Palm Oil’s Inconvenient Truth

Palm oil is quickly growing to be one of the most economically lucrative crops, at a huge expense to the environment. With weak political clout by environmental groups in western nations and high demand for palm oil products in India and China, there is little that can be done to curb rainforest habitat loss as the market for palm oil continues to soar.

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Green spaces that are more than just green

Many urban ecologists are looking to shift the perception of what the “green” in green space should actually signify. New avenues within lawn research and development can help communities embrace wildness over uniformity in urban ecosystems, and push for the creation of urban green spaces that are more resilient to climate change.

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Summertime Sadness: Hurricanes and Water Quality

Hurricanes are natural disasters that can turn water quality nasty! Just how nasty depends on what’s on the land that’s being flooded. Hurricane Fran (1996) struck the Cape Fear region in southeastern North Carolina, and researchers from the University of North Carolina Wilmington noticed dissolved oxygen plummeted as a result of swamp water and swine farm waste flooding. The lack of oxygen in the water caused widespread death of fish and critters living in the bottom of the rivers, not to mention all that sewage introduced bacteria and disease into the environment! Swamp water flooding may be a natural, unavoidable consequence of hurricanes, but we must have policies and practices in place to reduce further degrading water quality from human activities.

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Scaling up: How forest hydraulic diversity may throw off global climate models

Have you ever wondered how scientists model climate? Climate models are broad scale mathematical representations of atmospheric, oceanic, and land surface processes. Organisms, specifically plants, play an important role in how water, carbon dioxide, and solar energy is used and transformed. In fact, land plants are responsible for taking out an estimated 450 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere per year much of which is quickly returned to the atmosphere through respiration and decay. That number gives you an idea of just how important it is to understand plant physiology in order to be able to predict future atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and thus future climate. A recent article in Nature explores how misrepresenting tree water use strategies may throw off climate models.

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Diving deep: benefits of deep sea coral refuges in the Atlantic

Take a dive into the fascinating world of deep sea coral reefs off the South Atlantic Coast and their role in supporting diverse reef fish communities. The paper examines the differences between shallow and deep reefs and explores why they may require distinctions when setting management goals.

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Predicting the future by looking to the past: Determining Rates and Magnitudes of Sea-Level Change from Sediment Cores

With sea levels rising at an alarming rate, coastal communities have one thing on their mind: how much will sea levels rise, and how soon? The rate at which sea level rises is unique to each coastline and reliant on many factors. However, many scientists believe projecting future sea-level rise rates is dependent on understanding a coastline’s past. This summary explores past research on the secrets of sea-level rise in marine sediments.

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City phosphorus, country phosphorus: can we mitigate P in different environments?

Phosphorus is essential for life, but there is such thing as too much of a good thing. In excess, phosphorus can cause algal blooms, creating dead zones in bodies of water. How do we prevent phosphorus from entering water systems? Katrina Macintosh and her team did a comprehensive review to track phosphorus from diffuse sources to find out.

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Assessing the impact of pollutants on kidney health

Do PFASs affect human health? What even are PFASs? Researchers at Duke University conducted a comprehensive review of the published literature to summarize what we know about how a class of pollutants called PFASs may impact human kidney health.

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What’s the future? Addressing the Global Plastic Pollution Problem through Blockchain Technology

You may have first heard about blockchain technology over this past year as the price of different cryptocurrencies swung wildly and made news. OpenLitterMap aims to tackle the global plastic pollution problem through their reward system utilizing blockchain technology called Littercoin. Littercoin rewards people for contributing open data about litter they come across in their cities, reporting information such as litter location, type, and even brand information. Global plastic pollution is a massive problem that requires large scale solutions to solve, and OpenLitterMap’s techy approach might just do it.

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