Environment

  • Expanding biological control of crop pests

    A new discovery promises to allow expanded use of a mainstay biological pest control method, which avoids the health, environmental, and pest-resistance concerns of traditional insecticides, scientists are reporting. This advance broadens the applicability of the so-called sterile insect technique (SIT).

  • The Middle East rapidly losing fresh water

    A new study using data from a pair of gravity-measuring NASA satellites finds that large parts of the arid Middle East region lost freshwater reserves rapidly during the past decade. Scientists found during a seven-year period beginning in 2003 that parts of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran along the Tigris and Euphrates river basins lost 117 million acre feet (144 cubic kilometers) of total stored freshwater. That is almost the amount of water in the Dead Sea. The researchers attribute about 60 percent of the loss to pumping of groundwater from underground reservoirs.

  • Cleanup starts after Mississippi tornado, storms

    Emergency officials in Mississippi spent Monday dealing with the damage after a number of storms and a tornado ripped through the southern section of the state, injuring at least sixty people. No deaths were reported.

  • Northeast U.S. digs out after deadly snowstorm

    About 250,000 homes and businesses in northeast United States remain remained without power this morning as a blizzard dumped more than three feet of snow on north-mid-Atlantic and New England states, and parts of Canada. The death toll was at fifteen. Utilities in New England said the storm could leave some customers in the dark at least until Tuesday. About 650,000 lost power in eight states at the height of the storm.

  • Idaho debating nuclear waste storage

    For two decades, the Yucca mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada was viewed as a long-term solution to the growing problem of radioactive waste generated by the 104 active nuclear power generation plants in the United States. One of the Obama administration’s first acts was to “defund” the project, in effect outing an end to it. States such as Texas, New Mexico, and North Carolina have fashioned their own interim solution to the problem of nuclear waste storage, and the governor of Idaho wants his state to follow these states’ example.

  • Tiny organisms in oceans can save islands from rising sea levels: study

    Warming climate is causing sea levels to rise, posing a special threat to low-lying island nations. The government of the Maldive Islands, an island nation in the Indian Ocean consisting of a chain of twenty-six atolls, has begun exploring the possibility of purchasing land in Africa to relocate the entire population – about 330,000 – once rising sea water begin to swallow the small atolls. Scientists found out, though, that the warming temperature of the seas is causing tiny single-cell organisms to are spreading rapidly through the world’s oceans, where they just might be able to mitigate the consequences of climate change.

  • Hydroelectric power generation superior to nuclear and coal, beats oil and gas

    Researchers have reviewed the economic, social, and environmental impact of hydro, coal, oil, gas, and nuclear power. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but of these conventional electricity generation technologies, hydroelectric power appears to be the most sustainable and acceptable environmentally and economically.

  • Old, faulty bores jeopardize Australia's water

    Australian homes, towns, cities, farmers, and miners will rely increasingly on underground water as the country’s population grows, surface water supplies dwindle, and as droughts multiply under a warming climate. Trouble is, the authorities in charge do not have a clear idea exactly how much groundwater there is, how rapidly it is recharged — or how quickly it is being depleted. What is known is based on data largely supplied by 23,000 monitoring bores spread across the continent — more than two thirds of which are now falling into disrepair.

  • NY to buy, demolish beachfront homes, make way for storm buffers

    New York governor Andrew Cuomo plans to use $400 million in federal funding to buy beachfront homes as part of a broader plan to reshape the New York coastline so the state is better prepared for sea level rise, surges, and storms. The plan is to raze the purchased homes and leave to shore front vacant. Some properties would be turned into dunes, wetlands, or other natural buffers. Other parcels could be combined and turned into public parkland.

  • New clean coal technology provides energy without burning

    A new form of clean coal technology reached an important milestone recently, with the successful operation of a research-scale combustion system. The technology is now ready for testing at a larger scale. For 203 continuous hours, the combustion unit produced heat from coal while capturing 99 percent of the carbon dioxide produced in the reaction.

  • The humble sea urchin may hold the key to carbon capture

    Each year, humans emit on average 33.4 billion metric tons of CO2 — around 45 percent of which remains in the atmosphere. At present, pilot studies for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) systems propose the removal of CO2 by pumping it into holes deep underground. This is a costly and difficult process, and it carries with it a long term risk of the gas leaking back out — possibly many miles away from the original downward source. An alternative solution is to convert the CO2 into calcium or magnesium carbonate.

     

  • Wastewater from fracking is often highly radioactive

    New studies have found that waste from fracking operations can be highly radioactive. A geological survey reported that millions of barrels of wastewater from unconventional wells in Pennsylvania and conventional wells in New York are 3,609 times more radioactive than the federal limit for drinking water, and 300 times more radioactive than a Nuclear Regulatory Commission limit for nuclear plant discharges.

  • Climate change threatens public health, safety, economy along U.S. coasts

    A new technical study from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reports that the effects of climate change will continue to threaten the health and vitality of U.S. coastal communities’ social, economic, and natural systems. All U.S. coasts are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change such as sea-level rise, erosion, storms, and flooding, especially in the more populated low-lying parts of the U.S. coast along the Gulf of Mexico, Mid-Atlantic, northern Alaska, Hawaii, and island territories. The report says that the financial risks associated with both private and public hazard insurance are expected to increase dramatically.

  • Extreme rainfall linked to global warming

    A worldwide review of global rainfall data has found that the intensity of the most extreme rainfall events is increasing across the globe as temperatures rise. In the most comprehensive review of changes to extreme rainfall ever undertaken, researchers evaluated the association between extreme rainfall and atmospheric temperatures at more than 8,000 weather gauging stations around the world.

  • The historical probability of drought

    Droughts can severely limit crop growth, causing yearly losses of around $8 billion in the United States. It may be possible, however, to minimize those losses if farmers can synchronize the growth of crops with periods of time when drought is less likely to occur. Researchers are working to create a reliable “calendar” of seasonal drought patterns that could help farmers optimize crop production by avoiding days prone to drought.