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Eco-news archive: September-October 2009

coral reef
'Freezer plan' bid to save coral
(Oct 25, 2009)

The prospects of saving the world's coral reefs now appear so bleak that plans are being made to freeze samples to preserve them for the future. A meeting in Denmark took evidence from researchers that most coral reefs will not survive even if tough regulations on greenhouse gases are put in place. Scientists proposed storing samples of coral species in liquid nitrogen.

Read more. Source: BBC

Baffin Island
Baffin Island reveals dramatic scale of Arctic climate change
(Oct 20, 2009)

A frozen lake on a remote island off Canada's northern coast has yielded remarkable insights into how the Arctic climate has changed dramatically over 50 years. Muddy sediment from the bottom of the lake, some of it 200,000 years old, shows that Baffin Island, one of the most inhospitable places on Earth, has undergone an unprecedented warming over the past half-century.

Read more. Source: The Independent

Arctic scene
Arctic to be 'ice-free in summer'
(Oct 15, 2009)

The Arctic Ocean could be largely ice-free and open to shipping during the summer in as little as ten years' time, a top polar specialist has said. "It's like man is taking the lid off the northern part of the planet," said Professor Peter Wadhams, from the University of Cambridge. Professor Wadhams has been studying the Arctic ice since the 1960s.

Read more. Source: BBC

lemur in Madagascar
Madagascar biodiversity under threat as gangs run wild
(Oct 13, 2009)

Roasted lemurs and criminal gangs exporting precious hardwood: this is the sad state of affairs for Madagascar's legendary biodiversity. Since a military coup forced the president to resign in March, conservationists and biologists have watched as loggers have stripped the country's forests and killed its animals for bushmeat.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Surviving members of the Ururu tribe in 2006. Credit: Fiona Watson / Survival International
Decline of a tribe: and then there were five
(Oct 13, 2009)

They are the last survivors: all that's left of a once-vibrant civilisation which created its own religion and language, and gave special names to everything from the creatures of the rainforest to the stars of the night sky. Just five people represent the entire remaining population of the Akuntsu, an ancient Amazonian tribe which a generation ago boasted several hundred members, but has been destroyed by a tragic mixture of hostility and neglect.

Read more. Source: The Independent

Dawa Steven Sherpa. Credit: WWF
Himalayan sherpas bugged by the sight of house flies at 5,000m
(Oct 12, 2009)

Earlier this year Dawa Steven Sherpa was resting at Everest base camp when he and his companions heard something buzzing. "What the heck is that?" asked the young Nepali climber. They searched and found a big black house fly, something unimaginable just a few years ago when no insect could have survived at 5,360 meters.

Read more. Source: The Guardian

Cooling towers. Credit: John Giles/PA
Climate pledges so far are nowhere near enough
(Oct 8, 2009)

With just 60 days left before world leaders meet in Copenhagen to thrash out a new global climate deal, how do the chips that are on the table tally up? Not very well. According to the latest estimate of the carbon cuts offered by rich nations, the pledges fall well short of the reductions that climate scientists say are needed to avoid dangerous climate change.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

oil worker
Warning over global oil 'decline'
(Oct 8, 2009)

There is a "significant risk" that global production of conventional oil could "peak" and decline by 2020, a report has warned. The UK Energy Research Council study says there is a general consensus that the era of cheap oil is at an end. But it warns that most governments, including the UK's, exhibit little concern about oil depletion.

Read more. Source: BBC

Green roof. Image: Jim Brickett
Green roofs save on carbon overheads
(Oct 5, 2009)

Green roofs are not just a load of greenwash. That's according to a new study which has measured the amount of carbon absorbed by 13 different green roofs. A team led by Kristin Getter at Michigan State University in East Lansing examined 12 existing green roofs and grew their own Sedum-covered roof. They found that the roofs absorbed up to 375 grams per square meter over the two years of their study.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

drought in Kenya
The great drought: Disaster looms in East Africa
(Oct 3, 2009)

On the plains of Marsabit the heat is so intense the bush seems to shiver. The leafless scrub, bleached white by the sun, looks like a forest of fake Christmas trees. Carcasses of cattle and camels are strewn about the burnt red dirt in every direction.

Read more. Source: The Independent

San Andreas fault
Earthquakes weaken distant faults
(Oct 1, 2009)

The major 2004 earthquake in Sumatra may have weakened the San Andreas fault, 8,000km away in California. This is according to scientists who took measurements from the fault over two decades. Reporting in the journal Nature, the team found that small "repeating earthquakes" became more frequent as the San Andreas Fault weakened.

Read more. Source: BBC

drought in India
Four degrees of warming 'likely'
(Sep 29, 2009)

In a dramatic acceleration of forecasts for global warming, UK scientists say the global average temperature could rise by 4C (7.2F) as early as 2060. The Met Office study used projections of fossil fuel use that reflect the trend seen over the last 20 years. Their computer models also factored in new findings on how carbon dioxide is absorbed by the oceans and forests.

Read more. Source: BBC

flooding in China
'Millions at risk' as deltas sink
(Sep 21, 2009)

Most of the world's major river deltas are sinking, increasing the flood risk faced by hundreds of millions of people, scientists report. Damming and diverting rivers means that much less sediment now reaches many delta areas, while extraction of gas and groundwater also lowers the land. Rivers affected include the Colorado, Nile, Pearl, Rhone and Yangtze.

Read more. Source: BBC

Pacific brant geese
Warming Arctic 'halts migration'
(Sep 17, 2009)

Milder winters in the Arctic region have led to fewer Pacific brants, a species of sea goose, migrating southwards, say researchers. A study by the US Geological Survey found that as many as 30% of the birds were overwintering in Alaska rather than migrating to Mexico. Until recently, more than 90% of the species were estimated to head south.

Read more. Source: BBC

Arctic slopes
Arctic 'warmest in 2,000 years'
(Sep 4, 2009)

Arctic temperatures are now higher than at any time in the last 2,000 years, research reveals. Changes to the Earth's orbit drove centuries of cooling, but temperatures rose fast in the last 100 years as human greenhouse gas emissions rose. Scientists took evidence from ice cores, tree rings and lake sediments.

Read more. Source: BBC

wind-powered yacht concept
Engineering Earth 'is feasible'
(Sep 1, 2009)

A UK Royal Society study has concluded that many engineering proposals to reduce the impact of climate change are "technically possible". Such approaches could be effective, the authors said in their report. But they also stressed that the potential of geo-engineering should not divert governments away from their efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Read more. Source: BBC


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