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Global warming is causing stronger Atlantic hurricanes finds new study

(03/01/2007) Global warming is fueling stronger hurricanes according to a new Geophysical Research Letters study that revises that database of historic hurricanes. Previously the hurricane database was considered inconsistent for measuring the record of tropical storms since there have been significant improvements in the technology to measure storms since recording-keeping began. Before the development of weather satellites, scientists relied on ship reports and sailor logs to record storms. The advent of weather satellites in the 1960s improved monitoring, but records from newer technology have never been squared with older data. The new study normalizes the hurricane record since 1983.

Cheetah in Iran?

(03/01/2007) Biologists from the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) have fitted critically endangered cheetahs in Iran with Global Positioning System (GPS) collars. This marks the first time this population of Asiatic cheetah can be tracked remotely.

2006 Indonesian forest fires worst since 1998

(03/01/2007) NASA has linked el Nino to the worst fires in Indonesia since the 1997-1998 conflagration that burned nearly 25 million acres (10 million hectares) of land across the country.

Role of global warming in extinction may be overestimated

(03/01/2007) Extinction is a hotly debated, but poorly understood topic in science. The same goes for climate change. When you bring the two together to forecast the impact of global change on biodiversity, chaos reigns. While many ecologists argue that climate change could well doom many more species to extinction, others say that the threat is overstated.

Archeologists find oldest solar observatory in the Americas

(03/01/2007) Archeologists from Yale and the University of Leicester have identified an ancient solar observatory at Chankillo, Peru as the oldest in the Americas with alignments covering the entire solar year, according to an article in the March 2 issue of Science.

Why do birds migrate? Seasonal food scarcity finds study

(03/01/2007) A new paper attempts to argue the age old question of why birds migrate. The authors, Dr. Alice Boyle and Dr. Courtney J. Conway of the University of Arizona, argue that birds are driven to fly long distances due to seasonal food scarcity.

4.2 earthquake hits San Francisco Bay Area

(03/01/2007) A magnitude 4.2 earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay Area around 8:40 p.m. Thursday evening. The quake's epicenter was located about a mile from Lafayette, California, or about 20 miles from San Francisco.

New shark species discovered in Indonesia

(02/28/2007) Scientists discovered at least 20 previously unknown species in the first comprehensive survey of Indonesia's sharks and rays in nearly 150 years. Six of their discoveries have now been formally described, while the others will be documented in forthcoming scientific papers.

The Scoop on Penguins - Feathered Fish or Bodacious Bird?

(02/28/2007) Penguins are birds that can toboggan on ice using their webbed feet to propel them. The fastest penguin, the gentoo, can swim about 15 miles per hour, faster than long-distance runners. Penguins can also dive very deep, some to depths of about 1,750 feet. They use their wings (which are really like flippers) to propel themselves in the water. It looks as if they are "flying" underwater, something they cannot do in the air.

Photos: Orangutans and tigers become playmates

(02/28/2007) A pair of month-old Sumatran tiger twins have befriended a pair of young orangutans reports the Associated Press (AP). The animals share a room in the nursery at Taman Safari zoo in Sumatra. The AP reports that the animals, which were orphaned, 'cuddle' and play together.

Global warming could trigger 8-degree temperature rise in Amazon rainforest

(02/28/2007) Tuesday the Brazilian government announced the release of a series of scientific studies, including one by the national space agency (INPE) that projects a 4 to 8 degree-Celcius rise in temperatures in the Amazon Basin by 2100 if nothing is done to combat global climate change.

New park in French Guiana creates largest Amazon protected area

(02/28/2007) Environmental group WWF has applauded the creation of a new national park in French Guiana, a department of France located in northeaster South America. WWF says the 2 million-hectare Guyana Amazonian Park will link to protected areas in neighboring Brazil, including the Tumucumaque National Park, Grao-Para Station and Maicuru Reserve. In total, the protected areas network will encompass 12 million hectares of tropical forest, making it the world's largest rainforest park.

Climate change will worsen species extinction in South America

(02/28/2007) The combination of rising levels of carbon dioxide and increasing deforestation could reduce biodiversity in the tropical forests of Northern South America, reports a study published in the current edition of the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.

