Legislative & Regulatory Update

What Lake Tahoe tells us about a changing climate

Climate Change News - ENN - March 13, 2015 - 8:37am
A recently published study on how natural and man-made sources of nitrogen are recycled through the Lake Tahoe ecosystem provides new information on how global change may affect the iconic blue lake.“High-elevation lakes, such as Lake Tahoe, are sentinels of climate change,” said Lihini Aluwihare, associate professor of geosciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) at UC San Diego and co-author of the study. “Small changes in the lake's chemistry can have big impacts on the entire ecosystem.”Lake Tahoe's nitrogen concentration is one of several factors that helps maintain its crystal clear waters. To keep Tahoe blue in the future, the researchers say it's important to keep a close eye on the nitrogen balance in the ecosystem over time.

Princeton University geologists mapping the Earth's mantle in 3D

When a 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck central China's Sichuan province in 2008, seismic waves rippled through the region, toppling apartment houses in the city of Chengdu and swaying office buildings 1,000 miles away in Shanghai.Though destructive, earthquakes provide benefit in one respect: they help researchers learn about the structure of the Earth, which in turn could lead to more accurate predictions of damage from future quakes and volcanic activity. By eavesdropping on the seismic vibrations of quakes as they rumble through the Earth, researchers can detect the existence of structures such as mineral deposits, subterranean lakes, and upwellings of magma. Thanks to a growing earthquake detection network and superfast computers, geoscientists are now able to explore the Earth's interior, a region that has been more inaccessible than the deepest ocean or the farthest planet in our solar system. 

Bristol University sheds new light on early terrestrial vertebrate

The first 3D reconstruction of the skull of a 360 million-year-old near-ancestor of land vertebrates has been created by scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge. The 3D skull, which differs from earlier 2D reconstructions, suggests such creatures, which lived their lives primarily in shallow water environments, were more like modern crocodiles than previously thought. 

Saturn's moon Enceladus is spewing tiny silica grains, new study finds

A new study by a team of Cassini mission scientists led by the University of Colorado Boulder have found that microscopic grains of rock detected near Saturn imply hydrothermal activity is taking place within the moon Enceladus.The grains are the first clear indication of an icy moon having hydrothermal activity, in which seawater infiltrates and reacts with a rocky crust, emerging as a heated, mineral-laden solution. The finding adds to the tantalizing possibility that Enceladus, one of at least 60 Saturn moons or moonlets and which displays remarkable geologic activity including geysers, could contain environments suitable for living organisms.

Could China & India's Air Pollution be behind our Cold, Snowy Winters?

Climate Change News - ENN - March 11, 2015 - 3:02pm
It's March. It's freezing. And there's half a foot of snow on the ground. When is this winter going to end?Many scientists think that climate change might be one cause of this year's "snowpocalypse" in Boston and bitter cold snaps in New York and Washington.But physicists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been looking into another culprit: air pollution in China and India.

ACC Commends Senators Portman and Shaheen for Reintroducing Energy Efficiency Bill

Energy - March 11, 2015 - 12:17pm
We commend Senators Portman and Shaheen for their steadfast efforts to ensure that energy efficiency has a prominent place on the nation’s energy policy agenda.

Warm Winter in Pacific Northwest means less snowpack and water worries

Climate Change News - ENN - March 11, 2015 - 8:42am
If it seemed like Oregon has had a lot of unseasonably warm days this winter, well, it’s because we have. Now the focus is on a very low snowpack – and the implications that may have later this year.The meteorological winter – which is comprised of December, January and February – recently wrapped up and depending on where you live in Oregon, it was one of the warmest – if not the warmest – winters on record.

Wetland restoration can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Climate Change News - ENN - March 10, 2015 - 4:31pm
Restoration of wetlands can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is shown in a report that has been written in part by researchers from the University of Gothenburg. Former wetlands that have been drained and which are currently used for forestry and agriculture give off 11.4 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. That can be compared with Sweden's total emissions of 57.6 million tons (when the land use sector is not included). But in Sweden's report to the Climate Convention, emissions from drained peatland are not visible since they are included with forest growth.

ACC Welcomes Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act

Chemical Safety - March 10, 2015 - 9:16am
Bipartisan, compromise bill builds upon key accomplishments of 2013 legislation.

ACC Welcomes Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act

Toxic Substances Control Act - March 10, 2015 - 9:16am
Bipartisan, compromise bill builds upon key accomplishments of 2013 legislation.

Solar Impulse going around the world on sunshine

After 13 years of planning, the Solar Impulse SI2 took off last night from Al-Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi at 7:12 a.m. local time. This initiated the first leg of its historic attempt to be the first solar-powered airplane to fly around the world. If all goes well, the plane will return to Al-Bateen in June or July. As reported here in January, the first leg was a short 12-hour “shakedown cruise” to Muscat, Oman, piloted by Andre Borschberg. The plane landed safely in Muscat, more or less on schedule, at 12:14 p.m. Eastern time.Of the two pilots who will take turns behind the wheel, Borschberg is the engineer and former fighter pilot who is intimately familiar with every detail of the plane’s design and construction.

