Increase in Tourism Impacts Seashell Loss

Walking down the beach you see the perfect shell. You pick it up, put it in your pocket and decide to keep it to remind you of your trip to paradise. While different agencies, states, and countries have specific regulations on taking shells, vials of sand, or any other object from its natural environment, you are generally not allowed to bring these souvenirs home with you, especially to another country. Why? Mainly because if everyone did it, there would be none left. But despite airports seizing tons of shells each week, seashells are still disappearing at various tourist locations and according to a new study, as global tourism increases, human-induced seashell loss may harm natural habitats worldwide.

Good News for the Moluccan Woodcock

The Moluccan Woodcock, also known as Obi Woodcock, is a medium-sized forest wader. With it's long dark bill and orange buff, this elusive, rare bird is evaluated as Endangered and has been on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. But according to new research conducted by Oxford University and Louisiana State University, the Moluccan Woodcock is 'not so endangered' after all.

Amazon Promotes “Frustration-Free Packaging Initiative”

Just in time for the gift-giving season, the world's largest online retailer, Amazon.com continues to promote it's Frustration-Free Packaging initiative. This initiative is a five-year effort to not only make products easier to open, but to create sustainable and recyclable packaging. In a 2008 letter written to customers, Amazon founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos describes "wrap rage" as the frustration we feel when trying to free a product from a nearly impenetrable package. And we've all experienced it - from cutting through thick plastic and scraping our fingers against sharp edges, to pulling packaging apart with all our might, the process of opening up a present has become a chore.

Google Earth Improves Estimates of Fish Catches

The basic idea of a fish trap is that when a fish swims inside through it's opening, it cannot get out, therefore trapping the fish and making it easier for populations to collect a decent catch. People around the world use different kinds of fish traps depending on the local conditions and behavior of the fish they are trying to catch. One type of fishing trap known as weirs that jut out from coastlines is now facing scrutiny as Google Earth images reveal the traps be snaring six times as many fish than what is officially reported.

Climate Change May Affect Butterfly Flight Season

Most butterflies will become active or wake from hibernation during the first warm days of spring. However, emerging too early and facing unpredictable elements could be detrimental to the survival of the butterfly as they could encounter frost and harsher weather during consequent days of their short adult lives. According to new research from the University of British Columbia, the Université de Sherbrooke and the University of Ottawa, increasing temperatures caused by global climate change will ultimately affect the flight season timing of these winged beauties.

Deadly Disease Causes Extinction of Darwin’s Frog

Discovered by Charles Darwin in 1834, Rhinoderma darwinii (better known as Darwin's frogs) have been declared extinct after a killer disease is thought to have wiped out entire populations across Chile and Argentina. According to scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and Universidad Andrés Bello (UNAB), Chile, chytridiomycosis is the main reason for this amphibian extinction.

Scientists Develop New Technique to Predict Wildfires

Last year, over 9 million acres were burned in the US alone due to wildfires. While wildfires can be caused by natural events, they often burn out of control and may get to a point where they become uncontrollable, even when managed by firefighters. Despite their sparks of uncertainty and paths of destruction, researchers have found a way to predict wildfire growth through the lifetime of their blazes. Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., and the University of Maryland, have developed a technique that combines cutting-edge simulations of the interaction of weather and fire with newly available satellite observations of active wildfires. This is the first time computer modeling offers the promise of continually-updated daylong predictions.

New Ice Monitoring Technique Offers Insight into Great Lakes

With winter weather fast approaching, we start to look at how the big chill will affects our economy. And for the Great Lakes, frozen ice is bound to affect shipping lanes and local fishing industries. Connected to the Atlantic Ocean by way of the Great Lakes Waterway, each year, millions of tons of cargo are moved onto the lakes, supplying the US and Canada with important commodities. In addition to economic impacts, the lakes have a significant effect on the regional environment and ecological systems so the importance of analyzing and observing these frozen waters is crucial for the region. Fortunately, two scientists from NASA and NOAA have developed a new space-based technique for monitoring the ice cover of the Great Lakes. "In the dark, it's difficult to read a map that's right in front of you," said Son Nghiem of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, one of the developers of the new technique. "Yet we now have a way to use satellite radars almost 500 miles [800 kilometers] out in space to see through clouds and darkness and map ice across the Great Lakes."

Eco-Fruit Farming: Reducing Pesticides while Promoting Best Farming Techniques

In a 2005 study conducted by the Pesticide Data Program (under the US Department of Agriculture), out of 774 apples that were analyzed in the United States, 727 samples detected residues of pesticides - that's a whopping 98%! Furthermore, apples rank number 1 on the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list, which ranks fruits and vegetables on their levels of pesticides. Why are these colorful fruits laced with so many pesticides? In order for farmers to have a successful growing season, they often use pesticides and insecticides on their produce, which has positive effects for crop yields, but also has hazardous negative effects on the environment and potentially for consumers. The problem is two-fold: apple growers want to use the best techniques to grow their crops, and agricultural scientists want to reduce pesticide use.

Plants Absorb Carbon, Reduce Historical Warming

From providing habitat to food sources, to regulating water cycles, plants are the backbone of all life on Earth. What often goes unrecognized, but is equally as important are plants' roles as climate controllers. According to a new study conducted by researchers at Princeton University, Earth's leafy greens have significantly slowed the planet's warming by absorbing carbon in the form of CO2, a popular greenhouse gas, especially during the past 60 years. How much carbon are we talking about? Approximately 186 billion to 192 billion tons of carbon have been taken out of the atmosphere since the mid-20th century!