Legislative & Regulatory Update

Acidity in atmosphere minimized to preindustrial levels

Climate Change News - ENN - September 26, 2016 - 11:30am
New research shows that human pollution of the atmosphere with acid is now almost back to the level that it was before the pollution started with industrialization in the 1930s. The results come from studies of the Greenland ice sheet and are published in the scientific journal, Environmental Science and Technology.The Greenland ice sheet is a unique archive of the climate and atmospheric composition far back in time. The ice sheet is made up of snow that falls and never melts, but rather remains year after year and is gradually compressed into ice. By drilling ice cores down through the kilometre-thick ice sheet, the researchers can analyse every single annual layer, which can tell us about past climate change and concentration of greenhouse gases and pollutants in the atmosphere.

Millions of Trees are Dying Across the US

Climate Change News - ENN - September 26, 2016 - 7:53am
Throughout the U.S., trees are dying at an astonishing rate. The reasons for the die-off vary from location to location — drought, disease, insects and wildfires – but the root cause in many of these cases is the same: climate change.The epidemic is even threatening the oldest white oak tree in America, a 600-year-old giant in New Jersey that predates Columbus’ visit to the Americas.

Inexpensive semiconducting organic polymers can harvest sunlight to split carbon dioxide into alcohol fuels

Chemists at The University of Texas at Arlington have been the first to demonstrate that an organic semiconductor polymer called polyaniline is a promising photocathode material for the conversion of carbon dioxide into alcohol fuels without the need for a co-catalyst."This opens up a new field of research into new applications for inexpensive, readily available organic semiconducting polymers within solar fuel cells," said principal researcher Krishnan Rajeshwar, UTA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry and co-Director of UTA's Center for Renewable Energy, Science & Technology.

A Cruise Ship Just Sailed the Northwest Passage, Thanks to Climate Change

Climate Change News - ENN - September 23, 2016 - 8:07am
The Northwest Passage originated as an unattainable and lethal legend when Europeans arrived in the Americas and longed for an easy sea route across North America. Now, a cruise ship has successfully traversed the route in only a month.It wasn’t until 1906 that Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen successfully — but with extreme difficulty — navigated what had, until then, been a theoretical journey. In the years since, heavily fortified ships with icebreakers could only make it through the floes of the Arctic in summer, when sea ice was at its lowest.Now, a massive 14-deck cruise ship has completed the journey that was a pipe dream just over one hundred years ago — and it’s raising a lot of concerns.

Soil will absorb less atmospheric carbon than expected this century, study finds

Climate Change News - ENN - September 22, 2016 - 6:23pm
By adding highly accurate radiocarbon dating of soil to standard Earth system models, environmental scientists from the University of California, Irvine and other institutions have learned a dirty little secret: The ground will absorb far less atmospheric carbon dioxide this century than previously thought.Researchers used carbon-14 data from 157 sample sites around the world to determine that current soil carbon is about 3,100 years old -- rather than the 450 years stipulated by many Earth system models."This work indicates that soils have a weaker capacity to soak up carbon than we have been assuming over the past few decades," said UCI Chancellor's Professor of Earth system science James Randerson, senior author of a new study on the subject to be published in the journal Science. "It means we have to be even more proactive in finding ways to cut emissions of fossil fuels to limit the magnitude and impacts of climate warming."

Greenland ice is melting seven percent faster than previously thought

Climate Change News - ENN - September 21, 2016 - 6:58pm
The same hotspot in Earth's mantle that feeds Iceland's active volcanoes has been playing a trick on the scientists who are trying to measure how much ice is melting on nearby Greenland.According to a new study in the journal Science Advances, the hotspot softened the mantle rock beneath Greenland in a way that ultimately distorted their calculations for ice loss in the Greenland ice sheet. This caused them to underestimate the melting by about 20 gigatons (20 billion metric tons) per year.