Solar Impulse going around the world on sunshine

Climate Change News - ENN - March 10, 2015 - 8:48am
After 13 years of planning, the Solar Impulse SI2 took off last night from Al-Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi at 7:12 a.m. local time. This initiated the first leg of its historic attempt to be the first solar-powered airplane to fly around the world. If all goes well, the plane will return to Al-Bateen in June or July. As reported here in January, the first leg was a short 12-hour “shakedown cruise” to Muscat, Oman, piloted by Andre Borschberg. The plane landed safely in Muscat, more or less on schedule, at 12:14 p.m. Eastern time.Of the two pilots who will take turns behind the wheel, Borschberg is the engineer and former fighter pilot who is intimately familiar with every detail of the plane’s design and construction.

CO2 increase may intensify future droughts in tropics

Climate Change News - ENN - March 9, 2015 - 4:37pm
A new study suggests that increases in atmospheric CO2 could intensify extreme droughts in tropical and subtropical regions -- such as Australia, the southwest and central United States, and southern Amazonia -- at much a faster rate than previously anticipated, explains University of Texas at Austin professor Rong Fu in a commentary in the March 9 edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Is rain dependent on soil moisture?

Climate Change News - ENN - March 6, 2015 - 3:16pm
It rains in summer most frequently when the ground holds a lot of moisture. However, precipitation is most likely to fall in regions where the soil is comparatively dry. This is the conclusion reached by researchers at ETH Zurich following an analysis of worldwide data. Their study contributes to a better understanding of soil moisture, a little explored climatic factor.

ACC Welcomes Introduction of ORDEAL Act

Environmental Regulations - March 6, 2015 - 5:11am
Legislation would give EPA more time to review and revise air quality standards.

Urban expansion could greatly increase flood risks

Climate Change News - ENN - March 5, 2015 - 2:07pm
A heads-up to New York, Baltimore, Houston and Miami: a new study suggests that these metropolitan areas and others will increase their exposure to floods even in the absence of climate change, according to researchers from Texas A&M University. The study presents first-ever global forecasts of how the exposure of urban land to floods and droughts may change due to urban expansion in the near future. In 2000, about 30 percent of the global urban land (over 75,000 square miles) was located in the high-frequency flood zones; by 2030, this will reach nearly 40 percent (280,000 square miles) as the global urban land grows from 250,000 square miles to 720,000 square miles, the authors say.

Are the EU's air pollution rules weaker than China's?

Regulatory news - ENN - March 5, 2015 - 8:20am
Europe’s coal plants will be allowed to emit more deadly pollutants than their notorious Chinese counterparts under EU proposals for new air quality rules heavily influenced by the big energy lobby, new research has found. A Greenpeace investigation has found new pollution limits for coal-fired power plants currently being discussed by the European Union are significantly weaker than those in place in China, as well as several times weaker than what’s already been achieved by the least polluting plants in other developed economies, including the US and Japan.

University of Oxford finds trees inhale less carbon when they are drought - impacted

Climate Change News - ENN - March 5, 2015 - 7:34am
For the first time, an international research team has provided direct evidence of the rate at which individual trees in the Amazonian basin 'inhale' carbon from the atmosphere during a severe drought. The researchers measured the growth and photosynthesis rates of trees at 13 rainforest plots across Brazil, Peru and Bolivia, comparing plots that were affected by the strong drought of 2010 with unaffected plots. They found that while growth rates of the trees in drought-affected plots were unchanged, the rate of photosynthesis – by which trees convert carbon into energy to fuel their activities – slowed down by around 10 percent over six months. Their paper, published in the journal, Nature, concludes that trees may be channelling their more limited energy reserves into growth rather than maintaining their own health. Computer simulations of the biosphere have predicted such responses to drought, but these are the first direct observations of this effect across tropical forests.  

New insight on the Tree of Life from Temple University

Temple University researchers have assembled the largest and most accurate tree of life calibrated to time, and surprisingly, it reveals that life has been expanding at a constant rate. "The constant rate of diversification that we have found indicates that the ecological niches of life are not being filled up and saturated," said Temple professor S. Blair Hedges, a member of the research team's study, published in the early online edition of the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution. "This is contrary to the popular alternative model which predicts a slowing down of diversification as niches fill up with species." The tree of life compiled by the Temple team is depicted in a new way --- a cosmologically-inspired galaxy of life view --- and contains more than 50,000 species in a tapestry spiraling out from the origin of life.

Combined Arctic ice observations show decades of loss

Climate Change News - ENN - March 3, 2015 - 10:14am
It's no surprise that Arctic sea ice is thinning. What is new is just how long, how steadily, and how much it has declined. University of Washington researchers compiled modern and historic measurements to get a full picture of how Arctic sea ice thickness has changed. The results, published this month in The Cryosphere, show a thinning in the central Arctic Ocean of 65 percent between 1975 and 2012. September ice thickness, when the ice cover is at a minimum, is 85 percent thinner for the same 37-year stretch.

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