Legislative & Regulatory Update

Climate models may underestimate future warming on tropical mountains

Climate Change News - ENN - January 30, 2017 - 9:28am
In few places are the effects of climate change more pronounced than on tropical peaks like Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, where centuries-old glaciers have all but melted completely away. Now, new research suggests that future warming on these peaks could be even greater than climate models currently predict.Researchers led by a Brown University geologist reconstructed temperatures over the past 25,000 years on Mount Kenya, Africa’s second-highest peak after Kilimanjaro. The work shows that as the world began rapidly warming from the last ice age around 18,000 years ago, mean annual temperatures high on the mountain increased much more quickly than in surrounding areas closer to sea level. At an elevation of 10,000 feet, mean annual temperature rose 5.5 degrees Celsius from the ice age to the pre-industrial period, the study found, compared to warming of only about 2 degrees at sea level during the same period.

NASA Studies Cosmic Radiation to Protect High-Altitude Travelers

NASA scientists studying high-altitude radiation recently published new results on the effects of cosmic radiation in our atmosphere. Their research will help improve real-time radiation monitoring for aviation industry crew and passengers working in potentially higher radiation environments. Imagine you’re sitting on an airplane. Cruising through the stratosphere at 36,000 feet, you’re well above the clouds and birds, and indeed, much of the atmosphere. But, despite its looks, this region is far from empty.

NASA Sees Development of Tropical Cyclone 3S along Western Australia's Coast

A NASA satellite provided a look at heavy rainfall occurring in a tropical low pressure system as it was consolidating and strengthening into what became Tropical Storm 3S in Southwest Indian Ocean.On January 26 the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) warned that System 90P, a low pressure area moving westward over northwestern Australia would strengthen into a tropical cyclone and by January 27 it had become Tropical Cyclone 3S.The warm waters of the Southern Indian Ocean and low vertical wind shear are providing a good environment for tropical cyclone development.

NASA Sees Development of Tropical Cyclone 3S along Western Australia's Coast

Climate Change News - ENN - January 27, 2017 - 3:52pm
A NASA satellite provided a look at heavy rainfall occurring in a tropical low pressure system as it was consolidating and strengthening into what became Tropical Storm 3S in Southwest Indian Ocean.On January 26 the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) warned that System 90P, a low pressure area moving westward over northwestern Australia would strengthen into a tropical cyclone and by January 27 it had become Tropical Cyclone 3S.The warm waters of the Southern Indian Ocean and low vertical wind shear are providing a good environment for tropical cyclone development.

Toxic Mercury in Aquatic Life Could Spike with Greater Land Runoff

Climate Change News - ENN - January 27, 2017 - 2:26pm
A highly toxic form of mercury could jump by 300 to 600 percent in zooplankton – tiny animals at the base of the marine food chain – if land runoff increases by 15 to 30 percent, according to a new study.And such an increase is possible due to climate change, according to the pioneering study by Rutgers and other scientists published today in Science Advances.“With climate change, we expect increased precipitation in many areas in the Northern Hemisphere, leading to more runoff,” said Jeffra K. Schaefer, study coauthor and assistant research professor in Rutgers’ Department of Environmental Sciences. “That means a greater discharge of mercury and organic carbon to coastal ecosystems, which leads to higher levels of mercury in the small animals living there. These coastal regions are major feeding grounds for fish, and thus the organisms living there serve as an important source of mercury that accumulates to high levels in the fish people like to eat.” 

High-Tech Maps of Tropical Forest Diversity Identify New Conservation Targets

Climate Change News - ENN - January 26, 2017 - 2:53pm
New remote sensing maps of the forest canopy in Peru test the strength of current forest protections and identify new regions for conservation effort, according to a report led by Carnegie’s Greg Asner published in Science.Asner and his Carnegie Airborne Observatory team used their signature technique, called airborne laser-guided imaging spectroscopy, to identify preservation targets by undertaking a new approach to study global ecology—one that links a forest’s variety of species to the strategies for survival and growth employed by canopy trees and other plants. Or, to put it in scientist-speak, their approach connects biodiversity and functional diversity.

Metallic hydrogen, once theory, becomes reality at Harvard

Nearly a century after it was theorized, Harvard scientists have succeeded in creating the rarest - and potentially one of the most valuable - materials on the planet. 

Joint Russian-Japanese Research in Space Helps Understand the Effects of Microgravity on Bone Tissue

The co-authors from the Russian side are Oleg Gusev (Extreme Biology Lab, Kazan Federal University) and Vladimir Sychyov (Institute of Medical and Biological Problems of RAS).As is well-known, space flights bring with them a unique set of health hazards. That includes bone and muscle deterioration. Loss of bone density is currently one of the most serious problems for astronauts. It is similar in nature to osteoporosis, an ailment common for senior people. Understanding microgravity and its effects on living organisms can help find new clinical methods of coping with this issue.

Floating towards water treatment

Floating wetlands may seem odd but are perfectly natural. They occur when mats of vegetation break free from the shore of a body of water. That got ecological engineers curious about how they affect the water they bob up and down in.A group from Saint Francis University in Pennsylvania and the University of Oklahoma, including researcher William Strosnider, has found that the floating wetlands show promise for water treatment. They engineered four different floating treatment wetlands designs using different materials and wetland plants.

