FRISCO — Lots of quibbling over the exact rate and pace of glacier melt has at least partly obscured the grim reality that many of the world’s glaciated regions will see profound changes in the next few decades as global temperatures continue to rise.
That meltdown will raise sea level, but so far, nobody has been able to quantify the amount precisely. But new data gathered in a study led by University of Colorado, Boulder scientists should help. The team, including researchers from Trent University in Ontario, Canada recently completed the first mapping of virtually all of the world’s glaciers. That enables calculations of their volumes and ongoing contributions to global sea rise as the world warms. Continue reading “Glacier inventory to help with sea level projections”→
FRISCO — Stone Age North American cave dwellers may have been preoccupied with finding food most of the time, but they still found the time to leave their mark by carving mysterious symbols into prominent boulders.
Social scientists to probe homeowner behavior in the red zone
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A pair of University of Colorado Boulder social science researchers will use a $298,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to try and determine what sort of information shapes homeowner behavior in fire-prone areas on Colorado’s Western Slope.
In the past 10 years, the social and economic costs of wildfires have soared across the country, and especially in the West. As wildfire hazards increase, mitigating risks on individual properties is of paramount importance.
Study shows diverse ecosystems are less susceptible to infectious diseases
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Biodiversity is a big environmental buzzword these days, but healthy ecosystems with a full range of species have value beyond just existing for their own sake. A new CU-Boulder study suggests that a wide range of amphibian species living in a pond helps protect the entire ecological community against a parasitic infection that can cause severe deformities, including the growth of extra legs.
The findings, published Feb. 14 in the journal Nature, support the idea that greater biodiversity in larger-scale ecosystems, such as forests or grasslands, may also provide greater protection against diseases, including those that attack humans. For example, a larger number of mammal species in an area may curb cases of Lyme disease, while a larger number of bird species may slow the spread of West Nile virus.
“How biodiversity affects the risk of infectious diseases, including those of humans and wildlife, has become an increasingly important question,” said Pieter Johnson, an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and lead author of the study. “But as it turns out, solidly testing these linkages with realistic experiments has proven very challenging in most systems.” Continue reading “Environment: ‘Biodiversity matters’”→
SUMMIT COUNTY — Early fears that the bark beetle epidemic could degrade water quality are proving unfounded, according to CU-Boulder scientists, who said smaller trees and undergrowth that survive the epidemic have increased their uptake of nitrogen as the older trees die.
Research project explores cryptobiotic soil restoration
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Led by University of Colorado researchers, scientists from around the country are teaming up to see if they can help restore damaged desert soils by growing biological soil crusts in a lab, then transplanting them to areas that have been damaged by military exercises and other activities.
The research could provide some clues as to how make desert ecosystems more resilient to climate change, and also has public health implications, since since the disturbance of biocrusts can trigger the release of significant amounts of atmospheric dust, a dominant pollutant in some desert metropolitan areas.
Fragile cryptobiotic soil plays a crucial role crucial in some desert ecosystems by preserving moisture, reducing erosion and fixing nitrogen. The crusts are extremely fragile — even just a footprint can disturb the organisms, and it can decades for the damage to heal. Continue reading “Environment: Healing the desert”→