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News articles on earth science
Mongabay.com news articles on earth science in blog format. Updated regularly.
(12/19/2005) Two Scandinavian groups have invented devices that generate electricity by mixing sea and river water. The technologies work based on the difference in salt concentration between ocean water and freshwater.
Marine life diverse but declining, finds survey
(12/14/2005) A comprehensive census of all the marine life in the world's oceans is halfway complete. The 10-year international project that began in 2000 and now involves some 1700 researchers from 73 countries has uncovered new evidence of rich biodiversity in the world's oceans along with an alarming decline of many marine species.
UN agrees to "rainforest conservation for emissions" deal
(12/11/2005) Friday, at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Montreal, the U.N. agreed to a proposal that allows developing nations to receive financial compensation from industrialized countries for agreeing to preserve their rainforests. Environmentalists hope the deal -- set forth by ten developing countries led by Papua New Guinea -- will give developing nations a financial reason to get more involved in climate talks while safeguarding globally important ecosystems.
Alaska could lose Northern Lights in 50 years
(12/09/2005) Earth's north magnetic pole is drifting away from North America and toward Siberia at a rate that Alaska might lose its spectacular Northern Lights within the next 50 years according to research presented at an American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.
Changes in forest cover could affect climate as much as greenhouse gases in some areas
(12/09/2005) Deforestation, the growth of forests, and other changes in land cover could produce local temperature changes comparable to those caused by greenhouse gases according to new simulations from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
Arctic Inuit sue U.S. govt over global warming pollution
(12/08/2005) A group of people living in the Arctic have filed a lawsuit against the US government, claiming its climate change policies violate their human rights. The Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC) says that by failing to control emissions of greenhouse gases, the US is damaging the livelihoods those living in the Arctic. The group has filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights demanding that the US limit its emissions.
2005 had worst weather-related economic losses in history
(12/07/2005) This year witnessed the largest financial losses ever as a result of weather-related natural disasters linked by many to human action, more than $200 billion compared to $145 billion in 2004, the previous record, according to statistics presented to the United Nations Climate Change Conference currently meeting in Montreal, Canada.
Photos of erupting volcano in Vanuatu
(12/07/2005) The Manaro Volcano of Ambae Island, Vanuatu in the South Pacific erupted in spectacular fashion early Thursday. The volano shot steam, toxic gases and ash up to 1,500 meters (4,500 feet) into the air.
45% chance Gulf Stream will collapse by 2100 say scientists
(12/07/2005) New research indicates there is a 45 percent chance that the thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic Ocean could shut down by the end of the century if nothing is done to slow greenhouse gas emissions. Even with immediate climate policy action, say scientists, there would still be a 25 percent probability of a collapse of the system of currents that keep western Europe warmer than regions at similar latitudes in other parts of the world.
2006 Hurricane season likely to be active
(12/06/2005) The United States faces another very active Atlantic basin hurricane season in 2006, but with likely fewer landfalling intense hurricanes than in 2005 - the costliest, most destructive hurricane season ever - according to a report issued today by Philip Klotzbach, William Gray and the Colorado State University forecast team.
Rising ocean causes permanent evacuation of Pacific island community
(12/06/2005) A small community living in the Pacfic island chain of Vanuatu has become one of, if not the first, to be formally moved out of harms way as a result of climate change.
Elevated atmospheric CO2 increases soil carbon
(12/05/2005) An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology indicates that soils in temperate ecosystems might contribute more to partially offsetting the effects of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations than earlier studies have suggested.
Companies increasingly at risk for climate change litigation says UN
(12/05/2005) Companies which contribute to climate change will increasingly face legal action according to a U.N.-sponsored report accounced last week but scheduled for released in March 2006. London-based law firm Freshfields is working with Dutch bank ABN Amro to produce the U.N. report which aims to encourage investors to address environmental, social and governance issues in their investment decisions.
Amazon rainforest biodiversity due to biology not climate change says study
(12/05/2005) The biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest results from biological factors, not climate change as widely thought, says new research published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Scientists have long argued that the species richness of tropical forests could be due to climate change-induced fragmentation, known as the "forest refuge: theory, and other external factors that caused geographic isolation. Now, researchers from University College London say that biological influences play a greater role in driving species evolution.