Where and how climate change is altering species

Climate Change News - ENN - September 21, 2016 - 6:20pm
New research published Monday (Sept. 19) in the journal Nature Climate Change by researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark and the University of Wisconsin-Madison illuminates where and why novel species combinations are likely to emerge due to recent changes in temperature and precipitation. The study includes global maps of novelty that offer testable predictions and carry important implications for conservation and land management planning.

Soil management may help stabilize maize yield in the face of climate change

Climate Change News - ENN - September 20, 2016 - 5:42pm
How will we feed our growing population in the face of an increasingly extreme climate? Many experts suggest the answer lies in breeding novel crop varieties that can withstand the increases in drought, heat, and extreme rainfall events predicted in the not-too-distant future. But breeding is only part of the equation, according to new research from the University of Illinois and several collaborating institutions across the Midwestern U.S."It might not be necessary to put all the stress of climate adaptation and mitigation on new varieties. Instead, if we can manage agroecosystems more appropriately, we can buffer some of the effects of climate instability," says U of I and USDA Agricultural Research Service ecologist Adam Davis.

Arctic Sea Ice Extent in 2016 Ties as Second Lowest in The Satellite Record

Climate Change News - ENN - September 20, 2016 - 9:56am
Arctic sea ice extent shrank to 1.6 million square miles earlier this month — tying 2016 with 2007 as the second lowest sea ice minimum since satellite records began. The lowest year remains 2012. The new measurements follow a decades-long trend of declining sea ice extent in the Arctic as global temperatures rise. 

You Could Be Eating Endangered Fish Without Even Realizing It

Regulatory news - ENN - September 20, 2016 - 8:19am
When you go out for sushi or visit a seafood restaurant, how sure can you be that you’re really getting what you’ve ordered? Last week, Oceana released some shocking findings: Around the world, an average of one in five samples of seafood is mislabeled.The report examined 25,000 samples worldwide and reviewed more than 200 published studies from 55 different countries. Every continent was represented apart from Antarctica. The mislabeling was present in every part of the seafood supply chain, including retail, wholesale, distribution, import/export, packaging, processing, and landing.That’s bad news for many reasons – mislabeling makes dining dangerous for consumers (not all of these species are considered suitable for human consumption), and difficult for people who are trying to avoid mercury exposure or who simply want to dine more sustainably. In most cases, cheap fish were being passed off as more expensive varieties.

Heatwaves in the ocean: Risk to ecosystems?

Climate Change News - ENN - September 19, 2016 - 5:12pm
Marine ecosystems are responsible for about half of global annual primary production and more than one billion people rely on fish as their primary protein source. Latest studies show that enormous warm water bubbles in the ocean are having a noticeable impact on ecosystems. How should we interpret these changes?

World deforestation: we're losing a forest the size of NYC every 2 days!

Climate Change News - ENN - September 19, 2016 - 11:26am
This is an issue of global concern. Climate change, urbanization, and resource depletion (more mouths to feed, burn wood in stoves for, graze more cattle for) is still happening at a fast an alarming clip, influencing our planet’s ability to store CO2 emissions, and protect diversity. 

Virgin Atlantic: Emissions from Steel Mills Could Fuel Airplanes

Climate Change News - ENN - September 16, 2016 - 2:32pm
After five years of research and development, Virgin Atlantic and one of its clean-technology partners, Illinois-based LanzaTech, developed a source of jet fuel made of waste gases from steel mills. According to the companies, this new source of jet fuel passed extensive tests that both delivered on performance and promise to result in carbon emissions savings of 65 percent compared to conventional jet fuel.This discovery comes at a time when airlines, seeking to mitigate what is a carbon-intensive business, have long dabbled with jet fuel blended with algae and other biofuels. The Dutch carrier KLM experimented with algae fuel blends, has flown transatlantic flights using blends of kerosene and cooking oil, and is still apparently committed to sourcing these fuels when available. Alaska Airlines also considered using recycled cooking oil to reduce its carbon emissions. Earlier this year, United kicked off flights between San Francisco and Los Angeles using a biofuel-conventional blend. Aviation fuel using feedstock from Brazilian sugarcane is also touted as an option.

