Climate study raises questions about ice age triggers

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New questions about ice age triggers, based on research from New Zealand.

Ice sheet behavior doesn’t match up in northern, southern hemispheres

Staff Report

FRISCO — A close study of glaciers in New Zealand has given scientists some startling insights into the global cycle of ice ages, suggesting that the path of the Earth’s orbit around the sun may not be the main driver of glacial epochs.

Instead, the new study concluded that glacier movement in the Southern Hemisphere is influenced primarily by sea surface temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide rather than changes in the Earth’s orbit, which are thought to drive the advance and retreat of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere. The findings appear in the journal Geology. Continue reading

Environment: Green sea turtles making a comeback

Federal biologists proposal to revamp endangered species listing recognizes conservation progress and allows for more site-specific management

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A green sea turtle swims near the seafloor of the Pacific. Photo courtesy Andy Bruckner/NOAA.

Staff Report

* More Summit Voice stories about sea turtles

FRISCO — Conservation and recovery efforts under the Endangered Species Act have helped green sea turtles around Florida and Mexico’s Pacific Coast recover to the point that federal biologists have proposed downlisting the species from endangered to threatened. Continue reading

Scientists urge greater care of World Heritage sites

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Australia’s Great Barrier Reef seen from a NASA satellite.

‘As a wealthy country, Australia has the capability and responsibility to improve its management of the reef’

FRISCO — Strong local management may be the key to preserving treasured world heritage sites, researchers concluded in a new study after taking a close look at threats facing the Amazon Rainforest, the Great Barrier Reef and Spain’s Doñana wetlands.

The team of scientists, who published their findings in the journal Science, said protecting such areas from the larger dangers of climate change requires addressing local threats, for example overfishing, fertilizer pollution and land clearing — all of which can exacerbate the effects of climatic extremes, such as heat waves and droughts. Continue reading

Wildfire season starts slow for 2d year in a row

Continued Western drought, warmth set stage for significant wildfires later this summer

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After a dry and warm winter, southern Alaska will have a better than average chance of signficant wildfire activity this spring. Map via NIFC.

By Bob Berwyn

Western wildfires have always been shape-shifting beasts, roaring to life wherever there is hot and dry weather, wind and fuel. But last year’s relatively cool and wet summer brought relief to parts of the region — including Colorado — that had been especially hard the previous few years.

The 2015 wildfire season is starting similarly slow to last year, according to statistics from the National Interagency Fire Center showing that, since January 1, there have been about 6,200 fires that burned across a 100,000 acre footprint, just 30 percent of the average from the past 10 years. Continue reading

Feds propose new rules for public lands fracking

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A fracking rig in western Colorado. bberwyn photo.

Better wells and disclosure, but not enough protection for special areas

Staff Report

*More on public lands fracking in these Summit Voice stories

FRISCO — New fracking rules for federally managed public lands include tighter standards for well-bore integrity, wastewater disposal and disclosure of chemicals, but don’t go far enough to fully protect public health and the environment, according to activist groups, who wanted the Bureau of Land Management to adopt more stringent regulations. Continue reading

Why do some mushrooms glow in the dark?

These are N. gardneri mushrooms growing on the base of a young babassu palm in Gilbués, PI, Brazil. Credit Michele P. Verderane/IP-USP-2008

These are N. gardneri mushrooms growing on the base of a young babassu palm in Gilbués, PI, Brazil. Credit
Michele P. Verderane/IP-USP-2008.

New study examines bioluminescence in fungi

Staff Report

FRISCO — Dartmouth scientists say they’ve figured out why some mushroom species glow in the dark, and like with many other biological mysteries, the answer is both simple and complex at the same time.

Reporting their findings in the Cell Press journal Current Biology, the researchers said the light attracts the attention of beetles, flies, wasps, and ants who spread the spores, helping the fungi colonize new territory.

The study also shows that the mushrooms’ bioluminescence is under the control of the circadian clock. In fact, it was that discovery that led the researchers to suspect that the mushrooms’ light must serve some useful purpose. Continue reading

Report shows huge benefits of pursuing wind energy

Wind farming in the West.

Wind farming in the West.

Clean energy saves lives and money in the long run, reduces water demand from power sector

Staff Report

FRISCO — Boosting the role of wind power in the country’s energy portfolio would have significant economic, environmental and health benefits, the Department of Energy found in a new report that outlines the  path needed to achieve 10 percent wind by 2020, 20 percent by 2030, and 35 by 2050.

Currently, wind power generates about 4.5 percent of the country’s energy. Reaching the 2050 goal would reduce cumulative greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent, saving $400 billion in avoided global damages, the report found. Continue reading

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