Melting summer ice in Antarctica

Antarctica's Ross Sea is one of the few Polar Regions where summer sea-ice coverage has increased during the last few decades, bucking a global trend of drastic declines in summer sea ice across the Arctic Ocean and in two adjacent embayments of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica. But now, a modeling study led by Professor Walker Smith of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science suggests that the Ross Sea's recent observed increase in summer sea-ice cover is likely short-lived, with the area projected to lose more than half its summer sea ice by 2050 and more than three quarters by 2100.

Illegal logging threatens sustainability in Mozambique

Illegal logging has spiked over the past five years in Mozambique, finds a new report by researchers at the University of Eduardo Mondlane. The report, published on the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's web site, assesses timber production, consumption, and exports, finding that nearly two-thirds of logging is currently illegal. The report notes that harvesting is exceeding sustainable levels, threatening the long-term viability of the industry and putting local livelihoods at risk.

Scientists advocate protective deep-sea treaty

A new international agreement is needed to police the exploitation of the deep ocean because of the rising threats of deep-sea mining and bottom trawling for fish, say scientists. Speakers at a symposium this month (16 February) urged the UN to negotiate a new treaty for the deep ocean to supplement the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Electric cars and the grid

Car owners in the United States last year bought more than 96,000 plug-in electric cars, a year-on-year increase of 84 percent from 2012. However, this growing fleet will put a lot of new strain on the nation’s aging electrical distribution systems, like transformers and underground cables, especially at times of peak demand — in the evening when people come home from work.

Plastic Waste Ingested by Worms Threatens Marine Food Chains

Small fragments of plastic waste are damaging the health of lugworms, putting a key cog in marine ecosystems at risk. Published in Current Biology, a new study by scientists at the University of Exeter and the University of Plymouth shows the impact of microplastics on the marine worms' health and behavior. By exposing specimens to contaminated sediment in a laboratory, the researchers were able to observe a 50 percent reduction in energy reserves and other signs of physical harm.

Potential new source of renewable energy found in humidity

A new type of electrical generator uses bacterial spores to harness the untapped power of evaporating water, according to research conducted at the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Its developers foresee electrical generators driven by changes in humidity from sun-warmed ponds and harbors.

One state addresses potholes through a new pothole alert system

As much of the northern hemisphere looks forward to the second half of the winter season, municipalities and regional governments are faced with rudimentary task of repairing potholes. Rutgers University instructor Wansoo Im, no doubt frustrated with the infrastructure meltdown himself, launched an app and website to map the biggest ones in his own home state of New Jersey. Aptly called NJPothole, the website plots potholes on maps to alert motorists (and maybe even municipal departments of public works dispatchers) of impending undercarriage attack.

Increased Ocean Acidification Rate Puts Polar Ecosystems at Risk

An assessment of ocean acidification, presented at the UN Climate Change Conference in Warsaw in November 2013, starkly concluded that acidity is on track to rise 170 percent by the end of this century. As many key species are sensitive to changes in acidity, this would drastically impact ocean ecosystems, with effects especially pronounced in polar regions where the cold waters intensify acidification, and which is home to many organisms that are particularly vulnerable to acidification.

UK unveils world first carbon capture project at gas-fired power station

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Energy Secretary Ed Davey have announced a ground-breaking deal with Shell which could generate enough clean energy to power half a million homes, and capture 1 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

COLLEGIATE CORNER: Fossil Fuels vs. Renewable Resources

Fossil fuels have been the main source of the energy all over the world. They increase the amount of CO2 emissions, and the emission of CO2 is a great cause of global warming in the atmosphere, destroying the atmospheric layers. What can we do to lower the demand of fossil fuels and become more eco friendly with renewable energy resources? The percent of US transportation sector consumption is 95.4% fossil fuels (Article 3), and this shows the reliance of the US on fossil fuels. As the Institute for Energy states, "Fossil Fuels make modern life possible" and that the only reason that our modern society works and the privileges we get are all due to the fact of fossil fuels (Article 3). Need I remind you: fossil fuels are limited and could go out?