Tag Archives: climate change

Could Poop Power Our Cars?

Is brown the new green? UCLA researchers are using waste matter (yes, including poop) to make a new generation of advanced biofuels.

The U.S. alone annually produces over 1 billion tons of manure from agriculture, which produces nitrous oxide methane emissions, greenhouse gases 325 times more potent than carbon dioxide. But what if all this poop could have another use – one that could stimulate a sustainable biofuel movement?

Graduate researcher David Wernick talks about ongoing work at UCLA to turn manure, sewage, plant waste and even carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere into feed stocks for producing biofuels, and for making the process of manufacturing biofuels clean and sustainable.

Learn more about David Wernick’s work to turn poop (and other waste streams) into sustainable fuel sources:  Will Cars Of The Future Run On Poop?

The research highlighted in this video was supported in part by the UCLA-DOE Institute of Genomics and Proteomics and a grant from the National Science Foundation.

The Climate Change Facts You Need to Know

This week, world leaders are converging in Paris to talk about climate policy. Under current guidelines, the planet is on target to warm by 2 degrees Celsius in 2050 and by 4 degrees in 2100, triggering serious large-scale problems by the end of the century.

“Drought, heat waves, forest fires — we are already seeing this,” says V. Ramanathan, an atmospheric scientist.

Ramanathan, who will be speaking at the conference, accurately predicted this trend back in 1980. In the video above, he explains how we might be able to change our course on climate.

Warming Seas Drive Rapid Acceleration of Melting Antarctic Ice

As warm ocean water rises up to melt them, glaciers around the Amundsen Sea are losing half a Mount Everest a year.

A second study, published Thursday in the journal Science, helps explain the accelerating ice melt: Warm ocean water is melting the floating ice shelves that hold back the glaciers.

The two new pieces of research come as officials of the World Meteorological Organization announced Wednesday that 2014 is on track to be the warmest year on record.

Scientists have long worried that the West Antarctic ice sheet is a place where climate change might tip toward catastrophe. The ice sheet holds enough water to raise sea level by 16 feet (5 meters). The region along the Amundsen Sea is the sheet’s soft underbelly, where the ice is most vulnerable. (See “Rising Seas” in National Geographic magazine.)

Earlier this year, researchers at the University of California, Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory reported that the glaciers flowing into the Amundsen Sea—notably the Pine Island and Thwaites Glaciers—were already doomed to collapse, and at the current rate of melting would be gone in 200 years.

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Could cherry blossoms one day be blooming in winter?

Chery Blossoms

The cherry blossoms in Washington D.C.’s annual festival now bloom five days earlier than when the festival was celebrated in 1921 (on average). Scientists theorize that with the drastic warming of the globe, future decades could see blossom times not just a few days early but advanced by almost a month.

To better understand the situation, researchers need large amounts of data about different all types of plants in order to analyze. Gathering all of this data is not easy.

UC Santa Barbara’s Susan Mazer explains why researchers need the public’s help to gather this information:

Facebook for Nature

Can a status update from a tulip tell us anything about climate change?

The science of seasonal observation has always mattered, but never has it been so urgent. Each year, our seasons unfold. Perhaps they feel the same to us each time, or maybe we notice the slight differences. A lack of rain in the west, and a barrage of snow in the east. Flowers are blooming earlier, fruit is ripening sooner. OK, so what’s the big deal with some slightly confused flora? Well, that confusion ripples outward, and that matters because of how beholden all living things are to other living things. The timing of our ecosystem, complicated as it is in the most ideal of times, is off-kilter.

The California Phenology Project, a collaboration between UC Santa Barbara, the National Park Service, and The National Phenology Network endeavors to document plant ranges, flowering dates, and other relevant data to assess climate change responses throughout the state of California. In the UC Natural Reserve System there are 3,300 plant species. The list reads like a poem of plants you may have never heard of: Awned Fescue, Ripgut Grass, Winecup Clarkia. The idea is that when these plants bloom within the season (and how that differs year to year) is actually a clue, indicative of the world they are blossoming into.

The phenological observations of scientists and citizens alike will all contribute to the Pheonology Project’s online resource, Nature’s Notebook, a kind of Facebook for Nature (I would totally friend request the California Poppy, golden and archetypal as it is, and Winecup Clarkia too, in all its hot pink, magenta splendor). But unlike the existential quandaries posed by the ubiquitous social media site, this online notebook will begin to reveal some of the patterns of our natural world and what that might mean for us. Since the task at hand is too large for just the professional scientists, now is the chance for people to reconnect with their environment and become contributors to this project, citizen-scientists observing and noting the plant species in Golden Gate Park or in their own backyard. We are all capable of phenological observation. The California Poppy accepts your friendship request! What will you do now?

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Restoring oysters along the California coast

oystersIn response to global climate change, Jill Bible at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Lab shows us how her research with the Olympia Oyster is aimed at restoring this species along the west coast.

“My research will help us determine what populations of oysters are particularly vulnerable or particularly robust to future changes and will help us determine how to best restore the populations given some of the changes coming down the pipe for oceans.” – Jill Bible

 

Studying the seasons: how climate change affects natural communities

story_2012_12_phenology

UC Santa Barbara researchers have launched the California Phenology Project. Scientists, docents, staff, teachers and citizen researchers will track the life stages of selected plant species at eight UC natural reserves.

Nowadays, observing nature’s seasonal events is a serious science. Called phenology, the study of recurring biological changes and their responses to the environment can answer a host of pressing ecological questions. Chief among these: How is climate change affecting natural communities?

To keep tabs on natural schedules in California, researchers at UC Santa Barbara have launched the California Phenology Project. Led by professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Susan Mazer, graduate student Brian Haggerty, and postdoctoral fellow Elizabeth Mathews, the project is observing plants at eight UC Natural Reserves and seven national parks, totaling more than 100 monitoring sites.

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