National Climate Change Policy in Pakistan

Pakistan's newly launched national climate change policy (NCCP) aims at natural resource conservation at home, but it also sees regional and bilateral agreements as key to ensuring water, food and energy security. The policy will be implemented by its provincial governments. At its launch last month (26 February), Pakistan's minister for climate change Rana Mohammad Farooq Saeed Khan said efforts would be made to strengthen provincial environment departments to enable them to carry out relevant functions devolved to them.

Multi-layer Superconductivity

Superconductivity is a phenomenon of zero electrical resistance, and expulsion of magnetic fields occurring in certain materials when cooled below a characteristic critical temperature. The usual temperature is very close to absolute zero and far from room conditions. So the key is finding a ways to increase that temperature as high as one can. A multi-university team of researchers has artificially engineered a unique multilayer material that could lead to breakthroughs in both superconductivity research and in real-world applications. The researchers can tailor the material, which seamlessly alternates between metal and oxide layers, to achieve extraordinary superconducting properties—in particular, the ability to transport much more electrical current than non-engineered materials.

In the News: 100 million sharks killed each year by commercial fishing

Ahead of the 16th meeting of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species that runs from the 3rd to the 15th of March this year, researchers are again warning that sharks are in need of better protection. A new report, published in the journal Marine Policy, estimates the annual number of sharks killed by commercial fishing to be around 100 million, although the actual number could be anywhere between 63 million and 273 million.

EU Hopes to Make Progress with Fishing Industry Reforms

Overfishing has been an important environmental issue recently as catching too many fish in one area can lead to food chain imbalances and the overall degradation of that system. Christian Schwagerl for YaleEnvironment360 discusses Europe’s over-subsidized fishing industry and what members of the European Union (EU) are doing to change and protect Europe’s marine environment.

An Antarctica Sub

Submersible vessels have been around since the 19th century. However, none is more likely to go a stranger place than this one. Called the Micro-Submersible Lake Exploration Device, the instrument was a small robotic sub about the size and shape of a baseball bat. Designed to expand the range of extreme environments accessible by humans while minimally disturbing the environment, the sub was equipped with hydrological chemical sensors and a high-resolution imaging system. The instruments and cameras characterize the geology, hydrology and chemical characteristics of the sub's surroundings. Behar supervised a team of students from Arizona State University, Tempe, in designing, developing, testing and operating the first-of-its-kind submarine vessel.

Predicting Malaria Outbreaks will help India prepare for them

Researchers have developed a model that allows malaria epidemics in arid northwest India to be predicted four months in advance, helping authorities prepare for them much earlier than before. The seasonal malaria outbreaks in the region are known to be driven by higher rainfall, which allows the mosquitoes that transmit the disease to breed, and can currently be forecasted up to around a month in advance. But a study published today (3 March) in Nature Climate Change has found a strong association between malaria outbreaks in the desert fringe of northwest India and sea surface temperatures in the tropical South Atlantic Ocean.

Cropland expansion the culprit in biodiversity loss, says study

Rapid cropland expansion is the main cause of biodiversity loss in tropical countries, a study by UNEP's (the UN Environment Programme) World Conservation Monitoring Centre and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative has found. The study, published in PLOS ONE last month (9 January), highlights maize and soybean as the most expansive crops and as the main drivers of biodiversity loss in tropical regions. Other crops that pose a major threat to habitats and wildlife are beans, cassava, cowpea, groundnut, millet, oil palm, rice, sorghum, sugarcane and wheat, the study says.

Democratic Republic of Congo’s Last Large Forest Elephant Population in Serious Decline

The Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) largest remaining forest elephant population, located in the Okapi Faunal Reserve (OFR), has declined by 37 percent in the last five years, with only 1,700 elephants now remaining, according to wildlife surveys by WCS and DRC officials. WCS scientists warn that if poaching of forest elephants in DRC continues unabated, the species could be nearly extinguished from Africa's second largest country within ten years. According to the latest survey, 5,100, or 75 percent, of the reserve's elephants have been killed in the last 15 years. These numbers are particularly shocking as the OFR is considered the best protected conservation area in DRC. According to WCS, the primary reason for the recent decline in forest elephant numbers is ivory poaching.