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Eco-news archive: May-June 2006





Yangtze river dolphin
Last chance for China's dolphin
(Jun 28, 2006)


Zoologists have developed a plan to save the Yangtze River dolphin, probably the world's most endangered mammal, from extinction. They hope to take some dolphins from the Yangtze and rear them in a nearby lake, protected from fishermen. The species is threatened by overfishing which removes its food, industrialisation, boat collisions, and through being caught in fishing nets.

Read more. Source: BBC

glacier
Glaciers are melting at their fastest rate for 5,000 years
(Jun 27, 2006)


Mountain glaciers are melting faster now than at any time in the past 5,000 years because of an unprecedented period of global warming, a study has found. Ice cores taken from mountains as far apart as the Andes in South America and the Himalayas in Asia have revealed how climate change is leading to a full-scale retreat of the world's tropical glaciers.

Read more. Source: Independent

Antarctica
'Warm' species invading Antarctic
(Jun 24, 2006)


Scientists are calling for action to prevent foreign species from taking hold in Antarctica and wrecking the continent's unique ecosystems. Despite Antarctica's inhospitable environment, non-native species introduced by tourists, scientists and explorers are gaining a foothold. Species can hitch a ride on ships and planes carrying visitors and supplies.

Read more. Source: BBC

'Hockey stick' graph of global warming
Backing for 'hockey stick' graph
(Jun 24, 2006)


The Earth was hotter in the late 20th Century than it had been in the last 400 or possibly 1,000 years, a report requested by the US Congress concludes. It backs some of the key findings of the original study that gave rise to the iconic "hockey stick" graph. The diagram, which shows a sharp upturn in temperatures in recent decades, has been a prime target for groups who doubt humans are warming the planet.

Read more. Source: BBC

San Andreas fault
Southern California due major earthquake
(Jun 22, 2006)


Southern California could be in line for a serious quake along the infamous San Andreas fault, seismologists have found. New measurements suggest that the region close to Los Angeles, the traditional earthquake location in Hollywood disaster movies, could feel the effects of a real-life tremor within the next few years.

Read more. Source: Nature

island of Svalbard
Work begins on Arctic seed vault
(Jun 20, 2006)


Norway is starting construction on a "doomsday vault" in the Arctic which is designed to house all known varieties of the world's crops. Dug into a frozen mountainside on the island of Svalbard, it is hoped the project will safeguard crop diversity in the event of a global catastrophe.

Read more. Source: BBC

giant panda
Hope for future of giant panda
(Jun 19, 2006)


Fears that the giant panda is on the brink of extinction may be unjustified, research suggests. Scientists believe populations have been underestimated in past surveys and there may be as many as 3,000 pandas left in the wild. Numbers in reserves could be restored if conservation efforts continue, they write in Current Biology.

Read more. Source: BBC

iceberg
Arctic dips as global waters rise
(Jun 16, 2006)


Arctic sea level has been falling by a little over 2mm a year – a movement that sets the region against the global trend of rising waters. A Dutch-UK team made the discovery after analysing radar altimetry data gathered by Europe's ERS-2 satellite. It is well known that the world's oceans do not share a uniform height; but even so, the scientists are somewhat puzzled by their results.

Read more. Source: BBC

view from an airplane
Night flights much worse for global warming
(Jun 15, 2006)


Restrictions on night-time aircraft flights could help in the fight against global warming as well as making life easier for people living near airports. A study found the condensation trails, or contrails, left by the exhaust of aircraft engines contribute more to global warming during the night than by day.

Read more. Source: Independent

solar power plant in Bavaria
Portugal starts huge solar plant
(Jun 12, 2006)


Construction work has begun in southern Portugal on what is set to be the world's largest solar power station. The 58m euro (40m) plant near Serpa, 200km (125 miles) south of Lisbon, will produce enough electricity for 8,000 homes when it starts next January.

Read more. Source: BBC

Atacama desert
Deserts 'need better management'
(Jun 6, 2006)


Climate change, high water demand and even tourism are putting unprecedented pressures on the world's desert ecosystems, according to a report. The Global Deserts Outlook, produced by the UN's Environment Programme, is described as the first comprehensive look at the Earth's driest regions.

Read more. Source: BBC

desert in China
China slows spread of encroaching deserts
(May 30, 2006)


China has announced it has managed to slow the rate at which the desert is eating up farm and other land, but the problem is still serious in a country where sand already covers one third of its land mass. To the disbelief of many who endure the sandstorms that sweep the country every spring, officials also expressed confidence that the 2008 Olympics in Beijing would not be affected by them.