Changes in Rainfall, Temperature Expected to Transform Coastal Wetlands This Century

Climate Change News - ENN - January 26, 2017 - 9:27am
Changes in rainfall and temperature are predicted to transform wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world within the century, a new study from the USGS and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley concludes.Sea-level rise isn’t the only aspect of climate change expected to affect coastal wetlands: changes in rainfall and temperature are predicted to transform wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico and around the world within the century. These changes will take place regardless of sea-level rise, a new study from the US Geological Survey and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley concludes.

Antarctic Bottom Waters Freshening at Unexpected Rate

Climate Change News - ENN - January 26, 2017 - 9:22am
In the cold depths along the sea floor, Antarctic Bottom Waters are part of a global circulatory system, supplying oxygen-, carbon- and nutrient-rich waters to the world’s oceans. Over the last decade, scientists have been monitoring changes in these waters. But a new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) suggests these changes are themselves shifting in unexpected ways, with potentially significant consequences for the ocean and climate.In a paper published January 25 in Science Advances, a team led by WHOI oceanographers Viviane Menezes and Alison Macdonald report that Antarctic Bottom Water (AABW) has freshened at a surprising rate between 2007 and 2016—a shift that could alter ocean circulation and ultimately contribute to rising sea levels. 

New Class of Materials Could Revolutionize Biomedical, Alternative Energy Industries

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Polyhedral boranes, or clusters of boron atoms bound to hydrogen atoms, are transforming the biomedical industry. These manmade materials have become the basis for the creation of cancer therapies, enhanced drug delivery and new contrast agents needed for radioimaging and diagnosis. Now, a researcher at the University of Missouri has discovered an entirely new class of materials based on boranes that might have widespread potential applications, including improved diagnostic tools for cancer and other diseases as well as low-cost solar energy cells.

Study reveals that climate change could dramatically alter fragile mountain habitats

Climate Change News - ENN - January 25, 2017 - 2:38pm
Mountain regions of the world are under direct threat from human-induced climate change which could radically alter these fragile habitats, warn an international team of researchers - including an expert from The University of Manchester.

Getting by With a Little Help From Their Friends

Climate Change News - ENN - January 25, 2017 - 12:05pm
A long-term study by UCSB scientists and colleagues demonstrates that failing kelp forests can be rescued by nearby neighbors.After big winter storms, clumps of kelp forests often wash ashore along the Southern California coast. Contrary to the devastation these massive piles of seaweed might indicate, new research suggests the kelp may rebound pretty quickly, with help from neighboring beds.

Florida Corals Tell of Cold Spells and Dust Bowls Past, Foretell Weather to Come

Climate Change News - ENN - January 25, 2017 - 10:07am
Scientists seeking an oceanic counterpart to the tree rings that document past weather patterns on land have found one in the subtropical waters of Dry Tortugas National Park near the Florida Keys, where long-lived boulder corals contain the chemical signals of past water temperatures. By analyzing coral samples, USGS researchers and their colleagues have found evidence that an important 60- to 85-year-long cycle of ocean warming and cooling has been taking place in the region as far back as the 1730s.The cycle called the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, or AMO, is linked to rainfall over most of the US, Midwestern droughts, hurricane intensification and landfalls, and the transfer of ocean heat from the tropical Caribbean Sea to the North Atlantic Ocean by way of the Gulf Stream. It interacts with ongoing climate change in poorly understood ways, and it is very hard to spot in pre-20th century records.

Is warming behind India's depleting groundwater?

Climate Change News - ENN - January 25, 2017 - 9:21am
Changing rainfall patterns may be depleting India’s groundwater storage more than withdrawals for agricultural irrigation, says a new study published in January by Nature Geoscience.  While India’s diminishing groundwater is widely attributed to over extraction, especially in the northern agricultural belts of Punjab and Haryana, the study holds decline in rainfall caused by the rise in the temperatures in the Indian Ocean — a major factor in monsoonal rainfall patterns over the Indo-Gangetic Plain —  to be a more important cause.   

Why storms are becoming more dangerous as the climate warms

Climate Change News - ENN - January 25, 2017 - 7:26am
Researchers know that more, and more dangerous, storms have begun to occur as the climate warms. A team of scientists has reported an underlying explanation, using meteorological satellite data gathered over a 35-year period.

Engineers eat away at Ms. Pac-Man score with artificial player

Using a novel approach for computing real-time game strategy, engineers have developed an artificial Ms. Pac-Man player that chomps the existing high score for computerized play.In the popular arcade game, Ms. Pac-Man must evade ghost enemies while she collects items and navigates an obstacle-populated maze. The game is somewhat of a favorite among engineers and computer scientists who compete to see who can program the best artificial player.

From tiny phytoplankton to massive tuna: how climate change will affect energy flows in ocean ecosystems

Climate Change News - ENN - January 24, 2017 - 10:47am
Phytoplankton are the foundation of ocean life, providing the energy that supports nearly all marine species. Levels of phytoplankton in an ocean area may seem like a good predictor for the amount of fish that can be caught there, but a new study by Nereus Program researchers finds that this relationship is not so straightforward.“Using measurements of phytoplankton growth at the base of the food web to estimate the potential fish catch for different parts of the ocean has long been a dream of oceanographers,” says author Ryan Rykaczewski, Assistant Professor at University of South Carolina and Nereus Program Alumnus. “We know that these two quantities must be related, but there are several steps in the food chain that complicate the conversion of phytoplankton growth to fish growth.”

Sequencing poisonous mushrooms to potentially create medicine

A team of Michigan State University scientists has genetically sequenced two species of poisonous mushrooms, discovering that they can theoretically produce billions of compounds through one molecular assembly line. This may open the door to efficiently tackling some lethal diseases.

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