Earth

Millbrook, NY — October 9th, 2008 —The United States lacks the policies needed to ensure that cellulosic biofuel production will not cause environmental harm, says a distinguished group of international scientists. The paper, published in the October 3rd issue of the journal Science, urges decision makers to adopt standards and incentives that will help ensure that future production efforts are sustainable, both energetically and environmentally.

BOULDER--Wildfires can boost ozone pollution to levels that violate U.S. health standards, a new study concludes. The research, by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), focused on California wildfires in 2007, finding that they repeatedly caused ground-level ozone to spike to unhealthy levels across a broad area, including much of rural California as well as neighboring Nevada.

The study was published today in Geophysical Research Letters. It was funded by NASA and by the National Science Foundation, which sponsors NCAR.

The Tsangpo River is the highest major river in the world, starting at 14,500 feet elevation and plunging to the Bay of Bengal, scouring huge amounts of rock and soil along the way. Yet in its upper reaches, the powerful Tsangpo seems to have had little effect on the elevation of the Tibetan Plateau.

Researchers are homing in on the hurricane-prone Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea to assess the likely changes, between now and the middle of the century, in the frequency, intensity, and tracks of these powerful storms. Initial results are expected early next year.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., working with federal agencies as well as the insurance and energy industries, has launched an intensive study to examine how global warming will influence hurricanes in the next few decades.

NEW YORK, October 8, 2008 – The northern part of the Greenland ice sheet experienced extreme snowmelt during the summer of 2008, with large portions of the area subject to record melting days, according to Dr. Marco Tedesco, Assistant Professor of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences at The City College of New York (CCNY), and colleagues. Their conclusion is based on an analysis of microwave brightness temperature recorded by the Special Sensor Microwave Imager (SSM/I) onboard the F13 satellite.

MADISON, WI, OCTOBER 6, 2008–Reuse of agricultural drainage water (DW) for irrigation is one of the few on-farm water management options available to growers on the west side of California's San Joaquin Valley (SJV) for reducing drainage water volumes (San Joaquin Valley Drainage Implementation Program, 2000). Management strategies that reduce drainage volumes are attractive because they would reduce the area required for environmentally sensitive evaporation ponds and lower the costs associated with disposal of the final effluent.

When reef fish get a mouthful of sand, coral reefs can drown.

That's the latest startling evidence to emerge from research into the likely fate of reefs under climate change and rising sea levels, at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS).

Scientists at the UK's National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington have designed a high-speed thermometer that can measure the temperature inside explosions without being damaged in the impact.

The shockwave, heat, soot and debris from an explosion can damage thermometers. Conventional thermocouples do not react quickly enough to capture the information. This makes modeling the interaction of an explosion with its environment problematic – as temperature is essential in any calculations.

Alternative sources of fossil fuels such as oil sands and coal-to-liquids have significant economic promise, but the environmental consequences must also be considered, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – In one of the first comparisons of its kind, researchers have demonstrated that wetlands in tropical areas are able to absorb and hold onto about 80 percent more carbon than can wetlands in temperate zones.

The scientists extracted soil cores from wetlands in Costa Rica and in Ohio and analyzed the contents of the sediment from the past 40 years. Based on their analysis, they estimated that the tropical wetland accumulated a little over 1 ton of carbon per acre per year, and the temperate wetland accumulated .6 tons of carbon per acre per year.