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Eco-news archive: January-February 2010

Giant iceberg that snapped from the Mertz Glacier Tongue
Vast iceberg 'may disrupt ocean currents'
(Feb 26, 2010)

A vast iceberg which broke off the Antarctic continent this month could disrupt the world's ocean currents and weather patterns, scientists warn. Australian researchers say the iceberg – the size of Luxembourg – could block an area that produces a quarter of the world's dense and very cold seawater. They say a slowdown in the production of this water could result in colder winters in the north Atlantic.

Read more. Source: BBC

Illegal trade has made the pangolin rare in south-east Asia so now Africa is being targeted. Photo: How Hwee Young/EPA
How the pet trade's greed is emptying south-east Asia's forests
(Feb 22, 2010)

Countries across south-east Asia are being systematically drained of wildlife to meet a booming demand for exotic pets in Europe and Japan and traditional medicine in China – posing a greater threat to many species than habitat loss or global warming. More than 35 million animals were legally exported from the region over the past decade, official figures show, and hundreds of millions more could have been taken illegally.

Read more. Source: The Guardian

Orangutan survival and the shopping trolley
(Feb 22, 2010)

The challenge of saving the orangutan – man's closest relative – from extinction is trickling down to the weekly shop. Many of the biscuits, margarines, breads, crisps and even bars of soap that consumers pick off supermarket shelves contain an ingredient that is feeding a growth industry that conservationists say is killing the orangutans. The mystery ingredient in the mix is palm oil – the cheapest source of vegetable oil available – and one that rarely appears on the label of most products.

Read more. Source: BBC

Galapagos sea lion
Galapagos sea lions head for warm Peru waters
(Feb 8, 2010)

A colony of sea lions endemic to the Galapagos Islands have moved 1,500km away, a Peru-based organisation which monitors the aquatic mammals has said. The Organisation for Research and Conservation of Aquatic Animals says the sea lions have swum to northern Peru because of rising temperatures. It says the temperature rise was caused by climate change.

Read more. Source: BBC

global warming trends
Think-tanks take oil money and use it to fund climate deniers
(Feb 7, 2010)

An orchestrated campaign is being waged against climate change science to undermine public acceptance of man-made global warming, environment experts claimed last night. The attack against scientists supportive of the idea of man-made climate change has grown in ferocity since the leak of thousands of documents on the subject from the University of East Anglia on the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit last December.

Read more. Source: The Independent

Earth and its atmosphere seen from space
Is water vapor in the stratosphere slowing global warming?
(Jan 30, 2010)

Since 2001 there has been less water vapor in a narrow, lower band of the stratosphere thanks to cooler temperatures in the tropopause, and that may just be holding back global warming at ground level, according to new research published online in Science on January 28. This effect could either be the result of natural variability in Earth's climate, or yet another effect of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases like water vapor trapping more heat and thus warming sea-surface temperatures.

Read more. Source: Scientific American

parched soil
Last decade warmest ever: NASA
(Jan 25, 2010)

The past decade was the warmest ever on Earth, a new analysis of global surface temperatures released by NASA showed Thursday. The US space agency also found that 2009 was the second-warmest year on record since modern temperature measurements began in 1880. Last year was only a small fraction of a degree cooler than 2005, the warmest yet, putting 2009 in a virtual tie with the other hottest years, which have all occurred since 1998.

Read more. Source: The Independent

Pine Island Glacier. Image credit: NASA/Jane Peterson, NSERC
Major Antarctic glacier is 'past its tipping point'
(Jan 14, 2010)

A major Antarctic glacier has passed its tipping point, according to a new modelling study. After losing increasing amounts of ice over the past decades, it is poised to collapse in a catastrophe that could raise global sea levels by 24 centimeters. Pine Island glacier (PIG) is one of many at the fringes of the West Antarctic ice sheet.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Great Barrier Reef
Another reason to save coral? Reefs are responsible for ocean biodiversity
(Jan 12, 2010)

The Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on Earth. It might also represent the most prolific cradle for new types of animals on the planet, according to new research published in the January 8 edition of Science. "In the oceans, new species and genera tend to originate in the tropics and in the shallows near shore," says paleobiologist Carl Simpson of Humboldt University in Berlin, one of the researchers on the new paper.

Read more. Source: Scientific American


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