Environment

  • Improving crop resilience, yields in a world of extreme weather

    Farmers in the United States witnessed record-breaking extremes in temperature and drought during the last two summers, causing worldwide increases in the costs of food, feed and fiber. Indeed, many climate scientists caution that extreme weather events resulting from climate change is the new normal for farmers in North America and elsewhere, requiring novel agricultural strategies to prevent crop losses. UC Riverside-led research team develops new chemical for improving crop drought tolerance.

  • Renewables to surpass gas by 2016 in the global power mix: IEA

    An International Energy Agency (IEA) report says power generation from hydro, wind, solar, and other renewable sources worldwide will exceed that from gas and be twice that from nuclear by 2016.

  • Transporting diluted bitumen through pipelines does not increase likelihood of release

    Scientific study has found that the thick Canadian crude oil, known asdiluted bitumen, whichwould be shipped to the U.S. through the Keystone XL pipleline is no more dangerous than transporting other types of crude oil.

  • Environmentalists begin a summer of protest against Keystone project

    A coalition of environmentalist groups calling itself “fearless summer” launched what it said would be a series of protests against the Keystone XLL pipeline project. Near the city of Seminole, Oklahoma, members of the group shackled themselves to industrial equipment and disruoted work at Keystone-related construction site. Ten were arrested.

  • The future of Colorado River flows

    The Colorado River provides water for more than thirty million people, including those in the fast-growing cities of Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. Increasing demand for that water combined with reduced flow and the looming threat of climate change have prompted concern about how to manage the basin’s water in coming decades.

  • Policy, regulatory issues hobble hydropower as wind-power backup

    Theoretically, hydropower can step in when wind turbines go still, but barriers to this non-polluting resource serving as a backup are largely policy- and regulation-based, according to researchers.

  • Methane, ethane, and propane found in water wells near shale gas sites

    Homeowners living within one kilometer of shale gas wells appear to be at higher risk of having their drinking water contaminated by stray gases, according to a new study. Scientists analyzed 141 drinking water samples from private water wells across northeastern Pennsylvania’s gas-rich Marcellus shale basin. Their study documented not only higher methane concentrations in drinking water within a kilometer of shale gas drilling — which past studies have shown — but higher ethane and propane concentrations as well.

  • Smart technologies tackle global food shortage

    From monitoring soil moisture to measuring oyster heartbeats, Aussie farmers can help to tackle the global food shortage and significantly increase their productivity by taking advantage of new smart farming technologies enabled by next generation broadband networks.

  • Bolstering pre-disaster resilience significantly reduces post-disaster recovery cost

    A new study finds that the federal government spends six times more on post-disaster disaster recovery efforts than on helping communities become more resilient to extreme weather which is predicted to become more intense and frequent. The study, citing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates, calculates that for every $1 invested in “pre-disaster” mitigation, the cost of damage from extreme weather is reduced by $4.

  • $110 billion in damages makes 2012 second only to 2005 in terms of weather-related disasters

    The U.S. National Climatic Data Center’s (NCDC) says that 2012 saw eleven weather and climate disaster events each with losses exceeding $1 billion in damages. This makes 2012 the second costliest year since 1980, with a total of more than $110 billion in damages throughout the year. The 2012 total damages rank only behind 2005, which incurred $160 billion in damages due in part to four devastating land-falling hurricanes.

  • USDA announces additional emergency watershed protection funding

    USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service will send an additional $66.8 million in Emergency Watershed Protection Program funds to help disaster recovery efforts in fifteen states.

  • Storm predictions for Navy, civilian planners

    With the arrival of the Atlantic hurricane and Pacific typhoon season, and the often dangerous storms that can accompany it, new technology sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) will be used to help Navy and civilian officials alike plan for stormy weather, officials announced the other day.

  • Weather reports aid life-or-death decisions in Africa

    The people living in sub-Saharan Africa have a life-or-death dependency on information about the weather. Knowing when, where, and what to grow or graze animals can be the difference between a bumper harvest and facing starvation. Although sub-Saharan Africa depends more directly on rainfall than any other region on Earth, the region has the fewest number of rain monitoring stations. There are also significant delays in the time between measurements being made and the resulting data being made available.

  • Risk assessment of shale gas fracking to biodiversity

    Fracking, the controversial method of mining shale gas, is widespread across Pennsylvania, covering up to 280,000 km² of the Appalachian Basin. New research explores the risks posed to biodiversity including pollution from toxic chemicals, the building of well pads and pipelines, and changes to wetlands.

  • New Jersey faces costly water infrastructure upgrades

    Before Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey, state officials knew they had much work ahead of them to update the state’s water infrastructure. The damage Sandy inflicted only highlighted the inadequacies of New Jersey’s outdated wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water infrastructure. Upgrading the system will be costly, but not doing so will be costlier.