The Eco News Roundup brings stories and commentary about issues related to climate change, renewable energy and the environment.

Birds sensed severe storms and fled before tornado outbreak

Golden-winged warblers apparently knew in advance that a storm that would spawn 84 confirmed tornadoes and kill at least 35 people last spring was coming, according to a report in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on December 18. The birds left the scene well before devastating supercell storms blew in. The discovery was made quite by accident while researchers were testing whether the warblers, which weigh “less than two nickels,” could carry geolocators on their backs. It turns out they can, and much more. With a big storm brewing, the birds took off from their breeding ground in the Cumberland Mountains of eastern Tennessee, where they had only just arrived, for an unplanned migratory event. All told, the warblers travelled 1,500 kilometers in 5 days to avoid the historic tornado-producing storms.

How will climate change transform agriculture?

Climate change impacts will require major but very uncertain transformations of global agriculture systems by mid-century, according to new research from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis. Climate change will require major transformations in agricultural systems, including increased irrigation and moving production from one region to another, according to the new study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters. However without careful planning for uncertain climate impacts, the chances of getting adaptation wrong are high, the study shows.

Pilot plant for the removal of extreme gas charges from deep waters installed

Being part of the mining area Herrerias in Andalusia, deep waters of Pit Lake Guadiana show extremely high concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2). In the case of a spontaneous ebullition, human beings close-by would be jeopardized. To demonstrate the danger and the possible solution, scientists of the Spanish Institute of Geology and Mining, the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU, Bilbao) and the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) constructed a pilot plant for degassing. A fountain pulls deep water through a pipe to the surface, where the gas can escape from the water. The buoyancy produced by the bubbles provides the energy required for driving the flow.

Report: Clearing rainforests distorts wind and water, packs climate wallop beyond carbon

A new study released today presents powerful evidence that clearing trees not only spews carbon into the atmosphere, but also triggers major shifts in rainfall and increased temperatures worldwide that are just as potent as those caused by current carbon pollution. Further, the study finds that future agricultural productivity across the globe is at risk from deforestation-induced warming and altered rainfall patterns. The report, “Effects of Tropical Deforestation on Climate Change and Agriculture,” published today in Nature Climate Change and released in collaboration with Climate Focus provides the most comprehensive analysis to date of the climate impacts of tropical forest destruction on agriculture in the tropics and thousands of miles away. Specifically, the study finds that deforestation in South America, Southeast Asia and Africa may alter growing conditions in agricultural areas in the tropics and as far away as the US Midwest, Europe and China.

Guelph researchers recipe: Cook farm waste into energy

It takes some cooking, but turning farm waste into biofuels is now possible and makes economic sense, according to preliminary research from the University of Guelph. Guelph researchers are studying how to make biofuels from farm waste, especially “wet” waste that is typically difficult to use. They have developed a fairly simple procedure to transport waste and produce energy from it.

Scientists have struggled to find uses for wet and green waste, including corn husks, tomato vines and manure. Dry farm waste, such as wood chips or sawdust, is easier to use for generating power. Often, wet farm waste materials break down before reaching their destination.

Researchers led by engineering professor Animesh Dutta, director of the Bio-Renewable Innovation Lab (BRIL) at U of G, have found a solution: pressure cooking.

Massive study provides first detailed look at how Greenland’s ice is vanishing

The Greenland Ice Sheet is the second-largest body of ice on Earth. It covers an area about five times the size of New York State and Kansas combined, and if it melts completely, oceans could rise by 20 feet. Coastal communities from Florida to Bangladesh would suffer extensive damage. Now, a new study is revealing just how little we understand this northern behemoth.

 

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