Renewables have the economic advantage over fossil fuels

A new energy market analysis shows the average cost of electricity from renewables is already lower than from fossil fuels, writes Alex Kirby. And as renewables eat deeper into the 'market share' of coal and gas power plants, so the entire economics of fossil fuel power generation will unravel.The cheapest way of generating energy today is to use renewable fuels - and the authors of a new analysis predict that renewables are set to enjoy even more of an advantage within a few years.The study by the Carbon Tracker Initiative says renewable power generation costs are already lower on average worldwide than those of fossil fuels.

Renewables have the economic advantage over fossil fuels

Climate Change News - ENN - September 16, 2016 - 12:00pm
A new energy market analysis shows the average cost of electricity from renewables is already lower than from fossil fuels, writes Alex Kirby. And as renewables eat deeper into the 'market share' of coal and gas power plants, so the entire economics of fossil fuel power generation will unravel.The cheapest way of generating energy today is to use renewable fuels - and the authors of a new analysis predict that renewables are set to enjoy even more of an advantage within a few years.The study by the Carbon Tracker Initiative says renewable power generation costs are already lower on average worldwide than those of fossil fuels.

Arctic sea ice heading towards second lowest on record

Climate Change News - ENN - September 15, 2016 - 2:07pm
This year the extent of summer sea ice in the Arctic is heading towards being the second lowest on record. The Arctic sea ice minimum marks the day – typically in mid-September – when sea ice reaches its smallest extent at the end of the summer melt season. British Antarctic Survey sea-ice scientist, Dr Jeremy Wilkinson, provides a scientific perspective on the trend of rapidly decreasing Arctic sea ice.

Greenhouse gas-monitoring aircraft keep tabs on the Amazon's rising methane levels

Regulatory news - ENN - September 15, 2016 - 11:25am
Research led by the National Centre of Earth Observation at the University of Leicester is going to new heights in the atmosphere to get a better handle on methane emitted from wetlands in the Amazon.Using small aircraft flying in an upward spiral and collecting samples of the air, the team has measured the levels of methane in the atmosphere over the Amazon basin in unprecedented detail.In the process they've shown the value of satellite measurements of methane for the region, paving the way for research that will keep better tabs on the greenhouse gas. 

Greenhouse gas-monitoring aircraft keep tabs on the Amazon's rising methane levels

Climate Change News - ENN - September 15, 2016 - 11:25am
Research led by the National Centre of Earth Observation at the University of Leicester is going to new heights in the atmosphere to get a better handle on methane emitted from wetlands in the Amazon.Using small aircraft flying in an upward spiral and collecting samples of the air, the team has measured the levels of methane in the atmosphere over the Amazon basin in unprecedented detail.In the process they've shown the value of satellite measurements of methane for the region, paving the way for research that will keep better tabs on the greenhouse gas. 

All polar bears across the Arctic face shorter sea ice season

Climate Change News - ENN - September 14, 2016 - 6:15pm
A new University of Washington study, with funding and satellite data from NASA and other agencies, finds a trend toward earlier sea ice melt in the spring and later ice growth in the fall across all 19 polar bear populations, which can negatively impact the feeding and breeding capabilities of the bears. The paper, to appear Sept. 14 in The Cryosphere, is the first to quantify the sea ice changes in each polar bear subpopulation across the entire Arctic region using metrics that are specifically relevant to polar bear biology.

Green city in UAE desert has much to teach the world

A new desert city in the United Arab Emirates without light switches or water taps has much to teach people around the world about saving energy and precious resources.With its low-rise and energy efficient buildings, smart metering, excellent public transport - a personal transportation pod is pictured below - and extensive use of renewable energy, the 2,000 citizens of Masdar City, in Abu Dhabi, are living in a place which is a ‘green’ example to city planners around the globe.

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