Thirty Years Of Unique Data Reveal What's Really Killing Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are considered one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet and are dying at alarming rates around the world. Scientists attribute coral bleaching and ultimately massive coral death to a number of environmental stressors, in particular, warming water temperatures due to climate change. A study published in the international journal Marine Biology, reveals what’s really killing coral reefs. With 30 years of unique data from Looe Key Reef in the lower Florida Keys, researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute and collaborators have discovered that the problem of coral bleaching is not just due to a warming planet, but also a planet that is simultaneously being enriched with reactive nitrogen from multiple sources. [Read More]

Carbon Dioxide Absorption By Boron Nitride Foam

A light foam created from two-dimensional sheets of hexagonal boron nitride by materials scientists at Rice University absorbs carbon dioxide. They discovered freeze-drying hexagonal-boron nitride (h-BN) transformed it into a macro-scale foam that disintegrates in liquids. But adding a bit of polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) into the mix turned it into a far more robust and useful material. [caption id="attachment_4124” align="alignleft” width="300”]Blocks of hexagonal-boron nitride foam treated with polyvinyl alcohol proved able to adsorb more than three times its weight in carbon dioxide. [Read More]

Climate Predictions And Reality Are Beginning To Converge

Scientists studying climate change have long debated just how much hotter Earth will become with given levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Models predicting this “climate sensitivity” number may be closer to the observed reality than some previously thought, according to a new University of Washington study. Observations in the past decade appeared to suggest a value lower than predicted by models. But the new study shows that two leading methods for calculating how hot the planet will get are not as far apart as they have appeared. [Read More]

Temperate Broadleaf Forests More Susceptible To Heat Stress

Temperate broadleaf forests, such as the stands of red oak common in New England, absorb more carbon than expected along their edges, but are more susceptible to heat stress. Over centuries, as humans have cleared fields for farms, built roads and highways, and expanded cities, we’ve been cutting down trees. Since 1850, we’ve reduced global forest cover by one-third. We’ve also changed the way forests look. Much of the world’s woodlands now exist in choppy fragments, with 20 percent of the remaining forest within 100 meters of an edge, like a road, backyard, cornfield, or parking lot. [Read More]

The Agulhas Current Is Widening, Not Strengthening

The Indian Ocean’s Agulhas Current is becoming wider rather than stronger, according to a new study by University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science researchers. The findings have important implications for global climate change. The study suggests that intensifying winds in the region may be increasing the turbulence of the current, rather than increasing its flow rate. One of the strongest currents in the world, the Agulhas Current flows along the east coast of South Africa, sending warm, salty water away from the tropics toward the poles. [Read More]

Early Earth's Atmosphere Could Have Been Half As Thick As Today

Did the young Earth really have a more dense atmosphere, as the current theory goes? Researchers recently used bubbles trapped in rocks to demonstrate that the air 2.7 billion years ago exerted at the most only half the pressure of today’s atmosphere. According to a study published this week in the journal Nature Geoscience, the commonly accepted idea that the early Earth had a thicker atmosphere to compensate for weaker sunlight is wrong. [Read More]

Will We Care About Climate Change As Winters Get Warmer?

The majority of Americans have enjoyed more favorable weather conditions during the past 40 years. But that trend is projected to reverse over the course of the coming century. Will that shift come too late to spark demands for policy responses to climate change? A recent analysis published in the journal Nature found that 80 percent of Americans live in counties where the weather is more pleasant than four decades ago. [Read More]

Great Barrier Reef Now 50% Dead Or Dying

More bad news for one of Earth’s largest marine eco-systems. As unprecedented mass bleaching spreads across Australia’s coral reefs, more than half of the corals in many parts of the Great Barrier Reef are dead or dying. Corals consist of tiny animals, known as polyps, which have microscopic plants from the genus Symbiodinium, living inside their cells. The polyps are translucent, but the tiny plants (referred to as symbionts) inside them are brightly colored, and give healthy coral reefstheir robust hue. [Read More]

Global Mass Extinction: No Species Safe, Say Scientists

According to a new study, dominant species with a population spread around the globe are just as vulnerable in a mass extinction as more fragile species confined to a single locale. In the Earth’s history there has been five mass extinction events, including climate change caused by volcanoes and an asteroid hit 66 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs. Generally, geographically widespread animals are less likely to become extinct than animals with smaller geographic ranges, giving them a hedge against regional environmental catastrophes. [Read More]