Earth

Beijing, China –November 24, 2008 – A study published in Journal of the American Water Resources Association states that the "Green Great Wall," a forest shelterbelt project in northern China running nearly parallel to the Great Wall, is likely to improve climatic and hydrological conditions in the area when completed. The project, which relies on afforestation (a process that changes land without dense tree cover into forest), could lead to an increase in precipitation by up to 20 percent and decrease the temperature in the area.

VERNON – Agriculture producers may find they don't have to bottle their water from the Seymour Aquifer in the Rolling Plains to make it more valuable, according to Texas AgriLife Research scientists.

Drs. John Sij, Cristine Morgan and Paul DeLaune have studied nitrate levels in irrigation water from the Seymour Aquifer for the past three years, and have found nitrates can be as high as 40 parts per million. Though unacceptable for drinking, the water would benefit agricultural producers who use it for irrigation.

The first comprehensive reconstruction of an extreme warm period shows the sensitivity of the climate system to changes in carbon dioxide (CO2) levels as well as the strong influence of ocean temperatures, heat transport from equatorial regions, and greenhouse gases on Earth's temperature.

New data allow for more accurate predictions of future climate and improved understanding of today's warming. Past warm periods provide real data on climate change and are natural laboratories for understanding the global climate system.

University of Chicago scientists have documented that the ocean is growing more acidic faster than previously thought. In addition, they have found that the increasing acidity correlates with increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, according to a paper published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Nov. 24.

Despite broad "dolphin safe" practices, fishing activities have continued to restrict the growth of at least one Pacific Ocean dolphin population, a new report led by a researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego has concluded.

Populations of dolphins in the Eastern Pacific were expected to increase in abundance after successful regulations and agreements were enacted to reduce dolphin deaths as a result of fishing "bycatch," cases in which animals are caught unintentionally along with intended targets.

New research shows that we should be looking to the ground, not the sky, to see where climate change could have its most perilous impact on life on Earth.

Scientists at the University of Toronto Scarborough have published research findings in the prestigious journal, Nature Geoscience, that show global warming actually changes the molecular structure of organic matter in soil.

From a quantitative standpoint, mineral oil is probably the largest contaminant of our body. That this contaminant can be tolerated without health concerns in humans has not been proven convincingly. The current Editorial of the European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology reflects on this and concludes that this proof either has to be provided or we have to take measures to reduce our exposure – from all sources, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and the environmental contamination.

Europe's shape is in a constant change: The Mediterranean basin is shrinking, the Alps are rising and pushing North, and Scandinavia is still rebounding after having been crushed by the weight of a thick and huge ice sheet in the ice ages. But what did Europe look like in the past, what are the processes controlling all these changes and what has the future in store for us? And how does the topography influence the climate of Europe on geological time scales?

While global-warming-induced coastal flooding moves populations inland, the changes in sea level will affect the salinity of estuaries, which influences aquatic life, fishing and recreation.

Researchers from Penn State and the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science are studying the Chesapeake Bay to see how changes in sea level may have affected the salinity of various parts of the estuary.

Chemists at the University of Liverpool have developed a way of converting methane gas into a powder form in order to make it more transportable.

Scientists have developed a material made out of a mixture of silica and water which can soak up large quantities of methane molecules. The material looks and acts like a fine white powder which, if developed for industrial use, might be easily transported or used as a vehicle fuel.

The health threat to city dwellers posed by Southern California wildfires like those of November 2008 may have been underestimated by officials.

Detailed particulate analysis of the smoke produced by previous California wild fires indicates that the composition posed more serious potential threats to health than is generally realized, according to a new paper analyzing particulate matter (PM) from wildfires in Southern California.

MADISON, WI, NOVEMBER 17, 2008– Global land use patterns and increasing pressures on water resources demand creative urban stormwater management. Traditional stormwater management focuses on regulating the flow of runoff to waterways, but generally does little to restore the hydrologic cycle disrupted by extensive pavement and compacted urban soils with low permeability. The lack of infiltration opportunities affects groundwater recharge and has negative repercussions on water quality downstream.

A detailed analysis of black carbon -- the residue of burned organic matter -- in computer climate models suggests that those models may be overestimating global warming predictions.

A new Cornell study, published online in Nature Geosciences, quantified the amount of black carbon in Australian soils and found that there was far more than expected, said Johannes Lehmann, the paper's lead author and a Cornell professor of biogeochemistry. The survey was the largest of black carbon ever published.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – When Ohio State glaciologists failed to find the expected radioactive signals in the latest core they drilled from a Himalayan ice field, they knew it meant trouble for their research.

But those missing markers of radiation, remnants from atomic bomb tests a half-century ago, foretell much greater threat to the half-billion or more people living downstream of that vast mountain range.

It may mean that future water supplies could fall far short of what's needed to keep that population alive.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Materials engineers have created a new type of membrane that separates oil from water and, if perfected, might be used for environmental cleanup, water purification and industrial applications.

The new technology would last longer than conventional filters for separating oil from water and works by attracting water while beading oil, traits that are usually mutually exclusive. Researchers attached the material to a glass filter commonly used in laboratory research.