Environmental

Environmental News

Environmental News

Environmental News

  • Insects that play an essential role in moulding ecosystems may have begun their rise to prominence earlier than previously thought, shedding new light on how the world became modern. That is the finding of a new paper published by an international team of researchers led by Simon Fraser University's Bruce Archibald who is also a research associate at the Royal BC Museum.

  • A new study by Chad Furl, postdoctoral research associate, and Hatim Sharif, professor of civil and environmental engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio, delves into the 2015 Wimberley, Texas floods that destroyed 350 homes and claimed 13 lives. Furl and Sharif researched the factors that led to the catastrophic flooding and shed light on new ways people in flood-prone areas can protect against future tragedies.

  • More than 11 billion pieces of plastic are lodged within coral reefs in the Asia-Pacific region. According to a new study published in the journal Science, as this plastic gets tangled, it often cuts the coral, increasing the risk of infection and disease outbreaks by as much 89 percent.

  • As farmers in the American West decide what, when and where to plant, and urban water managers plan for water needs in the next year, they want to know how much water their community will get from melting snow in the mountains.This melting snow comes from snowpack, the high elevation reservoir of snow which melts in the spring and summer. Agriculture depends on snowpack for a majority of its water. Meltwater also contributes to municipal water supply; feeds rivers and streams, boosting fisheries and tourism; and conditions the landscape, helping lessen the effects of drought and wildfires.

  • Going for the gold is what the Olympics is all about and three UBC entrepreneurs are working to help athletes get closer to the podium.Kevin Reilly and Behnam Molavi—both PhD engineering graduates from UBC—and sports physician Babak Shadgan have designed a smart garment capable of monitoring vital performance metrics through sensors and software embedded in the fabric. The technology uses near-infrared spectroscopy to measure the local metabolism of an athlete’s muscles.

  • Emissions of volatile organic compounds higher than previously assumed.In the scientific journal PNAS, researchers from Innsbruck, Austria, present the world's first chemical fingerprint of urban emission sources of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Accordingly, the abatement strategy for organic solvents is having an effect in Europe. At the same time, the data suggest that the total amount of man-made VOCs globally is likely to be significantly higher than previously assumed.

  • The flow of water that supports hydro-electric and irrigation infrastructure in the mountain regions of Nepal and India is regulated by hundreds of large icy ponds on the surface of some of the world’s highest glaciers, scientists have revealed.

Agriculture & Biofuel

  • The idea of having to pay a sin tax for environmentally detrimental foods is gaining more support. For some, eating meat is a sin, and therefore meat products should be taxed like alcohol and tobacco.A new report published recently by a British group called Farm Animal Investment Risk and Return Initiative (FAIRR) argues that a tax on meat is inevitable.

  • Methane produced by India’s livestock population, considered the world’s largest, can significantly raise global temperatures, says a new study designed to help predict climate change linked to greenhouse gas (GhG) emissions from farm animals.

  • Kenneth Feeley, the Smathers Chair of Tropical Tree Biology in the University of Miami’s Department of Biology, is an expert in studying the effects of climate change on tropical forests. From the mountains of Peru to the lowlands of the Amazon, Feeley examines the ramifications of climate change on the trees and other species that comprise the diverse forests of these regions. Yet, recently, Feeley shifted gears from studying tropical forests to examining the impacts of climate change in rural farming communities in Peru.

  • Bean plants that suppress secondary root growth in favor of boosting primary root growth forage greater soil volume to acquire phosphorus, according to Penn State researchers, who say their recent findings have implications for plant breeders and improving crop productivity in nutrient-poor soils.

  • Tropical forests span a huge area, harbor a wide diversity of species, and are important to water and nutrient cycling on a planet scale. But in ancient Amazonia, over 500 years ago, clearing tropical forests was a way of survival to provide land for families to farm and villages to prosper. Researchers at the University of New Hampshire used high-tech tools to more precisely view where these cleared sites were and how much lasting impact they had on the rainforest in the Amazon Basin in South America.

  • CU Boulder engineers have received a $2.45 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a scalable, cost-effective greenhouse material that splits sunlight into photosynthetically efficient light and repurposes inefficient infrared light to aid in water purification.The four-year research program could yield next-gen technology capable of solving food, energy and water security challenges posed by global population growth and climate change.

  • When grocery stores tout sustainable products, consumers may take their claims at face value. Yet few studies have analyzed whether or not companies who claim to improve the sustainability of their products are actually changing practices in their supply chains.In a new study published online Dec. 22 in the journal Global Environmental Change, Stanford researchers carried out one of the first analyses of a company-led sustainability program in the food and agriculture space. Studying the agricultural supply chain of Woolworths Holding Ltd. (Woolworths), one of the five largest supermarket chains in South Africa, they found that its Farming for the Future program drove increased adoption of environmental practices at the farm level. Agriculture is one of the largest global environmental polluters, driving deforestation and contributing an estimated 30 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Ecosystems

  • A new study by Chad Furl, postdoctoral research associate, and Hatim Sharif, professor of civil and environmental engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio, delves into the 2015 Wimberley, Texas floods that destroyed 350 homes and claimed 13 lives. Furl and Sharif researched the factors that led to the catastrophic flooding and shed light on new ways people in flood-prone areas can protect against future tragedies.

  • More than 11 billion pieces of plastic are lodged within coral reefs in the Asia-Pacific region. According to a new study published in the journal Science, as this plastic gets tangled, it often cuts the coral, increasing the risk of infection and disease outbreaks by as much 89 percent.

  • As farmers in the American West decide what, when and where to plant, and urban water managers plan for water needs in the next year, they want to know how much water their community will get from melting snow in the mountains.This melting snow comes from snowpack, the high elevation reservoir of snow which melts in the spring and summer. Agriculture depends on snowpack for a majority of its water. Meltwater also contributes to municipal water supply; feeds rivers and streams, boosting fisheries and tourism; and conditions the landscape, helping lessen the effects of drought and wildfires.

  • The flow of water that supports hydro-electric and irrigation infrastructure in the mountain regions of Nepal and India is regulated by hundreds of large icy ponds on the surface of some of the world’s highest glaciers, scientists have revealed.

  • The warming climate is expected to affect coastal regions worldwide as glaciers and ice sheets melt, raising sea level globally.

  • Research led by The University of Texas at Austin has found that calculations of water storage in many river basins from commonly used global computer models differ markedly from independent storage estimates from GRACE satellites.

  • For coral reefs, the threat of climate change and bleaching are bad enough. An international research group led by Cornell University has found that plastic trash – ubiquitous throughout the world’s oceans – intensifies disease for coral, adding to reef peril, according to a new study in the journal Science, Jan. 26.