Archives for December 2014

Two dead, many drivers trapped as western U.S. storms chill New Year’s Eve

(Reuters) – Two people died on a wind-beaten California island and crews rescued more than 100 drivers trapped in snow-caked mountains farther inland as winter storms chilled the western half of the United States on New Year’s Eve, officials said on Wednesday.

Reuters: Environment

Tropical forests may reduce global warming rate

A new study led by NASA and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) shows that tropical forests may be absorbing far more human-emitted carbon dioxide than many scientists thought. The study estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion, in response to rising atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas. This means, if left undisturbed, the tropical trees should be able to continue reducing the rate of global warming.

ENN: Top Stories

Mudslides, flash floods kill at least 53 in Philippines

MANILA (Reuters) – Flash floods and mudslides have killed at least 53 people in the central and southern Philippines, the national disaster agency said on Wednesday, after days of heavy rains that have also hit neighboring Southeast Asian countries.

Reuters: Environment

Snow Is Down and Heat Is Up in the Arctic, Report Says

Phytoplankton bloom in the Bering Sea. (Credit: NASA)

(Click to enlarge) Phytoplankton bloom in the Bering Sea. (Credit: NASA)

The Arctic continues to warm faster than the rest of the globe, and with greater repercussions, scientists are reporting.

(From The New York Times / by Kenneth Chang)–The new findings appear in the Arctic Report Card, first published in 2006 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and updated annually. The report card catalogs the wide-ranging changes caused by the rising temperatures, in large part driven by emissions of greenhouse gases.

Snow cover, measured since 1967, was below average and set a record low in April in the Eurasian region of the Arctic. Sea surface temperatures are rising, particularly in the Chukchi Sea, northwest of Alaska, where the waters are warming at a rate of almost one degree Fahrenheit per decade.

The extent of Arctic sea ice, which retreats in summer, did not hit a record low in 2014. But it was the sixth lowest since satellite measurements began in 1979, and the scientists noted that the eight smallest extents have occurred in the last eight years.

“We can’t expect records every year,” Martin Jeffries of the Office of Naval Research, who edited this year’s report, said at a news conference here at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. “It need not be spectacular for the Arctic to continue to be changing.”

Read the full article here:

Consortium for Ocean Leadership

Great Lakes Pollution No Longer Driven by Airborne Sources; Land, Rivers Now Bigger Factors

Great Lakes region. (Credit: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC)

(Click to enlarge) Great Lakes region. (Credit: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC)

A chemical oceanographer at the University of Rhode Island who measured organic pollutants in the air and water around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario has found that airborne emissions are no longer the primary cause of the lakes’ contamination.

(From Science Daily / University of Rhode Island)–Instead, most of the lakes’ chemical pollutants come from sources on land or in rivers.

According to Rainer Lohmann, professor of chemical oceanography at the URI Graduate School of Oceanography, water quality in the Great Lakes has been slowly improving for many years. Historic studies of the lakes has usually pointed to atmospheric deposition as the primary cause of pollution in the lakes — from industrial emissions, motor vehicle exhausts and related sources. But as air pollution has decreased, he has found a shift in the source of Great Lakes chemical pollutants.

“Some contaminants still come from the atmosphere, but it is now mostly from wastewater plants, contaminated industrial sites and inputs from major rivers,” Lohmann said. “It’s quite a bad mix, but it’s getting better. And hopefully the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative will improve things even more.”

His research was reported today at the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Read the full article here:

Consortium for Ocean Leadership

2015 will see nuclear dream fade as wind and solar soar

Governments are still spending billions on nuclear research, writes Paul Brown – but 2015 looks like being an unhappy year for the industry as it continues to shrink while renewables grow, amid massive delays and cost over-runs.
Environment news & analysis, climate change reports –
The Ecologist

A failed Soviet irrigation project brings eco-apocalypse to SE Ukraine

In 1976, it looked like a good idea: to divert the waters of the Danube into a salt-water lagoon on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, and irrigate millions of hectares of arid steppe land, writes Dimiter Kenarov. But the result has been human and environmental disaster on an epic scale.
Environment news & analysis, climate change reports –
The Ecologist

Vaporized Metals Could Replace Paint

A new manufacturing tech could replace latex and gloss with electrons and evaporated metals.
Discovery News

Major Coral Bleaching in Pacific May Become Worst Die-Off in 20 Years, Say Experts

Coral bleaching around Howland Island, located within the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. (Credit: NOAA)

(Click to enlarge) Coral bleaching around Howland Island, located within the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. (Credit: NOAA)

Scientists warn extreme sea temperatures could cause a “historic” coral reef die-off around the world over the coming months, following a massive coral bleaching already underway in the North Pacific.

(From The Guardian / by Karl Mathiesen)–Experts said the coral die-off could be the worst in nearly two decades.

Reports of severe bleaching have been accumulating in the inbox of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coral Reef Watch programme since July.

A huge swathe of the Pacific has already been affected, including the Northern Marianas Islands, Guam, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Hawaii, Kiribati and Florida. Some areas have recorded serious bleaching for the first time.

“On a global scale it’s a major bleaching event. What it may be is the beginning of a historic event,” said Coral Reef Watch coordinator Dr Mark Eakin.

In the Marshall Islands, bleaching of unprecedented severity is suspected to have hit most of the country’s 34 atolls and islands. The Guardian witnessed devastated expanses of coral that look like forests covered with snow.

Read the full article here:

Consortium for Ocean Leadership

Trawling makes for skinny fish

Trawling the seabed doesn't just remove some of the fishes living there; it also makes some of the survivors thinner and less healthy by forcing them to use more energy finding less nutritious food. That's the conclusion of a new paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, based on the work Dr Andrew Frederick Johnson undertook while studying for his PhD at Bangor University.

ENN: Top Stories