Earth

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The United States lacks the standards to ensure that producing biofuels from cellulose won't cause environmental harm, says a distinguished group of international scientists. But because the industry is so young, policymakers have an exceptional opportunity to develop incentive programs to ensure the industry doesn't harm the environment.

MBL, WOODS HOLE, MA — As the United States and other nations commit to the path of biofuels production, a group of scientists is calling for sustainable practices in an industry that will, as MBL scientist Jerry Mellilo says, "reshape the Earth's landscape in a significant way."

In a paper published in the Oct. 3 issue of Science magazine, Melillo and 22 co-authors call for science-based policy in the emerging global biofuels industry, which by 2050 could command as much land as is currently farmed for food.

The most comprehensive geological review ever undertaken of the upper U.S. Gulf Coast suggests that a combination of rising seas and dammed rivers could flood large swaths of wetlands this century in one or more bays from Alabama to Texas.

Arctic sea ice extent during the 2008 melt season dropped to the second-lowest level since satellite measurements began in 1979, reaching the lowest point in its annual cycle of melt and growth on Sept. 14, according to researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Boulder, CO and Madison, WI -- 1 OCTOBER 2008 -- Topsoil does not last forever. Records show that topsoil erosion, accelerated by human civilization and conventional agricultural practices, has outpaced long-term soil production. Earth's continents are losing prime agricultural soils even as population growth and increased demand for biofuels claim more from this basic resource.

MADISON, WI, September 29, 2008 -- Combating soil erosion is a primary concern for agricultural producers in the United States, and many have incorporated conservation tillage systems in their effort to maintain a profitable crop output.

Cover crops are an important tool in this cycle, and while it is known that using nitrogen fertilizers can increase these crops biomass, the resulting levels of nitrogen for the following cash crops have been unknown.

CLEVELAND - When a reactor in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded in 1986 in what was then the Soviet republic of Ukraine, radioactive elements were released in the air and dispersed over the Soviet Union, Europe and even eastern portions of North America.

CLEVELAND – Sediment in rivers comes from erosion of the landscape as well as the erosion and collapse of the banks themselves. Just how much each source contributes to a river – and how it affects the flow and path of that river – is the subject of research by Peter Whiting, professor of geological sciences at Case Western Reserve University.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---Chalk up another environmental benefit for shade-grown Latin American coffee: University of Michigan researchers say the technique will provide a buffer against the ravages of climate change in the coming decades.

Over the last three decades, many Latin American coffee farmers have abandoned traditional shade-growing techniques, in which the plants are grown beneath a diverse canopy of trees. In an effort to increase production, much of the acreage has been converted to "sun coffee," which involves thinning or removing the canopy.

Boulder, CO, USA -- The United Nations estimates that 1.1 billion people across the globe lack access to sustainable, clean drinking water and that 1.6 million children will die each year because of that lack of access. How can science help provide more drinkable water for a growing population on an Earth with limited fresh surface-water and groundwater resources?