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Updated: 1 year 31 weeks ago

Iowa - first in primaries, first in wind power

Sun, 01/31/2016 - 08:25
As presidential contenders gather in Iowa for the beginning of the party selection season, they may have noticed a lot of wind turbines, writes Zachary Davies Boren. And if they have any sense, they will find only nice things to say about them. Wind supplies 30% of the state's power, more than any other US state, and Iowans are all for it. Ted Cruz, mind your words!Today, there are 12 factories in Iowa that build wind-related parts and materials, and wind supports as many as 7,000 jobs. Furthermore, the steady long-term costs of wind power promise to keep Iowa's electricity prices stable for many years to come.All eyes are on Iowa, the midwestern state set to kick-off the US presidential election next week with its folksy first-in-the-nation caucus.

Paris climate agreement seen as turning point by UN

Sat, 01/30/2016 - 08:06
Less than two months after 196 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, the global community is already seeing signs of it being a decisive turning point, according to a senior UN official dealing with climate issues. A month and a half since 196 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, the global community is already seeing signs of it being a decisive turning point, according to a senior UN official dealing with climate issues. “Much has been happening since Paris – the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed that 2015 was the hottest year on record, not just by a little but by a lot,” Janos Pasztor, who was today appointed as Senior Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Change, told reporters at a briefing in New York. 

Meat consumption and climate change linked by EU study

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 07:22
The overconsumption of meat will inevitably push global temperatures to dangerous levels, a recent study has warned, urging reluctant governments to take action.The world's rapidly expanding population is posing a huge challenge to farmers. A reportpublished in November 2015 by Chatham House, and the Glasgow University Media Group, examined the interconnection between meat and dairy consumption with climate change.Nearly one-third of the world's cultivated land is being used to grow animal feed. In the EU alone, 45% of wheat production is used for this purpose, with 30% of overall use met by imports..

Human impacts on climate caused record warm years

Mon, 01/25/2016 - 07:12
Recent record warm years are with extremely high likelihood caused by human-made climate change. Without greenhouse-gas emissions from burning coal and oil, the odds are vanishingly small that 13 out of the 15 warmest years ever measured would all have happened in the current, still young century. These odds are between 1 in 5000 and 1 in 170.000, a new study by an international team of scientists now shows. Including the data for 2015, which came in after the study was completed, makes the odds even slimmer."2015 is again the warmest year on record, and this can hardly be by chance," says co-author Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The scientists performed a sophisticated statistical analysis, combining observational data and comprehensive computer simulations of the climate system. Their new approach allowed them to better separate natural climate variability from human-caused climate change.

Buzzards Bay being impacted by climate change

Fri, 01/22/2016 - 14:44
An analysis of long-term, water quality monitoring data reveals that climate change is already having an impact on ecosystems in the coastal waters of Buzzards Bay, Mass. The impacts relate to how nitrogen pollution affects coastal ecosystems.Utilizing 22 years of data collected by a network of citizen scientists, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and their colleagues at the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, and the Marine Biological Laboratory found that average summertime temperatures in embayments throughout Buzzards Bay warmed by almost 2 degrees Celsius—roughly 4 degrees Fahrenheit."That is a rapid temperature increase for marine life," said Jennie Rheuban, a research associate at WHOI and lead author of the paper published January 15, 2016, in the journal Biogeosciences. "For some species, a single degree Fahrenheit change can mean the difference between a comfortable environment and one where they can no longer thrive."

Buzzards Bay being impacted by climate change according to a Woods Hole study

Fri, 01/22/2016 - 14:44
An analysis of long-term, water quality monitoring data reveals that climate change is already having an impact on ecosystems in the coastal waters of Buzzards Bay, Mass. The impacts relate to how nitrogen pollution affects coastal ecosystems.Utilizing 22 years of data collected by a network of citizen scientists, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and their colleagues at the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, and the Marine Biological Laboratory found that average summertime temperatures in embayments throughout Buzzards Bay warmed by almost 2 degrees Celsius—roughly 4 degrees Fahrenheit."That is a rapid temperature increase for marine life," said Jennie Rheuban, a research associate at WHOI and lead author of the paper published January 15, 2016, in the journal Biogeosciences. "For some species, a single degree Fahrenheit change can mean the difference between a comfortable environment and one where they can no longer thrive."

