Month: June 2012

  • Tundra to Forest

    As global warming proceeds the frozen arctic tundra will turn into forest or grass lands. In just a few decades shrubs in the Arctic tundra have turned into trees as a result of the warming Arctic climate, creating patches of forest which, if replicated across the tundra, might accelerate global warming. Scientists from Finland and Oxford University investigated an area of around 100,000 square kilometers, known as the northwestern Eurasian tundra, stretching from western Siberia to Finland. Surveys of the vegetation, using data from satellite imaging, fieldwork, and expert observations from indigenous reindeer herders, showed that in 8-15% of the area willow (Salix) and alder (Alnus) plants have grown into trees over 2 meters in height in the last 30-40 years.

  • The Negative Consequences of Long-Distance Endurance Training

    They are considered some of the top athletes of our time, those who can endure the grueling hardship of a 25 mile run, a 150 mile bike ride, or a 5 mile swim. They are our marathoners, triathletes, and long distance cyclists. Their bodies are finely tuned machines enhanced to accomplish one task: get from point A to point B as fast as possible by whatever means is at their disposal. However, a recent study suggests competing in these extreme endurance contests, and the chronic training associated with them can cause structural changes to the heart and large arteries, leading to myocardial injury (injury to the muscular tissue of the heart).

  • Sumatran Orangutan Relocated as Forest Clearing Continues

    An imperiled orangutan was rescued from a small patch of the Tripa peat swamp rainforest in Sumatra last month, in an effort to save this large adult male from starvation. But experts fear he could be among the last of his kind in what was once prime habitat for these graceful, shy great apes.

  • Energy Efficient LEDs Displace Conventional Technology and Value Shrinks Overall

    Improving lighting efficiency is an investment in the future. Yet costs have been prohibiting many people from becoming early adaptors of energy efficient commercial lighting such as LED lighting. This is finally starting to change as we now have research that shows the costs of LED lighting is finally coming down, according to a recent report from Pike Research, LEDs will displace more than 52 percent of the global market for lamps in commercial buildings by 2021. Pike Research finds that the combination of declining prices for commercial LED lighting and the lifetimes of LED lights being so long, will have the effect of shrinking the overall value of the market.

  • Cool paving materials helps lower city temperatures, study finds

    Using cool materials to construct roads and walkways is an effective way of lowering urban temperatures to make cities more comfortable in hot weather, according to a new study. The research found surface temperatures were reduced by 12°C and ambient temperatures were reduced by 1.9°C after cool pavements were installed in a city park in Greece. Cities are known to exhibit the urban heat island effect, in which urban temperatures are higher than those of the surrounding rural areas. The phenomenon is created through a combination of heat released from human activities, such as air conditioning and traffic, in addition to decreased air flow and increased heat absorption by buildings, roads and other structures. In the future, climate change is likely to exacerbate the heat island effect with more frequent and extreme heat waves

  • Now Greece is looking at an energy crisis

    Greece’s debt crisis threatened to turn into an energy crunch, with the power regulator calling an emergency meeting this week to avert a collapse of the country’s electricity and natural gas system. Regulator RAE called the emergency meeting on 1 June after receiving a letter from Greece’s natural gas company DEPA, dated 31 May, threatening to cut supplies to electricity producers if they failed to settle their arrears with the company. An energy crisis would add to the debt-stricken country’s political and financial strains, threatening households and businesses with power cuts ahead of a 17 June election which may decide if the country will stay within the euro.

  • Study highlights food risk hotspots

    You might assume getting richer would always make a country safer from drought and famine, but that turns out not to be the case. Instead, the very poorest countries seem to become more vulnerable in the early stages of development. There’s a crucial period before the benefits of modernisation start to kick in, during which they are more vulnerable to problems like drought than when they started.

  • Bat, Bee, Frog Deaths May Be Linked

    In recent years, diseases have ravaged through bat, honeybee and amphibian populations, and now animal experts suspect that shared factors may link the deaths, which are putting many species at risk for extinction.

  • Carbon dioxide hits 400 parts per million in Northern Hemisphere

    Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have risen above 400 parts per million (ppm) in recording stations across the Arctic going as far south as Mongolia, reports the Associated Press. Such levels have not been seen in at least 800,000 years according to researchers. Carbon levels fluctuate depending on the region and the season and scientists say global concentrations will likely remain at around 395 ppm for the time being. Crossing the 400 ppm threshold “[is] a reminder to everybody that we haven’t fixed this and we’re still in trouble,” Jim Butler, global monitoring director with the U.S.’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Earth System Research Lab, told the AP. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, global carbon levels were stabilized at around 275-280 ppm. However, the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and gas, cement production, vast deforestation, industrialized agriculture, and other recent human impacts has resulted in carbon levels skyrocketing.

  • To Feel Good, Mediterranean Diet is the Way to Go

    Southern Europe has been getting a lot of negative attention lately due to the financial crisis in the Eurozone. At this time, it is important to remember much of the good which comes out of this region. This is especially true of the Mediterranean cuisine. It is not only delicious but also linked with a lower chance of illness and greater well-being. A new study has just been released by researchers from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and the University of Navarra which shows how the Mediterranean diet is linked to both physical and mental health.