Fossil sirenians give scientists new look at ancient climate

What tales they tell of their former lives, these old bones of sirenians, relatives of today's dugongs and manatees. And now, geologists have found, they tell of the waters in which they swam. While researching the evolutionary ecology of ancient sirenians--commonly known as sea cows--scientist Mark Clementz and colleagues unexpectedly stumbled across data that could change the view of climate during the Eocene Epoch, some 50 million years ago. Clementz, from the University of Wyoming, published the results in a paper in this week's issue of the journal Science. He and co-author Jacob Sewall of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania used their findings to dispute a popular scientific assumption about the temperature and composition of seawater during the time marked by the emergence of the first modern mammals. The Sirenia, named for the sirens or mermaids of Greek myth, is an order of aquatic, plant-eating mammals that live in swamps, rivers, estuaries, marine wetlands and coastal waters.

Hurricane Intensity

Coastal residents and oil-rig workers may soon have longer warning when a storm headed in their direction is becoming a hurricane, thanks to a University of Illinois study demonstrating how to use existing satellites to monitor tropical storm dynamics and predict sudden surges in strength. Meteorologists have seen large advances in forecasting technology to track the potential path of tropical storms and hurricanes, but they've had little success in predicting storm intensity. One of the biggest forecast problems facing the tropical meteorology community is determining rapid intensification, when storms suddenly transform into much stronger cyclones or hurricanes.

Blowout at natural gas well releases drilling fluids to environment

A blowout at a Pennsylvania natural gas well late Tuesday could heighten concerns about the safety of a controversial process to extract gas from shale rock. The accident comes at a sensitive time for energy drillers, exactly one year after an explosion that led to the massive BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and just as regulators mull whether to allow the technique in New York state. The well in Bradford County, operated by Chesapeake Energy, spewed thousands of gallons of drilling fluid used in hydraulic fracturing, county emergency management officials said. The process, also called fracking, releases natural gas from shale rock by blasting it with water, sand and chemicals. Local residents were evacuated from Leroy Township, about 25 miles from the New York border, though Chesapeake said no one was hurt. "An equipment failure occurred during well-completion activities, allowing the release of completion fluids," Chesapeake said in a statement.

Gone Fishing

Many fish populations are on the decline. Still there is some positive news. When the new fishing year kicks off on May 1, groundfish fishermen will have more opportunity to fish in Northeast waters, small-vessel owners will get a boost through permit banks, and stocks will continue on the path to rebuilding. This year’s higher catch limits will affect 12 groundfish stocks. These stocks include: Georges Bank cod, Gulf of Maine cod, Georges Bank yellowtail flounder, Southern New England/Mid-Atlantic yellowtail flounder, Cape Cod/Gulf of Maine yellowtail flounder, American plaice, witch flounder, Georges Bank winter flounder, Southern New England. NOAA has also reopened to commercial and recreational fishing 1,041 square miles of Gulf waters immediately surrounding the Deepwater Horizon wellhead, just east of Louisiana. This is the twelfth and final reopening in federal waters since July 22, and opens all of the areas in Federal waters formerly closed to fishing due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Amazing: the slow crawl from water to land, New from BBC Earth!

The writer C.S. Lewis once said that "Humans are amphibians – half spirit and half animal." He may have been speaking symbolically, but he wasn't too far from the truth! The name Amphibians comes in essence from the Greek meaning "two" and "modes of life". Their ability to transform from water-breathing juveniles into an air-breathing adults, meant a better chance at finding food and less of a chance that they would have to fight for it. But learning to breathe wasn't the only thing up against these aquatic pioneers. The greatest challenge was how to get there. In the beginning, one group of amphibians developed multi-jointed leg-like fins which allowed them to crawl along the sea floor. And incredibly, the mudskipper pictured above is part of that same family. And not only were their bodies in an evolutionary deviation, but their minds were too!

Microsoft HQ Switches to 100% PCR Recycled Paper

Companies and the office managers that keep them humming have strived for paperless offices for several years. The reality, however, is that old habits die hard for several reasons: many of us just do not like to read data on monitors, endless meetings require charts and proposals, you cannot highlight a screen, and not everyone has an iPad yet.

Demand for gold pushing deforestation in Peruvian Amazon

Deforestation is on the rise in Peru's Madre de Dios region from illegal, small-scale, and dangerous gold mining. In some areas forest loss has increased up to six times. But the loss of forest is only the beginning; the unregulated mining is likely leaching mercury into the air, soil, and water, contaminating the region and imperiling its people.

Timberland Shares Results Against Ambitious Emissions Target

April 13, 2011 - Outdoor footwear and apparel Timberland (NYSE: TBL) announced this week that it fell short of its ambitious goal to cut absolute greenhouse gas emissions 50% by the end of 2010. However, the company said it did achieve an industry-leading 38% cut.

In China, rising sea levels are creating problems

Gradually rising sea levels caused by global warming over the past 30 years have contributed to a growing number of disasters along China's coast, state news agency Xinhua said on Wednesday. Sea levels along China's coastline had risen 2.6 mm per year over the past three decades, Xinhua said, citing documents from the State Oceanic Administration. Average air and sea temperatures in coastal areas had risen about 0.4 and 0.2 degrees Celsius respectively over the past 10 years, the news agency added. "As a 'gradual' marine disaster, the cumulative effect of rising sea levels could 'aggravate storm tides, coastal erosion, seawater invasion and other disasters'," Xinhua cited the oceanic administration as saying. An expert at the administration, Liu Kexiu, said the rising sea levels were a result of global warming.

Breathing Polluted Air Can Disrupt Immune System

Negative health effects from the chronic inhalation of polluted air are well known to cause cardio-respiratory disease. It can be particularly damaging to seniors, children, and people with asthma. Now according to a study from Ohio State University, breathing polluted air can also cause widespread inflammation by triggering the release of white blood cells from bone marrow into the blood stream. The influx of white blood cells can alter the integrity of the blood vessels. The white blood cells are then absorbed into fat tissues where chemicals are released that cause inflammation.