Forty years ago this week, the first in a string of Landsat satellites was launched to keep continuous track of our planet — and on the 40th birthday, Landsat’s handlers demonstrated that satellite observations are the gifts that keep on giving. But for how much longer? ATMOS‘s Dennis Hartmann is quoted in this retrospective and introspective discussion of the importance of satellite imagery for understanding global environmental dynamics.
The increasing flow of nitrates from human and animal waste into Puget Sound are a boon to algae. And as the algae bloom, they set up the Sound for acidification beyond what global climate change is driving. Read more here.
Gordon Holtgrieve, first author of the newly released Science paper.
Nitrogen pollution from human activities can be found in lake bed sediments from over 100 years ago, and in areas thousands of miles away from any city, farm or factory, CoEnv scientists have found. SAFS’ Gordon Holtgrieve, Daniel Schindler and Lauren Rogers, and others, published these results in the December 16 issue of Science. Their findings are based on the chemical composition of lake bed sediments from 36 different lakes, and mark both the time and the planetary scale at which nitrogen pollution has effected ecosystems. Read the UW News story here.
Thousands of planets will likely be discovered in the next few years, and a new system is needed to classify the ability of those worlds to support life. David Catling, associate professor of Earth and space sciences, was co-author on the paper. Read more here.
Scientists say a hole in the Arctic’s protective ozone layer last winter was the largest ever recorded, reaching an extent typically observed above Antarctica. While so-called ozone “holes” have occurred each summer since the mid-1980s over Antarctica — where extreme cold and powerful wind patterns trigger reactions that convert chlorine from human-produced chemicals into ozone-destroying compunds — warmer stratospheric temperatures in the Arctic have typically limited ozone loss. According to a new study, published in the journal Nature, unusually low stratospheric temperatures and powerful high-altitude wind patterns above the Arctic earlier this year created the conditions for an unprecedented ozone hole over northern Russia and parts of Norway and Greenland, exposing populations across the region to high levels of ultraviolet radiation.
The World Climate Research Programme, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, the International Human Dimensions Programme, and DIVERSITAS: An International Programme of Biodiversity Science, will form part of an integrated strategy on researching environmental change that will include social sciences, being called an “unprecedented mobilisation” of science to help cope with rapid global change.
The initiative will be formally launched in two stages — first at the Planet Under Pressure conference in the United Kingdom (26–29 March 2012), and then at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil (4–6 June 2012).
A transition team will put together an implementation plan by November 2012.
Deadly low-oxygen conditions have struck again in southern Hood Canal. Scuba divers report deep-water fish struggling to survive near the water’s surface near Hoodsport, and experts say conditions are lined up for a massive fish kill.
A wolf eel, seen uncharacteristically out of its den Saturday, was one of the unusual sights at Sund Rock Marine Preserve over the weekend, when dissolved oxygen levels dropped to dangerous levels. (Pat Lynch/submitted photo)