Soil moisture, root depth influence climate models
(12/05/2005) By soaking up moisture with their roots and later releasing it from their leaves, plants play an active role in regulating the climate. In fact, in vegetated ecosystems, plants are the primary channels that connect the soil to the atmosphere, with plant roots controlling the below-ground dynamics.
Warming could free far more carbon from high Arctic soil than earlier thought
(12/05/2005) Scientists studying the effects of carbon on climate warming are very likely underestimating, by a vast amount, how much soil carbon is available in the high Arctic to be released into the atmosphere, new University of Washington research shows. A three-year study of soils in northwest Greenland found that a key previous study greatly underestimated the organic carbon stored in the soil. That's because the earlier work generally looked only at the top 10 inches of soil, said Jennifer Horwath, a UW doctoral student in Earth and space sciences.
Tropical Atlantic cooling and deforestation correlate to drought in Africa
(12/02/2005) Against the backdrop of the Montreal Summit on global climate being held this week, an article on African droughts and monsoons, by a University of California, Santa Barbara scientist and others, which appears in the December issue of the journal Geology, underlines concern about the effects of global climate change.
Poisonous volcanic gas probably caused worst mass extinction says new study
(12/02/2005) The mass extinction event at the end of the Permian -- where more than two-thirds of reptile and amphibian families perished and 95% of oceans life forms became extinct -- was probably caused by poisonous volcanic gas, according to research published in the journal Geology. The researchers believe that volcanic gases from the eruption depleted earth's protective ozone layer and acidified the land and sea.
U.S. "exporting" carbon emissions to China says study
(12/01/2005) The growth of Chinese imports in the U.S. economy boosted the total emissions of carbon dioxide (a primary greenhouse gas) from the two countries by over 700 million metric tons between 1997 and 2003, according to a study published online in the journal Energy Policy. The analysis, prepared by two scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, suggests that American emissions of carbon dioxide in 2003 would have been 6% higher if the United States had manufactured the products that it imported from China. Meanwhile, China's 2003 emissions would have been 14% lower had it not produced goods for the United States.
Change in Atlantic circulation could plunge Europe into cold winters
(12/01/2005) The Atlantic Ocean circulation that carries warm waters north and returns cold waters south is slowing, putting Europe at risk of colder temperatures, according to research published in Nature. The Atlantic Heat Conveyor, the system of currents in the Atlantic Ocean that result in a net transport of warm water into the northern hemisphere, keeps western Europe warmer than regions at similar latitudes in other parts of the world. A weakening of the system, which includes the Gulf Stream, could cause a cooling in northwest Europe.
US denies hurricane link with climate change
(12/01/2005) Harlan Watson, chief climate control negotiator for the U.S. State Department, told the Associated Press that the Bush administration does not blame global warming or climate change for extreme weather -- including the hurricanes that thrashed the Gulf earlier this year.
75% of Switzerland's glaciers gone by 2050, Europe heats up
(11/30/2005) The four hottest years on record were 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Ten percent of Alpine glaciers disappeared during the summer of 2003 alone. At current rates, three quarters of Switzerland's glaciers will have melted by 2050. Europe has not seen climate changes on this scale for 5 000 years, says a new report by the European Environment Agency.
Dire consequences if global warming exceeds 2 degrees says IUCN
(11/29/2005) The parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change must keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, says the World conservation Union.
2005 Atlantic hurricane season worst on record
(11/29/2005) The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season is the busiest on record and extends the active hurricane cycle that began in 1995 -- a trend likely to continue for years to come. The season included 26 named storms, including 13 hurricanes in which seven were major.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels closely correlated with global temperatures
(11/28/2005) Studying ice cores from Antarctica, scientists of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research extended the record of historic concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere by 250,000 years. The team found a close correlation between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and global temperatures. Over the past 650,000 years, low greenhouse gas concentrations have been associated with cooler conditions. The current concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, at 380 parts-per-million, is the highest level recorded over the past 650,000 years.
