Graph courtesy of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography
We're creeping closer to a milestone: the highest concentration of atmospheric CO2 in human history. The U.S.’s greenhouse gas emissions are down to 1990s levels—due largely to the recession, the natural gas boom displacing much dirtier coal, and increased fuel efficiency in vehicles—all good news for the Obama administration, which promised to cut emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. But the amount of carbon in the global atmosphere is creeping higher and higher.!--/end tags-->
Tiny crustaceans have a big impact on marine ecosystem health, new research shows.
The shrimp-like herbivores, called mesograzers, are smaller than a thumbtack, but gobble up substantial amounts of algae. Keeping the plants in check makes for clearer waters, which gives seagrass beds access to light and oxygen, researchers report in Ecology. The wee arthropods, in turn, serve as a meal for small fish, which are eaten by larger fish and birds, and on up the food chain.!--/end tags-->
Tensions are heating up between environmentalists and energy proponents as governor Andrew M. Cuomo prepares to release a decision on whether the Empire State will regulate the drilling technology known as hydrofracking. If it does, New York will join a handful of other states allowing some level of “fracking,” including Texas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia and several Midwestern states.!--/end tags-->
As the polar bear has become a poster-child for melting ice, so have tropical rainforests become a symbol of the projected impacts brought by climate change. Previous studies have predicted that with a warming climate, rainforests will shed biomass, plant cover, in a decrease brought by elevated carbon dioxide levels and warming that will dry the climate and kill off trees. But now, a study published in Nature Geoscience suggests that our assumptions are wrong: Rainforests appear to be far hardier than we’ve ever believed.!--/end tags-->
In Europe, legend has it that white storks, those long-distance migrants, deliver babies. Turns out, that’s not true—and not just the part about the babies. Large numbers of the birds are sticking closer to their breeding grounds thanks to a plentiful food supply in the form of heaps of garbage.!--/end tags-->
One Kentucky town has been doused with white stuff this winter—but it’s not snow. Millions of blackbirds have descended on Hopkinsville, overwhelming residents with noise and bird excrement since they arrived in November.!--/end tags-->
The horned puffin is among the numerous bird species that could be affected by an oil spill in Arctic waters. Photo: USFWS via Flickr
Royal Dutch Shell PLC is calling it quits for drilling in the waters off Alaska’s north coast—at least for 2013. The move comes as no surpise, given the series of setbacks the company has encountered.!--/end tags-->
Underwater phytoplankton. Photo by Richard Kirby.
The latest recruits in the name of citizen science are going to be a raucous lot—well, at least according to stereotype. They’re all sailors, and armed with phones, measuring tape, and a circular white “Secchi” disk, they’re being tasked with an important project: mapping the impact of climate warming on the concentrations of phytoplankton in our seas.!--/end tags-->
The 1990s are back. We’re not talking about the striking fashions or the Backstreet Boys (though both are reemerging). Turns out that after being on the rise for more than a decade, carbon dioxide emissions in the United States have fallen to mid-1990s levels, a new report says.