Legislative & Regulatory Update

New research urges a rethink on global energy subsidies

Climate Change News - ENN - March 13, 2017 - 2:42pm
The hidden toll that subsidies for electricity, fossil fuels, and transport have on social welfare, economic growth and technological innovation needs to be exposed through better research says a new paper in Ecological Economics by Benjamin K Sovacool.Energy subsidies, which have mostly supported fossil fuels and nuclear power over the previous half century, have historically kept energy prices artificially low, compared to market rates. But they come at a high cost to governments and taxpayers. The Indian government, for example, spends as much as it does on fuel subsidies for kerosene and liquid propane, used to light rural houses, as it does on education. India subsidises fossil energy consumption by $21 billion every year, which works out at $16 per person. Given that 500 million of its people live on less than $2 per day, this is a surprisingly large amount.

Stanford scientists map seawater threat to California Central Coast aquifers

Researchers from Stanford and the University of Calgary have transformed pulses of electrical current sent 1,000 feet underground into a picture of where seawater has infiltrated freshwater aquifers along the Monterey Bay coastline.The findings, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Hydrology but are available online now, help explain factors controlling this phenomenon, called saltwater intrusion, and could help improve the groundwater models that local water managers use to make decisions about pumping groundwater to meet drinking or farming needs.

Dartmouth Study Finds Increased Water Availability from Climate Change May Release More Nutrients into Soil in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica

Climate Change News - ENN - March 13, 2017 - 12:34pm
As climate change continues to impact the Antarctic, glacier melt and permafrost thaw are likely to make more liquid water available to soil and aquatic ecosystems in the McMurdo Dry Valleys, potentially providing a more nutrient-rich environment for life, according to a Dartmouth study recently published in Antarctic Science. (A pdf of the study is available upon request).With an average annual air temperature of -2.2 F and an average precipitation of 3-50 mm per year, the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica are dominated by dry soils underlain by permafrost. The Dry Valleys ecosystem is severely limited by liquid water and nutrients, resulting in limited organic matter. One such limited nutrient is phosphorus, an element that is essential to all living organisms. Understanding the spatial distribution of phosphorus in the soil is crucial to identifying where life could become more abundant in the future. 

Vicious circle of drought and forest loss in the Amazon

Climate Change News - ENN - March 13, 2017 - 10:42am
Logging that happens today and potential future rainfall reductions in the Amazon could push the region into a vicious dieback circle. If dry seasons intensify with human-caused climate change, the risk for self-amplified forest loss would increase even more, an international team of scientists finds. If however there is a great variety of tree species in a forest patch, according to the study this can significantly strengthen the chance of survival. To detect such non-linear behavior, the researchers apply a novel complex network analysis of water fluxes.“The Amazon rainforest is one of the tipping elements in the Earth system,” says lead-author Delphine Clara Zemp who conducted the study at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany. “We already know that on the one hand, reduced rainfall increases the risk of forest dieback, and on the other hand, forest loss can intensify regional droughts. So more droughts can lead to less forest leading to more droughts and so on. Yet the consequences of this feedback between the plants on the ground and the atmosphere above them so far was not clear. Our study provides new insight into this issue, highlighting the risk of self-amplifying forest loss which comes on top of the forest loss directly caused by the rainfall reduction.” This study results from the  German-Brazilian Research Training Group on Dynamical Phenomena in Complex Networks at (IRTG1740) hosted by Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. 

Agencies team up to accelerate Earth system prediction

Climate Change News - ENN - March 13, 2017 - 9:53am
Accurately predicting the weather - at short and long time scales - is among the most complex and important challenges faced by science. Protecting the nation’s security and economic well-being will increasingly rely on improved skill in forecasting weather, weather-driven events like floods and droughts, and long-term shifts in weather, ocean and sea-ice patterns.

NASA Sees Wind Shear Affecting Tropical Cyclone 11S

Climate Change News - ENN - March 10, 2017 - 2:33pm
Tropical Cyclone 11S appeared elongated in NASA satellite imagery as a result of the storm being battered by wind shear.When NASA's Terra satellite flew over Tropical Cyclone 11S on March 10 at 0515 UTC (12:15 a.m. EST) the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer or MODIS instrument took a visible light picture of the storm. The image revealed that the storm has been stretched out by moderate vertical wind shear.

Volcano Breath: Measuring Sulfur Dioxide from Space

Climate Change News - ENN - March 10, 2017 - 1:58pm
There is no mint that can take the edge off sulfurous emissions from volcanoes, but researchers can use remote sensing to better understand volcanic breathing.Volcanoes erupt, they spew ash, their scarred flanks sometimes run with both lava and landslides. But only occasionally. A less dramatic but important process is continuous gas emissions from volcanoes; in other words, as they exhale. A number of volcanoes around the world continuously exhale water vapor laced with heavy metals, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide, among many other gases. Of these, sulfur dioxide is the easiest to detect from space.

Measurements by school pupils paved way for key research findings

Climate Change News - ENN - March 10, 2017 - 1:47pm
With their measurements and samples, nearly 3,500 schoolchildren have assisted a research study on lakes and global warming, now published in an academic journal. The results show that water temperatures generally remain low despite the air becoming warmer. This helps to curb the outflow of greenhouse gases.