Average temperatures climbing faster than thought in North America
(11/27/2005) Tree rings and borehole drill samples have added to the evidence that average temperatures in North America have risen steadily in the past 150 years according to a new study by researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Utah. In their paper published in Journal of Geophysical Research, scientists found that average temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere increased about 1.5 degrees since the beginning of the industrial revolution when atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations began to increase sharply.
Developing countries: pay us to save rainforests
(11/27/2005) At this week's United Nations summit on climate change in Montreal a coalition of tropical developing countries plans to propose that wealthy countries pay them to preserve their rainforests. The group of 10 countries, led by Papua New Guinea and Costa Rica, will argue that they should be compensated for the services rainforests provide the rest of the world.
Ocean levels rising twice as fast
(11/25/2005) Global ocean levels are rising twice as fast today as they were 150 years ago according to research presented in Science by a team of researchers. The Using core samples of sediments along the New Jersey coast, the scientists found that rates of sea level change have climbed significantly over the past 200 years, coinciding with the beginning of the industrial revolutions when carbon dioxide emissions began to dramatically increase. Carbon dioxide is the principal greenhouse gas believed to contribute to global warming.
Rising seas and disappearing islands will produce environmental refugees
(11/24/2005) The Carteret Islands are almost invisible on a map of the South Pacific, but the horseshoe scattering of atolls is on the front-line of climate change, as rising sea levels and storm surges eat away at their existence.
Will 'tipping points' accelerate global warming?
(11/24/2005) Rising temperatures trigger a runaway melt of Greenland's ice sheet, raising sea levels and drowning Pacific islands and cities from New York to Tokyo.
25% of Americans live in places compliant with Kyoto protocol
(11/23/2005) Even though the United States does not participate in the Kyoto protocol, about one-quarter of the population lives in states, counties or cities that have adopted climate change policies similar to those of the global initiative, according to a Brief Communication published in the November 17 issue of Nature.
Climate change already affecting Europeans says WWF "Climate Witnesses"
(11/23/2005) Five WWF "Climate Witnesses" from the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain descended on Brussels to tell their personal stories of how climate change is affecting their lives and businesses. Snow disappearing in Scotland, fewer bees in Italy, crop losses in Spain, forests on the decline in Germany and sea levels rising off the coast of England are dangerous signs of climate change in Europe.
Goldman Sachs first investment bank to adopt comprehensive environmental policy
(11/22/2005) The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) today issued a release commending Goldman Sachs for becoming the first global investment bank to adopt a comprehensive environmental policy. The policy acknowledges the scientific consensus on climate change and calls for urgent action by public policy makers and federal regulators to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
G8 aid for Africa under threat from climate change
(11/21/2005) An increase in aid for Africa agreed at the Gleneagles summit may be entirely consumed by the cost of dealing with climate change, the President of the Royal Society, the UK national academy of science, has warned Margaret Beckett and other G8 energy and environment ministers in an open letter published ahead of their key climate change meeting in London on 1 November.
Fish threatened by climate change
(11/18/2005) Fish are increasingly threatened by the effects of climate change as temperatures rise in rivers, lakes and oceans, says a new WWF report. It says that hotter water means less food, less offspring and even less oxygen for marine and freshwater fish populations.
Developing countries to suffer worst global warming impacts
(11/18/2005) In a recent chilling assessment, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that human-induced changes in the Earth's climate now lead to at least 5 million cases of illness and more than 150,000 deaths every year.
Mangrove forests protected areas from 2004 tsunami says new study
(11/18/2005) A study released in late October shows that areas buffered by coastal forests, like mangroves, were less damaged by the 2004 tsunami than areas without tree vegetation. Last week the FAO reported that 20% of the world's mangrove forests have disappeared since 1980.
Developed countries cut greenhouse gas emissions 5.9% since 1990
(11/17/2005) Developed countries, taken as a group, have cut overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 5.9% compared to the 1990 levels according to a new publication from the United Nations Climate Change secretariat.
