The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.
Federal and state health officials said Thursday the confirmed number of hantavirus cases linked to Yosemite National Park visitors has risen to eight, and West Virginia authorities said a victim there is the third person to die.
Seven of the cases have been traced to the “signature tent cabins” in Curry Village, one of Yosemite’s most popular campgrounds.
Last week, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said up to 10,000 people were at risk after staying in the cabins between June 10 and Aug. 24.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — It’s been seven years since a poisonous cloud spread across tiny Graniteville, S.C., after a deadly train wreck rocked the gritty textile community.
And since that tragic morning in January 2005, a group of researchers has been tracking the lingering effects of chlorine on the public health.
WASHINGTON —The Obama administration has decided to allow Shell to drill in Arctic waters off the Alaska coast, saying that for the time being the company must not go so deep as to hit actual oil because its troubled oil spill containment barge isn’t ready.
A dry winter has turned into a busy summer for firefighters in California’s wildlands, and the largest and most intense fires of the year may be yet to come.
Part of a clutch of loggerhead turtle hatchlings followed the wrong light overnight and ended up in the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor on Thursday. “Most of these eggs hatch at night, and they follow the moon,” Moby Solangi, director of the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies said. “In this case however, “they followed the lights of the casino and it led them into the harbor.”
A team of researchers from Arizona State University have found that warming resulting from megapolitan expansion is seasonally dependent, with greatest warming occurring during summer and least during winter. Among the most practical ways to combat urbanization-induced warming — the painting of building’s roofs white — was found to disrupt regional hydroclimate, highlighting the need for evaluation of tradeoffs associated with combating urban heat islands (UHI). “We found that raising the reflectivity of buildings by painting their roofs white is an effective way of reducing higher average temperatures caused by urban expansion,” said Matei Georgescu, an assistant professor in ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. “However, increased reflectivity also modifies hydroclimatic processes and, in the case of the ‘Sun Corridor,’ can lead to a significant reduction of rainfall. Our maximum Sun Corridor expansion scenario leads to a 12% reduction in rainfall, averaged across the entire state. Painting roofs white leads to an additional 4% reduction in rainfall.”
The United States’ collection of climate models should advance substantially to deliver more detailed, smaller scale climate projections, says a new report from the National Research Council. To meet this need, the report calls for these assorted climate models to take a more integrated path and use a common software infrastructure while adding regional detail, new simulation capabilities, and new approaches for collaborating with their user community. From farmers deciding which crops to plant next season, to mayors preparing for possible heat waves, to insurance companies assessing future flood risks, an array of stakeholders from the public and private sectors rely on and use climate information. With changes in climate and weather, however, past weather data are no longer adequate predictors of future extremes. Advanced modeling capabilities could potentially provide useful predictions and projections of extreme environments, said the committee that wrote the report. Over the past several decades, enormous advances have been made in developing reliable climate models, but significant progress is still required to deliver climate information at local scales that users desire.
Destruction of coastal habitats may release as much as 1 billion tons of carbon into the atmosphere each year, 10 times higher than previously reported, according to a new Duke-led study. Published online this week in PLoS ONE, the analysis provides the most comprehensive estimate of global carbon emissions from the loss of these coastal habitats to date: 0.15 to 1.2 billion tons. It suggests there is a high value associated with keeping these coastal-marine ecosystems intact as the release of their stored carbon costs roughly $6-$42 billion annually.
Deforestation can have a significant effect on tropical rainfall, new research confirms. The findings have potentially devastating impacts for people living in and near the Amazon and Congo forests. A team from the University of Leeds and the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology found that for the majority of Earth’s tropical land surface, air passing over extensive forests produces at least twice as much rain as air passing over little vegetation. In some cases these forests increased rainfall thousands of kilometres away.
A new study of deep-sea species across the globe aims to understand how natural gradients in food and temperature in the dark, frigid waters of the deep sea affect the snails, clams, and other creatures that live there. Similar studies have been conducted for animals in the shallow oceans, but our understanding of the impact of food and temperature on life in the deep sea — Earth’s largest and most remote ecosystem — has been more limited.
For the past four decades scientists have monitored the ebbs and flows of the icefields in the southernmost stretch of South America’s vast Andes Mountains, detecting an overall loss of ice as the climate warms. A new study, however, finds that the rate of glacier thinning has increased by about half over the last dozen years in the Southern Patagonian Icefield, compared to the 30 years prior to 2000. “Patagonia is kind of a poster child for rapidly changing glacier systems,” said Michael Willis, lead author of the study and a research associate at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. “We are characterizing a region that is supplying water to sea level at a big rate, compared to its size.” The Southern Patagonian Icefield together with its smaller northern neighbor, the Northern Patagonian Icefield, are the largest icefields in the southern hemisphere — excluding Antarctica. The new study shows that the icefields are losing ice faster since the turn of the century and contributing more to sea level rise than ever before.
Here are some other links you may find worthwhile:
• Climate Change News Digest
• Climate Progress from Center for American Progress
• Rocky Mountain Institute “an independent, entrepreneurial nonprofit think-and-do tank™ that drives the efficient and restorative use of resources.”
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