Scientists Closer to Predicting Volcano Eruptions

volcano monitoring

Measuring gas emissions is key to predicting volcanic eruptions. (Photo credit: Konstantina Sidiropoulou/Alamy Stock Photo)

Every month, an average of 40 volcanoes erupt on land into the atmosphere, and hundreds of others on the seafloor erupt into the ocean. Predicting when these eruptions will occur is nearly impossible. Scientists associated with the Deep Carbon Observatory (DCO) and Deep Earth Carbon Degassing (DECADE) initiative are setting the stage to make accurate volcanic eruption forecasts a reality. [Read more…]

Kauai’s Hawaiian Honeycreepers On the Brink of Extinction

honeycreeper

Kauai’s native honeycreeper population is facing extinction. (Photo credit: Sami Sarkis/Photographer’s Choice RF/Getty Images)

New research indicates that six of seven native forest birds found on the island of Kauai in Hawaii are quickly disappearing from the landscape and their range is rapidly contracting. All six of these species are honeycreepers, and four are only found in small, remote locations. The reason for this collapse, as reported in an article in the journal Science Advances, is the spread of avian malaria by mosquitoes. The mosquitoes have been able to expand their territory upward due to climate change and global warming. [Read more…]

Battling Boat Barnacles with Biology

man removing barnacles from boat

Barnacle buildup reduces boat performance. (Photo credit: Ingemar Magnusson/Alamy)

Barnacles and other sealife stuck to the bottom of a boat not only doesn’t look all that great, but it’s not a good thing for the boat’s performance, either. [Read more…]

The Environmental Impact of Plastic Bags

plastic bags in trees

A huge number of plastic bags are used each year. A large proportion of them end up as litter. (Photo credit: bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock)

“Paper or plastic?” is a common question heard at the checkout line. Though the environmental impact of paper versus plastic bags continues to be debated, perhaps the best answer is “I’ve brought my own.” [Read more…]

Coral Reef Bleaching Devastating Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

diver assesses coral bleaching

The Great Barrier Reef is experiencing severe coral bleaching this year. (Photo credit: XL Catlin Seaview Survey)

Coral reef bleaching is occurring at an unprecedented rate on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. A recent aerial survey of 911 reefs by Australia’s National Coral Bleaching Task Force found evidence of bleaching on 93 percent of the reefs. The damage is most severe in the Great Barrier Reef’s northern section, where no reef has escaped bleaching. To put this in perspective, the bleaching is currently affecting an area about the size of the state of Maine. [Read more…]

The Flint Water Crisis

Flint water crisis

Unsafe levels of lead in Flint’s drinking water supply has led to an ongoing water crisis in the city. (Photo credit: Bill Pugilano/Getty Images)

In April 2014, the fateful decision to switch the city of Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River was made. The results of this decision were disastrous and the repercussions continue to affect the city’s citizens today.

[Read more…]

Termites Lay Foundation for the Savanna Ecosystem

a cheetah sits atop a termite mound

Termites may hold the key to savanna ecosystem health. (Photo credit: Graeme Purdy/iStock/Getty Images)

The abundant grasses, iconic grazers, and legendary predators of the African savanna ecosystem all depend on one thing: fertile soil. Although it has long been known that termites play an important role in recycling nutrients in soil, researchers are now discovering that termites may do more than just contribute to the savanna ecosystem, they may make the whole thing possible. [Read more…]

195 Countries Sign Historic Climate Agreement in Paris

President Obama speaks at the Paris Climate Talks

US President Barack Obama delivers a speech during the plenary session at the COP 21 United Nations conference on climate change. (Photo credit: Eric Feferberg/AFP/ Getty Images)

On Saturday, December 12, delegates from 195 countries signed an agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions and limit climate warming to 2 degrees Celsius. [Read more…]

Fires Rage in Indonesia

billowing smoke from Indonesian fires

Nearly 100,000 fires have burned in Indonesia so far this year. (Photo credit: Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images)

What does your favorite packaged afternoon snack have to do with the fires raging in Indonesia? If the list of ingredients includes palm oil, there’s quite a large connection.

[Read more…]

Quenching California’s Thirst For Water

California drought

The past four years have been among the driest in California’s recorded history. (Photo credit: Frederic J. Brown/Getty Images)

The past four years have been among the driest in California’s recorded history. This January marked one of the driest months on record. In March, the Sierra Nevada snowpack, a key source of fresh water for the region, was at 5 percent of its historical average of 28.5 inches. The Sierra Nevada’s Tuolumne River Basin supplies water for the Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts and the Hetch Hetchy Regional Water System, which provides water to San Francisco and surrounding areas. [Read more…]