Climate change means less water for western US by 2050, more for Montana
(11/17/2005) USGS scientists simulated the impact of future climate change on global water availability. By 2050, the models predict increased water runoff in eastern equatorial Africa, the La Plata basin and high latitude North America and Eurasia. They predict decreases in runoff in southern Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East and mid-latitude western North America. The authors of the paper, which appears tomorrow in Science, say climate climate will result in costly disruptions to water supply and resource management systems.
Coral reefs decimated by 2050, Great Barrier Reef's coral 95% dead
(11/17/2005) Australia's Great Barrier Reef could lose 95 percent of its living coral by 2050 should ocean temperatures increase by the 1.5 degrees Celsius projected by climate scientists. The startling and controversial prediction, made last year in a report commissioned by the World Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Queensland government, is just one of the dire scenarios forecast for reefs in the near future. The degradation and possible disappearance of these ecosystems would have profound socioeconomic ramifications as well as ecological impacts says Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, head of the University of Queensland's Centre for Marine Studies.
Australia's freshwater ecosystems threatened by climate change
(11/16/2005) Australia's freshwater ecosystems are increasingly under threat from global warmning and expanding human population according to an interview of an Australian academic by The Age.
Global warming will reduce glaciers, water supply and affect millions of people
(11/16/2005) In the looming future, global warming will reduce glaciers and storage packs of snow in regions around the world, causing water shortages and other problems that will impact millions of people. That is the conclusion of researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California , San Diego, and the University of Washington in a review paper published in the November 17 issue of the journal Nature.
Massive climate change rocked ecosystems, animals 55 million years ago
(11/14/2005) Continued increases in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere from the combustion of fossil fuels could trigger large-scale changes in global biodiversity and require thousands of years of recovery according to recent research on an extreme global warming episode 55 million years ago.
Early warning system for earthquakes could save lives, predict quakes
(11/09/2005) A University of California, Berkeley, seismologist has discovered a way to provide seconds to tens of seconds of advance warning about impending ground shaking from an earthquake.
Climate change brought tropical forest to Wyoming
(11/09/2005) Climate change 55 million years ago caused significant changes in forest composition and the distribution of mammals according to a new study in Science. The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, in which temperatures rose by as much as 10 degrees in a relatively short period of time, helped bolster the "Age of Mammals," which included the first appearance of modern primates. After an initial period of increasing aridity in northern latitudes like the study site of Bighorn Basin in northwestern Wyoming, it appears that forests transitioned towards warm tropical ecosystems with closely spaced trees, ideal for the evolution of primates.
6.5 earthquake could cut off California's water supply
(11/02/2005) Appearing before a joint legislative committee, Department of Water Resources (DWR) Director Lester Snow today outlined the catastrophic impact a significant earthquake would have on Delta levees. He said failed levees would cause major floods, threaten public safety, damage the water supply infrastructure, and jeopardize the State's economy.
Global warming to fuel rise in asthma, malaria
(11/02/2005) The Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, along with co-sponsors Swiss Re and the United Nations Development Programme, today released a study showing that climate change will significantly affect the health of humans and ecosystems and these impacts will have economic consequences.
14.5 degree increase in Earth's temperature possible finds new model
(11/02/2005) If humans continue to use fossil fuels in a business-as-usual manner for the next few centuries, the polar ice caps will be depleted, ocean sea levels will rise by seven meters and median air temperatures will soar to 14.5 degrees warmer than current day.
Invasive species may increase with global warming
(10/13/2005) New research published in Molecular Ecology suggests that climate change could trigger the expansion of invasive species into wider ranges. The study looked at the genetic history of a goby species in the Eastern Atlantic which appears to have expanded its range dramatically when the world warmed about 150,000 years ago
Invasive species date back thousands of years
(10/13/2005) Much has been made of the economic impacts of recent biological invasions, but what are the implications of invasions in deep time? Luiz Rocha leads geneticists who time travel through ocean environments. The results of their travels, published online in Molecular Ecology, tell us that during warm, interglacial periods, reef-associated fish (goby genus Gnatholepis), leapt around the horn of Africa into the Atlantic, where their range expanded as the world warmed.
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