Buzzards Bay being impacted by climate change according to a Woods Hole study

Fri, 01/22/2016 - 14:44
An analysis of long-term, water quality monitoring data reveals that climate change is already having an impact on ecosystems in the coastal waters of Buzzards Bay, Mass. The impacts relate to how nitrogen pollution affects coastal ecosystems.Utilizing 22 years of data collected by a network of citizen scientists, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and their colleagues at the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, and the Marine Biological Laboratory found that average summertime temperatures in embayments throughout Buzzards Bay warmed by almost 2 degrees Celsius—roughly 4 degrees Fahrenheit."That is a rapid temperature increase for marine life," said Jennie Rheuban, a research associate at WHOI and lead author of the paper published January 15, 2016, in the journal Biogeosciences. "For some species, a single degree Fahrenheit change can mean the difference between a comfortable environment and one where they can no longer thrive."

Buzzards Bay being impacted by climate change according to a Woods Hole study

Fri, 01/22/2016 - 14:44
An analysis of long-term, water quality monitoring data reveals that climate change is already having an impact on ecosystems in the coastal waters of Buzzards Bay, Mass. The impacts relate to how nitrogen pollution affects coastal ecosystems.Utilizing 22 years of data collected by a network of citizen scientists, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and their colleagues at the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, the Buzzards Bay Coalition, and the Marine Biological Laboratory found that average summertime temperatures in embayments throughout Buzzards Bay warmed by almost 2 degrees Celsius—roughly 4 degrees Fahrenheit."That is a rapid temperature increase for marine life," said Jennie Rheuban, a research associate at WHOI and lead author of the paper published January 15, 2016, in the journal Biogeosciences. "For some species, a single degree Fahrenheit change can mean the difference between a comfortable environment and one where they can no longer thrive."

How aerosols drive the rain

Fri, 01/22/2016 - 07:14
While the effects of power plant emissions, vehicle exhaust and other manmade aerosols on air quality and public health are well-known, their impact on the climate is not completely understood. Scientists have shown that aerosols can lower surface temperatures either directly, by reflecting sunlight skyward, or indirectly, by increasing the reflectivity of clouds, but until now have not figured out the role these airborne particles play in shaping the distribution of rain and snowfall around the world.

Did early agriculture stave off global cooling?

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 19:22
A new analysis of ice-core climate data, archeological evidence and ancient pollen samples strongly suggests that agriculture by humans 7,000 years ago likely slowed a natural cooling process of the global climate, playing a role in the relatively warmer climate we experience today.A study detailing the findings is published online in a recent edition of the journal Reviews of Geophysics, published by the American Geophysical Union.“Early farming helped keep the planet warm,” said William Ruddiman, a University of Virginia climate scientist and lead author of the study, who specializes in investigating ocean sediment and ice-core records for evidence of climate fluctuations.A dozen years ago, Ruddiman hypothesized that early humans altered the climate by burning massive areas of forests to clear the way for crops and livestock grazing. The resulting carbon dioxide and methane released into the atmosphere had a warming effect that “cancelled most or all of a natural cooling that should have occurred,” he said.That idea, which came to be known as the “early anthropogenic hypothesis” was hotly debated for years by climate scientists, and is still considered debatable by some of these scientists. 

Does eating less meat lead to decreased Greenhouse Gas emissions?

Tue, 01/19/2016 - 10:06
Reduced meat consumption might not lower greenhouse gas emissions from a major beef producing region, research shows.The finding may seem incongruous, as intensive agriculture is responsible for such a large proportion of global emissions.According to research by University researchers, Scotland’s Rural College and Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation, reducing beef production in the Brazilian Cerrado could increase global greenhouse gas emissions. 

How to make your new house a sustainable one

Mon, 01/18/2016 - 11:24
People might falsely believe that when they are building a house incorporating any sustainable solutions require additional costs and effort. It is actually the opposite. Some of the sustainable solutions require very little in any financing with comparison to the costs that need to be incurred anyways in a newly constructed building. Moreover, while an initial cost might be a bit higher as for purchasing, for example a sustainable heating system, there is a fast return on investment as utility bills are much lowers with sustainable heating than a standard one. It is possible to save around 30% on the use of energy and water in a sustainable house. That is a case with any other sustainable solution, when it pays off to invest in environment friendly solution in every case.Below there is list of sustainable solutions that can be applied in every house.Heat recovery system for the ventilation, heating and cooling.The use of geothermal heat pump for heating the house, allows for great savings on heating costs.It is common to use only floor heating as a heating option in energy efficient houses (no radiators). Use of low energy doors and windows (recommended triple glazed windows).

SpaceX launches Jason-3 satellite to monitor sea levels

Mon, 01/18/2016 - 05:49
Jason-3, a U.S.-European oceanography satellite mission with NASA participation that will continue a nearly quarter-century record of tracking global sea level rise, lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Sunday at 10:42 a.m. PST (1:42 p.m. EST) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.Jason-3 is an international mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in partnership with NASA, the French space agency CNES, and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites."Jason-3 will take the pulse of our changing planet by gathering environmental intelligence from the world's oceans," said Stephen Volz, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Service. 

