Environment

  • Farmers try to cope with the challenges posed by extreme weather

    Across the country, farmers are reporting that they are at yet another critical juncture for agriculture. Citing more unpredictable and severe weather due to climate change, scientists are researching defensive measures and looking to previous agricultural challenges for inspiration. Some are looking to the way individual farmers and government agencies addressed the Dust Bowl hardships of America during the Great Depression as a source of inspiration.

  • Miami “Ground Zero” for risks associated with sea level rise

    During a special Senate hearing last month in Miami Beach, Senator Bill Nelson (D-Florida) described Florida as “Ground Zero” for climate change and the threat it poses to coastal communities. Sea level rise is especially worrisome to Floridians because Miami has the most property assets at risk in the world, according to the World Resources Institute(WRI). Miami has $14.7 billion in beach front property. Also, fifteen million out of the state’s twenty million residents live in coastal communities vulnerable to sea level rise.

  • Researchers map 198,000 glaciers to improve sea-level rise estimates

    An international team of researchers has completed the first mapping of virtually all of the world’s glaciers — including their locations and sizes — allowing for calculations of their volumes and ongoing contributions to global sea rise as the world warms. The team mapped and catalogued some 198,000 glaciers around the world as part of the massive Randolph Glacier Inventory, or RGI, better to understand rising seas over the coming decades as a result of melting glaciers.

  • As fracking activity grows in Mexico, so does the number of fracking-induced tremors

    Mexico has the fourth largest amount of recoverable shale gas in the world, with 681 trillion cubic feet. As fracking activity has increased in the state of Nuevo Leon, so have the number of tremors. Between January and mid-April, forty-eight tremors, some reaching a magnitude of roughly 4.3, were recorded across the state of Nuevo Leon, compared to two tremors in the same period last year.

  • Ice melting in East Antarctica may lead to unstoppable sea-level rise

    The melting of a rather small ice volume on East Antarctica’s shore could trigger a persistent ice discharge into the ocean, resulting in unstoppable sea-level rise for thousands of years to come, a new study finds. East Antarctica’s Wilkes Basin is like a bottle on a slant, say the study’s authors. Once uncorked, it empties out. The basin is the largest region of marine ice on rocky ground in East Antarctica.

  • Energy-subsidy reform can reduce carbon emissions, add years to oil exports: study

    Reform of energy subsidies in oil-exporting countries can reduce carbon emissions and add years to oil exports, according to a new study. The study reviews the record of energy-subsidy reforms and argues that big exporters should reduce energy demand by raising prices, and that this can be done without undermining legitimacy of governments that depend on subsidies for political support

  • Switching from cattle fields to “carbon farms” to tackle climate change

    Changing cattle fields to forests is a cheap way of tackling climate change and saving species threatened with extinction, a new study has found. The main use of land in communities the western Andes of Colombia is cattle farming, but a new study found farmers could make the same or more money by allowing their land naturally to regenerate. Researchers report that under carbon markets designed to stop global warming, these farmers could get paid to change the use of their land from growing cows to “growing carbon” — receiving around $1.99 per ton of carbon dioxide the trees remove from the atmosphere.

  • Wetland preservation is good business

    A recently published study is making the case for wetland preservation by highlighting the economic incentives that such preservation could provide to urban centers.Infrastructure investment in urban waterfronts could soon be seen as one of the best economic decisions a city could make. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that “$1 million invested in coastal restoration creates 17.1 jobs, compared to just 8.9 jobs for every $1 million invested in oil and gas development.”

  • U.S. corn yields increasingly vulnerable to hot, dry weather

    The United States produces 40 percent of the world’s corn, mostly in Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. As more than 80 percent of U.S. agricultural land relies on natural rainfall rather than irrigation, corn farmers in these regions depend on precipitation, air temperature, and humidity for optimal plant growth. U.S. corn yields are growing more sensitive to heat and drought. Farmers are faced with difficult tradeoffs in adapting to a changing climate in which unfavorable weather will become more common.

  • Longer periods of tornado activity are more destructive, but also more predictable

    Significant tornado outbreaks, and especially strong tornadoes, are more likely occur within periods of activity lasting three or more days, according to a new study. The study examined thirty years of U.S. weather records and found that an outbreak of twenty or more reported tornadoes had a 74 percent probability of occurring during a period of tornado activity lasting three or more days. During those same periods, a tornado rated 3 or higher on the Enhanced Fujita scale had a 60 percent probability of hitting.

  • Producing more oil by capturing carbon

    Any method that leads to the production of more oil seems counter to the prevailing wisdom on climate change that says use of more greenhouse-gas-emitting fuel is detrimental. There is one oil-recovery process, however, which some say could be part of the climate change solution and now unites unlikely allies in industry, government and environmental groups.

  • Businesses take more responsibility for sustainable freshwater use

    Growing freshwater scarcity owing to rising water demands and a changing climate is increasingly perceived as a major risk for the global economy. In a special issue of Nature Climate Change, devoted to this emerging global concern, researchers argue that consumer awareness, private sector initiatives, governmental regulation, and targeted investments are urgently necessary to move toward sustainable water use across value chains.

  • Promoting nuclear power to avoid geoengineering

    There are two basic geoengineering strategies to reduce climate change: injecting aerosols such as sulfates into the stratosphere to block a portion of the sun’s radiation and thereby cool the Earth, much as volcanic emissions do; and the large-scale removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The aerosol-injection approach is much more likely to be pursued at current stages of technological development. Scientists say that in order to avoid the need for geoengineering, which could have enormous unforeseen consequences, the international community should pursue increased deployment of nuclear power plants, which do not emit carbon dioxide, to address the climate crisis. Many climate scientists are generally supportive of nuclear engineering and less fearful of it than they are of geoengineering.

  • Odds of storm waters overflowing Manhattan seawall up 20-fold, new study says

    Maximum water levels in New York harbor during major storms have risen by nearly two and a half feet since the mid-1800s, making the chances of water overtopping the Manhattan seawall now at least twenty times greater than they were 170 years ago, according to a new study. Whereas sea-level rise, which is occurring globally, has raised water levels along New York harbor by nearly a foot and a half since the mid-nineteenth century, the research shows that the maximum height of the city’s “once-in-10-years” storm tide has grown additionally by almost a foot in that same period.

  • Dams will not reduce flow of sand to Mississippi River Delta

    The wetlands of the Mississippi River Delta are slowly sinking and rapidly eroding, but new research has found the river’s supply of sand — the material engineers most need to rebuild the delta — will stay constant for centuries. The new study is encouraging news for scientists and government officials who are working to shore up southeastern Louisiana’s rapidly disappearing wetlands.