Posted on December 8, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Trying to reflect sunlight artificially could backfire
The best path to slowing global warming is to reduce greehouse gas emissions.
FRISCO — When it comes to global warming nothing is simple — and that includes proposals to mitigate the effects of heat-trapping greenhouse gases with planetary scale geo-engineering schemes. One of the ideas that’s been floated is to seed the atmosphere with material in order to reflect some of the sun’s incoming heat.
But a recent study by German researchers suggests that it probably won’t work — and could have unexpected consequences for the global water cycle. In their model, based on an energy balance analysis, the researchers showed that the water cycle responds differently to heating by sunlight than it does to warming due to a stronger atmospheric greenhouse effect. Upsetting that balance could shift the Earth’s rainfall patterns, the researchers said. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, global warming | Tagged: climate change, Earth, Environment, geo-engineering, Water cycle | Leave a Comment »
Posted on December 7, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Study shows how human food affects rare rock iguanas
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — There are plenty of good reasons to follow the old adage about not feeding wild animals, and a recent study of endangered Bahamian rock iguanas provides even more proof.
According to the findings, tourist-fed iguanas are suffering physiological problems as a result of eating human food. In the study, led by Charles Knapp of the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, the scientists compared blood and faecal samples from iguanas that were fed by tourists to samples from iguanas that did not have any interactions with humans.
The body condition of the two groups of iguanas was similar, but indicators for dietary indicators showed the effects of feeding by humans. Both male and female iguanas from the islands frequently visited by tourists showed notably different levels of glucose, potassium, and uric acid, as well as levels of other minerals. The female iguanas from tourist areas differed significantly in ionized calcium. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, wildlife | Tagged: biodiversity, Environment, iguanas, Tourism, wildlife | Leave a Comment »
Posted on December 6, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Due to a combination of factors, sea level along the Atlantic Seaboard is rising much faster than the global average
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The impacts of Hurricane Sandy may be a harbinger of future coastal devastation along the New Jersey shoreline, where sea level is rising much faster than the global average during the next century.
If the research by geoscientists at Rutgers and Tufts universities proves true, sea level in the region may rise by1.5 feet by 2050 and 3.5 feet by 2100 — that would mean that, by the middle of the century, the one-in-10 year flood level at Atlantic City would exceed any flood known there from the observational record, including Superstorm Sandy.
The study is based in part on an analysis of historic and modern-day records of sea-level rise in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region and builds on a recent study that reconstructed a 2,500-year record of sea level at the New Jersey shore. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, global warming | Tagged: climate change, Environment, global warming, New Jersey, sea level rise | Leave a Comment »
Posted on December 4, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A seal trapped in plastic debris. Photo courtesy EwanEdwards/TheClippertonProject.
Plastic debris a growing environmental problem
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The impact of plastic waste in the world’s oceans runs deeper than previously thought, according to British biologists, who described in a recent study how sediment-churning lugworms could be affected. Those marine worms play a key ecological role as an important source of food for other animals.
The findings, published in a pair of studies in the Cell Press journal Current Biology, suggest that marine lugworms eat less and their energy levels suffer when ocean sediments are heavily contaminated with microplastics.
A separate report, from Mark Anthony Browne on work performed at Plymouth University, shows that ingesting microplastic can also reduce the health of lugworms by delivering harmful chemicals, including hydrocarbons, antimicrobials, and flame retardants, to them. (more…)
Filed under: Environment | Tagged: Environment, oceans, plastic debris | 1 Comment »
Posted on December 2, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
‘We can’t solve climate change without saving our forests …’
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Even with the threat of runaway global warming becoming evermore real due to the spiraling increase in greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, delegates at the recent Warsaw climate talks made little progress.
But there was one bright spot, according to environmental advocates observing the talks. Recognizing the importance of forests as natural carbon sinks, negoiators did agree on a comprehensive set of policies to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation (REDD+). (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, forests, global warming | Tagged: climate, deforestation, Environment, forests, global warming, Warsaw COP 19 | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 30, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A diverse coral reef in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Photo by Caroline Rogers/USGS.
