• Past "hyperthermals" offer clues about anticipated climate changes

    Bursts of intense global warming that have lasted tens of thousands of years have taken place more frequently throughout history than previously believed; most of the events raised average global temperatures between 2° and 3° Celsius (3.6 and 5.4° F), an amount comparable to current conservative estimates of how much temperatures are expected to rise in coming decades as a consequence of anthropogenic global warming; most hyperthermals lasted about 40,000 years before temperatures returned to normal

  • Sensors detecting nuclear tests detect tsunamis, too

    The Comprehensive Nuclear test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is supported by arrays of sensors at sixty sites across the world that listen for the low boom of atmospheric blasts. They are tuned to infrasound — frequencies under 20 hertz (cycles per second), the lowest humans can hear; these sensors are meant to pick up illicit nuclear tests, but they can also pick up tsunami-producing tremors — and provide timely warning to those likely to be affected

  • NOAA scientists cleared of wrongdoing in email scandal

    A recent investigation by the Commerce Department’s Inspector General has cleared the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of any wrong doing in a recent scandal over an email exchange with British academics; in 2009 more than 1,000 emails between NOAA scientists and the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom were stolen; the emails suggested that scientists had manipulated results and thrown out faulty data; the recent report exonerates the scientists of any wrongdoing, and several British reviews have already cleared the name of British scientists

  • Mitigation policy could halve climate-related impacts on water scarcity

    Even without the effects of climate change, as much as 40 percent of the world’s population will be living under water scarce conditions by 2020; climate change is expected to influence future water scarcity through regional changes in precipitation and evaporation; most climate models suggest rainfall is likely to decrease in the subtropics and increase in mid-latitudes and some parts of the tropics; in the latter, mitigation efforts could actually reduce the amount of extra water potentially available

  • Canada's water could be answer for anticipated global water shortages

    Global demand for water is projected to exceed supplies by 40 percent in 2030, and Canada may be the answer to minimizing water shortages; it is estimated that in the next twenty years, one third of the world will only have half the water it needs to cover daily needs; to prevent these shortages, researchers are scrambling to develop technologies and practices to reduce water consumption, discover new re-processing techniques, and improve infrastructure; Canada’s water experts are well-suited to assist in this effort as they have gained valuable experience from managing 9 percent of the world’s fresh water supplies

  • Earth's sixth mass extinction may have already arrived

    With the steep decline in populations of many animal species, from frogs and fish to tigers, some scientists have warned that Earth is on the brink of a mass extinction like those that occurred only five times before during the past 540 million years; each of these Big Five saw three-quarters or more of all animal species go extinct

  • Toxic metals from Superfund site endangers wetlands in Ventura County

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that an old metal recycling plant in Oxnard, California, now a federal Superfund site, was leaking lead, zinc, and other dangerous chemicals into nearby wetlands; when the plant closed, it left nearly 700,000 cubic yards of unattended waste laden with heavy metals and small amounts of radioactive thorium; high costs have hindered cleanup efforts and local residents have become frustrated with the drawn out efforts; the wetlands that are endangered by the old metal recycling plant are located in Ormand Beach and are home to several rare and endangered species

  • Radioactive waste contaminates drinking water, EPA does nothing

    Recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) documents show that Pennsylvania’s drinking water has been contaminated with radioactive waste from natural gas drilling; energy companies have been extracting natural gas with a new drilling technique called “hydrofracking”; this process results in millions of gallons of wastewater that is contaminated with dangerous chemicals like highly corrosive salts, carcinogens, and radioactive elements; EPA documents reveal the process has been contaminating drinking water supplies across the country with radioactive waste; in Pennsylvania more than 1.3 billion gallons of radioactive wastewater was trucked to plants that could not process out the toxins before it released the water into drinking supplies

  • Ancient catastrophic drought a warning about current warming trends

    Extreme megadrought in Afro-Asian region likely had consequences for Paleolithic cultures; the records show that one of the most widespread and intense droughts of the last 50,000 years or more struck Africa and Southern Asia 17,000 to 16,000 years ago; the “H1 megadrought” was one of the most severe climate trials ever faced by anatomically modern humans; Africa’s Lake Victoria, now the world’s largest tropical lake, dried out, as did Lake Tana in Ethiopia, and Lake Van in Turkey; the Nile, Congo, and other major rivers shriveled

  • Common clam to help clean oil-filled waters

    Clams are bottom-dwelling filter feeders, obtaining nutrients by filtering the water around them; researchers at Southeastern Louisiana University are studying the lowly Rangia clam to determine whether the organism can contribute to helping clean oil-polluted waters

  • A warming world would add billions to shipping costs

    As anyone with a boat knows, many sorts of marine life can attach themselves to a hull below the waterline; on a large ship, the weight of such hitchhikers — everything from algae to barnacles to small colonies of coral — can weigh as much as ten tons; the U.S. shipping industry spends more than $36 billion each year in added fuel costs to overcome the drag induced by clinging marine life or for anti-fouling paint that prevents that life from hitching a ride in the first place; global warming will see the problem of hull-clinging creatures worsen substantially

  • States challenge federal policy on nuclear waste storage

    The search for a permanent solution to the storage of nuclear waste continues as three states sued the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) last week over its new policy on spent fuel; in December NRC issued a new policy stating that nuclear waste could be safely stored at a power plant for sixty years after a reactor went out of service; the issue of nuclear storage has become increasingly contentious after the Obama administration ruled out the use of a Department of Energy storage site in Nevada in 2009; nuclear plants have been forced to turn temporary on-site storage into long-term facilities as no permanent site has been built; the Obama administration launched a commission to find alternatives for the permanent nuclear storage site in Nevada that it cancelled

  • Drought in China threatens wheat crop and send global prices soaring

    UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned that a severe drought was threatening China’s wheat crop and could result in shortages of drinking water; analysts fear that wheat prices could soar even higher if China were to begin importing large quantities of food to feed more than a billion hungry mouths; wheat prices are already at record highs and have sparked food related protests around the world; surging prices are partially responsible for Egypt and Tunisia’s recent mass uprisings; China’s Shandong province, a major agricultural region, has only received fifteen percent of its normal rain levels; in dire terms Chinese state media reported that “land is drying out, and the crops are dying”

  • U.S. unprepared for climate-induced disease outbreaks

    Officials warn that the United States is not equipped to handle the spread of infectious diseases caused by climate change; little investment or progress has been made in bolstering disease detection and response capabilities in the United States, despite warnings from intelligence agencies; increased heat, humidity, and rainfall have caused the spread of mosquitoes and other bugs which carry deadly tropical diseases to new areas where people have yet build up a resistance; the United States is now experiencing outbreaks of dengue fever and West Nile virus; in 2010 the CDC reported 110 deaths and 1,356 cases of West Nile virus in the United States; intelligence agencies also worry about the potential for the spread of these diseases to destabilize fragile nations across Asia and Africa

  • Melting glaciers threaten Peru

    Rising temperatures have caused glaciers in Peru to melt at alarming rates; Peru depends heavily on rivers fed by glaciers to provide drinking water, irrigation, and electricity; some scientists estimate that in ten years, whole glaciers will disappear entirely from the Andes; millions of Peruvians depend entirely on the glacier fed rivers as their primary source for water; the United States fears that water, food, and power shortages in Peru could cause stability and spark conflict across the region