Saturday, October 23

Tag: climate change

The Controversial Quest to Make Cow Burps Less Noxious
Science

The Controversial Quest to Make Cow Burps Less Noxious

It’s an oppressively hot morning in the barnyard, even in the shade of the long open-air structure where the cows come to feed. On a typical farm, they would gather around a trough, but here at UC Davis they chow from special blue bins, which detect when and how much each one eats. It’s like Weight Watchers, only researchers here aren’t so much interested in these cows’ figures, but how much they burp.Animal scientist Frank Mitloehner leads me to another kind of feeder, one that could easily be mistaken for a miniature wood chipper. He grabs a handful of the alfalfa pellets that the machine dispenses when it detects that a cow has poked its head in. “This is like candy to them,” Mitloehner says. I stick my head into the machine as Mitloehner points out a small metal tube within: “This p...
How Healthy Is a Farm’s Soil? Check How Active Its Microbes Are
Science

How Healthy Is a Farm’s Soil? Check How Active Its Microbes Are

But industrial agriculture is endangering these microbes. When farmers focus on turning over field after field of the same crop, and kill nonprofitable plants (aka weeds) with chemicals, the microbiome can become less healthy. These methods, traditional tilling, and the loss of cultivable land due to city-building have spurred the loss of viable soil. Increased flooding and drought due to climate change makes the situation worse, disrupting the balance of nutrients and living organisms in the soil with either too much or too little water.This is a big problem, because it can set off a cascade of biodiversity loss, as well as economic losses for farmers. According to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which published an assessment on lan...
Pulling methane out of the atmosphere could slow global warming—if we can figure out how to do it
Science

Pulling methane out of the atmosphere could slow global warming—if we can figure out how to do it

“There’s probably nothing we could do that has a bigger effect on shaving peak temperatures over the next few decades than removing methane,” says Rob Jackson, a researcher at Stanford and a coauthor of both studies. Methane is relatively scarce: carbon dioxide is about 200 times more concentrated in the atmosphere. Nevertheless, it has contributed around 30% of total global warming to date, or about 0.5 ˚C, according to a recent report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Though its lifetime in the atmosphere is only about 10 years, over short time frames it is about 86 times as powerful a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide. “Methane is going to go away, but in the meantime, it’s going to cause problems,” says Vaishali Naik, an atmospheric scientist for t...
Valley Fever Is Spreading Through a Hotter, Drier Western US
Science

Valley Fever Is Spreading Through a Hotter, Drier Western US

Over the following decades, researchers would discover some important truths about valley fever. They found that it is endemic to certain areas of the world, that the fungus that causes the disease lives in soil, that a majority of people infected by it are asymptomatic, and, crucially, that weather patterns and seasonal climate conditions have an effect on the prevalence of Coccidioides.A few years ago, Morgan Gorris, an Earth systems scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, decided to investigate an important question: What makes a place hospitable to Cocci? She soon discovered that the fungus thrives in a set of specific conditions. US counties where valley fever is endemic have an average annual temperature above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and get under 600 millimeters ...
Alok Sharma: COP26 is for ordinary people, not just climate warriors
Science

Alok Sharma: COP26 is for ordinary people, not just climate warriors

By Adam Vaughan COP26 president Alok Sharma during a meeting in New Delhi, India, on 18 AugustPRAKASH SINGH/AFP via Getty Images The man charged with leading a successful climate change summit in five weeks’ time insists he is no environmentalist – but is now convinced of the urgency of tackling global warming. “I’m a normal person, right, I’m not someone who’s some great climate warrior coming into this,” says Alok Sharma, the president of the COP26 meeting, who took up the job in February 2020. “But it has given me a real appreciation and understanding of why it is so vital that we get this right.” Sharma says that this understanding is also spreading among the public, citing a recent chat with a nurse ...
The Long-Lost Tale of an 18th-Century Tsunami, as Told by Trees
Science

The Long-Lost Tale of an 18th-Century Tsunami, as Told by Trees

And trees don’t forget. In the 1990s, researchers identified a “ghost forest” of dead cedars near the Washington coast; tree-ring dating confirmed that they’d indeed died in 1700. But Black and Dziak sought out trees that experienced the tsunami—and survived. The rings of those trees could contain evidence of the stress caused by living through an enormous flood.Finding them wasn’t easy. “It takes a little bit of sleuthing to find some old growth forests that are close enough to the coastline,” Dziak says, “and there's good reason.” Large, accessible trees near the coastline were like gold for loggers who colonized the area in the centuries after the quake. Fires have taken down others. Still, the team found trees that seemed to fit the bill: Old-growth Douglas firs congregating in a st...
In a Tiny Arctic Town, Food Is Getting Harder to Come By
Science

In a Tiny Arctic Town, Food Is Getting Harder to Come By

It’s easy to think that sea ice would impact only the ocean, but there are many energy exchanges between the terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Seabirds, for example, nest on an island, forage in the water, and then come back on the land, where their guano fertilizes plants. The tundra, as a low-productivity area, relies on energy inputs from the marine environment. This means that when sea ice dynamics change, not only marine food resources but also terrestrial resources change. And because people depend on terrestrial resources, whether by picking eggs or eating caribou, what happens to the sea ice impacts the human population, too. Everything is interconnected.Still, the specifics of climate impacts on this system are difficult to predict without further study. “Right now it’s pretty...
UN says global carbon emissions set to rise 16 per cent by 2030
Science

UN says global carbon emissions set to rise 16 per cent by 2030

By Adam Vaughan A coal-fired power plant in Hammerstadt, GermanyFlorian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images A UN analysis today revealed a bleak upward trajectory for global carbon dioxide emissions, despite new CO2-curbing plans by scores of countries, including major emitters such as the US and the European Union’s 27 member states. Global emissions will rise 16 per cent by 2030 on 2010 levels under governments’ plans put forward since the start of 2020, according to the synthesis report from UN Climate Change. That puts the world ruinously off track for the 45 per cent cut that climate scientists say is needed to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of holding global warming to 1.5°C. “This report is really ...
What Is ‘Fire Weather,’ and Why Is It Getting Worse?
Science

What Is ‘Fire Weather,’ and Why Is It Getting Worse?

The map above visualizes when these three variables—temperature, humidity, and wind—combined to produce fire-weather days, shown as percent change since 1973. All parts of Colorado have experienced at least 100 percent more fire weather days. Texas is looking gnarly, too, with the southern tip of the state seeing a 284 percent increase. And Central California is similarly troubled, with a 269 percent jump in fire weather days. “The Southwest was really coming out on top,” says Weber. “We're even seeing some parts of Oklahoma and Kansas, some of these places where we don't traditionally think of fires.”But if you’re wondering why we don’t often hear about catastrophic fires in the plains states, like we do in California, Oregon, and Colorado, that’s because “fire weather” just means the ...
Are UK energy supplies in trouble after fire at French power link?
Science

Are UK energy supplies in trouble after fire at French power link?

By Adam Vaughan Fire at the National Grid IFA interconnector site in Sellindge, UK on 15 SeptemberEdward Evans/Bloomberg via Getty Images A fire broke out on 15 September at a facility that is part of the UK’s biggest electricity cable to continental Europe, causing wholesale power prices to spike and raising concerns over squeezed energy supplies in the coming months. So is the UK heading for a winter energy crisis? Here’s what you need to know. What’s happened? The fire occurred at a converter hall in Sellindge, Kent, which takes DC electricity running along the 2 … Source link