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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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Fantastic felines and how to be a responsible pet owner

Cats are fascinating creatures that allow us to live in proximity to them from time to time. Many cat owners let their furry companions to roam around the neighborhood. Because of that, these fantastic predators can have large impacts on other animals. A new study shows what farmland felines eat when they roam farms.

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Evidence from the sediment: Lake Baikal diatom community changes in response to shifting environmental conditions

Located in Siberia, Russia, Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world (Figure 1). Similar to other waterbodies around the world, both big and small, Lake Baikal is exhibiting changes in the community composition of its primary producers in response to climate change induced changes in surface temperatures and nutrient inputs. In this study, scientists examine community composition shifts in a group of primary producers known as diatoms and examine the influence of climate change on this shift.

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Is there space for nature in man-made jungle?

We humans are responsible for not just shaping existing environments, but for creating new ones as well. Urban and industrial areas can sometimes be seen as “unnatural” but new research has shown that a ton of new species want to be neighbors. On top of that- they’re thriving. Read on to learn more!

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Will sea level rise harm tidal marshlands?

Tidal freshwater wetlands sit at the interface between the salty estuary and freshwater uplands, making the vulnerability of these habitats uncertain as sea level rise progresses. This study used over 5 years of plant and water level monitoring data, along with an elevation survey, to assess the relationship between plant species coverage and early season flooding. The researchers found that early in the season flooding was associated with sharp declines in plant coverage. These observations and analyses could provide insights into how sea level rise will affect tidal freshwater wetlands.

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Alaskan Megathrust Earthquakes: Sedimentary records provide new data and a look 2000 years into the past

In 1964, a historically unprecedented magnitude 9.2 earthquake struck the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. The earthquake prompted scientists to figure out that the Aleutians lie along a unique form of fault, now known as a “megathrust” fault. During a megathrust earthquake, large swaths of land suddenly rise or sink, depending on their location relative to the fault rupture. Over long periods of time, as tectonic plates slide under one another, compression causes the top plate to buckle and rise up along the coast. When enough energy is accumulated, a slip eventually occurs. In places that were being uplifted, the land suddenly falls a few meters as the strain is released, otherwise known as an earthquake. It has been thought that areas of uplift and subsidence remain constant, always rising or falling in exactly the same place with every earthquake. However, a recent study suggests that these areas are not constant, further complicating our understanding of how “megathrust” earthquakes occur.

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Certified coffee farmers are environmentally friendly and compensated for their efforts: Imagination or reality?

Do you go to the grocery store and look for the Fair Trade™ or Rainforest Alliance™ certified coffee? Many consumers prefer to buy certified coffee because they believe there is an economic benefit to the farmer, environmental benefits, or both. However, do these certifications actually improve farmer income and/or protect important environmental services? A recent study conducted in Uganda suggests that farms that are double or triple certified for coffee production suffer trade-offs between economic and environmental benefits.

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The Five Deeps Expedition: The first attempt to dive to the deepest point in five oceans

The Five Deeps Expedition is led by Victor Vescovo, an American attempting to visit the five deepest areas of the ocean in a manned submersible. In December of 2018, he became the first human to reach the bottom of the Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic Ocean. Read on to learn more about this expedition, and keep an eye out for the results of the remaining four dives in 2019!

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