New research reveals causes and warning signs of rare tsunami earthquakes

Tsunami earthquakes happen at relatively shallow depths in the ocean and are small in terms of their magnitude. However, they create very large tsunamis, with some earthquakes that only measure 5.6 on the Richter scale generating waves that reach up to ten metres when they hit the shore. A global network of seismometers enables researchers to detect even the smallest earthquakes. However, the challenge has been to determine which small magnitude events are likely to cause large tsunamis.

Why can’t we recover precious metals from landfills?

Mining for precious metals like gold, silver, and copper is extremely costly. Not only does it require a huge amount of energy and have a devastating impact on the environment, it also puts human life at risk. Still, these metals are what enable our precious smartphones and tablets to work so efficiently, so we have to get them from somewhere. But what if that somewhere was old gadgets we no longer want instead of deep within the Earth?

The link between oceanic currents and climate

For decades, climate scientists have tried to explain why ice-age cycles became longer and more intense about 900,000 years ago, switching from 41,000-year cycles to 100,000-year cycles. In a new study in the journal Science, researchers found that the deep ocean currents that move heat around the globe stalled or even stopped, possibly due to expanding ice cover in the north. The slowing currents increased carbon dioxide storage in the ocean, leaving less in the atmosphere, which kept temperatures cold and kicked the climate system into a new phase of colder but less frequent ice ages, they hypothesize.

Endangered Species Act may be significantly weakened by new policy

The Center for Biological Diversity will file a legal challenge to an Obama administration policy, finalized today, that severely limits when a species qualifies for protection under the Endangered Species Act - a change that ignores both broad legal precedent and congressional intent. Under the Act a species qualifies for protection when it is "in danger of extinction in all or a significant of portion of its range." Both Congress and the courts have explained that the "significant portion of range" provision is vital for important conservation because it allows federal wildlife agencies to protect species before they are at risk of going extinct globally. But the newly finalized policy sharply restricts the use of this part of the Act, defining "significant" to mean that only when the loss of a part of a species' range threatens the survival of the whole species would wildlife agencies protect that species under the Act.

EPA Proposes Approval of New Climate-Friendly Refrigerants

In support of President Obama's Climate Action Plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to increase the options for refrigerants in the United States that offer better climate protection without harming the ozone layer. This is the agency's first action that addresses refrigerants under the Climate Action Plan, which calls on EPA's Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program to identify and approve additional climate-friendly chemicals.

Connecting population growth and biodiversity decline

It took humans around 200,000 years to reach a global population of one billion. But, in two hundred years we've septupled that. In fact, over the last 40 years we've added an extra billion approximately every dozen years. And the United Nations predicts we'll add another four billion—for a total of 11 billion—by century's end. Despite this few scientists, policymakers, or even environmentalists are willing to publicly connect incredible population growth to worsening climate change, biodiversity loss, resource scarcity, or the global environmental crisis in general.

Farmed fish, the dark side

It seems as more and more of the fish available to us in the supermarket and in restaurants is farmed. Is this good or bad? Probably a bit of both. Raising fish in fish farms doesn't impact the wild fish to any great extent, but fish farms must be well situated, and well run to prevent problems. They are not natural ecosystems! Aquaculture has become a booming industry in Chile, with salmon and other fish farmed in floating enclosures along the South Pacific coast. But as farmers densely pack these pens to meet demand, diseases can easily pass between fish — for example, an outbreak of infectious salmon anemia that emerged in 2007 caused the deaths of more than a million fish and threatened to cripple the industry. And unsustainable aquaculture methods can have a wider impact, spreading disease to the world’s already vulnerable ocean fisheries and contaminating the environment.

Choosing the Right Path: How Air Travel Affects Climate Change

It has been well documented that one negative of air travel – besides the food – is the emission of CO2 from jet engines. But what about contrails? Dr. Emma Irvine, Professor Keith Shine, and Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, at the Department of Meteorology at the University of Reading have linked contrails to global climate change in a study published in IOP Publishing’s journal Environmental Research Letters. According to their report, contrails may have a greater radiative forcing (the capacity for an agent to enact climate change via warming) than CO2.

Solar Power Meets Half of Germany’s Energy Demand

A core facet of Chancellor Merkel's historic "Energiewende" clean energy transition, Germany has led the world in driving adoption of solar energy technology and systems. Although it is now pulling back hard on incentives, the market momentum created by its precedent-setting solar energy feed-in tariff (FiT) persists.

MIT study unearths neanderthal diet

The popular conception of the Neanderthal as a club-wielding carnivore is, well, rather primitive, according to a new study conducted at MIT. Instead, our prehistoric cousin may have had a more varied diet that, while heavy on meat, also included plant tissues, such as tubers and nuts.