Indigenous populations deforested New World rainforests before European contact

(02/28/2007) Indigenous populations used fire to clear large areas of tropical forest well before the arrival of Europeans reports a new study published in Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. The research has important implications for understanding the impact of present forest development on biodiversity and forest regeneration in the tropics.

Philosophical shift in conservation reintegrates humans in nature

(02/28/2007) Humans are among the most successful of Earth's organisms. Living in every habitable, and sometimes uninhabitable, space, humans dominate the planet's surface and have become a global force that alters natural ecosystems, species distribution, and climate. Virtually no wilderness areas have escaped man's influence. While past conservation efforts have focused on preserving "pristine" wilderness, it is increasingly apparent that few such areas exist. Recognizing this, present conservation efforts are increasingly looking at how human use fits into protected areas management. A new paper published in Biodiversity conservation traces this shift in conservation philosophy since the 19th century. Reviewing the history of four main conservation approaches, Michelle Kalamandeen, a biologist at the University of Guyana, and Lindsey Gillson, a botanist at the University of Cape Town, conclude that current conservation efforts are integrating elements of each philosophy, resulting in a new conservation ethic that uses alternative criteria for designating and managing protected areas, and recognizes the importance of man's influence in wilderness areas.

21 Americans donated more than $100M each in 2006

(02/27/2007) Elite-level philanthropy hit record in 2006, with 21 individual donations exceeding $100 million in the United States, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, which compiles a yearly list of the most generous givers. In total the 21 donors pledged some $48.5 billion to charitable causes.

Sea turtles use Earth's magnetic field to return to nesting beaches

(02/27/2007) New research suggests that sea turtles use a 'relatively simple navigation system' involving the Earth's magnetic field to return to the same beaches to lay their eggs, even after venturing across thousands of miles of open ocean without visible landmarks.

Alien water weed re-invades Lake Victoria

(02/27/2007) Water hyacinth has re-invaded Lake Victoria, choking thousands of acres (hectares) of the lake's surface in Kenya, according to satellite pictures released by NASA.

Biologists record call of rare Sumatran ground cuckoo for first time

(02/26/2007) A team of biologists with the New York-based Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) have recorded for the first time the call of the extremely rare Sumatran ground cuckoo, found only on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia.

Melting ice reveals unknown species in Antarctica

(02/26/2007) An expedition to an area of seabed recently exposed by melting ice in Antarctica has discovered several previously unknown species of marine life, including deep sea lilies, gelatinous sea squirts, glass sponges, amphipod crustaceans, and orange starfish. The findings were announced Sunday by the Census of Antarctic Marine Life, a 10-year effort to map the biodiversity of the world's oceans.

Elephant poaching for ivory accelerates

(02/26/2007) Thousands of African elephants are being killed for their ivory tusks, according to a new study led by a biologist from the University of Washington. In a paper published in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Samuel Wasser, director of the University of Washington Center for conservation Biology, shows that elephants are being slaughtered at the highest rate since the international ban on the ivory trade took effect in 1989.

Pakistani snow leopard settles in at Bronx Zoo

(02/26/2007) An orphaned snow leopard cub from northern Pakistan in enjoying its first winter at the Bronx Zoo in New York, according to the Wildlife conservation Society (WCS). The cub, named Leo, was moved to an open-air exhibit at the zoo last fall.

Al Gore wins Oscar but does not announce presidential bid

(02/25/2007) Al Gore won an Oscar for his global warming documentary but did not announce a bid for the 2008 presidential election. Speculation had been rife that he might use the Academy Awards platform -- with more than one billion people said to be watching -- to launch his candidacy for president.

Sharks increasingly endangered as finning, overfishing take toll

(02/23/2007) Scientists added several species of pelagic sharks to IUCN Red List of Threatened Species after research found them to be more endangered than previously thought. Three species of thresher sharks were listed as Vulnerable globally, while the shortfin mako was upgraded (or downgraded depending on one's perspective) from Near Threatened in 2000 to Vulnerable and the scalloped hammerhead shark was moved from Near Threatened to Endangered. The decisions are based on work by the IUCN SSC Shark Specialist Group (SSG).

