Earth

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Mercury pollution has already spurred public health officials to advise eating less fish, but it could become a more pressing concern in a warmer world.

So suggests a paper that appears in a recent issue of the journal Oecologia.

Washington, D.C.—Asteroids are hunks of rock that orbit in the outer reaches of space, and scientists have generally assumed that their small size limited the types of rock that could form in their crusts. But two newly discovered meteorites may rewrite the book on how some asteroids form and evolve. Researchers from the Carnegie Institution, the University of Maryland, and the University of Tennessee report in the January 8th edition of Nature that these meteorites are ancient asteroid fragments consisting of feldspar-rich rock called andesite.

MADISON — Economists use leading indicators — the drivers of economic performance – to take the temperature of the economy and predict the future.

Now, in a new study, scientists take a page from the social science handbook and use leading indicators of the environment to presage the potential collapse of ecosystems. The study, published today (Jan. 5) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by two ecologists and an economist, suggests it may be possible to use nature's leading indicators to avert environmental disaster.

Climate researchers have shown that big volcanic eruptions over the past 450 years have temporarily cooled weather in the tropics—but suggest that such effects may have been masked in the 20th century by rising global temperatures. Their paper, which shows that higher latitudes can be even more sensitive to volcanism, appears in the current issue of Nature Geoscience.

PORTLAND, Ore. January 5, 2009. A recent study shows that shade trees on the west and south sides of a house in California can reduce a homeowner's summertime electric bill by about $25.00 a year. The study, conducted last year on 460 single-family homes in Sacramento, is the first large-scale study to use utility billing data to show that trees can reduce energy consumption.

MADISON, WI, DECEMBER 29, 2008 – The over-enrichment of fresh, transitional, and marine waters with nitrogen (N) can lead to problems associated with eutrophication, such as a change in species composition of aquatic plants and nuisance algal blooms. In this context, dynamic models of flow and water quality are required to aid the implementation of the Water Framework Directive and to understand the impacts of environmental change.

University of British Columbia researchers are offering the first compelling evidence to explain regular tremors under Vancouver Island.

The China Digital Seismic Network (CDSN) provides excellent opportunities to quantify the kinematics and characterize the dynamics of the active fault systems in China. By carefully examining waveforms microearthquakes occurring in South China (Yunnan Province) in the period of 1999—2006, we found that approximately 40% of the earthquakes are similar or repeating events. Along the Lijiang-Ninglang fault, we used 2 well-organized clusters that occurred in the brittle-ductile transition zone to estimate the deep slip rate.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--Future increases in wind strength along the California coast may have far-reaching effects, including more intense upwelling of cold water along the coast early in the season and increased fire danger in Southern California, according to researchers at the Climate Change and Impacts Laboratory at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

San Francisco-- The United States could suffer the effects of abrupt climate changes within decades—sooner than some previously thought--says a new government report. It contends that seas could rise rapidly if melting of polar ice continues to outrun recent projections, and that an ongoing drought in the U.S. west could be the start of permanent drying for the region. Commissioned by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, the report was authored by experts from the U.S. Geological Survey, Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and other leading institutions.