How soil frost affects greenhouse gas emissions from Arctic soils

Sun, 01/17/2016 - 10:18
Soil frost is a nearly universal process in the Arctic. In a recent dissertation by doctoral student Marina Becher at Umeå University, it is shown that the frequency and extent of soil frost is important for the release of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from arctic soil.Soil in the Arctic has for thousands of years gathered large quantities of decomposed organic matter due to the decomposition being slow at the low temperatures in the region. As temperatures in the Arctic are increasing, there is a growing concern that the organic matter stored in the ground will be decomposed and released as carbon dioxide. Such a process would contribute to the ongoing increase in this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

Warming climate may impact animals' ability to eat some toxic plants

Sat, 01/16/2016 - 09:20
University of Utah lab experiments found that when temperatures get warmer, woodrats suffer a reduced ability to live on their normal diet of toxic creosote - suggesting that global warming may hurt plant-eating animals."This study adds to our understanding of how climate change may affect mammals, in that their ability to consume dietary toxins is impaired by warmer temperatures," says biologist Denise Dearing, senior author of the research published online Jan. 13 in the British journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

How much methane IS leaking at Porter Ranch?

Fri, 01/15/2016 - 07:08
A UC Davis scientist flying in a pollution-detecting airplane provided the first, and so far only, estimates of methane emissions spewing from the Aliso Canyon Natural Gas Storage Facility in Southern California since the leak began on Oct. 23, 2015.Those estimates were provided to the California Air Resources Board in November. Pilot and UC Davis project scientist Stephen Conley continues to measure emissions from the still uncontrolled leak, which has displaced thousands of residents in the affluent Porter Ranch neighborhood in northern Los Angeles. On Jan. 6, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in the community.To date, Conley estimates that the leak has emitted nearly 80,000 tons of methane, or about 1,000 tons per day.

Cloud cover found significant factor in Greenland Ice Sheet melt

Wed, 01/13/2016 - 06:27
The Greenland Ice Sheet is the second largest ice sheet in the world and it's melting rapidly, likely driving almost a third of global sea level rise.A new study shows clouds are playing a larger role in that process than scientists previously believed."Over the next 80 years, we could be dealing with another foot of sea level rise around the world," says Tristan L'Ecuyer, professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and co-author of the study. "Parts of Miami and New York City are less than two feet above sea level; another foot of sea level rise and suddenly you have water in the city."

The Porter Ranch gas leak update

Tue, 01/12/2016 - 18:28
Senators Kevin de León and Fran Pavley announced a package of new legislation that builds on Gov. Brown’s state of emergency declaration to ensure protections for Californians impacted by the natural gas leak in Porter Ranch. The new legislation will require: a moratorium on new injections into the Aliso Canyon  storage facility until experts determine it is safe to resume and a study to see whether it makes sense to continue using the facility. (SB 875)that response costs – such as greenhouse gas mitigation, relocation, and emergency response costs – will be funded by the Gas Company shareholders, not the ratepayers who are suffering from this disaster. (SB 876)stronger laws regulating gas storage facilities, including increased inspections and health and safety measures. (SB 877)setting state climate pollution reduction targets and holding polluters accountable for meeting those targets. (SB 878)

Recycling on the ropes, France has a plan to fix the industry

Mon, 01/11/2016 - 05:29
Low raw material costs have dealt a heavy blow to the recycling industry. The French recycling federation (FEDEREC) believes the sector needs a complete overhaul to stay afloat in the coming years.FEDEREC published its view of the future of recycling in a white paper entitled "The recycling industry by 2030." In the preface to this 70-page document, a frank discussion of the problems facing the industry and how they might be solved, Corinne Lepage, a Republican politician, evoked a sector "devastated by an oil price that is so low that it is driving us back towards a linear economy, as it is cheaper today to buy primary raw materials than recycled raw materials".

Natural carbon sinks and their role in climate

Sun, 01/10/2016 - 11:32
Protected areas such as rainforests occupy more than one-tenth of the Earth’s landscape, and provide invaluable ecosystem services, from erosion control to pollination to biodiversity preservation. They also draw heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and store it in plants and soil through photosynthesis, yielding a net cooling effect on the planet.Determining the role protected areas play as carbon sinks — now and in decades to come — is a topic of intense interest to the climate-policy community as it seeks science-based strategies to mitigate climate change. Toward that end, a study in the journal Ambioestimates for the first time the amount of CO2 sequestered by protected areas, both at present and throughout the 21st century as projected under various climate and land-use scenarios.