Beaver returns to New York

(02/23/2007) Beavers have returned to New York City for the first time since colonial days when the animals were hunted to extinction for the pelts. Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife conservation Society (WCS) discovered a beaver in the Bronx River. The animal was photographed and filmed.

Giant squid use bioluminescence to hunt prey, communicate

(02/23/2007) The giant squid uses bioluminescence to hunt its prey, according to new deap-sea observations using a high definition underwater video camera system. The findings are published in the online edition of the roceedings of the Royal Society B.

Chimps and humans split 4 million years ago

(02/23/2007) New research using DNA analysis suggests that chimpanzees and humans split from a common ancestor just 4 million years ago -- much earlier than the 5-7 million years currently accepted by biologists. The study is published in Public Library of Science journal PLoS Genetics

Brazil to allow large-scale monitored harvesting of the Amazon

(02/23/2007) The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) reports the Brazilian government plans to allow large-scale monitored harvesting of the Amazon rainforest. The new plan expands on an initiative proposed last year by Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva that would allow sustainable logging across 3 percent of the Amazon rain forest.

Newly tapped Alaska energy source could potentially replace oil

(02/22/2007) Researchers in Alaska have successfully drilled gas hydrates -- frozen methane deposits that could someday replace petroleum as a key energy source.

Middle East oil less important than African oil for US

(02/22/2007) Preliminary data from the Energy Information Administration indicate that U.S. crude oil imports from Africa exceeded supplies from the Middle East in 2006 for the first time in 21 years.

Photos of world's largest squid

(02/22/2007) Fishermen in New Zealand may have captured the largest Colossal squid ever recorded. It may be the first time a Colossal squid has ever been seen alive. The beast, weighing 450 kilograms (990 pounds), was eating a Patagonian toothfish (Chilean sea bass) hooked by fishermen when it was captured in the deep, frigid waters in the Ross Sea near Antarctica. The squid was reported to be 10 meters (33 feet) in length and took more than two hours to land.

Chimps hunt bush babies with spears

(02/22/2007) Researchers have observed wild chimpanzees in Senegal hunting bush babies with spears, according to a paper published in the March 6 edition of the journal Current Biology. The study is the first to report primates using tools for hunting other vertebrates.

Doctor performs kidney surgery on egg-eating snake

(02/22/2007) In early February Dr. Robert Moore performed microsurgery on an adult African egg-eating snake at the Bronx Zoo's Animal Health Center.

Humans pre-date Clovis population in North America

(02/22/2007) The belief that the Clovis People were the first to populate North America some 11,500 years ago has been widely challenged in recent years, and a Texas A&M University anthropologist has found evidence he says could be the final nail in the coffin for the Clovis first model.

Global warming, cod collapse cause changes in Atlantic ecosystem

(02/22/2007) North Atlantic ecosystems are undergoing rapid change due to overfishing and global warming reports a Cornell University oceanographer in the February 23 issue of the journal Science. Charles Greene, director of the Ocean Resources and Ecosystems Program in Cornell's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, says that while other scientists have argued that ecosystem change is the result of the population crash of cod, be has found evidence that climate change is playing a significant role in the region.

Carbon offset schemes damage environment says report

(02/21/2007) Existing carbon offset schemes are confusing and may be damaging the environment rather than helping fight climate change says a new report by the Transnational Institute, a Dutch pressure group that runs

High fashion driving conservation efforts of rare species?

(02/21/2007) Whimsical tastes of the fashion industry are sometimes blamed for the depletion of rare wildlife. The shatoosh craze of the 1980s and 1990s led to severe declines in population of the Tibetan antelope or chiru, while a current resurgence in tiger fur fashions in China has put further pressure on the endangered cat. Demand for rhinoceros horn to adorn decorative dagger handles in Yemen and Oman has driven some wild rhino populations to the brink of extinction. Further, rare animals are in some countries viewed as a delicacy: hence the consumption of clouded leopard and sun bear in China and gorilla in African cities. With this dismal record, Is it possible that fashion could ever drive the recovery of a species? A new article in The Wall Street Journal suggests this may be occurring in South America with the vicuna, a diminutive llama that lives high in the Andes.

