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We want to make cutting edge research in the environmental sciences accessible to all by highlighting recent studies and explaining how these advances shape the understanding of our world.

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What’s driving changes in cod spawning grounds: climate or fishing?

Northeast Arctic Cod perform seasonal migrations from their feeding grounds to their spawning grounds. Recent evidence suggests that the distribution of cod between spawning grounds is changing. Two hypotheses have been proposed to explain why fish spawning grounds are changing: climate and fishing pressure. In order to determine which of these hypotheses may be the driving force in changing Northeast Arctic Cod populations, a team of scientist from Europe investigated fishery data from 2008-2016. Their results suggests that climate is driving changes in the distribution of Northeast Arctic cod spawning grounds.

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Seagrass Spill the Beans on Ecosystem Health

The rocky shoreline of the West Coast is a beautiful, yet perilous place. Humans can add to stress to the ecosystem through overfishing, pollution, and development. A research team assessed the health of this environment by studying seagrass beds along the coast. Seagrasses are critical in this habitat, as they provide shoreline protection for humans, and food and shelter for marine critters. Their results showed that highly developed areas are contributing nitrogen pollution and causing a decline in the seagrass population. Luckily, action can be taken to help reduce these impacts and restore the health of this ecosystem.

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Autonomous vehicle helps measure gases in coastal ecosystems

Coastal ecosystems play an important role in the cycling of carbon, an element essential for life. However, coastal ecosystems are complex making it difficult to determine their exact contribution to carbon cycling with single point measurements. In the study highlighted here, David Nicholson and his colleagues introduce an autonomous (driver-less) surface vehicle that will allow for a better understanding of carbon cycling in coastal ecosystems.

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Is climate change increasing the number of hurricanes we get and will we continue seeing more hurricane damage?

Recent climate change science has shown that since 500 AD the current levels of storm activity are the most active. The increased activity combined with rising sea levels has the potential to cause more damage than ever before. Although Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest ever recorded storm, stronger than Sandy and Katrina combined, occurred in the Pacific, the Atlantic can see events similar in the future.

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Making Amends with Wetland Soils

Wetlands provide ecosystem services, which are services that are free to humans and extremely valuable to the environment. In particular, wetlands can improve water quality through denitrification. Denitrification eliminates nitrate, a nitrogenous compound often found in pollutants, by converting it into gaseous forms of nitrogen and emitting these gases into the atmosphere. Because of the wetland losses happening largely due to human activity, efforts are being made to restore wetlands in an attempt to recapture the ecosystem services they provide. Recent research has investigated the capacity of restored wetland soils to perform denitrification compared to that of natural wetland soils.

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Sea-Level Rise & the State of Sinking: A Brief Discussion of Land Subsidence Factors in the US

What’s scarier than sea level rise? How about sea level rise in a sinking city? Land levels are slowly lowering due to a combination of natural and man-made processes across many US cities. This sinking is known as land subsidence. Read on to learn how land subsidence contributes to sea level rise conflicts across the United States.

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