery that plants release methane, a greenhouse gas - and this goes against all previous assumptions.
The Great Flood had smaller impact than originally believed
(01/09/2006) NASA climate modelers have simulated the climate changes caused by a massive deluge of freshwater into the North Atlantic that occurred near the end of the last Ice Age 8,000 years ago.
New glacier history sheds light on climate change
(01/09/2006) University of Alberta research that rewrites the history of glacial movement in northwestern North America over the past 10,000 years offers important clues to climate change in recent millennia.
Natural disasters of 2005 partly man-made says WHO
(01/09/2006) The high death toll in 2005 from tsunamis, hurricanes, typhoons, mudslides, earthquakes, volcanoes, locusts and pandemics can not necessarily be blamed on "natural" disaster, according to the United Nations health agency which today pointed to a complex mix of human and natural factors that led to tragedy in those events.
Marine reserves improve health of coral reefs finds study
(01/05/2006) It may be no surprise that marine reserves protect the fish that live in them, but now scientists from the University of Exeter have shown for the first time that they could also help improve the health of coral reefs.
Climate change caused major disruption to past ocean currents
(01/05/2006) Massive climate change 55 million years ago caused major disruption to ocean currents according to new research by scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.
Tiny marine organisms reflect ocean warming
(01/05/2006) Sediment cores collected from the seafloor off Southern California reveal that plankton populations in the Northeastern Pacific changed significantly in response to a general warming trend that started in the early 1900s.
New resource documents Caribbean marine life of Bocas del Toro
(12/27/2005) Coral reefs, coastal rainforest, land-grab, industrial bananas and organic cacao, mangroves, tourist boom, eclectic cultural mix: A Caribbean Journal of Science special issue presents the first scientific overview of the marine environment in Bocas del Toro Province.
Greenland ice cap melting faster finds NASA
(12/26/2005) In the first direct, comprehensive mass survey of the entire Greenland ice sheet, scientists using data from the NASA/German Aerospace Center Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (Grace) have measured a significant decrease in the mass of the Greenland ice cap. Grace is a satellite mission that measures movement in Earth's mass.
Tree plantations for carbon sequestration may cause environmental problems
(12/22/2005) Growing tree plantations to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to mitigate global warming -- so called "carbon sequestration" -- could trigger environmental changes that outweigh some of the benefits, a multi-institutional team led by Duke University suggested in a new report. Those effects include water and nutrient depletion and increased soil salinity and acidity, said the researchers.
Caribbean reefs suffer severe coral bleaching event
(12/20/2005) The Caribbean experienced one of the most devastating coral bleaching events on record during September and October while hurricanes battered the Gulf of Mexico. In response, NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have sent a team to assess the situation.
Permafrost could melt by 2100, worsening global warming
(12/19/2005) Global warming could cause the top 10 feet (3 meters) or more of Arctic permafrost to thaw by 2100 according to new simulations from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Melting could disrupt important ecosystems, damage roads and buildings, increase freshwater runoff into the Acrtic Ocean and release large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere.
Enthusiasm for tsunami-buffering mangrove projects waning
(12/19/2005) Research over the past year has shown that areas buffered by coastal forests, like mangroves, were less damaged by the 2004 tsunami than areas without tree vegetation. Accordingly, governments in tsunami-affected countries have proposed mangrove restoration projects along their coasts as a protective bioshield against storm damage.
Snails may have worsened Hurricane Katrina's impact
(12/19/2005) Periwinkle snails may have indirectly worsened the impact of Hurricane Katrina by decimating an estimated 250,000 acres of Gulf salt marsh between 1999 and 2003, according to research presented in the journal Science last week.
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