Archives for March 2015

Death by strangulation? Hydropower threatens to kill the mighty Mekong

Over 18 million people live off the natural bounty of the The Mekong Delta, writes Tom Fawthrop – the source of huge annual harvests of fish, rice, fruit, and one of the world’s most productive ecosystems. But now huge dams threaten to strangle the Mekong river and the abundant life it supports, while the world sits idly by.
Environment news & analysis, climate change reports –
The Ecologist

Hurricane-strength winds pummel Europe, three killed in Germany

HAMBURG (Reuters) – At least three people in Germany were killed on Tuesday when hurricane-force winds lashed across northern Europe in one of the most severe storms in years that also canceled flights, disrupted road and train traffic, and hit port operations.

Reuters: Environment

Causal feedbacks in climate change

Although the correlation between greenhouse gases and temperature is well documented, it is difficult to show causality from the data. This study uses insight from dynamical systems theory to show that internal Earth system mechanisms largely control climate dynamics, rather than orbital forcing, and temperature does have a reinforcing feedback on greenhouse-gas concentrations.

Nature Climate Change doi: 10.1038/nclimate2568

Nature Climate Change – AOP – science feeds

Scientists Explore 2,000 Miles Of The Ocean Floor — And You Can Too

A sea cucumber near the coast of Malibu. (Credit: USGS)

(Click to enlarge) A sea cucumber near the coast of Malibu. (Credit: USGS)

Now you can explore the ocean floor without leaving your desk. The U.S. Geological Survey this week posted thousands of photos and videos of the U.S. coastline and adjacent seafloor, allowing users to explore sections of the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf coasts in an interactive map.

(From Los Angeles Times / by Sean Greene)– Most of the areas covered in the new imagery have never been seen before.

The new imagery covers nearly all of the California coast, creating a window to rocky reefs, sea critters, corals and more.

The database will give coastal managers and scientists a glimpse of the seafloor’s composition and the habitats present — an important tool for habitat protection and understanding hazards, such as sea level rise and natural events, including earthquakes and tsunamis.

Scientists are “learning the dynamics of the seafloor and how things have changed in the last few decades,” said Nadine Golden, a USGS geographer based in Santa Cruz and principal investigator for the project. “Being able to get a picture of that is extremely useful.”

Making several expeditions a year, researchers in California dropped metal-encased cameras overboard and dragged them behind their boats. Two video cameras captured vertical and oblique angles, while a still camera shot one frame every 30 seconds. Because the boats were filming, they couldn’t move faster than a couple of knots, roughly 2.3 miles per hour. The Gulf and Atlantic imagery comes from a mix of boat and aerial surveys.

Read the full article here:

Consortium for Ocean Leadership

Climate Change Could Harm Marine Life for Millennia

Climate change may lead to disturbances in marine life that will take thousands of years to recover from, not hundreds of years as previously thought.
Discovery News

Study finds electric vehicles will travel further than drivers expect

Electric vehicles (EVs) will meet the daily travel needs of drivers longer than commonly assumed, according to the first study of its kind carried out by scientists at the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Many drivers and much prior literature on the retirement of EV batteries have assumed that EV batteries will be retired after the battery has lost 20 percent of its energy storage or power delivery capability. This study shows that the daily travel needs of drivers continue to be met well beyond these levels of battery degradation.

ENN: Top Stories

Deep in the Amazon, one tribe is beating big oil

The people of Sarayaku in Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest are a leading force in 21st century indigenous resistance, writes David Goodman, resisting the incursion of oil exploration into their lands, winning legal victories, and inspiring other communities to follow their example.
Environment news & analysis, climate change reports –
The Ecologist

Its a fact: animals can predict earthquakes.

The Amazon rainforest teems with animal activity throughout the day and night. When animals suddenly withdraw and go silent, however, something unusual is going on. Many believe that this reaction can mean an earthquake is imminent.

Scientists now say they’ve got proof this belief is true. They’ve published their study’s findings in the journal Physics and Chemistry of the Earth.

Researchers set up a series of motion-activated camera traps in Peru’s Yanachanga National Park to observe animal activity at ground level. They filmed rodents and other ground dwellers as they went about their busy forest lives.

ENN: Top Stories

Despite deforestation, the world is getting greener: scientists

BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The world’s vegetation has expanded, adding nearly 4 billion tonnes of carbon to plants above ground in the decade since 2003, thanks to tree-planting in China, forest regrowth in former Soviet states and more lush savannas due to higher rainfall.

Reuters: Environment

Arctic Ice Melt Season Is Underway Early

Ice is pushed away from the hull of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy Aug. 12, 2009. (Credit: USGS)

(Click to enlarge) Ice is pushed away from the hull of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy Aug. 12, 2009. (Credit: USGS)

Winter Arctic sea ice extent this year was the lowest in the satellite record, the National Snow and Ice Data Center said on Thursday, confirming a prediction it made two weeks ago.

(From Alaska Dispatch News / by Yereth Rosen)– Peak winter extent was reached on Feb. 25, with 5.61 million square miles of Arctic waters having at least 15 percent ice coverage, the center said.

 That maximum was about 7 percent smaller than the average winter maximum of 6.04 million square miles recorded from 1981 to 2010, the center said.

The ice coverage peak — and start of the melt season — was also one of the earliest on record, 15 days earlier than the 1981-2010 average date of peak coverage, the center said. 

The melt season now underway is starting out in “a deep hole,” Mark Serreze [5], director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, said in an email.

While ice extent at the end of this year’s melt season will depend a lot of summer weather patterns, “we’ve set the stage for another extreme minimum,” he said. “Will there be a new record low at the end of the coming melt season? While we’ll have to wait and see; we’ve raised the odds of this happening.”

Through this winter, sea ice extent has been below average almost everywhere in the Arctic but particularly in waters off Alaska and eastern Siberia, the center said. That was thanks in large part to warm conditions brought to the Pacific by an unusual pattern in the jet stream, the center said.

Read the full article here:

Consortium for Ocean Leadership