‘We’re desperately trying to save what’s left, and cleaning up the water may be one mechanism that has the most promise …’
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — By setting up a long-term, controlled exposure experiment in Florida, researchers were able to pin down the impact of nutrient overloads and separate them from other possible causes of coral reef decline.
The three-year study, confirmed what scientists have long suspected — pollution from sewage, agricultural runoff and other land-based sources can lead to coral disease and bleaching.
The results showed that the prevalence of disease doubled and the amount of coral bleaching, an early sign of stress, more than tripled. However, the study also found that once the injection of pollutants was stopped, the corals were able to recover in a surprisingly short time. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, coral reefs, Environment | Tagged: coral reefs, Environment, Florida Keys, nutrient pollution, oceans, Oregon State University | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 27, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Air pollution can be a big factor in development of thunderclouds
Air pollution can have a significant impact on the development of thunderclouds, causing cloud remnants to persist longer. bberwyn photo.
FRISCO — Air pollution can have a significant effect on the development of thunderhead clouds, causing the cloud remnants to persist high in the atmosphere long after thunderstorms dissipate. This, in turn, can affect daily temperature ranges, as the lingering clouds partially cool the Earth during the day with their shadows, but trap heat to keep nighttime temperatures warmer.
The new study, from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, helps answer long-running questions about how airborne pollutants affect climate warming. The findings will help provide a gauge for the accuracy of weather and climate models.
“This study reconciles what we see in real life to what computer models show us,” said atmospheric scientist Jiwen Fan. “Observations consistently show taller and bigger anvil-shaped clouds in storm systems with pollution, but the models don’t always show stronger convection. Now we know why.” (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment | Tagged: aerosols, air pollution, atmospheric science, cloud formation, Environment | 1 Comment »
Posted on November 25, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
USGS outlines threats to critical infrastructure
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Farmers and cities in central California are pumping so much groundwater that the land is rapidly subsiding across a large area, with potentially serious consequences for the region’s water infrastructure.
In a report released last week, the U.S. Geological Survey said the subsidence is occurring in such a way that there may be significant operational and structural challenges that need to be overcome to ensure reliable water delivery. In some places, the land subsided as much as 25 feet between 1926 and 1970.
Delivery of surface water from the north helped relieve pressure on the aquifers, but drought conditions between 1976–77 and 1987–92, and drought conditions and regulatory reductions in surface-water deliveries during 2007–10, once again led to increased pumping and renewed subsidence. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, water | Tagged: California, Central Valley, Delta–Mendota Canal, Environment, land subsidence, San Joaquin Valley, water | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 24, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Researchers are getting a better handle on what might have caused the Permian extinction. Photo courtesy NASA.
Acid rain, ozone depletion contributed to ancient mass extinction
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — While the steady increase in greenhouse gas concentrations may be a slow form of ecocide, massive volcanic eruptions may have the ability to alter the atmosphere so profoundly that it leads to relatively sudden and widespread mass extinctions.
That’s likely what happened 250 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, when there was a mass extinction so severe that it remains the most traumatic known species die-off in Earth’s history. Previous research has suggested the event was triggered by contemporaneous volcanic eruptions in Siberia, and a recent followup study looked at the effects those eruptions had on Earth’s atmosphere. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment | Tagged: acid rain, climate change, Environment, ozone depletion, Permian mass extinction, volcanoes | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 23, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Many experts think seas could rise 2 meters by 2100
Sea level rise is already inundating parts of the Mississippi Delta. bberwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Keeping sea level rise below 1 meter will require significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, a team of German and American researchers said this week after compiling the best available and most recent science.
Even with big cuts, sea level is expected to rise 40-60 centimeters by 2100 and 60-100 centimeters by 2300, according to the survey.
“While the results for the scenario with climate mitigation suggest a good chance of limiting future sea-level rise to one meter, the high emissions scenario would threaten the survival of some coastal cities and low-lying islands,” said Stefan Rahmstorf from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Environment, global warming, IPCC, sea level rise | Leave a Comment »