Carbon-based Approaches for Saving Rainforests Should Include Biodiversity Studies

Climate Change News - ENN - March 10, 2017 - 1:43pm
Conservationists working to safeguard tropical forests often assume that old growth forests containing great stores of carbon also hold high biodiversity, but a new study finds that the relationship may not be as strong as once thought, according to a group of researchers with contributions from WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and other organizations. Tropical forests are exceptionally rich in both carbon and biodiversity, but the study recently published in the journal Scientific Reports indicates that, within the tropics, tree diversity and forest carbon do not necessarily correlate, and that there is no detectable relationship between the two factors across a region, a scale relevant for conservation planning and the establishment of protected areas. For instance, in Central Africa, some areas that are dominated by one or a few tree species are high in carbon density, whereas some forests with many more tree species have a lower carbon density. 

NASA's Aerial Survey of Polar Ice Expands Its Arctic Reach

For the past eight years, Operation IceBridge, a NASA mission that conducts aerial surveys of polar ice, has produced unprecedented three-dimensional views of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, providing scientists with valuable data on how polar ice is changing in a warming world. Now, for the first time, the campaign will expand its reach to explore the Arctic’s Eurasian Basin through two research flights based out of Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the northern Atlantic Ocean.

NASA's Aerial Survey of Polar Ice Expands Its Arctic Reach

Climate Change News - ENN - March 10, 2017 - 12:57pm
For the past eight years, Operation IceBridge, a NASA mission that conducts aerial surveys of polar ice, has produced unprecedented three-dimensional views of Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets, providing scientists with valuable data on how polar ice is changing in a warming world. Now, for the first time, the campaign will expand its reach to explore the Arctic’s Eurasian Basin through two research flights based out of Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the northern Atlantic Ocean.

Collaborative research adds to greater understanding of amnesia

Defined as the loss of memory due to brain injury, shock, fatigue, repression or illness, amnesia can be short- or long-term, full or partial. Renowned expert in the cognitive neuroscience of memory, York Research Chair Shayna Rosenbaum, a professor of psychology in the Faculty of Health, has spent her professional life investigating, among other things, the mystery of amnesia.

Research shows ocean acidification is spreading rapidly in the Arctic

Climate Change News - ENN - March 10, 2017 - 8:27am
Ocean acidification is spreading rapidly in the western Arctic Ocean in both area and depth, potentially affecting shellfish, other marine species in the food web, and communities that depend on these resources, according to new research published in Nature Climate Change by NOAA, Chinese marine scientists and other partners.

Researchers develop equation that helps to explain plant growth

It is rare in biology that a single trait can answer questions spanning several fields of research. One such trait is plant biology’s “leaf mass per area,” a simple measurement calculated by weighing a dried leaf and dividing by its original fresh area. Leaf mass per area, or LMA, which has been measured in thousands of studies, is used in nearly every field of plant biology to make predictions of many processes and properties such as leaf photosynthetic rates, nitrogen content and plant environmental preferences.

Researchers develop equation that helps to explain plant growth

Climate Change News - ENN - March 9, 2017 - 10:16am
It is rare in biology that a single trait can answer questions spanning several fields of research. One such trait is plant biology’s “leaf mass per area,” a simple measurement calculated by weighing a dried leaf and dividing by its original fresh area. Leaf mass per area, or LMA, which has been measured in thousands of studies, is used in nearly every field of plant biology to make predictions of many processes and properties such as leaf photosynthetic rates, nitrogen content and plant environmental preferences.

New research finds infants are more exposed to harmful pollution on the way to school than on the way home

Babies in prams accompanying older siblings on the school run are twice as likely to be exposed to harmful air pollution in the morning than in the afternoon, a new study has found.

Investment key in adapting to climate change in West Africa

Climate Change News - ENN - March 9, 2017 - 10:06am
Climate projections for West Africa show that crop yields and grass for livestock grazing are likely to decline in the future. But a new study in the journal Global Environmental Change shows that when ineffective institutions and political instability limit investment in agriculture climate change would have greater impacts on regional food security.West Africa is a major producer of crops such as cassava, millet, and sorghum but in the future, regional production may not be able to meet the growing demand for food and livestock feed. “How and to what extent the region’s agricultural sector develops in the future will have profound implications for the livelihoods of millions of people,” says IIASA researcher Amanda Palazzo, who led the study.

Iran and Middle East could adopt fully renewable electricity systems

Iran can transition to a fully renewable electricity system and financially benefit from it by 2030. Researchers at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) show that major oil-producing countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region could turn their abundant renewable energy resources into lucrative business opportunities in less than two decades.

Iran and Middle East could adopt fully renewable electricity systems

Climate Change News - ENN - March 9, 2017 - 9:59am
Iran can transition to a fully renewable electricity system and financially benefit from it by 2030. Researchers at Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) show that major oil-producing countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region could turn their abundant renewable energy resources into lucrative business opportunities in less than two decades.

People who Trust Their Doctor Tend to Feel Better

Confidence in doctors, therapists and nursing staff leads to an improvement in subjectively perceived complaints, satisfaction and quality of life in patients. This is the conclusion of a meta-analysis by psychologists at the University of Basel, published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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