Day: March 7, 2016

Flint River alive and well amidst negative media coverage of city’s water lead contamination crisis

Read the full story at MLive.

Nonprofit groups and environmentalists focused on the restoration and maintenance of Michigan’s Flint River ecosystem are disheartened amid negative media coverage and discussion of the Flint water crisis.

 

Can Data-Driven Agriculture Help Feed a Hungry World?

Read the full story at Yale Environment 360.

Agribusinesses are increasingly using computer databases to enable farmers to grow crops more efficiently and with less environmental impact. Experts hope this data, detailing everything from water use to crop yields, can also help the developing world grow more food.

The Future of Biomass After Paris

Read the full story in Pacific Standard.

Amid conflicting assessments of the Paris Agreement, two things are clear: World governments still love carbon markets, and COP21 went a long way toward simply giving slash-and-burn agriculture a makeover.

Using the Very, Very Simple Climate Model in the Classroom

Read more about this classroom activity.

Through a simple online model, students learn about the relationship between average global temperature and carbon dioxide emissions while predicting temperature change over the 21st Century.

Rethinking Urban Landscapes To Adapt to Rising Sea Levels

Read the full story at Yale Environment 360.

Landscape architect Kristina Hill focuses on helping cities adapt to climate change, particularly sea level rise. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, she discusses the challenges, solutions, and costs of saving cities from encroaching oceans.

Reduce, reuse, recycle: safe for water?

Read the full story from the American Society of Agronomy.

What would you do without water?

Farmers in drought areas are especially concerned by this question. As fresh water resources become scarce, one option for water-conscious farmers is to water crops with treated wastewater. This effluent is becoming a more popular option for applications that don’t require drinking-quality water. However, there are still questions about how the effluent interacts with and affects the rest of the ecosystem.

This is where Alison Franklin and her team at Pennsylvania State University come in. Franklin is investigating what happens to certain compounds that remain in the effluent after treatment. She wants to know, “Where do these compounds go?”

The chemicals that Franklin studies are pharmaceutical and personal care products, including antibiotics. Currently, wastewater treatment facilities are not able to completely remove these compounds. They frequently remain in the effluent in an active form…

The compounds’ trails have been tracked from the effluent to the wheat plants. So Franklin’s next investigation will be whether the small amounts of compounds in the wheat plants pose potential health risks for humans and animals. Franklin admits, “It’s a fine balance of protecting the health of the environment and organisms, yet managing water resources that are diminishing.”

Franklin is working to understand that balance and determine best options for smart water use. Read more about Franklin’s work in Journal of Environmental Quality. Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant and the USDA Regional Research Projects W-3170 and W-2082 funded this project.

 

Scientists just found a surprising factor that’s speeding up Greenland’s melt

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

A new scientific study released Thursday has delivered yet another burst of bad news about Greenland — the vast northern ice sheet that contains 20 feet of potential sea level rise. The ice sheet is “darkening,” or losing its ability to reflect both visible and invisible radiation, as it melts more and more, the research finds. That means it’s absorbing more of the sun’s energy — which then drives further melting.

The suddenly urgent quest to remove carbon dioxide from the air

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

From the rooftop of Klaus Lackner’s seven-story building on the Arizona State University campus, photovoltaic panels seem to glisten in every direction. The school claims to have more solar installed than any other university in America – part of a plan to offset the carbon emissions of this institution of more than 80,000 students.

But the odd little box Lackner has come up here to check could take things a big step further. If it works on a bigger scale, this box could make the university a negative emitter — actually reducing the amount of carbon in the air by pulling some of it out again.

Lackner’s box is part of a new wave of technology aimed at turbocharging efforts to head off climate change. Such devices had been a pipe-dream until recently, but more and more, they are being seen as indispensable. That’s because the goals set at last year’s Paris accord on climate change, of keeping the planet’s warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, may not be achievable unless such technology comes to fruition.

Solar power and electric cars  won’t be enough, say scientists. Humans may have to somehow clean carbon out of the air, the way that trees do naturally but at a gigantic scale.

Michigan expands dark skies preserves

Read the full story at Great Lakes Echo.

Michigan’s recent dark sky preserve designations are expected to pull visitors from all over the world, advocates say.

 

Motivating the Agricultural Community to Build Climate Resilience

Read the full story in the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit.

Climate change adaptation isn’t always welcome as a topic of conversation, even among those who could benefit from it. A recent study hints at a possible path forward.

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