Green construction booms as housing market tanks

(02/21/2007) While the residential housing market goes bust, the green construction sector is weathering the storm nicely, according to an article in today's Wall Street Journal.

Birds plan for the future

(02/21/2007) New research suggests that some birds plan for the future. Previously it was believed that planning was exclusively a human activity. Writing in the current edition of the journal Nature, scientists at Cambridge Univeristy found that western scrub-jays plan for future food shortages by storing food. Unlike squirrels and other animals that store foods during lean times as a matter of habit, the researchers show that the birds actually learn from their previous experiences of food scarcity, saving food for future consumption when they anticipate future periods of famine.

Balloon technology could cut cost of solar energy 90% by 2010

(02/21/2007) With high energy prices and mounting concerns over human-induced climate change, there is intense interest in renewable energy, especially solar, which produces no pollution and is readily available in the form of sunlight. In recent years, however, the solar energy market has been hampered by supply shortages of refined silicon, the critical resource needed for solar cell fabrication. Further, because solar installations traditionally require a large surface area to capture as much sunlight as possible, solar arrays often take up real estate, occupying land used agricultural production and other purposes. Without government subsidies, solar is not presently viable in many areas.

Bacteria can help prevent earthquake damage

(02/21/2007) Soil bacteria could be used to help steady buildings against earthquakes, according to researchers at UC Davis. The microbes can literally convert loose, sandy soil into rock. When a major earthquake strikes, deep, sandy soils can turn to liquid, with disastrous consequences for buildings sitting on them. Currently, civil engineers can inject chemicals into the soil to bind loose grains together. But these epoxy chemicals may have toxic effects on soil and water, said Jason DeJong, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Davis.

Agriculture modeled on biological systems may better cope with global warming

(02/20/2007) Complex farming systems could be less energy intensive, reduce risk from climate change, and out-produce industrial monocultures says a noted researcher from Iowa State University.

Organic food may not be sustainable says UK-report

(02/20/2007) Organic farming is not necessarily sustainable reports Britain's environmental protection agency, DEFRA (the Department of Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs), in a new study conducted by the Manchester Business School.

Largest firms to cut global warming emissions

(02/20/2007) More than 100 top executives from the private sector and leaders of international governmental and non-governmental organizations unveileved a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. They said governments need to take immediate steps to stop global warming.

Photo of 4-legged duck found in Britain

(02/18/2007) A 4-legged duckling has turned up in Britain according to a report from the Associated Press. Pictures of the animal were released Saturday.

15 'new' bird species revealed in North America

(02/18/2007) DNA testing has revealed 15 'new' species of birds in North America and six 'new' species of bats from the South American country of Guyana, according to a paper appearing in the British journal Molecular Ecology Notes.

Government subsidies drive deep-sea fish depletion

(02/18/2007) Saturday an international team of economists and scientists called for a ban on government subsidies that drive deep-sea trawling. Biologists say the practice is destroying the world's fisheries.

Hiking through Myanmar, the country better known as Burma

(02/18/2007) The recent history of Myanmar is rather grim. After gaining independence from the British in 1948, the country suffered a series of military takeovers, and has basically been under the dictatorship of a military junta for the past 50 years. At several points during this time, the people have taken to the streets to peacefully protest the military regime. The last major fight for democracy occurred in 1988, and climaxed with the first democratically held election since independence. The National League for Democracy (NLD), spearheaded by the charismatic Aung San Suu Kyi, won by an overwhelming 84% of the vote. Sadly, regardless of their promises, the military junta had no intention of relinquishing their power, and imprisoned the major leaders of the NLD.

Climate change is a "threat to society" says largest scientific body

(02/18/2007) The world's largest scientific society today voiced concern over global warming, calling it a "threat to society." It was the first consensus statement of the board of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) on climate change. The announcement comes sixteen days after the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its most recent report on global change.

10 commandments could save world fisheries

(02/18/2007) Global fisheries are in decline. Now a team of scientists have proposed a set of ten commandments to protect the world's marine fish populations while ensuring ongoing production of sea food in a sustainable manner. They presented their work Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco.

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