Legislative & Regulatory Update

Cloth masks offer poor protection against air pollution

Climate Change News - ENN - August 19, 2016 - 12:12pm
Results of a new study by environmental health scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst suggest that inexpensive cloth masks worn by people who hope to reduce their exposure to air pollution vary widely in effectiveness and could be giving users a false sense of security, especially in highly polluted areas.Researchers Richard Peltier, Kabindra Shakya and colleagues believe theirs is the first study to rigorously test disposable surgical masks and washable cloth masks, which are widely used in Asia and Southeast Asia for personal protection against airborne particulate matter. Their study shows that "wearing cloth masks reduced the exposure to some extent," but "the most commonly used cloth mask products perform poorly when compared to alternative options available on the market."

Pacific sea level predicts global temperature changes

Climate Change News - ENN - August 18, 2016 - 6:14pm
The amount of sea level rise in the Pacific Ocean can be used to estimate future global surface temperatures, according to a new report led by University of Arizona geoscientists.Based on the Pacific Ocean's sea level in 2015, the team estimates by the end of 2016 the world's average surface temperature will increase up to 0.5 F (0.28 C) more than in 2014.In 2015 alone, the average global surface temperature increased by 0.32 F (0.18 C).

Climate Change Is Altering Our National Parks Forever

Regulatory news - ENN - August 18, 2016 - 4:23pm
If you’ve ever taken a camping trip, hiked up a forested mountain trail or simply gone bird watching in an American national park, I have bad news: climate change is increasingly putting our nation’s wilderness in danger. And with July 2016 officially declared the hottest month on the planet since recordkeeping began, matters are only poised to get worse.Rising global temperatures and changing weather patterns are already having wide-reaching effects on these wild places. Nowhere is this more apparent than in areas that used to be thick with ice and snow.

Climate Change Is Altering Our National Parks Forever

Climate Change News - ENN - August 18, 2016 - 4:23pm
If you’ve ever taken a camping trip, hiked up a forested mountain trail or simply gone bird watching in an American national park, I have bad news: climate change is increasingly putting our nation’s wilderness in danger. And with July 2016 officially declared the hottest month on the planet since recordkeeping began, matters are only poised to get worse.Rising global temperatures and changing weather patterns are already having wide-reaching effects on these wild places. Nowhere is this more apparent than in areas that used to be thick with ice and snow.

Blue Cut Fire in California spreads quickly

Climate Change News - ENN - August 18, 2016 - 2:43pm
The Blue Cut Fire, just outside of Los Angeles, is a quickly growing fire that is currently an imminent threat to public safety, rail traffic and structures in the Cajon Pass, Lytle Creek, Wrightwood, Oak Hills, and surrounding areas. An estimated 34,500 homes and 82,640 people are being affected by the evacuation warnings that have been issued. 

Venus-like exoplanet might have oxygen atmosphere, but not life

The distant planet GJ 1132b intrigued astronomers when it was discovered last year. Located just 39 light-years from Earth, it might have an atmosphere despite being baked to a temperature of around 450 degrees Fahrenheit. But would that atmosphere be thick and soupy or thin and wispy? New research suggests the latter is much more likely.Harvard astronomer Laura Schaefer (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, or CfA) and her colleagues examined the question of what would happen to GJ 1132b over time if it began with a steamy, water-rich atmosphere.

Researchers discover a special power in wheat

Climate Change News - ENN - August 17, 2016 - 6:15pm
A new photosynthesis discovery at The University of Queensland may help breed faster-growing wheat crops that are better adapted to hotter, drier climates.A research team led by Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation researcher Professor Robert Henry has today published a paper in Scientific Reports, showing that photosynthesis occurs in wheat seeds as well as in plant leaves."This discovery turns half a century of plant biology on its head," Professor Henry said."Wheat covers more of the earth than any other crop, so the ramifications of this discovery could be huge. It may lead to better, faster-growing, better-yielding wheat crops in geographical areas where wheat currently cannot be grown." 

Can't stand the heat? Study reveals how we work out if we're too hot

Climate Change News - ENN - August 17, 2016 - 5:38pm
With temperatures soaring across the UK, our ability to detect and avoid places that are too warm is vital for regulating our body temperature. However, until now, little was known about the molecular mechanisms responsible for detecting warmth in the sensory neurons of our skin.A new King's College London study, published today in Nature, reveals that a gene called TRPM2 initiates a 'warm' signal in mice that drives them to seek cooler environments. When this gene is removed, the mice are unable to distinguish between cool and warm temperatures.

NASA Graphic Shows Severity of Rainstorm That Caused Louisiana Flooding

Climate Change News - ENN - August 17, 2016 - 4:34pm
A new graphic created by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency illustrates the severity of a recent rainstorm that caused widespread flooding in Louisiana this week, killing 11 people and forcing tens of thousands of residents from their homes. 

Sea ice strongly linked to climate change in past 90,000 years

Climate Change News - ENN - August 17, 2016 - 4:03pm
"The Arctic sea ice responded very rapidly to past climate changes. During the coldest periods of the past 90,000 years the sea ice edge spread relatively quickly to the Greenland-Scotland Ridge, and probably far into the Atlantic Ocean." says first author Ulrike Hoff, a researcher at Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE).Sea ice amplifies the climate changes that are occurring at any given time. Its growth and melting has profound effects on climate, the marine environment and ocean circulation."The Arctic sea ice responded very rapidly to past climate changes. During the coldest periods of the past 90,000 years the sea ice edge spread relatively quickly to the Greenland-Scotland Ridge, and probably far into the Atlantic Ocean." says first author Ulrike Hoff, a researcher at Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE).

