Earth

In an interview published today in Weather, the magazine of the Royal Meteorological Society, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales talks about his longstanding interest in the weather and its impact on the environment. The interview covers His Royal Highness's love of gardening and his environmental work to protect the rainforests, as well as his memories of the impact of weather on communities at home and abroad.

Researchers from TU Delft joined forces with the Center for Space Research (CSR) in Austin, Texas, USA, to develop a method for creating an accurate picture of Greenland's shrinking ice cap. On the strength of this method, it is now estimated that Greenland is accountable for a half millimetre-rise in the global sea level per year. These findings will be published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters in early October.

It is common knowledge that the world's oceans and atmosphere are warming as humans release more and more carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere. However, fewer people realize that the chemistry of the oceans is also changing—seawater is becoming more acidic as carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolves in the oceans. According to a paper to be published this week by marine chemists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, these changes in ocean temperature and chemistry will have an unexpected side effect—sounds will travel farther underwater.

LIVERMORE, Calif. - Will there be another "dust bowl" in the Great Plains similar to the one that swept the region in the 1930s?

It depends on water storage underground. Groundwater depth has a significant effect on whether the Great Plains will have a drought or bountiful year.

Recent modeling results show that the depth of the water table, which results from lateral water flow at the surface and subsurface, determines the relative susceptibility of regions to changes in temperature and precipitation.

University of Calgary climate change scientist David Keith and his team are working to efficiently capture the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide directly from the air, using near-commercial technology.

In research conducted at the U of C, Keith and a team of researchers showed it is possible to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) – the main greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming – using a relatively simple machine that can capture the trace amount of CO2 present in the air at any place on the planet.

The sudden thinning in 1997 of Jakobshavn Isbræ, one of Greenland's largest glaciers, was caused by subsurface ocean warming, according to research published in the journal Nature Geoscience. The research team traces these oceanic shifts back to changes in the atmospheric circulation in the North Atlantic region.

A team of scientists, including Penn State Distinguished Professor of Biology Hong Ma, has identified a gene in rice that controls the size and weight of rice grains. The gene may prove to be useful for breeding high-yield rice and, thus, may benefit the vast number of people who rely on this staple food for survival. "Our work shows that it is possible to increase rice's yield by enhancing the expression of a particular gene," said Ma.

Following a record-breaking season of arctic sea ice decline in 2007, NASA scientists have kept a close watch on the 2008 melt season. Although the melt season did not break the record for ice loss, NASA data are showing that for a four-week period in August 2008, sea ice melted faster during that period than ever before.

Boulder, CO, USA–The Apollo Moon missions of 1969-1972 all share a dirty secret. "The major issue the Apollo astronauts pointed out was dust, dust, dust," says Professor Larry Taylor, Director of the Planetary Geosciences Institute at the University of Tennessee. Fine as flour and rough as sandpaper, Moon dust caused 'lunar hay fever,' problems with space suits, and dust storms in the crew cabin upon returning to space.

A team of Penn State physicists has discovered that the size of grains, such as sand, above a buried object is important in determining the force required to begin raising the object. No one, until now, has discovered how much force is required to initiate an object's movement through grains. The result may be useful for engineering foundations for objects to be anchored in sandy soils, such as power-line towers, or for designing industrial mixer blades, such as those used in pharmaceutical processing.