Read more. Source: Independent

rainforest in Costa Rica
Rainforests 'still at great risk'
(May 27, 2006)


Most of the world's managed rainforests are still in great jeopardy with only 5% being treated in a sustainable way, a new report has said. Each year 12m hectares of the forests are cleared for agriculture and other development, the International Tropical Timber Organisation report says. Forests will continue to be lost unless there is better management, it adds.

Read more. Source: BBC

Sun
Global warming risk 'much higher'
(May 23, 2006)


Global temperatures will rise further in the future than previous studies have indicated, according to new research from two scientific teams. They both used historical records to calculate the likely amplification of warming as higher temperatures induce release of CO2 from ecosystems. They both conclude that current estimates of warming are too low, by anything up to 75%.

Read more. Source: BBC

hurricane from space
'Above normal' hurricanes in 2006
(May 23, 2006)


This year's Atlantic hurricane season will be "above normal", according to the US climate agency. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts there will be 13-16 named storms, four of which will be "major storms". But it says 2006 will be less active than last year's record-breaking season which saw Hurricane Katrina cause widespread devastation. The US hurricane season starts on 1 June and lasts until 30 November.

Read more. Source: BBC

painted frog
'Extinct' frog comes back to life
(May 21, 2006)


Scientists have sighted a spectacular South American frog which had been feared extinct for a decade. The painted frog is found only in a small remote region of Colombia, and the last sighting dates back to 1995. Conservationists believed it had gone extinct, principally due to a fungal disease, chytridiomycosis, which has caused enormous harm to many species.

Read more. Source: BBC

Himalayan forest
Himalayan forests quietly vanishing
(May 18, 2006)


The Himalayas may never be the same again. The forests growing on the roof of the world are disappearing, and the rate of deforestation is so rapid that a quarter of animal and plant species native to this biodiversity hotspot, including tigers and leopards, could be gone by the end of the century. Worse, the Indian government is oblivious to the problem because official figures erroneously suggest that forest cover will rise rather than fall. This mistake has led to the approval of new schemes, such as hydroelectric dams, that will exacerbate the devastation.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Mountains of the Moon
Fabled ice field 'set to vanish'
(May 17, 2006)


A fabled tropical ice field in Africa could disappear in two decades because of climate change, a study says. The finding comes from the first survey in a decade of glaciers in the Rwenzori Mountains, East Africa, often referred to as the "Mountains of the Moon". A British-Ugandan team says an increase in air temperature over the last four decades has contributed to a substantial reduction in glacial cover.

Read more. Source: BBC

collapsed coral reef in the Seychelles
Warming set to 'devastate' coral
(May 16, 2006)


Rising ocean temperatures look set to cause lasting devastation to coral reef systems, a study suggests. An international team of researchers looked at reefs in the Seychelles, where an ocean warming event in 1998 killed much of the live coral. The group found the oceanic reef had experienced fish extinctions, algal growth, and only limited recovery.

Read more. Source: BBC

phytoplankton bloom
Plankton blooms linked to quakes
(May 9, 2006)


Concentrations of the natural pigment chlorophyll in coastal waters have been shown to rise prior to earthquakes. These chlorophyll increases are due to blooms of plankton, which use the pigment to convert solar energy to chemical energy via photosynthesis. A joint US-Indian team of researchers analysed satellite data on ocean coastal areas lying near the epicentres of four recent quakes.

Read more. Source: BBC

Earth
'Clear' human impact on climate
(May 4, 2006)


A scientific report commissioned by the US government has concluded there is "clear evidence" of climate change caused by human activities. The report, from the federal Climate Change Science Program, said trends seen over the last 50 years "cannot be explained by natural processes alone". It found that temperatures have increased in the lower atmosphere as well as at the Earth's surface.

Read more. Source: BBC

hippos
More species slide to extinction
(May 2, 2006)


The polar bear and hippopotamus are for the first time listed as species threatened with extinction by the world's biodiversity agency. They are included in the Red List of Threatened Species published by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) which names more than 16,000 at-risk species. Many sharks, and freshwater fish in Europe and Africa, are newly included. The IUCN says loss of biodiversity is increasing despite a global convention committing governments to stem it.

Read more. Source: BBC

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