Sea ice strongly linked to climate change in past 90,000 years

Climate Change News - ENN - August 17, 2016 - 11:11am
"The Arctic sea ice responded very rapidly to past climate changes. During the coldest periods of the past 90,000 years the sea ice edge spread relatively quickly to the Greenland-Scotland Ridge, and probably far into the Atlantic Ocean." says first author Ulrike Hoff, a researcher at Centre for Arctic Gas Hydrate, Environment and Climate (CAGE).Sea ice amplifies the climate changes that are occurring at any given time. Its growth and melting has profound effects on climate, the marine environment and ocean circulation.

Slower snowmelt affects downstream water availability in western mountains

Climate Change News - ENN - August 17, 2016 - 10:32am
Western communities are facing effects of a warming climate with slower and earlier snowmelt reducing streamflows and possibly the amount of water reaching reservoirs used for drinking water and agriculture, according to a study published in July."As the climate warms, there is actually a slower snowmelt - both in timing and rates, which makes for a less efficient streamflow," Adrian Harpold, ecohydrologist at the University of Nevada, Reno said. Harpold, who initiated the study two years ago at the University of Colorado Boulder, is a co-author of the paper published in AGU publications Geophysical Research Letters.

Solid batteries improve safety

Lithium-ion batteries store a lot of energy in a small space, making them the energy source of choice for mobile electronic devices. Today, mobile phones, laptops, e-bikes and electric cars are all powered by such batteries. Researchers at ETH Zurich have now developed a type of battery that, unlike conventional ones, consists entirely of solid chemical compounds and is non-flammable.Conventional lithium-ion batteries are not without their dangers: mobile phone batteries have exploded several times in the past, resulting in injuries, and only six months ago an entire row of houses burned down in the old town of Steckborn on Lake Constance. The blaze was caused by a model-making battery that allegedly caught fire due to being charged improperly.

Offshore Wind Moves a Step Closer for North Carolina

While we’re a long way behind countries like the UK, there seems to be a growing momentum behind US offshore wind development—suggesting we might finally get serious about the incredible potential for this increasingly competitive technology. The latest such signal is an announcement from the Department of Interior proposing a lease sale for the 122,405-Acre Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area.

Offshore Wind Moves a Step Closer for North Carolina

Climate Change News - ENN - August 16, 2016 - 4:39pm
While we’re a long way behind countries like the UK, there seems to be a growing momentum behind US offshore wind development—suggesting we might finally get serious about the incredible potential for this increasingly competitive technology. The latest such signal is an announcement from the Department of Interior proposing a lease sale for the 122,405-Acre Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area.

Overfishing on Coral Reefs Reduces Nutrients Healthy Ecosystems Need

Regulatory news - ENN - August 16, 2016 - 4:16pm
Overfishing of large and top predatory fishes on Caribbean coral reefs substantially reduces the amount of nutrients stored and recycled within the ecosystem by fishes, new interdisciplinary research published today in Nature Communications concludes.The study, by scientists at the University of Washington, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Smithsonian Institution and North Carolina State University, suggests that while avoiding local extinction of fish species is a conservation priority, management actions that preserve large fish groups such as sharks, groupers, snappers and jacks are needed to maintain an adequate flow of nutrients within ecosystems.

Mapping the health threat of wildfires under climate change in US West

Climate Change News - ENN - August 16, 2016 - 4:08pm
A surge in major wildfire events in the U.S. West as a consequence of climate change will expose tens of millions of Americans to high levels of air pollution in the coming decades, according to a new Yale-led study conducted with collaborators from Harvard.The researchers estimated air pollution from past and projected future wildfires in 561 western counties, and found that by mid-century more than 82 million people will experience "smoke waves," or consecutive days with high air pollution related to fires.The regions likely to receive the highest exposure to wildfire smoke in the future include northern California, western Oregon, and the Great Plains.

Today's electric vehicles can make a dent in climate change

Climate Change News - ENN - August 16, 2016 - 3:51pm
Electric cars that exist today could be widely adopted despite range constraints, replacing about 90 percent of existing cars, and could make a major dent in the nation's carbon emissions, new research indicates.The study, which found that a wholesale replacement of conventional vehicles with electric ones is possible today and could play a significant role in meeting climate change mitigation goals, was published today in the journal Nature Energy by Jessika Trancik, the Atlantic Richfield Career Development Associate Professor in Energy Studies at MIT's Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS), along with graduate student Zachary Needell, postdoc James McNerney, and recent graduate Michael Chang SM '15.

Methane leaks: A new way to find and fix in real time

Regulatory news - ENN - August 16, 2016 - 11:07am
Researchers have flown aircraft over an oil and gas field and pinpointed -- with unprecedented precision -- sources of the greenhouse gas methane in real time. The technique led to the detection and immediate repair of two leaks in natural gas pipelines in the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest.The technique led to the detection and immediate repair of two leaks in natural gas pipelines in the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest. The approach could inform strategies for meeting new federal limits on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. Methane emissions have spiked in recent decades along with the boom in natural gas drilling.

Methane leaks: A new way to find and fix in real time

Climate Change News - ENN - August 16, 2016 - 11:07am
Researchers have flown aircraft over an oil and gas field and pinpointed -- with unprecedented precision -- sources of the greenhouse gas methane in real time. The technique led to the detection and immediate repair of two leaks in natural gas pipelines in the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest.The technique led to the detection and immediate repair of two leaks in natural gas pipelines in the Four Corners region of the U.S. Southwest. The approach could inform strategies for meeting new federal limits on methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. Methane emissions have spiked in recent decades along with the boom in natural gas drilling.

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