Troposphere is warming too, decades of data show

Not only is Earth's surface warming, but the troposphere -- the lowest level of the atmosphere, where weather occurs -- is heating up too, U.S. and British meteorologists reported on Monday. In a review of four decades of data on troposphere temperatures, the scientists found that warming in this key atmospheric layer was occurring, just as many researchers expected it would as more greenhouse gases built up and trapped heat close to the Earth. This study aims to put to rest a controversy that began 20 years ago, when a 1990 scientific report based on satellite observations raised questions about whether the troposphere was warming, even as Earth's surface temperatures climbed.

Deforestation takes center-stage at U.N. talks

Delegates at a global U.N. meeting to preserve natural resources were on Tuesday trying to agree on ways to deploy about $4 billion in cash to help developing nations save tropical forests. The talks in the Japanese city of Nagoya are aimed at setting new 2020 targets to protect plant and animal species, a protocol to share genetic resources between countries and companies and more funding to protect nature, especially forests. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates global deforestation fell from 16 million hectares (40 million acres) per year in the 1990s to 13 million hectares per year in the past decade, with the bulk of the losses in tropical countries. About 12 percent of the world's forests are designated primarily to conserve biological diversity, the FAO said in report earlier this month.

NOAA Reopens More than 4,000 Square Miles of Closed Gulf Fishing Area

Today NOAA reopened 4,281 square miles of Gulf waters off western Louisiana to commercial and recreational fishing. The reopening was announced after consultation with FDA and under a re-opening protocol agreed to by NOAA, the FDA, and the Gulf states. On July 18, NOAA data showed no oil in the area. Light sheen was observed on July 29, but none since. Trajectory models show the area is at a low risk for future exposure to oil, and fish caught in the area and tested by NOAA experts have shown no signs of contamination.

NOAA Opens More Than 8,000 Square Miles of Fishing Closed Area in Gulf of Mexico

NOAA has opened more than 8,000 square miles of previously closed fishing area in the Gulf of Mexico, because the agency has not observed oil in the area. The most significant opening is an area due south of Mississippi which was closed Monday, June 21. Additionally, some smaller areas were opened off the Louisiana and central Florida coasts.

Brief exercise reduces impact of stress on cell aging

Exercise can buffer the effects of stress-induced cell aging, according to new research from UCSF that reveals actual benefits of physical activity at the cellular level. The scientists learned that vigorous physical activity as brief as 42 minutes over a three-day period, similar to federally recommended levels, can protect individuals from the effects of stress by reducing its impact on telomere length. Telomeres (pronounced TEEL-oh-meres) are tiny pieces of DNA that promote genetic stability and act as protective sheaths by keeping chromosomes from unraveling, much like plastic tips at the ends of shoelaces.

MERLEFEST 2010, big success, lots of fun!

While MerleFest 2010, presented by Lowe's, is now officially another one for the history books, initial figures show that aggregate attendance over the festival's four days exceeded 76,000 people, who attended the celebration of "traditional plus" music on the campus of Wilkes Community College from Thursday, April 29 to Sunday, May 2. MerleFest is the primary fund-raiser for the college and funds scholarships, capital projects and other educational needs. A diverse and fully loaded schedule of artists as well as an unusual rain-free four days, encouraged attendance. Thursday’s attendance was the highest in the festival's history, and the remaining days are estimated to be in the top three of festival history. Festival officials are also proud to announce that a goal set at the close of the 2009 event, to reverse the trend of unpaid tickets comprising a greater percentage of total attendance, has been met. "What a weekend this has been!" exclaimed festival director Ted Hagaman. "With over 100 artists playing on 15 stages, representing everything from bluegrass and blues, to gospel, country and Americana, we feel that we succeeded again in giving our festival guests a great value for their entertainment dollars. We deeply appreciate the support of the great folks of Wilkes County, everyone who works here at the college, and of course our volunteers and fans, for making this all possible."

Scientists Resurrect Mammoth Hemoglobin

By inserting a 43,000-year-old woolly mammoth gene into Escherichia coli bacteria, scientists have figured out how these ancient beasts adapted to the subzero temperatures of prehistoric Siberia and North America. The gene, which codes for the oxygen-transporting protein hemoglobin, allowed the animals to keep their tissues supplied with oxygen even at very low temperatures. "It's no different from going back 40,000 years and taking a blood sample from a living mammoth," says Kevin Campbell, a biologist at the University of Manitoba in Canada.

Why It’s So Tough To Stop The Gulf Oil Leak

More than a week after an explosion destroyed an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, thousands of gallons of oil continue to flow into the Gulf. The blast killed eleven workers, and created one of the largest oil spills in U.S. waters. As investigators search for the cause of the explosion, crews work around the clock to stop the flow of oil and contain the slick. Some of the oil may be set on fire to prevent a larger catastrophe and damage to the U.S. coastline. David Biello, associate editor of energy and environment at Scientific American, explains the origins of the of the oil leak, why it's so difficult to stop, and the tools used to clean it up.

Massive oil spill in Gulf of Mexico nears landfall

A massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico neared wildlife refuges and seafood grounds along the Louisiana coast on Friday, as efforts redoubled to avert what could become one of the worst U.S. ecological disasters. President Barack Obama pledged on Thursday to "use every single available resource" to contain the oil slick and the U.S. military ratcheted up operations. The leak from a ruptured oil well on the ocean floor off the coast of the southern state is pouring out crude oil at a rate of up to 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons or 955,000 liters) a day, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration -- five times more oil than previously thought.

Gulf of Mexico leak grows, oil slick nears shore

The U.S. Coast Guard said on Wednesday five times as much oil as previously estimated was leaking from a well beneath the site of a deadly drilling rig explosion as the slick threatened wide-scale coastal damage for four U.S. Gulf Coast states. The Coast Guard said that London-based BP Plc -- the owner of the well who is financially responsible for the cleanup -- found a third leak in a well 5,000 feet under the sea off Louisiana's coast. "BP has just briefed me of a new location of an additional breach in the riser of the deep underwater well," Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry, who is heading the federal cleanup effort, told reporters at a briefing. Eleven workers are missing and presumed dead after the worst oil rig disaster in almost a decade.