Scientists warn of slow progress towards United Nations biodiversity targets

Scientists from the United States and Brazil warn that the current global progress toward United Nations (UN) sustainability goals is not fast enough to avert the biodiversity crisis. A scientific team led by the California Academy of Sciences evaluated progress toward current biodiversity targets put forth by the UN Convention for Biological Diversity specifically aimed…

Complexity science and climate record anomalies

The history of our climate is written in ice. Reading it is a matter of deciphering the complex signals pulled from tens of thousands of years of accumulated isotopes frozen miles below the surface of Antarctica. When making sense of the massive amount of information packed into an ice core, scientists face a forensic challenge:…

Warming climate will lead to tropical weather pattern changes 

Every month or two, a massive pulse of clouds, rainfall and wind moves eastward around the Earth near the equator, providing the tropics their famous thunderstorms. This band of recurring weather, first described by scientists in 1971, is called the Madden-Julian Oscillation. It has profound effects on weather in distant places, including the United States….

How forests are controlled by climate

Instead of blood pressure, temperature, and heart rate, the vital signs for a forest are captured in key traits such as the amount of nitrogen in a tree’s leaves, the leaf area, or the density of the wood. These “functional traits” can impact how trees grow — and therefore how forests respond to climate change….

Clean water from air

A pair of new studies from researchers at The Ohio State University offers a possible solution, inspired by nature. “We thought: ‘How can we gather water from the ambient air around us?’” said Bharat Bhushan, Ohio Eminent Scholar and Howard D. Winbigler Professor of mechanical engineering at Ohio State. “And so, we looked to the…

Trees’ enemies help tropical forests maintain their biodiversity

Scientists have long struggled to explain how tropical forests can maintain their staggering diversity of trees without having a handful of species take over – or having many other species die out. The answer, researchers say, lies in the soil found near individual trees, where natural “enemies” of tree species reside. These enemies, including fungi…

As hydropower dries up, droughts increase emissions 

“Water is used in electricity generation, both directly for hydropower and indirectly for cooling in thermoelectric power plants,” said climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh, the Kara J. Foundation professor in Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth) and senior author of the study. “We find that in a number of western states where…

Forest productivity and fire air pollution  

Recently, a new study in Nature Communications explored the ecological impacts of fire air pollution. Increases in O3 and aerosols have opposite impacts on plant health. O3 is phytotoxic and reduces plant photosynthesis, while aerosols may promote photosynthesis by enhancing diffuse radiation. It is unclear what’s the net impacts of these pollutants on biosphere from…

Forests require a balanced diet

West Virginia’s wildlands are a “canary in the coal mine for climate change” because of the forests’ biodiversity, which, along with rich soils and abundant rainfall, make them among the strongest forests globally, according to Brenden McNeil, an associate professor of geography at WVU’s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. The state’s forests have been…

A new light on last long-term climate shift

The quest to discover what drove the last, long-term global climate shift on Earth, which took place around a million years ago, has taken a new, revealing twist. A team of researchers led by Dr Sev Kender from the University of Exeter, have found a fascinating new insight into the causes of the Mid-Pleistocene Transition…